The Memory Thief
Published Jun. 6th 2020
What is The Memory Thief?
The Memory Thief is a collaborative book. Each week, I write one new chapter and provide three possible options for what could happen next. Readers vote for their favourite and watch as the story comes to life. Click Here to learn more.
Last week on The Memory Thief…
“This can’t work unless we can trust each other. I trust you. Do you trust me?”
I took a moment to think about it. Part of me worried she was manipulating me—after all, she’d done it countless times before—yet another side of me insisted she was my one true ally in the fight against Titus. But logic could only go so far. In the end, I had to trust my gut.
I studied Lily for a moment before voicing my answer:
Option 1: “Yes.”
Option 2: “No.”
Option 3: “I don’t know.”
NOTE: Click Here to read the full chapter.
Option 1: 12 votes (52.17%)
Option 2: 1 votes (4.35%)
Option 3: 10 votes (43.48%)
This chapter is dedicated to Mared. Thanks for voting.
I studied Lily for a moment before voicing my answer: “Yes.”
Truth be told, I still had doubts—I’d come very close to saying “I don’t know.”—but it was too late to change my mind. I had chosen to trust Lily, and anything short of total and utter faith would be counterproductive.
“So?” I asked. “What’s the plan?”
Lily remained silent for a moment before answering.
“Let’s start by checking on The Triangle of Justice,” she suggested. “After that, we’ll come up with a plan.”
I nodded, and we stood, slowly making our way out of the small, rundown structure that had been our home for the past hour or so. I was reticent to approach the lit portion of the underground city, but Lily assured me there was nothing to fear. Not only were there no sign of the robots, but the cave was eerily silent, indicating the skirmish had long since ended. Still, it was with a racing heart and sweaty palms that I followed Lily through the rubble. The sense of unease that filled me gradually increased as we neared the inhabited section of the makeshift village.
“Where is everyone?” I asked as we passed by the umpteenth deserted dwelling.
Lily shook her head and kept walking. Deeper and deeper we travelled until we reached the centre of the town. The structure where I’d first met Artemis was unchanged, the half that remained upright casting shadows on the rest. But there was no sign of Apollo, Prometheus, or any of the other half dozen people who were with us when the robots attacked.
“What happened to them?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” sighed Lily. “But the fact that there are no bodies seems to indicate they survived the ambush.”
She was right, but it didn’t make me feel better.
“Do you think they were captured?”
“It’s possible,” admitted Lily, “but there’s a chance they repelled the robots and fled to avoid falling into another ambush. Either way…” Her voice trailed off.
“We’re on our own,” I concluded.
“What’s the plan?” I asked after a long, awkward silence.
“The plan hasn’t changed. We must sneak into Titus’s home and deactivate the robots.”
“What good will that do? Without the Triangle of Justice, we have no way of inciting the citizens of The Virt to rebel. And, without a widespread uprising, we have no way of overthrowing Titus.”
“It’s not ideal,” she admitted, “but we can do it without The Triangle of Justice. All we must do is permanently sever the link between the mainframe and the robots. If we succeed, a manual reboot will be required, which should give us enough time to mount a rebellion.”
I wasn’t familiar with the term “mainframe,” but Lily seemed confident it would work, so I chose not to question her leadership. Well, not too much.
“If permanently severing the link is so easy, why did you say our window of opportunity would be small?”
“I never said it would be easy,” she corrected, “and I waited until now to suggest this approach because it requires hacking directly into the mainframe, which is both complex and dangerous.”
Lily smiled weakly.
“Can’t we wait?” I asked. “There’s a chance The Triangle of Justice went into hiding. If we can find them, maybe—”
“We can’t wait,” interrupted Lily. “Titus changes the access codes every few days, and they’re scheduled to update tomorrow.”
A heavy silence followed the revelation.
“Can’t you steal the new codes?” I asked.
Lily shook her head.
“It took me months of careful planning to get these. There’s no way I can do it again without Titus realizing what I’m up to.”
“Fine,” I muttered. “What’s the plan?”
“We sneak into Titus’s home, enter the mainframe using the codes I stole, and destroy the entire program. With it gone, the robots will go into hibernation and Titus will lose control of both The Slums and The Virt.”
It sounded simple, but I knew it would be far more complex than either of us could imagine. But what choice did we have? This was our one and only shot at taking Titus down, and we couldn’t afford to waste it.
“What are we waiting for?” I asked. “Let’s go.”
Lily smiled. Moments later, we were on our way.
Reaching the surface didn’t take long, but getting to our destination did. Not only did we have to cross most of The Virt, but we hid whenever we encountered a robot. Odds are, they would have strolled past us without a second thought, but we couldn’t risk the integrity of our mission just because we were in a hurry.
It took nearly an hour, but we finally reached our destination. One look at our new surroundings revealed two things about The Virt. First, the city was shaped like a giant triangle. Second, a massive steel beam rose from the depths of the earth. Standing at a forty-five-degree angle, the beam travelled high into the sky, half-hidden within the wall of fog that stood beyond it. Massive enough to be mistaken for a building, the shaft came equipped with a ladder-like staircase. Protruding from said staircase were hundreds of smaller beams. Unlike the main girder, only the base of these shafts was visible, the rest remaining hidden behind the wall of fog.
“What is that thing?” I asked, staring at the odd contraption.
Lily smiled but didn’t answer.
“Let’s go,” she said, approaching the base of the beam and hopping onto the first step. I expected her to take her time, but she bolted forward, leaping up the first twenty or so steps in mere seconds. Sensing my absence, she slowed to a stop and turned to face me.
“What are you waiting for? Let’s go.”
I hesitated, but only for a moment. Racing forward, I set foot upon the first step and began the ascent. Though slower than Lily’s, my progress allowed me to reach her just as she resumed her advance. Matching her pace, I focused on the sway of her body and ignored the plummet to certain death that stood on either side.
It took a while, but I finally grew accustomed to the climb. Slowing my pace somewhat, I allowed my gaze to travel beyond the steel beam. What I found was both beautiful and terrifying.
The Virt stretched far below us, all but the tallest of buildings having been reduced to masses of steel and glass. Admiring it from this angle allowed me to see it as it had once looked.
The glass glistened in the glow of the streetlamps, and all but the most obvious of flaws had been erased by the remoteness of the buildings. The streets formed an intricate design of shapes and contours, and the horridness of the metropolis had all but faded. Smiling, I almost didn’t notice Lily’s hand on my shoulder.
I looked up to find her standing before me.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
I nodded, now more determined than ever to defeat Titus and free my enslaved brethren.
“We should get going,” I said. “We’re wasting time.”
Lily smiled and nodded.
We climbed in silence for a while before curiosity gained me once more.
“What are these beams for?” I asked, motioning at the metallic shafts that protruded from the main beam.
“You’ll see,” was Lily’s enigmatic answer.
We continued for a while before the tip of the beam came into view. Vanishing into a cylindrical pipe that was suspended high above the city, the shaft was one of three identical support girders. Together, they formed a massive pyramid. Protruding from its tip was a glass cylinder that travelled all the way down to the city.
“What is that thing?” I asked, pointing at the glass tube.
“An elevator,” said Lily.
Lily slowed to a halt and turned to face me, a frown furrowing her brow.
“Have you never seen an elevator?” she asked.
I hadn’t, but I still somehow knew what it was.
“Why did we take the staircase if there’s an elevator?” I asked, ignoring both Lily’s question and the burning sensation in my legs.
“It’s reserved for Titus and his robots,” explained my friend. “Entering it would have been tantamount to announcing our presence.”
It made sense, but I was still annoyed by the fact that we had to scale all these steps when there was a simple, tireless way to reach Titus’s residence. Speaking of which, I had yet to ask why he had chosen to set up residence at the top of a pyramid when he could easily have inhabited one of the many skyscrapers that stood far beneath us, but Lily started climbing before I got a chance to inquire.
We kept going until we reached the tip of the girder. There, protruding from the metallic cylinder, were the rungs of an old ladder. Vanishing into the fog, the ladder beckoned us forward with the promise of imminent rest.
“Are you sure it’s safe?” I asked as Lily grabbed the first rung and began climbing.
“No,” she joked and kept climbing until she was swallowed by the fog.
Groaning, I approached the ladder and began the perilous ascent. Resisting the urge to look down, I focused on the next rung and progressed higher and higher through the fog. It didn’t take long before I reached a glass surface. Directly above me stood an open hatch, and Lily’s beautiful face was visible through the escaping mist.
“Here,” she said, offering me a hand. “Let me help you up.”
I took the hand and allowed her to pull me through the hatch. Beyond it lay a small, glistening surface. Made entirely of glass, the platform was barely big enough for Lily and me to stand on. I felt somewhat safer when the hatch was sealed, but I forgot all about that when I noticed the world beyond the platform.
The beams I’d seen before weren’t merely there to support the elevator; they sustained an entire structure. Made of glass and metal, the hollow building was shaped like a giant pyramid. Beyond it stretched a world so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.
The sky was a vibrant shade of blue, and the solitary cloud that hovered nearby was so white it was almost blinding. The sun shone brightly, its rays warming my alabaster skin and illuminating the lush, radiant landscape that stretched far beneath. Rolling hills and babbling brooks; forests of ancient trees; and an ocean so vast it vanished into a blurry haze.
It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I don’t know how long I studied the landscape, but it must have been a while because Lily felt the need to nudge me. Offering a polite smile, I tore my gaze from the greenery and focused on the pyramid once more. Its mere presence was perplexing, but one quick look at the wall of fog that stood beyond its glistening surface was enough to explain why I had failed to notice it until now. The presence of the smaller, perpendicular beams I’d inquired about before also made sense. But I forgot all about that when I notice the shape protruding from the pyramid’s tip.
Made almost entirely of glass, the structure was shaped like an inverted pyramid. Nearly identical to the one upon which Lily and I stood, this new marvel was small enough to keep gravity from tearing it to shreds yet big enough to draw an awed gasp past my lips.
“What is that?” I asked.
“That,” she said, “is Titus’s home.”
“That’s where you live?”
Lily nodded dismissively.
Now more intrigued than ever, I took a moment to study the dwelling. Made of interlocking triangular sheets of glass, the structure appeared to be covered in scales. A few were open for ventilation purposes, but most remained shut, glistening in the sunlight. I caught glimpses of what lay within, but something unexpected happened before I could investigate further.
The scales started to move.
“What’s happening?” I asked, glancing at Lily.
“Watch,” she urged, nodding at the gleaming pyramid.
I did as told and watched in a mixture of awe and disbelief as the scales…
Option 1: …shifted, slowly deconstructing the inverted pyramid and reshaping it into a large, glistening sphere.
Option 2: …pivoted outward, revealing hundreds of triangular orifices from which thousands of large, robotic insects emerged.
Option 3: …retreated, revealing a gaping hole from which a sleek flying vehicle gracefully arose.
NEXT CHAPTER: Click Here to read Chapter 24.
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