This is Kurt's private weblog from the Perplex City Academy, only accessible from Earth.
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Not many at the moment, I only just started this site!
A cocktail of adrenaline and fear meant that I didn't sleep long yesterday. Lying awake in one of the cots that Helena's group had set up in a nearby room, I felt as if I was in the centre of the world, events whirling around me that would change the lives of millions of people I don't know, and one person that I do. I wondered whether I should have done anything differently.
Eventually, I closed my eyes, and exhaustion stopped me from opening them again.
A few hours later, I woke up. A shiver of disorientation ran through me, and for a second I didn't know where I was. I thought - Babel - Academy Ball - Scarlett - Helena - Police - and regained my bearings. My key was blinking with new messages, but I ignored it. The world could wait for five minutes. I got up and pulled on a T-shirt and trousers in the dark, and then walked out. It was some time late at night, so the lights were all dimmed, but I could still hear the sounds of quiet talking from down the corridor in the ops room. Perhaps half the people were still sitting at their desks, or clustered around wall displays, pointing at building plans and drawing graphics. I headed another way.
The kitchen here has all the staples of people who work in high-pressure, time-sensitive environments, with boxes of energy bars, soft drinks, milk shakes and microwave meals stacked on the floor and left open on the counter top. I grabbed a microwave meal - something with chicken in it - and tossed it inside one of the ovens, where it began to cook automatically. A glass of water and a couple of pills from the Cognivia dispenser were next. I quickly thought about what work I'd be doing in the next 12 hours. Probably nothing too analytical. I opted for a Ceretin and Synergy, and sat down at a table. Someone had left an old copy of the Sentinel on a reader. It was something about snowball fights. I realised that I hadn't been outside for the last four days.
I pushed the reader away and stared blankly at the opposite wall, waiting for my breakfast - or dinner - to cook. Someone opened the door cautiously, and Violet's head poked around it. She smiled, and sat down beside me. I nodded, not sure what to say.
"What did you take?" she asked, looking at my half-empty glass of water.
I cleared my throat. "Guess."
"Ceretin. And Cardinal."
"One out of two," I said. "I had Cardinal yesterday, needed it to do the search through the radio space. It was Synergy. I think I'll need to be a bit more creative today."
"I don't know. That's the point."
The microwave beeped, and I stood up to fetch a plate and cutlery. Violet kept on talking.
"You don't need to take those pills, you know," she said.
"I'm fine," I said, with my back to her.
"You didn't need them at the Academy."
"I'll be fine," I repeated, pouring the contents of the meal onto the plate. Chicken casserole with rice. It smelled good enough. I brought it to the table and stared at Violet silently while it steamed. She studied me back, inscrutably.
"What we're doing is important. We need every advantage we can get," I said finally. When she didn't reply, I began to eat. Violet pulled over the Sentinel and read it for a minute.
"I spoke to Helena... she's going to let me take part in the assault on Ascendancy Point. I need to be doing something, Kurt."
I nodded, not looking at her.
"I'm worried about you," I heard her say.
"I know. We just need to get through this."
She looked as if she was going to say something else, then it seemed like she'd decided that she would leave it for another time, and left without a word. I finished up my meal, cleaned up and went to fetch my key. Peter Townsley had emailed while I was asleep with the results of the triangulation; this was later followed up by Lysithea, who confirmed his calculations. Both Peter and Lysithea used similar, reasonably straightforward set of calculations involving pythagoras, the cosine rule and polar co-ordinates; oddly, I received a number of emails from others that approximated the height, but were off by 50 meters or more. Still, I appreciate the help from everyone.
I jogged down the corridor to the ops room, with my key in hand and the result in my head, stopping just before the threshold of the ops room to see who was inside. This place, it's a charged place, full of dangerous energy and potential. We're standing in the middle of history, and we all know it. I took a step forward inside, and felt the effect of the Ceretin beginning to settle, like a chill on my temples.
A lot of people believe Ceretin can make you smarter. It doesn't. It just makes you as smart as you are at your best. Have you ever walked outside on a sunny, crisp day, feeling alive and alert, with your mind as sharp and fast as it could be? Or been in a state of flow, when you're completely absorbed in your work and you're smoothly and methodically breaking down all the problems in your way, where everything just makes sense? That's what it feels like.
I stepped forward again. "We have their location," I announced to the room. "The transmissions are coming from 1111 meters up Ascendancy Point. Floor 110." A few people clapped, and I saw Harrison enter the data into his system. The wall display showing the time of assault frosted over, as it began to incorporate the new factors.
As I watched it, I was startled by a faint singing coming from the green schematics of the skyscraper on a nearby wall display. I turned to face it, and overheard a conversation from Fitch's team that felt like hard, smooth pebbles. The key I was holding tasted like apples; as I turned it over in my hands, I could sense the tartness. The Synergy pill was working, crossing my senses and making new inferences and logical leaps easier. It always starts this way, suddenly carrying you away, like a rip tide.
The singing changed pitch. I looked away from my hands and saw that the wall display had cleared. The time of assault was Tuesday 30th January, 7pm GMT.
Over the last two years, you've helped me every time I've asked, and you've gone beyond what could be expected from anyone. I couldn't have hoped for better allies, or for better friends. On Tuesday, we need to attack the Third Power in Ascendancy Point, stop them from finding the Cube, and save Scarlett. It's a risky, dangerous plan, but the prize is great, and the alternative is unthinkable.
We need your help, one last time. It is up to us to end this story.