No, I’m not going into details. Go ahead and imagine whatever you want. All you need to know is we cuddled up into each other’s arms as we gave in to our combined needs for rest. I fell asleep thinking about how I never wanted this moment to end. Even holed up in this dark box, uncertain if we were going to be locked inside of it for the rest of our lives, or possible saved by some other member of the Golden Dawn, or how this could be some elaborate trap by the SPs, or someone else, to capture us and parade us in front of the entire population of Boston, there was no other place I’d rather be than holding Eve in my arms.
That being said, I won’t lie. I scream a little at the sound of the enormous doors of the shipping container opening. Daylight shines into the room and a shadowy figure stands looking in at us as we lie there in our miniature heap.
Jumping to my feet, I place myself between this unknown person and Eve as my eyes adjust to the light.
“What?” the familiar voice finally speaks. “No hugs for your brother? Even after he saves your butts? For the thousandth time?”
“Geek?” I yelp out in surprise as I run to wrap my arms around the little snot.
Eve is right behind me as she exclaims, “Billy!”
“Whoa, whoa there.” The Geek separates himself from the group hug.
“Hey.” I shrug, realizing a big smile has fallen upon my face, “you can’t blame a guy for being happy when he finds out he’s not going to die in a shipping container.”
“So, you figured it out, huh?” The Geek smirks.
“What? How this was a shipping container? Of course we did.”
“Huh. I had really thought I pulled one over on you guys. Of course, you couldn’t have been too worried, seeing as you never even once put on your ear pieces to try and contact me.”
“How do you know we even have the earpieces?”
“Remember, I set them up so I always have an open connection with them.”
“Wait,” Eve says, sounding concerned. “Are you saying you could hear everything?”
“Don’t worry,” The Geek smiles even bigger, “I turned them off after I figured out what you two were up to in here. It’s the only reason you’ve been in here so long. Didn’t want to walk in on you two, you know, doing whatever you were doing.”
“Hey,” I retort. “There was nothing going on in here, okay? We were just catching some shut eye.”
“Right,” The Geek says, nudging me with his elbow. “Just like I wasn’t listening,” he says with a laugh.
“Billy!” Eve exclaims.
“I’m kidding,” he says, unable to hold back his laughter any longer. “There’s nothing in this world which would cause me to want to hear any of that. No offense, Eve.”
“None taken, I guess.”
“Changing the subject,” I interject. “Why are you in Boston?”
“Hey, I work for Golden Dawn, remember?”
“Right,” Eve says cautiously. “But you also work for The Agora. You’re not here to—“
“Hey, it’s me. You don’t seriously think I would turn you guys in, do you?”
“Considering how only a few days ago, Miss Nile convinced me she had kidnapped you, only for me to find you were actually working for The Agora, then yeah, I think it’s mighty possible.”
“Yeah, well, about—“
“Oh no,” I cut him off. “That’s what they all say right before they tell me they’re part of another secret organization who wants me dead.”
“I think you already know about all the organizations I’m working for now. I’m here so I can be completely honest with you.” He turns and walks out into the daylight. “So, believe me when I tell you Miss Nile did kidnap me. But, that’s really only a small part of the story.”
We follow him out of the shipping container and find ourselves in the middle of a large body of water. On both sides is a fair distance between us and the shore. The buildings on the shore aren’t the same big skyscrapers we saw when we arrived in Boston, but I can still see the skyline in the not-so-distant distance. All around us shipping containers are piled up, ours being on the very top. Our barge isn’t alone, however, as a few others are alongside the one we’re on, making something of a manmade island in the middle of this harbor.
“Where are we?” Eve asks.
“The Charles River Basin, right off the Boston Harbor,” The Geek answers proudly.
“No,” I argue, “what is this? The thing we’re currently standing on.”
“Oh, they call it a barge city. A few shipping barges butted up next to each other, getting everything prepped for a ride down the coast. It’s the perfect cover for our little chat, as there’s always a ton of folks moving around on these things getting stuff together for the long slow ride.”
“I don’t see anyone,” Eve says, concerned.
“I had them all take a break below. Couldn’t have anyone catching on how we’ve got a couple of stowaways who are worth twenty million bucks each on board. I don’t trust anyone to not want in on such a huge bounty.”
“Twenty million dollars,” I say, my head swimming with delight.
“Announced this morning. You two are all anyone’s talking about anymore. Of course, you would already know this if you would put in your stupid earpieces every once in a while.”
“Sorry,” I reply. “Bruno said it was dangerous to be using Agora tech when we’re trying to keep a low profile.”
“Probably not the worst idea, if you weren’t carrying them around with you everywhere. Those things have tracking devices on them, you realize.”
“What?” Eve yelps.
“Don’t worry, I turned them off a while back. They’re perfectly safe, at least with the tracking aspect.”
I sigh in relief.
“So,” Eve butts in, “you said you have something to tell us?”
“You know, Eve, after working with Cyrus for so long, I forget sometimes how not everyone is as easy to distract from a topic.”
“You’ll have to work a whole lot harder on me,” Eve says.
“Is it me,” I ask Eve, “or is my little brother beginning to sound like a bad guy from a bad movie?”
“Come on, Cy,” The Geek smiles. “I’m your brother. How could I possibly be the bad guy?”
“Isn’t that exactly what the bad guys in those movies say?”
“Perhaps I should just come clean.”
“Yeah, that might be a really good idea.” Eve places her hands on her hips.
“As you know, I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the computer over the past few years, making contacts, finding out secrets, and basically learning everything I can about this country so I can help you get around it better, right Cyrus?”
“Yeah,” I smile. “And you’re great at it, don’t get me wrong. I’m still not feeling like what you’re going to say next is going to make me feel very happy.”
“Right, so, as I was doing all of this, I came across some rather interesting details about how our country operates, or more importantly, about who actually runs our country.”
“Now you’ve lost me,” I frown.
“As you’re aware, there are a number of organizations around who work toward trying to gain power over the people. Obviously the United States government, most visible in your eyes through the SPs, is one. The rebellion is another. The Agora and Golden Dawn are two more of those groups. However, they are but a fraction of the factions involved in the day to day running of our country.”
“Yeah?” I ask.
“What are you getting at, Billy?”
“At one point, folks who had an interest in what decisions were made within the legislative branches, meaning, the group which really makes the laws,” he says, focusing his eyes on me as he does, “would use money to get their way. Lobbyists owned the country and made being a lawmaker quite a lucrative occupation.”
“You’re getting off topic again, Billy.”
“Not exactly. You see, once the American people became aware of the corruption these lobbyists were causing, a light was shed on how our lawmakers made their money. Every penny which went into their pockets was scrutinized by a new wing of the American judicial system.”
“This is all stuff we know,” Eve groans.
“I didn’t,” I say.
“I’m almost done. You see, lobbying was made illegal and people, more importantly, organizations, could no longer use money to get their way. That’s when the first of these new independent covert organizations began cropping up. Groups like Golden Dawn and the Illuminati and even the rebellion came in early, of course, but this was also the moment when organizations like The Agora appeared. Organizations which operated under the radar for the purposes of financial gain.”
“That’s great,” I say. “Thank you for the history lesson.”
“What does this have to do with anything?” Eve presses.
“You see, when I started realizing the motivation for the creation of The Agora and the multitude of similar organizations, I began looking into how they came into being. Take The Agora for example. The seed which grew into what we know of as The Agora today began as a simple entertainment technology company. They made computers and phones and all sorts of technology which quickly became banned after the September 11th attacks. The company was no longer allowed to build this tech, or, at least, they couldn’t build or sell it on our soil. Although sales overseas were good, they weren’t as profitable as when they sold their items domestically.
“Of course, now the organization is nothing like its parent company. Because of the current political environment, they evolved into something else entirely. They stopped developing new technologies and their focus turned more toward covert operations. Now, they’re really more like a shipping company.”
“Get to the point already, Geek,” I say, feeling exasperated.
“You see, there are many groups like The Agora today, little shadow businesses which splintered off of larger corporations because they were involved in things which weren’t exactly legal any longer.”
“Alright, Eve,” I say. “Let’s get out of here. He’s obviously hiding something. That’s the only time he takes any time whatsoever to explain things.”
“Wait!” The Geek says as I turn to walk toward the edge of the container we’re on. “I found something when I was doing my research. Something I’m not supposed to know about. There’s a link between all these organizations. And there’s a way to take control over what they do.”
“What?” Eve says, her voice getting squeaky.
“I’ve had a lot of time on my hands, you know, so, I spent a lot of time researching these organizations: Mockingbird, Paperclip, Gladio, Bilderberg, and so on. Do you know what I found?”
“No,” I say flatly.
“They were all started by the same corporation. An umbrella corporation called Mackenzie-Lena. They had their hands in everything before we dropped the bomb in World War II. And it appears, they still do today, although, not directly. Even the rebellion itself was started by M&L back ages ago as a way to show power against the United States.”
“What does this have to do with anything?” Eve asks.
“M&L themselves may have attempted to distance themselves from these groups after starting them, but an ex-CEO for the company operates as something of a puppet master for the whole thing, someone who goes by the name of Miss Nile.”
“Miss Nile!” I exclaim.
“You know her?” Eve asks.
“Yeah, I met her back right after I got out of Devens.”
“Right,” The Geek agrees. “It appears that no matter her involvement in these other groups, the one she’s most openly connected with is The Agora, hence my interest in infiltrating their depths.”
“But you were kidnapped,” I reply. “You still haven’t explained how that fits into all this.”
“I’m getting to it. You see, although they did kidnap me, I had fully expected it. You see, I found the key. I found out how to control all these organizations. More specifically, I figured out how to do, well, basically everything. So, I made them aware of who I was, gave them the idea they might want to kidnap me in order to get you to do what they want. Once I was there, it was pretty easy to set myself up with the right credentials to move about as I pleased.”
“I still have no idea what you’re talking about,” I say in agitation. “Are you the bad guy or not?”
“Well, yes, and no,” The Geek answers simply.
“What does that mean?” I ask wildly.
“I guess it means a lot of things. For one, Miss Nile is the actual bad guy, but in order to use her powers, I often have to pretend to be her.”
“I’m seriously lost now,” I say, looking to Eve to see if she’s doing any better.
“Don’t look at me. Is this what you feel like all the time, Cyrus?”
“Can I get to the point?” The Geek says in frustration. “You see, every time I’ve used my contacts to save you from imminent death, it’s been me hacking into this super-system and pretending to be Miss Nile. The problem is, it’s really hard to do things like that and not have someone as powerful as Miss Nile figure it out. I’ve been doing it for years and as far as I can tell, she doesn’t know who is doing it, but she knows it’s being done. She’s become absolutely fanatical about finding out who is breaking into the system. So much so, she crafted a trap for me, one she knew I couldn’t help but fall for.”
“I’m going to take a wild guess here,” I begin. “Was the trap this stupid run you signed me up for?”
“Yeah,” The Geek answers. He looks down at his shoes. “It all started so innocently,” he begins, finally sounding like his old self again. “I was only doing a little bit of hacking here and there to try and make your runs a little easier. It really wasn’t anything. But as I dug deeper and deeper, I kept finding out there was more and more I could do, given the right situations.”
“So, how did she figure out what you were doing?” Eve asked.
“I’m not entirely sure there was any one thing which set her off. However it happened, she realized someone was using her system and pretending to be her. So she set up this trap to smoke me out. I guess she figured if someone was in the system pretending to be her and trying to do good, as I mostly was, they obviously must have some moral compass which would keep them from letting everything get destroyed.”
“Wait a second here,” I begin. “Are you trying to tell me right now how you knew everything about this run, how it was bound to get me killed and everything, and you let me go on it anyways?”
“I wasn’t going to use you, I promise. You see, there was a trail of bread crumbs I followed in the system, which basically told me how the key to stopping all of this from happening was in a very specific location in Boston. So, I used my newfound powers to transfer all this information over to the rebellion in order to convince them to set up the run in the first place. The papers you’ve been carrying all this time, they’re a bunch of random numbers I printed off and faxed to the main Agora server. I wanted the rebellion to do the run, assuming that if they were to go there, I might be able to use them to stop the whole thing from happening. I thought maybe if Miss Nile found someone else to blame, she might call off the dogs.”
“Don’t you think she would have a much easier and less involved way of figuring out who was pretending to be her?” Eve asks. “This seems a little overboard.”
“I agree,” The Geek frowns. “But she’s crazy. If you knew half the things I knew about her from what I’ve found in the system, you’d know there’s only one thing you can expect from Miss Nile: absolutely no one screws with her and gets away with it.”
“I don’t get it,” I begin.
“It’s simple, Cyrus,” Eve explains. “Billy pissed off someone with a whole lot of power and now we’re all paying for it.”
“No, I get that. What I don’t get is why she still doesn’t know who’s doing it? I’ve already been caught for doing the run. She already took you into custody. Didn’t she already get exactly what she wanted? Why would she let you go?”
“That’s the thing. I don’t think she really believes we’re the ones who have been hacking her system. My plan, at least initially, was never to have you do the run, Cyrus. I wanted the rebellion to deal with it. I used my credentials as Miss Nile to make it their problem. The only thing is, they made it into a normal run, using The Agora, and, well, ultimately, Eve made it your problem.”
“Great, thanks Eve.”
“What are you getting mad at me for, Cyrus? Your brother’s the one who caused this whole mess.”
“Right, but you’re the one who made it my problem.”
“I don’t think the two of you understand,” The Geek brings us back on topic. “Miss Nile is fully aware of the plan to nuke the country and she has the power to stop it. But she doesn’t seem to care. From what I can tell, she might have been involved in giving the rebellion the idea in the first place.”
“Okay, so, crazed woman, possibly hell-bent on blowing up the world, already runs the world, wants us dead. Is that a good way of summing up the impossibly long explanation you gave us?”
“I’d say it’s a pretty reasonable approximation of a—“
“Great,” I continue. “So, what’s the plan then? You’re supposed to be almost equally as powerful, right, seeing as you can pretend you’re her.”
“That’s right, although I have to be careful with how I use the power. Everything I do could be tracked.”
“But you have a plan, right?” Eve asks. “Why else would you have brought us to Boston?”
“Well,” The Geek begins sheepishly.
“You do have a plan, right?” I demand.
“Why did you bring us to Boston if you didn’t have a plan?” Eve asks.
“Because, we have to stop the bombs. We don’t have a choice, right? And Miss Nile believes only the person using her system has enough power to make it to the drop off location without getting caught, killed, or worse.”
“So, you’re planning on doing a Hail Mary?” I ask. “Like, you’re going to give yourself up in an attempt to stop all of this?”
“Unless you have any better ideas. I tried seeking her out by breaking into The Agora, but everywhere I looked I came up empty-handed. Most of the people who work for her don’t seem to even know she exists.”
“No, Billy, you can’t,” Eve says sadly.
“Why would you bring us here if all you’re going to do is give yourself up anyways?”
“Because I was kind of hoping you might have some sort of better idea.”
“Oh,” I say softly.
“Look, it’s really okay,” The Geek says quickly. “I’m willing to face the music on this one. I’m only saying if, by some chance, you have some sort of crazy Cyrus idea which might allow us to get through all of this without having anyone die, I wouldn’t be opposed.”
“Wait,” I say, “you’re honestly trying to tell me the only plan you’ve got going right now is to give yourself up completely to this woman who will, no doubt, kill you on sight.”
“Yeah,” The Geek says weakly. “Not my greatest plan ever, I know.”
“That’s not a plan,” I yell. “It’s a funeral!”
“Actually,” Eve smirks. “It might not be as bad as you think.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Look at us. You’ve got a pudgy twelve year old boy, um, no offense Billy, and the two people who made such a mess of trying to correct everything they were almost put to death. If there’s three people who least look like they have any clue what’s going on, much less have the keys to be able to run this entire country, it’s us.”
“Yeah?” I ask.
“So, what if we do exactly what The Geek is planning on doing? Together.”
“I think I see where you’re going,” The Geek replies. “We all show up and do the job we were given, which would have been a whole lot easier if we used her powers. Her only options are either to believe we are the ones who have been pretending to be her or to assume someone’s trying to trick her.”
“Right,” Eve agrees. “I may not know anything about this woman, but if she’s the puppet master for everything, I have a hard time believing she’ll accept the idea she was outsmarted by a twelve year old.”
“But what does that do?” I ask. “We show up, she decides we’re not the one she’s looking for, then what? It’s not like we’ll have actually stopped anything. And besides, if the only way to get to her is to use her powers, then obviously she’ll realize how whether or not we’re the ones who have been pretending to be her, that person has to be connected to us.”
“Let’s deal with that when we get there,” Eve says with a grin which confuses me.
“I’m beginning to think you and Cyrus have been spending way too much time together,” The Geek groans.
“No, you don’t get it,” I argue, bringing us back on point. “None of this makes any sense. Alvin Alexander was talking about blowing things up, wasn’t he? That was his plan. But now you’re saying it’s Miss Nile’s plan? Oh yeah, and if we finish the run, she’ll kill us no matter who we are. She might kill us simply because we aren’t the people she’s expecting us to be. There are so many questions left to all of this, I don’t see how we could possibly think this is a good idea.”
“We’ve got a couple days until a series of nukes blow up all over the country,” Eve begins defiantly. “What better options do we have?”
“I don’t know,” I say reluctantly.
“What are you so sour about?” Eve asks. “I’d think this is exactly the sort of thing you’d come up with.”
“It is,” The Geek replies. “He’s just mad you came up with it first.”
Go to Chapter Twenty-Seven