Chapter 3- Hidden Machinations

 

 

 

 

Garden City Hotel

 

            Tristan woke up early the next morning, though he didn’t intend to set out into the city until around 10:00.  Pulling away the starched white, thinly made hotel sheets, he rose messily out of bed and opened the curtains on the far side of the room.  It was about 7:00 in the morning, making this comparably a day that he was able to sleep late.  Even for the past week of lounging in the hotel, he had been working from sun-up to sun down, gathering information about the planet, and relaying it back to the Weatherlight.

 

            It was like this on every planet that the Watchers surveyed first.  It was normally at least a week of observation before plans could be enacted.  Planetary history, military history, social history, and political structure were all important.  Did they use telephones or some alternate communication?  How did they dress?  It was all a big game of espionage that the Watchers played.  Some things could be traced from Dominion Records, saving some time, but most of the Lavoid infested planets that they had dealt with were avoided by the Dominion.  Perhaps the Dominion knew more about Lavoids then they had originally stated?

 

            He made contact with the Weatherlight at about 7:45, after showering and gathering his equipment.  He was immediately placed through to Jack, as he was on every mission.  The Watchers, for the most part, reported directly to the Captain of their ship.  Jack didn’t want information about recruitment passing though the chain of command to much.

 

            “You’re going after him today?” Jack asked, once the communications patch was open.  Jack almost sounded bored, not receiving as much excitement as he would like.  Tristan could hear the sound of Sarah eating breakfast in the background over the speaker phone.

 

            “That’s the plan, boss,” Tristan said.  “I’ve got all the info down.  I’m worried he might resist a bit.”

 

            “Do you have a cover story?”

 

            “I’m going with the Ithilmar story, Jack,” Tristan said.  “I’ve procured the materials from a counterfeiter down town.  Also, I’ve been working on accessing the Ithilmar network, but it’s much better guarded than even the highest military sites on the Lyons network.”

 

            “They’re much more secretive, obviously,” Jack said.  “And they’re hiding something.  Regardless, we have, for when you need them, mappings of all of the Ithilmar cities that we’ve located from orbit.  They’ve been using some sort of cloaking device to keep them hidden from plain view, making finding them a bit of a hassle.”

 

            “Any idea which one is their capital?”

 

            “Probably the biggest one,” Jack said.  “But if, or more likely when, you have to go there, we’ll hopefully have maps of the city layouts as well.  What are you posing as when you address him?”

 

            “Ithilmar Military Intelligence,” Tristan said.  “I just hope he hasn’t been approached by them already.  That could blow everything.”

 

            “We know something caused that outburst of Lavoid Energy,” Jack admitted.  “He may have already been contacted by a military establishment.”

 

            “What do you have on this M-1 stuff?” Tristan asked.  “I’ve been hard pressed to acquire anything on it.”

 

            “Same here,” Jack said.

 

            “And I can’t see anything down there,” came Sarah’s voice.  “There’s to much energy interference.  I either need to be closer, or we need to wipe out what’s causing it.  I don’t know yet.”

 

            “You’re company’s always welcome down here, Sarah,” Tristan said.  “If you ever want to come down…”

 

            “Shut up, Tristan,” Jack snapped.  “We’ll send men down when we’re ready.  In the mean time, we need to make contact with this boy.”

 

            “Again, though, what about M-1?  I think they’re major players.  He’s wanted for something having to do with the M-1 agreement.  I think their terms of service to Lyons is possibly involved in his capture.  That would make the Lyons Government hot after him.”

 

            “We’re looking into it,” Jack said.  “But we don’t even know where they operate out of.  We need to see some mobilization of M-1 units.  Then at least we can analyze something.”

 

            “There hasn’t been any activity on the front?”

 

            “Not yet.  It’s like someone is waiting for something.  It appears as if we picked a good time to find this planet.”

 

            “What about trying to draw M-1 out with a mock attack?”

 

            “No,” came Sarah’s voice again.  “I think going after this…Tyrion, will be enough.  It’s not prescience this time,” she admitted.  “Call it a hunch.  If he’s important to some agreement between M-1 and Lyons, I think if we bring him out into the open, then M-1 can’t be far behind.”

 

            “Right,” Tristan agreed.  “I’m off then.  I need to eat first, and then we’ll see about this boy.”

 

            “Keep us posted, Tristan,” Jack said.  “And don’t do anything rash.  We don’t need our presence known, yet.”

 

            “You got it, chief,” Tristan said.  “Talk to you later.”  With that, he hung up the phone and got dressed.  Downing some coffee from the automatic coffee brewer in the room, he headed down to get something to eat.

 

.

 

Tyrion’s Home, Garden City

 

            Something resounded in the distance, but Tyrion couldn’t pick up what it was.  Some kind of ringing, or a bell of some kind.  He wondered for a moment whether he was even conscious or not, finally realizing that he was just waking from sleep.  He was in his room, his face planted on his computer keyboard.  On the screen in front of him, a paper titled “Alternate Sources of Energy, Solving the Fuel Problem,” remained unfinished.  He looked at his watch.  It was 10:00.

 

            “Did I fall asleep?” he asked himself.  Then he realized that he never called Rachel.  “Oh, man.  I hope she’s not upset.  I was supposed to go over there last night.  I guess I really was more tired than I thought…”

 

            He pushed himself up from the chair and noticed that he was indeed wearing the same clothes that he had been wearing the night before.  His lack of sleep had caught up to him.  He must have passed out at around 9:30 last night, while he was still typing his paper.  Climbing to his feet, he looked at himself in the mirror.  His hair was disheveled, his clothes wrinkled, and his eyes drooping from lack of sleep.  He looked paler than usual, his amethyst eyes showing darker than they normally did.

           

            It wasn’t until after a minute of looking at himself, he realized what the ringing was.  It was coming from downstairs.  It was, of course, the doorbell. 

 

            “Who comes over at 10:00 on a Saturday?” he asked himself, finding his way to the door and heading downstairs to meet the lunatic who’s up by 10:00 on a morning like this and had time to come and visit.  The entry hall to his house was of decent girth with about five feet of wall space on either side of the inward opening door.  Looking out of peep-hole, he saw a man, about 20 years old, with long blonde hair and a black trench coat. 

 

            “What the?” he asked himself, becoming slightly cautious.  Slowly, he opened the door just enough to look out of the crack and speak to the man in front of him.

 

            “What do you want?” he asked impolitely.

 

            “Sorry to wake you,” the man on the other side of the door said.  “My name is Tristan Tenser.  I was wondering if I could speak with you.”

 

            “About what?” Tyrion asked, now on guard for sudden action on the man’s part.

 

            “I’d like to talk about you,” Tristan said.  “Please, can I come in?”  Tyrion realized something was most definitely up.

 

            “Who do you work for?” Tyrion asked, somewhat sneering.

 

            “I’m from Ithilmar Intelligence,” Tristan said, waving the false identification he had gained earlier that week.  “I need to speak to you about some events that have recently happened.”  He was being deceptively clever in his wording, not letting his own relative lack of knowledge on the situation become apparent.

 

            “Ithilmar?” Tyrion asked, never connecting the mysterious country to anything besides his martial arts training.  Something was up, but he wasn’t sure yet.

 

            “That’s what I said,” Tristan repeated.  “Are you going to let me in?”  Tyrion didn’t say anything for about half a minute.  This was wrong.

 

            “…Sure…” Tyrion said hesitantly, knowing full well that this was going to be a problem.  He retreated behind the door to give himself cover.  Slowly, he opened the door, remaining behind it for as long as possible.  “Please…come right in.”  Tristan casually accepted the invitation, but once Tyrion could see the very tip of Tristan’s nose from around the door, he acted quickly, slamming the door shut, ramming it into Tristan’s shoulder.   Then, swinging around in a circle, he brought his leg up at Tristan’s face, attacking at the nose with his heel.  His movement was as quick as he could muster, his training showing through in the perfect form of the attack.  He was greatly surprised, however, when his foot was caught by Tristan’s hand, and the blonde man was not even phased.

 

            “What?” Tyrion asked in shock.

 

            “Wow,” Tristan said, still holding Tyrion’s heel.  “Now, that kick is familiar, but I know Lucia doesn’t have that exact form documented yet.  But, they were right.  You certainly are fast.”

 

            Tyrion jumped backwards and got in a ready stance to fight.

 

            “No need for violence,” Tristan said, not even reaching for a gun.  “I just said I wanted to talk.”

           

            “Bull shit,” Tyrion spat, sliding forward with a swinging left knife edge attack and following with a reverse punch and then a close-quarter roundhouse.  His movements were nothing but blurs to the human eye, but Tristan blocked both hand attacks, and spun out of the way of the roundhouse.  Tyrion didn’t give up though, recovering and lashing out with a forward right palm strike and a flying knee towards Tristan’s gut.  Once again, Tristan deflected the palm strike, and side stepped the knee. 

 

            “It’s not much use,” Tristan said.  “I really don’t see why we have to fight.”

 

            “Ahh!” Tyrion yelled, wheeling back and launching a set of three side kicks at varying points on the body, and completing with a two handed palm thrust to Tristan’s chest.  Tristan swatted each kick out of the way, then in a swift motion of his left arm, blocked the two handed strike, swung his arms in a circle, and locked Tyrion’s wrists underneath his right arm.

 

            “Again, there’s no need for violence, Tyrion,” Tristan said, using Tyrion’s name for the first time.  “I’m not working for whoever you think I’m working for.”  Judging from Tyrion’s original question as to who he worked for, he could only guess that someone had already tried to contact him, as Jack had predicted.  Apparently the Tactical Indoctrination of Superior Logic really worked.  “I want to help.  You’re in deeper than you know.”

 

            Tyrion sneered, spinning leftward and ramming Tristan with his hip.  Tristan’s grasp let up a little and Tyrion continued spinning.  While he was facing his back to Tristan, he threw his head backwards in an attack, kept moving counter-clockwise, thrust his elbow to where Tristan’s gut should have been and then finished his circle with a open palm attack to Tristan’s jaw.  Not one of the attacks connected, save for his final one, as now Tristan held his wrist in his left hand.

 

            Tyrion spun his left foot around in a roundhouse at Tristan’s right knee, hoping to gain release from his grasp.  Tristan then, deciding that some impressive movements were required, raised his legs up above the attack, and began to hover mid air in a crouch, his arms spread out to the side.  Once he saw that his opponent was floating, Tyrion slowly backed up, halted his attack, but did not let down his guard.  He recognized the energy being given off.

 

            “Lifestream?” he asked, gasping for breath.  “Then…you know Nisai Ryu?”  Tristan was silent for a moment, not connecting that his use of Force Tech was being likened to something else.  Relying on his ability to read people, though, he quickly came up with something.

 

            “I told you so,” he said, not really knowing what he was referring to, finally dropping to the ground, his feet landing on the now dirtied tile floor.

 

            “Then you really are from Ithilmar,” Tyrion said.  He let down his guard.  “I’m sorry,” he said.  “And you are obviously of a higher level than I,” he admitted solemnly.  He closed his eyes and bowed his head to Tristan.  “Forgive my insolence, Master,” he said respectfully.  “I apologize for my rashness.”

 

            Tristan took in the situation momentarily.  Obviously, Tyrion was mistaking him for a member of his martial arts study, judging by the term ‘Master.’  He didn’t know much about whatever form of combat this was, but he would at least make some use of it.  He wondered for a moment about why he hadn’t learned about this style of combat and that Tyrion was a practitioner of it earlier, but it was too late now.

 

            “So will you speak with me now?” Tristan said, also lowering his hands.

 

            “About what?” Tyrion asked.  To be honest, Tristan didn’t really know what to ask the kid about.  All he really needed was a sample of his DNA to determine if he was a Planeswalker or not.  The rest of the information he could get would just be a bonus.

 

            “How about we talk about why you’re so jumpy,” Tristan said, hoping Tyrion would lead him to something interesting.  “What happened one week ago?”  He was referring to the date on which the flux of Lavoid Energy was picked up.  “I want to help.”  Tyrion sighed.

 

            “Come into the kitchen,” he said.  “I’ll tell you all about it.”

 

.

 

            “So basically you don’t know who’s after you, and that’s what it comes down to?” Tristan said, finally summing up Tyrion’s story.

 

            “That’s about it.  I mean, wouldn’t you be worried if this was happening to you?”

 

            “Oh, hell yeah,” Tristan agreed.  “Have you spoken to anyone about this?”

 

            “Only my girlfriend, Rachel,” Tyrion said.  Tristan was silent in thought for a minute. 

 

            “Would you mind if I took a tissue sample from you?” he finally said.

 

            “What for?”

 

            “Because I think I might know why those men are after you,” Tristan said, telling a part-truth.  “If I can get some information from you, I can run it by in my lab and I’ll get back to you.”

 

            “What do you think it is?” Tyrion asked hesitantly.

 

            “I can’t be sure yet,” he lied.  Tyrion blinked, and then nodded his head with a sigh.

 

            “Go for it,” he said.  Tristan reached into his coat and brought forth a small tubular device with a glistening metallic shell.  A few small red lights illuminated it’s surface.  On the bottom, there was a small hole and a series of ridges running in concentric circles around the device.

 

            “What’s that?” Tyrion said.

 

            “It’s a device for taking a full-core sample,” Tristan said.  “Skin, muscle, blood, bone.  All that good stuff.”

 

            “Wouldn’t that hurt?” Tyrion asked.

 

            “Nah,” Tristan said.  “It emits an energy pulse that deadens the nerves around the area while it works.  It takes less then a second.  I promise you won’t even feel it.”

 

            “I’ve never heard of anything like that,” Tyrion said, a little worried.

 

            “It’s an Ithilmar medical device,” Tristan lied, knowing full well that it was a tool solely belonging to the LEA Medical Division.  “We use them all the time.  Could you roll up your sleeve?” he asked.

 

            As Tyrion began to roll up his sleeve, he looked at Tristan.  “Why are you helping me?” he asked pleadingly.  “I don’t understand.  What good am I to anyone?”

 

            “It’s because your enemies might be making themselves enemies of us,” Tristan said again in half-truth.  “And if you are an enemy of my enemy, then you are, at the very least, partially my ally.”  He gritted his teeth and activated the device.  As he said, the machine whirred softly as a magical pulse momentarily deadened the nerves in the area in Tyrion’s forearm where he was sampling from.  It was a good thing, too, because in a flash, a needle flicked out of the hole on the base of the machine, gathered its sample, and disappeared back into the cylinder.  Before the wound could start to bleed, a secondary pulse wave caused instant clotting and formation of scar tissue.  The entire process was then marked by the small dot of scar tissue on the inside of Tyrion’s arm.

 

            “That’s it?” Tyrion asked, surprised at the extreme simplicity of the operation.

 

            “That’s it,” Tristan said, putting the machine away and rising from his seat.  He extended his hand.  Tyrion looked at it for a moment before finally meeting it and shaking it.

 

            “Here,” Tristan said, reaching into his jacket and producing a small white card.  “Take this.  Feel free to call me any time you want.”  He gave the card to Tyrion.  On the card, it said simply, Tristan Tenser, and then below it, Watcher.  On the base of the card, there was a thirteen digit number.

 

            “Thanks,” Tyrion said, putting the card in his back pocket.  “Is there…anything else?” he asked after a moment.

 

            “No,” Tristan said.  “I think we’re done.  Thank you for speaking to me.”  Tyrion led him to the front door.  Tristan opened the door and began to step out.  “And that girlfriend of yours,” he said with one foot out the door.  “Rachel, was it?”  Tyrion nodded.  “Check up on her, would you?  If you told her what happened, you never know what trouble you might have brought her into.”

           

            Tyrion didn’t answer for a moment, instead, just looking at Tristan blankly.  “Umm…yeah,” he finally said.  “Thanks.  I will.”

 

            “Watch yourself, Tyrion,” Tristan said, leaving the house.  Walking into the street, he casually strolled along, waiting until he was out of site before he began to teleport back towards his ship to check his new information.

 

            “Maybe I should check up on her,” Tyrion said, heading back into the house.  “She’s probably worried that I didn’t call.”  Closing the door, he headed to the kitchen to reach the phone.

 

.

 

Outside Garden City.

 

            Tristan was back at his ship in about 20 minutes, as it proved hard to find a decent place where he could teleport and not be seen.  Back in the lab in his ship, he deposited the entire metal test cylinder into a machine and it began to buzz.  The machine, like everything else in the lab, was silvery metallic in color.  The floors and walls, starched white, and the equipment, stainless steel, were the stereotypical coloring of an LEA lab.

 

            When the test results were in, there was a high pitched ping.  When Tristan walked over to it, he touched a small button and the information from the test was displayed on a large computer screen mounted on the wall of the lab.

 

            “Well son of a bitch…” Tristan commented as he surveyed the data.  In an instant, he was in the main cockpit, calling the Weatherlight.  The communications officer patched him through to Jack, who was in one of the data libraries at the time. 

 

            “It’s a match,” he said.  “He’s one of them.”

 

            “What data matches up?” Jack said calmly, temporarily ignoring what he was doing.

 

            “Everything,” Tristan said.  “You name it, it matches the criteria we set to determine what makes one.”

 

            “All the differences from a normal human, then?”

 

            “Muscle density is six times standard.  Bone density is ten times standard.  The differences in his hemoglobin matches.  The blood composition matches yours, and most importantly, the Lavoid Factor is there.

 

            “You tested his DNA, too, then?”

 

            “Yeah.  The Lavoid Factor Genomes are all where they’re supposed to be.  Interestingly enough, the Factor matches yours identically.  Didn’t we originally hypothesize that the Factors would be marginally different in each one?”

 

            “Originally, yes,” Jack said.  “Interesting indeed.  Perhaps we were wrong to assume that they would hold the same minor differences that the Lavoids that we’ve killed have held.  Perhaps there’s a specific set of the factor created solely for Planeswalker offspring?”

 

            “Or perhaps what you two possess is more of an ‘orignal’ Lavoid factor.  Still, it would make sense if the Lavoid Factors matched that of their parent Lavoids, rather than that of other Planeswalkers.”

           

            “Have you checked the entire strain?”

 

            “Not completely.  I’m judging on outward appearance.”

 

            “Make sure you run a scan on all the Factor Genomes and match them up to mine.  If there is a difference, we should know it.  That way, we might be able to determine the genetic makeup of his parent Lavoid.”

 

            “I’ll get on it right away.”

 

            “Keep in touch, Tristan,” Jack said.  Then, he cut off communications and went back to what he was reading before.  The title of what he was reading simply read, “Chaos.”

 

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Garden City Suberbs

 

            Tyrion walked back into the house after the man with the black trench coat had left.  He still didn’t know if he could trust him, even if he was a member of the Nisai Ryu.  Maybe he shouldn’t have let him poke him with that machine, either.  Dumbly, he rubbed the small scar on his forearm.  He would have to call Rachel.  Tristan had been right.  She might be in trouble, now.

 

            Walking into the kitchen again, he grabbed the phone and sat down on one of the chairs, placing his feet up on the table and reclining.  Dialing Rachel’s number, he took a deep breath.  The phone rang on the other end and he was very happy when met by the sound of her voice.

 

            “Hello?” Rachel asked.

 

            “It’s me,” Tyrion said simply.

 

            “Tyrion!?” she exclaimed.  “Where were you last night?  You said you’d come over.”

 

            “I fell asleep writing my paper.  I’m sorry.”

 

            “I missed you.  It was boring without you.”

 

            “I know.  I’m sorry.”

 

            “Well, then…I guess it’s okay,” she said.  “Will you at least come over some time today?  We have to make up for lost time.”

 

            “Yeah, I’ll come over in a bit.  Just talk to me, for now, though.”

 

            “Why?”

 

            “I like to hear your voice.”

 

            “Aw, that’s sweet, but is something wrong?”

 

            “No.”

 

            “You’re lying.”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “What happened?”

 

            “It’s…okay.  Something happened.  Another man made contact with me today.  He claimed he was from Ithilmar.”

 

            “What did you do?”

 

            “I spoke with him.”

 

            “Why?”

 

            “Because…he knew Nisai Ryu.  I tried to fight him, when he came inside, but you should have seen him.  Everything I did, he blocked.  All my attacks, no matter how fast they went.  He was good.  Faster than me.  I haven’t had someone faster than me in awhile.”

 

            “And then what happened?”

 

            “Well, I let him in, and I spoke to him.  I guess it was a matter of respect for a superiorly ranked member of the Nisai Ryu.  I suspect I couldn’t of fought him off if I had tried.  He was far to strong.”

           

            “So what did you talk about?”

 

            “He…knew that people were after me.  He said he might know why.  He took a sample of my tissue.”

 

            “Are you okay?  I was worried that something bad had happened when you didn’t call last night. I didn’t expect anything had happened this morning.”

 

            “Yeah…well….Rachel, has anyone tried to speak with you recently?  Someone that you don’t know, maybe?”

 

            “I don’t think so.  Not since you saw me last, anyway.  Do you think I’m in trouble?” she asked almost comically.

 

            “I don’t know.”

 

            “I can fend for myself, Tyrion.  This is a safe town. I don’t think I need to worry about anyone breaking into my house and pinning me down and talking to me.  You worry about yourself.  In fact, I’m coming over right now.  We can– ”  Something cut her off.

 

            “Rachel?”

 

            “What the?” came her voice, but it wasn’t being directed to the phone.  Almost as if she was holding the phone down by her waist.

 

            “Rachel?!” he asked again.  Then his heart jumped up to his throat.

 

            “AHH~!” Came a blood curdling scream from the other side of the line.

 

            “Rachel!!” he demanded this time, but her end of the line was quickly disconnected and he was met with an answer in the bitter form of a dial tone.  “Mother fucker!” he yelled, dropping the phone and sprinting to the front door.  Nearly ripping it off its hinges as he opened it, he bolted out of the house, down the steps and into his car.  In an instant, the engine roared loudly before he snapped it into reverse and it swerved out of the driveway.  He shifted the car into gear and he peeled out before sending it screaming down the street, the smell of burned rubber the only thing left behind him.

 

.

 

“It didn’t surprise me that they would go to her.  I mean, hell, that’s what I would have done if I was in their shoes.  It’s the way the game is played.” –Tristan Tenser

 

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