Swamped Chapter 47 Page 4

“Hang on,” you say. “Didn’t Simone create a device to listen in on her captors? Could you make something like that to listen to the mountains from here?”

Theodore’s eyes brighten suddenly, then the light fades and he shakes his head.

“That sounded like a good idea for a moment, but the problem is that Simone’s eavesdropper was designed for a confined space. The mountains are enormous, and wide open. Indoors, sound is bouncing around everywhere, so it’s easy to ‘catch’ it, so to speak. But out in the wild, it just spreads all over the place and fades. I can’t even conceive of a way to do it without some kind of receiver at the other end.”

“We could make one,” Simone chips in. “I can already see how to scale it up.”

“I’m not that concerned about the engineering side,” Theodore continues. “But there are two problems to deal with before we even worry about if the equipment works. First, how would we get a receiver into the mountains, and second, how would we even know the right area to put it? The anomaly is our only marker, and our calculations on its location are very imprecise, because we couldn’t get into the mountain to get better readings.”

“Wait, wait. How’d you know it was there in the first place?” you ask.

“We picked up strange readings on an ether monitor,” Dominique says, walking into the tent. “Pardon me for interrupting, but Rudolph said you ran into a wizard out there. And I’m the best ether expert you’ve got, so I probably ought to be here.”

“It wasn’t just the ether readings,” Theodore continues, slightly annoyed. “We have a variety of devices for remote analysis. The problem is, we haven’t been able to confirm any of our findings in the mountains, so we don’t know how accurate they are.”

“They work fine everywhere else we’ve tested them,” Dominique says.

“This may be a dumb question,” you interject, “but could you use one of those devices to help you get the sounds? They’ve got to have some way to check the mountains, right?”

“Impossible,” Theodore begins, but he barely finishes the word before Simone says “Sort of.” Everyone turns to her as she expands on her thought process.

“I don’t think we could directly hear the sounds, but the tremor detection gear could, with a few recalibrations, figure out which part of the mountain has people talking. Sound is fundamentally just vibrations, after all.”

“That’s our early warning system for tunneler attacks, though,” Yvonne says. “And that doesn’t sound useful enough to warrant leaving us blind.”

“Just tossing ideas out, darling. It’s what we do when we’re stuck, right?”

Rider suddenly speaks.

“If we can find the right spot, I believe I can get the receiver in place.”

You hope he means by working his charm on some birds or something, and not by going there himself.

“I suppose that makes it worth at least exploring the possibility of modifying the tremor detector,” Theodore says. “Boris, it’s your device. What are your thoughts?”

“Not happy, but I will do what has to be done,” Boris says. “We should start working out the details.”

The greblings all start poring over a large piece of paper, making incomprehensible doodles and arguing about stuff that’s going way over your head. You feel like now might be a good time to excuse yourself, this meeting’s gotten past the part where you feel like a useful contributor.

You thank Yvonne for letting a birdbrain like yourself sit in, and prepare to leave. Just as you’re getting your helmet back on, though, Rider gets up and turns to you.

“If you’re finished here, Corvus, there is something I would like you to do.”

You have an unpleasant feeling about this. What could he want?

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