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Conference Room C
Enough of the design for the colony had
been created and approved that groundbreaking could start as soon as the tools,
supplies, and work force were in place. Considering
all required colonists had been selected and what CTF had done to Carmen, all
the colonists agreed to head to the property as soon as possible. For Carmen, the Hunt, and the Millers this
Carmen, Aaron, Sarah, Keith, Kara, Jared and a still sick Michelle all met in a conference room for last minute planning. Everybody was already packed and Hunt Security would help them get from the facility to the docks. Aaron gave operational control to a senior staff member of the company in a meeting on the preceding Friday. Most of the Hunt fortune had already been moved to Swiss bank accounts.
They all sat down so that Aaron could give
a briefing on how the operation would take place. “We are going to drive out the back entrance
of this facility. We will meet escorts
there who will lead us to
“The trucks also have tinted windows so it is unlikely we will be noticed. We’ll enter the vehicles from the parking lot inside this facility so CTF will not be able to see us leave. The boat is large enough for us to drive into, so they won't see us exit the cars either. Any questions?”
Jared asked, “Where does the back entrance lead?”
Aaron said, “It leads to a hidden exit which will let us out near a road.” He waited for more questions but there were none. They were all prepared for this moment. This is what they had been waiting for and building to. Now all they had to do was follow the plan and everything should go fine.
They all put on vests that were stored near the entrance to the inner portion of the facility. Everybody’s stuff was carried out into the trucks. A contingent of Hunt Security personnel met them in the parking area. There were eight trucks total. The two trucks that would hold the two families had a driver. The other six trucks each had four people. The time machine easily fit in the rear of one of the trucks. Michelle, Jared, and Carmen each had a builder. Michelle’s was set to work like it had exactly one month ago, that fateful night had sent their lives on this strange path. Jared and Carmen set their builders to turn targets into steel.
George Peterson met six teams outside of the Hunt house at . He ordered two teams to spread out to make sure the Hunt family had no exits from the house. The agents who had been watching assured him that the Hunt family was still inside. George went in with the rest of the teams after the first two teams secured the perimeter. He had a forward team enter first. The doors were unlocked, so they walked directly in. The teams spread out and checked the house. At the same time, one of the teams searched the garage. When all the teams came up empty, Peterson met them in the kitchen.
Peterson pointed to the nearest agent, “You go get the heat sensors.”
A minute later, the agent returned. There was no heat detected anywhere but the laundry room, where the water heater was, and the living room. They went into the living room and realized that the heat was coming from inside the wall next to the fireplace.
“Open it,” Peterson barked.
Some agents started working on the wall, trying to find a way in. Peterson said, “Get some axes.” One axe was standard for every truck, to help get through low-tech security systems, like walls and wooden doors. CTF also standardly carried hacking equipment due to all the high-tech security systems they regularly had to bypass to enter anything from networks to vaults and even panic rooms.
After a few minutes, agents were chopping at the wall with fire axes. When they got through, they found a few tanks of hot water. The water was body temperature.
One of the agents who had been guarding when they arrived said, “They were here, Sir.”
Peterson said, “Listen up; they must have these tanks to help them sneak out. The question is, where did they go? They probably have a tunnel system that starts near this heater. These people are rich, so they may have spared no expense to make such a system. Find it. Tear this place apart. Just be careful with computers and paper files.”
George called the office and sent some people to the airport to make sure they didn’t escape that way. Peterson waited in the kitchen after helping himself to some orange juice. Then he went upstairs and found that most of the clothing, drawers, and closets were empty. He started to panic. Had he missed them by mere hours? Krinshaw had said to go in the morning. Would George be blamed for Krinshaw’s plan? Of course, the answer was yes. It would not matter whose fault it was: George’s career was on the line. As George pondered his future, an agent came up. “Sir, we found something.”
George followed the agent back into the living room. The agent explained, “This fireplace is on a hydraulic lift. It’s like a little elevator.”
George said, “Can we get it to move?”
The agent said, “Not yet. We found a wireless receiver, and we’re trying to hack in, but it could take a while.”
“What about making a hole and climbing down?”
“Sir, it’s a long elevator shaft and we don’t have any climbing rope.”
“Fine, you two go get rope,” he said pointing at two agents. Turning back he said, “Keep working on the hack.”
After a few minutes, one of the agents working at the fireplace finally said, “Got it. They have it well encrypted, but as soon as we were inside it was a piece of cake. Their network topography is obvious. We’re ready to send down a full elevator.”
George picked a team of men to go down first. They got the elevator to go down to the loading position. Then the team boarded the elevator and it went to the bottom. One of the team members yelled up the elevator shaft, “Clear.”
George ordered a few men to stay upstairs. He went down on the next elevator ride. All, except for the few staying in the house, continued to arrive. Some agents worked on hacking the door. First, an agent took the faceplate off the number pad and cut the cord. He then pulled out his hacking tool and connected the cut wire to the tool. Numbers started flashing on the screen. First the tool tried all the obvious choices, like 1234, 4321, then choices like 9999, and 8888. Then after going through the obvious choices, it went through all the possible combinations sequentially. When the number was found, they attached a panel to the thumb pad that scanned for residual fingerprints. After isolating and clarifying a fingerprint, it would then copy the print and press the copy against the pad. The fingerprint took less than a second. Finally, they got it open and headed down the tunnel with weapons drawn. When the tunnel met up with the bigger tunnel, he left a team of men to open the big door, in case they were hiding there. George went with the remaining men down the wide tunnel.
They arrived at the parking area just as the Hunt Security trucks began to leave. The first few trucks were already so far down the tunnel that CTF couldn’t see them. George wasn’t sure who shot first, since he was in the rear. He hoped it was his men, but it seemed unlikely. With the team left at the big door, the two teams outside and the three men upstairs only, 15 men remained with George.
Hunt Security was in the front and rear trucks. The Millers and Carmen were in the first of the middle trucks. Jared sat in the front, Carmen sat behind the driver, and Michelle sat behind Jared. The Hunt family was in the second of the trucks. Kara sat in the front, Sarah sat behind Kara, Keith sat in the middle, and Aaron sat behind the driver.
As the first trucks started moving, the CTF agents came down the hall. The passengers of the rear trucks had been looking in the back to make sure they weren’t attacked from behind. As soon as the CTF agents popped into view, the last two of the three rear trucks broke off from the convoy and started firing from the windows and the skylight. The skylight and windows were bulletproof, allowing them to shoot under near-perfect cover. The first five forward-most CTF agents were shot down in the first few rounds. The only noticeable shots from the agents hit the bulletproof glass. After the first five were shot, the other agents retreated towards the house. The two trucks quickly caught up with the rest of the convoy and reported their results over the radio.
When the Hunt Security trucks arrived at the exit, they had to stop for a few minutes to open the tunnel and remove the camouflage that hid it. As they drove out, three CTF vans were suddenly in the tunnel behind them. George had had them retreat because of the advantage the trucks caused. He had not expected any of this. This was supposed to be routine. He had expected a firefight but not underground and not with vehicles. As they retreated, they found that the team that was left at the big door had opened it. They brought some vans down through the elevator. Hunt Security still had better vehicles, but George had equipped the vans with rocket launchers after the incident with Carmen. He could not be sure what had happened, but he would take no chances.
The two rear trucks broke off when the CTF vans caught up. Hunt Security opened fire as they had before and did some serious damage, but then there was an explosion. The explosion seemed to make the tunnel shake. After a moment of relative silence there was another explosion. When the debris cleared, the two Hunt’s Security trucks could be seen . . . completely destroyed.
The Hunt family, including Kara and Keith, prepared for a firefight. Over the radio, Aaron urged all the drivers, “Step on it!”
The trucks had come out of the tunnel in a field that led to a small logging trail that went downhill. Two of the forward trucks held back to join the sole surviving truck in the rear. They started down the logging trail single file. After all the trucks had gotten on the trail, the CTF vans started to appear in the field. They had driven through the wreckage and were now in pursuit. As soon as the vans surfaced, their GPS systems reported their location. George ordered the two teams that had waited outside and the three who stayed in the house to take the remaining three, of six, vans and to follow the road toward their position. The logging trail kept everybody going no faster than 25 miles per hour. They were out of range of each other, so neither group started firing.
Carmen said to Jared, “We should use the builders to wall off the road.”
Jared nodded, “You’re right.” He handed the radio to Carmen. Carmen said over the radio, “We want to make a steel wall at the end of this trail.”
Aaron replied over the phone, “No, use gold. We don’t want to show our hand. Let them think we can only make gold!”
“OK, we can use gold.”
“How long will it take?”
“Fine; when we come out, you guys hang back and make a wall only if they’re as far back as they are now. If they’re any closer, we can’t risk losing you.”
Carmen wondered to herself how, when it came to life or death, her life could be held as more important than that of anybody else, like the lives of the men and women in the rear trucks. Her only reply was, “OK.”
Carmen said to Jared as they saw signs of the road, “I’ll take the left, you take the right.”
Jared nodded. Michelle said to both of them, “Be careful.”
When they arrived, the vans had actually lost some ground. The trucks were made for off-road driving, but the CTF vans were not. The driver of the Millers’ truck pulled to one side and let the others pass. Carmen popped up awkwardly through the sunroof and Jared opened his door to shoot. Within five seconds, they had made a foot thick wall that stood six feet high. Both ends were started from large white pine trees.
The road was built on the side of a mountain. The left side of the road was a steep rock face, and the right side was a steep sloop covered with evergreens. As they got back into position and took a right onto the road they had come out on, the three CTF vans from the house came barreling down the road. Aaron said over the radio, “GO!”
The six tucks were moving again and had almost reached the speed limit when the vans got within range. With all the added room, the three rear trucks spread out, allowing the three passengers of each truck to fire at the vans. Before the CTF agents were ready, the first van lost control as its tires were shot out. The CTF vans were driving single file, and when the first lost control the one following directly behind it bumped into it before the forward van could get clear. The third CTF van passed the first two and shot a rocket hitting the middle of the three rear trucks. The two remaining rear trucks regrouped as they started rounding a bend. A 16-wheel tractor-trailer came down the oncoming lane. The van that had shot the rocket swerved into the wreckage of the truck to avoid hitting the tractor-trailer. The remaining van passed in the right lane.
The lead van fired a missile at the truck on the right but missed. The van’s tires blew out and it lost control, headed off the road and down the hill.
At this point, the strategies on both sides were obvious. CTF wanted to blow them up one at a time while Hunt Security wanted to destroy CTF’s tires. The single remaining van stayed back to avoid the gunfire, but because the rockets were so slow and had no guidance systems the trucks were easily avoiding them. If CTF wanted to hit them, they would get too close and risk having their tires blown out. For miles, they drove in this stalemate position. Finally, Aaron’s voice came over the radio. “If we keep driving like this they’ll report our position and we’ll have too much company after a few intersections. How much range do those builders have?”
Jared replied over the radio, “Limitless . . . well, almost limitless . . . as limitless as visibility, so a few miles.”
Aaron said, “If we get out of your way, can you stop this van?”
Jared looked at Carmen. Carmen shrugged. Jared finally replied, “Sure, give us a second to make a plan.”
Aaron replied, “You have three minutes before we come to the first major intersection.”
Carmen said, “We’re too close and ‘valuable’ to make another wall. Besides, this area is more open, and it would have to be a huge wall. You didn’t happen to get files of explosives, did you?”
Carmen was referring to the project to deconstruct objects and save their structure into files. Jared replied, “No.”
Michelle said, “Why don’t you just turn their front-end into air or gold.”
Carmen said, “Gold. The wall we made will probably be enough of a clue of what the builders do, but we can at least limit them to thinking we only make gold.”
Jared nodded. They quickly programmed in the structure and set the builders to calculate the distance basing it on visual scans. When they were done, Jared said on the radio, “All set.”
The trucks behind them moved to the left. Carmen popped out the sunroof again, this time with less trouble. Jared opened his window and aimed. They both shot, completely destroying the front of the vehicle by turning it into gold. The gold was mixed with glass and steel. The van continued to roll forward and as the road curved, it went off the side.
When they reached the intersection, they took a right. They continued towards the coast using back roads.
George could not understand what had happened. Where had the wall come from? The bottom of the trail had been out of view when the trucks pulled off. How had the trucks gotten around it? Did it slide into place? Where did it come from? Maybe it slid from the sides, but where did it slide from? There was a tree at the end of each wall. It would have had to slide through the tree. It was an enormous thick gold wall, perfectly smooth. Did the Midas machine make gold as opposed to transform objects into gold?
They hacked their way through the trees to make an opening for the vans. It took over twenty minutes.
George kept trying to reach the other trucks but got no answer. He called the office and found out that most of the CTF team members had died. The rest had slow heart rates and were either unconscious or at the very least unable to talk. GPS showed that none of them were moving. If he had realized how long it would take to get past the wall, he would have called in some help.
When they were finally out, they drove
towards the GPS signals of the CTF teams.
They found all their vans. Some agents
had died, and the rest had serious injuries.
George called for ambulances. He
left a few people with the survivors to do what they could until
After hours of back roads, a journey that
would have taken little time on the highway finally ended. When they arrived at the docks, they drove
right onto the ship. Aaron and Sarah
said their good-byes to each of the surviving Hunt Security staff. Michelle, Jared, Carmen, Keith, and Kara said
good-bye as well. As soon as they were ready,
the crew of the ship got underway, and they headed to
After hours of searching, George finally returned to his office where he would inevitably be fired.
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford