Energia, Web Novel

Interlude: Laying a Trap

Energia: Titans of Verità
Table of Contents (For Catching Up)

“So,” Sarah said, staring down at Lucas, “would you care to explain what happened?”

Lucas shook his head. “That’s the frustrating part. We have no idea.”

Jakob could hear the bitterness in his voice. He was the most upset out of all three of them regarding the recent incident. It was him who set up a deal with Mars colony to upgrade Unity’s shield units, after all. For a monster as large as a Ragno to make its way into the city should have been unthinkable. It’s far from the first time that the unthinkable has happened under my watch. Likely it’ll be far from the last.

The three of them, Jakob, Sarah, and Lucas, had gathered in Jakob’s office the morning after the attack on the Israeli Sector. Normally, when the three old friends met, they would spend the first few minutes catching up and making jokes about how old they were getting. Today, however, they were all focused on business.

“Could it have slipped through a gap in the barrier?” Jakob asked.

Lucas shook his head. “The barrier is under constant surveillance, no exceptions. Even the smallest gap is immediately reported and repaired. It only takes ten minutes to get that done. Besides, the Operatives on the scene said it came out of a warehouse.”

“What evidence was there on the scene? Any other specimens like it?” He had been told about its odd regenerative abilities.

“None.”

“Okay,” Sarah leaned forward in her seat, fidgeting with her thumbs. “Who was it on the scene?”

Lucas checked his clipboard. “Hinata Kurosaki was the last to arrive. Two of the newbies had been fighting it before she showed up, Tommy Decker and Anna Ironchase. Although it was a third rookie, Eitan Avidan, who secured the kill.”

“Ironchase?” Sarah looked to Jakob, one eyebrow raised. “Quite the magnet for trouble, isn’t she? First the interference shenanigans during the entrance exams, now this?”

That one fact put a smile on Jakob’s face. Your daughter takes after you, Emilia. For better and for worse.

“Glad to see you smile, oh fearless leader of ours,” Lucas said when he caught sight of Jakob’s expression, “because this is beyond a PR nightmare. We’re in catastrophe ranges right now! Believe it or not, people are not happy about the giant alien ape thing in the middle of a Sector!

“Sorry,” Jakob said, clearing his throat. “Just… reminiscing.”

“About how something like this has happened before and you got us out of it? Oh, wait. Sorry. I forgot. Nothing like this has ever happened before and you have never gotten us out of it. Because this has never happened before! And the fact that it has now has landed us in a whole world of trouble!”

“Yes, I know,” Jakob said calmly. “This is bad. That’s why I’ve called you two to help me fix it.”

“Congratulations,” Sarah grinned. “You’ve officially given Lucas the most impossible task you could have. And you’ve roped me into it. So… thanks. For nothing.”

“Funny,” Jakob returned her grin. “I’ve been saying the same thing to you for years.”

Lucas slammed his hand down on Jakob’s desk. “This is not a time for joking! Do either of you realize how screwed we are?! We’d be lucky if the city put our heads on spikes for this! The complete shit storm we’re gonna get for this nightmare is going to make every natural disaster in the history of the galaxy look like a warm sunny day!”

Jakob cleared his throat. Right. This is a crisis. A big crisis. Time to be serious. “What would you suggest?”

“Retire,” Lucas responded immediately. “That way, you can avoid the storm before it hits.”

“Lucas,” Sarah hissed, her voice dripping with enough menace to melt through the floor of Jakob’s office. “What were you saying about taking this seriously?”

Lucas snapped, “I am taking this seriously!”

“Which I appreciate,” Jakob said, resting a hand on his old friend’s shoulder. “But I need a more practical solution right now. Besides, I don’t plan on retiring until I’m either old or dead.” Hopefully that won’t be for a while.

“That,” Lucas slumped down in a seat and heaved a groan, “is a hard question.”

“Those are your favorites, right?” Sarah asked.

Lucas gave Sarah a glare that would kill anyone else. “Believe it or not? No. No they’re not.” Then, after a long pause, he continued, “Well, step one is getting the people back on your side. Show them that you’re in control and that everything is fine. Reassure them that there’s nothing to worry about.”

“Which we can’t do,” Sarah cut in. “Because we have no idea where that thing came from or who put it there.”

“Jackpot.”

“Is it that bad?” Jakob asked. “Our Operatives were already on the scene. We dealt with the problem before it became a disaster.”

“Yes, we did,” Lucas agreed. “But that’s not enough. People thought they were safe in the city. That none of the locals would be able to get through the city’s shields. The simple fact that they did is enough to send them into a panic. And the brave few who aren’t freaking the hell out are pissed off. Faith in the Verità branch of ORDER is at an all-time low.

“The higher-ups are just as upset. The United Earth Alliance wants the culprit. If they can’t have that, they’ll settle for the people who couldn’t prevent it. Which means us.”

“That always means us,” Sarah sighed.

“That gives us two options,” Lucas continued. “We need to find the guy or guys behind this and blow their brains out in front of the whole city to put them at ease.”

“I highly doubt that would help,” Sarah pointed out. “No need to traumatize the city’s children like that.”

Lucas nodded, “On that, we agree. Which is why I’m more a fan of option two: show Unity what we can do. Show them that we can protect them. That this was a one-time mistake that we will never make again.”

“And we fix that how?” Jakob asked.

Lucas’s only response was a shrug. Which put Jakob’s nerves on edge. The smartest man I know is at a loss for words. I’d rather be facing down an army of rampaging alien monkeys.

Sarah was the one to break the silence. “So… what do we do?”

That one question only plunged them further into silence. Jakob put his head in his palms and tried to think. Catching the culprit is out. We have no leads on that front. Meaning that we need to find a way to show Unity that we can still protect her. So… how do we do that?

The three of them sat together in silence for a long time. Looking around, Jakob could see that each one was thinking about the problem just as hard as he was. Sarah looked ready to shoot someone, multiple times. Lucas simultaneously looked ready to burst into tears and ready to tear someone’s head off with his bare hands.

If only Emilia was still with us. Jakob shook his head. No. Don’t look back. Only forward. Think. Think!

That’s when he found it. His solution. Completely insane. Mostly unlikely to work. A gamble from top to bottom. But if it worked, it would solve all of his problems.

“How does this sound?”

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