“Geek?” I blink my eyes rapidly. “Maybe I really should get my head checked out.”
“This is Billy?” A large smile unrolls across Eve’s face. She reaches forward and pulls him into a hug, which, seeing as she’s still holding me up, includes me as well.
“The one and only.” The Geek grins broadly as he separates himself from Eve’s grip. “And you don’t look so good. Neither of you.”
“But look at you,” I say, sizing him up. “You look better than ever.”
“Yeah, well, you know. When I’m not stuck keeping an eye on you all the time, I actually manage to get some sleep.”
“It’s only been one day,” I argue.
“My point exactly.”
“But, The Agora,” I question. “Didn’t they—“
“Cyrus, we’ve got a lot to talk about regarding Mom and Pop, as well as my involvement in their activities. But for now, why don’t you lie down and get some rest. You look terrible.”
“Fine.” I turn around and direct myself toward the bed. “But only until you finish telling me what’s going on around here and give me an idea on the best way to get myself across the border and back into Canada. And only if we can be left alone for a while.” I scowl at Bruno.
“Of course.” Bruno hastily exits the room.
“I’m not sure I can answer all your questions, but I do know one thing.” The Geek helps me back into a lying position.
“Alvin Alexander wants you dead.”
“Okay, fine.” I shrug. “I didn’t really like the guy anyways. He did stick me in the bottom of a hole to rot until they killed me.”
“The SPs. They also want you dead.”
“Duh. They do think I’m the leader of the rebellion or something. Probably doesn’t help I broke out of Devins. Or how I stole Eve out of another one of their prisons. I’ve got to be public enemy number one right about now.”
“Grant also wanted you dead,” The Geek continues on his annoying little speech pattern.
“Yeah, I get it, everyone wants me dead. So what?”
“That’s the thing, not everyone wants you dead. Bruno, Mom, Dad, and the rest of Golden Dawn, they want you to live.”
“Yeah.” I laugh. “That’s why they want to send me into the middle of this war and try to stop some sort of nuclear attack.”
“Look, I’m not going to try and pretend what you’re being asked to do isn’t dangerous. But here’s the thing. These folks, the Golden Dawn, they are looking to make some real change. They don’t want to take over the country. If they had wanted to do that, they could have years ago. Look at what they’ve built here in this complex alone. And this is only a small portion of what they control.”
“I don’t see what this has to do with anything.”
“What I’m saying, Cy, is Golden Dawn doesn’t want to be in power. They don’t want to take crazy drastic measures to overturn the government and become supreme rulers of everything. They’d much prefer the current government stands. They just want that government to operate in a way which works a lot better for everyone.”
“I find that hard to believe,” I scoff. “Have you seen the kind of stuff they have around here? This is super spy stuff. The kind of stuff you use to assassinate kings. No one makes what they’re making if they are hoping for a future where everyone lives together in harmony.”
“But don’t you see? They have all of this and haven’t taken over. They easily could, couldn’t they? Using a few of their covert seaplanes alone, they could bomb a few strategic targets and before you know it, they run the country, if not the world. But they’re working for a much greater end.”
“With that reasoning, why wouldn’t I trust The Agora? It seems they’ve got a pretty similar idea in mind, right?”
“That’s a good point. It’s one of the main reasons I allowed Mom and Pop to talk me into infiltrating The Agora. Unfortunately, I fear the one big issue with them is greed. How could they want to affect positive change if it will negatively affect their cash flow? Also, I’ll remind you, they are definitely included in the list of people who want you dead.”
“What?” I scream. “Them too? Why? I thought they wanted me to find out what the rebels were up to so they could stop it.”
“Don’t you think they’re already aware of what the rebels are up to? Who do you think mediated the sales for the stuff they needed to build those bombs? Who do you think the rebels used to transport their bombs to the locations they’re sitting at waiting to explode? They could stop all of this if they wanted to. They could have stopped it from the start.”
“Okay,” I reply. “If that’s true, then why don’t they?”
“I don’t know. That’s one of the things I hope to find out.”
“Wait.” Eve butts in. “You’re going back?”
“Of course I am. I’m only here to try and talk some sense into you.”
“Seriously?” I scowl. “Why in the world would you ever want to go back there?”
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you, Cyrus. Something I probably should have told you a long time ago.”
“No.” I stare him down. “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to hear it.”
“Come on, Cyrus. You had to have guessed it. How else could I have possibly done all the things I’ve done for you in the past? Seriously, I was able to knock out the entire SP communication system. You really think I could have done that myself? I’m twelve for God’s sake.”
“You said people owed you favors,” Eve says.
“And who did you think those people were?”
“Billy,” I growl. “Why?”
“It’s simple, Cyrus. Because I have to. I know you don’t keep up with what’s going on in this country, but I do. It was almost impossible to not know what’s going on when I would sit in that basement day after day all by myself. Besides, when Mom and Pop approached me about doing a little analyst work for them, I really couldn’t turn them down.”
“Mom and Dad came to you about this?”
“Yeah, of course they did. You don’t think they weren’t aware of what I was doing in The Corral all the time, or how you were away all the time, do you? You were never there. Whenever they would stop by, I had to come up with some of the most outrageous excuses for why. Of course, if I had known they were part of one of the largest intelligence agencies in the country, I wouldn’t have even tried.”
“But, why you?” Eve asks. “Like you said, you’re only twelve.”
“I had wondered that for a long time as well. I wasn’t even ten when they asked.”
“And you still don’t know?” I ask.
“I have my guesses. Mainly, I’m guessing it’s because they were working to provide a future for me. There’s not much out there for a fat kid who never leaves his basement. I can’t even bear to think about what job the government would assign me.”
“But if they’re so powerful, obviously they could have set you up with something regardless of your involvement with this group,” Eve states.
“Yeah, I realized that, too. But I think there’s a bigger reason they had interest in keeping me involved.”
“Yeah?” Eve presses.
“I’m pretty sure it’s because of you.” The Geek nods at me.
“What would they want with me?”
“I’m not entirely sure. But it’s not like this is the first time they’ve had me try to convince you into something. They were the ones who got us the second cross country gig.”
“That’s stupid,” I scowl.
“Actually,” Eve begins carefully, “it makes a lot of sense.”
“How?” I groan.
“When I went to the Grand Canyon, it wasn’t because I had any need to do any sightseeing. I’d been to the Canyon three times before. It wasn’t exactly a bucket list item for me or anything.”
“Go on,” I say through clenched teeth.
“It was a requirement of the run. I thought it was odd, but I don’t typically question course directives brought down from the top. I figured they must have noticed extra SP activity and wanted to keep me away from it. The weirdest part about it though was how it wasn’t part of the initial rider. They contacted me at a split while I was already headed toward the drop off.”
“They contacted you at a split?” I repeat. “I didn’t know the splits even took messages.”
“They don’t,” Eve answers. “I figured it must have meant the danger ahead was serious.”
“I don’t get it, what does that even mean?” I ask, feeling my headache building again.
“I think it means,” The Geek begins, “someone wanted you and Eve to meet up. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they were the reason the mule ran off. “
“I always thought it was weird it was afraid of the water,” Eve considers. “It must have made that trip hundreds of times before I went with it.”
“Exactly!” The Geek adds.
“Why would my parents, or Golden Dawn, or whoever, want me and Eve to meet up? It’s not like anything came from it. I got locked up and put away for a month and then didn’t see Eve, outside of a few random moments along the way, for years.”
“I’m sorry.” The Geek frowns. “I don’t have all the answers. All I know is there are a lot of questions and Golden Dawn seems to be the one place where I’ve managed to get some of them answered.”
“But that still doesn’t really answer why you’re working for them,” I return.
“Like I said, what else was I going to do? It’s not like you really needed me for most of your runs. If it weren’t for my duties with the GD, I would have been sitting around twiddling my thumbs. Instead, I found something to do and got my hands on some pretty cool toys.”
“The earpieces!” Eve exclaims.
“Yep,” The Geek answers.
“That’s right, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that,” I accuse. “You said you made them!”
“Once again, I’m only twelve. I may be good, but I don’t even have the equipment to build something like that around here. You don’t really think I made your music player too, do you?”
“Then what good have you been?” I ask.
“Hey,” The Geek recoils. “I already said you didn’t really need me, but I believe I helped out a ton over the years. Whether or not I built the earpieces, I did get them for you. And if it weren’t for my connections to GD, I’m not sure you would have ever made it out of Reno.”
“Fine.” I shrug. “So, what does this mean?”
“For you? I don’t know. I’ve got to head back to The Agora before they notice I’m missing. I’m only here to let you know that from everything I’ve seen, Golden Dawn is on the up and up. If there were a group I would back in the impending war, it would be these guys.”
“Yeah?” I ask. “Why?”
“Honestly,” The Geek says after a pause. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s how Mom and Dad believe in them. Maybe it’s how they’ve worked so hard to keep you from getting caught while you were on this run. Maybe it’s simply how they don’t seem to have any ulterior motives, or even reasons for ulterior motives. In the end, at some point you have to take a side, and so far this one is the only one which hasn’t given me reason to hate myself.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“What? That I don’t hate myself?”
“No, that you have to take a side.”
“You can’t run forever, Cyrus.”
“Seriously, Cyrus, don’t you think we’ve run enough?” Eve asks. “Even if we don’t side with anyone, don’t you think it’s time for us to take a stand?”
There’s a knock at the door.
“Yes?” I ask, annoyed.
Bruno’s face appears in the doorway. “Hey, kids. So, I hate to interrupt your reunion, but I thought I should make you aware that no matter how you plan on getting out of here, whether it’s as part of the Golden Dawn initiative or by yourself, we’re going to have to leave soon. The SPs have tracked the downed SUV and recognized it’s the one they lent to your friend, Grant. They’re sending down a series of drones as we speak. I’d guess we have an hour, at best, before we have to be out of here.”
“I thought you said this place was safe from being seen by anyone,” I question.
“Oh, it is, believe me it is. The problem is, if you don’t get out of here before the drones arrive, you’ll be stuck here until they leave. And considering how much the SPs want to capture you, I can’t imagine they’ll leave too quickly.”
“Alright.” Eve stands. “Guess this means you’ve got some quick deciding to do, Cyrus.”
“I should add,” The Geek begins, “the chances of you outrunning the swarm on foot are minimal. Since they probably think you’re here, I’d guess they’re going to send down everything they can.”
“Perfect.” I frown. “So, I guess I’ve only got one option left.”
“You’re picking a side?” Eve says, hopping in excitement.
“No, definitely not,” I answer with my brow bent in frustration. “But it seems like there’s only one way out of this mess. So, Bruno, if you don’t mind giving me a ride, I guess you’ve got a little while longer to annoy me with making your case.”
“Perfect.” Bruno claps his hands eagerly. “I’ll get the plane ready. Don’t take too long saying your goodbyes.”
Bruno disappears quickly leaving me with the smiling faces of The Geek and Eve.
“What?” I ask.
“You’re picking a side!” Eve cheers.
“No, I need a ride, alright. You said it yourself, Geek. I don’t have another option of getting out of here.”
“You could stay here and wait it out. There are more than enough supplies here to keep you comfortable for as long as you need.”
“And sit around on my butt, no thank you. If there’s one thing worse than siding with one of these stupid groups, it’s being stuck indoors doing nothing.”
“So, like I said, you’re picking a side!” Eve repeats.
“If not wanting to waste away in a giant laboratory is considered picking a side, then sure. Just realize, I’m leaving that side the first chance I get.”
“Alright, I’ve gotta get back,” The Geek sighs. “The Agora’s bound to notice I’ve been gone if I stay away any longer.”
“You aren’t riding with us?” I ask.
“Nope, I’ve got a slightly better form of transport I’m using.”
“The sparkly teleport thing?” I ask.
The Geek smiles. “There are a few perks to being with The Agora, I suppose.”
“But couldn’t you use that on us? You know, get us somewhere safe so I can work out the rest of my plan?”
“Sorry, Cyrus. It’s dangerous enough for me to use it without permission. But if they caught your DNA profiles coming through the matrix, they’d be sure to track you. And the one thing you don’t want right now is for The Agora to know where you’re at.”
Eve gives The Geek a big hug. “Stay safe!” she says.
“Meh, don’t worry about it,” The Geek says. “I’m a whole lot safer right now than I ever was in The Corral. You guys know Violet was a double agent, right?”
“I didn’t realize she was a single agent.”
“Ah, um,” The Geek stammers. “Maybe I’ve said too much. Cyrus.” He reaches his hand out to me. “I hope you find what you’re looking for. I’ll see you on the other end.”
“Said too much about what?” I ask as I shake his hand.
“Sorry, bro, gonna have to wait for next time. See ya.” He begins to sparkle. In a manner of seconds he’s gone.
“What the heck just happened?” Eve asks.
Go to Chapter Eighteen