Anchors No More #17: The Drawing Board BeckonsMay 12, 2014
Sebastian Restrepo sat glaring at the map, as did Daniel, James, and Steven Jenkins, the only scientist in the fugitive group with actual military training. Steven had come up through the ranks of the army science corps and had made it through three months of mandatory boot camp, honing a workable proficiency in weaponry and experiencing several mock battle scenarios. It wasn’t much, but until Restrepo joined them he was the best the Ankura group had, mixing his vague expertise with Daniel and James’ academic strategies and chess tactics.
Restrepo immediately began ripping their plan of attack apart, outlining how, where and why it failed at each turn. “The only thing you have right is small and fast,” he told them, inattentive to their hurt feelings and grating frustrations, “but you can’t go in here and you can’t go in here, these are loaded with patrols and the off-duty barracks is right between them. We hit either of these spots and there’s two hundred soldiers just hanging out right where we walk in the room.” He made sure they saw the seriousness on his face, “We don’t stand a chance like that.”
James looked back to the map. “Then where?” he asked gruffly.
Restrepo slammed his fingertip down on the East Wall, near the laundry and medical facilities, on the opposite side of the building from where they needed to be. “Here,” he said, “We get in here and work our way around from inside. I know it’s…”
“That’s crazy,” James interrupted, “There’s no way. Walk through the entire building, one side to the other, inside, in the hallways, in plain sight? I mean, I admire your steel-toed balls but I have to argue with your logic.”
“It’s the best way,” Restrepo said, “and it might be the only way.” James looked at Restrepo suspiciously, still forming his opinion concerning the soldier cum traitor, unsure if his motives and intent were everything he claimed them to be.
Daniel was the one who had talked to Sargent Restrepo on the phone and set the whole thing up, and though Hobbes trusted Restrepo and believed his story, James’ approach was to remain aloof and at a distance, feeling it was his duty to keep an eye out where Daniel may be blinded by his desires or his responsibilities. As de facto leader of the renegade brigade, Daniel Hobbes had more than enough to worry about. Between keeping the entire project moving forward and safeguarding the Ankura scientists and lab, Daniel had become exhausted from the pressure, complaining nightly about indigestion and hot acidic belches burning his throat.
James wanted to trust Restrepo and so far the man had done nothing but help, but he wanted to hold off judgment for now, fearing Daniel’s easy acceptance may have overlooked some unspoken agenda. James couldn’t overlook the fact that Restrepo found them so easily. How could he do this if the military did not already know where they were? What better way to flush them out and put an end to their clandestine operation than to send a mole into their ranks with the greatest treasure they could ever want: the notebooks and their authors?
If Sebastian Restrepo was leading them into a trap, James knew someone had to be ready and it would be him. He looked back to the map, to where the fingertip pressed into its printed surface. “Why,” he asked, “Why there? Why so far away?”
“Less people, first of all,” Restrepo said, “It’s easier to get in the fence there, the outer wall runs right by the edge of the forest here, there’s a couple extra cameras put up, but those are easier to deal with then a couple dudes with rifles.”
No one argued this fact and he continued, “Second, ARLIS is locked down from the outside, they’re overly prepared to repel anything trying to get in, especially all over here,” he said sweeping his finger across the west side of the compound, closer to the campus and labs, “We can never get in that way, they’re dug in too deep, but I can tell you for certain that they are not as well locked down on the inside. If we can just get in and blend, making it from here to here is not nearly as crazy and trying to push in right where they’re prepared for it.” James almost spoke up, but realized he had nothing to say, only an impulse to disagree.
Restrepo stared at him and slowly said, “As long as we keep our heads down and just move, say nothing, do nothing, just go…” he looked over the men sitting with him and could only hope they saw the truth of it, “… we can get one team to the lab,” he pointed again, placing a finger on the laboratory drawn on the map, “and we get the other here,” he said, pointing to the basement where he had first captured Holly and Gary, “to prepare for the transfer. Leave the laundry warehouse here, up the hall, team A goes left here, team B keeps going and gets to the lab.”
James looked at Daniel, Daniel looked at Steven, Steven looked at James, James looked at Sebastian and asked, “And then what?”
Sebastian turned his head to where Gary, Holly, and Mike worked on the board while Elizabeth, Amber, and Pierre tinkered with the time device beside them. He watched Holly a moment and took a deep breath. “Then,” he said, “it’s up to them.” They all looked over to the time travelers. There were many emotions in the moment and they were all tinted blue with wonder and resignation.
From where she stood at the whiteboard, Holly felt eyes on her. She glanced over, saw the four men over by the map all looking at her. She smiled and waved to them awkwardly. They waved back just as inelegantly and turned back to their map. “What was that?” she heard Gary ask and she turned to him, thought for two seconds and shrugged her shoulders. She turned back to the board and finished the equation she had been writing.
Beside her, Elizabeth said, “We have it,” and held up a small metal box with dozens of multi-colored wires jutting from it, “the case is off and the drive is shutting down.”
Holly nodded, “Good,” she said, “we almost have the appearance coordinates dialed in.” She looked back to the board then to Gary before turning her head, “We’re on schedule.” Now she was the one staring, across the room, her eyes moving from Restrepo to James to Steven to Daniel. There her gaze lingered. Gary noticed this, thought about asking something and then changed his mind. It was a stupid question, not designed to get information, just to distract and draw her attention. He chuckled to himself and turned back to the board, jotting down a few numbers, beginning to break them down.
Holly looked over at Gary as he wrote on the board, “What are you doing?”
He stopped writing and turned to her, thoughtful for a few heartbeats before saying, “What I can,” and offering a smile. He took a clearing breath as she smiled back and gave a tired half-hearted laugh which he returned. “We got to get our shit together,” he said, his smile widening, turning back to the numbers on the blank white field.
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.