Thursday, 3 November 2011

POWER SOURCE - Chapter 6 - Safe Haven - by Carlos Repuesto de la Tabla

          I began packing furiously, getting myself ready to leave.  K9-5 kept nagging me to hurry, whining his metallic whine, standing by the back door, repeating the word “Danger!” over and over. All right, all right, all ready! I thought, because I already knew I was in real danger, but I had no idea where we were going to go or what I could do to insure our safety, but still I knew it was wise, as always, to pay attention to the dog. 
           I put on my antique real leather jacket and packed a small duffel bag with clothes good for any weather conditions.  I checked and made sure my personal computer and its hard drive were secure in my camouflaged hardshell case, which looked exactly like a makeup bag.  I knew I might need plenty of back up, because I sure as hell was not going to be connecting to the Cloud. 
          I packed K-9's Auxiliary Kit and stowed it in one of his compartments, and threw in plenty of extra ammo in case he needed to be armed, then we headed out to the garage. 
         There was the first surprise: Max's transport was still there. What an idiot.  I hadn't even thought to look. Now I was truly scared; I was sure he had been abducted. There was no way he could leave Stinson Beach without transportation. 
          K9 stood still beside me, except for his twirling ears and his glowing eyes, repeating "Danger" again, as if he was telling me, "Look! I told you so!"
          I glanced quickly around, looking for something, anything or anyone, out of the ordinary, but all seemed normal, almost peaceful, just a slight breeze moving among the dead tree tops. 
           It was then that my phone bleated its incoming call signal, my ancient synth version of Holst's Venus.  I hurriedly fished the phone out of my jacket pocket — maybe it was Max! But it wasn't, it was Dr Lerner, Max's boss and mentor at the University.
          “Hello, Madeleine? This is Ernest. I just wanted to let you know that Max is here with me.  He is worried about you. He wants you to come over here as soon as you can.”
           “Oh, that's great.  Is he all right? Why didn't he call me himself? ”
           “Oh, no, no, he's fine, he didn't want to use his own phone, that's all.  He thought it might be traced. You see...”
           My mind was spinning, but I was cautious, and interrupted “Why didn't he call me with your phone; Please, let me speak to him now!”
          “Oh no, no.  He won't dare to speak on the phone.  He is afraid of voice imprint identification, but I assure you he is fine my dear.”
          “But, I don't understand — why is this happening? Where is his computer?”
          “I can explain it all to you on the way here, Maddy. Max became suspicious last night. He thinks that someone is trying to access his files.  He brought his things over here to be safe. But now he is afraid they might try to get to you, so he wants you to come here as well.”
          “But why is he afraid to talk to me on the phone?”
          “He is afraid they will find out where he is, my dear. Please, you can talk to him when you get here. I'm leaving now to pick you up.
          I paused, thinking quickly. “No, No, don't do that.  I'll come to you. I'll come right away. See you in half an hour. Give Max a kiss for me!”
          “Well, I'm not so sure about that last request — you can do it yourself when you get here.”
          I ended the call and stared at Max's transport. So, if he was at Dr Lerner's, how did he get there?   And why didn't he tell me? He always told me everything, even if he was afraid of being overheard by bugging devices, he would always write me a note, or leave a command with K9.
          And why Dr Lerner's of all places? I knew Max respected him and Lerner had been a friend of his father's, but Max had always been afraid to store his data at the University. If he thought he was under threat, would Max really go closer to the threat to hide?
          No, if Max had gone anywhere, he would have gone to Boone's.  Boone's was his old drug den and a recognised safe haven.  Drug Dens still kept up the age-old tradition of privacy, a tradition that had thrived ever since drugs had been made legal decades ago. They were "safe havens" the way churches had once been, and many people used them, whether they took drugs or not. 
         Boone's offered the safest place to hide away from the world for the building was blanketed with 'state of the art' anti-bugging shields and boasted an incredibly clever screening system, called "the Soul Search" that kept the wrong individuals out.
        This was where Max went when we had one of our stupid fights or when he simply needed respite from the stress of his father's legacy. Not that he didn't use the drugs. They could be quite helpful in winding down his overworked brain. 
          I knew I had to get out of here fast. They would know from the phone call that I was still here and they could be on their way to get me now.  
          I relayed the gist of Lerner's side of the phonecall to K9 and I was about to toss my bag into my speedy little transport that was parked next to Max's, when I thought better of it. 
          "What do you think, K9, which vehicle should we take?" I asked.
          “Unusual circumstances," replied the dogbot, "Require unusual decisions." He looked over at our utility vehicle parked in the space at the side of the garage. 
          "Recommend Humbercraft.  3 reasons:  
1. It will not be recognized as Maddy's transport.  
2. It has greater free transit utility and off-grid programming 
3. It has more effective shielding.”
          He was right as usual, so I threw our belongings into the back compartment of our bulky off-road vehicle.  We only used it to drive up to where our friends were hiding out in the mountains up North. Friends I wouldn't dare endanger now. The craft was more cumbersome than my speedy little transport, but was built like one of those 20th century tanks and could actually navigate better when detached from the Universal Transport Grid.
          K9 hopped into the front passenger seat, tail wagging expectantly, eyes glowing. 
          "Now, where to K9? Should we try to locate Max or do you think we should just find a quick hideout and go on the run?” and I began the craft's startup process, carefully electing to override the grid.
          “Escape is paramount." K9 began, "Dr Learner's scenario faulty. Motives suspicious." K9 paused, "Exploring alternatives" and K9's ears did their thing and his eyes glowed a bright green, then he continued. 
         "Recommend escape to Boone's.  99% certainty Max abducted. Must keep Maddy safe now." His eyes glowed some more as he continued to process. "K9 deems Boone's as safest haven for Maddy.  Strong likelihood of further intel available there."
           His eyes glowed a deep red now, "From Boone's, we can connect to the Underground."
          "I agree." I sighed, resigned to flight.  I made certain that K9 was securely attached to his seat, "I guess that's our only alternative.  We have to find safety and we will need to contact the Underground again.  Then we can look for Max." I plugged in the co-ordinates for an alternate route to Boone's, and we headed smoothly out across the water toward San Francisco. 

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