The colony. Chapter 22: Final Decision

    Gordon nodded again and ran his fingers along his beard.

    “Impressive,” he said, and glanced at Joe. - Quickly you realized.

    Joe leaned back in his chair, smiled slightly, and answered after a short pause:

    - To be honest, I did not really think. In fact, I just wanted to kick ass of this monster. And the only thing that saved us was that I simply didn’t see it - it is from the inside, everything is so clearly visible on the monitors, and I didn’t have a nightie there. - He moved forward, put his elbows on his knees and looked at the floor. - And the only thing that caught my eye was the tensioned cable. And then everything somehow came together into a single picture, I did not even have time to think.

    Barney with a serious face nodded.

    - I have always said that the most powerful weapon is the mind.

    Gordon looked at him and raised an eyebrow.

    “I don’t remember you saying that,” he said. - Explain?
    “Your head is full of holes, you don’t remember,” Barney dismissed, and then put his hand on his heart. “Whatever your weapon, its strength comes from here,” he then raised his hand and held his index finger to his temple. “But she controls it.”

    He made a short pause and, concentrating on his surprised and interested views of his comrades, he continued:

    - In short, I once also used a machine gun in order to free a stuck rover. On the way here, remember? By the way, titan was chasing us too.

    Joe and Scott looked at each other in surprise, while smiles began to appear on the faces of the others. Emilia was the first who could not stand it and burst out laughing.

    “By the way, it's true,” she said through laughter. “Joe, you're not the first to use a machine that is not for its intended purpose!” Barney did almost the same thing a few days ago - then we tried to jump over the branch that fell on the road, and the rear axle of the rover remained suspended. And then Barney just went outside and blew the branch with plasma.
    “Barney is a wise man,” Joe concluded, and everyone laughed again.
    “Okay,” said Raytnov, glancing out the window and getting up from his chair. - It's almost dark. We need to move to the command post and wait for the appearance of our five-meter friends.

    After a few minutes, they all settled into chairs arranged around the hologram. Angus checked that the radius of the dome was small enough to provide a signal density that did not allow the titans to approach the base closer than fifty meters.

    - What happened next? - asked Isaac, silent all this time. - Titan chased you?
    “And hell knows,” Joe replied. - I jumped into the salon, and Scott immediately podddal.
    - poddal? - I do not understand Isaac.
    - Yes, in the sense of succumbed gazku. A second of delay — and both of us would attack, but in a different sense.

    Isaac smiled. Joe's vocabulary never ceased to amaze him.

    “To be honest, I didn’t notice, either,” Scott stared at the hologram, fascinated. - I pressed the pedal to the floor and with-followed the road, so as not to fly into a ditch. We did not have a searchlight, so the visibility was pretty bad.
    “Yes,” Joe nodded and looked at his comrade. - Then we even slowed down so as not to tempt fate. When they were sure that they broke away from titanium. We just drove quietly all night and did not even meet anyone. A little before noon, we drove past Alpha, but did not stop by - I looked through the binoculars and realized that there was nothing to do there. During the night the titans finally destroyed it.
    “And you decided to take a course at a military base,” Raytnov put in.
    - Well, yes, what else should we do?
    - At least, to check whether I could leave?

    Joe leaned back in his chair and thoughtfully scratched his head. Scott looked down at the floor.

    “But you could do it in the end,” Joe looked somewhere in Raytnov’s shoulder. - And if not - then we would have been unable to help.

    The corners of Raytnov’s lips twitched slightly - apparently, this explanation did not suit him at all.

    “Understand, Alex, I'm not proud of my behavior,” Joe finally forced himself to look up and look his interlocutor in the eyes. - Believe it or not, I would like to rewind time back and act differently. But I was scared. And if I behaved like a shit, then only to prove to myself that I am not afraid.

    He got up, walked around his chair and leaned on his back.

    “Oh, damn, what's the difference,” he put his hand through his hair and looked at the hologram. - We just lose time. Why do we need to consider this projection, can we already take some active actions? For example, contact the "Port" and ask when they can pick us up?

    Scott nodded vigorously. He was pleased with the change of topic, and he was also interested in this question.

    - I also wanted to ask this. Angus, you s-said you'd tell us something about this?

    Angus slowly raised his index finger to the bridge of his nose and adjusted his glasses, and then he looked uncertainly at Rytnov, as if asking for permission. However, Alex thoughtfully looked at the hologram, thinking about something else.

    “Well,” Angus smiled awkwardly, once again straightened his glasses and crossed his arms over his chest. - The fact is that no one will take us.
    - What is it like? - Joe looked at him like an idiot. - What does it mean will not take?
    “Yes,” said Scott. “Even if Port Dedetrion was also attacked, then the o-orbital c-station is definitely not. They will drop the canoe to us.
    “That's right,” Joe pointed to the side of his friend, as if highlighting the only sensible person in the room. - It is enough to get to the launch pad. Right?

    No one answered him. There was a tense silence in the room, and everyone felt a little uncomfortable. Emilia nervously bit her lip and watched Scott, who looked around in confusion.

    - Well? - Joe asked the question again. - True, I say or not?

    Angus took a deep breath, stood up, and began to walk slowly beside his chair.

    “That would be true,” he finally said, “if it were not for one nuance.”
    - Well, what is this nuance?
    - The fact is that our expedition initially pursued several other goals. And things are a little different way - not the way you used to count.

    Joe slowly looked around at the faces of the others, looking for smiles. Making sure that the doctor was not joking, he slowly crouched back in his chair, spread his legs wide and put his elbows on his knees.

    “I see that Scott and I missed something.” Well, tell me.

    It took Angus a little more than ten minutes to tell the same things that he had already told the others. He told about the powerful corporation Planet Earth, which owns almost the entire Earth. He told about the latest development in the military sphere, and that it is not the titans at all, but Barney, who is not particularly remarkable. He also told that all this is an experiment, and the colonists in fact are prisoners whose lives they decided to sacrifice for the benefit of science ... or, more precisely, for the benefit of military superiority and total domination. Nor did Angus forget to mention that he himself once worked for a corporation — exactly until she betrayed him.

    Joe listened and did not interrupt, although he changed his face several times, like Scott. After the end of the story, he thoughtfully raised his fist to his chin, stretched his legs and sat like that for several minutes.

    - This is all true? - Then he asked, looking around the others.

    Seeing the positive and silent nods, he again plunged into his thoughts. Nobody interfered with it - everyone understood that he had just received a huge amount of information that is not so easy to process.

    “And yet I still have one question left,” Scott suddenly said to everyone.

    Catching questioning glances at himself, he got up from his chair, put his hands on his hips and continued, more confidently:

    - You said that you worked for a corporation?
    “That's the way,” Angus nodded.
    - And your co-cooperation stopped not under the most pleasant of circumstances.

    Angus nodded again.

    - And if the corporation did not betray you? - Scott looked into his eyes. - How would you have behaved in this case?
    - In other words, can I trust? - The doctor took off his glasses and began to turn them in his hands. - I understand this question perfectly.

    Emilia looked at Rytnov. His face expressed absolutely nothing, but still she realized that Scott's question seemed to him very interesting. Emilia asked herself many times if she could trust Angus.

    “Well,” he continued. - If the corporation did not betray me, I would continue to follow the instructions given to me. Namely - to record everything that happens, especially the relationship between the surviving colonists.
    “Why,” Scott didn't give up. “Isn’t any other under-observation being carried out for us?” H-really a corporation with-looks only through your eyes?

    Angus looked into the lenses of his glasses, as if checking if there were any cameras in them.

    “I don’t know,” he answered. - I can only say that the psychological aspects can best be seen only by a direct observer. That was my role.
    “So this is a psychological experiment, or is it still a Barney weapon test?” - Joe also connected to the interrogation of the doctor. - I apologize, of course, if the question is stupid. But something I did not fully understand.

    Angus smiled mysteriously and returned his glasses to their rightful place on his nose.

    “The psychological aspect is an integral part of this weapon,” he said, again crossing his arms. “Barney is a man like the rest.” Yes, with some features, but he achieves maximum efficiency only in cooperation with other people. Barney is here for the corporation to look at the weapons in action. I am here for the corporation to look at the weapon in concert. Something like this.

    There was silence in the room again. Everyone tried to decide how intelligent and convincing the doctor's words were.

    “As for trust,” Angus raised his glasses up the bridge of his nose. - You may not trust me. I understand this perfectly, given all the circumstances. But this will not affect the situation in any way - now we are all in the same conditions. And I share with you all that I know myself.

    Gordon snapped his knuckles and glanced at Barney. The doctor definitely did not lie to his account - given all the troubles from which he had been chosen, he readily believed that he really was a living weapon. But is there any guarantee that the doctor is not lying about the rest? Maybe he is hiding something else? And, most importantly, what difference does it lie or not? Even if he is lying - they still do not have and there can be no other information about everything that is happening. Damn amnesia did not pass, blocking at least some memories of the past.

    “I think Angus himself is a hostage of the corporation to some extent,” Gordon said thoughtfully, as if talking to himself. - Just on the other side of the barricades.
    - What do you mean? - Joe puzzled turned to him.

    Gordon scratched his chin. Indeed, what if the corporation used the doctors for their own selfish purposes, deceiving them to send them to the “expedition” and guaranteeing imaginary security? At first glance, everything converges, because at one point the protective function of Angus glasses really stopped working.

    “I just want to say,” Gordon rose from his seat, “that there is no point in mopping up on this subject.” We have what we have. And we have exactly a damn. And personally, the words of Angus seem logical to me - much of what he said converges with other details that I somehow noticed myself ... In general, I would rather do more important things over which we have at least some control.

    The doctor nodded and also rose from his seat.

    - Thank you, Gordon. For me now what is happening is a mystery just as much as for each of you.

    Gordon, meanwhile, came closer to the hologram and turned it slightly.

    “I probably have only one important question left,” he said, turning back to the others. “Are they watching us now?”
    “I don't know,” Angus honestly admitted. - But it would be naive to assume that no.
    - So, it should be assumed that yes.
    - I would even say, without a doubt.

    Joe frowned and began to drive his eyes, looking for hidden cameras. The fact of constant surveillance is not pleased for two reasons. First, it’s just unpleasant. Secondly, damn it, they always know about your every step in advance. Sometimes even before you do anything.

    “Maybe we should find and destroy the cameras.” - He suggested.

    Raytnov leaned back in his chair and stretched his legs. Then he abruptly stood up and walked over to Angus.

    “Can I have your glasses, doc?”

    Silently, Angus stretched his neck, suggesting that he himself take off his glasses from his nose. Alex turned them over in his hands, and then put them on. Surprisingly, they looked on him even better than on the doctor.

    - Well, you feel something? - Barney asked impatiently.

    Raytnov took off his glasses and began to turn them in his hands again.

    “Nothing,” he replied after a pause.
    - What, even the recording icons were not in the corner?

    Alex smiled slightly. Even if the glasses really do record and transmit information, he could not know for sure. It should immediately get rid of them. However, even in this case, there was some uncertainty.

    “Even if we get rid of the glasses, we cannot discard the possibility of further surveillance.” Other cameras can be anywhere - even in our eyes.

    He turned to Angus, his eyes on the question.

    “This is impossible,” he answered, but there was uncertainty in his voice. - But, nevertheless, it is impossible to reject such an option.
    - Is it possible or not? - Barney spoke again.

    The doctor put his hands on his hips and looked at him thoughtfully. He was silent for a few seconds, but his eyes were becoming more and more alarming, and he soon began to pace the room nervously.

    “This technology still does not exist,” he finally explained. - Or, in any case, did not exist at the time of the start of our expedition.

    He stopped at the hologram and nervously ran his hands through his hair.

    - Or, to be more precise, I can’t recall such a technology.

    Joe snorted faintly.

    - That is, we are in a series of light years from the Earth, we have mastered the wormholes, but could not invent cameras that can be inserted into the eye?
    “Exactly,” the doctor agreed, looking ahead of him with a defocused look. - This is stupid. But I really do not remember this technology. - He finally turned around and looked at the rest. - In other words, one cannot exclude the possibility that the corporation has also rummaged in my head.
    “So any of our actions will always be in sight,” Joe concluded. - Excellent.

    Raytnov yawned and looked at his watch. It was twelve o'clock, so it was already quite dark outside. However, the titans were in no hurry to appear.

    “Let's just summarize what we have,” suggested Gordon. - We assume that we are being watched and aware of our every step. Consequently, we have two choices - either to settle on this base and remain relatively safe, the benefit of the food seems to be enough, or take a chance and move towards the launch pad at Porte. To be honest, the first option does not suit me.
    “Damn it, yes,” Barney said. - I see no reason to hang around here until the end of days. A boring experiment will turn out. Since we are being watched, let's show what we can do. I'm not going to rot on this base.
    “But how can we show what we can do if we are being watched?” - asked Isaac.
    “So let it be,” Barney waved his hand. - We will not be followed forever - sooner or later the experiment will end. And active actions can finish it faster.

    Emilia crossed her arms and shivered.

    - And what will happen when the experiment ends? - She asked.
    “I don't know,” Barney shrugged.
    “I don't know either,” Angus whispered faintly. - I thought and found myself thinking that I really do not know what and when the experiment should end. I know my role, but I don’t know when the experiment can be considered complete, and what should be our actions to complete it.

    He finally became convinced that the corporation rummaged in his brain. Looking at his bewildered face, no one else doubted that he had spoken the truth before.

    “Even if they kill us,” said Raytnov, thoughtfully, “we will know at least something before death.” And this is better than living in ignorance and dying of old age on this base. Without any memories of your past. This is not life, this is existence.
    - So, are we going? - Asked Barney and looked at the rest.

    Raytnov and Gordon nodded immediately, followed by agreement Joe and Scott. Emilia glanced uncertainly with Isaac, but after a pause they also agreed. Only Angus was silent.

    - Doc? “Dithered him from the Raytnes.”
    - Yes, - he finally squeezed out of himself, and then repeated, but in a more confident voice: - Yes! We go.

    Raytnov smiled and handed him his glasses.

    Barney nodded in satisfaction and looked at the hologram. At the same second, a titan suitable to the base was displayed on it.

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