The Piper Legacy: Deepest Secrets

Prologue/Chapter One

Lona groaned and opened her eyes. She couldn’t see anything. Either it was pitch black, or she had gone blind. She tapped her datacuff, an oversized bracelet on her left forearm, and a touchscreen lit up, providing a dim light source for the room. “Okay, not blind,” she thought.


“Paloris!” She called out.


There was no answer. She tried again, but still no answer.


The room went dark again. She tapped her datacuff again, and made a swiping motion. Then the bracelet began to uncurl from her arm and became a solid 3 by 7 inch handheld datapad, from which she activated a flashlight


She could now see that the doorway to her office was gone. In its place was a wall of mud and stone. She was trapped. 


She wriggled free of the debris, and stood up. She coughed, winced in pain, and clutched at her back, but couldn’t quite reach the source of the pain. When she looked at her hand, it was covered in blood.


Lona stumbled over to her desk and sat in her chair. She tapped the monitor on her desk, but there was no power. She then pulled out the spare network cable and plugged it into her datapad. “Thank Imana.” She said when she saw that the network connection still worked.


She tapped off the flashlight and said, “Paloris, are you there?”


“Yes, Director Piper. Your data location indicates that you are in your office, can you confirm that?”


“Yes, Paloris, I’m in my office.”


Lona coughed and winced again.


“Why did you not evacuate with the rest of the staff?”


“I did, but I didn’t see Vorah Marus with the rest of the staff in the rotunda. So I went to look for her.”


“Vorah Marus was not in the Agricultural Center at the time of the alarm, but has now joined the staff who are trying to open the main doors to the center.”


“So you have sealed the door,” Lona said.


“Yes, as well as the water and ventilation shafts.”


Lona coughed a few times and winced.


“The engineering department has been notified, and they are already working on a rescue plan.”


“Okay, but what do you think?”


“I do not know how to answer that question.”


“Yes you do. We’ve been working on that, but let me rephrase. What is your estimation of my chances of escape or rescue?”


“I do not have enough information to provide an estimation.”


Lona began to have a violent coughing fit, and dropped the datapad.


“Please place your datacuff back onto your arm so that I can check your vitals.” Paloris requested.


Lona did so, and the datapad curled back into a cuff on her arm.


“Your vital signs are weakening, I am contacting EMS.” Paloris stated.


“No, call Kirin.” She said, and turned the cuff back into datapad form.


“Calling Kirin Piper on her RealEscape interface.”


Lona sighed. “Of course… I shouldn’t be surprised.”


The call tone sounded only once, and then a message appeared indicating the call was declined. She tapped the redial button, and got a notice that Kirin had gone into Do Not Disturb mode.


Lona coughed again and Paloris again requested her to use the datacuff and she did.


“Your blood pressure is dropping. Connecting to emergency medical support.”


The face of a young woman appeared on Lona’s wrist, and Lona did her best to hold it up to her face.


“EMS, how can I help?”


Lona entered a coughing fit.


“Hello? Director Piper, I can’t see you, the picture is very dark.”


Before she could reply, Paloris began filling in the young EMS operator.


There was a brief moment of silence. “Director Piper, can you hear me?”




“Your blood pressure readings suggest significant blood loss, are you bleeding heavily from anywhere?”

“From my back. I can’t quite reach the injury.”


“Listen carefully, I want you to find fabric, any kind, then fold or ball it up as best you can, and lean as hard as you can into it against a solid surface, like a wall.”




Lona got up, grabbed a light jacket that was hung on the back of her chair, balled it up, pulled the network cable as far as it would go, which allowed her to lean into the jacket against the wall. She slid down into a sitting position with her arm outstretched to keep the network cable connected.


“I’m against the wall, now what?”


There was a long silence.


“Hello?” Lona called out, but got no reply, and so said, “Is anyone there?” 


She heard a male’s voice in the background. “Everyone quiet, or get out.”


After a couple of seconds, she heard that male’s voice again. “Lona, can you hear me? This is Director Novag.”


“Hey Kance. How’s your day going?” She tried to joke with him.


“It seems to be going better than yours.” He tried to joke in reply. “Lona I don’t like the medical readings I’m getting from your datacuff.”


“You don’t say.” Lona replied.


“I’ve been in touch with Hoje. He’s already got the crew moving the tunneling equipment from the excavation site on ring three to help get you out.” He said bleakly.


“You don’t sound very optimistic.”


He sighed and said, “Because, I’m not. I’m going to be straight with you. It’s going to take hours to move that equipment, and several more hours, if not days to actually tunnel to you. And if your readings don’t start to improve, you’re not even going to make it 30 minutes.”


“Kance, you always knew how to sweet talk a girl.”


“I’m sorry Lona.”


“I need to speak with my daughter. Can someone go yank her out of her VR session?”


She could hear people shuffling in the background, and someone whispering the word “Run.” and then the sound of a door opening.


“I’ve got someone on that.”


“Okay, Kance, I’ve got some calls I need to make.”


“I understand, and I’m sorry.”


She ended the call.


“Paloris, is Kirin still in Do Not Disturb mode?”




“Can you override it?” 


“Almost certainly, but Kirin is using a new prototype system, and it may take some time to…”


“I don’t have time.”


Tears started flowing down Lona’s cheeks. She swiped on the datacuff, and it turned back into a flat datapad. She turned on the camera, and the flashlight. Then she sat forward, away from the wall, taking the pressure off of her back, propped the datapad on her desk with the camera facing her.


“Paloris, start recording a message to Kirin.”




“Hey Gumsprout. I don’t have a lot of time. I love you, and there’s so much that I want to say, but I need you to listen to me very carefully. The future of the city, of our very people, depends on it.”