((I know this is long, but it's a good post, I promise D
Didact felt like he was dying on the inside with every second that passed in the cafe. The city was beautiful, yes. The hot drinks undoubtedly soothing for those whose brains didn't constantly run at ten thousand miles an hour. When Jericho departed - even though it would be for little over a minute - Didact was instantly fed up. There was still much to be done while his partner
excused himself with apparently minimal concern for the unfolding events. First up - that one message on the flight from Blagoveshchensk that had almost had him arrested.
have him arrested. And then the arrest led to his freedom, so as far as Didact was concerned, all was forgiven for the four Australian agents who had attempted to take him in.
Not so much for the person who sent that one key message, however.
Didact had fetched the entire contents of the phone and stored every bit of its history - that which was coded onto it by machines and the rest by spacetime. This specific model of the Samsung Galaxy S - running custom firmware developed by Australian extragovernmental agencies as a catch-all system for covert devices in Australasia. Unfortunately, it was a system that was mired in its own integration and complexity.
It only worked perfectly with very few different combinations of applications, and it wound up that to save time and effort, the full-package OS was used rather than one specialised for the tasks involved in an operative's missions. There would be no issue with this setup - it meant you had a device applicable to all foreseen scenarios. However, it did mean that whoever worked out the weaknesses of one device and cracked it then had access to virtually every other device. And so, Didact had found himself looking at a stock-standard covert smartphone, but an empty one at that. He recalled only three names in the owner's
contact list actually had numbers - and they corresponded to the only names the man might be calling from the plane.
Even more evidence to say the device was planted, since the 'owner' was not a cover operative by any means. He might have noticed a few unusual apparent modifications to his phone, but would find everything back to the way it was supposed to be when he landed again. The superfluous cover OS, made to look like a fairly typical Android system, was fairly convincing if one was hardly a power user. A hardcore owner of one such phone would notice the differences instantly, and Didact, having hacked a phone such as this not long ago, also recognised the cover with similar quickness.
It was hastily done, and when Didact had peered further, he in fact found a full Australasian covert OS alongside the personal details, clearance levels and so forth of an agent whose name Daedalus seemed to recall.
of course Daedalus recalled. He had been a security guard on King Island, and although his project had failed to be effectively contained, that he was the only one to properly mount even a mediocre chase after Didact's escape meant he was quickly reassigned away from the failed project and to where the rest of its funding had gone: To catching Didact.
But why had not the agent himself been on the plane? It seemed like the tactisc of AUSSDEF operatives to blunder into a mission in-person. After all, the four agents who had then greeted him HAD appeared in person with no gear to immediately apprehend him or protect their minds. Not that the latter was easy. Wearing a helmet made of three feet of lead would quickly render each of them rather conspicuous. And clumsy.
So they were finally trying different tactics, but much different. AUSSDEF would have sent in a blank phone of this kind, or a copy, but this was the genuine article used by an agent who had, up until a few days ago, carried this phone in his pocket. Then he had attended a meeting, in the dark, standing on the sidelines.
He was there to fill a standard role when dealing with contractors for urgent or extremely secret ops. A bounty hunter, dealing with scientists and politicians who were only to glad to get the entire exchange over with, once a price was settled, at least. There was more discussion later, of course, but it was mid-way through this second round that the phone was taken from its owner, much to his objection. The contractor wanted things to move along very quickly, and decided to use the phone as something to grab Didact's attention, and it had worked.
Didact was reviewing the summation of it all - Alcides
of a bounty hunter, going by the surname Zimmerman
. PSInergy having something to do with transmutations of a kind. God damn it,
Didact thought, more hostiles with physical powers.
Didact's psychometry was potent and hugely dangerous in the modern information-driven world, but in some situations it became useless. Like against explosions, or bullets or energy blasts. The three main reasons he always liked to do recon, and move into things well-prepared.
Which was anything but his current state. His next course of action was already fully formed as Jericho returned from the toilet with a newspaper, and better described his powers.
After which stage, Didact was fuming. A trillion ways of insulting and mutilating and humiliating the man flashed through his mind in a second, but he dismissed them all. Jericho could screw around all he liked, but if the two of them were to get anything done, it would not be achieved by Didact stooping to his level of foresight-retardation.
"You need to know your destination in order to warp there?
" Didact burst out at Jericho. "I don't suppose you've been to a great deal many super-secret-PSIn-housing military bases? Much less the very one Niels will be at? I'm guessing you haven't even heard
of Chungwa Airbase! AUSSDEF does a piss-poor job when it comes to missions but at least they keep up some decent intel, because that's where the forefront of North Korea's PSIn research is, and where else would Niels head if he was going into the country?"
Didact stopped his partner before he spoke out, "No, don't talk, we're wasting enough time as it is." Didact reached out suddenly to Jericho, grabbing a hand around the back of his skull. Perfect position, Didact thought as he force his own will upon Jericho's mind, which snapped quickly enough and with what should have been minimal lasting damage. The other Australian would demand an explanation at every step, and they simply lacked the time for that. As Didact familiarised himself with Jericho's powers in seconds, he also planted in his mind the explanation to what he would do next.
Jericho didn't know of Chungwa Airbase, that much Didact could tell - otherwise, he left the man's memories alone. Didact's warping gateways could work with line of sight, which was excellent. He didn't quite have to know his destination. That worked well, because Didact couldn't fathom any other way to get from St. Petersburg to Chungwa in any small amount of time.
Wait, Didact commanded himself, sending an apology into Jericho's consciousness. His mind worked at a fantastic pace and regularly skipped steps, making his thoughts intensely difficult to trace. He took a step back, and informed Jericho of the most harrowing aspect of their plan, as he had him open up a pair of GATEWAYs: Their plane had been tumbling from high altitude for more than a minute. They had precious little time to reclaim it with some stability, after which they had to make all speed to Chungwa, where they could teleport to the ground somewhere near enough to the base, and progress from there.
Gravity bent in unsettling ways as they crossed the threshold from St. Petersburg to North Korea. Thankfully, the plane was not so much tumbling as it was spiralling along its central axis, which was pointed straight down. Having reached terminal velocity, there was no acceleration in the plane that would cause them to float up or about. Relative to the plane, they fell at normal speed to the cockpit, which they both slipped into, Jericho pushing Didact roughly in first. Neither of them looked properly out of the front window until they had both managed to enter their seats in the cockpit.
Looking up, the ground looked very close. Maybe not in actuality, but travel fast enough, and the Andromeda galaxy would seem close to the Milky Way. Didact figured it all out at the same time as he was speaking, even taking into accoung the time it would take him to vocalise his statement. "We're hitting the ground in thirty three seconds from now at this speed."
"Hope those aviator glasses mean you've got at least some skill in flying to help me do this right," Didact said as he flicked the wing flaps wide open, switched the engines down to a minimum, and pulled hard down and left on his controls, Jericho mimicking the action a moment later. Didact wished he could directly control Jericho again right now, but he neede all his hands free and the plane needed each of its halves able to act independently of each other for the next maneuvre. At least, before he disconnected from Jericho, he also planted in his mind a dozen or so techniques to get out of fatal dives, depending on how the craft was acting.
Slowing on the left wing and maintaining speed on the right, the angle of the fuselage changed with an agonising slowness that just may have mirrored their fate twenty seconds from now if they crashed in some very unfortunate and specific way. The plane's downward aileron roll was changed into a downwards-heading chandelle. twelve seconds consumed, and they were still nearly dead on the engines. Still with a dive to make.
Thankfully, most of the plane's downward and rotational momentum had been conserved and transferred, and the plane still had significant speed, but was in no position to make great use of it. Stuck in a falling ring with its wings vertical, it had no lift power, and only a sudden shift of its current wing-flaps would change it. Yelling "Now" to Jericho, Didact disengaged the flaps on his wings as Jericho set his to full, and the plane snapped to level with such violence the two would have easily been thrown out of their chairs and broken bones when they met the walls.
Horiztonally, the plane was moving at great speed when they straightened out, but it was the downward speed - and the downward momentum that came with it - that was harder to shrug. Altering momentum in the horizontal plane was easy, just adjust your speed. Doing so in the vertical plane was much, much more difficult, especially when one was already heading downards. The mathematics of it was simple for Didact, but the execution would be the hardest bit - having to take into account the role of gravity and the ever-changing impact of air resistance.
Clearly they had more time than their initial thirty three seconds now, but they needed the impetus for a power boost that only a dive coule provide. At their current downward speed, they had a minute. That was cut from sixty three seconds to thirty one, then ten, as their dive began and the ground once more came rushing at them, the soaring canopy of a rainforest that Didact hadn't cared for. Trees or solid ground, they would both kill him at these speeds. Or by some cruel twist of fate he would simply be crippled but left at the mercy of some wild predator until night fell.
When five seconds remained, in unison, Didact and Jericho yanked on their controls, pointing the nose of the craft more toward the horizon, both of them very much doubting they would make it. The plane still fell downwards, and still facing ten degrees down from the horizon, grazed the canopy, and then entered it.
Chaos flashed by around them, smears of bright and dark, greens and browns wizzed past them. An entire thicket of bamboo was snapping apart as their jet mowed through it, smearing a fibrous mess along the front window until virtually all vision was obscured. It was only their arms - locking the controls where they were - and their own state (frozen in fear) that kept them heading upwards, and the only thing that stopped the first big tree they struck from gouging a cockpit-sized hole in the cockpit.
As it stood, it tore straight through the landing gear of the craft, but Didact couldn't care less for that. His mind was only focused on the supernova of endorphins rushing through his body and the sudden onset of tiredness and a yawn that accompanied the departure of every last bit of his adrenaline. He made it, he thought to himself in the most stunning disbelief. Then, he looked to his side, recalling he now had a partner. He revised his thought to we made it, but didn't like that so much. It had basically been Didact alone who got them out of this mess, which he had walked into by trusting Jericho to at least be able to soon after deliver them to Chungwa.
He'd be much more careful around his partner from now on, maybe even inspire him to think more sensible (or even force it upon him, if necessary). But for now, he let him sit there in his own small state of amazement while Didact ran a check over the systems of the plain by readouts and psychometry, making sure the landing gear was the only thing lost. He could still hardly see through the front window, but a GPS display predicted that in their direction of travel roughly towards Chungwa they'd run into a heavy rainstorm in a few minutes.
That would clean the plane up a fair amount, Didact thought as he realised that he, too, could use a clean. The entire brief adventure - lasting no more than a minute and a half - had left him sweating profusely. He set the plane to an climbing autopilot course and locked it to that, leaving only him able to alter it. Jericho snapped to full consciousness when he noticed Didact leaving the cockpit, and was only able to catch up to him in time to have the restroom door lock shut in front of him. Sighing angrily, he walked with leaden legs to the cockpit as the sound of a shower began.