Eve couldn’t sleep. Quite the opposite: energy coursed through her the moment her head touched the pillow. She couldn’t get the smell of burning out of her nose.
There was nothing exceptional about the crew quarters. The owls slept in four-high bunks with a ladder on the end and cubbies along the side. Eve had ended up in a top bunk as those were the only ones available.
It had been four or five hours since she and Coronis parted. Eve had only been awake for about ten hours, but she could usually sleep whenever felt like it. The headband caused lethargy if she wore it for long enough, and her eyes did indeed feel heavy. But no sleep.
Did she feel bad about how things had gone with Coronis? A little. The neo_SMOKE girl had only been trying to help… hadn’t she? neo_SMOKE agents were infamous for peddling their wares at any opportunity. Was she just trying to acquire another customer for her poison?
No, it couldn’t be. Coronis could have sent Eve to a hundred different places, but she chose down here. The only reasons she could have were personal. She wanted an opportunity to befriend the legendary Mother of Witches, to be close to TORCH’s most notorious villain.
It was too much. Eve wished she could just close her eyes and be done with this wretched day, but paradoxically she was too stressed to sleep.
She decided to spend some time reading academic papers, that relaxed her. She religiously followed developments in the world of teleoarcanism- or as the layman called it, witchcraft.
The field had never truly recovered from the loss of its two greatest minds (Eve didn’t think it was haughty of her to consider herself that,) and progress remained slow. The most significant finds, such as the link between magic and neurotransmission that made Arcane Suppressors possible, were decades old. All the big questions remained without satisfying answers. LUX scholars had yet to determine what caused only some agents to have magic, what determined the nature of one’s abilities, and what were the causes of the unpredictable side effects of the Suppressors.
Eve no longer had the resources to meaningfully contribute to the field. Teleoarcanism was resource-intensive to study, the only field that needed intensive analysis supercomputers as much as it did tomes of esoteric lore bound in human skin. Eve once possessed both, but now she had no money, no test subjects besides herself, and no laboratory. Her library, which was filled with unique and irreplaceable texts, had been sealed off and quarantined. The best Eve could do was read everything new that came out and hope to see something the others hadn’t.
Nothing of interest. The usual set of experiments with weak methodology and inconclusive findings. With a sigh, Eve instead turned to cryptobiology and xenobiology. Her first stop was the Enyoni, to see what LUX had learned of the fascinating and horrific natives. Now that she had assumed the identity of Maia Oread, she also gained Maia’s clearance- which allowed her to see previously restricted papers regarding the Enyoni.
There were papers, over a hundred, but they were almost all dogshit. Junk science, methodology so flawed that a first-year student could see the folly, or buzzword-laden rambles completely free of substance.
140 LUX owls, a base that must have cost tens of billions of digits to build and maintain, and what had it produced? Papers so crappy that Eve would have failed them with a “see me after class” in her teaching days.
The only decent ones she found were written by Phoebe… the green-haired mute from dinner. While the style was lacking, her writings were informative overviews of what the Lethe-2 team had learned of the Enyoni.
When the base was first established, there was debate over the intelligence level of the monstrous. Some reasoned that massive creatures like that must be at least moderately intelligent, but Phoebe skillfully debunked that theory by pointing to their instinct-driven behavior and seeming lack of communication with one another. The Enyoni, she suggested, existed only to eat and mate. They ate constantly and mated once or never.
The more Eve read, the more she got the sense that Lethe-2 was a misadventure from the get-go. The original base, Lethe-1, had been a submarine because the Enyoni were constantly in motion. For the most part they moved around the planet as a swarm, circumnavigating it every year or so. The Enyoni depleted the oceans by eating everything they could touch, then left those waters behind long enough for the lesser wildlife to replenish their numbers in time for the Enyoni’s return.
But this meant the window of time in which Lethe-2’s instruments could gather new data about the Enyoni was only about twenty out of every seven hundred days. The rest of the population was very traditional aquatic life, and there was only so much to be said about salinity (high), soil composition (nutrient rich) and ocean currents (highly regular due to the lack of land.)
What then of the Enyoni Eve had seen? Phoebe characterized them as scouts: juveniles who were sent a few weeks ahead of the main pack. Eve had been “fortunate” enough to catch a glimpse of one of the first Enyoni of the season. Hundreds more would be passing over Lethe-2 in the coming weeks… that sounded horrid.