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THEY NEVER KNEW PT2of an American Fairy Tale
THEY NEVER KNEW
A MODERN FAIRY TALE
A bullet hit Rick’s plexi-laminate side window. “Damn, how much is this going to cost me,” He cursed under his breath as he pushed back into his seat using the window frame as a shield. He slowly slid his hand onto his Glock 19 while he waited. Only One shot? He thought, I guess the shooter thought he got me as I “slumped”. He waited another 15 minutes letting the engine run to make it look good. He was sure the shooter saw the water vapor off the exhaust.
That shot did have an affect though. Right then and there he decided to make an unscheduled change in his vacation plans. Instead of Montana, he would be heading to Charleston SC to meet a very old friend. He had his letter in his pocket and figured what the hell. Right now with all that has happened, he’d rather be with a friend than alone in the woods reading and chopping wood.
As he settled down into the cabin cockpit he was still quite nervous. After being shot at who wouldn’t be he said to himself. That pep talk didn’t help. He opened the control center of his truck and engaged the system for data retrieval. He also plotted a rural route just to be different. The scenery is nicer going through small towns, sometimes.
This GTV, like no other civilian GTV, was a lightly armored do anything truck. His old business friends joked it would able to survive most anything short of a nuclear blast. He never drove it during the daylight hours. It would have brought undue attention to him and cause more trouble of the legal kind. He normally rented an electric city vehicle.
The electronics and armor were “gifts” to him made by some of his techie friend that were in the defense and related electronics business. He had placed them in jobs years ago where they rose to prominent leadership positions. One year as a retirement gift to him they asked if he wanted some state of the art goodies in a special vehicle. He declined due to the fact that he did not have the clearances they held which “allowed” them these types of toys. They did it anyway as a surprise. Nice guys probably saved my life. I should let them know, he thought still shaking.
The download came in on voice: “Ms Shang Si-yue is the product,” (strange use of terms he thought), “of a German and Chinese. She is an only child”(spoiled brat he wondered?). “Majored in Computer Engineering from Princeton and minored in foreign languages. Postgraduate studies were conducted abroad in Europe, school not mentioned. Then she enrolled at Beijing University. There is mention of advanced work in computer forensics and not too much more on that.
“Will that be all?”
“Yes thank you.” He tried to be polite to all his AI machines. “You never know when they will become sentient and remember how rude I may have been,” Rick always told people. Then he expalained about a Woody Allen scene where the toaster he smacked told the elevator, and the elevator gave him a rough ride. Rick concluded it had to be quantun connectivity. Most people thought he was nutswhen they heard that.
The downloaded data explained some things. Not as much as he had wished for, but enough to begin. What it didn’t tell him he would discover.
Shang Si-yue at a debriefing
“So you have him going to his cabin, where?” questioned Si-yue’s boss
She answered, “Montana or Canada. Sorry, for some reason I dropped the ball. I’m sure the records will show us quickly. This can’t be the real issue here. Why this question? Why now when we haven’t even decided there is an actual issue to be resolved?”
“You might be right; however, this is very out of character for you to forget,” her boss said deflecting the question.
He quickly added, “No, we do believe and trust you. You are one of the best we have. Again, WE think there is a serious problem here and WE would like to make sure nothing has gotten out. Since you feel there is no major issue take a few days off then follow up as you see fit. You have carte blanche as to action and resources. Please be careful.”
Si-yue responded “What? Careful? With him? He’s no physical threat. Is it Berg again?” She was getting angry.
“No Si-yue, simply take care of your assignment. But WE are not taking this lightly. This program has been decades in the works and a slip up by you or anyone assigned to this project will be watched. If you get what I mean.” He was serious.
“Shit I should have just given it to Dave. I hate to fuck, up even a bit. It’s like missing an X when I’ve had a perfect score,” Si-yue stated as a matter of fact. She hoped that would illicit a confirmation regarding Dave Berg. It didn’t.
Si-yue then changed the subject somewhat. “Rick is a nice guy. I hope he hasn’t done anything stupid. How would he know? Oh well. I’ll go to him in a few days, get this straight,” and laughing, “bury the whole thing one way or another, a blip on the screen, so to speak.”
Late afternoon the next day.
Rick was excited and the shooting incident was hundreds of miles and many, many hours past. Rick follows the GPS to Dan’s place in Charleston. He hasn’t seen him in over 10 years. He remembered the last time. Dan was leaving for something secret. He wouldn’t say what and Rick didn’t press the point. We go way back. He was thinking even though we may not have been contact for some time, within a few minutes, after the customary greetings, it’s as if no time had passed. He’s like a brother.
Dan has been his friend from grammar school. He was his verbal/philosophical combatant, a better chess player (especially end game) and was his sparing partner as they grew up. He is also a whacko ex-marine and was always talking about moving to a small island or small country somewhere south. He hated bureaucracies, big government and the cold. When Rick received his letter after years of nothing, He sent one back let him know that he should give me a heads up if he was in the country. Nice timing. Instead of north, I’m here in the South.
Rick knocked on the gate to the pier and asked for Dan giving the name the boat the Xebec to the dock master.
The dock master pointed to this huge boat, almost a ship. “She’s moored out there. I’ll have to call to have him get you, Mr.?”
“Just tell him ‘Friz’ He’ll know.”
“Friz you’re still just as ugly as the last time I saw you,” said Dan laughing.
“Maybe so but I still have my hair.”
After the customary hug, bone crushing handshake and some small talk Rick asked, “It’s huge, what will it do?” Rick pointed out the size. “This looks like a converted LCS minus the firepower. Where you came upon a vessel like is was beyond me. And I know better than to ask. I seem to be poking my nose in all the wrong places.”
Dan smiled and said, “You’re pretty close. It was a prototype that was rejected for cost. We picked it up in an arms deal for a steal. I can maintain 75+ knots sustained in rough seas, 100+ for shorter distances. It runs on a new design I developed. I’ll tell you about it some time. Have a drink. It’s been a while. By the way, where did you park they are pretty strict about that here.”
“Where you suggested. At your place in the garage. And, who is the we you mentioned.” Rick pointed to the boat again.
“You hinted at a situation, so being the old boy scout and suspicious as always…”
Rick replied, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I must be nuts. Get me that gin and tonic and I will go over a few things. Dan, then take a look at this stuff I brought along and tell me what you think.”
“How about later?” Dan asks. “It can’t be all that important. I’ll tell you more about this craft.”
“No, please just give it a one over. It will ease my mind. I told you I’ve have some very strange things happening to me.”
It must have been the manner that Rick asked him to look it over. Dan began to read his paper, notes and documentation. About half way through the first set of pages, he faced Rick and gave him a strange look. He read more and made a call. A call came back soon there after. Dan waved him to a seat. The engines began to hum and I realized we were underway.
“What’s up? Rick asked. Going for a sail?”
“You bet, and out of here ASAP. You are in deep shit friend and now so am I. Were I anyone else I would be calling your government, setting you in a boat without food and water, zip tie you and denying any knowledge of your existence. Holy shit is this real?”
Dan brings his computer system up and asks. “Don’t you get it? You my dear old sparing buddy, chum, you have looked death in the eye or on the lips if I know you. You are such a dead man. I am so lucky to have diplomatic immunity,” he mumbles a bit too loudly. He calls up to the bridge, “As soon as we are out, I want full speed home. They’ll be expecting us.”
Rick can feel the power under his feet. The whole ship throbs as the power is increased. This is no ordinary vehicle. No joke. He’s never been on anything like it in his life. “It feels like it flying over the water,” he says.
Dan smiles and then shows Rick a print out of MS Shang with data he had never seen. Even my friends didn’t have access to this level. This was classified code words he had never even heard of. He knew that from the old days.
“That thud from her purse, in my apartment, remember I mentioned it, a gun”? Rick asks.
“She’s the best there is. You’re not dead. So she either thinks you’re harmless or there is more they want to know. I’m betting the latter. And now I’m part of it. International water can’t come quickly enough. Hopefully they haven’t figured out that you are not up north in your secluded little shack.”
Dan is on the phone. “Captain to the bridge, bring her to full speed as soon as we are able. Do not, I repeat, do not bring her down until we reach our waters.”
Rick’s blood runs cold, just like the time he just missed getting T-Boned late one night on his motorcycle.
Rick blurts out, “The truck is parked in your garage and once they find it they will make the link. Now what?”
Dan is serious when he says, “Too late. You can forget that comfortable retirement. Have you thought about political asylum? I can arrange it. We have no love for the PRC or the States, in Puerto Rico. They are 900 lb gorillas in the room, and a political reality we just have to deal with.”
Rick declares, “I must be stupid or brain addled. What’s going on here? You mean to say that my finding that stuff is a big deal? I MEAN REALLY, who cares at this point in time? Things run smoothly, most people are asleep and or no one actually gives a dam where or who the ‘Boss ’is. You are making this bigger then it has to be.”
Dan is even more serious when he responds. “No my friend, you who studied history are blind, a fool or both. Legitimacy is one leg that a government has to stand on the other is power. Balanced, things flow smoothly; the occasional miscreants get wacked “legit” and life goes on. However if one of the legs is broken, cut off, or cancerous, the government wobbles and possibly even topples. It takes longer if it relates to issues of legitimacy since people do not want to believe the worst, say like a marriage. The reaction is quicker if there is a power vacuum or to use the marriage analogy when found ‘In Flagranti Delecto’. There has been an undercurrent of people through out the planet that would pay a kings ransom for the data you stumbled into.
“Jeeze, this is too weird. Dan who or what are you? You hated governments and all that. You didn’t buy this vessel. Who did?”
“I am as you would put it a trouble shooter, a diplomat if you will, for certain people and entities making their home in Republic of Puerto Rico. And WE are an Independent nation, trading on the open bloc not beholding to any one government or group. And now that we have these papers we will either get blown out of the water, our country vaporized or I’m betting, I’m hoping to be in a better bargaining position to be left alone and do as we please.”
Rick noticed the WE was emphasized.
Dan stops and looks at him. “Thank you for all this, and, Welcome to your new, temporary, or possible permanent home. We will be paying you a handsome amount as a finder’s fee for this data. You do not have to concern yourself about retirement income any more.
“Fuck you Dan. I really do not like situations like this. All I wanted to do was work in the library, eat good food and live a quiet life.” Dan rarely called Rick by his given name. Rick realizes he doesn’t have many options. He will do as Dan suggested.
My new found wealth will be as a trapped exile on some small island. My heart? My house? My stuff? Wonders Rick
SITE R, Maryland
Eddie Chavez and Jacque ‘Jocko’ Carrier are a month or two from retirement. Eddie asks “Jacque, you ever wonder what happened to that stuff MEDUSA picked up on the Library thing? It must have been something. I heard that mean-ass Chinese chick, you know, the one that threatened to kill us the next time we sent her on something stupid, was on it. We haven’t seen her and we’re not dead. Jacque, I wondered what that was about. Looked pretty legit to me except for the calling up and the manner in which it was done. I looked at the citations late one night again and there was nothing too unusual. Lots of old techie stuff from 2003 and so. It is ancient history, as far as I’m concerned.”
“I wondered just a little. She really reamed us a new one last time.”
“Naa, but maybe when the new guys show up for training, we’ll use this as the game plan. See if they pick out the same things we did. We’ve been at it way too long. I can’t wait to get my retirement badge and go.”
“I like that idea. I really do,” replied Eddie.
WASHINGTON DC a few days later
Shang Si-yue is in her office with her boss. “I should have shot his fucking ass right then and there in his townhouse after dinner. It wouldn’t be the first time I had to do it like that. He’s not there at the cabin nor is he answering his phone. Now what do I do? Maybe he got eaten by a bear. I’d miss him but a relief. Now I have to go to his place and have another look around, get the sensor reports for his vehicle and see if, maybe he’s still home. That would be a surprise. He schedule a two week holiday. That’s on record.”
“That would have ended this little episode,” he replied grinning. He likes it when she’s mad at herself. Things happened that need happening. “Go on Si-yue.”
“Let me review my activities up to date. Maybe you can see something I missed: I went to his townhouse, and nothing, not a fucking thing. I found out he did a download via a double link to his mobile unit. According to the print out it was about me! There isn’t much in the open world so I’m not too worried. Maybe he likes me. I have to get more background on him.
“I found a few letters nothing of import. He doesn’t travel much mostly by public conveyance. He’s sort of a home-body, likes music, food, art and movies so the cabin thing is an odd part that doesn’t quite fit.
“One thing that’s different and has me curious, apparently this truck he has is computer is shielded. I guess working in the area he was in gave him access to the people and technology. He must have a few ‘friends’. There is no record of travel and no record of fueling. So anywhere he went is within a tank load away. That is, unless he used someone else’s cards.”
She stops and says aloud, “You know this just might be a problem, and I might have really screwed up.”
Her boss wanted her not to worry too much. He said, “First let’s do a little digging. What am I saying is, he’s just away. He changed his mind. People do that. It’s Nothing…yet. You saw the document destruction. Back to work girl. We’ll decide after we get conclusive data one way or the other.”
Su-yue, here are some data you never had. “He grew up in the wooded part of New Jersey that explains the cabin. Was sociable in the past but had few friends in the true sense of the word. Most are from his younger days. He is or was a master shooter and studied boxing and Tai Chi Chuan. He never told you that, I’m sure. I guess he can be dangerous.”
Her boss throws a piece of paper in front of her. “What about this?” He asks
“What, he’s licensed to carry in all states. How is that possible?” She’s surprised. “How was I Not informed? That fucking Burg is withholding the data back from me, isn’t he? I never saw any weapons in his home. I could have been in real danger.”
Her boss ignored that last question and then added, “Here’s what more I have on him that you don’t yet. He was married a few times; once for 20 years. He has a daughter and son one from each marriage. Maybe he’s there. You need to find them. Apparently he speaks to one ex every now and then. And I will look into Mr. Berg for you, Si-yue.”
Later, in her office, an officer brought her a file and said, “Commander Shang “I have the children’s phone records. Nothing current. And the normal range for his type of vehicle even with an extended tank, possibly 800 miles at best? Let’s say it was full and he went to visit a friend with in either ½ the fuel distance or more and hasn’t had the need to refuel since he is the guest. Max range would put him just north of Jacksonville, south and upstate NY or Canadian border.”
Si-yue’s boss was there too and just observed.
The officer continued, “No record of the vehicle on any street so far, no speeding ticket, no nothing. He just disappeared!”
Si-yue yelled, “No he didn’t disappear, damn it.”
The officer turned white. “Yes Sir,” was all he said staring straight ahead. The officer saluted, did a quick about face, and left quickly.
She continued in a much milder voice., “I’m guessing he just changed his mind but why and where? I’ve found that when someone isn’t attempting to hide it is sometimes more difficult to locate them because they act in a random and at times in an unpredictable and out of character. That’s what I think I have here.” She really refused to admit what she really thought and felt.
Si-yue stopped talking and slumped in her chair. “I need to get some sleep. I’ll be back in the morning sir.”
“ That’s a good idea. See you in the AM, early?”
She looked at him. He was just standing there. He hadn’t moved. She said, “Of course. We need to close this and move on to other pressing projects. I’ll see you in the AM sir.”
The Next Morning
A new research officer is on his feet at attention and worried. Commander Shang Si-yue has a reputation as a mean mother fucker. “No sir, Commander Shang Sir. Here are the birth documents of his family back to 1900. The other records show left wing political activists, or humanistic contributions, most activities are in minor roles. Nothing major but consistency”
The new research officer continued albeit in a shaky voice, “He speaks no Spanish that we know of, just Latin and some Chinese. And, he’s been a recruiter for our government contractors and pro bono for one or two intelligence bureaus for decades. I wouldn’t question his loyalty.”
“Thank you for your report I will go over it in detail. And sergeant, relax. I’m not mad at you.”
“Yes Commander Shang. Thank you.” He was sweating as he saluted and then made a sharp about face
“Puerto Rican? Let’s see if he flew out on some private jet or something. She called to the sergeant, “I want data on any thing flying, sailing or swimming within a 500 mile range that smells of Puerto Rico I want to know about within the given time frame.”
Later that day that same sergeant enters her office. “Sir, Commander Shang, Sir. It appears that a high level ‘Puerto Rican diplomat’s ship left Charleston Harbor unexpectedly early in the week and headed for home. The manifest had it registered to stay in our waters for a week more. We didn’t give it any thought and it later disappeared from our tracking systems. Not unusual. Once private and other government’s craft have left our waters we just take a glance. One thing though, it was running at very high speed for a craft of that nature. We have catalogued it as ‘OF INTEREST.” The propulsion systems must be of a new design and retro fitted. That ship could never achieve the speed it did with the original propulsion systems. We will follow up on it.”
The sergeant seems more relaxed as he continued. “It is a registered foreign government craft with full diplomatic immunity. The ship is the XEBEC, a prototype fast hull design that was never put into production. The captain is an ex US Marine, a Mr. Daniel Samoht. He was born and lived in the central New Jersey area and…”
Si-yue cuts off the report. Barking orders, “This Samoth person, if he has a house or houses in this country, I want them all searched. Search, including any and all family members. All computers are to be confiscated as well as all communication records for the last ten years, NOW!”
Si-yue composed herself and after a while walked to her bosses office. “I’m looking for a vehicle of this description. And, I want a complete run down of this marine, now!”
He looks up. When she gets pissed-off like this, good things happen, all for the better. “Yes go on,” is all he says smiling all the while.
She is fuming but in control. She knows to lose control is to be at the mercy of lesser adversaries. It can mean your life. She states her position to her boss. “Puerto Rico, is newly independent, filled with radicals claiming many of the current governments are illegitimate. They are a pain in our ass. He may be a new problem that we have to watch. He’s not on my watch list. Something smells in Puerto Rico and it’s not fish.”
Her boss said, “Well, well, well. His old friend from way back, just happened to be in the neighbor hood and our dear archivist did an about face on his way to Montana. Then they left in a great hurry. Speed will get you caught when you’re looking to hide. He has to know that. Wonder what it was? Before I jump to any conclusions, make sure Captain Samoht did not have a family emergency or something that we can verify”.
“Sir, I was informed that there was an encrypted communication from The Island HQ to the boat and the boat returned an encrypted shortly before it left and not the other way around. It was quantum encrypted so we could not break it. There was nothing we could do, and nothing unusual at the time either. It is a diplomatic vessel.”
The sergeant knocked on the Director’s office door. “Sirs, we located the vehicle in the garage of the diplomat’s home. The house does not have immunity. The house keeper said there appeared to be nothing unusual nor was Mr. Stevens, she recognized him, in any apparent stress. In fact she said he seemed to quote her “down right happy”. I think we have a case of coincidence here. Parking is strictly enforced in that area. He probably just pulled it in off the street. It has more then ¼ a tank of fuel left in it. By-the-way, it has twin tanks that are oversized. This vehicle has incredible range. He could have gone almost anywhere without refueling. The garage has chargers for long term battery storage. None were hooked up. I believe he intended to come home soon.”
The Sergeant continued, “Commander Shang, two or three things. We did find a 30.06 bullet imbedded in the passenger side plexi window. This is a highly unusual vehicle for a normal citizen to own. In fact, it is virtually impossible. How he got it registered must mean he has friends somewhere. And, number 2, that vehicle has some unusual technology embedded in it. This has to be a one-off design. We will be taking it down to see what and where it came from. We don’t see this type of equipment except in special government vehicles.”
“I’ll bet it was some of his old defense buddies,” she interjected. “We’ll, fuck them as soon as we find out who they were.”
“The third thing is?” Commander Shang demanded.
The sergeant was sweating again. He answered slowly. “We did find a print out in the vehicle. I think you might want to see it. It is ah I would say of a private, possible delicate matter.”
As she read it to herself she thought, the down load that this fine soldier managed to locate was one relating to me. Not too much here that’s out of the ordinary. Some things are underlined and there is….What the… never mind. Ignore it Si-yue.
“Si-yue,” said her boss, “there are too may coincidences here. First, his friend gets in touch with him. Second, he does a quick change of mind from OUR planned excursion Third, the ship leaves in a hurry but only after an encrypted messages is sent from the ship and not the other way around. The ex marine, Armenian by heritage, is a high ranking member of the newly formed Nation of Puerto Rico. He is also a bit of a loner, well read and multiple degrees in Science and Literature. The two of them have been friends since kindergarten? Wow, that’s a long time. No wonder they are friends. They sound like twins.
She continued, “So then, according to the data found in the vehicle, Mr. Samoth sent a letter to Mr. Stevens just a short while ago before our incident, so this maybe coincidence. What about the bullet in the window? Maybe it was a trap. Maybe our citizen has been kidnapped. But for what reason?”
She stopped for a second and then said, “We can make a reason up. It’s a good excuse to twist a few arms of this new pain in the ass country.”
Her boss jumps on the idea. “I like it. Good PR… pardon the pun. This just may work and who knows Mr. Stevens may become a “hero.” And aren’t most hero’s dead? And we maybe can put some muscle on Mr. Samoth and Puerto Rico. Maybe he will become “persona non gratia. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
Si-yue barely heard him. Hearts? Really? Yeach.
Walking down the hall, her heels clicking with a sound that said you really don’t want to mess with me, Si-yue contemplated the situation. Why is it these little shit island countries can hold up great nations, Formosa, Cuba, England sometimes Japan depending, and now Puerto Rico. We should just vaporize their fucken’ little heads and be done with it. Modern politics, and politicians, what a bunch of pussies.
Her thoughts were interrupted when out of no where, “Better not fuck this up Si-yue or it’s your head”
“Fuck off Dave. You’d like that then you’d be number one. Go find your own territory then. Ask for a transfer. Better yet, drop dead.”
“And not work with the best?” He responded with a laugh and a smirk.
“Tsa ni ma!” she said and flipped him her middle finger.
“English, please my dear girl, you know I don’t speak Chinese. Kiss, kiss.”
“What???? Eat shit big boy.”
Si-yue walked into her bosses’ office and shut the door. “This is it! This last one assignment and I’m out. I love my job, my vocation, my life, but this back bighting and the politics? Where the hell did it all come from? I know something must be up. Someone is really worried. Otherwise we would be left alone to our own devices. Dave knows something and he isn’t telling. I have to watch my back at home now too? This sucks.”
Her boss had never seen her like this. This was new. Berg was always a problem. Fuck it, he thought. They are both good. Berg is always trying to get her to screw up. I’ll have to deal with this one. Shit.
SITE R, Eddie and Jocko are going over some plans and procedures for their replacements.
Eddie suggests, “Let’s have a relook at that old stuff. You know those old indicators we noticed for about a year before MEDUSA picked up a pattern. I’m still not sure what that was all about. It looked OK to me. It must have been something. That mean assed Chinese chick never came back… or it was so off the wall they didn’t pass it on, and we were lucky.”
Jocko responds with a dismissive sarcastic tone of voice, “I don’t know and I never ever want to know those types of things. And I NEVER, I NEVER want to see her again as long as I live. I like sleeping at night. Are you crazy digging into that old shit? I mean really we are both about to get out of here and you’re bringing up dead issues. You are nuts!”
Eddie then suggests, “OK, OK but like I said, lets run this by the new guys as a training program and see what they do. Maybe they will ignore it.”
Jocko answers wondering what’s going on with his friend, and answers instead, “Or maybe not. So what will that prove?”
Eddie replies back in all seriousness, “I’m not sure but this one was different to me for some reason.”
The new members of the MEDUSA SYSTEMS Watch Staff are introduced to the current two senior members that are about to retire. The system is designed to pass tasks on to fully trained individuals sort of like the baton pass in a track meet. When done correctly its smooth and seamless. In order to do so there is a fairly long period of training. This is the number one location all others being subordinate. And, the project itself is one of extreme high importance.
So for grins and giggles the two, Jocko and Eddie, set out the scenario that Eddie seems intent on keeping alive for reasons unknown even to himself save a strange curiosity.
Most pass on the data based upon the origin, the dates and such. Only one person, a soldier with an advanced degree in History and Literature (why she is in the military the two could not figure out and it was none of their business) say that there might be something here. But in order to make a recommendation she would have to review the actual data as opposed to simply the titles. From that, she could then make a go or no-go decision. As it stands she would just keep an eye on that specific source.
Eddie takes that as a silent self -vindication. I’ll get to this at a later date, he thinks. It will keep me busy, and something to occupy my mind and time after retirement. Since this is an official drill he can get the print out with out any questions being raised. He does one very illegal act. It is the first in all his life. He takes the data home on a flash drive and also copies it. No one ever checks his or Jocko’s packages any more, ever!
General and random searches of every one, private to 4 stars, that’s one recommendation that Eddie will make in the outplacement debriefing. To assuage his guilt Eddie will insist on including this in his file.
That evening Eddie is at home looking over the data in his office. As he goes over the data here realizes that there is nothing too much of any import. The indicators are vague and all over the place. Political magazines, technical magazines, newspapers, a few books, so what’s here that got MEDUSA up? What’s so important? Let’s see Aviation Week, a few articles, not much some stuff on China, ends abruptly. Foreign Policy nothing. None of the articles in question have anything. This is too strange. Am I missing something? But there was an alert, low level, but a MEDUSA low level is something. Do we have a repository in the cave? Maybe we have this stuff on hand. It is ancient yes, and….. Maybe old book vendors too”
Before he goes to be he thinks, Just a word of caution to myself: self Knowing what I do, I really must be careful. That wacko Chinese chick and all who work for her, they’re connected to the MEDUSA project. And they are not nice people as far as I can tell. I have to go to Bethesda tomorrow. I’ll check and see if there is a rare book dealer or three in town.
Bethesda. It never changes. Parking is a bitch. Great food establishments everywhere the air has the perfume of garlic and spices, oh and yes, the wealth. It’s all sanitized just like the fucking Home Owners associations love, but this is done by the individuals and not by false governing bodies. Bethesda is a nice place to live if one can afford it. Ah, there it is THE STORY BOOK store, 2nd floor, family owned since the mid 1950’s.
Eddie walks in and asks the kid behind the register and a stack of books being pulled out of a carton. “Hi, do you have an old magazine section? Say late 20th earl 21st century?”
This kid look up and points to the back, “We have a bunch of that old stuff it’s kind of fragile and all paper quality being what it was then. Help yourself. Anything in particular?”
“No just technical periodicals, maybe other thing but primarily technical, that’s all.”
“You can look but there isn’t much of that anymore. Why, I have no idea. There was a ton of that stuff once and it dried up, just like that according to my father-in-law. I can’t get much no matter how much we’re willing to pay. That’s rare stuff.”
“Thanks, I’ll look.”
The kid comes back and to Eddie and says, “There is this big guy, Jonathan, he comes in every now and then and purchases whole lots that we may get. He just purchases them no questions, top dollar cash. I give him a call whenever we get a load. Maybe you know him?”
“I can’t say that I do. Do you have anything new?”
“Might be. Can I have a look see first?”
“No problem. Be here tomorrow morning, 10 AM. I’ll give you an hour or two. Then I have to call him. Business is business”
Eddie is there at 9:30 just to be sure. The kid points him to the back room. What a load of books, magazines, maps. They are so unorganized. Eddie start to go through the box. It’s all 2000 through 2008. All types of stuff. Political, technical, literature. I guess a good demographic of the location and time period. There is nothing of interest to Eddie.
He goes out front and thank the kid. “If anything should arrive same time period give me a call. I would appreciate it. I am looking for a few specific pieces. It’s confidential.”
The kid gives him a strange look, and said, “You guys are all alike. Writing a book or something?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“It’s Okay. We deal with a lot of writers who don’t want to blow their story or ideas. Not a problem. Anything in particular?”
“Aviation Week, Foreign Policy and Jane’s Defense, 2002 through 2008”.
“We don’t have anything like that that’s for sure.”
The kid hesitates and then blurts out, “Hey wait a minute. The store doesn’t have anything like that. That doesn’t mean I might not. I have a collection of magazines from that period, though mostly political. Here’s my number. Give me a call over the weekend”
Eddie thanks him and wonders why he didn’t say something earlier. And why did he not sell his stuff to this Jonathan person? This is most unusual. He must be family or working a side business.
As Eddie left and got into his car he thought he saw someone he sort of recognized from?? A big guy. I’m hungry no time to make acquaintances.
“Rick Stevens is in Puerto Rico,” said Si-yue to her boss. “I’m not sure there is anything to worry about. Remember my idea I mentioned the other day? If we want to or need to extract him, I have a plan that would give us a great cover.”
“OK, I’m game, shoot?” he smiled as he said that.
Under her breath she said, “Sometimes I would like to.”
“I know,” he laughed.
Si-yue ignored that and began. “We could claim he was kidnapped, that he was deceived, and tricked by an old friend. You mentioned hero. I think we would want one of our hero’s, one of our distinguished patriots, now a retired pillar of the community, returned to his rightful home.”
Her boss thought for a second and then answered. “Not a bad idea. We don’t tip our hand. We make him a minor local hero of sorts and keep him on a short but comfortable leash. To tell you the truth I forgot about that but I like it. And if we have to, he can have an accident. Let’s get this in place so if we need to do it, or we get orders we’re ready to move. One thing though, what if he doesn’t want to come home?”
Si-yue is incredulous, “Oh please, it’s not like he’s living in Europe. It’s that piss ant little island. How can he want to stay? And, how can they resist? I can personally go there on this. He trusts me and I think he likes me too. We should be able to get him home. Please, no leaks and no behind my back activities”
Rick is talking to his guide one of Danny’s assistants, Sara Maduro. “Puerto Rico,” he said, “I like it. I wasn’t sure I would, but I do. It’s nice here. They rebuilt it after the major hurricanes and earthquake. The climate has been tamed somewhat. And it is my heritage somewhat anyway. I can’t speak Spanish. I will learn.”
Ms Maduro said proudly, “We like what we have done on our own. We are proud of our Island. Let me show you more.”
On the drive to a different area Rick asked, “Ms Maduro, you’re one of his closest assistants, why does Dan think the storm hasn’t even begun yet?”
“First call me Sara and I’m very sorry I cannot answer that,” she answered.
“Sorry I shouldn’t have asked. Here’s what I think, any activity will be conducted at a level no one will notice, that is diplomatically. I’m guessing they will want me back simply to make sure I have nothing on them. I’m not sure about these political machinations. I believe that if word gets out that these papers existing and are available I’m dead meat and so is this island. Both will blame me no matter what or who would be the cause. I am a liability. Heads will roll; not before mine looses it moorings first.
Sara looked at Rick. What could she say? He was on the mark. Dan was trying to find a way to save his friend and Puerto Rico too.
Later that afternoon at a private restaurant Dan dropped a bomb. “Hey Frizz. Guess what? Your government has indicated through ‘channels’ that they think you’ve been kidnapped. They claim you were lured away by a false friend and that you want to come home. It will be all over the planet shortly. Heads up.”
“I don’t get it? I didn’t expect that.”
“You see this is a political issue and a public interest story. You my dear friend are or will become a household name. You can even expect a government delegation with media in tow, pleading for your release.”
“I’m not held here. I like it.”
Dan answered, “I know and I’m sure THEY know but family and country has no conception of the depths this issue is going. And if I may be blunt, you do cause us a bit more problems than we can chew.”
“They want me back for what reason, to kill me? All this for what?”
“My guess, to keep an eye on you. They’re not sure if you have the data, sent it to anyone or just what. By the way, why would THIS Ms Shang ask for a private meeting with you? You have something going on that you haven’t mentioned?”
“What? What does she want?” he thought to himself that he did really miss her. He never met anyone like her before. His next thoughts were, she’s way too young for an old fart like me. Be careful you old fool. Skirts have always been your weakness.
He meet her at a local pub. No one knows him yet and no one knows her. Her people are there as well as Dan’s. They are so easy to spot.
“Well hello, June, sorry Si-yue, it’s nice to see you again. I am surprised by all this. What the fuck is going on?”
“Rick it is nice to see you,” she replied. She’s all business. “We think you’re being held here against you wishes and as an important member of our country, a dedicated headhunter for our defense industry a hard worker and such we will defend you.”
“Besides, I miss you!” she said in a lower tone.
“I miss you, you old fool. That’s why I’m here. I’m protecting your ass too. We wanted to whack you for the research you did. I’m sure you figured that out by now. Lucky for you, you destroyed it all. I want you to come home. I want to get out of this business. I have more money then you know. And I know you’re well off too. Maybe we can….”
“Are you for real? I’m so much older then you. Why me? Why should I believe you?”
She pulls out my notes that I left in the truck with the hearts.
“Si-yue, Can you call your people off?”
“Yes” and she turns to the dark part of the bar and says something in Chinese to fast for him to understand. A few men and women get up and left.
He sees Berg in the corner. The hair on his back stands up. She sees it in his eyes.
“Your monster friend, Jonathan, is in the corner too”. Rick points with his eyes.
She is mad and Rick can tell.
Under her breath she hisses, “That Fucker. Wait a minute please.” She gets up, heads for the ladies room, then heads for him. They are physically animated but quiet. She reaches into her carry bag and he draws back some.
Rick heard him say a bit too loud, “Just wait till later bitch.”
She comes back visibly shaken. “He was not supposed to be here. He was not on my jet. They promised me no interference. Something stinks.”
“I don’t even want to know,” Rick tells her.
“Let’s go for a walk. I have carte blanche here. This is my family home. Not that I ever mentioned it. And back then it didn’t even enter into my head.”
“I know now.” Si-yue says in a calm voice.
They talk, they walk, and they take their time and talk.
What is he to do? He never let her know except for those doodles he discovered she found in the truck.
Eddie knew he couldn’t do anything with the data even IF there was something there. His clearance obligations ran a lifetime. To violate them would bring the “house down” on him. He had seen it happen to others for the slightest infractions.
Eddie tried to rationalize his actions. What’s all this fuss anyway? Is it a morbid exercise, a death wish, or just something to do? Maybe but sometime when you get a sniff of something you follow the scent. I really must be careful. I’ve already done one illegal act, And I don’t even jay walk. He laughed to himself in a sad sort of way.
Why can’t I be like Jocko? Jocko will be playing golf, watching videos, traveling, and all the expected things.
I have this itch and it need scratching, damn it. OK smart ass, suppose there IS something there, then what? You know I’ll worry about that then. I’m getting more psyched the more I think about it. I feel alive, on the hunt.
If I don’t hear anything from that kid in the bookstore in a while I will drop it, maybe visit some family on the coast. Drink some good wine and eat decent home cooked food. I’ll go on a four week excursion, yes. I’ll call Roy to see when would be good and get some reservations tomorrow.
Eddie called his brother. “Roy, I’ll see you in 3 weeks. I’ll stay in a good hotel. I have the money and this way I will not burden you with a long-term visitor. I’ll make the reservations in a few minutes. Wine, food and good times, I can’t wait to meet your new lady. Give your kid a whack in the head for me.”
The phone rings as Eddie hangs up with his brother. “Yes, hello? Oh yes the guy from The Story Book Store. You have a new load of rare books and magazines. Yeah sorry I didn’t call you at home I was busy at work. Yes I’ll be there in the morning first thing. Thanks.”
The next morning Eddie gets there early, an hour before the store opens. The ‘kid”, opens the store. Eddie walks in. Should I be wearing dark glasses or something? Eddie thinks and laughs. The kid gives him a look. “Listen kid, what is your name?”
“Kitt, Kitt Sune. I married into this family. I used to work in my family business in State College, an antique and custom glass store. I collect political stuff from the 20th century and some art. One of our regular customers’, who I know, came in the other day and mentioned that they were cleaning out one of their properties in the old part of Bethesda. There were a few boxes of old magazines. He knew I collected. I have them here, in the back.”
“Take a look not too much there. Apparently the home was owned by a librarian, a Ms Sara Svati at The Library of Congress back at the turn of the 21st century. That much we discovered in the notes and Obits in one of the boxes. Her notes mentioned there were supposed to be two more duplicate cartons. They are not here. It appears she catalogued everything. I found the paper work on that. Maybe it’s buried in the boxes somewhere else.”
“OK, thanks for the history. You know what? I’ll take them sight unseen. How much?”
Eddied agreed to the price, paid in cash and loaded my car. he wanted to get home and review this booty at hi pace. Not rushed. Why am I worried, what was I worried about? I’ve never been like this. Purchase a pig in a poke? I must be stupid in the head! He shook his head at these thoughts.
BACK IN PUERTO RICO
“June, I mean Si-yue, I like your Chinese name do you mind if I don’t call you June?”
“I prefer it. I know you studied the language and history so it’s not alien to you.”
“Listen how long can you stay on the island?” I asked
“I have as much time as I need,” she replied
“Why don’t you call in for a working vacation?”
“A What?” she asked eyebrows raised.
I picked her up in a government limo with bodyguards. I asked her, “All this crap about me being kidnapped, what’s up?”
“It was my idea,” she confesses. “It’s working too. There is a lot of pressure on this government to force you to leave.”
“You know if it weren’t for you I tell them to fuck off. You are different calculus.
I’ve never met anyone like you. I’m doing things and not doing things I would and would normally not do. Stay here a while. The place grows on you.” He looked straight into her green eyes, “Give it a shot, no pun intended”
She pushed him away. Rick could see the driver looking into his mirror and begin to slow down just in case. He waved him on.
She looks directly at him and says, “Listen, round eyes, I like you, and yes maybe a bit more too. BUT I have a job, a career, a love of duty and honor, and I like it. I have never given it up for anyone, ever! And you’re asking me to what?”
She continued, “We want you home for our reasons. I want you home for mine. If you come home I will guarantee your safety. If you don’t I’m not sure what I can or will do.” Let’s meet for dinner tomorrow and we’ll talk business then. Now let’s walk and forget politics and business. The sunset is beautiful.”
He motion for the driver to pull over. “Wait for us please.”
Out of nowhere she said, “Kiss me.”
She had to leave early before the sun came up. He thought that was different. No one ever did that before. I’m toast. Now what?
The next day at a press conference he made a public statement that he is free to do as he please, to come and go and at this time he is the guest of a dear old boy hood friend. “I’m not sure how this came about. I am honored that our government has gone out of its way to protect one of its ordinary citizens but please, stop you’re spoiling a nice vacation”
That was broadcast on all the Hispanic stations, through out the USA, and the world.
The following few days there was an ease in the air. However everyone on the island now recognized him and his “girl friend”.
Dan was not at all convinced his public statement did anything more but give Si-yue and her people more time to get their battle plans in better order.
Privacy was now getting to be a difficult commodity. Luckily Rick had one of Dan’s boats The X Factor, to play with. The Xebec was Dan’s personal toy. Rick and Si-yue spent a week on The X Factor. They were catered to as never before.
As he was about to bring the subject of coming home up. Si-yeh came running up and said there were some new incidents that may give both of them some breathing room. Her face was red and she was visibly upset, mumbling that she should have popped him the first time at the bar.
I’m thinking Berg that mountain of a human. So I ask, “Jonathan?”
She shakes her head no, then nods, and laughs.
Rick doesn’t ask. He thinks she’s is beautiful and knows she’s dangerous.
Eddie Chavez back was back at his house and began the journey into a different political world.
Okay, Okay, I’m tired of all this. These publications are all over the place. The only thing I can sense is there are related articles on computer issues of the day. Apparently there was a lot of piracy. I’m glad I didn’t live in that mess. People had to spend a good portion of their time defending their own computer systems from attack. That had to be costly and a pain in the ass.
One thing most of the writing seems to be pointing to China and Russia and their proxy’s. How silly. I mean there was no real threat. Look at today. Things run smoothly, no big problems, and we’re all interconnected.
Here is the last pile of magazines, Foreign Policy. Bla, bla, bla, hunh?? This is strange, a picture of simulation and an article on hacking. Microsoft? China? operating systems? source code? Is this science fiction, history or what? I’m going to bed.
The next day Eddie heads into work and thinks, the archives will put an end to this. Let me check that issue out and see if there are related references.
On his break he heads to the library. Jacque asks, “hey, what’s up?”
“Just checking something out. I’ll meet you for lunch in 15 minutes.”
He’s on the computer and brings up the issue of Foreign Policy and Jane’s Defense.
To his surprise and shock the pages of interest do not match. There are advertisements in place of the articles. “This is wrong! Very wrong! Put this away”, he thinks. “There is something here and that’s why MEDUSA clicked on! Oh shit.” Based upon his experience at Site R and what he’s seen and heard, the totality of it hits him.
At lunch Jacque asks his friend who is visibly upset, “what’s wrong?”
“Nothing much, just a personal issue that just came up and I have to deal with.” Deflecting the question he asks, “So how are you doing? Retirement is just around the corner.”
Jocko animated as usual, hands waving all over the place, “Good, can’t wait to be out of here. A week, and that’s it.
“How are the replacements doing?”
“Very good as a matter of fact, real good especially that woman. I think she’ll make the best leader.
“Yeah and she’s good look too. That can’t hurt,” laughs Jocko
“That’s not an issue here, you idiot,” Eddie snaps.
“Hey, don’t bight my head off. Whatthefuck is eating you?”
“Nothing, forget it. Sorry.” But to himself, something stinks and I’m not sure just I like it at all. How do I do this without getting in deep shit? Maybe it all in my head. I’ll look in the boxes again and see just what I have there. I can’t be right. All I have been doing, for all these years….”
At home he goes through the boxes again obsessed with the discrepancy in his hands and in the library.
Eddie purchases a box of large envelopes, copies the issues at hand, has copies of the modified issues stuffed into the envelopes. He, being who and what he is, has worn gloves all the while. “NO prints, thank you very much”, he says to himself. He’s done what he could.
Eddie is tight jawed as he proceeds on his task. This is not the way to end a career that one thought was a value to ones country, nor the way to start a new on, a rebel? He places the packages in a mail slot in a few different buildings so as not to be recognized by the biometric street scanning systems in place. Thankfully, his parents never had a chip emplaced as a kid as so many others had done. A hat and sunglasses adds to the disguise. “Maybe it’s nothing but I will let the pros settle this. Sara Svarti, this is for you. I hope I’m not dropping the ball.”
That’s the only thing he can do. What a way to end a career.
On his last day at work Eddie is debriefed of the security position he held, and signs Standard Form 312. He has lunch on base, says his good-byes and gets into his car to leave.
Jacque runs over and asks: “What Is Wrong with You!! Leaving this place got you down like I’ve never seen. Man, are you a mess. Come on let’s go get a drink off route 15 at the regular spot.”
“Yeah Jocko, that’s it all right. I’ll call you in a few days. You have my number drop in any time. I really need to go. I will call you. I just have to get out of here. I’ll explain later,” but to himself, “not likely”.
On his way out of the compound he looks at the flag for what seems to be the first time. He looks at the red and white stripes, the white stars on a blue field, that then at the small crimson star in the center of the blue field. “THAT IS NOT RIGHT,” he says and pounds the steering wheel in rage.
Si-yeh is out of breath as she enters Rick’s room. “Rick, Some radio stations in NY, Texas, WDC and CA have copies of the work you destroyed. The stuff was mailed only a while ago. Someone found a cache of the same data you had and mailed it to these stations. They’re spreading it across the planet. People are running for cover. The PLA will be going after heads. They do not like losing. When it comes to politics, especially where their legitimacy and interests are concerned, they care little for freedom and rights. ‘Political power grows out the barrel of a gun’, is the last resort, to paraphrase Mao.”
She continued, “The groups spreading the news are part of the Pacifica Network and pains in the ass since the 1960’s. They are promulgating a New Federation, North East, West Coast and the Coastal South as separate governing units sighting the Constitution and Bill of Rights for validation.
“One smart ass mentioned the Mandate of Heaven. I think they will be off the air shortly, rights or no rights and this stuff has been picked up by the entire planet. The government is in crisis mode. People are questioning the very legitimacy of everything.”
“You’re in the clear. There are now bigger fish to fry. This would have happened with or with out you. Do you think you want come home now?”
“Why would I want to do that? This does not sound good to me. I think staying put is a better idea. For all intents and purposes this is my home. Have you thought about it? You can stay here now, too? We are welcome here. You don’t have to be part of that machine any more. You did say you wanted out. Here’s the opportunity, and to use your argument, no problems!
Dan calls with the same news. Rick put him on the screen with voice. “Yep, Si-yue just gave me the news. You have my copies and all the rest of the documentation that was not sent out by whom ever. Feel free to use it as you require. I’m just wondering what happens now?”
She looks at me, “Copies?” There is a look I have seen before, danger, then a smile.
“Of course” I say, I had a feeling about this stuff. Dan, and now the events, proved my concerns. There is much more here.”
Dan interjects, “Were I either one of you, I would not go back to the states just yet, if that’s been on your mind. Things are going to get pretty shaky in a while. You will be a target for retribution whether or not it was you that sent this stuff out. From the looks of it, the inflammatory data was copied from originals, not copies of copies. Someone may have located another box? You just have more of it.”
“On a less threatening note, ask your girl friend here if she would like to be our most esteemed and welcome guest for as long as she requires and desires. Ms Shang is well known among our people. She might like to open a school of sorts. We’re always seeking out ‘good help’. That is, if she is looking for a new career. No pressure, just a suggestion. I will leave the two of you. See you tonight for dinner at the embassy. “Ms Shang, a heads up, you will have to leave your tools either in your vehicle or check them. We understand your esteemed position. You understand ours. Up until now we stood down.”
She nodded. “Yes, of course, and I will be honored,” She said and gave Rick a kiss.
The effect that the historical data initially released, by the Site R administrator Eddie Chavez, the more complete and detailed compilation held by Rick Stevens and the Nation State of Puerto Rico, took years to come to a head only after the attack. Discounting the usual conspiracy fanatics, groups of people had for generations suspected something sinister in the halls of government. The data released proved it. The fact that the government couldn’t even protect the citizenry was the topping on the pizza. Feelings against China ran high, but the animosity, distrust, and out right revulsion was a mild description in comparison, when it concerned the government of the United States. Our own people sold us out and continued to do so. Quislings.
The last straw had been a dirty bomb that had gone off in the mountain area of West VA carried by a group of home grown militia types and not foreign based terrorists as projected by the government.
What then occurred was unthinkable by many even in the 1860’s, the break up of the union into semi-independent, somewhat federated and dispersed geographic areas. The Northeast, the West Coastal areas, and the Southern Atlantic areas each became independent from the central government. Washington DC was now a tourist haven, a historical place to visit, a neutral place, and a political Disney Land.
The federal government at first attempted to quell any rebellion as they called it. The soldiers and especially he national guard would not lift a rifle against the people. The Chinese government responded by sending its navy and air force. They were interdicted on the high seas and sky and forcibly turned back by a united federated military interested in protecting the citizens of North America. Expeditionary activities for the time being were eliminated unless the free trade and protection of the UFSA citizenry were put in danger.
All federated sectors claimed legitimacy from the same set of documents: The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and The Declaration of Independence. Each sector was independent, each sectors elected administrators were wise enough to understand the need, the requirement for some form of unity among the disparate regions. The Articles of Confederation were reevaluated in this light and utilized as a framework for the future.
The rest of the planet began looking inward at their own individual situations, their governments and analyzing the corrupting effect outlined in the documents. In some places there was violence as was too in the United States. In other locals, people accepted the status quo ante. Things ran rather well. Leave it alone was their call. Over all the ties that bound the feet of the planet were being unfettered. The story there is still being written.
This story was originally written in 2008. I updated it in 2014/15/17. This is a story of complete fiction, a modern fairy tale. Any resemblances to actual economic, and political entities, historical incidents, people imagined, real, dead or alive are purely coincidences and not intended to be referred to in any factual manner.
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