*Continued from Uncharted, Part V
"Clock?" Compass' voice crackles electronically through the intercom. "The bitch with you?"
Clock glances up at the Librarian, who pretends to have taken no offense. "Yes, Compass. What do you need?"
"I need those fucking numbers, ASAP."
Clock lets go of the intercom. "You haven't given them to him?" Clock is not happy.
"I gave them to you, not that impudent pup."
"That impudent pup is a Navigator, Librarian. You, on the other hand, are not."
Clock doesn't hear the gunshot. Nor should he have, for the silencer is of the highest quality.
The tendrils snake towards Spyglass and she's unable to move. She tries to scream, but all she can manage is a whimper. It's cold here. Dark. Completely black. Light absent and absorbed. And it's where she's stuck.
A scaled tendril, tentacle, wraps around her bare leg and begins feeling its way up her body. Another wraps her other leg. Still more wrap her arms. They begin to constrict. It begins to feed. Her breasts palpate, her body squeezes. Something penetrates her.
She manages another whimper.
"So, Spyglass calls it Krueger because it gives her nightmares..." James tries to work out what's going on as he sifts through volumes upon volumes of archives. He loves libraries - always has - and the Order's is as impressive a private library as any.
"Yes," Compass confirms, hoping James will shut up. Compass is already annoyed that there's no imagery from the Jezercë Tunnel, forcing him to work with intelligence gathered from Giewont, but being stuck with James makes it worse.
"... and Sextant calls it Kracken because...?"
"Something about something that looks like an octopus."
"Krueger looks like an octopus?"
Before he lets loose, Compass decides to ignore James, concentrating instead on symbols found on Tunneler artifacts over the years. There are three in particular taking most of Compass' attention. Numbers of some sort. He momentarily recalls the previous Clock, a mathematician who successfully identified and decoded more than a dozen numbering systems used by the Tunnelers. Though that Clock took copious notes, he died of a heart attack before he could finish organizing them into something useable. Continuing that work should be the new Clock's responsibility, but as the new Clock is more time-keeper than number-cruncher, the task somehow fell to Compass.
Compass is regretting not having spent more time on it. The Order would love nothing more than to have someone who can simply read the symbols and Compass would love nothing more than to have one less thing to rely on the Librarian for. Speaking of...
"You seen the hag?"
James, lost in a some web-search, looks up from his screen. "What?"
"The Librarian. Have you seen the Librarian? She's supposed to be coming with the numbers."
Afraid to admit that he's typically unaware of his surroundings, James glances around before responding. "Ah, no."
Marianne sits on the floor in front of the fireplace. Though she's under the impression things should be more hectic, particularly during a Kracken Protocol, she likes that Sextant has decided to tell her stories of the Order's history.
"Pope Pius XI met with Mussolini because of the Order?"
Sextant takes a drag from a cigarette and quickly ashes in his von Braun ashtray. "Not singularly, but, yes. He had information that a fascist leader knew of the Order and was preparing his own occult forces."
"But that was Hitler."
Sextant chuckles his, by now, familiar chuckle. "Exactly."
"Hitler wasn't even power in 1932."
"Exactly." The old man pauses and stares at Marianne. Sextant is no, well, sexist, but he's generally surprised by young women with such a detailed knowledge of history. Then again, he's generally surprised by anybody with such a detailed knowledge of history. He shoots her a smile, takes another drag, and explains how each current member of the Order was recruited.
Her knees ache. Her ankles. Every joint in her failing body. But she has to move quickly. She's shaking, and not from frailty. The rush she experienced from shooting Clock has yet to subside. The Librarian found it... exciting. She understands now why so many in the world love firearms.
For far too long she's watched these inept fools run the Order into the ground - never mind that Sextant has been in the order for much longer than she's even known about it - but it's her time. She's the smartest. She's the most capable. The Order deserves to be hers.
Though the current Clock hasn't been Clock for very long, he's been associated with the Order for years. Prior to his appointment, he was the second-in-command of the Phalanx Nautikos. He'd been promoted to Clock over the other finalist candidate... the Librarian. His predecessor had also been promoted over the Librarian. Come to think of it, Derartu Kebede disappeared shortly after the Librarian was hired.
That Clock has worn a bullet-proof vest under his clothing ever since he'd been shot as a rookie cop in the Chicago Police Department allows him to connect some dots that had, until just now, not been connected. He hadn't been sure that his death throes were convincing. Thankfully, the Librarian has never shot anyone before. Nor seen anyone die of a gunshot wound from up close. She didn't even have the presence of mind to shoot him again, just to make sure.
He knows he'll have to beat Compass to it, but Clock can't wait to kill the hag.
Even as she experiences death in her dreamworld, she experiences life. Her heart stops beating just as she's brought to orgasm.
This time, the whimper is a scream. She throws off her covers and jumps out of bed, running blind to her bedroom door and through the haunting corridors of the manor.
"You ever seen drawings of Cthulu?"
Compass pauses. He knows where James is going. "Yes. It's not Lovecraft's version of Kracken. Lovecraft wasn't in the Order. He was just a creepy writer." Compass glances at James in time to see a dejected frown. "What are you doing? Googling tentacled monsters?"
"Yeah. The only things I'm finding so far are Lovecraft, Jules Verne, and this story by two weirdos about an alien soccer war."
Compass laughs. "Ah, the Garghouls."
"That's the one."
"You should read it. It's pretty funny. Authors were definitely doing drugs, though." The extended conversation is Compass' method of encouragement. He doesn't bother to see that it's lost on James, who simply takes it as extended conversation. Compass might have bothered, but his attention is suddenly diverted back to his screen.
The numbers he's been looking for. Three symbols from the 20-numeral system of the Tunnelers. 9. 8. 3. Placed in a semi-circular pattern. Like a combination lock. Trying to stifle any excitement at the possible - emphasize possible - discovery, Compass taps the print command repeatedly until he hears the printer whir to life.
Running over to it, he grabs the page before it's completely out of the machine, tearing it at a bottom corner. Compass runs for the door. As he reaches it, a sweating and obviously nervous Librarian opens it and enters. Compass brushes her, waving the paper in her face.
"See, bitch? That's why I needed the numbers!"
Letting the shock dissipate, the Librarian continues to her desk, nodding a greeting to James. There, she retrieves a backpack, an attaché case almost too heavy to lift, and exits the library as quickly as she entered.
Sextant is mid-sentence of an embarrassing tale - embarrassing to Marianne, that is - when the alarms begin blaring. Relieved that she'll not learn of a Portuguese woman's gyrating ass, Marianne nevertheless becomes instantly worried. "What's going on?"
"I'm not sure. Stay calm, Marianne. The Phalanx will have sentries outside. We've nothing to fear."
She knows she shouldn't, but she believes Sextant. Marianne's never met anyone quite so calming, even when the situation screams that they have everything to fear. As if confirming her subconscious thought, a heavy pounding on the door to the den breaks the calm instilled by Sextant. Marianne swears she sees confusion sweep across Sextant's face, but only for an instant.
Sextant stands and heads to the door. He is confident, but cautious. "Yes?"
"It's the Librarian."
Reflexively, he unbolts the door - bolted automatically when the alarms activated. "Where are the sentries?"
The Librarian waddles in, weighed down by her bag and case. "What sentries?" She looks around, grimaces when she sees that Sextant is not alone. No matter. The wheels are already spinning. Pulling a stun gun from her bag, she fires it into Sextant.
Clock, along with Captain Danquah and two other Phalanx soldiers, storms into the library. James jumps from his work, startled.
"Where's the Librarian?" Clock asks. There is no patience in his voice.
"She's, ah... she left. Grabbed some stuff and left."
Clock turns to Danquah. "Get to Sextant."
Danquah nods a quick acknowledgement and he and the two soldiers take off running. Clock looks to James. "This is why you're still alive, James."
James, already confused, is even more so. "What?"
Clock waves his hand, motioning to the library and everything inside of it. "This is yours now. Whether you want it or not. Deal with it."
The thought to ask what's going on doesn't have time to materialize. Clock makes eye contact with James, ensuring James heard him, then turns to leave. "But choose a new title. Librarian has been soiled."
Dumbfounded, James barely realizes that he finally utters a question, albeit one fairly useless in the current predicament. "Bibliothēkē?"
Compass was the first to arrive. More out of hatred for the woman than for recognition of what she was doing, Compass rushed her and tackled her to the floor. The Librarian still had her stun gun, though, and Compass doesn't remember what happened next. He never heard Spyglass yell. Never even knew she'd arrived.
Spyglass had come for reassurance. Sextant was the only member of the Order who knew - and understood - the full extent of Spyglass' dreams. He would have been the only person capable of calming her down before another vision burst. Seeing his unconscious form and what she thought was Compass' lifeless body eliminated any chance of that happening.
It was unfortunate, but both the Librarian and a wholly-freaked out Marianne bore witness to what a vision burst looks like. Its effect frightened Marianne even more, but only made the Librarian smile.
"What are you doing?" Spyglass had screamed.
Not needing the stun gun for Spyglass, the Librarian had brandished her pistol. She would have pulled the trigger, too, were it not for the timely arrival of Captain Danquah and other members of the Phlanax Nautikos.
The Librarian had, in fact, pulled the trigger, but given her lack of training, the bullet had struck harmlessly into a wall. Danquah and the PN, however, are well-trained marksmen. And the Librarian activated her door a mere moment after enduring three bullet wounds.
It was unfortunate that Compass, the member of the Order who desperately needed to see a door in action, was unconscious for the Librarian's escape.
But, as Sextant would say, such is life. Except... Sextant is dying.
It is a quick conference between Clock, a calmed Spyglass, and a conscious Compass. Gone are Danquah and the Phalanx Nautikos, but still present is Marianne, who cries profusely over Sextant's body.
"We need to transfer what's left of Sextant's powers, before it's too late." Clock's statement is cold, matter-of-fact. But the situation affords no time for mourning.
"To who?" Compass asks. There's been no time for a vetting process, and none of the Order are aware that Sextant had already conducted one in secret.
Spyglass, tears dry from experiencing abject fear for the past few days, finds her thoughts elsewhere. "The Librarian is working with the Tunnelers?"
Still concerned with succession, Clock answers Spyglass' question anyway. "No. She's against them, just like we are. She's just also against us."
"How much of Sextant's powers did she steal?"
Compass grabs the tube from the Lichtenstein print. "It's electromagnetic, whatever it is. It wasn't active before, but it's definitely fucking with my direction-finding."
"There's no way to tell. We'll have to study his successor."
The three Navigators know that there's a strong possibility that the line of Sextants is about to be broken. Already dead, the essence of the Sextant won't remain in his body for much longer. Seconds pass, each Navigator lost in thought.
Marianne, all but forgotten by the others despite her presence directly in front of them, continues to cry. "What are Sextant's powers? He never said."
Compass glances up at Clock. Clock's eyes maintain their steadfastness, returning Compass' look, then shifting to Spyglass.
Spyglass shrugs. "But, she's Catholic." Spyglass isn't used to being part of the decision process of the Order. Even if she were, she's still rattled by her dream.
"As was I," Clock responds. "It doesn't last long."
"Clock?" There is a overwhelming sense of urgency in Compass' voice. "Now or never."
Compass turns to Marianne. "You're about to find out."
"Lie down," Compass orders, pulling a knife from Sextant's belt. "This might hurt a little."
*To be continued...
The Complete Uncharted: Map One