Chapter 18 The Sacred Chamber

“Popcorn is a great vid watching snack Celeste, thank you. How many recipes do you have in the replicator?” asked Ben. “You're welcome Ben, well over a million, but many are variations of the same thing, some sweeter, some hotter, you get the picture. Popcorn is a really old one, but not the oldest. I built a digital model of the cathedral as the vid credits vanished and the model appeared and started to slowly rotate. Ungar said the sacred chamber was at the top of the structure. One of my micro drones has been exploring the structure through the ventilation systems, so I now have a pretty good idea of how the place is put together, and exactly where the sacred chamber is. It must have a separate ventilation system because I can't get into it.” 

The vid image changed looking down from the ceiling showing an ornate engraved metal door set into stone with impressive looking lock and hinges. “I'm guessing your drone can't pick that lock Celeste.” chuckled Ben. “No Ben. Looking at the lock, the drone couldn't even pick up the key needed for this. This is solid but old mechanical technology. There aren't even guards around, I think we just have to wait and watch. I learned a few things in my explorations, however. I can now control most of their systems including the vid broadcast center, and I can create, upload, and broadcast new content. This may prove to be of use downstream along with my access to their wireless comm system. That satellite I tweaked in orbit when we arrived may help with that.”

“Celeste, are you thinking of setting up a coup?” “Do you really want to leave here with these people in charge? What do you think the end result will be if we go?” “I get what you mean Celeste, but there is only the two of us.”  “Ben, we can give the locals the tools to help make it happen, provide some guidance and try to minimize casualties. People like the Davin's of this world don't give up easily, but when they do they become the cowards they are and run. Nature abhors a vacuum, and we don't want to end up with new versions of a Davin in charge, so we need to plan for that. What I would like to see is one unified country where everyone is equal, and there is no need for security forces. We are going to need a softer and quieter, but needed adjustment of the Gaian society too.”

Ben digested the coup concept for a moment and asked. “Okay, Celeste. I'm in, how do we go about this?” “We just need a few basics. Allies we can trust, and who trust us, and we need to give them hope. The fun part of this will be subtly messing with the Elders. In the short run we can drive them nuts, and then they will start to make mistakes.” “What do you mean to mess with the Elders?” “Small things Ben, that can't be traced back to us. They're rich and used to creature comforts. What if their carriage's started to break down because of bad fuel? The power grid feeding the barracks and the cathedral shorts out. The communication systems screw up. These are things that only a small few use.” Ben grinned, “Do you have something that could be sprayed in the air and cause the Elders to get explosive diarrhea, and then have the water system break down?” Celeste laughed, “Now you get it, Ben. It's been a long day, and I need to rest, see you in bed.” When Ben walked into his cabin, Celeste was already there in her pajamas. He curled up next to her and whispered, “Goodnight Celeste.” Celeste murmured back “Sleep good Ben, it will be a busy day tomorrow.” The lights dimmed.

Ben awoke to a soft chirping and the smell of cafe. Pulling on his robe, he walked into the salon and saw a somber Celeste staring at the vid. She glanced at him, “Grab a cafe and join me, this isn't going to be fun.” Ben sat down with his cup and Celeste started the vid. Down the hallway came Davin accompanied by two guards pulling a large crate on wheels. Davin took a brass key hanging on a gold chain around his neck and inserted it in the lock and with some effort turned it. He dismissed the guards and waited until they were out of sight. He pulled the door open and pushed the crate into the room. The camera blurred for a second as the tiny drone entered the room behind him and flew up into a corner of the ceiling securing itself and refocused.

Ben looked with horror at the room. At one end was a bed with bloody sheets. The cabinet next to it had a case of brandy with some dirty glasses. One wall had several sets of shackles and a table with torture implements scattered on top of it. Davin took off his black robes and pulled a pin out of the crate door, and a young woman fell out on the floor and frantically started to crawl away from Davin sobbing. “Celeste would you please stop the vid for a moment.” The vid froze. “Is this going to turn out like I think it's going to?” Celeste silently nodded her head, “I will forward it to near the end. This is the part you should watch.” Ben's jaw dropped as Davin opened a hidden side door that exposing a large deep shaft, shoved the crate into it, and it tumbled down into the darkness. Swallowing a big slug of brandy from a glass, he wiped his bloody hands off on a rag. Putting his black robe on he unlocked the door and left. Ben heard the antique lock latch into place. “You have a copy of this we could play for Ungar on his next visit I assume.” “Yes, unfortunately.” “So much for the Oneness business, you're right we can't leave here without fixing this,” said Ben sitting still thinking.