Authors: Ben Winston
The Navigator – Book I
By Ben Winston
Copyright © 2016 Ben Winston
Published by Blue Space Publications, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed by a newspaper, magazine, or journal.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This work is dedicated to all those that serve us in the pseudo-world of ‘black operations’.
Thank you for keeping the faith.
“Holy shit! Bill! Check this out! Some old guy from northern Minnesota just traded in a computer with a perfect score on the Free Cell test!”
Bill looked over at his friend’s console. “Bull shit. There are failure scenarios programmed into it. No one can have a perfect score.”
“This guy does. Apparently, he didn’t have an internet connection on this computer, or we would have been notified sooner. When the tech at Better Buy plugged this in to check it out, the first thing it did was send us the report," Hal said, getting more information from the report.
“It has to be wrong, something must have happened to the testing program,” Bill said.
Bill typed on his keyboard. “Well, real or not, it has to be investigated; we need more Navigators, not less.”
“True,” Bill replied. “Either way, the boys in special services will be taking care of it from here. I just hope, for his sake, that the results are true."
Hal nodded agreement. “Me too, but then again, if he was able to influence the test in some way, that alone would be valuable wouldn't it?”
“I'd think it would be. Did it say how old this guy was?” Bill asked.
Hal scrolled down the report. “Yeah, he's forty-seven.”
Bill shook his head in amazement. “Wow, he really is an odd bird then. Well, he either just hit a galactic home-run, or made the worst mistake of his life. Either way, it's out of our hands now.”
“A perfect score isn't possible is it?” Admiral Hawklings asked. “Even for one of the gifted?”
“No, it is possible, but the odds of it are so small as to be considered a null value,” Senior Navigator Jared Smalls replied. "For example, I only got eighty-two percent of the questions correct.”
“But I thought there were insoluble equations built in to it. How could someone solve an unsolvable?” Hawklings asked. “I don't understand."
“That is the reason for the test, Admiral; because we don't understand. Hyperspace navigation equations have their own reason, their own understanding of the universe. We can only try to grasp those reasons and anticipate the outcomes.” Smalls' eyes began to glaze over again as his mind returned to that area only Navigators know.
Hawklings cleared his throat to bring Jared back. Navigators were an odd bunch, but they got far stranger the more they practiced and spent time in the nav chambers. Jared had spent the last six months at the Navigator's 'Citadel', and was having a hard time readjusting to 'normal' space and time.
“I've issued a retrieve order for this bloke, but there is a problem,” Hawklings said, biting his lower lip.
“Oh?” Jared asked, still dreamy eyed.
“He's the oldest person we've ever found to have the gift. He has a family; a wife and adult children. He's going to be missed.”
Jared's eyes cleared and focused on the Admiral so quickly, it made the hair on the back of his neck stand out. “Age is irrelevant, family is irrelevant. The man must be brought to the Citadel immediately. No other consideration is possible, Admiral.” The young man turned from the older one and headed for the door. “Make it happen.”
The decorated military man stood staring at the door for several minutes. He knew he was just given an order, but the Navigators were supposed to answer to him, not the other way around.
So, why did he feel like he would die if he didn't comply with Jared's directive? Yes, Jared was the senior Navigator and the Navigators held a very influential position in the whole scheme of things, but this?
While he was standing there, the Admiral felt the 'command' changing in his mind. Losing the implied threat, as his own mind made the adjustments to the memory. Instead of a threat, Hawklings now remembered a strongly worded request and he began to relax.
Very slowly, he took his seat. The more he thought about it the less of a threat Jared became. It was almost surreal, how could he have ever thought Jared was a threat, he knew who his bosses were; Jared knew who truly held his leash.
Letting out a breath, he picked up the phone and began issuing orders.
“For every beginning, there must be an end. For with every end, there must also be a beginning.”- Anonymous
In northern Minnesota, at his home in Piney River, Joe had just finished installing the last of his favorite programs on the new computer, when the doorbell rang. He wondered who it could be, since all his friends lived in the trailer park with him, and they all called before coming over.
Glancing out the window, he saw two large men in tailored black suits and mirrored sunglasses. They looked as close to being twin genetic mutants as the government could make them.
Wondering what in the hell two obvious Government agents would want with him, he slowly opened the door with one foot blocking it, so they couldn't force it all the way open. “What can I do for you two gentlemen?”
“Are you Mr. Joseph Anderson?” the big one said.
“You wouldn't be here if you needed me to answer that question. What do you want?” Joe replied.
“You need to come with us, Sir. It's a...”
“…matter of national security. Yeah, I'm familiar with the line. The real question is do I actually have a choice in the matter?”
Joe had a history with the diverse security agencies of the government. He was somewhat of a conspiracy theorist and knew that a visit from men like these was rarely a good thing.
“I'm afraid not, Sir,” the talker replied.
“So, if I slammed the door in your face and tried to make a run for it out the back door?” Joe asked.
“You would be more uncomfortable during our trip. I do not recommend following that course of action, Sir,” the man-mountain replied.
Joe nodded. “Don't worry, you know I can't run, no matter what I wanted. If I agree and promise not to make trouble, can we do without the cuffs?”
The giant nodded. “That is the plan, Sir.”
“Can I leave word for my family? They're going to know something's up; the whole trailer park saw you guys come here,” Joe reasoned.
The second giant removed a notebook from his jacket, which also gave Joe a glimpse of the Steyr M1912 pistol strapped to his ribcage. Whomever these guys worked for, they issued non-standard weaponry.
Opening the notebook, the man read. “At the age of nineteen, you enlisted in the United States Army with a Military Occupational Specialty of thirty-one victor. During Advanced Individual Training, you were recruited by a covert agency that no longer has command integrity.”
'Command Integrity', huh? That must be what they call it when they kill one of their own. Joe's old commanders were retired by people just like these two. Only there were a lot more of them, they wore body armor and they didn't ask for anyone to come with them.
“You received advanced hand to hand combat training with and without weapons, advanced firearms, and improvised weapons training, as well as advanced escape and evasion. In short, no matter how old you are, and regardless of your physical condition, you are to be considered armed and extremely dangerous at all times.”
The first big man had never turned his head to his partner. “In the years since you, uh, returned to civilian life. You managed to stay under the radar far enough for the cleaners to declare you a non-threat. However, in order to cope with the stresses of your former duties, you told your wife who you were and what you really did.
“The manner of your extraction has been carefully planned, Sir. The impression your neighbors are getting is the very one we want them to have. Although, she never truly believed you were telling her the truth, your wife will be left with only one viable conclusion as to your sudden disappearance,” the man finished.
“Guys, you know how this life is. I know you do. We all at least thought about it during our careers. You also know what our word; I mean our real word, means to us. I promised her I wouldn't leave her; ever,” Joe explained. “I won't be any good to you without her with me. By that, I mean my sanity depends on her. If you're not planning on letting me come back, then you might as well shoot me now; because I will take at least one of you with me later.”
“That is an unwarranted complication. Your future duties demand you be single. You will come with us now, or we will kill her and take you later. Those are our orders. I'm sure you know how this works, Sir.”
Joe stood there a moment as if in thought. Yes, he figured that this might be the case. The agency never did like complications.
Finally, he nodded his head. “Yeah, I know how these things work, probably better than you do. I will come with you to keep her safe, but I want something from the agency. They will create a life insurance policy of five million dollars and award it too her when you report my death. Since they want to take my life here, then I want them to make sure she's taken care of and nothing will happen to her. Deal?”
“We're not authorized...” the first man said.
“Bullshit! I know you're live with them right now. Get them to give me an answer and you swear to it on that Spec-Ops knife attached to your belt behind your back. Then I'll believe you. Otherwise, we have a problem,” Joe said. "But you better hurry.”
“The park manager is my best friend. I'm sure he called the locals as soon as you pulled in,” Joe replied smiling.
The second man pulled his knife and handed it to Joe hilt first. “On behalf of the Agency we work for, I am now authorized to accept your deal. The check will be cut tomorrow.”
Joe accepted the knife, and drew a shallow slice across his hand. Then handed it back hilt first. The second giant copied Joe's actions and they shook their bloodied hands.
“Bohica,” Joe said.
“Bohica.” the second man said. He released the handshake and put his knife away.
Joe grabbed his jacket while dropping his cellphone with the recording of the entire conversation on it into his wife's jacket pocket so the men didn't see it. Then locked the door and stepped outside. The two men promptly led him to the waiting black suburban.
As they were about to pull out of the trailer park, Joe noticed the turning signal. “No, turn left. If you go right, you'll run into the police that are in route.”
Without hesitation, the driver pulled left out of the park and quickly accelerated.
“Where are we going, and I'll guide you,” Joe said.
“Our jet is waiting in Bemidji,” the man beside him said.
Joe nodded. “Okay, then turn left again at this first intersection. It's a bit out of the way, but we should be able to slip away easier.”
The man nodded. “Thank you.”
“Appreciated, but not needed. We're on the same team now,” Joe replied. “I just hope they don't want me to do field work again. With my health issues, I'd never survive the jump."
“We honestly don't know, Sir. We're only the retrieval team,” the man in front said. “But I am curious, how did you know about my knife?"
Joe grinned. “You're both former Marines, probably Force Recon, which means you're a clannish bunch. The knife is the only real way of proving your identity. I also know you'll never betray a promise made on it, or by extension, allow anyone else to betray it. Semper Fidelis.”
“HooRah!” Both big men replied. Joe noticed the smaller, driver was just grinning.
“However, our driver isn't a Marine and most likely believes the whole knife thing is a bunch of superstitious garbage. I'm willing to bet he was either a Green Beret, or a Ranger. Because he drives like a wheel man for the mob, I'm willing to bet Army Ranger,” Joe said as he watched the smaller man's smile disappear.
“Lucky guess!” the Ranger said.
“Really?” Joe replied, grinning. “You were either a corporal or new sergeant when you were recruited. Our jar-head friends here were a little different. The one in the front seat was a lance corporal, and the one beside me was a staff-sergeant.”
“Amazing, how could you tell?” the Marine beside him asked.
Joe shrugged. “Actions and personalities. Body language can tell a person a lot. Both you and the lance corporal were recruited from the same unit. He still defers to you subconsciously.
“So, what rank were you?” the driver asked.
Joe looked at the sergeant beside him. “He didn't get to read my file?”
“No Sir. He doesn't even know your name. He didn't need to know.” He looked up at the driver. “He was a rare bird, Corporal; he was an officer that worked for a living. His rank was Major. Control doesn't want any more personal information discussed. So for the time being, we are to refer to each other by our old ranks.”
“That doesn't leave a lot to talk about,” Joe said. “Which is probably the point.” He sighed. “I guess that leaves the weather and sports. So, how was your flight in?”
The rest of the trip was filled with talk about the weather, which quickly turned to sports. When they got to the airport, they drove right out onto the apron and right up into the C-141 sitting there. It wasn't the typical military green, but it did still have an Air Force logo on the side of it.