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Authors: Vincent Heck

Last War (9 page)

BOOK: Last War
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     "It is. I love this."

     Christine wasn't lying, she did love the moment. She liked having someone there. She liked having someone who wasn't so stone-faced about life. She liked to hear 'sweetie you are beautiful' and Max was very good at that. She only wished she didn't feel so guilty out there with someone else. She, ultimately, wished that Jason could do what Max did for her; she should have never settled.

    
"Is everything ok, honey?" Max asked.

     “Yes."

     As the waiter brought the main coarse meal to the table, the smell of the soy steamed off of the salmon. "One Asian Grilled Salmon." The waiter called out.

    
Christine raised her hand to receive her food. Her phone buzzed. "One second, Max. Sorry about my rudeness." She said as she glimpsed at her phone.

     It was a text from Jason.
"Honey I'm leaving indefinitely, I cannot tell you why for your safety. Please find somewhere safe to stay and if you are contacted by ANYONE tell them anything you know...it’s better that way -- just to keep you safe. Do not open any doors to strangers. And DO NOT COME HOME TONIGHT."

     Christine’s fingers tingled and suddenly became weak. Her reflex to cover her mouth mixed with
her confusion as to what to do. She watched her phone tumble to the ground top over bottom before it clashed onto the floor into several different pieces.  Her hand shook violently as she tried to gather her things.

    
"Max, I'm sorry, this was such a wonderful night, but I gotta go."

     
"What? Where? What do you mean you gotta go? What happened?"

    
"I can't explain it sorry, Max I--I gotta--"

    
"Christine, where are you going? We are on a boat. Just, calm down."

    
"Well, I gotta find a way off of here. It’s an emergency."

 


 

     Michael had chewed his fingernails into a sand grain in his mouth as he awaited a response from the agents.

    
"Has anyone heard from these agents, yet?”

      “
We're sorry sir, they said he is not answering the door."

    
"Ok, I'll give you a few more minutes, then I am calling him myself. Keep knocking!"

    
"How many times you want them to knock?"

    
"Until he acknowledges us."

     "Then what?"

     "Look, I don't know, yet, ok? Do we have video? Can we get video? What’s the signal like in his neighborhood? Which drones are over there?"

    
"We've got drone Fenix over there, we've got... Orion, and Gerakyl, too."

    
"Ok well what are we waiting for? Let’s get them into position, and let’s get the feed."

     As the control center monitors set into position at the front of the
control room, the picture of three video feeds piped back onto the screens. Each of them, momentarily, were displaying video from flying cameras, above the trees and buildings before finally arriving at Jason’s house. The video camera then steadied enough to display two men standing at Jason’s door.

 
    “Wow, the accounts are true: Those men barely
do
move." Michael said.

     He sat up in his chair.

     "Knowing Jason, he's got a plan. He's too smart. Pan around the house please. Keep the feed for the front door still, though."

 
   The main screen split into three screens. The middle view panned to the left of the house viewing the back, side, and the far right view panned to the right of the house. No view of Jason.

 
    "Can we zoom out? Trace his phone and listen to the audio?"

 
    "Sir he took the battery out of his phone and drained the juice. There is no audio inside that house."

      “None? Anywhere? No satellite TV, or anything?”

     “Nothing.”

   
"This isn’t going to be easy, guys. Can we get another covert surveillance drone over there? Can we get one in there? Are there anymore we can spare in the area? One as small as an insect or something?”

     “All of our micros are on other assignments.”

     “OK. Well, let’s hold off for now. Really, I don’t think it’s necessary for Jay, anyway. I want everyone to fall back. Get those guys outta here, we need him to settle down, we'll never catch him when he's on high-alert."

     “It seems they left, already, sir.”

     “You mean without permission?”

    
All Michael wanted to do was talk to Jason. He wanted Jason's opinion of whatever it was he thought he had discovered.

    
"Keep him on constant surveillance and make sure you brief me on any change.  Even if it’s minor."

     Michael left the control room and headed
back to his office.


                                                            
Sunday, May 25th 2003 3:07 a.m.

    
Jason crept back over to the door to look at the vestibule monitor again. The men were gone. He pulled out an electronic notebook and uploaded visual surveillance of the parameters of his property.

    
He panned around the whole house.     His mind laid heavy with the thought of the men who visited him and how his experience almost mirrored Tameka's before she died.

   
They were chipped. He knew that, cause he was able to deactivate their body chips and send them away.

    
Jason decided to log onto the internet to search for Betsy Washington, Tameka's mom. Her point of view, surely, would tell him something he needed to continue.

 

 


 

Nebraska Avenue Complex
 

     A small beeping noise skipped over the speaker with new information back at the
DHS control room. The analyst stationed to monitor that drone fired up his walkie-talkie into Michael’s office. "Sir, we are getting signals from Badr drone."

     “10-4. I’ll be right in.” Michael stormed
from his office back into the control room. “What’s he doing?"

     "He's on the internet."

     "He hasn't typed any words, yet, though, has he?"

    
"No, his internet is just connected on its homepage.”

     “This could be a decoy, folks. Eyes peeled
. Someone keep your eyes on those video feeds, he could be sneaking out.”

    
The screen in the display room showed the exact screen that Jason had on his laptop. The curser blinked idle in the search box; the pointer laid flat in the middle of the screen’s desktop.

    
"What's he doing?" an agent asked. “Maybe he got up to go to the bathroom.”

     “Make sure you circle the house with the surveil-drones. Be sure he’s not pulling our chain.” Michael said.

     The cameras took a fast swipe around the entire house with no signs of activity. “Everything’s the same sir.”

    
The screen sat stagnant another few minutes before the connection to Jason’s internet disconnected.

    
"We've lost his connection, sir. He logged off."

    
"It was a decoy; we've got nothing here. Keep your eye on the video. He wasn't ever going to put anything in that search box. Make sure he doesn’t leave that house."

 


 
    Jason sat at his desk. An intuition asked him to do an area search for intelligence drones. On his handheld device, he was informed that he was being monitored by four covert drones: Fenix, Orion, Gerakyl and Badr.

     Badr monitored
anything he’s doing on his internet feed – he helped design it. His team of physicists did a phenomenal job on the execution. It was named after the old Pakistani satellite series.

     He had to get out of the house, but the tricky thing about the covert drones used by the DHS was that they were impossible to see
with the naked eye.

     It’d be impossible to identify. Typically, they disguised as insects and sat too h
igh in the air to be able to detect, anyway. But, they could be anywhere from hiding in the bushes to inside the central air vents of his home. There was no way he could put Betsy’s name in that search box, she’d be dead or missing before the night’s over.

    
He shut down the internet and rummaged through his bookshelves for the first phone book he had on hand.

     The phonebook he found was a few years old. After running his finger over a few pages in the phonebook, on the fly, he had to take a mental picture of the information:
"Betsy Washington, Annandale, Fairfax County Maryland."

    
Let’s hope this is info is still good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

XI

 

World Trade Center, Building 7

Thursday September 6, 2001 10:22 p.m. EDT

     Jason’s pen was buried somewhere under the crazy stack of papers sitting atop his desk. He had it a second ago, but lost track of it while reading the operation instructions and programming the assignments.

    
At 7:45 a.m. on September 11, is when I’ll have the first communication with the base from the squawk box. That’s when procedures will begin.

    
Jason couldn’t see how anyone could get away with the elaborate scheme he was planning for drills, but it was what they had discussed with the Brendenhall Financial Group. The drills, to him, were silly because, surely, the U.S. military would catch a group of people planning to run a huge commercial plane into the White House before it happened, right?

     He was stu
mped trying to figure out how to make the drill as difficult as possible because it’d take them about an hour and twenty minutes to run from Boston’s airport down to D.C.
That’s ample time for the fighters to get there. It should be an easy task. How do I plan this?

    
His commission was to come up with a plan that the U.S. defense could not stop. It felt impossible.

    
Jason had been a part of many silly, outlandish, drills. This was the first drill he was commissioned to take head of; it was his baby. He was going to be sure that no matter what, he knocked this out of the park.

     During the Brendenhall meetings, they had discussed the
guy before him that was not very good. His drills were shoddy, his preparation was skimpy, and his teams weren’t prepared for war, or U.S. protection, either.

     Jason like
d that he had a reputation to be the most complicated innovator. He wanted to grab this project by the bullhorns and revamp American terrorist security.

    
His phone rang.

    
Vanessa.

    
“Hey, sweetpea. It’s late, you should be in bed.”

    
“I am. I want you to continue your story until I fall asleep.”

    
“Alright, babe.” Jason sank back into his creaky desk chair. Vanessa laughed. “Your old chair.”

     “So, what?” Jason laughed back, “My old chair has served me well for a long time.”

     “If you say so, daddy. One of these days you’re gonna wish your chair wasn’t so loud – like when on an important call with the president.”

     “Maybe the president has an old creaky chair, too.”

     Jason looked out the window into the NYC streets. The time he had with his daughter in his office had become a comforting time of the day for him. It was always late, and his one-on-one phone conversation about something he loved -- history of what he considered to be the great American people and the things they’ve achieved. The moment, how it existed, belonged only to him and his angel.

    
“Where did we leave off? I always forget.” He asked.

    
She never forgot. She always knew where.

    
“New York City was attacked and burned down.”

BOOK: Last War
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ads

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