Mona pushed the red button.
From the screens on the control panel the canisters detached, assisted by tiny rockets headed for the planet below. Good luck, she thought. She had this strange sensation like she had accomplished something of immense importance, with this tiny action. Would the scientists plan work? She hoped so. Humanity had survived this long, despite everything.
Back at the dining hall, Aleph told her "I think I've figured out a way out of here."
"How?" She asked.
"We need crew member clearance to do anything." He said. "To get on board that military ship. And for that, we need a living crew member. And I think I might have one." He looked at Arril. "Hey kiddo, for this next part I think you need to go back to the room, okay? This might be messy."
"I want you to show her the guitar first." Arril said.
"The guitar?" Mona asked.
"Its a little embarrassing." Aleph said.
Back at the room Aleph brought out a long, flat case. "So me and the kid here." He said. "While you were doing what you were doing, we were digging around in the crew quarters, trying to find what we could."
"Well, not really. The idea was we would come up with some way to get access to the systems. I mean, I guess that got put on the back burner. But anyway, I found this beauty during the little expedition." He took out the guitar. "This is a Fender Stratocaster. Its one of the finest electric guitars ever made."
"How do you know about guitars?" Mona asked.
"I had one." Aleph said.
"Remember when I told you I was trying to be a junker? Well, my one real find was an electric guitar. Just a crappy mass produced late twentieth model, but it still worked. It had an instructional tape with it on how to play. I worked on it all the time." He plugged the guitar into the amp "And lets see if I'm any good."
The music howled and stirred the room. For a moment, Mona forgot where she was. Aleph seemed to be putting his heart and soul into the work, making the instrument sing and burn.
The droid was not dead.
When its cameras came back on it struggled to stand up. It had been it its previous body when the explosion went off. Those systems were now mostly terminated. In its way Markus felt regret, a twinge of something akin to nolstalgia. The body had served it well, from the time the droid had reassembled itself until this moment. Then the Droid stood up in its new wartime frame.
The data transfer had been nearly instantaneous, taking all of its consciousness and transferring it into the hardened case of the Droids new head unit. From there, it was a simple matter of rebooting key systems, piece by piece, until everything was in its right place. Markus looked around the laboratory. The explosion had done a great deal of damage to many of the Droid's experimental drone creations, as well as a few modified appendages designed to function in combat. But overall, the laboratory was only an interface for Markus, with the server systems of the dome. He could quickly set up another hardwire point, in order to access what he needed to. He did, in fact, find a suitable interface in the very next room, and plugged in to the data feed. Within minutes, he had assembled the accumulated security feed from the dome, regarding every minute of the explosions, as well as key details before and after. The Droid new immediatedly what it had to do.
From outside the dome, it began to rain.
The rain set a frenzy on the citizens of the Colony. For one thing it was harsh, stinging eyes and skin like acid, and leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. For another it had never rained before. There was no known precendent for water falling from the sky, first drop by drop, but then with a steady patter, and soon a monsoon torrent.
At the open air market the ground quickly turned to mud, and residents scrambled for some degree of safety from the downfall. Fruits and goods tumbled into the street. Cloth coverings of stalls failed and vendors hastily tried to secure electronics which would soon be rendered useless by the bath. In the habs children screamed with fright, and mothers held them close to their breast. There was always the chance, in this rotted Earth, that everything could change in an instant, and that this could be the true end. At that time there was nothing to do but hold the one you loved or cared about as close as you could, and hope things would pass quickly.
Inside the dome the technicians watched with a degree less superstition, but no less wonder. They spoke to each other about possible reasons why. They wondered how long it would last, and whether anything would grow afterwards. In the library Ms. Witingtons students remembered the story of Noah's ark, and wondered out loud if the dome would float. In his quarters Yaryl Rogers clung to his whiskey bottle and wondered if this were all punishment for his sins. In his head the Black Century leader asked him,
What is it?
And out loud Yaryl answered "Its raining. Its raining, its raining, its raining."
Let me see, the leader whispered, so Yaryl pressed his face up to the window. Through his eyes hundreds of kilometers away the leader watched it through his GameStation room, and tried to think what it would mean to his plans.
Out on the perimeter the Colonial Guardsmen have adjusted the visors on their helmet down, to protect their vision. Biel and Den were on duty together again, as usual. Both of them were excited by the possibility the attack opened up. They were both young and foolish enough to welcome the possibility, even the eventuality of real war. Somewhere ahead of them, off in the distance, the raiders had began to assemble. Now they were scuttering for cover from the stinging rain.
And under the far corner of the junkpiles, where only a few drops were reaching, the raider Khef was waiting for the courier with his cargo. In his pack were data transfers of sensitive intel from the colony, a Plasma Pistol, and a plasma rifle. The electric motorcycle whirred quietly to meet him, across the wastes. The rider stood to greet him, and saluted. Khef shot him quickly in the head. The corpse crumpled to the floor, but Khef had no regrets. It was not coincidental that the cycle had only one seat. Most likely the rider had orders to give Khef the same treatment. After all, it was not long since Khef had terminated both his own men. For some reason the traitor Yaryl was being allowed to live. It seemed the leader had designs for him still.
Hours later Khef had arrived at the ruins of the Mega-city. He was either recognized on sight, or more likely his arrival was already planned for. The raiders made way for him, from each quarter to the next. Until he arrived at the very heart of the place. The leaders tower. The door automatically opened before him. He had been here before, but only once, right before his mission. He took the silver elevator up, to the top floor, where the leader would be waiting for him. The true leader, in his checkerboard Vans and skinny jeans, with an ironic t-shirt. Or so he described himself.
"What's up, Khef!" the leader hi-fived him. "Come on in, dude. Chillax for a minute."
"I have the data and equipment." Khef said.
"Cool." The leader said. "Just throw that stuff on the couch. Come on in with me to the GameStation room, and tell me what you know."
Khef's eyes grew wide when he walked in to the GameStation room, with its concave screens covering every surface of wall. The leader laughed. "Oh, shit." He said. "I forgot. You've never been here before, right? This must be total sensory overload."
"Is this where?"
"This is where I run everything." The leader said. "I mean, everything everything. Everyone of those, I guess you could call them, Leader puppet guys. Which reminds me, if you see any more tall, muscular dudes out there, let me get to them so I can pump them full of brain control juice. My supply is running low."
"What was...what was the purpose of this place?" Khef asked. "In the time before."
"That's a good question." The leader said. "You know how many raider guys I have that ask good questions?"
"Not many. Not enough. Were entering a growth phase, right now. Moving out of the simple patterns we have and becoming a full-fledged society." He pointed at Khef. "The right sort of people, that ask good questions? In a society they serve prominent roles. They become men of power." He laughed. "Aw, shit. I'm sorry. It was a room where they played something called a video game."
"Whats a video game?"
The rain lasted hours. At night when it ended there was the faint smell of moisture in the air, the hint of humidity. At dawn little green sprouts fluttered in many places around the Colony. People approached them with curiousity and wonder. Children would pick them and dart them inside their mouths before their mothers could object. Something strange and wonderful had happened. It was the first item of discussion when the Droid met with the Council.
"It rained." Witington said. "It really rained. That is something."
"Your traitor is a member of this council." Markus said.
"Impossible." Veers objected. "Why do you say that?"
"All deduction about crime can be reduced to one simple calculation." Markus said. "Who benefits?"
"No one benefits." Berks said. "At least, none of us."
"Incorrect." Markus said. "The Black Century benefits when this Colony suffers. The traitor, or should I say traitors, because we are using the plural, have been promised material gain and a position of power once this government falls. And of everyone gathered here, Yaryl Rogers stands the most to gain."
"The devil you say." Veers said. "I've known the man for years!"
"Councilman Rogers held a much different position that any of you when the old tier system was in place." Markus said. "Controlling the markets and illicit purveyment. He thinks he has lost power since the new democratic functioning has taken effect."
"Where is Veers?" Witington asked.
"In hiding, no doubt." Markus said. "The attacks are supposed to have crippled this Colony sufficiently to allow the raiders a clean sweep." He brought up a drone camera on the touch screen display, showing a Black Century horde gathering. "But two things have occured they could not possibly have calculated for. I have survived, and this rain has come to pass."
"Surely a little water wont hurt a mighty horde of raiders." Veers said. "What do you expect them to do, melt?"
"If I may interject." Witington said. "We have already seen the effects of this rain among some of our citizens in the clinic. It burns the skin, and in some cases has damages eyesight severly."
"Which is exemplary to our cause." Markus said. "But not quite the point I was attempting to make."
"Which is?" Veers said.
"I have analyzed samples of the soil in the aftermath of this torrent." Markus said. "It has undergone genetic alteration at a truly fascinating level. What was once simply a desert is becoming verdent topsoil. You can plant from our seedbank directly outside, and it will take hold."
There was murmuring from the Council. "How long will this take?" Berks asked.
"A season." Markus said. "But even when a sapling takes root, the psychological impact will be immense. This Colony will be a slim part of the world that is not rotten. Moreso than it already is."
"So lets hunt down Councilman Rogers." Witington said grimly. "One way or another, he has something to answer for."