Dystopia Chapter 39 - Cont.

From the Story Arc: Dystopia

Previous Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 36 by Krasnaya Zarya (Friday, September 22, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 36 - Cont. by Krasnaya Zarya (Wednesday, September 27, 2006)

(posted Monday, September 25, 2006)

“No...” Alex's voice was quiet, yet firm. It was the voice that his wife had long since associated with the “serious Alex”, that reclusive part of his psyche normally hidden underneath various layers of sarcasm and cynicism.

“No?” Viy raised a thick, bushy eyebrow and pressed the tip of the blade against Sofia's skin.

“No. You win.” Alex lowered his head, averting his eyes from the sight before him. This was unexpected; when she was some nebulous concept, he had truly been willing to sacrifice her life, but with her sitting a mere meter away... “What do you want from me?”

“Your knowledge, of course.” Viy lowered the knife and calmly slipped it back into his belt. “Your brain. Aleksander Mikhailovich Rabinovich was a genius, and seeing that you made it here, that you have managed to survive where he did not... You are the much greater prize.”

I lived because of Sofia, he thought to himself, images from years of hospital rooms and experimental laboratories flashing through his mind, focusing on the one fixture, the common denominator in his foggy memory. This one did the same... I owe her that much.

“So where do we start?” Alex mumbled, torn between his sense of duty to protect the world and science from men like this Agent Viy, and his duty to his wife. At the moment the latter was winning out, but he wasn't sure for how long, or how far. At some point, he would have to put an end to it...

“There are a variety of objects that were confiscated from you,” Viy started pacing around the room, his hands clenched behind his back, making a large circle around the desk and its two occupants, “that I have already had my guards question you about. This questioning will continue, and you will instruct us exactly how to operate these machines, and the science behind their functioning.”

Viy changed direction, leaving his makeshift circle for a table that had been hidden in the shadows until recently. Alex was able to recognize some of his gadgets, but most of the table was obscured from his position.

“And then you will inform us how to reactivate the portal to your world.” Viy turned around to face Alex. “You would not come here without a way home, and I must know it.”

“All of this will take time-”

“You have no time!” Viy shouted, cutting him off. It was not a shout of anger, but annoyance. “Your double tried to stall, and I shot him for it. A brilliant scientist can document something so simple in a day.”

You have no time...

The words rang within Alex's mind, striking a dissonant chord.

Time was counting down. It had been some unknown period of time since he last took his medication – two days? Three? He could already feel the effects of his illness bearing down on him, the weight of the last few energetic days crashing through his thin frame. He had been holding back the waves of nausea, the headaches, riding the adrenalin that always came with battling some villainous foe. But now...

In another day, the migraines would be too painful to think straight, and the day after that would bring blackouts. If he didn't release his energy somehow, he would have only a week to live, unless there were decent doctors here who could correctly diagnose his seizures.

That was a solution.

“A day?” Alex shook his head. “My machines are complex, and the science even more so. It would take a week, at the least, to cover everything. You don't teach Quantum Mechanics to children in a day.”

“One day to go over all these devices, or she dies.” Viy turned to the side and slid his hand over the table.

“Then it will take years for you to understand them,” Alex replied. If he could delay for even four days, that would be enough to bring an end to his life... He would just need to find a way to break Sofia out. “Maybe, if your scientists and guards are intelligent, it can be done in five days. Maybe.”

“Today, we will see what you can do...” Viy acquiesced. “If I think you are stalling, I will kill you and her, and let my scientists examine them. It is a risk I am willing to take.”

“Fine,” Alex muttered, staring down at the ground. Four days...

Viy crossed and slammed something on the desk. Alex looked up at the shiny case of his laptop and gaped.

“Start with this portable computer,” Viy commanded, sneering. “Aleksander thought to hide it by giving it to his wife, but nothing is beyond my grasp. Tell me the password to get past the log on prompt, and show me what it can do.”

Alex remained still, his mind ablaze. He had not brought the laptop, Sofia was using it at the university.

Then how did it get here?

His eyes slid to the unconscious woman across the desk. Somehow, she had gotten the laptop from his wife...

Is Sofia here?