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Chapter LIV

As the mini-sub pulled into a quay at Port Encounter in South Australia, the light began its slow transition into evening. Only a few people gathered on the dock, a few seamen with mooring lines held loose in their hands, an officer of the watch standing at attention.

“Well, this isn’t quite the welcome I expected,” said Frankie. D stood up from the fold-out chair behind him and coughed once. The interior of the sub had been silent for days and now the impromptu crew of the sub, which they had dubbed, “The Exodus,” began to stretch.

They heard the sharp metal thud as the hull of the Exodus struck the quay. The mooring lines splashed on the other side of the sub, the fabric of the ropes rasping against the metal surface. Shield clambered up the conn tower, flipped open the hatch and hailed their small welcoming party.

“Welcome to Australia,” the officer called up to him. His smile was wide and friendly. “If you can disembark we will begin the process of completing your arri…

Chapter LIII

The Supreme Archon arrived the next morning and entered the Master’s chamber with an obsequious bow.

“We have located the other vessel, my lord,” the Archon said in a soft voice. The Master’s trust for him had not wavered despite the many years since their last conversation. If only the Archon had possessed the traits he needed for a vessel. It would have made many things simpler.

But alas, The Master had to make do with this man’s unwavering support.

“Where?” The Master said. The night’s decrepitude was lingering on his current body, the youth of Nicholaus slow to return to his body.

“Australia. Adelaide.”

“Do we have resources in place?”

“Soon.”

The Master succumbed to gravity and let his still frail body fall back onto the bed. To kill or capture. He did not trust Spaceman but Hugo’s incompetence couldn’t be overlooked. Perhaps a struggle was required. Bring Simplex to the church unbeknownst to Spaceman and let them duel for the privilege of being a ve…

Chapter LII

The tiny submarine surfaced north of the Antarctic circle on June 22nd. The passengers were able to establish contact with a listening station in New Zealand and eventually got routed to a secure line with the Chief. Marcus was at first tempted to lock himself in the forward cabin with the radio but what would be the point? It was clear from the Chief’s incredulous tone he had long written off the entire team.

“I simply not understand how you could abandon a member of your team on the field, Shield,” the Chief said.

“He abandoned us, sir!” Marcus said, about to smash his crippled hand on the radio board before thinking better of it. “He turned double agent, Chief. Both Simplex and LeHaze confirmed it.”

Simplex, lashed to one of the fold-down chairs in the cabin, shouted over to the radio. “It’s true!”

Frankie shot him a look from the pilot chair of the sub. Simplex gave a half-hearted smile and then regained his silence. Melissa looked up from her control panel and sh…

Chapter LI

Part 3:

The church, Inglesia del Amor Inmortal de la Virgen Madre por su Santisima Nino de Santo Sacremento, stood as it always had, at the back of the town at the end of the road in the middle of Atacama Desert. A long, long time ago the ground beneath the inglesia had been a temple, a simple stepped mound of the sort The Master commissioned everywhere he stayed more than a fortnight. At some point those original people disappeared and the sand swallowed all their labor.

The church offended him. All these later religions were either acts of rebellion or the crude approximations of his dreams, nothing but the work of people. He had little respect for those.

Back when he had dwelled in this part of the world he had been known as “The Staff God,” a fertility god for the most part. They credited him with the advent of potatoes, or quinoa, or maize. He tended to lose track after a while. He had not created every animal of use to mankind in the world but some of his more drastic int…

Interlude: Antarctica and Beyond

She saw all and knew more.

The place of knowledge looked exactly like the waking world in its details, its strangeness revealed only by implication. Looking down at her own body she knew she was dead. And yet the possibilities of her life were not entirely spent. She knew this too. Part of her wanted to simply slip back into her body and let the Charm of Utanghk do its work but she wasn’t ready to do that.

D pulled away from her body and the sub. In the ghostly second sight of the place of knowledge she perceived the submarine had already moved some distance from the dying Delta Omega Base. She watched the sub pass beneath the dark vaults of ice and turned her attention to colossal structure shuddering above.
Standing in front of it in the waking world, the station was simply a structure, impressive but also sterile. From within the place of knowledge she gained an appreciation for the effort that had gone into its creation. To see it brought low was an occasion not for celebration but …

Chapter L

It was immediately apparent they were traveling downwards, not up. Marcus wondered aloud what sort of transportation they were going to find at the bottom of the station.

“A submarine,” Simplex answered matter-of-factually.

“A submarine encased in ice?”

“No,” Hugo said. “Open water.”

“This whole station floats?”

“Of course! That is what it is designed to do. No section of ice, however deep, could be guaranteed to support a structure this massive. What would happen if a freak warming spell intruded into the deep Antarctic? The builders of this place designed it to melt a hole through the ice into the cavern and float there like a rubber duck in a bathtub. This underside is a convenient place to store submarines, no?”

“Very convenient,” D said sunnily.

“Ah, we are coming to the first challenge of our escape from the Delta Omega.”

Ahead of them, the corridor was blocked off by a set of heavy steel doors. Each door had a small round window mounted about eye level. Steam and condensation blocked …