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>> Star Trek fan fiction >> Beginnings >> Lines in the Sand

Lines in the Sand

     Kevin Green nervously tapped his pen on his notepad, keeping time with the ticking clock on the back wall.

    Five minutes to go.
    As he sat in his press chair against the wall he glanced around the room at the video screens, each showing footage from different parts of the world as they continued their cleanup efforts following the overthrow of the augment regimes.
    The door of the conference room opened and in stepped Defense Secretary Harvey Blake. He seated himself directly in front of Kevin, his 6’2” frame blocking his view of the monitors.
    “Mr. Green,” he said condescendingly. “How’s the family?”
    Kevin held his tongue as the rest of the Cabinet entered the room, followed by President Harold Billings. After everyone was seated, they turned their attention to the live video feed on the monitors.
    “This is Susan Peters, reporting live from 5th Avenue in Manhattan, where the scene is just absolute chaos. New York has not seen this much destruction in decades. As you can see, Times Square behind me lies in ruins, and my sources on Wall Street have informed me that the markets will not be opening for quite some time...”
    “Jeff Newton live in Chicago where residents are still picking up the pieces following the tyrannical augment regime and the ensuing Eugenics Wars. I’m told that the Sears Tower has been completely demolished inside and, as you can see off to my right, where Wrigley Field once stood is now only a pile of rubble...”
    President Billings rested his head in his hands and let out a loud sigh. He grabbed a remote control from the table and started shutting off the monitors one at a time. He paused at the last one, turning up the volume instead.
    “I’m Casey Riley with L.A. News 9, and I’m here with Jim Barnes, a supervisor in the R&D department of Chronowerx Industries which, as many of our viewers know, is the leading technology corporation in the nation right now, and remarkably stands relatively unharmed. As a matter of fact, all of Los Angeles is surprisingly intact, even after the augments ruled the United States only a few short months ago. Mr. Barnes, would you care to comment?”
    “Well, Miss Riley,” Barnes began, “I can only speculate at this point, but like you said, Chronowerx is the national leader in technology. Maybe the augments just really liked computers.”
    “Or perhaps,” Riley continued, “your boss, Mr. Henry Starling, was somehow in league with the augments and is safeguarding some of their assets.”
    “Look, Mr. Starling doesn’t do business with terrorists like the augments. He makes technology for human beings, not for sideshow freaks. No more questions, please.”
    Defense Secretary Blake grabbed the remote and switched off the monitor, leaving the room in an eerie, dead silence. Finally, the president spoke up.
    “Could there be any truth to that, Harvey? Could Starling be working with the augments?”
    “I don’t see how, Mr. President. Even if they had some reason for wanting Chronowerx tech, they’re long gone by now, executed by the war crimes tribunal. The Eugenics Wars are over sir. We won.”
    “Or so we’re told!”
    Brian Mitchell, the Homeland Security director, was visibly upset, pounding his fist on his chair.
    “There are still about a hundred of them unaccounted for, and those were just the ones that held power. For all we know, there could be thousands of them running around – maybe even millions!”
    “Brian,” President Billings reassured, “I think you’re overreacting. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. Rumors and speculation do nothing but incite fear and panic.”
    “Okay, but what about that ship? What was it, the Botanical Something-or-other? The Bethany?”
    “The Botany Bay,” Kevin chimed in. “I’m sorry, Mr. President. I was out of line.”
    The president smiled.
    “It’s all right, Mr. Green. So, Harvey, what about this Botany Bay?”
    Harvey nervously shifted in his chair.
    “Impossible,” he said matter-of-factly. “From the handful of reports and eyewitnesses, the design and capabilities are beyond our technology. It’s probably just an exaggerated weather balloon. But to be safe, I’ll have Undersecretary Alex Stevenson look into it.”
    After a few more agenda items, the Cabinet was dismissed, leaving Blake and Green behind.
    “I wouldn’t report on Chronowerx, Mr. Green,” Blake said coldly.
    “Oh, and why is that, Mr. Blake?”
    “Well, you saw for yourself that the company is doing fine. Just stick to the rebuilding stories and keep speculation out of it. After all, we wouldn’t want to cause a national panic, now would we?”
    Blake smiled smugly, put on his hat and headed out the door.
    “See you around, Green.”


    Jim Barnes hurried to his office to welcome his newest employee in Research and Development. The impromptu interview on the street had delayed him just a bit, and his boss didn’t approve of tardiness.
    The elevator doors opened to Level 2 – Applied Sciences Division – and Barnes quickly scanned the lab floor. Tables full of beakers, chemists hard at work, and the smell of profit.
    “Mr. Barnes,” a man rushed up to him, holding another man by the arm. “Sir, I found this man wandering around. He says he works here, but I’ve never seen him, and he ain’t got no badge.”
    “Take it easy, Tony. This is our newest employee, Eric Soong. Eric, this is Tony Andrews. Tony here is a chemist, and he was just about to get back to whatever he was working on.”
    “Invisibility serum.”
    “Perfect,” Barnes chuckled as Tony left. “You can stay out of my sight.”
    Barnes led Soong back to the elevator and pushed the button for the basement level.
    “So, Soong, I hear you were head of your class at MIT.”
    “Yes, sir. I hold degrees in both Cryogenics and Electrical Engineering.”
    “That’s why we hired you,” Barnes replied as the elevator whirred to a stop. “Right this way, please.”
    The two men passed down a long hallway lined with glass cases. Each one held a particular piece of technology and bore a description of the item on display, ranging from a basic 1960’s processor chip to something called a “holo-emitter” that had recently been invented.
    “Here we are,” Barnes said as they entered a large, open bay. There were several freezer chambers lining the circular room, and in the middle stood an oval computer desk.
    “This will be your station,” he continued, producing a plastic card from his pocket. “Here is your badge, Clearance Level Six. Anything above that is need-to-know. Any questions so far?”
    “Who or what exactly am I monitoring in these freezers?”
    “Sorry, that’s need-to-know,” Barnes said. “You just keep them running at 92° Kelvin or below. As far as anyone else is concerned, you’re babysitting Walt Disney. Understand?”
    “You know, that rumor isn’t exactly tr...”
    “Do you understand?”
    “Perfectly, sir.”
    “Good,” Barnes said. “Break room is upstairs on the 1st floor, bathrooms are down the hall to your right. Welcome aboard, Mr. Soong.”


    “And don’t forget,” she said as the bell rang, “about Monday’s quiz on the Nazi regime and the Third Reich.”
    The students hurried out of their seventh hour class and to their cars to get an early start on the weekend.
    “Ahem, Mr. Green,” Mrs. Pinkston cleared her throat. “I believe you owe me a detention?”
    “On a Friday night? What did I d...oh, right. Detention.”
    “Wait for me in the principal’s office. I’ll be along shortly.”
    Phillip headed down the hall to the office to find two men in suits and sunglasses waiting for him. They each stood at about 6’3” and neither one seemed like they would crack a smile anytime soon.
    “What’s this all about, guys?” Phillip asked with a chuckle, attempting to lighten the mood.
    “You know what it’s about,” replied the man on the left.
    “The augments.”
    “Affirmative,” said the one on the right. “How much do you know, Mr. Green.”
    “Not much,” Phillip admitted. “Only that not all of them are homicidal maniacs.”
    “Is that all you know?” the left man said.
    “That’s all he knows, Robbins.”
    Mrs. Pinkston had joined them in the office, shooting Robbins a nasty look.
    “I apologize for all the theatrics, Phillip,” she continued, “but this isn’t exactly a normal meeting.”
    There was a palpable nervous tension as Phillip stared at each of them for what seemed an eternity.
    “ I in trouble or something?”
    “What do you know about APT?” Robbins asked.
    Phillip shrugged.
    “I don’t know. It means appropriate or fitting.”
    “Oh, you got jokes now, huh kid?”
    “APT,” Mrs. Pinkston interjected, “stands for the Augment Protection Team. They are tasked with safequarding the lives of average, law-abiding augments.”
    “Augments,” Robbins said, “just like….”
    “….just like you wrote about in your report,” Mrs. Pinkston interrupted.
    “I still don’t understand.”
    “During WWII, the American government thought it would be a wise precaution to lock away innocent Japanese-Americans into camps – camps such as those used in Nazi Germany – so that they wouldn’t pose a threat.
    “Several years ago, when the augments took over, certain officials in the government foresaw the same mentality against innocent civilians. With an understanding that not all augments were bent on domination, they created the APT Project.”
    “And I’m assuming it’s you three?” Phillip laughed.
    “Five,” Robbins said, holding up two purple hearts. “Our friends were killed during the Eugenics Wars. And there are more APT regiments throughout the country.”
    “So...what? You’re all in the army together or something?”
    “Officially,” Mrs. Pinkston said, “that’s all we are. Off the record, however….”
    “….APT doesn’t exist,” Phillip finished. “You’re like a special forces that only certain people know about.”
    Phillip sat in silence for a moment processing what he had just been told.
    “So why are you telling me all of this? Why involve me?”
    “We look for individuals who exhibit certain….characteristics. People who tend to stand out from the culture.”
    “My report.”
    “Yes,” Mrs. Pinkston said. “You’ve shown a great love for all of humanity.”
    “So what do I do?”
    “Nothing,” Robbins said, heading for the door. “This meeting was simply an informal briefing. We’ll be in touch.”
    Mrs. Pinkston led her two friends out into the hallway and closed the door.
    “Does he know?” Robbins asked.
    “No,” Pinkston replied, “and I’d like to keep it that way for now. The less he knows about his family the better. Besides, I don’t think he’s ready to hear it yet.”

    The gravestone of Amanda Green stood cold and silent in the bright noon sun. Kevin knelt, lay a bouquet of flowers in the grass, and read the inscription carefully.

                                     DEVOTED WIFE AND MOTHER

    “It should have said more,” came a voice behind him.
    Kevin stood and swerved around.
    “What are you doing here, Stevenson?” he sneered.
    “I could ask you the same thing, Green.”
    “She was my wife, Alex! Why wouldn’t I be here?”
    “Oh, please. This is the first time since the funeral last year. I was beginning to wonder if you really loved her.”
    Kevin repressed the urge to punch him in the face.
    “You didn’t come here to question my character,” he seethed.
    “Quite right,” Alex said. “I’ve come to offer you one last chance to reconsider our proposal.”
    Kevin let out a sigh.
    “You know I can’t do that, Alex. Too many bridges have been burned.”
    Alex looked past him at Amanda’s gravesite.
    “Mistakes have been made on both sides, Kev. The past is….buried with your wife.”
    Kevin’s faced turned dark red as stepped to within inches of Alex’s face.
    “What is Secretary Blake planning?”
    “Sorry, old friend,” Alex snapped back without blinking. “That’s classified. Join us and you may find out.”
    “You have my answer.”
    “Well, then, I’m sorry it’s come to this.”
    Alex reached deep into his jacket pocket and pulled out….his phone. He dialed a few numbers and walked away.
    “Yes, Mr. Starling….yes, I met with him….he turned us down again….yes, just like you expected….you were right, sir….everything is going according to plan.”

Read more from Beginnings and Aaron Bartholome.

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