Chapter 9 - Secrets of the Saybaro
The next morning, I woke up already half-out of bed. More specifically, my upper body was on the floor while my lower half was still tangled in the covers.
With some difficulty, I extracted myself from my bed. I had been dreaming, though all I could remember was a vague recollection of flying through the sky toward a cluster of lights while rain pelted me in the face.
I’m not sure how long I sat there trying to catch the vestiges of the dream before I finally snapped out of it. Shaking my head, I started searching for some fresh clothes so I could go get some breakfast.
Once dressed, I walked to my kitchen and searched for my imported Gineran waffle iron. I could have settled for a normal one, but all the Vintan models make waffles with squares so huge that when a person tried to butter them, all the butter invariably fell into one square.
I was still searching when Arc entered the kitchen, rubbing his eyes.
“G’morning, Jimmy.” He said after stifling a lawn.
“Morning, Arc. Ah, there it is!” I found the waffle iron beside a smoothie blender. Moving the automatic mixing bowl, the strange, spider-like machine that was watching me, and the egg poacher (Creator knows why I bought that thing, I never eat my eggs poached), I picked up the waffle iron and headed over to the center table.
“So,” I said casually as I plugged it in, “Sleep well?”
“Eh. It’s a bit too quiet here. Not like the Center at all.”
“Really? How so?”
“We’ve got dozens of experiments running all over the Center. Something’s always bubbling or exploding, or ringing, and that’s just when everything’s working the way it’s supposed to.”
I shrugged. Personally, I didn’t miss all the noise of living among technology; I always had a horrible time sleeping when I lived in Rimstak.
As I gathered ingredients, I said, “So, about the Glyche facility supposedly beneath the Saybaro …”
“Oh, right!” Arc smacked himself in the side of the head. “I completely forgot. Okay, the information left in the Kindred database seemed to suggest that there were several facilities in Wenapaj that were somehow separate from the main facilities in Rimstak. We haven’t translated everything yet, but from what I’ve read, I think that they were separated because of the Corruption.”
“To prevent being infected with whatever caused it?”
Arc shook his head. “Maybe. Personally, I’m thinking the Corrupted Glyche wanted insurance in case their little plan to take over Vinta failed. Like you said yesterday; time bombs.”
“Well, I did find a hidden set of rooms, but there wasn’t anything there. I’m using it as my pantry right now.” The little spider thing peered over the mixing bowl as I started mixing the ingredients.
“You can’t expect the Glyche to have left the entrance to the facility so that any schmuck could stumble across it by accident. Er, no offence, Jimmy.”
“Hmm.” I measured out two-thirds of a cup of milk and poured it into the bowl. The spider-thing reached up with a metal claw and activated the mixer.
“Thank you.” Turning back to Arc, I said, “There would still be some kind of indication as to where the entrance is. The facilities discovered in Rimstak always had some kind of interactive control: usually a glyphstone.”
“Is there a glyphstone here?” Arc asked.
I shook my head. “Not unless it’s buried on the third floor. I still haven’t cleaned it out yet. Still it doesn’t make any sense for it to be up there; the facility couldn’t be hidden above the mansion.”
“Are you sure?”
“I think I would have noticed a giant floating Glyche ruin above the mansion, Arc.” Rolling my eyes, I returned my gaze to the spider thing as it approached, bearing two plates on its back. Something about it seemed familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Helpful little thing, isn’t it?” Arc commented as the spider-thing set a plate in front of him.
I nodded in agreement. “Very. Where did you get it?”
Arc gave me a strange look. “I thought it was yours.”
Slowly, we both turned to the device.
The little robot paid us no notice; after setting out our silverware, it picked up a cup with its tail and proceeded to scoop out some of the waffle batter.
“Maybe a gift from Iniagus?” Arc asked, edging slightly away from the creature, “He’s supposed to be a pretty good inventor.”
“No, I’ve seen something like this before.” I leaned toward the machine, my eyes narrowed.
Without warning, a miniature energy blade no longer than three inches shot from the end of the machine’s tail, making me jump back in surprise. In that instant, I realized just what it was, much to my horror. It was a skriever.
Skrievers are small robots that the Glyche use for repairs, scavenging material, and in some cases to guard sensitive equipment or information. The little bots are incredibly fast and the energy blade integrated in their tails were just as dangerous as military grade fusion blades.
A memory rushed through my mind; the skriever attacked us without warning, slashing off the arm of Harry Potter Ronsil, my best friend at the time. I could still see the look of horror on his face as he clutched at the cauterized stump.
“Uh, Jimmy?” Arc asked, looking concerned, “You okay?”
“Skriever.” I said, the fear I felt so long ago coursing through me.
“Skriever? What’s a skriev-” His eyes widened. Without another word, he bolted from the room.
I stared wide-eyed at the creature as it removed the waffle from the iron and set it on my plate. When I didn’t move, it chittered at me
My fear fading a little, I said, “You … you aren’t corrupted, are you?”
The tiny robot made an affirmative beeping noise and pushed my plate toward me with its front legs. It really was different from the attack units I had seen as a child; those were horrifying things with sharp pincers and dark metal. In comparison, this skriever seemed almost domestic; even the energy blade was rounded off at the tip. It was hard to consider it a threat when it was using it to butter waffles.
I reached for my breakfast tentatively. The skriever turned away and scooped out another cup of batter for the waffle iron.
My appetite was quite gone, but so was my fear; an uncorrupted skriever would be a great help to my efforts to restore the Saybaro. That still left an important question, however; if this skriever was hidden away in some corner of the Saybaro, what had made it suddenly come to life?
I didn’t have much time to dwell on it; Arc suddenly threw open the kitchen door and ran forward, lugging his enormous blade. Before I could react, he heaved the massive weapon over his head and brought it down with a wild shout in the general direction of the skriever.
The heavy blade slammed into the stone counter, smashing several appliances and sending the bowl of batter splattering in all directions.
The skriever leapt onto the blade and ran down its length toward Arcs hands with alarming speed.
“Ack!” Arc let the blade fall to the floor with a loud clank. The skriever leapt off the blade at the last second, hit the ground rolling, and skittered through the door.
I quickly followed the skriever into the lobby. After a quick glance around the room, I spotted the skriever rushing toward the back wall.
As I hurried to catch up, I wondered if it knew about the hidden door. Sure enough, it leapt onto the clock face and whirled the hands around until the time read ‘3:42’. The grandfather clock moved aside, revealing the hidden passage to my larder. The skriever scuttled inside, now only a few feet ahead of me.
“Arc!” I called out, “I need you to-”
The front door slammed shut behind me. So much for the other brave hero. Sighing, I started down the stairs.
When I first discovered the hidden entrance, I had expected nothing short of a Glyche starship hidden below the Saybaro. Unfortunately, like many of the aspects of my assignment at the Saybaro, reality fell far short of my imagination; I found a few rooms with environmental controls, lots of dust and cobwebs, and the hologram emitter I now used as a fireplace. The Glyche probably used the rooms for basic research or file-storage; I used them as my pantry.
I hurried down the stairs. In fact, I hurried just a little too much; I was unable to stop my momentum when I reached the bottom, and crashed into a stack of noodle cups. Uncooked noodles and dried bits of vegetables flew in all directions as I crushed about ten shards worth of noodles (fifty-eight packs, in case you were wondering). By the time I managed to get back to my feet, the skriever was gone.
“Great.” I muttered, kicking what was left of my reserve meals into a small pile to clean up later. As I looked around my pantry, looking for signs of the skriever, I heard the clicking of metal feet in the direction of the room I used as my freezer.
I kicked the door open and leapt inside with Glint in hand, ignoring the wave of cold air that swept over me. Nothing in the room seemed to have been disturbed; Stacks of frozen pizzas stood beside TV dinners and bags of steamed, baked, and fried foods.
One of the cooling fans abruptly acivated, scaring the Nocturnes out of me. “Easy, Jimmy.” I muttered, a hand to my now rapidly beating heart.
The lid of a box of hamburger patties lifted a fraction of an inch.
With a wild shout that could have rivaled that of Arc’s earlier battle cry, I let out a force edge that knocked the box into the air. The skriever leapt out of the box and landed right on top of my head.
“Ah! Get off, get off!” With a wild swing, I knocked the skriever away.
It hit the ground running. To my amazement, one of the metal panels on the side of the freezer slid up into the ceiling, revealing a secret tunnel.
As soon as the skriever was inside, the door began to close. With a wild leap, I passed through the doorway before it snapped shut, leaving me in total darkness.
The tiny red light of the skriever’s eye hurried forward, the only light in the darkness. I hurried after it despite the inherent danger, but no matter how fast I moved, the skriever was always just a little ahead of me. It turned every now and then, seemingly unhindered by the darkness while I found myself bumping into walls I couldn’t see..
Then, without warning, the skriever’s light vanished. I stood there, shrouded in darkness, for at least ten minutes; after all the twisting and turning before, there was no way I’d be able to find my way back.
“Well, crap.” I muttered. I walked forward, my hands stretched out to either side in hopes of finding a wall. Unfortunately, it was my face that found something.
Fluorescent lights sprang to life, spreading from a source in the center of the room like blood pumping from a heart. Glancing up, I saw that I had run into some kind of control panel; apparently, my clumsiness had activated the lights.
After I made sure I wasn’t bleeding, I took a better look at my surroundings. I was in a large cylindrical room with eight passageways, one in each cardinal direction. Each hallway had a large glowing symbol above it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what the symbols meant; as a kid, I had always been more interested in Glyche machinery than the Glyche language. I looked at each symbol, hoping that perhaps some snippet of information would come back to me, but every symbol was completely alien.
I was still trying to decide which passage to pick when one of the symbols began glowing brightly. A few seconds later, it flashed again; obviously, someone or something wanted me to go that way. As I was in a Glyche facility, that was not a particularly comforting thought. Still, wandering around was going to be dangerous no matter which direction I chose, and the knowledge that the skriever chose to retreat when it could’ve attacked both Arc and me was comforting. Nevertheless, I drew Glint before starting down the indicated corridor.
The corridors of the Glyche facilities were surprisingly well-maintained. The metal walls were buffed and shined, and the floor looked to have been recently waxed. I wondered at this; had that skriever kept this place clean all this time? Even if it had been active for years, it seemed far more than it could handle on its own. There must have been more, but how many?
I eventually came to a large, heavily shielded door. Looking down at Glint, I let out a snort of laughter; even with my training, Glint couldn’t wedge open a stubborn cardboard box, much less a fortified and no doubt magnetically sealed door.
When I was only a few feet away, however, the massive clasps on the door snapped open. The door opened with a slight groan, revealing nothing but darkness beyond.
I stepped forward into the dark room, Glint at the ready. A very slight hum was audible in the air, punctuated by the occasional whoosh in the distance.
“Is someone there?” I felt like an idiot the moment the words left my lips. I was lost in a Glyche facility; did I really want to hear a response? What would I do if someone or something did respond?
As if in answer to my fear, a warm, feminine voice said, “Please step forward, Jimmy Olsen Sakamota.”
Fighting the urge to turn and run, I said, “How do you know who I am?”
“I know much about you, Jimmy. You were born in Ronisgald, but moved to Rimstak as a child. After your parents were killed by a Corruption outbreak, you were raised by a Rimstakken who you refer to as Uncle Ann. Shortly after your thirteenth birthday, you had a fight with her that ended with you coming here to take part in King Iniagus’s Immigration Employment Initiative, and have been posted here ever since, leaving only recently to respond to a summons from said king. You like green tea, and study the streaming arts, bushido, and do-it-yourself home and tech repair. Your favorite color-”
“That’s quite enough.” I interrupted, a little daunted by just how much she knew about me, “But you still haven’t answered my question.”
“Step forward and all will be revealed.”
Gritting my teeth, I took a few tentative steps forward.
A series of blue beams shot all around me. I started to raise Glint, but my body refused to move. I calmed down when I realized that they weren’t actually hurting me. After passing through every inch of my body, the beams vanished.
“Jimmy Olsen Sakamota.” The female voice said, sounding happy, “From this day forward, you are my Inheritor.”