Two Ambushes, not Just One!
Something I should have worked out a while ago. Cyl and Tia have analyzed the havoc that Rintiala wreaked on the Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain, and have devised a new strategy, now that they know the synthetic diseases will have no effect on the Nueguans.
Instead, synthetics will lure the three in by pandering to their desires, separating them, and then attempting to kill them. Alyria works this subterfuge out first, running out the front entrance with a synthetic HTR and Rintiala.
HTR goes underground, while Dianire has a running battle to top of the crennelated towers of the Kierland. The buildings use automated defenses against them both.
Cyl and Tia come up with a strategy. They have assessed the powers of Alyria as a Healing Sister–but nowhere near the powers of Rintiala–and decide she can be used as a ‘bargaining chip’ with the Western Bandits, so that the synthetics can keep incursions to a minimum. HTR is a hybrid, and the synthetics decided to test his abilities, as he is likely the forerunner of a new breed of humans. If he dies in the trials, so be it. Their real focus is on Dianire, as they have the technology to access the RIN programming that will give rise to the Dark Queen. (Sean Landesten was originally a Sky Wanderer, before he was expelled). So..the synthetics know more about Dianire than she could possibly know about herself. They will test her combat potential, but will not kill her. Unfortunately the torture they inflict on Dianire awakens the murderous rage of the Dark Queen, and the Western Bandits are the first to feel her wrath.
So, how in practical terms, do Cyl and Tia test and torture? They use the automated features of the Westin Kierland against HTR and Dianire. Cy begins his test of HTR when HTR is examining the state-of-the-art septic facilities; although there are no humans yet, food is prepared, animals slaughtered and plant waste processes. Literally HTR goes through shit to get back to Dianire.
HTR nearly dies at the bottom of the effluent reclamation tank, but his super-spleen kicks in, and he has several more minutes of oxygen. He is surrounded by a new kind of creature–one of Sean Landesten’s designs–an electric sturgeon that cleans up the bottom of the tank, and kills others scavengers if they get too close. The bottom of the tank turns out to be a breeding ground for new creatures. HTR fills his canteen with fertilized sturgeon eggs, in the hope that these creatures will be of value to Dianire, which they will be.
Dianire on the other hand is introduced to another Landesten design, a century cactus that converts wind energy to stored electrical energy by use of piezo-electric sucrose fibers. The synthetics very much want Dianire to go along with their plan, until she discovers that they intend to vivisect her.
But they alter their plan at the last minute, because Alyria has unwittingly given them the final touch they need to create a synthetic Rintiala, one who has made love to Alyria, with Alyria modifying the synthetic’s responses until they are as close to human as possible. Cyl and Tia will seduce Dianire, if combat fails. This betrayal-both by Alyria and the synthetics is enough to make Dianire leap from the roof of the Kierland, supposedly to her doom.
The two trials can be summed up as HTR = Darkness and Dianire = Light. HTR is shown the latest effluent reclamation by Cyl, featuring nanotechnology filters, engineering lost to the Empty Earth, while Dianire is shown by Tia the solar-powered air conditioning and heating systems, using carbon fiber super-capacitors, another lost technology. Cyl traps HTR in the bottom of the effluent processing station, warning him that synthetic booby traps have been laid out for the Apache; Tia explains that the synthetics wish to vivisect Dianire, but not kill her, as they believe such torture will unleash Dianire’s power to the full. The synthetics believe that what they are doing is just, because they also do not know what kind of Sky Wanderers will return. If the returnees are malicious, then hybrid Apache and Nuegua warriors will be needed. It is for a good cause, repeat Cyl and Tia.
Dianire is the one the synthetics want to keep, so that they can vivisect her. Their DNA assessment indicates that she is the larval stage of a new kind of highly aggressive human, and they wish to steal the secrets locked in her RIN (Recursive Instructional Nexus). They trap her on the top tower of the wing of the Kierland overlooking its massive wave pool. Dianire dives into its deep end from four stories up, and hits the bottom hard enough to shatter her left clavicle, The pain of this turns on the first flowering of the Dark Queen, and Dianire rises from the water as an avenging angel. She meets up with HTR–fighting numerous copies of Cy and Tia along the way–until they hole up in the coffee shop, while the synthetics look for a way to burrow under said shop.
HTR and Dianire meet up in the coffee shop at the north east of the Westin Kierland property, and discover that this non-descript building holds the weapons and armor they need.
The final and greatest indignity that the synthetics have come up with is that they know more about the Recursive Instructional Nexus than even Dinaire does. She uses the power of the RIN, but does not have the skills to analyze it. Neither do the synthetics, but they are presently putting forth all the intellect to do so. Why? Because they agree with the Nueguans: organics are the future, synthetics are a dead end. The synthetics intend to unravel the mysteries of the RIN so that they can transfer their consciousnesses to nearly immortal and easily reproducible organic bodies. This perversion is the straw that broke the donkey’s back for Dianire.