Authors: Christopher Forrest
Aboard the Alamiranta
Gator, eyes shut, lay in his bed, the lights in his room having been kept off since he’d returned from the continental United States. The machine gunner had spoken to almost no one. The loss of his hand, and possibly his career as a soldier, was more than he could bear. He was glad Quiz had pulled through, but his problem wasn’t going to be rectified by a few injections. His severed hand had been packed in ice and returned by his team members, but the tissue had grown necrotic and died. His hand was lost forever.
Gator covered his eyes with his forearm as Grace Nguyen and Catherine Caine entered the room, switching on the overhead fluorescents.
“Okay,” said Nguyen, “I think your pity party has gone on long enough. Sit up.”
“Please just go away,” Gator muttered. “If you’re here to offer me a job in the Ops Center, I’m not interested.”
“I’m not here to offer you a new position,” Caine said flatly.
“Then I guess I’m fired, right?”
“Wheel in the incubator,” Nguyen said to her assistant.
A nurse brought in a rectangular, glass-enclosed chamber filled with electronics and IV tubes.
And a human hand.
“We harvested some DNA from your hand,” Nguyen explained. “With help from parts of The Genesis Code, we were able to clone it. For all intents and purposes, this is your hand. We also know how to reattach it, although complete mobility won’t return for a while.”
Gator sat up slowly and gazed at the incubator.
“Wait a minute,” he said. “Are you telling me that . . . I mean you’re saying . . . wait, did I hear you right . . . this is my hand and you can . . . ”
“You’re going to have surgery tomorrow,” Caine said. “When your rehab is complete, you’re back on Titan Six. You want to remain on Mr. Hawke’s team, I presume.”
Gator stood next to his bed, a grin spreading across his face like a bird opening its wings, ready to fly.
“Yes, ma’am!” Gator proclaimed. “I’ll do anything I have to. I’ll work hard.”
“Good,” said Caine, who turned to leave.
“Mrs. Caine?” said Gator.
Caine turned around. “Yes?”
“Thank you,” said Gator. “You, too, doc.”
Caine winked and left.
Aft Cargo Deck
Aboard the Alamiranta
Titan Four bowed their heads as they stood around the shrouded body of Eagle Eye. All of the technology possessed by Titan Global, including information from The Genesis Code, could not bring back someone from the dead.
Eagle Eye had been an only child, and his parents were deceased. He had no cousins, no uncles or aunts. There was nowhere to ship the body. His only family had been his team members and colleagues aboard the Alamiranta.
“Goodbye, my friend,” Blade said.
“You were a great soldier,” Demon commented.
“And a true friend,” Jet added.
“Farewell,” said Tomahawk as the four remaining members of the team tilted the platform on which his body rested.
The body of Eagle Eye slid into the deep waters below.
Behind Titan Four, Catherine Caine stood with Titan Six, DJ, Touchdown, and Joshua Ambergris.
“Make him proud in your future missions,” Caine said.
Blade turned and spoke quietly. “You can count on it, ma’am.”
Aboard the Alamiranta
General Thomas Burmaster paced back and forth in his cell. He and Hans Beemler had not seen each other since arriving on board. Caine and Security Chief Michael Zoovas had interrogated him, but he’d offered no information to people he regarded as the enemy. He presumed Beemler had also remained tight-lipped. He was to be handed over to the CIA for further interrogation. He had no doubt that he would be the victim of rendition if he continued to be uncooperative, which was his intention. He himself had been responsible for the rendition of many people that Senex suspected of having infiltrated their organization.
But all hope wasn’t lost.
Burmaster smiled as he sat on the bunk attached to the cinderblock wall. Before he and Beemler had left the cube, they’d sent an important transmission to several of their colleagues. Senex was indeed in grave jeopardy, but members still existed in many areas of Washington and the country at large.
If even a few could evade capture after the witch hunt that was sure to follow . . .
Aboard the Alamiranta
Catherine Caine addressed Joshua Ambergris, Touchdown, DJ, Quiz, Hawkeye, Dr. Nguyen, and Blade.
“We’ll soon begin to study the crystals and disks retrieved from the Library of the Ancients,” Caine said. “Joshua and Quiz will lead the research, aided by other scientists on board. Preliminary investigation reveals that these high-tech records left in the cube by the Ancients will reveal how the very first civilization of humans arose on earth. It appears that the Ancients were indeed the first intelligent beings to ever walk the lands of our planet eons ago. If this is true, we may learn more about the dawn of the human species than we could have ever hoped to glean through centuries of archaeology and excavation.”
“What about analysis of the cube sample?” Hawkeye asked. “Do we know anything more about that thing other than that is was discovered and appropriated by Senex?”
“Only conjecture at this point,” Dr. Ambergris stated, “but I personally believe that the cube was many things. It was a repository for the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the Ancients, scientific and otherwise. Or perhaps it was a time capsule of sorts, one they hoped would be discovered by advanced human progeny such as ourselves thousands of years after they were destroyed by the cataclysm they anticipated. Unfortunately, Senex found it before we did. Otherwise, its destruction might not have been necessary.” Ambergris paused. “Or maybe — just maybe — the cube might have been programmed to regenerate the Ancients at some point in the future — at a time when they felt that humans had had the chance to once again evolve into rationale creatures with advanced technology and values. Was their library of crystals just that, a library, or was it intended to give them everything they needed to re-engineer their race? We may never know.”
“We’ll be looking for the existence of other cubes around the world in the months ahead,” Caine said. “It’s possible that this wasn’t the only one they built. If Joshua’s last speculation is true, they may have believed in redundancy.”
“What about the fate of Senex?” Hawkeye asked.
“Unfortunately, that’s a question that doesn’t have a clear-cut answer,” Caine replied. “Many scientists and people in the government are being taken into custody for questioning based on the Senex file, but finding hard proof to convict them of clandestine operations that, in some cases, are decades old will be hard. By the same token, I’m told that the government can’t be sure how far Senex extends beyond its one hundred leaders. As Spider has informed me, she herself was being recruited as support staff for one of the organization’s leaders. For everyone arrested, there may be many somebody in the wings waiting to take his or her place. The secret government has no doubt suffered a setback, but will it be able to reform? That’s a troubling question.”
“It’s enough to make a guy paranoid,” Blade remarked.
“That’s why Titan Global exists,” Caine said. “To deal with troubling questions, the answers to which might represent a threat to the people of the world.”
“Why didn’t Burmaster, Beemler, or Marshall appear to have aged?” Touchdown asked.
“Because of their exposure to the cube,” Ambergris explained. “They learned from the cube itself how to obtain immunity from its harmful effects, such as those that Quiz suffered, as well as how to avoid the hallucinations experienced by our teams. Moreover, they actually learned how to rejuvenate their cells with power from the cube. That’s something Grace and I will be studying based on the crystals and the cube sample brought back by Quiz. We’re already exploring life extension through genetic engineering thanks to The Genesis Code. My hunch is that Senex personnel found this kind of extension when originally exploring the cube.”
“I want to express thanks to everyone for a job well done,” Caine said in conclusion. “Thanks to your professionalism and bravery, we’ve learned even more about the Ancients. Maybe one day in the distant future we ourselves will become their equals in every way. I think their objectives, whether through the cube or The Genesis Code, was always to help humanity evolve to its highest potential. In the centuries ahead, I hope our progeny will be able to look back and say that Titan Global played some small part in that.”
“Not bad work when you can get it,” Hawkeye said.
“No, Mr. Hawke,” said Caine. “Not bad work at all.”
The meeting adjourned.
The Potamac Restaurant
The two senators sat alone in the back room of the exclusive Potomac Restaurant. The older senator was in his sixties, with silver hair, rimless glasses, and dark brown eyes. His companion had thick brown hair and blue eyes. Though younger, his facial features betrayed that he had a wisdom far beyond his years.
“It’s only a matter of time before we’re questioned,” said the senior senator.
The younger man nodded. “I’ve heard rumors that all of our present operations will be temporarily halted.”
“You heard correctly. Senex has been breached, but not destroyed. Our records in South America are intact. I think we all knew this day might come eventually, and so it has. But time is our ally. People have short memories. Investigations shall be conducted, and as the years pass, we’ll be able to once again achieve our goals.”
The young senator leaned forward and lowered his voice even though the two men were alone.
“Yes, our objectives,” he said. “World domination by constantly manipulating foreign governments. Upholding some while causing others to fall. War when necessary. Disinformation always.”
The older senator smiled. “Opportunism is our greatest ally. We must be vigilant and usurp power when necessary to fulfill the true goals of our founding fathers.”
The young senator smiled. “I wonder what the country would think if they learned that one of our very early presidents drew up a charter advocating such an organization such as Senex.”
“The country will never know. Thankfully, Tom Burmaster had the courage to finally act on the charter in 1963.”
The two men raised a toast, clinking together their glasses of bourbon.
“To liberty,” said the first senator.
“To secrecy,” said the second.
Forward Observation Deck
Aboard the Alamiranta
“What did you think of your first mission,” Hawkeye asked Aiko.
“It was quite stimulating,” Aiko answered. “Your people manage to get themselves into a great deal of trouble.” She paused. “I like it. Especially the idea that Titan isn’t merely dedicated to military operations. I like the scientific inquiry that’s an integral part of Titan Global.”
“Then you might like to see what Joshua discovered on one of the crystals we brought back from the cube,” Hawkeye said.
“What’s on it?”
“A picture of star clusters on the edge of the Milky Way, one that not even our most powerful telescopes could produce.”
“How could the Ancients possibly get such a view?”
“We don’t have the slightest clue,” Hawkeye said. “Like most of life, it’s a grand mystery.”
“Mysteries are good. They keep life interesting.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Hawkeye said.
“Like rice wine?”
“Yes. As a matter of fact, I do.”
Hawkeye and Aiko went below, where they studied Ambergris’ latest find . . . and toasted their new alliance.