Two Months Later, New D.C., DCA 2039

Never in a million years did I think I would spend any time in a safe room. Yes, a SAFE ROOM. It’s really self explanatory. It’s a hidden room built into the walls of one’s home to keep people safe in case of hostile emergency. It makes sense Colonel Tucker has one being an active agent for the NDS, the DCA’s version of the NSA.

We’ve spent the full 24 hours of Xmas Eve in here… and we have another 24 hours of Xmas to go. I never heard of Xmas. In the RA, we don’t have such a holiday. Tucker told me over 200 years ago in early USA, the entire country observed December 25th as the B-day of the Christian Savior Jesus. To celebrate the season, people would decorate, sing songs about his earthly arrival, and hand out gifts to each other. They also let kids believe in a mythical figure, Santa Claus. A fat, jolly old man who lived in the North Pole, owned a bunch of tiny people called Elves who built toys and other gifts, and then on the evening of the 24th, this Santa delivered gifts by himself on a sleigh led by flying reindeer to all the good children of their world, naughty kids got coal.

It was the perfect holiday to use against children to manipulate them to be good, and when the USA become a huge consumerism society, Big Business made a fortune off people buying presents for the whole family, even people they don’t like or talk to very often.

In the RA, there’s only one religion- The Way. We celebrate the birth of Yeshua (who is the same Savior a s Jesus in Christianity) in the Spring, before we observe Passover & Resurrection. We call it First Advent. We do exchange one hand made gift the day of and sings songs about His birth, but beyond that, we don’t do anything special. Then in the Fall, we celebrate Anticipation Second Advent during the Feast of Tabernacles. That is our celebration, rejoicing a head of time for our Savior’s return. The Bible says we don’t know when He will return to make His home on the Earth forever, but we celebrate during that time, because it could have also been the season for His First Advent… no one really knows for certain except not trusting He was born on the 25th of December.

I’m not really that religious, but it’s mandatory to attend Assembly on Holy Days, and the school I went to had weekly chapel services, therefore, I know a lot about THE WAY.

The DCA is different. They changed Christmas to Xmas, because the word CHRIST was too offense to people. Any mention publicly of the Christian Savior became a 200 merit fine. People became too coldhearted to spread good cheer and when people discovered the old ways of celebrating pagan festivities on the 25th, it returned to that. People drink, partake in sexuality immorality, and mobs wander the streets forcing anyone left at home to come out into the streets and party. The DCA allows the recklessness and the borderline anarchy to purge “enraging and degrading behavior” before the New Year arrives.

We must stay in here so no one will think we are home.

Tucker observes the monitors where security cameras capture footage of the perimeter, every outer wall of the house, and every place in the house but the bathrooms. All my sense of privacy is gone now that I know I don’t have it.

Milo sits up in his portable crib chewing on his teddy bear’s ear. He’s only supposed to be three months. And though he is average size for a three month old, he’ got the development of a 6 month old. He can sit up if you assist him. He plays with his toes if he doesn’t have anything to stick in his mouth. And he can hold his old bottle during feeding… I try not to go out in public with him to avoid awkward situations when they discover he’s only three months.

I take classes online and offer tech support for Plum Tree online for employment. The most socialization I get is with Milo, Tucker, and every once in a blue moon Cory, Paxton, and Rex when they invite us over for dinner.

I haven’t met Zave yet. He’s away on business and no one knows when he’ll be back. I’m glad he isn’t around though. I don’t think I’m ready to lie to my father’s face yet. It’s hard enough lying to everyone else.

Rex tries to come over a lot to keep me company, but his granddad, Tucker shoes him away. He claims he doesn’t want me to take advantage of Rex and beguile him with my beauty and charm. Is Rex cute? Sort of, but he’s barely taller than, skinny like a twin, he kind of looks like an owl with his big head, wide brown eyes, point nose, and ting lip… And he’s so nerdy and all about video games and sci-fi franchise films. Not my type. I like brawny boys, who like to be on the edge… I wouldn’t say “Bad Boys”, just relevant.

For a girl like me to be with a boy like him is fulfilling some rich nerd’s fantasy. I mean, he could be rich like his dad, Paxton, one day. His dad owns and runs PlumTree Technology. They make cellphone, tablets, computers, headphones, TVs, drones, you-think-you-name-it they have in electronics. They also have a contract with the DCA and build and design all their office technology needs.

I think that’s what weirds me out the most. Rex is mini Paxton, and Paxton is my dad’s best friend.

I forget there really isn’t money in the DCA, there are merits. Every citizen has a right to free healthcare, a free home, a free education, free food weekly, free public transportation, free hygiene products, etc. Depending on what type of job you have and how important it is, determines what level of free things you get. If you work retail, hospitality, or janitorially, you are level basic. If you work in art, influencing, sporting, and entertaining, you are level omega. If you work in technology, science, or education, you are level alma. If you work for the government, law enforcement, medical field or emergency services, you are level beta. If you own a business, serve as a boss in some capacity, serve in the highest level of government, and if your job is high risk and important, you are level alpha. Based on your work completion and efficiency, and performance you are grant warrants that electronically deposited onto person merit account. Merit can a lot you to buy things a retail stores, go restaurants and events, buy other wants and luxuries not basic necessities.

All students, even if they have a job, are one of two levels: dependent or emergent. Dependents are students that live at home, have no job, and obtain merits through school work and community service and/or from guardians. Emergents are students who have jobs and may still live at home or in dormitories on a college campus. They receive merits from work, school, and guardians. What sucks about being a student is that all merits cancel out on the first of the year and have to start earning at the beginning of the year. All other levels are allowed to have merits roll over.

Now, the rest of the world operates on real currency. The government treasury still uses money with the rest of the world for business. And business owners work with real world money to do global business. When a DCA citizen transfers outside of the country, they must apply for a travel visa and a travel spend card, if their drip is approved they can pick up their visa and travel spend card at the airport.

This has eliminated nearly all theft-related crime.

Disgruntled, Tucker slurs at the monitor in upper right corner of his screen wall made up of many boxes on one giant PlumTree Genius TV. A group of six stumble onto the snowy front lawn, will bottle of alcohol in one hand and some sort of battering object in the other- like a couple has a baseball bat, another a monkey wrench, the rest pipes.

In the back, Tucker goes over to his armory way, which has automatic rotating walls that switch out with more weapons. Knives, guns, shotguns, rifles, grenades of all sorts, and some weapons I didn’t recognize. He pulls a pistol of the first wall, and readies the weapon to first. He holds the gun with two hand, barrel facing down, and trigger off the trigger resting on the side of the nose.

“I’m gonna shoot a few blanks at their feet. Scare them off. I don’t need a repeat of what happened last year.”

“What happened last year?”

“Let’s just say I don’t really have a dead pet buried in the backyard.” He says as he opens the safe room door. “Whatever happens, don’t leave this room until the 26th.” He states ominously as the door closes on his back.

I find myself glued to the monitors. There’s no sound but when I see flecks of snow bolt up around the feet of the intruders I jump a bit. The drunken little gang gets spooked and dart of the lawn way faster than they stumbled on.

Tucker didn’t even leave the house, he fired at them from an upstairs window. Closely, with fear subtly resting in the back of my mind, I watch Tucker skip from screen box to screen box. Zipping through upstairs hallways, down the stairway, through the downstairs… until he disappears completely and moments later reappears outside the safe room door. He looks up at the camera and singles to let him in.

I go over to the door and press the open button. For some reason, I can’t shake thing feeling something isn’t right. As if keeping my eyes on the screen box with a view of the outer safe room door is helpful, I do that, and unfortunately witness Tucker getting knocked out by a figure in all black and a mask.

I face the door and quickly duck to avoid getting socked in the nose. Immediately, I find myself grateful mama taught me how to fight. However, doing it in real life is way different. All the adrenaline coursing through my veins is exhilarating, yet, I’m way too scared to enjoy the high. Muscle memory of combat movies does a lot of the work for me defensively, I hardly have to think it and I do it, but getting kicked and hit at full force by a man taller than me hurts way more than mommy dearest prepared me for, but this desire not to die keeps me going.

And Milo, I’m beyond ballistic afraid Milo will get hurt or end up dead or worse, get taken… has this man come from him. Has our cover been blown. Did mom get burned and the RA is here to collect what they feel is theirs?

No, if they wanted Milo and mom was burned, this intruder would have killed Tucker not knock him out. The RA doesn’t play nice. If mom was burned by Guyon, same scenario fate for Tucker too.

The man locks my head in his elbow… Trying to… analyze… the… situation… interfered with my… body’s… autopilot… I dip low as fast as I can, then I back kick his knee as I elbow him in the gut from my force of going down… I think I did that move wrong, but he loosed his arm around my neck enough for me to snatch his hand and roll way twisting his arm into position where I can break it if I band it against a hard surface. Lucky for him, we’re in the middle of the room.

“Who are you, little she devil?” The masked man asks with his voice cloaked by auto-tune.

“Why are you here? What do you want?” I ask back.

The man raises his free arm, I twist the arm I have in hand harder. He winces in pain.

Milo starts crying. Poor little guy can feel everything I feel emotionally. He knows I’m so scared I nearly peed my pants. At least we are afraid together.

“There’s a latch, on the left side of my neck brace… it will demask me… I’m the man in that picture behind you.”

Not looking at the portrait behind me and releasing the latch myself. The gas-like mask splits in half, folds up in cm by cm squares, and slips into the top brim of the man’s neck brace collar.

Accept instead of having my father’s brown eyes, he has the gray-crystalized irises of an alert and an active Theus. He also sports a gray speckled beard and his wavy locks are chopped off into a light fade. He about 20 years older than the photo of him behind with my mom and with Tucker on this houses porch.

There’s a few problems with this picture. I’m not supposed to know how to fight. I’m not supposed to really know who he is. Tucker’s just told me about Zave, because Cory, Paxton, and Rex bring him up… but they all work really hard not to say anything about Theus.

“If I let you take what you came for, will you do me a solid and not mention to Tucker I know how to fight?”

“I’ll make no such promise.” And in a blink of an eye, he gets free from my grasp, and in a breath, he snatches me by the wrist, twirls me toward him while I exhale in panic, and forces me to face the picture on the wall as he holds me with my hands behind my back.

“You’re only conscious because I am amused and curious. It’s as if someone trained you to fight against me, you used your body weight a lot, and you used objects around you to defend yourself. You’re not experienced though, you were too afraid to grab a weapon… from the armory wall.” Theus says.

“You’re not going to kill me. You know Tucker would never take in someone he doesn’t know everything about. He was protecting me in this room. If you hurt me, he’ll never forgive you.” I plead with the truth.

“Clearly, he doesn’t know you can fight… or so you think, why would you keep this from him if he knows so much about you?”

“Because I’m not who thinks I am, but that’s for my protection, not for any other reason.”

“Who are you then?” Theus asks twists my wrists.

I scream from the sudden sharp pain. Milo cries louder, his face lobster red as his tears flood his cheek.

“You’re scaring my kid, can you let me go please?”

Theus lets me go as he steps around me and takes the picture frame off the gray wall. He sets the large portrait down gently on the floor against the wall. I thought a vault door to a safe would be hiding behind the picture, in the wall, but it is just a blank wall.

“On second thought, I don’t care who you are. I don’t have much time before he wakes up to get what I came for…” Looking over his shoulder, he commands, “Get you son and step outside please.” Then he punches a whole in the wall with a kick, close range jab. Inside the wall there’s a safe built into the reinforced steal of the walls that make up the safe room.

I just do what he says. As I pick Milo up with his teddy bear, he holds out his arm and points to the blue bear with pink belly fur.

“Where did you get that?” Theus asks?

I don’t know what to say since my mom packed it in a bag of things for Milo. I definitely can’t let it slip Mara is my mom.

“Ah… it’s just a teddy… babies love them you know?”

“They stopped making those bears in 2013, the company went of business, most likely wherever more were stored got destroyed in the war… WHO GAVE YOU THE BEAR?”

Theus likes being in control. If he knew the truth, he would keep away, and I wouldn’t have to worry about telling my father the truth.

“My mom gave it to my son… her name is Mara… Mara Taylor…”

Wait?! My mom said to never tell Theus the truth either!!! Why don’t I listen to her? Ever?!?!

Cautiously, he takes the bear from me. Like he’s thinking back on the past, he stares at the blue, slobbery bear.

“You know, I gave this bear to Zave… I left him a note with it, promising him I’d never come back because I knew he and Mara wanted to start a family…”

“Why would she give this to you?” He interrogates holding the bear beside his head, but all can I do is freak out by the sight of his flaring nostrils.

Wait, I didn’t tell the full truth… I didn’t say Mara was my mom…

“She saved my life and she owed my mother a favor. When she put me on a plane in London to come here, she had packed in Milo’s bag… I just saw it when we settled in here.”

“She never told you about this bear? I mean, I made Zave swear he got it for her- for their future first child…  I knew she would be upset if I wanted them to have a family more than he wanted to have one- but his lack luster was my fault anyways… Even when I leave, I never leave him alone…” He says and then hands the bear back. He adds, “She taught you how to fight, didn’t she?”

“My mother wanted me to know how to protect myself… She had Mara train me.”

I watch Theus takes out a little domino size of clay explosive I forgot the name off. It’s not quite C4, but it is a lot like it. I hurry to leave the room.

A small explosion occurs. A bright green light flashes. A few weird blaring pitches go off. Then masked Theus barges out the room. He drags Tucker’s body back inside and I walk back in assuming that would be his instruction.

In the threshold of the safe room door, he says, “I won’t tell Tucker your secret, but it won’t take him long to figure it out. I took the footage from the safe room feed, so that will buy you a little time. And if Mara comes to visit, tell her Zave goes to their spot every year, waiting for her to come back. Happy Xmas.”

He leaves. I close the door behind him. I look at knocked out Tucker on the ground and the rubble on the floor. I can’t wait until this Crazy Christmas is over. At least Santa brought me half of my dad… and he is way cooler than my mom’s journal made him out to be. Now I have to think of a cover story of what happened to me… Oh, easy, I got knocked out too! Where should I lay down? First, I have to put Milo back in his portable crib.

History Lesson

Elle After Civil War 2.png

When I was a toddler,  the Republic of America declared independence against the United States of America. Sleeper agents for the RA within branches of military and intelligence agencies rose up. Those who considered themselves to be conservative, patriotic, capitalistic made of the RA. It wasn’t over race, even though race served as a factor. Minorities had a tendency of siding with the USA over joining the USA. Russia backed the RA sending aid and troops.

For three years, Americans were forced to pick sides that offered them the best chance of survival. It was clear the RA was never going away. Out-manned, out-gunned, and at the risk of losing territory, what remained of the USA on the East Coast signed a peace treaty with the RA… agreeing to new borderlines and recognizing the RA as a country.

Washington, Oregon, and California remained as a part of the USA. Everything between those states and the Mississippi River became the Republic of America.

The year of the treaty, the great lakes flooded, drowning Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and most of Pennsylvania and New York. A virus spread across Washington State, Oregon, and California killing 80 % of the population. The land also became incapable of producing vegetation. The survivors were forced to seek asylum in Canada, the RA, and Mexico because USA was found guilty of using biological warfare that devastated those three states. Their target was the was RA, but they miscalculated. Some think the RA did it and framed the USA. Those regions are now the “Dead Zone”, an unlivable place.

The next year, the USA reformed their branches of government and agencies forming the Democratic Coalition of America. The government gave more power to the people over policymaking, eliminated capitalism and started merit economy called meritism, and became determined to be the manifestation of Utopia.


The Republic of America Government & Agencies

(Allies: Russia, France, Italy, Israel)

National Language: English

Agencies of Intelligence for the Republic of America

MIB: Main Intelligence Branch (CIA knock-off)

PAN: Protection Agency of the Nation (NSA knock-off)

CDI: Countrywide Department of Investigations (FBI knock-off)

The Eagle’s Senate

The meeting place of Senators of the Republic that represent each RA State. Just 1 Senator per state.

The Eagle House

The Eagle (President knock-off)

1st Olive Branch (First Lady/First Gentleman)

__________________________________

The Eaglet (Vice President knock-off)

2nd Olive Branch (Eaglet’s spouse)

The Democratic Coalition of America Government & Agencies

(Allies: Australia, England, China and Japan)

National Languages: Spanish and English

HORAI: Headquarters of Reconnaissance and Intelligence (CIA knock-off)

NDS: National Department of Security (NSA knock-off)

DDI: Division of Domestic Investigations (FBI knock-off)

Hall of Democrats

The meeting place of hundreds of Democratic Representatives from each DCA State. (Half the number of the USA Congress)

House of Liberty

Lead Democrat (knock-off president)

1st Assistant Democrat (spouse of the LD)

________________________

Associate Lead Democrat (knock-off vice president)

2nd Assistant Democrat (spouse of the ALD)


Opinions vary but each country still operates a lot like the old USA. Except on is highly conservative and the other is super liberal.


Mom speeds down the highway heading for east border. Clearly, she is not worried about getting pulled over or caught by speed regulator cameras.

The baby stays quiet in my arms. He’s sort of cute. But his constant hypnotic stare at me is totally creepy.

“In New Jerusalem, we’ll get a motel and I’ll go out and get us some things for our trip.” Mom says like she’s still thinking about a million other factors to flee the country successfully.

The RA has spent millions of dollars to rebuild and wipe the memory of the old America away. I hear the DCA mends what is broken, but they don’t generate enough revenue to start over and build everything new.

“Where are we taking a trip?”

“Well, if you never opened the bag, I was just going to take you to a safe house for a few days, but your disobedience changed our plans big time.” Mom sounds disappointed as she keeps her eyes on the road.

“I’m sorry… I didn’t think you were in the baby smuggling business… a weird smuggling baby business that has genetically engineers infants that imprint on their masters/caretakers.” I defend myself, weakly.

What am I talking about? This all sounds nuts! When mom explained it all, I felt more insane by every unfolding detail.

The Chinese were working on Project Hercules, which combined the research of the Prometheus II Project with the concept of coding the Theus Sphere properties into a genetically engineered human being. The Theus Sphere was designed to fuse with a person and make someone average into a superior human being that would a be killer machine taking orders from the boss. Project Hercules would breed humans that at birth would imprint on their handler, forming a bond to secure total allegiance and compliance. (Sort of sounds like a video game about assassins, huh?) The baby in my arms is the very first baby if the reality.

A wealthy mercenary, Baptiste Guyon, stole Project Hercules the Chinese and destroyed all their research and either kidnapped or killed every person connected to the project. At first, when the RA got the intel 10 years ago, they thought Guyon wanted to sell the project to the highest bidder, and the RA was prepared to purchase it, but then it became clear he wanted it for himself.

He set up headquarters for Project Hercules II in the RA near the Mexican border. Mom was sent in to infiltrate his organization. She played herself. A spy without a country to serve. For the past eight years, she’s been a field agent for Guyon, while feeding his plans and operations to the MIB. Occasionally, she would send misinformation to Guyon.

Mom’s original orders, once the first Hercules was born, was to destroy all the research and to bring the baby back to MIB central in True Dallas. But the day this baby was born, mom learned Guyon has several facilities around the world and more babies like Hercules I were about to be born. She called her MIB handler and got a new directive. Fake the baby’s death, bring the child to HQ, and go back undercover to find all Project Hercules Facilities across the globe.

Seeing what Hercules I was capable of, mom planned on killing the baby for real, lying to the MIB and to Guyon. But in case her plan failed and the RA was going to burn her for treason, she wanted to come take me to a safe place. If Hercules didn’t imprint in the first 24 hours of his life, he was going to die. Mom figured he could die slowly and peacefully in that duffle bag not wanting to add baby-killer to her repertoire. I screwed up the plan.

She’s going to still tell the RA and Guyon the kid died. It will be convincing because mom was on security detail transporting the surrogate in labor back to the facility from Guyon’s house, when Mara and her team were ambushed in a tunnel. Mara got out of the vehicle just as it exploded, unable to rescue the surrogate and the baby.

The real story is that mom stopped in a tunnel the MIB was sending a drone to attack. She killed everyone under her charge. Then she ripped baby Hercules out of the surrogate’s womb and fled for cover with the baby in the getaway SUV she parked nearby. She drove away as the drone bombed the tunnel.

I’m not sure how she’s going to fill in the holes to the MIB or to Guyon, but she’s survived being a spy for over twenty years, I’m sure she’ll figure it out.

“Do we have to call him Hercules?”

“You can call him whatever you want. He’s your new baby son.”

“Why can’t he be your kid?”

“I’m not going on this trip with you. I can’t and it will be easier to keep the cover that he’s your son and not your brother.”

I don’t see her logic. But the last time I didn’t listen to her I became a mom, so if I don’t want to end up dead, I ought to do what she says.

“Milo Xavier Taylor.”

“Xavier? You like that name, huh?”

“It’s dad’s name…” I say.

That much she has told me. My father is Xavier Douglas Wace. When they met he was an analyst for the CIA. They fell in love while he was a field agent after fusing with the Theus Sphere from the stolen Prometheus II Project. She was sort of in love two different people for a bit. When dad first used Theus, his own consciousness would be suppressed by a the persona built into the sphere. Agent Xavier was Agent Theus, a different man in attitude, demeanor, decision-making, and personality. But eventually dad figured how to use the properties of Theus without letting the Theus-persona loose. Then they got married and were working on impossible missions as part of a deal with the CIA that would end in their early retirement to enjoy civilian life. More than anything my mom wanted to start a family with my dad and they didn’t want to be spies raising a family.

Their last mission was to intercept a piece of technology similar to Theus, but instead of fusing with the technology, the tech was a giant download onto some willing person’s brain. All this information would be in their mind to learn without having to take time to learn how to do things. What would take months or years to learn, only took seconds after finding the info on the hard drive of their brain. There was one version before the type they intercepted but it killed the person was the guinea pig. The Traverse 1.0 fried their brain into liquid… literally. Good thing that didn’t happen to my mom. Neither of us would be here.

Dad wasn’t as good of a spy as Theus. He got himself captured by the bad guys they took the Traverse 2.0 from. Mom wanted to save him, so she used the stolen tech– the Traverse 2.0, and it worked long enough to save dad. But her brain couldn’t handle all the information and she passed out. When she woke up she could talk and walk, but she couldn’t remember the last five years of her life… She couldn’t remember dad at all.

Mom got pregnant before that mission, but she didn’t find out until that mission was complete and she had already left my dad in the dust. Her mind rebooted during her pregnancy  and by the time I was one, she remembered her whole life with my dad, and was in love with him all over again. But thanks to Civil War 2, there was no family reunion.

Now, all my life, she told me she picked up a regular civilian life after the war. The truth is, the MIB formed and drafted her services. If she refused, they were going to kill her and put me in an orphanage, because they didn’t want her joining the former USA now DCA.

Until a few months ago, I believed her civilian life lie. But then I began to wonder why my mom forced me to learn to Spanish, German, French, and Mandarin. She’s taught me Kung Fu, Krav Maga, and how to use guns, swords, and knives. I know how to read a room to find a way out in case of an emergency. Every once in a while, we would go on free shopping sprees where she taught me how to shoplift without getting caught. When I was 12, she ditched me on a camping trip and left a note for me to get home using what I had and without getting help. If didn’t make it home in three days, she would come for me. Sometimes in sparring she would beat me to a pulp just to increase my pain tolerance. I know how to make a bomb out of household cleaners and house items. Need I think on this more, she trained me to be a spy! So I started snooping on her.

First, I cracked the code to her safe in her closet and found her journal. I know it is a major invasion of privacy but reading someone’s inner thoughts is the fastest way to discover what is going on with a person. I learned fast mom was still in the spy game. I just didn’t what she was doing. I know if I read about this Baby Hercules Project, I wouldn’t have removed that blindfold and I would be childless now.

“You want me to be his mom because if he loves me like a mother, that’s the best way to ensure he won’t become a monster… Right?” I check if I figured out her angle.

“Um, I guess… He’s designed to only form a personal connection with a parent figure. I’m not sure he’ll have the emotional intelligence to care about siblings… But I’ve been thinking. We should kill the baby.”

“What? Why?”

“You’re not ready to be a mom and if my plan goes south, it will be easier to survive on your own. Plus, if anyone ever figures out the truth. They’ll kill you just to get him. Then whoever has him, will make more of him.”

“Cloning people doesn’t work.” I point out.

“No, but anyone with the right background could make an army like him with his DNA. And they wouldn’t hesitate to train him and use him in the field. It’s better to kill him and burn his body.” Mom argues.

Before we make any rash decisions, I have to know, “What is the plan, with me as his mom?” I ask.