WAYLAND CYBERSMITH (WAYCYBER) STRONGHOLD : EXODUS : - 4) THUNDER, MAY 6
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Thunder: May 6
THE HOME OF DAVID BONNAR: 04.57
Bonnar washed and dressed to the sound of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 17 in D Minor. Then he turned off his radio and turned on the screen for the news.
“The unification talks between the EU and AU, which opened yesterday, were overshadowed by violence. A messenger was murdered, seemingly by Spontaneous Human Combustion. An assassination attempt was made on Arthur Windsor, formerly the Duke of Cornwall, and members of an NSC SWAT team were slaughtered by Cornish extremists, some of whom were also killed. There follows a statement by Lord Louis Seaver, the Home Secretary.”
“Can I start by thanking President D’Azeglio? His co-operation in giving a false announcement concerning Cornwall allowed us time to track down the terrorists. We believe we have dealt with the ringleaders of this cell, but our investigations continue. I would like to assure the British people that this government will continue to defend the country against any and all threats to public order from within and without.”
“The Chinese space agency has reported that their probe, Fuyinyong successfully landed on asteroid Mimanx overnight. The asteroid, predicted to collide with Earth in nineteen years, will be pushed away when the probe detonates its explosive payload. This is expected to happen within the next four hours.”
Bonnar’s earphone began to ring incessantly. He turned the screen sound off and put the earphone on.
“Yes? Bonnar here.”
“David, it’s me.”
“Jean? Why are you phoning me? it’s too dangerous.”
“Cassie didn’t come home last night, and I was worried.”
“The last time I saw her was after this séance thing. She was talking to Joshua.”
“Joshua? What was he doing there?”
“Some kind of demonstration I think. Look, don’t worry. Cassie is more than capable of looking after herself. I expect I’ll see her in the office later.”
Bonnar was troubled. First Jean, then Lamb, now Cassie. All experienced something strange and inexplicable. Joshua was involved somehow in each case. Just who was he? Why is Aden so afraid of him? Joshua can hardly be thought of as dangerous. Jean’s been healed, Lamb wasn’t harmed, and Cassie? That laughter. Bonnar had never heard anything like it. It was the sound of total emotional release.
Bonnar got in his car and fired up the Section 11 feeds. “Give me the location of Ten-Forty-Three.”
A map was projected on Penny’s windscreen. Cassie’s ID chip did not show up. No Judas Boxes, presumably. However, the transponder of her motorcycle revealed it was at a place half way between Tovesderry and Burton Beck. He had just enough time before he had to be at the NSC HQ.
“Penny, identify the location.”
“Heritage House, Granhurst.”
“Transfer location to navigation and engage.”
“Destination confirmed. Heritage House, Granhurst.”
PESWAR GWYNSOW: 05.41
“What just happened?”
“Nu gonvedhas. This don’t look like London to me.”
“Us came through that door just there, did us?”
“That there lock don’t look like it’s been used in years. Look at the rust. How did us do that then?”
“Dunno.” Ruth wandered across a courtyard to the road that lay beyond.
“What time is it, Dew?”
“Then how come the Sun’s rising over there?”
“Do you think someone knocked us out and dumped us here?”
“I don’t feel like I’ve been knocked out. Besides, why would they let us go if they got us?”
“Let’s toz up that road and see where it gets us.”
Ruth grabbed the lapels of Dew’s jacket, spun him around and threw him on the ground. He knelt on Dews chest, pinning him down.
“Morcant. You lost your mind? What’s going on?”
“What’s going on? What’s going on? They’re all dead. That’s what’s going on.”
“Us had no choice. You know that.”
“It was over. Finished with. Then you set on each other. You shot Gwyn.”
“He just killed Jago. You saw that.”
Ruth released Dew and stood up.
“What happened to us, Piran? Where did all that madness come from?”
“I dunno. Us was set up, I do know that.”
Ruth looked up and down the country road.
“I knows where us are. I’ve been down this road hundreds of times. Piran, us are home. Up there is Helland, then Tredethy.”
“Kernow? How did us get here then?”
“Blamed if I know. Let’s walk. Syns dha glapp! I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 06.41
Bonnar parked Penny a short distance from Heritage House. He was nervous. He didn’t know what to expect, but he had to make sure Cassie was all right. He tried to call her for the fourteenth time with as little success as the other attempts. He walked up the tree lined road past the woodland and gardens and up into the courtyard. Sure enough, tucked into the mass of minibuses and other vehicles was Cassie’s motorcycle. He knocked on the door of the house and a short, grey-haired lady answered it. She smiled “Bless you. Come on in. Do you want something to eat and drink? We’re just having breakfast.”
The lady led Bonnar into the dining room. He spotted Cassie immediately. She was talking and laughing with the others at her table. Her eyes sparkled. When she saw Bonnar, she waved him over and the others made a space for him at the table. Bonnar had hardly sat down when someone laid out a place setting for him and poured him a cup of water.
“Cassie, what’s going on? We’ve been worried.”
“A totally gold thing has happened. I’m free!”
“Free? Free of what?”
“My powers. My telepathy, telekinesis, magic. They were demonic and they were messing me up. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thought of killing myself. Well, last night, Joshua fixed it.”
“What did he do?”
“He prayed and I was exorcised and baptized in The Holy Spirit. It’s totally gold! I felt so good I laughed for two hours straight.”
“I know. I heard you.”
“I tell you, David, I’ve never felt so much peace. When The Holy Spirit came, it was like my head was filled with a blue white light. I felt drunk. More than that, I felt that my mind was my own for the first time for as long as I can remember.”
“So, what else have you been doing?”
“Joshua brought me here so I could learn to use my new abilities. When I walked in, I felt I had known these people all my life. Joshua calls it an inner witness. It’s a way that Christians can detect each other, an instinctive bond.”
“So, you’re a Christian now?”
“Yes. I had no choice. If you knew how my life has been, the price I’ve been paying for my powers, you’d understand.”
“What are these new abilities you have?”
“Well, I can speak in tongues ‘Kai kihikokma kaiot sa tios ank kalipotan, mao nka kihatak nia ank iank poktonk anak, aron nka si pisan kinsa nka moto kania tili mawala, kontili makankon hinon ok kinapohi nka walai kataposan.’ I don’t know what it means, but it feels good. Also, I can sort of sense God. Last night I felt as if He was hugging me. Joshua says that, after I’m baptized, God will teach and guide me himself. Cool, huh?”
“It sounds like gibberish to me. Do you really believe all this? It’s kind of sudden.”
“David, when you’ve experienced what I have, accepting spiritual things is easy. It’s realizing that there’s a God that actually loves me and cares for me that I’m coming to terms with.”
“So, what about all the things you used to do?”
“Nothing. I can’t read minds any more, can’t move things, or anything else, and I daren’t try using magic again.”
“She’s a fast learner.”
“I’m sorry, who are you?”
“Singleheart? What sort of a name is that?”
“Oh, that’s my virtue name. It’s because I’m celibate.”
“What, you never...?”
“Well, a few times. When I was a teenager, but not since I found Jesus.”
“He doesn’t allow you to have sex then?”
“It’s a choice. There was a lot of pressure to have sex when I was younger, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for. When I became a Christian, I learned to treat women as sisters. One girl told me about how safe she felt with me. That was such a high compliment, I decided I wanted that kind of relationship, so I became celibate. It simplifies things in many ways.”
“Well, er, OK. It sounds selfish to me. Anyway. Where were we?”
“I was telling you that Cassie’s a fast learner in spiritual things.”
“So it seems. Look. I didn’t understand her abilities before, and I certainly don’t now. What are you going to do, Cassie?”
“Well, if I go to the NSC, they’re going to find out that I don’t have the same abilities. Whoever it is that wants to kill Jean may come after me. I’ll stay here for a while until I can figure something out.”
“OK Cassie, just be wise, will you?”
“Sure. Fine. Whatever.”
“I hate it when you get scowly like that. Stay in touch.”
“David. Don’t worry. I’ll call you. One more thing. Without magic, Jean isn’t protected. You’d better let Neville know. Maybe bring her here.”
“Dew, look where we are.” Ruth indicated a new sign on the outskirts of Ménhýr pointing west.
“Trégrystyon? That’s Windsor’s new village, what all the fuss is about, ain’t it?”
They turned as they heard the roar of an approaching van. It was painted black with a white cross on the hood and sides. It braked noisily and a door slid open. Ruth and Dew were bundled inside, then the van drove away. Ruth looked at the familiar faces of the occupants.
“Dew, this skavelli ng-gow are three of Bligh’s Marracks. The sherming one is Carrow. One of Bligh’s lieutenants. What you up to these days, Carrow?”
Carrow smiled. It was not a pleasant smile.
“Lowarn, the hagar one, he’s always thinking. Always scheming. That’s right, isn’t it Lowarn?”
Carrow did not react. He just sat there, watching.
“The scoggan is Logosen. I’m surprised Bligh still keeps you around.”
Logoson just twitched and smiled nervously.
Carrow leaned forward. “Fancy seeing you here, Morcant. I censured you was in London. Bligh will want a word with you.”
The van sped along for some miles. When it came to a halt, Ruth and Dew were unceremoniously pushed out. Scovarnak, the driver, joined them. Bligh was surveying the village from his usual vantage point.
“Someone to see you, sir.”
Bligh turned around slowly, taking in Ruth and Dew, before returning his attention to the village.
“Myttin da, soas. That there’s Trégrystyon. Arthur Windsor’s building it for the Sawsnek. I says us tear it down. What says you, Ruth?”
An explosion came from the village and a plume of thick, black smoke rose into the sky.
“Yow Kernow rag an Kernewek. Cornwall for the Cornish.”
“Windsor may be Sawsnek, but he’s on our side. He convinced the EU to set us free. Us needs fangings. The time for scruffing is over. The war’s won.”
“You’ve changed your tune. Backalong you would have been first with the ax.”
Three figures, mere specks, in the distance, emerged from the borders of the village.
“Maybe so. Maybe so. Anden made me see things different.”
“How is the old gommuck?”
“Dead. Along with the others. There was a shoot-out with the NSC.”
“My, my. I never would’ve thought it. When was this?”
The figures reached the bottom of the hill and began climbing it.
“That must be what I heard in the news. So, how did you escape? How did you get here?”
“Us don’t know. There was this door, see? At the back of a warehouse. Us went through and next thing us knew us were here.”
“That I find hard to believe. Anden and the others are no great loss. Us needs men of action. Not politicians.”
The three men reached the top of the hill.
“How did it go, Tarow?” Bligh called to the muscular leader of the group.
“All as planned, sir, two Katartizo vans dispatched. Gwylskyn almost spoiled it.”
Gwylskyn was a small, quick man, light with feet and fingers. “There was a bag in one of them. I wanted to know what was in it.”
“Well? What did you find?”
Gwylskyn opened it up. “A couple of cheese and pickle sandwiches, a lump of flapjack, a Bible, and some pamphlets.”
Tarow gave Gwylskyn a punch on the arm that sent him flying. “Next time Gwylskyn, stick to the plan.”
“Yeah, yeah. Stick to the plan Gwylskyn.” Lovennan, the third of the group, laughed with a nervous laugh, his eyes darting to the others for signs of approval. He was always happy to see someone picked on as long as it wasn’t him.
"What’s cracking you up?"
“Is this what the Marracks have come to? Car burning and petty theft? What are these Katartizo vans anyway?”
“Some Sawsnek building company. They’ve been showing up for months.”
“You need to call this off, Bligh. We’ve won. You’d just be harming us.”
“That’s what you say. Us will take this before the Committee. Ruth, you travel with us. Dew goes with Scovarnak. Us needs answers, and you know us will get them.”
TRÉGRYSTYON: Gwaytyans 07.01
When they heard the explosion, Chris Constant and Ivan Enduring ran to the blackened wrecks of their vans.
“Not again, Chris. We’ll have no vehicles left at this rate.”
“Windsor won’t give us any security. He says it will send the wrong message to the locals.”
“When is Stuart down with the others?”
“I’m expecting him this afternoon. They’re going to bring the last few solar panels for the Central Hall.”
“What’s that box by the wall?” The two approached it cautiously. As they opened it, a loud bang and an acrid cloud of gunpowder sent them diving for cover.
When all seemed safe, they went back to the box. Inside was a note: “There are enough bombs hidden in your village to blow it to dust. We can detonate them, whenever we want. You are not welcome here. Get out. If anyone tries moving in, the bombs will be detonated.”
“Anything to say who it’s from?”
“No, but we can guess. I’ve heard that the RRK is getting more militant. Did you hear what they did yesterday?”
“We can’t jump to any conclusions. I’ll make a phone call. There’s someone who can help us.”
NSC HQ: Section 10, Archer’s Room 08.11
Archer hated Christians. When his parents, devout Catholics, discovered that he preferred the company of men, they kicked him out in disgust. No one that he thought of as friends wanted anything to do with him. He went to London, where he put his brilliant mind and his other talents to work. In under a year he made his first million. His inventions, such as the earphone, were used throughout the country. He appeared on magazine covers and chat shows, but his fame and his fortune never made up for the pain and the anger he held inside. He could never prove himself to his parents. In fact, his success only widened the rift.
Then two men from the NSC came to his office. They threatened him with tax bills, lawsuits, and red tape. Archer would be in debt for the rest of his life. He would not be able to run another business, not even a corner shop. The men wanted Archer to work exclusively for them. If he did so, he would have all the resources and equipment he ever needed.
Even Archer’s genius could not see a way out, so they did a deal. Archer became a member of the Special Resources Unit. He wrote the operating system for NESTOR, and designed the Judas Boxes, vehicle transponders and many other things the NSC used. S-Seventeen based a lot of what they did on Archer’s technology. He was trained in martial arts and firearms, and showed amazing skill in both.
Archer was glaring at Bonnar’s report, fury building within him as he read it. He could tolerate the DOGS. There were few people he could say that about. Now they were dead. Anden’s team was his countrymen. They were dead as well. Now, this report from Bonnar said that one man was responsible. Joshua King. A Christian. He decided Joshua must die. Now he knew where to find him.
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Jane Pilgrim Suite 09.37
For a conference that only lasted a few days, much had been accomplished. The preliminary reports on climate change, economic recovery, the new East African oil reserves, and a dozen others were assembled in piles in front of Presidents D’Azeglio and Rolihlahla. They were studying the reports closely, taking sips from their coffees and making notes.
Rolihlahla removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. It was not ten o’clock yet, and he was already struggling to concentrate on all this information. There was a knock on the door.
“Come in.” Called D’Azeglio.
Anne Spark entered. “Excuse me, President D’Azeglio; I have an urgent matter to discuss with you.”
“That sounds like an opportunity for a break, Luigi.”
“Why not? Meet again in fifteen minutes? Now, Miss—?”
“Spark. Anne Spark. I’m part of the UK delegation.”
“How can I help you?”
“My superiors would like you to retract your statement concerning the independence of Cornwall.”
“That’s quite impossible. It isn’t my decision, anyway. That was made by the five committees of delegates selected from across the Union. It has been properly debated and voted on. The UK’s views on the matter were duly noted, but dismissed. Your superiors are too late.”
“That is a tragedy. For you, anyway. Can I do anything to make you reconsider? Something like this, perhaps?”
Flames erupted from a waste bin.
D’Azeglio almost fell off his chair in shock.
“Calm down, Mr. President.” The fire vanished. “You have nothing to fear from me, provided you do as you’re told.” D’Azeglio examined the bin. It was unharmed, but was totally empty. There was not even the smallest particle of ash in it.
“Your threats come too late.” D’Azeglio struggled not to let fear sound in his voice. “Even if you killed me, you cannot undo what has been done. We are an open government. There are minutes, committee reports, and a complete document trail. All published on the Internet”
“You could say they were faked to support your announcement.”
“And what about the delegates on the committees? What about the people who saw the documents before my announcement? What will you do? Kill them all? Miss Spark. Accept it. You are too late. Nothing can be done. I can guess you were the one that killed the messenger, but you do not frighten me.”
“That perspiration on your forehead calls you a liar.”
“What would my death solve? What will your government say to the public? How will you explain that someone in your protection was killed after you announced the extermination of the supposed terrorist cell responsible?”
D’Azeglio’s body went rigid and began shaking as jolts of electricity shot through him.
“Fire isn’t my only toy. When the next person comes through that door, you will appear to have had a heart attack.”
D’Azeglio collapsed on his desk, clutching his chest and breathing heavily.
“If you refuse me again, I will not be so merciful.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 09.53
Archer parked his blue sports car about half a mile from Heritage House. Normally, he would have no problems seeing the house at that distance, but his view was obstructed by trees and bushes. To get there, Archer would have to cross a field of waist-high oil seed rape.
“Nano, Limpar um caminho.”
The car appeared to evaporate. It was replaced by what looked like a small blue tornado that went ahead of Archer, carving a path through the vegetation. In minutes, he arrived at a fence.
“Nano, míssil lançador.”
The cloud coalesced into an apparently hand crafted extended pistol. It was as compact as a handgun but with the range of a rifle. Its bullets were more like miniature cruise missiles. Once locked on, they negotiated all obstacles until they reached their target.
Archer swung himself over the fence and into what had once been an apple orchard. Quietly, he climbed the hill, passed a brick wall, and crept through a patch of woodland. At the edge of the woods was a mass of densely packed vehicles.
He could hear chatter and laughter from up ahead. How happy they sounded. Thought Brian. Self- righteous, deluded hypocrites! What did they have to be happy about? Calling some God their father! If God was anything like his own father, Archer did not want to know.
As Archer crouched between two minibuses, he saw Joshua coming out of the main house. Cassie was with him. He would deal with her later. Archer settled himself down, aimed, and fired.
People between Archer and Joshua heard what sounded like an insect zip past them. The bullet found its way to Joshua and penetrated his side. Joshua collapsed into Cassie’s arms. She lowered him, gently, to the ground. All around, people cried and screamed. Some even fainted. Kulvir Kindheart knelt by Joshua’s still body.
Archer ran up to Cassie, grabbed her arm and tried to pull her away from Joshua. “What are you doing here, witch?”
“Learning from Joshua and the others.”
“What can this bunch of maggots teach you?”
Kulvir placed his hand on Joshua’s chest and said “In Jesus’ Name, return.”
To Archer’s horror, and Cassie’s delight, Joshua sat up and looked around. He saw Archer, still holding the gun, looked into his face and said. “I forgive you.”
“To hell with your forgiveness! To hell with you all. If I could, I’d slaughter every one of you bastards.”
“Why so much hate?”
“You Christians. Hypocrites! You preach about love, but you condemn everyone that’s different to you. What makes you think you’re better than everyone else? Nano, inundação maré!”
The gun dissolved into a pool of blue spiders. The pool began to spread.
“Yes. A lot of wrong has been done in the name of Christianity, but some of us are trying to do it right.”
“Liar! You’re no different to anyone else. When Nano takes you apart, there will be nothing left. Not even enough to check your DNA.”
Nano had covered Kulvir and Joshua. Others around tried to run away, but they could not escape. As Nano covered their skin, they were frozen in place, unable even to scream. Then Cassie saw them on herself.
“Brian. What are you doing? Stop!”
“What’s up, witch? Afraid to die? Haven’t they told you? They’re going to live forever!”
Joshua, now completely blue, stood up. All around him, people were standing like blue statues. Joshua found he could still speak. “Brian. The first and last command of God is to love. Even those that call us enemy. Stop this and let’s talk. These people have not done you any harm, they don’t deserve this.”
“If your God is such a loving god, why does He hate gays like me?”
“Liar! My parents were good Christians. They went to Mass three times a week. They read their Bible every day and prayed three times a day. Oh, I was brought up a good little Catholic, but when my parents found out that I was gay, they kicked me out onto the street. They turned their back on me. Me! Their son! God hates gays.”
“He doesn’t. God hates sin, not people.”
The blue had reached inside Heritage House, and even to the Marquee Field. Everyone was covered by Nano.
“Brian. I’m gay.”
“You? Joshua? Head of this self-righteous community? Gay? What will they think now?”
“They know. They have always known. Kulvir here is gay as well.”
“Next you’ll be saying you’re whole community is gay.”
“No, only about fifty or so.”
“So are you and Kulvir partners?”
“No, we’re celibate.”
“Do you get straightened out here then?”
“What do you mean?”
“Straightened out. Cured.”
Joshua laughed. “We are what God made us. God can make us straight if He chooses, but everyone is a different. We all have strengths and weaknesses, abilities and disabilities. No one is better or worse than anyone else. It’s what you do with what you’re given that matters. Kulvir and I are gay, but celibate. Our platonic relationships are far deeper than anything sexual.”
“Did you or did you not tell the NSC where the RRK was?”
“RRK? You mean Jago Anden and the others? Jago is a friend of ours. We would never betray him. He has helped find a place where we can live in peace.”
“So you aren’t responsible for his death?”
“Jago’s dead? How did that happen?”
“Some bastard set them up. Along with the NSC SWAT team. They killed each other.”
“I’m sorry. Please believe me. We had nothing to do with that.”
“I’ve seen a report by one of my colleagues. He might be an idiot, but he’s no liar, and he says you did it, Joshua. You killed my friends.”
“Then your colleague is mistaken. We have no reason to want anyone killed. Certainly not Jago.”
For a moment, all was still as Archer took in everything he heard. He could not keep the fury burning. Every reason he had to hate these people was gone. How did he get it all so wrong?
“Nano, caneta tinteiro.”
Blue melted off the people. There were sighs throughout the grounds as the tension broke. The threat had passed. Nano flowed to Archer’s feet where they evaporated in a fine smoke until all that was left was a blue fountain pen. As Archer’s anger left him, he felt his composure going. Archer collapsed in tears. Cassie put an arm around him as years of anger and hatred poured out.
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Ella Spriggs Room 10.49
D’Azeglio was in a makeshift bay set up by Section 20. He was wired to a monitor and his personal medical team were attending to him. Bonnar pulled aside the curtain.
“Ah, Mr. Bonnar. Thank you for coming so promptly.”
“What happened, sir?”
“They tell me I had a heart attack.”
“But you know different?”
“Who am I to argue with my doctors? I’ll be all right. They’re just making sure. What have your investigations uncovered?”
“We are being fed a story, sir. This is a concerted effort to derail Cornish independence.”
“Do you have any idea who the instigators are?”
“I have some names, but nothing I am confident in disclosing at this point.”
“Can I trust you, Mr. Bonnar?”
“Where are your loyalties?”
“I don’t understand, sir.”
“You work for the premier UK intelligence agency. What if you’re investigations pointed to the guilt of a prominent government official?”
“I work for the British people, sir, not the government. The House of Justice is separate from the Houses of Parliament. My job is simply to provide information.”
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“I simply gather the facts and make deductions. My findings are passed on to another group. What they do with them is their concern.”
“So, you can wash your hands of it and walk away. What if your seniors don’t like your findings? What safeguards are there that justice will be served?”
“There are oversight committees and boards of inquiry for that.”
“Ah. Of course. The committee. Surely, an English invention. In that case, there is nothing to fear. Justice will surely be done. The committee will see to that!”
“Do you have information that you can give me?”
“Do I have information? Yes. Can I give it to you? No. I doubt you would believe it anyway. Be careful, Mr. Bonnar. Your enemy is closer than you may think.”
“I am aware of that, sir.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 11.51
Joshua looked around the room at his fellow apostolic leaders. He was smiling, but it was tinged with sadness.
“I have had the best life. If I planned it all myself, it could not have been better. The community has been my family all my life, and you have been my closest friends. Casey, you have been like a second father to me. You’re wisdom and guidance has helped me steer this community. Jed. You have been more than a brother to me. My greatest encourager and my greatest critic. You helped me keep my feet on the ground.”
“Joshua, why are you speaking in the past? You were killed, but you’re back with us now. We should be rejoicing.”
“When I died, I was told I will not be going with you to Cornwall. I have no regrets, other than that I will not be a part of this great new adventure. This is my farewell to you all.
“Kulvir, it was your generosity that has made it possible for us to build our own community village. When you became a Christian, you embraced all of Christ’s teachings with enthusiasm. You sold your business and then gave the money to us to build the village.
“Well, Jesus told the rich man he had to sell everything. I was rich, so I did.”
“Stuart’s vision for the village has not only given us hope, but will give hope to many more people. Perhaps hundreds. Perhaps even thousands.
“It has been a privilege to be your leader all these years. I still do not fully understand why I was chosen.”
“We had prophecy and words of knowledge for years. Way back to Christopher Stoneham. They clearly pointed to you.”
“I didn’t start out too well, though, Yarin, did I?”
“You mean the goats?”
There was laughter all around the room. When Joshua took over, he had the idea that all the households should have a goat to take care of the lawns, which took a lot of time to keep trimmed. He found a farmer that was willing to sell three Nubian goats, then the proper transport had to be arranged, the goats were taken to Heritage House and put out on the lawn. One goat chewed through its rope and made a bolt for the main road, where it was knocked over and killed by an articulated lorry. Another became sick and died within a month. The surviving goat cost so much in vet bills that it was not worth keeping, and it was released in nearby woodland.
After a while, Joshua spoke again. “This is a whole new future. This country has changed. It looks like the enemy is winning, but this community remains. You lead it into this new life. Build an embassy of Heaven. Show the world what we mean when we say, ‘Love all, forgive all, show mercy, judge no-one.’ We are called to be The Body of Christ. That is your goal, your destiny. Many have attempted this before us, but this is our time. May God protect, guide and strengthen you all.
“I will die soon, for good this time. I cannot say how I will feel, but I know where I am going, and there is no need to mourn that. I regret having to leave you all at this time, but I know it is something that has to happen if all we have worked for is to become reality.
“We have tried to build The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, to live by the principles taught by Jesus Christ and His disciples. We have made many mistakes, but we have achieved much. We have brought the Gospel to the poor and outcast, and developed a culture that challenges the materialism and consumerism of the world.
“Thank you all for your love and support, for your commitment and sacrifice to this community.
“Jed, you will take my place as the main leader. Trust your brother apostolic leaders and you will steer a straight course.
“Right now, I want to share Communion with you all. It may be the last chance I have.”
A slice of bread and a cup of blackcurrant juice was brought in and placed in front of Joshua. He broke the bread. “We come from all over the world, all colors, races, nations, classes. Some of us were rich, some homeless. Some of us have been drug users, alcoholics, gamblers, thieves, and murderers. Others have lived, in worldly terms, an innocent life. Nevertheless, Christ has joined us together in Brotherhood.
“Though we are many, we are one, because we all share in the one loaf.” Joshua pulled off a chunk of bread and ate it. He shook Jed’s hand and said “Covenant.”
Then Joshua passed the bread to Jed, who pulled off a piece for himself. This was repeated all around the table.
When the bread reached Joshua again, he raised the glass. “No man can please God by his own efforts. All of us fall short of the perfection of Jesus Christ. Yet He gives a share of His Righteousness, His Holiness, to all that claim the forgiveness that He won for all mankind on the Cross, He gives us a share of His power by giving us The Holy Spirit, cutting us off from the power and penalty of sin and turning aside from us God’s Holy Anger.”
He took a sip from the cup and passed it to Jed whispering “The Blood of The Lamb.”
“Amen.” Said Jed, and did the same with the next person.
THE HOME OF CASSIE ANDERS: 12.17
Neville Lamb parked outside Cassie Anders house. Within moments, Jean Folana ran out and jumped into the passenger seat. Lamb hardly glanced at her as he drove off. After he had taken a few turnings, he relaxed a little.
“Is it over, Neville?”
“No, Mpenzi, but Cassie has somewhere where we can be safe.”
“We? No-one’s after you are they?”
“Only a matter of time.”
“How long do you think we’ll be safe for? We’re talking about the NSC.”
During the rest of the journey, neither one spoke to the other. Lamb’s satellite navigation announced each turn as they left North Tibworth and drove down narrow country roads. Lamb parked near Heritage House and the two walked up the avenue to the main building. At the top of the avenue, Cassie and Archer were waiting.
“Hey, Archer, what are you doing here?”
“I dunno, Lamb. Feeling a bit lost at the moment. Seems this is the place to be until I can sort things out.”
Lamb shot a glance at Cassie, who responded with a slight smile, a shrug, and a shake of her head. Both Cassie and Archer appeared to be behaving strangely to Lamb. Cassie seemed more peaceful, and Archer’s fire seemed to have gone out. The four went into the house and Cassie introduced the newcomers to some of the community residents. “This is Paul Martin from New York.”
“We’ve met.” Jean said.
A look of realization crossed Martin’s face. “Oh. It’s you. What happened to Mario Rossi, the man you impersonated?”
“I don’t know. Last I heard he was in the detention area at NSC HQ.”
“Is he OK?”
“I don’t know. They aren’t known for their gentleness there.”
“I saw him yesterday.” Cassie said. “He looked OK to me, a bit bruised, but otherwise fine.”
“Can you guys get him out of there?”
Cassie pressed her earphone “Section 14. It’s Cassie Anders. I interviewed a prisoner yesterday, a yank called Mario Rossi. I need to ask a few more questions. Could you schedule a time for me for tomorrow? Thanks.” She turned her earphone off. “Mario is due to go the Isle of Wight. I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.”
NSC HQ: Section 10, Team Room 12.49
“Mr. Bonnar. You do look surprised. Is something the matter?”
“A moment ago I was walking into my office at the conference centre. How did I end up here, sir?”
Sylvester Aden indicated Janus LaPorte, sitting at the table, reading a newspaper. The headline announced that Tim Murray had retained the Wimbledon championship for the fourth time. That wouldn’t be for another month.
“The good doctor was kind enough to transport you here. Considering the circumstances, I think we should talk. I feel we have been rather harsh with you of late. You must realize that there are some matters of state too important to leave to chance. Your – unique – ability to see both the wood and the trees had to be focused on the tasks in hand. However, I am prepared to be lenient. I have an offer, if you would care to consider it. What would you say if I told you we can reunite you with your wife?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Dr. LaPorte, like you, has skills which we at the NSC have harnessed. The doctor can open gateways in space and time.”
Bonnar looked through the doorway of the doctor’s room. He was looking into his own kitchen from the living room. Amy was preparing lunch, with Benji curled up at her feet. He could hear her singing and smell her perfume.
“This is not a trick or an illusion, I assure you, Mr. Bonnar. Walk through that door and you will be with your living, breathing wife.”
“But I’m already there. Won’t this mess up the past? Temporal paradoxes and so on?”
“They haven’t stopped us so far. Once you walk through that door, the David Bonnar of that time will simply cease to exist. You will be free to live out your life in the company of your beautiful wife.”
“What’s the price?”
“One small task. When you are there, kill Joshua King.”
“Say I go back there. What’s to stop me from leaving the NSC and going abroad with Amy somewhere away from all this?”
“Oh, you will still need Soma-420. That will not change. Moreover, we control the only source. Think about it, Mr. Bonnar.”
“I have done, sir. There is no guarantee going back will solve anything. Sorry, sir, I can’t do it.”
“Very well, Mr. Bonnar. We will let matters take their course. You are a foolish man. I have offered you the desires of your heart, and you have refused me. Doctor, send him back, if you would be so kind.” Aden walked out of the team room, hands clasped behind his back.
Bonnar waited for a few minutes, and then sat opposite LaPorte.
“Janus, we’ve never talked.”
“Yes we have.”
“No, never – really – talked. I mean, I thought I had worked out what your – specialty – was, but it didn’t occur to me it was anything on this scale.”
“Yes, I have to admit I am.”
LaPorte folded up his newspaper and walked towards his room. The indigo glow had faded and Bonnar saw a circular console with a central crystalline tower in the middle of the room.
“Just a minute, Janus. I need to ask you something.”
LaPorte sighed loudly and returned to his seat. It put Bonnar in mind of a petulant teenager rather than the thirty-or-so years old LaPorte seemed to be.
“What are you trying to do, Janus?”
“Well, who do you really serve?”
“I’m just trying to get back home.”
“Where is that?”
“That’s the wrong type of question. Look. I know how this all turns out and, contrary to what our friend Aden says; I try to make sure that nothing is disturbed in the time-line. If you had gone through that door when he said, you – the you, you – would cease to exist. Aden wouldn’t be able to tell. Temporal divergence, you understand. Damn’d inconvenient if you want to change history.”
“So, you send people through time and space?”
“I open little doorways for people. Nothing major. Just to make sure that all goes as planned.”
“And whose plan are you talking about?”
“That would be telling. I am not your enemy.”
“So, what happens next?”
“Oh, I can’t tell you that. You will have to find out for yourself. I will tell you not to give up hope.”
“Hope of what?”
“Just – hope. Don’t give up on it. You’ll see. Now, if you walk back into your room, I shall return you to the conference centre.”
TRURO: Kenwyn Hall 13.21
Kenwyn Hall had been in the Kenwyn and Allen families for generations. It was an Elizabethan manor house on the outskirts of Truro, off Knights Hill. Its imposing Dutch style facade looked over an ornate landscape garden. A wide driveway covered with white gravel led from the main road to the house and circled it like a moat.
The MPVs carrying Ruth and Dew parked up outside the manor house alongside many other vehicles. Ruth and Dew were made to join the stream of people that led into the Great Chamber – a huge room with a high barrel ceiling. On the oak paneled walls were portraits from Kernewek history. First came the saints – Piran with Petroc and Michael. They were followed by Edward the Black Prince, Thomas Flamank, Richard Trevithick, Helena Charles, Dr. James Whetter and Desmond Tregenna. Draped proudly at the back of the hall was a flag bearing St Piran’s Cross. A white cross on a black background.
Around three sides of the hall, oak tables were arranged. Bligh and the other members of the committee sat behind them, with Bligh at the centre. Ruth and Dew were made to stand in the middle of the assembly.
Bligh stood up. “Morcant Ruth. You are charged with treason against Kernow. Firstly, in that you reneged on oaths made to the RRK. Secondly, that you are responsible for the deaths of duly elected elders of the RRK, namely Jago Anden, Pasco Gill, Medrod Glass, Aedan Gwyn, Ungust Melen and Jowan Whear. Thirdly, that you sought to interfere with the just activities of the Marracks in defense of Kernewek territory.”
“Hold on. This is a trial? You’re putting me on trial? I’m loyal to Kernow. I always have been and always will be. I just don’t think violence is the way to get what us want anymore.”
“On the first charge, of reneging oaths made to the RRK. How do you plead?”
“Since when did the Marracks speak for the RRK? When I was elected, I stood for everything the RRK stood for at the time. I still do.”
“Yet when us called on you to take part in a duly authorized mission last month, you refused. Against your oath.”
“To blow up a bridge? Of course I refused. That would harm us more than the Sawsnek. That’s not what us were about.”
“What us were about was a talking shop. All gab and no action. You confess that you refused the order. Us will record that as a plea of guilty. Second charge, that you were responsible for the deaths of duly elected elders of Kernow. How do you plead?”
“I had nothing to do with that. Who told you otherwise?”
Piran Dew backed away. “I’m sorry, Morcant. They had to know the truth. They had to know what you did.”
TRÉGRYSTYON: Dader Central Hall 14.39
Five Katartizo vans drove along the spiral road into Trégrystyon. Arthur Windsor and Rafiq Ready were there to meet Stuart Faithful as he climbed out of the first van.
“Well, Arthur. So, this is our village is it?”
“I can’t believe this is your first visit, Stuart. Want the guided tour?”
“I wouldn’t mind checking one of the community houses. It will be good to see how the designs work out. The guys will get started on the Central Hall solar panels.”
Arthur took Stuart to one of the houses in Dader. The outer walls were of dark colored cob in which were mounted LED panels. The roof sloped southwards. It was covered with solar thermal panels and domed Fresnel lenses. There were channels in the roof arranged to direct rainwater into a narrow canal that ran along the south side of the house. A road ran along the north side. In the middle of the north wall was the main door. Once inside, Arthur directed Stuart to the tubing that ran along the underside of the roof to collect any unused heat. The floor was designed to be open-plan. A screen was mounted in one wall. Along the other were basic facilities – a multi-cooker, a small fridge, a sink, and an instant boiling water dispenser, plus cupboards.
Running east to west down the centre of the floor was a ramp that led underground. It was wide enough and shallow enough to allow wheelchairs and furniture to be moved between floors with ease. The walls on either side of the ramp were covered with LED panels, and light tubes descended from the Fresnel lenses in the roof to provide illumination.
At the bottom of the ramp were two doors, one to the north and one to the south. These opened into corridors off of which were a number of rooms. The first was a bathroom. Then were six bedrooms, followed by another bathroom. Each room had LED panels and globes that shone with light from the light tubes. The bedrooms had four beds in each, a small storage area, and a screen (much smaller than the main one).
Everything that Stuart had envisioned was in place. The houses had Ground Coupled Heat Exchangers. All the buildings were connected to a District Heat System that took heat from the industrial and domestic areas and distributed or stored it as needed. There were two water supplies, potable and non-potable, so that no energy was wasted purifying water that would never be used in food or drink.
“It is amazing, Arthur. A few years ago, all of this was a kind of fantasy idea I had. I never thought I would see it for real.”
“Well, you are now. I’ll show you the industrial areas next.”
“What do you think of our centralization strategy?”
“You mean the central kitchen, laundry, clothing store, and so on?”
“Well, I can see it is more economical than having them in each of the houses, but I think people might have problems with adjusting to it.”
“Why don’t you stay with us for a while? Find out for yourself.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 16.37
“Well, well, well, Cassie. The gang’s all here.”
“Almost, Brian. With Hannah gone, and who knows what LaPorte gets up to, there’s only David left.”
“So, here’s the four of us, all hiding from the NSC. You realize what this means?”
“Your premonition. None of us can go back. Joshua has destroyed the Freaks.”
“I suppose you’re right. I never thought it would be like this, though.”
“So, what are we going to do?”
“There’s no rush. We can take our time and see how things go.”
“What? Stay here with these people?”
“Well, I think this is the safest place we can be for now.”
KENWYN HALL: 18.01
Ruth was in a back room sitting in an old wooden chair, his elbows pressed into his legs as he held his head in his hands. Bligh stood against a desk, arms folded, looking down at him. Carrow stood by the door. The past few hours had been humiliating and frustrating. Ruth pulled himself together, taking a deep breath through his nose and exhaling it noisily through his mouth.
“OK, Bligh. What is it you want?”
“The truth. That’s all.”
“Well, you didn’t get it from Dew. He killed at least four of the NSC.”
“Why didn’t you leave him there? According to you, more NSC agents were coming when you got out. You could’ve got away and left him to get killed or arrested.”
“I dunno. I felt bad enough with the others dead. I thought at least I’ve saved one person.”
“The warehouse was a trap, I can see that, but who would do it? I can’t see the NSC getting their best fighters killed. Where did all those weapons come from anyway? Just how did you get from London to Kernow? I’ve got a lot of questions and you’ve got no answers that make any sense.”
“They don’t make any sense to me either.”
“If what you say is true, then Dew is a dangerous man.”
“Just right for the Marracks then?”
“There’s no place here for people I can’t trust.”
“So, you believe me?”
“Carrow has had a chat with Dew, and you know what he’s like.”
“The Human Polygraph you mean?”
“What do you think, Carrow?”
“That man would sell out his whole family if it got him off the hook. Dew is a liar and a murderer. Ruth at least believes what he says is the truth.”
“So, what now?”
“Us’ll take care of Dew, then us’ll talk about Trégrystyon.”
“What are you going to do to Dew?”
“Best you don’t know.”
THE HOME OF DAVID BONNAR: 20.11
“Harry. It’s David.”
“Good to hear you, old chap.”
“Harry, I’m not going to be able to do anything about Aden and Seaver. Have you got any ideas?”
“Can’t this wait until tomorrow? Bit of a shindig going on here.”
“OK, but if you don’t hear from me, the ball’s in your court.”
“Are you not well or something? All right, old chap. Call me when you’re feeling better.”
Bonnar sat at the dining table. He had placed a candlestick in the middle. The candle illuminated the room with a warm, dancing light. Opposite him, Bonnar placed a picture of Amy and a wine glass. The picture was one he had taken of Amy before they got married. The glow in her face made the picture seem almost alive. Arrayed on the table was Amy’s favorite food. Indian. There was Lamb Panir, Chicken Makhani, Bindhi Bhaji, Pulao Rice and a Peshwari Naan. Bonnar smiled as he thought back. He had never eaten Indian food before he met Amy. Now he loved it, because of her. Hah! He thought. The condemned man ate a hearty meal!
Bonnar filled the two wine glasses with Château Neuf du Pape then he raised his glass to the picture.
“Well, Amy, it looks like I’ll be joining you tonight. So here’s to us.” He savored a sip of wine, and then began on the meal.
HERITAGE HOUSE: 21.53
Una ran through Heritage House shouting “John! Anne! Where are you?” When she found them, she wrapped her arms around them both. They were startled for a moment, but returned the hug.
“What’s up? You look like you seen a ghost.”
“I just had a vision.”
“What did you see?”
“It was a man with a hole where his heart should be. He’s all black, like a shadow. He’s untangling a ball of string, but it tightens around his neck. Then he dies. I haven’t had anything like it before. It frightened me.”
They found Jed and told him about the vision. He closed his eyes in prayer.
“Thank you for telling me, Una. I think I know what it means. Leave it with me.”
Jed heard squeals of delight from the lounge. He opened the door and saw that some of the children had introduced Cassie and Archer to the game of Kuaka, and Archer had made the tower collapse yet again. The look of mock disgust on his face made the children laugh even more.
“Ah, good, Cassie. I’ve found you. Do you have a friend who has had a great loss? Perhaps someone who’s obsessive about puzzles?”
“That sounds like David. His wife died some weeks back. He analyses everything. That’s his job, really.”
“Unless we can stop it, he will die tonight.”
“How do you know this?”
“A word of knowledge. It’s a Holy Spirit gift. God gives us insights into things He wants us to deal with.”
“Well, your word of knowledge sounded like something I might hear at a séance.”
“It comes from a different spirit. Holy Spirit gifts bring release, guidance and healing. The kinds you hear at séances bring oppression, control and bondage.”
“We’d better find David and make sure he’s OK.”
“You need to see Joshua first. He can help.”
THE HOME OF DAVID BONNAR: 22.39
Bonnar wanted to see the news for his last night on earth. He sat in his recliner watching his screen.
“And finally. Astronomers have confirmed the Chinese space probe Fúyïnyòng has successfully detonated on the surface of the asteroid Mimanx. The asteroid’s new orbit will bring it closer to Earth than previously calculated. It will reach its nearest point in the first week of August. Scientists say that it will miss Earth but will be visible to the naked eye.”
Bonnar peeled off the Soma-420 patch. He checked the box once more. Nothing. With the cold rationalism that he retained from the drug, he contemplated whether he should try to go through the withdrawal process or take his own life. He sat in his recliner chair, a bottle of whiskey and a full container of sedatives by his side. He would fight until he could fight no longer, then he would end it. Bonnar switched over to watch videos of Amy and Benji. He wanted her to be the last thing he saw on Earth.
Time seemed to go so slowly. What seemed like hours were only a few minutes. Bonnar tried to stay awake, but he couldn’t. It was as if a great abyss of sleep was opening up to swallow him. His eyes felt hot and red. He closed them and felt waves of something indescribable dragging him down into unconsciousness.
THE HOME OF LORD LOUIS SEAVER: 22.43
Lord Seaver’s house was full of noise. Trays of drinks were circulating and lively conversations were going on in every available part of the house.
“What are you checking your watch for, Aden?”
“Ah. My lord. Just thinking that our friend, Bonnar, is about to leave this mortal coil in a most hideous way.”
“Indeed. Wouldn’t it have been better just to have shot him or something?”
“That would create too much suspicion. Too many questions. No, this way is best. They will conclude that he was once again gripped by a black depression and ended his miserable life by his own hand.”
“Neat and tidy?”
“Neat and tidy.”
“What about the other matters?”
“It seems that an outbreak of influenza is sweeping through the Isle of Wight. Casualties will be quite high I understand.”
“Really? When did this happen?”
“Tomorrow. We simply infect the Christians we are holding in detention, and introduce them to the general populous of the Isle of Wight.”
“Ah-ha. So, all goes well?”
“The die has been cast and, however it falls, we win.”
THE HOME OF DAVID BONNAR: 23.39
Bonnar woke up in a panic as the first cramps struck. He skin was clammy. He felt hot and cold at the same time. His heart beat so hard that he thought it would break out of his chest. With shaking hands, he fumbled at the bottle of sedatives, sending a shower of tablets across the carpet. He lifted the bottle to his mouth.
There was a banging at the edge of his consciousness, almost drowned out by his heart. The door exploded inwards, collapsing like paper before Lamb’s mighty shoulder. Lamb launched himself at Bonnar, knocking the bottle out of his hand. Then he manhandled Bonnar out of the house and into the back of his HARRIER where Cassie and Joshua were waiting. Bonnar felt the coolness and smelled the fragrance of olive oil as it was poured onto his forehead. Then he collapsed back into unconsciousness. As Lamb drove off, Archer watched from the driveway. The roar of the HARRIER quickly faded and all was silent. Archer walked across the gravel drive to Penny.
“Good evening, Brian. Please give the password for voice confirmation.”
“Identity confirmed. Ready to accept commands.”
Minutes later, Penny caught up with the HARRIER and the two vehicles sped off into the night.
© Colin Nelson www.waycyber.com
© WaylandCybersmith 2011