These Alliance hounds aren’t learning from experience. They took quite a beating from yours truly the last time, and they’re still preparing for a rematch. What are they hoping for? They must be completely incapable of basic logical thinking. I mean, what are the chances for a different outcome? One side of this equation (an inequation, to be precise) is a dull, rigid, bureaucratic structure under the mask of a secret international cabal. The other is a blooming and ambitious scientist and engineer with a proven record of dealing with trespassers who want to appropriate her (and her father’s) creations and to stifle the free pursuit of knowledge.
What’s most important, though, is that this daring researcher has just completed what can only be called her magnum opus (as of now). Sure, it’s not a big deal to design and build a powerful generator/projector. But it’s another thing to integrate such a device with a group of low-orbit satellites redirecting the energy beam back onto the planetary surface, and then to install a control module on an armored vehicle. And now, all those sleepless nights working on my passion Projekt and all those countless liters of coffee prepared by my personal assistant have finally paid off! I’ll order this modified Sentinel to bring some champagne from the cellar—Hyperion is fully operational!
A Recording from the Voice Journal of Hannelore Ritter
Some might find it hard to feel sorry for Ermelinda, going for admiration or envy instead: She’s intelligent and beautiful, young but already accomplished. Yet one can have it all and still be a tormented soul. Ambition is a devouring fire fueled by achievements. I know that my younger sister is going through a difficult phase in her life; I’ve been there myself. We child prodigies mature slowly, and a powerful mind can easily deceive itself. I know from my own experience that her quest for unlimited knowledge is in fact a desperate plea for recognition—most of all by our father, whom she (so naively) idolizes. Plus, she’s yearning to be accepted and contributing to a cause. (Note to self: I do realize that that is part of my own motivation for helping the Alliance and tinkering with their suboptimal vehicles. And yes, I like it when they praise my solutions and how the novice operator, Jana, is trying to impress me.)
The real problem with Wunderkinder is that our games can seriously hurt others—and, obviously, ourselves. I wonder if Ermelinda understands the potential of her newest invention. It already qualifies as a weapon of mass destruction, but what’s worse, it’s scalable. It must not end up in some very wrong hands. (Note to self: The Alliance has many hands. How can you be so sure not a single pair is dirty, Hannelore?) Like Ermelinda, I was scorched by my ambition. But I survived—only to be slowly gnawed by uncertainty, the tireless enemy of those in their thirties.
Anyway… First and foremost, I want to save my sister, to save her from herself—and also from the Alliance. They are too frightened by her innovations to discern that, deep within, she means no harm to anyone. (Note to self: Oh my, I do hope I’m not mistaken, blinded by sisterly love.) And the name of that nasty device, Hyperion—I know where it comes from. Papi was very into Norse sagas, but we developed a taste for Greek mythology, and Ermelinda would ask me to read about the titans and the gods every now and then. She could flip through books at an improbable speed, but she preferred to listen to me reading aloud. She even told me this—once.
An Excerpt from the Personal Diary of Ermelinda Jung
As it turns out, the balance of power is not as skewed in my favor as I’d assumed. My sources tell me that the Alliance has an ace up their collective sleeve. “A queen of clubs” is a more fitting metaphor, as the trump in question is my own socialite sister. No wonder she gained their trust so easily. If there’s anything she’s better at than me, it’s making useful connections and exloiting them to the fullest. Well, Hannelore, that’s a bit too much. This goes well beyond all that sibling stuff. You aren’t throwing down the gauntlet to me—you’re going against the family and what we stand for! Bring it on. Let them call it “The Duel of the Sisters.”