“Master!” A warning voice came from my Perco just as my hand was about to touch the mirror.
I had nearly done that without thinking. The only conclusion I had come to was that someone came out of this mirror, took my sister, and then went back through. If I touched the mirror, I should go to where they teleported, and then I could save my sister. Or, more likely, I’d walk right into a trap and I’d been in another cage like I had been in only a few weeks before. I had to think about this for a second. I couldn’t react impulsively. I pulled back my hand slowly.
“Cecelia, how is this possible?” I asked.
“The mirror and Perco were found in an Allco office building. According to what you’ve told me, the Perco was seemingly stolen.” Cecelia’s calm voice helped me keep myself from going into a panic. “It is most likely that this was not the origin of the technology. Someone in the R&D division must have taken it. Perhaps, they knew the world was ending and were trying to help a loved one escape.”
I went to my drawer and immediately ripped out the letter. I had brought it back with me, and for some reason had left it in my drawer. Now, I was thankful for that.
Happy Birthday. It wasn’t easy, but I got it! You have been saying for years you wanted a Perco. It took a lot of finagling, but I finally got you one. It’s the newest model too! Don’t ask how I got it though, I’d have to kill you. The Perco 9000 will help you get a better grip on your 6S. Plus, I’m sure you can do other cool things with it too.
I read it out loud so that Cecelia could know what I knew. It seemed completely innocuous. Anyone who read it wouldn’t think it was anything more than a loved one sending their sister a gift. However, if you were sending something out that you didn’t want others two know about, you wouldn’t write a note saying, ‘hey, here’s the crime I committed.
Several things about this text were off. First off, the 9000 wasn’t even being distributed yet, and this Perco was a special administrative model. That could have just been a mistake, a dumb employee taking the wrong Perco, but there were other things off about the message. He mentioned the 6S, but for all but military personnel it was only the 5S. Sorcery was only just being discovered in this world. Then, I noticed he wrote the word kill boldly, nearly ripping through the paper like he was warning her.
“You said that there are 2 visible letters?” Cecelia asked.
“Yeah, D, something, S… something… Why?”
“Desmond Smith.” She declared.
“Should I know them?” I squinted at the letter, but figuring out the name was impossible.
“They were the head of the R&D department of Allco at the time this letter would have been written. They would have easily had the authority to access, take, and send both the mirror and the Perco to his sister.”
“How do you know this?”
“I was… um… made by Desmond Smith. My voice and personality were templated based on his little sister, Sophia.”
“This guy seemed to be really into his sister,” I commented.
“Do you want me to comment?”
I shook my head and slapped the letter back down. “None of this matters if it won’t help me find her. If I have to go through the mirror, I will.”
“Master, that’s what I’m saying. If there was another key that allowed someone to connect to the mirror on this side, it would have been at the research and development division of Perco!”
“What are you saying?”
“Under Randall, I had learned all kinds of information on the raider clans. When it comes to the Cock and Balls raiders, their home base is none other than the Allco R&D building.”
“I’m only postulating here, but it’s possible that Marsh had the key all along. What he didn’t have was the mirror. Perhaps, Dresdon had shipped the mirror to an office location to keep it safe and hidden. He then sent his sister the key, with the plan of meeting up with her and leaving together. His plan obviously failed.”
“Once he skimmed the code off the mirror, he destroyed it thinking that he’d be the only one capable of returning!” I shouted excitedly, but then my face darkened. “He must have figured out I was still able to travel back and forth. Maybe, he sent someone through and they heard me in my house.”
I shivered thinking of the possibility that they had been able to travel back and forth into my room the last week and I hadn’t been aware. All it would take is someone coming while I was having lunch or taking a shower, and after spying they could have returned. Had I walked into my room at the wrong time, I could have ended up just like my sister.
“It’s possible. This is only conjecture though.”
I shook my head. “The only thing that still doesn’t make sense… why take my sister? They could have taken the mirror and by the time I realized it was missing, they could have been away, and I would have never even imagined someone came through.”
“Your world is an alien world to them. They don’t know how dangerous it is. How long did it take you to venture out when you first came?” Cecelia offered. “Besides, even if they tried to set up shop in our world, there was still a problem.”
“Me. They would have still had to deal with me.”
I had learned to think a bit like a raider after my time with the Fire Ravens and Ascension. Raiders would never allow someone else to have access to the same resource they did. As far as they were concerned, I was a threat to everything they had, and the only way they would move forward as if they could wipe me out. I had been planning to take care of the Cock and Balls eventually, but I had imagined it’d be years later when I had a small army at my disposal. It looked like I was going to have to move things up. They were just as much a danger to me as I was to them. I pulled out my phone and made a call.
“Caleb… get the guys together.”
“You need us for something?”
“My house has been ransacked. I need you to come and clean it up. Make it look like nothing happened.”
“A rival gang?”
“Yeah… something like that.” I sighed.
“After that, I want you to take the standing mirror in my room and seal it up. I want it hidden and watched. If someone comes out of it you don’t recognize, kill them on the spot.”
“Something comes out? Of a mirror?”
“Just do what I ask, no questions.”
“Y-yeah… I’ll do it.”
“I’m going to be away a few days. Watch after my Mom. If anything happens to her…”
“I know! I know! Certain death! I’ll do it. Don’t worry, boss.”
I hung up the phone and then wrote a letter. It was a letter from mom, telling her that Hazel and I were going to be gone for a couple of days. I also had Cecelia whip up messages to reschedule my appointments for the week and clear my schedule. For good measure, she created an auto-response so that even while gone messages might be sent based on certain responses. When that was all finished, I didn’t wait for Caleb to arrive before I transported him back to the museum basement.
I didn’t immediately begin moving. Instead, I closed my eyes for a bit, taking deep breaths, and only when I felt my heart calming down did I turn and leave. I didn’t run into anyone until I was back in the headquarter building. As I turned a corner, I saw Kiera standing at the end. When she saw me, she jumped, growing somewhat flustered.
“Get everyone together now,” I demanded.
Kiera’s frightened expression turned to one of surprise. “Are you okay, Daniel?”
“That took her,” I growled, and then closed my eyes. “Get everyone now!”
I stood like that, my eyes closed, my hands shaking at my sides. I still was barely able to keep it together. Just returning to Argos had brought everything back to me. Those bastards could be doing anything with my sister. Kiera and Katarina had been exceptionally lucky when they were captured. Kiera had a Perco 3000, making her valuable, and Katarina had her radiation-free colonist body. However, I didn’t forget it was the Cock and Balls that had violated Feather and had been my greatest threat. Sure, Krux had tortured me, but it was ultimately Marsh that made me more nervous.
Kiera hadn’t said anything in response to my words. She must have left silently. Just as I was about to open my eyes, I felt two arms wrap around me. My eye popped open in surprise to see that Kiera had thrown her arms around me, and she had tears in her eyes. Although Kiera didn’t appear as strong as Katarina, she had mentally been through far more and had managed to keep herself from losing her mind. It took a lot to make her cry, so seeing her cry at that moment deeply caught me off guard.
I reached my arms around her and held her, and as I held her, I realized tears were falling down my cheeks as well. We held each other for some time, silently weeping.