A jet-black, V-shaped octocopter maneuvered around the capital spire and sailed over the crowd of buildings. It was not a common sight and many people stopped to look up as it passed overhead. The vessel descended onto the landing platform of a penthouse, seventy stories up from the bustling terrain of the ground. Its eight spinning blades caused a torment of air to kick up a cloud of dust around it and a deep rumbling sound to echo across the roof onto the surrounding buildings. A dark hooded figure stepped out just as the engines were turned off. The man walked with urgency towards the door leading down into his private abode.
A pale woman clad in dark leather and with a single stripe of dyed red hair stood waiting by the door. She had been waiting there for some time and was growing restless. Seldom did she wait for anyone.
The man spoke as he approached her, “Did you take care of the threat?”
“Yes, lord Wodin. Just as you asked. They won’t be causing any more problems,” she responded.
She followed him as the door opened and he stepped down into the building.
“Good, Regi. You have done well. Come with me, I have another assignment for you.”
They walked down a long, richly appointed hallway. Its floor was covered in an ancient, obscenely expensive rug. The walls were decorated with mirrors and an assortment of paintings which seemed to pull from all cultures of humanity. There were Japanese woodblock prints next to ancient Egyptian hieroglyph reproductions next to copies of Picasso paintings.
The man spoke as he walked, “Have you heard of the Eye of Eridu?”
“No. I have not.”
“It’s a mythical relic from the founders of Eridu. Some say it has the power to communicate with the gods. Others say it can communicate with star faring humans – our cousins in the galaxy. It was sent with the founders in case we ever needed help from outside. Either way, it would be a source of power to anyone who possessed it.”
“Oh, yes. I remember now. Heard such stories when I was a child. And you want me to find it?” the woman asked confidently.
“No. I’ve already found it,” Wodin responded as he came to a locked metal door. A blue laser scanned his eye and he typed a code into the keypad next to the door. The door unlocked with a loud clang and swung open. Inside was what looked like a large kitchen that had been turned into a laboratory. There were ovens, pans, beakers, and computer screens scattered throughout the room. He walked towards the center of the room where a large sphere was mounted on a metal coil.
He gestured towards the sphere and said, “The Eye of Eridu.”
Regi tried to suppress her surprise and wonderment. The sphere was perfectly reflective on all sides and seemed to be flawless, like nothing she had ever witnessed in her life. It stood out in the cluttered room, an aberration, like something from a different planet.
Wodin explained the situation, “The Eye requested to speak with someone else. You must confirm my identity as the ruler of Eridu and that we are fighting an insurgency war against the Pit. I trust my faith in you is not misplaced.”
“Of course, lord Wodin,” replied Regi. “What -”
Before she could ask another question, Wodin interrupted, “Good. Then let’s begin.” He flipped a switch below the metal coil and took a step back. The overhead lights turned off, plunging the room into darkness. The sphere began to glow red where the coil was holding it. A spot of transparency appeared on its surface and began to dance around, like a giant metallic eye-ball looking around the room. It found Regi and suddenly she realized it was not an eye, but a projector. It projected an all encompassing view onto her retinas and she was immersed in a different world.
She appeared to be in a dark forest with an improbably tall ceiling above her filled with pinpricks of light. In front of her was a glowing orb. Wodin was still there, but in a cloud of darkness. A loud voice echoed in her ears saying, “Hello. What is your name?” The voice appeared to be female but multitudinous, almost like a choir singing. It took her a moment to comprehend the question.
“Regi,” she answered.
“Regi, who is Wodin?” the voice asked.
“He is ruler of this city, Eridu. He requests your assistance,” Regi replied.
“Where is your city?” This seemed an odd question to Regi, but she looked to Wodin who gestured for her to answer.
“I’m not sure how to answer. We are here in Ferth, the only place I know,” she said, unsure if this was the right answer.
“How far beneath the ground are you?” the voice asked, articulating each word.
“We aren’t-” Regi began before Wodin interrupted, “We don’t know how far underground we are. We here in Eridu are raised ignorant of our location.”
“I understand,” the voice said, sounding satisfied.
“Is it true Eridu is under attack?” the voice asked.
“Yes. We are.”
“Who or what is attacking?”
“What is the Pit?”
“Another city here in Ferth.”
“How many humans live in Eridu?”
“About ten million.”
“And how many in the Pit?”
“About one million, I think.”
“Does not sound like a fair battle.”
“Fair?” Regi stammered. “They don’t fight fair,” Regi said resolutely.
The voice paused for a moment. Regi looked at Wodin to see if he was pleased with her. If he was she could not tell. He was impenetrable.
The voice spoke again, “Thank you for your help, Regi. Good bye.” The illusion disappeared and Regi was once again standing in the cluttered room. The trees were gone.
“Thank you, Regi. That should suffice,” Wodin almost yelled as he ushered her out of the room.
“I did my best, lord Wodin,” Regi insisted.
“Thank you. You know the way out,” Wodin commanded and shut the door forcefully with Regi stuck in the hallway.
Regi slumped her shoulders for a second before bounding down the hallway towards the exit. She opened the door and stepped out onto the roof. After sprinting to the edge of the roof she fired her arm mounted grappling hook at the adjacent birail. The metal wire spun out quickly and the hook found its footing on the top rail. While jumping off the roof, she pulled a lever causing the wire to retract, pulling her up to the rail. Climbing onto the rail, she heard an approaching birail pod, unhooked the hook, spun around, and jumped onto the pod.
As she rode back to her dwelling, she thought about her responses to the weird disembodied voice of the sphere. “That could have gone worse,” she said to herself.