The Battle of Charmelle: The Vhaen Project | 8

“The Vhaen?” Vale’s head twisted sharply around the corner of a fallen structure. “Do, ah, do you mean to say you know how to use the device in that underground chamber? I thought you said it was an artifact of unknown function and origin.”


“Well,” Katherine began, “We lied.”


The scientists and historians now moved about the enclosure quickly and erratically, collecting as many papers and boxes as they could.


“What does the Vhaen do then?”


“Doctor Vale, the Vhaen is an ancient computer of sorts… A hub connecting a large network of points gridded across something they called the Sah. Its connecting points lay over the entire surface of this world. We believe it to be a transport or network of some kind.”


“Transport…That’s not that uncommon for worlds like this. What’s with all the secrecy and the hush hush..” Vale stiffened slightly, “and all those bodies in the chambers near it?”


Katherine flicked her hazel eyes from the file in her hand to the doctor and back. “From what we can tell, it’s a side effect of prolonged use of the Vhaen…”


“Well that doesn’t make even a lick of sense, now does it…A badly set up teleportation network that poisons it’s users…it would be pointless research.”


The woman set her file down and faced the doctor quickly. “Doctor Vale, the Vhaen has shown signs of not being a transport through space but something wholistically different. We believe that the Sah was something unique. The box was used as a rite of passage by these people, the young were taken and given to somehow open windows into the Vhaen and thus the Sah. We believe the tattoos on the skin of the bodies down below are actually imprints of whatever the box uses to interface; perhaps even evidence of issues in the participants rites because it left those you see in the chambers…The toxin on their decaying skin is the residual breakdown of what we believe to be physical substances that this “Sah” used in the flesh as a bio connector. We think…these people may have been able to use it to their advantage…but there is no way to really know until we test it.  Completely unorthodox… But we know how to make it work…theoretically.”


Vale took a breath to ask a question or argue, but was cut short.


“There are unstable processes going on in that box.” Attica remarked coming alongside the lady and the doctor with a large box in hand. “When we went down before, when I got near the box it gave off an odd presence. Something right out of the labs in the capital.”


“That doesn’t surprise me.” Katherine said shaking her head, “It’s been speculated by my head archeologists that the technology originated in an old world, something likely incompatible with the biosoftware your people call alchemy. We still don’t understand the full implications of it’s use.” She cast a glance up at the young woman, “I wouldn’t go back near it if I were you.”


“All I’ll tell you is there are voices in the box, Lady Katherine.”


Katherine made a face and turned back to her work. Vale watched them both a moment before carrying on.


“How does it work then, this ceremonial computer box that can open windows into some unknown void?”


She drew a deep breath and laid out a series of schematics not unlike the art they had seen in the catacombs far below them. “The central box, must be manned by a user of 15 years or older, they insert their arms into the front of the device. These black indentations have handles on the inside to grasp from what documentation we have uncovered tell us. There is no way to see them in ordinary circumstances as the box is protected by an inner shield that drinks up light. From the contents of the stomachs of the bodies in the tombs, we have concluded; that the manning party must drink this drink, a mix of electrolytes and proteins, and create some mental connection to the machine, and theoretically, allow it to access the Sah.”


“That’s a lot of theory.”


“It would worth attempting instead of letting the Isabella and the captain’s wife end up like the Charmelle.”


“But there is no guarantee what it will even do!” The man in grey’s brows were furrowed,”I’m not usually the one to say this, but haven’t you lot lost enough in the name of science today?”


Katherine looked at him sharply, her steely eyes and fair windswept hair tossed about her face made her look quite severe. “ I don’t need your approval to attempt anything, Doctor. My life was caught up in this project. My husband died protecting this rock, And I’m going to pretend I didn’t just hear you say that…So if you’re going to stand around help me get this generator into the other transport and down into the chamber.”


Vale was handed a large box all at once, and reluctantly followed the woman across the stone floor and to a transport vehicle. It took all of minutes to get it loaded and the majority of her people ready to head down into the chamber.


Brother Luke had managed to strip the vehicle, and the engine to the most necessary parts. Audra and Seamus had rebuilt the gasoline engine to accept the Aether filters and run on a small magnetic gravity displacer.


“Childsplay…” Seamus said at length, candy hanging from his bottom lip.


The wings were coming together quickly as Luthiem and Kitty cut thin strips of copper and pipe as fin like protrusions. Attica was bent over the body of the makeshift plane fixing the plates to each other with short bursts of high intensity heat with a lighter. Upon its surface was scrawled an algorithm.


Cedric eyed it warily, “tell me again…”


“It will fix the plates together in exchange for the density of the metal, Captain,” She replied continuing her work. “Basically, it’s going to be tinfoil. Just keeps the air out.”


“Right. So don’t get shot.”


“Good plan any day. “ Javert crassly remarked, hauling a large bundle of rope into the bed of the now ship looking shape.


Amelia, Amarante, and Rotger all worked simultaneously with needle and thread with shreds from the damaged Isabella’s balloon to make a smaller version. Within a half an hour’s time, the balloon could hold air and even withstand the tugging of the new netting being woven to hold it.

Cedric was impressed, but the time for pride would have to wait.


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