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Jim the old guy
Post subject: Overseer - chapter 16 and 17 (partial)
Post Posted: Nov 29, 2006 7:28 pm
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Overseer Chapter 16
Tuesday, Nov. 17th, 2037 A.D.

After dropping Sylvia off at the warehouse, I head straight back to my office. The trip takes just a few minutes, but it gives me time to think about last night’s harrowing events. My suspicions concerning Robert Knott were completely unfounded. Apparently, he was just a guy who went along with the plan, seeing the opportunity to secure for himself a future in politics. Maybe he’s prejudiced against mutants; maybe not. At any rate, he obviously turned insurgent when L&O started killing people. In fact, I need to ask myself, is ALL of L&O involved in this? Or just John Klaus and a few other war-mongers? Who is really behind this entire project? More importantly, if L&O and/or Klaus are trying to subvert the Overlord and STG project, that still leaves the ultimate question unanswered: Who is behind the creation of the STG project and what was his or her purpose in setting it up? Were THEY going to put implants into everybody? If so, for what reason? If L&O was going to control the world using these implants, is that their original design and purpose? To control the world’s population? I shake my head, struggling to remove the intense pain and get a clearer picture of what is transpiring at L&O, Gideon Enterprises and with the STG project. This ungodly trinity has been occupying the whole of my waking hours and a few on the REM hours as well. Names are rolling around my brain like the marble on a roulette wheel. Gideon Enterprises, Law and Order Party, STG, Frank Schimming, John Klaus, Robert Knott, Wanda Peck, Sylvia Linsky, and a host of others, some of which I haven’t yet learned their names. Not to forget the one name that strikes fear into the hearts of the unsuspecting: Big Jim Slade. He’s the wild card in this whole sordid affair. He’s probably acting on orders from John Klaus, but a man of his striking power has no limitations as to ambitions. And how does my client fit into this thousand piece puzzle? The photo of her and Schimming could be incriminating, albeit circumstantially. Still, I think she knows more than she’s letting on. I hope my instinct proves false. I think I’m falling for this dame.
My thoughts betray my consciousness as I fly right by my office building. After performing a u-turn, I land in the lot. Moments later I’m in my office. The familiar ring of the vid-phone catches my attention.
“Tex Murphy here.” It was my mysterious ‘friend.’
“Did you find the chess move?” he asks. Huh! I thought he said he would know if I found the chess move. My hunch regarding a tail may have been correct. I never saw anyone tailing me, although I can’t help but wonder if I was tailed to Knott’s cabin. That thought chilled me to the bone. I’d really hate to be responsible for his untimely death. Then again, isn’t all death untimely? Have I said that before?
“I did. It was in the design of Val Davis’ passcard. Look, I’m ready to meet with you. Just tell me when and where.” And please hurry, the pain is increasing hourly.
“It isn’t safe yet. But I have another lead for you. Find out about Greg Call.”
“Who is Greg Call?” I’m not telling him that Call was #6 on a hitman’s list of people to exterminate or that he’s probably already dead. Let’s see if I can finagle some much needed info from this character first.
“He was the lead programmer on the STG project. He knew about Overlord.” Seems everybody knows about Overlord except me; and none of them are spilling their guts about it, just over it via Slade. Also, once again I’m confronted with either bad English or a paradox. Shouldn’t he have said ‘the Overlord’, not just ‘Overlord’? Or am I just not getting the point? Hmmm. Overlord: noun; person, place or thing. Is it possible?
My nerves frayed to the max, I ask disconcertingly, “Well, how do I find him? Greg Call....Overlord....either one?”
“Call is dead.” So, he does know. But how and why?
“Well, that’s going to make him easy to find,” I add with a twinge of sarcasm.
My ‘friend’ sighs and replies, “Call suspected that someone on the inside was selling out the STG project. For that reason, he relocated to a secret base of operations, returning to San Francisco only when necessary.” His eyes lower sadly. “That’s where he was killed.” Regaining new strength, he looks pleadingly at me and continues, “If you find his secret base, all your questions will be answered.”
So, Greg Call was killed in S.F. My ‘friend’ made it sound as though that was a far off place. Also, I notice the walls behind him. It appears to be some sort of lab. Just where are you hiding, my little ‘friend’? I ask myself.
“Any hints on how I’m supposed to do that?” I ask.
“The police were warned that Call might turn up dead. They may have found something that could lead you to where he was working. Oh! I gotta go!” And he quickly disconnects. Something made him very nervous.
Reflecting on our brief conversation, I decide it might be prudent for me to pay another visit to Eve ‘The Cleave’ Clements. I know, from previous experience, that she doesn’t appreciate frequent, ‘annoying’ visits, as she calls them. Do I have something to barter with? Perhaps.
I waltz into her office like a contestant in a ballroom dance contest. Grinning from ear to ear, I take a seat directly across from her. Her back to me, I got the impression that she was in no mood for small talk.
“I was wondering if you could give me some info on a stiff brought in the other day?” Polite, I’m not. But, in this case, I give it my best impersonation.
“You seem to think I’m some sort of street informant. I’m gonna start charging you for these consultations.” Yeah, and I’m the Queen of England.
“Well, you know, lieutenant, you’ve been so very good to me, I think I’m going to do you a favor.” She strains her neck to see me and glares skeptically. Now for the frau gras. “I know where Big Jim Slade is.” Actually, was. He’s probably long gone by now in lieu of the fact he was packing the other day when I paid him a social call.
She’s now facing me, donning a grin that matched the crack in the Liberty Bell. “If you’re on the level, I’ll trade you any information you want,” she avers while sitting in her interrogation chair.
“Deal. Slade’s at the Big Surf Lodge, number six.”
“Papa John’s place. I should’ve known. How did you get that info?”
“It’s a long story and neither of us want to hear it. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a few questions.” She gives her nod of approval and I begin to fire away.
She doesn’t see any connection between Val Davis, Rona Morgan and Greg Call despite my superlative reasoning. But she does raise an eyebrow at the mention of Call’s name.
“Greg Call was found shot to death in a rundown apartment building in the old city. It looked like a hit, but it could have been nothing more than a jealous lover.” That’s a stretch in anyone’s imagination, but I let her talk on. “We would’ve just ignored it, except we had received an anonymous call recommending we perform an autopsy if Call turned up dead.”
“Do you always perform autopsies when urged by an anonymous caller?”
“Don’t get smart, Murphy, or I’ll kick your ass so hard that only dogs can hear you fart.” Sheesh! A bit thin-skinned for a cop. Although, that was kind of funny. “We did the autopsy because the anonymous caller phoned us the day before Call was murdered.”
“So, what did the autopsy reveal?” I got both fingers crossed on this one.
“It only turned up one thing. There was a small capsule planted under the skin on his neck. Inside was a tiny plastic tag with strange markings on it. We couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Wanna have a look-see?”
“Okay, I got a few minutes to spare,” I say nonchalantly. Actually, I’m champing at the bit. This could be the break I’m looking for, the one my ‘friend’ mentioned.
Eve opens her top drawer and extracts a small plastic bag, the kind that’s use to remove evidence from a crime scene. The tag she referred to was so tiny that I couldn’t even see the markings, let alone decipher them. As if she was reading my mind, she hands me a magnifying glass. The markings look familiar, but, I just couldn’t place them.
“Can I have this for a bit?” Please? Please? I’ll get on my knees?
“No can do, Murphy. It’s logged in as evidence.” Rats!
“Okay. Then let me copy down these markings in my notebook. I’ll study them later and let you know if I find anything.”
“Yeah, why not. Just make sure you call me the minute you interpret them.” With that she excuses me from her presence and I leave the police station, my complacency glowing like midday radiation. Next stop is my office.
Parking in the lessee’s lot, I walk through the main door and head for the elevators. The day shift security guard, a big African-American by the name of Anders Anderson, waves his usual friendly salute. “How’s it goin’ Mr. Murphy?” His following grin, a distinctive feature he’s famous for, reveals a perfect set of pearly whites. I smile in return. My mind immediately warps to last Saturday’s visit with J. Saint Gideon. He asked for my opinion on ways to improve world conditions. I talked of respect for others and mentioned that if enough people cared, the world’s degradation would begin to reverse. Mr. Anderson was the basis for my hypothesis. The very epitome of kindness; full of mildness and goodness. I’ve never heard him voice a foul word or make an obscene gesture. He’s probably completely harmless, allowing his sheer mass to undermine any perspective lawbreaker’s attempt at skullduggery.
“Mr. Anderson, you’re a sore sight for eyes. Or, is that a sight for sore eyes? I always get those two confused.”
“More than likely, both are true,” he answers as he presses the door release button that allows access to the elevators. I give him another friendly smile even though my head feels as though it’s about to blow off my shoulders.
With renewed vigor, I enter the elevator and press number ten. As I do, my hand faintly touches the odd looking dots beneath the number. Braille. That’s it! The markings on the plastic tag removed from Call’s neck has Braille markings on it. Now all I need to do is decipher their significance.
Entering my office, I sweep over to my vid-phone and dial AID. I ask for an explanation of the Braille alphabet and within seconds, my fax machine announces a new arrival. “No records available.” I guess it was too much to ask. I espy the bookcase and wonder if I have any reference books with a Braille alphabet in its pages. None. Well, I guess I could go to the library.
Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door. My heart skips a beat. In my mind, an image of Slade’s hit list appears. Number ten is some guy named Murphy. He’s probably come to collect payment for all the underhanded acts perpetrated against his ego. Slade is no one to toy with. His fame is world renowned and his dislike for me probably spans the galaxy. My mind begins to scramble for a means to defend myself, if that’s possible. I don’t have any weapons at my disposal and bribery takes cash I don’t have, so I resign myself to the infamous Murphy knack for diffusing dangerous situations using old-fashion diplomacy, a.k.a. lying.
I slowly cross the room, focusing my eyes on the three windows in the door, hoping to catch a glimpse of the figure out in the hall. It seems he’s moved off to the side, out of visual range. The air in the office is thick and my nerves have become agitated. I know it’s no use hiding in the office; there’s really no place to conceal myself. I have to answer the door. But I approach with fear and apprehension in my heart.
As I reach for the knob, I notice my hand is shaking. A light comes on in my head; if I fling the door open, move to my left, I might be able to trip the unsuspecting Slade. This would give me enough time to scoot down the hall towards the stairwell. Waiting for the elevator might be too risky and time consuming. Flying down the steps, especially with my long stride, could provide the edge I need to reach the security guard before Slade gets a shot off.
A bead of sweat forms as I slowly turn the knob. My throat is dry as sand and I notice a gulp trying to force its way down my esophagus. In a flash, I throw open the door, move to the side, and trip the UPEX delivery man as he enters the office. Sheesh! Nice going, Murphy. The dazed young man rises unsteadily to his feet, eyeing me with misgiving.
“Uh, sorry. I thought you were someone else.” He looks at me askance and hands me his clipboard, making an ‘X’ to show me where to sign. He proceeds to bound out of the office like a stag in pursuit of a doe in heat.
The manila envelope contained two pieces of paper and gave rise to several new questions. Just what I needed.
First item was a Braille alphabet. I look heavenward and silently thank anyone who might be listening. Immediately, I put the tag along side the alphabet and decode the markings. NEXUS. What the hell is that suppose to mean? The only thing that came to mind was the ancient trilogy by Henry Miller. I believe Nexus was the title of one of those novels. Not that I have ever read Henry Miller; I just recall his controversial writings. Never mind.
The second paper was a memo titled “New Information”. Typed on it was good news and bad news. First, the good news. Evidently, Call used two methods of coding. One was the Braille alphabet, which has already proven useful. The second was a particular method of decoding his own notes. Starting with the name on a message, or, in some cases another first word, you would take every third or fourth word and put them together to form the secret message. This manor of decoding his notes is only helpful if I have his notes, which I don’t. Now for the bad news. The memo specifically stated that Murphy had been introduced to the “Overseer”, followed by P333 in parentheses. I don’t recall meeting any Overseer character, but that’s not the worst of it. I’ve been diligent about making inquiries as to the identity of someone called Overlord. Now, to complicate matters, I need to find out who or what is the Overseer. And what about the code P333? Could that have something to do with the horrific pain in my skull? Is that what drove Linsky to commit suicide? But those aren’t the only perplexing questions I come up with; there are others. For example, who sent this package to me? What or who is NEXUS? Furthermore, who put the tag in Call’s neck? And finally, who is my mysterious ‘friend’?
The degree of difficulty in answering one or two of these questions was complicated only by the clanging in my head. Superficially, they appeared to be unanswerable; fundamentally, the answers were obvious. First and foremost, Greg Call placed the plastic tag in his own neck. As lead programmer, he was, no doubt, highly touted for his programming excellence. However, he went underground, signifying his decision to remain neutral regarding the STG project’s coup by L&O Party. That made him a liability and a target for Slade. Eventually, someone needed to know what was going on and by whom. Ergo, Call places a coded tag in his own body. If L&O had put the implant there, they would have been able to control him with or without his consent. Call must have told my mysterious ‘friend’ that, if something happened to him, the police should be notified and encouraged to perform an autopsy, which they did. He may also have given my ‘friend’ the secret to decoding Call’s message. Which brings me to point number two: The envelope from UPEX was sent by my ‘friend’, who, in all probability, was Call’s friend as well. Now, the only question that remains is this: What or who is NEXUS and who would know the answer?
That particular question posed a greater difficulty than the other two combined. I get out my notebook and go over the list of possibilities. Eve Clements? Naw! Delores Lightbody? God, I hope not. John Klaus? We’re all in trouble if it’s him. Frank Schim-
ming? We’re in worse trouble if he knows. Sylvia Linsky? Doubtful, although a possibility if she’s hiding something. Wanda Peck? Maybe. I’ll call and ask. Jorge Valdez? Plausible, considering his chess background and considering the number of references to the game of chess. However, NEXUS is not a chess term, to my knowledge. That leaves one other candidate: J. Saint Gideon. I can’t think of any reason as to why it wouldn’t be him, which compounds the puzzle because I can think of a hundred reasons why I hope it isn’t him. Of course, knowing who or what NEXUS is doesn’t, in itself, point an incriminating finger at anyone; it just means they know something that nobody else does. That statement just sounded incriminating. Sheesh! I wish this pain would subside! I can’t take much more and all this meditating augments its disturbing affects.
More thoughts flutter through my overworked brain as I fly my speeder to Gideon’s mansion. How did my mysterious ‘friend’ know that I had talked with Eve Clements? Just because he told me the police might know something? Well, I guess that’s possible. He probably surmised I would head directly to the cop shop after his lead regarding Call.
Another question surfaces: Is my client stringing me along? Does she and Schimming have a thing for one another? Are they working in cahoots, trying to overthrow the Overlord? After all, Sylvia’s father was a neurosurgeon and was working on the STG project. She could have been privy to all sorts of inside information. But then, why would she approach me in such outward sincerity? Why have me try to prove her father was murdered? Was that a distraction? Did she and Schimming concoct a plan to retrieve all the passcards and their subsequent chess moves? And just how important are these chess moves? I force myself to concentrate on my driving and to forget the case for a moment. My brain cells need a break.
The mansion comes into full view as I near it from the south. The red sun sits high above me as it caresses the early western sky. I’m munching on a couple of tacos I picked up from Rocko’s Tacos, a roof top fast food restaurant on the edge of the new city. Many people consider this to be the dividing line between the old and the new. Rocko’s Tacos sits atop the New World Society’s Insurance skyscraper, one of the first to be rebuilt after WWIII. The construction company felt the need to provide its employees with a quick source of food in an effort to reduce the number of man hours lost while eating lunch. So, they had Rocko Gonzalez bring his one man taco stand to the construction site. The workers would then move the taco stand to each floor as it was completed, thus affording them easy access to a quick lunch. Once the building was completed and speeders became the main source of commuting, Rocko worked out a deal with the conglomerate that owns the architectural monument so that people could fly through the drive through for a fast carry out, thus perpetuating the restaurant’s eccentricity. And, in addition to the foregoing, the tacos were of superlative quality. By the way, the resulting gas was too!
“What a pleasant surprise,” exclaims Gideon as he answers the door. His overflow of sociability is only surpassed by his good-natured single-mindedness. This had an all too brief effect on the surging pain in my head.
“How are you today, Mr. Gideon?”
“Just fine, thank you. In fact, you caught me at the last moment. I was preparing to go abroad.” He wheels himself away from the door and closes it as I walk passed him and into the receiving room down the hall.
“Sounds great! You know, I heard that Amsterdam is nice this time of year.” Now, how would I know that? I must have read it in a book somewhere. Maybe I saw it in one of those James Bond movies.
“Everything you’ve heard is true. I highly recommend it. Now,” he adds, checking his watch, “I think I have a few minutes to spare. What can I do to assist you?” What an amiable person.
“Could you tell me if this photo has any particular significance?” and I hand him the photo of Schimming and Sylvia.
He takes it and immediately furrows his brow. His countenance transformed from one of joy to one of concern. “Well, this photo disturbs me, and, uh, I’d rather not comment on its gravity.” That was an unusual response. Why should he care if Schimming’s dating Sylvia Linsky? If, in fact, that is what he was doing? I take the pic and put it back into my pocket.
Going over my notes, I come across the name of Samuel Q. Jones, number seven on Slade’s hit list. “Can you tell me anything about this fellow?” and I show him the name.
He chuckles aloud. “Now there’s a name I haven’t heard in ages. I hired Sam to work at Gideon some 15 years ago, and after a decade of fruitful labors, we parted amicably. And then sadly, we lost touch.” He was still reminiscing within as one or two thoughts crossed my mind. When I questioned Gideon earlier, he said he knew Rona Morgan and Carl Linsky. Now he says Jones worked for him at Gideon Enterprises. Is it just coinci-
dence that he knows three of the people involved on the STG project? I mean, I have to assume that Jones was in on it too, since his name was on the list. Also, it seems rather strange that former employees of Gideon are turning up dead and/or missing. Too many coincidences make this case more entangled than I care to admit.
“Let’s see. What about a guy named Greg Call?” I almost hope he doesn’t know him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.
Once again his facial expression changes, this time to one of solemnity. “Gregory was my right hand man when I founded Gideon Enterprises - a brilliant programmer. Until recently, he headed a division of the corporation. I heard that Schimming fired him; undoubtedly removing the last traces of my influence.” Interspersed between the pound-
ing and hammering in my brain is an alarm going off. Not that I need more upheaval and confusion up there. It’s just that, well, there’s something not quite right here. Let me add Greg Call to the list of ex-Gideon employees who are dead and/or missing.
I decide to show him Slade’s hit list. His response was totally passive. He couldn’t tell me why his name was on the list and he had never heard of Big Jim Slade. But I was beginning to formulate my own hypothesis as to why his name was on the list. Maybe I’ve been looking up the wrong tree all this time. So far, I’ve had the distinct impression that Frank Schimming was the Overlord. A close second was John Klaus, although I’m starting to believe he’s only in the muscle end of the business. He could even be the ‘poisoned pawn’, for all I know. But now, Gideon has slipped past Schimming into first place as this case rounds the bend and heads for home. Pieces are coming together faster than an assembly line on overtime. In deference to the forgoing, I need to ask Mr. Gideon a few more questions.
I show him the three chess moves taken from the STG passcards. His response was peculiar, to say the least. “These chess moves are curious, and, uh, vaguely familiar. Perhaps they were part of some fabled match I may have read about. I...I can’t say for certain.” And he smiles thinly. But I’m not smiling. How in Hades can anyone merely gaze upon three chess moves and come to the realization that they were part of some ‘fabled’ match? Unless...unless, he was one of the players in that match. It’s possible, I concede to myself. But I’m distraught with my findings since coming back to Gideon’s house. Something is awry here and I need to find out what it is.
“Mr. Murphy? Is there anything else? You seemed to be lost in thought.” That’s an understatement.
“My apologies, Mr. Gideon. Uh, let’s see. Oh yeah, just one more question. Does the word NEXUS have any special meaning to you?” His expression changes again. This time he looks perplexed.
“Your investigation has certainly gotten you into some obscure channels. Years ago, well after the government signed the UNGP treaty, Gideon Enterprises bought the rights to utilize dozens of abandoned government installations. NEXUS was the code name for an underground military facility located in Washington State, near Mount Shasta. I don’t believe we ever used that location.” Maybe not under the auspices of Gideon Enterprises, but you may have used it for the STG project. Greg Call sure did. And I’m going to get this puzzle completed if it’s the last thing I ever do. At the rate of increasing pain in my head, that will probably be in the not too distant future.
I thank Gideon and he escorts me to the door. Wishing him a pleasant and safe journey, I fly off in my speeder. Next stop is Mount Shasta and the underground lab of Greg Call.

Monday, Nov. 17, 2037 A.D.
Mid afternoon

The visionary sits quietly in the library of his mammoth home. The miniscule amount of smoke wafting into his nostrils from the lighted fireplace is pleasing to the olfactory senses. White pine logs crackle in the hearth, emitting a northwestern aroma he has come to treasure ever since his brief visit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula 20 years ago. However, despite the refreshing aroma, he is understandably bewildered over recent reports filtering in from various sources.
His good friend, Samuel Quirinius Jones was missing and had not reported for days. Rona Morgan, once a close associate, was found dead in her apartment of supposed accidental poisoning. Val Davis, a hard working lab technician whose biological expertise and accretion cannot be understated, dies in a mysterious speeder crash. Bosworth Clark, a little known programmer and expert in satellite utilization and implementation, has not reported in since Nov. 10th, when he transmitted the final portion of his finished product. Greg Call, a superb computer programmer, unrivaled in his field, was found murdered in his own apartment. Larry Hammond, brought into the project through his close friend and associate Greg Call, likewise has not been heard from since he completed his assigned tasks. And finally, there is Carl Linsky, whose suicide shocked everyone who has ever had any contact with the gentle surgeon. In fact, that’s when things began to deteriorate rapidly, after his death. That’s when the attempted coup seemed to escalate. That’s when Linsky’s daughter hired an unknown PI to investigate her father’s death. That’s when things began to look bleak.
On the flipside of the matter is the obvious positive payoff. The project has been com-
pleted and is ready for implementation. All the necessary data has been gathered and fed into the computer. The satellite for regulating the mind control implants has been launched and will soon be in a position to begin its long and arduous trek to quicken world peace and order, the very basis of all goodness and mercy. Yes, this has been his objective for many decades and soon it would be fully realized. All that is left is the process for dispensing the implants. Once that is done, the visionary would finally have his own peace of mind and inner tranquility.
He closes his eyes and breathes through his nose and out his mouth. Once again the fragrance from the fireplace puts a smile on his lips. Coupled with engaging thoughts of a new world order, J. Saint Gideon is satisfied that his course of action was not only necessary, but supremely advantageous for all concerned. The very fact that he was able to begin this project by gathering together the qualified personnel needed proves that there are those who desire the same world conditions that millions have fought for through three world wars and were unable to obtain through normal channels. The ultimate goal of world order and peace is a normal desire unattainable through normal means. Therefore, a normal desire that is inherent in all humans requires abnormal efforts and extraordinary tactics if it is to be installed. And that is precisely why J. Saint Gideon went to the trouble of creating the Overlord project. The world needs; the world wants; the world desires; but the world cannot have due to the perpetuation of faulty govern-ments and imperfect, greedy and corrupt politicians. So, the visionary, his mind racked with psychosis, his heart deluded into thinking he was the answer to an age old problem, is about to embark on a path which no other man can travel. Long into the future he will be revered as the one who brought balance to society and true peace on earth. The angels once announced that God Himself wished peace on earth and good will towards men. And God’s medium for accomplishing that end was J. Saint Gideon.
Yes, the aroma from the fireplace was pleasing indeed.

Same time, same day, different location

Larry Hammond contemplates his future. Continued life, free from the threat of death, is fleeting, at best. So many others who worked on the STG project have been killed or are dead due to other means. Also, at least one of them has been missing for some time now. Thanks to his friend, Greg Call, Larry has had access to inside information regard-
ing his fellow programmers. Thanks to his friend, Greg Call, he was well paid for the work he performed. Thanks to his friend, Greg Call, his status as a dependable, well-
trained computer programmer has escalated to the point where the Mutant League is recommending his services to other corporations. Thanks to his friend, Greg Call, Larry was able to hide from the murderous plots of those who would overthrow the entire STG project, seeing to the demise of its associates.
And now, his friend, Greg Call was dead, murdered by the insider who was selling them out. Reviewing all the data before him, the traitor could only be John Klaus. He was, apparently, the only person still alive besides himself, of those involved in the project. But why? Did Klaus expect to use the project for his own evil intentions? What was his purpose in having all the others killed? Some things in life just didn’t make sense.
Larry’s only hope to see justice attained lay in the capable hands of a rookie PI by the name of Tex Murphy. At first Larry doubted this gumshoe’s ability to dig deep enough to learn the truth. However, in view of recent accomplishments, he had faith in Murphy’s competency to see things through to their logical and successful conclusion. At least he hoped so. No telling what might happen if Klaus gets wind of Murphy’s involvement. One thing’s for sure, if Murphy cannot pull it off, the world is going to be in big trouble. Larry had already resolved in his heart to go away and hide till it’s all over. He had no intentions of playing the role of hero, come Hell or high water.
He checked his watch; mid afternoon. If all has gone well, Murphy should be showing up very soon. He would allow the private dick to snoop around for a while before approaching him with the envelope Greg Call entrusted to his care. After that, he was as gone as chaff in high wind.

Chapter seventeen 2037 A.D.
Tuesday, Nov. 17
NEXUS Laboratory

The flight to NEXUS doesn’t take too long, thankfully. Two items of interest are noticeable as I approach the hidden facility. One, the entire area resembles a strip mining site. A cone-shaped crater stares up at me with layered eyes and a gravel-like beard. All dusty and sandy, it would make the Anasazi Ruins aesthetically appealing. At the bottom of the upside down cone is a shiny metal object. I believe it’s the door. It seems out of place as it reflects the afternoon sun into my watery eyes; watery because of the intense pain in my head. Which brings me to item number two. The pain is worsening with each passing hour. In addition to the pain, some light-headedness and a cold sweat is affecting my brain activity. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I was dying. In fact, the bottom of the pit looks mighty inviting. All I have to do is point the speeder’s bra downward, push the throttle to maximum, and sit back and enjoy my death. I see why Linsky jumped off the bridge.
Instead, I land the speeder about 20 feet from the door. Exiting the vehicle, I clap my hands together twice to trigger the auto-door-shut mechanism. I really love new techno-
logy.
So, this is NEXUS. Once owned by the military, now owned by Gideon Enterprises. Why do I feel a twinge of apprehension? I should feel grateful. If this is Greg Call’s lab, I may find several missing pieces to my puzzling case. Also, I hope to find a cure or at the very least a reversal to the P333 implant I believe is in my skull. I guess that thought alone would make anyone apprehensive. Dealing with the unknown can be emotionally taxing. But there’s something else gnawing at my mind. Just how much of a role does J. Saint Gideon have in this pernicious play? Could he be the brains behind the STG or Overlord project? And why would he create such an alluring monster? Alluring, that is, to people like Klaus or Schimming. However, if Gideon is the culprit, I will have to proceed cautiously. He’s practically worshipped as a god in the mutant community. His demise could be construed as an all out effort by the Norms to eradicate mutants and their supporters. What we don’t need right now is another war, especially a civil war. But, I may just be getting ahead of myself. So far, there has been no incriminating evidence for or against Gideon, Klaus or Schimming. Most of what I have is merely circumstantial.
I notice the door is recessed into the wall about twelve inches. An electronic keypad was flush-mounted in the frame. Oh boy, this looks like fun. I lift the weather proof cover and scan the numbers. Ideally, I would just punch in the code and enter the facility. In reality, I don’t have the code, so, I guess I’m stuck. I can’t imagine I’ll find the proper numbered sequence laying out here at the bottom of this god-forsaken pit.
As I was surveying the area, a little voice in the back of my mind suggested that I take another look at the keypad. I’m glad I did. The ‘enter’ button was flashing green, as though someone had entered the code but did not push ‘enter’. Why would they do that? More importantly, who would do that? Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I shrug my shoulders and push the button. Whoosh! The door slides open.
With trepidation I slip through the portal and find myself standing in a small corridor. Funny, but there are no doors on either side of the hallway. There is, however, a man size scanning booth about twenty feet in front of me. I approach slowly, fighting dizziness in order to read the labels on the wall panels next to the booth. “Implant Detection Station” was all it said. Apparently, this device is designed to detect implants in the human body and then display their location on a visual array. In a hurry to get this over with, I move forward and try to enter the station. Again I’m stopped short by the unexpected. The actual opening to enter is on the other side of the enclosure. It looks like someone had entered the booth, was scanned as the platform rotated, then merely stepped out the other side. Again, I’m wondering if anyone is here.
I raise my hand, forefinger extended, in order to push the ‘return’ button. A warning alarm begins ringing in my head. Oh joy! Just what I need is another loud noise rattling around my brain. So, betwixt the alarm ringing and the two giant mill stones grinding to the beat of the Anvil Chorus, a question actually begins to form. If someone is here, who is the most likely candidate? Since my mysterious ‘friend’ indirectly put me on to this place, could he be here? And speaking of my ‘friend’, I’ve been mulling over the possibilities as to his real identity. It’s a foregone conclusion that he is one of the STG project workers what with all the inside info I’ve received from him. Ergo, if he is one of them, he’s probably on Slade’s hit list, since there seems to be a radical effort to have them all eliminated. Of the ten names on the list, only two could fit the bill: Sam Jones and Larry Hammond, both of whom were listed as missing by the AID. All the others have been accounted for in one way or another. If that’s the case, then my choice would be the latter. Sam Jones, according to records, is about seventy years old and a norm. My ‘friend’ is a mutant and doesn’t look a day over thirty-five. We’ll see. Sooner or later we are going to meet.
Before I worry too much about my ‘friend’, I need to get a move on with this scanner. So, without any further hesitation, I push the ‘return’ button and watch the cylinder slowly rotate its gaping jaw to my side of the hall. As it stops, I take a deep breath and enter the booth. Immediately I’m immersed in a heavy red light. The platform begins its rotation, slowly and methodically, while I’m being examined head to toe. A loud humming din is coming from the booth, I think. It’s hard to tell what with all the other clamor bouncing off my brain cavity. I rotate a complete 360 degrees. When finished, an x-ray appears on the display in front of my eyes. Four yellow right angles pop up and begin to search for the exact location of the P333 implant. After a few seconds, a small green light flashes on a computerized depiction of my brain, pinpointing the little bugger’s position. A deep, throaty voice states firmly, “Implant detected.” I hate being right all the time.
Instinctively, I reach up to my head, as though I could physically feel the microscopic device. Then my hand slowly moves down to a small pimple like irritation on my neck. Touching it gently, I realize this was the implants entry point. And if I guess correctly, it was the thugs who jumped me at the mystery address who are responsible for this. Maybe someday I can return the favor. “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” as the saying goes. And it was cold and wet when I awoke in the alley behind 8280 Bascom, my face covered with filthy muck, sewage seeping its way into my nostrils, my clothes and overcoat soaked with putrefying garbage that had been ignored for untold years.
Enough with the bad memories. My ability to control the pain is rapidly decreasing. I’m a strong person, but I can’t take much more. I need to progress and fast!
The cylinder automatically circles so I am able to exit to the other side of the corridor. A door to my left says ‘Office’, but I ignore it. I need to find the lab. On the right are two doors labeled ‘Men’s and ‘Women, but I don’t need to ease nature. The hall curves to the right and straight ahead is a large steel door. On the wall beside it are the words: “Laboratory. Unauthorized entry prohibited.” Gee, ya think? I push the ‘open’ button and the doors part like the Red Sea before Moses. Or is it Charlton Heston? I can never remember. My inspection commences without further ado.
The lab is approximately 25 feet square and full of the latest and greatest technological elements one can imagine. On the wall to my immediate right is an autoclave. It’s used to store chemicals, solutions and various other medicines in a sterile environment. As I continue scanning in a counter clockwise motion, there is a long counter attached to the east wall. On it is another one of those passcard readers like I’ve found at Linsky’s ware-
house. That can only mean one thing: there should be a computer similar to the ones used by members of the STG project. There should also be a passcard and a corresponding password. Without a second thought, I slip the reader into my pocket.
In the northeast corner stand four large transparent cylinders filled with some liquids that remind me of the old slushee machines. Running north to south and about six feet from the counter on the east wall is a row of thermodynamic displays. Nothing remark-
able about the displays; just the usual x-rays and biological diagrams. Attached to them are color coded keyboards that vaguely resemble giant Rubix cubes, only flatter. I wonder what would happen if they hired someone who was color blind? Oh well.
Centered on the north wall is a large virtual reality booth with the letters IRS stamped on the name plate. Sheesh! Those guys follow me everywhere. Actually, the letters stand for Implant Removal Station. Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that I will end up in there before long?
Up in the northwest corner of the room sat another row of thermodynamic displays. The west wall contained nothing worthwhile. However, located in the left-center of the lab was a laboratory chair. Hmmm. Sort of looks like my dentist’s chair. Whoa! That brings back some bad memories. Opposite the chair was one of the infamous Frito-Intel machines. Since their merger in 2025, they have cornered the chip market - literally!
However, on the back console of the F/I machine was a syringe. I latch onto it and start twirling it around my finger. It keeps the mind partially occupied while the pain is doing its dirty work of driving me slowly insane.
In the southwest corner was Greg Call’s computer. Like the others I’ve found, it had a security protect feature. I look forward to finding the card and password, but right now I’m too busy trying to stay alive. Next to the computer is a Links LS mug atop of some notes. I pull them out and read them, hoping to find something useful. I did.
The first item was a clipping from the S. F. Examiner. It was Val Davis’s obit. It said she died in a speeder crash. Hell, I already knew that. But the second piece of paper was infinitely more helpful. It was a chart showing various types of implants and the kamikaze agents that neutralize them. Now we’re getting somewhere! Using my finger, I scroll down to find the Neural Implant P333. Along side was this explanation: “Initiates a photoreagent process, ‘tethering’ to target biomolecules (peptides, enzymes, etc.), and inducing specific nerve cells to grow into a grid pattern. Nerve cells are then connected to signal processors which control specific groups of neurons. Can be used to enhance brain functions, memory, mood and/or sensory perception. Note: This type of implant can be modified to cause severe pain, nausea and light headedness. Additionally, the implant is based on the premise of signal degradation. Upon injection, the recipient has up to 48 hours to neutralize its affect. Death is the standard result.” Oh my hell! If my calculations are correct, I may only have a few hours of life left; possibly less. I better get moving. No more dilly-dallying around.
Focusing my attention on the chart, I read on, looking for the right type of neutralizer. Ah! There it is! N216 was designed to offset the effects of the P implants. But, where do I find it?
A light bulb flashes in my mind. At first I think it’s just the pain causing halluci-nations. Then I realize I had a serious thought. The autoclave! I rush over to it and look on the outside of each vacuum sealed door. The upper right compartment houses the kamikaze implant N216. Now, how do I get the door open?
To the right of the autoclave is a security card reader. That must be the answer. I just need to find... Ugh! Oh! The pain is intensifying in leaps and bounds. I - I don’t know how much more I can ta-take. My breathing is sporadic, causing me to gasp at times. My sight continues to play tricks on me. Sometimes I see clearly, sometimes I see double, sometimes I see a blur. Concentrate, Murphy. Concentrate! Just find the security card and open the damn doors!
Regaining a measure of strength, I begin a more thorough search of Call’s lab. I’m throwing papers up in the air; tossing chairs across the room; lifting keyboards and ripping them from their cords; nothing! On the wall surrounding Call’s computer are several large stereo speakers. One by one I pull them down, looking on their backsides for the elusive security card. Despite my best efforts, I come up empty.
A wave of nausea comes up into my throat coupled with a bout of dizziness. I stagger and fall to one knee. Thrusting out my arm to brace myself, my hand pushes in the plastic cover to a side light panel. One of the fluorescent bulbs pops and I shut my eyes to avoid the injurious dust and minute glass particles. When the dust settles, I see something small and green out of the corner of my eye. On the bottom, inside frame of the light panel was a STG passcard. Great! If I live long enough I just might be able to put it to use. In the meantime, I’m slipping fast, like a farmer trying to catch a greased pig in a mud patch.
Once again I find myself trying to consolidate my search. I scan the room much slower this time. Where haven’t I looked? Under the counter! I race to the east wall, stoop low and find nothing. Running to the northwest corner, I peek under the counter and find nothing. I look under Call’s computer console and find nothing. Exhausted and on the verge of total collapse, I decide to sit in the ‘dentist’ chair and collect my thoughts. I close my eyes and let my hands fall to the sides of the chair. When they do, my fingertips touch something unfamiliar. I lean over the edge of the chair and spot a clipboard hanging on a node protruding from the chair’s supports. It was facing backwards. Lifting it off the node, I pretend I’m a doctor surveying a patient’s records. When I was a kid, me and the girl next door often played doctor and nurse. But, that’s another story.
Pulling the clipboard to my lap, I’m pleasantly shocked to see the security card I’ve been looking for. It was beautiful! All green with the Gideon gold and red eagle wings logo. Elated, I struggle to lift my fatigued body off the chair and I wobble over to the security card reader. I swipe the card like a butcher slicing roast beef and the doors of the autoclave pop open. I reach for the bottle wearing the N216 identification tag on it and carefully cup it in my sweaty palms. Holding it tightly in my right hand, I pull out the syringe with my left hand. Cautiously, I insert the bottle into the loading chamber of the syringe and retract the injection control, filling the tube with the N216 kamikaze implant neutralizer. Then, without a second thought and without a second to lose, I inject the neutralizer into my neck. If it was painful, I couldn’t tell. I did feel a rush as the cool saline liquid filtered through my veins in search of the P333 implant. While it is searching, I walk unsteadily to the IRS booth.

_________________

"If you look to me for illumination, you better have a flashlight!"

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