"I will come tomorrow morning. I will want to see evidence of your progress, not showmanship. Got it?"
Nic paused for effect, his grin growing. "I assure you, sir, that we are beyond two percent progress." Instantly he switched off the call.
"And now, gentlemen," Nic continued, regaining his regal bearing, "we will prepare for the representatives arrival."
Dr. Smyrna was not fully onboard. "Nic, I've hit a wall with these acid-base reactions. There's just no working with them. I feel that there might be a solution, but I just cannot hit it. There's no way we can be ready for his arrival in only a few hours. You have to tell me what is going on."
"I do not have to tell anyone what is going on. But I choose to anyhow. To prepare for his arrival, we must prepare for our escape. I brought him in here so that we can use him to get out. I figure he will have keys, or at least enough power to get through a few doors."
Ephesus volunteered immediately. "I will get those floor plans back up."
For the remaining hours of the afternoon the threesome poured over the floor plans, memorizing them and plotting their escape route. They made alternate plans and memorized those. Plans if they were armed or unarmed, had keys or didn't, had a hostage or not.
As they finished their business, and Dr. Smyrna began to rub his eyes with tiredness, Nic lingered at the computer, feigning interest in what was on its screen. Both members of the Smyrna family could tell that he wanted to get back on it in private, so they retired to bed.
Before Nic's recorded voice was done echoing, he had sat at the computer and was pounding away at the keys. As a "Loading" bar came on the screen he quietly crept to the stack of papers Dr. Smyrna had been working with. Something he had said that morning had caught Nic's mind, and he had an idea.
For ninety minutes into the night Nic read and typed and clicked and read more. Then he had it.
As the final logarithms were computed on the screen, elation spread across Nic's face, before he would dare let it into his heart. The purple loading bar seemed to crawl, all the slower to Nic's mind than reality. The bar filled. Why do the bars always reach full before they are done?
For several seconds the full bar lingered, then the screen went blank. Nic shuddered. Could it have killed the computer?
Then a blank white screen. A high whine out of the computer tower. Nic twitched to see if anyone heard that unbearably loud noise.
An image on the screen. A chain of spheres of different sizes and colors. They exploded, bouncing around and breaking. Red balls smashed into blue ones which became different colors and bounced all over the screen.
Nic remembered when he was a kid. Screen savers they had called them. Entertaining little devices where things bounced around to keep the screens from dying. He had loved watching them. But this was no screen saver.
For a full five minutes of real time the balls bounced back and forth, representing the atoms and molecules of his newest concoction. The five minutes on the computer represented nearly twenty-four hours of elapsed time.
There it was. Dr. Smyrna had been so close. So close indeed. All he needed was a few extra atoms there, a few neurons there, and the old Christian would have invented the most deadly weapon of all time.
But now Nic had done it. Red Rain.