The ride back was quiet, Sinclair looked stressed. Poor guy, he really should get some rest. Unlike the ride to the base, that had just been the two of them, and two cars discreetly following at a distance. The ride back was something of a convoy, two military vehicles lead the way, and no less than six black cars followed them. It seemed excessive, it wasn’t like the occupants of the cars could do anything if something happened anyway. Judging by the models of the cars Lisbeth suspected that they were all from different agencies. Lisbeth figured that she would have to do something about that for campus.
“No more than two people following me at a time Bill, it might get annoying.”
“Sure thing Lisbeth, I can do that.”
Sinclair cursed, rather creatively. Bill had at Lisbeth’s words materialized in the seat next to her. Well, not really, materialization of self was something of an impossibility, for anyone not holding godhood. He had actually been there the whole time, invisible, and silent. As dramatic of a trick as it was, it was relatively simple and most immortals could pull it off if they tried. It was even one of the holy magics Atreus knew when he had been a devout man in the jungle. There was a reason he had lasted as long as he did, even if ultimately it had all been for naught.
“How did you know I was here?”
“I didn’t, but your profile indicated this as a likely move on your part.”
“We all have our roles to fill in this game.”
“That we do.”
“So I must ask, what is my role?”
“You can just be a spectator, or a third army, really up to you.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“It doesn’t matter to me or my king, either way our goals will be achieved.”
“Sounds nasty, you’re the queen on the board then?”
“No, but this isn’t a traditional game of chess.”
“How is it different?”
“We have two queens, two kings, and one of them can’t be removed from play.”
“The kings would be Typhon and your god then?”
“No, they are one king, and they have only one move.”
“To tell the other king what to do.”
“So we just need to take down the other king to win the game then?”
“Sure, but you can’t discount the queens. They have already entered the game.”
“Sounds good, what piece are you?”
“I’m a bit special, something like a pawn, but not quite as disposable.”
“Smart girl like you? No way you’re a pawn, you’re at least a knight.”
“No, no. We’ve got a couple of those, I don’t quite have the mobility to be one.”
“What about the mortals?”
“Lots of pawns, no king and no queen. But only a queen can take the enemies king.”
“Sounds bad, how will the mortals win?”
“They’ll have to promote a pawn, obviously.”
“Obviously, if they don’t have a king, how will they lose?”
“The only way they can.”
Bill went quiet, probably to think about it for a while. Sinclair was saying something, his mouth was moving, but Lisbeth couldn’t hear him. There was a barrier blocking sound, it had been there the entire conversation. Smart move on Bill’s part, Lisbeth wouldn’t have been nearly as forthcoming if the barrier hadn’t been there. Lisbeth looked at Bill, with his young, thoughtful expression. It was odd knowing that this creature who had outlived universes looked younger than she did. Sure, he could change his appearance at will, but why did he like looking so young all the time. Lisbeth would have done quite a bit to be able to grow up some more.
“This appears to be your stop Lisbeth, we should get lunch.”
They had arrived outside Mind hall. Fortunately, most of the convoy had driven away so there were only three cars pulling up to the curb.
“Why Bill are you asking me out? I have you know I’m in a relationship, and she is very protective of my virtue. Besides, I have a meeting to get to.”
“I’m sure she is. That meeting is with the dream walkers right? I heard they were all getting together. Not like your kind to care about people dying, so what could they be meeting about, I wonder?”
“You can’t blame this one on me, this was all the mortals doing. Besides you’ve probably seen it before, it should hit the networks tonight.”
“I though you were one of the mortals?”
“Not if I want to survive the storm. Good day Bill, we should go out for tea sometime.”
Lisbeth fell asleep curled up next to Nerissa, who hadn’t left her pocket yet. Nerissa had spent the morning reading Lisbeth’s books. She had apparently finished the introductory texts and had moved onto one of the other basic learning books. It engrossed her to the point where she barely acknowledged Lisbeth when she arrived, stripped, and laid down next to her. Lisbeth might have been a little upset about that, but she did remember spending days not moving, and reading those books. It did stop her asking questions, which was good, but probably not the best option. Eventually Nerissa would ask about the implications of the contents of the books, and about the source.
All perfectly valid questions, good questions, ones that really should be answered. Ones she wouldn’t want to lie about. But still telling her, so many secrets, so many things she desperately wanted to say. But can’t. Instinctively she reached out for Nerissa’s dream, it wasn’t there of course, Nerissa wasn’t sleeping. Instead Lisbeth reached out for the glowing sun on the horizon, a confluence of a million minds. Well over 85% of the total dream walker population of the planet. So little, yet so powerful, every mind capable of becoming a complete monster for every mortal in the waking world. Lisbeth remembered something said at one of her tea parties once.
“Everyone of us is a monster Lisbeth, we all prey on the sleeping minds of those who can’t escape us. The only difference is how we choose to prey on those dreams.”