Iapetus rested in the hole, and prepared to re-engage his cybernetic opponent. However, the machine stood motionless in mid taunt. The Florida National Guard stormed the controlling station just after Cyber-Iapetus gave his roar, and there he stood.
Iapetus warily exited the pit that he and his foe made when they emerged from underground. He sniffed the air and slowly walked over to the stationary weapon system. At the slightest sound, he flinched. Nevertheless, his opponent just stood there.
Finally, he was within reach, and he pushed the metal chest of the machine. Nothing happened. He pushed a little harder with the same result. He sniffed the machine, but smelled nothing of interest.
When he was satisfied that the mechanical device was no longer a threat, he flared his spines and gave a mighty roar. The roar shook buildings several miles away. He gave a few shorter calls and curled up at the feet of his former fighting opponent. With a sigh of exhaustion and perhaps relief, Iapetus fell asleep.
It was early in the evening when Dr. Maland arrived in Florida's capitol city. He had decided to fly directly to Tallahassee rather than his home. He wanted to see if he could help the people in Tallahassee in any way.
Despite the jetlag and the exhaustion that he felt, he rented a car and began the drive to the capitol building. Even though it was well after rush hour, traffic in that area was awful. The destruction Cyber-Iapetus inflicted on that particular area snarled traffic well into the evening.
He faced a few roadblocks, but the governor was expecting him, so he was able to pass. Dr. Maland saw little evidence of the destruction until he got closer to his destination. As he neared the capitol building, he saw the destruction around the building and the huge crater in front.
As he looked east, he saw more evidence of a giant destructive force passing through. Buildings were now heaps of twisted metal, brick, and concrete. He reached a point where the road was no longer passable. The helicopter wreckage was still blocking the road.
The governor had sent one of her assistants to escort Dr. Maland the remaining few blocks to the building. With all the destruction, there was no way to drive the last few blocks. Thus, they crossed that distance on foot. A state trooper took care of parking his rental car.
This part of the city looked as if a major battle occurred there. The damaged military equipment and the rubble were everywhere. Dr. Maland felt sorry for the people of Florida and the businesses around the government buildings. The sorrow increased as the pair walked silently to the governor's office.
"I'm sorry governor," Dr. Maland said as he entered her office. "I thought only of intercepting Iapetus. I neglected to help the people here by giving them vital information."
"Dr. Maland I presume?" replied the governor.
"Yes, I'm sorry. I am Dr. John Maland. I am a professor of anthropology at Florida International University. It is nice to meet you."
"It is my pleasure to meet y'all," replied the governor while shaking Dr. Maland's hand. "Now don't y'all get bent out of shape over this."
"No 'buts'!" insisted the governor. "Everyone was doing what he or she thought was right. The people to blame are those that stole this Cyber-Iapetus."
"Uh, I don't know what to say..."
"Y'all don't have to say anything. I just wanted to thank you for your effort. The Iapetian command center is what did the trick. Even Dr. Roy hadn't thought of that aspect."
"You have spoken to Dr. Roy?"
"Certainly! He has been most helpful. Further, he has agreed to help pay for the repair of the damages. He regretted that someone used his company's resources to inflict such destruction. Further, they did it simply for extortion. He was greatly concerned that it would negatively impact his company's good name."
"I'm glad to hear that he wasn't involved..."
"The men gained access to a few AOENC technologies. They implanted a chip into a Ms. Linda Higher's head. This chip was designed to help people with brain damage. However, someone determined that it had other uses, like controlling people. She was powerless against them."
"Oh, that explains a few things."
"Do you have experience with this device?"
"I'll say! It was what caused me to go to Iapetus Island in the first place. I was powerless to stop Iapetus from leaving. When the chip was discovered and removed, I was completely focused upon intercepting him."
"Y'all weren't all there. See..."
"That is nice of you to say. Am I to understand that you have captured the perpetrators?"
"We believe so. We're working with Dr. Roy to verify this. We owe Iapetus for delaying the cybernetic weapon and giving us time to capture the thieves."
"Where is Iapetus?"
"He is still sleeping at the feet of Cyber-Iapetus."
"Do you need anything else from me?"
"The Iapetian storyteller is waiting for you there. Here are the driving directions. They may seem round-about, but some roads are impassible."
"No -- thank you. Now get going before it gets dark."
Dr. Maland left the governor's office with a spring in his step. The sad thoughts that had plagued him since he was in Scotland were gone. He almost sprinted back to his rental car.
The drive to where Iapetus rested seemed quite short despite the distance. The storyteller was sitting on the great monster's foot. Florida State Troopers and National Guard members kept guard, but they were expecting him. He parked the car and walked towards the great beast.
John and the storyteller embraced. Another crisis had been averted. Miami was saved. The new protector was still functional and Iapetus was free to go to Loch Ness. However, for now, the great beast slept.
"What happens now?" John asked the storyteller.
"In the morning, Iapetus will wake and make his way to his spawning ground. The governor has stated that I can take our mechanical protector to our island."
"So that is it."
"Yes it is."
John asked one of the troopers to return his rental car because he was going to accompany the storyteller on part of the journey to Iapetus Island. He camped out with the storyteller that night next the Iapetus.
In the morning, the now refreshed Iapetus arose and stretched. He shook the chill off, and took a leisurely stroll to the Gulf of Mexico. The storyteller and Dr. Maland entered the cybernetic protector and followed him.
They walked into the water and when Iapetus was in deep enough in the gulf, he dove under the water. He swam a little way, and then breached the surface like a whale. After his little show, he went under the water and vanished.
Cyber-Iapetus piloted by the storyteller swam around the peninsula and emerged from the water in Fort Lauderdale. The mechanical protector walked to Dr. Maland's home and opened up. Dr. Maland emerged. He bid farewell to the storyteller and entered his house. He took a long hot shower and sunk in his easy chair. It had been quite a long time since he had been home. He had plenty of catching up to do.
The storyteller piloted the mechanical protector to its home on Iapetus Island. It had been quite an adventure for him as well. This adventure renewed his distrust of outsiders, and the Iapetian people began closing down their tourist trade. They decided to isolate themselves again. The world was not mature enough, and they had everything they needed.Posted by deg at July 1, 2007 9:05 PM