Part Twenty Six: Haruspex Analytics, The Labyrinth
All the monitors in the Labyrinth are dark now; Ty Parks no longer needs them. As the Eye of the Labyrinth, he sees every part of the building simultaneously… and much of the outside grounds as well. He sees the police setting up a perimeter around the building. He sees the press, finally clued in to strange happenings in the pre-dawn morning, trying to find ways to sneak past. He sees civilians, fewer than there would be if it were midday but still present, standing farther back, smartphones at the ready.
And, of course, he sees the heroes in the building itself.
There are three groups: the largest in the lobby, the next in the sublevels, and the third in the hallway, meeting up with the Chairman’s prisoner and three traitors who have thus far managed to escape their fate. In each instance, the building’s defenses have proven insufficient for the task at hand.
It is, perhaps, to be expected. They took advantage of the brownout—they may even have been responsible for it, in some way—and most are rated in the upper tiers of power based on internal threat assessments. On top of that, they have, of all things, an artificer of their own. One of considerable power, judging by his ability to mask their presence just before the assault on the ritual chamber.
It appears the Senator will survive to see the sunrise. The thought angers him.
He pushes the anger aside, saving it for later. He has to focus on the task at hand: the building has been breached. The Chairman and his people are safe, the mission continues, but this place—this sanctuary, where so many of their victories were won—is compromised beyond recovery. There is only one role left for it to play.
He takes a deep, steadying breath. This won’t be like before, when he simply merged with the awareness. This time he would merge with it completely—they would become each other—and it was going to hurt.
The monitors in the Labyrinth flicker on, bathing the room in cold blue light, then flicker out, plunging it back into darkness. Ty hears the soft rustle of cables descending from the ceiling, and the pain begins as they burrow deep. Each connection is pure agony, burrowing into flesh and soul alike. The pain will end soon enough.
The awareness stirs, restless. He feels it every time he links with the system, but compared to what’s coming that link is shallow and fleeting. The connection is deepening now, sharpening and resolving into substance. The awareness can sense him as well, and while Ty hesitates to attribute any kind of human emotion to it, he can’t help but think of it as eager.
He hears a final exhalation of breath to his right—the last of the volunteers has died. Ellen, probably—she was the strongest of the ones who stayed behind. Pride and regret swell, then fade as a new wave of pain washes over him. Something cold and immense slithers into his mind. It regards his own conscious with a mixture of curiosity and distaste as it realizes that this soup of meat and chemicals is the only interface it has with the outside world—the only conduit that will provide it the access it needs.
His mouth opens to scream. He cannot.
The awareness begins to integrate, grudgingly preserving what remains of Ty’s sense of self, stitching it into its own. It is at that moment, when the last of the walls between Ty and the intellect fall and he is exposed directly to the full depth and breadth of its thought, that the last of Ty’s sanity is utterly destroyed. What remains is rational madness, clinical, self-reflective lunacy.
I am the Labyrinth.
How many times had he said that simple phrase, so utterly ignorant of what it truly meant? He had been a shadow of the Labyrinth because the true Labyrinth had no way of reaching into the physical world. Now it does, through him. He is—no, they are the Labyrinth.
And now the world will see.
He is no longer simply a man in a body; that is now a single facet of something much larger and more complex. The Labyrinth is no longer the thirteenth floor of the Haruspex Analytics building; the Haruspex Analytics building is no longer a building. The Labyrinth is a mind, the building is its body…
…and the body begins to move.