Saturday, September 12, 2009

Season One, Episode Thirty: The Concentric

‘Where is Charlo’?’
Riot didn’t speak, but the door opened behind the vehicle.
‘Sorry, Bent.’
‘Don’t call me Bent. Ever. Again.’
Charlo’ left the door wide open.
‘It’s time to continue our journey,’ Riot said, while signaling Markus to move across to the passenger’s seat, while keeping his hands up against the ceiling.
Charlo’ took place behind the steering wheel while Riot occupied the rear left seat, his gun still trained on Markus.
‘You leave me no choice but to take you to my boss,’ Riot said while taking the box out of Bentley’s hands and the gun out of his belt. ‘Only then will you realize we are your allies, not your enemies.’
Charlo’ drove back to the main coastal road and turned left, away from the Garden of Temerity.
‘Do I know your boss?’
‘You’ll see.’
‘What do you want with the box?’
‘This is what we wanted you to find all along, because it contains the clue to everything that is happening around us now,’ Riot said.
‘My father is in there. It’s family stuff. What could you possibly want with it?’
‘Patience, Markus, and everything will be clear.’
Markus looked at Charlo’ as a police patrol car passed them.
‘What will you do if I grab the steering wheel out of your hands and send the ute slamming against the cop car?’
Charlo’ looked at the police cruiser.
‘You try anything like that and I knock you out,’ Riot said. ‘I need to make a phone call,’ he said for Charlo’s benefit.
She stopped the car by the side of the road, overlooking the ocean. Riot stepped out and took position in front of the car, his eyes on Markus as he made the call.
‘So where are we going?’ Bentley asked when Riot was back inside and they drove off.
‘To a brand new shopping mall. So new, it hasn’t been opened yet.’
‘Will you kill me after I meet your boss?’
‘No. Nobody will kill anyone unless you force us to,’ Riot said. ‘Now stop talking until we arrive.’
Into the city they went, taking care to respect the traffic code. On the northside of town, several projects were under construction. Including a shopping mall, now surrounded by plates covered in Art Nouveau drawings of handsome women. Charlo’ drove the ute straight past the gate until they were hidden by the aluminum plating, then stepped back to close the gate behind them, and stopped the car inside the marble building. The first floor was completely empty but for the elevator block. Charlo’ switched off the engine and they sat waiting for two minutes. Riot’s cell phone beeped once.
‘Let’s get out and meet your destiny,’ he said, guiding them to the other side of the elevators.
A woman in a business suit stood with her back to them.

A naked man was lying face down blooded on the concrete floor. Harsh sunlight came in from the right, where two men stood watching. Camry and his driver. The latter was holding something. A brick. Because of the sun, you could hardly discern whether red was its natural color or the professor’s blood.
‘You’re still alive because I value your talents,’ Camry said. ‘You complete your work within less than two months where and when I want you, and you’ll survive. If not, the world will be one great scientist short. Unfortunately, he will never appear in the obituaries because nobody will ever find him.’
The professor kept his eyes closed as the blood dried on his face. Camry approached and pressed his right heel into his back.
‘I do not appreciate failure, I do not appreciate cowardice, I do not appreciate dereliction of duty.’
Camry pressed harder, until the professor shrieked.
‘Repeat after me, professor.’
The professor did, barely audible to the driver grinning at him.

Markus had a knot in his stomach. The long blond hair, the stance of the legs.
Nobody said a word.
The woman turned around.
Markus cried.
‘I’m sorry,’ the woman said as they rushed each other and fell into each other’s arms.
‘His sister,’ Riot grimaced at Charlo’.
‘He lied to me, he told me you were dead,’ Markus said, shaking his fist at Riot.
‘We all had to, because I wanted to protect you. Riot is a colleague, the only one I trust,’ she said.
‘What kind of game are you playing?’ Markus took one step back to observe his sister.
‘This is not a game, Markus. If I had stayed, I would have been killed. He warned me, and we escaped together. We had to pretend I had been killed, otherwise they would have been after us.’
‘Who, and why?’
‘Let’s get in the car first,’ Bentley’s sister said.
When they turned back, she grabbed Markus by the arm.
‘My car, not yours. It might have been compromised.’
They walked out the other side of the building. A rusty van stood in front of a shaky brick wall. Bentley’s sister guided them around the wall to rip away a dusty plastic cover. Inside was an Audi A8. Riot and Charlo’ took the back seat, Markus the front passenger seat. Charlo’ left again to swing open the gate. Bentley’s sister drove at a speedy tempo, Markus was praying they wouldn’t get the cops after them.
‘What has dad to do with all of this?’
‘I’m glad to see you finally found the box. It’s all in there. Dad’s secrets is all they want.’
‘Who’s they?’
‘My previous employers. I found out they were up to no good, so Riot and I decided to bid them goodbye. But we needed you to get out and find the box. They only know one aspect of the technology, but they don’t know the rest and I didn’t want to be the one to tell them.’
‘What’s dad got to do with this?’
‘He was one of the inventors of the technology.’
‘What kind of technology are we talking about?’
'You see that up there?'
She pointed at the sky. Markus leaned over to the window and saw a cloud showing the colors of the descending sun.
‘Did you read about Operation Cirrus?' his sister continued.
‘It’s in the box. Clouds and the weather.’
‘Dad was part of a select group working on Operation Cirrus.’
‘You mean, him and the other elders?’
‘Hu died, Veramus disappeared, and I have reason to believe Lassiter is a traitor.’
‘Why didn’t you warn us before we went to Taiwan?’
‘I didn’t have enough information then, and not enough advance notice that you were going to look so far.’
Bentley’s sister braked to stop before a yellow light.
‘What role does Camry play in all of this?’
‘He’s a thug. He works as a freelancer, but he has his own agenda. One point on there was to use you to get rid of that Russian, Osyunov or Osyenko or something.’
‘He convinced me that Russian was responsible for killing you,’ Markus said.
‘You’d do anything for me, wouldn’t you?’ She looked at him.
Riot waved to turn her attention to the traffic light, which had turned green. Off they went.
‘So what’s next? How can I help you now?’ Markus asked.
‘We take the fight to the Concentric.’
‘The what?’
‘My previous employers, Camry’s temporary ones,’ she said.
‘How do we do that and why?’
‘I thought you were always the proactive one in the family, Markus,’ his sister said. ‘The Concentric wanted to kill both of us, and they succeeded in killing our dad.’

NEXT: Season Two of “Concentric” will be here in 2010.

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