“This group, they believe they can succeed there where the Government failed to act. One of their group, you might have heard of him, he went by the name of Mast3rmind (Mind) on Newgrounds… He thinks he’s got a cure to the water infection there.” Zen leaned closer, he’d not spoken of this to anyone new for nearly six months.
“Hawaii…” Jade drew her finger down the dust on the table… “I’ll need to get in touch with Fyndir”.
Meanwhile on Hawaii
CD, a technician and his auditor companion stepped into the test-chamber. She stayed close to the door while the technician and CD inspected their results. Fully 40% of the subjects were dead. Blood seeped from their skins’ pores and many of them had no eyes after they had burst with the pressure from CD’s invention.
“60% survival! This is amazing…” CD was beaming, the 40% mortality rate seeming to not faze him. The technician checked the pulse of another prostrate body before moving on.
“A few minutes ago you claimed a ten percent mortality rate. Your project is based on inaccurate assumptions and forecasts, I will report this.”
“Report all you want, my request for further funding will not be stopped by your report.” He grabbed one of the alive but unconscious subjects by the arm and pulled her up to her feet. “This is the measure of my success. This subject in a few hours will be totally ready for imprinting and will then become whatever I want her to be. She will serve me and the country with little question. Not like the failed youth of today.”
“We work hard to persuade our young people of the benefit of the Program. Many co-operate, some do not. We safeguard them, it is not our role to judge them unfit.”
“Human Capital publicly announces those whom it strips of citizenship!”
“A smaller fraction of the offenders than you might think. If we weed out too many we damage the roots of our country.”
“Not with my method”, CD led the docile woman out of the door and towards another laboratory room. “Technician! Bring the others and then clean this mess up.”
The auditor left the room with her electronic notepad and found an empty desk before writing up the latest portion of her report. Encrypting it she sent it back to her superior, Alastor in Washington DC.
A few days later at San Diego’s port on the United States West coast
A group of men and women under cover of night were loading crates into a small trawling ship at the end of one of the piers. The port was quiet as most trade to the United States came to the east coast from Europe or to ports further northwards.
The group was about twenty strong, with more men than women. As the light from the ships’ riding lights played on their faces you could see that they were generally in the twenty to thirty age bracket.
Jade and Zen were helping to pack supplies into the hold which still smelt of fish when a commotion from the end of the pier startled them. From the deck they saw a police patrol car speed down the pier towards them, although its siren was not switched on the blue and red flashing lights played across the dark water and the ship.
There was nowhere for the group to go. The ship could not possibly leave yet and therefore it looked as though their journey was over before it started.
A powerful spotlight from the roof of the car illuminated the ship and dazzled the group.
“Identify yourself! The Port Authority of San Diego does not recognise this ship as having loading rights at this time!” someone shouted over a loud-speaker.
Besides jade a well built man sighed, “Port rent-a-cops… I’ll deal with it.”
Jade watched the man climb down the ramp and then walk towards the car with his hands up, showing that he had no weapon.
“That’s Monocrom… he’s one of the old ones on this group…” Zen replied
“What’s he doing?”
“Talking down to them I bet!”
“What do you mean? Shouldn’t we try and run? They’ll call for reinforcements and then take us back…”
“Don’t worry, he’s a cop…”
“An ex-cop that is. But I don’t think those guys will know it yet… I mean technically he’s probably still a cop until his desk stays empty tomorrow morning…”
“So wait, he works for the Government but is coming with us?”
“Not everyone who works for the Government is bad Jade… I mean look at me, I work for the Government!”
“Oh yeah… well…”
By now the flashing lights had stopped and then with a chugging noise the engine of the police car started and the car reversed slowly away down the pier. It was a marked contrast to the arrogant aggressive approach the police had made earlier.
Monocrom sauntered back towards the boat swinging a small compact flash-light that was on a strap around his wrist.
“No worries guys… My badge is still gold standard for now...”
There was a general round of applause and laughter for his brave performance before the rest of the group got back to work on the ship. Jade however wanted to know a bit more, she found Monocrom talking with a young attractive woman by the gangplank. Seeing Jade approach the woman said something to Monocrom before boarding.
“Yeah, see you later Jen” Monocrom turned to look at Jade.
“I know you… You were one of the last new moderators on Newgrounds weren’t you?” he smiled and extended his hand which still had the torch swinging from his wrist on it.
Later that night
The ship had finished loading and everyone was on-board. The lines had been cast and thus as 3am in the morning the vessel chugged out of port thanks to Monocrom’s timely intervention.
It was small ship so everything was a bit crammed in. The women had been given the actual crew quarters while the men were to make do with the bridge and the cargo-hold. Everyone was nervous and on edge, they were bound together by a set of beliefs rather than anything else. Some were from Newgrounds, but others were from Mind’s other contacts or networks.
Jade had met everyone by now. From her time on Newgrounds she thus remembered Monocrom, Zen, Mind, Jen (who’d gone by the name Tigerkitty), Fin (MrFinland on Newgrounds), and Mary who had also been one of the mods on Newgrounds before become very inactive (known as Carmilla). Some of the other people she might have recognised slightly, but for now they were just faces.
She and Mary, Zen and Monocrom had struck up a small group already. They’d managed to settle into one of the small equipment rooms and were engaged in a card game played on top of one of the supply crates.
“Your turn Mary”, Zen smiled at his hand after laying down a low diamond on the table. Mary was last to play and she had no diamonds in her hand… She fingered the queen of spades which would cause Monocrom to gain 13 points (a bad thing) and probably forfeit the match.
“To our brave police ‘liaison officer’, I’m going to give you this gift… A queen… of spades…”
The others laughed as Monocrom as forced to collect the pile.
“I never win these games, I think I better quit before I sink under my debts!”
“What’s a few dollars between friends?” Jade asked.
“Easy for you to say! You had to borrow some of mine before you could even buy into this hand!” he laughed, “now look at you, a regular little investment banker… being serious for a moment however, what was it you were assigned to do by the program?”
“Some kind of researcher for the News channel… Propaganda rubbish probably…”
“Yeah, some of the junk they show… I don’t think that would’ve suited you. You seem to have a sharp eye for people’s wallets!”
“Nonsense! It’s just beginners’ luck!”
End most of chapter 3 Second part below