It was like putting the pieces together for a strange sinister puzzle. The Wanderer had managed to find the pieces necessary to put together a rudimentary computer. He had pulled out many of the pieces from an old ruin that was nearby. He had greatly underestimated what was needed to make one of these things work.
He had expected Esta to be able to find him information that could help him construct it but the amount of small detail work that was needed was beyond anything he could reproduce with what he currently had. The best that he was able to do was repair some of the pieces that he found.
Still he was surprised how much he had actually been able to find. He had been forced to go deep into some of the ash caverns to find parts of the ruined city that hadn’t been completely pillaged. There he had found the pieces that he had needed. The dark underbelly of the city that he thought he knew so well but there were countless miles of undiscovered places that he had never even heard of or seen before.
There were strange marvels down here but they made him question the stories that his grandfather had told him. More than he could have ever imagined had been lost down in the depths. But of all the stuff he found the strangest was the statue. It showed a man fighting a giant beast. It looked nothing like any of the many monsters that lived in the ash caverns. The man looked like he was winning the battle and blazed at he bottom of the statue was “Fight Protectors, We Shall Never Fall.”
Down in the deepest depths of the ash caverns there were clues that implied that the people fought some powerful enemy. The Wanderer wonders how old all this stuff was, not even his grandfather had known about this stuff, how many generations ago was this land from? His great-grandparents time maybe? Before the last was covered in ash.
There had never really been any records that the Wanderer found that explained the ash other than the generic explanation of hubris and a dying planet. Had it really been that? Maybe the people living here had lost against those large beasts. Could that have caused the ash? Or maybe not, these people could have beaten those monsters and this was their only testament to their success and the ash was completely unrelated.
Down there at the bottom of the world he found a intact computer. Time had worn it out a bit but all the components seemed in useable condition. He scavenged what he could from the machine and then began to make his way back to his home. He was nervous while he walked through the underground like something was watching him but nothing come out. He left the cavern. Then without him ever seeing it the eye closed once more and the beast returned to sleep. It was not yet time for it to awaken once more.
Much later the Wanderer returned to his home and used the part he had gotten to finish constructing the computer. The drive he had recovered was ancient but somehow in working order. There was a lot that Esta had explained to him and using them he managed to connect an old repurposed radio dish to the system. It needed some way to receive signals.
Then came the part where he needed to actually do something useful with it. Esta was only partially useful because she had only been able to afford one book. The Wanderer didn’t want to inconvenience her too much by forcing a twelve year old from spending all of her allowance on his project.
Is was by some lucky coincidence that he managed to connect to something as quickly as he did. At first it seemed like it was just static but the exact style of static was very familiar so he keep the disk tuned to it and tried to process the signal with the computer. He managed to get some words out of the static signet. Two were repeated, names.
“Esta, have you been paying attention to any of this?”
“Huh? Oh, no. You were listening to static so I have been reading. Did you find something interesting?”
“There are sometimes words I can make out. There isn’t enough to understand what is being said but there are two names which are occasionally said.”
“Names? Who?” She sounded interested again.
“The names are Yiskah and Valarie. Do those sound familiar to you?”
“Hmmm, actually they kind of do. I think I saw something that had those names in it, maybe an advertisement of some kind? I’m not really certain though. Give me a second to check the internet.”
I waited. The internet had been spoken of in some of the books that I had read so I understood the concept even though it actually existing in Esta’s world was a bit difficult to grasp. I waited for her.
“Alright, it seems like they are characters in a video game called The Forbidden Domain.”
“A video game?”
“Yeah, it is a game that you can play on a computer.”
“I remember reading something about them but I was more wondering why I’m getting information about characters in a video game.”
“Well, the game does exist in my world so maybe you are just getting some unusual signal from here. Even if you do not have a useful signal at least you have some kind of connection don’t you?”
“I suppose, I guess I should try to tune the radio dish some more and maybe I can get something else.”
“Have you tried sending a signal yet? If somebody is broadcasting then maybe they are listening as well. After all that is what you are doing.”
“No yet, the radio dish I’ve been using had only be configured to receive signals. I’ll have to adjust to to allow me to send them as well.” The Wanderer then returned to working on the machine. Had he really connected to Esta’s world just to heard information about a game in her world. There must be something that he could find.
Miss Linson drove the car. It was a company car although in actuality she used it exclusively. Lyle was in the passenger’s seat. She drove through the city until she reached near the Pendulum Lounge. Finding a parking spot was no easy feat in Bay Port but Miss Linson was an expert at that and it only took her a few minutes to find a place.
They stepped out of her car and walked the block and a half to the Pendulum Lounge. Miss Linson lead the way into the building. She looked around the room and it only took her a moment to spot Martin who was behind the counter. She began approaching him and he swiftly noticed.
“Oh, Miss Linson, it has been a while since you have visited my establishment. To what do I owe the pleasure.” Said Martin with a smile on his face. Miss Linson knew that he had let go of the past even if she never did that. He alway just took life as it came and didn’t regret things that he knew that he would never change. Miss Linson had always found that part of him rather annoying.
“Mr Bryant. It had indeed been a long time although I had hoped that I wouldn’t need to bother you again. However I had some questions about a couple of your employees.”
He raised an eyebrow, “Questions? Are some of my employees in trouble?”
“That has yet to be determined.” Miss Linson pulled out the picture of the two woman that she had printed out before she left. She handed it to Martin. “These are the two that I wanted to speak about. I assume that they are still employed here.”
Martin’s eyes narrowed at he looked at the picture and the back up at Miss Linson. “Are you working with the police? If this is an official investigation then these women would have the right to a lawyer.”
“I am here fully in my capacity as the project director of Project Mayfly. Anything that you or they tell me can not be considered official in court in any way.”
“Is that so? Well, I suppose I can answer some questions in that case.”
Lyle interrupted, “Are they here then?” He looked around the lounge but didn’t see either of them.
Miss Linson gave him a stern look. “Please refrain for interrupting. I still had questions to ask Mr Bryant before we question the woman.” Lyle nodded, “Very good.”
Martin noticed Lyle for the first time, “And this is?”
“Mr Clarke here is the one that filed an investigation claim at Project Mayfly. Should we validate that his claims are indeed possible then he would be allowed to file for a case and then the police would be able to start a formal investigation.”
“Then do you really think that there is magic?” Asked Martin.
“As of yet I have no evidence of supernatural activity other than the claims of Mr Clarke. She you and those two be able to provide an explanation that does not require magic then that will be the end.” Miss Linson narrowed her eyes and continued, “However I’m not going to just let you off without verifying your story.”
“Of course. Now what were your questions?”
“Those two, what are their’s names.”
“They go by Yiskah and Valarie.”
Lyle was about to say something but Miss Linson glared at him and he quieted. She looked back and said, “You are aware that is the names of two characters in the visual novel the Forbidden Domain?”
“Would that be a problem?”
“Have you even verified their eligibility for work?”
“I thought this was not a criminal investigation?”
“It is not.”
“Very good. Did you have another question.”
Miss Linson ground her teeth. “When did their employment start with you?”
“It has been about a week now.”
“Do you know what they were doing before that?”
“They are travelers from another city but they ran out of money and needed a job so I offered it to them.”
“Have you noticed anything suspicious about them?”
“In the magical way?” He was smiling. “Or are there possible crimes that you are not telling me about.”
“Mr Clarke claims that the two women broke out of his house.”
“Broke OUT of his house? That is a mighty peculiar choice of words.”
“He says that they are actually the characters Yiskah and Valarie from the game The Forbidden Domain and that they broke free from his copy of the game and escaped.”
Martin looked over at Lyle. “Really? Is that so?”
Lyle nodded and said, “Yes, truly that is what happened.”
“And so you got Miss Linson to agree to investigate that claim. You do always have the most interesting investigations.”
“Not that any of them lead anywhere. I expect this one to be the same. Now if you do not have further information about them then I would like to talk with them myself. Are they working here today?”
Martin nodded. “I’ll go get them. However I am not going to force them to speak with you. If they choose to not come out then that is their choice.”
I was cutting some vegetable when I saw Valarie rush from out front and move out of sight from the door. “Valarie? What is wrong.”
She hissed at me through her closed teeth, “HE is here.”
“What?” I dropped the knife onto the cutting board in surprise. I moved over to the door stealthily and peaked out to see for myself. There was the man we had seen in the apparent. He was standing next to a short squat woman who was talking with Martin. “Why is here here?”
“He must be looking for us.” Whispered Valarie. “Does he want to control us more?”