“Would you care to tell me about that experience?” asked Sean. He and Mary were walking back to Tina’s from the old Duddle place. He was amazed at her rapid recovery. He had experienced only a moment of what she had been going through and was still a little shaky.
“I was indulging my curiosity. I found out that infinity is not a toy. I’ll be more careful from now on,” Mary said, “Thanks for being my Prince Charming or, more accurately, my Prince Uncharming,” Mary looked Sean over: “Your hair is a mess, you need a shave, your complexion is an ashy gray, and your shorts are wet. I’d say it looks like you’re ready for another session.”
After Sean nodded feebly, Mary continued: “The old train station in town is on the list. We should stop in the Magpie first, I haven’t checked my emails since last Wednesday.”
“That must be a record for the longest time you’ve gone without,” said Sean as they approached the creek, “Sure.”
“Give me a piggy-back ride—your shorts are already sopping wet already,” Mary said as she began to remove her shoes, “I’ve been naked here once already today. I wouldn’t want the glimpse of my classical form giving you any ideas.”
“I had wondered how you had gotten over the creek with getting your clothes wet,” said Sean.
“Occam’s Razor. Up I go,” Mary said as she hopped up on Sean’s back.
A fox, trotting along the shore, looked up in wonder at the strange two-headed beast wading through the water.
The Leader of The Brotherhood read his emails with a nervous agitation. The private eye they had hired in Seattle had nothing to show for his thousand-dollar-a-day effort; it had been over a week without a single sighting of Sean Carroll or Mary Robinson. His contacts who were in charge of credit card reports had nothing on the couple either. What really bothered him was not knowing the extent of Sean’s knowledge of The Brotherhood. If it was limited to those materials which had been leaked to the Congressional hearings, The Brotherhood's secrecy would be maintained. Their contacts in Congress and the State Department had done a good job in defusing a potentially volatile situation. Billy, in his research, had been on the verge of discovering The Brotherhood but he had let his hatred of his father blind him to the real power behind the man.
The potential expiration of the Homeland Security Act was troubling him as well. The Tea Party anti-government congressmen in the house were voting against every government program they could. There was a real possibility they could unwittingly dismantle the structure which The Brotherhood had built. 9/11 had been a part of that. The dividends that accrued to The Brotherhood from its 9/11 plan were massive.
The Brotherhood’s latest effort, the Seattle-Kitsap Plan, was almost ready to be deployed. The plan would involve a ‘terrorist’ attack on the nuclear weapons holding facility at the naval base west of Seattle. Hundreds of warheads, exploding in a messy chain-reaction, would obliterate the base and make large parts of the Pacific Northwest uninhabitable for years. It would, however, give a massive boost to all the income sources that The Brotherhood depended upon: weapons manufacture, supplying and supporting military actions, and the funding of covert intelligence activity. It was risky but no riskier than 9/11 had been. Sean, if he had the information to connect the dots, might be able to expose them all.
There was no way around it. Sean Carroll would have to be eliminated, as well as everyone else who had been directly involved with him: Mary Robinson, Sally O’Donnell, and even Sean’s old girlfriend Molly Berenson. Sean’s relationship with Emily was another threat. The Brotherhood’s power was based in part on maintaining Emily in her state of suspended animation. There was little chance of anyone finding her body but were she to be awakened somehow… He thought about the consequences and muttered to himself.
The afternoon crowd at The Magpie Coffeehouse had already begun to disperse by the time Sean and Mary came in. Sean went to the counter to order, while Mary sat down and began to check her email. She had over thirty items in her inbox, most of it inconsequential, but a notification from the old ADR drop-box caught her eye. The account hadn’t been used since the Billygate affair; she was surprised that it was still active. She logged in and opened the message:
Hi, Sean and Mary,
Molly here. I used the dropbox because I couldn't get a hold of you any other way. I had a meeting with Sally O'Donnell who said that she has important information concerning you two. She said that she used to be the mistress of a man named Ramsen, who died last week. Evidently he was part of a bigger organization, the real group behind the things Billy was looking into when he died. She thinks that your lives may be in danger. Contact me.
When Sean sat down, Mary showed him the message.
“So Ramsen was behind it,” Sean said, “And now Sally O’Donnell wants to change sides. Can we trust her?”
“It’s all starting to come together, but I still can’t figure out how Emily is at the heart of this. When we get back to Seattle we’ll have our work cut out for us,” said Mary, “If this group is as ruthless as it appears, we might have to go underground.”
“Anything else of interest?” said Sean to Mary as she scrolled through her messages.
“Put your ring on,” Mary replied. After Sean did she thought: “The lawyers say we’re needed back in Seattle to attend to some issues from the ADR transition. It would give me an opportunity to be able to use the old ADR network for a little ‘private’ research on this ‘Brotherhood‘ group.”
“I would think that we could use their secure facilities to ‘hide out' from any prying eyes,” thought Sean, “Did the lawyers mention anything about new Congressional hearings? I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop.”
“No. Hopefully, we’ll have a couple of weeks to work on this. Too many questions, not enough answers,” thought Mary, “What do you think I should I tell Molly?”
“If she can get the information, have her upload it to the dropbox, we can look at it on the trip back to Seattle,’ thought Sean, as he finished his coffee, “If we leave Wednesday and drive back with only one overnight stop, we would make it back before Saturday. That will give us a couple of days to get settled before we have to go back to ADR.“
“I’ll tell the lawyers we’ll be available Monday, and I’ll write Molly as well,” thought Mary, “Then we can check out the train station.”
The train station, which was no longer in use, had been preserved and was being used as an office space. Sean and Mary walked up to it from the back of the building. Mary hadn’t picked up any ‘vibes.’ When they walked around to the front, Mary spotted a plaque that stated that the station had been moved to its current site from its former location, a few blocks away.
“That explains why I got nothing,” said Mary, “The ‘doors’ must be location specific and not tied to any particular structure. Let’s check out the area down by the park, the trail there was built on the old rail line.”
As they walked down the trail, Mary began to receive sensations. There was a park bench located at the epicenter of the phenomenon, so Mary and Sean sat down. Mary went into a trance. Sean kept an eye on her and, apart from a slight tremor, Mary appeared to be in full control. After about ten minutes she stood up and simply said:
“I’ve got a couple of books I need to read. Let’s go.”