Alex came Robert’s quarters aboard the mobile fortress.
“Constructs need no rest. Users do.” Robert said as she entered his quarters.
“Indulge my curiosity.” Alex said, ignoring him, “Do you think that we’re being played with by a hostile force?”
Robert lay in repose on a lounge. “Indeed.”
Alex began to follow-up, but Robert cut her off. “The hostiles are not dupes as such. They are as they appear, insofar as their aim and objective is as it appears to be.”
A faceless servant construct delivers food and drink to Robert, and then leaves.
“Then they are assisted by the true enemy?”
“You’re learning.” Robert said, sipping his drink, “Good. Why would a hostile actor want to use a third party?”
“To distract our attention, blaming their actions on another likely target while they move against us unopposed until it’s too late- that is why they would use a third party.”
Robert sat up. “Correct. Now, if the Vault is not the true threat then what is it?”
“If this is really an elaborate ruse to test our defenses, then the enemy actor must possess the means to act effectively against us in ways similar to our own.”
Robert smiled. “Go on.”
“Similar entities are akin to frequencies. They can easily fall into discord because they are too similar to easily harmonize, and in discord cause interference that we interpret as conflict.”
Robert’s smiled widened. “Good analysis.”
Just then Alan 1 entered. “I concur.”
“Imperial Intelligence?” Robert said, looking at the elder system monitor, “They have people with the means and the knowledge.”
“Are they not disavowed?” Alex said, curious.
“Yes, they are officially disavowed. However, they started their studies from the same base that we did and never got past the fact that the Old World’s understanding of the arts derives from old cults and religious practices. That atmosphere promotes a fanatical perspective, which the Empire exploits to this day to keep them within the fold despite being officially disavowed.”
“Personal experience?” Alex said.
“Alan 1 and I encountered this cult—and that is what it is—performing operations for the Empire more than a few times over the years. Their methods, by comparison, are primitive and they are far more reliant on rote learning without the fundamental mastery of the concepts. They are, for all of their power, not that much better than the Imperial Army’s grunts.”
“Men that use tools without knowing the how or the why behind their function.” Alan 1 said, “They might as well be guard constructs.”
“Are all of them lacking like that?” Alex said.
“No.” Robert said, standing up, “Their leaders and top operatives are far more dangerous because they do understand what they’re doing, to a significant—if lesser—degree.”
Just them, Cosmo 3 appeared in hologram form.
“Engineer,” Cosmo 3 said, “we are in position.”
“Engineer Robert Prime, authorization Gold Omega Diamond. Execute Reorigination Protocol on Quaratine Facility previously designated.”
“Acknowledged, Engineer. Please wait while performing operations.”
“The game’s afoot.”