Chapter 10 - Tragedy
Tisa ran away, crying. Sila stood near the window, looking at the two buildings that Raldir looked at all those times. She didn't make the faintest noise, sobbed endlessly.
Ecthellis left the main control room. He walked towards the elevator and pressed the button that would bring him to their apartment. When he arrived, he immediately continued to Tisa's room. The door was left open.
Ecthellis did not know what to say, buy luckily Tisa already spoke: "He said he had a plan to save the node. Now he's dead."
"Father's gone crazy..." Ecthellis said
"We've got to put an end to it!"
"Yeah, but how? I can't kill him like he killed his own son."
"For him, we're no children! For me, he's no father!"
"I..." Ecthellis started, but he had no words.
"Ecthellis, we've got to do something. If it goes on like this, [/i]he will kill anyone who disagrees with him. He's turned into a tyrant."
"I know that the node is in peril because of his mistakes, even though his plan was actually great. He should've thought of the consequences though. I'll talk to him and try to persuade him to start a second settlement. There's a great group of islands, some nine thousand kilometres away.
The radiation is almost completely nullified at that distance. We can grow food there and transport it back here. The right crops can be harvested within three months. Father will have to inform the people about the food situation. That will cause issues. The people won't be happy. If I can tell him about my plan and mention that we can solve these issues before anyone will notice them, then he'll automatically comply." Ecthellis concluded.
"That won't be enough just for now," Tisa said, "we've got to get rid of him. He may not control this node, this prison for much longer."
"How do you plan to 'get rid' of him? You can't just kill him!"
"I don't know." Tisa said. Ecthellis suddenly noticed that her desperate tone had returned in her voice.
Tisa was changing, psychically. She changed faster than other girls and differently too. It rally started when they went to this planet, when Bidard took his 'family' without asking their opinions.
It infuriated Tisa because made her feel worthless. She almost got into a depression. When she met her boyfriend, she came alive again. She knew she meant something, that there were others, apart from her family, who loved her. Her boyfriend had supported her and she learned to be determined.
She still had trouble with that, but was improving. Raldir's death had apparently given her the motivation to do something about the man who was supposed to be their father.
Only, she didn't yet know how...
"What have you done?! What have you done?!"
"I had no choice, Sila. I really had no choice."
"You did have a choice and you know it. You could've kept him here, then he didn't have to go in his ACU. Then you didn't have to irritate him so much.
If you didn't have to irritate him so much, he wouldn't have turned off the transmission. But why, why did you kill him?!"
"Sila, he was a threat to us. He could've attacked the node!"
"He would never do that! All he wanted was the node's welfare. He was a better man than you!"
"Sila, please, we've got work to do, ensure that the node will now fare well, despite for this sudden treachery. I've got things to take care of, business to attend to." Bidard tried to evade the matter, but he was too obvious and Sila cried in agony: "Yeah, right, you don't even think about us, about what else is in your life! I should've stopped you from the beginning. Then we'd still have our family in the Hexaplain node!"
Sila ran out of Sung's personal office room, angry and determined that she would never say a word to him again. But even she could not know that it would turn out that way...
"Father." Ecthellis said.
"Ecthellis, what is it? Are you going to blame me for Raldir's death? Are you going say that I should calm down with my experiments again? Or are you going to tell me that we mustn't put the people on a one third ration but have to get food in another way?
Whatever it is... I'm not in the mood, I need to think."
"Why do you want to think by yourself, father? It's a sign of strength if you know what you are and what you aren't capable of, if you accept other people to share ideas."
"What do you want to say with that?!" Bidard said angrily.
"I'm saying that it might be wise to ask others if they've got a plan." Ecthellis answered.
"Oh really? Then I'll get started immediately: do you have a plan?" Bidard asked.
"Yes, I do. In fact, I already started it. No, please listen!" Ecthellis said when he saw that his father wanted to cut him off. "I sent special scouting planes to a group of islands, nine thousand kilometres away. The ground there is useful to grow food. The right crops allow us to harvest a new batch before we run out of food here. The people don't have to know anything about the problem we face now. We will make tell the public of this new settlement of course, so that half of this node will go with me to this other group of islands. Two settlements are better than one."
"What if the crops are ruined?" Bidard asked.
"We've got three months to think about that, assuming that they are going to get ruined." Echtellis simply answered.
"We could raid UEF or Aeon settlements, but we can't attack with more than two ACUs. A strike team would be required as well, so an assault on the enemy, just for food, is too much work." Bidard said.
"Then we've got to fall back on the quickly processed... 'food'." Echtellis said, with the emphasis on the last word.
"No!" Bidard said loudly. "That won't happen! That stuff is just revolting!"
"Several nodes, if not most by now, seem to be fine with it."
"But I am not! One of my key points in the elections, was to reserve the properly grown crops, that almost made me win the last one in the Hexaplain node. If it seems that we won't get a nice batch of food from the harvest on those new islands, we'll have to act immediately. We might be able to raid a settlement after all, but that requires time to plan, so we must know what we're up to as soon as possible."
"What if we tell the people of the issues, so that they know something may be up ahead?" Echtellis asked.
"I'll make a speech, I'll explain it as a plan instead of a problem, then the people won't get... nervous." Bidard said, knowing that nervous would be a serious understatement.
"I will need people. Engineers, farmers, etcetera." Ecthellis told his father.
"You will have them. They will help the node immediately. They feel the same ambition and loyalty for the node as I do. If the plan works, the first expansion of our node is a fact."
Three months later...
"A batch of food is coming from the Vast Ocean settlement. The fifth batch today, sir."
"Our plan worked without a hitch, perfect. I will contact Ecthellis and tell him to give the final report." Bidard said and he closed the transmission with the newly appointed food coordinator. He immediately contacted his son:
"Don't talk to me like that, will you?" Ecthellis answered.
"Just tell me what happened this week."
"Nothing special. Anyway, we've got enough food. This region can support all three hundred thousand of us with ease. I think that we can eventually support more than a million, just here."
"That's good. Now, I need you here again." Bidard said, seeming to have forgotten that he and his son were talking about the food status.
"Science projects, Ecthellis."
"What's the plan now? Don't come up with something totally ridiculous."
"The QLD wasn't ridiculous."
"It seemed ridiculous in the first place, but please don't tell me you're trying to build walking ships or something like that, just to get rid of the days of work to get ship wrecks on the beach."
"No," Bidard answered, "that be stupid. I expect you to be here in two days."
The next day...
"No! Tell me it's not true." Sila cried.
"Yes, it is. I just found it out while I was checking the quantum network." The hacker answered.
"No, my family..." Sila said in desperation, and she walked out of the hacker's room.
In the main control room, Sila walked towards the windows where Raldir stood so many times. Her life had changed so much in so little time. Too much, too soon.
"Where is Bidard?!" Sila's loud words broke the room's relative silence.
"Mister Sung is currently unavailable. Can I take a message?" One of the officers said while he stood up from his chair.
"I have to talk to my husband! He is the only one who might[i] understand!" Sila said.
"He is currently unavailable, please calm down, it can't be that important, can it?"
Sila screamed in anger, did she have to tell these people? The ones who didn't really care about what would happen outside of the node? The ones who still had their family, here? She didn't have a choice however:
"The Hexaplain node has been attacked by the Aeon. It's completely destroyed. I must speak to Bidard, as he must know of this and inform the node of our loss!"
"I'll get him immediately madam." The officer said, who finally seemed to understand the importance of the matter.
For ten awkward and agonizing minutes, Sila paced up and down in the main control room. Of all those things that could happen, this was what she had to hear from a hacker who managed to break through the Phantom node's firewall.
How could it happen that the technical staff restricted this piece of information?
The Cybrans were all brothers and sisters. They shared the freedom, they fought for the enslaved, together. But they also shared the happiness and sadness. Then why was the destruction, the cleansing of the Hexaplain node, the loss of all those people, who were family of the civilians here, why was that held back? It happened a week ago already.
"What, how does she know?" Bidard asked angrily.
"You know of it too?!" The officer asked, shocked by the fact that Sung had apparently held back this crucial piece of information.
"Seven days ago, doctor Brackman informed me. I ordered the tech team not to let any of the news about the Hexaplain node to get through. If the people would know about this, the morale would plummet. We couldn't allow that to happen, just after we sorted out all of the issues with our food supply. Now, tell me, how could this have happened?"
"I think that it's a either a hacker who managed to evade the firewall, or one of the tech team got disloyal and told your wife." The officer said.
"Find this man, contact the tech team and ask for all information you might need. But first, go back to Sila and tell her that I am busy and I'll speak to her this evening." Bidard said firmly.
"Sir, she sounded desperate, perhaps it's a better idea to—"
"You heard me, I will speak to her this evening."
"What did you just say?!" Sila said, not believing the officer.
"He had no time." The man answered. He didn't dare to look straight in Sila's face.
"Where is he, where is he?" Sila demanded, her voice grew louder and louder with every word.
"Madam, I'm not allowed to tell you where he is at the moment."
Then, it happened. Sila flew into a rage. One that was worse than anyone had ever witnessed. Anything that stood in the room would be thrown across. Sila seemed stronger than any time before. She had a strength that wasn't hers, but caused by the fury that controlled her.
"Tisa Sung? Come to the main control room immediately! Your mother's gone mad!" The officer yelled while he knocked on Tisa's door.
"What?! What happened?"
"I just heard it too and please don't get angry with me, the Hexaplain node has been attacked by the Aeon. They cleansed it."
"No, it can't be..." Tisa said. Her uncles, aunts, nephews... All were gone.
The only family she still had, were Ecthellis, her boyfriend Lars and his family, who had lost half of his family too, so it seemed now.
"Yes, I'm sorry. At least I still have my family here." The man said, while he took her towards the elevator. "What's worse, it happened a week ago and your father tried to cover it up so that he would keep the morale at a high level, because we had just heard that the food production at the Vast Ocean has become a good success."
"Yeah, why would he ruin the happy moment with really important news? " Tisa said sarcastically.
"We're here, perhaps you can calm her down." The officer said when they arrived at the control room.
"Are you going to get him already?"
"Madam he still doesn't want to—"
Sila cried again. It was too much for her, it all went too fast. Her husband had left her to die alone. He never thought of her anymore. She was alone. There was nothing left.
Her life was ruined as much as the tables, chairs and consoles in this control room. The charming boy that Bidard Sung was, ceased to exist a long time ago. She should've known it and stopped the nightmare far before he even planned to colonize this planet. The more time that passed, the more relatives had passed away. Her mother, five years ago. Her father, two years later. Three months ago, Raldir. Now, everyone that stayed behind in the Hexaplain node. But she lived on to suffer more and more of this misery. It had to end. All of it.
Sila saw that the officers all stood together, unable to think of a way to stop her. Whatever she would do now, they wouldn't stand in her way. She had to do it. There was no other way out of this.
Before anyone could respond, Sila jumped upon an officer and took his gun. While running towards the windows, she fired at one of them. The window she hit didn't seem to budge, but she fired again, again. Again and again. The officers lost count while yelling her to stop, not to do it, as they already knew what was going to happen. But just as they expected, Sila didn't hear anything of what they said.
Finally, the window shattered. The glass mostly fell outside of the building, falling down hundreds of metres. Sila stepped forward, ready to jump, wishing that everything could end. Knowing that everything would end.
This time Sila did hear someone. Her own daughter. Could she do this, jump? While Tisa was watching it happen. Sila didn't wish anything but the best for her, yet she wanted nothing but to end it for herself.
She turned around, looking at Tisa. An eternity, a terribly agonizing eternity seemed to pass before she said something to her:
"I can't go on like this... You must bring him down, I can't do it." Sila turned around again, looking at the ground far below her.
"Mum! No! Don't do it!" Tisa screamed.
Again, Sila turned around.
"You have grown so strong in the last time. You have the strength to live though this misery. You can bring him down. You still have a brother. You still have the love of a nice and kind boy. You are able to overthrow Bidard, to lead this node out of this hell. The people will accept you as they have accepted him, but they know that you won't become such a tyrant. When you lead the node, it'll be in peace. Do it for everyone, Tisa, do it for Raldir. Do it for me..."
Tisa screamed again. Louder than she could even imagine, now that her mother had let herself fall down from the building. While falling down, Sila embraced her last moments of her life, knowing it would all end...
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