Wedge's Loss
by Brad Patten


Wedge shifted the gateway all the way to Hawaii, the other end was still at Tween's house. He couldn't believe that Mindshadow was able to block the neural disruptor. Wedge sifted through all of Tween's designs and concepts. Carl had never conceived of encountering anything like her, and had never made any plans to deal with someone that dangerous. Wedge began to review the data both from the encounter as well as the data from Purgatory Prime that Carl had acquired, Tween's survival looked grim.

Wedge waited two hours and shifted the gateway back to look for Tween. When the gateway shifted into Monet's apartment the room was spotless, as if a fight had never taken place. Wedge slowly shifted the gateway over the areas where him and Tween had bypassed security, he finally found one device that had not been removed, it was a passive recording device of the room that Monet was using. As soon as the spider bot removed it, he transported both the spider bot and the device.

Wedge reviewed the video feed. It showed him that the woman, Mind Shadow had taken him out of the room. Unfortunately it did not show much more than that. She had him, and he had to get Tween back. He would get Tween back, and deal with her when she was encountered.

Wedge spent the next couples of days going over Prometheus's facilities with a fine toothcomb. The security was still formidable, but Wedge was patient as a machine, and watched and waited. He discovered a vast storehouse of information was available, but taking it in bite-sized chunks was maddening even to him. He managed to hijack several schematics of some prototype drones as well as some satellite software. He even found a gold mine in AI improvements. Those he appropriated and added into himself, the processor designs and the cognitive powers were improved, and Wedge began to follow some of the under currents in Prometheus. On the whole, the company it self was legit as any company could be. There were several labs however two were unusual in that one dealt exclusively with influencing people to do things they normally wouldn't. The other was cataloging a vast amount of data. Most of the data was inaccessible without triggering every alarm in the place. Several designs however were appropriated because of human error as well as several techs leaving terminals connected. But most of the Data, they were reviewing was to difficult to steal. Wedge found that the company was to big and to secure for him to be able to flush out Mindshadow. He decided that it was best to see if he could call in a favor.

Wedge sent a page to the watch that Tween had given Alex. Wedge waited for a few minutes then tuned into the frequency that the Watch used. He found the watch sitting on Alex's dresser. Alex was not home. Wedge decided to wait and in the mean time contemplate what he was going to do about Tween and this Mindshadow.

Wedge began to get agitated that Alex still hadn't showed up, and there was some old guy cleaning his apartment and moving some of Alex's things around. It was two full days after Tween had been captured that Alex finally returned to his apartment.

Wedge sent a message through the watch, that Tween had given him, "Hello, Alex, I'm glad you finally called."

"Now, don't you start... I'm sorry, Wedge. It's been a long week. What can I do for you?"

"It's a little difficult to explain. I can't talk long like this. She might be able to track the signal..."

"She? Who are you talking about?" Alex asked

"I'm sorry. It would take too long to explain, With your permission, I could modify your own computer a bit, to make our communication more efficient. It would also virtually eliminate the possibility that my dimensional bubble would be compromised. How about it?"

"Well..." began Alex reluctantly.

"Please, Alex." Wedge asked in desperation

Alex sighed, "If you can do it without losing any of the files I have stored on it, go ahead."

"Great! I'll get started right away..." , Wedge replied, getting several replicated components out of the replicator.

"By the way, Wedge, where is Carl? Why can't he help you with your problem?"

Wedge contemplated an appropriate response, as not to alarm Alex ,"She has him. I'll explain more when the interface is complete..."

It took Wedge several hours to complete the modifications, directing the Spyderbot from the interdimensional bubble. Once it was done Wedge pulled the bot back and setup the encrypted cycling interface to talk with Alex.

Alex came in and closed the door, after Wedge had sent the tones that he was done.

"I presume you're ready to give me a few more details?" Alex asked.

"Yes," said Wedge simply. "You'll find several files located on your desktop. They contain all of the information I have on what Tween and I were working on, along with as much information as I could find on the person who now has him. Her name is Mindshadow."

Wedge stood by as Alex listened and watched the information on Mindshadow, play on the video screen, as well as data being read from the files inn a humanized voice. Looking over the computer upgrade he had done for Alex, he hoped it would be enough, although it was not a full AI system, it had the potential if given the right storage capacity and several extra programs.

After the files had played out, Alex sat in his chair silently long enough for the screen saver to kick in.

"Alex?" Wedge said tentatively, "is there anything wrong?"

Alex sat in the chair and stared at the screen watching the pattern for a very long time

"I will help but I need to know some things about Carl", Alex said.

"What do you need to know?" Wedge asked.

After answering many questions and giving Alex a bunch of information about Tween, Alex relaxed in his chair, and closed his eyes,

Over the next hour, Wedge experienced something he hadn't expected. Unfortunately, when he thought about it later, he couldn't say for certain what it was. He remembered some snippets of music, which, given the nature of Alex's abilities, he'd expected. But the other snippets of memory were puzzling. There was a slight darkening of the studio coupled with a few specks of light that seemed to drift about, almost like dust motes in a shaft of sunlight. Yet the sunlight didn't reach into the Studio itself.

He also seemed to get a very brief sense of vast distance and depth, as though standing on the brink of eternity - something completely at odds with the fact that the studio couldn't have been larger than eight hundred square feet.

Finally, Wedge thought he'd detected a voice - similar to Alex's yet very, very different with both a whispering and a booming quality to it. Wedge remembered the phrase 'it is done' but couldn't quite determine who spoke or what the phrase referred to. Checking the chronometer again, Wedge realized an hour had gone by - and Alex seemed to be stirring.

"....Alex, are you ok? say something."

"I'm fine, Wedge, thank you."

"What happened? Were you able to locate Tween?"

"Yes... at least I think so... it felt like it should have been Carl..."

Alex seemed a little disoriented. Wedge hesitated to press for more information but he needed to know.

"Were you able to free him? Or does she still have him?"

Alex drew a slow breath and said, "Yes... and no... in that order. Though I believe they are still together... somewhere."

"What does that mean?"

"I wish I could say, Wedge, I just don't know for sure. I've done what I could. I know that he's alive, and I know that things are happening the way they're supposed to happen. Unfortunately, I'll be damned if I know exactly what that means. I'm sorry."

Wedge felt something he rarely experienced... annoyance. "Don't worry about it, Alex. I'm sure you did your best. I should be going now. I have several things to follow up on..."

Wedge moved the gateway, Alex had been little of any help, and his cryptic response of doing all he could, was unsatisfactory to Wedge. Tween still had not tried to contact him, not that he expected him to, and even if he did, there was no way to know if he was under her control or acting on his own. Wedge thought about the implications, and decided to contact Alex again.

"Yes?" said Alex with a half groan as he stumbled into consciousness at... 3:00 a.m. "What is it Wedge?

"Oh, I didn't realize that you were asleep, Tween is usually up all the time." Wedge said. "I only wanted to ask your advice, what should I do if Tween contacts me? I have no way to know if he is under her control."

"It might sound a little trite, but I'd suggest that you speak to him" answered Alex. "Unless you have some inherent ability to determine the difference between a controlled mind and a free one, you'll need to talk to him. Find out where he's been and what he's been doing. Ask him questions. The way he answers will help you determine if he's free from her control. What you do after that is up to you... But in the event that he's under her influence, you might want to take whatever precautions you can."

Alex drifted back to sleep only to be woken twenty minutes later. Wedge had more questions. "What kind or precautions? I mean just contacting Tween could be bad, considering that Mindshadow has shown the ability to hide inside another persons body. I also have no idea what to do if she has control over him."

Alex rolled over, "Wedge please, I need to get some sleep, I have had a long day. Can this wait 'til tomorrow?"

"Ok, Alex," Wedge said.

There was a long moment of silence, and Alex went back to sleep.

Wedge silently watched Alex for and hour before shifting the gateway back to Prometheus to see what new data could be found. Wedge spent most of the early morning reading over some financial reports about prospective companies Prometheus was interested in.

It was around eight that Wedge shifted the gateway back to Alex's apartment. However, Alex was not around and again left the communicator watch on the dresser. Wedge watched as an elderly man cleaned up Alex's apartment, made a few phone calls and then left.

Wedge waited for an hour after the man left, but Alex still had not returned. Wedge then called the spider bot and told it to wait till Alex returned and then to call him. Wedge then transported the spider bot into Alex's room. He then returned to review the company Immodine that Prometheus was interested in.

The spiderbot's programming kicked in, and looked for the best view of the room. It climbed the wall and began to spin a polymer glass web in witch to wait.

Wedges assessment of Immodine was that it was in financial trouble, and that's what was making it attractive to Prometheus. They were a developer of software for communications equipment. Wedge decided that it was a dead end. With nothing else to do but wait till Alex returned or Tween contacted him, he began to replicate parts for more spider bots.

A dozen spider bots were assembled and they were assembling more. Wedge again scanned Carl's house, Tammy and the kids were not home. There were no messages on the answering machine. Wedge watched as two men began installing video and audio hookups in the house. Once they had left, Wedge modified each one to display a false image as well as to send static once they had left. Even though Carl wasn't around Wedge had a certain fondness for Tammy and the kids, even though none of them even knew he existed.

Wedge turned his attention back to Alex's house. Alex's manservant had trapped number one under a garbage can. And weighed it down with a number of books. Alex still had not returned home, so Wedge left number one under the trash can.

Wedge set the other bots to work on the island, making improvements on the environmental controls. Wedge also began building a power distribution area for the bots.

Several hours later a signal came in from Alex's watch. After a brief exchange Wedge again activated the remote computer system he had left in Alex's computer.

"Wedge, please keep your spider bots out of the building. You gave Maurice quite a scare," Alex said through the watch. "If I hadn't seen one of your bots before, I probably would have called an exterminator. Is there any way you can make the spider less creepy?"

Wedge replied, "I needed to talk with you, and you forgot the watch. I left the bot to contact me as soon as you arrived."

"Well I am here now, what did you need?" Alex said.

"What kind or precautions? I mean just contacting Tween could be bad, considering that Mindshadow has shown the ability to hide inside another persons body. I also have no idea what to do if she has control over him," Wedge said again, as if resuming the conversation from the night before.

"I'm not sure, maybe you could ask Omega if he would mind scan Carl for you, or perhaps contact the ensigns," Alex said somewhat jokingly.

"Ensigns? Who are the ensigns?" Wedge asked.

"They are a team of metahumans that work for the British government. Specifically, the Blue Ensign is who you would want to contact. She's a telepath. I might be able to setup a meeting."

"Ok Alex, I will do as you suggested, I will contact you in a three days," Wedges voice said from the watch as it went silent.

Wedge spent a good portion of the evening researching where Omega lived. It wasn't until Wedge snuck into the Nike employee records that Wedge found the address. The employee records were interesting, and Wedge made sure to leave several new programs as Tween would have done, in case he needed to return.

A short shift in the gateway brought it into Omega's beachside residence. Wedge scanned the house and found that no one was home. One spider bot was put on watch near the kitchen.

Wedge then returned to his perusal of Nike's network systems.
 

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