WAYLAND CYBERSMITH (WAYCYBER) STRONGHOLD : EXODUS : - 5) BEAUTY, MAY 7
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Beauty: May 7
HERITAGE HOUSE: 05.47
There was a knock on Bonnar’s door. Joshua came in and sat by David’s bed. “How are you feeling?”
“Great. The withdrawal symptoms are all gone.”
“I’m glad to hear it.”
“Joshua, things have been a bit wild lately. Do you mind if I ask you some questions? About this place?”
“Of course not.”
“Jean and Cassie are totally transformed; I didn’t even expect to be alive today. Then there’s Neville’s strange encounter. How much is in our heads? How much of this is real?”
Joshua smiled. “You already know the answer, don’t you? You’re just not ready to accept it.”
“Well, it’s not hypnosis or brain-washing.”
Joshua laughed. “I’m amazed at the things people come up with. It’s the power of The Holy Spirit.”
“So, what now? Am I free to go?”
“Of course, if you want to. You’re our guest, not a prisoner. You can stay with us as long as you wish, but we’re getting ready for a long journey tomorrow.”
“A spacecraft’s taking you to Mars or something like that?”
Joshua laughed again. “Not Mars. Just Cornwall. We have our own transport. Before I take you to the others, can I ask you a question?”
“Tell me about Amy.”
“Yes. Tell me about her.”
“The others have been talking, haven’t they? Well, we loved each other, we got married. I screwed up, and got her killed.”
David felt like his heart was in a vice. He felt as if he was about to cry but fought it back.
“I thought I was beginning to cope, but it was the patches, wasn’t it? Damn those patches, and damn you, Joshua. Damn the patches for making me forget her, and damn you for making me remember!”
“I can help you, David. I would like to baptize you in The Holy Spirit.”
“Is that what you did to the others? Then it is brainwashing!”
“No. Cassie has been baptized, Jean has been healed, and Brian has been released.”
“Brian? Archer’s here?”
“Downstairs, waiting for you. Can I baptize you?”
“What does it involve?”
“I just lay my hands on your head and pray.”
“Is that all? What happens then?”
“Oh, that’s different for every person. You gain a connection with God. He can speak directly to your heart, guide you, heal you, and he can work through you in power.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll think about it first.”
“As you wish. If you are rested enough, your friends are downstairs waiting to see you.”
A few minutes later, Bonnar was led into an office. Cassie, Jean, Lamb, and Archer were having a lively discussion. They stopped as Bonnar entered the room.
Archer stood up. “Bonnar. We have matters to discuss.”
“Yes. Like what you’re doing here for a start. We all have decisions to make. Jean?”
“You told us yourself, someone at NSC wants me dead now that I’m not of any use to them. I’ve been told I can stay with the community if I want to. I think I will, at least for a while. They seem like good people.”
“When whoever wants Jean dead finds out about me, I guess I’ll be a target as well. In any case, I have so much to learn now. I’m staying with the community.”
“No question about it, where Jean goes, I go.”
“And you, Brian? Exactly why are you here? I thought you would hate places like this.”
“Something has changed in me. I’ve killed so many people before, but it was just a job. It didn’t mean anything to me. Now I’ve started thinking about it and I feel sick. Sick of the killings, sick of what I’ve become. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t go back. I’m staying, at least for now.”
“The same people that are after Jean think I should be dead right about now. I’m not ready to hide away just yet, though. I’m going to see if I can get some help.
“Archer, while I think of it. Are there any security clearance levels above Phantom Alpha Ultraviolet?”
“Eight levels, not including mine.”
“There are some sealed records that might give us a clue as to what is going on here. It will give you some answers as well.”
“OK. When you want access, say ‘Ersten Tag des Frühlings’.”
“Thanks, Brian. I don’t suppose anyone could drive me back to Ashton Frome to get my car?”
“You’ll find Penny at the bottom of the road that leads to this house.”
“I thought I was the only one who could drive Penny.”
Brian smiled. “There are few things at NSC that I don’t have access to.”
Bonnar found Penny exactly where Brian had said. He sat himself inside.
“Penny, create search group. Call it Alphalist. Alphalist contains the following individuals: Sylvester Aden – NSC Six-Sixty-Six, Doctor Jason Samfai – NSC Twenty-Eighty-Five, Anne Spark – EUUK Ten-Seventy and Lord Louis Seaver – EUUK Six-Sixteen. Give me the Feed Eleven-Twenty-One 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.”
“Penny, unseal requested logs, authorization ersten Tag des Frühlings.”
“Authorization accepted. Logs open.”
Bonnar checked and crosschecked contacts, biographies, financial statements and surveillance records. He became completely absorbed in this kind of work. In his mind, he weaved patterns of data, formulated and tested hypotheses. He would describe it as like seeing a shape in the darkness. Something in the shadows. The more Bonnar discovered the more light he brought to bear on the creature. He could see its form. Understand its motives.
NORTH TIBWORTH HILLS: 08.09
Kulvir Kindheart and Paul Martin were in a field a short distance from Heritage House. They looked down into a valley and saw the sparkle of sunlight as it reflected off the waters of a canal below them. A distant train, hardly audible, sped along its tracks looking like a child’s toy.
“Be honest with me, Kulvir. Do you miss it?”
“What? Business? The endless board meetings? All the paperwork? The constant attention of the press? The boredom of being able to have anything I want? No. I don’t. This life is harder, but more satisfying because of it.”
“A part of me doesn’t want to give that life up. You know, you learn what a client wants, then design it. The look on their face if you get it right is the first kick. Then, to see it take shape, go from a construction site to the building you envisioned. That’s a buzz too.”
Kulvir smiled. “You like feeling good.”
“Yes, don’t we all?”
“You like the recognition? How many awards have you won?”
“One or two.”
“And did it feel good, standing up there in front of your peers, with the knowledge that some people think you are better than they are?”
“Yes. I have to admit it did.”
“You feel good because of what you have achieved personally. In community, you learn that it is what you achieve together that is important. Believe me, it’s an even bigger kick.”
“So what did you do with all the money you made selling your business?”
“How do you think they built Trégrystyon?”
“You paid for all that?”
“Some of it, yes.”
“So, when you see it for real, aren’t you going to feel just a little pride? A little satisfaction?”
Kulvir just looked over the hills and smiled.
HERITAGE HOUSE: 08.59
David and Cassie were also enjoying the morning, walking through the woodlands near Heritage House.
“Cassie, what exactly happened when Joshua – what’s it called? – Baptized you in The Holy Spirit?”
“It was wonderful. Why? Are you thinking about it?”
“Joshua mentioned it this morning. Are you sure he didn’t hypnotize you in some way?”
Cassie laughed. “No. As a matter of fact, it made me feel more alert and alive than I have ever felt before. It was like a blue white light. Like being plugged into the universe.”
“How did he do it exactly?”
“Well, he prayed for me to be exorcised first. He told me to renounce all my involvement with the Occult and magic and cast out my demon.”
“You had a demon?”
“Yes. It even had a name. Anyway, it’s gone now. Then he placed his hand on my head and said, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, receive The Holy Spirit.’ That was it.”
“Pretty much. That was when I started laughing. I felt so good!”
“Do you think I should let him do that to me?”
“Well, you have nothing to lose, have you?”
“I suppose not. I don’t think I’m ready yet.”
DADER CENTRAL HALL: 10.13
Arthur Windsor was showing Stuart Faithful the inside of the Central Hall. It was a circular building, five floors high. The stage was surrounded by three galleries. Each of them could be divided off into separate rooms or opened up into a single auditorium. On the first level, facing the stage was a control room. All the lighting and cameras were operated from here, and the events broadcast to all the homes and workplaces in the village. On other floors were recording studios, photographic studios, print works, and IT suites.
When Arthur and Stuart went back out into the street, they were grabbed by Carrow and Tarow. Bligh and Ruth watched on.
“Good morning, gentlemen,“ said Bligh. “Welcome to Kernow. My friends and I are conducting a quiz, and you have been selected as our first contestants. If your answers are accepted by the judges, then you win – your lives.”
“Morcant, who is your melodramatic friend? What’s going on?”
“Ah-ah. Sorry, contestants are not allowed to ask questions. As this is your first offense, us’ll let you off. The penalty for the next one is a broken finger. Now. Question one goes to Arthur Windsor. What gives you the right to build this village for the English?”
“You need to get your facts right. This was my land. I can do as I please with it, and I’m building this village for a Christian community. They aren’t just English; they come from all over the world. As far as Cornwall is concerned, I won independence for us, along with Jago Anden and his team.”
“Ah, well, you see. Mr. Anden and I had a slight difference of opinion. He thought us could get our freedom by talking, but I knew us had to earn it. By spilling Sawsnek blood if needs be.”
“Mr. Anden was making things happen while you were playing soldiers. You’re the Marracks, right? That means knights, doesn’t it? From Marghack. I believe. Shouldn’t you be called Marghogyon? That’s the correct Kernewek word. You are presumably Bligh, ‘The Wolf?’ I don’t know if that’s your real name or some kind of code name. In any case, Mr. Bligh, you’ve got your freedom. It will be announced tomorrow. Kernow is to be an independent state within the EU.
“Look. We need to build up here. We need to give people a reason to invest in us. To set up their businesses here. I’m showing that people can be safe here, but you are jeopardizing this. I love this place, man. I want Kernow to prosper. What will happen if you destroy anyone and anything that isn’t what you want? What will be left worth having? Let’s go inside and talk, like the civilized people we think we are.”
The six went into the hall’s restaurant and sat around a table. Stuart brought over a tray of teas.
“Bligh,” began Ruth, “this is what I’ve been trying to say all this time. Look at what’s happened to Kernow. The mines are closed. Farming hasn’t paid for years. Only tourism pays, and you’re scaring them away. Stuart and his people want to make a home here. They are trying to build something daring. Something radical. It could turn things around for us.”
“But it won’t be Kernewek.”
“Look. Our young people have been leaving Kernow in their hundreds. They leave school, find they can’t make a living here, and look elsewhere. Same for the universities. Last year sixty-eight percent of the graduates of Truro University went to England, or went to Europe. The average age of our population is climbing faster than anywhere else in the British Isles.”
“So, how is this village going to help?”
“Stuart and his people have taken the best features of modern ecological design and put it in the village. People will be coming from all over the world to see what us’ve built together. That means more business for Cornwall.”
“OK, suppose us have a truce? Just to see how things go?”
“Stuart? What do you say?”
“We’re prepared to forgive you for the vans, provided nothing more happens. And provided you get rid of those bombs.”
“And I give you my personal assurance that the Marracks will stay away from here.”
“You and your people are welcome here any time you want. Come and see what we’re all about. You never know, you might decide to join us. We’ve got lots to do here. If any of your men have construction skills, there’s plenty of work for them. When the word gets out about this place, people will want similar villages where they live. And anyone who has the skills to build them will never be short of work.”
NSC HQ: Section 14, Medium-Security Detention 10.51
“Greetings, felicitations and fluffy dice! Jack Rowlands for the prisoner detail.” Rowlands gave the gaurd a broad grin and a wink. The guard checked Rowlands’ ID chip scan, then looked up at him. Rowlands showed him crossed fingers. The guard nodded, and typed into his workstation.
Some time later, George Hadley and a couple of Grunts led out twenty-three prisoners. “All bound for the Isle of Wight?”
“Let’s just say they’ve earned a holiday down south.”
“Best place for them. Let them be with their own kind. “
Rowlands and the Grunts marched the prisoners down to a waiting prison transport. Once the prisoners and Grunts were seated, Rowlands climbed in the back and tapped the wall between him and the driver. The transport pulled out of the parking area and sped away from NSC HQ.
“Are you taking us to the Isle of Wight?”
“I think they’re busy this time of the year. Let’s go somewhere else shall we? How about Freedonia, or New Phoenix?”
Mario Rossi felt someone tap him on the arm.
“I know you, don’t I?”
“Er, no. I don’t think so.”
“Caerdinas. Monday. I’m Gareth Anfarwol.”.
“You met my double. Don’t ask me to explain it, because I don’t understand it myself.”
HIGH WYCOMBE: The Home of Harry Mahone 12.29
“Harry, its David.”
“Wha-? David? I, I didn’t expect to hear from you today. Are you all right?”
“Never been better, Harry. Did you look at the information I sent you?”
“Yes I did. Pretty serious stuff, old chap. Tell the truth, I can’t see the Tribunal going for it. Too far fetched. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“Someone has to. I’ve been doing some more digging. It involves Lord Louis Seaver, Bernard Lyall, Edward Bliss, Sylvester Aden, Anagra Minao, and William Szabo. They’ve been meeting in some pretty obscure places.”
“Warminster, Glastonbury, Bonnybridge, and Rendlesham.”
“Can’t say they’re all that obscure. In any case, Seaver is Home Secretary, Lyall is CEO of Foyles Bank, Bliss is Defense Secretary, Aden is NSC Director of Policy, Minao is Chief Justice and Szabo is NSC Director of Operations. I can think of lots of reasons why they would meet.”
“I haven’t got all the pieces. I don’t think I’ll get the chance to. This conspiracy may be the tip of the iceberg. There could be a whole shadow government manipulating the British people. Remember what Edmund Burke said.”
“‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ Has it occurred to you that these people may be doing just what this country needs? Maybe it needs a shake up to sort it all out.”
“If so, the people need to be able to choose.”
“But if it’s for their own good?”
“Do you know C.S. Lewis?”
“The Narnia man?”
“That’s him. Shall I tell you what he said? ‘Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. – Those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.’
“We need to find out who we can trust and who we can’t. Then we must act. Eliminate the conspiracy, root and branch. I don’t have that authority, but you do.”
“Quite, quite. Look. Leave it with me. I’ll give you a call later this afternoon. Where will you be?”
“It’s best you don’t know at the moment. One other curious thing. It might mean nothing. Seaver, Lyall and Minao were all born on February 4 1962. Aden and Szabo were both born on October 15 1982.”
“You into Astrology now old chap? You can’t go making up theories based on people’s birthdays you know.”
“I suppose not.”
The call ended, Mahone walked to the window and looked out across his garden. He was worried. Very worried. Bonnar had uncovered some pretty serious stuff indeed. Mahone knew that he had to act quickly to avert disaster. There was only one course of action to be taken. He pressed his earphone again. “Six-Sixty-Six. Aden? Mahone. Fitzroy! You have a problem, old chap.”
THE HOME OF LORD LOUIS SEAVER: 12.59
Seaver was in his lounge reading a newspaper. A servant walked in, coughed politely, and said “President D’Azeglio’s speech, my lord.”
“Thank you Edmonds.” Seaver put the paper down, and turned on the screen to see the news.
“Good afternoon, people of Europe. This is a historic day for us all. The preliminary talks between the European Union and the African Union that was held in London during this past week have lain the groundwork for the harmonization of EU and AU law in the areas of statistics, financial control, establishment and services, company law, financial services, and information society and media. These talks will continue in Brussels in June. The unification will extend peace, stability, prosperity, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. On completion and ratification of the unification treaty, the combined regions will be known as EMEAU, the Europe, Middle East and Africa Union.
“In order to make the government of the unions more equitable, it has been decided that semi-autonomous nations will have full autonomy within the unions. In Europe, these nations are Åland Islands, Alderney, Andalusia, Azores, Basque Country, Canary Islands, Catalonia, Corsica, Cornwall, Crimea, Faroe Islands, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Galicia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kosovo, Kurdistan, Madeira, Mayotte, Northern Ireland, Sardinia, Sark, Scotland, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige, Valle d’Aosta and Wales.
“In addition to these, the following nations will have referenda in November to determine whether they remain within EMEAU, or their local region. These are Anguilla, Aruba, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Greenland, Montserrat, Netherlands’ Antilles, New Caledonia, Pitcairn Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, St Helena and Dependencies, St Pierre and Miquelon, and Wallis and Futuna.
“The following nations will retain their independent status even though they lie within EMEAU region. Israel, Mount Athos, Switzerland, and Vatican.
“In the years that followed the end of World War II, a movement was formed with the intention of preventing any future conflict within Europe. In the beginning, there were only a few nations, but that number grew as more and more states shared the vision. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the borders of the European Union extended outwards, further and further, not through war, but through the promise of peace.
“Other regions of the world saw what we had built here and claimed the vision for themselves. The African Union was born in 2002, and the Islamic Union in 2013. After a period of distrust and conflict, the two became united as the African Union in 2015. On the other side of the world, the Pacific Union was established in 2012 forming, by area, the largest economic and political block up to that date, stretching from New Zealand to Canada. The Unión de América Latina, formed in 2016, is currently in negotiations with the Pacific Union to merge both regions.
“Assuming that all these mergers are successful, in four years, the picture of the world will have changed completely since the middle of the last century. In the Old World, EMEAU. To the east, the Union of Democratic Socialist Republics in the north and India in the south. Further east. The Democratic Republic of China, the PU/UAL and the United States.
“So we enter an age which promises the greatest period of peace and prosperity that the world has ever known.”
Seaver turned off the screen and settled back to his newspaper. Then he slammed it down again and roared with laughter.
DANNY FRIEDNER CENTRE: Jane Pilgrim Suite 14.27
“Miss Spark. I didn’t expect to see you again so soon.”
“But you did expect me. After all, I did warn you.”
“That is true. Nonetheless, Cornwall is free, and there is nothing you or anyone else can do to change that.”
Spark sat on the President’s desk, legs crossed. “Maybe so, Mr. President, but that doesn’t stop me carrying out my promise. You’ve been very naughty, and I must punish you.”
D’Azeglio started to shake and jerk. Spark ran her fingers through his hair as he convulsed.
“You really should have listened to me. We could have had a wonderful future. Maybe your successor will be wiser.”
D’Azeglio collapsed. Dead. For a moment, the room was bathed in an indigo light, and then Spark was gone.
HERITAGE HOUSE: 14.53
Joshua was looking out across the North Tibworth hills. Memories flooded through his mind. It had been a good life. No compromise, no complaints, no regrets.
“Ah, there you are Joshua. We wondered where you’d gone to.”
“David? I see you brought the whole gang with you.”
“Yes. We’d heard that you weren’t going to Cornwall. Cassie and Jean thought we could talk you into changing your mind.”
Joshua smiled. “I don’t think I have any choice. As a matter of fact, I think there’s a lady over there who wants a word with me.”
Joshua was pointing to a woman walking from the direction of the house. As she got closer, they could see she was a beautiful oriental woman dressed entirely in red. Her skin seemed to glow and shimmer, as if she was surrounded by a heat haze.
“Anne Spark? No. You’re Hannah! I thought you were dead.”
“No, David. I just had a makeover. You like?” Hannah patted the back of her hair and turned around like a fashion model.
“You have another name, don’t you?” Joshua said. “Hestia?”
“Bingo! Did you like my present?”
“The white cigarette lighter? I wondered what it meant.” Joshua called back to the others. “All of you go back inside. This doesn’t concern anyone but us.”
“What are you going to do, Joshua?”
“Don’t worry, David. I have some business to deal with here.”
As they walked back to the house, Lamb asked. “What’s happening now?”
“Joshua and Hannah need to talk. He’ll be in soon. Let’s leave him to it.”
Lamb looked as if a shadow had passed over him. “No. I can’t let him do that.”
“What are you on about, Neville?”
“Can’t you see? He doesn’t stand a chance.” Lamb started running, almost faster than the eye could follow, back to where Joshua stood.
“I’m going to burn all of this down, Joshua. Starting with you.” Hannah pointed at him, a tongue of fire leaped from her hand. Before it could reach Joshua, Lamb pushed him aside and took the full force himself. His suit ignited, enveloping him in an aura of flame.
“You need more than that, Hannah.” Lamb walked slowly and deliberately towards her.
“Neville, you weren’t supposed to do that.”
“Don’t care, Hannah. I’m going to have to stop you.”
“You poor fool.”
The flames around Lamb became blue white and then vanished. There was no trace of Lamb anywhere. Jean screamed and collapsed.
“Now look what you made me do, Joshua! Say goodbye to your precious community.”
Another flame launched from Hannah’s hand, heading for the Marquee Field. Then it arced back and hit Joshua, where it faded out, leaving him unharmed. Hannah shot a flame at Heritage House. Again, it curved back and hit Joshua. Again, Joshua was unharmed. Hannah pointed both hands at him. Her whole body became a blue white inferno that engulfed them both.
“I can’t stop it. I can’t stop it.” Hannah screamed, and then with a sound like a thunderclap, the flame vanished, along with Hannah and Joshua.
Cassie put an arm around Jean and helped her to her feet. Jean’s legs appeared to have no strength in them at all.
Bonnar went over to them, but Cassie gently waved him away. He watched as Cassie led Jean into Heritage House, then he looked back to where Hannah, Lamb, and Joshua had been moments before. Archer placed his hand on Bonnar’s shoulder.
“It’s hard, isn’t it? Losing people like that.”
“Yeah. First Amy, now this.”
“Any of the people here will tell you that death is part of life. It seems to me Joshua and Lamb died the way they would have wanted to. Eyes wide open and unafraid. A warrior’s death.”
“I thought I was just beginning to learn what all this was about. I thought Joshua was the one to show me.”
“We can find out together. Maybe this community has the answers to all our questions. Now, you’re not going to get depressed again are you? I think you’ll need to be clear headed, not doped on drugs.”
NSC HQ: Section 9, Assembly Hall 16.01
Tony Kent was standing, arms folded, back against the assembly hall wall, deep in thought.
Don Jordan planted his hand on Kent’s shoulder, snapping him out of his reverie. “What’s all this about, Tony? We’re Eagles, not Grunts. What are we doing in Grunt territory?”
“We’ll find out soon. Where are the others?”
“Henry, Steve and Bruce are right behind me. Pietro and Janet will be down shortly. They’re just finishing the inventory.”
Kent smiled. “I’ve never heard it called that before.”
Steve Curry, Henry Wayne and Bruce Jones joined them. A few moments later, Janet Prince and Pietro Allen walked into the hall – using separate doors. The Eagles looked over the ranks of Grunts in front of them. Something serious was about to go down. Sylvester Aden stepped up to the podium and the Grunts came to attention.
Aden stacked his notes, placed them on the lectern, grasped it by the two far corners and surveyed the mass of people in front of him.
“It is good to see you all here. We too often neglect to thank you for the peace and stability that this country enjoys. That is your responsibility and gift. Each of you can feel proud in the knowledge that the people of this land rest easy in their beds and walk the streets without fear.
“You have given so much, but this nation must ask yet more from you, and I am confident that you will rise to the challenge ahead of us.
“There exists an organization that rejects everything that this nation stands for. They would have you believe they are a friendly, peaceful, and gentle group, but do not be misled. They spread deception of the most insidious kind. They lure people into their houses and brainwash them against everything we value in our society. They are a cancer, spreading poisonous ideologies born of a fevered mental delusion. Their members exhibit a frightening and disturbing range of personality disorders that make them a menace to themselves and any right-thinking person that has the misfortune to cross their path.
“In short, they are a threat to the harmony and well being of this country, and must be eliminated. They may appear as unarmed and harmless, but their weapon is in their tongue. Do not listen to their lies and hatred. They hate the world and everything in it. They hate the parents that gave them life. Anyone that does not see the world through their eyes, they call evil. Yes, that includes you! Every single one of you!
“Tomorrow sees the culmination of a program that has gathered the members in one location. It falls to us, on behalf of the people of this great nation, to remove this canker from among us.
“I know I can count on you. I know this nation can count on you. To carry out your duties without fear or favor. To eradicate even the slightest blemish to the shining jewel that is our nation. Your section and department commanders will provide you with your orders. Once again, thank you all.”
The hall erupted with applause as Aden walked briskly out.
Kent and Jordan shot a look to each other, Jordan was about to say something, but Kent signaled for him not to. As the hall emptied, Kent whispered to the others “EAGLE One, 17.00 hours.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 16.27
Jean stared out of a window, her face red with tears, Cassie had thought she would never stop crying, but now she had stopped, it was somehow worse. There was just – silence.
“Does God hate me, Cassie?”
“God. Does He hate me?”
“Why would you think that?”
“Well, I’m cured, and finally Neville and I are looking at a normal life together, then he dies like that.”
“He was a bodyguard. He did what he was trained to do. Put his life on the line to protect someone else. You should be proud of him.”
“I am, Cassie, but I miss him.”
Jean sniffed and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “I know what David’s been going through now, and I hate it. It’s like something inside me has died along with Neville.”
“David shut himself away from everyone. You are here with people that care about you. Hold on to that. Don’t forget that this community has also lost someone they loved. They’re all grieving. They know what you’re going through.”
“So, what next? Just go on like nothing has happened?”
“Of course not. Did you and Neville ever talk about this?”
“Yes. Many times. But I never really thought anything could hurt him.”
For many minutes, neither woman said a word.
“Neville would want you to be happy. He’s gone, and you can’t get him back. Hold on to the good things in your heart. Remember his smile, his kiss, how he held you.”
Jean smiled, “He was a good man.”
“Yes, Jean, he was.”
“No, I mean a good man.”
“Er, yes Jean. I think I know what you mean.”
“Yesterday, after you went to work, Neville and I—”
“OK, Jean. I don’t think I want to hear any more. You didn’t use my—”
“Three times!!! Well, I definitely won’t be going back for that before we go.”
NSC HQ: EAGLE Vehicle Compound 16.57
The seven Eagles climbed aboard the command and control vehicle and sealed the door. Kent activated the anti-surveillance screen. “Well, you heard what we’ve been ordered to do. What are your thoughts? Wayne?”
“Who was Aden talking about? I think I know, but I need to hear it.”
“Wild Olive Shoot.”
“And how do they want it ‘removed’?”
“Our orders say to ‘contain and neutralize’.”
“So, are we transporting them to the Isle of Wight, or are they talking about slaughtering them?”
“The orders don’t make that clear.”
“I’m not comfortable with this. They helped my sister and her children when they had nowhere else to go.”
“What about the rest of you? Steve?”
“I was a member years ago. My family persuaded me to leave. Biggest mistake of my life. I’ve never been able to get that community buzz out of my system.”
“Why didn’t you go back to them?”
“I just never got around to it. Too busy with life, I suppose.”
“What are we going to do then? Janet?”
“We carry out our orders as far as our conscience allows. If they’re being moved to the Isle of Wight peacefully, I have no problem with that. However, if it means using deadly force against unarmed, non-violent people, that’s where I draw the line. Remember Cambridge?”
“I don’t think any of us will forget it. I still have nightmares about it.”
“Whatever we do, we do together. Agreed?”
As one, they said, “Agreed!”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 17.21
“I can’t do it, Casey.”
“You have to, Jed. We need a leader, and that’s you.”
“I’m not the right man. I don’t know what to say, or what to do, or—”
“Neither did Joshua when he started. Look. You have all of us to help you. We’ll be there for you if you get into a fix, the same way we were for Joshua.”
“What if I make a mistake? What if I decide the wrong thing and people suffer because of me?”
“You will make mistakes. That goes with the territory. The only way not to make a mistake is not to try.”
“I didn’t want it like this. Perhaps Joshua isn’t really dead. I mean, there’s no body.”
“Those NSC people witnessed it, and Joshua said it would happen. I think we can be sure.”
“OK. I’ll try. With your help.”
DADER CENTRAL HALL: 18.11
The prison transport pulled up outside the hall. The rear doors burst open and Mad Jack leaped out.
“Last stop. Will all passengers please return their seats to an upright position and exit in an orderly fashion?”
One by one, they left the confines of the transport and looked around, getting used to the bright daylight and release from the cramped confines of the van.
“Where did you say this was?”
“Trégrystyon, Mario. A piece of Heaven on Earth. Soon to be the home of the Wild Olive Shoot Community.”
“When will my friends be here?”
“Soon, Mario, soon.”
“Can I at least let them know I’m alright?”
“And spoil the surprise? No way. Right now, I have a few bombs to defuse. Shouldn’t take me more than a few hours. Nothing to worry about, folks. However, you might want to cover your ears, crouch on the ground and stick your head between your legs!”
By this time, Stuart Faithful and Bligh had joined them. Bligh handed Rowlands a map with the bomb locations marked. Mad Jack looked at it for a while turning it this way and that.
“Absodoobry fantablastic! We have been busy little bees, haven’t we? Have you put in any surprises I should know about?”
“Only the usual. Tremblers, magnetic switches, that kind of thing.”
“You wouldn’t have a circuit diagram on you by any chance?”
“No. These were made especially for us.”
“By whom, might one ask?”
“Someone called Sethor.”
Mad Jack screwed up his eyes in mock puzzlement, and then put on his earphone. “Ten-Ninety-Six.”
“It’s Jack Rowlands. Do we know someone called Sethor?”
“I’m not familiar with the name. What’s this about?”
“I’m investigating some bombs made by him.”
“Hold on, I might have something for you in a few minutes.”
“Stuart, you might want to let Heritage House know we’ve arrived safely. OK, people, who’s going to take me to the first bomb?”
Rowlands collected a toolbox from the prison transport, and Bligh led him into the Central Hall, down a ramp and into the plant room. Fixed to the wall of the control room was a small metal box.
Rowlands’ earphone rang. “Archer here, Bonnar says you need some help.”
“Yeah. Got some bombs designed by someone called Sethor.”
“Where are you?”
“What are you doing in Cornwall? Forget it. Are you anywhere near one of the bombs?”
“Yeah. Right in front of me.”
“What does it look like?”
“A metal box, height and depth about thirty centimeters, length about forty-five centimeters”
“Can you open the top? Don’t use any electric tools.”
“OK. There are four screws. I’ll check them for conductivity.”
“No! Don’t do that! Don’t let anything electrical touch them. Just unscrew them.”
“That’s the last screw. I’m using the screwdriver to lever off the top.”
“Non-conductive I hope?”
“Archer, they call me ‘Mad Jack’, Not ‘Bloody Stupid Jack!’”
“Tell me what you see.”
“The top came off very easily. It has a trip switch. I’ve neutralized it.”
“Is there a small box inside?”
“Yes, on the rear surface. It’s about 2 cm square.”
“OK. Do you have any inert foaming compound?”
“Got some Polystovalene.”
“That should do it. Fill the casing with Polystovalene foam to half way up the side of the small box. Take the top of the small box off.”
“There are four wires leading to what looks like the detonator.”
“OK. Clip black, then green, then white. That will make it harmless. You can dispose of it without any worries.”
“Thanks Archer. One question. How do you know so much about these bombs without seeing them?”
“Goodbye, Rowlands, and good luck.”
Rowlands unbolted the bomb, picked up his tools and made his way back up. When he saw Bligh, he threw the bomb at him. “Here, catch. Don’t be a butterfingers.”
“You could have blown us all up!”
“Yeah. How ironic would that be? Blown up by your own bomb! Now, take me to the next one.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 18.47
“This message is being broadcasted to Trégrystyon as well as here in the Marquee Field. Joshua King, known to us as Joshua Goodwill, died today. He gave his life to protect this community. He knew this would happen and asked everyone not to mourn him, but to celebrate. A man called Neville Lamb also died trying to protect Joshua.
“The person who killed Joshua has been identified as a member of the NSC Special Resources Unit. It was the third attack by the NSC this week, so it is clear that Joshua’s death was part of the ongoing campaign against this community. It demonstrates the lengths our enemies are prepared to go.
“We can expect them to move against us tomorrow, as we journey to our new home in Cornwall. They will not be merciful. We stand as a challenge to the greed, materialism, and selfishness that are at the core of their culture. They will not stop us, because we have the resources of Almighty God on our side.
“I ask you to put aside your grief until we reach Trégrystyon. Much has to be done tonight, and we must be on our way tomorrow morning, as early as possible. We must make sure that our vehicles are checked and loaded, and a watch is set all around the field.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 23.11
The luggage compartments of the coaches had been stuffed to bursting with black bin bags and cardboard boxes. The food warehouse, clothing store, and library had all been emptied and all the business premises had been stripped of anything that might be useful in the village. Work done, the community members settled down for the night, but fears, worries, and doubts stole sleep from many of them. Here and there, community members got up from their sleeping bags, and walked around the field, praying quietly, some speaking in tongues.
© Colin Nelson www.waycyber.com
© WaylandCybersmith 2011