John tries to escape from the Patriots with proof of their existence and their plans.
I was freezing in my sandals and thin sparring pants. At least I had the artic coat from the compound.
After a five-minute walk we came to a large shed with a slanted roof. One of the guards pushed his way between us and unlocked the door. With a nod from Jason, I opened the door to the shed.
Inside was a one room furnished bedroom with a closet and a bathroom. Ducking, I stepped through the short doorway. Jason ducked into the room as well.
The older man pointed to the closet, “There are clothes and boots in there. They should fit. When you get cleaned up and dressed, come next door to the lodge and we’ll talk some more,” he then left with the two guards.
I shut the door behind them and surveyed the room. It was definitely a nicer set up than the barracks at the compound in Colorado. It was even better than my first apartment. The bed was a queen size with big fluffy pillows and comforter. A desk was provided with a holographic display computer.
There was a full bathroom. The lights came up as I entered the room. On the mirror a display of the compound and the weather shimmered into view. The shower could easily fit three people and it had two molded seats built into the walls. Everything was sensor or voice activated. I wondered if all the living quarters were this nice or was I being spoiled?
Opening the closet door, I found a row of brand new winter clothing. All of it was in simple colors, no patterns. I looked for a company name in the clothing, but all the name tags had been torn out. So, the clothes were from a corporation, but no one around here wanted to admit to it.
After a nice hot shower, which I realized I had been missing for the past couple of weeks, I put on some clothes and took out the artic jacket. Before I left, I checked the computer on my desk. It was as I had assumed. There was an island wide network, but I had very limited access. I was sure there was Internet access outside of Kodiak Island, but I could not find it.
I made my way over to the lodge. On the way, I noticed other large sheds with slanted roofs. Some of the sheds were bigger than others. The lodge was a massive three-story a-frame building. The front of it was mostly glass. I could not see inside for the tinting was up to block the setting sun.
Once inside, I was greeted by an unexpected scene. On the main floor were over two hundred men, women, and children. It looked like an old fashion Christmas picture. Everyone was talking and laughing. They were eating dinner and enjoying each other’s company. I was expecting a military scene of people getting ready for battle, not children running through the crowd, laughing and squealing.
My attention was caught by Jason waving me over to him a couple of tables away. He then yelled to me to go get some food. The serving line was off to my left.
I picked up a plate and a tray moving along the line of amazing food. There were fresh fruits and vegetables. Where were they getting so many out of season fruits and vegetables? I knew this was supposed to feed two hundred people, but not even in the AppleGates Union did we have this much for the citizens. There were all kinds of meats, fish, chicken, and beef. There were so many types of breads. Overwhelmed by what was in front of me, I started grabbing everything I could stack on my plate. I was not about to pass up this kind of opportunity.
I carefully made my way over to Jason with my treasured pile of food. While I was sitting, Jason and his companion were giggling at the mound of food I placed on the table. Sitting down, I chomped a wheat roll in half.
Jason placed his hand on the woman’s hand next to him and smiled at her. “John, this is my wife, Amanda.”
I swallowed the mostly chewed roll and held out my hand to her. “Hi.”
“How do you do?” she replied.
My amazement could not be contained anymore. I asked, “How did you get so much food? We eat fairly good in the AGU, but not like this!”
With a smile and another giggle, Jason explained, “We have hydroponic gardens that allow us to grow food year-round. Then there are the livestock areas where we get all our meats.”
“Who do you get the rest of the food from?”
“What do you mean?”
“One of the corporations has to be helping you with supplies.”
Jason slowly shook his head, “We’re completely self-sufficient.”
“Not completely,” I retorted. “The clothes you provided me have the tags cut out of them.”
“Well, you got me there. But as far as the food goes, we grow all our own.”
“So, who’s supplying the clothes to you?” I pushed.
Jason paused for a minute, before answering. “I would love to eventually tell you, but we need to know you can be trusted.”
After foolishly finishing off most of the food I had on my plate, Jason and his wife escorted me back to my shack. Jason promised me a tour of the island in the morning.
I wanted to play with the computer to see if I could get a connection to the outside world, but my mind was blank when I stared at the desk. I laid down on the bed, trying to think about my situation. I had just started reviewing my arrival, when I passed out from exhaustion.
The next day, I awoke about midmorning. After enjoying another hot shower and putting on clothes, I made my way towards the a-frame. I looked down the split off trails, but I could not see anything for all the pine trees. The Patriots must be spread out, using most of the island.
Jason was waiting outside in the cold and snow. He was dragging on a pipe. As I approached, I could smell the smoke. It made my stomach turn.
“Good morning, John!” he called out. “I’m sorry, but you missed breakfast.”
“That’s all right. I’m still full from last night.” Which was a lie. I lost my appetite for any future meals because of his pipe.
“Join me. I’d like to show you around Kodiak.”
We strolled up one of the many winding trails. More and more clearings came into view, with much larger a-frame buildings than the one near my shack. Shacks were scattered throughout our walk. Some of them were tiny like mine, others were two story buildings, but all had approximately the same shape and roof.
Continuing on the trail, we came out of the woods to large geodesic domes. They were easily twenty meters high and fifty meters across. I could only see a few of these domes and each was connected to the next one.
“These are our hydroponic greenhouses,” Jason said. “There’s a dozen of them.”
I was amazed at the size of the greenhouses. How could they not be detected by satellites? Where did they get the resources for such engineering?
Jason led me to the entrance of the closest dome. Opening the glass door, I was immediately hit with warm moist air. After entering, I began to sweat in my artic coat. I hung my coat on a wall peg and followed Jason. I was overwhelmed by the interior of the dome. I could not recognize any of the vegetation.
“We not only grow our food, but we also grow many medicinal plants.” Jason stated.
“Herbal medicine?” I scoffed.
“Our biochemist and pharmacists work together to create the medicines we need. These plants are the basis of all those medicines.”
After the tour of the hydroponic greenhouses, we left the blanket of warmth for the bracing cold. With another walk through the pines and snow, Jason led me to the ranching area of the island.
It was another unbelievable sight. There were cattle, pigs, chickens, and even some horses. I have seen cows before, but never pigs or the other livestock in real life. I always thought pigs were much smaller.
“How do you get the resources to build all of this?” I asked.
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Can you tell me how you hide all of these buildings and the domes from corporate satellites?”
“I can’t tell you that either,” Jason put his foot up on a cross board of the fence. “I’m sorry I can’t tell you much, but what I can tell you is we need your help.”
Here it comes, I thought. “What do you want?”
“You had a case about a year and a half ago, where you were supposed to bring in a programmer/hacker to the AGU. I believe his name was Seiji Masaru? He created a program that he called the Cyber Nuke. It was a program that would delete all data information and fry the systems the data was on.”
That case got really messy. There must be a mole in the AGU Brokerage. “How do you know all this?!”
Jason simply smiled. “In your final report on the Cyber Nuke, you said you threw the tablets containing the Cyber Nuke program out the window of your train and they smashed on the cliffs somewhere in Northern California?”
Actually, it was the Northern coast of Oregon. I put in the file California so no one would find it if they went looking. This guy does have access to AGU Broker files. “What about it?”
“Well, we looked on those cliffs for about 300 km. Not even a shattered shard of the tablets were found.”
“Someone must’ve beaten you to it.”
“Your father didn’t think so. He told us before his passing he thought you might have kept those tablets hidden.”
I shrugged and shook my head. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have the tablets.”
“Come with me,” Jason marched off towards one of the ranch buildings.
I followed with my thoughts. All I could think was I was in over my head. There has to be way too many higher ups in several Corporations that are assisting the Patriots. I’m not only taking on the Patriots, but also several Corporations.
Jason crawled into a dune buggy and the electric engine whined to life. I crawled in next to him and we shot off across the landscape. The trees began to thin out and the smell of the ocean became strong in my nostrils. The buggy slid to a stop near the water’s edge.
“Look out there. What do you see?” asked Jason.
I turned to the water and looked out over the waves that loosely rolled in. “What am I looking for?”
“Those are the tops of the buildings that used to be the water front for this island.”
I turned back and looked harder. Sure enough, there were tops of several buildings and antenna towers peeking out in between the waves. “What were those buildings?”
“That was the old U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. They’re underwater because of the melting of the polar ice caps. The sea raised and covered it. I bet you didn’t know the Seattle you are familiar with was rebuilt after half of it went in the water.”
I did not know any of this. I had heard of global warming, but it was just a myth that was cooked up by environmentalists who were trying to take down some of the Corporations.
My head rocked back into the seat as the dune buggy lurched forward. We climbed back into the trees and further up on to the top of the highest peaks of Kodiak Island. Again, we slid to a stop and Jason clumsily climbed out of the buggy. I jumped out and made my way over to him.
Once Jason was standing on the ground he made his way over to the edge of the peak. “Look down there.”
Looking over the edge I saw twelve concrete pads, nestled in between the mountains. There were what looked like massive manhole covers in the middle of each pad. Concrete roads led from each pad into one road winding down through the trees.
“What are they?” I asked.
“Those are nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile silos. Each one is active and ready to launch a nuclear missile,” Jason turned to me, pointing to the silos. “I’ll cut to the chase. Each of those missiles is aimed at a Corporation headquarters in North America. That includes Seattle.”
I was stunned that he was proposing the end of civilization. “Why?”
“You know as well as I do there will be no changing people’s way of life unless the current system is destroyed.”
“You’d kill all those people, trying to bring down the Corporations!”
“True. That’s why we want the Cyber Nuke. With that we can take down the Corporations without the loss of life.”
“What you’re proposing is an apocalyptic future for society. You’re either going to kill them instantly with those missiles, or you’re going to kill them slowly from lack of utilities, food, and medicine!”
“No, people will not starve and die slowly. We are poised to swoop in and set up a government that will take over and care for everyone.”
I did not know what to do. If I refused to give him the Cyber Nuke or just do nothing, he would launch the missiles. If I gave him the program, just as much chaos would be brought down on society.
“I’m going to make the decision easy on you,” stated Jason. “One of my soldiers and I will accompany you back to Seattle and you will hand over the program to us.”
All I could do was nod.
Back in my shack, I was left alone. Jason said we would leave in the morning. I was surprised he did not leave a guard at my door. I guess he thought I would not go anywhere. Fool.
I tried a couple of times to meditate and relax, but I could not. Instead, I paced around my room and thought about my situation.
It didn’t make sense at all. I understood they wanted to re-instate a democracy, but Jason and his people had a nice thing going. The Corporations were helping them with everything. I was missing something. And, where did they get the nukes? As far as I knew, the Corporations did away with them after what the last U.S. President had done to the Middle East. Where did the missiles come from?
I had to get off the island, but before I left I had to find some proof the Patriots existed and who was giving them their help.
I plopped myself down at the holo on my desk and requested a map of Kodiak Island. The map materialized a couple of centimeters above the desk. It was very well detailed, showing all the shacks, a-frame lodges, greenhouse domes, and ranch. The only thing missing were the silos.
At the north side of the island were the ports for the fishing boats. That was convenient. I could take one of those over to mainland Alaska. The channel between the mainland and the island did not seem that wide.
Down towards the area of the lost Coast Guard base was the helipad I landed on. Next to that, looked like an operations building. If I could get in there I could probably get the proof I needed to show the AppleGates Union.
If they follow a standard shift change, they will swap out personnel around midnight. Most people think that would be the time to go in, because things are a little chaotic with the change. Actually, you would have to deal with twice as many people. The good time to go will be about four in the morning. Things will be quiet and boring. The personnel on duty will be sleepy and slow to react. I had about six hours until that time.
I encircled the operations building. The front door was the first place I had seen cameras on this island. I knew once I went in, there was no turning back and I would have to run, but I did not want to raise any alarm trying to get into the building.
The backside of the building had windows to watch the helipad and there was another door, but I could not see any cameras.
I had watched the shift change. Four personnel left, while they were only replaced by two. Taking them down would be simple.
With my artic hood up, I made my way to the back door at an angle that was difficult to see from the windows. Rapping on the door, I waited for someone to answer. The door opened and a man leaned out into the cold night air. From my side, I wrapped both arms around his neck, pulling down and forward. He flipped over onto his back in the snow. My foot slipped into place, blocking the door from closing. I laid on the man’s face and grabbed his knife from his belt. Slamming the knife deep into his chest, the man tensed and went limp.
A woman called from inside. I grabbed the man’s hand gun and made my way through the door. The handgun aimed in front of me, ready for an attack. The woman dressed all in black, like the man, came around a corner. Immediately recognizing danger, she went for her holster. I pulled my trigger and she dropped. Quickly, I pulled the man’s lifeless body inside next to the woman.
Ready for attack, I made my way through the building to the main operations area. No one was there. I dropped into a chair at one of the computer stations. The system was still unlocked.
I found schematics for the silos. I also found a roster list of all the people on Kodiak Island. I dropped all the data onto a 3D storage cube.
With a deeper search into the files, I found correspondence between Jason and a Russian government official. That’s it! That’s the missing piece. The Patriots may have moles in the Corporations, but the Corporations are not helping them. It was Russia. When the Corporations were coming to power Russia, China and a few other countries returned to communism. From what I knew of those countries, they had nuclear warheads before the Corporations existed. Russia could easily have given the Patriots the resources they needed. Jason would be indebted to them, not any of the Corporations.
Glancing at the holo-monitors showing the camera feed from outside, I saw a patrol buggy was parked out front. One guard sat in the buggy, while the other entered the front door.
The front door swung open. “Hey Mika, our guest isn’t in his room…”
“That’s because I’m right here,” I popped up from my seat and shot him. His head snapped back from the impact of the bullet. They knew I wasn’t in my shack. That meant it would not be long until someone else came looking for me.
I stuffed the 3D storage cube into the lining pocket of my coat and made my way out the front door. I walked straight towards the buggy. The other patrol guard did not take any notice of me until I opened the driver’s door. He leaned over towards me, but before he could say anything, my gun recoiled and he dropped onto both seats.
Leaning through, I pushed open the passenger door and shoved the guard out. He groaned as he hit the snowy ground. He was still alive, but I did not have time to finish him.
I sped off to the north side of the island. It was only about five minutes into my trip when I heard klaxons blaring through the woods. Either the guard I shot was able to raise the alarm, or someone found him. It did not matter.
I closed in on the pier with the fishing boats. It was still dark with no light on the horizon. I wished I had time to set up some misdirection, but it would only be a few minutes before the security forces were here.
Sliding the buggy to a stop, I jumped out and ran for the boat, the furthest tied to the dock. I was half way over the edge of one fishing boat when I saw a speed boat tied up behind the ship.
Jumping across to the speed boat, I landed in the middle of the seats and lost my footing, when the boat shifted in the water. I released the moor and started to push away from the dock.
“Search each boat! It’s the only way off the island!” Jason’s voice boomed in the dark.
I was out of time. I desperately tried to understand the controls, the steering wheel was simple enough. I found the throttle stick that was good. I quickly searched the console for the start button. There was a red button, but when I pushed it, nothing happened. There was a switch above the button that read “Battery.” Flipping it, I tried the button again. The engine roared to life. I was surprised to see the speed boat ran on fossil fuels.
I pushed the throttle half way forward. As the boat lurched forward, I cranked on the steering wheel to the left. The back end of the boat bounced off the dock and slammed sideways into the fishing boat in front of me. The boat flipped around in the water, so I was pointing out to the channel. I shoved the throttle all the way forward and I fell back into the driver’s seat.
I looked back to see men running up the dock. I pulled out the gun I had kept and emptied the clip at them. One fell into the water and another fell backwards, while the other four dropped to the deck.
One of the security officers pulled up on his stomach to fire his assault rifle. The glass windshield shattered in front of me. I pitched forward over the steering wheel from the bullet that slammed into my left shoulder. I kept control of the boat, as the dock shrunk in the background, and sped on hopefully to the other side of the channel.
I found a GPS system under the dash. Setting it up next to the steering wheel, I found no towns straight across the channel, but there was Wide Bay. I scanned along the coast on the map, until I found somewhere I could go. It was a town called Chignik. It was pretty far south along the Alaskan coast. I throttled back the speed to half, hoping it would stretch out the fuel long enough.
It took a couple of hours before I could see lights peeking up in the dark ahead of me. I was getting tired and cold. The blood loss must have been getting bad. I could not move my left arm and my breathing was painful.
Throttling back the speed more, the boat slowed and stopped bouncing on the water. I was worried that I would lose control of the boat, if I kept that pace up. I eventually came into view of a city and a port.
A dock appeared out of the darkness. A man had walked up to the edge and was waiting for me to stop. I had nothing left. My weapon was empty and I was in no shape to fight. I hoped the figure on the dock was friendly.
I cut the engine and waited for the boat to coast in the rest of the way. The man had on a long dark coat with the collar pulled up. He tossed a rope to me. I grabbed it off the edge with my good hand and pulled the boat towards the dock. The boat bumped into the pillars and ladder and started to drift back. I could not pull on the rope anymore. I tied it off as best I could.
“You from Kodiak?” Asked the man, “You guys usually don’t come out here for another two days.”
I climbed up most of the ladder, until I was halfway over the edge of the dock. “Yeah, I’m sort of from Kodiak.” I panted, “Look I need help. I’ve been shot.”
I awoke in what looked like a small doctor’s office, on a table. Next to the table I was laying on was a tray piled over with bloody gauze and towels. I did not try to sit up, I knew that would be a bad choice. Instead, I tried to lift my head to look around. That was also a bad idea.
“Why is it men always try to sit up when they are injured?” Came the female voice.
“I just tried to lift my head.” I retorted.
“Still a bad idea.”
“Yeah, I noticed.”
“There’s a button next to your right hand that will tilt up the table you are on.”
I moved my hand around a little and came across the button. The table slowly tilted up at my waist. It was still painful, but at least I could now see the room. Next to my table, was a small wooden desk where a dark skinned slender woman, with thick black hair down to her the middle of her back sat doing paperwork. Her age showed a little with the streaks of white shot through.
“Are you Eskimo?” I asked.
She stood and came around the desk to face me. “We prefer Inuit.”
“Sorry. I’ve never been in Alaska before. I’ve only read about your country.”
“That makes sense.” She stated. “I am Doctor Yazzie and you are John Carrio, from the AppleGates Union.”
I was surprised. I did not know Alaska had a database of citizens from the Corporations. “How did you know?”
“We scanned your palm chip and sent the ID information to the AGU. It took them awhile to reply back. At first, they would not admit to you being theirs, until we said we would check with other Corporations.”
They must think I defected or something. It has been awhile since I checked in with them, but I had left all my stuff at the fight compound in the neutral zone, including the communicator. I did not have time to grab any of it.
Dr. Yazzie smiled at me. “Don’t worry they want you back. Your boss, Mr. Coleman and a small delegation is coming to pick you up.”
Great, they are coming for me. The question was what Coleman would do with me once they picked me up. I changed the subject. “So, how bad is my gunshot wound?”
“Well, you’re lucky you were shot from a distance. Had you been closer you would have lost your arm. As it is, the bullet lodge between your shoulder blade and the backside of your rib cage. Ribs three and four were shattered and five was cracked. Which made for some difficult breathing, I’m sure. I set the two shattered ribs with pins. The other one will stitch itself back together. Your left arm is going to be in a sling for a long time.”
I stayed in a supply room of the Doctor’s office. There was a cot for me to lie on. It was horrible getting in and out of. I had to have help. Luckily, the pain meds Doctor Yazzie gave me kept me fairly groggy or knocked out.
Early the next morning Dr. Yazzie rushed into the supply room with a couple of locals. Both locals were medium height, barrel chested with big bellies, and full beards down to their chests. All of them looked worried. The doctor and one of the locals pulled me up to a sitting position and draped my bloody parka over my shoulders. I slipped my good arm into the one sleeve.
“You’re a popular one.” She stated.
“What’s going on?”
“Your AGU crew just got here, but people from Kodiak have been here for about thirty minutes looking for you. It’s just a matter of time before the Kodiak people find you or a full-on fire fight breaks out between your group and them.” Both the doctor and the local heaved me up to my feet, all the while I was moaning from the pain. “We don’t want a blood bath in our little town.”
The three moved me over to the back door. One of the locals snuck out and stood next to the door.
The other local explained, “The guys from Kodiak came in from the docks and are sweeping to the west from there. Your AGU people landed at the airport on the north-west side. We’ve convinced them to stay there, but they’re getting antsy.”
When the first local was sure things were safe, he waved for us to come out. The local outside jumped on a snowmobile. He put his hand out to me. “I’m Jack. I’ll be taking you to your AGU crew.”
I shook his hand and the other local helped me onto the back of the snowmobile. I put my good arm around Jack, he lurched forward, and sped down the alley. I could feel every little bump in my back and shoulder. The snowmobile flew across a major street and up another alley. As we had crossed the street, I glanced several men with weapons and armor. They spotted us and started yelling.
Jack yelled back over his shoulder, “They’re onto us. I hope you make a good shield, I don’t want to be shot.” He exclaimed with a boisterous laugh.
It did not take long for me to hear other snowmobiles behind us. I looked back to see several Patriots on snowmobiles chasing us. I yelled over our engine at Jack. He nodded his head. At the next intersection, he escaped from the alley and onto another street.
“More open space. Easier to dodge.” He called over his shoulder to me.
I understood his logic, but when he started weaving in and out of oncoming trucks and cars, I questioned his sanity. There was the occasional gunshot in our direction, but nothing came close for all of his swerving in and out of traffic.
Cars became fewer and fewer as we came to the end of the street. We flew past a guard shack that marked the opening to the airport. Jack avoided the parking lots, heading around the back end of a long line of buildings. Gunfire was coming more rapidly.
Rounding the end of the last building, the airfield popped up in front of us. Jack made a hard left to stay on the snow. I almost lost my grip on him. Looking forward over Jack’s shoulder I could see The AGU hovercraft. It looked so tiny off in the distance, but grew larger. I could see Security Officers pouring out of the hovercraft taking defensive positions. We were halfway down the strip of snow when the AGU people opened fire. Bullets buzzed passed us. Peeking back over my shoulder I saw one of the Patriots slump backwards off his snowmobile.
Jack slid to a stop directly across from the hovercraft. No sooner had I jumped off, then he took off. Coleman, my boss, and two of the Security Officers appeared around me. Coleman hunched me over and ran with me towards our way out of the chaos. The two Security Officers were right with us, shooting over the top of me. One of them dropped to the ground. Coleman grabbed his body by the armor and dragged him with us to the hovercraft.
Up the ramp and inside, Coleman left the officer’s body in the middle of the floor, and helped me to sit down and strap me in. The high-pitched humming of the large rings on either side of the craft told me the ship was coming to life and we were about to take off. The other Security Officers slowly backed up the ramp, all the while firing at the Patriots.
Weight pushed me down into my seat as we lifted off the ground quickly. The officers all took their seats. Some of them had bullet holes in their armor, with blood oozing out. I felt guilty for all of their sacrifices just to rescue me.
“So, who were your friends?” Coleman asked, out of breath.
I wrenched my good arm around to the lining pocket, pulled out the 3D storage cube and tossed it to Coleman. “Everything you need to know about the Patriots.”
“I can’t believe you’re still on about Patriots, after all you’ve been through.”
“It’s all on the cube.”
Driving home from the office, it felt good to be back in Seattle. I reflected on my debriefing. They first checked me out. Doctor Yazzie had stitched me up pretty good. The only thing they needed to do was give me a better sling. The new one did a lot more to support my arm.
When my superiors opened the data cube and looked at the information, to say they were dumbfounded was the understatement of the year. When they read the communications between the Patriots and Russia, to say they were frightened, was the second understatement of the year.
I had not thought of it before, but just as other Corporations we were only geared for urban combat. We had some large weaponry, but nothing that could compete with the war machine that was Russia.
When I left, other CEOs of the AppleGates Union were called in. They were still trying to figure out what their first step would be.
The taxi left me off at the front of my building. Making my way in, I found the most beautiful sight waiting for me. Alia was sitting on one of the lobby couches. She got up and ran over to me, almost knocking me over. With a big hug, she whispered how she missed me and how much she loved me. I almost cried from the relief of knowing she was still with me. I was afraid she would leave me after all the time I was gone.
We made our way up to my floor in the elevator. Alia kept herself wrapped around me until the elevator stopped. She put my good arm up over her shoulders trying to support me.
I laughed under my breath, “You know I can walk on my own.”
“Yeah, I know.”
I swiped my palm chip at my front door and the latch released. Alia shoved the door open and we walked in sideways together. The smiles fell off our faces when we saw my guests.
Madam was leaning her leather clad butt on my glass dinner table and Jason Moritz stood up from my couch. Both individuals pointed guns at us.
“John,” Jason spoke. “It’s time you give us the Cyber Nuke.”
Appox. words ~ 6,000