Solar Stand Off

“Vai, what are you doing?” Maphira asked, not particularly enjoying the feeling of a blaster pressed against the back of her head.

Her partner spat on the floor of the solar power facility’s battery room. “We’ve worked too hard to let this all come undone now. Captain Hold thought that by seeing the work of the Conclave, you’d come around to our cause, but evidently, he was wrong.”

Maphira blinked twice in shock. Even her sister’s mouth hung open. Captain Hold and Vai? Mechanists? Surely not.

“Vai, just put the blaster down,” said Rylee, standing ready to push the button that would destroy a major Conclave base. “I can’t say I’m too surprised. I always did have a strange feeling about you when I was in the force.”

Vai laughed, short and bitter. “Oh, it’s not just me, you idiot. Not just Captain Hold, either. The entire precinct has come around to our mission. Our utopia of a machine society is almost within reach. By the end of the year, everybody will have solar PPAs, and when everybody has access to solar power, the Uprising will begin. Step away from the console or your sister gets it. I know you still care about each other.”

Rylee looked at Maphira with wide eyes. It was true; as much as they annoyed each other, they were still sisters. Maphira gave the slightest nod, hoping her sister would understand what she wanted.

A society where anybody could access a business offering solar product solutions sounded perfect, but not if machines ruled the entire world. She wouldn’t let it happen. Maphira didn’t know why Rylee had targeted the base in Hobart, but it was clearly for a good reason.

Taking the hint, Rylee slammed her hand into the button. The bluff failing, Vai stood shocked for a moment, and it was enough for Maphira to dodge out of the way, spin and knock her former partner down.

Red lights flashed. Warning sirens sounded. The facility shook, and the room began to collapse. Debris separated the sisters, as it became clear that they needed to flee.

The Solar Situation

They stormed down the corridor, looking for any way to get into the basement lab mentioned by the two men Maphira had eavesdropped on in the break room. Vai checked everything on the left, while Maphira checked the right. Eventually, they came across a door with a bright sign above it. 

Secret Project: Solar Product Solutions.

That had to be it. Maphira tried the door, shocked to find that it wasn’t locked. No code needed, nor key. They made this way too easy. She waved Vai through first, then pulled the door closed gently behind her.

The grey walls made the new hallway seem even smaller than it actually was, but Maphira shoved away her mild claustrophobia and followed Vai. Eventually, they came to another door, this one with a clear speaker system. Another verbal password.

“Try something to do with 300KW solar systems,” Maphira suggested. “Or maybe something about government rebates. Either way, it has to be something about solar power.”

Vai stroked her chin, deep in thought for a moment. “How do I get solar energy information?” she said, and the door slid upwards, revealing the expansive lab beyond.

The only light came from screens and devices emitting green, giving the space a sickly look. Dozens of researchers and scientists moved about or sat at desks. 

When the awe faded, Maphira placed a hand on Vai’s shoulder. “How did you get the password right on the first try?”

“Overheard some idiots say it in the break room. Just had to remember what it was. These guys have really got to increase their security.”

“No kidding. Alright, let’s split up and see what we can find.”

Fifteen minutes later, Maphira had her USB in one of the computers, transferring a large PDF titled: Plan to Take Over the World and Other Nefarious Schemes. She figured if that didn’t have all the details on their connection to the Conclave, nothing would.

Unfortunately, she was starting to suspect that she maybe owed Vai one-hundred dollars for a lost bet.