I’m so nice, I actually posted two bits in one day… but then I’m probably not going to post one tomorrow. Haha.
He, Austin, and Jerome were lying flat on the floor. Lawrence was sprawled on top of them, the force of his jump having thrown all three of them clear of the lasers. They were still shining dangerously, the red beams threatening to kill any living material the passed them.
“Ugh,” said Austin, barely able to breathe under Lawrence’s heavy weight.
“What are you both doing here?” asked Lawrence breathlessly.
“Ask Aussie,” said Jerome, dusting himself down. He glanced at the lasers. “Were those supposed to greet us?”
Lawrence ignored the second question, his relentless, pained eyes turning to look at Austin.
“Sorry, but we got so worried about you,” said Austin. The pair of them was wearing the school uniform – Lawrence could see subdued stains on the otherwise bleached shirts. “Somebody told me that you lived here. I dragged Jerome along.”
Lawrence wasn’t impressed. They weren’t supposed to be here; they weren’t even supposed to have gotten in. “How did you guys get in?”
Jerome laughed. “Erm, the door was open?”
Lawrence felt a rush of adrenaline. “The door… was… open?” he asked weakly.
Lawrence banged on the wall in frustration. He could feel Austin and Jerome’s vacant stares, but he waited. And waited.
“Come on, Ethan,” he whispered.
The laser buzzed, then abruptly switched off.
He straightened up. “I’ve got something very important to deal with, guys, so I have to go now.”
“Well, we’ll just leave, then, right, Austin?”
“No, I can’t let you do that,” interrupted Lawrence. “You’ve seen too much already.”
He barely had a chance to register their faces of fear and confusion before the trapdoor opened, sending them dropping to the holding cells below.
“Sorry about that,” he shouted. “I’ll come get you later!”
He didn’t wait for a reply.
“So what happened?” were the first words that Lawrence heard as he slammed the headset back on.
“A lot,” he replied dismissively as he sat back down. “For one thing, the guest entrance door is wide open.”
There was a lot of coughing over the headset link. Lawrence locked the keyboard back into place and continued typing. He looked up. “What happened to the missiles, then?”
The screen refreshed, and the orbital paths of five missiles appeared on a digital map of the world.
“We proceeded with the launch,” said Evan over the earpiece. “Twenty minutes till detonation.”
“I’m setting the target list on your screen now,” said Ethan quickly. Lawrence wheeled forwards, looking at the display. “There are five of them, and the orbits are going to adjust in five minutes.”
“Are you sure about this?” asked Lawrence, beginning the command taps. The screen flickered for a brief moment, then a new voice emerged over the speakers.
“Hello?” tested Austin’s voice.
“Shit, Austin?” Lawrence depressed the all silence button, letting a red light shine up on all three member’s consoles. They knew what this meant; radio communication was now unsecure and they should all maintain silence.
“Oh, hi, Lawrence.”
“How the hell did you hack into the secure communications module?” he asked, desperately entering codes. Lawrence turned to his right, picking up a mug of coffee as he did so. One screen switched to the base interface, displaying all the connections and ports. Lawrence quickly scrolled down and highlighted one, isolating it.
“I didn’t. I just saw this flashing light and pushed it.”
“Great. Really great.” Frantically entering commands, Lawrence glanced at the map displayed and realised that he had less than fifteen minutes less. The orbit adjust manoeuvres must already have activated.
Static sounded over the speaker, followed by silence.
Lawrence released the red silence button, turning off the red light and restoring communication. “Communications now secure. I don’t know how that happened, but the basement has access to secure networks. We have to check that after all this.”
“Yeah, we do.”
“Have the orbital adjustment manoeuvres activated yet?”
“Yes,” confirmed Evan. “Thirteen minutes to detonation.”
Lawrence drank a sip of searing hot coffee. “Set the computer,” he commanded. “I need to take care of Austin.”
“I’ll do it,” said Ethan. “I want to meet the pair.”
Lawrence could see Ethan raising up from his station and heading for the door, but then he was distracted by the computer beeping gently.
“Oh, good, we have an external call coming in.”
The computer connected the video feed automatically, shoving the map to the side as a stern faced man took the centre screen. “How’s everything going, Lawrence?” asked the cold voice over the headsets.
“Fine, fine,” said Lawrence.”
“I’m glad it’s working out. How long are we to detonation?”
“Twelve minutes,” said Evan.
“Very good. Now, Lawrence… you know what’s going to happen if this fails.”
“James, why the hell do we need to do this? Is there a condition at base?”
“We think there might be a leak. All offshore bases are being destroyed. Haven’t you deducted that from the target list?”
Lawrence took another quick study; indeed, all of them were the foreign bases. “What about this one?”
“Your one has been certified to be secure. That’s all I can give you now, Lawrence.” The man leaned forwards, his face filling the screen. “Good luck.”
James disappeared, and a second later, the map reappeared on the centre display.
“Right. Ten minute countdown,” said Evan.
Lawrence didn’t bother replying. He simply entered one command and signed off, leaving Evan alone.
“I need to check up on Ethan. Good luck, Evan.”
Evan just tapped wearily as the doors hissed open for one last time.
“Tell me what’s happening, slowly.”
Lawrence could hear Jerome’s careful was as he descended the stairs.
“Which bit don’t you understand?”
Lawrence walked across the dull basement and was almost pleased to see Ethan’s pained expression.
“I see you haven’t let them go yet, Ethan,” he said, amused.
Ethan wheeled around, and, spotting Lawrence, nodded. “I naturally assumed that, because they’ve seen so much, you wouldn’t be letting them just walk off like that.”
“Quite correct. The missiles should be detonating in five minutes, Ethan. Evan is going to need all the help he can get.”
“That irritating brother. Right. I’ll go, then Lawrence. Take care.”
Lawrence didn’t say another word until the door slammed shut, the noise amplified by the narrow staircase.
He looked around. The basement was an interesting place – although the security system would automatically drop possible threats in here, it was actually a very important location. Dark, vibrating power units gave most of the electricity needed to run the complex when it was on emergency mode, and several data banks were hidden in the corner. Lawrence spotted a control panel and realised what Austin had been talking about – the emergency basement panel. He walked over the flashing display and fumbled behind it.
The wires used the same colour coding throughout the complex – red for critical components, yellow for communication, black for power, green for inputs, and blue for outputs. White wires were the lights and speakers – this was what Lawrence looked for, and it was also the colour of the wire that he pulled out and killed with panel with.
“That’s better,” he said, letting out a long sigh of satisfaction.
He spotted the now-frozen Jerome and Austin and let a smile plaster over his face.
“I’m guessing you’re very distressed right now. Why don’t we step up to the coffee shop and let me fix you something refreshing?”
Lawrence went to get his daily newspaper from the school stand, and was not surprised to see the headlines.
From the individual reports gleamed through social networking websites, there did not seem to be any specific country specified in the attacks. Instead, the arsonists chose to set many different embassies on fire, with no apparent system to the choosing of targets.
The fires were set in London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Sydney. It is not known if there have been other cities that have suffered attacks.
Officials around the world have been unified in condemning the arson, with the one official saying that this event was ‘outrageous’ and ‘completely unacceptable’.
Militaries had been mobilised to deal with the damage, which so far has not caused any deaths around the world.
He smiled; it was not a case of arson, as he fully knew. The missiles were cleverly designed to leave no physical damage that could betray its original presence. Evan had watched the deorbit carefully, making sure that all the embassies were hit – it was quite interesting, having foreign bases in embassies around the world.
He climbed the stairs and entered his form room, slamming the paper down on the table.
“You finally turned up. I thought I was going to have to finish IT by myself.”
“Sorry,” said Lawrence mockingly. “It’s not my fault the bus is so late.”
“Whatever.” Kevin looked down at the keyboard, then back up at the screen. “How did that happen?”
“I just wrote ‘I love Stephanie’ all over my presentation.”
“No, that was a joke.”
But Lawrence wasn’t listening – Jerome had just entered the room, his eyes strangely unfocused. When other people greeted him, he only replied with a murmuring of ‘Hello’ as he passed.
Time to test everything.
“Hey, Jerome, are you ready for the history presentation?” asked Lawrence.
Jerome took a second to respond. “What? Oh. Right. Yeah.”
“That’s good then… what did you write?”
“I can’t remember.” Check. “Something on war?” Check. “Yeah, I did the slides on war and television, didn’t I?” Check.
Post memory wipe checklist complete.
“Yeah, you were supposed to. That’s good then. That’s very good.”