Chapter 4. Black holes and Old Days
'Now where the fuck did he run off to?' Piper cracked her knuckles, her face boiling up in a heat of rage. She knew something like this was going to happen, she had been only one move away from finishing him off.
'I zhought he vas supposed to be, um...dead,' Isaac said in a voice that was barely above audible.
'He must be dead, he has to be,' Blodwyn clutched her forehead, her mind spinning in confusion, 'I mean, I shot him through the heart with a laser beam! No one should be able to survive that.'
'Not quite. You shot me slightly below the heart to be exact.'
Blodwyn rolled her eyes the correction, 'Whatever, same thing!' she paused as she recognised the voice, the sudden realisation of whom it belonged to hit her like a glove filled with crushed bricks.
Isaac quickly returned to the corner that Piper had initially found him in. Blodwyn and Piper looked intently at their newly acknowledged nemesis. He seemed different somehow, not simply due to the bloody stain that stood out uncomfortably on his white coat. The top of his ears were pointed and the pupils of his eyes appeared to be green, like the rest of his iris, just slightly darker.
'How are you still alive and standing?' Piper inquired in an agitated tone, 'and what's the deal with your ears and eyes? It's weird enough that your hair is silver, and now this? Are you sure you're in the right novel?'
Arkose sighed, 'my contacts and ear caps must have fallen off.'
'What are you exactly?' Blodwyn asked, her voice wavering a little.
'An artificial human, maybe?'
'Shut up, Isaac, no one asked you,' Piper and Blodwyn said simultaneously.
'He's right,' Arkose said, picking up a box that he had set down on the floor behind him, 'but forget that, I must know,' he stepped towards Isaac, 'how in the world did you manage to store a black hole inside a glass container?' He held the box out towards the boy, a black hole the size of a bowling ball swirled through the box's colourful glass.
'Izt simple really,' Isaac began, his distraught expression seemed to subdue at Arkose's inquiry, 'all you have to do is make zhe box denser zhan zhe black hole. You see, black holes form when things are compressed into a singularity, so all I had to do vas compress zhe material of zhe box with more force than needed to create a singularity.'
Arkose nodded in thought, 'In that case, shouldn't the box draw in everything around it faster than a black hole?'
Isaac stood up straighter, 'Vell no, at zheir current ratio of denseness, zhey are at zhe perfect balance vhere zhe box and zhe black hole both neutralize one anozher's gravitational pull.'
'What the hell are they talking about?' Piper muttered, but the two seemed to be in a whole different world.
Blodwyn sighed in annoyance, 'Guys, now is not the time to toss off to a flashy piece of science. Can we just focus on what we already have on our hands? Like how we can kill Arkose?'
'I won't be able to regenerate if you shoot me in the brain,' Arkose responded nonchalantly, still observing the black hole.
'Unbelievable,' Blodwyn's eye twitched at how quickly the response came.
Piper let out a cold chuckle, 'I was right all along, I should have chopped off his head when I had the chance.'
'I see,' Arkose finally turned away from the black hole box, 'it appears that your black hole will not cause any harm under that type of containment.'
'Izt safe and sound, Herr,' Isaac gave him a thumbs up.
Arkose turned towards Piper, his expression proving slightly more solemn than its usual expressionless state. 'You have two options,' his voice was so monotone that it was robotic, 'recommence your duty as a private agent, or prepare to be terminated.'
Blodwyn's eyes widened. So Piper really was working for the government after all. However, she no longer cared at this point. The girl may have stepped into the wrong side of the battle, but she sure came flying back at full speed. Her determination and initiative was certainly something Flipped Horizon lacked and could really use. 'Piper, I don't care if you made a deal with the government before, all I care about is whether you're on our side now or not.'
Piper glanced at her golden-haired companion and smiled whole-heartedly, 'Of course I'm on your side, I always take the side of truth.' Upon seeing Blodwyn's nod of approval, Piper's gaze darted back to Arkose, 'terminate me? I'd like to see you try.'
Blodwyn watched as the two shifted into a combat stance, unsure of how the situation would go down, but she figured that this was a fight she'd have to sit out on. Nevertheless, she had no intention of returning to their base empty-handed. Grabbing Isaac by the arm, she began pulling him out of the room. 'It's a shame that your flat's taken all this damage, but don't worry, I know a better place for you to stay. Everyone will be so pleased to see you, so very pleased.'
Pulling his navy scarf over his face, Isaac gulped.
Arkose caught Piper's signature punch, immediately twisting her arm behind her back. Piper struggled to break free, but his grip remained locked, like a deadbolt on a safe.
'How many more must die before you can see that the truth will only bring forth suffering?' the familiar ring of his words called back the days of not so long ago. Blinking rapidly, Piper's mind began to drift, but the images moved in a blur of silhouettes, yet their voices could not be clearer.
'How many more must die before you see that the truth will only bring more pain?!'
'Dad, you're an archaeologist, aren't you supposed to show everyone what you discover about this planet? Isn't that why you took this job?'
'How could I? Not after it practically killed your mother!'
'I thought she'd be strong enough to accept it if I showed her the data, but I guess I was wrong.'
A shadow loomed over Piper's eyes as she shook away the memories, 'for eighteen years of my existence, never for one day have I believed that ignorance is bliss.'
'Truth is a complicated thing that takes time to discover and effort to accept. Happiness however, is singular, a means in itself,' Arkose said in a soft voice as he let go of her arm, but Piper did not move.
'In that case, maybe I should have never gotten a glimpse of the truth to begin with,' she murmured, staring vacantly at the wall. A snapshot of her comrades from Flipped Horizon flashed before her, reminding her of the good times they spent trying to promote the freedom of speech and the right to real knowledge, bringing her vacant expression to a soft grin. 'But now that I'm already here, I might as well see this through 'til the very end.'