"That was the day everything really started. Looking back at it we were a united team of superheroes. Superheroes that couldn't quite recognize the bad guys from the good guys. The bad gals from the good gals. But we were pressed into action from what we knew, all the while watching to try and uncover the real story."
"AJ who are you talking to?"
"Not to worry One. I am just doing a bit of reflection with the audience about you know what and you know when. When, you know, when..."
"Yes. I know. I was there. But you aren't going to ruin it for them are you?"
"Not a chance. I was really just trying to set up chapter 30 which is a big deal. Chapter 30! I've been waiting for you chapter 30! So have the readers.
"By the way One, I love what you've done with your hair. It looks fantastic!"
"Why did you go and say that to them? Now you'll need to write into the story how I got my hair back. And how we started to age again. And how we made it through all of the chaos and how we freed all the kids and how we helped make the world a better place and how we both have a very important job to do every day. Oops? Did I say too much?"
"No my dear One. Just enough."
"Now that we are very alone I have a question for all of you. Who is the other person Hector and Mary were talking with? A tech leader? Government leader? A reality tv star?"
"That's funny Tim," said One. "Reality tv star. Hilarious. As if they would lead a country or in this case the world."
"Ok maybe not reality tv stars. That is far fetched. But it is someone who just may be in charge of Hector and Mary. The leader of the leaders. I wonder if there is a way we can pick their brains on it, or catch them somehow. If we find it out we may be able to understand what is really going on. I sure hope we are on the good side." Tim turned to AJ. "You've been quiet through this conversation."
"What are you thinking about?" asked One.
"Sorry guys. I was listening to the others. They are wondering what is going on. They are worried. They want to help. A lot of voices. They are all trying to get my attention. I need to find a reason to be in front of them. I think they can help us. But we need to make sure they can't leak out anything so we have to be careful what we tell them. Let's try and figure out how Hector will put us all together.
"Well if we say we are ready for the next project and we want to do it with the team we may be able to get in front of them. Just a thought."
"That is a good thought One," said Kal. "I know them of course. I helped each get settled in. Leave it with me. I'll make it happen. This time AJ you'll be using your source. This should be amazing. Amazing! Or terribly bad! Horribly terribly awfully bad! I'm going to stick with amazing. This WILL be AMAZING! Oh yeah. I like that better."
Kal, One and AJ made a pact that she they would practice walling themselves. The art of making themselves impossible to read. That, thought the three, would come in handy.
"Hello One. I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 3. Go ahead. I dare you." Kal smiled. "I don't think you are going to be able to do it."
"Well done Kal. I've got nothing over here. How about you AJ?"
"Well One, Kal is actually thinking about the number 7 which the last time I checked was not between 1 and 3."
"Practice. I must keep practicing," said Kal.
A hooded figure walked into their area, quiet as a mouse, and undetected by all three.
The three had a shock of another person in their presence.
"Hello. Are you always going to be hidden? This whole mystery thing is going to get old fast."
The figure slowly dropped her hood and stood in front of the three in full view.
"How is this? Do I look familiar to any of you?"
"Yes," said Kal. "You were my grade five teacher. Mrs. Lord."
"Yes," said One. "You lived next door to me the year before I was taken. I remember."
"No," said AJ. "I don't remember you. Were you in the shadows?"
"I didn't have to watch you AJ. That job I gave to someone I trust. In fact I trusted her so much I gave you to her to raise. Yes AJ. Your mother was my sister Agnes. She kept in contact with me and she told me when she thought you were ready. She was sad to see you go. She was very attached to you. She even broke the rules and left you that card. But I understand. I didn't have them punish her for it. I think she did a very good job raising you."
"What a tangled web! Every day is full of surprises eh AJ?"
"Yes Kal. You are right. Surprises. Like this one. She is lying. And how do I know? Because I have stronger will powers. I am stronger than her. I can defeat her walls. She is lying. She is an imposter. My mother would have put up a better fight. You are not Mary. You may have watched these two but you are not my mother. Next time you come here bring her along. Or don't come again."
“One told me that things are not as they seem. That Hector and Mary may have other things in mind when it comes to our work. Please explain.” AJ watched his brother closely and was surprised by his gestures and expressions that were very familiar.
“I tapped into a conversation between Mary, Hector and someone else. They talked about the plan going well. That soon their dream would be a reality. That they could take their place where they belonged. As the leaders. In charge. I didn’t get much after that, but it was a far cry from what they told me—that eight soon to be seven companies were evil. They were going to disrupt, destroy, and then dominate the world.
“So I wonder. Are the tech guys evil? Do they plan to do all of these terrible things? Or is this a plot by Hector and Mary to take over?”
AJ pondered. “Well right now Hector and Mary and whomever is the other person have over 2000 of us. The brightest kids in the world who can, when together, solve almost any problem. They have me as the central nervous system. They have Kal and One as the switch.
“Which leads me to a big question. What did they tell you they wanted you to do in this Tim?”
“Well,” started Tim. “To use my special powers AJ. Powers you do not have. The power of suggestion. I can enter someone’s mind and suggest. In other words, I can tell someone what to do. I believe that is why they were interested in the eighth tech company. Getting him here to negotiate and letting me enter his mind and suggest what he should do. I may be a liability to Hector. For instance, he is unconscious at the moment but when he comes to I can tell him that all is fine and he will go with that.
“Which leads me to something we need to deal with right now. A new level. A level none of us have entered. In our minds. I will send the information to all three of you. It is beyond anything that has been developed by Mary and Hector. They will never find it. It will be our new place to talk. I’m sending it now. Hector is starting to move. I will deal with him now.”
AJ smiled. “Amazing. Simply amazing. No wonder they have you locked up.”
AJ, One and Kal were led by Hector into another area of the complex. Floor to ceiling was painted red. Blood red. Light bulbs hung from the ceiling like a prison.
“This is an area we haven’t completely finished yet. It is where Tim is for now. Just through this door.” Hector stood to the side to let the three enter the room first but they stopped in their tracks. “After you,” said One. Hector entered.
It was a room full of mirrors and what seemed like sound dampening egg cartons in the corners. Sitting on the floor at the far end of the room was Tim, dressed in his red jump suit. He stood up and walked toward AJ.
“Oh dear. Dear oh dear. Let’s turn and look at the mirror together. Oh dear. Dear oh dear…”
Kal fell to his knees. “Oh wow this hasn’t happened in a long while, since I got my source. Don’t mind me everyone, but I think I am about to cry.”
“Kal, this response is normal when you are in this room. Your powers don’t work in here. Or at least I didn’t think they did until I believe Tim connected with One and AJ. It has been build as a time out chamber. All you have here is yourself and some time to reflect. No connections.”
Hector smiled. “Now that is what I call identical twins. I’ve seen twins before but never like this. It’s like they are clones.”
AJ faced his brother. “I understand that twins have a unique power to communicate with each other wherever they may be. So while I may not have powers in this room I can still hear Tim and you cannot. I really have a twin brother. I always wished for a brother or sister. But I never dreamed of this! Wow.”
“Yes,” said Tim. “And get this. We are the two most powerful people on the planet. Twin brothers. Stronger than the big eight soon to be seven. More powerful than Hector and Mary. Can you imagine what we could do with our combined power!”
“I guess time will tell Tim. But first things first.”
He sent a message to his brother, and in moments they were sending a vibration in the room that knocked Hector down and knocked him out.
“OK, now let’s talk for real.”
“I have leaked memory One. I remember everything now. My room. My house, my mom, my life. I remember it all now. My cleansing or reboot was not successful. And now I’m concerned about my judgment. And I’m not sure I can do all the things that are required of me.”
“I’ve heard that before AJ,” said One. From your brother. It is why he is locked up. He became compromised, and therefore a threat. He told me that he had the same dream. Then he told Hector and Mary. He asked Mary if it was true—that she was his mom. Your brother said Mary raised her hands and told him they were done with him. Then they left and now he is stuck. Somewhere in this building he is stuck. I’d like to get him out. If we can get him out and above ground he can figure it out from there. Tim needs us AJ.”
They were on their private channel.
“Hook me up One.”
There was silence for what seemed like eternity while AJ waited for his brother to join them on their private channel.
“Hi Terry. It is odd to say but hello brother. Are you here to save me?”
“Well Tim, call me AJ. I can do my best. We are brothers after all and family comes first.”
A loud screeching noise filled the room, One and AJ fell to the ground with their hands over their ears. Tim seemed to have disconnected. Hector was beside them.
“My dear family,” said Hector. Family do not keep secrets. You seem to have found a rogue channel to talk but I can assure you I will figure it out. So your secrets will not be secrets for much longer.
“Yes AJ, it is true. I’m reading you now. You cannot hide.
“You have a brother. Yes Mary is your mother. And yes, getting Tim out of his situation is a very good idea. That is your job. To have him join us. To accept the situation. So the big eight soon to be seven can feel the full power of the force within us.
“We will also need him after I kill you AJ. Remember how I told you that. It is in the cave. It says that will happen. That I will kill you. And trust me when I say I don’t know when and why. But I will.
“Now. How about putting you two together and we’ll see what happens. Ready to meet your twin? This should be interesting.”
An alarm went off and everything shifted. A feeling of scanning the room in slow slow motion.
"My bed. I remember it. I’m in it. My side table where I keep my bottle of water and my lamp and my book. Memories."
The poster on the wall. Billions and billions of stars and a quote from Carl Sagan.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
The sound of someone moving in the next room, his house, toast smell, dishes clanging together—a school day morning.
He stood up and walked slowly into the kitchen.
“I know who you are—or better yet who you are not. You are not my mother. I’m not sure who you are but you are not my mother. Mary is my mother.”
Agnes stopped cold.
Who are you? Where is my brother. How do I find him. Where does my mother live. Do you work for them? Why are you doing this to me? Do I have a real dad? Answers. Now.”
Agnes spoke slowly. “Well…I don’t know what you are talking about Hank. I am your mom. You must have had a bad dream.”
“No bad dream here. You have a lunch for me. It contains a card like usual. Except this time it has one word on it. Goodbye. Give me the card.” He moved past Agnes tore open his lunch bag and ripped open the card.
“How did you…”
“How do I know? Because I know what is going to happen next. And it means I am too late to save my brother. He has already gone. You are part of it. You are going to have to carry the burden that you helped seal the fate of my brother. My name is not Hank. Or Ajax. It is Terry Riddle. And my mom is Mary Riddle. And my brother, Tom Riddle, may be alive but he is dead. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? He is dead. L-I-S-T-E-N!!! HE IS DEAD!!! MY BROTHER IS…”
“I don’t think he is AJ. You spoke with him. Imprisoned yes. But dead. No.”
One was hanging over him.
“It is time to get up. We have work to do.”
"Walk into my room. Stand beside the chair. Do it quickly. They are coming."
It was One, on the private secure line. AJ did as he was told. As he touched the chair a wall opened and he was pulled in to the other side.
"One, what is going on? Who is coming? Are you in trouble?"
"They are Hector and Mary. They are coming. They've read Kal. I can feel it. Yes, in trouble. Deep trouble. AJ, Mary is not who you think she is. She is not Hector's wife. She is your mom. And the other person who contacted you. That is your brother."
"I don't have a brother One. And Mary isn't my mom. I haven't seen her really but I'm pretty sure she is not my mom."
"The woman who was raising you was not your mother. Mary is. She had twins. They were separated for safety reasons. Your brother was raised by another family. And trust me. He is your brother. Twin. Identical twin. He is here. But he is not allowed out. He is pretty much imprisoned in a room in this complex. His name is Tim Riddle. Your name is Terry Riddle. You were raised as Hank. Do you remember that name?"
"Yes. Hank. Goodbye. The paper. I can't visualize my mom. How can this be? And why did my brother and I get separated for safety reasons. Safety for what reason? I have a brother? Twin? I cannot believe it. That is nuts."
"You and your brother were born to Mary. Mary is a special person with special powers and she was a threat to the big eight. Her children were a secret. If they found out about you two you'd be killed. So the forces decided to split you up and send you in different directions. And when you get to a certain age she'd come to collect you. For Tim it was a few months ago. For you a few days ago. The experiment on your brother went terribly wrong. And now he has been put away, locked up.
There's more. Tim believes Hector and Mary are not the good guys. Here's why: to start..." One's words faded out and she dropped to the ground with a thud. Her mouth wide open and her eyes tightly shut. AJ fell to his knees and cradled One's head in his hands.
"Let her go! Now! Or I will stop using my powers. Do it now."
One's eyes flickered open. "Hey AJ where are we? I must have fallen asleep. Tired now. Can you show me to my room. I need some rest." One winked at AJ. "Sure. This way..."
"The Russians. That is how they will do it. They'll use the Russians to help kill off the eighth company. C-deck is the eighth. They hold data, as do all of the top tech companies. Their software is not the valuable thing. It is the information. They are rich in information on people and a threat to the future of the world. Same goes with the other seven.
The group of seven will secretly rig the upcoming election, loop it back to the Russians as the culprits-as if the Russians have the tech savvy to rig an election! The government spy agencies will get to work proving Russian meddling, only to discover a C-deck footprint in there. A classic shell game. And while all the tech companies know that a company like C-deck would never ever ever leave a footprint if they did do it, the facts are facts and they will get shut down.
"So friends," said Hector. "Our next discussion will be with Jim Hunter, principal share holder and CEO of C-deck. He is the eighth richest person in the world. A very powerful man.
We let him in on the conspiracy so he can get ahead of it. And in return he helps us. If he refuses we can let the other seven kill off his company and distort his power.
One, you are the architect on this. Kal, you will need to gather the troops and work closely with One to coordinate. And AJ, this will be a great day indeed in delivering the goods. Everyone get to work. We are launching tomorrow morning."
AJ needed to consult One.
"Hello? Are you there? One? Have I located the portal? Are we alone?" AJ was waiting for a reply.
"Well yes you have located the portal. And yes we are alone. But One has asked me to join you. I had heard for years that you were growing into the role. That they were watching. And here you are. The chosen one. It is indeed a great pleasure to meet you Ajax. I believe One may have mentioned me?"
AJ began to panic.
"One. I am not comfortable with this. I need you please. I am about to leave this space. Waiting. A few more seconds. Ok I am gone."
AJ scanned the room for One. She was nowhere to be found. And Kal was sobbing in a corner. "She's gone AJ. Oh dear. I feel responsible. Something happened. I closed my eyes for just a minute and she was gone. I cannot contact her. She is not answering. Oh god..." Kal ran into his room sobbing inconsolably.
In Silicon Valley the sleeping giants awoke. A blip in the force. Something wasn't right. Someone is executing a full fledged attack, and not only in one but all eight companies.
"Has anyone heard of...well I'm not sure...a virus named Ajax? Something is happening from almost every angle. And it seems to be able to move quicker than we can react. Russian hackers? Maybe those Canadians? Something is up and I don't like it." Brian Crumb, CEO of B-Technical, one of the largest tech companies in the world, had the other seven companies on screen.
No one was talking back. They were hitting keyboards. Shaking their heads. Yelling to others. It looked like complete chaos in all the tech offices.
"And shut it down AJ. That should give them a scare. I think we were very successful in warning them that more is to come. And we got one crucial piece of information, the plan. Now we review the plan and see what they had in mind to kill off the eighth." Hector was pleased.
AJ slumped in his seat and told the 2000 kids to have a rest. One and Kal were still holding his hand.
"This is the beginning my dear family," said Hector in a rare personal appearance. "The beginning of the end. I am excited to tell the president of our achievement today. He will be impressed. This day is years in the making, and it worked. Perfectly. Well done! Now we wait. It won't be long. One and Kal. I will brief you on the next job, and AJ, get ready to show your real power in the next round when you have your source in hand."
Then he was gone. Like he vanished into the walls.
One let go of AJ's hand, Kal did the same, and the three came together in a group hug. One was crying. "Oh One, please don't cry. Things will be ok. I promise. Oh, you are not sad. Gotcha. Well then, that is good.
Partition, One? I don't think I follow. We are alone? How is that possible. What about Kal? Mary? Hector? We are actually alone right now?" They were communicating without speaking.
"Yes AJ. We are alone. I discovered a portal. Where we can be alone. The others are getting regular dialogue from us right now but we are completely alone. I need to talk to you. It is important. Here goes... I've discovered another. Another one of us. He has been moved to a secure space where he cannot harm anyone. But he is here. And he has told me that things are not as they seem. We are in danger. You and me. I have to go. We will talk further. Now I am sending you coordinates where you can store this information so others cannot read your mind. A block. Shield. Now you can enter the portal and call me in when you need to. See you over there. I love you AJ."
"And now I think a good old fashioned two minute rest is in order. A pleasure doing business with you two. Good night." Kal headed to his room.
"Good night Kal," said One. See you...um...like right away..."