This chapter is provided as a preview. Anybody who wants to can access it for free at http://www.EastCoastGames.com . We ask that no copies, physical or electronic; be lent or given. Offering this portion of the novel is expressly prohibited.
Hunt’s Security Office
The Stefano family was made up of the parents Yuri and Cleo, two daughters Elena and Ofelia, and one son Bernardo. Yuri had short curly black hair, with some hints of gray and a slightly out-of-style goatee and mustache that were entirely white. His eyes were a piercing blue. Yuri was a thin man. He was about five feet, ten inches tall. Cleo had wavy long black hair tied back, except for a strand that hung from the side of her forehead. Her eyes were hazel.
It was a little difficult to persuade them both to come on the pretense of a job for Yuri. While Cleo was supportive and Yuri was interested, both were concerned that their children wouldn’t want to move. Still, they came and decided it would be something they would have to work through if they decided to move.
Sarah and Aaron set up the meeting just as before. Michelle was resting due to a headache so only Jared would be waiting for the conference call. In addition, this time he was prepared for the wait and brought a computer and some builders so he could work while he waited.
Yuri and Cleo had eaten at their hotel, so they didn’t bother to eat before the meeting. Yuri was wearing a black shirt with some binary code on it in white. He also wore jeans and a beat-up pair of generic brand white sneakers. Cleo was wearing a red low-cut blouse, jeans, and sandals.
Aaron and Sarah had decided to take a slightly different approach. In as casual a manner as possible they attempted to make small talk about terrorism. Aaron was not very good with casual discussion and generally preferred a serious approach. Sarah, however, seemed fairly comfortable. This time they all sat at a round table.
Sarah began, “So, isn’t it crazy how so much has changed since 9/11?”
Aaron continued, “I think the government goes too far, especially CTF. Did you know we used to work in the FBI?”
Yuri asked, “So what do you have to do with embedded systems?”
Aaron realized this would be like pulling teeth. They needed to find out if they could trust the Stefanos, but were not getting them to talk.
Sarah said, “We have new technology that we need somebody to program for. Let’s not talk about it yet though. We want to get to know you first. We need to make sure you’ll fit into our family.”
Cleo said, “You must excuse us. We’re not very fond of talking about 9/11.”
Aaron didn’t know what to say and found no help from Sarah. If they asked why not, it might go too far, so instead they sat in silence.
Cleo finally let out a deep sigh, “My brother-in-law died on Flight 127 shortly before my sister . . . disappeared. My sister had been at home and was doing laundry when the phone rang. Her husband, Jeff, was flying to D.C. for business. She got the call about forty minutes before the plane was shot down. He told her to tape the call and she did. I heard the tape before she disappeared, but I don’t have a copy. It turned out that the plane was having electrical problems. The radio, lights, and radar weren’t working. Before the call had started, some fighter jets got on both sides of the plane. The pilot had told the flight attendants to pass the word that the plane was having trouble and they would need to land soon before anything else went wrong. Most of the passengers were panicked and many were calling loved ones. The jets seemed to want them to turn back. The pilot couldn’t turn back because the plane was in such bad shape that they needed to land. The plane spent this time circling D.C., and when they got low on fuel they attempted to land. That’s when there was a loud noise followed by a dial tone. Later my sister played me the tape. When she heard the news report that the plane was meant as a terrorist attack, she called some of the stations to clarify. The news was never rebroadcast, and my sister disappeared.”
Sarah said sympathetically, “I’m so sorry.”
Aaron asked, “Do you know what happened to her?”
She shook her head no.
Aaron said, “Listen, our project involves much more than programming. We’ll tell you about it, but you must keep everything you hear a secret.”
Yuri said, “You can trust us.”
Cleo nodded her head in agreement.
Aaron and Sarah went over the information as they had with the Lyles. The questions of disbelief were similar to that of the Lyles as well. Finally, they got Jared conferenced in after the Stefanos began to show interest.
For Aaron, these discussions were like business dealings. He gave as much effort to sell the families to join as he had so often used with clients.
Jared and Carmen had been spending time getting the builders to copy. The main issue that remained, and Jared was determined to fix while Carmen was in school, was a filing bug. The files were being created missing the trailer data that included summary information like a list of the total molecules of each type and the dimensions of the object. While waiting, he discovered through debugging the code that the trailer data was being saved but it was only being saved to the temporary file. The temporary file was being copied to the permanent before the trailer data was compiled. Jared had to either make the temporary file be copied after the trailer data was compiled or have the trailer data saved directly to the permanent file. Jared choose the former option.
When all of the usual greetings ceased, Jared prepared to show them the new code in action. “I have finally gotten the copy functionality to work. In the scanning mode, I turn the object into air. Aaron, may I test this on one of your chairs?”
“Sure, just be careful.”
Jared fiddled with the builder’s interface for a while, then pointed it at one of the chairs. He then had the builder scan the chair. The chair vanished and left nothing but air, just as Jared had explained.
“Now, I’ll build a new chair that is an exact molecular copy.”
He did some more work through the builder’s screen interface. He pointed the builder toward where the chair had been and had it reappear. When objects were deconstructed they turned into a mist and then the new objected was reconstructed from the back. In this case, air was being used to build the chair, so the mist formed and then the chair appeared. Jared sat on it and everything seemed fine with the chair. He then made another chair.
Aaron clapped, “Excellent. Now we only need one of every item.”
Jared said, “Carmen and I will start building a database to get as many things as possible. You should make a list of anything you think that we will want. Also, I’m going to add some security so only Carmen, myself, and you (meaning Aaron) have access to build certain things like guns, builders, and so forth. I’ll be adding a thumb identification system.”
Aaron said, “OK, but make that a low priority. In fact, until you run out of ideas of things to scan, don’t work on it. We can do it after we get inside the colony. For now, get you, Michelle, and the kids scanning stuff. Sarah and I won’t have much time to help with it, but anything we need scanned we’ll bring to you.”
Sarah said, “Actually, give us one too. There are some things out and about we should scan, and we don’t want the kids to be caught with a builder.”
Jared agreed, “OK. You’ll want to transmit the files onto your network from time to time. I’ll explain it all tonight.”
Aaron was glad of the news but also glad that the discussion would rest until the night so that they could finish up with the Stefano family. “That’s excellent news, Jared. Good job.”
Jared smiled and said, “Thank you.”
Aaron turned to the Stefano family and asked, “So, what do you think? Will you be a part of this?”
Yuri said, “I don’t know. This is really major. I don’t mind leaving work or our house, but what if this falls through? What about our friends and family? What about the kids?”
Sarah said, “We are committed to doing
this. We also have another family
committed to doing this. We’re already
working on building plans for property in
Cleo asked, “
Aaron replied, “Their location and
neutrality. When we travel through time
to make fixes, the major fixes will probably be in
Yuri said, “I still need to know about the kids.”
Sarah said, “They’ll have as good a life inside as they would outside, minus some culture, diversity, and freedom.
Yuri said, “What happens if after we die they decide to leave and go back into the world?”
Aaron said, “That’s too far off to think of now. Besides, if we’re dead it really isn’t our concern.”
Jared interrupted, “How can you say, ‘Not our concern?’ It will be our life’s work; we can’t have it just dismantled.”
Aaron said, “I don’t think they will do anything drastic like that because we’ll teach them the importance of the program. Still, I really won’t worry about what happens after we die. Maybe there will be a reason for them to go out.”
Cleo said, “What about school?”
Sarah said, “Michelle will run a school. It won’t be as great or varied as the outside school systems, but there will be a large amount of mentoring.”
Aaron said, “Listen, it sounds like you
have a large extended family. We really
need you to keep this secret. When we’re
ready to go, tell them you’re going to
Cleo finally asked, “Can you give us some time alone to think about it?”
Aaron replied, “Of course. Jared, why don’t you start scanning? I’ll talk to you again tonight.”
Sarah added, “Tell Michelle we hope she’s OK. I’ll cook something for her tonight.”
Jared nodded, “OK. Thank you both.”
The conference equipment was then turned off. Aaron and Sarah stepped outside the room and shut the door to let them talk.
Sarah said, “This isn’t as smooth as it was with the Lyles.”
Aaron shook his head, “What about the whole race issue?”
“True, I forgot about that. I couldn’t believe they said that. Heck, if we said something like that the PC police would be all over us!"
“Well, you’re right, but there is nothing you can do. Besides, I think it’s valid enough for them to be concerned about their children’s limited selection.”
They talked some more. In fact, they waited almost half an hour until Yuri finally opened the door. Everybody sat back down.
Yuri finally said, “We’re in.”
Aaron replied, “Excellent.”
They explained how they would keep in
contact until they were all ready to move to
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford