We land and dock at Camp Pewakee and Bruno is out on the dock heading away from us before we are even able to get ourselves unbuckled from our seats. We rush to catch up and are led down the path following the water line until we reach a red building situated along the lakefront. He quickens his pace as he runs to the front door and knocks three times. The door opens silently and he disappears inside.
Eve and I run to enter the door before it closes behind him. Inside we are greeted with dim lighting and wood paneling covering all of the walls. On the far end of the room is a fireplace made out of stone. A few simple couches are placed in strategic locations all around, and directly in front of us is a staircase leading up to the second floor. Bruno is already out of sight when we enter.
“Bruno?” Eve whispers. Her voice echoes through the empty space.
“Up here!” he yells. His face appears above us at a ledge overlooking the room. Eve and I cautiously make our way up the stairs to his location.
Once we reach the top, we find a room rather similar to the one below. The fireplace continues up to the second level and there are a few couches, but very little else. Bruno stands beside the fireplace and the grin plastered on his face appears to be even larger than before.
“You kids ready?” he seems to almost giggle.
“Um, I guess,” I stammer. “Ready for what?”
“Ready for this!” he says and presses on a rock in the stonework of the fireplace. The entire stone unit pushes backward behind the wall and Bruno disappears in the crack between the two.
“Come on!” his voice cheers from inside.
Eve and I look at each other before following him in.
It’s a tight fit between the fireplace and the wall, but what we find inside is nothing short of amazing.
Hidden behind the wall of this unassuming building, on the second floor, nonetheless, is what looks to be a laboratory which stretches on for easily a hundred feet off in the distance. Metal tables and computers and electronic equipment, and questionable liquids, and animals, and a whole host of other things I can’t even begin to identify line the walls and the center of this enormous spectacle of a room.
Running this way and that are a large number of people wearing lab coats and suits, all seeming to have incredibly important tasks to be taking care of. Yet, even with how busy they are, they each still take the time to stop and greet us.
Upon seeing all this, there is only one thing I can think to ask. “How is this room possible? I didn’t see it from outside. Is this one of those things where it’s bigger on the inside?”
“’Fraid not, kid. We haven’t quite mastered that tech yet. This is simply the same type of camouflaging we use on the seaplane. Nothing too spectacular outside of making the entire building look like it’s an extension of the forest.”
“That’s why you put it on the second floor!” Eve exclaims.
“What?” I ask. “Why is it on the second floor?”
“The way they generally like to explain it,” Bruno begins, “is because every other secret lair ever is in the basement. But also because this way, using our camouflaging techniques, we can make it look to the external viewer how there’s absolutely no possible way there’s anything here at all. People can walk all around in the woods and be none the wiser this lab is overhead.”
“Oh, that is kinda cool,” I allow.
“Kinda cool?” Bruno recoils. “Kid, it’s brilliant! And it’s not even the start of what all can be found in here. This laboratory you’re standing in at the moment is the only non-government run lab in the nation right now. We’re the only place creating new tech for the marketplace which isn’t being produced by people who want to keep it out of your hands. Quite simply, kids, this is the future.”
“Cool.” I reach out at a shiny fist-sized cube on a shelf near me. Bruno slaps my hand before I even touch it.
“I would suggest not getting too curious with the items in here. Even I don’t know what most of them do.”
“Okay.” Eve pulls her hand away from a silver bracelet on the table beside her. “So, what are we doing here?”
“We’re calling in reinforcements.” Bruno hustles toward the far end of the room and takes a right turn about halfway down. Another hallway is presented to us, filled with doors upon doors. Five doors down on the right, Bruno stops and pushes the door open. “Here we are.” He smiles.
He ushers us in and we are greeted with a cozy conference room. A large screen is on the far wall and a table with a few chairs is situated in the center of the room.
“Sit, sit,” Bruno urges.
“How many people do you think we’ll be able to get to help us?” Eve asks.
“Alright, so I may not have been entirely honest with you guys,” Bruno admits.
“I’m getting the feeling there aren’t many people in this world who are honest with me anymore.” I shrug.
“Don’t get me wrong, there was a smuggling ring which operated out of Camp Pewakee, but, there’s much more to this base.”
“I was guessing that,” Eve says with her eyebrows furrowed more than usual. “What would a group of smugglers be doing with a secret lab like this?”
“Right.” Bruno points at Eve enthusiastically. “You’re right. There’s very little reason smugglers would want anything like this, outside of the purpose of getting the tech we’re producing to sell to people. Good point. I might have to consider changing the cover story a bit next time.”
“What’s going on here?” I ask.
“Alright, look, so, before I tell you all of this, I want you to know I was being honest when I said The Agora has my daughter.”
“Okay,” I say slowly. “So, what aren’t you being honest about?”
“Pretty much everything else. You see, I haven’t spent the last six years in Devens.”
“What?” Eve asks, leaning forward in her chair. I feel my heart sink in terror.
“Look, I went to Devens after I got caught at the end of my run, but I was able to make some deals and get out. Sort of anyways.”
“I don’t understand.” Eve sits back in her chair looking unhappy.
“This isn’t going to be an easy thing to explain.” Bruno shrugs. “You see, I work for a group which has been trying to do exactly what you two are trying to do.”
“No!” I shout, standing and turning toward the door. “I’ve had enough of this crap! At the start of today, my plan was simple, I was going to get Eve out of prison and go home. Now you guys keep complicating things, adding new players, giving new motivations. All I want to do is go home and make sure everyone is safe. I don’t want to have to try to decide who is on my side anymore. I don’t want to have to take part in something which will alter the course of history for all mankind. All I want to do is go home. With my brother. Eve can come if she wants.”
I put my hand on the doorknob as the screen flickers to life.
“Cyrus!” an excited voice fills the room. I turn at the sound of the voice and see the last two people I want to see right now.
Go to Chapter Thirteen