The Dream Carrier
In the year 2098, the mystery of death was unravelled. Reincarnation was no longer a belief, but a fact.
A team of scientists led by Dr Steven Romonovski had designed and built the ‘Dream Carrier’, a machine based on hypnotic techniques which could awaken the memories of previous lives, the memories of the soul. Those memories could then be both shown and experienced in perfect, vivid clarity.
News of the machine spread throughout the world as the first test subjects began to remember who they were in explicit detail, some even remembering their experiences as animals or other living things.
Funded by the American government, Dr Romonovski’s team were not entitled to the royalties for the potential sale of their invention. The Dream Carrier was not a machine that could be easily or cheaply reproduced, requiring scientific engineering to assemble, together with a skilled hypnotist’s mind to accurately operate and control it.
Through the world media the Dream Carrier’s existence became widely known making its theft something that many other governments of the world did not wish to attempt. Thus, the United Nations stepped in and decreed that each member nation be given the plans and schematics to be able to build their own Dream Carrier. Each nation would then have a chance at being able to identify those, who in their previous lives were geniuses or great artists, so that their gifts could be nurtured and over time, potentially restored to them.
The legal age for a person to use the Dream Carrier was set at twenty one and once announced, a waiting list was produced seeing thousands sign up to go through the Dream Carrier experience.
Even working twenty four hours a day, the hypnotists that were the Dream Carrier’s operators could only see to a handful of people each day, so the list stretched out to perspective years for those already on it, let alone the thousands more that were estimated to join.
It was suggested by a government official that those discovered to have committed the most horrific of crimes, those mass murderers and other sick individuals be made to literally serve a ‘life sentence’. From the moment of identification confirmation matched to previous identity, individuals were taken away. There was no trial as technically any trial prior to the year 2098 had already taken place, and an individual could not be tried twice for the same crime. This new use for the Dream Carrier sparked mass debate concluding in public outrage, as many people believed that previous incarnations did not reflect whom a person was now, in the present. The Law accepted that once pronounced legally dead, a person’s identity ceased to exist, thus all crimes a person may have been responsible for were removed from the records of the living, and those known to be murderers in a past life did not need to go on paying for their crimes.
That debate then marked the beginning of mass opposition amongst the general public against the use of the Dream Carrier.
Weeks into the Dream Carrier project, a Bill was put forward suggesting that one be allowed to write a will leaving all one’s possessions to one’s future self. Then using the Dream Carrier and upon verification through means outlined before death, a person could immediately reclaim their estate, which would allow the rich to forever keep their wealth. The Bill was passed. This in turn led to the banks of the world demanding that people who died owing excessive amounts also carry those debts forward into their next life.
These Bills were the last outrage and with them factions rose. Both public and political protests for the Dream Carrier’s withdrawal and decommission began.
Religious groups whose beliefs do not include re-incarnation moved forward once more and gained much support as they too demanded use of the Dream Carrier to be abolished.
The governments of the world were powerful and many of them deceptive. Seeing that public use of the Dream Carrier and any future Dream Carriers built would only lead to further problems and complications, the world media were controlled to direct the public to believe the Dream Carrier’s ‘inaccuracy’ and how all the stories of its success had been a fraud. Reports were made and documentaries aired throughout the world that in fact, the Dream Carrier was nothing more than its name suggested – that it simply carried dreams from the user subconscious to the front of their mind.
This set off conspiracy theorists on a global scale, but no individual could stand against the decree from the United Nations and so those few unconvinced minds were labelled as cynics, and ignored by the masses.
The Bill allowing one to leave possessions to one’s self was removed on the grounds of the Dream Carrier’s inaccuracy, as too were the banks’ Bill of debt recovery.
Soon, with the guidance of the ‘powers that be’ and the information issued by the controlled media, the general public had forgotten about the Dream Carrier and its inventor, Dr Steven Romonovski, whom himself disappeared.
The American government passed control of the project and security for its Dream Carrier, the only completed model in the world, over to a special branch of the Central Intelligence Agency. This division was then charged to make sure that no one ever believed that the Dream Carrier worked, and that anyone choosing to investigate the Dream Carrier phenomenon did not get very far.
But the people that had used the Dream Carrier had not forgotten their experiences, nor had the governments of the world forgotten about these useful machines, the plans for which all officials still possessed. Some blueprints even found their way onto the black market, for sale to the highest bidders.
There were people, those who were test subjects for the Dream Carrier in particular, that could not forget what the Dream Carrier made them remember. Lovers torn apart by death or families separated too soon were left searching for each other. Of all these people the ones that were wanted the most were the few that received the bulk of the blame in the Dream Carrier’s fraud; the hypnotists. The operators that used the Dream Carrier, the ones that saw every memory recalled through machine operation multiple times. These few hypnotists were the ones that knew with no doubts that the Dream Carrier was never a failure, the fraud that it was made out to be. And in the eyes of those with power, these few were the biggest threat.
Those that knew what they should not, the ones that know secrets that should remain secrets, were hunted by the Central Intelligence Agency special division, wanting to ensure their silence…
Chapter One – June 2nd 2063, 13:30
Hans Bronkoff has spent the last twenty years working on his project. Originally commissioned by Sigfrid Webber in 2043 to build his machine, Hans had recruited the best scientists in all of Germany to help him and work had begun. Webber, having been a student of the occult, had read a text describing the possibilities of regression into a previous life. Theoretically a machine could be built enabling this, meaning that all the greatest soldiers and generals in history could possibly be found and made to remember who they were. With these additions to his planned potential armies, victory was sure to come.
The plans and strategies that Sigfrid Webber dreamed of grew bigger and bigger, his desired destiny motivating him into dangerous environments. But schemes were not hidden nor carried out, and instead were confidently boasted amongst associates and advocates, costing Webber both failure and his life.
Two years later in 2045 plans financially ended and the project was suspended, but Hans had already made great progress. The project was not something that required soldiers to make it of any use, so Hans begun searching for an alternate source of funding, taking the notes of his progress on travels to search for potential funding. His search took him through parts of Asia until finally in 2046 he returned to Europe and to an Italian benefactor. Impressed by the research carried out so far, the Italian agreed to fund the project.
The project once more had financial backing and Hans recruited a new team of scientists to help him.
These scientists and others came and went over the years as progress and failure were met in equal measures, until finally in June of 2063, Hans and his current team succeeded and construction was complete.
Edward Blain walked briskly down the dank corridor, John Jones at his side. Together the two bodyguards were keeping pace a step behind their employer, one Roberto Leóni. Leóni was a man in his late forties and had been accustomed to a comfortable life for many years. Though his wife had departed several years ago, he also had a son, one currently attending an overseas scholarship.
Seventeen years ago, Hans Bronkoff had come to him with plans and research showing a machine that could take a person into a previous life. Roberto, having a great amount of wealth and looking for a positive investment had agreed to fund this project.
The years passed and during that time Roberto’s patients stretched thin. Although his slowly increasing bank balance had remained steady, Roberto’s list of enemies had also grown rapidly. Now Roberto always had two hired bodyguards with him at all times, both armed men.
As the trio walked down the polished corridor to the lab situated beneath Roberto’s mansion estate, Roberto’s excitement could be felt. Hans had promised him that the machine would work this time and now was the time to prove it.
John stepped forward and his dark suited arm opened the door to the lab for Mr Leóni, who entered followed by John and then the equally darkly dressed Edward, whom closed the large steel door behind him.
The lab was a large room, but far from spacious. Around the outside of the room were worktops covered with all manner of scientific devices and calculation sheets. The walls were covered in whiteboards with felt markings that seemed to be in a language of numbers and paper notes with valuable data tacked to these in almost random places.
In the centre of the room was a large machine almost three meters in height, two meters across and with a reclining seat built into the front that had an operation terminal connected to the side of it. There was a viewing screen just above the reclined seat so that the controller could watch both the user and the screen at the same time.
To the left of the machine stood three of the scientists that had been working on the machine. They were talking nervously to themselves in low voices and eyeing Leóni’s bodyguards with worried nervous glances, or more precisely the bulges of their shoulder holsters beneath their jackets.
In the far corner of the room was a forth, rather young scientist who seemed to be copying down notes from a large old book into his own tattered notebook.
Hans then stepped out from behind the machine wearing a huge smile on his aging face.
“Mr Leóni, velcome,” he said through a thick German accent.
Leaving John and Edward flanking the door, Roberto Leóni stepped forwards and shook Bronkoff’s extended hand.
“So, it’s really finished?” Roberto asked in an enthusiastic tone.
“Ya. It is really finished.”
“And you’ve tested it – it works?”
“Zat is vhat ve vill now see, Mr Leóni.” Hans had a naturally patronising way of talking, but Roberto had never picked up on this as an insult to his own intelligence and ignoring the tone as usual, he walked to the reclined chair.
“I sit here?”
“Ya. Unt Jacob vill stand zer next to you and operate ze machine. Jacob, are you ready?”
One of the scientists from the conferring group scurried forwards and nodded. Taking his place at the control terminal he attached wires via suction cups to his forehead and temples and then picked up a second set of wires and looked to Mr Leóni.
Roberto Leóni looked at the wires connected to the ominous looking machine and then looked to Hans.
“Oh, come now Mr Leóni. Zis is perfectly safe, I assure you. You vill be on a time lock of only five minutes. Vhat can happen in five minutes of your last life that can be zat bad?”
“Huh, a lot can happen in five minutes, Doc,” Leóni grunted, “but, I’ve put a lot a money into this and expect returns, so, here goes.” Leóni unbuttoned his smart suit jacket, sat down as he spoke and then without looking at Jacob he directed, “Hook me up, son.”
Attaching the suction cups to Roberto’s temples and forehead, Jacob flicked a switch on the machine and gears could be heard clicking into motion. The screen above Roberto flickered into life and then Jacob spoke in a commanding, yet soothing voice that did not match his appearance.
“You’ll go to sleep now, Mr Leóni. You’ll go to sleep for five minutes and when you close your eyes, you’ll see yourself in your past life. You’ll sleep when I count to three and when you sleep, the eyes of your former self will open and the memories of your former self will become clear to you. When you close your eyes, you’ll be asleep for exactly five minutes. After those five minutes, your eyes will open and you’ll be back here with me, where you are now. And you’ll remember everything. One.” The screen flickered as Jacob’s powerful will and focused voice edged Roberto into the hypnotic trance required in using Hans’ machine.
“Two.” The gears in the machine could be heard picking up speed, humming softly.
Leóni sighed in his chair, his eyes closed and a deep sleep consuming him.
“Three.” The screen came to life and Jacob adjusted some contrast controls to clear the picture into perfect clarity.
Joe Cabana opened his eyes and looked down at himself. There was a pilot stick in his gloved hands and something on his face slightly obscuring his vision. The wind was powerfully deafening.
The wings stretched out to each side of him and the bright blue sky was beautiful. Joe felt exhilarated as he looked about at the big open space around him. In the cockpit of a bi-plane, piloting it through the empty cloudless skies, the feeling of freedom was like nothing he had ever felt before. Suddenly a loud bang exploded off to his side. Looking about from his open air cockpit, Joe spotted the cause. On the ground below him was a large cannon pointing up at his little plane.
A hand tapped Joe on the shoulder and made him jump more than the explosion had. Looking around Joe saw the goggled face of his co-pilot, circling with his hand and then pointing downwards.
Understanding that this meant circle back and dive, Joe felt himself nodding and then his hands moved without Roberto controlling them. The bi-plane banked hard and circled about back towards the cannon that had shot at them.
Behind him, Joe’s bomber readied the payload that he would drop over the side of the plane. The little craft swooped in lower gaining in speed and roaring towards the cannon.
In response a second shell exploded just behind where the plane had been only a heartbeat before. Diving straight at the cannon Joe aimed his plane dead on target, swooping up and away only meters from the ground. Behind them came a mighty explosion as the bomb hit its target. The shells that the cannon had been firing exploded taking the gunnery crew with them. The bi-plane shot away from the cloud of debris and Joe’s co-pilot tapped him on the shoulder once again. Turning Joe saw the thumbs up sign from his comrade and returned it in equal enthusiasm.
“Now onto the next mission objective,” Joe heard in his mind.
Abruptly, Roberto opened his eyes. The elation on his face was still present as he sat upright. “That was amazing! It was like a dream, but it was so real!”
“Ya, ve saw everything! Zis is vonderful. Jacob, did you manage to find out who Mr Leóni vas?”
Jacob nodded to Hans, wobbling the suction cups still stuck to his head. “Yes Sir. He was a pilot in the first world war called Joseph Cabana. At the stage of previous life that Mr Leóni homed in on, he was on a mission to knock out cannons in enemy territory. He was aged thirty at that time and was married with two children called Louis and Esther.”
“Excellent. So vhile Mr Leóni experienced a part of his life and knew who he vas, you vere able to search his mind and confirm his most prominent thoughts of ze time. Zis is ze exact results I had predicted and hoped for!”
Ripping the suction cups from his head Roberto sprang out of the chair. “That was amazing! Well done Doc, this thing is gonna make you famous and make me the richest man on the planet!”
“Ya, ze scientific discovery of ze century is mine!”
“Got some questions though,” Roberto raised as he looked from Hans to Jacob and back. “Why did I have a dream of something older than a hundred years? What was that – ‘bout a hundred, hundred and twenty five?”
In answer Jacob replied with a shrug. “Your previous life. A previous life. We cannot control the time.” Jacob’s vague, shrugging tone was accepted by Hans, while Mr Leóni pushed for no further on his first question.
Roberto continued, “How come I couldn’t control myself though, Doc?”
“Mr Leóni, you vere only remembering ze past. Alzough it may have felt real, it was no more changeable zan any ozer memory you have.”
“Okay, now I understand. Hey Ed, John, get over here – you gotta try this!”
The bodyguards looked at each other and then Edward quickly stepped forwards. Eager to see for himself if the machine worked he sat down and allowed Jacob to repeat the preparation process with him.
While he watched Roberto asked, “So Hans, you say Jacob is a hypnotist and without him to send me under and keep an eye on my mind…”
Picking up that Leóni wanted the process clarified Hans continued the trailed off sentence. “Your mind vould be like a vhirlvind of chaos. You vould not be able to see any vun instance clearly and could become lost in your past. Ve may not even be able to snap you out of ze trance. Jacob controls ze whole experience by searching your deepest memories vhile you enjoy vun specific moment of your last life. Different moments can be experienced by using der machine multiple times, but zer ist no vay to predict vhat zat moment vill be ontil you are under. Without a hypnotist operator, ze machine vould be useless, as all ze machine does is enhance a hypnotic technique called ‘regression’.”
Jacob recited his hypnotic speech to Edward and the screen once again began to flicker.
“Three,” counted Jacob.
Hans leaned in closer to Roberto and whispered so as not to interrupt Jacob’s count. “Now ve vill vatch as ze machine puts your man into ze sleep zat Jacob is inducing. It vould not be practical to make ze subjects practice in hypnotic sessions before using ze machine, so I have added a little something to the process to make sleep come at Jacob’s mere suggestion of it.”
“That was good thinking, Doc – I wish I could go to sleep in three seconds all the time!”
Hans politely laughed at the joking comment. The screen came to life and Jacob fine-tuned the picture for a second time. The group of scientists, John, Hans and Roberto watched as the screen showed them what Edward was seeing from the perspective that he saw it from.
Lucas stood staring down a dark stranger. He felt afraid, but determined at the same time. In all his twenty two years he’d had plenty of fights, but only a few with guns. The dusty street was deserted and even the horses tied outside the saloon stood like statues. Twilight was just setting in and the two men could only see each other’s outlines.
“Um telling you one more time Lucas; stay the hell away from ma’ woman!” The speaker was a rough, older man seen as a bully throughout the small town they were in. His gruff voice was meant to intimidate and match his appearance, but Lucas was no coward.
“She ain’t your woman no more!” Lucas heard himself retort in a brave voice to the man whom he now remembered like a dream, everything so familiar until it was knowledge, not memory. “She’s comin’ back with me and don’t you try to follow us, Cleet!”
There was a tense moment of silence broken only by the wind as it blew a dust cloud between the two gunfighters.
“Nah, that ain’t how it’s happening,” replied Cleet with a menacing tone and in the blink of an eye he’d drawn his gun.
Lucas felt his hand move faster than he thought it could, felt the smooth handle in his palm and aimed with the solid confidence of youth.
Two shots rang out almost as one, but only one bullet hit its mark.
Cleet fell to the dirt, blood trickling from the hole in his chest.
Spinning the gun in his hand and slotting it back into its holster, Lucas turned and walked towards the saloon.
People came out from the hiding places that they had watched the fight from. Some greeted Lucas warmly, happy that Cleet was no more, while others looked on with anger in their eyes. But then the one that mattered the most came running through them all and into Lucas’s arms.
“Oh Lucas, I was so scared, I thought you was gonna get killed!”
“Don’t worry, Suzy. Ain’t nothing ever gonna pull us apart.”
Edward opened his eyes. At first he didn’t move, still in shock over how real the experience had been, a longing to be with ‘Suzy’ fading from his mind. At the edge of his senses he heard the cheering of Leóni at seeing the western movie-like memory that had been displayed on the screen. He heard Jacob’s description of whom he’d been and what had happened. Then the realisation of what he needed to do set in. He remembered why he was here in Roberto Leóni’s mansion and all he had endured during the past eight months. The crimes he had committed to convince Leóni of his loyalty and now it was time to break his cover.
Pulling the wires from his head he sat up with a blank expression on his face.
“Eddie?” asked Roberto. “You okay?”
In one smooth motion Edward Blain had his gun in his hand and was standing with his back to the machine covering the crowd before him. “Jacob, get over there with the others.”
Alarmed, Jacob disconnected himself and quickly obeyed the bodyguard.
“What in hell is going on here!” demanded Leóni.
Ignoring the question, Edward kept the group covered with his gun and moved off to the side of the room. He picked up the laptop wirelessly connected to the machine, and then hurtled it downwards, smashing and destroying the device used to record its use.
“No! Vat are you doing?!” called out Hans.
Edward’s gun rose in response. Edward then sidestepped a little further and reached for the manual containing all the printed final data that had been on the machine itself, all the information of successful results from the past seventeen years that Hans had spent working on his machine. Within the manual pages were the plans for the machine, the raw blue prints for its construction. The manual, as much as the machine itself, represented Bronkoff’s life. There was no other hard-drive or laptop with the files for the simple reason that Dr Bronkoff did not wish multiple machine storage for his research in case it was hacked or stolen by an online thief. Everything aside from his old laptop was simply written by pen, and kept in that personal book.
“Vhat are you going to do vith zat!” Hans asked quickly, taking a step forward.
Inclining his head in warning and aiming directly at Bronkoff, Edward stopped the scientist in his tracks.
“I’m leaving and this is coming with me,” stated Blain as he held up the book. “An invention like this doesn’t belong in the hands of a criminal like you, Leóni and now that I’ve destroyed the laptop, this book and the machine,” said Blain as he held up the notebook, “we’ll see that a new machine is put into the right hands.”
“He’s a government man,” sneered the other guard, John. “I know an agent when I see one!”
“You’re not walking out of here you filthy traitor!” Leóni stated.
“Oh yes I am Leóni, now all of you, back up! Over there against the wall!”
As the group tentatively obeyed, a lab coat caught on a bulky electronic scales, dragged it to the floor. The loud crash distracted Edward causing him to look to the source, and in that split second his eyes were distracted, and he lost control of the situation.
John whipped out his own gun and fired a shot off that sent a bullet passed Blain’s shoulder.
Leóni grabbed the closest scientist and used him as a human shield while he took a step towards his traitorous bodyguard.
Jacob and another scientist dived to the floor while the young scientist darted for the door to the room.
As the first shot rang out Hans screamed and rushed towards his machine, trying to protect it. This proved to be the last thing he would ever do as his path took him into John’s line of fire. Firing again, agent Edward was saved from John’s shot by Hans as he rushed to protect his life’s work. The bullet caught Hans in his back right behind his heart, killing him almost instantly and sending his body crashing into the control station of his machine.
From within the control station something popped and a thin trail of smoke issued forth from the switch housings.
Agent Edward dived behind the machine for cover, but in doing this he let bodyguard John and Leóni cut him off from the room’s only exit.
The door to the room was now open and the young scientist had escaped the gun battle, running away down the corridor.
John sidestepped around the smoking machine to the opposite side of the advancing Leóni and fired again, but again he missed, his shot opening a hole in the machine that started a sizzling sound from deep within it and a second, thicker plume of smoke.
In answer, Edward fired a clean shot into John’s chest, spinning him into the machine and knocking him out of this fight.
By now, Leóni and his human shield had reached their opponent Edward from the other side of the machine and Leóni threw the scientist aside. Scattering things off a workbench, the scientist fell to the floor and began crawling towards his comrades.
Leóni dived at agent Edward and grabbed his gun hand, smashing it into the back of the machine. An accidental shot was fired into the top of the device, making it buzz angrily in response.
Chaos filled the room as a crackling noise now emanated from the machine, ignored by those fighting for it.
Leóni punched Edward in the stomach as hard as he could, then again and then shoulder barged into his enemy, knocking Blain against the machine with a thump.
Smoke from the machine began to fill the air with a foul stench and the terrified scientists got to their feet and ran through the open door. Moments later a fire alarm sounded, triggered by one of the fleeing scientists to warn the other staff working in the house above.
Edward head-butted Leóni and then kicked the other man away into the nearest workbench.
Leóni hit the bench off balance and then trying to stop himself from falling, he held onto the loaded table. But the man’s weight was more than that of the delicate instruments on the bench and Roberto pulled the table over and down on top of him.
Standing over Leóni, Edward Blain aimed his gun down, preparing to shoot this criminal for his past acts in his exposed head. A moment of hesitation in Edward occurred as he thought about the act he was so close to committing. Catching himself before the deadly moment, Edward refused to murder in cold blood, to become like the man now laying before him. Letting out a deep breath, Edward lowered his gun and turned away from the prone figure, but as he turned the rear of the machine exploded lifting Edward from his feet and throwing him into the wall. Edward fell through the work table he landed on. Pain convulsed his body as he realised his ribs were broken, hurt by the instruments and table he had crushed. Edward tried to move, tried to roll over and as he did the pain almost made him blackout. Through wincing eyes, Edward saw a figure now standing above him, aiming his own gun down at him.
“You destroyed my machine. You were going to steal the plans so I couldn’t have more built and now in the machine’s explosion, they’re gone too. You‘ve stolen potential millions from me with these acts. But most importantly of all, you betrayed me.”
Leóni fired one shot down into Edward’s skull, murdering him. Edward’s vacant eyes stared lifelessly at the book containing all Bronkoff’s notes as it burned in the fire now raging behind Leóni and consuming everything Bronkoff had worked upon. The notes and the laptop Edward had destroyed along with the machine itself had all been destroyed.
Singed and battered, Roberto Leóni made his way from the laboratory, staggering away to the staircase that led him back up to his mansion. Above, Jacob and two of the scientists waited and upon seeing Leóni emerge from the basement stairwell, they helped him to a chair.
Roberto, gun still in hand, sat and listened as the alarm siren rang in the background of his attention.
Jacob called the Fire Department and the other two scientists spoke anxiously about what they should do. Agreeing on a course of action, they advanced and one gently took the gun from Roberto’s hand. Leaving it behind them on the floor, the two scientists carried Roberto out onto his front lawn. As soon as they emerged from the house, members of the house staff that had already fled at the sound of the fire alarm, ran to their aid and Leóni was carried further back to safety.
One of the nervous scientists regarding Mr Leóni suggested, “We should leave. He’ll be alright, he’s just a bit beat up. Besides they’ll take care of him.”
Looking just as nervous his friend answered. “You’re right. We can’t speak to the police. They’ll want to know more about all this and I don’t want to go to prison for being involved in anything connected to Roberto Leóni, at least not now.”
Jacob had finished the call and joined his colleagues outside. He stood looking at the almost unconscious Roberto as he was laid on the grass opposite them.
“Jacob, we’re going. We’re not waiting for the police or anyone, if we do there’ll be questions about all this, questions that could get us into a lot of trouble if they find out everything, about where this project came from and who started it.”
Jacob nodded. “But where’s Steven?” he asked looking around, referring to their young scientist colleague.
“I saw him run out of the lab at the beginning of the fight, we don’t know where he is. No one out here has seen him.”
Jacob looked thoughtful for a moment, then the three lab coats were left in a heap on the ground and Jacob and his friends were gone.
Thirty four years later in 2097, Dr Steven Romonovski sat upon his own financial depletion, in front of the two representatives for the American government. They had agreed to meet with him about his plans for a new machine and possible funding for the research and construction of that machine.
“Gentlemen,” began Romonovski as he slid a file forwards across the meeting table. The file contained the pages from the old note book he had secretly had back in Hans Bronkoff’s lab. In this notebook, Steven had copied down everything he thought important from the research that had been carried out by Bronkoff and the others before Steven had joined them. The notes were not an exact copy of Bronkoff’s own sacred book, but did contain enough information for Steven to start and complete his own project. Looking into the eyes of the representatives, Dr Romonovski said confidently, “allow me to present to you my theories for a machine I have designed, a machine I like to refer to as, the Dream Carrier.”
Chapter Two – August 14th 2099, 20:15
A man in his mid-thirties sat in a modest little house, a cold beer in one hand as he used the other to turn the pages of an old file on his lap. The room, dimly lit by a tall lamp in the corner and the light of the television showed a film the man was not really watching. The man; Carl Blain. The file contains the snippets of information he has gathered over the years about the mysterious death of his father, Edward Blain.
Carl has been working for the government for many years now. In his early twenties, he had excelled in the field of military intelligence and after he had been reassigned to his current role working for the Central Intelligence Agency, he demonstrated great skills in all the missions he undertook. Whether he himself was in the field or if he was advising a team as their tactical leader, Carl had always managed to get the job done over the years and keep everyone alive... Well, non-targets meant to be alive at the end of each mission.
Now in his mid-thirties, Carl preferred the easier assignments and to let the younger, more enthusiastic agents do all the running around in determined efforts to prove themselves.
A year ago Carl had been assigned to guard the prototype version of the Dream Carrier and to oversee its protection. He had been fully briefed at the time by those in charge about what the machine was and what it was expected to do, and had taken careful precautions to guarantee its safety.
When the first demonstration had been given to the representatives of the United Nations, Carl had been there too. Carl Blain knew that all the information now being fed to the general public by the media was all just propaganda, meant to disgrace Dr S. Romonovski, and prove him and his machine a fraud. The authorities needed the public to believe the Dream Carrier did not work, needed them all to forget about Romonovski’s invention, and then, away from the public eye, the machine could be used with a great measure of freedom when and how its potential new owners chose.
But Carl could not be fooled, for with his own eyes Carl had seen the machine at work. Carl, as part of his assignment, saw the Dream Carrier active and witnessed Romonovski’s success through it. Some test subjects, randomly chosen, revealed a previous life with enough activity to confirm that their dream could be proved to have happened, via historical CCTV footage of a confirmed date and time in a recognised city.
Even the most sceptic representatives present could not deny the success. However, the acknowledged success of the Dream Carrier was retracted, withdrawn by all those with power, and claimed a fraud.
And the transfer move with the project when it was officially shutdown simply re-enforced Carl’s belief, resulting in his refusal to accept his transfer.
The fact he had been suspended from the CIA because of this ate away at him as he took another swig of his beer. Like all the others who had been assigned to work under him guarding the Dream Carrier, all had been suspended with pay, but given no reason for dismissal, just ordered not to try and leave the city.
Carl sat with his personal file he had been building for years on his lap. The whole reason he had joined the military and then quickly accepted a transfer to the CIA was to honour the memory of his father, Edward Blain, a former agent himself.
Carl had never met his father; Dad had been killed while Carl’s mother was pregnant with him. Although his mother had never been told the truth, the shady death of his father was one of the first things that Carl discreetly found out about upon his arrival in the Agency. A file had shown that Carl’s father had been presumed killed in action, that he had never returned from an assignment and his body never found. His father’s record had showed that he was too good an agent to have been killed in a shootout. His guard was never down and his skills at escaping danger had been proven many times. Yet is was these two points that left Carl’s mind in question regarding his father disappearance.
The way his mother had talked about her husband before she too had died, left no doubt in Carl’s mind of the love shared between his parents, making Carl believe his father would never have willingly left her.
This left only one other possibility and in his mind Carl knew it to be true. His father had been murdered.
Over the years Carl had used the Agency’s databases to try and learn what his father’s last assignment had been. Carl had discovered that his father had been protecting someone, although against what and why was still a mystery. The assignment, an undercover case, had for some reason been labelled ‘Top Secret’ and stored away in a restricted part of the database. Obsessed with finding this killer, Carl had now reached several conclusions, the most prominent of which was that he needed to learn the identity of the person his father had once protected. That one name could well lead him in the right direction to being able to answer all his questions once and for all.
Carl closed the file and put it on the table in front of him. Turning up the volume on his television Carl listened to the news. An attractive reporter was telling the viewers about the building behind her.
“…and all hypnotists used to operate the fraudulent Dream Carrier were separately summoned here for a full debriefing, today being the last day that…”
‘Debriefings’ Carl thought to himself with a smile. He recognised the building behind the reporter, having been there once for a job interview and several times after that to sort out issues with the part of the Agency that owned that building.
After the Dream Carrier had been declared a fake, responsibility for the machine had been passed to a special division of the CIA, a branch that was commonly referred to as ‘Black Ops’ by those that worked in the Agency. This shady part of the Agency tended to handle things that needed to be dealt with in a more severe, yet discreet way, with none of their missions ever appearing to be recorded in anywhere but the most classified of databases. Carl remembered the interview they had given him a few years ago, with the strange questions in the test. Questions like ‘If you were forced to execute one family member, would it be your mother, father or a sibling?’
Carl had not liked those questions and failed the test through not answering them. But stories he had heard through the years had led him to believe that his answers had been a good thing, and that ‘keeping himself honest’ as he had told his friends was far better for him than a job working in Black Ops, itself little more than being a government assassin. That had been one of the main reasons he had refused the transfer with the Dream Carrier project into the Black Ops division. The fact that this division had been passed the project was itself strange, but Carl assumed the reason for this was so that the Black Ops guys could bury the project among all their other assignments that ‘didn’t exist’ and where the public would never hear from it again.
Still looking at the plain building on the screen Carl thought to himself, ‘More likely to take those operators, lock them up and throw away the key than debrief them. They know enough to screw up everything’.
In the distance Carl could hear the ringing of his mobile phone. He had left it upstairs again and could not be bothered to run and get to it now before it stopped. The cell phone rang a few more times and then stopped.
As Carl lifted his bottle of beer to his lips preparing to finish the last of it, his home phone rang. Looking at the ringing phone through the corner of his eye Carl wondered whether to ignore that also. Sighing, he put down the almost empty bottle and walked over to the phone.
“They’re coming, get-” The line had gone dead.
“Hello?!” called Carl and in the same second the television went quiet and the lamp went off. The phone line and power to his house had been cut. From where he was Carl could see out of the window to the houses across the street, all of which still had lights on in their windows.
There was a moment’s silence and then Carl heard the gentle click of his front door being opened without force.
The Black Ops agent that had picked the lock to Carl Blain’s house signalled over his shoulder and his three teammates quickly moved passed him and into the house. The remaining agent turned his back to the now open doorway and stood looking out into the quiet street. All seemed peaceful and not a soul was there to look back at him or to wonder what he was holding beneath his suit jacket.
As the three agents stalked forwards into the house, one immediately took to the stairs holding his pistol in one hand and pulling himself up two steps at a time gripping the banister with the other.
The two remaining agents crept forwards into the darkness. The leading agent took a hand away from his night vision glasses and pointed his comrade off into the kitchen, while he sidestepped quickly into the living room. Looking about the cluttered room the agent noticed a file on the small table and then heard a brief ‘swooshing’ noise before he passed out.
Carl quickly dropped his beer bottle into his armchair and then caught the agent’s body before it could fall and make any noise. Carl gently laid the unconscious body on one side of the door so that it would be hidden from anyone outside the room. Removing the man’s night vision glasses and relieving him of his sidearm, Carl checked the safety of the weapon and then positioned himself on the opposite side of the room to the body, now wearing the glasses himself. Carl quickly searched the man’s suit pockets but found nothing before the agent that had searched the kitchen entered the living room to investigate the suspicious sound he’d heard. As Carl had planned, the man’s initial reaction was to look straight at the body beside the doorway and no sooner was his head turned by distraction, than Carl had struck again. Using the butt of the pistol, Carl hammered the man into unconsciousness. Moments later Carl was armed with a second gun and was slowly creeping into his hallway.
Another man’s shadow could be seen just outside the half open front door. There was no way for Carl to open the door without being noticed by the figure on the other side. Hearing a creak from above him, Carl realised that yet another intruder was searching the upstairs of his house. Like a cat hunting its prey, Carl silently ascended his staircase, both guns raised and ready to defend himself. He leaned around the corner at the top of the stairs and his glasses showed him a figure moving around in his bedroom. Rolling from where he was into the room opposite, Carl ended the roll aiming at the intruder’s shins exposed on the other side of his bed. Shooting his silenced gun through the gap under his bed, Carl managed to drop the agent to his knees. The man gave a cry as he fell and during the distraction Carl sprang up and onto his bed and as he landed he clubbed the intruding man to the ground with the handle of the gun. The body fell with a loud thump and together with the man’s cry, Blain knew that the forth invader outside would be on his way up the stairs at that very moment. As Carl turned on the bed back towards the door he raised his left arm in time to meet the fourth threat. For a heartbeat the two men hesitated, Carl with a clean shot aimed at the man’s exposed forehead, the last trespasser motionless as he realised he was caught off guard, his own gun still pointing at the floor by his side. He had not expected the sound of the falling body to be anyone other than Carl, whom himself stood up from the bed and put one of his guns to the man’s temple.
“Drop it,” ordered Carl.
The man’s gun clunked to the floor. Keeping his voice low and threatening, Carl questioned, “Who are you?”
The man looked at Carl but said nothing. Snatching the man’s glasses away from his face, Carl repeated his question.
“You’ll never know,” said the man calmly. “I don’t exist.”
The equipment these men carried made it clear to Carl that they worked for the government and now with that cryptic comment it had to be some sort of special division. Then Carl quickly realised which division would sanction such a task.
“You’re Black Ops, aren’t you?”
Again then man did not answer.
“Why am I being brought in? This doesn’t make any sense. Why wouldn’t they just ask me to come in? Why would they send you? Surely they can’t want me dead – we’re on the same side!”
At that comment, an evil smile curled the man’s lips and sent a jolt of anger through Carl.
Knocking the man to his knees with blow to his head, Carl struck out a second time, using the gun handle again to incapacitate the last of his would-be assailants with a hard blow to his skull. If he had wanted to Carl could have made his attacks fatal and left four corpses in his house, but that had never been his style. Knowing that time was short and that more men could be on the way, Carl grabbed a bag from his cupboard. Keeping his glasses on, he quickly found the few things he needed; passports for a variety of alternate identifications, money in wades of bills to avoid electronic payments, and put them in the bag with the extra guns. Taking the extra ammo clips from the two men in his room, Carl threw those and the glasses into the bag as well. Tucking the remaining silenced gun into his belt behind his back, Carl picked up his mobile phone and hurried back through the darkness and downstairs.
The silenced guns were standard government agent issued weapons – modern firearms with built in silencers to muffle any loud bangs when firing a weapon.
There was just one more thing he needed before he could leave. Quickly striding into his living room Carl scooped up his father’s file and shoved it into the bag. Zipping the bag up and closing the door behind him, Carl disappeared into the night.
In the darkness Carl had reached the end of his road in only a few minutes and in so doing, had reached the busy high street.
The night had set in and the party people were walking about Carl, talking and laughing loudly. Blain made his way through the crowds and further away from his house, but as he moved, his mobile phone rang. Taking shelter in a shop doorway, Carl looked at the display. A number he did not recognise flashed at him. Answering the call, Carl asked urgently, “Who is this?”
“Relax Mr Blain,” came a calm male voice. “Your phone is being used to trace you and pin-point your location as we speak – but not by me.”
“Who are you and what the hell is going on?!”
“I cannot answer your questions now, but if you want to live to have them answered at all, then I suggest to get rid of that phone you’re clutching so tightly.”
At these words Carl noticed he was holding the phone in a fierce grip and instinctively looked up and around to see if he was being watched. People hurried by or strolled along together at ease in the night, but no one paid any attention to him. The voice continued. “Get rid of the phone, Mr Blain and then go to the Ghost Club. She’ll find you when you get there.”
The call ended and Carl was left with little option. Putting the mobile phone down in the corner of the closed shop’s doorway, he turned and moved back into the nightlife crowd’s.
Blain walked towards the three doormen outside the Ghost Club and looked at his watch. It was 9:35. The club would be open for several hours yet. The doormen glanced at the bag swung over Carl’s shoulder, but didn’t seem overly interested as Carl walked between them.
The loud music seemed slightly muffled this side of the doors, but the fast beats soon filled Carl’s head as he entered the club.
‘She’ll find you when you get there,’ Carl thought as he remembered what the caller had said to him before hanging up.
A group of women passed in front of Carl, one of them looking seductively at him as she strutted away. Carl smiled at the potential key to his thought and made his way through the crowds to the bar. His night had been violent and taxing, so Carl ordered himself a beer and turned to watch the crowds on the dance floor as he drunk.
The bodies flashed and seemed to move in broken rhythm under the flashing strobe lights. The baseline continued thumping away in Carl’s ears and the time was swallowed up with his beer as after a few minutes he found himself relaxing and nodding his head in time to the repetitive beat.
As Carl finished his drink a hand appeared on his shoulder and slender fingers caressed his arm. Looking down, he saw a pair of deep blue eyes shining up at him. A stunning woman whom had more than just Carl’s attention was standing close enough to him that anyone would think they were a couple. Wearing a tight blue dress that matched her eyes and showed off her toned body, the woman seemed to wrap herself around Carl without doing anything more than moving a little closer. With her eyes she told Carl to follow her and she walked away into the crowd. As she moved smoothly through the crowds the men watched her with lustful eyes, the women frowned in jealous pouting, but none blocked her way as they instinctively cleared a path for this beacon of attention, with Carl only a step behind her as she led him to the rear of the club. The lovely woman did not look back once to check that Carl was behind her, as she pushed open the fire exit door and stepped out of the club.
The door closed behind him and Carl found himself in a blind alleyway. At the far end and the only way out, a stretched limousine was parked across the mouth of the alley. As Carl looked back to the woman she lunged forwards, pushing him back against the door they had just come through and kissed him passionately. The kiss lasted for two amazing seconds and then Carl felt as if he was dreaming.
A few moments later Carl came to and found himself lying on the floor. Looking to the mouth of the alleyway Carl saw the woman in the blue dress climb into the limo and watched as the door closed and the window came down. The woman looked back at him and seeing he was again awake, blew him a kiss and winked before the window rose and the car accelerated away.
As he got up, Carl felt an envelope in his hand. He opened the envelope suspecting that the woman’s lipstick was chemically treated to knock him out when it made contact with his skin. He stroked at his tingling lips as he examined the contents of the envelope. Inside was a train ticket and another, smaller envelope with ‘Open me on the train – compartment 12’ written on it. Putting trust in his new and mysterious helper, Carl re-sealed the envelope and put it into his bag.
An hour later Carl had boarded the train he had been given the ticket for – Washington Station to Miami Station – and was sitting in compartment twelve. It was now eleven in the night and the train would soon be leaving, travelling across the country at high speed during the night.
Carl made himself comfortable and once settled in the small compartment cabin, sat with the smaller, unopened envelope in his hands. A deep foreboding feeling swept over him as he ripped a seam in the envelope open with his thumb. But before Carl could remove the contents of the second, smaller envelope the train compartment door opened and a man stepped quickly inside with a young woman just behind him.
Carl saw that the man wore a suit but was dressed too casually to be another agent sent to bring him in, and the girl, a scared look on her face, was anything but an agent. Not wanting to take any chances though, Carl went for the gun he had tucked into his belt behind his back. No sooner had the thought entered his mind than the suited man before him raised his own hand and Carl froze, unable to produce a single reaction thought.
Chapter Three – August 14th 2099, 09:30
A young woman of average height stood outside a summoned building. She was quite pretty with large brown eyes, shoulder length dark brown hair and dressed mainly in black. The twenty three year old girl had arrived early to answer the summoning she had received to be debriefed. Her hands tucked into the pockets of her black jeans, the strap of her backpack protruding from beneath her dark hair, hanging from the shoulder where, in a few years, a more mature lady’s bag might hang.
On this average morning the crowds of commuters had been slowly dying out around her, as Dani Le Freau stood outside the plain looking building and hesitated to go any further. Unlike the morning and her surroundings, Dani was far from average, for Dani was a former operator of the Dream Carrier. The youngest member of the team of hypnotists used to work the machine invented by Dr Steven Romonovski, but by no means the least capable. Although far above the average girl in terms of her hypnotic powers, Dani was also above average on the team of operators for the Dream Carrier. Unlike the other operators who were hypnotists and nothing more, Dani had other gifts to bring to the team, for she also possessed the power of telekinesis – the ability to move and control solid objects with her mind. This impressed her peers and earned her respect, but did not display all her mental might, for one other gift was in Dani’s power; clairvoyance – the ability to see the future. Although this last gift was not as strong as her others, Dani could use it to protect herself from harm. Although her powers of clairvoyance generally manifested themselves in her dreams, Dani could partially use this gift to a lesser extent while awake. In her dreams Dani could see the future, sometimes with vivid clarity, others in a blurred jumble of images, but when she was awake, the power came to her through her instincts. In her mind, Dani would know things like, if she crossed the road now, a driver would slow down and then as a result he would not hit another person ahead who was going to cross the road in a few moments.
Dani Le Freau was born in France and had gypsy blood in her veins. Not wanting to stay with her family and wander aimlessly for her life, Dani had left and travelled to America. Over the last few years her gifts had guided her until finally she found herself working for Romonovski and the government as an operator for the Dream Carrier.
During the last year and the months she had spent regressing with people into their past lives, Dani had seen many things. Emotionally affected, Dani had laughed and she had cried, and sometime she had longed for her family. But amongst all the things she had seen, Dani was sure that nothing could be dangerous to anyone or incriminating in any way, and above all, no visions kept secret.
So why had she been summoned here to be debriefed regarding the ceased Dream Carrier project? She was sure this was just a standard procedure to be undergone after leaving any government job… But if that was so, why did she have such a bad feeling about walking into the building in front of her? Dani had been rooted to the spot for the last twenty minutes, sure that she should not go inside, but unable to think of a reason why. 09:20 – she still had forty minutes before she was due in.
A hand squeezed Dani’s shoulder making her jump. Turning sharply she let out a sigh of relief in a giggle. “Elliot, you made me jump!”
“Sorry Dani, I didn’t mean to,” answered the man now standing with her. Elliot was almost a decade older than Dani and like her, he too had been an operator for the Dream Carrier.
Elliot Green was dressed in a smart suit and like Dani, had arrived to answer his summoning. He had felt the need to be smart when attending his debriefing at the headquarters building and like Dani, he was no longer employed by the government. Elliot had only been here once before and that had been for his interview, during which both his interviewer and Dr Romonovski himself had been very impressed with Elliot, who had been appointed team leader of the other hypnotists. Without any doubt, Elliot was the most powerful hypnotist to be employed as an operator for the Dream Carrier. The reason for his power was due to the fact that hypnotism alone was not Elliot’s only gift. He also had a powerful strength in telepathy. Elliot could both read and input suggestions to people’s minds, which when combined with his hypnotic strength heightened it to an awesome level. On the opposite end of his presence, Elliot could also mask his presence, displayed only a moment ago with his arrival.
Of all the people that had sought to use the Dream Carrier, some required greater depths of hypnotism than others to be linked to the machine, whereas some of the operators had failed on occasion to create this level of power, Elliot had never even had to exert much effort on even the most unfocused minded of people. So strong was Elliot’s mental power that while some of the other operators respected him and were in awe, others were jealous or even fearful. But Elliot had a heart of gold and Dani for one knew it. The two had formed a friendship that, due to their mental powers was very deep and made both feel like they had known each other all of their lives.
“You not going in?” asked Elliot innocently.
Dani looked from Elliot to the building and back. Sighing deeply, she shook her head ever so slightly and replied, “I… I’m not sure. Something…”
“I know,” answered Elliot for her. “Just doesn’t feel quite right does it? Summoning us here to the main building and telling us not to try and avoid this meeting or there would be consequences. It’s like they want us, but were too afraid to come and get us. People don’t threaten you unless they’re afraid of you.”
“Well, I don’t know about that, but I certainly have a bad feeling about going in there. What time’s your appointment?” asked Dani making little speech marks with her hands as she said the word ‘appointment’.
“Ten thirty. Yours?”
“You’re early too huh? Mine’s at ten.”
“Yeah, I just want to get this over with as soon as possible. Hey, what do you say to a coffee before we go in? Nice hot drink might help you calm down.”
Dani nodded and the two walked away from the building to the nearby coffee shop they had been eying up.
Sitting by the window at a table for two, Elliot began stirring his coffee while looking for a third sugar to add into it.
Dani was watching the world go by through the window, wondering still exactly why she felt so bad about being called here.
“You know they probably want to offer us jobs or something.”
Dani looked at Elliot and frowned. “Jobs? Doing what?”
“You know, like in those films where there’s a mastermind killer that the cops just can’t predict, so they go and see some prisoner or hire some special guy-”
“Or girl,” corrected Elliot, “and then that person cracks the case for them. Well who better than us?”
Dani shook her head with a bemused look on her face.
“What? It could happen,” Elliot insisted.
“Huh. You mean they’d hire us and then expect us to just say, ‘It was Elliot Green in the kitchen with a dagger’ and wrap the case up?”
Elliot gave a short laugh. “Yeah, like Cluedo.”
Dani frowned in confusion. “What’s Cluedo?”
Elliot sighed. “It’s a classic old game that-” Elliot saw Dani’s eyes drift off in anxious distraction and concluded with, “never mind.” Then sweeping his blonde hair back, he produced a pair of smart sunglasses from his jacket’s inner pocket and put them on.
Dani could see her own reflection in the lenses but was soon distracted by Elliot’s cheesy grin.
“What do you think?” he asked as he held out his hands. “Elliot Green, psychic investigator!”
Dani couldn’t help smiling despite still feeling nervous about her debriefing.
“Judging from your suppressed laughter, I’m not quite a superspy just yet,” Elliot observed as he returned his shades to his pocket.
Dani looked back out of the window and carried on their previous conversation. “I hope it is something that simple, just another job offer or something, but I have such a bad feeling about going into that building…”
“Hey, don’t forget about your chocolate – you’ve barely touched it.”
Dani raised the mug of hot chocolate to her lips and as she drunk her eyes flicked over the rim of her mug to the suddenly alarmed expression on Elliot’s face.
His hands went rigid and gripped the table and for the briefest of moments he shook like a leaf on a branch in a strong wind. Then the moment seemed to pass and Elliot looked into Dani’s eyes.
“I felt it too,” she said calmly, “though without you telepathy, I doubt I felt it quite that powerfully.”
Elliot closed his eyes, raised his brows then started to restore his facial look.
Dani continued, “Those psychic waves have been coming through ever since the Dream Carrier went into use. Once you get used to them… What is it, you look terrified.”
Elliot looked at her for a moment before he answered, his voice suddenly shaky. “You can control the blast waves better, but this one wasn’t like the others. I heard a voice, telling me in no uncertain terms, not to go into that building.”
Dani put down her mug. “Stop it Elliot, you know I don’t like it when people tease me about my feelings.”
“I’m not teasing you. You believe me when I tell you how easy it is for me to hypnotise people, how I can read their minds and make them do things. You know that’s where all my psychic strengths lie… The wave that just hit us had a voice on it – I heard it in my mind.”
“What exactly did it say – did you recognise it?”
“No, I didn’t recognise it,” Elliot answered distractedly looking at his half empty coffee cup, “but the message… Compressed, it said ‘They’re disguising agents and keeping us. Don’t go in – RUN!’ Then I got a picture of the building we’re supposed to go to in my mind.”
Dani shivered but not from feeling cold. “I knew there was something wrong. What should we do?”
“I don’t know, but neither of us are keeping our appointments – let them try to find us instead! Have you got somewhere other than your home that you can go to for a while?”
“That’s okay,” said Elliot, his voice growing more panicky by the second, “you can come with me to my cousin’s place. I’ve never mentioned her to anyone at work, we’ll be able to stay there until we decide what to do.”
With equal concern, Dani questioned. “Do you really think that’s necessary? I mean, won’t just not showing up for the debriefing be enough?”
“You were the one telling me you had a bad feeling about this. Now I get a telepathic message telling us to run and you just want to go home?”
Dani smiled masked confidence and picked up her backpack. “Okay, why don’t we both go back to my house, then when you see it’s all okay I’m sure you’ll calm down too. Besides, I only have a bad feeling about going into that building, nothing about my home.”
Elliot was on his feet and putting on his suit jacket as he agreed. “Fine. We’ll go to yours and see if you get any more weird feelings. But if I get another warning before then we’re going straight to my cousin’s.”
An hour later Elliot had received no more warnings and the two friends were walking the last few steps down the street before reaching Dani’s small home, when suddenly Dani stopped dead in her tracks.
“There’s something wrong.”
Elliot looked at her home, a small house just a few steps further on their left and then looked worryingly at Dani. “What is it?!”
The concerned look on her face vanished and a playful smile shone back at him.
“Oh, and you tell other people you don’t like to be teased!”
“Come on, admit it – you feel a lot better now and you’ve not had any more warnings. In fact, how do you even know that was meant for us?” Dani turned her key in the lock as she spoke. As they walked into her house together Dani’s mind flashed into the future and showed her a blurred image of a shadow waiting for them.
In the same instant Elliot put his hand on her shoulder and held her where she was. He leaned in close behind her and whispered, “I can hear someone’s thoughts in here with us – do you still live alone?”
The answer was ‘yes’ but Dani felt too afraid to say it and as she hesitated in her fear not knowing what to do, a voice called out to them from within her living room.
“Miss Le Freau, is Mr Green still with you?” The voice was male and as it spoke they heard footsteps coming towards them through the small room the voice had emanated from. Moments later a large, smartly dressed man stepped into sight and smiled at them, but not in a pleasant way. “I’m glad you’re both still together – you were seen outside our building, but then instead of returning on time for your interview, Miss Le Freau you did not return at all. I’m glad you came here and might I say, to me first, and now I have the opportunity to speak with you. My name is Mr Kadesh and I represent your former employers. They wish to speak to you.”
As Kadesh spoke a fresh wave of fear washed over Dani at the thought of going back to the building, and she stepped backwards until her hair brushed against Elliot’s chin.
“How did you get into my house and what do you need to talk to us about?” asked Dani.
“I’m afraid that’s classified. I’m just here to escort you in,” Kadesh answered ignoring the question regarding his entry and as he took a step closer to them.
Although Kadesh had answered through his mouth, he had also answered the main question in his mind, and the terrifying response left no doubt in Elliot’s mind as to the danger they were in. He put his hands on Dani’s upper arms and as he made contact with her and held her in place, he sent her a clear message; “Don’t move, he knows we suspect him. Trust me.” As Elliot sent this thought into Dani’s mind, he slowly slid his hands up her arms and then abruptly he shot his left arm out over her shoulder as if he was choking Kadesh even though they were still several steps apart. Using the physical gesture to completely bring Kadesh’s mental attention to him, Elliot unleashed his powerful mind.
“Stop!” At Elliot’s command, Kadesh froze in mid-step, eyes wide but focused intently on the master hypnotist.
“Go back to where you were in the living room.”
As Kadesh turned and walked away, Elliot slipped around Dani and followed him, all the time keeping his iron like grip on his mental prisoner’s mind. “Now, you’ll not move again until exactly one hour after we have left and you will not remember seeing us. As far as you will know we did not come here and you do not know what happened to us. Do you understand?”
Kadesh was a man used to following orders and as such he answered as he had been trained to do. “Sir, yes Sir.”
“Good,” said Elliot, his voice calm with the situation perfectly under his control. “Dani? Quickly get your things, whatever you think you’ll need – we’re going and I don’t think you’ll be back here anytime soon.”
“Elliot? What’s going on? I saw that man as a dark shadow waiting for us!”
“I searched his mind when he answered you for the truth. This runs a lot deeper than either one of us suspected. There’s not time to explain now, we have to get out of here and get as far away as we can.”
Quickly Dani gathered some personal possessions which Elliot assumed had nothing more than sentimental value and put them into her backpack.
“This is all I need. I’m ready.”
“Good. We can’t go to my cousin’s anymore, I don’t want to chance involving her. If they were able to be waiting here for us, for you, then I can’t rule out that they could find us at her place sooner than we might think. I don’t want members of my family involved in this and we can’t involve anyone else… Do you have any ideas of a place where we could lie low?”
“What about going to the police? Surely we’d be safe with them?!”
“No, Dani – think! These people work for the government – for all we know they could bring the police in to search for us! We can’t go to the police, at least not until we can prove that we’re in danger.”
Dani bit her lower lip as she thought for a moment. “Let’s just go. I mean, we could just get on the move. If we have no destination then they can never be waiting for us. We’ll just run for now, run until we feel safe.”
Elliot nodded and a few moments later, Mr Kadesh was sitting alone in the small house once more, waiting on the lookout for Dani and Elliot to arrive.
“There’s some things I need to get from my place. I think we’ll be alright too, if they only sent one guy to your house, then it’s a safe guess they only sent one guy to mine too. I don’t suppose they thought they’d have any trouble escorting us in.”
“Are you sure?”
Elliot sighed. “No, I’m not. What do you feel, Dani? Is going to my place anything like the feeling you get about going to that building they called us to?”
Dani let out a deep breath then shook her head. “It’s not exactly filling me with happiness or dread. Just feels… I don’t know, nothing either way really.” She frowned and then continued angrily. “I wish I had more control!”
“Sorry, I forgot you’re clairvoyance isn’t so good. I shouldn’t put you on the spot like that. It must make you feel responsible for our actions and I’ve got no right to do that.”
“No, it’s all- hey, you’re not reading my mind are you?”
Elliot dipped his head “Daniiiii, I don’t need to read minds to know how my friends are feeling – I am still human you know. Besides, when do I ever invade your privacy?”
“Sorry. You’re right, I know you don’t invade friends. But I can’t tell if going to your house is dangerous or not. What is it you’ve got to get?”
“My money and, well, there’s something else,” Elliot looked down at the street as they continued walking.
“Your wedding band.”
Elliot looked back up into Dani’s eyes, surprised at her accurate guess. “I know I’m not married anymore, but I can’t leave it behind, not if I might not be back.”
“It’s okay. We’ll get it,” Dani said in a soothing voice as she rubbed Elliot’s arm. “Maybe having it will be like having Angela watch over us too. God knows we could do with some help.”
Elliot lived in an apartment block and as he led Dani out of the elevator on the seventeenth floor, he could already feel another mind in his home. An intruding presence that felt as alien and outstanding to him as an extra limb. A few steps later he stood outside his front door and could almost grip the mind waiting inside from there.
“One guy, waiting, alone,” Elliot whispered to Dani.
“Will you be able to control him?”
Elliot opened the door and whispered back, “Piece of cake,” as he stalked quickly inside and immediately engulfed the mind he could sense in his kitchen. Elliot greeted the cold smile with one of his own, but this time he raised his arm and seized control of the man before a single word could be said.
Moments later the suited intruder was sat comfortably in Elliot’s armchair with a vacant look in his eyes and a blank expression on his face.
As Dani stood by the door to the living room watching the motionless man, she felt in awe of Elliot’s powerful hypnotism. His telepathy and his hypnotic powers were without equal and she felt glad that he was a good man and her friend.
Elliot was indeed a hypnotist from the Dream Carrier project whose powers had been grossly inaccurately underestimated, and hence his capture and detainment had not been correctly attempted. Like Dani, Elliot had been assigned a single Black Ops agent, between who, neither had been successful nor able to retain their target, or even a memory of their encounter. But to the assassins’ benefit, the pain Elliot could have caused them had not been experienced.
A minute later Elliot emerged from his bedroom, the wedding band now on his finger and a backpack of his own over his shoulder. He still wore his suit but had now removed his tie and looked far more casual as a result. “Ready?”
Dani gave a nod and walked from the window, passed Elliot out into the hall.
With a final look at the seated mystery man, Elliot followed Dani out, closing his front door behind him.
As the two were leaving the building they both felt another psychic wave hit them with a mental sensation. Dani gave a sharp inhale and closed her eyes, quickly recovering from the shock.
Elliot staggered backwards and leaned against the lobby wall for support. He raised a hand and gripped the side of his head, which itself felt as though it would explode at any moment. Then just as quickly as it had come, the pain was gone and a new thought was in Elliot’s mind. For the second time that day Elliot had received a telepathic message, only this time there were no words to the message, only a picture sent to his mind.
“Dani,” Elliot called, her name barely escaping on his breath.
Hurrying to his side, Dani looped her arm around his waist and helped him to straighten up on his feet. “That was one of the strongest blasts I’ve ever felt!”
“I got another message,” Elliot confirmed.
“Are we in danger?!” she asked urgently.
Taking a step away and straightening his posture, Elliot recovered from the psychic wave and answered in a stronger voice. “No. This time it was an instruction, I’m sure. I saw a picture of a station I’ve been to before. We’ll need to catch a couple of other trains and maybe a cab or something to get there, but I know where we’re supposed to be; compartment twelve.”
It took the rest of the day discreetly travelling, waiting for trains and flagging taxi’s but as the evening arrived Elliot had led Dani to the place in his mind; Washington Station. They had walked into the large train station and cut their path through the crowd of commuters to the centre of the main concourse.
Elliot was standing stock still, eyes closed, concentrating on the mental picture he had received. They had come to the station to board a train – but which one?
Dani stood close to him, watching the crowds warily. Business men passed her in their smart suits, and each one that neared, she watched, waiting for him reveal himself as an agent and reach out and grab her, dragging her back to the building she was so afraid of. To her relief no one seemed to even notice her.
“Hurry!” she whispered urgently into Elliot’s ear.
Opening his eyes Elliot’s rigid body relaxed. “It’s no good, I can’t see it. I don’t know which train we need to catch.”
The wide eyed Bambi look Dani gave him was heart-breaking, but Elliot was a man of both intelligence and wisdom and he knew a distraction, a return to ordinary life – no matter how momentary that return was – would be enough to relax Dani and calm the feeling of dread he knew must still be strong within her. “Are you hungry?”
“Well, we haven’t eaten all day. There’s a burger place just over there, let’s get some dinner. Besides, can’t think on an empty stomach.” Without giving her any more time to think, he put his hands on her shoulders and turned her in the direction of the fast-food restaurant.
Elliot never invaded Dani’s mind – or that of any other person he considered a friend – but he did reach out with his telepathic power just enough to sense her mood; calm. As they enjoyed their lean and nutrition burgers together, the barely warm food seemed to have done the trick and banished the cold dread Dani had masked and dealt with most of the day.
They ate in silence until only their drinks remained. Dani was sipping the last of her medically enhanced milkshake through her straw while keeping her eyes on the crowds through the window near to their corner booth table.
Elliot followed her gaze and looked at all the people that were so close to each other and yet ignored each other completely. Composed, with no threats of theft or violence. It was like watching thousands of people each pretending that they were the only person in the huge station as they travelled home from work or out for the night. Elliot let his mind slip into the crowds and began listening to all the jumbled thoughts of each chaotic mind. Loved ones. Teenagers. The day at work. The night to come. Where they’re going. Where they’ve been. Where they want to be. All these thoughts and so many more threatened to wash away Elliot’s roaming mind and drown him in a sea of thoughts that were not his own. Each mind he touched had a different destination attached to it, but none of them triggered the thought that Elliot so desperately searched for.
His eyes met hers and he smiled.
“What are we going to do?” Dani asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied softly. “But I think if we just stay here for a while… I’m sure it will come to me.”
“I’m scared,” Dani admitted, shuffling in her seat.
Elliot raised his arms above the table and Dani slid around the booth into them. As the two sat holding each other Elliot confessed quietly back to her, “Me too.”
For hours they sat in the corner of the restaurant, Elliot scanning the minds of as many people as he could, hoping for some clue as to what to do next, Dani asleep in his arms, overwhelmed through the days excitement. The evening became the night and the sight through the window transformed into a reflection of themselves. Although his body rested with the sleeping girl, Elliot’s mind was like a computer processing each of the thoughts he intercepted. During the hours that passed he did not tire nor falter from the task he had given himself. Scanning mind after mind, checking for possible solutions to their problem, analysing any possibility of threat to them, and constantly seeking to match the mind of their guided intention. The other customers in the fast-food place were reduced to the hungry drunks that needed something to compliment all the beer in their stomachs, the staff that had been eying them waiting for the couple to leave, did nothing more than ignore them now. Until finally, at just a little before 23:00 that night, the thought Elliot had been searching for came, in a mind he had not expected.
Elliot squeezed Dani gently and whispered her name. She snuggled against him for a moment and then her eyes opened.
“I know where we have to go to reach compartment twelve…”
Chapter Four – August 14th 2099, 23:10
Elliot now walked with Dani tucked under his arm, holding her about her slender shoulders. She was so tired still and as they walked she allowed him to guide her as, only half conscious, she followed him through the almost deserted station, through an un-manned and open ticket barrier, and out onto a platform with a waiting train upon it. The lights so high above in the roof of the station seemed not to be shining as brightly and shrouding the station in only a dim light, as Elliot led Dani passed the first few carriages and then finally onto the forth. Once aboard, Elliot walked in front, down the narrow passage way until he reached compartment twelve, where Dani gave a sharp intake of breath and suddenly seemed to come to her senses, alert and fully awake once more.
“We need to go inside,” she believed.
“I know,” agreed Elliot. “There’s someone like us in there, not psychic, but someone who’s running from the same ones that we are. Inside is the mind that I found, also at our destination. Come on Dani, we have to be brave.”
Elliot opened the door and stepped quickly inside, Dani right behind him. The person they saw inside was quite a large man seemingly in his mid-thirties. He was dressed in a leather jacket, similar to the one Dani was wearing, only his was several sizes larger and looked to be much newer. For a heartbeat the three stared warily at each other and then Elliot shot his hand out and the wary look in the man’s eyes disappeared, replaced by a calmness that made him look almost harmless.
“Quick, shut the door!”
Dani did as Elliot advised and then turned her attention back to the two men. “Who is he? Was he going to hurt us?”
Elliot didn’t answer. Instead he stood with his eyes closed, concentrating.
Dani remained silent, looking from one to the other and then Elliot lowered his hand and opened his eyes, and the man seated before them snapped out of the trance he had been in. In an instant he was on his feet with a pistol in his hands and aimed at Elliot’s chest.
Dani tucked herself behind Elliot as he moved to put himself between her and the gunman. An envelope that the man had been holding slid gracefully to the floor as with equal grace Elliot calmly raised his hands.
“Don’t shoot, Carl. We’re not your enemies.”
“Who the hell are you and how the hell do you know my name?” But even as Carl asked these questions the sense of familiarity came to him. He knew both of these people, but from where?
“Please, Carl,” Elliot asked softly, “put the gun away, we’ll all sit down and I’ll tell you everything.”
The tone of Elliot’s voice was so relaxing, so soothing and giving off a feeling of trust that Carl could not ignore. He found himself tucking his gun away and sitting back down before he had even decided to do so in his mind.
Elliot and Dani moved, sat opposite him and as they sat, Dani scooped down and retrieved the envelope now by her feet. Without hesitation she offered the envelope back to Carl who took it with an utter of thanks.
“This is Dani. My name is Elliot. We used to work as operators for the Dream Carrier – the machine you used to protect.”
Carl shook his head as he finally placed the two of them - how could he have forgotten?
Elliot continued. “I heard about you, but we never actually met. I was the team leader of the hypnotists working with the Dream Carrier and Dani was on my team.”
“I know, I remember you now,” Carl stated. “I had your record, both your records to review for safety precautions.”
“That’s right. And tonight, we were led to you, although how is a bit of a complicated story. When I sensed your apprehension and that you were going to go for your gun, I stopped you. I read your mind, or your thoughts if you like, and that’s how I know a bit about you.”
“You read my mind?”
“Please, don’t be offended. You must understand that we’re in great danger. We can’t trust anybody and I had to make sure that you would be willing to listen to us… so I relaxed you, put the suggestion in there,” Elliot tapped the side of his head, “that you would at least listen to what we have to say.”
Carl looked warily from Elliot to Dani and back again. “You may not have ever met me, but I actually know both of you. I didn’t just protect the Dream Carrier, I was in charge of its protection. You’re right, we never met, but, as I said, I know you both from the files about you I read. You say your name is Elliot? That would make you Elliot Green, team leader and a hypnotist of such power, that your file is on the verge of being classified.”
Elliot blinked in shock and sat back.
“And you’re Dani? Then that would make you Dani Le Freau. Originally from France you moved over here to the States a few years ago and are the youngest member of staff we had on the DC’s operators list.”
Dani smiled coyly but gave no answer.
“I also know, thanks to your records, that both of you have, err, other gifts than purely being hypnotists.”
“I didn’t think they knew what I, what we can do,” admitted Elliot.
Carl continued. “I take it from your bags that you decided against going in for the last debriefings I heard were finishing today?”
“You knew?!” asked Elliot in shock.
Carl shook his head. “I don’t know anything except that a bunch of guys working for the people that want to ‘debrief’ you, came and tried to do a lot more than debrief me. I don’t know why though. Why they didn’t just call me in? Why send agents to take me out instead? I don’t get it.”
Elliot commented. “I don’t know if you’re the only one they’ve tried to kill. Earlier today, I got a strong mental massage, one I’ll never forget. Compressed, it said ‘They’re disguising agents and keeping us. Don’t go in – RUN!’. I don’t know who that message came from or why they wanted us to run, but we did. We went to both our separate homes and there was actually a man, a different agent, waiting for us in both with instructions to bring us in.”
Dani sat forward and helped with the narrative. “But Elliot hypnotised them both and so we got away.”
“Then I got another message showing me this station and I knew we had to find compartment twelve, but I didn’t know which one. I searched the minds of as many people as I could until finally, I found yours. I sensed you were running and knew that you were the person we should follow, and that the train you were on was the one we need to be on too, in compartment twelve.”
“But why are we running?” asked Dani. “I mean, I know why we’re running – because of the message Elliot got, but what about you, I mean? Surely you could just go and sort all this out with the people you work for?”
Carl responded seriously. “No, four guys came to my house and were trying to kill me.”
“Four?!” Dani echoed.
Carl nodded and proceeded. “They were from a shady side of the Agency, a special division nicknamed Black Ops – that’s the missions and operations that aren’t officially sanctioned – and when I tried to interrogate one of them, he wouldn’t tell me a damn thing, except that obviously someone has ordered me killed.”
Dani looked at the two men and asked, “What are we going to do?”
Neither man answered.
With a subtle jolt, the train pulled out of the station and began its long journey off into the night.
“Someone is helping us, of that much I’m sure,” said Carl. “Right before those guys came for me, I got a call, a warning. Then afterwards, I got another call telling me to lose my mobile phone and that I should go to a club. When I got there, a woman gave me an envelope with a ticket for this train in it.”
“You’re right,” agreed Elliot. “Someone has to have sent me the mental message I got too and again that was a warning. Then the image of the station… Someone has definitely been guiding us, but why?”
“And why would they want us together?” asked Dani.
Carl looked at Dani and without a shred of psychic fibre in his body, he could feel her fear. “Try not to worry,” he supported the young girl. “I don’t think this is a trap. Why go to all this trouble? Why warn us? Why bring us together if the only goal is to kill us?”
“And another thing,” Elliot added, “whoever is helping us is definitely a strong psychic themselves.”
“But how do we know it’s the same person?” Carl wondered.
“It’s got to be the same person, Carl. Like Dani said, why want us together? It can’t be coincidence that we’re guided to the same place by different people!”
“What was in your envelope?” Elliot asked nodding downwards to Carl’s hand.
Carl, realising he still had the envelope in his hand, opened it to reveal three tickets stamped with the name ‘Hialeah Private Airport, Flight L1’ and a folded up piece of paper. Handing two tickets to Elliot, Carl begun unfolding the paper.
“Three tickets. Well this proves that the same person has been guiding us,” stated Elliot as he turned and handed a ticket to Dani. But the young girl had fallen asleep once more. Elliot saw that these were private tickets and had no final destination on them, causing him to ponder who had booked their private flight, then put both into his jacket pocket. Turning his attention back to the paper in Carl’s hands, Elliot pointed, “What is that?”
For a moment Carl did not answer, distracted by whatever was written on the paper. “It’s a copy of a death certificate… Of my father’s death certificate.”
“What?! I’m sorry,” Elliot solemnly reacted. Then softly, “What does that mean?”
Carl summarised to Elliot about his father, about the classified files surrounding his death and that he had never been able to find out what had happened. Then he answered the question, “You ask what this means? It means, that whoever is helping us knows more about us –or me at least– than I’m happy with. If this person can tell me what happened to my father, then we may be in even greater danger.”
“I understand – knowledge is power,” Elliot nodded, staring downwards blankly.
“And someone with this kind of knowledge, could be very powerful indeed,” concluded Carl.
Chapter Five – August 15th 2099, 11:55
The train journey lasted through the night, granting rest to them, and lasting until the following morning. Eventually they arrived at their destination – the southern part of Florida, in Miami Station.
Once the train stopped, Carl looked at his two new comrades and saw that neither of them were about to lead the way. Also being slightly older than Elliot and even more so than Dani, the role of leadership fell naturally into Carl’s responsibility. “Okay,” he started, “we’ve got to get from here to Hialeah Private Airport. Shouldn’t be any trouble at all – no one can be looking for us here! Grab your stuff and lets go.”
Carl sounded far more confident than he actually was. Although he had a destination and was with friends, he did not really trust either of the hypnotists yet and he knew enough about the people that were after him to know never to underestimate their reach. Carl led with Elliot and Dani both a step behind him. He saw everything and nothing looked suspicious as they walked through the lunchtime crowds in the station and made their way to the exit.
Elliot wrapped an arm around an anxious Dani as much to steady his own nerves as to comfort her. “Are you having any feelings?”
“Uh-uh. What about you, picking up any bad people on the ‘mind scanner’?”
“Nothi-” Elliot looked behind them and saw a large framed man fold his newspaper and get up, all the while not taking his eyes from Dani.
“I don’t suppose you know the guy that just got up and started following us…”
Dani looked over her shoulder at the man Elliot was now describing. “Err, no. He looks like he knows me though!”
As Carl glanced over his shoulder he instantly recognised the man now following them. “Shit! Get going you two – get us a cab outside the station, I’ll be right out…” As Carl spoke he had turned and walked back passed Dani and Elliot, handing his bag to Elliot as he made a direct line for their pursuer.
Elliot grabbed Dani’s hand and ran with her through the crowds and out of the station. The station had a large choice of taxi’s waiting outside and Elliot ran to the closest, opening the door for Dani and sending her and Carl’s bag into the back seat. He spun around looking back at the station, but there was no sign of Carl.
“Elliot?!” Dani called from within the cab.
Elliot was focusing his mind, trying to search out Carl in the crowds surrounding him. “It’s no good, there’s too many people, I can’t find him.”
“But what about the encounter with that man! Will we make it to the airport on time?!”
Elliot had no answer for her.
Carl marched towards the man he recognised as a CIA Black Ops agent, one of the men that had come to his house the night before. The man did not even seem to see Carl until they were only a few steps apart as he was so focused on the fleeing hypnotists.
“You!” the agent cried in recognition of Carl.
Before anything else could happen, Carl slammed his gun handle into the agent’s solar-plexus and doubled him over. As he bent, Carl quickly holstered his own weapon, then slipped the surprised agent’s gun from its holster and into his own belt. Without further hesitation Carl shouted out, “Someone please help, this man is having a heart attack!”
Of course no one in the busy crowds moved to help, but everyone at once turned to look at Carl and the doubled over, wheezing man.
“Quickly Sir, lie down!” Carl shouted as he gripped the agent and forced him to the floor. The agent was beginning to recover from the attack now and as he tried to resist, Carl pretended to be restarting his heart, hitting the agent as hard as he could with both hands balled up together, but ‘accidentally’ missing his target. Instead of hitting the man’s chest, Carl winded him again by hitting him in the stomach. “Sir! Please stop squirming! I’m trying to help!”
Luck then played a great part in what happened next as a pretty young woman stepped from the gathering crowd and knelt beside Carl. “I’m a nurse, I can help!” she offered bravely.
“Great!” responded Carl. “You stay here, I’m going to get help from the station staff!” Using this reasonable excuse Carl was soon up and running through the crowd and out of the station.
As Carl disappeared behind a wall of people, the agent finally rolled to his feet and pushed the helpful nurse aside. “I’m not having an heart attack!” he all but screamed at her. Then the man realised that for the second time, Carl Blain had robbed him of his gun and the Black Ops agent shoved his way through the surrounding crowd and chased after his antagonist. He ran to the exit and out of the station just in time to watch a cab pulling away to be lost in a sea of traffic, swallowed up by a fleet of identical cars.
“This is Rolent,” the agent said into a tiny communicator at his wrist. “I made contact with the targets, but they got away. They’ve got Blain with them! They’re heading east in a cab. Request immediate pick-up from station’s main entrance!”
A voice that whispered into Rolent’s ear from his earpiece answered back with an acknowledgment. Moments later a dark car screeched to a stop on the other side of the column of taxi’s and Rolent, side-stepping between two taxi bumpers, was once more in pursuit.
“How could they know we were here?” Dani cried.
“They could have seen us last night at the station or something – I don’t know!” answered Elliot in frustration from the opposite seat.
The cabs were designed to feature standard back seats with unfolding opposite seats with their back to the driver.
From beside Dani, “Big Brother,” Carl said calmly as he looked behind them out of the back window. “They probably tracked one of us through cameras at the station. Once they could verify which train we boarded, that gave them the whole night to fly people down here and get ready to catch us. As the guy was pretty surprised to see me, I’m guessing they only saw you two on camera and didn’t think they’d have any trouble bringing you in – hence one guy by himself waiting on the platform.”
Elliot nodded to himself in agreement. “You’d think that they might have learned by now if they somehow missed even seeing us, or remembering seeing us at our homes, they might send more than one person to get us each.” He glanced up then added, “Or four guys, as that’s what they sent you, wasn’t it?”
“But what do we do now?” interrupted Dani. “If they know we’re here, then they’re gonna catch us!”
“She of little faith,” Carl answered with a sly grin on his face. Carl was momentarily distracted. “I’m more worried about our driver here – awful quiet there friend!” he called to the driver.
Elliot looked behind him to the driver and then back to Carl. “He won’t remember a thing – I guarantee it.”
Carl smiled and turned to Dani on the back seat beside him. “Try not to worry, kiddo.”
“You don’t need to treat me like a baby! I can take care of myself when it comes down to it!”
“Hey, I never-”
“Look just because I’m a little more worried than you about being caught, doesn’t mean you can patronise me!”
“Dani!” cried Elliot, as he stopped her tout.
“It’s been a long morning,” Carl smoothed in his usual calm tone. “I didn’t mean to patronise you. I’m sorry if that’s what you thought.”
Dani sighed and looked away, turning her head to look out of the window. Elliot looked up out of the rear of the car once more and like the others, now sat quietly.
The taxi had just pulled onto the freeway. When Elliot scanned the rear window he saw a black car swerving violently out behind them and rapidly become larger closing in.
The two other passengers spun around and looked back at the fast approaching car.
“What do we do?!” cried Dani.
“You two stay down,” Carl replied as he took out one of the guns in his belt. Winding down the window, Carl leaned out and squeezed off a pair of shots from the silenced pistol at the pursuers tyres. Both shots missed, one bouncing off of the road, the other shooting passed the car and hitting the headlamp of another car behind. “I can’t get a good shot from this angle!”
“Then let me try,” entered Dani and she turned, knelt on the back seat and looked out at the car behind them. In an anxious reaction to the situation Dani was eager to test her powers. For several moments she stared intently and nothing seemed to happen, then Carl realised that the car behind was slowing down.
“What are you doing?” Carl asked in awe.
“Dani’s telekinetic,” Elliot reminded him. “Looks like she’s forcing the car to stop – way to go Dani!”
“It’s too powerful to keep on doing!” Dani strained out between clenched teeth. “He’s accelerating too much, I can’t hold it!”
“Then allow me to help you, my dear.” No sooner had Elliot spoken than the other drivers around them on the road seemed to open a path before them, while at the same time cars began to swerve in perfect co-ordination to block the Black Ops car from getting any nearer.
Carl watched in stunned silence at what he could scarcely believe was happening before his eyes. Cars moved and forced the Black Ops car to slow down or be caught in the centre of a possible crash. The agents did indeed have a technically advanced vehicle, but not superior enough to equal an armoured tank.
As Carl watched he noticed that only one car at a time moved to intercept the people chasing them, almost as if Elliot were playing a game of chess on the freeway and using the other cars around them as his pieces, moving one at a time to either attack or defend their taxi – their proverbial king.
Elliot pointed forwards and their driver sped up, the cab roaring away through a cleared lane of traffic, while the cars behind them moved almost like a Mexican wave into a formation to block any chance of someone following them.
With each mind that Elliot focused on, he left the small suggestion of safety above all else, so once his hold on a mind was released, the driver regained control with an overwhelming desire to stay within the speed limit and drive as if they were re-taking their driving test and Elliot being their instructor, had left explicit directions for each driver to follow. Elliot’s experience with hypnotism and his strong telepathic power meant that only very few drivers did not follow his mental suggestions. Those that were furthest away or that Elliot only had a split second to touch minds with were the most resistant. Like Dani, Elliot would never allow himself to place someone else in danger.
Still focused on their follower, Dani saw the agent from the station poke his head out of the car and aim his replacement gun.
Without warning Dani screamed as she realised what was about to happen, her eyes shut tight and for a brief moment their pursuers lurched forwards. The motion was enough to jolt the agent and send his silencer shot off into the air. He aimed again and fired once more, but this time Dani could feel the gun in her mind. Focused on slowing their pursuers, she sensed the agent’s finger pull the trigger, the miniature explosion in the barrel as the shell exploded out from the gun. In the space of a heartbeat Dani snatched the bullet with her powerful mind and threw it to one side. The shot ricocheted off the frame of the taxi with a loud ping.
The agent aimed the silenced gun for a third shot but was denied his opportunity as his target swerved behind the cover of a truck. “Go around!” the agent screamed at the driver.
“I’m trying, but the car’s handling like a brick with no tyres!” answered the agent driver as he wrenched the wheel over and forced the car around the far side of the truck.
They reached the outskirts of Hialeah and Elliot instructed their cab driver to turn off for the airport, while at the same time he focused on those drivers that would pass the turning as the car chasing them. While their pursuers were behind the truck he had so efficiently manipulated, Elliot shifted his focus and the other drivers slowed down and manoeuvred into a wall, almost bumper to bumper, forcing the Black Ops car away from the turn off. The driver was determined to cut back across and into the airport turning, but before he could manoeuvre Dani finally released her telekinetic hold on the car and the Black Ops agents were slammed against their seats as their car shot forward, no longer restrained by her powerful will. The result was that even without the other drivers on the freeway trying to block the turning, tyres screamed and the agents overshot the airport road at an incredible speed and were soon too far ahead to consider driving back and being forced to drive on into Hialeah itself.
Elliot paid the driver correctly while leaving his mind hypnotically altered about the last fare he had taken, Dani standing at his side.
Carl looked from one to the other and realised the power that these two individuals possessed. He had not trusted them, but now he understood that if they were his enemies, if they wanted to take him in, there was nothing he could do to prevent it. Elliot alone could practically possess him, but now Carl was beginning to fathom that Dani too had incredible power. For the first time since meeting them, Carl now felt as though he were the one that they were looking after, that he was the weak link and in most need of protection. It was a humbling feeling for the CIA man and one he had not felt in a long time. For his following digressed thought, with no arrogance in any way attached, Carl knew why, like himself, these two had been the last targets the Black Ops had assigned. With everyone else seemingly already taken, who could the top Dream Carrier project staff now call? If the plan had been executed in reverse, with Elliot, Dani and himself being the first targets, then perhaps many others could have been warned of danger and able to escape.
Now it was Elliot and Dani that walked in the lead towards the airport entrance and Carl that followed quietly as they passed through the automatic opening doors and made their way to the small passenger flight desk.
The airport was not particularly large and the weather outside showed no signs of affecting their flight.
Elliot gathered their tickets and showed them to the attendant who scanned them over and then directed the three travellers to the helipad they would be boarding from.
Carl continued to feel a subdued emotion of weakness as he watched Elliot hypnotise people on the spot, instructing them to allow himself, Dani and Carl to pass without delay. The few staff and security people present gave them no troubles and did not want to check their bags, each smiling politely as they helped the three on their way.
At one stage Dani grabbed them both and held them back behind a corner. They then watched as two suited men marched passed, one of them talking to a tiny communicator at his wrist.
Elliot knew these men were searching for them by reading their minds.
It seemed to Carl that it had not taken long for the agents that had followed them on the freeway to find their way back to the airport. Carl had learned experience through dealing with such men throughout his career. How Dani had known that they should wait where they were to avoid these men… That was a mystery to Carl but none the less had added to the respect and awe that he now held both Dani and Elliot, the hypnotist specialists in. Reading their files long ago when his involvement in the Dream Carrier project had first begun, Carl had made notes of the abilities of each of the operators that would be working in his care. He had noted that each was gifted in hypnosis, only few having other abilities also, but only now did he fully understand the depth of the gifts that Elliot and Dani possessed. It was still not clear to Carl why the Black Ops branch of the CIA had been ordered to kill him, but it was now easier to understand why the hypnotists were so badly wanted. What government would not be afraid of these people – especially when they knew secrets that the Dream Carrier had revealed to them?
For each previous life that had been remembered, a hypnotist had been present and seen everything. Sessions that were recorded only to have those files confiscated, people that disappeared for a while after using the Dream Carrier, every snippet of information, it was all still intact in the minds of the operators and two of those minds were with him right now.
Carl was at peace with understanding and feeling considerably more respectful and caring towards his new friends by the time they were on the helipad. He had no doubts that alone, he could have found his way and made it this far without too much hassle. But to have brought others with him? Two people that needed him to look after them and protect them… Carl was not so sure he could have succeeded. But to Elliot it had been effortless. With Dani’s danger awareness working at its peak level, the three of them had gotten out onto the helipad in what seemed like enough time to take a single deep breath, and Elliot had assured them that no one in the airport would remember them.
A large luxury helicopter awaited the three and as they approached a stewardess appeared as if by magic. “Mr Green?” she checked looking at Elliot as he led the group toward her.
“Yes,” Elliot confirmed with a nod.
The uniformed lady turned her attention and continued. “Then that would make you Miss Le Freau and Mr Blain,” she affirmed to each in turn. “Welcome. Your host sends his compliments and asks that we hurry. As I’m sure you’re aware, you were followed and are even now the objectives of a search being conducted throughout this very airport. Our staff are keeping your pursuers occupied, but please hurry aboard.” Without waiting for a reply the flight attendant turned her back to the three and boarded the helicopter, which swiftly began spinning its rotors.
“It’s alright,” said Elliot. “She’s on the level and, apart from the pilot, I can’t sense any other minds on board. Dani, you getting anything?”
In reply Dani looked intently at the helicopter before murmuring in barely more than a whisper, “I don’t know. Something’s… It’s as if something is being hidden. Like not being able to remember something.” Turning to Elliot, “I’ve never felt like this before.”
“Let me go first,” offered Carl as he stepped between the two and led them onto the helicopter.
Inside everything looked expensive, from the polished finish on the wall decorations to the comfortable looking leather seats.
Once she had secured the door behind Dani, the stewardess spoke again. “Please be seated and please also be patient. I have been instructed to see to your needs during our flight, but not to tell you anything about your host. He wishes to introduce himself to you all personally and is very much looking forward to meeting you all.”
“Our host sounds like a generous man,” probed Carl.
The lady did not answer Carl with anything more than a smile.
“Care to tell us where we’re going?” Carl concluded sarcastically.
“Please Mr Blain, you cannot be informed at this time. Turning the stewardess stared at Elliot and said, “And please Mr Green, don’t attempt to use any of your gifts during this flight. As you can no doubt tell by now, you can read nothing of my thoughts. This is due to a precaution we have in place. I cannot tell you where we’re flying to exactly, only that our destination is on a private island owned by your host, so you’ll have no need to fear your pursuers.” The stewardess turned back to Carl. “I believe you’re armed, Mr Blain?”
In silence, Carl smiled his answer.
“Your weapons will not be taken from you at any time, your host hopes that this will inspire you to consider trusting him. Now I must join the pilot. Please try to relax during the flight and if you need anything, the call button is just over there.”
“Thank you Miss-?”
“Sinclair. And you’re welcome, Miss Le Freau.”
Once the attendant had left the small cabin and closed the door behind her, the helicopter lifted into the air and began its flight.
“She was right,” Elliot said through a suppressed yawn. “I couldn’t get a thing from her. It was like something or someone was blocking me.”
“Still, you guys are amazing!” Carl said to them. “You’ve both done nothing but impress the hell out of me today from the second that we’ve been chased.”
Elliot, half asleep next to the window absently nodded his thanks for the compliment, his eyes closing as his whole body relaxed.
Dani, sat next to Elliot and opposite Carl, gave half a smile and looked at Carl with a puzzled expression. “Is Elliot controlling you in his sleep?”
“Are you sure?” Dani asked sarcastically slowly.
“It’s just, I never knew – I mean, I never saw and fully understood, just what you guys are capable of. Like I said, both you guys are impressive.”
“Well… You did get us out of the station. You’re not exactly helpless yourself.”
“Oh wow!” answered Carl, himself sarcastically. Then with a more serious tone, “From the look of things since then, I did something that you guys could probably have done better yourselves!”
“Hmm… maybe,” Dani accepted with a playful expression. “But doing what we do has a price. Just look at Elliot now…” Dani gave him a nudge with her elbow, but Elliot only snored and grunted in response. “We use up a lot of power when we use our gifts excessively. I was out last night and most of this morning on the train, Elliot is out now and will be for however long it takes him to get his mental strength back. You on the other hand stayed awake all last night, as far as I know and you don’t look tired now either.”
“I had no idea you get so tired. Is it always like this? Even when you used to operate the Dream Carrier?”
“That’s the main reason the Dream Carrier wasn’t used as quickly as people expected. It’s not something we advertised.” Dani grinned as she gave a small shrug. “Small price to pay. I look at other people and they seem tired all the time even without any psychic powers. It’s not like we’re handicapped by need for sleep or anything, just that we need to take a nap or two a little bit more often than most people.”
Carl smiled. “Are you tired now? You really showed off some stuff today, slowing that car down and keeping us out of trouble back there at the airport.”
“I am a little,” Dani answered through a yawn. “Okay, maybe a lot.” Turning to Elliot, she puffed up his suit coat shoulder like a pillow and then rested her head against him.
“Sleep well, Dani. Nothing will touch either of you while I’m here.”
“Mm…” was the answer she sighed before drifting into sleep herself.
Carl Blain had spent many years working for the Central Intelligence Agency. He considered what he did as protecting everyone both inside and out of his country, but right now that sense of protection was magnified to new heights. Carl respected his new friends and was fast growing fond of them. He looked out of the window but could see nothing of where they were going, the ocean surrounded them and stretched out for as far as he could see. Carl reached into his pocket and took out the copy of his father’s death certificate. Still so many unanswered questions. ‘Why was he wanted in a body bag? Who was helping to keep him out of one? How had Dani and Elliot been guided so perfectly to him? And how was his father’s death connected to all of this?’ These thoughts and questions flooded Carl’s mind until he too fell asleep, hoping the answers would come to him in his dreams.
As he slept with the mysterious piece of paper still in his hand, the sun began to set. The three passengers were unaware that the pilot was taking them in an arc, extending the flight far longer than necessary in order to hide the location of their destination. The helicopter flew in a semi-circle over the Atlantic Ocean and then through the gulf of Mexico around to an island in the Florida Keys. The skilled pilot made his landing with such smoothness that none of his passengers were woken. Finally, just after the helicopter steeled on the ground, the flight attendant returned and woke her charges.
Chapter Six – August 15th 2099, 19:00
“Please follow me,” the attendant stewardess Sinclair invited politely as she opened the side door and stepped out of the helicopter.
Carl rose first and carried his bag with him from the helicopter, Dani followed with Elliot only a step behind her. As Carl stepped out onto the helipad and into the evening twilight, the first thing that caught his attention was the beautiful scenery. The helipad was a meter or so from the soft looking pale sand on the edge of the island and a short walk from a mansion that looked more like a palace. A wide pathway lined with palm trees either side led from the pad to the rear of the house which itself was an island in a sea of neatly cut grass. Powerful lights lit the area around the house and were just now flickering to life. The lingering sunset was behind Carl as he walked towards the rear of the house, taking in each of its details; the large windows for each room, the flat roof, the neat little flowerbeds surrounding the house itself like a moat of beauty. The exquisiteness and calmness around Carl made all the violence and fear of the last twenty four hours melt away, to be carried off on the soft tropical breeze in the air.
Apart from the attendant leading the way several steps ahead, Carl could see no one else on the island. Dropping back he walked beside Elliot and whispered a question. “Can you sense anyone else here?”
“Nope. There must be people working in a house this size, but we’re still a bit far away for me to sense any minds.”
Dani shook her head. “No we’re not. Whatever is playing with your powers and was blocking you back there on the helicopter is probably stronger here. Miss Sinclair said they had a precaution, right?! Whatever it is, it’s bound to be here with our host.”
“You’re probably right,” admitted Elliot.
Dani gripped Elliot’s arm and held him back for a moment. Seeing this, Carl stopped and faced them.
“What is it?” Elliot asked.
“I don’t know, but either it’s losing its effect over me or it’s powerful enough to trick my clairvoyance, because right now… I feel safe.”
Elliot shook his head and began walking again. “Well, I can’t even sense you guys anymore. It feels weird. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been able to touch people’s minds. Now, here, not being able to do it… What I mean is, the whatever-it-is affecting us, is certainly effecting me!”
“Don’t worry guys. I still have some tricks we can play if we need to,” Carl said under his breath.
A few steps later they had reached a pair of French windows that led into the house and once again, Miss Sinclair was just inside the open doors, holding the long curtains to one side and waiting to see them in.
As they entered into the house they found themselves in a giant library. Four large comfortable looking chairs we arranged into a cross around a low table in the centre of the room.
“Please, put your bags down here and be seated. Your host will be right in.”
Carl dropped his bag by the door and Dani and Elliot followed his example as he led them to the chairs. As Carl looked back he saw Miss Sinclair leave through the doors they had entered by, heading back to the helipad.
“What now?” Dani nervously asked.
“We have a fourteen course banquet for free!” Elliot responded enthusiastically, in an effort to sooth Dani’s nerves.
Carl had a straight face as he shook his head while glaring at Elliot.
Feeling slightly better Dani walked forwards and took a seat in one of the large chairs, shuffling around and enjoying the comfort it offered. The two men remained standing and looked around the large room at all the many books. Shelves and shelves of books ranging from old manuscripts in huge volumes to much slimmer paperbacks that looked almost new.
The latch on the main door to the wide room, opposite from the French windows, clicked and the door leading into the rest of the house opened.
Carl was shocked to see the beautiful woman that he had first followed and encountered in the Ghost club walk into the room. Her deep blue eyes seemed to sparkle as she walked to the chair opposite where Dani was sat and stood behind it without saying a word. She gave a slight smile as she looked at Dani and then flicked her eyes to Elliot, standing at Dani’s side. Then the woman narrowed her eyes and looked seductively at Carl.
Carl felt his heart quicken and his nerves tense. Looking away from the hypnotic stare he turned his attention to his friends, but found both looking intently at the new comer. With a sigh, she looked back at the hypnotists and slowly shook her head, before flipping her long blonde hair and looking back at the figure now standing in the doorway.
As the woman had entered the room, the presence of power had revealed itself to Elliot. The force that had been blocking him appeared – and she was beautiful. Dressed in a dark blue outfit that accentuated her toned body, the woman demanded attention as she glided into the room. Her voice was as clear as if she had not spoken aloud and the unexpected intrusion into Elliot’s mind caught him off guard.
“Hello. I know you can hear me,” intruded the woman’s thoughts as she looked straight at Elliot. She glanced down at Dani then observed, “She’s special,” then she flicked her eyes back to Elliot and thought “both psychics of great power. Not like him,” she noted as she finally looked to Carl and narrowed her eyes before concluding, “he has other uses.”
“Did you bring us here?” Elliot asked back in his mind.
In response the woman looked back to the door and standing there now, was a man who looked slightly older than Carl, dressed in an expensive suit. He smiled and then entered the room at quite a quick pace.
“Welcome! Please gentlemen, sit, make yourselves comfortable!” The man’s charisma was disarming and his calm voice spoke invoking trust. He had a sharp English accent that did not quite match his playboy appearance, but revealed the educated man for what he was.
Elliot smiled back and joined their host in taking a seat so that the two of them were sitting opposite and next to Dani respectively. Carl made his way to the last chair but stood behind it only.
Smiling politely and seated, the man began. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mr Leóni. You are on my island and perfectly safe from those that pursue you. This,” he looked up rolling his eyes back to look at the woman now standing over him, “is the beautiful Rain.”
“Rain,” Carl found himself whispering.
“Yes, Mr Blain. I believe you’ve met before…” Mr Leóni affirmed.
Carl tore his eyes from the woman to look at his host. “I didn’t get her name then though.”
“So I’m told,” agreed Mr Leóni with a nod. “And please accept my apologies for the ‘cloak and dagger’ approach, but it was imperative that Rain was not discovered. Unlike our psychic friends,” Mr Leóni gestured to the others, “you do not feel the psychic blast wave –or tremor as it’s also referred to by the more powerful psychics– that the others feel. That seemingly random blast of energy that exists beyond the perception of most people, and that if predicted correctly, can be used to magnify a psychic power, or as Rain used it, to send a message out. Of course Rain herself is powerful, hence her ability to send the message to Elliot specifically and not to every psychic on the planet! In fact, Rain is the most powerful psychic I have ever encountered.”
“Stop it,” Rain said coldly, “you’ll make me blush.”
Mr Leóni cleared his throat. “Thus, we had to resort to more conventional methods to bring you to this island, Mr Blain. Through Rain’s power, she saw to it that you were united with Miss Le Freau and Mr Green at the soonest opportunity, and hence guided by them where necessary. I see this was a prudent precaution as the three of you have arrived together in good health.”
“Well, not everything is working as it should…” Elliot said tapping his head.
“Indeed. You may have noticed, Mr Green, that your own telepathic abilities have been blocked since you boarded my helicopter.”
“I had noticed, yes. I was also wondering when the un-blocking will take place?”
“We’ll get to that shortly, Mr Green. Miss Le Freau too must be wondering the same thing regarding her clairvoyance and the sensations or images created by it, to say nothing of her as yet unused telekinesis?”
Dani let out a nervous giggle that was as genuine as her forced smile, but said nothing in response.
“And of course,” Mr Leóni raised his open palms, “Mr Blain, you, with no psychic powers to even have the abilities of a basic hypnotist, are no doubt wondering about all this? About the piece of paper I sent to you, regarding your father?”
Carl tightened his grip on the back of the chair at the thought of his father. It was obvious now that this man knew something – but what? “Yes. Please, tell me what you know.”
“All in good time,” Mr Leóni promised.
“And so to business. Are you sure you won’t have a seat Mr Blain?” Mr Leóni checked.
“Thank you, but I prefer to stand,” answered Carl stoically.
“Ever on guard, Mr Blain. That is one of the reasons I brought you here. First, please allow me to summarise and explain to you all how you came to be here so that we can all be clear.”
There were no reactions or responses, so Mr Leóni proceeded. “You are all wanted people. There are different specific reasons behind this for each of you, but all of you have one thing in common; you all worked closely with Romonovski’s Dream Carrier.
“Miss Le Freau was an operator and like others, working with Mr Green –the head operator– controlling the Dream Carrier during its twenty four hour a day operation. Be it either of you or one of the other hypnotists, there needed to always be one of you present. For each person that used the machine, for everyone that glimpsed memories of their soul, one of you was there with them, to instigate the process. And each time, you witnessed everything the Dream Carrier revealed.” Mr Leóni sat up. “You know everything that they know.”
Elliot and Dani exchanged simple glances, both in accepting acknowledgement of this fact.
Mr Leóni leant forward. “What you don’t know is that some of the things you have seen have greater meaning than others.”
In a synchronised coincidence both Dani and Elliot frowned, unable to see relevant importance.
Mr Leóni continued. “Mr Blain, you were in charge of protecting the Dream Carrier, but more importantly –and little known– you were in charge of protecting the secrets revealed by the Dream Carrier. It was your job to make sure that the machine and those who operated it never betrayed their country, never broke the confidentiality clause in their contracts and spoke of what they saw. Any evidence that could tempt them into doing this was swiftly disposed of, often by you personally. You were responsible for the security of the machine itself and the whole project surrounding the machine. Operators, maintenance staff, Romonovski’s team and your own security agents. Everything that happened in that room was under your watchful eye and when the door to that room was closed for the final time, you were the only one with full knowledge of every use, of every case, of every incident. You know it all. As you had the identification for both this last and the last, for each user involved.” Leóni paused for a moment to allow his words to set in with his three guests.
“What you must understand is that this makes you not only very valuable, but very dangerous. The government wishes to publicly close the Dream Carrier project. They have issued statements saying the machine does not work, have had film crews make documentaries that show the Dream Carrier’s in-accuracy, which were then aired worldwide. It has been spread throughout the world media that this machine and its inventor are both frauds, able to prove nothing of a previous life.”
“But that’s not true!” cried Elliot, “We know it works! The stories you’re talking about that the newspapers printed, they said that the Dream Carrier only showed people’s inner dreams – how they saw themselves. That’s possible, yeah sure – but the scientists looked up who these people were in history during the testing stages. They found almost every single person that the test subjects went back to, almost every single birth or death certificate. They had a ninety eight percent match with their data! But none of this was ever mentioned and made open to the public masses. The fact that these people were describing actual events in previous lives that could be proved, was never mentioned in the press.”
Mr Leóni was smiling. “Yes Mr Green, you’re right. There is a reason for this and if you ask Mr Blain, I’m sure he’ll tell you.”
Both Elliot and Dani looked to Carl for an answer.
Carl let out a deep breath and then spoke. “They shut the project down because it worked. It worked so well that the government decided it was too much of a waste letting just anybody use it. When you think of all the first listed nobodies that used that thing and remembered that in their last life, they were still a nobody – that meant nothing. But, now and then, someone of a previously life led us to information that was marked as classified. Data that perhaps revealed things and could confirm the sort of things that could cause havoc. Take those and all the hassle the Death Bill caused and the never ending religious debates.” Carl sighed. “It made more sense for the government to deny the machine ever worked and close it down. Then of course those with power would have a free reign to use the Dream Carrier whenever they wanted, behind everyone’s back.” Carl waved a pointing finger between Dani and Elliot. “You guys of course would have been replaced by another, single operator, someone who couldn’t be previously connected with the project. The whole thing was taken off the official budget, codenamed and put under ‘special operations’ on a need to know basis.” Carl stopped and looked frustrated, in disgust of his revelation.
“So how do you know all this?” Elliot enquired.
“They offered me a job. They wanted me to stay on board and move into the Black Ops division with the new project and continue what I was doing.” Carl shook his head. “But I’m not one of them and I don’t like the way they do things. So I told them ‘no’, got suspended and the next thing I know I’m a target.”
“But why didn’t they tell us?” asked Dani.
“And why didn’t they want us?!” investigated Elliot.
Still disgusted in the tone of his voice, Carl answered. “I told you; need to know. No one in the project knows apart from me and the people that separately made the decision. As far as the world knows, the Dream Carrier is a fraud-”
“And we’re branded as liars!” Dani interrupted angrily.
Carl looked away from her angry eyes, feeling a sense of responsibility for the actions he had carried out in silence.
“You could have come forward! You could have told them it worked!” Dani cried as she stood.
“No Dani,” soothed Elliot as he stood up to catch her. “He couldn’t. Could you, Carl?”
“They plan on executing me now anyway,” Carl affirmed.
Mr Leóni’s precise English accent cut through the atmosphere and shattered the lingering silence. “And that, my friends, is what brings us to where we are now. They don’t want to risk any loose ends, but rather they want everyone who’s been involved with the project silenced, anyone involved with the machine, snuffed out.”
“But that’s hundreds of people! They can’t keep the people that used the machine from talking!” cried Elliot.
“No Mr Green, they cannot,” agreed Mr Leóni. “But with all the press and documentaries reporting the machine does not work, even the people that actually used the Dream Carrier have had their doubts. Those experienced wondering, ‘Did it really work?’”
Dani felt minor attraction to the atmosphere’s thoughts, generating from Mr Leóni.
Mr Leóni pressed on. “Only those users that stand adamant in their experience, their belief in reincarnations to their revealed former life, seek out to make others believe their occurrence. Religions, as well as government agencies, will not allow believers, those instead being sought out to be silenced.”
Elliot heard nothing by truthful thoughts producing Mr Leóni’s vocal words.
Mr Leóni concluded. “Only a small percentage of people that used the machine remain, and the majority of the general public will always have doubts and be against them, the demising project of the Dream Carrier. The only one that truly knows without any doubts, is Romonovski, whom as you know disappeared.”
Carl let out an exasperated sigh as he thought the answer to his question. “That’s all true, but why kill us?”
“Mr Blain,” Mr Leóni spoke slowly in broken syllables, “you know better than most the difficulties loose ends can cause. On the other hand you know everything about that project. Everything! With your refusal to switch sides as it were, you could have become a very dangerous liability for your employer.” Mr Leóni then left Carl to confirm his suspicion.
Carl’s suspicion ignited.
“But what about us,” Elliot asked. “Couldn’t they just fire us? Tell us not to say anything! Threaten us with jail!?”
“I’m afraid not, Mr Green. Rain?” Mr Leóni invited.
Rain walked casually over to one of the many book shelves and removed a folder with file sleeves. When she returned she handed the folder to Elliot and purred, “Randomly open to one of those tabs.”
Doing as he was instructed, Elliot opened the file and saw a picture of a middle aged woman. Not recognising her, he shook his head. “Angela Knowles?”
Rain looked down. “That is one of the users handled by Miss Le Freau, in the early stages of project selection. You may not remember her as she is an ordinary member of the public in this life. However, the Dream Carrier revealed her to be Mr Chao Mitsurugi in her last life. Mitsurugi died over forty years ago in an explosion that took his life. The Dream Carrier showed the explosion was caused by a new chemical fuel he was working on at that time that could be used in many functions to remove dependency on foreign oil. As I said, Angela Knowles as she’s known in this life has since disappeared,” Rain concluded.
“And of course, I’m sure you can deduce who arranged for that disappearance,” came the crisp English accent.
“The same people that want to make us disappear,” Elliot answered in a monotone.
“Correct, Mr Green,” confirmed Mr Leóni, “and in more ways than one. You see while Mr Blain has been dodging bullets and hit squad agents, you and Miss Le Freau have only been dodging one man at a time each, whom have yet to point a gun at either of you. Haven’t you wondered why?”
“Not really,” Elliot responded. “I was kinda in the line of fire when that last guy was aiming at the car we was in.”
“Believe me, Mr Green, you and Miss Le Freau are wanted alive.”
“But the message I got?!” Elliot pointed out.
Mr Leóni smiled. “What better way to ensure your co-operation in coming here than to have you in fear of your life. I simply asked Rain to exaggerate the situation.”
“But what about me?” asked Dani.
“Ah, Miss Le Freau. I should imagine your fate will be that of the other operators. They’ll lock you away and use you to either force co-operation from Mr Green or to simply replace him, should he refuse to co-operate at all. As Mr Blain said, a new operator would be required who could not be linked with the previous operation, but powerful hypnotists are not that easy to come by. So, why not simply kidnap the ones that have already been trained as operators and branded as liars by the press? Who is going to notice if these publicly shamed, often disliked and not to mention generally feared people just disappear?”
“Oh come on! Someone would notice!” cried Dani.
“Would they?” questioned Elliot quietly. “Really?”
“Yes!” Dani argued. “Maybe you have lots of friends and family, but mine are back in France. Apart from you and the other operators, I don’t really have any friends, at least none that would worry if I wasn’t around anymore. I didn’t have much of a social life before working on the Dream Carrier project, but working shifts through the night or stupid hours in the day pretty much destroyed what little I had.”
Dani’s words seemed to hit a nerve with Elliot as he thought about his own life. In the blink of an eye he considered his friends and like Dani, he realised that all of his true friends were like him, gifted psychics that had been working on the project, the only people he really saw on a regular basis. His other friends were more in the category of ‘people he knew’ as opposed to actual friends, not close enough to him that they would worry about his disappearance. His cousin would of course care and be worried, but aside from a single cousin, he was the only member of his family alive and that he barely spoke to, it suddenly occurred to him that Dani might not be that hard to silence either.
“That’s right Elliot,” judged Rain. Somehow without him realising it, Rain had managed to stand very close to him. “How hard do you think it would be? Your cousin files a missing person’s report, and then that report would just disappear and her along with it. The people you’re dealing with are at the top of the food chain. They’re the villains that feature in action movies, the bad guys that lurk in conspiracy stories. They actually do exist and they’re after you.”
Mr Leóni cleared his throat. “Careful Rain, don’t frighten our guests!” Mr Leóni turned his focus. “Let me once again reassure you that you’re safe here. And Mr Green, there’s no need to worry about your cousin… at least not if you agree to help me.”
At these words Elliot, Carl and Dani stared directly into Mr Leóni’s eyes.
“Help you? Help you do what?!” Elliot questioned.
The jolly, charismatic attitude Mr Leóni had portrayed up to this point faded and a business-like mood took its place. “We can all agree that the three of you are in danger. Do any of you dispute that fact?”
Silence answered the issue.
“If any of you would like to take your chances with the Special Operations agents that have been despatched to deal with you in various ways, please speak now. My helicopter will return you to Hialeah.”
Again no one gave retort.
“Excellent. I have a plan that will free you from the long arm of power that is reaching out for you. Although complicated in its execution, my plan itself is simple. I wish to build my own Dream Carrier and will once more bring it into the publics’ eye, proving once and for all that Romonovski’s invention works. Of course this would clear the names of the hypnotist operators and bring you back to the publics’ attention also. Mr Blain could then come forward and join you in freedom. Once in the public eye, you would be safe from kidnap or assassination as this would cause attention to the Special Operations division that now have control of the Dream Carrier, attention they do not want and will be looking to avoid when the investigation starts as to why the original Dream Carrier was thought to be a fraud. To conclude, you will be safe as any attempts on you will result in police and possibly federal involvement.”
Elliot’s mouth opened but before he spoke, Mr Leóni raised a hand for prolonged silence. Elliot’s mouth shut.
“The discrete division now in possession of Romonovski’s invention do not share their toys, as Mr Blain can confirm, and will not want any outside intervention with their project. Whatever excuses that they provide to the world media for the original ‘failure’,” Mr Leóni said quoting the air with bending fingers, “I can guarantee will be abandoned. Those in command will not be able to touch you without dooming themselves, as any attempts on you will be admitting to the world that they have been and are hiding something. Possibly even complete exposure. That effectual admission would mean investigation by others, a lack of control over the situation or the simple co-operation amongst international meetings and agreements.”
Carl scratched his shaded chin while thinking of the Dream Carrier. “Project revealed equals project closed, in their world.”
“Precisely,” Mr Leóni confirmed. “They’ll be anxious to avoid that at any cost, and thus you would be free. Obviously if you begin telling the world about secrets revealed to you during the operation of the first Dream Carrier, the cost of your silence will outweigh the risk of your freedom. You would be effectively committing suicide.”
“So if we manage to get another Dream Carrier, stand our ground, but don’t push back, we’ll be okay?” Dani asked somewhat uncertain.
“Yes,” Mr Leóni confirmed.
“Well I wasn’t planning on doing any talk-shows to save us,” joked Elliot.
Mr Leóni turned. “Can I take that to mean you are interested, Mr Green?”
“You can, Sir,” Elliot responded with a posh tone.
With a look to Carl Rain asked, “What about you?”
Dani had thought for a moment then prior to Carl’s response, asked urgently “What about the other operators?”
“Yeah, Dani’s right – what about the others?” Elliot echoed.
Leóni looked away from the enquiring eyes of the psychics. “I’m afraid I do not know what will happen to them. Most of them have already been brought in and are in the custody of the Special Operations division. I cannot deduce the location of any others that may have slipped through the net.”
“But if they can’t touch us, won’t they have to free everyone they’ve already got?” asked Dani.
“It is difficult to say. Although a safe assumption, one can never be certain with these people. If the situation is right and the people they have are valuable enough, they may well try to go into business, to negotiate or even start their own rogue operation via a different path.”
Finally Carl gave his input. “Mr Leóni is right,” Carl confirmed, but seemingly for his own benefit rather than to comfort the others. “If you two are too dangerous to apprehend then it’s not much of a step from keeping the other operators’ securely held. I’d imagine the missing people would be forced to sign a few things, you know, fed some bullshit about a secret project, not allowed to mention that they’ve been in ‘debriefing’ for however long and then released. Guys holding them would just get re-assigned.”
“It sounds logical to me,” Elliot hoped as he looked from Carl to Dani.
Dani frowned and still looked uncertain.
“I guess I don’t have a anything to lose, I’m in,” Carl announced. “But what about the information you have regarding my father?”
“I’m sorry to frustrate you, Mr Blain, but I cannot reveal anything at this stage.”
“Once you have completed the task I have for you, I will tell you everything.”
Carl now joined Dani in frowning but did not pursue the matter.
“Miss Le Freau, have you made a decision?”
“I don’t know. Could I have some time to think about it?”
“What’s there to thing about?” Elliot asked in surprise. “We help this man, it sets us free.”
“I’d just like some time to weigh up all the options, if that’s okay.”
Mr Leóni swiftly prevented Elliot from further talk. “Of course, Miss Le Freau. Please, I have prepared guest rooms for you all and would be honoured if you would spend the night. I will expect your decision over breakfast tomorrow morning.”
“Okay,” Dani thanked.
“Perhaps the details of my plan or more precisely, what your part in it will be will aid you in your decision making. In order to build my own Dream Carrier I will of course need a great many things. It may surprise you to know that I have already acquired items such as engineers, technical staff and now thanks to Elliot of course, a second operator. Having had access to all parts for the machine’s structure, I have constructed a basic model, but what I don’t have are the exact plans. As such my model does not work correctly. What I need you to do is get those plans for me.”
Carl grunted out a laugh. “I take it you know where those plans are?”
“I do indeed, Mr Blain. They are stored in a secure file in the Special Operations database, all files having been transferred from your own branch of the CIA’s computers. Here are the access codes,” said Mr Leóni as he produced a small universal serial bus. “My source that provided these codes is unable to retrieve the information I need to remove it from the premises without exposure. There are simply too many checks in place. The only way to get the plans is to steal them via a copy, as to ensure safety the data storage is one hundred percent wireless free. Of course, if used the data store will be logged, if not alarmed which will trigger your leaving the room, much less the building.”
Carl had an amused smile on his face. “You want us to break into the Black Ops building, get access into their computer from somewhere-”
“Their main computer control room is the only access point,” interjected Mr Leóni to ascertain the ‘somewhere’.
“Right,” Carl proceeded, “get access from their main control room, download or copy or whatever the plans and then get out of the building and bring the plans back to you?”
“Correct,” Mr Leóni answered with a nod.
Carl let out a deep breath, looked at the hypnotists and nodded. “You know, from what I’ve seen, I think we could do it.”
“Excellent attitude Mr Blain, only I think you’ll find your chances for success are much better than you think, that is, if Mr Green and Miss Le Freau both agree to help you.”
“I’m still in,” Elliot confirmed.
“That just leaves you Dani… What do you think?”
Dani looked at Carl for a long moment before she looked at each person in the room, her face unreadable. “If it’s okay, I’d still like tonight to make up my mind.”
“Certainly Miss Le Freau.” Mr Leóni rose as he spoke and walked towards the door. “I wish you all a good night’s sleep and will see you on the morrow.”
Elliot nodded, his unseen acknowledgement as Mr Leóni turned and left the room.
Rain moved slowly towards the door while still facing the others. “If you’ll get your bags I’ll show you where you’re sleeping.”
Carl walked out of the room beside Rain while Dani and Elliot hung back and followed a few paces behind.
“What is the matter with you!” demanded Elliot in a loud whisper.
“You still can’t use your telepathy, can you?” Dani checked.
“What has that got to do with it!?”
“Just answer me,” asked Dani softly.
Elliot frowned and checked. “No, I’m still being blocked.”
“You’re being blocked by her,” Dani nodded towards Rain. “My clairvoyance is like an enhanced natural instinct, right? Not a simply blocked gift?”
Elliot nodded. “Yeah.”
“I have a really bad feeling about that Leóni guy and about her too!” stated Dani.
“How do you know you’re not just being paranoid?” Elliot whispered angrily.
In reply Dani looked coldly at Elliot. “Stop being so naive! Do you really think Leóni is helping us? Do you honestly believe that whatever he wants us to do to help him is going to help us? He’s sitting at home, coaxing us to get him that required data on a tiny little USB stick, but he’s not getting it himself!”
Elliot lost his crossness around Dani. Listening to her, he accepted her explanation, and he understood the one thing he had not considered; ‘why was Leóni planning to send others for him?’ “But what about Carl? He seems to think this is a good idea,” reminded Elliot.
“Exactly my point,” cried Dani, still whispering. “Look at him cosying up to her!”
Elliot looked at Carl and Rain as she gave a laugh and stroked a hand down one of Carl’s arms as they climbed stairs to the bedrooms.
“You see! How do we know Carl isn’t in on this with them, consciously or not!”
Elliot had no answer and went quietly into thought. He had checked Carl’s mind back on the train, but only briefly and not since then. Now with the block on his powers in place, he couldn’t confirm anything about Carl.
Rain led them up a large staircase and along a well-lit and beautifully decorated hall. Swaying her hair around she stopped between two doors and turned back to Dani and Elliot. Both smiled falsely in an attempt at innocence.
“These are your rooms. Breakfast will be downstairs tomorrow at eight o’clock sharp, don’t be late.” Rain all but sung as she led Carl further down the hallway and around a corner.
Elliot opened his room door, threw in his bag and then closed the door again. He turned and followed Dani into her room closing the door behind him.
The room itself was quite large and dominated by a large bed against its wall centre, a headboard beneath the large windows. A television screen was attached to the wall opposite the bed and had a tiny remote for multiple purposes in the room.
Ignoring the remote Dani turned on a small lamp by the bed and then drew the curtains. Elliot pulled a chair near to the bed and sat down at the same time as Dani flopped onto her bed.
“I know he’s not with them,” Elliot began. “Before we arrived here I’d searched his mind. There wasn’t even a trace of deceit.”
“Are you sure? Until this afternoon you didn’t know you could have your power blocked, how do you know that Carl doesn’t know a way of tricking you?”
“Well what about you – do you have any bad feelings about Carl,” Elliot asked.
Dani curled her lips in thought. “No. In fact, I normally feel safe when he’s near.”
“Well then what are you arguing about!?”
“THEM!” Dani cried with emphasis. “There’s something not right about either one of them.”
Elliot sighed. “Okay. Say you’re right and you have bad feelings around you. Even so, Mr Leóni talked about our freedom. There’s simply no reason to hurt us if we succeed. What have you got to lose by coming with Carl and I?”
Dani’s eyes fell to the bed quilt.
To sooth Elliot added, “You know that I’ll never let anything happen to you and you said yourself you feel safe when Carl’s around.”
Dani’s eyes rose. “I’m just not sure that helping Leóni is the right thing to do.”
Elliot puffed his lips. “And if you don’t help him, you’re on your own. You’re leaving Carl and I to carry out his plan by just ourselves, as you know Rain sticks to her boss like his number one fan. With your help, we could probably do what he wants us to.” Elliot looked deeply into Dani’s eyes and found that even with the block on his telepathy he knew what she was thinking. “I’m scared too. But Carl thinks we can do this.”
Dani stared back at Elliot, looking into his blue eyes for the confidence she knew they both needed. “Alright. I’ll help.”
Elliot sprang forward out of his chair and hugged his arms around Dani’s shoulders. “Great!”
With Dani wrapping her arms around and under his, the two of them sat in an embrace, enjoying the comfort that a warm hug from someone you care about can provide.
Without warning, a psychic wave pulsed through the air and Elliot shivered falling back out of Dani’s arms, but she held onto him tightly and kept him pressed to her.
“That was a nasty one,” Dani calmed into his ear. “Are you okay?”
Elliot only nodded.
“You know, I’ve been wondering about this mental block – have you tried breaking through it?” asked Dani.
“Huh? Um, no,” Elliot muttered.
Dani gently released him away from her. “You’re one of the most powerful hypnotists in the world. You have telepathic power that’s off the chart. So I’m wondering how Rain can block you so easily, yet she seems to have no power over my clairvoyance instincts.”
“Well, I’m not that strong. You’re way stronger than I’ll ever be – just look at the way her psychic blasts barely effect you and then how she can effect me.”
“But we’re talking about our different powers,” Dani continued. “I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t break free of her block. Go on – try. Tell me what I’m thinking. Tell me where Carl is. Find everyone in this house.”
Elliot sat down on the floor and folded his arms across his chest. He smiled at Dani before he closed his eyes and went into a trance-like state. Elliot concentrated on his thoughts. Slowly he built up power, expanding his mind, forcing his awareness outwards, pushing against the block that smothered his mind like quicksand. He felt resistance but pushed harder. He started sending out barrages of thought attacking the block that was holding his mind in place. Suddenly he caught a glimmer of thought from Carl and heard the words “What is it?” asked in Carl’s mind.
A feminine voice that was not his own answered, "Nothing,” but Elliot knew this was a lie. Elliot could feel a mind connected to his own, the mind subduing his and he knew that it was Rain. With everything he had, Elliot exploded his thoughts outwards like a detonating bomb in his mind and at once the block was gone, shattered into pieces. Elliot could feel Rain on the other side of the floor in her room, Carl with her.
Carl looked at Rain and blinked slowly. As if suddenly waking up from a dream, he snatched his hands back from Rain’s slim hips. She stepped forwards to brush herself up against him and leaned in to continue kissing him, but Carl jolted his head away from hers. At that moment, the full force of Elliot’s mental escape broke through and burst out of Rain causing her to yelp. Staggering backwards, Rain covered her eyes and forehead with her hands before she collapsed onto the bed.
Now completely free from her telepathic powers, Carl’s anger rose within him, usurping the sexual arousal that had dominated his thoughts only moments ago. “Bitch!” he cursed quietly as he scooped up his bag and slammed her door shut behind him on his way out of her room. Carl would gladly have slept with her, such a beautiful and sexy seductress, but not like this. She had used her mind, her own powerful hypnotism to lead him to her room. Rain had put a spell on him and using her charms and good looks to enhance her natural power, she had sought to bring Carl completely under her control. The fact that she had used her psychic gifts on Carl made it clear to him that she wanted only one thing from seducing him – and that was not the same thing that he had wanted. She had tried to gain Carl as her loyal ally, someone she could control, and at that moment Carl neither wanted or cared why. Carl would not be used by anyone and he hated that he had been so weak. As he stalked off down the corridor back to Elliot and Dani’s rooms he cursed himself for not having seen through Rain’s deception before right away.
“I did it!” Elliot cried with a smile forming on his face.
“Yay!” cheered Dani as she flung herself down into his arms.
A moment later Carl burst through the door and threw his bag down. “She only had to ask!”
Dani climbed off of Elliot and to her feet. “We’ve both broken the block that Rain had on us!”
“Great,” Carl replied with a small measure of sarcasm. “Now tell me what the hell is going on!”
Elliot, now on his feet answered. “I snapped the hold she had, the block Rain had put on my mind. While I was doing it I sensed what she wanted to do. She wanted to trick you into falling in love with her, so that when the time came you’d be loyal to her –and therefore Leóni– over us. They thought if she seduced you then they could use you against us if they wanted to.”
“Why?!” Carl growled.
Elliot shook his head. “I don’t know. Her thoughts were too well controlled. I could sense what her objective was with you, but I couldn’t see the big picture.”
Carl let out a sigh. Flicking his eyes to Dani he asked, “You in?”
“Good. Level playing field.”
“You’re still going through with his plan?” Elliot asked in mild surprise about Leóni’s plan.
“Damn right I am. He knows what happened to my father… And if I don’t, I’ll be running from those Black Ops bastards for the rest of my numbered days.”
“You don’t think we should get out of here right now?!”
Carl did not answer with his voice, instead allowing the steeled look in his eyes to answer for him.
Elliot looked at Dani and saw that now she had made up her mind she was not going to change it. “Alright then,” Elliot agreed. “We’re all in. We do this for Leóni, clear ourselves and the second we’re safe from those Black Ops guys or that Special Operations building, we get out of here.”
Rain opened the door to Mr Leóni’s study and walked in to face him at his desk. The older man looked up from his book and was caught off guard by her scruffy appearance. Rain’s hair was not in its usual combed-perfectly, straight state and she seemed slightly out of breath.
With a suspicious look on his face, Leóni waited for her to explain herself.
“It didn’t work. I was just about to seduce Blain entirely, when Green broke my block on him, on them all.”
“What happened?” Mr Leóni demanded.
“Blain! He figured out what was going on and left. None of them knew I had created the block before and they didn’t even try to break it when they arrived. But I think I overestimated with Dani, saw it as too similarly to Green’s powers, and I misfired.”
Mr Leóni looked amused. “No matter. The next time I see them you’ll be there. You can hold off Green for the short time we’re having breakfast, then they’ll be on their way. The girl is of no real importance, it’s Green I need. Blain is only there to make sure he’s safe, but in all likelihood, I suspect Green needs someone else’s protection about as much as Romonovski needs someone else’s Dream Carrier – wherever he is.”
Rain hesitated. “There’s something else…”
“Yes, go on?”
“Blain. He’s more likely to show loyalty to the other two than us, now that he’s aware of what I tried to do. This could prove… tricky when the time comes to–”
“A disappointment to be sure,” Leóni interrupted, “but I still have the information about his father. Tomorrow I want you to let it slip in your mind that his father, Edward Blain, was an employee of my father. That should keep him interested once Green tells him what you inadvertently revealed.”
Rain smiled and Leóni leaned forwards over the desk and kissed her. She returned the long kiss but with less passion and then left knowing he would soon join her.
Chapter Seven – August 16th 2099, 10:11
Carl sat on the train and ran through the points of the infiltration plan that Leóni had told them, though thoughts of his father in the Leóni family employment interrupted him. He wished that Elliot had been able to learn more. Elliot was the one that had destroyed the mental barrier Rain had suspiciously raised, and in so doing, had explored Rain’s thoughts during breakfast and heard of Carl’s father. As they had left earlier this morning, Elliot had revealed Rain’s thought to him, making Carl all the more dubious of their ‘employer’ and his distrustful assistant.
In an effort of mental discipline Carl forced the thoughts of his father from his mind and concentrated on the mission he was about to undertake. He looked to Dani and Elliot sitting opposite him, on the opposite of their train table, and even without a psychic fibre in his body, he could feel the nervous anticipation emanating from both of them. Carl guessed from the look on Elliot’s face and the heavy gulp shown in his throat, that he sought to mask his apprehension. Next to him, Dani’s slightly wider eyes were simple for Carl to detect her anxiety.
Leaving them in peace, Carl thought about the plan given to them. The infiltration plan started with the return to the place they had run from, a return to the Black Ops Head Quarters in Washington DC. The building that Dani feared so much and that both she and Elliot had come so close to entering, was now their destination. Leóni had strategized that the search being conducted for the three of them would be spreading away from their destination – no one would be looking for them travelling back towards the Special Operations main building. Carl had agreed and the idea was logical enough that Dani and Elliot went along with it. So, the three had been taken back to Miami Station and boarded a train heading back along the route they had arrived by. They had just under nine hours before they would arrive in Washington and then make their way to the Black Ops building – the new home of the Dream Carrier project. They were due to get there that night, or more precisely the early hours of the following morning, with the plan that they could break into the building and steal the schematics they needed during the quieter hours of the night. The finer details of the plan were left to Carl to improvise as they went along, depending on the situation. He had the best first-hand knowledge of the building and was the only trained member of the three of them in such matters of espionage. This suited him fine as in Carl’s opinion, the less they had to trust Leóni, the better.
Carl’s mind began to wonder into his past and the missions like this that he had been on. Before he’d always had back-up, whether it was in the form of the other agents on his team or the support at the end of his wrist communicator. But now, he had two civilians. Admittedly, Carl had seen the two take care of themselves and had been impressed, but that had been in moments of need when they were running scared. This time they were heading into the lion’s den and Carl worried if they would be all right under the added pressure of moving toward the threat instead of running away from it. Elliot seemed strong enough, after all he had volunteered straight away. But Dani… She was still young and had been afraid up to this point, seeming to go along with what he and Elliot had thought best.
Carl let out a sigh as he watched the two of them whispering quietly in a light–hearted chit–chat, trying to relieve their nerves. It was then that Carl noticed the ring on Elliot’s finger. “Married?” he asked of Elliot.
Elliot looked away from Dani and down at the ring, absently twisting it around on his finger.
“I don’t remember reading anything about a family on your record,” Carl continued.
Looking up at him Elliot answered. “She’d only be listed as one word – deceased.”
“Oh… I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay, it happened a while ago now.” Silence followed Elliot’s voice and lingered for several moments before he spoke again. “I used to wonder, if I stayed working with the Dream Carrier for long enough, that maybe one day I’d get to find out who Angela became in her next life.”
Dani rubbed Elliot’s shoulder and then took his hand in both of hers. “Wherever she is, whoever she’s become, I’m sure that in her soul she still carries her feelings, her love for you.”
Elliot smiled at these kind words and rested his head on top of Dani’s, sitting with her in comforting silence.
Carl closed his eyes and in his mind he saw Rain. She looked so beautiful, her blue eyes so captivating. Was she really a hypnotist or was it her eyes that cast the spell on him? Her smooth complexion and her long hair combined with her gorgeous body meant that men like Carl were all too easy for her to leave an impression upon. Carl could still feel himself being attracted to her, even after what she had tried to do to him, the way she had tried to use him. The kiss they had shared two nights ago still lingered in his mind. There had been something sensual about it, some sort of extra connection. Had she been using her hypnotic powers even then? He would never know.
His thoughts changed direction and Carl saw the Dream Carrier in his mind, the large machine that he had seen so many times, but had never actually used. Carl knew it worked, but there was just something about it, something he could not believe in and could not bring himself to accept. It wasn’t fear, but more the acceptance of mystery and of putting trust in faith. Carl liked not knowing anything but who he was now. He didn’t want to know who he had been in a past life as he thought that memories could not change a person. The philosophical question; ‘If you lost your memory, would you still be the same person?’ was a conundrum that had fascinated Carl in his earlier years at the agency. Carl related the question to the possibility that, in his line of work he may have to shoot and kill someone, and he had wondered if he were to have no memory of this, would that make it easier to do?
When the Dream Carrier had come into his life, Carl did not want to know about his previous existence. What if this was not the first time he had been killing people –criminals or not– but people none the less, lives that had ended by his hand. What if this wasn’t the first time? What if, throughout his incarnations, he had always been a killer in one form or another? If the answer provided by the Dream Carrier to his conundrum had been ‘yes’ then he did not want to risk to see what had gone on before. No, to Carl the mystery of not knowing felt better. The possibility that in his last life he had been a good and kind person, and had never killed someone was a much nicer prospect. Reality was cold and miserable enough without finding out that it had always been like this for him, that the memories of each life were essentially the same, but happening in a different time and with different people was too unbearable to contemplate.
“Along the winding tracks we travel, we know not where they lead…”
Dani smiled at Elliot’s poetic outburst and then added her own verse. “But I don’t care, I’m with my friends and they are all I need.”
Now even Carl’s mood lightened as he opened his eyes and smiled back at the pair opposite, admiring their courage, touched by their affectionate rhyme.
The train journey lasted through the day and passed them into the evening. The basic freshness machines applied to their standard daily clothing had been immaculately sanitized, as was the casually standard procedure for most public and private locations for all clothing. Invented back in the year 2075, the equivalent of a brief yet powerful blast of air condition would yield one hundred percent of most fabric cleanliness, whether clothed or not.
After recently cleansed within their train compartment, the three were hungry so moved to the train dining car and ate together. As usual, Elliot started conversation.
“This is quite good,” Elliot stated as he chewed on his chicken dinner.
Dani looked at him and shook her head. “How can you eat anything that used to be alive?!”
Elliot looked down at Dani’s half-eaten jacket potato covered in melted cheese and gave his retort. “Well, technically that potato was alive, just not in the same way as my chicken. Besides, it’s not like they tortured it to death.”
“Oh please, as if you can make that comparison. Your chicken and my potato have about as much in common as some pet dog carrying another creature’s bone.”
Carl barely smiled at Dani’s creative comparison.
“I mean,” continued Dani, “would you compare those to one another?”
“I’ve seen the two mixed before,” Elliot admitted from his own observation.
Dani threw down her fork and smacked Elliot’s arm. Giving him her most disapproving scowl she let out a loud breath and then went back to her meal.
Elliot winked at Carl and smiled, showing that he knew exactly how to antagonise Dani in a playful way that she wouldn’t be able to resist.
Carl got the impression that this was not the first time that this debate had been raised and could not help being amused by the two. “You’re a vegetarian then,” Carl said as more of a statement than a question, and as he spoke he took a big bite out of his beef burger.
Now it was Elliot’s turn to hold back his smiling as Carl got the same disapproving glare that Dani had shot at Elliot only moments ago.
“If animals could talk you wouldn’t be eating them!”
“Sure I would,” replied Carl. “They wouldn’t be talking when they were on my plate, would they?! Then again, it might make for some interesting conversations during those lonely nights in front of the TV.”
For a moment Dani just sat and stared at Carl, undecided as to if he was joking or not. Then making her decision she threatened, “You are so lucky you’re out of smacking distance,” in a controlled and slightly exaggerated fury.
“Yup,” agreed Elliot with a nod.
“And you can keep quiet!” Dani cried as she feigned a stab at Elliot with her fork.
Smiling, Carl looked out of the window and like the scenery, dinner passed quickly.
The night had arrived with them back in their small train compartment. The lights were only dim –the way Dani liked them– as the three began finalising their plans for the mission. Nerves still had not taken a strong hold on either Dani or Elliot, both still managing themselves well, and Carl was still at a loss to explain why. Although he was not aware, it was actually his own confidence that was feeding the two psychics. Carl’s strength and determination was easy for them to pick up on, and rubbed off on them just as easily.
Not one to ruin a good thing, Carl did not ask the reason for their confidence, instead he only hoped that it lasted until all of this was done. “The station is only a mile away from the building we need to get to. We won’t bother trying to get a cab at such a late hour, we’ll just walk. There should be only a few people around at that time and hopefully no one who’ll recognise us when we get to the building. You’re both alright with the plan for getting in?”
“Yes,” answered Elliot as Dani nodded her agreement.
“You’re sure you can both do it?” Carl checked.
“Good. Once we’re inside, I’m reasonably certain I know where the control room is. The only way we could have a problem is if they’ve moved the room –which is highly unlikely. If we get that far, then getting into the control room shouldn’t be half as difficult as getting in through the front door would have been.”
“Then you’re gonna download everything while we keep a lookout,” Dani confirmed.
“That’s right. The only problem I see –assuming that we get in and out okay– is getting back to Leóni. He said he’d have someone waiting to pick us up, but I don’t see how we can escape in ‘someone waiting to pick us up’… Still he seemed confident enough. I don’t trust him –as I know neither of you do either– but he’d have been wasting his time and money sending us back to do this, promising an escape route and then not delivering.”
“His information has been good up to now,” Elliot reminded them. “We have no reason to believe he’d be setting us up to be caught by the Black Ops guys. Like you say, he’s got nothing to gain by that. Why help us in the first place?”
“Exactly,” agreed Carl.
“I don’t trust him,” Dani said firmly.
“None of us do, Dani. But he’s the best chance we’ve got to be in the clear,” reminded Carl.
Dani sighed. “I know. I don’t want to be running for the rest of my life either. It’s just, well, not that I have a really bad feeling or anything, but… I wouldn’t do this if you guys hadn’t both agreed to it.”
“It’s alright, Dani,” said Elliot in a soothing voice. “Leóni – none of us trust. But Carl – we can trust, right?”
“Absolutely,” Carl confirmed. “I’ve done this dozens of times and I’m sure we’ll be okay, okay?”
Dani leaned into a one armed hug from Elliot and nodded her consent.
“Okay,” Carl concluded, “only another hour or so and we’ll be there. Remember, stay close to me. If anything goes wrong, we use the cover story to buy time.”
“Got it,” Elliot affirmed.
An hour later, the three figures slipped quietly off of the train and out of the station. Of the few late night travellers around, no one would remember seeing them, Elliot made sure they were invisible to the minds and memories of those they encountered, and every single camera had temporarily blacked out via Dani.
A brisk walk saw the three figures cover the mile to the Black Ops building in only a short time.
Dani felt uneasy as she stood in the same spot she had been standing in days ago, when she had come here for her ‘debriefing’. This time Elliot would not be making her jump and Carl’s presence helped to ease the tension she felt.
“Okay. Here’s where the fun begins,” humoured Carl. “Ready Dani?”
The girl gave a nod and then jogged over to the front of the building looking as weak as she could manage, playing her part of damsel in distress. She all but pushed herself up against the glass doors and looked with desperate eyes at the night security guards within. Two men, who upon seeing the young girl with tears in her eyes sprang into action. One hurried forwards and opened the door, the other standing just behind him.
“Please, I’ve just been attacked and he broke my phone, so he could…” she paused, cupped her face in her hands and began crying.
The guards looked at Dani’s loose top and the way her jeans were not done up properly. “It’s alright Miss, you’re safe now,” said the front guard as he tried to sooth Dani.
Separated from Dani, Carl and Elliot observed her as closely as they could.
“Shit!” muttered Carl under his breath. “One of the guards is still inside.”
“Don’t worry. Dani will get him out,” Elliot assured.
“Oh thank you. It was horrible,” Dani wailed to the guards. “A man in a suit... Touching me…” Dani touched herself, further distracting the guards and then pretended to wretch in disgust. “I don’t know if he’s still over there or not,” said Dani as wiping tears, she took a step back and pointed away to the other side of the deserted street, to where nothing but tall bushes lined the road in front of large office building.
Instinctively, the front guard stepped out beside Dani and looked off to where she was pointing and as he moved, the curious second guard took a step forward.
Dani looked back at him and suddenly the tears in her eyes were gone as the behind guard froze in mid step, unable to move under Dani’s telekinetic power.
At that moment Elliot stepped out from his hiding place in the bushes, pretending to be the attacker Dani had described. Immediately and even at this range the front guard’s eyes met Elliot’s, and the guard’s mind went blank.
Carl emerged from the bushes and jogged up to walk beside Elliot, who with his hand outstretched had the guard hypnotised and completely under his control, paralysed and unable to do anything but wait for his mental controller’s commands.
“Hurry!” called Dani as she stood rigid, concentrating hard and keeping the other guard frozen on the spot.
The guard under Elliot’s control turned and walked back passed his partner, who unable to move anything but his eyes, was powerless to intervene. Into the building went the hypnotised guard and through the large reception area, shoes tapping on the polished marble floor, until he sat behind the desk. The guard looked down at the monitors and stared fixedly at them without blinking, as if he was watching the most riveting thing he had ever seen and was alone to do so.
“Alright Dani,” eased Elliot as he turned his attention to the other man.
Dani’s body relaxed and she took a step back, letting Elliot move between her and the guard. Tidying her appearance she followed the two of them in while Carl closed the doors and then moved quickly to the desk.
“Perfect,” Carl praised under his breath as he began tapping keys on the keyboard in front of the mesmerised guards. “I can disable the alarms from here. Means the only thing we have to worry about now are those,” Carl pointed to three different screens and in each, three different men walked down three different corridors, patrolling the deserted building, guaranteeing security.
“The roaming guards,” confirmed Dani. “Well now we know where they are, we should be able to keep an eye out for them. Is there any way we can get to the control room without going near them?”
“I don’t know. They could have the same route at different time intervals, then again, they could have three different routes – Leóni said he couldn’t get that intelligence. Come on, let’s go. Elliot?”
“Set. These two will be fine in a few minutes and won’t remember a thing. Sure you don’t want me to leave them under my spell until we get out?”
Carl shook his head. “No. We can’t take the risk of one of the patrols coming back here and finding them like that,” Carl answered as he moved off into the building.
Dani and Elliot followed.
Carl looked at the elevators and then turned his head. “The control room will be on this floor somewhere, so we don’t need to worry about those.”
“Good,” said Dani, “I don’t like elevators!”
As the two followed Carl, Elliot gave Dani a surprised look. “I didn’t know you looked that official now.”
Dani shook her head in a dismissive gesture and putting the finishing touches on tidying her appearance, hurried to keep pace with Carl. “How do I look?”
Carl studied her for a moment and then nodded. “You need to do up another button on your blouse and here,” Carl handed her a security ‘visitor’ identification badge. “This won’t fool anyone who looks closely enough, but as long as they see an ID on you this far in, they won’t look closely enough. You too Elliot.”
“Where did you get these?”
“Swiped them from the front desk.” Carl then produced his own ID badge that he had originally brought with him in his combat trouser pocket.
As the three of them walked on, a member of the staff that worked in the building passed by them. Elliot was ready to seize her mind should that be necessary, but the worker gave the three of them nothing more than a casual glance before carrying on passed them.
When she had passed out of earshot, Carl explained. “This is a government building, so although a lot quieter at this time of night, it’s not going to be completely empty. Remember to act naturally, like you belong here, just like we planned.”
A few corridors later, Carl stopped outside an unmarked door that looked identical to all the others they had passed. “This should be it. Elliot, can you sense anyone in there?”
Elliot concentrated for a second and then a concerned look crossed his face. “One person, tired, but definitely still awake.”
“Okay, here we go!” Carl announced as he opened the door and stepped into the room.
The three of them stood for a moment in surprise, as the one occupant in the room turned to them and asked in a thick Spanish accent, “Yes, Sir?”
Dani and Elliot glanced at each other and then looked around the reasonably small room. There were shelves of cleaning equipment, spare lights, disposal bags and all manner of things that a well-equipped janitor would have to look after a large building. It was obvious to Elliot that there were usually a staff of janitors, judging from the size of the room and the fact that a number of chairs were here, but at this late hour, only one of the maintenance staff was on site.
“Just checking your location,” Carl misinformed with experienced authority. Then without another word he turned and ushered Dani and Elliot from the room, closing the door again behind him.
The cleaner shrugged as he carried on, gathering required tools. “Idiota estúpido.”
In his mind Elliot heard the translation from the cleaner and it eased his mind. “Looks like they moved the control room then,” Elliot mocked.
Carl glared at Elliot and then nodded with sarcasm. “Yes, Elliot, it’s moved.”
“Any ideas where?” Elliot replied in complete seriousness.
Carl dropped his eyes to the floor and rubbed the stubble on his chin. “If the control room isn’t on the ground floor anymore then the only other place it could be moved to would be the first floor. Come on!”
Again Elliot and Dani followed Carl as he led them back towards the elevators. “There’s a stairwell just next to the elevators, we can take that up to the next floor.”
They briskly walked back the way they had come and through the small doorways that led to the stairs. The stairwell was only dimly lit and each step echoed as the three ran up to the next floor. Carl’s hand fell on the doorknob when Dani suddenly sprang forward and gripped his arm.
“Wait!” she whispered loudly before throwing herself against Carl and pushing him back behind the door. A second later the door opened and a patrolling guard stepped through to be face to face with Elliot. The guard was dressed in the same grey uniform that those on the front desk had been wearing and like those, his mind was quickly subdued by Elliot’s powerful hypnotism and telepathic control.
“What should I do with him?” asked Elliot calmly as he stepped around the guard and closed the door. “Just leave him to guard this spot?”
“No,” answered Carl. “He has to keep up his patrol and keep to his schedule.”
“Okay. Um, yeah, okay. I’m gonna give us a few seconds to get out of here then snap him out of this. Ready?”
Carl looked back to Dani as he grabbed the door handle again. “If you sense anything watching us, any cameras, then fuzz ‘em.”
“You know – stop ‘em watching us like you did in the station.”
Dani’s brows raised and she nodded.
Carl opened the door to the first floor and glanced up and down the corridor. “Clear!”
Dani followed Carl from the stairwell as Elliot moved around behind the guard. Then with a mental suggestion that was the equivalent of snapping his fingers, Elliot released the guard from his trance and quietly shut the door, leaving the guard to believe that they had never been there and that the door was closing because he had just shut it.
The guard carried on up the stairwell to the next floor with nothing more than the elusive feeling of having forgotten something.
“How did you know?” Carl asked Dani as they walked along the corridor.
“I don’t know. It just happens. Things come to me and I know without any doubt, or rather I feel, what’s about to happen.”
“Useful,” Carl observed with thoughts of blocked guards and caught cameras in his mind.
Dani did not answer Carl’s statement, instead looked over her shoulder to check on Elliot.
Carl led the two of them along the same shaped route that they had taken on the floor below until they neared their destination and once again Dani put her hand on Carl’s arm.
“We should be careful up ahead,” Dani advised.
Carl nodded in acknowledgment.
With a quick look around the last corner of the corridor, Carl understood Dani’s warning. Leaning back to the others he revealed, “There’s a guard’s post opposite what should be the control room!”
Elliot concentrated for a moment before speaking. “It’s no good, there are too many people nearby –in the control room I assume– for me to be able to tell how many minds ahead belong to guards.”
“Well then we’ll just have to hope they don’t recognise us. Come on,” and again Carl took the lead with the others following close behind.
As they walked towards the control room door and the guard’s station opposite it, Elliot’s mind cleared, focusing himself for whatever he may have to do.
Carl blocked Elliot and Dani from security guard view, as with their distance steady pace Elliot was able to take control.
On approach Elliot cleared the seated external guard opposite the control room and whispered, “Done.” Elliot had wiped that single guard’s mind and prepared to envelope with others. The group were still several meters away as Elliot attempted to count the minds around. “Three guards. Four staff in the control room,” Elliot observed, waving a right chop from the right of the corridor to the left.
“Wait!” cried Dani as she held back the other two. At that moment a guard walked out of the station and turned into the corridor with his back to the intruders. Still unaware of their presence, he marched away and turned off at the opposite end of the corridor.
Elliot amended with a second waving chop from the right of the corridor to the left, “Two guards left. Four staff in the control room.”
Carl gave Elliot a bemused look. “Thanks…” Walking forward with purpose in his strides, Carl entered the guard station as if he was in charge.
It was a reasonably small room with a single window that looked out into the corridor at the opposite door to the control room. Both the remaining guards looked up from their seats and watched as Carl marched over, leaned between them and checked the monitors.
“Can I help you?” asked one of the guards in an irritated tone.
“Yes. You can help me by going to sleep.”
The guard had just enough time to register the vacant look on his colleague’s face before Carl’s knuckles knocked the man into unconsciousness. Carl stood for a moment and hesitated as the other guard sat motionless, locked in his mind by Elliot’s telepathically powered hypnosis. “Like kicking a puppy,” Carl muttered under his breath before he grabbed the second guard around his neck and put a sleeper hold on the man. At just the right time between unconsciousness and strangulation, Carl released the second guard to the floor.
“Coast is still clear,” called Dani from the doorway. “But we’ve got a problem! There’s a card reader on the control room door!”
“Not a problem,” Carl called back as he and Elliot dragged the guards’ bodies around behind the desks.
“Okay, Elliot – grab that guy’s security pass and get ready.”
“Got it,” Elliot confirmed as he made his way out of the small guards room, he locked it. Elliot then stepped to the control room and swiped, ready for Carl.
As soon as Elliot had swiped the card through the lock on the control room opposite, Carl brushed passed him and entered the room in the same manner of authority as he had displayed for the guards.
The four officers in the control room immediately looked up to the room entrant.
With his hands raised, Carl stated, “Alright everybody, we’ve had a report of a break-in. This is a security check, please remain where you are.”
The four people in the control room looked around at each other and did as they were told.
Elliot entered the room behind Carl, leaving Dani alone in the corridor to watch for trouble.
The control room was a long reasonably narrow room with a single row of double desks lined up opposite one another. Each desk had at least two monitors on it and the room seemed only to be lit from the light of those screens, all of which were on regardless of whether someone sat at the desk.
“I don’t understand,” piped up one of the operators. He wore now dipped glasses and considered them a stylish indicator of his intelligence. “If there’s a break–in, why haven’t we seen anything and why do you need to check this room? There’s no way intruders could get in here!”
Elliot looked at Carl but the secret agent didn’t miss a beat answering. “The break-in is electrical –someone’s in our systems. I need you to–”
“Begging your pardon Sir, but that’s impossible,” interrupted the same operator. “I only installed the new hyper-bit encryption software last month. There’s no way someone has hacked into our systems! It just couldn’t be done.”
Without waiting for Carl to say anything else, Elliot snatched the operator’s mind in a vice like grip, his three colleagues watching as his puzzled face became serene and his eyes took on the vacant stare of someone deep in thought. “No, you’re right, I could be wrong,” uttered the operator in a complete monotone. The operator turned back to one of his screens and began tapping away at his keyboard. The screen went blank for a moment and then the archive folders appeared.
Opposite the screens the other operators rose up at the files being sought and rose in their seats.
Carl moved to lean over the vocal operator’s shoulder and watched closely as the man pulled up the folders on the Dream Carrier.
“I know you!” cried another of the operators in an excited screech. “When I used the Dream Carrier, you were the operator – the hypnotist that worked the machine!”
Carl whirled on the young woman that had made the identification. She was proud of herself for having remembered, but did not seem aware that Elliot was a wanted man. Carl glanced at Elliot, his concentration still locked on the operator summoning the files that they needed to copy.
“Hey! What are you doing here?” continued the young woman to Elliot.
But one of the other operators would not accept. Concerned over their most confident operator raising files for the Dream Carrier, annoyed by the attention paid upon Elliot, his youthful tone stated, “They’re stealing the plans for the Dream Carrier!”
As one of the other workers in the control room made this simple observation, the atmosphere in the room changed and control slipped through Carl’s fingers. The three operators that were not under Elliot’s spell all saw the surprise in Carl’s face before he was able to conceal it and instantly all three were moving. Carl spun on the spot and almost decapitated one of the three with a hard forearm to the neck, instantly knocking him to the ground. The two women that remained though were on the far side of the desks and out of Carl’s reach as they ran to the door, ignoring Elliot. But just as they reached the doorway, the girl in front froze causing her friend that had recognised Elliot to crash into her, sending the pair of them tumbling to the floor. This gave Carl all the time he needed to catch them and hold them both down.
Dani put her head round the door and said, “I thought you could use some help! I don’t think we’ve got long, so make it as fast as you can.”
“Elliot!” called Carl as he threw over the small universal serial bus device.
Without looking, Elliot caught the device and walked to the man still locked under his control. Then suddenly Elliot called, “Where is it?”
“What?” Carl called back.
“There’s no USB slot on this thing! How do we insert to get the files out?!”
“What!” Carl called back.
“There’s nothing to insert this card into the machine,” Elliot confirmed plainly.
“Oh shit,” Carl panicked. Still stuck pinning the two female operators, Carl looked up trying to fathom his next idea.
Elliot responded. “So first you didn’t know they moved the control room, and now you’re not aware of the new computer storage?”
After a few soft steps Dani walked in and called out, “I can hear you guys at the door, just relax.” Dani walked over to the console that the hypnotised operator worked at. “Jeez, it’s like neither of you guys know how to do this.” Dani swung her inseparable bag from her shoulder and withdrew tiny headphones.
“AH!” Dani cut Elliot off with a raised hand. Then Dani flicked on both her wireless headphones and gently leant down and rested her head on the top of the computer’s base, secured to the floor under each desk.
Carl questioned. “What are you-”
“Shh!” Dani shushed him.
Through her headphones combined with her natural senses, Dani listened to the busiest part of the computer they had hoped to use to extract plans. Dani tilted her head, using both ears, as she followed something she could hear, and then finally, “Ah ha!” Dani got up with her hand on a patch of the machine. “This is where we need to open.”
Immediately Carl clicked. He withdrew one of his silenced pistols, ignoring the muffled female operators and he demanded, “Elliot, hold these ladies down.”
Elliot obeyed and seized the minds of both in the group he now held at his bay.
Carl marched over to the computer device and shot at narrow angles to circle around the machine and create a hole at the point Dani had identified.
“See?” Dani checked. “That’s the bit of the machine that always has those port slots, for USB and all other slots, but kept inside.”
Elliot smiled. “You knew that, or felt it.”
Dani grinned. “You’ll never know.”
“I should’ve known that in this guy’s mind,” Elliot huffed to himself. He handed his main mental captive the tiny stick and moments later all the information about the Dream Carrier, everything from plans to projected uses, was copied onto their universal serial bus device.
Mere seconds later Carl was at the doorway and peering into the corridor. “Still clear.”
“But not for long!” Dani added. “Hurry!”
The controlled operator took the universal serial bus from the internal connection to his computer and handed it to Elliot, who in return whispered into the man’s ear, “Thanks, now go to sleep.” Elliot applied to all those others in his sphere of mental connections around him, and at once the operator slumped in his chair and slid to the floor, as both the other female operators fell into sleep.
“Got it!” Elliot confirmed.
“Okay Elliot – get Dani and get out!”
“What about you?” Dani asked.
“I’ll be right behind you!” Carl replied.
Elliot ran out of the door, the USB stick with the Dream Carrier’s files on it safely tucked into the inside pocket of his suit jacket. “Come on,” he said as he grabbed Dani’s arm without slowing down and dragged her back towards the stairwell.
As they opened the door a shout came from behind them. “You! Stop!”
“Run!” Elliot cried as he pushed Dani through the door. Together they raced down the steps and back to the ground floor, hearing the guard enter the stairwell just as they made their way back into the ground floor corridor. They ran back down the maze-like corridors back towards the main entrance until suddenly a wall appeared before them.
“No,” whispered Elliot realising that they had made a wrong turn. “Which way?”
Dani let out a deep breath and then calmly advised, “This way.” Turning on her heal she ran back the way they had come, Elliot right behind her. They sprinted back up the corridor until Dani skidded to stop and threw herself against a door, snatching at Elliot’s hand behind her. “Quick in here!”
They entered an empty office that was designed for no more than a single worker and quietly shut the door behind them. Dani raised a finger to her lips and motioned for Elliot to be silent.
Pressing their ears to the door they listened as footsteps came running down the corridor, only to be echoed by a second set of shoes.
“Where did they go?” came a muffled voice from the other side of the door.
“Into one of these offices?”
“Nah, they’re all locked.”
“They didn’t come through reception, they must have doubled back or gone up in the elevators!”
“Okay, you get back to reception and keep an eye out with the others.”
Dani and Elliot heard a set of footsteps running away. Then a burst of static hissed through the door and the remaining voice spoke again. “All units, be advised that there are multiple intruders trying to escape the building. Apprehend them using any means possible. They have stolen top secret files and must not be allowed to escape. Report your positions to me now and maintain…” The voice passed out of earshot and Dani and Elliot were left alone in the silence.
“What do we do?” asked Elliot.
Dani frowned for a moment. “There’s supposed to be an escape route just outside the building, right? At least that’s what Leóni said, so all we have to do is get outside. We’ve got no choice. We need Carl for the back–up plan.”
“This was never going to work anyway!” complained Elliot suddenly. “The guards probably should just have taken all three of us away into custody by now.”
Dani sighed. “You’re probably right. But right now, we need to focus. Braking out from Rain’s mental block will be nothing compared to convincing a whole building we were never here – which is what we might have to do to get out of here. Are you ready?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
Leaning in close to the door again, Elliot tried to sense minds as Dani listened for voices and when neither heard anything, they opened the door just a narrow fraction. Peering out into the corridor Dani was relieved to see that no one was there. Waving Elliot out behind her, she crept out and continued up the corridor, back towards where her instincts told her the exit was. As they neared the first corner of the corridor, footsteps marched towards them. With a panicked glance at each other, Elliot and Dani spun around and both tried the doors closest to them. Both were locked.
Elliot looked back up the corridor just in time to see the grey uniformed guard round the corner. The man’s hands fell simultaneously to his gun and his wrist radio, but neither touched its intended target, as the man froze where he was and his mind went blank.
Dani looked at Elliot realising that he had a hold of the guard.
“I’ve got him,” whispered Elliot.
Dani blinked slowly and the guard’s body seemed to relax a little.
Elliot waved his hand in a slow, disarming gesture in front of his face and the guard slid to the floor, a deep sleep putting a content little smile on his face.
The two hypnotists hurried along the passage and around the corner.
“Just up ahead!” warned Dani as she recognised the nearing reception area.
A few more steps and they were at the final corner. At that moment, time seemed to slow down for Dani and she knew without any question, what was about to happen.
Elliot held out his arm, holding her back and stepping around the corner to be the first into whatever was waiting for them. The bullet shot through the air with a bass-full silence. The blood spurted from Elliot and sprayed Dani as he spun from the force of the shot before collapsing to the floor. A silent scream contorted her face as she looked down at his lifeless body and then the images before her were gone.
Time sped up for Dani once more and Elliot’s arm rose to keep her from rounding the corner. In that instant Dani reacted in complete harmony with her instincts, violently shoving Elliot forward so that he sprang out from behind the corner and the bullet that would have taken his life passed harmlessly through the space he would have been standing in. Dani could feel her powers flowing through her as she stepped around the corner and snatched the guard that had dared to attack her friend into the air and held him, locked and contorted in a pain he could not fight.
The other two guards were stunned to see their partner raised from the ground and twisted in a way he should not bend, but their shock lasted only a heartbeat. Two silenced shots based out, both aimed at Dani. She caught the first bullet in the air and was saved by luck as the second shot a lock of her hair.
From the ground where he had fallen, Elliot raised a hand and one of the two remaining guards lowered his gun, pointing harmlessly to the floor as he stared without, looking into oblivion.
Without warning a third shot rang out from the final guard, sending a bullet through the air to drop his aimed target to the floor.
“What about you?” Dani asked.
“I’ll be right behind you!” Carl replied. Carl turned and left Dani and Elliot to move on as he strode back over to the main machine. The only machine still storing the Dream Carrier’s information was the only potential source of danger for the other ‘debriefed’ hypnotists, or any others involved with the original Dream Carrier project. And Carl felt to protect them all. He aimed his silenced pistol and shot bass powers several times, destroying the contents of the control machine.
The scrapple unfolded, crackled and wasted, leaving Carl satisfied.
Carl stepped to the door, which without Dani to hold it open had closed itself. As his hand clasped the lock he heard a shout commanding, “You! Stop!” coming from the other side.
Carl opened the door in time to see a guard running down the corridor and into the stairwell, watching as his escape route became compromised. That left him only one option – he had to take the elevator down the one floor he needed to descend and hope that no one saw him and trapped him within. Pistol re-holstered, he briskly walked the short distance to the elevator and waited patiently, watching as the lift came down from the seventh floor. Six, Carl looked up and down the corridor. Five, caution got the better of him and Carl drew his gun. Four, he took the safety off and cocked the weapon. Three, his heart pounding in his chest as he heard screams for help coming from the control room. Two, a flicker of movement caught his eye as the guards from the station opposite the control room stepped out together, one holding his head, the other rubbing his jaw. One, the elevator bell chimed and the doors opened to reveal a single guard.
Years of experience led Carl to a reflexive response as he shot his head forward and butted the guard backwards into the elevator. But the guard was a tough man with his cap in his way and only staggered on his feet, not knocked down. Carl raised his gun by the guard grabbed Carl’s wrists and tried to twist the gun free.
In the background, Carl could hear the guards responding to the screams from the control room. As he fought the man in the lift, he heard re-enforcements on the way. This was taking too long! Carl took one hand away from his gun and fired a fist into the guard’s stomach then followed it up with an uppercut elbow to the man’s head. The resilient guard dropped to the floor like a dead weight and Carl spun around to confront the others. He could not chance staying here in the lift for a fire fight and so dived out through the elevator doors firing as he landed. Both guards instinctively dropped to the ground and rolled towards the walls. As they tried to draw their own weapons Carl sprang to his feet and launched himself at the door to the second stairwell. Bursting through it, he all but threw himself down the stairs and cleared the second flight in two strides. Snatching open the door to the ground floor, raced out along the corridor back towards the entrance. Carl had been delayed by several moments destroying the main machine in the control room, waiting for the elevator not to generate chase around Dani or Elliot, fighting inside the lift and then the brief fire fight with the guards. Had Elliot and Dani gotten out okay? Would Leóni and the others still be waiting for him if Elliot had the USB stick? Carl could only hope and pray that the escape route Leóni had said would be waiting for them was still there.
Carl sprinted along the corridor and was just reaching the last corner before the reception area, when he heard the sounds of active guards, but not from behind him, pursuing him as he had expected. The action of a silenced shot ricocheted off the wall came from his destination! Carl rounded the corner to see Elliot on the ground and for a split second he feared the worst. A glance at Dani told him that she was under incredible strain, using all her power for blocking bullet attacks, but above all holding a guard restrained and captured in the air. More shots were fired, one hitting the wall behind Dani, others hitting Dani’s telekinetic catch, and by then Carl was desperate to join the fight. He dived into the fray and used his reflexes and training to fire off one single shot as he fell. The bullet flew truly and hit the only guard not being restrained by the psychics, dropping him with a grunt of shock and pain.
Remembering that more guards were still in pursuit, Carl quickly got to his feet and pulled Elliot up with him. Carl was alarmed as he saw the anger in Dani’s eyes, glaring as they were at the man she still held above the ground, bending him, twisting him and torturing him. A tear rolled down her cheek and the man dropped to the ground in incredible pain, but still alive. Carl grabbed Dani around her waist and yanked her forwards.
Elliot dropped his arm down and the guard under his control dropped with it, falling into unconsciousness. Together the three raced from the building, Carl shooting open the door and running into the deserted road. They stood for only a second and then Leóni’s escape route arrived – his loud helicopter landing like a stone in the middle of the road and from its door, the woman who had attended them on their first flight leaned out and screamed at them to hurry. Sinclair looked nothing like the polite attendant that they had first met, now dressed for combat and holding a machinegun, ready to cover their run to the copter.
The shots from the automatic weapon rang out and the sound of even more shattering glass echoed behind them.
Answering shots were few and wide, aimed more from the need to respond to the threat rather than to stop the three thieves escaping. Carl made it to the door first and spun around, but as he lifted Dani up to the helicopter, Sinclair blocked the doorway.
“Did you get it?” she shouted.
Understanding that there was a price for this flight, Carl responded with a snarl, “We got it, now get out of the way!”
With a dark smile, Sinclair obeyed and permitted Dani through the door. Carl spun back around and watching for any danger to Elliot, aimed his gun at the building, but none of the guards within dared to venture out into the hail of machinegun fire from the copter. It seemed that the flight attendant was willing to cover them only as a result of orders and not through any personal concern for Elliot’s escape. A moment later Elliot was on board the helicopter and Carl closed the door behind them.
It had reached almost two in the morning. Elliot watched, exhausted, as Carl stood arguing with the woman he had thought nothing more than a flight attendant upon their first meeting. The mysterious Miss Sinclair had covered them on their escape from the building, she had arrived with the helicopter pilot just in time for their dramatic rescue. Elliot thought they owed her their lives, but as he listened to Carl shout at her, he understood that this woman was nothing more than a paid mercenary.
“I was told, if you didn’t have the USB, if you’d not been successful in getting the information, you were to be left behind. Don’t get sentimental with me!”
“Bullshit! You’d have left us to be captured or killed because of an order?! Since when do mercenaries take orders?!”
“It wasn’t the order, it’s the pay. I get paid on delivery of them,” Sinclair flung a hand out towards Elliot and Dani, “and the USB.”
Carl glared at her. It was beyond his understanding that she could have and would have left them there, if he had told her that they had not got the USB stick. Realising that this person was the type of criminal that he could well be hunting down in the future, Carl left it alone.
Turning her back on him and returning to the cockpit, Sinclair left the three of them alone.
Elliot thought it strange that she had not asked to actually see the stick, but then as he pondered, he thought unless she has a way of seeing what’s on the USB, there was no real point in asking to see it. Then again, maybe she wasn’t as heartless as Carl was making her out to be…
In their pair seats, Elliot squeezed Dani a little closer to him and in her sleep she let out a deep breath. Almost as soon as they had settled down in the helicopter and left the danger far behind them, Dani had fallen asleep. As Elliot felt her soft hair against the side of his face, he knew that he too would be joining her very soon. The amounts of encounters and controls had been very tiring.
Carl sat down as usual, opposite the two psychics. He was just about to praise them for their skill in escaping and everything else that they had done so perfectly well that night, when he realised that both were sleeping. A proof of how much power they had been forced to use this night.
With great care, Carl carefully reached into Elliot’s jacket pocket and felt his fingers touch the USB stick. Slipping the plastic device out from the pocket, Carl tucked it into his shirt where there was no chance of it being removed unless it was taken from his dead body.
For what seemed like an hour, but was in fact only twenty minutes or so, Carl watched Dani and Elliot as they slept peacefully, wondering if their dreams, the dreams of a psychic were any more vivid or in any way different to his own.
Folding his arms across the device in his now zipped shut shirt pocket for extra certainly of its safety, Carl closed his tired eyes and in only a few minutes he too was asleep.
Carl opened his eyes to the blinding light of sunrise. He was alone in the helicopter. He got up and forced open the door of the vehicle, using his hand as he did to shade his eyes from the incredible brightness. There was an unnatural silence in the air which seemed to smother everything, blocking out the birds singing and even the sound of the ocean waves before him.
Carl staggered from the sleek helicopter and looked around himself at the blue, cloudless sky and the calm beautiful day. He was on the helipad at Leóni’s island again, but where was everyone else?
A shout muffled by distance caught his attention and shielding his eyes as best as he could, Carl looked off into the distance towards the source of the sound. The house seemed further away than before and near to it was a figure of a man waving both arms to get Carl’s attention. The brightness did not seem to bother this mysterious stranger and as Carl squinted he could see the man beckoning him over. Carl looked around again confirming he was alone and then began to make his way up towards the house and the man calling him.
The walk –which should have taken a few minutes– seemed to be over in only a few steps, but as Carl reached the place where the man had been standing, he noticed he was still alone and that the calling man had disappeared. Walking up further, he entered the doors of the house and once again stood in the huge library. Carl looked around but could not see the names of any of the books now, as if they were somehow out of focus, though the rest of what he saw was clear to him.
The door leading from the library into the house closed catching Carl’s attention and a heartbeat later, his hand was turning the handle and pulling the door open.
The hallway was empty and here deeper into the house the brightness seemed to fade. Carl stepped to the centre of the large hall, turning around in its empty vastness and looked left to right at the two corridors either side of him. He felt pulled in one direction and so turned to his left and walked slowly down the wide corridor. There were doors on both sides as he made his way towards the end of the corridor. As he reached the last well-decorated wooden door on the left, suddenly all hint of the brightness that had obscured his vision was completely gone, and the corridor around him dimmed. Carl took the remaining few steps to the last door and felt a chill inside himself. The door ahead caught his attention, a black mist seeming to trickle from its frame, escaping from the room behind. The chill worsened and as Carl’s hand touched the knob, his fingers turned to ice.
“Carl,” whispered a voice to his right close enough that he could feel cool breath on his skin. Startled Carl spun around to the shock of being face to face with his father, Edward Blain!
For a single heartbeat Carl saw his father, young and as Carl had always known him from the photos his mother had shown him.
“Carl,” called another voice from a different place and Carl opened his eyes.
“We’re here,” said Elliot. “Are you alright? You look a little…”
“I’m fine,” Carl answered as he rubbed his head. “Just a dream.”
Chapter Eight – August 17th 2099, 06:14
Miss Sinclair opened the door to the helicopter and stepped outside into the early morning. As Carl followed he took comfort in the simple sounds he heard. The birds were singing and even the soft breeze whispered in his ears, all helping to make the discomforting dream fade away.
“I’ve been told that Mr Leóni is ready for you and eager to see the plans you brought back.”
None of the three passengers replied to Sinclair’s statement, instead just following her up to the house in silence. Once they reached the doors into the back of the house Sinclair left them, and as they entered the library Rain stood just within waiting for them. She looked at all three in turn, Carl last and leaving her gaze on him for a moment longer than the others. Carl folded his arms as he stared back at her.
“Well done,” Rain began, “our intelligence tells us you caused quite a stir last night and that you managed to get to copy the Dream Carrier plans onto storage.” Rain turned and led them from the large room, continuing to speak over her shoulder as they went. “Of course as far as the public knows through the news already reported, nothing was actually stolen. But, once we complete construction on our Dream Carrier and all the final pieces are in place, we’ll tell the world what we have. Then you’ll be free to go and live your lives without fear.”
Rain led them through the large hall and off to the left, down the corridor that Carl had seen in his dream. The corridor from his dream had faded now and Carl could not remember the scene as vividly as he had earlier, but still everything felt familiar.
“We’re not free to go now?” Dani asked Rain.
Rain hesitated a moment and then replied. “That’s not really for me to say. I should imagine Mr Leóni would release you if you asked, but this is a delicate time for us. We’re so close to our goals, if you were to leave now and be caught by the men that are after you, you could jeopardise everything we’ve worked towards and make last night a complete waste of time. Wouldn’t you like to stay here for a little while longer?”
“Um,” Dani thought out loud before answering, “I guess.” She looked at Elliot and he shrugged. “Why not?!”
Rain stopped outside the last door on the left of the corridor and turned back to face them. “I’m glad,” she said keeping her eyes away from Carl’s look. Rain placed her hand on the door and announced, “Now, Mr Leóni is waiting for you.”
A flashback from Carl’s dream shot through his mind and he remembered the cold chill he had felt upon touching that door, the black mist that had been seeping from the frame and then his father’s face. Blocking any hesitation from his dream Carl subtly shook his head.
As Rain began opening the door she suddenly hesitated and glanced at Carl. Then the door was open.
The room was a large, neatly-kept and expensively furnished office. The desk near the windows a few steps away was large and had nothing but a touchscreen display on it. From behind the desk walked Leóni as he crossed the room in a few strides and met them at the door. Almost snatching Elliot’s hand from his side, Leóni shook it warmly and congratulated. “Well done! And to you too Miss Le Freau, an excellent effort!” he said, pulling her to him. Finally he moved before Carl and held out his hand, but Carl did not respond.
“An excellent job, Mr Blain,” Leóni congratulated as he glanced down at his own empty hand.
Carl smiled and as he placed his hand in Leóni’s, he passed over the universal serial bus with all the Dream Carrier information. “Thanks.”
Leóni turned slowly, staring intently at the USB stick in his hand. “Yes,” he whispered as he walked in awe to his computer, as if what he was holding was made of the most delicate glass. As he sat at his desk what he held suddenly seemed to register in his mind and he began moving quickly, sliding the stick onto the motion touch desk area, and opening the folders that would read its securely connected contents onto the screen.
As the plans flashed up onto the screen, a smile crossed Leóni’s face and he watched like a child looking at a puppet show as the information he had sought came flooding into his brain. “Yes. This is it! With this, I can complete my own Dream Carrier and then…” He looked up at the others, “Then, you will be free to go.”
“So you’re not letting us go now?!” asked Dani.
“I’m afraid not, Miss Le Freau. For your own safety as well as that of my project, I must insist that you remain – at least until I have held a press conference and announced my planned unveiling of the first privately owned Dream Carrier. Once the public is aware of my machine, the following scandal will guarantee that you will be safe from the Special Operations division. They will have no need nor any cause to bring you into custody.”
Dani nodded her approving explanation.
“I’m still not a hundred percent on that though,” said Elliot. “Are you sure they won’t still want us for, err, ‘questioning’ or something?”
Leóni looked back at his screen and let out a breath, obviously irritated by these questions and wishing to be left alone with the plans. Before Leóni could reply, Carl spoke. “Once the Dream Carrier is made public again and with people able to use it and decide for themselves about its accuracy, there’ll be repercussions in the Agency. They won’t be able to carry on using the Dream Carrier in secrecy the way the wanted to-”
“Why not?” interrupted Dani.
“Think about it. A machine you’re saying doesn’t work has been built by a private individual –at great cost– who’s claiming it does work. He’s also offering people the chance to use it for themselves. People are gonna want to know what happened to that original machine. All the time and money spent on making people forget it and making them believe it was a fraud will have been wasted. The only choice is to either pay off Mr Leóni so that his machine is never brought into the light, or agree with him. Make up some excuse about why the original machine was taken away and then put it in a museum or something – if not bring it back into public service themselves.”
Mr Leóni now carried on Carl’s explanation. “And since I will not be bought, my machine will be completed and the public will know about it.”
“But what if they don’t?” Elliot questioned. “What if the government or the Agency or whoever, stick to their story regardless and don’t do what you’re assuming?”
“They’d have to,” responded Carl. “There’s no way anyone could operate a Dream Carrier project behind closed doors when the general public would be asking so many questions. Someone could easily talk and blow the whole thing. No, we’ll be safe from the Black Ops guys. In fact, once Mr Leóni goes public with his machine, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Dream Carrier project taken away from Black Ops, Special Ops or anyone else – they’ll want to distance themselves from any press at all costs, so won’t want to hang onto it.”
Elliot looked away from Carl and seemed to consider these words. A moment later a new layer of confidence seemed to surround him and he agreed. “Okay then. Mr Leóni, Dani, Carl and I’ll look forward to your generous hospitality over the coming weeks.”
Rain opened the door and Elliot and Dani walked with her from the room. Knowing what would now be discussed, Rain left Carl alone with her employer and closed the door behind her.
Carl took a step closer to the desk and then got straight to the point. “You said you’d tell me about my father if I did this for you. Now, I need to know. Please tell me what you know and how you came to have a copy of this,” Carl held up the copy of his father’s death certificate.
Mr Leóni nodded slowly, looking passed Carl as if listening to a voice only he could hear. “Please, sit down Mr Blain and I’ll tell you everything I know.”
Carl moved forward and took the seat in front of the desk making the leather creak as he sat. Like a child, Carl sat leaning forward, his attention hanging on what Leóni was about to say.
With a deep sigh, Mr Leóni began. “I’m sorry Mr Blain, but what I have to tell you will not be easy to hear. I came into possession of that copy death certificate because my father had it made.”
“Yes. I am Roberto Leóni Junior. My father, Roberto Leóni Senior knew your father well. In fact, he hired your father as a bodyguard. With all his money and power, my father had many enemies and as such, this made him a prudent man. Your father was one of two bodyguards that he kept with him at all times.”
Carl knew that his father had been in the Central Intelligence Agency. His father had worked for the government, and not been a bodyguard. But if this had been an undercover assignment then things made sense. However that was an assumption and not one Carl was willing to share. Sitting in silence he listened, now with sceptical ears, as Leóni continued.
“I know what you must be thinking. Your father worked for the government, so what was he doing watching over my father as a bodyguard? The answer is far more complicated than you would guess. You see, your father was there on assignment and the objective of his mission was to acquire the plans to a machine my father had provided the funding for.
“Being a keen business man and a religious man, my father had been fascinated by the potential of the project he funded. That project was the original Dream Carrier, designed by a man named Hans Bronkoff.”
Carl was quietly stunned by this revelation, but he did not interrupt. His doubts and suspicions disappeared as he continued listening to Leóni’s explanation.
“When my father was approached by Bronkoff, he at once saw the potential that such a machine could offer. If it could be built, it would be priceless.
“Somehow, the government knew about this project also and sent in your father to acquire all the information he could. When Bronkoff succeeded in making the machine, your father was ordered to stop this machine from being in the hands of a private citizen. This was deemed a much too, err, shall we say controversial machine to be handled by anyone except the government themselves, or so the administration of the time believed. But when your father approached mine, I’m afraid things did not run quite as smoothly as both men would have liked. Of course my father was willing to co-operate and pass the machine over to the officials and accept the compensation offered, but when Bronkoff found out his machine would be taken away from him, he went mad. ‘My life’s work will not be stolen,’ I’m told he screamed. It was then that he pulled a gun and murdered your father. By more luck than anything else, Bronkoff’s shooting set off an explosion which killed him and destroyed his dream. My father barely escaped from our burning house with his life.”
Carl looked at the carpeted floor and thought to himself. What he had been told made sense and followed the small amount of evidence he had gathered over the years. Returning his gaze to Mr Leóni he said, “Thank you. You’ve helped me lay to rest a mystery that has tormented me all my life.”
“You’re welcome, Mr Blain. But the story doesn’t end there. You see, one of the original scientists working on the machine with Bronkoff was Steven Romonovski. After the unpleasantness, he left and apparently had his own copy of Bronkoff’s research. Years later when the Dream Carrier was unveiled to the world, I followed the stories about it closely. When it was announced that the Dream Carrier was a fraud, I knew something untoward was happening. My father had told many people before he died, that he was not afraid of death, for he had seen his past life and knew that he would live again. Many of these people laughed at him or thought him mad. My father knew that the Dream Carrier worked and so I made it my mission to prove to the rest of the world that he was right.”
Concluding, Carl stated, “So you brought in two of the operators and me to help you get your own Dream Carrier up and running.”
“Through my connections, I learned that you were the man in charge of the project and that you were to be silenced by its new, shall we say ‘handlers’. I saw this as my way of recruiting you. The others were more of a safety measure – I couldn’t and still don’t know that Rain will be able to operate my Dream Carrier properly once it’s completed, so who better than the team leader and a secondary operator to guarantee success?”
“Elliot the leader and best hypnotist, and the gifted one, Dani… I see. Would kinda be falling at the last hurdle to have the machine built and then not be able to find someone to operate it well. I’m sure they’re glad you stepped in and once again, let me thank you for everything. I don’t know that I’d even be alive today, let alone in full knowledge of what happened to my father if it weren’t for you. Thank you Mr Leóni.”
“You’re welcome once again Mr Blain. Now please make yourself at home over the coming weeks. It shouldn’t take more than a few, for construction to be complete and then we’ll announce to the world what we have and you and the others will be safe.”
Standing, Carl offered his hand and after only a moment’s distracted hesitation, Mr Leóni took it and shook back warmly.
Closing the door behind him, Carl left the office and walked back the way he had come. Once at the staircase he went up to the next floor and to his room, yawning heavily as he reached the door. It was almost seven and still early in the morning when Carl realised he had not slept well in days.
As he dropped down onto the large bed, he felt as though the weight of mystery that had been his father’s shady death was now finally lifted. Reaching into his bag from the bed, he felt for his file containing all he had learned over the years about his father. Opening the folder he looked at the picture inside the cover.
“I did it, Dad. I finally found out what happened to you.” After he stated these few words, Carl slipped away into the deepest sleep of his life, finally at rest in a way he had never experienced before.
He slept for the next several hours in total peace, dreaming of nothing in particular, his mind almost completely still and silent.
After hours had passed and the afternoon had arrived Carl’s sleep became less peaceful. He began tossing and turning. The file that he had fallen asleep clutching to him in his arms slipped from his grasp and fell to the floor.
“Carl!” came the sharp whisper snapping him awake. Sitting upright Carl looked around his room and confirmed that he was alone. He saw the file on the floor and bent to retrieve it, but as he did his eyes met those in the photo of his father and a clouded memory teased his mind. Something he could not remember, but that demanded his full attention, froze him in motion.
The picture of his father had triggered something in his mind. A dream? A memory based on his mother’s stories? Carl could not be sure what it was. He felt frustrated as he collected the file and swung around from the bed to replace it in his bag. Carl sat for a moment with a frown upon his face as he tried to order his thoughts and place the familiar feeling, but he did not have time to properly consider things as after only a few moments there was a knock at his door.
“Carl?” called Dani from the other side.
Carl opened the door for her and saw that Elliot was with her.
“Rain says that Mr Leóni would like to have a late lunch with us. Coming?”
Carl nodded and stepped out of the room, glancing back to his bag and the file within as he closed the door.
Dani started the conversation. “So, Rain was her normal, guarded self, but since we’ve been back, I can definitely feel something in the air. A sort of excitement about the place.”
“Tell me about it,” agreed Elliot as he rolled his eyes over Dani to Carl. “Rain’s still trying to block me, but I don’t think even the most powerful telepath in the world could keep Leóni’s thoughts quiet – he’s ecstatic!”
The three walked down the stairs and along the corridor until they reached an open set of doors leading into a dining room. At the back of the room was a second set of doors opening out onto a patio and it was there that their host had decided they would dine. The large, handsomely decorated area showed pale, patted floor tiles, upon which a classical outdoor table and chairs smartly presented attraction.
Walking out into the pleasant warmth of the beautiful day, the three were greeted by a different Mr Leóni to the one they had agreed to help. Mr Leóni, normally so serious and distanced all but sprang out of his chair and charged at them. He seized Elliot and Dani in his arms and hugged them before snatching Carl’s hand and shaking it while still holding Dani to him.
“My friends! The plans you secured have been a great success in only these few short hours! It seems that you have acquired everything I will need! As such, I have already arranged to submit a statement to those that can free you from your pursuers. I have also arranged for a statement to be issued to the press. Within the week, you will be absolutely useless targets and will no doubt be sought after by whoever takes over responsibility for the governments Dream Carrier to take up your old positions.”
Dani smiled at Elliot, who in turn let a look of relief cross his face. Only Carl still remained unsure. Something at the back of his mind would not let him relax his guard. Whether it was the years of training and experience in the field or simply a gut feeling, something stopped Carl from embracing the news as happily as the others.
In his joy, Mr Leóni did not seem to pick up on this, but as Rain sat down to join them for their meal, her eyes fell upon Carl and there they stayed. She knew that he was apprehensive, could feel his lack of trust emanating from him with each beat of his heart.
As lunch began there was no tension in Mr Leóni as he explained his plans to them. “You see, I’ve always been fascinated by the experiences people have had with regression – a hypnotic technique used to send people so deep into a hypnotic state that they are capable of remembering past-life experiences. I have explored into my own past with Rain’s skilful aid and I wish to continue to unlock this past, using the Dream Carrier for greater detail. I have been trying with my own Dream Carrier, but up to now have only met with very limited success due to its incompleteness.
“The finished Dream Carrier amplifies that technique to a power that cannot be doubted. This will also serve to confirm my Dream Carrier is functioning correctly. Once we have this confirmation, I will begin to invite people here to my island to use it. Researching myth –both religious and folklore– I have been able to come up with a formula that would allow calculations to be performed that could, potentially, allow us to identify people that we suspect to have been certain individuals in their last life. I have a list of some of those potential people and it is these few that I wish to invite here to be the first to use my Dream Carrier.”
“Oh,” strung out Dani, deeply impressed by the level of information and research Mr Leóni claimed carried out. “So who are these people?”
As Dani asked the question, Elliot’s mental attention was pulled to Leóni. Leóni did not immediately answer and for only the slightest moment, sent out something that contradicted his happiness. Elliot barely caught it as in the blink of an eye the conversation continued, but something had definitely been there, faintly sensed by Elliot.
“There’s no point in me telling you who they are now – you won’t know them. As for who they were… Well, until I can be sure, I’d rather not say,” answered Mr Leóni with a secretive smile.
“Okay,” chirped Dani as she scooped up some of her ice-cream treat.
After lunch, Mr Leóni’s three guests took him up on his suggestion that they go for a walk to see the island’s beautiful beach. They headed off from the patio down in the general direction of the helipad, veering off towards the sandy beach and its bordering palm trees.
Mr Leóni sat quietly, waiting to hear if Rain had picked up anything that he should know about. She sat looking off after the three, in particular focusing to clear passed Elliot in order to engulf on Carl.
“He definitely suspects something,” Rain referred to Carl while gesturing Elliot to be only on himself. “The two psychics are fine, I think, as they’re not even aware of Carl’s suspicions – they’re still too focused on my attempts to block their own powers. I don’t know what it is –in fact I don’t even think he knows– but I could certainly feel Blain’s apprehension over lunch.”
Mr Leóni sat resting his chin on his clasped hands as he too watched the three figures moving further away. He thought in silence for a moment and then issued his instructions. “Find out what he’s thinking. I can’t afford for any complications here. Once the machine is up and running they won’t matter, but until then nothing must go wrong.” Mr Leóni flicked his eyes at Rain. “Do whatever you have to do, but make sure he doesn’t suspect anything.”
Night on the small island was almost as beautiful and peaceful as day. Despite having slept through the morning, the long walk and the delicious late dinner they ate on their return had left Carl feeling tired once more. He had walked with Elliot and Dani to their rooms and then continued on to his own. The lights were off, but the soft tones from the full moon and the clear starry night shone through the large window, casting great shadows over the room.
Laying in his bed, Carl felt the cool breeze from the open window brush over him and letting it relax his body, he was soon asleep, his mind showing him the dreams that were created in his heart.
At first, through a hazy mist of forgotten memories, Carl saw himself as a small boy walking with his mother through a park. He was looking at another boy playing with his father and feeling a sense of loss himself.
As he walked with his mother, they saw a man walking towards them, his head bowed against the cold wind of an autumn day. Carl wanted this man to recognise him and call him ‘son’, but the man walked passed, carrying on through a rainfall of leaves from trees that lined the pathway through his dream.
Carl’s mind leapt forwards and now through much clearer vision, he was a young man, just finished his basic training with the Agency. The instructor had been an older man and someone that Carl had seen as a father figure, a substitute to fill part of a missing piece of his life. The man respected Carl and talked to him as an equal, teaching him things he needed to know.
The dream jumped again and once more a man barely familiar from distant memories appeared before Carl. A picture came to life with such vivid images that for a moment the lucid dream seemed like reality, as Carl’s father stood before him.
The man of equal height walked forward and with similar shape embraced his son, Carl smiling and happily returning the warm gesture.
“I did it Dad! I found out what happened!”
“What do you mean there’s more?”
“I don’t understand. How?”
“I can’t leave. I have to protect my friends.”
“Are you sure? Then-”
“No Dad! Please don’t go!”
“Dad!” cried Carl as he woke up with a start. It was still night, silence blanketing the room as Carl’s mind focused and he remembered where he was. The dream was still in his mind, but he could not remember what his father had said and a terrible feeling of loss suffocated Carl as he rubbed his hands over his face. An important feeling that he was missing something clung to him as Carl slowly laid back down, his mind racing as he desperately tried to remember the dream in greater detail. Eventually sleep took Carl once more, but the dream was gone and did not recur.
The following morning Dani came down to breakfast to find Elliot already seated and smiling at her appearance.
“Good morning my dear, how did you sleep?” Elliot started.
Satisfied, Dani sighed. “Living on an island certainly agrees with me, I slept wonderfully. You?”
Elliot made a face of exaggerated comfort and nodded.
“Cool. Where’s Carl?”
“Don’t know,” Elliot admitted. “Haven’t seen him this morning. Probably still asleep. Do you want to wait for him – our host left a message saying that he’d had breakfast and was getting straight to work on the plans we got for him.”
“Oh, okay.” Dani looked at the toast and could smell the deliciously cooked breakfast additions being prepared in the kitchen. A moment later a butler entered from the kitchen and asked if they were ready to dine. By now the smell of food had made Dani’s stomach rumble and without so much as a glance at Elliot she answered with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”
“Yes please she means,” Elliot added to the butler, earning a light punch for his comment on his arm on her way to her seat.
Breakfast was served and the two enjoyed every mouthful of it. When they were finished Elliot asked, “So what shall we do today? Still gonna be a little while before we can leave this island.”
“Hmm… I’d like to go exploring again. Maybe we can go for a swim in the ocean sea?”
“Sure. Let’s go wake Carl up and let him know what we’re gonna do.”
The two walked upstairs together, talking about the loveliness of their host’s home and its resembling to an imagined luxury holiday, until they reached Carl’s door. Dani raised her knuckles to knock, but Elliot caught her wrist and whispered, “Wait.”
Then leaning in closer with her, they put their ears to the door and just beyond, could hear the sounds of voices.
Carl finished allowing his clothing sanitization and while doing so had decided to enjoy a relaxing physical shower as well. When ready to return to his clothing he had been caught off guard coming out of the shower, by the appearance of Rain. She had been standing waiting for him, the barest hint of a smile on her face as she eyed his naked body. Herself dressed in a light blue fabric brighter than her eyes, loosely and baggy on her wear to generate a warm, friendliness aura.
Carl was still feeling distracted by the dream he’d had the night before, and so making no attempt to hide himself he simply asked, “What do you want?”
“I’d like to make up for using my gifts on you and, if you’ll let me, I’d like to show you a special place along the beach front.”
Carl remembered the hypnotically effect she had previously tried on him, but was taken back by her soft approach. Her attractiveness could not be denied and Carl felt once again as he had on the first night he’d seen her. He could feel his guard dropping and so with a nod of his head, he agreed. Moments later he was dressed and heading for the door.
“Quick,” whispered Elliot as he grabbed Dani’s hand and dragged her away from Carl’s door. The two watched from inside a bathroom at the end of the hall as the door to Carl’s room opened and Rain left through it followed by Carl. They were talking to each other in relaxed tones, causing Dani and Elliot to look at each other in disbelief.
When Carl had walked Rain out of earshot, Dani spoke. “I thought he was mad at her?!”
“Apparently he’s forgiven her..?” Elliot guessed.
Dani cuffed Elliot on the arm. “No! Use your mind, make sure she’s not tricking him again!”
“I did. When we were outside his door I could feel her in there. She wasn’t using her telepathy or hypnotherapy, she’s using nothing except what nature gave her to seduce him this time.”
“There has to be a reason for it. What could she want to accomplish this time?!” Dani prowled.
Elliot shook his head as he stepped from their hiding place. “He’s a good looking guy, she’s a beautiful woman. Maybe there’s nothing going on except a relief to the boredom we’re gonna have to endure for the next few days.”
Now it was Dani’s turn to shake her head. “I don’t know… Nothing here feels right.”
Elliot smiled and asked, “Does it feel wrong?”
Dani screwed up her face and then answered. “No. Not if I’m honest. I can’t put my finger on it. Something’s going on, but I can’t sense any danger to us.”
Elliot added, “And I’ve not picked up any hostile thoughts. Rain can’t block our powers entirely anymore. Let’s just accept that finally, something has gone our way. Now, let’s get onto that beach, shall we?”
Dani nodded as she turned and walked towards the staircase, Elliot sliding his friendly arm around her as they went.
Rain had shown Carl to the dining room where he had breakfast in her company. Her eyes seemed to sparkle at him as he ate, listening to her talk about the night she’d first seen him in the club and how even without her psychic powers, she’d have known that he was the man she was looking for. Breakfast was over quickly or at least that’s how it felt for Carl, as in no time at all Rain was leading him from the house and out from the grounds, onto the soft sand. It was another beautiful day on the island owned by Mr Leóni. A private paradise on which Carl could feel his guard naturally lowering, this island and its tropical surroundings eased his mind, as this utopia would anyone who came here.
Rain was wearing her outfit that left little to Carl’s imagination. She looked beautiful in the tone of blue that matched a lighter shade than her eyes, a style of dressing she seemed to prefer. Looking back over her shoulder from beneath a fringe of blonde hair, she flashed Carl a suggestive smile, without him knowing that her mind was slowly sliding into his thoughts, beginning to make him want her more than he already did.
They made small talk for a while, talking about the island and the beautiful day, until they were a distance from the house. By now Carl was feeling very relaxed and Rain, walking barefoot, had slowed the pace so that she could walk as close to Carl as possible.
“Rain… Where did you get that name from?” Carl asked as they walked.
“Don’t you like it?” she questioned coyly, stopping and turning to face him.
Carl smiled and ran his eyes over her. “It’s okay.”
Rain forced her will just a tiny bit into Carl’s mind and that was all it took. Leaning his head down to hers he kissed her, their lips only lightly brushing at first. They kissed again but this time harder, their arms wrapping around one another in a gentle embrace. He kissed the edge of her mouth and then worked his way down to her neck, slowly kissing her down to the tops of her shoulders and up again. His hands stroked her back and slid down to the tops of her legs, softly turning her by her hips and gently twisting her to the ground. They slid to the soft sand with her beneath him, still clinging to him with her arms wrapped tightly around his neck, holding their lips together with long passionate kisses. Slipping an arm around Rain’s shoulder’s, Carl shifted his weight to support himself on his elbow as his free hand gently stroked her hips and stomach.
Something happened in the next few moments that Rain had not been prepared for. Somehow, the passion she was inducing in Carl and could feel emanating from him backfired in her mind and lit a fire in her blood. Feeling as though she might ignite at any moment, she began pulling at his clothes until he was half naked in her arms.
His hand began to explore her, exciting her as his fingers slowly traced lines across her skin, moving between her thighs.
The rest of their clothes slid off and the passion within them both continued to increase as Carl rolled on top of her and forcing himself inside her, began a gentle rhythm. The motion quickly increased and her arms around him tightened, her body beginning to tremble.
For Rain, the act of intimacy was different than if she were a normal woman. Where Carl could only enjoy the physical part of their connection, Rain could open her mind and enter Carl’s thoughts. She knew exactly what he wanted and when he wanted it and through her will, she could manipulate Carl into doing exactly what she desired him to do.
Carl could feel her at the edge of his mind, but under such distraction he was powerless to do anything but obey, knowing to touch her where she wanted to be touched and kissing her all over her body as she wordlessly directed him.
The powder fine sand began to stick to her back as the heat smothered her, building her up towards her first moment of ecstasy with him. Rain willed Carl on, guiding his mind and thus instructing his body until her moment came. As the first wave of passion passed, a small piece of control returned to her and Rain remembered that it was Carl that should be on the receiving end of her passion. She was supposed to be manipulating him into revealing his inner most thoughts and suspicions to her. Her telepathy would let her instruct him like all other telepaths, would allow her to get a basic read on his thoughts. But there was no way she could take everything she wanted from his mind without using a considerable amount of her own power. That in turn would make Elliot aware of what was going on and destroy any trust Carl may build for her. No, the best way to gain this man’s trust was to seduce him.
Forcing herself into line, Rain gave Carl what he needed. She rolled sharply over to straddle him, looking deeply into his eyes she rode him, feeling the pleasure in his mind as well as his body. His hands continued to distract her, massaging her thighs and travelling all over her body until once again she lost her concentration.
Loosing herself in the moment Rain forgot her objective and let herself go once more. Heat exploded from her and as it did her mind snatched at Carl’s thoughts, forcing from him a lustful release.
When she could feel his pleasure calming and relaxation smothering him, she slipped down to his side and laid her head on his chest. They lay together on the sand, both exhausted and relaxed to the point of snoozing.
Carl, completely at ease from Rain’s delicate touches, quickly passed into unconsciousness.
Resting her head on his chest, Rain decided that she could learn things from him in his dreams by manipulating them in the way he would not allow when he was awake. In his dreams her power would go unnoticed by Elliot as she would be closer to a subconscious level. She began to concentrate on Carl’s breathing, the slow rhythm of the rise and fall of his chest, the sound of the ocean tide in the distance. These things and her well-disciplined mind allowed her to put herself in a sleep-like trance, her telepathy allowing her to enter Carl’s mind. Asleep as he was with his guard down and his mind open, she was easily able to slip into Carl’s dream.
Rain watched from the distance as various men walked into Carl’s dream life. She could feel his sense of loss and through each change of scenery and each memory, this one feeling remained constant. The clarity of each part of Carl’s dream remained the same for Rain, as in her spectator role and with her own powerful mind connected to his, she could surround herself with the equivalent of a computer’s image enhancer. Using her own mind to tidy things up and clean the edges of his rough memories with things that, although may not be accurate and true to his memory, would serve the purpose to complete the fictional world she was in. Should she decide to reveal herself to Carl in his dream, then she merely needed to step in from the edges of his conscious. If Rain wanted to manipulate the dream, then she only need increase her own input and change the dream world around them both.
However, this being the first time that Rain had entered Carl’s dreams it would not be wise to direct things. She could learn little and the attempt could well fail altogether. If Carl should wake up and break their connection he would know what she had done, wasting her efforts from the earlier part of the day. No, now was the time for Rain to simply watch his dreams.
Carl felt no familiarity in his dream even though these same events unfolded before him as those in his previous dream. The man in the park, his training instructor and finally his father, all coming to him at the different stages of his life. The lucid feeling came to Carl with the appearance of his father, as around him things became more vivid than a dream should be.
Carl was standing with his father in Leóni’s house, outside Leóni’s study. But this time Carl’s father did not try to talk to him, instead leading him away and back to the main hall. His father walked continually looking over his shoulder, making sure that Carl followed, until they passed the library and walked down into the opposite wing of the house.
Rain watched silently from the very edge of the dream as Carl followed this newest man through the house. As she watched, Rain felt a strange sensation wrap around her, as if something else was in the dream with them. She followed at a distance, keeping herself small and her presence masked. She crept along blurring herself from Carl’s thoughts, following the two men until she suddenly recognised the feeling around her. This was not something that Carl had created in his dream, this was something else like her – something invading the dream! Although whom and why Rain did not know, instead she knew that if she stayed just a little longer, she could find out. Rain watched as the two figures reached the end of the corridor and turned right, opening the door before them. This would lead them downstairs into the wine cellar, so waiting a few seconds for them to leave the staircase, Rain followed them down into the darkness. As she crept onto the stairs she reached out with her mind, searching for the two others and it was then that she noticed the bond between the two. Rain was suddenly caught off guard as she realised that the other presence had now taken control of the dream and was creating it as they went. She was not sure what to do at this point and so decided instead to concentrate on the identity of this invading telepath – could it be Elliot from wherever he was on the island? Rain locked onto to the presence guiding Carl and felt something strong between them as she did. Recognising the feelings between the two, Rain was soon able to guess the identity of this man – but this could not be! The other presence she could feel could not be him, could not be who she suspected it was – he was dead!
Edward Blain led his son through the basement of the house, passing through the small maze of the wine cellar and into the next room. Edward created the dream in vivid clarity for his son and even though Carl had never been below the house in reality, he was now seeing it as it was in the real world.
They walked from the dimly lit wine cellar into a room that smelled of old paper ledgers and was piled high with dusty books and worn scarps of parchment. This was a research room that Leóni had been using, collecting all information he could that was in any way connected to his infatuation with the mysteries of life and death. The documents here ranged in age from modern studies to ancient texts, from religious belief to actual historical claims. The room was well-lit and had a main corridor through the shelves with a circular vault door leading to another room in front of them. Opening the heavy door, Edward stepped to one side and allowed Carl to enter first. Inside the large vault of a room Carl saw the finished Dream Carrier’s shell, a few access panels open with circuitry and wires on display, ready to be worked on. The machine was on the very verge of completion.
“Son. This is what I needed to show you,” said Edward as he circled around the machine to where a sole book lay on a work surface.
Carl opened the book and even in the dream saw that it was written in Russian and seemed to contain unreadable paragraphs with a name connected to each. Carl looked to his father. “I don’t understand, what are you trying to tell me?”
“As I told you last night, you’re-” Edward looked sharply at the door to the room. “She’s here – I can tell you no more now. I’ll try again though!”
Carl looked at the door and saw Rain walk through. Turning back to his father, Carl saw that he was gone.
As she entered the room, Rain realised too late what would happen. The sudden disappearance of the other presence that had been controlling the dream, especially if it was indeed Edward Blain, would be enough to snap Carl out of his dream. Instantly she opened her eyes and forced her willpower upon the sleeping Carl, hoping she could keep him from waking up.
The smile melted from Elliot’s face and he looked deeply into Dani’s eyes.
“What is it?” she asked, beginning to blush at the intensity of his stare.
“Rain?!” Dani looked up at the sky and then back to Elliot, smiling playfully as she did.
“No, I’m serious. She’s just used the equivalent of a mental sledge hammer on Carl… But I don’t know why.”
“With just us and the few others at the house on this island, could you find Carl from here and see if he’s okay?”
Taking his hands in hers, Dani sat down on the sand pulling him down beside her. “Try!”
Falling to the sand, Elliot sat cross legged mirroring Dani’s pose and closed his eyes. He slowed his breathing, relaxed, concentrating on Carl and sent his mind out in search of their friend. “Not at the house,” Elliot announced, Dani looking on with concerned eyes.
After a few moments Elliot whispered, “He’s on the beach… She’s with him but… Everything is fine. He’s asleep. Relaxed. Dreaming.” Elliot opened his eyes and stared at Dani. “Maybe it was just me –still a little edgy when it comes to Rain– but I’m sure I felt something.”
“But there’s nothing going on now?”
Elliot shook his head. “No. They’re both fine and peaceful.”
“Phew!” said Dani with a smile.
Elliot sighed. “Mm, I think though we’ll talk to Carl about this. See if he’s aware of anything.”
“Yeah, okay,” Dani agreed as she stood and pulled Elliot back to his feet. “But Carl’s a big boy, I’m sure he’ll be okay. Now come on! I want to see what’s up there!”
Elliot rolled his eyes and shook his head. “You’re like a big kid sometimes.”
“What? This is cool! A whole island to ourselves to explore is excellent!”
Following Dani away towards the rocks she was curious about, Elliot silently admitted to himself – playing explorers on the island together was fun.
When Carl woke up it was to the comfort of Rain still in his arms and the late afternoon sun shining down upon them. She was asleep with her dress draped over her legs. Gently, he squeezed her and kissed the top of her head lightly, stirring her from her slumber. They lay together for a few more minutes, relaxed by the ocean tide until Rain asked quietly. “You worked protecting the Dream Carrier… Did they ever tell you how it works?”
“How it works?” Carl echoed.
Rain was at once relaxed at the calmness in Carl, relieved he did not remember her presence in his dream. “I know it needs a hypnotist to operate it and that it’s supposed to amplify the memories of a person’s soul, but how can it do that? All your memories are stored in your head, inside your brain, not your soul.”
“I asked Romonovski that once myself and he told me his theory behind it. He said, you know how when a person dies, their whole life flashes before their eyes? Well, he believed it wasn’t the whole life, just the most significant events of that life. The things that mean the most or that literally dominated that person’s mind or their heart, these things he believed, were etched into a person’s soul from their memory and taken with them on to… Well, just, onwards.”
“Oh,” answered Rain in a disappointed tone. “I expected some sort of great scientific explanation for it.”
“It’s just a theory, but because this is a kinda tricky subject to get proof for, no one can prove otherwise.” Carl began to get to his feet. “Life is a mystery,” he concluded as he pulled Rain up beside him. The two of them dressed and walked back to the mansion in the setting sun, her arm around his waist, his arm draped casually across her shoulders. Every now and then Rain would lean in closer, stroking Carl’s chest and provoking more affection from him in return, all seriousness from their previous conversation forgotten.
Rain was not sure what had happened, how exactly she had allowed feelings for Carl to creep up inside her. She felt somehow safe with him, even though she knew that she was far more capable of defending herself than he could ever be. Her mental strengths were awesome and like those of all psychics, her powers grew considerably on instinct when she was in danger. But right now, thoughts of danger were farthest from her mind. Roberto, although many things to her including her employer, had never created such feelings in her. She knew his plans in as much detail as he did. Knowing he could hide nothing from her, he had shared everything with her, his plan to use the Dream Carrier to submerge himself in his previous life and learn everything would almost certainly work. The man he had been had been powerful and with those memories Roberto himself could become the most powerful man on Earth. Rain’s mind raced as she thought for a way to include Carl in those plans. There must be a way that she could neutralise Elliot and be able to bring Carl completely under her control… But then, was that what she wanted? No. She wanted him to love her because of who she was, not because of her mental grip on his mind. There had to be a way for Roberto to find room in his plans for Carl and there had to be a way of hiding the truth of those plans from him – at least until he was so in love with her that it would not matter to him what Roberto Leóni was trying to do. She was confident that Leóni would not care about any feelings that developed between Carl and herself. Leóni had only ever wanted brief moments of sexual satisfaction from women, which with her powerful mind she had convinced him he had experienced. With Carl it was different – she wanted to experience these things with Carl.
Rain looked up as they reached the doors to the house, knowing that Elliot and Dani were near. Moments later they entered into the library through the rear of the house and both Elliot and Dani looked up from their conversation.
At that precise moment a mental shockwave blasted through the psychic airwaves. The impact of the psychic blast and its unexpected appearance caught all three psychics off guard.
The pain of the blast made Elliot inhale sharply, while Dani closed her eyes and raised a hand to her head, although by the time her fingers touched her skin she had recovered.
Rain staggered into Carl’s arms and he quickly responded, holding her to him and keeping her upright. As quickly as it had come the blast was gone and both Elliot and Rain recovered.
“What happened?” Carl asked, unaffected and unable to look away from Rain.
“Psychic blast, but we’re okay now,” Elliot answered sharply.
Rain slipped from Carl’s arms and whispered to him, “I’ll leave you to talk.”
“No,” Carl objected with a shake of his head. “You don’t have to.”
Rain stood up on the tips of her toes and kissed him quickly. “I have to go. I’ll see you later.”
Carl watched her leave and when the door was closed behind her, he let out a sigh and moved to sit with the others.
Elliot sat and said nothing, still recovering from the powerful psychic blast.
It was Dani, already free from the effects of the blast that could not contain herself and asked in a concerned voice. “What’s going on with you two?”
Carl scratched the back of his head. “Nothing.”
“Nothing?! Doesn’t look like nothing to me! We can’t trust her!”
Carl looked at Dani for the first time since entering the room. “Why? Why can’t we trust her?”
“Listen to yourself – she’s clouded your mind! She’s using her powers on you! Elliot – tell him!”
They both looked to the other man in the room and Elliot placed his hands together, hidden under his folded arms. “Carl, if you’ll permit me, I can scan your mind for outside interference. I’ll be able to detect any suggestions that have been planted. Will you allow me to do that?”
Agitated, Carl responded. “I can’t believe you guys. There’s nothing wrong with me – you think I wouldn’t know if there was?”
Dani stood up. “Then why don’t you let Elliot check you?”
“Fine!” Carl snapped also standing and walking over to Elliot.
“It’s okay Carl, you don’t need to be any closer. Please, return to your seat.”
Carl did as Elliot suggested, aggressively throwing himself back into the chair.
Elliot’s focus shifted to something that only he seemed to be able to see and he entered Carl’s mind. The thoughts he encountered were disciplined like the man that created them. Elliot sensed a great deal of emotional stirring in respects to Rain and he became aware of what had happened during that day. After only a few seconds Elliot broke the contact and blinked slowly. Shaking his head Elliot affirmed his findings. “She’s put no new ideas into your mind, my friend. It seems instead that everything that happened today was already on your mind.”
“There, you see!” Carl cried turning back to Dani.
“I see – it’s just a shame you don’t,” Dani retorted.
Carl was again on his feet but Elliot quickly cut off any reply he was about to make. “Carl, there is one thing I must ask you.” Softly putting his will into his words and forcing them into Carl’s mind, the telepath prevented Carl’s emotions from rising against Dani and instead commanded his full attention.
“Earlier today, I felt a heavy psychic tremor as Rain did something to you and whatever it was, it was something powerful. Do you remember what that was?”
Calmly, Carl looked to the carpeted floor as he searched his memory. “No. I don’t remember her doing anything to me. We slept through the afternoon together and you yourself said there was nothing she’d put into my mind.”
Elliot nodded in acceptance. “Which leads me to believe that she put you to sleep. I can’t think why she would do that. Tell me, can you remember what you dreamt?”
Carl’s eyes flicked between Elliot and Dani. “It was about my father.”
“Your father?” echoed Dani. “You told us on the train… Has Leóni told you what happened yet?”
Having regained further calmness via Elliot, Carl peacefully answered. “Yes. He said my father was working as a bodyguard for his father, Roberto Leóni Senior. I thought this was a lie at first because my father had been an agent, not a bodyguard, but then Leóni told me that the reason his father had a bodyguard was to protect him in his business, and one of the projects in that business was the design and construction of the original Dream Carrier.”
“The original Dream Carrier?” questioned Elliot.
“Yeah, apparently this thing’s design has been around for decades. My father had been sent in undercover by the government to learn as much as he could about the project and find out if it was a reality or just all theoretical or something like that. The thing is, once it was proved to work, the government made arrangements to take the invention from Leóni’s father and compensate him. Leóni said his dad was fine with this, but when the inventor of the machine, a guy called Hans Bronkoff found out, he went mad. He killed my father in cold blood.”
There was a moment of silence as the story set in before Dani spoke. “I’m sorry Carl.”
“No, it’s okay. I’m glad now that I finally know the truth,” Carl eased with a nervous laugh.
“You said you’d dreamt about your father,” Elliot prompted.
Carl nodded. “Twice. But both times now, I wake up and I can’t remember what he said. I have this terrible feeling that it was important, but I just can’t remember.”
“But how can you even be dreaming about a man you’ve never met?” asked Dani.
“Pictures my mother had, a photo from a file. I know what my father looked like.”
“But still Dani is right,” said Elliot, “you shouldn’t be having dreams about him that are making you feel un-easy. I’m wondering now if Rain knows about these dreams and if so, does that itself mean anything?”
“I don’t know,” admitted Carl truthfully.
The three sat in silence, contemplating the meanings of these dreams.
“Carl, would you be willing to let me enter your dreams with you? Perhaps I can learn what it is that they mean, where they are coming from. The fact that you’re choosing now to have dreams about your father that are related to the Dream Carrier worries me. That machine is more powerful than most people realise… Together, Dani and I might even be the best combination to try this.”
Carl flicked his eyes between Elliot and Dani. “I’m not sure. Let me think about it. If the dreams carry on, then we’ll see.”
Rain slipped into the workshop containing the almost completed Dream Carrier and approached Roberto Leóni, as he directed a technician to completing the final adjustments and turned to face her.
“I’ve done as you asked,” Rain confirmed.
Rain hesitated before answering. “He’s loyal to us. He doesn’t suspect a thing.”
For only the briefest moment, she wondered if Leóni believed her and then his face broke into a smile and his hand brushed her cheek. “Well done. I’m leaving tonight for the mainland. I decided to do a press conference in person. There’s also the first of my guests to be collected and brought back here to use the Dream Carrier, so I won’t be back for a couple of days.”
“It’s finished then?”
“Almost, my darling, almost. By the time I leave in an hour, it will be and I’ll have the proof I need that the Dream Carrier really does work.”
Rain looked at the great metallic shell gleaming in the artificial lights of the workshop. The blurred reflections of the technician danced on its surface, making the machine itself seem almost self-aware. In the views of the almost completed model, this new version of the former Dream Carrier flaunts a sleekly desire, smartly displayed a modern screen for the desired user, and operated beside in a required second place, connected only via a single, wireless attachment.
“What should I do?”
“Exactly what you have been doing; keep them here, make sure they don’t use their powers for anything naughty and I want you to guarantee Blain’s loyalty. Do what you must… Have a little fun if you like, but make sure he’s not suspicious and that he’ll follow you over the other two if, or when, push comes to shove.” With that Leóni turned his back on her and faced his glorious machine.
Leóni looked at the unnoticed people he had identified to be his test subjects; an old woman in her eighties, and a second, much younger girl under her teens both brought through hospitality onto the island earlier that day. If what he suspected was true, then his test would offer excellent and almost irrefutable proof to the Dream Carrier’s abilities.
A short while later, the Dream Carrier was used on its first trial test run via its current design. Carried out with Rain as the operator, she hypnotised the user of the youthful age, while both Leóni and the older woman in her eighties viewed. Observing the digital screen, the older lady shed a tear in recognition of seeing her passed away mother. The child’s Dream Carrier experience portrayed herself as the older lady’s mother herself.
Witnessing through the Dream Carrier was extremely emotional and during which, Leóni smiled in scientific involvement. And once complete, Leóni was in possession of the results he desired.
Chapter Nine – August 19th 2099, 08:07
Carl opened his eyes and in a heartbeat the conversation he’d had with his father had once again slipped from his memory. The dream had ended the same, his father leading him through the house and to the Dream Carrier that Leóni had built, but once again Carl was unable to remember what his father had said. The feeling of importance was still with him, an overwhelming sense that something needed to be done, but still Carl did not know what it was in his dream that triggered the urgency he felt.
Rain wriggled slightly in his arms and then whispered, “Good morning.”
The sense of urgency faded from Carl as Rain rolled over to him, a smile on her sleepy face. “You were restless last night, did you have a bad dream?” she asked.
Carl looked away from her. “I can’t remember. I keep dreaming about– no, it’s nothing.”
“No, go on, tell me. I studied dreams when I first mastered my telepathy, I might be able to help you interpret them.” Although Rain was telling the truth about her dream studies, she was lying about being able to help. Until she herself knew what was going on and why the spirit of Edward Blain was visiting his son, she had no intention of sharing information with anyone.
“I keep dreaming about my father, even though he died just before I was born,” Carl admitted. “The same dream every night lately. In it, he’s always trying to tell me something, but when I wake up I can never remember what he said.”
“Hmm, that’s quite strange. Is there, anything I can do to make you feel better?” Rain offered suggestively.
As a smile crept onto Carl’s face she slipped her leg over his hip and leaned in close to him. They kissed gently, the sleepiness about them now wearing off as their passion for each other awoke. They were both naked beneath the bed sheets and as their bodies rubbed against one another, the cover was soon kicked aside. The fresh morning air expelled the cool chill of the night and in only a few moments Rain’s back began to glisten with the heat she was feeling, laying on top of Carl. His fingers ran roughly through her hair holding her head back as he kissed her throat, moving his lips along her neck and down to her shoulders. A moan escaped her as he forced himself inside her and her hands gripped the bed sheets, kneading them in her fists. Rain sat up and leaned back as Carl’s hands moved to her hips and began stroking her legs.
Carl made her feel so good, so relaxed that she let herself go completely, losing herself in the moment. It seemed that although she had power over Carl’s mind in a subtle way, he too had power over her but in a physical way of his own. Lost in Carl’s arms she fell forward with a whimper allowing him to roll her over and continue on, sending waves of satisfaction through her. Rain tried to connect herself into Carl’s mind to complete her experience and draw his feelings for her even closer, exploding them out into an unquestioning loyalty to her, but her mind was quivering as much as her body and she found she could not concentrate. In an almost mentally numb state, she wrapped her arms and legs around Carl clamping herself around him until he could no longer control himself and was forced to his finish. Out of breath and glistening with sweat, the two lay in each other’s arms. Holding him close to her, Rain heard herself whisper, “I love you,” without even knowing that the words were there. After she had said them she did not regret it, as she realised it was the truth she had only now revealed to herself.
In return Carl moved his head to look deeply into her eyes and with a kiss like no other, he returned the sentiment.
“Quick! What’s that?!” cried Elliot as he pointed off towards the beach.
Dani looked away from her breakfast plate, off to where Elliot was pointing but she saw nothing. When she looked back to her breakfast, the last strawberry in her fruit salad was gone. With a yelp of shock and outrage her mouth fell open and she turned to face Elliot.
“What?” he giggled out with a shrug.
Dani slapped his shoulder harder than she would have normally, as she had been saving that strawberry for last and looking forward to it the most. Any further punishment was abruptly cut short by the arrival of Carl and Rain – hand in hand.
Everyone said good morning to everyone else as Carl sat down, Rain hovering at his side.
A second later Dani heard Elliot in her mind asking, “What’s going on?!”
Dani answered with a subtle shake of her head, herself not knowing.
“Mr Leóni won’t be available for a day or so as he’s gone to give a press conference in person, regarding his new Dream Carrier.”
“And regarding you two?” Elliot asked casually.
“Mind you own business,” Rain replied as politely as one could say such words. She then turned on her heel and walked back into the house, leaving the three of them alone on the patio to enjoy their breakfast.
Carl smiled broadly to his friends and reached for some toast.
“Okay,” said Elliot shaking his head. “This may be a stupid question now, but did you have any dreams again last night?”
“Or didn’t you get any sleep?” Dani asked with a smile on the corner of her lips.
“I slept,” Carl confirmed with a mouthful of toast, “a little,” he then added in a mumble.
“And your dreams?” Elliot prompted.
Carl’s manner became serious again now. “The same again. I’ve thought about what you suggested yesterday, about entering the dream with me. If you think you can do it, then I’d like to try tomorrow night.”
Elliot looked to Dani for confirmation and she nodded. “Anytime you’re ready Carl. What we’ll do is Dani will hypnotise you and keep you under while I use one hundred percent of my telepathy to get into your mind.”
“If you don’t mind me asking,” Dani said with a smile, “why not tonight?”
“I want to wait because I’m not sure about Rain anymore. There’s something different about her. As you can see, we’ve got a thing going on and I get the impression she started it to get to me. But…”
“What?” asked Dani.
“I don’t know. I think she’s fallen for me. I don’t want to sound big headed, but I just don’t think she’s that good an actress.”
“But she is that good a telepath. She could be making you think this!”
“No,” Elliot cut in decisively. “Since we broke free of her initial block of our powers, I haven’t felt her try to control any one of us with her mind – except for yesterday, but you told us she only put you to sleep. Whatever you’re feeling and thinking Carl, it’s coming from you, not an idea she’s put in your mind.”
“Hmm,” Carl thought loudly to himself.
“Carl?” Dani called. “What is it you’re thinking and feeling?”
“I’m thinking Leóni told her to get to me… But I’m feeling I’ve got to her. I don’t know. I need more time to be sure.” Carl got up from the table, but before he walked away he turned back to them. “She told me she loved me this morning. Can you tell, if she’s… if she’s telling the truth?”
Dani looked away with a shake of her head, but Elliot held Carl’s stare.
At that moment Rain walked briskly from the house back out to the breakfast patio and moments later had walked into Carl’s open arms. He kissed her lightly and turned her, walking with her back into the house. A step before they reached the doorway, Carl flicked his head back around and glanced at Elliot, who nodded once using his eyes more than his head in an almost unnoticeable gesture.
Rain felt a slight intrusion into her emotions, but as the attack had attempted to take nothing from her mind she dismissed it without a second thought.
Carl walked with Rain into the house and he suddenly felt nervous. He had not believed that she might really be in love with him.
Approximately a thousand miles away from his island, in the nation’s capital of Washington D.C., Mr Roberto Leóni prepared himself for his press conference. The people of the world had been previously led to believe that the Dream Carrier was a fraud and that its creator Dr Romonovski had failed in his work. Romonovski’s disappearance had done little to change his point of view, and with the government firmly in control of the Dream Carrier project, information released had been carefully filtered. Requests for more details were sent into channels that would see that they were never granted, as people were discouraged from pursuing any interest with the Dream Carrier at all.
The Dream Carrier was seen by those with influence as a powerful tool not to be wasted on the general public, but now Mr Leóni had constructed his own machine and he knew that this news would be met with controversy. The cold hard facts he had prepared would be enough to convince the public he knew, but he still held some doubt as to whether his evidence was proof enough, to stand up to any accusations of falsehood that the government itself could create to discredit him. Were they to choose such a course, the government’s denial to the authenticity of his claims could be a serious complication in his plan. Time would soon tell and he was certain enough that he was willing to take the gamble.
With his own Dream Carrier offered for public use, the government would again bring forth their own machine to prevent Leóni from having sole control. Leóni expected that offers would be made for him to ‘withdraw’ his machine from public use or risk having it confiscated, but he was prepared for this, for in truth Leóni wished for only a few dozen people that he had already identified to use his Dream Carrier. On condition that he could do this for his own research he would gladly co-operate with the officials.
“It’s time Mr Leóni,” a worker stated from the broadcast studio where his conference was to be recorded and broadcasted out.
With a nod Leóni acknowledged the woman and followed her out towards the stage.
The press conference was being held in a reasonably large studio hall with representatives from all the major newspapers and several of the larger visual screens and popular radio stations, many people predicted to having an interest in what this millionaire man had to say about the Dream Carrier.
Tiny microphones and digital cameras did not phase Leóni in the least as he walked confidently to the centre of the stage.
“Good Morning,” he began looking into the various cameras. “I have called you here today to go on record with a statement and reveal that the Dream Carrier project has been re-started… by me.”
Those busy transmitting Mr Leóni’s speech focused on his first words.
“You will of course be wondering why I have invested in a machine that has been previously proved to be a failure. To answer this I will show you a recording of a test I carried out using the Dream Carrier I have constructed at personal expense, and together with the noted results of various other cases, which I today offer to you as new proof, I will go on record to claim that the Dream Carrier does in fact work.
“The denial of these facts by our government is not something I can speculate on, as anything I could say that relates to the conspiracy theorist ideas would be purely speculation. The claims made about the original Dream Carrier and its failure may be true – with regards to that particular machine. I am simply here to tell you that my Dream Carrier works.
“I will now prove this by showing you my test film.” Leóni nodded and the footage cut from the recording he had of his test results.
The recording showed Rain waiting by the operating station of a sleek Dream Carrier as an old woman was positioned in front of the viewing screen with Mr Leóni at her side. The test subject, a much younger girl under her teens was then brought in and seated at the Dream Carrier. In moments Rain had sent her into a trance and the screen showing what the young girl was experiencing through the Dream Carrier came to life.
“As you can see from the time and date in the corner of the screen,” explained Mr Leóni, “what you’re seeing is footage of an experiment conducted only last night. The elderly lady you can see was involved in a car accident some thirty three years ago, in which she suffered the loss of her mother. I believe the young girl using the Dream Carrier to be the reincarnation of her mother.”
In the footage Rain used the Dream Carrier and manipulated the memories shown through it to find those that Mr Leóni was searching for. Various images of the past showed on the screen as the old lady looked on with undisguised hope in her eyes as she recognised brief flashes of memory among the images. The picture on the Dream Carrier’s monitor cleared and showed the point of view from a person driving a car. The picture of sharp pixel resolution was also of darkness, and Leóni explained the reason for that was because the car had been driven at night. The clarity of the screen was perfect and although the image was shaded, it could still be identified without scepticism.
The older woman’s reaction also left no room for doubt as her hands shot up to her mouth in shock, the pain of those horrid moments buried for so many years, now flooding back to the surface of her mind.
Everyone watched in silence as the film unfolded, showing the car driving along a quiet country road innocently enough, and then from nowhere a second car hurtled around a sharp bend ahead and crashed in a head-on collision with the viewpoint. The perspective of the images slammed forward and suddenly went dark.
The young girl in the Dream Carrier opened her eyes and sat bolt upright, Rain quickly calming her and returning her into a hypnotic trance, wiping the horrific memory from her conscious.
The older lady had got to her feet and after shuffling slowly forwards, was standing in awe next to the younger girl. The camera view cut away from the Dream Carrier and moved around so that the audience could see the look on the elderly woman’s face as she stared down at the other, still seated in the Dream Carrier’s chair. The look she held was one of utter amazement. Slowly that look changed into one of affection as her hand gently stroked the forehead of her former mother. The footage faded to black and the image ended.
Mr Leóni faced back to the reporters. “I have here the signed statements from both parties seen in the footage that what they experienced was real and not some made up documentary for the purposes of today. They have also agreed to be available for direct interviews with any of you that may doubt my and indeed their claims, but due to the age of Mrs Smith –the elderly lady in the footage– they are not here with me today.
“I also have the records of other such cases from the original Dream Carrier, which were rapidly seized by officials and claimed of fraud before they were put forward. I will make such files available to you all after this press conference. But above all, I offer the most legitimate proof possible. I offer you, the general public the chance to use my Dream Carrier.”
There was a brief commotion, a mixture of shock and excitement at Mr Leóni’s offer, which he silenced with hushing gestures to the crowds of reporters. “One month from today, I will make my machine available to the general public.”
The excited atmosphere in the room increased as people began looking around at each other in stunned conversation, and as the statement was ended, the questions began within a wrapped cluster;
“How were you able to build a Dream Carrier? Why would the government lie? How could you identify which people to use for your proof? Where is the Dream Carrier you’ve built? Why must people wait a month? What made you build your own Dream Carrier? What do you think the government will say to you about this?”
To these questions Leóni responded without hesitation, his answers confident as he had anticipated all that had been asked.
Mr Leóni joked about how he had been able to build a Dream Carrier, neatly sidestepping the question by saying luck was on his side. He confessed he did not know why the government had claimed their machine did not work. He briefly explained his theories on identifying people to use for Dream Carrier test subjects and made another joke about the dozens he had been wrong about. As to where and when the Dream Carrier could be used he only promised that time would tell. Leóni admitted that he had built a Dream Carrier himself, based on his own beliefs that it worked. But for the final question, he offered no true answer. He simply looked at the cameras on him and asked his own question. “What will they say indeed?”
Kevin Stenton, Director of Special Operations division under the Central Intelligence Agency, walked briskly down the corridor of the Black Ops division corridor and marched into the office of his subordinate. “Did you have any idea about this?!” he demanded of John Matthews, as he held up a portable imager screen displaying a newspaper cover with the headline; “NEW DREAM CARRIER WORKS!”
Matthews tried to explain. “We knew that something had bee–”
“Never mind! I should have known myself after the break in. We can’t afford to be connected to the scandal that this is going to create. If it comes out that we were connected to this and worse, that we were trying to silence those involved, we’ll be in a real shit storm. I don’t have the time to deal with another mistake, I want everything that connected us to this thing gone!”
“Yes Sir Mr Stenton, I’ll pull the plug on all of it… But what about Agent Blain, Sir?”
“Forget about Blain – another botched operation on him is the last thing we need. We identified him as part of the break-in team so it’s safe to assume he’s in with this Leóni, and we can’t afford to give him any more ammunition against us! What if more of your men fail to get him and he forces a confession out of them, on national television?! If his guys want him back in the Agency then I don’t want Blain being able to bring back anything more about us than he already thinks he knows. Besides if Blain had something to say, it would have been a part of this!” cried Stenton as he shook his screen out in front of him.
Matthews looked away.
Stenton regained his composure with a deep breath and in a calmer voice said, “Don’t let me down again, John. Mop this up and get it done quickly.”
Looking back at his superior John Matthews answered, “I’ll personally handle the original Dream Carrier operators we still have, and will make sure that everything connecting us to Green and Le Freau doesn’t exist.”
Kevin Stenton nodded. “You do that,” and then he left the office.
John felt tense after the grilling from the man at the top of the Black Ops food chain. This whole Dream Carrier thing had gotten way out of hand and he knew as soon as his men had failed to get the last two operators that something was wrong. Failing to get Blain as well had left a wide open wound in his side. John let out a deep sigh feeling relief that this project was drawing to a close, and as he shut his eyes his phone rang with the call he had been expected for the last few hours.
“Mr Matthews, as per your new orders, the removal team will be at your offices first thing tomorrow morning to collect the Dream Carrier and move it to its new location.”
“Excellent. See to it that everything is handled as quickly as possible.”
“And confirm the recall of active agents.” John hung up the phone feeling much better now that he knew the National Security Agency would be taking the Dream Carrier project off of his hands. The whole issue of the Dream Carrier and what it could do had made him uneasy, the subject of reincarnation being a religious belief that he did not share. Now he could finally wash his hands of it for good, as whatever NSA would do with the project, it would have nothing further to do with him.
With one final thought John scooped up his phone handle and issued his last project connection. “Release all the enclosed former operators under standard contract agreements, immediately. No further questions.”
Chapter Ten – August 20th 2099, 13:33
It was another beautiful day on the island, as Miss Sinclair opened the door to the helicopter and her employer stepped out onto the sun-baked landing pad.
Roberto Leóni took a deep breath of fresh air and looked around at all he owned, his father’s legacy and the money that came with it having provided his surroundings. Being home again served to lessen the disappointment he felt at not having been able to bring any of those people he had wanted to use his Dream Carrier back with him. Although all had been interested, none had wanted to return with him straight away, instead postponing plans and agreeing to fly out in the future. The first was due to arrive at the beginning of the following week, so Leóni would have until then to make sure that all was in order in his house. Dani, Elliot and Carl would have either agreed to join him by then or…
As Leóni walked to his house he remained unsure of how to approach them. He doubted that any of the three would willingly join him, but it seemed such a waste for them to turn him down. Still, if Rain had done as instructed, he hoped that Blain at least would be with them. He could see no way how Blain would have been able to resist the charms of his hypnotist, even though she claimed her powers would be of no use while Elliot Green was around. Mr Leóni remained confident that Rain’s natural charms and beauty would be enough.
He walked into the rear of the house alone and passed through the library and into the hall. Waiting for him was a member of the house staff, who promptly greeted his employer and informed him that his guests were out again, exploring the small island or on the beach. When Mr Leóni asked which it was, his man told him that the guests seemed to always split into two pairs; Rain and Mr Blain would go in one direction and Miss Le Freau and Mr Green would go in another.
As Mr Leóni walked away he pondered; did this mean that Blain was indeed under Rain’s control, or that the other two could not be tempted to join him? The question would need to be answered as quickly as possible.
Mr Leóni reached the end of the corridor and entered through the door leading into the basement under the house. He passed through his wine cellar and his archives room and was finally face to face with his machine once more. The Dream Carrier stood before him in all of its glory and Mr Leóni stared affectionately at it. With this machine he would recapture his most important memories from his previous life. He would know everything of necessity and he would once again continue what he had started.
Several hours later, Mr Leóni seated himself at the dining table and patiently waited for his guests to arrive. Moments later, Rain led the three of them into the room and they were all seated, as Mr Leóni’s staff began serving dinner.
Elliot began. “It’s good to see you back, Mr Leóni. May I ask if your trip was successful?”
“Fairly,” Leóni answered. “Although I was not able to return with any one that I’ve identified as, err, useful possible subjects for the Dream Carrier, I do have some excellent news for you. I have now been informed that the National Security Agency has taken over the original Dream Carrier project and that the elements that wished to apprehend,” he glanced at Carl, “or silence you, are no longer an issue. My source tells me that all connections between the Black Ops division and the Dream Carrier project have been severed. You’re all three, free to do as you will… Although I would recommend discretion regarding your previous employment.”
Dani, Elliot and Carl all smiled showing their relief to different extents.
“Thank you Mr Leóni,” Elliot said with gratitude, and Dani quickly echoed his sentiments.
“Without your help,” Dani continued, “who knows where we would have ended up!”
“I cannot take all this thanks! It was you that took the risks in getting me the plans I needed to complete my own Dream Carrier, so in a way, you set yourselves free. I was merely the catalyst for that freedom.”
As they all ate their meals, Mr Leóni noticed the connection between Rain and Carl Blain. He could see from their constant eye contact and the looks that they gave one another that she had indeed succeeded in her mission – but was there something else there too? The way she looked at him… Mr Leóni could not be sure, but the idea occurred to him that perhaps it was not Blain that was loyal to her, but she that was loyal to him. If it were so, this could be a problem and one he must stamp out quickly. This new possibility took precedence over the offer he had been preparing to make the others. He could not proceed with his plans without Rain’s loyalty to him ensured and so must first confirm with her what was happening. Mr Leóni decided to say nothing of what he intended until he could first speak with Rain. Tomorrow would be good enough to discover the destinies of the others and whether they would be joining him… or not.
When dinner was over and the polite conversation had edged closer to uncomfortable silence, Mr Leóni suggested that his guests might retire for the evening, as tomorrow he would need to discuss much with them. In the response of well-mannered guests both Elliot and Dani accepted this proposal, rose and left. Carl on the other hand was far more hesitant, looking quickly to Rain. Mr Leóni saw the questioning look upon Carl’s face and quickly moved to assure him. “Don’t worry Mr Blain. I have business to conduct with Rain that will steal her away from you tonight, but I promise she will be yours again tomorrow.”
“No, please Mr Blain. I can see that the two of you have begun an affair and my staff have confirmed this for me also. You have my complete blessing, but business is business and tonight, business must be conducted.” Mr Leóni smiled and looked at Rain as he spoke.
Running a quick scan over his initial thoughts, Rain sensed nothing unusual in her employer and so smiled back before looking to Carl and nodding once in agreement.
Carl rose from the table and kissed Rain on her cheek. “Goodnight Mr Leóni.”
“Pleasant dreams to you, Mr Blain.”
For a heartbeat Carl’s attention snapped back to his dreams and then he acknowledged his host’s courtesy with a nod, disappearing from the room.
“Well?” asked Mr Leóni a moment later.
“I’ve done as you instructed,” Rain answered simply.
Mr Leóni moved from the table and stood behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. As he began to massage her he leant down and whispered in her ear. “And what exactly, did you do to follow these instructions?” As he spoke, Leóni pulled at the neck-line of Rain’s dress, sliding his hands onto her bare shoulders.
Wriggling free from the uncomfortable fondling, Rain stood up and turned to face her employer. “You don’t need to worry about Carl, he’ll do whatever I ask him to.”
The dark look on Mr Leóni’s face suggested that he had not been truthful earlier about giving his full blessings, and Rain hated the fact that she had ever let him touch her. In her past before, she should never have let him near her, should never had accepted his fornication, and been his lover. Rain thought she was easily powerful enough to incapacitate Leóni with simply her mental suggestion pushed into his head!
As this thought crossed Rain’s mind, Leóni seemed to be having the same ideas as he took a step back and wiped the expression from his face.
“Come then, Rain. I need you to operate the Dream Carrier. I want to go much further tonight and learn as much as possible.” Without waiting for her reply, Leóni stalked off out of the room.
Rain could feel a mixture of things coming from him towards her. Animosity at her actions with Carl, lustful desire for her body, superiority at being able to order her about as an employee, and in the corner of his mind, the tiniest amount of fear.
As his footsteps began to fade, Rain raised and followed, going with Leóni to the Dream Carrier.
She watched in silence as he connected himself to the machine and then spoke to her for the first time since they had left the dining room. “Begin as soon as you can.” He sounded cold, which was a new action in his attitude towards her and one that she found she didn’t care about. Carl was waiting for her and that thought made the unpleasant feelings Leóni created within her melt away. Perhaps she could even leave here with Carl? Rain liked this idea and looked forward to finishing here so that she could suggest it to Carl. Rain was now ready to begin and so started her hypnotic countdown with, “Three” as Mr Leóni closed his eyes and with a deep breath, relaxed himself. “Two… One.”
Carl had not even bothered going to his own room, instead heading straight for Elliot’s, catching him just as he and Dani reached the door.
“I’m worried about Rain – I don’t think she’s safe.”
Elliot opened the door and motioned for the others to enter. Closing the door behind him, Elliot followed them in and then addressed Carl’s statement. “You cannot worry about her. She has made her own decision to be here and has been using her power to keep Leóni’s true intentions out of our grasp since we first arrived.”
“But she’s changed,” insisted Carl. “A while ago I would’ve agreed with you, but now, I just know she’s different and Leóni knows it too.”
They stood in silence for a moment. Then Dani mumbled, almost to herself “She’s going to change everything for us.”
“What?!” Carl demanded.
Unfazed by his aggressive concern, Dani continued. “I can feel something big coming for us, for all of us and I know that whatever it is, Rain is going to be in the middle of it.”
“Good or bad?” asked Elliot.
Dani looked at him and answered, “Good.” But then a heartbeat later she glanced at Carl and added, “And bad.”
“What do you mean!” Carl sparked.
“I’m sorry Carl, I can’t be specific. I can’t sense any danger for Elliot and I, but something dark, something… I don’t know what exactly, is waiting for you. And Rain is connected to it.”
Carl looked away from her, not knowing what to make of this prediction.
Elliot stepped towards him and spoke in a re-assuring voice. “Whatever it is Carl, Dani and I will help you. I can see you feel deeply for Rain even without using any of my power and I promise you, as your friend, I will not allow harm to come to either of you if I can prevent it.”
“But we don’t even know what it is!” Carl complained. “How can we be ready for it?”
Dani moved closer, whispering quickly. “Your dreams! You’ve been having the same dream and in it you said your father is trying to tell you something. Maybe you do know what ‘it’ is.”
Carl stared into her eyes, comprehending the meaning of what she was saying. Was the dream of his father trying to warn him? And in that case did he somehow know what was coming? It all seemed impossible to him as he shook his head in disbelief.
“There’s a way to find out,” Elliot reminded. “Let us into your dreams Carl. Show me what your mind is trying to tell you and I will control that memory and bring it into your conscious mind.”
Carl looked up at Elliot, then nodded.
“Okay, here’s what we’ll do. Carl, you sit here,” strategized Elliot as he lowered Carl onto the edge of the bed. Elliot retrieved the chair from the corner of his room and then another from under the writing desk that formed the room’s main piece of furniture. “Dani you sit here between Carl and myself and I’ll sit here.” Elliot seated himself opposite Carl and took Dani’s hand in his own. “Carl,” he prompted as Dani offered her hand. Carl took her hand with a blank expression on his face.
“Right. Carl, what we’re going to do is Dani will put you into a hypnotic trance. I’m then going to connect my mind to yours and use Dani’s mind as the battery to power this little link, which will free up my mind in the dream. Dani will maintain the trance for both of us, but you have to open your mind. I can’t force my way into your dreams while you’re under Dani’s trance, so you have to relax, okay?”
“Okay,” Carl agreed.
“Okay,” echoed Dani. “Just relax Carl. I want you to close your eyes and think of a candle. Just one candle lighting a small, empty room. Concentrate on the candle and on the sound of my voice. That candle is your waking mind and it’s starting to go out. Very slowly now Carl, I want you to empty yourself of everything but the image of the candle. I’m going to count to ten now and when I get to ten, the candle will go out and you will be asleep until I light the candle for you once more. One.”
Carl had not moved a muscle since Dani had first spoken. Elliot had used his power to plant an image of a candle in Carl’s mind. He had made sure that he could think of nothing but the candle and Carl had responded well.
Dani could not merely hypnotise someone without any powers or not that did not wish to be hypnotised, but Carl had opened himself completely to her. Elliot felt Dani wrap Carl in a physical shroud of her will, controlling his breathing and making his body respond to the hypnotism of his mind, using her telekinesis to aid in the hypnotism. As Dani reached the count of ten, Elliot followed Carl into his dreams.
Elliot slipped into Carl’s dreaming mind, a spectator in a world that did not really exist. The clarity of the dream had a hazy mist shrouding the edges of everything Elliot looked at; the half-forgotten memories that Carl possessed from his childhood.
Elliot recognised the small boy in the dream as Carl, walking with a woman that Elliot assumed was his mother. They strolled together along a tree lined path through a park on a quiet autumn day. Elliot found it strange that the surroundings in the dream were so active, the branches of the tree gently swaying even though there was no wind and the leaves falling like rain from the trees.
Ahead Elliot saw Carl stop walking and begin to stare at another boy playing with his father. From the look on the young Carl’s face, a deep emotion was passing through him and reaching out with his mind. Elliot felt the sense of loss rippling through the dream.
Carl and his mother continued walking and towards them walked a man, his head bowed against a cold wind that suddenly blasted in from nowhere.
Elliot watched as the man passed without looking at Carl, but could feel his longing to be recognised by this stranger.
Carl’s mind leapt forwards carrying Elliot along with it and now through much clearer vision, Elliot saw Carl as a young man, just finished his basic training and at the start of his career. An older man that Elliot learned had been Carl’s instructor stood with the youthful Carl, a proud look in his eyes. This was someone that Elliot could feel had been close to Carl in the absence of his father.
The dream did not linger here, but swiftly jumped again and once more a man appeared before Carl, but this time Elliot did not need to search the mind he was in for an identity. The resemblance alone was enough to tell Elliot that this was Carl’s father. The clarity of the dream was now so vivid that it seemed like reality, and Elliot quickly realised that the trance-sleep Carl was in was also much deeper than it had been. Elliot wondered if Dani was doing this or if this was a side-effect of the mysterious dream.
Carl’s father of equal height walked forward and with similar shape embraced his son, Carl smiling and happily returning the warm gesture. Elliot listened as they began to talk.
“I did it Dad! I found out what happened!”
“That’s good son, but there’s more to this story.”
“What do you mean there’s more?”
“My chapter in this story was only the beginning and when that chapter closed, this became your story,” revealed Edward Blain.
“I don’t understand. How?”
“The Leóni family are our enemies my son, and just as the father was mine, so the son is yours.”
“You must leave this place, or else history will repeat itself.”
“I can’t leave. I have to protect my friends.”
“Your friends will survive this with or without you.”
“Are you sure? Then-”
“Time is short, I can’t share or stay here any longer.”
“No Dad! Please don’t go!” Carl begged the final words.
Elliot watched as Carl lunged at his father and held onto him. Like a stone thrown into a pond, the gesture rippled through the dream changed everything. Elliot looked around himself as the shimmering whiteness of Carl’s memory faded into darkness. But even as he watched, that darkness took on a shape of its own and a few moments later, Elliot recognised where they were. He stood now only a few steps away from the Blain men as they all appeared in the corridor outside Leóni’s study.
Carl’s father slipped from his arms and began walking away, leaving Carl where he stood.
The telepath sensed now that the dream had reached the ultimate depth, and had become a lucid illusion for Carl. “Yes, I am still here.”
“What do we do?”
“Have you not dreamed this before?” queried Elliot.
Carl thought for a moment. “Yes, I think so. He led me…”
The two looked off down the dark corridor, but both could clearly see Edward Blain waiting for them.
Elliot nodded to Carl and them followed him as they proceeded after Edward.
As in the previous dream like this, Carl watched as his father walked, continually looking over his shoulder to make sure that his son followed. Edward led them through the basement of the house, passing through the wine cellar and into the next room.
As they moved Elliot felt a strange sensation in his mind. Focusing his thoughts he was stunned by the fact that there was a third presence in the dream! Quickly he checked the presence for Dani’s familiar mental signature, but she was not present. Who could this third presence be? The obvious thought was too incredible to accept, but as no other solution presented itself, Elliot began to wonder just how impossible it really was.
The things Elliot had seen through the Dream Carrier had taught him much, and made him believe in things of both a religious and fantastic nature, so was it impossible that Carl’s father really was among them?
Focusing his mind once more, Elliot sensed that this third presence was also creating the dream now, and that he and Carl were merely being led through it in vivid clarity. This was not a dream of clarity handed to Carl, but was now an actual presence of his father himself.
They walked from the dimly lit wine cellar into a room that smelled of old paper ledgers and was piled high with dusty books, the clarity of the documents sharp enough that Elliot could read them as they passed by. Opening the heavy vault–like door on the other side of the room, Edward stepped to one side and allowed Carl and Elliot to enter first. Inside Elliot saw a finished Dream Carrier.
“This is what I needed to show you,” Edward said as he circled around the machine to where a sole book laid on a work surface.
Carl and Elliot followed, opened the book and saw that it was written in Russian. It seemed to contain unreadable paragraphs with a name connected to each. Carl looked to his father. “You’ve shown this to me before, but I still don’t understand, what are you trying to tell me?”
“The notes taken by Romonovski were recorded from the original journal, kept by the Dream Carrier’s real inventor, Hans Bronkoff.”
Carl and Elliot exchanged looks of astonishment.
“Men killed for that original, for the power of the Dream Carrier. Romonovski’s duplicated it and took years to create his results. But now, Leóni has his own copy, the only, total, copy of all the Dream Carrier notes. But you must leave this place before he uses the Dream Carrier to fully awaken himself, before he awakens others. If the someone once more walks their path of a last life… You must escape before it’s too late!”
Carl and Elliot both felt their eyes dragged again to the book before them, but when they looked up Edward was gone. Elliot sent a message through Carl and up into Dani’s conscious and a moment later both men opened their eyes and turned their aghast faces to her.
With Elliot’s help, Carl was for the first time able to remember the vivid dream in all its detail, but as he looked to Dani ready to tell her everything that Elliot and he had seen, he noticed the wide-eyed look of shock on her face. Dani jumped when he spoke her name and as Elliot moved to comfort her, Carl saw that she was trembling slightly.
Dani spoke. “When the trance took hold, a new spirit came, something else controlling the dream – I could feel it!”
Elliot exchanged a look with Carl and then revealed to them what he had felt in the dream. “Edward Blain –Carl’s father– was with us, although I don’t know how.”
No one spoke for several moments after this revelation until Dani asked in a calmer voice than she expected. “Doesn’t that contradict everything the Dream Carrier has stood for? If a spirit, a ghost if you like, was here with us, then surely the Dream Carrier showing memories of people’s souls, the strongest memories of their previous lives can’t be showing the truth?! How can it if people don’t get reincarnated?”
Elliot gave his opinion. “Who knows for sure what happens at the end. During death, the only way to know what really happens is to unravel the mystery ourselves – something we are all destined to do. But what the Dream Carrier and the spirit of Carl’s father both showed us for certain, is that death is not the end.”
“But why hasn’t my father moved on into his next life then? If the Dream Carrier really does work, why hasn’t he been reincarnated like the others?”
Elliot shrugged. “Unfinished business? A strong will to remain? Concern for you maybe. There’s no real way for us to know. What we do know though is that he came to you in your dreams to warn you.” With that, Elliot recited the dream back to Dani, who listened intently. When the story was told, Elliot concluded, “So we can take it that our initial feeling that Leóni’s up to something was right. But what?”
“Does it really matter?” asked Carl fiercely. “If my father was sending a warning to me through those dreams then that’s good enough for me. We need to put a stop to Leóni, whatever it is he’s planning to do.”
“But how? Just walk down there and confront him?” Dani suggested.
Carl got to his feet but Elliot quickly caught Carl’s arm. “Wait! Is there anyone you know at your agency that could help us?”
Carl looked puzzled. “I doubt Leóni is just going to let us give someone a call.”
“That’s not what I had in mind. If you focus your thoughts on one person in particular, I might be able to send that person a message.”
“No way!” cried Dani. “You’re not that powerful.”
“No, I’m not… But we are.”
“C’mon Dani, I’ve seen how your mind works and I’ve seen how little those psychic blast waves affect you! You’re a proverbial psychic juggernaut!”
Dani rolled her eyes, but without giving her further opportunity to object, Elliot took her hand in his and reached his free hand up to press his thumb and forefinger, either side of Carl’s temple. Elliot concentrated on the image of a man now formed in Carl’s mind.
In a heartbeat, Elliot knew everything about the man that Carl knew. His name was Brian Foley. They were friends and had been working together for a long time. Elliot knew where he lived, how old he was, everything about him that Carl knew, and so he prepared to send out a psychic message to this man, and gave Dani a small mental nudge to signal he was ready.
Dani relaxed herself, letting her mind free and her psychic power flow through her. She sent her mental might into Elliot through the physical connection held in their hands, channelling her willpower, forcing his own telepathic powers to grow and stretch outwards. The thought lifted and flew out away, across the vast ocean and back to the land, flying along the incredible distance, back to the city where Carl’s friend lived and worked. The thought was seeking out the mind it was intended for, searching through the millions of others until, at last, one mind shone out like a beacon, as the one man called Brian Foley.
But then something quite unexpected happened and both Dani and Elliot were caught off guard. A psychic blast rippled through the airwaves and as it hit the two of them, it exploded sending out a shockwave that powered Elliot’s simple message up a thousand fold. The thought, which had been nothing more than a series of images showing Leóni’s island, the Dream Carrier and Carl all wrapped in a feeling of danger, was magnified outwards instead of hitting just Foley’s mind, the thought detonated like a mental bomb and penetrated the minds of the thousands of people surrounding him, in a radius that stretched out for dozens of miles. People stopped what they were doing, lost their concentration or shook their heads in a physical gesture of trying to remove the unwanted thought, as the whole city received Elliot’s warning.
Elliot himself was knocked backwards by the unexpected power surge and thrown to the floor, while Dani, for the first time, showed a painful reaction to the psychic wave, her hands shooting up to grip the sides of her head. Apart from seeing the message Elliot had sent in his own mind, Carl remained oblivious to the wave.
“What is it?” Carl demanded as he dropped after Elliot, seizing his arms.
Dani was the first to recover, mumbling. “Psychic blast wave,” as she slowly dropped off of her chair onto her backside. Carl moved Elliot onto the bed and then helped Dani up to a sitting position beside him, waiting for further explanation.
Dani looked a little drowsy as she glanced up and said, “We were sending the message and then one of those psychic blast waves hit us. I don’t know what happ-”
Elliot sat bolt upright, suddenly alert. “Oh dear,” he said in exaggerated concern. “I think that message got out to one or two more people than just your friend Brian.”
Carl raised his eyebrows. “How many more people?”
“Oh, I’d say most of Washington.”
Dani’s mouth fell open and Carl’s face held an expression of stone.
“But that can only be a good thing, right?! Now someone is bound to come!” Dani said with as much enthusiasm as she could muster.
At that moment the door opened and three large men marched in. Carl spun around and Elliot and Dani jumped to their feet.
“Mr Leóni orders that you come downstairs right away.”
Carl looked at each of the three men and then stole a glance at his friends. Both still seemed to be stunned from the shockwave of the psychic blast, so Carl decided resistance was not the best course of action. Without their minds to defend themselves, Dani and Elliot would be easy target victims.
One of the men turned and walked from the room, Dani, Elliot and Carl filing out after him, following him away with the remaining two guardsmen behind them.
They walked down through the house and along the corridor into Leóni’s large study. As they entered, Leóni rose from behind his desk and stalked towards them, stopping only a few paces in front them. Leóni was flushed with anger as he seethed in a deadly quiet voice, “How dare you. I gave you sanctuary, I would have looked after you all for the rest of your lives for helping me construct my Dream Carrier and this is how you repay me?!”
The three exchanged puzzled looks before Rain stepped slowly forwards from the side of the desk.
“Rain,” continued Leóni, “received the message that you, Green, were trying to send. The message you did send calling others here for help!” Then unable to control his fury any longer Leóni bellowed. “YOU’VE RUINED EVERYTHING!”
Unexpectedly, Leóni then screamed something in Italian and his three guards all stepped forwards, grabbing Dani, Elliot and Carl in tight grips. Dani yelped in pain and Elliot almost collapsed again from the added weight of his guard leaning on him. Carl merely stood still, offering no resistance.
Dani glared up at Leóni who responded instantly with a command to Rain. “Block her! Make sure she can’t use any of her powers here!”
Rain obeyed, subduing the weakened pair with mental restraints, preventing both Dani and Elliot from using their minds against their captors.
Leóni paced his study for a moment, as if regaining his composure and attempting to control his fury.
“The time has come,” he began, “to make you the offer I have been toying with for some time now. I’ve no more time for lies and halve truths. The reason I am so interested in the Dream Carrier is because, through my whole life I have had dreams of being in power. With Rain, I was able to regress into my last life and discovered that I was one of the greatest men in history! A man that came close to realising his dream of a perfect ownership, someone whom tried to cleanse the impure from this world by developing his own perfect army. I was none other than Sigfrid Webber!” Leóni seemed to swell with pride as he made this announcement.
In his previous incarnation, Webber had passed away but then spiritually followed his own creation. Controlling his rebirth as a son to the father of Roberto Leóni Senior, that birth had brought Webber home to become the son known as Roberto Leóni Junior. No thoughts or memories from his previous life had emerged, but the same desires instinctually rose naturally in Leóni Junior’s dreams. Over time, his mind had warped through obsessed thoughts, to make him the man he grew to become. The plans and strategies that Sigfrid Webber had had recurred, those as instinctual, familiar yearnings drawn out, bloomed within the mind of Leóni himself.
Leóni stood now with a posture that he had not used before, as if everything about him had been an act up to this point.
“I needed the Dream Carrier to confirm my suspicions and learn all that I could about my glorious past life, my assured plans. I came so very close last time to total world domination. But now, with the Dream Carrier to aid me, I have reclaimed all of my past memories that matter and this time it will be different. With the Dream Carrier, I will be able to identify all the very greatest minds that have ever lived, and use them in my quest to unite the world as one super race of ultimate beings!”
“You’re insane!” Elliot cried out.
Leóni glared at him, his lip curling with suppressed anger. “Since two of you would still have your uses in my new world, I will give you each an ultimatum. Mr Green, Miss Le Freau, join me and I will let you live. It is that simple.”
“Why?” Dani spat. “So you can use us to help you with more Dream Carriers?!”
Leóni smiled. “The choice is yours. Join me or die. And you must be quick for we will soon need to leave this place if my plans are to come to fruition.” Then Leóni walked to stand in front of Carl. “But as for you, Mr Blain, you are of no further value, and I have been wanting to tell you since we first met. The real reason I have a copy of your father’s death certificate is because my father treasured the memory he had of killing Edward Blain himself.”
Carl began to struggle as these words hit him, but Leóni continued. “He was weak and when he tried to steal the plans for the original Dream Carrier from my father like a petty thief, my father killed him! Just as I will now kill you!”
Rain’s heart dropped into her stomach as she watched her employer slowly reach into his jacket, a gun appearing in his hand. Things suddenly seemed to be happening in slow motion as her mind sped through what was about to happen and everything fell into perspective. This was not an eccentric millionaire and his games, nor was this something he only half-heartedly believed. For the first time, Rain understood that this man was no longer on the brink of madness, but had happily leapt into the abyss of chaos and allowed it to dominate him in his own desires. In the belief that he was the reincarnated soul of Sigfrid Webber, Leóni was going to try and control, to try and kill, millions of people, and he was going to start with the man she loved.
Rain no longer cared if the Dream Carrier was real, she only knew that she would not let this man hurt Carl. With a desperate glance at Elliot and then Dani, Rain released her block on them and channelled all her power onto Leóni.
Seeing what was happening, Carl launched into an attack, allowing his training to take over. In a heartbeat he had broken free and twisted the man with straining arms around to flip him onto the ground, following up with a quick heavy punch that knocked him unconscious.
In the second that happened, Dani telekinetically launched her own captor backwards and then bounced him into unconscious from the room door frame.
Elliot forced his will upon the man holding him and the guard stepped back, reaching into his own holster for his gun to aim at his employer.
Leóni fired a shot as Rain fought for control of his mind, but her emotions were overpowering her focus and she lost him as a second shot cracked through the air and hit her.
Carl felt his breath leave him as Rain fell backwards and crumpled to the floor and he threw himself over to her side, lifting her into his arms.
Elliot with full control of the man that had tried to hold him and was forcing the man’s hand to aim at Leóni, but the chain of control was too slow as Leóni dived around the man and ran from his office.
Dani snatched the body of the guard under Elliot’s control and with a repeat of her telekinesis, she fired a second impact to the hard doorway. The three guardsmen were made unconscious to meet Dani’s desire of safety.
Carl held Rain in his arms holding her close to him and looking deeply into her eyes as she panted breathlessly, blood seeping from her wound. Leóni had shot out twice, but only his second bullet had scored, clipping Rain in her shoulder. Carl knew that the wound was not fatal, but his concern for her had momentarily blinded him to that fact.
Rain lifted a hand to his face and whispered, “Don’t let him escape.”
At Rain’s words Carl was consumed by the need for revenge.
In a flash Carl was up and stealing the gun from the unconscious guard he had knocked out. He sprinted from the study screaming for Leóni as he entered into the corridor. Carl could see Leóni just reaching the hall now, but instead of running from the house and out towards his helicopter, Leóni carried on running down the corridor. Carl ran with everything he had until Leóni reached the far end of the house and stopped to open the door into the cellar, at which point Carl quickly aimed and fired, his shot ricocheting from the wall just next to Leóni’s head.
In the blink of an eye Leóni was gone and down into the cellar.
Carl could only assume he was running for the Dream Carrier and did not care he was running into a dead end. Carl was sure he would be able to confront his fiendish enemy, Leóni. But as Carl entered into the top of the staircase leading down into the wine cellar, a bullet bounced off the wall beside him. He crouched low and hurried on down the stairs as more shots pinged from the walls either side of him. Below in the cellar all was in darkness and Carl could not tell where Leóni was firing from, but a moment later he was among the shelves stacked with wine and in a deadly game of hide and seek with a madman. Carl heard footsteps running somewhere in the dark cellar and suddenly the lights came on, casting a dimness into the room and creating long shadows all about it from the shelves. Carl peered around a corner and saw a blur of movement as Leóni disappeared at the far end of the shelves. Carl hurried after him but lost all sign of him at the end to the racks. A bottle exploded above Carl’s head, splattering him with the red wine held within and forcing Carl to dive for cover passed the edge of the racks at his side. Carl had travelled in a rectangular direction around several of the racks and was now back at the stairs leading back up to the ground level. Carl rolled to his feet and remained crouched in the corner by the stairs, listening for any signs of movement from Leóni, but everything was still.
Back in the study, Elliot casted a wary look at the men Dani had dealt with and did not envy them the headaches they would feel when they eventually awoke. The final guard that Carl had dealt with was beginning to stir, but Elliot quickly pounced on his mind and sent him back into a deep sleep, leaving them unhindered by Leóni’s men. “We’ve knocked out all the guards, but I think Carl is going to kill Leóni.” Kneeling beside Dani, Elliot checked on Rain, but was surprised to see that she was trying to get to her feet.
“I think the bullet only clipped her shoulder,” confirmed Dani as she helped her up, “but you’re right – Carl is really mad.”
Elliot lent his assistance and Rain was on her feet and heading out of the door.
Rain explained. “Leóni’s gone mad. When he first regressed and he had only an idea of who he had been, he seemed in awe. The things we saw together in his regressions – they were horrific, yet to him they seemed to be like ecstasy, becoming like a drug to feed his mind. The images we saw, the pain I could feel coming from them through his memories, did not seem to affect him, he only wanted more. After a few more sessions his excitement began to grow, until finally the Dream Carrier was made public. He’s been obsessed with it ever since even though he was never able to use the original. When he started building his own he insisted all the testing be on him, but the results were never what he expected and we could never get the machine working properly. That’s why he needed you to steal the authentic plans for him. But he paid a price for using his clone Dream Carrier – it’s destroyed his mind and driven him mad!”
“You think?!” Elliot said sarcastically to them both.
Rain continued, unconcerned with the comment as she led them at a brisk pace through the house, following her mental lock on Carl’s mind. As they neared the open door leading to the cellar Rain fell into a trot and turned sharply at the open door to the basement.
Carl heard the footsteps behind him at the top of the stairs and glanced back up to see Rain now above him, smiling in relief at seeing him. But her relief was quickly destroyed as a shot rang out and Carl lurched sideways onto the staircase.
Rain screamed as more shots rang out and Carl’s body was thrown backwards with each impact until he laid sprawled at the bottom of the staircase. Rain flew down the stairs, blind to the danger that Leóni still presented and landed on her knees at Carl’s side.
Elliot and Dani were only a step behind her as the three rushed into the cellar.
Roberto Leóni dropped the empty magazine clip from his pistol and smiled to himself as he reloaded another. His smile spread as he looked up and saw that the three psychics that had brought him to this pending ruin were before him, awaiting their execution. Raising his gun slowly, Leóni levelled the weapon at Rain, kneeling only a few meters away.
Rain had been close to him, privy to his plans and now her treachery had earned her the honour of being the first to die. Slowly, his anticipation growing all the while, Leóni began squeezing the trigger until with a loud crack his bullet left the chamber and shot through the air towards Rain’s beautiful face.
Detecting Carl’s potential danger at the foot of the stairs, Rain was focused on Carl. Suddenly, Rain’s attention was dragged from Carl as an incredible psychic power exploded behind her and looking up, she saw a bullet, suspended in the air in front of her.
The bullet dropped to the ground and Dani stepped to Rain’s side.
Leóni’s face contorted into a mask of anger. A second shot was fired and again Dani caught the bullet in the air, leaving Leóni trembling with fury at being cheated of his moment. He gripped his pistol now in both hands, but before he could fire again Elliot raised a hand as if gripping the gun intension himself.
Leóni froze, his eyes widened with shock as his mind suddenly went blank and the most powerful telepath in the world took control of him.
Leóni stood like a statue as Rain took a step forward, glaring at him with a hatred that could not be translated into words. Then with a scream of fury she locked eyes with him and sent the full force of her mind upon him, firing each of the memories of his regression with her into his mind. Each distorted session on his Dream Carrier he had tested, each horrific image from his last life, every tortured memory linked to a shard of pain that he had caused, Rain now sent upon him in a tidal wave of pain, a shower of mind bullets.
As each thought hit Leóni’s mind it tore a hole within him, each telepathically powered memory enhanced by the Dream Carrier and shared by them both, Rain now fired into him, shredding his mind in an onslaught of everything they had seen, sending it all at once at him like a battering ram.
The result was that of a mental machinegun hammering Leóni’s mind and perforating it to the point of non-existence, until his mind was completely destroyed.
Elliot lost his hold on Leóni’s mind for there was no mind to control, causing Leóni as he fell backwards, dead before he hit the floor.
Chapter Eleven – September 7th 2099, 11:00
Elliot, Dani and even Rain were shocked at how quickly the mentally summoned agent men had actually arrived, transported in advanced, classified vehicles, and before any of the three knew what was going on, Carl had been rushed away. Hours afterwards the sun had risen, Elliot, Dani and a bandaged Rain had been escorted from the island and taken to a government office for a debriefing.
That had been nearly three weeks ago.
It appeared that various agencies were now involved in the Dream Carrier project from the CIA to the NSA, and a full scale investigation was underway to discover the truth to the allegation. Both Elliot and Dani had made statements about the attempts on their kidnaps by the elusive ‘Black Ops’ division, but also kept secret their involvement with their Dream Carrier plans acquirement. Guards and operators had never remembered any memories of that night, which protected any potentially criminal accusations.
Rain had been taken away from the other two early on in the interview process, leaving them to speculate what had happened to her. Neither Dani nor Elliot were allowed to leave from their debriefing at this time, and instead had been taken to a hotel, under guard and put under a house arrest. Their period of incarceration and ignorance as to what was happening had lasted just under two weeks. After that, people became a little more open to their questions and they were brought up to speed with what had been going on. Again, the Dream Carrier had been declared a fake by government officials and Leóni’s press interview branded as nothing more than a publicity hoax. Despite their questions and abilities, neither Elliot or Dani could learn anything about Carl.
On the first day of the third week, Rain was brought to the same hotel as Elliot and Dani, but they had not detected one another as about an hour later, Brian Foley came to see them. With a simple invitation, Rain was taken with Agent Foley, then both arrived into the room with Dani and Elliot.
“Mr Foley,” greeted Elliot, extending his hand. Like Dani, Elliot had adjusted to recreation in the hotel’s convenience.
Agent Brian Foley resembled Carl, with similar shape, size and a duplicated outfit.
Foley smiled and took the offered hand. “I’ve been told about your skills Mr Green and that it was the two of you that caused that warning message to be put into the minds of the citizens of Washington D.C. Finding out you already know who I am comes as just another little expectation. I am happy to meet you at last – both of you.” Foley shook Dani’s hand also before turning to Rain.
“Miss Giavo-, err, I mean Rain, thank you for your co-operation to this point. I’m told that you’ve been most helpful and that you’re to receive no charges for your involvement with Leóni or his death. But we’ll get to that.”
Grouping with the others Brian sat down with them at a small, clear dining table, then activated his screen codes access, displaying copies to each of them through table clearance.
“We’ll need you to sign these. They’re documents forbidding you to disclose any information about the recent events.”
Elliot and Dani glanced at each other. “Why?” asked Elliot. “What’s going on?”
“Things have been put into motion and even as we speak, the networks and the newspapers are being given the full story –the truth as far as you’re concerned– about what happened to Mr Leóni and his Dream Carrier. We’re sticking with the story that it was all a hoax. A money-making scheme based on fraud that used the message sent out by ‘an anonymous’ telepath as the ultimate in advertising. The government is also sticking by its original claims that the Dream Carrier is a fraud, and now Leóni is just part of that fraud. He and his Dream Carrier have, err, ‘disappeared’ shall we say, and although this will be like a treat for the conspiracy theorists, there’s still definitely no proof –that the public will ever see– that either Dream Carrier ever worked. It just boils down to our word against Leóni’s.”
Rain piped up. “You’re saying he’s disappeared? Isn’t that going to be a little far-fetched?” asked Rain, masking her true action.
“I thought you’d be happy, Rain. This way, there can be no murder charge unnecessarily brought against you.”
Rain looked away at the table in front of her. “It wasn’t murder… It was justice.”
Foley cleared his throat.
“What about the witnesses he used in his press conference?” Elliot enquired curiously.
“They’ve signed slightly different versions of the documents you have in front of you,” replied Foley. “They’ve agreed to admit to the world that Leóni did nothing more than stage that entire video footage, and that his two ‘witnesses’ were both paid by him to say what they said.”
“And you think people will believe this?” Elliot questioned.
“Maybe not everyone. Maybe not straight away. But we’ll control everything they see and hear about from now on, just like before. It’s only a matter of time before people stop caring. Hell – most people don’t care now. Doesn’t change their lives, so why should they?” Foley said sarcastically.
“But what about those that do care?” cried Dani. “Those that used the Dream Carrier the first time?! And the other operators! What about them?”
Foley frowned for a moment before answering. “As far as the other operators go, most of them have been released and are now under contract to be on hand for another project.”
“‘Another project’?” Elliot pried.
Foley curled half his mouth into a vague resemblance of a smile. “Classified. And don’t try and peek into my head – they knew I’d be talking face to face with you, so I’ve been told nothing myself at this stage.”
Elliot grunted. “Oh.”
“And what about the other people that used the Dream Carrier the first time round? Are you gonna go see all of them with signature requirements or with documents and a pen?”
Foley looked at Dani and she was sure she saw a genuine smile flash briefly across his face. “Nah… That’s what these are for. If you turn to page six and read what’s written there please.”
The three exchanged glances and then did as asked. Several minutes passed in silence before Elliot was the first to speak. “You’re offering us jobs?!”
“The Central Intelligence Agency thinks it would be a good idea to pass over various, err, unclosed files that are directly connected to the Dream Carrier to a specialist team. We thought you might be interested.”
“Says here we’d be in a four person team,” noted Dani looking up at Agent Brian.
Before anyone could respond, Rain’s eyes widened and she rose from the table and ran to the door.
Carl stepped through and into her arms in one smooth motion. They held each other tightly and after Rain’s tears had started, they kissed for the first time in weeks.
“I thought you were dead! They took you away and I couldn’t find out anything.”
“I’m sorry,” said Carl simply, pulling her close to him once again.
“Hey! You’re okay!” stated Dani with a big smile.
Risen to Dani’s side, Elliot wrapped an arm around her shoulders and whispered, “I always knew you were as sharp as a tack.”
Dani elbowed him in his ribs. “I could sense it.”
The Dream Carrier Team became active exactly one month after its four members had all signed their respective contracts. Carl Blain was to lead the team of three psychics, Dani, Elliot and Rain, in unravelling various mysteries and closing investigations that had been created as a result of any open Dream Carrier original cases.
In all instances of the Dream Carrier’s involvement in an assignment, Carl’s team would be allocated to deal with that case. The government could not afford another ‘Leóni’ incident.
The second Dream Carrier created by Leóni was dismantled and moved together with the recovered notes, and placed in a top secret location away from the original. The copy of the plans used for its completion were destroyed.
No further Dream Carrier projects are currently sanctioned by any agency or any affiliate. But, the original Dream Carrier could be made active and ready for use, should a new project ever be required or demanded.