Gary and April entered into the barn and found the stairs leading up to the apartment. Opening the door and turning on the light, he was impressed with the simplicity and style of the small living quarters. There was a sliding door which opened to a small but functional balcony. “Nice place” Dropping the packs on the floor and propping the Garand against the night stand, the pair did rock paper scissors to see who would get the shower first…Gary won.
Wasting no time he stripped down to his shorts and started his shower as April made a dramatic show to hide her eyes, making Gary laugh. The hot water was a magic potion pouring over his aching and dirty body. Finishing his shower, his skin a deep reddish pink, the squeaky clean Gary left the steamed up bathroom for April.
April also took her time and she emerged wearing a towel wrapped turban style over her washed shoulder length auburn hair. She also had another towel covering her chest and not much of anything else. Looking over at Gary, she started to say something, but he was sound asleep. Shaking her head she smiled saying to herself; “Men”…as she put on a bare minimum of clothes, lay down and went to sleep next to him, snuggling close.
“Contact…bearing 050°!” The sonar operator called out “Blade count shows it’s a container ship approximately 20 miles away and making 18 knots with a heading of 270°, sir.”
The Captain mentally and visually processed this information. Looking at the spread out charts “Have we heard anything from that Kilo?”
The sonar operator replied “No sir, it seems we’ve lost him for the time being.”
“XO, what do you make of this?” The Captain spoke to his trusted friend and his second in command.
“It seems that we’ve given the slip to the Kilo, but I’d like to know why they are pressing us right now. I would also like to know if this sub is Russian or UN operated.” The Executive Officer was puzzled at the turn of events from the past 72 hours. Three separate contacts from the Kilo.
“Second possible contact, bearing 090°!” The sonar operator had found something. “It’s too far to make this a positive contact sir, the sound of ‘contact 1’ could be masking it or it could be much further out. It’s hard to say sir as it comes and goes.”
“Stay with it”
“Aye, sir” The sonar man operating the sophisticated sonar were the eyes and ears of the nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine. “Sir, if we could drop below the thermocline; I might be able pick up something.” The sonar operator asked
“What’s the depth of the thermocline?” The Captain asked one of the other sailors
“Sir it’s 400 feet” Came the response.
“Make our depth 450 feet and ahead 2/3rd’s” The Captain changed speed and depth to go under the band of cold water that had the effect of blocking or reflecting sounds from above or below, similar to how light is reflected off of glass.
“Aye, sir. 450 feet and ahead 2/3rd’s the Diving Officer quietly ordered the helmsman and planesman” All of the Captain’s orders are audibly repeated
As the submarine descended through the thermocline. “Contact bearing 345°! It’s a Kilo class sub, sir. He is 7,000 yards out and blade count shows he’s making 18 knots on a heading of 110° sir.”
“Make our heading 090°, depth 300 feet and call General Quarters. Let’s rig for silent running; possible hostile contact.” The Kilo had again found the general area of the American sub. “Gunderson let me know if he makes any move at all towards us. I want us under that cargo ship, maybe we can hide in his noise, and then we’ll slip out the other side.” The Captain was flustered as this was the fourth time in 72 hours they’ve had contact with the Kilo class hunter submarine.
“Aye sir, heading 090° and rise to 300 feet, silent running.” The XO repeated the command to the crew and sounded the klaxon signal horn three times. All men in the ship immediately stopped what they were doing and shut down any piece of machinery or electronics that was not essential in evading and avoiding the Kilo.
The sub headed towards the noisy cargo container ship “Sir, we just received a message from SECDEF Collins, sir.” The communications specialist handed the printed message to the Commander.
“What the hell is this?” The Commander read the message in disbelief. The Commander looked at his XO and motioned for him to follow. The crew looked at each other with questioning eyes, however no one said anything. The two officers made their way through hatches and down the narrow stairs to the Commanders quarters. Once inside, the door was shut. “What do you make of this?” Handing the message to the Executive Officer.
“Damn skipper, this stinks to high heaven. Why would the SECDEF message us directly? He knows better than that. Also, we have 30 days left on our patrol, so why call us in now? And WHY would we need to ride the surface, that’s the worst possible place for us to be. Can we authenticate this message, skip?”
“Skeet’s, I want you to send a message to COMSUBLANT asking for verification of this message. Let’s see if the Submarine Commander Atlantic Fleet knows what the hell is going on, and maybe he can shed some light on this. Let’s keep it on the QT from the crew alright?” said the Commander
“Aye, aye Skipper”
The two officers made their way back towards the conning tower, with the commander going into the Control room and the XO detouring to the Radio room “Anything on the Kilo, Gunderson?”
“Sir, he is still making his original course. There are no other sounds. It seems that somehow the Kilo knows our neighborhood. I don’t think we’ve been spotted, sir” sonar operator Gunderson was really perplexed, as was everyone else.
“How far are we to the container ship?”
“13,000 yards sir, dead ahead.” Gunderson replied
The Executive Officer returned “Message sent, sir”
The nuclear powered boomer submarine made her way to intercept the chugging container ship. Reaching the ship, they took up a position directly beneath and on a heading of 270°, mirroring the unsuspecting cargo liner and stayed in this position for about an hour.
“Any word yet from COMSUBLANT, XO?”
“Not a thing, sir.”
“Gunderson, where’s that Kilo?”
“He’s gone sir. I don’t know where because of the thermocline.” Gunderson reported
“Let stream the sonar array and dip it below the thermocline. I want to know where this Kilo is.” The Commander ordered
“Aye, aye sir. Streaming sonar array, now” The sonar array is an extended cable that has sensors to listen for sounds away from the sub.
“Sonar array coming online now sir…Good God, the Kilo is directly behind us sir, 4,000 yards at a depth of 450 feet. Hull popping noises sir, he is coming up to our level…sir, we have outer doors opening and he is flooding the tubes…it looks like he’s preparing to fire, sir.” Gunderson said excitedly
“Reel in the array NOW! As soon as he gets above the thermocline I want full speed ahead to 180° and dive to 500 feet.” The Captain was waiting to use the thermocline to his advantage as the Kilo had just successfully accomplished. “I also want all four tubes loaded and ready to fire.”
“Aye aye, sir” The ship’s activity grew intensely, as their main mission was to remain undetected, which they now were not.
“The Kilo’s above the thermocline sir” Gunderson reported as he sat glued to his computer screen
“Dive, dive! Make those moves now!” the commander ordered. The sub went to full power and pitched nose down to go through the thermocline. As they were diving they turned to their new course to try to get as far away from the Kilo as possible.
“New contact! Definitely another Kilo class sub…10,000 yards and blade count showing 20 knots…sir, he’s coming straight for us…outer doors opening and he is flooding his tubes”
“Dammit, they set a trap for us! Who are these guys?” the Commander said
PING…bzzzt…PING…bzzzt…PING…bzzzt… the active sonar noise radiated out from the Kilo class submarines in an effort to target the exact location of the Ohio class sub
“What the hell? Why is he pinging us if he knows where we are at? And what the hell is that other noise? It sounds like a fax machine.” The Commander said “Dive…dive! Take us down to 800 feet, let’s haul ass.”
“Aye aye sir.”
The sub was already at full power and could pull away from the Kilos; they started their second set of attack maneuvers. The intercom cracked “Captain…this is the Torpedo room. Sir we have a serious problem! The torpedos have started running!”
“What? What do you mean running?”
“Sir, the torpedos in the bay have started running after that set of pings sir. They are now armed and…”
The Mark 48 ADCAP torpedo’s started running and arming themselves at the same time…they all also exploded. The massive explosion severed the sub’s bow and it started a death spiral downward to a depth where its hull and all personnel inside were fatally crushed. As a final act the Captain pushed a button which would release a rescue signal buoy. However due to the immense explosion, the hatch which held back the buoy was wedged stuck keeping the buoy inside. It wasn’t until the submarine had gone past crush depth and settled at the 9,000 foot bottom that the hatch popped open slightly, providing the buoy with a opening and sending it on a slow upward journey to the surface.
The two Kilo class submarines joined up and paralleling each other; emitted euphoric shouts inside “Allah Akbar…Allah Akbar!”
Gary sat straight up from the horrible dream with sweat drenching his entire body. The jolt of the dreamed multiple massive explosions and the horrific deaths of the men aboard the submarine brought waves of nausea to his throat. Noticing April sleeping next to him, he rolled out of bed and sat down on a nearby chair to gain his composure. Gary’s mind was racing as he just witnessed the deaths of over a hundred men and the destruction of over a billion dollars of nuclear powered and nuclear armed submarine. In his mind he asked “was this the future or the past?”
April also sat up when she felt that Gary had moved away. Rubbing her eyes and stretching she said “Hi, did you sleep well?”
“They killed a sub” Gary said with a petrified tone.
“Oh, my God! Did you just dream that?”
“Yeah, I was there…inside of it when they went down. It was horrible April, absolutely horrible.” Gary was sickened with the shock of the violent deaths the submariners had experienced.
April got up and came over to Gary and hugged him “I’m sorry….are you ok?”
“I’ll be alright.” As he hugged her back and shrugged her off “Let’s go see if Jonathan has anything for us.”
The pair quickly and quietly dressed. Gary left the Ruger and the Garand, but did take the Kimber and his jacket with the grenades. They were both terrified and angered by what was being done to their brethren. Walking over to the house they didn’t take the time to enjoy the sunny pre-spring day. The warming temperatures were melting the snow rapidly, creating slush and mud.
“Terrie, are you here?” Gary called out once inside the home
“Hi guys, did you have a good nap?’ Terrie asked as she came into view from one of the back rooms.
“Yeah, thanks. You have a real nice apartment up there; we appreciate you letting us use it.” Gary said. He didn’t want to say what he had just witnessed as the only one who knew about any of the dreams was April. Gary felt the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“Well, it took Jonathan about an hour to figure out a plan for you.” Terrie said
“That was fast. Where is he?” Gary said
Jonathan wheeled himself up the hallway with a manila folder in his lap “Here I am Mr. Martin”
“Your Mom says that you have something figured out for us.” Gary said
“Oh, yes sir. Please have a seat and I’ll explain it to you both.”
Terrie said “April…Gary would you like some coffee?”
“I’d love some Terrie, just a little sugar.”
“I’ll have some too Terrie, cream and sugar please.” April added
Terrie went into the kitchen to make coffee and Jonathan began “Mr. Martin, let me explain how I came up with this, ok?” Jonathan waited until Gary nodded affirmatively “To move around the country now; you have to be inside their system. You also have to have an approved itinerary to go from place to place. This presents not only problems but also gives us windows of opportunity.”
“I’m with you so far”
“Two years ago I saw how they were operating and I began to add people to the Encompass system. I created some profiles of people that were previously listed in past records as dead or unaccounted for. I got this information from various newspapers, seeing that the Encompass system didn’t update for past deceased or missing people.”
“Ok, go on”
“To move around in the system, you have to be a person that parallels their beliefs or philosophy. If you attempt to move around and are listed as being opposed to their beliefs or philosophy, then you will be caught, do you understand so far?”
“I think so, go on.”
“Ok, so you now have to parallel their beliefs…and you also have to have a reason to travel. I have searched all of the people that I have entered and have two “covers” that will work. Both of these “covers” are parallel in thought and belief and they both have a reason to travel to or near Kings Bays Georgia” Jonathan paused to let Gary and April understand what he just said.
“Very good. So now, when you say “cover”, you mean cover story right?” Gary asked and Jonathan nodded yes “So, I would assume that we” Gary motioned to April “are to assume both identities?”
“No sir. You will assume one identity and April will travel with you as your companion. Her “cover” which I will create will be as your wife or mistress…both roles will be accepted, it will be your choice as to which one you use.”
“Hmmm. Ok, tell me about my role”
“Yes sir” Jonathan was very proud of his abilities “Now, as I explained before we need to have a “cover” that is in line with their beliefs, ok? There are a few groups of people that the blue hats accept and actually encourage. You have the radical environmentalists; Native American Indians, Gays, Lesbians and Transgendered persons, avowed Socialists, Communists and finally you have African-Americans that have a past history of slavery.”
“Well, I don’t think I fit into any of those groups.”
Jonathan continued “Well sir, remember that I said that you have to not only fit in so to speak, but also have a reason to travel? There are only two possibilities, I wish I had more choices for you, but what we do have to work with should work very well…I’m sure of it.” Jonathan withdrew and handed Gary two sheets of paper from the folder; these had the profiles printed and itineraries listed.
Gary read one then the other and looking at Jonathan said “Kid, you must be completely out of your mind.”
Jonathan was taken back as that was not the response he was looking for “Why do you say that?”
“Well for starters…do I look like I am a transvestite? And I sure as hell don’t look like an Indian Chief” Gary said angrily waving the two papered profiles at Jonathan.
“But sir, you don’t understand…”
“Jonathan, just how many people do you have as “covers”?”
“This is the best you can do?”
“Sir, it will work if you’ll let me explain. First of all, you can pass as a gay if you want to. That shouldn’t be too hard to act out, also they are having a Gay and Lesbian rally in Atlanta starting tomorrow…I can make your travel arraignments to Atlanta; from there you’re on your own.”
Gary thought for a moment “What about April?”
“This cover might be a little more problematic for her, sir”
Gary sighed “I really don’t want to run the risk of having to “prove” to any of the blue hats that I am gay…do you know what I mean? So, that leaves….”
“Yes sir that is your best bet.”
“So, just how do I convince them that I am an Indian? I don’t look anything like an Indian” Gary said agitatedly
“Sir, look at these photos.” Jonathan handed a few photographs he had printed off the computer.” These photos are all Native Americans; they don’t look like Indians either…do they?”
“Jonathan, you don’t have to worry about convincing me…I have to worry about convincing them. “Gary paused for a moment “Look, if you were from another country and came to the United States and someone said they were going to show you an Indian….what do you picture in your mind? A half naked guy with long black hair, sitting on a horse and carrying a spear or a bow and arrow, right? So, do I look anything like that?” Gary stood with his arms stretched wide and turned around in a slow spin
“No sir, you don’t. I didn’t say it was perfect, sir…I just said it was your best bet. Your travel destination is very close to Kings Bay. You will attend a conference in Camden County, which is where the Navy base is located. The conference is “Restoring Native American Homelands” and will start in two days. If you read your profile you’ll see that you are an Elder from the Creek Nations. They are the people that inhabited that area from Georgia down to Florida. Sir, it fits…all you’ll have to do is to act the part…you just have to pretend.”
“Pretend?” Gary sighed and Ruthie’s voice echoed through his mind “Daddy…just pretend” Gary took a deep breath “Ok, I need to study up on this. Now, what do we do for money? And just exactly how do we get there?”
“Sir, the money is the easy part. When I entered your profile into the system two years ago, I also applied for Government aid. You have been receiving money each and every month into your account.”
“I have an account?”
“Oh yes sir, your account has $29,475 to be exact. You have bank records, telephone records, insurance, utilities…you’ve made purchases both online and in person. The personal purchases were made at stores where they don’t have a camera ID system. For all they know you are alive and well. The next step is to implant an Encompass chip in you and…”
“Whoa! You’re not putting a chip in me!” Gary stood up raising his hand s in protest.
“We have to sir, both you and April. Otherwise it won’t work and you’ll get caught at the first checkpoint.” Jonathan looked at Gary and continued “Look, my Mom will put it just under the skin so you can remove it when you feel you’re through.”
Terrie arrived with some steaming coffee. “I hope this is fixed right for you both.”
April sipped her brew “It’s perfect Terrie, thank you very much.” Gary agreed
Gary took his cup and the profile list and made his way to the office. Jonathan spoke out as he was leaving “Mr. Martin there is a lot more that we have to go over. I’ll set up your contacts and the itinerary.” Gary nodded yes and began putting on his boots to take the profile outside for review and to role play his act. It felt good walking outside in the late afternoon sun and warm southern breeze. Gary went around the barn to the corral and leaned against the fence watching the horses. He read his profile and tried putting himself into his character. Looking to the sky for some form of inspiration he simply said “God I really need your help.”
As the sun started to set Gary went back inside refreshed. Terrie came up to him handing him the telephone “Will wants to talk with you”
“Hi Will, what’s up?”
“Hey Gary, has Jonathan told you that Terrie and I are going to take you and April tomorrow?”
“I didn’t know we were leaving tomorrow.”
“Oh, I guess that Jonathan hasn’t talked to you yet about that. Anyway, we are taking you and April and I was wondering whether you needed anything from the store before I come out.”
“I could use another pair of jeans, but maybe we could stop someplace on the way down to pick up a few things. I could use a couple of knives of you have them there.”
“Yeah sure, what do you need?”
“I would like a sheath knife or two…maybe something on the large side.”
“You got it pardner. I’ll see you all soon.” Will hung up
Gary tracked down Jonathan to his room. “Jon, how’s it going?”
“Hi Mr. Martin. I have your contacts set up and the itinerary has been approved for the four of you, so it looks like you are ready to go. Now, there are a couple of things we need to talk about.”
“Ok, like what?” Gary said
“Well, for example we need to talk about your contacts that you will meet and we need to talk about the routes you’ll take there. We also need to give you a code name that others in our movement can identify you, instead of your real name.”
Gary thought about that for a moment. “A code name?”
“Yes sir, it is a common practice for field agents in the Intelligence community” Jonathan said “Mine is ‘Copernicus’, he was an astronomer.” Jonathan said grinning.
Gary looked at Jonathan with a disapproving smile “Copernicus? I don’t know what name I could use, let me think on that one, ok? Now, who are we going to meet and where are we going to meet them?”
“The person you are going to meet is called ‘NASCAR Larry’; their group operates in South Carolina and Georgia. You will meet them in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. Moncks Corner is a small town near Lake Moultrie, which is a little northwest of Charleston. The town is off of I-95 and I-26 so you can get there rather easily from either direction, depending on which way you choose to travel. I would recommend that you take I-95, this should get you there within the 12 hour window before the curfew takes effect.”
“So, even though we have an approved itinerary we still have to abide by the curfew?”
“Yes sir. The curfew is for any non-commercial vehicle and non-emergency vehicle. They are very strict about that too. They have been known to open fire on vehicles for being on the road after 6pm.”
“So, where do we meet this NASCAR Larry, and how will he know us?”
“You and April will meet them first thing in the morning, the day after tomorrow at a restaurant called Connie’s Café, in downtown Moncks Corner. Will and Mom are just going to drop you off in town and then they’ll just turn around and come back here. I think NASCAR Larry and his group should be able to figure out who you are.”
“Do we have a secret handshake or anything?” Gary said smiling sarcastically at his joke.
“Oh no sir, I don’t think that it would be necessary for that.” Jonathan was serious
“Jon that was a joke.”
“Oh…” He obviously didn’t get Gary’s humor
As they were talking the telephone rang again. Terrie answered and it became clear that it was personal “Ok, we’ll see you soon.” She paused and turning away from the group blushed and covering the mouthpiece with her hand said “Stop that…I love you too.” Terrie hung up the phone and regaining her composure. “That was Will, he will be here shortly. He said he’s going to stop and gas up the truck, he also says that he’s pretty hungry. How about let’s start some dinner? Would you all like spaghetti?”
“Spaghetti sounds excellent Terrie” Gary said, then whispered into April’s ear, “It sounds like spaghetti isn’t all that on Will’s mind.”
April smiled at Gary “Stop that” and playfully slapped him on the shoulder. “Terrie, I’ll help.” With that April went with Terrie into the kitchen.
Gary and Jonathan were alone “Jon, what do you think of that?”
“No, your Mom and Will.”
“I like it sir. My Mom is in love with Will and he is in love with her too. He treats both of us very well and it’s the first time I’ve seen Mom happy since my Dad left.”
“Jon, if you don’t mind me asking, what happened to your legs?”
“I don’t mind sir. When I was 7 my Dad and I were driving in the car. He was drunk and crashed off the side of the road. I’ve been this way ever since; and you know, it hasn’t been all that bad. I have my computers and have lots of friends all over the country. I’m not sad over that, I am sad that my Dad chose to leave my Mom and me for another woman…that wasn’t right.”
“No Jon it wasn’t. A man has his integrity and that’s about all he has in this world. I figure that when you make a promise, you should keep it, you know?”
Jonathan nodded “Mr. Martin. Can I ask a favor of you?” Jonathan changed the subject
“Sure, what is it?”
“Sir, there is nobody that I am aware of that is taking the fight to the blue hats the way that you are. You see with most of all of the weapons confiscated and with the Encompass system, the population is pretty much under their control. Now, there are areas where they are running into resistance, as the people are starting to wake up and rebel. Sir…”Jonathan paused “…would you tell me what you have done. I can pass this information on to others across the country and they can use your example to start their own trouble. Does that make sense sir?”
“That makes a lot of sense Jonathan.” Gary nodded
Jonathan beamed “Excellent, lets go to my room” Jon turned and wheeled down the hall and into this room, stopping at one of this computers. Taking a small microphone and setting it on his desk “Ok, sir, I want you to talk to me.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“You can say anything right now; I am programming your voice into the software. It is a voice recognition program I wrote and it will transcribe your words into text. It can transcribe as fast as you can speak.”
“Cool. Now before I do you this favor…you are going to do two things for me.”
“What’s that sir?”
“Number one…we are getting rid of the name Copernicus. It’s too effeminate and doesn’t fit you. Jonathan you are a Geek…and a damn good one too, son. From here on out…you’re ‘The Geek’ …but more than that…you’re ‘my’ Geek.”
Jonathan was taken back by the name change and smiled as he liked the new name and his new boss. “I can do that, sir. What’s the second?”
Gary pulled a slip of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Jonathan “When we are gone, I want you to find out all you can about this. It’s the product code for the genetically enhanced seeds that they are making farmer’s plant, ok?”
“Now, let me start from the beginning, and Jon, I’m going to tell you everything…so it might take a while, alright? Is that transcribing thingy turned on?”
“Good. It started about four years ago…” Gary and Jonathan sat across from each other and talked. Gary held nothing back from Jonathan.