Anne joined them on the porch and David told the people that Aaron was dead, that at least one (possibly two) of their agents were compromised and that extra security and safety precautions would be instigated just in case the enemy knew of Zion’s location. There would be no lights on at night, everything had to be camouflaged: the buildings, the people would wear camouflaged clothing; and if anyone left Zion, someone had to go with them and they had to carry weapons.
Alexei barely heard him.
He was worried for Zipporah and Eileen. It was the unspoken agreement between everyone at Zion that they all pitch in and help one another. If someone died, everyone would help out the mourning family. If anyone needed help, everyone would be willing to help out. Everyone looked out for one another. But, how would Eileen handle Aaron’s death? Her other son and daughter had both died of starvation when the League of Nations came in. Her father had attempted to escape with her, Aaron and Zipporah, but had been captured. She worried everyday what he would be going through as punishment for their escape. (Eileen prayed diligently for him). But, Alexei concluded, she was a woman of resilient faith. Hopefully, her faith would last.
David touched his shoulder. “Son?” he said. He had called him ‘son’ after he had saved Alexei’s life once from drowning, and had shown such love and concern for him, that Alexei finally bonded with David and had started calling him ‘Dad’, so David called him ‘son’. With a start, Alexei realised that David had finished his announcement and was going inside with Anne on his arm and the crowd was dispersing.
“Coming,” he said, and followed Anne and David inside. They went inside a room that they called the Control Core.
“Donald, what does Karen say?” Anne inquired as she, David, Alexei, Ferraday, and Alexei’s three members of his team – Veronica, Fergus, and John – became seated. Donald went over to a desktop computer where lots of numbers, letters and complex algebraic expressions were filling the screen.
“Hang on,” Donald said as he waited for the computer to decipher the code. Karen would have written a letter, the cover being a letter addressed to a friend or relative in another region. (While not being allowed out of their region, they were allowed to write letters, send e-mails, phone or Skype). It was really a heavily encoded message of upcoming executions, arrests made or strategic or critical places to destroy or person(s) to smuggle out. When they received the encoded message, they would put it into a decoding machine that would decode it and send the information to the portable holo projector called the Ops. With the Ops they could view detailed plans, and hack into satellites. To destroy it if needs be, the person in possession of it had to whisper ‘eureka’ and throw it as far away from him/her as possible. Anne grabbed the Ops and placed it in the centre of the table and turned it on. The computer finished decoding the message and transported the information to the Ops. Donald walked over to the table and sat down. “Okay. Two things. One: Karen on her daily run, realised the Homing Education Institution for the ‘mentally ill’ or ‘undesirables’ would be a great place to get rid of as well as, if possible, getting rid of the Law Enforcers base. Second: a woman called Megan Lettuce and her child, Jason, are going to be beheaded in two days’ time,” Donald said.
“What time is the decapitation?” Fergus wondered.
“1100 hours, December 25th.”
John pulled up some pictures and plans for Region 64’s education centre on the Ops. “And where are they going to be executed?” he asked.
“In the square by the statue of Noland.”
“John, do we have anything on the Law Enforcers base in Region 64?” Alexei asked.
John searched around on the Ops. “No.”
“Already on it, Commander,” Veronica said. She was the expert hacker and computer expert. Getting the Ops, Veronica checked their list of each satellite’s position, and found one that was soon going to go over Region 64, so began hacking into the satellite’s systems. Once she had, she manipulated it to take pictures of the places they wanted – it had a very high magnification and optical lens – and programmed it to send it back to the Ops. She had encrypted their signals several times and programmed it to bounce around on receivers so no-one would be able to pinpoint where it came from.
The pictures came up on the Ops and Alexei was starting to study the pictures when there was a knock on the Control Core’s door. “Come in,” David permitted. To everyone’s surprise, Zipporah came in.
“Zipporah?” Alexei said. Okay, what’s going on? He wondered.
“I would like to request application for membership to the Stingrays,” Zipporah announced. Alexei’s team was know as the Stingrays. “I have my mother’s permission.”
“You’re going to have to talk to Alexei,” Anne replied.
Truth be told, Alexei did not what to do. He knew she wanted to join to manipulate revenge on her father’s death. He also knew that in Zion, once a person hit fifteen, they would begin being trained in the art of stealth, rescue, how to use a grenade, bomb, etc., self-defense (which included how to handle swords, bows and arrows, knives, guns) and warfare. And Zipporah had been in Zion since a month before her sixteenth birthday – over a year ago now. From reports from the trainer, and personal experience, she was a fast learner.
Fergus stood up, pulled out a dagger and suddenly charged at Zipporah. Zipporah reacted very quickly by ducking out of Fergus’s way and then grabbing the hand that held the knife and pulling the hand backwards, while at the same time with her other hand, grabbed his other wrist and whirled him around, so his back was facing her and his arm was behind his back in a painful position. He cried out in pain and she released him.
“You’re in,” Alexei accepted.
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