Before we get to the chapter today, I’d like to drop some news on everyone regarding The Inglewood Chronicles. As everyone knows, later this year, the much delayed fourth book will hit the Kindle Bookstore and paperbacks. The title was The Wolves of Chernobyl, but after finishing the first draft, a new title came to mind. What is it? Good question. How about I show you instead…
That’s right fans, The Daemon Within. Look for more information about that later this year. I want to tell you so much more about it, but we’re in the middle of a Negative Man release damnit! On to the show!
Sunday Morning; Wonder-Tech Tower
I was sitting in one of the guest chairs, watching Wonderton pace the carpet floor in his office as we awaited this general to show up. The moment he stopped pacing, I looked up and saw three men step off the elevator and make their way towards his office.
The lead man was probably in his early forties, straw colored hair and had glasses over his green eyes. The two men behind him looked like certified badasses. The words special ops immediately came to mind.
General Whisant opened the door and stepped in. He had a slow draw to his voice that was immediately likable. “John Wonderton,” he said as he stuck out his hand. Wonderton shook it. “And who might this be?”
I stood up as he made the introduction. “This is my new head of the IT department, Jericho Staley. He is an expert in computer forensics and cyber tracing.”
I actually was, but I figured Wonderton probably didn’t know that and was just trying to blow smoke up the general’s ass. “It is good to meet you, sir.”
“No need for formalities or pleasantries, you gentlemen are about to be asked a very big favor by the United States government.”
Wonderton stepped in and asked a question. “If you don’t mind me asking, sir, who are the rather imposing men you’ve brought with you today?”
Whisant turned and introduced them. “This is Captain Channel Esposito and Captain Joshua Pabon, both Army Rangers. They’re here to assist with finding the lost plutonium core.”
Army Rangers… those were some bad men. I’d heard rumors of a black ops team consisting of Rangers and Seals used by the government back east to eliminate supers. It made me wonder. Both of these guys looked hardcore. Esposito had a beard with eagle like eyes. Pabon was more subdued, but the huge tribal tattoo on his forearm was easy to spot.
“On to business then – as I told you last night, a plutonium core was stolen by a few supers. That core is my responsibility and we need to find it. The reason I’ve come to you, John, is simple. You have the most resources in the city and you have a reputation for being a tough as nails businessman. I was hoping to tap into both of those qualities.”
I was a bit dumbfounded this general would come to a civilian for help. I got the impression that if he went to his superiors and said, “Oops, I misplaced a potential bomb,” that they would frown highly upon that. Use a few civilians however, we find the core for him and no one is none the wiser.
John seemed to catch that vibe, too. “You’re coming to me because this is a colossal screw up and you can’t afford having the government knowing about this, right?”
Whisant smiled. “This is why I’ve come to you, John.” He stuck his hand out again. “Are you and your IT expert in or out?”
This was a complete no duh situation. Wonderton grabbed his hand. “We’re in. You can expect complete secrecy on our end as we assist.”
“Good, good. So what can I tell you to get this project off the ground?”
“Just how dangerous is this core? Is it a working bomb or does it need to be enhanced in some way?” I didn’t meant o blurt out my question, I was just naturally curious. This had been the best thing to happen in the weeks since I hung up The Negative Man persona.
Wonderton looked a bit pissed, but oh well. Whisant was quick to give us an answer. “That’s a fair question. I don’t know to be honest. If the plutonium is still in a pure state, than yes, it is a bomb this very minute. If the material has been compromised by years at the bottom of the ocean, then I’m guessing some leg work would have to be done to make it functional.”
“Do you want a functional bomb, general?”
“What I want doesn’t matter, John.” He shrugged his shoulders a bit. “What the government wants is the core back, intact if possible. Now if it can’t be recovered, then we are under orders to dismantle or destroy. However, this is a last resort.”
Captain Esposito stepped forward. “Sir if I may?” Whisant nodded his head. “We will also need a list of as many active supers in the area. The west coast is more lenient when it comes to allowing them to be active, something that is a bit unusual for us.”
I wondered how they would react knowing that the two most powerful supers in not just the city, but potentially the world, were in the room with them. Something told me to leave that tidbit out. “I can compile a list with rumors and such I find on the web.”
Captain Esposito seemed good with that. “The sooner we get that list, the sooner we can prepare ourselves for the worst case scenarios.”
“Let’s not go there, Esposito.” Whisant seemed a bit more rational than his captain. “Our efforts here are strictly to secure the core and get it back home. We’re not here to enforce any laws that this state doesn’t recognize.”
Wonderton and I quickly shared a glance of concern. He decided it was time to end this meeting. “We have our work cut out for us. General, we will get started as soon as possible and keep you in the loop with anything we find.”
That made the general smile. “Glad to hear it. We will continue to mount our own efforts as well. My hope is between all of us in this room, we can find the core quickly and we can get out of your hair.”
“We’re glad to assist the government in any way we can.” C’mon Wonderton, you could’ve sounded a bit more sincere! Either way, the three men across from us seemed to buy what he was selling. We all exchanged handshakes and they left, heading back out the elevator.
We waited until they were out of the building before we headed back to the old secret lair. Once inside, “There is something bad going on here, Jericho.”
“I kind of picked up on that.”
Wonderton flipped open the suitcase of money. Even a rich guy like himself was a bit impressed with the stack of cash inside. “When can you start tracing this money? I just have a bad feeling after that meeting.”
I grabbed a stack of twenties and plucked a few out. “It’ll take some time, but I can get started right now.”
You can find all my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home