WAYLAND CYBERSMITH (WAYCYBER) STRONGHOLD : EXODUS : - 3) MESSENGER, MAY 5
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Messenger: May 5
NSC HQ: Section 14, Medium-Security Detention 00.43
Rossi was startled when his cell door opened. Suddenly gripped by fear and apprehension, he pressed himself against the wall. It was Shade.
“Don’t worry,” Shade whispered. “I’m not going to do anything. I’ve got a question.”
“What is it?”
“It’s my daughter. Sophie. She’s sick.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“She’s only three. She has a progressive neurological disorder.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Well, don’t laugh, I’ve prayed for her to get better. Now, I know God, if there is one, ain’t gonna listen to someone like me. I’ve had to do some horrible things in my time. It goes with the job. Now if you were to say something?”
“Of course. It isn’t too late for you, either. Make me a promise.”
“If I pray and your Sophie gets better, you join me in prayer the following night.”
“OK. It’s a deal.”
THE HOME OF CASSIE ANDERS: 06.01
The credits of Soul Sisters 2000 rolled across the screen. Jean stood up, stretched and threw the curtains open. Sunlight burst upon the empty popcorn bowl and ice cream tubs that littered the coffee table. The light of the new day was dazzling. Cassie was asleep on the sofa. Jean gently shook her awake. Cassie opened her eyes, yawned, and sat up. She took a few moments to adjust to the light, saw Jean and smiled.
“Thanks, Jean. I’m OK now.”
“Are you sure?”That was a bad one, but you helped me through it. Thanks.”
“Well, you’re looking after me. What else are friends for?”
Cassie’s radio came on and started playing Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major. She checked the time. “I’ve got to get ready for work now. I have another interrogation to do.” With that, Cassie ran up the stairs. The sound of the shower drowned out any further chance of conversation. Minutes later, Cassie ran back down, zipping up her violet jumpsuit and grabbing her motorcycle helmet.
“And you’re sure no-one will find me here?”
“With the charms I’ve put on this house, no-one will think of looking for you here. Not even if they are standing right outside. You have my word. Whatever you do, don’t go outside the door, or you won’t be protected.”
Just as Cassie left the house, Lamb pulled up outside in his orange HARRIER. He stepped onto the pavement, as nervous and fidgety as a schoolboy.
“OK, Jean. No-one else will find you.”
“Cassie, do you mind if I come in and talk to Jean?”
“Yeah. Totally gold. You two love birds have a lot of catching up to do.”
“Er. Yeah.” Lamb just stood there looking down at his shoes. Jean took his hand, damp with sweat, and led him inside. Cassie smiled, put her helmet on, and sped off.
The door closed with a definite clunk, but that was the only sound. For several minutes, neither Lamb nor Jean felt able to break the silence. Jean looked at Lamb, who still looked at his shoes.
“Well, Neville. Say something. This silence is tearing me apart.”
“How do you think I felt, then?”
“What do you mean?”
“We haven’t been together for weeks now. I thought I’d done something wrong. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“What? Tell you that I couldn’t touch you without turning into you? Tell you I was going to die?”
“When was that?”
“It doesn’t matter. I loved being whoever you wanted me to be. It was fun. But now we can be – together – this is all I can be. What you see now.”
“That’s all I ever wanted. I thought all that being other people was your thing. I only played along to make you happy.”
“I love you, Neville. I didn’t think you could love just me. I never had that.”
“Well, now you do. Mpenzi. You’re all I want.”
Silence fell again.
“I thought I’d lost you yesterday. They told me you were dead, and I couldn’t bear that. I went crazy. I was going to kill Joshua. I almost did, except – except.”
“Look at me, Neville. Do I look dead?”
Neville smiled. “No, you look just fine Mpenzi.”
Jean smiled back, and all the heaviness lifted. “Come with me, Neville. You won’t believe what Cassie has in her bedroom.”
In Fydhyans, a crane took up the strain on a massive Histapis Vertical Axis Wind Turbine and lifted it into the air. The wind caught the blades, and they started spinning, sending rhythmic pulses down the shaft. The motor of the crane roared as it fought to keep it upright. It was a tug-of-war against gravity.
In Perthyans, a team was busy sawing through a tree with a two-man cross-cut saw using long, slow strokes.
In Hüvelder, a plumber thrust a cleaning rod repeatedly down a pipe. Suddenly, the blockage shot out with a spray of dirty water, drenching him.
Back in Perthyans, the team finally cut through the trunk and the tree fell to the ground.
Back in Fydhyans, the motion of the VAWT was too much for the crane and the operator had to lower it back to the ground.
THE HOME OF CASSIE ANDERS: 07.39
Lamb and Jean were in Cassie’s kitchen drinking coffee. Jean had a faraway look in her eyes.
“So, what do we do now, Mpenzi?”
“I don’t know. Run away somewhere?”
“I wish we could, Mpenzi. Really, I do. Something tells me we need to speak to Joshua. I don’t know what’s going on, but I think he does.”
“You tried to kill him last time. Do you think he’ll trust you?”
“He’s got something protecting him. Maybe he knows I can’t hurt him.”
“So, where do we look for him?”
“I don’t know. Bonnar should be able to find out. In the meantime, stay here. You’ll be safe. I will come for you when I have news. Right now, I’m needed in London.”
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Matthew Ashmead Plaza 09.29
The NSC had many specialist vehicles in their fleet. There were the multi-purpose CONDOR personnel carriers and control units, the EAGLE riot patrol vehicles with their massive water tanks, HAWK emergency response with its medical and fire-fighting versions, and the FALCON high speed pursuit vehicles. Then there were the civilian-looking vehicles, such as Bonnar’s Enterprise, the Constellation VIP transports and the Exeter MPVs.
The Grunts had cordoned off Matthew Ashmead Plaza, holding back crowds of people that were straining to see what would happen next. Other Grunts walked around the perimeter with scanners, recording the IDs of everyone present. There was a distant roar, and a brass band struck up. Trumpets blared, drums boomed, and cymbals clashed as the motorcade entered Flax Street. A cheer erupted throughout the crowd, and EU and AU flags were waved at the passing vehicles.
The motorcade had a motorcycle escort that led it and flanked the vehicles. At the front of the motorcade was the Vanguard Package of three CONDORs. The first vehicle was the Alley Cats bomb disposal unit, with its cigar smoking black cat logo. Everything about it was reinforced to the highest practical degree. It was equipped to detect and neutralize most explosive devices. Once it had taken the full force of a high explosive mine that would have demolished a city block and suffered nothing worse than an oil leak. The next was Traffic Control. The operators inside could change traffic signals and control the speed of any vehicle in the area via the vehicle’s limiter. They could also communicate with a support team of foot and motorcycle officers. The third CONDOR was a personnel carrier, containing a squad of heavily armed Grunts.
After the Vanguard Package came the Secure Package. Bonnar’s Enterprise led this, from which he coordinated the motorcade and analysed the information from the other vehicles. Behind Bonnar came four Constellations. The first contained President Luigi D’Azeglio of Europe, the second was for President Rolihlahla of Africa and the third and fourth held their advisers and VIPs.
Following that was the Threat Response Package, which was three CONDORs – Bonnar’s Auxiliary Control Unit, the DOGS SWAT vehicle, and a Snoops' surveillance vehicle.
Behind the Threat Response Package was the Plain Brown Wrapper. It consisted of twelve Exeter’s containing the delegates, conference staff, the EU President’s personal staff, and the press corps.
At the back of the motorcade, the Rearguard Package contained a HAWK, three EAGLEs and three FALCONs.
Once in the plaza, the motorcycles took up positions at the entry and exit points. The Constellations parked outside the conference centre entrance with the HAWK just behind them. The CONDORs formed a shield around the VIP vehicles and the EAGLEs took positions at the edge of the plaza near the crowds.
Bonnar checked that all was safe. Once he was satisfied, he signalled for the next phase to begin. An honour guard of Section 9 officers assembled between the Constellations and the conference centre entrance. The doors of the first Constellation opened and two of the Immortals came out wearing their uniform of black Polypetacetlon body armour. Diane Way – Guarura and Alistair Giles – Weight. They looked around the plaza, searching for anything that could be a threat. When they were satisfied all was safe, President Rolihlahla and his staff were escorted up into the building.
The doors of the next Constellation opened and Neville Lamb, Anzelm Ochrona – Griso and Dominic Butler – Brutus emerged. Lamb wore an orange business suit, Griso and Brutus wore body armour They went through the same ritual as the others. Then President D’Azeglio was taken in to safety. They were followed by the other VIPs. Meanwhile, the remaining passengers in the motorcade, the conference staff, delegates, and press corps, were ushered through a second entrance.
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Jane Pilgrim Suite 10.09
Lamb and Griso had been summoned to the Jane Pilgrim Suite. Lamb knocked on the door and the two went in.
The room was set out with a central table for Presidents D’Azeglio and Rolihlahla, together with their chief advisers Further down the room were two tables, one for Africa, the other for Europe, where information was exchanged with the various committees. A fourth table, placed at the centre, was used by nominated delegates to present their petitions.
D’Azeglio gestured the bodyguards forward to his table.
“These men,” President D’Azeglio indicated the group currently sat at the delegates' table, “need to go to the Eutopia Hotel. Please make sure that they arrive there and return safely.”
Lamb and Griso led the group to the elevator.
“Excuse me, sir.” Lamb said to one of the delegates. “Ain’t you the Duke of Cornwall?”
The man smiled. “Not since the Monarchy was abolished. I’m just plain Arthur Windsor now.”
“Not even a lord, like Seaver?”
“Not even that.”
When they reached the reception area, Lamb and Griso were joined by two Immortal regulars. Together they ushered the group towards a waiting Constellation.
Suddenly, Lamb heard a familiar click. He spun round to see a hooded man firing a gun. In a blur of movement, Lamb charged towards the attacker. The bullet hit Lamb in the chest, but did not stop him. He grabbed the gun with one hand, knocking the would-be assassin out with the other.
Lamb ushered the group into the Constellation, leaving the fallen attacker in the charge of the Grunts. Lamb passed the gun to one of them. It was crushed like tin foil. When everyone was safely aboard, the car drove off past the crowds to the Eutopia Hotel.
“That bullet hit you.” Windsor said. “You must have good body armour”
“Never needed it.”
“Very impressive, Mr. Lamb. And just how fast can you move?”
“That’s classified, sir, even to you.”
As they parked around the back of the hotel, Lamb thought again about his strange encounter the previous day. He wondered if he would see Joshua or the giant again. Being faced by someone more powerful than he was had shaken Lamb to the core.
The Eutopia was the complete opposite of the Danny Friedner Centre. Shabby and dilapidated. The walnut wood of the reception desk was splintered and darkened with age. The walls of the corridors were covered in torn and threadbare red velour. Lamb and Griso escorted delegates to the Arcadia Suite, then stood guard outside.
Windsor checked to make sure the door was firmly closed.
“What news, Arthur?”
“They’ve accepted our case, Jago. On Friday, the president will announce that Cornwall will be an independent state within the European Union. Gentlemen, we have won!”
A cheer went up from everybody except Aedan Gwyn. “I don’t wants to downdate no-one, but do you think the government will take this and do nothing?”
“They won’t have a choice. If they don’t comply, the EU will apply sanctions. There’s nothing that anyone can do to stop it now.”
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: 10.39
“This is Rocky. Is everyone in their position?”
“Reception area OK.” Audra Bland (known as “Lightning”), with her short-cropped white hair and mirror sunglasses, had the task of covering the check-in areas. Lightning's skill with any weapon was second to none. She had been teamed with Cobra.
“Roof area OK.” Neil Garnod – “Dragon” – covered the helicopter pad. Dragon was a thickset man. You could be fooled into thinking he would be slow, and only find out your mistake too late. He was equipped with a portable rocket launcher in case of air attack. Gideon Gere – “Gryphon” scanned the plaza below. He was the youngest of the team, headstrong and fearless. Always ready to dive in without thinking. Dragon was the only one who could control him.
“Not OK in the plaza. Baron is still missing.” This was Jadzia Shand – “Valkyrie”. She had a kind of split personality. Normally, the petite red head was quiet to the point of being reserved. However, in a fight, she was the most vicious of the team.
It was not unusual for Li-Chen King – known as “Baron” – to be missing. He ran into the plaza carrying a small box, his loping stride making the concrete surface twang with every footfall. “Sorry I’m late, Rocky. I got my pizza slice.”
“Think about food off duty, will you? You have to take this seriously, Baron.”
“Auditorium OK.” This was Brian Archer. He was acting as the DOGS backstop. If anyone got past the others, Archer would be waiting.
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Matthew Ashmead Plaza 11.09
A motorcycle sped down Flax Street. The golden Hermes Global logo on the back of the rider’s jacket proclaimed him as a messenger. He parked his motorcycle at the foot of the steps, and took off his helmet, which he attached to the motorcycle. He seemed to pause for a while, as if coming to a decision. Then he dashed up the steps, and went into the building.
After ten minutes, the messenger once again appeared, carrying a letter. Slowly, and deliberately, he walked down to his waiting motorcycle. Smoke started to billow from the neck and sleeves of his jacket. He tried to take the jacket off. He was engulfed by flames. He let out a scream as he dropped to the ground, rolling over and over trying to put the fire out.
A Grunt flew out of the conference centre, unfurling a fire blanket as he ran. He wrapped the blanket around the stricken messenger, totally covering him. A couple of Section 20 orderlies brought a Gurney to the scene.
A doctor had also reached the messenger, but there was nothing he could do. The body was gently lifted onto the Gurney.
The orderlies took their patient to the Ella Spriggs room, but when the doctor opened the fire blanket, what it contained could hardly be thought to have been human. It was just a charred mass of clothing, flesh and bone.
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Johnny Barbour Suite 11.23
Bonnar was just looking at reports of the attempted assassination of Arthur Windsor, when the broadcast came. “Do not attempt to adjust your screen. This is the RRK. The interruption will last exactly 59 seconds. It cannot be tracked or jammed. We have released a virus at the EU/AU conference. The man you see in this video is the first victim. The European Union will grant full rights of self-government to Cornwall. All UK forces and spying equipment will be removed from Cornish territory immediately. Fail to meet our demands and others will suffer the same fate as this man. You have six hours to announce your compliance.”
Bonnar reacted immediately. “Nestor, Summit!”
“Establishing video link.”
The images of the department heads appeared around a virtual table on Bonnar’s monitor.
“A messenger burnt to death outside and someone saying they belong to the RRK is claiming responsibility and making threats. We have a possible virus outbreak, possible hostage situation and definite terrorist situation. Until we know what the facts are, we need to lock this place down.
“Jaguar, Rocky, and Steele. No-one enters. No one leaves. Not until we have answers.
“Trapp, get samples and personal effects to the Toddies for analysis.”
“Bell, tell me what caused this. Virus, voodoo or whatever. Is anyone else at risk? Loads of people have come and gone from here and nothing has happened to them. Why him, and why now?
“Norden, check his ID chip, and his motorcycle’s transponder. I want to know all this man’s movements over the past week. Who did he have contact with here?
“Holmes, I want a complete biography of the victim. Friends, enemies. Why was he killed?
“Peck, who benefits? Could this be RRK or someone using their name to cause trouble? Who is pulling the strings?
“Action, people. Send me the data as soon as you get it. I want facts. No assumptions, opinions or guesses. Summit again in 30 minutes.”
EUTOPIA HOTEL: Arcadia Suite 11.29
Anden and Windsor both received calls about the incident. Anden told the others what had happened.
Gwyn rubbed his chin in contemplation. “I ain’t gonna say it, but I be thinking it.”
“This is a rare mingle-com-por, Arthur. What will happen now?”
“These people claim to be RRK, Jago. If the EU makes their announcement now, the British government can refuse on the grounds it’s giving in to terrorism, and the people will back them. Do any of you know who is doing this, or why?”
“It could be one of Bligh’s Marracks. Ruth knows them, don’t you?”
“I knows them. I don’t trust them.”
Anden went to the far corner of the room and put on an earphone. “Sethor, where are you?”
“Close by. I know why you’re calling. Mernans and Beth have been here. Stay out of sight until I contact you. Don’t try calling me again.”
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Johnny Barbour Suite 11.53
“OK, people. What do we have? Headlines and highlights. Holmes. Let’s start with who he is.”
“Daveth Sowden. Thirty-seven. Born Truro, Cornwall. He changed his name to David Sawyer in 2012. He lived in Exeter. He worked as a courier for Hermes Global for eight years. He was well liked by his colleagues and employers. No criminal record above a speeding fine six year ago.”
“Find out why he changed his name. Did he want to be more English or less Cornish? Was he trying to run away from something or someone? Bell. How did he die?”
“Medical forensics say death was caused by extensive burning. His body fat chemistry is unusual. What samples we could take were highly flammable.”
“Trapp. Any medical explanation?”
“If you classify this as SHC, Spontaneous Human Combustion, there is nothing known to cause it in nature. Some military research, but nothing practical. Sawyer had pancreatic cancer diagnosed six years ago. It’s been metastatic for a year. Untreatable. He was on some heavy painkillers. I’m surprised, he was allowed to work. Refused euthanasia on three occasions.”
“OK. Bell and Trapp. How did the change take place? Chemical? Biological? Microwaves? Some kind of weapon? Something to do with his treatment? He has a motive for suicide. Maybe he wanted to make a statement. Peck. Let’s get to the why. Who did he associate with?”
“No current political or gang affiliations, but he was a member of the Conservative Party as a student.”
“OK, so a possible radical. Norden. What about his movements? When and where did the incident take place that caused this? Who did he meet?”
“He came into the building at 10.21. He didn’t go beyond the reception. He collected a letter sent by Anne Spark, one of the UK delegates. I’ve passed the IDs of everyone who came within three metres to Holmes.”
“Right. Bell, I want to know what was in that letter. Who was it addressed to? Anything unusual about it physically? Keep digging for a way the SHC was triggered. Check the reception area for anything suspicious. Let me have your report on the bomb the Alley Cats made safe. Is there any connection between that and this?
“Holmes, Get me a bio on Anne Spark. See what connection she has to this. Also, check into Hermes Global. I want to know everything about them worth knowing.
“Peck, I want you to work back. See if you can make a connection between RRK and Sowden.
“Trapp. Start screening for body fat anomalies like Sowden had. Just our people for now. Do a ten percent sample to begin with, higher if you find anything."
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Ron Radford Room 12.23
Sarf was a hero. He knew it. It was what he was always meant to be. All right, so his attack on Arthur Windsor failed, but he had kept his mouth shut. They would get nothing from him.
He heard the door unlock and a girl in violet walked in. She just sat quietly in the corner of the room. Sarf found himself thinking about all kinds of things. He thought about how he burned for Kernow to be free. How he swore to give his life for the cause. He thought about the meeting with the Marracks, he with a hood over his head, and voices all around questioning him about his life and loyalties. He thought about the shame when the Marracks refused him. He thought about how he swore to prove himself to them. He would assassinate an enemy of Kernow. He would kill Arthur Windsor.
After a quarter of an hour, the girl stood up, smiled at him, and left, but before she closed the door, she looked back at him, and said “Thank you, Jory Trahere.”
The shock to Sarf on hearing his real name was like an explosion. All his confidence, all his certainty vanished. If this woman knew who he was, what else did she know?
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Johnny Barbour Suite 13.19
President D’Azeglio knocked on Bonnar’s door, came in and sat down.
“What’s the situation?”
“We’re about half way through screening, sir. Nothing found so far. No-one else has burst into flames, so I think this is a one-off.”
“So, everyone else is safe?”
“It looks that way, sir.”
“Are you certain?”
“No-one can ever be certain, but nothing has been found that would cause spontaneous human combustion in this way. No known viruses or microorganisms could do it. That means that the victim, either voluntarily or involuntarily, came in contact with some kind of catalyst that caused the reaction.”
“What about the terrorist threat?”
“A bomb was found and made safe yesterday. It was very suspicious.”
“How do you mean?”
“We were expecting an attack of some kind. With the bomb, we had it.”
“It was intended to make us drop our guard. Today’s events may have been the real attack, or that might still be coming.”
“So who is the terrorist?”
“The bomb has the hallmark of a particularly sadistic mercenary called Spencer Mernans. This human torch stunt sounds like his style as well.”
“With your much-vaunted intelligence system, surely you will have no problem finding him.”
“There will always be ways around any system. We seem to have had more problems than usual lately. Mernans has worked for the UK Government. Part of the deal was protection from ID scans.”
“That doesn’t sound like a particularly good idea. Where do we go from here?”
“Section 11 is rechecking the IDs of everyone who has been here over the past week.”
“Will this Mernans be working alone?”
“He usually has a partner, Arturo Beth. Someone will be paying them as well. He isn’t the idealistic type.”
“Is the RRK responsible?”
“I would say no. They have been loud, but not violent. We had rumours that someone would do something at this conference, but this? No. Not the RRK.”
“I thought they were responsible for burning down some holiday homes over the past few years.”
“There have been some terrorist incidents, but the evidence is that it is a breakaway faction. The aims of the RRK are for a negotiated settlement.”
“How would you advise we proceed?”
“Arthur Windsor has had several private meetings with representatives of the EU parliament. Would I be right in suggesting that this was connected with Cornish independence?”
“You may say that, I could not possibly comment.”
“Understood. And has the UK government been made aware of your decision to grant independence to Cornwall?”
“They have agreed to the process of making semi-autonomous states independent within the EU.”
“Do they know you are including Cornwall?”
“I am not at liberty to say.”
“There was an attack on Windsor earlier today. We arrested the assailant. Can you tell me anything about who Windsor was meeting and who knew about it?”
“Mr. Windsor was meeting a group of businessmen from Cornwall. It’s only natural, as he owns so much of it. As to who knew about it? I assume that, within those circles, it was common knowledge.”
“And these businessmen. Do they have any political aspirations concerning Cornwall?”
“You are a very astute man, Mr. Bonnar, but I am sure you appreciate that some matters cannot be spoken of before their time.”
“Very well, sir. I recommend that you announce Cornish independence at 15.00 today. That should give us time to complete our screening. If Mernans and those behind him hear their demands have been met, there is no reason for anyone else to be killed.”
EUTOPIA HOTEL: Arcadia Suite 14.23
The door to the Arcadia suite opened and Windsor led his team out.
“Mr. Lamb, we’re ready to return to the conference centre”
“OK, sir, the car is parked around the back.”
“Any word on the man that shot at me?”
“Seems he was acting alone.”
Lamb and Griso led the delegates away. Inside the suite, the RRK members bided their time.
“Well, Anden, shall we go?”
“Hold hard, Ruth. If they’re saying us killed that messenger they’ll be watching for us.”
“I thought Sethor fixed our ID chips.”
“That’s as may be, but you can’t be too careful. Now, let’s toz along to the warehouse and get back to Kernow.”
“You’ll hear no argument from us.”
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: 14.51
Mernans and Beth were walking down a corridor, when Mernans noticed a blue spider on Beth’s coat. He brushed it off, and then noticed some on himself. He picked one up and examined it. He had seen these before. As they turned a corner, they saw Archer, leaning against a wall and smiling.
“This had your dirty fingerprints all over it, Mernans. What’s going on, and how do we stop it?”
“Sethor, my friend. Are we working together this time?”
Beth was brushing more spiders off himself. They had almost completely covered his legs.
“Tell me about the man that got torched. And don’t give me any virus nonsense, we both know that’s fantasy.”
“Why should I tell you anything?”
“Look at your friend.”
Beth looked like a blue statue.
“Now, you tell me what I need to know, or Beth dies.”
“You know the rules. You don’t betray a client.”
“Mr. Mernans, I’m scared.”
“Not now, Mr. Beth. Sethor’s our friend. He won’t do anything, will you?”
“Nano, comê-lo até.”
There was a sound like water and the blue Mr. Beth flowed into a puddle that dispersed in a million blue spiders.
“Now, where were we?”
Mernans’ shoes were turning blue. He ran.
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Jane Pilgrim Suite 14.59
“People of the United Kingdom.” President D’Azeglio was broadcasting to screens all over the country. “No doubt, you are aware of the tragic events of this morning. A man died outside this conference centre, and threats have been made on behalf of the RRK. The announcements I am about to make were scheduled to be made this coming Friday. They are the result of discussions that have taken place over the past ten months and not as a reaction to today’s events.
“Two years ago, the European Union determined that governmental bureaucracy should be reduced. In accordance with this, all semi-autonomous states would be granted full statehood within the European Union. This means, in the case of the United Kingdom, that; Alba, or Scotland; Cymru, or Wales; and Northern Ireland, would become independent nations within the European Union, no longer answerable to London.
“After careful consideration of the case presented to us for the inclusion in this process of Kernow, commonly called Cornwall, the European Union has recognized Kernow’s claims based on historical and legal evidence. The conclusion of this is, that the United Kingdom unjustly deprived the nation of Kernow of the rights of self-governance bestowed on other nations within the United Kingdom, there being no formal act of the union between the United Kingdom and Kernow. Further, there is abundant historical evidence that England recognized Kernow as a separate state of similar order to Cymru up to relatively recent times.
“Details of meetings, including transcripts and documents provided as evidence, have been made available for examination on the European Union web site.
“This means that the events of this morning were completely unnecessary, as steps were already far advanced to create the very situation that the terrorist has demanded. In addition, as the RRK was aware of the negotiations, claims that this terrorist represented the RRK are clearly false. The RRK is completely innocent of any involvement in this death.
“We, therefore, say to this terrorist, along with any associates he may have. Give yourself up. End this. Let there be no further loss of life. You are trying to fight a battle that has already been won.”
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Alec Lawrence Suite 15.23
Anne Spark was sitting on her desk examining some papers. She was an oriental woman, dressed entirely in red. Mernans exploded through the door, a look of terror on his face.
“Yes? Can I help you?”
“It’s Sethor. He knows. He killed Mr. Beth and he’s after me.”
“So you lead him to me?”
“I need to get out. Help me.”
Spark put the papers down. She locked the door and stroked Mernans’ cheek. Mernans was shaking and sweating. “Ssh, now, Mr. Mernans. Don’t worry, he won’t find you.”
Under Spark’s hand, Mernans’ skin started smoking and then burning. Spark calmly walked over to the window. Mernans opened his mouth to scream but fire came out. In moments, he became so much ash. Spark opened the window and the ash blew away leaving no trace, not even a scorch mark.
Spark touched her earphone. “10-36, it’s time.”
There was a glow of indigo around the door. She unlocked it, went through, and vanished.
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Johnny Barbour Suite 15.31
Bonnar was going over the screening results. There seemed to be no further danger, but there were still terrorists on the loose. Archer burst in, pushed Bonnar firmly aside, and started typing at the keyboard.
“What’s going on, Archer?”
“Doing your job, as usual. The terrorists are a couple of mercenaries, called Beth and Mernans. I’ve dealt with Beth, but Mernans got away.”
“I already know who’s responsible, but they have ID protection. We’re working on a way of tracing him now.”
Archer stood back. On the screen was Mernans’ ID and a trace of his movements over the past day.
“How did you do that?”
“Who do you think wrote this system?”
Archer needed a second to memorize the data. He typed in something and the information was gone. Archer left as suddenly as he arrived. Bonnar tried to bring the trace back, but couldn’t. However, he did remember Mernans’ last location. He brought up the biographical data on Anne Spark. There was something familiar about her, but he could not quite work out what it was.
“6-66 is calling.”
“OK, Nestor. Please connect.” Aden appeared on a monitor.
“Well, Mr. Bonnar. We are having an exciting time, aren’t we? People blowing up, and the EU wanting to slice up our beloved country. A very eventful day.”
“So, how do things stand? Are our friends from Europe and Africa about to turn into human barbecue briquettes?”
“No, sir. Only one person died, and there is strong evidence he co-operated with it.”
“Intriguing. I look forward to seeing your report. So, this announcement about Cornwall. It puts us in a very difficult position, you understand. I believe you recommended it? Your reasons, please, Mr. Bonnar. Why did you feel you needed to embarrass the government in this way?”
“To rob the terrorists of any reason for more deaths. Surely, the government was aware of the plans for Cornwall?”
“That, Mr. Bonnar, is not your concern. We have some repair work to do now. Incidentally, I understand that Mr. Lamb had a run-in with our friend Joshua. Is this true?”
“Yes. Yesterday morning.”
“So, we do not have to worry about Joshua any more?”
“I don’t think we ever did, sir.”
“Joshua is dead, is he not? Lamb did kill him?”
“No, sir. Joshua is very much alive.”
“How very annoying. No matter, we do have other options. Listen to me, Bonnar. Joshua is a threat. Greater than you can possibly imagine. If he and his followers are allowed to continue, it could mean the end of this country as we know it. They are dangerous. Subversive. They stand against everything we hold dear.”
After Aden ended his call, Bonnar mulled over all that he had learned. He was a member of the Special Resources Unit because of his observational skills, his eidetic memory, and his deductive ability. He drew on these now, making connections and building scenarios. He put together everything that had happened over the past few days.
“Nestor, create search group. Call it Alphalist. Alphalist contains the following individuals: Sylvester Aden – NSC 6-66, Doctor Jason Samfai – NSC 20-85, Anne Spark – EUUK 110-70 and Lord Louis Seaver – EUUK 6-16. Give me the Feed 11-21 phone logs for Alphalist.”
“Log for Sylvester Aden sealed. Log for Doctor Jason Samfai sealed. Log for Anne Spark does not exist. Log for Lord Louis Seaver sealed.”
“Nestor, unseal requested logs, authorization NSC 10-96 5x4mu563u531.”
“Security clearance insufficient.”
“Nestor, I have the highest security clearance. Phantom Alpha Ultraviolet.”
“Phantom Alpha Ultraviolet is not the highest security clearance.”
“Nestor, identify highest security clearance.”
“Security clearance insufficient.”
“Nestor, are you saying that I don’t have sufficient security clearance to know what the highest security clearances are?”
“Confirmed. Security clearance insufficient.”
“Nestor, Identify all people with records sealed at this security level.”
“–insufficient. I know.”
SCHWARZER FELSENHELM DISTRIBUTION WAREHOUSE: 15.43
When Ruth and the others entered the warehouse, they saw their vehicles had been wrecked. The tyres had been slashed, and the windows broken. The bonnets were up, and the engines had been trashed. They stared in disbelief at the carnage.
“What galyar is this?” Anden said.
“Hey, what’re these?” Whear had spotted a stack of wooden crates. He found a crowbar and levered off the lid of the top one. Inside were high velocity pistols.
“And these.” Dew was picking something out of a wooden post. “It appears to be an ID chip. They’re all over the place. All this mess is giving me a headache. Like someone’s tying a knot in my brain.”
Melen stretched his neck and rubbed his temples. “Me too. It must be the stress of it all. I can hardly think straight.”
“I don’t wanna bamfer you, but us’ve got company. An NSC CONDOR has pulled up at the end of the road.”
“It’s a trap! Us have been taken on the ground hop. Whear, hand out the weapons. Us are gonna have to fight our way out.”
The RRK men ran up to a mezzanine area and took cover behind some wooden crates.
In the meantime, outside the warehouse, Rocky Rhodes and the other DOGS took cover near the entrance. Baron King spotted a Pizza shop and slipped in.
“Cobra here. My scans show twenty-seven ID chips, plus a large number of weapon signatures.”
Rocky activated his earphone. “OK DOGS, these guys look like trouble. Here’s what we’ll do, I’ll go in first, get a visual on the enemy, and we can blast them with a flash bomb. I’ll use a stun grenade to scatter them; we don’t want to have to fight them all at once. When my stun grenades are gone, I’ll need Lightning to come in and throw hers too, so we can keep them off balance. Gryphon will need to run in and do the same again. We’re gonna need covering fire on Dragon, so he can pick off the bad guys. We need to do this fast. I think this will work.”
“All right DOGS, Let’s go! Barrrronnnn!” Baron charged through the warehouse door, totally oblivious to all that Rocky had said.
Dragon’s jaw dropped: “He just ran in.”
“Hold on!” Ruth yelled at Baron. “Don’t shoot. This is a setup!”
Baron replied by firing a stream of bullets towards the mezzanine.
Anden yelled, “They aren’t listening. Defend yourselves.”
Valkyrie broke cover and ran after Baron shouting, “Get him out of there!”
Rocky yelled, “Remember the plan.”
“Go, go, go!” Dragon ran after Valkyrie and Baron.
Cobra was still waiting outside “Remember the plan, DOGS!” He called.
Rocky chased after the others yelling, “Remember the plan!”
In the warehouse, Glass fired a shower of bullets over Dragon’s head; Dragon yelled “Oh, stuuuuurm!”
Cobra saw his teammates needed rescuing and screamed “Gimme covering fire, quick!” Before diving into the fray.
Baron threw a stun grenade. The blast knocked everyone off their feet, but damaged some of the DOGS weapons as well.
Dragon’s gun jammed. Gryphon’s could not fire either. Dragon threw his useless weapon down and dived for cover. Cobra’s scanner flashed up a warning. “More ID chips! They’ve got reinforcements!”
Gryphon screamed. “Oh, sturm!”
Baron yelled, “We got ‘em, we got ‘em!”
Glass fired at Rocky, the bullet easily passing through his chest plate. “I’m down. Keep going!” Rocky knew his wound was fatal, but did his best to urge on his teammates.
Dragon looked across to his fallen comrade. He could do nothing to help.
Valkyrie leaped onto the nearest car roof, and up to the mezzanine. She was wielding a short Katana. Valkyrie stabbed Glass in his stomach and drove the sword up into his heart, and then she somersaulted down to join Rocky and Dragon.
Rocky looked at his hand, covered with his own blood. “This is stupid!!” He said and died.
Whear fired at Dragon. The bullet tore through the man’s head.
Gryphon called out; “Dragon’s down.”
Lightning ran up the stairs, taking out a door with a flying kick. She rolled onto the floor and stood holding two fistfuls of Shuriken. She threw them at Gill and Anden. They hit Gill in the head and neck. He collapsed and died. Anden was merely scratched. He turned and fired at Lightning, catching her full in the chest.
Cobra dived and rolled towards a packing crate. “Baron’s screwed up another mission! Gryphon, get us out! Get us out!”
Dew fired a volley at the DOGS, slaying Gryphon, Valkyrie and Cobra.
Baron looked around shocked and muttering “It’s not my fault! it’s not my fault!”
They were all dead, except Baron. A bullet had hit his leg, and he collapsed. His hand pulled a small white box from under his armor. “At least I got my pizza slice.”
Melen was the first to arrive in the kill zone. He bent down to Baron. “What’s your name?”
“Listen to me, Li-Chen King. I’m NSC.”
“Yeah, I know. Angus something.”
“Ungust. Ungust Melen. Hang on there. We can get out of this together. Don’t give up.”
Just then, Whear came in and saw Melen with Baron. “Hey!” He called. “What’re you talking to him about? I knew there was something fishy about you. You’re a cuzzle geek for the NSC.”
“I ain’t. I was just seeing how ropy he was.”
“Don’t give me that. You set this up. You led them here.”
Melen shot Whear just as Gwyn, Ruth and Dew came through the door.
“Whear betrayed us to the NSC, Dew. He was talking to that man, so I shot him.”
Gwyn said, “I knew it! I knew Whear was a cat-in-the-pan.”
“He ain’t a traitor!” Dew yelled. “Melen, you’re scramming. If anyone is a traitor it’s you.”
Ruth tried to stand between them. “This isn’t right. Can’t you tell? We don’t do this. Somethings wrong.”
Dew’s face was red with anger. He shot and killed Baron. “Whear was truer to the RRK than anyone! He did his core and he never creened. Not once.”
“What have you done?” Ruth screamed . “What have you done? It’s over. Put the guns down. Something is trying to control us. Can’t you tell?”
Anden came in and pointed his gun at Melen’s head. “Whatever he says to you it’s a lie. It’s because of him Glass is dead, and he wants the rest of us dead as well.”
“Anden, not you as well. You would never do this. You hate guns. Shake it off”
Gwyn stood in front of Anden. “I know this man. Us have talked. Melen is no traitor. Put the gun down, Anden.”
Anden faced Gwyn and pulled the trigger, shooting Melen in the leg. Melen fell to the ground beside Baron. Gwyn killed Anden, and Dew shot Gwyn. Ruth ran to the back of the warehouse. Just then, he heard the sound of NSC sirens approaching.
“Deus omna! There’s a door here.”
Dew, the only other man left standing, threw his gun down and ran to where Ruth was holding the door open. They did not notice the indigo glow. They just ran through.
Gwyn crawled over to Melen.
“Are you all right, Ungust?”
“Sorry, Gwyn. He was right, I am NSC.”
“I stood up for you. And you betrayed me. You betrayed us all.” Gwyn killed Melen just as two officers burst through the door, and shot Gwyn.
In the shadows, Sylvester Aden watched. His hand rested on the shoulder of a young lad. “You have potential, Tarrant. There may be a place for you in the Special Resources Unit when you are older.”
“Thank you, sir.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 16.13
Since he arrived at Heritage House, John Barry had watched the community members and listened to their stories. He was worried. This was not what he expected at all. He saw Theo Patient sitting in the lounge, drinking coffee and going through some paperwork.
“Do you have a moment, sir?”
“You’re one of the new refugees, aren’t you?”
“Yes, sir. John Barry.”
“How can I help you?”
“Back in my old church we had a tight congregation. Everyone had a shepherd. Someone to disciple and guide them.”
“As do we.”
“Yes sir, but in my opinion, things are very slack around here. In my congregation, a disciple had to do whatever his shepherd told him. No excuses and no questions asked.”
“Ah. You followed the Cooper City Shepherds teaching?”
“Yes sir. We were a covenant keeping church.”
“So are we. We went down that route a long time ago. The teaching we had in those days was total unquestioning loyalty to leaders, no matter how good or bad they were. Total sacrifice. All hobbies, sport and recreation had to be approved by the shepherd. All relationships, friendships and family connections had to be acceptable to him. A person was expected to attend all meetings, even if they were sick.”
“I really don’t see the problem. I mean, we’re here to build the Kingdom, not play sports or go to movies. We are told to hate the world and everything in it.”
“Yes, but what is that Kingdom built on if not love and grace? Without love, any sacrifice is meaningless. We had to learn what true leadership is about.”
“How do you mean?”
“Jesus taught that leaders should be servants, not tyrants. The Shepherding teaching meant well, but it was flawed. Firstly, it meant that the leaders did not trust their disciples. Instead, they subjected them to rules and regulations. The disciples had to report everything they had done, and get the shepherd’s approval for every decision they made.”
“So? That sounds right to me.”
“What that did was feed the paranoia of both shepherd and disciple. A relationship that should be based on love was based on fear instead. An unhealthy desire to please the shepherd replaced a healthy desire to please God.”
“Some people need a firm hand. Especially if they have real problems in their life.”
“I agree, but obeying rules cannot change anyone. Only The Holy Spirit can do that. Mere obedience to rules and regulations is like binding a festering wound in a bandage without treating the wound itself. It’s why Jesus called the Pharisees ‘whitewashed tombs’. They obeyed all the religious rules, but were spiritually dead inside. We are the Kingdom of God, so only God makes the rules. You cannot have human rules where you have Christ’s grace. They are opposed to each other.
“So, throw out all rules then? Just have chaos, everyone doing what they want?”
“No. Look. You need some rules. You need rules that tell you how you should drive a car safely. Rules for food preparation, personal hygiene. The day-to-day stuff. However, none of these forms any part of the Gospel. Anyone who tries to add to or change the Gospel message is rebelling against God Himself.”
“OK, what’s your second point?”
“The shepherds were human beings. They were just as fallible as their disciples were. Giving them authority over someone else’s life went to the head of some of them. A few misused their authority, even abused their disciples. They judged and condemned others while their own conduct could not be questioned. They did not allow their own faults to be brought to light.”
“What do you do now then?”
“Leaders are expected to be servants, as Jesus taught, and to be examples of holy living. If a person receives grace – love and kindness beyond what they deserve, or feel they deserve – then they want to become the kind of person that does deserve that love. They follow the leader’s example and grow spiritually.”
“That sounds a bit weak.”
“It is weakness. That’s the point. When we are weak, we depend on God’s strength. We encourage, correct, guide and advise them. We do not condemn or criticize. When we discuss an issue with someone, we invite him or her to assess us first. Then we say what we have to, gently, remembering that we are capable of sinning as well. We had many people falling away when we followed the Cooper City Shepherds. Some because they did not really want the Christian life, others because of personal issues with the shepherds or what the shepherd was demanding from them. We still lose people in the first group, but fewer in the second.”
“OK, so what happens if you have a difficult person?”
“We handle things as Jesus taught us. We deal with it, firstly, in private, then with witnesses, then before the church. If the matter is not resolved by then, the guilty party is told to leave.”
“What if someone comes in drunk, for instance?”
“Alcohol is banned in the community houses out of love for people with drinking problems. We don’t forbid it outside. Why should we? Look at how much wine Jesus created at the wedding in Cana. However, if a person is drunk or otherwise unfit to stay in the house, we have a place we call ‘Outside the Camp’. Here at Heritage House it is an old caravan in one of the fields. They are asked to spend the night there until they have sobered up.”
“And this works?”
“It seems to.”
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Johnny Barbour Suite 16.21
Reports of the warehouse battle appeared on Bonnar’s screens. This makes no sense, he thought. The RRK suddenly gets violent after they get everything they want, a bunch of amateurs wipes out an elite strike force? No survivors on either side? He searched on the IDs that Cobra had detected. There were thirty-seven all together. Every one of them came from a Cornishman. Thirty-seven chips and only six RRK bodies found, and no one spotted leaving the warehouse.
“Nestor, connect to Three-Fifteen.”
“Bell, how is your team doing? Found anything new?”
“Si Song has been working on the SHC incident; you should have the report soon. The bottom line? You were right. No one but Sowden was at risk. We’ve got some stuff on the man that attacked Arthur Windsor. He calls himself Sarf.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen Cassie’s report. A loner. A terrorist wannabe trying to get a footnote in the history books.”
“We’ve taken samples from him and his clothing. We should have something for you in an hour or two.”
“Good. I can always rely on you Toddies. Question.”
“I’ve been looking over the preliminary stuff on the warehouse firefight.”
“Yes. I just heard about that.”
“From what I’ve seen, the DOGS armor gave them as much protection as wet cardboard. How can Polypetacetlon body armor be pierced so easily?”
“Polypetacetlon was invented by Sergei Takitov. He also discovered a substance — he called it the Sergei Takitov Agent — that could destabilize Polypetacetlon. It’s expensive and hard to get. Then there is the problem of applying it to the armor. It gives off a vapor that affects the cognitive processes.”
“An inside job then? Someone in the DOGS armory?”
“Possibly. I’ll check who had access.”
“What about these ID traces. How could so many people just disappear?”
“We are examining Cobra’s scanner. It may have been displaying false information. On the other hand, there may have been decoy ID chips. Or else they had some secret escape route that we haven’t found yet.”
“Any word on those Section 11 computer glitches we had?”
“The transponder virus is still going around. The Grunts patrol cars are broadcasting an anti-virus, but it will take some time for the system to be cleaned up.”
“How do you think this was done?”
“I dunno. We’ve got firewalls and protection that make cutting edge stuff look obsolete. It would take some kind of super-genius to do it.”
“Thanks Bell. Nestor, connect to Ten-Thirty-Two.”
“Archer, its Bonnar. I need to discuss some things with you. Can you come to the Johnny Barbour Suite?”
In a few minutes, Archer marched into the room, pulled out a chair and sat glaring defiantly at Bonnar.
“Look, Brian. I know we don’t see eye to eye on a number of matters, but I need to get a few things straight with you. Don’t worry. The recorders are off. This is between you and me.”
“You come from Cornwall, don’t you?”
“That’s no secret, and last I checked, it’s not a crime either.”
“Please, Brian. Just listen. I’m certain that you are working with the RRK. The surveillance systems have been acting up every time we home in on them. You are one of the few people who could do that.”
“OK, supposing it was me. Now what?”
“There’s some kind of conspiracy going on. It involves Sylvester Aden and Anne Spark. Mernans and Beth were here posing as cleaners. They had been given total access to the building. I believe Beth sprayed the DOGS armor with a substance that rendered it useless. Mernans planted a bomb under the auditorium. As to who killed Sawyer, that was either Mernans or Anne Spark.”
“Do you have any proof?”
“No, nothing that would stand up in court. This conspiracy wants to prevent Cornish independence by turning the public against the RRK. They also want to eliminate people they see as threats. Currently, that seems to include Jean, and a man called Joshua King. Holmes says he is part of something called the Wild Olive Shoot Community.”
Brian leaned forward “Truthfully, Bonnar, I’m only interested in freedom for my people. What happens to anyone else won’t make me lose any sleep. Tell me one thing, though. Why did the DOGS attack that warehouse? Who told them where to go?”
“As far as I can tell, it was an anonymous tip.”
“There’s no such thing. I’m going to find out, and when I do, they will pay.”
“Just stay calm, won’t you? I’m tracing the paper trail of the weapons. Once I find out who supplied them, I will be one step closer to proving who is behind all this.”
Archer stormed out.
“Nestor, connect to Six-Eighty.”
“Harry, its David. I need your advice.”
“My dear chap, of course. Fire away. What’s bothering you?”
“These events in London. The trail seems to point to Sylvester Aden and Lord Louis Seaver.”
“My, that’s serious, old chap. How sure are you of your facts?”
“I have enough to be certain, but not enough to make an accusation. Look, Harry, I trust you, and you have authority that I don’t have.”
“True. I’ve worked with Aden in the Inspectorate for more years than I care to say. He’s always seemed a slippery fellow, and I can’t say I haven’t had my suspicions. Look. Leave it with me, David. I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, send me copies of your reports and analysis.”
“I need another favor Harry. Have you heard of Soma-420?”
“Soma-420? Can’t say I have. Sounds like some kind of drug.”
“It’s what’s in those patches they’ve got me on. I need to get information on it, but I haven’t found any leads.”
“I’ll make discrete inquiries for you, old chap. Now, don’t worry. It’s good to hear you’re back in the saddle. Carry on doing your job and I’ll sort out the rest.”
PENDATON: 1st Pendaton Young Citizen Hut 19.13
Bonnar had been waiting near the Young Citizen hut for almost a quarter of an hour. He was feeling conspicuous and self-conscious. At last, he heard the roar of Cassie’s violet Duke Neman 5000 ATI motorcycle. He walked up to where she had parked.
“I don’t even know why we’re here! How did you talk me into this?”
“I just thought you might want to hear that Amy is alright.”
“Amy’s dead, Cassie. Look, I know you can do some incredible things, and I don’t understand where half your powers come from, but ghosts? Spirits? I mean, forgive me, but some things are too much.”
“What about Neville yesterday?”
“His invisible man you mean? OK. I’ll admit it. Lamb is not the kind of person to make these things up, and what happened to him was strange, but a spirit? Next you’ll be saying it was an angel!”
“Why not? It’s as good an explanation as anything.”
Cassie led Bonnar into the meeting room. It smelled of must and incense. Rows of chairs had been set out facing a stage on which were set an armchair, a wooden chair, and a small table with a glass and jug of water on it. The fragrance of incense came from two candles in stands either side of the stage. Gentle recorded harp music completed the atmosphere. Bonnar counted thirty-seven people, they were eating biscuits, drinking coffee, and chatting. One or two sat quietly in their chairs, looking uncomfortable and anxious.
The years of working with Cassie had taught Bonnar that there was more in this universe than could be explained by logic or reason, but he could not bring himself to embrace this spooky stuff completely. He approached this evening with a great deal of skepticism.
After some time, a large African woman strode onto the stage. She was wearing a long green dress with silver decoration. Her hair was short and she had the smile of someone who was always in control. She announced, “I am Esthar Odilnu, Dr. Walter Paisley’s assistant. He will be with us in a few minutes. Can I ask everyone please to take their seats?”
The people sat obediently. Cassie and Bonnar took seats at the back of the room. An elderly man, with receding white hair, appeared in the wings. He was short, had a small mustache, and a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles that were perched on the end of his nose. He looked more like someone’s grandfather than a messenger of the spirits. Esthar quickly went to his side, and guided him to the armchair. Paisley moved slowly, helped by his assistant. He was greeted with applause that he acknowledged as if embarrassed by the attention. Once he was seated, Esthar poured him a glass of water and handed it to him. Paisley took a sip and stood the glass back on the table.
Esthar came to the front of the stage. “This is not a religious meeting. We are here as representatives of the Eric Wise Centre for Spiritualist Science. Dr. Paisley will contact his spirit guide and will then relay his messages to you. I must ask you not to speak or ask questions, unless I indicate that you should. If a message from Dr. Paisley applies to you, please put up your hand and wait for me to come to you.”
Dr. Paisley closed his eyes and started taking deep, slow breaths. Then his eyes sprang open. The voice that people heard was not one of a fragile man, but the deep boom of someone much larger and younger. “Rebbecca! Rebbecca!”
A middle-aged woman lifted her hand nervously. Esthar signaled for her to stand up.
“It’s good to see you here again, Rebbecca. Did you find the painting?”
“Yes, Tommy. It was just where you said it would be. I auctioned it, like you told me and I got 1257 Euros. Thank you.”
“I promised I would look after you, Rebbecca. There is something else you must do.”
“You know of a man with a weak left foot?”
“Nnnnno, I don’t know anyone like – oh, wait. There’s old Mr. Styles from down the road.”
“You must go to him and do whatever he says.”
“I don’t even know him. What is he going to ask me to do?”
“Just do as I tell you, Rebbecca.
“David.” Dr. Paisley’s voice changed, sounding feminine now. Bonnar did not put up his hand.
“David.” Paisley said again. A hand went up on the far side of the hall. Esthar signaled and the man stood up,
“David. You must complete your mission. You must do as they say.”
“Do as who says?” The other David said. “Who are you?”
“Be careful, David.”
“This is rubbish!” He said. “What mission? I sell cars!”
Section 14, Medium-Security Detention 20.17
Shade knocked on Rossi’s door and came in. “Did you pray for my daughter?”
“Some Christian you are. They took her into the hospital today. They say she’ll be lucky to last the night.”
“You don’t have a daughter. That was a lie. But you do have a brother. Why don’t you call him?”
“How did you know that? But he lives in Brazil.”
“So? Call him.”
Shade put on his earphone. “Paul Shade.” He paused, waiting for his call to be connected. “It’s Mark. Is Paul there? – What happened? – How is he now?”
Shade disconnected the call, a look of wide-eyed disbelief on his face. “Two days ago my brother had a heart attack. That’s his fourth. His wife took him to the hospital. They said he was dying, that he needed an operation. Now, suddenly, he’s OK. The doctor’s checked him out. It’s as if he has a new heart. They say it’s impossible.”
“Nothings impossible for God. So, now you know that my faith ain’t some superstition or delusion, but trust in a powerful, loving God, where does that put you?”
“I don’t know, but tell me more.”
Just then, Hesse burst in and saw Shade already there talking to Rossi.
“What’s going on?” Hesse asked.
“Hold on, he was just telling me something.”
“You’re not listening to his Jesus froth, are you?”
“You don’t know what’s just happened. My brother was dying and now he’s healthy.”
“Your brother? Paul? In Brazil?”
“And you think the Yank had something to do with it?”
“Yeah. As a matter of fact, I do.”
“Are you a Jesus lover now, Shade? You’re as sick as he is!”
1ST PENDATON YOUNG CITIZEN HUT: 21.11
The séance had stopped for a mid-session interval. Bonnar sipped his coffee and thought about what he had seen and heard so far that evening.
“Well, David. What did you make of it?”
“I don’t know. It sounds like a con game to me.”
“What about that message to you?”
“What makes you say that?”
“I read minds, remember? You certainly thought about it.”
“Well, it was a bit vague, wasn’t it? It could almost be for anybody.”
Esthar returned to the stage with Dr. Paisley. “Thank you for remaining for the second half of this evening. Dr. Paisley is ready to continue bringing messages from your loved ones who have passed over.”
Dr. Paisley once again closed his eyes and breathed deeply. After a while, he called Esthar over and whispered something to her. Esthar came to the front of the stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen. We apologize for the delay, there is someone here who is blocking the spirits.”
Dr. Paisley pointed to a man seated at the very back of the hall. “You, sir. Would you please leave?”
Bonnar and Cassie turned to see the man as he walked to the exit. They ran after him, catching up just outside.
“Are you Joshua?” Bonnar called.
“Yes. Can I help you?”
“You were at Digbeth Coach Station on Monday?”
“Ah, you must be friends of Jean Folana. How is she?”
“She almost died yesterday.” Cassie said. “She would have done if I hadn’t got to her in time.”
“I prayed and she was healed. She was dying, and then she was healed. I didn’t do anything to harm her.”
Esthar ran out of the meeting and grabbed Joshua’s arm. “What have you done?”
“What do you mean?”
“Walter – Dr. Paisley – cannot contact the spirits. What have you done?”
“Go to the place where I was sitting and bring me the cloth you find there.”
Esthar went back to the hall. Joshua turned to Bonnar. “Look. I know who you are. I haven’t harmed anyone.”
“But you have been transporting illegal immigrants, and I suspect you don’t have an ID chip. We can arrest you for both of those crimes.”
“And yet you haven’t. Why? Why are we talking like reasonable people instead of you hauling me into some NSC detention centre?”
“We will when we’re ready.”
Esthar returned with the cloth. “What’s this about?” She demanded. “What kind of cloth can stop a Spiritualist meeting?”
“It’s an ordinary cloth, with a little ordinary olive oil, and prayer. This was a demonstration, Esthar. The beings you and Paisley deal with have never been human. They want to manipulate and control. Christians have The Holy Spirit. There is nothing more powerful. Through Him, we are able to take authority over these beings. Think, Esthar, if these beings are benevolent, if they mean no harm, why should they be stopped by The Holy Spirit?”
“It’s non-believers that stop meetings. You and your kind have closed minds. You just cannot accept these things. Now go. You are not welcome to our meetings. If I see you again, I’ll have you thrown out.”
As Esthar marched back to the hall, Joshua called out “Bless you, Esthar, and may The Lord grant you enlightenment.”
Bonnar was examining the cloth, feeling and smelling it.
“I assure you,” Joshua said, “that isn’t any kind of magic cloth. It’s perfectly normal. We call them Anointed Handkerchiefs. We can consecrate anything by prayer, and it can pass on blessing, protection, healing, and so on.”
“You’re very open about being religious. It’s a medical fact that belief in any kind of a supreme being is a delusion. A personality disorder of a very serious kind. That’s why we take people like you to the Isle of Wight, where you cannot infect or bother other people. Aren’t you afraid we are going to take you in?”
“You can arrest me if you like. I’m not afraid of that at all. However, I have people that need me, so I would prefer it if you didn’t.”
Joshua smiled and walked away.
Cassie caught him by the arm. “Don’t go yet, Joshua. I have more questions. Like why can’t I read your mind?”
“That’s a Holy Spirit thing. He can protect us from psychic abilities and magic. Sometimes they bounce back.”
“So if I just say, for instance, dutay la somn!” Cassie collapsed on the ground, fast asleep.
“What’s happened to her?” David demanded.
“Just what I said.”
Bonnar gently shook Cassie awake. “What happened?” She asked.
Bonnar smiled; “I think you had a taste of your own medicine.”
A look of realization came across Cassie’s face as she stared at Joshua. “David, you go on home. I need to speak to Joshua in private.”
Bonnar tried to protest, but Cassie assured him she would be OK.
As Bonnar reached his car, he heard laughter. Loud. Joyful. It went on, and on, and on. It was unmistakably Cassie.
THE HOME OF DAVID BONNAR: 22.21
Bonnar peeled off the old Soma-420 patch and opened the box. The last one. Enough until the next evening, and then the withdrawal symptoms would hit. Just as he put the patch on, his earphone rang.
“Good evening Mr. Bonnar.”
“You again? Is this going to be a regular thing?”
“Well, if you do not carry out our instructions with regard to Miss Folana, you will no longer be troubled by my calls or anything else, come to that. Now, to make things easier for you, we have prepared a report on today’s events. It has been submitted on your behalf.”
“What does it say?”
“That the RRK was responsible for the incidents yesterday, that following a tip from Joshua King, the SWAT team raided a warehouse which proved to be a trap.”
“That’s not how I understand it.”
“It is how we wish it understood, and that is sufficient for you. Have a pleasant day tomorrow, Mr. Bonnar. Fail us, and it will be your last.”
© Colin Nelson www.waycyber.com
© WaylandCybersmith 2011