One of the artefacts found in the moon base had reminded Adam and I of the device we’d found floating in orbit the first time they went to space – when we rescued the hibernating body of Charles MacAllister. Stef hadn’t seen it, so on returning to the Hub we took her to where it lay on Benedict’s desk as a paperweight; he’d seemingly been distracted when studying it, although the blueprints held beneath suggested he’d learnt as much from it as he’d needed to. Stef was fascinated.
We wanted to find out more about it. MacAllister explained it came up on the rocket with them as one of the projects to be worked on in the Galatea, the space station whose explosion more or less coincided with the eruption of the first known novas. The suspicion was that this device was in some way involved.
So, with MacAllister in tow, Adam and I flew to Florida to speak to the guy in charge of the mission. We learnt that he didn’t know how the item had been added, but that it shouldn’t have gone. However, its weight had been taken into account for the rocket launch which severely limited the number of people who could have got it into the mission.
Cape Canaveral itself was closed down due to the problems in the aftermath of Vienna, but we got a bit of advice and broke in to steal the CCTV records. We spotted someone behaving oddly – standing around, staring at walls for extended periods of time, as though in some kind of down-mode, and also bringing in and leaving a bag large enough to contain the device. The guy in charge confirmed this person had gone missing for weeks after the launch and had been fired as a result, but claimed to have no memory. We looked him up, but he wasn’t willing to talk beyond that he didn’t remember and actually didn’t want to remember. Disheartened, I was going to fly back to London, but Adam knocked the guy out and brought him with us.
We asked Sadiq, the emotion-manipulating nova who joined us in Tiblisi, to see if he could take a look. He’d spotted that ‘Benedict’ wasn’t quite right (“I never used to be able to see inside his head”). Fortunately, he seemed satisfied to stay quiet, so our body-double subterfuge would survive a little longer, at least. Sadiq, however, wasn’t able to help with this particular problem, and it was time to call in the big guns.
Team Tomorrow might be pretentious wankers (although the more I work with them, the more I think they’re not. I like Pax. But I still haven’t forgiven him for Minna Trang), but Antaeus is very good. He’s been doing something over in the Sahara, building on what he’d been working on in Vienna. Must get over and check it out at some point – if he can make the desert arable again, that would be pretty huge.
Antaeus was happy to come with us to check on our ‘patient’, who remained unconscious. We used Mark’s portal so Antaeus wouldn’t know where we were, but he was suitably impressed with our facilities.
He was very gentle with the man, resting his hands on his forehead and talking about the damage done whilst healing it: some telepath had gone in and hacked out parts of his memory. Antaeus gently put it back together, and told us what he saw. A man and woman had made the guy get the part on board the rocket. They were clearly novas, but this was before even Adam and I erupted. The woman was the telepath – careless or lacking talent, to have left such a mess – and the man had a strange accent.
Mark took Antaeus back and we discussed what he’d found. Along with Benedict’s notes on the device and Stef’s findings, we discarded our initial premise that the device was what had caused the eruptions, and instead surmised it was some kind of distraction against the real trigger, here on Earth. For now, we had no further leads on that.
Adam ran the guy back to his house and nicked his wallet, so he’d think he’d been burgled rather than abducted.