The Ring Makers: Chapter 53

Hyong sat in the back of the plane amid soldiers and technicians. Despite the parka he wore, the cold sliced through him. He resolved to accept it. Whatever shelter had been built at the Ring site would be no warmer.

 

He was glad Miss Ryu remained back in the city. He would not like to see her so cold.

 

He fell asleep only briefly during the long flight. He did not remember the dream but it had woke him in a sweat despite the chill. Hyong did not believe in premonitions but could not shake the feeling of doomed inevitability.

Chapter 52

The Ring Makers: Chapter 52

Genet sketched. He stopped, examined his work, frowned and crumpled the paper into a ball. He had intended to draw Ephrim. Why had it looked so much like Ajani?

 

Turiq stepped onto the patio and waited.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Enlightened One, it is your sister.”

 

Genet blew out a sigh. “See her in, I guess.”

 

“Sir,” said Turiq with a scowl, “she is not here. She is in the square.”

 

Genet stood and scowled himself. “What do you mean?”

 

“She is preaching.”

 

Genet fumed. “Unacceptable!”

 

Turiq asked, “Do you wish me collect her?”

 

Genet considered his answer.

 

“Or silence her?”

Chapter 51

Chapter 53

The Ring Makers: Chapter 51

The town hall meeting took place outside: good weather, Monica wanted to project the view from the telescope in real time, and too damn many people to fit inside.

 

Surprised gasps gave way to concerned mumbling, which gave way to frightened shouts.

 

“Who survived the rocks well enough to put up satellites?”

 

“Do they know we are here?”

 

“How long have you been hiding this?”

 

“How do you know it isn’t the aliens?”

 

Monica did her best to answer everyone, mostly with a comforting version of, “I don’t know?”

 

Ellie passed Luiz and Hutch a concerned look of her own.

Chapter 50

Chapter 52

The Ring Makers: Chapter 50

“The energetic event was almost certainly another Ring attempting to open,” said Hyong to the monitor.

 

General Namgung looked unconvinced. “Almost certain?”

 

Hyong stifled an exasperated sigh. “Science is never perfectly certain, General.”

 

“We will retask the satellite to locate this new Ring,” Numgung said before the monitor went dark.

 

Hyong rubbed his eyes.

 

Miss Ryu handed him a cup of tea. “The latest data is compiled,” she said.

 

“Thank you,” he said. He started toward his desk, then added, “Miss Ryu, we will be working late.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Perhaps we can have dinner together first.”

 

“Yes, sir,” she smiled.

Chapter 49

Chapter 51

The Ring Makers: Chapter 49

Ajani fell. He landed and felt his wrist snap just before his head bounced off the floor. Darkness.

 

Later he woke. His face was sticky with dried blood. His wrist throbbed. Ten meters above, the pit gaped at the wheeling alien stars.

 

He heard the rustling flap of scavengers and shuddered. The stench of decay was overwhelming. He could not see bodies but he knew they must but near. The pit had become Genet’s symbol of exile from paradise.

 

Ajani did not pray. Nor did he weep. He crawled carefully into the darkness, feeling for alien sigils on the floor.

Chapter 48

Chapter 50

The Ring Makers: Chapter 48

Ellie crested the hill out of breath and more irritated than she had been when Monica’s call interrupted her sleep.

 

“What the hell–”

 

“This is Jordon,” interrupted Monica. She indicated the skinny black kid standing next to an impressive amateur telescope.

 

“Ok,” said Ellie. She liked being Monica’s de facto second in command most of the time. Most.

 

“Tell her,” said Monica.

 

Jordon read Ellie’s expression. “Let me show you,” he said and pointed to the eye piece.

 

Ellie sighed and bent down to look. “What–? Oh. Oh shit.”

 

“Yeah,” said Monica.

 

“It’s a satellite,” said Jordon. “A manmade satellite.”

Chapter 47

Chapter 49

The Ring Makers: Chapter 47

On the ice covered plains of the north pole, the Great Ring, far larger than the others on the planet, completed. It crackled with energy and burst with light and then, as it had thousands of times before, it failed. A portion of the Great Ring exploded, showering the plains with giant black stones. The missing section was nearly half a degree wide and would take months or longer to repair itself, as it had thousands of times before.

 

Elsewhere, very far away, the Sentinel watched its Ring open briefly and then close, as it had thousands of times before.

Chapter 46

Chapter 48

The Ring Makers: Chapter 46

“There are nine Rings on this world,” Hyong told the Supreme Leader, “two more than on Earth.”

 

The Supreme Leader’s eyes shone hungrily. “Where do they go?”

 

“Unknown,” said Hyong with an apologetic bow. “They appear to be inactive.”

 

“Find out!” demanded the Supreme Leader.

 

General Namgung bowed and said, “There is something else, Supreme Leader. Our satellites show that two of the active Rings’ cities are occupied.”

 

The Supreme Leader’s irritation only increased. “Which ones?”

 

“The North American Ring and the North African Ring, sir.”

 

“They are of no consequence,” sneered the Supreme Leader.

 

Hyong was not so certain.

Chapter 45

Chapter 47

The Ring Makers: Chapter 45

Genet paced thoughtfully. Ajani stood uncomfortably with Turiq so close behind him he could feel the man’s breath. Finally, Genet said, “Leave us,” and Turiq did. Ajani relaxed but only a little.

 

“I am worried for you, Ajani,” said Genet. “This report you sent me. This blasphemy.”

 

Ajani shook his head. “No, Enlightened One, not blasphemy. I only applied the–”

 

Genet silenced him with a motion. “You are confused.”

 

“No, I–”

 

Genet came close and met Ajani’s eyes. “No? Then you intend to blaspheme?”

 

Ajani trembled. “I only told you the truth.”

 

Genet kissed his forehead and then summoned Turiq.

Chapter 44

Chapter 46

The Ring Makers: Chapter 44

The key were the crystals, the ones found in the black rocks in the ejection zone. They were batteries.

 

Hutch who figured out how to install them safely in the alien machines. It did not take long for New Deaver City to come alive with rolling heptahedrons, floating spheres and giant undulating robot worms.

 

The Ring builders had stocked the city with millions of the devices and the crystals were plentiful Earthside. No one had to fight over access; right of way was a different story.

 

Mayor Monica worried aloud, “I don’t think these things were left here for us.”

Chapter 43

Chapter 45