"What do we do now?" asked Dr. Maland.
"If you could get some help locating our mechanical protector, my people would be most pleased."
"I guess I could make a few calls," replied Dr. Maland. "I could contact General Chever of the Florida National Guard. I spoke with him briefly after the last run in with -- ummm -- the protector. If I don't get anywhere with him, I could probably get a hold of General Mann. He'll remember me from the New York incident. They may be able to locate the Cyber-Iapetus."
"It would be much appreciated."
"They may not give me any information. If they locate him, they may classify that information. They also may see the machine as a threat and attempt to destroy it."
"That is a chance we are willing to take."
"Okay, I'll see what I can do," Dr. Maland said escorting the storyteller to the door. "I know where to contact you."
"Thanks. You are a good friend to our people."
Dr. Maland called both generals to inform them of the situation. Needless to say, they were both quite concerned about the malfunctioning giant weapon system. They would both take steps in an attempt to locate Cyber-Iapetus.
General Chever would send some reconnaissance planes over the gulf. If it surfaced anywhere close to Florida, they would know immediately.
General Mann had more resources from which to work. He had submarines which would use their sonar in the attempt to locate the machine. If it were in the water, sooner or later they would locate it. However, he made it quite clear that if it were discovered in United States waters, they would not hesitate to attempt to destroy it.
Dr. Maland could not blame them for attacking the powerful weapon. It caused major damage to Tallahassee before Iapetus could stop it. They certainly did not want a repeat of that incident.
The next day, Dr. Maland went to West Lake Park to see the storyteller. This was their typical meeting place as the Iapetian did not like to be confined. On a bench with a nice view of the lake, Dr. Maland saw the Iapetian storyteller. He sat next to him and reported what the military men had told him.
"Hopefully, we will find it before your military."
"Do you have facilities to perform a worldwide search?"
"We do have a communication channel for our mechanical protector. If it in any way responds to one of our commands, we will be able to pinpoint its location."
"I forgot about that."
"So far, it has not responded to any of our return commands."
"I hope it does before our military finds it."
"This mechanical protector has been a great burden for both our lands. I wait in great anticipation for our true protector to swim once again in our waters."
"Is that going to happen soon?"
"It is up to him. He is currently bonding with his offspring."
"That is right, he went to spawn in Loch Ness."
"He is raising the sole male of this great event. For a time, they will share the duties of protecting our island. However, our great protector is ancient. He will leave us soon for the great waters. The young will provide what the old once did."
"Iapetus Jr. is very young, so I am guessing it will be a while before he is ready to follow in his father's footsteps."
"According to my ancestors, it will be at least 200 more cycles of the moon before the young one will be prepared to take on his duties."
"That would be a lot of responsibility for a 20 year old," Dr. Maland joked.
"That is indeed true. The time cannot pass too quickly."
"It is clear that Cyber-Iapetus has been a great burden on *you*."
"It has taken me away from my own duties in training my own successor."
"Are you retiring my good friend?"
"It is tradition. When the young protector takes over, my protégé will take over for me."
"What will happen to you?"
"Right now, anything would be better than fretting over our situation."
"I don't believe that for a second."
"Our protector will determine my fate, so even I do not know what will become of me when our new -- er -- record keeper -- begins."
"From my experience with Iapetus, he is most gracious. You should not fear."
"Thank you my friend."
The two men sat and conversed for a while before a beep came from the storyteller's briefcase. A cellphone was not in accordance with their native tradition, but it was an expedient form of communication. Thus, it quickly became part of their culture.
He spoke quietly to the individual on the other end. A sense of relief passed over his face, and then the look of concern returned. He made the conversation short, and then turned to Dr. Maland.
"Our mechanical protector briefly responded to our call," he said to Dr. Maland.
"Briefly? So, you know where it is?"
"Roughly. It is off the coast of Argentina -- near the Falkland Islands."
"Wow! It is a long ways away from home. Did it turn back?"
"The interface was alive for just a short period of time. It briefly stopped, and returned to its course."
"We have know idea where that is do we?"
"None. It could be Antarctica, it could be anywhere."
"At least it is not in U.S. waters..."
"That is a small conciliation, but fortunate nonetheless."
"Did you find anything else out?"
"It is still malfunctioning. We still do not know where it is headed. We still have no solution to our problem. We just know that is somewhere in the South Atlantic. We have no way to get to it, so we are almost in the same situation we were before."
"At least for now, it is safe from destruction."
"But for how long will that last?"
"I don't know my friend. This worrying will get us nowhere. Let's get some lunch."Posted by deg at August 3, 2008 3:00 PM