This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.
Amon grit his teeth, holding back his own words as he was violently berated by the lash of Scylla’s sharp tongue… only for another voice to intercept just as she’d worked herself up to the peak of her anger. Much to the Elezen’s surprise, it came from the very node he’d restored.
He knew that voice, too. Even though static distorted the sound chip’s attempts, it was very evident that who this machine was meant to imitate.
“Lord Diokeles?” Amon’s voice wavered a bit as he formed the name he’d not spoken in a very long time.
Then he shook himself out, peering at Scylla, working to mask his shock. Now he was getting berated by a node, too.
“What… did you do to it? It was previously unresponsive. I tried everything. Well… everything within my ability with such limited resources.”
“Don’t look at me, Amon!” Scylla pulled at her own shirt in frustration. “I’m not the emperor’s master technologist!”
“In case you couldn’t tell, neither am I… anymore,” Amon frowned at her dark reminder. “Even though that’s all I’ll ever be in your eyes, no matter what I say or do.”
“You have that right!” The white mage chided. “I’ll never trust you, Amon! Never!”
The node seemed almost responsive to their bickering, sinking down a bit as if watching them with the disappointment of an old father.
“If this message has gotten to you, this means that you are at least temporarily safe. If you have not left the tower, I must beseech you, children… you must leave the reaches of the Allagan Empire now. The emperor is not the man you think he is.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.” Scylla whispered under her breath.
Amon scowled deeper at Scylla for a moment, then glanced over at the node with pursed lips. “Appears to be a pre-recorded message from your father.”
This was an unexpected find. If Lord Diokeles was aware of the turmoil surrounding Xande and the danger it brought, what else did he know?
The Bard decided to play along with the situation. The node seemed to recognize them, but not the fact that they were not in the proper place and time. Still, information was information.
“What’s going on? Why should you doubt the Emperor… why would we need to leave?”
The voice in the node seemed to take a deep breath.
“They are dead.”
The node paused, giving a buzz as if struggling to pull data from the corroded databanks.
“Pyotr, and all the others at the Eastern Summoning Research Wing are dead by the emperor’s command. The official news-link stories from the Emperor’s Guard suggest that that rebel Meracydian sympathizers are to blame. The truth is, he had Glabya and his hounds slay every last one of them. I saw the security-imaging. They murdered their own… Allagans murdering good, loyal Allagans!”
The breathy voice shuddered with panic.
“Since the reports came back of our heavy losses at the Meracydian Lines, the emperor is enraged at us with our current slowed progress on AWAKEN 3.0. Now the Emperor has summoned every major technologist group and their staff to the Aether Convergence Development Site.”
“This is why you are both in danger. Even you are not above the emperor’s wrath, Amon.”
“I recall this incident…” Amon murmured to himself, rubbing his chin. “I had no connection with these orders, and did not condone them. In fact, it wasn’t until well into the executions that I was aware this was taking place. It was a travesty, a true waste of good Allagans, knowledge and resources. However, I’m not sure what it had to do with me.”
“Wait?” Scylla’s voice seethed with anger. “You knew that the Emperor killed these people? You let them die?”
“I just said I didn’t know until the executions were well under way. Xande wanted my technologists to provide a fast-track to weaponry against the Eikons, and lit a literal fire under them. Do you think I would have approved the execution of my lab force?” Amon scowled at her. “Considering I was the Emperor’s adviser, the fact he went around me to make this happen has never sat well with me.”
“And you did nothing?” The white mage started advancing on Amon. “Those were people’s fathers, children, loved ones, Allagans of your beloved empire! You just sat there while blood spilled all about you and did nothing!”
“And what would have happened had I spoken against it? The node just plainly said that even I wasn’t immune to the Emperor’s ire!” The Elezen spread his hands. “A lot of good I could do anyone if I were dead, too!”