Jensen was sitting in full tactical gear across from Anton in the small plane. They had caught up on a few hours of sleep en route, but now they were nearly within range of Page over the Pacific Ocean. They had gone over the sequence of events several times with Janus, who was watching carefully from headquarters along with Jie and Freya. The cable that Jensen was to use to reach the other plane was already securely bolted onto the frame of the craft just inside the side door.
“Jensen, you ready back there?” asked Dmitri. “Janus is about to throw the switch.”
“We’re ready,” he said in his usual gravelly tone.
Janus’s distorted voice came in over the comms, “On T-minus three, I will jam all satellite and aerial communications within a 50 mile radius of Page’s private transport. You will have two hours to get to him and obtain the information we need before we’ll have to worry about any hostile company. Hopefully you’ll be long gone by then.”
“On three then,” Adam answered, ready to get underway.
Dmitri immediately gunned the thrusters and the craft shot forward faster than Adam knew it could go. It wasn’t long before he could spot a fairly large private luxury jet up ahead. Across the side, he saw the logo of Versalife painted in black on white. He clenched the side of the door more tightly – his nerves finally making an appearance. A few moments later, he heard Janus’s voice come through the comms again.
“Prepare for flight sync.”
Adam watched Dmitri piloting the ship closer, and suddenly he backed off from the steering. It was holding steady. On the display, their ship and Page’s were each represented by a small blue square along a curved trajectory. Both were inching along at the same rate, on the same route.
“Okay, we’re set and just got down to 15,000 feet,” Anton said, heading over to the hatch release. Once they secured themselves to the plane, Anton popped up the side door. The wind howled across deafeningly and swept in. Were they not tethered, they would have undoubtedly been pulled outside. Adam equilibrated to the new forces and peered out the doorway. Across about three hundred feet, Jensen could see the rear of Page’s jet. Aiming carefully with the mounted cable hook, he used his enhanced optics to target just above the cargo hatch. When it was perfectly zeroed in, he released the trigger and the hook shot straight across to hit its mark. After testing it a few times to ensure it was properly lodged into the other plane, Anton helped hook Jensen onto the cable trolley. He slapped Jensen on the shoulder a couple times when he was set up.
“Remember to disengage the cable when you reach the other side. Good luck, bratan!”
Adam nodded and kicked off away from the plane across the cable barely suspending him above the 15,000 foot drop to the waves below. The second he was outside the plane, a torrent of wind slammed into him. It pushed him so far he was nearly upside down for a moment, before he settled into a 45-degree position away from vertical. His optics had a timer ticking down in the upper right to let him know how long before he was estimated to make landing on the other craft. Even with the time clearly displayed down to the millisecond, the trip still felt like it took minutes, rather than seconds. Moments before landing he braced himself and managed to collide in a somewhat controlled fashion. In front of him was a three foot by three feet foot hatch and a yellow lever that would pop it open.
“You make it okay?” Anton commed him.
“Yeah, yeah,” he answered, pulling the handle. The square cover flew open and holding carefully to the inside frame, Adam detached the cable from above it. It retracted at lightning speed, grazing his shoulder and leaving a deep gash in the top of his augment. Geez, if that had been flesh I probably wouldn’t have an arm anymore… He tested the prosthetic limb out carefully and it didn’t seem to have any functional impairment, but it annoyed him all the same. Accepting it as an aesthetic casualty, he quickly ducked into the square entryway and pulled the hatch cover over it behind him.
Jensen now found himself on a white incline with gray rough ridges, likely to keep bags from sliding down while they were loaded. Ahead of him he saw stacks of luggage, but also metal crates with Versalife logos imprinted on the sides. At the far left corner of the compartment there was a ladder that led to a hatch likely opening into the floor of the cabin. He scanned and only saw four life signs – two were sitting just above him, one was at the far end in the cockpit, and another was pacing down the center. He suspected the center man was Page.
Adam watched the signals above him for a few minutes to see if they would move aside, but they seemed planted in place. Time was ticking – he knew he didn’t have the option of waiting quietly forever. No time like the present…
Jensen turned the lever on the hatch and pushed it up rapidly, knocking one of the men aside as the other shouted out in alarm. He found himself in a narrow hall at the end of the plane where the lavatories and kitchen materials were, along with two armed security guards – one on either side of him. Adam swept the nearest man’s leg, followed by deftly striking him in the chest towards the ground. The man groaned and Adam turned to the second, who had withdrawn a weapon and was bringing it level with him. Before he could fire off a shot, Adam struck his outstretched arm with a well-placed roundhouse kick and sent the gun flying. He grabbed the man’s arm and pulled him into a backhand head strike, which produced an audible crunch.
Adam dropped the unconscious guard and turned toward the signal he had seen in the center of the cabin. Unlike typical planes with rows of tightly packed seats on either side, Page’s private plane had oak-finished lounge chairs with white leather cushions and couches along the walls. Past the first pair of recliners, beside an elegant desk on the left side of the plane, there stood a tall stoic figure in a dark gray suit. The man was facing away and had just taken a drag from a cigarette, which he tapped on the edge of an abalone shell ashtray on the desk beside a silver briefcase.
“Adam Jensen. I was wondering when you would find me,” mused a confident tenor voice with crisp enunciation.
Adam approached a little further then paused as Page turned leisurely around, bringing the cigarette back up to his lips. Coming down from his slicked back hairline was a pencil-thin line of metal which reached just above his left eyebrow. Cerebral augmentations. Adam thought he almost saw a reddish reflection in Page’s pupils but it was brief.
“Well, here I am. Now let’s talk,” Adam said, almost sarcastically.
“I imagine Janus put you up to this. I presumed as much when my communication lines went down. Only he would be able to pull that off. It interrupted a very important communication with a new colleague of mine – you might know her. Megan Reed,” he said, grinning sharply and eyeing him for his reaction.
“Let’s keep her out of it,” said Adam, trying to change the subject. He started to get the feeling that Page had a CASIE implant. Jensen’s own analysis was already running. So far he could tell the man was calculating, cunning, and above all patient. Jensen wouldn’t be able to push him into an emotional corner. If he were able to use the intel that Janus had obtained, that perhaps Page’s loyalty to the Illuminati was weakening, he might be able to get the information he needed.
“Well, then what would you like to talk about?” asked Page, his voice deceptively smooth.
“Let’s start with White Helix.” If I make it seem just about me, he might be more forthcoming.
“Ah yes. Your beginning,” he said, moving around the desk. He paused and politely asked, “Do you mind if I sit?”
The corner of Adam’s lips tightened, but he nodded, “By all means.”
“White Helix achieved what it set out to do – create the means for supercompatibility. The next step was to isolate the sequence and develop an effective gene therapy to insert it into anyone’s genetic code…but as you’ve discovered, a few of the scientists had grown attached to the test subject, and wanted to protect you. Once the project burned down, my associates scrapped it. They were afraid of what the breakthrough could mean.”
“Why didn’t you just track me down and haul me away to a lab?” asked Adam, taking a few more steps in Page’s direction.
“The others didn’t want me to pursue it. Of course, that didn’t stop me. I found out where you were easily enough, but after that it was a matter of…making sure all the pieces were in the right place. Do you remember the Versalife Fundraiser you attended while you were still with SWAT?” Page asked slyly, taking his time and pacing his words with steady emphasis.
“Of course, that’s where Megan and I first…” Jensen stopped speaking when he realized what Page was suggesting, but he couldn’t believe it. “Are you saying you set all of that up? Megan was working for you this whole time?”
“Please,” Page said, tilting his head back, “it was far more nuanced than that. She did not know I was involved, but the right people made sure the two of you met. I already knew of her research and promise – Darrow had told me so much about her. I wanted you to be accessible to her when the timing was right for her to make the breakthrough I had dreamed of years ago. When I had secured my place in the Illuminati, all I had to do was send her a little anonymous tip, and the rest is history.”
Once again, my life has just been a joke to these men pulling the strings. Of course it was more than a coincidence that the subject with the specially designed genetic code was at arm’s length from the only scientist really qualified to make use of it. It was all orchestrated. All of it. Ah, fuck. Stay focused, Adam. He scolded himself, trying not to let the revelation derail the entire plan. He still had to get Page to talk. Maybe I can use this to my advantage.
“So you did all this to keep your true motivations hidden from your own associates? Doesn’t really sound like you guys are playing for the same team…” Jensen said, trying to turn the conversation back in the direction he wanted even though his blood was still boiling.
“We started out fine, but after all these years, I do believe I’ve outgrow them. Taggart and Everett are cowards. Trying to stop human evolution is like holding onto a runaway train with your bare hands. Either you’ll be pulled with it or you’ll fly right off into the dark wilderness, but there’s no stopping or slowing that train. And I intend to be the one driving it,” he said, a knowing smile creeping across his face.
Jensen would have to tread carefully here. He could feel Page was close to telling him what he needed, but he had to be careful. If he attacked too much, Page would pick up on his true objective and his secrets would be inaccessible, locked behind those steely eyes.
“What, so are you planning on staging a coup? It’ll be hard to do that with Everett in charge, seems like he probably has tabs on everything you do,” Adam said daringly, hoping Page’s pride would spur him to make a slip.
“If you think Everett’s the leader of the Illuminati, I’m afraid you’ve been terribly misinformed. Not that Everett isn’t aspiring to that – he doesn’t let Lucius out of his sights. He’s practically self-appointed himself the man’s protégé,” Page spat, sparing no amount of disdain for the man.
“Lucius?” asked Adam, hoping Janus had picked up that information and was cross-checking it.
“Yes, Mr. Lucius DeBeers. He’s far beyond your circles. I doubt you would know him, but he’s quite a powerful man in his own right. But come now, I’m sure you don’t actually find all this chatter interesting,” Page said, reaching in front of him to the brief case and opening the side locks. The case popped open, the ridged reflective lid blocking the contents from Adam’s view.
In a stunningly fast blur, Page withdrew a device from the briefcase and shot it at Adam, hitting him just below his right collarbone between two of his organic ribs. Jensen took a step back, lifting up his revolver to return fire, but felt an odd sensation. The sensors in his chest weren’t picking up a bullet impact, but rather a syringe. He pulled the needle out and examined it quizzically, noticing an odd tingling in his augment as he held it between his fingers. The strange sensation seemed to be spreading through his chest and into his arms. Get out of there.
While he still had his wits about him, his optics scanned the walls for an escape hatch. He couldn’t understand why but his arms and legs weren’t coordinating properly, and he staggered to the wall behind him on the right. As Adam reached for the yellow lever, his neck started aching painfully.
“Give Janus my regards!” shouted Page, laughing maniacally behind him.
The moment Adam pulled the hatch down, the pressure difference swept him out of the plane and into the atmosphere. His optics stuttered as he fell, the sun a blinding sphere in the sky zipping across his field of vision. He couldn’t make any sense of where the horizon was as he tumbled down and the sun streaked vertically, horizontally, obliquely. The pain in his neck started rising into his skull, pounding worse than anything he’d experienced before. His internal gyroscope wasn’t activating, and as he lost consciousness due to the vertigo and pain, he realized there was also nothing slowing his descent towards the ocean below.