The Technologist and the Tower - Part 14

Date Posted: May 13, 2023

“You’ll never guess who I saw,” Tad exclaimed as he brought what appeared to be food in a bag, and another smaller bag – likely the fiddle strings that Amon had hoped for.

“Who?” the technologist murmured, eyes still fixed to the screen.

So far, he had been able to boot up several of the hibernating database servers throughout the Tower. Getting them all connecting with each other after the network had been down for so long was a challenge, but it also felt good to slide back into the world of Allagan tech after having been away for so long.

He’d also repurposed a few of the monitors he found in the other lab, and the setup was acceptably complete. Node was interconnected as a side-server, and had already begun the search for data that seemed related to Amon’s queries, or suspiciously locked away.

The Technologist didn’t expect his search to be easy. He knew, in retrospect that the Ascians were involved with how things developed in the Allagan Empire. He also knew that they had not wanted to be discovered in their orchestrations. They’d covered their traces well, possibly even living amongst the citizens, completely unknown.

In the end, the Ascians had used him. That much he was aware of.

Tad leaned over Amon’s shoulder to take a glance at the open files on the screen. Instinct made the technologist move to cover the information, but then he stopped himself. There was no need to keep the classified hidden for an Empire that no longer existed.

“I don’t know how you do it,” Tad remarked, not answering Amon’s question. “Mulling over all these dusty old files for hours.”

“Who did you see?”

“Ben,” his cousin responded, sounding nonplussed.

If Amon had only been half-heartedly listening before now, that was no longer the case. The Elezen turned with a troubled expression, putting his keypad down. “You mean Ben from Eorzea?”

“I don’t know he’s specifically from Eorzea,” Tad noted.

“Where did you see him?” the bard asked, feeling a little shaken. If Ben had really followed them – somehow (?) – then their location would be known by the Gridanians in short order. His quest to find information was already in jeopardy, and he had only just started.

“In the Tower.”

Amon dropped his face into his hands. “Does he know we’re here?”

“Of course he does,” Tad frowned, crossing his arms. “He followed us here.”

“So, ‘tis done before it started.”

“Hold on now. Ben said he wasn’t here on behalf of Gridania. I don’t think he’s going to tell anyone about us or how we got here.”

“And what makes you so sure?” Amon pursed his lips.

“Well, for one thing, he created a portal that links between this Tower and a room in our Free Company house in the Source,” Tad informed him.

“He did what?”

“Turns out, he’s an interdimensional traveler.”

“’Tis so?”

“’Tis so.”

“And that means we can trust him?” Amon gave his cousin a long look.

“It just explains a lot.”

The technologist gave a long groan, pushing himself to his feet. He needed to stretch anyhow. “So is this enterprise in danger or not?”

“I honestly don’t think so,” Tad responded with a serious look. “He wouldn’t have just dropped us a portal back home and left us to do our thing if he was going to rat us out. Besides, think about what that means – we have our own private portal between the Source and the First.”

Amon did pause at that, letting the thought rattle around in his mind for a moment. While this Tower was not technically the Tower of his world, it was functioning and it did recognize him as an administrator – though he hadn’t really put that all to the test.

Resources he’d been lacking for so long due to being blocked from entering the Tower were now within in grasp. Sure, some of it was aged and needed to be restored. But if this portal allowed for passage between the Tower and their Free Company house, that meant that he now had direct access to everything he could hope for… while not giving up the new life he’d made in Eorzea.

That also meant that he didn’t have to rush this. If he could leave the Tower and come back at a whim, he could put down his research and pick it up any time he wanted. Of course, that was no reason to draw this out, but it felt much nicer to know he was on a more flexible timeline now.

“I see what you mean,” Amon finally admitted. “As long as Ben is telling the truth, of course, then ‘tis far better a situation that we had going into it.”

“Call it a hunch, but I think he’s being honest. He even said he’d help me figure some of this stuff out,” Tad spread his hands. “I mean… one day… I do need to return home, too.”

The bard paused at that thought. “But… is it not a dark age you’d return to.”

“Aye, but our family is there. I promised I’d come back.”

“Ah,” Amon let out a long breath.

Of course. Tad’s family. He didn’t dare to ask if his own family – his mother and father – had survived the calamity that he knew had ripped the world asunder after the Tower sunk into the earth.

“I wouldn’t ask you to be away from them any more than you had to,” the technologist said. His voice lowered some. “I honestly don’t know why you’re helping me to begin with.”

Tad poked his hand into the food bag to bring a wrapped sandwich out, which he handed to Amon. “You’re family, too, you know.”

“I betrayed the forest and the spirits when I chose to live life in the Tower. You know that.” Amon accepted the sandwich, unwrapped it, and bit into it viciously. He hadn’t realized he was so hungry until that moment.

“Mayhaps you did, but for some reason, the forest doesn’t seem to hold a grudge over it,” his cousin said, biting into his own sandwich.

“I don’t know why the spirits seem to favor me.”

“They must know something that we do not, aye?” Tad teased with a genuine grin.

“We’ll see,” Amon grumbled, looking back at the data on his screen. He finished the meal in a few last bites and settled back down to begin his work once more.

“Indeed we will.”