WAYLAND CYBERSMITH (WAYCYBER) STRONGHOLD : EXODUS : - 6) HARVEST, MAY 8
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Harvest: May 8
TRÉGRYSTYON: Skentoleth 01.07
Rowlands collapsed on a bed, arms shading his eyes from the light.
“Great job you did, Jack.”
“Thanks, Stuart. Can I ask a favor?”
“Couldn’t you call these places after something I can pronounce?”
“Arthur got carried away with his Cornwall bit. You can think of this place as number five Wisdom.”
“Now, isn’t that better? I mean, what was that place with the water works. What did you call it?”
“And that means?”
“Well, there you go. How are you going to run this place anyway? Have you got a few experts in sanitation and power generation tucked away in your little ol’ community?”
“One or two. Arthur has some people that can show us the ropes. Don’t forget, I designed this place, so I made sure it was simple to operate.”
“Great, Stuart. Just great. Do you think a he-ro of the community can get some sleep now?”
“You’re right. I am tired. You get some sleep as well.”
Stuart ducked, laughing, as a pillow hit the door behind him.
“Hey, Stuart. Come back a moment.”
“I heard Joshua got killed?”
“Yes. By one of your NSC colleagues by the sound of things. Someone called Hannah Gee?”
“Can’t be. She died a couple of weeks back. How is everyone taking it?”
“As best as they can with this move on. We’ll do our grieving when everyone gets here, until then, there’s plenty to do.”
“I remember the first time I met Joshua. He was just one of the community kids then. I did not like him one bit. I thought he was too full of himself. He was half my age but acted as if he had all the answers. When they made him Community Leader, I guess I resented it.”
“What about now?”
“You guys were right. He did well. It’s a shame we’ll never see what he could have become with more time. Twenty-seven is no age to die. If there’s anything I can do to help out, let me know.”
“You’ve done a great deal already. Just get some sleep.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 06.17
Bonnar was lying in bed listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F major.
Archer burst into the room. “Hey, Bonnar.”
“What are you worked up about?”
“Come outside. I want to show you something.”
Ten minutes later, the two went down to where Penny was parked.
“So, I don’t think you truly appreciate the genius that went into this car.”
“What do you mean?”
“Get in and I’ll show you.”
Bonnar got in the passenger side, a position in which he felt most uncomfortable. Penny was, after all, his car, and he felt very protective of her.
“Penny, display the NSC activities for the North Tibworth area.”
The windscreen went dark and a three dimensional map floated in front of Bonnar and Archer. There were blocks representing operational units. They were moving down from Lierbury and up from London.
“It looks like someone in this area is in a lot of trouble, and I think it’s us.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
“Penny. Feed Four-Twenty-Eight. Identify all NSC vehicles excluding Section 10 Special Resources Unit.”
“Pass data to Feed Eleven-Forty. Display positions of all vehicles.”
The display panned out to show the UK with dots all over the place. There was a distinct trend of the nearer vehicles towards North Tibworth.
“Ready for some fun, David?”
“OK. You called me ‘David’.”
“Well, don’t make a thing about it; even super-geniuses can have a slip of the tongue. Penny, flag all selected vehicles as stolen and transmit disable code.”
“What? What have you done?”
“All British cars automatically limit their speed depending on the maximum speed of the area they’re being driven in. Using that, we can slow them down and stop them, all by remote control. Well, I’ve just done that for all the NSC vehicles.”
“So, they’re stopped?”
“For a while. The system will be reset when it determines that the cars are not, in fact, stolen, but that buys us a little time. I’d say a couple of hours. Now for another trick.”
Bonnar and Archer walked back up to the courtyard. Ian Enthusiastic ran up to Archer, handing him what looked like a stack of blue poker chips.
“That’s it, Brian.”
“You’ve made sure that no-one wants these vehicles?”
“Yeah. They’re mainly wrecks or ones we’re going to leave behind. I’ve put one disk on each.”
“OK. Watch this. Nano, transformar.”
There was a loud hissing, grinding noise. Then, in place of each marked vehicle was a three-meter tall blue robot.
“Not bad, huh? Instant army!”
Jed Hopeful and Nemanja Generous rushed outside and stared at the figures in the courtyard.
“What have you done?”
“The NSC are coming to kick you’re ass. I thought you could do with some help.”
“How does this help?”
“They can be whatever you want – vehicles, an army, weapons, a wall – anything.”
“Look. Brian. I know you mean well. Hold on, I’ve just had a thought. Can you get these robots of yours to clear the hedge and fence between the Marquee Field and the valley road?”
“Sure. No problem. Show me what you want and they’ll do it. In the meantime, I have a couple of ideas that will give you an edge. I’ll deactivate your speed limiters and transponders on the coaches, and program in some random routes to your place in Yow Kernow.”
“That’s Cornish for Cornwall. Get used to it. The Kernewek language is coming back. They’re even teaching it in schools now.”
OFFICES OF KATARTIZO: 08.23
A roaring noise made Rafiq look out of the office window. A stream of vans, MPVs and cars parked wherever they could around the office building. He walked over to the nearest vehicle.
“Can I help you?”
“We understand you need workers.”
Rafiq looked at the crowd of people that now surrounded him.
“Er... Where did you hear this from?”
“Our chief got it from Stuart Faithful.”
“Stuart knows about this? You don’t mind if I check with him first?”
“No. Go right ahead.”
Rafiq touched his earphone. “Stuart Faithful. Hi, Stuart. I have a few people that say they want to give us a hand. Do you know anything about it?”
“Yes. Bligh said he’d see if he could rustle up one or two.”
“One or two? At a guess, we’ve got about thirty here. How are we going to pay them?”
“Well, they can stay in the Hospitality Houses in Kerensa, and we can share our food with them. Bligh says that if we can jump start employment in Cornwall, that’s all the payment they need. Besides, they owe us for five vans. Sort them out and see what they can do, then set them to work. When all this is done, we’ll train them up properly. Blessings, Rafiq.”
“Blessings, Stuart.” Rafiq turned back to the newcomers. “OK, let’s see what we have. Line up outside the office. I’m going to speak to you each in turn. Tell me your construction skills and qualifications and I’ll assign you to teams.”
Cassie loved the freedom, power, and exhilaration of her Duke motorcycle. She sped south towards Tovesderry. The brilliant sunlight flashed through the branches of the trees. The community business vehicles were some way behind her.
Cassie arced around the Tovesderry roundabout. Then she noticed a distant dark mass on the dual carriageway to the east. Even from so far away, she could hear a deep rumble as it approached.
Cassie went around the roundabout again, and then headed up the dual carriageway. At the head of the vehicles was a flame red Cadillac DTS. Behind that, were five FALCONs, three EAGLEs, and CONDORs and motorcycles beyond counting.
Cassie turned sharply off the dual carriageway onto a country road. She switched her motorcycle to full-suspension mode. The engine roared as it soared into the air, through a gap in a hedgerow, and landed heavily in a field. Cassie’s chin almost touched the handlebars as the motorcycle bounced and bucked, threatening to throw her off with every bump and rut the wheels found.
She activated her earphone. “Ten-Ninety-Six. David? Tell Jed and the others company’s coming. They’ll be with you in a few minutes.”
Up ahead, a brick wall was getting closer with every second. She saw an opening and accelerated through it, fighting to keep the motorcycle upright. On the other side was a horticultural centre.
Cassie weaved around pallets and decking, buildings and displays until she came back out onto the main road, in front of the community convoy.
She reached the roundabout just before the first of the NSC vehicles. The community convoy closed up until it was almost nose to tail, and then curved around the roundabout, heading west.
About half of the convoy got through before the NSC outriders cut the rest off to allow their own vehicles through.
As soon as the last of NSC convoy cleared the roundabout, the community vehicles were allowed to continue.
HERITAGE HOUSE: 10.21
“Come on, get on board now. We were supposed to be gone hours ago.” Yelled Jed. “We’ve packed what we can, everything else we leave behind.”
“I’ve still got some boxes to load from the house.”
“Forget them. We have to get everyone in the coaches and on the move.”
“Jed, they’re here.” Shouted Bonnar from the gate.
“OK, Aref, Kulvir, with me. You others, get the coaches moving as soon as they’re full. And make sure no-one gets left behind.”
The Cadillac DTS parked in the lay-by opposite the gate. A stream of CONDOR transports drove past, forming a metal wall around Heritage House and its fields. The transports emptied and armed and gas-masked Grunts took their positions.
Sylvester Aden climbed out of the back of the DTS, accompanied by Brutus, Weight, and Griso of the Immortals. Aden walked over to the gate, smiling as he saw the chaos beyond. He turned his attention to the four men approaching him.
“Mr. Bonnar, I must say how surprised and delighted I am to see you up and about, though to see you here is somewhat of a disappointment, are you aware of whom your – unsavory – friends are? I mean, they give themselves these stupid nicknames, like some children’s gang. Aref Wahid , for instance. You call yourself Aref Wise now? How many people died in that nightclub? A hundred? Two hundred? Was that the act of a wise man, do you think?”
“That was before I found Jesus. I’ve been born again now.”
“Born again. Born again. Do you really think it’s so easy to wash that much blood off your hands? I see Kulvir-, Kulvir- Ah, yes. Kulvir Kindheart isn’t it? How amusing. They must have wet themselves thinking of that one. You were a multi-millionaire at one time. Now you live like a pauper. What happened?”
“I’m richer now. Money gave me no peace. Now I’m with people that love me, and I love them. I would die for these people.”
“In due time, Mr. Kindheart, in due time. So, let’s finish this. Jed, isn’t it? Where is Joshua – ah – Goodwill? Is he not here to greet me?”
“He is dead, as I think you already know.”
“Really? How unfortunate. I suppose you are his replacement, are you not? Ah, well then, to business. You and your community of scum and lowlifes are finished. It ends right here. All your houses – ah – belong to us. This is all you have left.”
“So, you are sending us all to The Isle of Wight?”
“Oh, dear me, no. It has gone too far for that. There is only a handful of Christian groups left in this country, but they are hardly more than Jesus clubs. You, however, are a community, so you pose a very real threat. If you were allowed to continue, what would happen to our carefully thought out plans then? No, it ends here.” Aden gave a small smile. “I’ll give you – shall we say – ten minutes. Return to your people and make peace with your God. Goodbye, gentlemen.” He watched as the four went back down the field.
“Griso, would you be so kind as to fetch the case in the trunk of my car?”
Griso returned with a silver metal box four feet long and placed it on the ground in front of Aden, who grinned broadly, as he knelt down to open it. “Without the beautiful Miss Gee, it falls to me to put them out of their misery.”
“I thought you were giving them ten minutes.”
“They can always file a complaint! Commander Madden, instruct your men to begin the barrage.”
A moment later there was a pop, pop, pop, and billows of eye-stinging CZ gas drifted across the Marquee Field.
Aden removed a gun from the case and fired it at the hedges either side of the gate. A stream of noxious brown foam hit the vegetation and caused it to erupt in flames and black smoke.
Aden stepped towards the gate laughing and firing at random. He could not see through the clouds of CZ gas, only the blossoms of fire that flared briefly before the smoke hid them.
The blaze spread quickly down to the main road. The nearby Grunts shielded their faces from the heat and backed away.
Aden watched the scene, as relaxed as if he were in front of a hearth. He smiled, “Well, this hasn’t turned out so bad after all, Commander. I don’t suppose you have any marshmallows on you? No? Ah well. It’s a shame to waste such a fine fire. Please tell your men to make sure no-one leaves the area, won’t you?”
Aden’s hand went to his cheek. It was wet. He looked up at the sky. Only a few moments before, it was clear and sunny. Now angry black cloud filled it from horizon to horizon and rain began falling heavily, drenching the flames and washing out the gas.
BURTON BECK: 10.33
Jed turned west at the Burton Beck crossroads. He looked back to see the other coaches going their separate ways. They were free, but for how long?
“How are you holding up, Jed?”
“How am I holding up? It’s a nightmare, Simeon, and I wish I could wake up from it.”
“Well, we knew something like this was going to happen for months now.”
“Maybe, but I didn’t know Joshua was going to die, and I didn’t think the NSC would want us wiped out.”
“Not all of them, it seems.”
“Yes. Why did those riot vehicles let us out?”
“I don’t know. It seems we have friends in unexpected places. Anyway, at least we’re all together.”
“That’s true. No one got left behind as far as I can tell. Now, we take one problem at a time, and pray we get to Cornwall safely.”
Jed turned left at the Dane’s Tree roundabout and headed southwest.
LINTON: M1 12.01
For Casey Watchful, the past couple of years in Belfast were very stressful. He had wanted his congregation to be somewhere safe. He wanted to move them to Eire, but couldn’t.
When Trégrystyon was being built, he wanted to go straight there, but he couldn’t. No, the plan was to come all the way to Granhurst with the other houses, then all the way down to Cornwall. It made no sense to Casey, but he knew that other households were in a worse situation than his, so he couldn’t complain.
On top of all that was Joshua’s death, and the threat from the NSC. He was stressed, tired, and frustrated.
There was a bang and the screech of metal on metal. Car horns blared, brakes squealed and the passengers screamed. Casey had become distracted. Just for a second, but it was more than enough.
Casey had steered his coach into the path of a lorry. He pulled over onto the hard shoulder, and watched the lorry disappear into the distance. His heart was racing and he could hardly breathe. The world was a spinning swirl of blue, white and yellow lights. He took slow, deep breaths, recovering his composure. The passengers were still panicking.
“Calm down, folks. I just need to check this out and we’ll be on our way.” Casey stepped out of the coach and examined the side. There were deep scratches along the paintwork. As Casey appraised the damage, he heard frantic knocking and shouting from inside the coach.
Several passengers were pointing to the rear. He looked around in time to see an NSC FALCON pull up behind the coach, and a Grunt walk towards him. Another Grunt remained in the car.
“Are you having difficulties, sir?”
“Just a scrape, officer. I think we can manage.”
“Nevertheless, I must check your vehicle and passengers. Could you squeeze this ball as hard as you can, sir?” The Grunt gave Casey a blood-analyzer ball. It was normally blue. If Casey had any alcohol or drugs in his system, it would turn red. Casey squeezed it. It remained blue.
The Grunt examined the outside of the coach, and then went inside, walking slowly up and down the aisle. “Don’t be alarmed. Just making sure that you’re all OK. Any injuries? Bumps or bruises?”
When no one responded to him, the Grunt returned to Casey, waiting outside. “Can you show me your papers, please sir?”
Casey reached for a document wallet behind the driver’s seat.
“Quite a lot of you. Are you all together?”
“We are all part of the same organization, yes.”
The Grunt stared at Casey for just a second longer than was comfortable, then carefully looked through the wallet.
“Your vehicle appears to be roadworthy; however, I must ask you to follow us, sir. Please do not attempt to drive off.”
Casey followed the patrol car off the motorway, and through the town, until they reached the main police station. An officer waiting in the car park directed the coach to park in a bay.
The officer looked at the damage and the faces of the concerned passengers. Then he crossed the car park to the patrol car.
“Are you going to put the call in?”
“I have to, Sarge. They’ve got children reading Bibles in there.”
“Brainwashing. Makes you sick to your stomach. Get them all out, let them use the toilets and freshen up. Take them to the canteen and give them some food. That will give us time to have a good look over the coach and decide what to do with them.”
HERITAGE HOUSE: 13.01
The rain in Granhurst had been so heavy that it was impossible to see more than a few feet away. Now it started to ease and the clouds began to part. Aden’s earphone rang. “Aden here.”
“Monitor Six, sir. I thought you would want to know Linton Police have detained a coach load of Christians.”
Aden strode over to the gate. The marquee was now a mangled mass of plastic. The ground was churned up, otherwise, the field was empty. No coaches, no bodies.
Aden let out a scream of rage, waving his fists at the sky, then marched briskly to his car, stabbing his earphone as he went.
“Monitor Six. Williams, isn’t it?”
“I want full satellite surveillance of the Midlands area. You are looking for a convoy of coaches. That should be easy enough to track.”
“We’re sorting out some glitches in the system, sir.”
“I don’t care. Get the helicopters up. Whatever you have to do. This gets top priority. Drop everything else.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll get right on it.”
“You’d better, Williams. Fail me in this and I swear I’ll make you watch every member of your family skinned alive. Do I make myself clear, Williams?”
Aden opened his car door. The Grunt Commander snapped to attention and saluted him.
Aden struck Madden with the back of his hand, sending him stumbling onto the ground. “Orders? Orders? Give chase, man. Get after them and stop them. By whatever means necessary and, yes, that includes lethal force.”
“The road north is blocked, sir. Three EAGLE’s have broken down. They’re waiting for repair crews to come out.”
“Why am I surrounded by this incompetence? Is this some kind of mutiny? Are you all Christian sympathizers?
“Hmm, a thought occurs.” He pressed his earphone. “Williams, connect me to Linton Police. I want to speak to their Superintendent. Superintendent? You know who I am? Good. Can I be assured of your complete co-operation? Excellent. Then this is what I want you to do—”
Kulvir Kindheart drove his passengers down a long, winding country road on the outskirts of Gloucester. On one side of the road, tall trees formed an almost solid barrier. The other side opened out to rolling hills and fields. As they turned a corner, they saw a brass band. There were trumpet players, trombone players, and a big sign that read “Welcome, Wild Olive Shoot.”
Intrigued, Kulvir stopped the coach and opened the door. The band stood in front of the coach playing Scott Joplin’s Magnetic Rag. A little girl ran up to the coach, curtsied and announced “The Blue Lotus Collective welcomes the Wild Olive Shoot Community and invites you to join them for rest and refreshment.” She curtsied again and ran back to the band to the applause of the passengers.
“What do you think, Kulvir?”
“I don’t know. They seem to be expecting us, but I’ve never heard of them.”
There were cries of “Come on, Kulvir. We need a break.” and “I’m hungry.”
“Does anyone know who these people are? We need to get to Cornwall. We can’t waste time.”
“Kulvir, we’ve been going for ages. It won’t do any harm to have a break for half an hour.
“OK. Half an hour. No more.”
The band led Kulvir’s coach through large gates and into huge parkland. Just ahead was a lake with a fountain in the middle. Surrounding the park were woodland areas and ornate gardens. In the centre was an imposing mansion. Standing on the steps was a group of people waiting as the passengers filed off the bus.
A man dressed in a white suit almost danced down the stairs to greet Kulvir and the others. “Welcome, my friends. I am Jack Newhouse, Senior Elder of Blue Lotus Collective. Can I introduce you to my team? Dan Jones, Kelly Peters, Gregory Encruciada, and Maggie Zeller. You will meet some of the others later.”
There was a squeal as a boy ran around a corner and hid behind Daniel Singleheart. Another boy appeared, carrying a bucket. He threw stinking contents of the bucket over the first boy, soaking Daniel from head to toe. Daniel shook the water off as the Blue Lotus leaders laughed at the spectacle.
Jack placed his hand on Daniel's shoulder. “Sorry about that. Come on in, you can take a shower, and we will get you some clean clothes. The rest of you, feel free to explore the grounds. We have arranged a small celebration for later.”
The boy who threw the water led Daniel into a bedroom with a bathroom beyond. When he was alone, Daniel gratefully shed his disgusting clothes and got into the shower.
Dorothy and Nathan were shown into a playroom and introduced to a lady called Eleanor Gwynne.
“Those children are fighting over toys.” Nathan said, “Why doesn’t anyone stop them?”
“It’s called free expression. They’ll find their own way to sort things out. Now, you’re just in time for our story. Sit down with the others, and I’ll begin.”
“Aren’t you going to get the other children to sit and listen?”
“They can if they want to. It’s their choice.”
Eleanor Gwynne opened a book and began her story. It was about a boy called Paul, who found a magic wishing stone. Sometimes she had to raise her voice above the yelling and screaming of the children, but she did nothing to calm them down.
Dennis Steadfast found himself in a room where a group of men were sitting around a table, playing cards for poker chips. He felt a twinge of anxiety in his stomach. He turned to leave, when they called him over. “Why don’t you join us?”
“I gave up gambling years ago. I’m not going back to it now.”
“We aren’t gambling. We’re using chips, not money. Why don’t you sit and watch? If you want to join in, you’d be welcome.”
Dennis became so engrossed in observing the game that, when someone gave him a glass, he drank the contents without a moment’s thought. It was his first whiskey in over twenty years.
Kulvir was taken around the grounds. The place was huge. There were all kinds of gardens and water features. He began to feel uneasy when he saw a stone circle covered with floral wreaths. This feeling was not helped when he was shown a meditation room in which he detected the faint smell of Marijuana intermingled with incense.
Back in the playroom, Eleanor closed up the book, then she asked Dorothy “Did you like the story?”
“No. It was silly. The boy wanted sweets, toys, and a flying bicycle. He could have wished for much better things.”
“What would you have wished for?”
“I don’t wish. I pray. Praying to God is much better than wishing on a silly stone. God can hear you. A stone can’t.”
“Well, praying is just another kind of wishing, isn’t it? If you believe something hard enough, it will happen.”
Dorothy laughed. “Not if you believe a silly old stone is going to do it.”
Eleanor handed out chocolate bars to the children, who flocked around her. She gave the biggest bar to Dorothy. Dorothy was about to share it out, when Eleanor said “No. You mustn’t do that. When someone gives you a present, it’s rude to give it away.”
Dorothy screwed up her eyes and cocked her head to one side. “That’s not right. If you have good things, you share them with people that don’t.”
Elsewhere in the mansion, Daniel came out of the shower with a towel wrapped around him. In the bedroom was a very attractive woman. “Hi there, I’m Marlene Manero. I’ve got your clean clothes here for you.”
“Thank you. Could you just leave them on the bed please?”
“There’s no need to be shy here, we’re one big family.”
“That’s fine. Look, can we discuss this later? I want to get dressed now.”
“Go ahead then, unless there’s anything you want to do first.”
Her meaning was very clear. Daniel blushed, grabbed the clothes and darted back to the bathroom, slamming the door and sitting against it.
“Oh, Come on.”
“Look. I don’t know what goes on here, but I’m celibate. Now, please go. Now.”
“Celibate? How do you mean celibate?”
“We don’t marry. We’re joined to Christ.”
“Well, we have something like that. We’re married to the collective.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’re married to each other.”
“Look. I’m celibate. That means no sex.”
“No it isn’t. It’s a way of purity and holiness. Now, please, go.”
Back in Jack Newhouse’s office, Kulvir was having a coffee with the Blue Lotus leadership team. They had been very hospitable, but Kulvir had become increasingly uncertain as the tour went on. “You have a fine place here, Jack, but you haven’t told me about what your group believes in.”
“The collective is a community based on love and spirituality.”
“What kind of spirituality?”
“We aim to become one with god.”
“Er, which god?”
“Well, there is only one god, isn’t there? People use different names, but it’s the same thing, isn’t it? Our name for him is Fimpus.”
“I’ve never heard that one before. Are you a Christian group?”
“We follow the teachings of many prophets and wise men, Jesus included. For instance, Jesus said people should love one another as they love themselves. He said that all his disciples should be one. That’s why we have no married couples here. We are all married to each other, so we are all one.”
Kulvir was angry with himself for leading his people into this situation. This collective did not follow Jesus as Lord, so he had no authority to judge them. He just said “Thank you for your hospitality and generosity, but we must continue our journey.”
“Please, don’t go yet. We have a feast prepared for you.”
“We have a long way to go.” Kulvir strode out of the office and called out “Wild Olive Shoot! We are on our way.”
There was the thunder of footsteps as people came from all over the mansion; community and collective members. “OK, gather everyone together. We have to get a move on.”
“Kulvir, Dennis is missing. So is Daniel.”
“OK, Robert. You and Justin go and find them. Bring them to the coach. The rest of us will wait there.”
Once on the coach, Kulvir started praying for his group to be delivered from the influences of the place.
In a while, Robert, Justin, Daniel and a rather unsteady Dennis were helped back onto the coach and Kulvir drove away. He kept going for several miles before he stopped the coach and stood before his passengers.
“I’m sorry. I exposed you all to the Blue Lotus Collective without knowing who they were. I put you all at risk. Please forgive me.”
“I think I rescued Daniel just in time.”
“I don’t know about that, Justin, I was starting to get interested.” The two laughed at their shared joke, but the amusement stopped when they heard Dennis snoring in his drunken sleep. Just how much of a setback he had would not be clear for some time. Dorothy and Nathan passed their chocolates around the coach. They were glad to be back with people that made sense to them.
LINTON: M1 14.47
“I’m relieved that’s over, Casey.”
“So am I, Geoff. It was hard on everyone being watched like that.”
“Well, there were the toilets. Quite few people disappeared there for a quick pray.”
“Yeah. Well, we’re on our way now, so break out the guitars and let’s have some worship.” This was met with cheers as the passengers launched into some familiar songs.
“Casey. Why was it so easy?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we didn’t have time to hide anything, so the Police must have known who we are and where we’re going, and they let us go.”
“That’s been bothering me as well. Best not say anything to anyone, just keep a lookout for anything unusual.”
“Anyone following us, that kind of thing.”
“They’ve no need to follow us. One look at our Sat Nav will tell them where we are going.”
“Get a call in to Stuart at Trégrystyon and let Jed know. We are not going to be safe until we reach Cornwall, and that is a long way away.”
David Bonnar caught himself daydreaming. He was staring out of Penny’s window, enjoying the scenery, when his phone rang.
“Bonnar. How are they going?”
“One disappeared into Linton for a while, Archer. Stopped by a Grunt patrol. Did you send one to Manchester?”
“No. I couldn’t do that to them. They’ll turn back south before then.”
“What are we going to do with our vehicles?”
“Leave that to me. At the moment, they’re useful. You’ve got your tracking feeds, Cassie’s Duke Neman is ideal for scouting, and Lamb’s HARRIER is almost unstoppable.”
“You didn’t Nano it?”
“I might have made a few enhancements. Where is the NSC at the moment?”
“They’ve gone from Granhurst. It looks like they are back on normal patrols. Brian, you do realize that the community has been compromised?”
“That Linton incident?”
“Yes. The NSC must know where the community is headed, and if they are not chasing them, it’s because they don’t need to.”
“What do you suggest?”
“Get everyone down to Trégrystyon as soon as possible. They won’t be stopped. We will need to get there ourselves to prepare for whatever our old friends have in mind.”
Cassie brought her Duke motorcycle to a screeching halt, took off her helmet, shook her hair out and looked back down the road. The first community vehicle was just coming into view. She touched her earphone. “Ten-Ninety-Six. David? We made it.”
“That’s great Cassie. Did you have any problems?”
“We had to leave a couple of vans. They broke down. Apart from that, it was remarkably good.”
“OK. Aden will probably try something, so be careful. Brian and I are not too far away from you.”
THE HOME OF LORD LOUIS SEAVER: 17.09
Seaver sat in a leather armchair with a large glass of brandy in his hand. It was time to find out what progress had been made. He touched his earphone. “Aden. How goes the hunt?”
“There have been – some – problems my lord, but all is satisfactory.”
“So the vermin have been exterminated?”
“Not yet, exactly, my lord.”
“The word satisfactory clearly has a different meaning to you than it does to me.”
“They escaped Granhurst, my lord, but we know where they are going.”
“Trégrystyon. We know this.”
“So they will be all together and vulnerable.”
“However, they will be in Cornwall and beyond our jurisdiction thanks to the incompetence of your people.”
“Surely, as Home Secretary—”
“Nothing my lord. However, all is not lost. It seems that one of the Alley Cats took our Christian prisoners there. The ones bound for the Isle of Wight.”
“They were going to infect the island’s population with influenza. Now they will do that to Trégrystyon. The whole population will be dead in a matter of days, my lord.”
“And you are certain of this?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“As you were certain that David Bonnar could not survive without your Soma-420 patches?”
“As you were certain that Lamb and Archer would kill Joshua King?”
“Pele killed him.”
“And took herself off the game board as well. You continually underestimate these people. I will take matters into my own hands. In the meantime, I want you to resolve the Isle of Wight situation. Personally.”
“But that would mean—”
“Personally, Aden. Fitzroy!”
TRÉGRYSTYON: Skentoleth 17.33
Mario Rossi watched as a coach pulled up at number eight Skentoleth. He heard a squeal as Una Sallis pushed through the people, ran up to Rossi, and wrapped her arms around him. The pressure on his wounds made him wince with pain, but he did not let Una see.
“Mario! Mario! I was afeared I wouldn’t see you again. The others are here too. Look.”
Paul Martin, and John and Anne Barry were walking towards him. Paul put his arms out to hug Mario, then changed his mind, offered a handshake, then shrugged and hugged Mario after all. “It’s good to see you, Buddy. You must have some tales to tell.”
“Yes, but not right now. I’m just glad to be free. It’s all down to a man called Jack Rowlands. Just so as you know if you meet him. How was your journey?”
“We got stopped a few times. That was tense. On the whole, the trip was good. Saw plenty of British countryside.”
Archer and Bonnar flagged Casey to stop his coach some distance outside Trégrystyon.
“Casey, I want you to get everyone off. The village is only a short walk from here.”
“Don’t ask me to explain it. Just get everyone away from here.”
“OK. Should we get the luggage off first?”
“Have you opened the luggage compartment during the journey?”
“No. Not since Granhurst.”
“Then leave it to us.”
When the last person was more than two hundred meters away, Bonnar said “OK, do you have your bug ready?”
Archer produced what looked like a large blue cockroach which he placed by the edge of the luggage door. It flowed through and disappeared. Next, Archer pulled a viewer out of his pocket. With it, he could see whatever the bug could see. The luggage compartment was empty, except for several long cylinders.
“Well, Bonnar, you were right. Shall we deal with it, or should I call Mad Jack?”
“Better get Jack over here.”
Ten minutes later and Mad Jack was studying the scanner. “I know this. I know this. This is a GPS triggered bomb. That is sneaky. Load a bomb into a vehicle; program it to explode when they reach the target location. Sneaky with a capital snee!”
“So, what do we do? Can you disarm it?”
“Have you checked that door? It’s been welded shut. Not in an obvious way, just a spot here and a spot there. If you were just to look at it, you wouldn’t notice.”
“So we un-weld it? Cut into the door?”
“Nah-ah. Any bomber worth his pay would make it go boomy-woomy if you did that.”
“I could set up Nano so you could operate it by remote control. Hold on. What a fool I am! Nano can eat through the door.
“And what then? Supposing there’s a light activated trigger in there? Boomy-woomy!”
“You keep coming up with problems, Rowlands, what about a solution?”
“OK, here’s one. We blow the whole sucker up. Problem is we don’t know how much explosive there is. It could take out an area a kilometer or so across.”
“Do you have any more of that foaming compound?”
“I used it all on those bombs. In fact, I had to do the last five without it.”
“OK. Here’s a plan. A few kilometers southeast of here is a disused industrial estate. I drive the coach there and explode it.”
“Well, from what you say, all I need is to make a big enough hole in the side for light to trigger the detonator. Nano can do that.”
“Right. Brian, you know where this place is, so you drive the coach. Jack, you and I will follow in Penny.”
They drove down the Peswar Gwynsow road to the industrial estate. There they watched as a blue circle formed on a warehouse wall. When the hole was large enough, Archer drove in, and the hole closed up.
Bonnar and Rowlands waited.
“Is he coming out?”
“He should be, Jack.”
“I don’t think he’s coming out.”
“Ten-Thirty-Two. Archer, what are you doing?”
“I’ve found some stuff in here. I’ll be out in a couple of ‒ oh, oh.”
“Oh, oh? Oh, oh is not good, Archer. Come out of there.”
A few moments later, Archer was strolling out of the building, hands thrust into his pockets. He tapped the window of Penny and said. “Gentlemen, I suggest we make haste to get ‒”
There was an ear-shattering explosion as the warehouse erupted in smoke and flame. Archer covered his head and scrambled into the back of the car before the debris rained down on them, pounding on the roof and windows. Bonnar and Archer smiled at the look of panic on Rowlands face. “Don’t worry, Jack. This car is built almost as tough as your Alley Cat CONDOR. I thought you guys were fearless, anyway.
“I’m not afraid; I just didn’t want to have to walk back if this car got trashed.”
“Yeah. Right, Jack.”
“Oh, oh again, Archer?”
“We’ve got to get in there.”
“Where? The warehouse?”
“Yes. I don’t have a Nano on me. If we can find even a few working units I can build again.”
“Build what? Can you really not function without a Nano to help you?”
“Well, you have to admit, they are useful.”
“We have the chance to start fresh here. I don’t think we’ll need Nano.”
Bonnar drove off. Archer felt as if he’d had lost an arm.
Stuart and Jed checked and double-checked their lists.
“It’s amazing, Stuart. It looks like everyone made it. How is the unloading going?”
“All the supplies that came down have been put into storage. Each coach has been directed to one of the community houses.”
“Good. We can assign rooms tomorrow. It’s been a long day. Everyone should get some rest.”
“What about those NSC people? Do you think we can trust them?”
“Actually, I do.”
© Colin Nelson www.waycyber.com
© WaylandCybersmith 2011