Monday, November 10, 2008

The Storm

The Storm

It's another day of staring at this frickin' boat. I did manage to see some of the transmissions Carrie made to extort the world for her own purposes. It makes me sick to think about it. She's really gone too far. But right now we don't have any options. Given what we suspect might be on that freighter, a nuclear strike is out of the questions. They hold all the cards and all we can do it wait.

We've got all kinds of military personnel traipsing around the little island we're camped on, taking readings, trying different things to spy on the boat. Most of the transmitters we got on board had either failed or been discovered. Apparently some kind of underwater attack failed as well, when a huge geyser sprouted out of the harbor. We feel it's only a matter of time before they move the freighter where it can cause civilian damage. We might be powerless to stop it.

Well after I was formally introduced to the counter-intelligence agents at Kastle Klingon, I stared to look at Misty with a whole new light. After a long debriefing with the team where we shared all our notes, I finally got a moment alone with Misty.

I think the first thing that startled me was to find out she was actually British and talked with a definite accent. She had been speaking like a Californian up to now.

"Yes, dear," she told me, "I'm actually from Coventry, England. My parents were Korean refugees. I attended Oxford, graduated at the top of my class in Computer Science. I was recruited out of college to work for the SIS, or MI6 at you Yanks call it as a language specialist. I know Korean and a bit of Thai, and I'm working on Russian. SIS promised me a chance to travel, to use my computer skills as an analyst as well as my language skills. However I was never really trained as a field officer."

I just sat for a moment, trying to absorb all of it. I tugged on the beard I had been growing and looked around the courtyard. She had only talked in her accent for a moment before reverting to her American twang. An Autumn chill had settled in the air, offering some reprieve from the sweltering summer. Far away in the distance I could hear a thunderstorm building up. "How, why, would you ever choose to come here? Did you know how bad it was? Did you have a choice?"

She looked down for a moment. "Well, no one could have predicted this. I mean, voluntarily becoming a prisoner is crazy, right?" She glanced up with a tear in her eye. "You realize that we're all that's left? There were twenty of us in the program to start. It was you, Alex, who kept us alive. We've all here for the same thing: to save our country from this craziness. And it will all be over soon."

That night, a thunderstorm like none I'd seen either here or back in the states rolled through the camp. Earlier we had seen a line of trucks pull up, including some huge 40-wheel trailers. A set of cranes began manipulating the cargo. The power failed, and we could only see this through the flashes of lightning from the upper story window. The lightning flashed almost continuously, and the thunder roared like the base of an enormous waterfall. Rain came down so hard I thought I was in a waterfall.

Misty crept into my darkened dorm room and wrapped an arm around me as we witnessed the storm's ferocity and the curious movement around the trucks.

"What do you think they're up to," I pondered aloud.

"I don't know. We should get a better look."

I stared at her. With all the yard lights out we might actually have a chance, and the crazy lightning might hid our movements in the dizzying shadows. But if the lights suddenly turned back on, we were doomed.

We crept out of the dorms, right under the noses of the guard who also seemed awed by the incredible light show. We snuck into the mess hall then out the back window. Down the muddy slope we slid until we could hear the groan of diesel engines over the din of the thunder. Most of the boxes bore Chinese emblems.

"There," pointed Misty. "What the heck is that?"

It just seemed like another house-sized box until I noticed that it was being constantly struck by lightning. The electricity seemed to pound the rods on the top of the container like those static electricity novelty globes. Except this was real lightning. Something in the box attracted the energy to it. Sparks flew everywhere. Men in rubber suits seemed to be trying to ground it with long metal poles but whenever they drew near the lightning blasted them into flames.

On the other side of the assembly area I spotted a generator-lit tent with some people inside.

"Let's go!" I led Misty by the hand. Every lightning strike I felt in the soles of my feet, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before we were hit. Somehow we made it through the mud and rivers of running water to the lit tent.

"We can't maintain containment during this storm," said one man, working feverishly on a computer. "The lightning is causing an imbalance. We're losing voltage!"

Then I spotted Carrie, underneath an oversize rain jacket. She shouted over the din. "You lose that power and we're all dead. You cannot lose it, not even for a second."

"Down to 20 percent," he yelled. "10!"

"Run for it", yelled Carrie, and pushing and shoving each other they sped out of the tent down the road.

I grabbed Misty's hand and ran in the same direction, still trying to keep out of sight.

I woke up with my head in the mud. Misty lay beside me on her back. The lightning had moved off, and the rain settled down. "Misty! Misty! Can you hear me?" I couldn't tell if she was breathing or not. I heard voices of other people recovering. I quickly grabbed Misty up around the chest and dragged her off into the ditch. A couple people including Carrie rose up and gathered right where we had been lying.

"Shit," cursed Carrie. "Shit! What the fuck was that! You fuckhead, you could have killed us!"

The man who had tried to control the system spoke. "Looks like just a Level One containment breach. Very minimal effect. We'll need to check the camp for people who might have fallen, but my guess is that everyone was in bed and won't notice a thing. With the power out, electronics won't be affected."

"How long were we out," asked Carrie, wiping the mud off her face.

"Four or five minutes," he replied. Misty started to stir. I clamped her mouth and shh'ed her.

"What was that," said Carrie, turning around in our direction. "Did you hear something."

She pulled out a flashlight but it wouldn't work. "Damn it. Let's get back and finish unloading. We've got to figure out this lighting deal."

After they left we crept back to the dorm as I filled Misty in on what I had heard. Just as we kissed and parted, the electrical system came back online, flooding all the open spaces with brilliant flood lights. I watched what I could from my room before I collapsed from exhaustion.

The next day Misty came to me, a definite twinkle in her eye. The violent rain had left and been replaced by a beautiful crisp October day. White puffy clouds dotted the sky, hugging the distant mountains. "It's on. Now that all the equipment's here, they're setting up the strike. It's all going to be over soon. Maybe we can even go home. I have so much to show you."

"Me too," I agreed, knowing that I probably could never go home again, not until I cleared my name.

Posted: Monday, November 10, 2008 @ 10:38 PM

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