Episode 10: The Tsunami
Their eyes followed the oracle's extended oozicle in terror as they watched the rising wall of water creep nearer and nearer. The sounds of the mob quieted as they began to notice the impending wall of doom approaching. Then sounds of chaos rose as fear set in.
Val slammed her fists into the panel, and it popped open. "Theo, go talk to the crowd and calm them down. Mr. Rheumik, if you could assist me with any knowledge you have of this technology that would be greatly appreciated."
"Done," said the oracle. "Though I doubt you'll need my help."
Theovelt took off towards the crowd. "Calm down, it is okay. We are here to help," he assured.
His hand motions, which to him were a signal of peace and calming, stirred the crowd into a frenzy. They interpreted his waving as that of a conjuring wizard.
Theo didn't know what to do. He thought back to his home on New Earth. He remembered when he was a child and the gazelle-sized mantises would raid his village. He remembered the song his mother would sing to calm him down. Theo sat and began humming that same song to give himself the mental space to think about what he should do.
As he hummed the Globinians stopped and listened. They had never heard music before. They listened in wonder at the beautiful noise emanating from Theo's diaphragm. Just as his mother's song had done for him, Theo's music began to put the crowd at ease.
Val observed all the instruments in front of her. There was a screen with 4 green blinking dots and a fifth red dot. The dots were scattered around the screen in an undiscernable pattern, without any labeling whatsoever. There was an assortment of levers, knobs, pulleys, pusheys, buttons, and switches. Val was familiar with each of the individual pieces but had no way of deciphering this particular combination.
With no clear direction and a strong sense of urgency, her instincts kicked in, and she began manipulating the various instruments. She took care to note any change that each movement made in order to assess how the device should be properly operated. She didn't enjoy using trial and error, but this was the only option.
After a few tries at various combinations, a loud mechanical clanging and clunking began to sound. The bump began to rise! Val gasped, satisfied with her success. A loud pop sounded, and the gears began to grind. The rising wall halted and began to recede back to its original position.
Val sighed and kicked the bottom of the panel in frustration. Down near the bottom of the panel, under all of the switches and dials, her kick opened a strange but familiar looking connection port. Val had never seen it before, but it caused something inside of her to feel a warm sense of familiarity. She stared at the port, and her braided hair began to hum and shimmer as it vibrated in the remaining sunlight.
Val bent down and touched the port. As her finger scraped the opening, a bolt of electricity arched, sending a jolt through her system that knocked her to the ground.
"Are you alright, my dear?" Rheumik asked, helping her to her feet.
"Ye-yes!," she said, stumbling then jumping to her feet. "I know what I must do!"
She crouched down near the panel and dangled her hair over the connection port. She concentrated, and her eyes began to glow. Her braided cables of hair came to life, like Medusa stubbing her toe, glowing with electricity. Her hair grew and crawled its way into the port and surrounded the rest of the instrument panel, fully linking her into the system.
Flubbert stepped back, a little spooked by Val's display of power. The oracle stayed in place, giving her a knowing nod.
"That shock must have given my system the boost it needed to jump the broken connections and access the corrupted memory files that my instincts were trying to trigger. I have the ability to interface with most machinery and control its systems with my mind."
"Well done, darling. I knew you had it in you."
"There are two crash logs. One from just now and one from a hundred and twenty years ago. The system is set to automatically activate and extend a giant wall to protect the city whenever it detects a tsunami approaching. Some glitch must have caused the system to crash, as it did just now, and the wall never activated, leaving the people who built this city defenseless against a tsunami..." Val trailed off at the thought of a simple computing error causing such devastation.
"And what are your thoughts on fixing this glitch, might I ask?" Rheumik said, urging her back to her task.
"Right! I will need to look through the system and try and find its exact origin. How much time do I have?"
The effect of Theo's tune was beginning to wear off. The water was getting closer. Too close for any song to distract from. The crowd became restless. As tensions began to once again boil over, Theovelt grabbed his staff from his pocket and unfurled it with a flourish. He stamped his staff on the ground with a thud, gaining the crowd's attention once more.
"Have faith!" he began, his translator echoing glugs and gurgles. "The past few days have been pretty wild for me. A lot of crazy and scary things have happened, and I feel it will only be getting crazier and scarier. But," he paused. "But, I am learning to trust in those around me and have faith that no matter how dire things may appear, good can come through any trial."
"Come," he continued, "I have faith in my new friend; I ask that you do as well. She is the smartest person I know, and I trust that she will save us from this wall of water. Let us climb to the highest point and look out upon--look over--this massive wave. Let us look past its destruction and see the beauty in its roar!"
Theo held his breath as the crowd went absolutely silent. He sighed, and his face twisted with disappointment. He gave them all that he had and it wasn't enough.
Slowly, cheers and shouts spread through the crowd until Theo heard the sound of one giant applause and felt a rush of hope blow through the streets.
Individuals throughout the crowd began taking charge and instructing those around them to move to the nearest building and climb to the top. Soon, every building in the vicinity was covered with Globinians sliding up the sides.
Theo stood at the bottom looking up at what he had inspired. He felt a cool but warming sensation envelope him. A hazy green hue tinted his vision. Noticing that Theo couldn't climb the buildings like they could, one of the Globinians had stayed behind and decided to, 'pick him up,' and take him to the top. Theo didn't protest, but instead enjoyed his gooey, green marshmallow elevator.
From the tops of the buildings, Theo and the Globinians could see out above and beyond the massive deep purple, swirling wall of water surging towards them. As it rushed towards them, it continually gained in height as it fed on the sea in front of it. Atop the wall, curling white sea foam snarled its rabid teeth.
Looking beyond the wall of water, the horizon looked quite peaceful. Foam sprinkled the surface of the ocean from where the wave passed. The sun was beginning its descent, and its light passing through the foam made the sea look like a large glass of grape kool-aid full of glittery pop-rocks. The sight was intriguing to Theo, though he wouldn't have called it beautiful. Living in a city that lacked much color other than chrome, the Globinians marveled. If this truly was their last day alive, at least they lived to hear music and see this sight.
"I think I got it!" Val shouted. "It seems whoever programmed the system didn't account for the calendar year reaching 20,000, and when it did, the internal clock that controls how long the system runs to fully extend the wall, broke. So, now, the wall stops too early and doesn't trigger that it's been fully extended. The safety protocols assume there is some obstruction and move the wall back to its original position."
"Excellent. I assume you know how to fix it?" asked the oracle. "Because that water is getting quite close," he calmly added.
"Yes! Just add an extra few digits here. Add some there for consistency. Add a condition to call a technician if the system lasts longer than a tredecillion years. And..."
Mechanisms whirled, and a massive wall of metal rose to meet the approaching wall of water just in time, narrowly blocking every drop.
"...There! We did it!" shouted Val. She fell into Rheumik as she attempted to give his gelatinous form a hug.
From atop the buildings, Theo and his friends stood resolute in anticipation of their end. In a flash of glistening silver, their view of the water wall was obstructed by a larger wall of solid metal.
A crash echoed through the whole city. On the heels of the sound was a vibrating shock wave that shook the entire city. Theo felt the surface beneath his feet tremble and looked around to see the Globinians all around him violently jiggling, but unaware of the state of their bodies.
A sigh of relief swept over the crowd as the realization that they were saved began to sink in. One by one the citizens began to shout and holler with joy at their safety. Theo was once again picked up and brought down to the ground as the mob descended to meet their second savior.