Wednesday, 7 December 2011

POWER SOURCE - Chapter 7 - The Seawall - by Linda Palund

Chapter 7.                                     THE SEAWALL

          I have to admit that the K9-5 model is a great piece of kit.  Almost as soon as I put in the co-ordinates for Boone’s and settled back for the ride, he announced that he was changing his protocol.
         “K9 switching to Commando profile.” And then he immediately started scanning the Humbercraft for bugs.
         “No time to scan before departure.”
         A few seconds later he reported, “All clear in craft. Checking personal belongings now.” And he buzzed for a few more seconds and called out, “All clear inside Maddy’s gear.  All Clear inside K9-5’s casing.”
         “Thanks, K9,” I told him. Can you tell me now what we should expect at Boone’s?  How much should we tell them, or should we tell them anything?”
         K9’s eyes glittered a bright yellow for a few moments, and then he turned his metal head to face me, cocking it to one side in that fetching dogbot way he had, and said something that surprised me. “Max has imbedded escape protocol in K9’s Commando profile.”
         He turned his head so that it was level again and his ears twirled for a second before he went on, “K9’s mission is to gather intel inside Boone’s. Maddy's mission is to follow Max’s scenario as follows: 
         “Maddy to tell everyone of personal emergency.  Maddy must recite the following phrase to person named George and only to this person. 
         “Our seawall has broken and our house is flooded.” Maddy will memorise this line. Only recite to man named George. He will be working at Boone’s. He will understand.”
         This was a lot of information to come out of K9, but somehow, as questionable as it sounded, I found it comforting.  Max had foreseen this happening. He was prepared for us to go on the run, me and K9.  I wondered what other surprises he had for me.  But we were practically there now and I headed low over the beach and hit the streets.
         Boone’s was located in a funny building not too far from Ocean Beach.  It was a relic that had somehow survived the earthquakes and tidal waves.  It had been completely swallowed by the sand, covered over for decades, but somehow remained intact.  The first of its Safe Haven owners had dug it out from the sand, cleaned all the sand out from the inside and then covering the entire building with a shell made of a special fortified compound of plexi-glass and titanium.  Then they covered it back over with a new kind of sand, so it was pretty well camouflaged, blending into the sand dunes around it,  although if you had heard about it, you would know where to find it.
         The sand covering it wasn’t really sand any more, but a hard plastiment compound that looked just like sand, but didn’t fill up your pockets and wreck your electronic equipment, of which there was quite a bit at Boone’s. Then the whole building had a defence system that radiated a high intensity anti-bugging shield that was kept state-of-the-art, because it was supported by funds provided by the Underground.
         The Company had tried to shut down places like Boone’s, but thankfully, there were still some wealthy supporters in San Francisco who were able to keep the “Safe Haven” tradition alive. 
         These same supporters had developed an entry system that was so state-of-the-art it was chilling.  A filtering program devised by the folks in Palo Alto, amusingly nicknamed the “Soul Search”, which could read not only your bio-rhythms, and your moods, but could read your intentions, your desires, and your concealed weaponry.
         It was pretty near fool proof and had a self-evolving interface that allowed it to absorb new data and respond and create whatever it needed to bypass any interference from the outside.
         I took the Humbercraft out of autopilot and manoeuvred it toward the camouflaged underground parking garage.  A Stasis Beam settled over the craft and a sweet feminine voice emerged from our radio.
         “You are about to enter the Safe Haven known as Boone’s. Prepare to be searched and scanned. Do you understand?”
         “Yes, mam.” I answered.  “Go right ahead”
         K9 looked worried.  His eyes glowed red for a few seconds, but then he just waited with me while the scan took place. The voice returned in about 30 seconds.
         “You have on board a K9-5 Commando fully armed. What are your intentions?”
         “Sorry, mam” I said quickly. “I have a personal emergency and I need to speak to George.  He will approve our visit, I’m sure.” I added hastily.
         “George is in residence.  Please allow access to your vid-screen.”
         I breathed a sigh of relief and K9’s eyes switched back to a dull green.  Only his ears were rotating, showing me he was scanning the car park already.
         “I’ve turned on the screen.” I said, flicking the switch and hitting the icon that would allow them to see me and K9.
         Suddenly the screen lit up in a kaliedescope of lights and colours. They were obviously having a good time at Boone’s today.  And then a most peculiar face came on the screen.  Whoever it was, and I hoped it was George, had a very large head, with a formidable forehead, very serious brown eyes, an aquiline nose, bordering on hawk-like, and a large and rather sensuous mouth.  This imposing visage was mitigated by kindly lines around his eyes and his mouth that showed he actually smiled quite a lot.  However, he was not smiling now.
         “You have an armed K9-5 on board your craft. Can you tell me why?”
         Before I could answer K9 interrupted and actually asked this formidable head a question. This was very unusual for a K9 and I wondered if it was part of his commando profile.
         “Excuse me, please confirm you are person named George before we proceed.” He said, being unusually polite, considering his commando profile.
         “Yes.” Said the face. “I am George.  May I ask who you are?”
         “George!” I interrupted, “I am Maddy. Maddy Green. Our seawall has broken and our house is flooded!” I nearly shouted this out.  I suddenly felt that those words exactly described our situation.  For some reason just saying this made me feel overwhelmingly emotional.  I just wanted to cry now.
         George looked searchingly at me for a second and I could see genuine concern in his eyes. “Maddy! You are granted entrance. Please come into our Haven’s Garage.  We will have the door open and I will be there to greet you personally.  I am very pleased to meet you both.”
         And the screen went dark and I breathed a long sigh of relief.  K9 stopped twitching and began to wag his tail again.

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