Time to Share

After I had explained the situation to my wife and shot a few awkward, ‘everything is fine’ smiles at my neighbours, I made my way back to the centre of our estate. It was where all the shops were, and also the centre of my re-election campaign, since all the council offices were there, too. I had to be careful not to let any of my colleagues know where I was. I had told them I was feeling too sick to work today, so I can’t imagine what they would say if they saw me visiting our local energy solution providers.

When I walked into the store, the familiar bell sound chimed out, and multiple heads swung toward me. “Back again already?” The owner asked. I nodded, trying to conceal my nerves. How could I explain this to them without sounding crazy? They probably thought I was back here as some sort of trauma response to what had happened yesterday. I got them all to sit in a circle on the floor and brought a lamp over from a desk. They waited expectantly. The owner had a puzzled look on his face. “Um,” I began, my usual politician’s charm abandoned. “I have something for you guys that is going to beat the NSW Energy Savings Scheme.”

I raised my fist and waited for the pale yellow swirl in the centre of my palm to grow bright, hot red. Then, I placed it gently against the bulb of the desk lamp. Although it wasn’t plugged into any power socket, the light turned on. It glowed, brighter and brighter, until even I had to close my eyes to prevent the light from searing my retinas. When I thought I had sufficiently made my point, I removed my hand from the lamp and told the employees that it was safe to open their eyes again. Nobody said anything. They all just stared at me with stunned expressions on their faces.


Energy Base Inbound

As Maphira and Vai, bound with zip ties, were hauled into the back of a helicopter, Maphira couldn’t help but wonder what the point of it all was. Why go through so much effort just to mess with them? She’d already been captured by the Conclave of Mechanists before, and Vai had been part of the dark group back then. Con had explained his plan, blatantly copying the Galactic King from Space Battles, but she still struggled to wrap her head around it.

She supposed that Con couldn’t possibly have known Vai would screw up the Bender test by refusing to do lots of 30KW solar system installations. Perhaps after that, he’d simply wanted to test Vai, taking the opportunity to do so. Even so, it seemed more like Con was interested in the drama than actually ruling the world.

That’s it! Maphira thought. He does just prefer the drama. He’s a bored child playing chess with himself. And that means he’s not going to let this end. He’ll give us a chance to escape so that the game can continue. When it happens, we have to strike, rather than run, destroying the board this sick game is played on.

Perhaps Vai, with all her knowledge of solar power, would be able to come up with a way to stop Con once and for all. If only she wasn’t completely paralysed, she could have brainstormed with the woman for any useful solar energy information.

Most likely, Con’s helicopter would bring them right to the Conclave’s new energy base in Carnegie. There, maybe they could do something to bring down the Conclave of Mechanists. Because the thing was, when you played chess against yourself, eventually you made a move that proved to be poorly calculated. One couldn’t possibly keep track of both sides equally.

And if Maphira’s inkling about what was about to go down was correct, Con had made his most poorly calculated move yet.


Energy in Danger

Maphira returned to a Resistance base that had been completely obliterated. Walls crumbled, broken under the stress of constant projectiles slammed into it. The Conclave had brought troops armed with energy blasters that had torn the place to shreds. Everywhere she looked, scorch marks were to be found on every inch of every surface. She found a few people here and there, lying lifeless on the cold, shattered ground.

Still, there weren’t enough bodies to suggest the Conclave had achieved its goals of destroying the Resistance. Perhaps her message had gotten through… Certainly, she noticed that there was around a 50/50 split between the two sides.

As she wandered through the destroyed base, she wondered at what the rogue Bender Bot was up to. Perhaps it was seeking a 500KW solar system to recharge its power. That whole test had been a complete mess, and Bender was probably running low on energy. Still, Maphira couldn’t help but be extremely amused about the fact that the whole thing had been Vai’s fault. It was about time the karma bus hit her as payment for her betrayal all those years ago.

There was no telling what Bender would do now that it was beyond the Conclave’s control. Would the robot take energy from commercial solar panels and use it to destroy the city? What kind of monster had the Conclave created?

Maphira had been lucky to get out of that auto shop alive. Thankfully, Bender seemed to have other priorities, aside from making Maphira’s lights go out forever. Now it was time she took her chance at freedom and used it to get the Resistance back on its feet. With the chaos caused by Bender, perhaps this was the perfect time to strike.

So long as they still had the numbers to do so, that was. She’d find out as soon as she got to the secret bathroom bunker.