Greetings and salutations, faithful reader! Welcome back to another week of Story Time With Tim! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and this is the next installment of Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age. A story all about the fate of humanity over the ages! What will happen next? Who knows? Read it and find out now!
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ARCHITECTURE OF WAR
Alexia sat at her desk, the lights dim, and continued to pour over countless witness reports and potential leads. Nothing was adding up and she wiped her left hand across her face in frustration. She leaned back and crossed her arms, intently staring at photos of chaotic scenes of destruction, the thousands of innocents killed that were represented by two small children in one image, and the unfinished paperwork that seemed to be just running them in circles.
The F.B.I. hadn’t been of much help, especially since the bombing. Important files had been destroyed in that blast and Alexia couldn’t escape the feeling that that had been the point. A grimace forged its way from cheek to cheek as she stared at the images, her eyes focusing on dark shadows that just grew larger and wider. Her thoughts turned inward, as she considered her contact with the feds, Robert Miller, and the last conversation she had with him.
‘We’re recovering,’ he had said almost three weeks earlier. ‘But I’m still worried about what my source told me about the White House.’
‘The White House?’
‘Yeah. The next strike was supposed to have been the White House.’
It was strange. She was happy that there had only been two casualties in that blast, that Pam and Robert had survived. But the next strike hadn’t been the White House. It had been a church in California. If it was part of the planned attacks, that was. And then there was the fact that the explosion at the headquarters had been small compared to the others. Small and precise, effectively wiping out their case files and their central computer.
The shadowy darkness threatened to consume her, and every fiber of her being, until she heard her name being called through the void.
“Alexia,” Joseph spoke as he entered the rather dark room.
He looked around in a manner that suggested he couldn’t believe how dark she had it. A woman walked in behind him and looked to be roughly five-foot-seven and had long, brown hair. She cast her glance around the room as well, only she seemed disturbed and really upset.
“What’s with the lighting?” Joseph inquired and looked at her. “Never mind. Mrs. Sommers, I’d like you to meet my partner, Alexia Dawson.”
Alexia went to shake the woman’s hand as Joseph continued, “Alexia, this is Mrs. Jean Sommers.”
“How are you this evening?” she politely inquired of the woman as they all sat down at and around Alexia’s desk.
Joseph pulled up a chair from another desk and made a huffing sound as he sat into the rolling piece of furniture.
“I wish I was better, but…” the woman trailed off and stared at the desktop.
“Mrs. Sommers has a problem, Alexia. It seems someone kidnapped her little boy, and another child, and took them from the hospital they were admitted to,” Joseph related, waving his right hand in the air in front of him.
“And they sent her to us?” Those were the first words out of Alexia’s mouth. “We’re already swamped with our own investigations. Not that I’m trying to dismiss you at all, ma’am, but there is an entirely different unit dedicated to this sort of case.”
The woman began to tear up as Alexia cast a ‘what-do-you-think-you’re-doing!?’ look at Joseph.
“This is true. However, this lovely young lady is the mother of one of the children from Beckwood.”
“Beckwood?” she leaned forward and quirked an eyebrow.
“Yeah. You’ve been watching the news about this whole ‘Ark’ business, right?” Joseph asked her as he sat forward in his office chair, causing a squeak to emanate forth.
“Sort of. I’ve been rather busy as of late,” she responded crossing her arms.
“Well, supposedly there’s a replica of the Ark being built up in Montana and, apparently, Mrs. Sommers here was approached by a nurse at the hospital who wondered if she was thinking of going and joining the masses.”
“She did?” Alexia queried and continued to listen.
“Yes… Well, she didn’t exactly approach me, per se, but she did ask me about it. I didn’t know what to say. I just blew it off as if it were some sort of joke. Like those occults you hear about, y’know? There was no way I was going to get involved with something like that. But, Kylie,” she related and shook her head with a slight sob.
“Kylie?” Alexia questioned and wrote the name on a tab of paper.
“Did you get her last name?”
“No. I never got that and didn’t feel inclined to,” she replied truthfully and continued as Alexia nodded an ‘ok’. “Well, she said she was planning to go. I wished her luck if she did and went to see my son. I told him we would be leaving tonight.”
“This was earlier today. And then I went to my work to tell them I was taking my family to Texas and that I wasn’t sure when I’d be back.”
“Texas? What’s in Texas?” Alexia pried.
“My parents, siblings, and several other relatives. I just thought that, if this is to be the end, then I wanted to spend it with all my family.”
“How did your son react to this?” she pressed as Joseph crossed his arms and listened intently.
“He wasn’t thrilled about it because of Elisa. He didn’t, doesn’t, want to leave her behind, but I don’t know what else to do.”
“Elisa. This is a friend of his?”
“Yes. Elisa Whitaker. I just wanted to be with my family. When I got back to the hospital and found my son wasn’t there…”
The woman began to cry audibly as Joseph leaned back and took a breath, considering everything Mrs. Sommers was saying. Alexia continued taking notes, finding that there may have been a correlation after all.
“It’s all right. Take your time. You think this ‘Kylie’ may have taken them to Montana?” Alexia gently continued her questioning.
“To that ‘Ark’, yes.”
“Are you sure they didn’t just run away? It’s a common occurrence with children who don’t want to lose someone important to them.”
“He would never…! But I asked for Kylie and no one knew who she was or had seen her since I had last. She had to have taken them!”
Alexia sat back and chewed on the end of her pen, thinking about what the woman had told them. Silence passed for a few seconds before Joseph stood and motioned for her to join him in the adjoining office. She stood up and followed him into the enclosure and waited for him to close the door. Mrs. Sommers remained seated and regarded the interior of what she saw of the precinct.
“I think we should go,” Joseph started.
“To Montana? Are you mad? We have an ongoing investigation on our hands and, while I’ll admit this is really suspicious and even possibly related, we have no direct evidence suggesting that the kids are even with that woman. I don’t feel like going on a wild goose chase, Joseph.”
“Alexia,” he said and grabbed her shoulders to look her in the eyes. “We’re already on a wild goose chase. Look, my gut tells me this is the lead we’ve been waiting for. Let’s just go. You have to admit that the Ark they’re building would make a pretty tempting target, regardless. Especially given the religious based attacks we’ve been seeing. Can we afford to pass this up?”
“I… don’t know. I guess… If they’re even building an Ark…”
“I’m going,” Joseph let her go and went to open the door.
“Fine. If you feel this strongly about it, then, after you, partner,” she relented.
Four elite F-142 Shadow Raptors escorted a small contingent of B-91 Stratobombers, as they made their way towards their targets deep within the Confederate held territories of Mongolia. Their presence was undetected, as the vehicular components featured the latest in stealth and cloaking technologies.
“Viper squad beginning attack run. ETA ten minutes. Mark. Commence radio silence.”
Various clicks of acknowledgments answered the dark helmeted squadron leader as he moved his jet forward to lead the bombers into the heart of hostile territories.
“And you’re sure about this?” Robert inquired of the voice on the phone. “Cause last time… right. Yeah. I understand that things change. Alright. We’ll check it out.”
He hung up the phone and looked over at Pam who had been listening in on the other line.
“I don’t know, Robert. It seems a little fishy.”
“I still don’t have any reason to doubt him. But we should still be cautious. Any way you look at it, he is right about one thing, the Ark would make a very tempting target.”
“That’s true enough. So, a trip to see this ‘Ark’ then?” She stood from behind the desk in the cramped confines of a small office within the complex of CIA headquarters.
“Yes,” Robert replied and stood himself.
“Will you be needing back up?” An agent inquired from where he sat at the tracing unit.
So far, it hadn’t been able to pinpoint where the call originated, which implied it was a bounced signal. That fact made Robert very nervous. It could very well be a trap. But it was the ‘why’ behind it all that he couldn’t figure out.
“No. Not just yet. Stay on standby, but I don’t imagine my source being willing to sacrifice us just now, if that was his intent to begin with. And he knows more than he’s saying.” Robert replied, pulling on his blazer.
“Of course, sir,” the agent said and left the room after removing his earphones.
Pam and Robert grabbed their belongings and made their way to the car that would take them to the private airport their offices used.
Two days later, a mournful wail drifted through the gathered masses outside of the complex to the Ark. Those of differing religions separated into their own congregations and began praying to the Lord in whatever manner as was deemed acceptable by their system of belief. Some cried, others just stared vacantly up at the appropriately dark sky, where storm clouds gathered overhead.
Uday listened out on the balcony and felt the cool breeze against his face. There was a scent on the air that told of a great fear. He wasn’t sure what, though.
“What’s going on?” he questioned to nobody in particular and watched umbrellas being erected solemnly outside of many tents.
“Our worst fears…” came Alexander’s voice.
He entered the office with two people trailing close behind. Uday came forward and smiled at their guests. They wore business suits of dark colors. The man was in black, while the woman wore a deep blue dress suit.
“What would those be?” Uday spoke as his smile of greeting faded.
“War. The President has ordered the bombing of China’s nuclear silos. It happened two days ago.” Alexander shook his head. “The word is spreading through those outside. They’re afraid. Oh, how rude of me. These are agents Miller and Emonson of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Apparently, they received a tip that a terrorist strike was eminent.”
“Against us!?” Uday’s eyes went wide with sudden fear.
“Unfortunately, your Ark is now considered a threat by these individuals,” Miller said quietly.
Alexander motioned for the two agents to sit, while he assumed his customary position behind the administrative desk. Uday didn’t mind, since he didn’t feel the need to head such a massive endeavor. Jealously was never an issue of his.
“Now, I was under the impression you were building a replica of the Ark?” Ms. Emonson inquired in curiosity.
“Uday? Would you care to explain?” Alexander smiled.
“Explain what? That God told me to build a spaceship in preparation for the annihilation of mankind? What’s there to explain?” he replied, barely hearing his own words as he stared at the floor.
“Uh… well, hey. That’s your right. I hear the private sector of the space industry is really taking off… er… no pun intended,” Miller slightly blushed as Pam looked at him with a wry expression.
Alexia hung up the phone and stood in contemplation. No one had heard of Kylie or even knew who she was. A woman with no real identity had come, taken two children, and disappeared. This was disturbing. Alexia had even gone to the hospital to try and get eyewitness accounts, despite Joseph’s hurrying of her to get going. And still nothing.
Whoever Kylie was, she wasn’t one of the normal hospital personnel. This was growing increasingly more suspicious to Alexia which left her with just the one option that Joseph had suggested, heading to the “Ark.”
Alexia sighed and grabbed her file book off the desktop in her office and headed out the door to contact Joseph and let him know they were leaving for Montana.
Kylie stood beyond the sight of the complex with the two children. It was a small hill beyond the mass of gathering people. This left a small roadway to where the massive hangar doors were. She knew there was one small entrance and she saw that the security guards were off near the perimeter ensuring no one would go back there.
“All right, children, now is our time to enter,” she said to Elisa and Jason.
They had stayed at a motel in town for several nights to make sure no one was there to nab them the second they were spotted. The trio prayed that, hopefully, if any law enforcement agents had been looking for them, they would have given up and gone back to where they came from.
“But, won’t they see us?” Jason asked, watching how observant the two guards on duty were.
“Don’t worry, Jason. Just follow me,” she said and began to walk down the hill.
Jason stood and stared at the night sky. He looked at the lights shining down upon the guards and suddenly felt extremely unsure.
“They’re going to see us, Kylie!” he nearly screamed.
Kylie casually turned towards him and walked the two steps to where he stood. She knelt down before him and took his hands in hers. Looking the boy in his eyes, she smiled. “Jason, do you trust me?”
“Well, of course, but…”
“Then, trust me. Stay very quiet and follow me into the warehouse. They won’t see us. I promise.”
He nodded slowly and took Elisa’s hand. She smiled back with the same uncertainty. Surely, those guards would discover them. Wouldn’t they?
Kylie led the way, as the two guards whistled and walked. The woman and the two kids walked right by them when their backs were turned, the light beaming across their personages.
Kylie turned the doorknob.
Jason was surprised at how easily they had gotten there and how quietly she opened the door.
A second later, the door shut behind them with a barely audible ‘click’.
“Huh? Did you hear something?” one guard asked the other and stared at the door.
“Uh… no,” the other said and they continued their duties.
Robert woke up and grabbed his cell phone. He’d only been asleep an hour and hadn’t realized how tired he’d been. He and Pam had agreed to spend the night in the rather comfortable quarters aboard the Ark and he was quite impressed.
“Hello? What? Oh my God! Th, thanks,” he sat up in exasperation and stared at Pam who groggily sat up from where she lay in her bed to look at him.
“What is it?” she queried hesitantly, seeing the fear in his eyes.
Robert looked her in the eyes and felt his jaw drop. His eyes began to water because he couldn’t believe what he had heard.
“We’re under attack.”
Another story down, another week past. We’re moving along nicely. Is this the halfway mark? Well, close enough. But, honestly, chapter seven is probably the most literal halfway mark of this story. Anyhow, thanks for reading and I’ll see you all again next week for another chapter in the Holy Shards saga! Hope you’re enjoying the ride!
~Timothy S Purvis
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