Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chapter Seventeen: Shockwave

Chapter Seventeen

            THE next day …
            Tyrese Brown had just finished installing a security system at a two-story home. The owner’s wife had been eyeing him like a hawk the entire time. Racist old bitch. He was so glad to be done with that job. He looked at his digital wristwatch. He still had half an hour before his next job, so he decided to use that time to have some lunch.
            He parked his van with the “Fort Knox Securities” logo, in the back of a supermarket; it was five minutes away from his next job.
            Then he heard the rumbling sound of a truck just as he reached for the black lunch box sitting on the passenger seat. He took a look through the rear view mirror and saw a garbage collector approaching. Tyrese then noticed that he had parked near an industrial size garbage receptacle.
            He waited until the garbage collector stepped out of the truck before getting out of his van to greet him. The stranger looked like Vin Diesel but ten years younger. His brown eyes were cold and his posture menacing as he approached like the liquid metal Terminator from T2.
            Tyrese smiled anyway and said, “Hey man. Am I in your way? I could move my van and …”
            He froze as the garbage collector took out a gun with a silencer and aimed it at his head.
            Tyrese held his hands up and started backing off. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, man, hold up!”
            “Back of my truck, now!” the collector demanded.
            Tyrese obeyed. “Look man, I ain’t got no money or nuthin …”
            “Get in!”
            “Get in!” he ordered.
            Tyrese looked at the back of the truck, which was full of foul-smelling garbage bags. Then he looked at the collector and knew in his sinister eyes that he meant business. So he crawled inside. Tears of despair formed in his eyes as he thought of his family and feared for his life.
            “Man, I’ve gotta a wife and daughter …” he pleaded.
            The collector shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s not personal.” Then he pulled the trigger.
Jason Tsai
            THE first thing Sasha saw when she walked into the training center was an 8x14 framed photo of Qui-que Campos displayed on the front desk. This was their first day back after his murder and his face was the last thing she ever expected to see. The memory of his corpse at the morgue still haunted her and even though he had been an asshole in the end, she wouldn’t have wished him the fate he got.
            She stormed into Jason’s office where he and Alex were having their ritual fast food lunch before the school reopened.
            “That photo of Qui-que …” she began, as they faced her. “… scared the shit out of me.”
            Jason wiped his mouth with a napkin and said, “I’m so sorry. I just thought it might help our reputation if we gave him the proper recognition considering that he attacked Alex in front of a bunch of students and parents; then ended up murdered.”
            “For the record, I hate the idea,” said Alex, before sticking a fry in his mouth.
            Sasha placed her hands on her hips and frowned at the father of her child. “You should get moving. My neighbor can only look after Michael for another twenty minutes.”
            “Shit! I have to go then.” Alex grabbed the burger wrapping and empty soda cup and threw it in the trash bin next to the desk. Then he got up and said, “Later China-man.”
            Jason grunted. “Have I ever told you how much I hate it when you call me that?”
            Alex placed a hand over his heart and said with a crooked smile, “Then I promise that I will never call you that ever again.”
            Jason scoffed; then he and his friends walked out to the reception area. He watched Sasha and Alex talking and teasing each other. It made him smile and a little sad too. This caught Sasha’s attention.
            “What are you smiling about?” she asked.
            “I was just thinking how much I’ll miss the two of you.”
            “Oh. Don’t be a girl,” Sasha teased.
            Then Alex reached over and hugged Jason. “I’ll see you tomorrow for lunch.”
            “I’ll be here.”
            Alex reached over and hugged Sasha. “See you tonight?”
            “I might go out for a drink after work,” she told him.
            Alex kissed her on the forehead and said, “Okay, but don’t get drunk or you might end up in bed with another gay man.”
            She squinted her eyes and smiled. “Don’t be ridiculous. You’re the only gay man I’d ever sleep with.”
            Alex flashed them both a quick wink and then headed out of the training center. Shortly after he drove away in his Bronco, a van with the markings “Fort Knox Securities” pulled into the parking lot.
            Jason and Sasha watched as a bald muscular man exited the van and entered the training center.
            He smiled warmly, which was so unlike his character to those who knew his true murderous nature, and presented Jason a work order.
            “Hi. I’m Scott,” said the Coalition operative. “I have a work order here to do some maintenance on your security system?”
            Jason returned the smile and said, “Hi. Yes. The security system is outback. I’ll show you.”
            Sasha posed seductively and said, “Hi there.”
            Scott regarded her with friendliness before following the Kung-Fu instructor to the building’s back door.

            Jason had no way of knowing of the danger he had allowed inside the training center.
KAYDEN sat on the edge of his desk in his private chamber. On the other side of the door was the strategic command center which was full of operatives that looked to him for instructions; yet, he was in here pondering if he could live with the choices he had made. He kept telling himself that it was for the best … over and over again up until a trio of Coalition administrators arrived.
The triumvirate consisted of Sierra Chang, the base’s chief technician, Simon Griffin, the torture specialist, and the third was a combat specialist named Amadahy. She was a descendant of the Black Feet Tribe, but she could have fooled anyone into believing that she was Taulsekan.
Kayden stood up, folded his arms, and studied the administrators. “It’s time we bring this war to an end,” he told them. He approached Simon Griffin and asked, “Have you gotten anything from the Garrison members we’ve captured?”
Griffin was a tall skinny white man with glasses and thinning hair covering the sides of his head. He looked like the director of a mortuary, which made sense since he had just finished ripping a prisoner’s fingers off one by one until he bled to death. “I’m afraid that the Garrison are far more resistant to my torture techniques than I anticipated,” he reported. “I did however manage to get the location of a few of their bases in San Francisco, but he failed to produce the location of Joshua Westcrow or the founders.”
Kayden bit his upper lip in frustration. Then he turned to Sierra Chang and said, “I hope you have better news for me.”
The Asian tech smirked. Then she reached into her pocket and took out a medicine pouch which had belonged to one of the prisoners. As Kayden reached out to take it from her, she explained, “I added a miniature camera and microphone to the medicine pouch.” She pointed to the harmless looking magnetite stone at the center of the leather necklace, which was in fact a lens.
Kayden smiled. “Great work.” Then he approached Amadahy and offered her the modified necklace.
Amadahy was five foot, five inches tall, had straight black hair tied back in a pony-tail, and an appearance eerily similar to the enemy they were all trying to destroy; which was exactly what Kayden needed.
He took the necklace from her hands and placed it around her neck. Then he stepped back to study her and nodded approvingly. “Perfect. You look exactly like a Taulsekan … or rather …” he smiled in a conceited way. “… a member of the Garrison.”
“What do you need me to do?” she asked with unwavering loyalty.
“First, pick five volunteers to take you to a route near one of the Garrison bases in the city. Instruct them to put on a good show so when the Garrison see you, they’ll come to your rescue.”
Amadahy frowned. “But the Garrison are no match for our troops.”
Kayden nodded. “That’s why you’re going to instruct them to remove their helmets.”
Amadahy appeared perplexed. “But without their helmets, they’ll be vulnerable.”
“They’re merely pawns, Amadahy. You are the star,” said Kayden as if he were explaining all of this to a child. “Once the Garrison rescue you, you’ll become our eyes and ears as you infiltrate their network to uncover the remaining bases in the city, but your primary mission is clear. Locate the precise whereabouts of the founders within the tribe so we can exterminate every last one of them.”
THE cellphone’s vibration resonated louder and louder against the night table until it woke Alex from his sleep. He grabbed the phone sluggishly and checked the display with one eye open. The display was nothing but gibberish of pound and star signs. He tried to pick the call up but it was too late. The caller had hung up.
He threw the phone back on the night table and dug his face on the pillow in frustration. It hadn’t been more than a minute later when he felt the pressure of another body as it laid on the other side of the bed. He couldn’t believe that he hadn’t heard Sasha coming in or that she hadn’t woken him up.
“How was the reopening?” he asked; his eyes remained closed and his face buried halfway on the pillow.
She didn’t respond at all so he turned the lamp on and rolled over to face her, but she was completely covered up to her head.
“Is everything okay?” he asked, but again she did not answer. Gently he reached for her shoulder and that’s when she turned around … except it wasn’t Sasha; it was one of the Taulsekan corpses he’d seen in the photos Adrian had shown him.
Alex jumped out of bed, screaming in horror as the corpse’s milky white eyes opened. The un-living creature snarled as it lashed out at him with its hands and tried grabbing on to him.
The only concern he had now was for his son. So he ran out of the bedroom to find the child but he found himself inside the training center as soon as he crossed the threshold of the bedroom.
His heart was racing within his chest; the dread on his face was still fresh. He looked around and saw that the lights were off inside the school. Then he heard people talking and turned towards the glass-front. On the other side was Jason and Sasha. They had just closed for the night and were walking to their cars when Jason suddenly stopped.

            "Oh shit!" Jason groaned. “I forgot to punch in the security code."
            "Don't worry." Sasha reached into her purse and took her keys out. "I'll go in and enter it for you."
            "Oh you don’t have to do that," said Jason.
            "Don't be silly," she said. “It will only take a minute.”
            "Ok,” he said. “I'll wait for you by the car."
            Jason headed towards the blue Nissan Altima parked in the space nearest to the street while Sasha unlocked the door and re-entered the school. She flipped the light switch on and headed to the back door where the security system's LED panel was. 

            Alex watched quietly from the center of the training area. He could not touch or be heard. All he could do was observe while she tapped in the key code to activate the security system.

            [invalid entry]

            "Dammit!"  she complained and tried again.

            [invalid entry]

            "What's with this thing?"  she wondered, going as far as hitting the box with the palm of her hand.  Flustered, she reached into her purse and took out a small piece of paper and unwrapped it.  It finally dawned on her. She had been keying the wrong access code.      "No wonder. Stupid cow,” Sasha said to herself. Then she began entering the four numbers.


            As Alex watched, he was suddenly engulfed in light; when it dissipated, he found himself in an interrogation room at the police station. Adrian and Sasha were sitting opposite of each other and as the detective reached out to comfort her, he had a vision; one which Alex was now forced to witness as well.
            The images warped from the training center to a wall of fire to the security panel and then a wall of fire once again. When the visions stopped, Alex heard Adrian’s warning to Sasha over and over and over and over …
            “Don’t hit the pound key! You’ll die if you do!”
            “Don’t hit the pound key! You’ll die if you do!”
            “Don’t hit the pound key! You’ll die if you do!”
            “Don’t hit the pound key! You’ll die if you do!”
            A flash of light transported Alex back to the training center. He watched in horror as Sasha pressed the pound key.
            “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” he warned, but it was too late.

            There was no time to react.
            With an awesome roar, Tsai’s Kung-Fu Training Center exploded!
            The shockwave hurled Jason through the air like a rag doll. The terrible force simultaneously crushed the rear framework of the cars and shattered the windows. Jason slid face first on the pavement; shards of glass, concrete and metal fragments ripped into his legs, arms, chest and back.       
            “Oh … God …” he groaned as he wriggled on the ground in debilitating agony.
            His entire skin stung with cuts and burns. He could barely breathe and even as he tried he felt a stabbing pain on the right side of his torso. His vision blurred and his ears wouldn’t stop ringing.
            Then a final explosion hurled flying debris, forcing Jason to bury his face into his arms; he shielded the back of his head with his bloodied hands. A series of violent coughs forced blood to stream from his mouth.
             A wave of dizziness overwhelmed him and everything started to go dark.
            It was over.
            There was nothing he could do now but die.
            “Jen …”

THE END … Of Book I

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chapter Sixteen: Duality

Chapter Sixteen
Detective Adrian Skye
            ALEX felt a knot form in his stomach as he entered the police station, passing several cops with handcuffed criminals in tow. Phones were ringing off the hook as he approached the front desk. He wondered why they built these things as tall as a judge’s bench.
            “Excuse me,” he told the officer manning the front desk.
            She was a skinny Caucasian woman with hair the color of a fire ant and an expression that was as cold as the arctic. She looked up from the pile of paperwork in front of her and acknowledged him.
            “Have a seat. It’ll be a while,” she said curtly and continued doing what she was doing before he had interrupted her.
            Alex frowned and took a seat on one of the dull, splintered wooden chairs on the side of the wall across the desk and waited.
            Suddenly, he got a call. It was a good thing he had set his phone to vibrate or he would have never heard it ringing through all the noise in the precinct. He walked out of the police station and answered the call.
            “Hi babe,” Kayden answered.
            Alex felt his heart beat faster at the sound of his lover’s voice. “Hey you! Shouldn’t you be getting on the plane soon?”
            “Yeah. I’m just about ready to go inside the airport but I wasn’t sure how good the reception was going to be so I thought I’d call and check up on you.”   
            Alex was touched. “You’re sweet, but I’m alright.”
            “Are you still at the diner?”
            “Actually I’m in the police station. I was summoned.” He laughed.
            “Covington?” he deduced.
            “No. It was a detective working for her. He called me after you left and told me he was working on a case that might have connections to members of the tribe.”
            “Why would he think that?” he asked. There was definite concern in Kayden’s tone.
            “I don’t know. That’s why I’m here. Maybe this will lead me to my father’s killer.”
            “Are you there?” Alex asked.
            Kayden sighed. “You shouldn’t be worrying about some sociopath out for Taulsekan blood. You should be worrying about getting ready for the move to New York.”
            “I know, but maybe I can kill two birds with one stone. I solve my father’s murder before you get back and then I get to live happily ever after with the man I love,” he said, feeling upbeat.
            “Please be careful. Don’t go digging into things that might be dangerous. You have a baby that needs its father in one piece.”
            “I promise to be careful.” Then Alex noticed Adrian Skye, the detective that questioned Sasha, approach him from across the street with a hoagie and a soda in his hands. “Hey babe?” he said to Kayden. “I’ve got to let you go.”
            “Is he there?” he asked.
            “Will you be at the school tomorrow night?” Kayden asked.
            “No. I’ll be staying in Sasha’s apartment babysitting Michael while she works.”
            “Then I’ll call you tomorrow. And Alex? Please be careful.”
            “I will. Love you,”
            “Love you too.”
            Then Alex ended the call on his cell.
            Adrian approached him, timid but friendly. “Mister Westcrow. Hi."
            Alex acknowledged him with a nod. "Hi. Will Captain Covington be joining us?"
            Adrian looked unsettled. "Oh. I don't suppose you've heard but the Captain’s mother passed away earlier today. She had been battling Cancer for quite some time now.”
            "I'm sorry to hear that," said Alex and thought about his own mother who had also lost her battle with Cancer when he was a teenager.
            Adrian gazed at the necklace around Alex’s neck and said, “Why don’t we step into my office and discuss things in more detail."
            "Ok," said Alex.
            Then he followed Adrian into the crowded police station. A bulky looking officer bumped into the young detective and almost caused him to spill his soft drink. He turned back to Alex and mumbled, "I hate crowds."
            Alex made a half-smile and said, "Me too."
            They made it out of the congested front area and into a hallway until they were standing in front of an elevator. Adrian and Alex glanced at each other awkwardly as they entered the lift. They kept smiling but didn’t say a word on the ride up. Then the elevator door opened and they walked out into a nearly empty hallway until they got to his office. Adrian sandwiched his hoagie under his armpit which freed one hand so he could open his door.
            Alex walked inside and took a seat. Between himself and Adrian there was a pile of paperwork. Adrian rested his hoagie and his soft drink on the right side of the desk. Then he took an 8 by 14 vanilla colored envelope from under the rubble of papers and placed it flat on the desk. "We've been investigating a case related to the Coalition," he began. "I think Captain Covington may have mentioned them to you."
            "Briefly," said Alex.
            "Well, there's another faction in the city. A radical militia group who’s come under attack by the Coalition."
            "Who are they? What do they want?" More importantly, Alex thought, what did it have to do with his people?
            "We were hoping you could tell us." Then Adrian handed him the envelope.
            Alex looked inside and pulled the 8x14 photographs. He studied them carefully and then looked at Adrian in complete confusion.
            "What's wrong?" Adrian asked.
            "This is a picture of you standing in between Mickey and Minnie Mouse."
            Jittery and embarrassed, Adrian leaned over the desk and yanked the photographs out of his hand. Then he placed the envelope inside one of his desk drawers and said, "I'm sorry. I must have gotten the envelopes confused somehow."  He sifted through the desk frantically searching for the other envelope while Alex watched with mildly hidden amusement. "Ah! Ha!" he shouted. "Here we go! I should warn you," he said. "The photos are very gory."
            Alex pulled the photos out and recoiled from the horrible images. Stabbing, strangulation, beheadings … The photographs were so gruesome that Alex didn't see what he needed to see right away.
            "You may have noticed the pouches around the victims’ necks," said Adrian.
            "No I ..." Alex stopped mid-way through his sentence. He studied the corpses in more details. They were undoubtedly Native Americans and the color, the size and the markings of the medicine pouches around their necks convinced him of their identity. "Oh my God!” he gasped. “These are my people." He barely managed to breathe the words out from the shock. “Where did this happen?" he asked. His voice trailed off from the horror the pictures produced.
            "We found them about a mile into the Golden Gate Hiking Trail.”
            "What were they doing so far from the reservation?" Alex asked rhetorically. Then it dawned on him. "Oh no!"
            "What’s wrong?" Adrian asked, sensing the aborigine’s dread and becoming worried himself.
            Alex looked into the detective’s blue eyes. He was reluctant to share the history of his dad’s past but the evidence in front of him left him no other choice. "My father was the leader of a splinter group within the tribe who feared cultural contamination from the white man’s world. He intended to attack with his followers but our government forced him and his followers into hiding. We assumed they were driven into a remote area of our tribe. I never imagined that they would have relocated beyond the tribe.”
            "Wow!” Adrian shouted. “That’s … insane.”
            "Tell me about it,” Then a new concern tugged at Alex. It was concern for his brother’s safety. “Detective, did your people find someone who looks like me among the dead?"
            "Like you?" Adrian asked, completely thrown by the question. “Why would we?”
            "I have a twin brother who stayed behind to help my father. I haven’t seen or heard from him in thirteen years."
            "No,” Adrian assured him. “None of the corpses we recovered was your brother."
            Alex sighed with relief but that didn't mean that his brother was out of danger, not when these Coalition troops were chasing his people down. "Why are the Coalition after them?"
            Adrian shrugged his shoulders and said, “We don’t know but whatever the Garrison have done …”
            "Garrison?" Alex asked, interrupting the detective.
            "Well that's what they call themselves," Adrian explained.
            "I thought you weren't able to recover any information on them."
            "Well not from a Garrison soldier,” Adrian admitted. “However, we managed to salvage bits of info from one of their command posts’ computers. Whatever your father’s people did to piss them off, the Coalition have one major vendetta against them."
            A determined expression washed across Alex’s face. “I’d like to find a member of the Garrison and talk to them. Maybe they can tell me if these Coalition are responsible for my father’s death and in exchange, they can help you track and capture the Coalition.”
            Adrian shook his head and said, “No, no, no. The Garrison are terrorists.”
            “Terrorists?” Alex asked.
            “Yeah. Before the Coalition started hunting them down, they attempted to assassinate key public officials in San Francisco. In some cases, they succeeded. We can’t negotiate with these terrorists,” he said with disgust. “Besides, they’ll never listen to us.”
            “Yes they will!” Alex insisted. “My father was their leader. If my brother is dead, then that makes me the only surviving member of my family who can lead them. Please detective! They’ll listen to me,” he urged.
            Adrian shook his head. This was a bad idea and he knew it, but he thought about what Covington would want. He didn’t want to disappoint her so he conceded. “I’ll need to clear this with my supervisor and get back to you.”
            “You do that,” said Alex. Then he got up and left.
            NIGHT fell at the Preston Oil Refinery in Emeryville, just 9.3 miles away from San Francisco. Officially, the building was a refinery for Dova-Corp; unofficially, it was the Coalition’s nerve center.
            The complex was surrounded by a four story fort. Embedded within the walls were surveillance cameras that came to life as soon as a red Dodge Intrepid headed for the metal gate.
            This wasn’t the driver’s first visit here nor would it be his last. There was a loud clanking and thumping sound as the gate retracted allowing the Dodge Intrepid to enter.
            On the other side of the gate were hundreds upon hundreds of motorcycles, all reinforced with bullet-proof metallic armor, a GPS trackers, and computer displays between the handle bars. There were also equally as many Coalition troops, going in and out of the windowless pewter colored complex. Some mounted their motorcycles to take off on a hunt; others had just returned from a hunt. They were all fully equipped with an impenetrable armor and carried weapons like wrist-blades and bullets infused with explosives that could tear their victims from the inside out in a painful second.
            It made his skin crawl being this close to them. It only reminded him just how low he had sunk as he exited his vehicle and entered the three-story structure.
            The first floor was a series of claustrophobic corridors and chambers reminiscent of a naval ship or submarine. The rooms on each side of the walls were used as weapon repositories, sleeping barracks, combat training areas, and holding cells. He followed the light fixtures until they guided him to the set of stairs that led to the second level.
            He walked up the corridor, passed the medical facility where doctors and nurses treated troops who had sustained injuries during a hunt. He took the second set of stairs up to the third floor which led to the Coalition’s command center.
            The floor on the left and right were raised like stages. Each side had computer terminals designated to the monitoring of deployed troops and enemy activity throughout the city. Manning those stations were elite technicians from Dova-Corp, all of whom wore casual clothing instead of body armor. The screens bathed them in an aura of green and blue lights.
            Above the strategy room's entrance was a large screen which illuminated grids of the city’s various quadrants. It allowed the Coalition to monitor key areas in much the same way as Elaina Hayes did from her throne at the heart of Dova-Corp.
            He walked down the corridor at the center of the room that led to the private chamber of the Coalition’s leader. It was he whom he came to see tonight. Thanks in part to the camera in front of the chamber, the leader foresaw him approaching and came out to greet him.
            He walked gracefully towards him with his slicked back, shoulder-length blonde hair, his V-neck blue shirt, black pants and biker boots.
            With a displeased tone in his voice, the Coalition leader said, “Lieutenant Gibson … what was so important that you would risk breaking your cover.”
            “Kayden … you treacherous son of a bitch!”
            The technicians working their consoles turned their attention towards the lieutenant; they were visibly stunned by his audacity. Kayden was not surprised though he was admittedly embarrassed; it was a feeling he didn’t enjoy, especially when it undermined his authority.
            “Why are you here Lieutenant or did you simply come to insult me?”
            “You murdered Covington’s mother!” Gibson shouted.
            “I had no choice!” Kayden shouted back. “She was getting too close to the truth. She had to be persuaded to stop investigating us.”
            “Well it failed!”
            A wave of concern came over Kayden and Gibson enjoyed it. “What do you mean?”
            “Adrian Skye has been investigating the mess your troops made. He seems convinced that he’s found a link between the Garrison corpses and Alex Westcrow.” As he said this he took a moment to savor the panic in the devil’s face before adding, “Now it seems that the good detective has filled his head with ideas that may ultimately take you down.”
            Kayden lost his aura of emotional stability and slammed the palm of his hand against a nearby computer console. “Wipe that smug look from your face, Gibson! If I go down, you and your family will pay dearly. My mother will see to it.”
            The rage Gibson felt was overwhelming, but so was his fear. He might have had reasons to hate Kayden, the Coalition, and Dova-Corp., but he wasn’t dumb enough to challenge them directly.
            “So how do I handle this?” Gibson asked.
            “Keep running interference for us,” Kayden instructed. “Anything that comes across your desk about the Coalition has to disappear.”
            “What about Alex Westcrow? He won’t give up until he learns the truth.”
            Kayden turned away from him and shut his eyes to think.  In a moment which felt like an eternity, he came up with the only solution he could think of and he already hated himself for it. “He’ll have no choice … for his son’s sake.”

Coming soon
Chapter 17: The final chapter

Read The Previous chapter:
 Chapter Fifteen: Instrument Of Evil at the link below
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