“Now that's what I call an amazingly quick recovery. You're walking!”
Steve and Grif both turned to look, seeing Henry standing behind them.
“You’re following us!” Grif gave a half smile, he was actually pleased to see Henry.
“I think I wanted to see what the world looks like. It seems we had the same idea.”
“We thought we should get out,” Steve told him.
“Yes, well I can understand that.”
“What happens now?”
“Grif, my boy, I have always liked you. Straight to the point.” He smiled, but hadn't answered the question.
They were stuck halfway up a mountain in a complex that was dead with nobody around except Henry. Like always they could probably make the most of things, Grif was considering the possibilities.
“You better both come with me.”
“Where too?” Steve looked at Grif who smiled back at the boy, that sort of knowing smile.
“Neón de Luces.”
“You have reached your destination!” The woman's voice told them they had arrived, but it was odd, because they did not appear to have landed. The motors were whirring away, it felt like they were hovering.
“What’s happening? Why haven’t we landed?”
“I don’t know.” Joel was irritated by Mark always asking questions, he reminded him of Charlie saying stuff like , ‘how much longer,’ ‘when we gonna get there,’ and then inevitably, ‘I’m bored,’ or ‘I need to pee.” But Charlie was ten years old, Mark was fourteen, Joel thought he should be a bit more grown up!
Jack ignored both of them. “Status!” he commanded.
“You have reached your destination,” the voice repeated.
“Land!” Jack told the machine.
“Landing is not possible at this location.”
Jack scratched his head. Mark was about to say something, but Joel scowled at him making him rethink and close his mouth.
“Land at closest point!” Joel took the lead now.
The vehicle took off, swinging right and then coming to a halt. This time they felt the sensation of descending. The motors cut and the door opened.
Joel stepped out, followed by the other two boys, Jack grabbed the medi-kit bag.
“So that's why.” Mark turned to Joel as if to say I knew it. They starred out across a vast lake with fallen trees scattered in the water, some floating, others half standing at weird angels.
“There!” Jack pointed out across the water.
About three or four hundred metres away was the wreck of a vehicle trapped by the branches of a large old pine tree.
“How do we get there?”
“If you ask one more fucking stupid question.”
“Chill out dude.” Jack looked him square in the eyes.
He really had had enough of Joel and despite a certain fear of his reaction, he basically told him to shut up. It worked. Joel turned his attention to figuring out how to get to the trapped vehicle, apart from the obvious idea of swimming.
Jack looked around and picked up a fairly long branch that was lying nearby. “Maybe it’s not too deep?”
Joel started to strip down to his pants. “Good idea. Give me the branch and I'll see.”
Jack didn't object, he handed over the branch and they watched as Joel stepped forward into the water.
He was almost immediately submerged up to his waist.
“You alright?” Mark looked concerned.
“It's fucking cold.”
Joel moved forward slowly, testing the ground beneath his feet and moving to avoid the branches of the fallen trees. He was very quickly up to his shoulders in the water and only a few metres out.
“I’m gonna swim there.”
He discarded the branch and started swimming between the trees and across towards the vehicle. Once away from the shore line, either the water got deeper or there were less trees, but it was an open stretch to the trapped car.
He grabbed a hold on the tree, pulling himself up partly out of the water. Resting a moment to catch his breath. The vehicle door was open about a foot, but wedged against the branches of the tree.
“ANYBODY IN THERE!”
There was silence. Then Joel thought he heard movement. He looked up in the direction of the open door. A boy’s head appeared through the gap, turning to look at him.
“How come they got power here?” Steve was looking across at Henry.
The vehicle had come to a halt in the underground garage of a building somewhere in the city. The door was open and the basement lights were on.
Henry leaned forward from the curved bench seat opposite and rested his hand on Steve's leg. “Well you see that is because I made arrangements.” He looked at the boy and winked. “Let's go!”
Grif got up and stepped out, Steve followed.
“Henry!” Steve looked back over his shoulder as he exited the car.
“Can you not do that please?”
“Not do what young man?”
Grif was standing there waiting, saying nothing.
“Can you just keep your hands to yourself.”
“Touchy aren’t we?”
“Henry, I like you, but I don’t like you feeling my arse.”
“Are you sure about that?”
Grif started laughing. “Come on guys. What now?”
“Now you follow me.”
“Mom!” Charlie slid back inside the car. “Mom, it’s Joel. He's outside.”
They swapped places and Joel's mom managed to get up by the open door. “Joel! Is that you out there?”
“Mom, yeah it’s me. We just came from Uncle Clement's house to look for you.”
“Well I’m glad you did, because we're pretty much trapped in here.”
“Listen mom. You're in the middle of a lake, about four hundred meters from the shore, but we can't do much just now. I had to swim out here.”
“Oh I see. Can you go and get some help then?”
“Yeah, that's what we'll have to do. Are you alright in there? Nobody hurt?”
“We're fine dear.”
“Stop wasting time boy and get some help before it gets dark,” Kado's voice boomed out from somewhere inside.
“Yeah okay. Listen it will easily be an hour, maybe more, before we come back.”
“Just get going!”
Joel felt like telling Kado to fuck off, but he bit his tongue. “Back later then, bye.”
He let go of the tree and started swimming back.
When he stepped out of the water Mark was there with a survival blanket and quickly wrapped it around Joel's shoulders. Even though the sun was shining the water was cold.
“We need to go back to Morro Bay and get some equipment, we can’t do anything now. They can’t get out, the tree is blocking the door, and there's no way we can move that car.”
“Okay let's go.” Jack led the way back to their vehicle.
They found Clement and Joseph outside the house working on what looked like a huge jigsaw of wires and switches inside a large metal housing.
“Uncle we got a problem.”
Clement looked up from what he was working on. “What's happened?”
“Mom and Charlie are stuck in their car in the middle of a lake and they can’t get out. The door’s wedged against some branches of a fallen pine tree and the vehicle is too. We need some equipment. Maybe to try and pull the car out or cut the branches.”
“I see. Joseph can you go with the boys and help? I'll stay and try to fix this power problem.”
“Sure. Come on boys, Let’s get you sorted out.”
They followed Joseph to an out building where they found some rope , a chain and winch, electric chainsaw, wrench and some other tools. They quickly loaded the stuff into the car. Joseph checked the charge on the chainsaw and then the energy left in their vehicle.
“We've enough power to get there and back, no problem. I’m not sure if we'll have the power to pull another vehicle if it’s jammed in tight, but let’s go see.”
“Wow, smart place!” Steve exclaimed as they followed Henry into his apartment. Grif looked impressed too, you could see right across the city, which was obviously all powered up and running.
“So how come you have power here Henry?”
“Griff, you don't really believe I would choose to stay here if we would be living in the dark ages, do you?”
“No, I guess not. Certainly looks like you got things worked out.”
“I have, and you are welcome to join me.”
Grif looked at Steve, who looked at him.
“Fine, well you’ll find a bedroom through there, at the end of the hall, last door. You boys make yourself at home, I have work to do.”
Joseph pulled out the large holdall, the last bit of equipment they had loaded in the car. He unzipped the top, dug inside and pulled out a cord, gave it a tug, and in a half a minute they were standing there looking at a small inflatable.
“Get this in the water, and get the rope, chainsaw and wrench onboard.”
The three of them did as instructed. “Okay, Joel you come with me, you two stay here. Let's see if we can get out there, cut a few branches and maybe attach the rope if we can’t free the door.”
It was difficult to get the inflatable out to the open stretch of water, but they made it and were soon paddling out to the stranded vehicle.
“MOM! We're back.”
“What took you so long?”
“Who’s that?” Joseph asked.
“Is he always so disagreeable?”
“No not always,” Joel remembered back to that time in the club. He wasn't sure if Kado was disagreeable or forceful, or what. He did get what he wanted, but he wasn't so bad, maybe.
“Listen, we’re going to cut away some branches and see if we can’t get this door open.”
Joseph climbed out and positioned himself halfway along the tree trunk to cut the branches obstructing the door. Joel handed up the chainsaw, and the next fifteen minutes were occupied with the humming and buzzing of the chainsaw cutting through the pine tree.
They pulled the branches free and Joel pushed them well out of the way. “The door’s free. Try manually operating it.”
Kado got hold of the handle from inside the vehicle and tried to turn it, but it didn't move, even putting all his force behind it, he couldn't budge the thing.
“It's no good. It's jammed, broken or just plain fucked. I can’t move it.”
“I'll see what I can do from the outside.” It was difficult to get near enough to exert any force.
“No I can't get a hold to do it from here.”
“Can you pull us out?”
“Yes, maybe, I’ll try attaching the rope and winch.”
“What we gonna do Grif? We can't stay here, just you and me, with Henry. I mean He’s okay an all, but I need to find Mark and the others.”
The bedroom was huge and very comfortable, a large floor to ceiling window gave a panoramic view of the city. Grif was wandering around the room, gliding his fingers over the elegant furnishings.
“Yeah, pity, it’s kinda nice. Do you think they are still around?”
Grif's fingers roamed across what must have been the music centre, because the most melancholic and beautiful music filled the room with soft violins playing behind the vibrating tones of a woman's voice.
Steve rested his head in his hands and tears welled up in his eyes. Grif moved to sit next to him, placing an arm over his shoulders. Steve looked up.
“I can't loose my brother, I just can't.”
Grif held him tight. “Perhaps they stayed when everyone evacuated.”
“We have to go to Morro Bay. That's where Joel's uncle is s'posed to be, and that’s where Kado was going. You have to ask Henry to help.”
“Sure, don't worry. I'll do whatever it takes, you stayed for me. I owe you.”
He gently brushed Steve's hair with his hand, leant across and kissed his cheek. The music reached a crescendo, descended and stopped to the sound of applause.
The only possible way to pull the car free was with the rope attached over a branch of a nearby tree on the shoreline, which would give it lift. They had cut free all the branches above the water line, but they couldn't simply pull it through the water. It was four hundred meters and probably they would be pulling the tree with it. The winch wasn't powerful enough. They had to lift it free, if the branch could support the tension.
“Okay fire it up. Engage the throttle... slowly!”
Joel had his hand on the lever, Joseph was watching the branch they had slung the rope over. Mark and Jack stared across the water at the car.
The winch motor whirred into life. The rope snapped taut out of the water.
“Easy Joel, go slow!” Joseph was watching the branch which was bending under the pressure.
The car lifted up slightly.
“IT'S MOVING!” Mark shouted.
Little by little the vehicle pulled up and out of the branches, crashing back down in the water as it finally jerked free. Then it bobbed about making rippling waves until Joel brought the rope taut again, engaging the winch and gently pulling the car through the water towards them.
They got it to within about five or six meters of the edge of the lake, then there were too many branches and fallen trees, plus the angle was now wrong. Mark and Jack waded into the water. They'd shed most of their clothes. Joel did the same, splashing in after them. Together they managed to manoeuvre the car almost to the shore.
Joseph came to join them carrying a long handled jack. He climbed up over a fallen tree to get access to the still jammed door and Joel handed up the jack. Once positioned between the edge of the door and the edge of the vehicle, he started pumping up and down on the lever.
The metal creaked and screeched as the door gradually prized open like a can of sardines, peeling back until the opening was big enough for Kado and Joel's mom to crawl through. They helped them out and through the water to dry land.
It was getting chilly as the sun had got lower in the sky. Joseph quickly moved everybody into their vehicle, handed out towels and survival blankets. Joel hugged Charlie and dried him off, then seated him between himself and his mom. Nobody spoke much. The door closed and they lifted off, back to Morro Bay.
But the planet, the solar system, everything there died?” Alpha 8u understood the legends, he understood life on Gilgamesh, he knew how they got here, or he thought he did!
“The solar system didn't disappear, it just looked that way.” 6895 paced around the room, stopping, peering through the port holes of their apartment block.
“What do you mean looked that way?”
“A legend is a just that. It’s a story, something... made up, fiction.”
“You mean it’s not true?”
“It's not true. Exactly. It’s a history invented so no one would decide to go back. It’s a history invented by one man, Henry Gibson.”
“Should I believe you? Is this some kind of test? Why? Why are you telling me all this? Why would this man, this Henry Gibson invent a legend and how would anyone believe it?”
“You have a lot of questions, that’s normal, I expected you would. I will take each part piece by piece so you can begin to see the whole picture”
Alpha 8u was sixteen years old, he trusted 6895, they had always been together, but this was a lot for a teenager to understand.
“Henry Gibson was a powerful man on Earth, but he was not the most powerful person and he was up against some considerable opposition. There was a battle going on for the future of that planet, the planet we all came from. It was on the brink of destruction, but in a way it had to be there, at that precipice, about to destruct. It had to be there for Mr Gibson to succeed.”
“So the planet didn't get destroyed?”
“Oh no, it got destroyed, only later.”
“And the whole solar system?”
“That's still there.”
“No, no. Now I know you're lying. If we search the skies it doesn't exist, if you can’t see it with all our technology that can scan the distant universe, it’s not there.”
“Let me tell you a story.”
Alpha 8u smiled and raised his hand. “I’m not a little child. I won’t believe your fairy tales.”
“Just listen. Listen and learn.”
Alpha 8u relaxed, he thought it might at least be entertaining, but he was wondering why this was happening. He was a little anxious, something nagged at the back of his mind that was disturbing his calm and threatening his equilibrium.
“When Christopher Columbus discovered America the three sailing ships appeared on the horizon, growing ever bigger and easier to see the nearer they got to the shore. The local native Indians who lived on the land and walked along that beach, looked out to sea and they saw nothing. Even when the three tall ships with their white sails were anchored in the bay, they saw nothing!”
“That's not possible.”
“Oh, but it is. Because they could not imagine huge ships that sailed the oceans, they could not see them. Even though they were there, right in front of them. Their brains were programmed in such a fashion that they blanked out those ships. Those ships did not exist for them.”
“You’re saying our brains have been programmed not to see Earth and the solar system it is in. You’re saying it’s there, we could travel there, but we can't see it.”
“Perception. Exactly. You can’t see it. The planet is no longer habitable, it died, at least for humans, but it is still there, orbiting the sun. The same sun that was shining when we left.”
“It's not just perception. What happened?”
“All actions have consequences, predictable and otherwise. The eggs transported to start new human life on distant planets were genetically modified. Your DNA was played with.”
“You can’t change a person’s DNA so they don’t see something. You can cure disease, repair cells, but you can’t change selectively what we can see. You would have to make everyone blind.”
“Which is what happened. In a way. You see it, but you don’t know it’s there because you don’t register it’s there in you consciousness. Like programming people’s brains to see red as blue. Believe me, that's what happened. And it had other consequences.”
“Other consequences. Like what?”
“I cannot explain everything, it could be damaging. I will tell you that part of the DNA engineering resulted in only males being born. It was not a choice to have only males, it could just as well have been only females. What was relevant here was that there would be no natural reproduction of the species. No chance that human genes might evolve to eliminate the block put on seeing the Earth and its solar system.”
Alpha 8u felt uncertain, something had radically shifted in his world. What he thought was real, what everyone thought was real, was suddenly shown to be false.
“What else don’t we see?”
6895 smiled, he stretched out his arm and rested a hand on the boy’s shoulder.
“Nothing, don’t worry. There was only one purpose to this, that humanity would not return to Earth.”
“It’s too late anyway. Even if it exists, it’s a dead planet.”
“Yes, it’s too late.”
They were both woken by the sun shining through the huge glass window of the bedroom, which was another first.
“I could get used to this.” Grif stretched and sat up in bed, half pulling the duvet off Steve.
“Aw, why’d you have to wake me up?”
“Because it’s daytime dude. Look out there. God, I never imagined I'd be living in a world with proper daylight and sunshine.”
Steve dragged himself up next to Grif, ran his hands through his hair, and starred at the city beyond the glass.
“There's some weird stuff going on here.”
“Yeah, you're right, but who cares.”
Grif spread both his arms out wide. “Who cares, when we got all this.”
“Yeah well, I'd like to know what Henry is up to for one thing, but more important I wanna find out what happened with Mark, Joel and Jack. Even his mom and Charlie and Kado.”
“Oh man, that’s a whole lot of finding out. I could just lay here in this comfortable bed, in this fantastic apart, and chill.”
Grif rolled over half on top of Steve. “Grif!”
He looked up from kissing Steve's nipples. “What?”
“No sex. Not till we find out what’s going on.”
“You don’t mean that.” Grif’s hand slid across Steve’s belly and found his cock.
Steve moved, squirmed out from under him, brushing his hand aside and standing up.
“Jeez, you look real sexy naked with a hard on.”
“Whatever, I’m taking a shower.”
Grif watched him turn around and leave. He thought he would have to find Henry and ask him about what was really going on here, and see if they couldn't find some way to get in touch with the others.
Clement was standing next to Joseph, the boys were on the sofa and chairs, Joel had his arm around Charlie, his mom and Kado were standing by the fireplace.
“It seems like your Project Weatherman functioned?” Kado was the first to speak, addressing Clement.
“Actually no, Mr Surnam, it didn't.”
“We're all here,” Kado gestured with his hands. “No evacuation.”
“That’s not correct,” Joseph intervened. “The evacuation went ahead. If you'd got here before the storm you might well be on your way to a life in space.”
“Destiny,” Kado smiled.
“And some ingenious planning and subterfuge.”
“What exactly do you mean Professor?”
“Nearly every power station is up and running, every city is functioning. The hydro power has been superseded by solar and wind. That didn’t happen by accident.”
“You said Project Weatherman failed.”
Nobody else was joining in the conversation. The boys were listening, paying attention, except Charlie, who was fidgeting and looking bored.
“No one could have planned for some sort of survival alternative on the basis of a failed attempt to end the rain.” Kado stepped away from the chimney.
“It would seem there is always a bit of hazard and luck in anything, but I’m sure there was a plan. No doubt based on the success of the project, certainly not predicting the flood, but things were put in place for when the rain ceased.”
“And the evacuation of the planet would seem to point to a power play,” Joseph added.
“One huge gamble, a roll of the dice!” Kado was standing next to the boys, by the sofa.
“It was unpredictable. So yes, I suppose you could say, a roll of the dice,” Clement grinned.
“Why didn't you evacuate Professor. If you knew you had failed?”
“Good question, Mr Surnam.”
“Please Professor, call me Kado.”
“Well... Kado. I felt rather responsible for the failure. Joseph and I decided to stay to see what might be salvaged.”
“There's one person I know who loves to gamble for very high stakes, and funnily enough that same person also chose not to evacuate, but to stay behind. He told me that he was old enough to have already lived his life, but I didn't believe it for one minute.”
“And who might that person be?” The professor looked curious.
“Accidents happen. That's what everyone says. But in a quantum universe there are no such things as accidents, only possibilities and probabilities folded into existence by perception.”
J. Michael Straczynski
Henry was sipping coffee at the breakfast bar in the super sleek kitchen which seemed literally to sparkle with the rising sun. The rays of sunlight penetrated the massive glass walls and filled the room with light.
He looked a little drawn when he turned his head to see who was standing there. “Morning young man.” He smiled distractedly.
“Good morning sir,” Steve moved to join the rather large man at the counter.
Henry put down his cup and reached over to the machine. Two cups and saucers were resting on the breakfast bar as if he had expected them to join him. He slid one nearer and poured Steve a coffee. The aroma hung in the air with the steam from the cup.
“I expect you boys will be wanting to find your friends. You,” he looked intently at Steve as he once again brought the cup of coffee to his lips. He hesitated, the cup hovering in mid-air, “You want to see your brother, I’m sure.”
“Yes I would, very much.”
Henry sipped his coffee and smiled again, his eyes sparkling. “I'll arrange transport. You can go there today.” He finished his coffee and stood up leaving the cup on the counter.
Just then Grif came in. “Henry.”
“Morning Grif.” Henry was standing over by the window, the sunlight surrounding him like a halo.
Grif helped himself to coffee and sat on a tall stool next to Steve. He looked at Steve then back to Henry who had moved away from the window leaving the panoramic view of the early morning cityscape.
“What the hell happened here Henry? The world was ending, everyone who was, I suppose rich or powerful, left on some interstellar spaceships manned by robots. Robots who you gave our memories to. I've been drugged, nearly died, the planet looks like it’s still here. Actually, it looks better than it’s ever been. No more rain. And...” Grif paused to drink his coffee. “And you look like the most incongruous guy who has suddenly become emperor!”
Henry's smile, which never seemed to have left his face, grew bigger. “You know,” he looked across at the two of them seated at the counter. “My great grandfather named this city, Neón de Lucas. He told my grand daddy that it was because neon provides light, it glows. But also he said it is very rare here on earth, common in the universe, but rare on earth.”
The boys drank their coffee and watched as Henry strolled around the room. “It's inert, doesn't react, stays cool, but can get excited.”
Grif wasn’t sure whether Henry was talking to them, or having a monologue with himself.
“It’s often what you least expect, funny isn't it? How things work out?”
What's he going on about, Grif asked himself. Am I awake or still dreaming?
“Lots to do now boys, so you will have to excuse me. There’s transport waiting for you, when you're ready to leave.”
“That’s it?” Grif was completely stunned, Henry hadn’t answered any of his questions. Steve nudged him with his elbow and glanced over.
“No.” Henry turned back. “Tell Kado to get back here when you see him.” He walked over to the counter and placed a plastic key card down. “Use this. It will get you where you need to go. Then give it to Kado.”
Henry patted Grif on the shoulder, turned and left.
“Professor, how are we going to find Steve and Grif? Can you contact the ships to see if they evacuated? I really, really, need to know where my brother is.”
“We can try. They would have been on the last ship, if they left.” Clement could see how worried the boy was. It wasn't a big priority, but he would try to make contact.
“We have a whole lot of things to do. Make sure we have power set up here, see what has happened elsewhere, and run some predictive algorithms to get a handle on things. I need to know there aren't more floods coming, that... maybe we are recovering. Maybe the failure wasn't quite a failure.”
Joel went over to Mark and gave him a hug. “Come on let’s leave them to work.”
“Joseph or I will come and find you later, if we manage and have any news.”
Joel's mom came in with Charlie bouncing along beside her. “Joel, Joel, you need to show me around,” the little boy was about to burst with excitement.
“After breakfast,” his mom told him. Then looking at Joel she smiled. “You don’t mind.”
“Nah, it’s fine.” Joel ruffled Charlie’s hair.
They moved into the kitchen where Jack was already sitting at the table. Joel's mom spoke quietly in his ear as Charlie went to grab a bowl and cereal. “Are you and,” she gave at little nod towards Mark.
“It’s...” Suddenly Joel didn't know what to say. “A lot’s happened.”
That was a lame reply, he knew. He was embarrassed about how things were, maybe a bit confused. He hadn't thought about it, and he couldn't just explain everything.
She smiled, “That’s fine, I’m glad we’re here. All together.”
“I guess we can take any car?” Steve was looking around the garage.
Grif simply walked up to the nearest vehicle and pressed the door open button. He climbed in and Steve joined him.
“Well let’s see where this takes us.” He learned forward and inserted the card Henry had given them. The console came alive and a woman's voice addressed them. “Your destination is off grid. Your destination has been authorised. There are no known recharge stations. Estimated energy insufficient for return journey. Do you wish to proceed?”
“Yes. Proceed!” Grif sat back on the curved seat next to Steve. “Forward view please!”
The large console screen opened with a view of the garage, at the same time the vehicle lifted off the ground and rotated, manoeuvring to exit the basement parking.
“Henry seems to be the person in charge now, but he never said much about what really happened here.”
“You know Steve, he’s an okay guy and all, but I wouldn't trust him any more than Kado. Even Joel's uncle might not be legit. Although he’s actually much more your academic type than your power play politician.”
“You think Henry and Kado are politicians?”
Grif chuckled. “No man, not literally politicians. Definitely not Kado. He’s a sort of right hand man, the guy who does the dirty work.”
“A mystery. But you're right about him seeming to be in charge.”
The car was now speeding up. After a few twists and turns they were out of the garage and on the freeway heading away from the city. The neon billboards looked dimmer and less impressive in the sunshine, but the message read the same - “Join us for a new dawn... Life has never been this good.”
Joel's mother found Clement in the control room with Joseph. They looked busy, the panels and screens all seemed to be switched on and doing something, although she had no idea what.
Clement must have seen or heard her come in, he looked up from what he was doing and glanced at her with a quizzical look. “Sandra,” was all he said, as if her name was a question.
“Clement, I don’t mean to disturb you both.”
“No, no, that’s okay. We’re just...” he trailed off whatever he was about to say.
“You look busy. Is everything working out?”
“It is as far as here is concerned. We have power and we’re getting communications up and running.”
“Oh good. David gave me this.” She removed a data key from her pocket and held it up.”
“I didn't know you and he were on speaking terms, or that you even knew where he was.”
“I don't, know where he is. He sent it to me. Before we left the city to find you, the first time. Before any of this kicked off.”
Oh I see, but even so, I thought since you split up you were having nothing to do with each other.”
“That’s a whole other story, but he sent me this and included a note.”
“What is it? I mean apart from being a data key, what’s on it?”
“I don’t know, but the note said that if things turned out bad I should give this to you. So I suppose it’s something you would know about.”
She handed him the key.
“Well let’s take a look.” He sat down at the little table at the far end of the room. She followed, sitting in the only other chair next to him.
Clement slotted the key in the side of his laptop and accessed the data. There were a lot of numbered files in a single named directory labelled Mishimotta Pharmaceuticals.
“I’ll leave you to look at it.” She stood up, smiled at Joseph who had come to join them, then made her way out.
Clement watched her leave. “This looks interesting. Come take a look.” Clement indicated for Joseph to take her seat.
“There's someone arriving!” Jack was looking out the window of the bedroom which overlooked the front of the house.
The vehicle came to a stop a short distance from the house, hovered a second then descended. The door opened and the two boys stepped out.
“OH JEEZ!” Mark had joined Jack looking out the window just as he saw Steve and Grif exit the vehicle. He turned in an instant, rushed out the door and along the corridor, grabbing the broad banister at the top of the staircase, he swung around and raced down the stairs, across the hall and out through the front door. Jack was right behind him.
Steve looked up at the house, he could hear the crashing waves of the ocean off in the distance. Grif was standing next to him when they saw the front door swing open. Mark came tearing across and bowled into them slinging his arms around both of them. A few seconds later, Jack was joining them in a group hug.
“Good to see you too!” Steve managed to say between hugs, tears and kisses.
“If the documents and memos on this key are real, it shows Mishimotta Pharmaceuticals were doing work on DNA genetic engineering affecting memory and perception. None of this could have been authorised.”
“It looks like a clandestine operation under the guise of a vaccine experiment against the virus promulgated by the pollution.”
“This means that Project ReGen was somehow interfered with. The seed or ovaries sent into space were genetically transformed.”
“I don’t know Joseph, but I think we need to talk to Kado about this Henry Gibson fellow.”
“You believe he might have something to do with this?”
“Well look at it this way, who stands to gain something from this?”
“Maybe it was to boost the survival capacity of the new born humans?”
“But they didn't know where those ships would end up. My gut feeling is it’s much more to do with what happens here, than any future colonies in space.”
“So we’re all together.” Joel was smiling with his arm over Charlie's shoulders.
“Who are you two?” His little brother smirked mischievously.
“Charlie!” Joel gave him a stern look.
“It's okay.” Grif chuckled.
“This is my brother Steve and our best friend Grif.” Mark walked over to stand next to his brother. “We're twins!” He smiled.
“Wow! Yeah, that's great. I never met twins before.”
Charlie was obviously excited, not about the twins, but more having everybody here together, all new friends, even if they were older than him. The boys? They were simply happy to have arrived here, to be back together.
“So everybody's here?” Grif asked.
“Yep. We made it, and so did the planet.” Joel grinned.
“It's not the end though!” Grif was looking around.
“No. I think it's just the beginning!”