Unconscious for over twelve hours, Keruso finally awoke, only to spend three days drifting on the open ocean. Alethea was drifting in and out of consciousness, only able to take a few sips of water before fainting again into the borderlands between comatose and restless sleep. When Captain Foyle appeared on one of the other fourteen rafts, he made his way over and tried to listen as Keruso tried to explain what had happened.
“It wasn’t a rescue attempt. I don’t think they do that. The intruder, the one who came, he was one of the… Others.”
“Others?” Interrupted Foyle, “You mean there’s more than one kind of teleporting, mind-reading monster out there?”
“No, they’re the same kind, just two different… ugh” Keruso’s mind was cloudy from three days in the blistering South Pacific sun, “I’m sorry Captain, but didn’t you read Alethea’s briefing on the Fractal Nexus? This was all in the briefing.”
“Nope, don’t think I ever got that memo. I was too busy building your lead box in the basement of my boat. Maybe Admiral Thomas was planning to debrief me after psychic aliens sunk my ship and killed over four hundred of my men.” Keruso couldn’t tell if Foyle’s face was red more from sunburn or from anger. He paused for a moment, biting his lip and then leaned back, “But seeing as we haven’t heard from anyone in three days, which is impossible by the way considering the SAT-phone is working fine, and we had half-a-dozen ships within radio contact before the blackout, why don’t you fill me in?”
“You can’t get anyone on the SAT-phone?” Keruso felt squeamish.
“Nor radio. It’s like there’s no one out there. Or maybe we’re in some kind of Bermuda triangle in the Pacific,” The Captain turned away with his arms crossed, and in a darkly sarcastic tone, continued, “Yeah, we should see Amelia Earhart flying overhead any minute now. But before we solve that mystery, why don’t you tell me yours.”
“Ok,” started Keruso, closing his eyes and gathering himself, “You’ve heard of fractals,”
“Yeah, they’re those patterns you find in seashells and ferns and stuff,” interjected a seaman who had been listening in, “Has something to do with math.”
“…yes, but simply put, it’s a self-similar pattern that has detail at every scale of size. So when applied to shapes or objects, those with the largest dimensions are like a reiteration of those with the smallest dimensions…”
“That’s putting it simply?” muttered Foyle.
“Ok, just think: giant things that look or behave identical to the tiny things that form them. And the Nexus (or link) in this case, is where the largest thing intersects with the smallest thing. These aliens we’ve encountered are from some distant galaxy. And they are at war with each other. But in a war among telepaths, it’s impossible to surprise your enemy. So, they had to develop a way that their weapons could be unpredictable to the Others. One side has built these giant biomechanical machines, Titans. That’s where human children come in. They are the ‘tiny things’ which give form and function to the big things, the Titans. They call these children Mediators. The Steward implants nodes in a fetus just before birth. As the child grows, the nodes throughout his body adapt to his physiology and cognitive functions, and become specifically attuned to his survival instincts, his fight or flight impulses. They then react to everything from bad dreams, to seeing a spider, or that urge to shove a bully on the playground. When the Nexus is functioning properly, the Titan reacts to the child’s impulses, and the child never becomes aware of the link. But something has happened now, that…”
“Wait, wait, wait. Are you trying to tell me that these little kids are controlling giant robots in another galaxy? You must think I’m stupid.” Foyle seemed more insulted than amused. But the seaman beside him was now hanging on every word Keruso spoke. He interjected again,
“You said these kids can see those giant robot things in their dreams?”
“Well I didn’t say that, but… well… it’s mostly hypothetical, but yeah… maybe. There have been reports of similar dreams among kids who are known to be Mediators.”
“What do they look like?” Keruso sighed and Captain Foyle dismissed it with a, “Pfft!”
“Well, they’re nightmares, usually pretty graphic. Giant machines with arms and legs kind of like humans, but not. Crushing cities, disemboweling each other. Lots of roaring and lunging. But the most striking indicator is when the child wakes, he experiences a brief migraine and often numbness in his fingers and toes.”
“Cap’n he’s telling the truth!”
“What?” snorted Foyle.
“He’s telling the truth. I had those dreams when I was a kid, and the migraines, and it wasn’t so much a numbness, but my fingers and toes always tingled after I had a bad dream!” The seaman was talking excitedly now.
“You gotta be kidding me.”
“No sir.” Now the sailor looked grave, “When I was about eight or nine, they did an MRI and found these tiny little metallic nodes in my brain and right behind my eyes, and even my hands and feet. But after that the nightmares and everything else just stopped. They figured since I got better, they weren’t hurting anything. So they never even tried to remove them.” Foyle was sitting up straight now.
“What’s your name sailor?”
“Petty Officer Second Class Jared Christopher, sir.”
“Well Petty Officer Chris, maybe you can dream up a way to get us all…”
“Plane!” came a shout from one of the other rafts. Captain Foyle jumped to his feet along with all the officers in the other rafts. Not so far to the north, high above the horizon, was some kind of aircraft coming toward them. The haze beneath the clouds made it difficult to tell, but some were shouting that it was a search plane. Other’s said it was a helicopter. Keruso however, knew that it was neither.