He worked for a whole extra day without interruption. So did Michela, he knew, stuck in her own workshop hard at her own work. His job was, alas, very difficult. Figuring out how to replicate the radiation of Jakariah’s amulet, which apparently seemed to be little else than a supernatural aura, proved to be a very eluding goal.
He tried the basics: the air around it, the heat. He attempted to put it inside a large mechanical compartment and seeing if it replicated the effects in a larger area.
But really, it made sense that it all would come to a head with his very old, very pivotal research into nuclear energy. After all, explosions aside, the danger of building a nuclear battery was mostly on the radiation it could produce. The excess energy produced by unstable atoms. Falk thus developed the hypothesis that, perhaps, the amulet would have a supernatural effect on nuclear radiation, replication unto it its effects.
Eliza had no idea the danger she was in when she burst into his workshop unannounced.
“Is it much to ask you keep an eye on your scroll, Falk?”
Falk was bent over a part of a relatively large battery he was building around the amulet. If one could call it a battery, it was nothing but a power cell designed to rather fail in its intent and leak radiation.
“You really should not be here, Eliza,” he casually told her, “please wait outside, I will be with you presently.”
She didn’t budge, crossing her arms instead.
“I need to know your progress.”
He sighed, somewhat flustered, unable to really stop working. She wasn’t wrong, the fact was that if she waited outside, he would probably just forget about her.
“I have a working theory that I will put to the test once the beasts arrive. This invention of mine should weaken them to a point where we can hurt them through conventional means, side-effects depending.”
“It may hurt us as well.”
That didn’t seem to faze her. Say what you will about Eliza, but she was a pragmatic woman who understood very well the danger the Beasts posed, all the more so when she didn’t believe in Falk as much as she should.
“How so, exactly?”
“Might give us a sickness we will likely never heal from. It might also make this place unlivable.”
“Right. And what if we’re being optimistic?”
He shrugged, working away at his sample of concentrated coal.
“Then it won’t be having any overt effect, besides the impact on the Beasts. Meanwhile, Michela is working on something that should allow us to revert the terraforming.”
“I have, to be honest, this all sounds too good to be true.”
“Only because you have Falk Goldschmidt on the problem, oh venerable Matriarch. But keep in mind that Michela is producing the equivalent to one of those terraforming pillars. We would need a vaster number of them, and of other gems like Jakariah’s amulet, to be able to revert what they are doing to our surface world in an acceptably complete manner.”
“The amulet came from somewhere.”
“Underground, most like. Their world.”
He could hear the gears of a mind clicking together behind him.
“They knew about it, that is why they went for it. That means it exists down in their world.”
“I would posit further, Eliza.” He spoke as if he had thought of it long ago, when in actuality, his mind was only then working at that particular puzzle of events. “If they knew about the amulet, they would have surfaced somewhere around there instead, or at the least, sent a Beast to get it immediately. Their delay seems to indicate they had no idea we had it, until, as their rampaging spread across countries, they got close enough to notice it.”
“They can track the light crystals.”
“Which means we can too, obviously. So odds are there are more, and that we can find them.”
“Remarkable. Three days ago we had no hope whatsoever of even hurting them, and now…we may have a way to restore our world on top of assuring their defeat.”
Not that I will actually allow that to happen, Falk smirked to himself, outside of her sight. Soon as the Beasts are dealt with, I will destroy this crystal, along with any means of finding more. But for now, yes, trust me, trust me implicitly.
“’Tis only poetic, really. Had they not tried to stop the Hunter, we would likely have never figured all of this out. Their effort has been their downfall.”
“On the other hand,” Eliza offered, “had they succeeded, we would have zero chance of doing anything against them.”
He nodded. That was fair enough.
“I suppose you see all of these events as destiny unfolding? Prophecy being met?”
“It all does seem to indicate Griff was right about his interpretation. About the Prophecy being about a group of individuals. The Shadow saving those people and the pillar. The Hunter getting the amulet. The Don buying us so much time, on top of inflicting casualties, which made them more cautious and slower. The Circus Freak getting the knights here to give you enough time to finish your work. And you and the Street Rat, and the Circus Freak making all of this possible. You were all in the last round, you were all the best of the Shadow Conclave.”
“And what about the Eye and the Sorcerer?”
“They were the reason you were able to infiltrate their main vessel, correct? Perhaps the usefulness of that will still prove itself. You should think on it, I would say.”
“Hm,” he hummed sagely. Perhaps it was worth sparing some thought to that effect.
And instantly he knew.
“The Shadow Lenses.”
“If one thinks about it, both our groups needed to infiltrate the vessel for the Shadow to be able to retrieve the lenses. She would never have been able to pull off her mission behind the Beast lines had she not been wearing them. I would even put forth that Kagekawa might have immediately replaced her had she not stolen the lenses and proved herself to them in such a destiny-relevant manner.”
The optimism was palpable, if only because it had been absolutely and utterly absent from everyone anywhere for weeks on end. But right then, Eliza was feeling optimistic. He could tell by the way she stood up straight and lifted her head.
“That fits. Griff has sent a message remarking that, with or without our approval, he would yet help us.”
“I imagine we don’t much care about that?”
She paused at the truth of his statement. Eliza was indeed in a strange situation when it came to him and Griff since she was very much aware he had indeed caused the death of Griff’s son.
The optimism vanished from the room.
“I will plan for the extraction of Michela and her contraption, as well as for a contingent of soldiers to be at the ready here to make our last stand using your machine.”
“We will defeat the beasts. Take back our world.”
He nodded again.
Sure, “I will send word once it’s ready.”
“Hurry, for the Beasts draw ever nearer.”
She walked out.
Falk then finally stopped and turned around, smiling gravely at the closed door as if it was Eliza.
We will not stop them here. Not the Beasts, at any case, but the LBA? And the Tech Guild? They will certainly fall. The firsts to suffer my vengeance.
Falk looked back at his machine.
Then the beasts. And then humanity. By the time all’s said and done, the last remnants of you people will be left with a patch of poisoned land on which to live out the rest of your days, doomed and fully aware that the genius you so scorned was the only one capable of saving the world.
And how you drove him to refuse to do so.