So, my Dad is really some kind of cyber super-spy and he’s lied to me his entire life? Seriously?
Isla fumed as he sat in the conference room waiting for everything to start. A Dalek stood sentinel against the door to the room. Isla glared at the metal watchdog.
‘You know you don’t have to hang about for me. I’m not going anywhere.’
The metal 'bot did not answer Isla. Frakin’ typical. This place sucks.
The room itself was a huge step up from the sterile padded cube that she’d found herself in.
This grey office space seemed more like some corporate drone’s headquarters than a maximum facility holding pen. With a large table that could seat at least ten, the space was boring to the max. No windows meant that Isla couldn’t see anything other than the room itself. After the shock had worn off that her Dad was okay, he’d brought her up to speed on a number of things that she had never ever known. Dad’splaining everything already — and it had been less than 24 hours.
‘The reason I never told you — or Marta for that matter — is that I didn’t want you to worry, honey. It was top secret and there are just some things I can’t share with you or your Mom.‘
Isla had stared at her father as if he had grown two heads. He really is a spy type of guy.
He had been a space engineer of some kind forever, and had made a point of showing Isla and Marta (when she’d been interested) all the work he had done on the transport vehicles and refueling stations used for the outer colonies — but it was pretty lame. Even when the homesteading had failed and everyone had to return to Earth, he still had a job though andstill gave them everything that they needed. What I need is a father that won’t lie to me.
‘Your mother wouldn’t benefit from knowing that I ended up transferring to the cyber affairs unit once I realized the potential for growth there. My team in transport was being cut back anyway — and I needed to make sure we had our place secured at Homewood and I could still provide for us.
‘But what is it that you do, Dad? Exactly?’ Isla had asked.
‘I’m going to tell you all of it. I promise. But I need to check something first. Will you be okay here for just a little while longer?’
Isla was absolutely not okay with staying in the frakkin’ cubes one second longer. So now, she and the tin 'bot dog were stuck in this stupid boardroom while her Dad did something more important again than getting her out of this stinking place. The worst part is I didn’t even get a chance to ask him about Ger. I am the worst. She had to wear a blindfold as her Dad escorted her through the facility.
‘I’m sorry, dear. You’re not allowed to see where we are nor any of the stations or personnel. This is one of most covert centers and it’s completely top secret. It’s the only way.’
Isla fumed as she fumbled through the corridors and tripped endlessly on the metal stairways and portals through the building. Wherever I am, it’s huge. Her Chucks scuffed along the steel gantryways and had to step over countless pressure locks on her way to her new home in boring corporate land.
Still feels lame even if it is a super secret spy hideout.
Isla put her feet up on the wooden table, snagging a plastic 'bottle of water from the table. I have to find out about Ger next. No matter what happens the next question, I have for Dad when he comes through the door is, ‘Where’s Ger?’
The door to the conference room slid open as Isla jumped to her feet, determined to make her Dad tell her where her friend was.
‘Dad, where’s Ger! You have to tell me?’
‘Chill, Isla. I’m right here.’
Ger loped into the conference room pulling off his blindfold. Isla leaped up off her chair and rushed to him, wrapping her arms around him.
‘I was so worried. Are you okay?’
Ger stumbled, his heart trip-hammering at Isla’s concern. Wow?
‘Ahem,’ Major Anderson coughed as he came in after Ger, nodding to the guard 'bot. ‘You can station yourself outside, please.’ The robot turned and exited.
Isla pushed away from Ger as he blushed at her affections. His face shone red as he tried to cover his awkwardness.
‘Sit down, everyone. There’s a lot to cover — and not much time.’
Ger grabbed a 'bottle of water and started to chug it as Isla settled down in her seat. Her Dad - He’s a Major, be cool - took a deep breath and turned towards them both.
‘What I’m about to tell you can’t leave this room. Do you understand me?’
Isla snuck a look at Ger who smiled at her, reassuring her. I have no idea what’s going on.
Ger slid in next to Isla at the table as they looked at Major Anderson. He felt a little dizzy, like he was going to throw up. Do not puke. That would so be rude.
‘Perhaps it’s just better if I show you.’
Major Anderson picked up a small remote until from the table and pointed it at the wall directly behind him. He clicked a button and the wall transformed into a full sized video wall.
Behind Major Anderson was a full space station holding in position over Earth. The world belowhung in orbit sheathed in a dull, grey fog.Isla gasped as Ger tried to wrap his head around what he was seeing. Okay, it’s the Earth — from space. So what? I’ve seen tons of vids like this.
‘Welcome to Surveilus Station 8.’ Major Anderson said as he sat down next to Isla.
‘We’re in space?’ gasped Isla. Her Dad nodded his head. ‘It was easier to get you here than wait for me to drop from orbit. I put off once Jericho’s attack was stopped — ‘
Wait. What. I’m in space. Like outer space?
Ger gulped. ‘ We’re in space. For real? This isn’t just some vid?’
The Major nodded as he held Isla’s hand.
‘That’s right, Ger. We are currently orbiting over North America aboard a covert satellitestation. I had you and Isla fast routed to me. Isla was unconscious so it was easy to get her. You were transported in the interrogation unit soon after you were put inside. You’ve only just docked.’
Do not freak out. Do not freak out.
Ger’s hand trembled as he pointed to the small spacecraft docking outside on the monitor wall. ‘So this is all real? It’s not a vid?’
Major Anderson nodded.
‘Why, Dad? Why would you bring us into space? I don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense.’
‘When I tell you what I have to, it will. At least I hope it will.’
I am in so much trouble. What am I going to do? What about Mom?
‘Are we going to be out here long,’ stammered Ger. ‘I kinda got a thing I gotta take care of— back on Earth.’
Major Anderson smiled at Ger. ‘Relax, Ger. It’s good. We’ve already had your Mother moved to a different facility and she’s currently undergoing a new rejuvenation process to flush the Jolt from her system.’ Ger’s mouth hung open. This is too good to be true.
As if reading his mind, Major Anderson smiled widely. ‘I promise you, Ger. She’s in good hands. I’m not lying. We can arrange for a comm link after we get everything settled.’
Isla squeezed Ger’s hand. ‘If my Dad says it’s okay, I promise you that it is. You can trust him.’Ger hadn’t had a good track record with grownups. He scowled at Major Anderson. ‘Okay, so what’s so important that you hijack us into space?’
Everythings Mag, Mom. No problem at all. It’s all gonna be fine…
Isla hung up the comm link after getting a chance to reassure her mother for the thousand time that everything was alright. Dad had already told Marta that his leave was cancelled and he’d arranged for Isla to come visit him as a surprise. Marta was disappointed, of course — but after Isla’s vid call with her, she could sense that she might even be a little envious of the fact that she went to visit and not her.
Even after everything Dad said, I can’t believe I’m here. With him. In space. And Ger. How did this happen?
Isla looked about the compact room she’d been assigned after they had finished talking in the boardroom. There was no need for blindfolds or restraints now. Both she and Ger were in. I just can’t believe that I’m part of it.
After her Dad had told Ger about his Mom being looked after, he outlined who he was and what happened with Jericho. It just seems so unreal.
‘Jericho is an interdimensional criminal wanted throughout our working universe — and beyond,’ her Dad said as he switched the view on the video wall. Wait, inter-dimensional. WTF?
A picture of Jericho scowling at the camera popped onto the large vid wall.
Wearing jailhouse orange and holding an ID sign, she looked ready to fight the photographer.
‘Meet Justice Monroe,’ said Major Anderson as he activated more video screens popping up on the wall. Data and statistics filled the wall as he continued to talk.
‘You would know her as Jericho.’
Ger nodded. Glancing at Isla, he sat back in his chair, relief spreading across his face in a wide grin. ‘You got her, great … what? Justice Monroe?’
‘Who is she, Dad? She isn’t Jericho?’
Her father sighed, sitting on the edge of the table as if settling in for a long explanation. I know this move. It’s gonna take a while.
‘Do you remember Apollo 11?’ he asked Isla and Ger.
Ger nodded. ‘Sure, July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed the first two people on the moon. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. Isla glanced sideways at Ger. He threw up his hands. ‘I’m a little bit of a space geek.’
Major Anderson smiled and continued. ‘That’s right, we were the first people on the moon. From Earth.’ He let his words sink in.
‘From Earth?’ both Isla and Ger exploded at the same time.
Isla looked at Ger who shook his head. He doesn’t know about this either.
‘On July 20, the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle touched down. On July 21, we discovered traces of alien technology beyond our capacity.’
Onscreen, the two lunar astronauts stood outside a large space craft that loomed over them. Partially covered in lunar dust, it had clearly been there a long time.
‘We held back from the general public — and the world what we found. We couldn’t risk mass panic. Do you know what would have happened back in 1969 if we found out we were not alone?’ He’s right. People would have lost their minds.
‘So we covered it up and did not tell the world what we had found. There were six crewed landings between 1969 - 1972 where we harvested all of technology we could from the ship. After that, our new ‘droid division took over. We dismantled the craft onsite and shipped it back as our investment in space technology increased.’
Ger scratched his head. ‘But we developed the positronic brain implants and the ‘droid technology. I remember. This was one of the first things we learned at school when I was a kid.
Major Anderson shook his head. ‘A necessary subterfuge to keep our acquisitions secret. You’ll remember it was our superior technology that allowed for the eventual unification of all world powers into the Megacity hierarchy we have now. Thanks to the alien technology, we had world peace. And more.’
‘More? Asked Isla. ‘What do you mean more?’
Ger looked out of the reinforced porthole window in his cubicle. Outside, space yawned in its infinite sprawl. Stars winked in endless procession far beyond what he could see. It must be hella crazy trying to get pizza delivery out here. He laughed as he scratched his back. The new jumpsuit he was wearing was an itchy blend of cotton and plastic. Both he and Isla had given up their regular clothes after the meeting with Major Anderson, and submit to a battery of medical tests to make sure that they were adjusting to their first time in space. He’d passed no problem. . This is all just so bizarre. It’s a lot to process.
Back in the boardroom, Major Anderson had given them a quick history lesson on the Krays, alien cosmonauts who had crashed on the moon way back in the 1960’s. All those alien conspiracists were right. They were hiding something. It’s just way freakier that they ever imagined.
‘So, we basically jacked all this alien tech for our own use?’ Ger asked as he stared Anderson down. The Major shrugged, ‘Way before my time and above my pay-grade, Ger. What’s done is done. All I can deal with is what happening now. I just figured you’d appreciate some history.’
Ger glanced at Isla who looked as confused and as excited as he was. Why is he telling us both this? What could we possibly do?
‘So, this Justice gal isn’t Jericho?’
‘I’m getting there, Ger. Bare with me,’ answered Major Anderson as he changed the images on the vid wall.
Now, a comm-link like the one he used to have appeared onscreen.
‘All of the tech required to power this comm link is a direct descendant of the alien tech we salvaged back in the day.’
‘Who were they?’ asked Isla, leaning forward.
Another slide popped up. A drawing on an Alien ‘Grey’ appeared onscreen. ‘They were know as the Krays, an intergalactic species who traveled to Earth collecting specimens and conducting medical experiments. They actually had been doing this forever.’
Isla whistled. ‘Really? Just like in all those old TV shows and movies?’
Major Anderson nodded. ‘Yep, the government engaged Hollywood and all of the content creators back in the day to slow-dribble information about the discovery of the technology and ancient alien theories out into the aether.’
‘Wait! exclaimed Ger. ‘Aether! That’s what Jericho said. Or Justice?! It’s getting confusing.’
Major Anderson nodded. ‘So, the tech informed our ‘droid and 'bot technologies and helped us develop the positronic brain allowing a degree of sentience for our automated creations. Meaning that they could start making decisions for themselves. Start thinking.’
‘We know this, Dad’ said Isla. ‘ The rule of robotics are the first thing in school.’
‘Right, said Major Anderson. ‘But they didn’t teach you about the aether, did they?’
He’s right. I’d never heard of this aether before.
‘Once we tapped into the idea of artificial intelligence courtesy of the Krays, we were able to develop greater headway in the investigation of psionics and its relationship to electronics. The term actually comes from the term psi, or psyche, and the -onics from electronics. It was thanks to the Krays we built the first Hieronymus Machine.’
Ger gaped at Major Anderson. We are definitely in Ancient Aliens territory.
‘But this stuff isn’t real? Is it?’ stammered Ger as he tried to wrap his head around everything Major Anderson was explaining. He cracked open another plastic-'bottle of water and gulped it down. Space makes you thirsty. Who knew?
‘Dad, how does this Psionics things connect with what happened with Jericho? Why are you telling us all this,’ Isla asked.
‘The Hieronymus Machine allowed us to expand the internet and develop pathways for humankind admist the aether. Basically, we found ways to manifest and manipulate meta-creativity at a level never before seen. All the while keeping this information secret.’
‘Why all the secrets, Dad?’ Isla said. ‘It seems like everything is so — mysterious?’
Major Anderson nodded. ‘It has to be, Isla. Because if the world knew that we could now manipulate the power of the internet to transport human consciousness and manipulate even space and time, this would make the discovery of the Krays tech a small blip.’
Ger gulped. ‘Are you telling us that Jericho can do this?’
Her Dad nodded. ‘I’m telling you that Jericho uploaded his conciousness into the body of Justice Monroe and puppeted her to do exactly what he wanted. When everything fell apart, he dumped her and flipped into the aether back to his actual body leaving her to be captured by the 'bots. He’s in the wind and you’re the only ones who’ve had first contact with him.’