C2 – Chapter 2

“Alright folks, let’s get it together.”

Stepping out of his makeshift office that NASA had converted from a vacant conference room, President O’Hare lifts the stack of documents that need to make the trip with him. All high-level US officials were relocating from NASA headquarters to the Sand Hills of Nebraska, where one of the government’s vast fallout bunkers reside. Nebraska was selected as a refuge not only for its centrally located geographical position, but also because it was determined to be the best spot on Earth for occupancy once The Catalyst impacts the planet. The expected point of impact was in Africa, close to the southern border of Botswana and Namibia.

The UN had run countless simulations as to what kind of impact The Catalyst would have on Earth. According to their scientists, humanity was actually in luck – it was going to strike land rather than water. Considering the asteroid’s size and mass, a water impact would undoubtedly create a global tsunami and most likely be an enormous detriment to the oceanic ecosystem, possibly rupturing the natural food chain. Granted, a land impact wouldn’t be pretty either, but in a case like this it would be the lesser of two evils.

Marina Ulery, O’Hare’s Vice President, steps out of her office with her last piece of baggage.

“You need a hand, Bernard?” She asks the president, offering her free left hand.

“No thank you Marina, I’m alright. Go check on Covington if you can, he seemed to a bit out of it earlier today.”

Swiveling around, Vice President Ulery drags her bag behind her as she walks toward Bradley’s office. As she enters she sees him sitting down in his office chair, turned around and staring at the late evening Washington DC silhouette. Hearing her enter the room and seeing her reflection in the window, he puts his hands behind his head as he leans back.

“What are we doing, Marina?”

Sensing his sadness, Marina approaches the chair and rests her hand on Covington’s shoulder.

“We have to go, Bradley.”

“I know we do. I’m waiting on Brent’s op to return.”

Unsure of how to respond, Marina grimaces. “Bradley…”

“She’s out there Marina, I know she is. I refuse to believe otherwise.”

Marina attempts to reassure him.

“And you’re probably right, but right now – we need to get going. They can re-route once we regain contact. Jennifer will be fine, Bradley. She’s a smart, resourceful girl.”

Standing up and releasing a heavy sigh, Director Covington gives in. He had no idea what might be going on or why Jennifer hadn’t made it back. According to the initial briefing, the mission was a just simple extraction.

“Alright. I’ll get my things. Just…give me a moment.”

As he starts gathering his essentials, Covington slowly approaches the window and takes one last look out at the collection of buildings that make up NASA’s headquarters. Thirty-eight years he’s spent here, and he was about to leave it all behind. He couldn’t believe that everything they had done, everything they had achieved…was all meaningless now. He wasn’t thinking solely about NASA. His thoughts were of humanity in general. It was the greatest tale ever told. Our ancestors, primitive hunter-gatherers, somehow transformed themselves into a civilized, industrialized success story of epic proportions – but now we were rapidly reverting back into the animals from which we evolved. It gave him an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Observing the way Earth’s citizens were acting made him feel discouraged in a way he couldn’t explain. How are we going to recover from this? He thinks to himself.

Putting the rest of his things into a cardboard box, he slowly walks out of the office and follows Marina to the end of the hallway. Letting out one final sigh, he opens the door to the stairwell and descends the steps.

As the group makes it to the private runway on NASA’s campus, O’Hare takes a seat in the plane’s front cabin with his closest advisers. The rest of the group is ushered to the back, closed off from the president’s cabin. Lifting off, the majority of them fall asleep or consume themselves in pertinent tasks and paperwork.

Sitting in the front as the plane reaches its cruising altitude, O’Hare receives a message on his satellite phone from Edward Leighton, one of his top lieutenants who had been tasked with uncovering the real story behind Jennifer’s location and Brent’s missing group of marines.

E. Leighton: Found her

POTUS: Where is she? And what of the marines?

E. Leighton: Smith had his whole crew nicked, he’s taken Jennifer and the others to their Atlanta installation

POTUS: His team is dead?

E. Leighton: All of them.

POTUS: Well good job finding them. Lay low for now until I figure out what to do next.

E. Leighton: Yessir

**SKREETCH**

“Alright folks, we’ve landed! Bunkers this way.”

The pilot of the jet ushers the governmental passengers towards the massive structure lining the runway. After a relatively peaceful flight, the officials have arrived at their base in Nebraska. From the air, the facility appeared to be a standard installation – seemingly just copied and pasted from the designs of other bases littered about the United States.

As Covington exits the plane and steps onto the tarmac, President O’Hare puts his arm around him.

“Got some news while we were in the air. We’ve located your girl!” He says with a dark smile on his face.

Covington stops and turns to face the president.

“Jennifer?! You found her? Is she alright?”

“She’s fine, Brad. But she’s been taken hostage by a group of radical militants that are attempting to take advantage of this disastrous situation. Our intel indicates that she’s in Atlanta, under heavy supervision”.

“How on Earth could that have happened?” Covington asks.

The president begins walking again, and Covington follows. “We aren’t entirely sure, but we suspect it was an inside job orchestrated by one of our men. We believe they were led by Brent Smith, one of our operatives who evidently decided to defect. But the important thing is that she’s okay. We just have to get her back and destroy these terrorists.”

“I know Brent. He never struck me as a threat…that’s strange. Do we have a plan to retrieve her yet?” Covington asks.

“We’re working on one. We know the general location of their base of operations, but we haven’t pinpointed the exact coordinates just yet. They’ve done a good job covering their tracks.” O’Hare says, wiping his aviator sunglasses with a micro cloth.

Covington lets out a deep breath. “Well that’s at least somewhat reassuring. She’s alive. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist with the effort to get her back.”

“Of course, Director.” O’Hare replies.

Having overheard the conversation, Vice President Marina Ulery walks over to Covington and starts pacing him.

“She’s lucky to have you looking out for her, Bradley”.

Frowning, Covington looks to Marina. “I should have done a better job. I never would have suspected something like this would happen. I failed her.”

“No, you didn’t.” Marina says. “Don’t be unfair to yourself. You did what you thought was right. You’ve done everything in your capacity for that girl. Let her take care of the rest. She’s strong, Bradley.”

“You’re right Marina. Jennifer’s a very capable woman. And surely Brent wouldn’t do anything to harm her. He knows she’s too valuable.”

“Exactly. Now, let’s get inside.”

Slightly reassured, Covington follows the Vice President into the bunker. The entrance was housed in a warehouse-looking exterior, with small sub-buildings located within. One of the sub-buildings, deep in the far right of the warehouse, housed the entrance to the government’s secret bunker. The door covered a large portion of the floor, and was made of an incredibly thick, circular steel. After typing in a few commands on a computer terminal, one of the men escorting them salutes and gestures them inside.

As the giant steel door slides to the right, revealing the inside of the bunker, a brisk draft of air escapes from the unit as it opens, blowing many of the arrivals’ hair back. President O’Hare, standing in the front, turns to his companions.

“Must’ve been sealed up pretty good, huh? Onward, folks!”

The opening gives way to a wide stretch of stairs, descending for what seemed like an eternity. As they finally reach the end of the tunnel-like staircase they see the wide open, colorful atrium that will be their home for the next several years. The interior of the Nebraska bunker was enormous, with a huge field of green grass in the middle – a strange sight to witness considering the depth of the bunker. The industrial and residential sections of the installation had been built around the circular interior, their balconies overlooking the vast green terrace. Nebraska had clearly been designed to resemble an underground city of sorts. Whether it had been built in anticipation for this specific event, the arrivals didn’t know. But it was certainly capable of accommodating the number of people the UN planned on bringing in.

In truth, the United Nations had been collaborating with the globe’s elites for decades. This bunker was simply a small piece of their vast, complex plans. The brightest minds in the world had been secretly meeting throughout history to steer humanity’s evolution. Everything they hoped to accomplish depended on one thing: decreasing the population to a manageable number, making the Earth truly sustainable. This would also allow for easier control of society, as smaller numbers are naturally easier to manage. They intended to allow only the most favored genetic lines to procreate, the rest sterilized in the name of natural selection.

It was a great plan, sure – according to them. If they could make it work, that is, which was the problem. How could they implement this plan without creating too much of a red flag? Revolution – that was the risk they faced. The majority, if organized properly, could easily overthrow the minority, and they knew this. Anything too obvious and they’d get overrun.

Sure enough, The Catalyst was their answer. It was a Godsend to them, providing the perfect opportunity to deceive humanity into cooperation. Their pitch? “The asteroid is going to spread foreign bacteria. This vaccine is our only hope of survival and will protect us from any contaminants.” A convincing scientific explanation, coupled with the high degree of fear amongst the population basically guaranteed the UN’s credibility in the eyes of the masses. Yes, the Catalyst was their knight in shining armor, allowing them to once again gain the trust of the worlds wealthy and elite. The highest levels of government along with the highest levels of society – the “greatest” people in the world, all working together in harmonious elation, truly thinking they were doing the right thing for humankind by cutting us down to five hundred million. Not only did the asteroid provide a means of population reduction, it also provided the perfect opportunity to emerge as one-world government, using the enormity of the situation as a springboard into an attempt at collective reasoning.

It was a dream come true for the globalist agenda. Decades had been spent trying to come up with a way to thin the population to half a billion. Now they were being served a solution on a silver platter. All they had to do was wait it out. The perfect excuse to step in and become the savior rather than the villain.

As the group begins to spread out to explore the interior of the bunker, O’Hare finds his way back to Covington.

“Director, come with me”, he says. “There’s something I want you to see.”

Intrigued, Covington follows the president through a long, winding hallway with another steel door at the end. As they approach, O’Hare scans his fingerprint and eyes on the terminal to the side, opening the door.

Looking back to make sure no one has followed them, O’Hare puts his hand out.

“After you, Director.”

Stepping inside, Covington looks at his surroundings. The massive room is filled with what looks like robotic humans, hanging from scaffolds and production lines. Along the floor there are tables and hospital beds accompanied by futuristic-looking surgical instruments.

“What is this place?” He asks.

Making sure the door closes behind them, O’Hare steps in and points around.

“This, Director, is our future.” He gestures towards the robots. “I’m going to share some information with you, Bradley. But before I do, I need you to make an oath. The same oath we’ve all made.”

“We?” Covington asks.

“Yes, Director…we. You see, I trust you. You’ve been a very capable leader throughout your career, and I think it’s time we welcome you into the fold.”

Confused, Covington quizzically squints at the president.

“What are you talking about, sir?”

“First, you must make a commitment that what I tell you stays only between us and those that already know. You will not tell a soul”, O’Hare says.

“You have my word”, Covington responds.

O’Hare smiles. “Good. The world as we know it, Director, has been carefully shaped and crafted throughout our history. All of our greatest leaders, influential members of society, and so on have more or less cooperated according to a specific agenda. That agenda, Director, has led to this.” He says, waving his hand into the room.

“I still don’t understand, Mr. President”.

“I’ll try to explain as simply as I can, Bradley. World leaders have always conspired together – since as long we can remember. Many of the events you’ve seen unfold have been intentionally put in place to accomplish one thing or another. Sometimes we disagree, sure. Take the Revolutionary War, for example. That was an instance where we lost control of our subordinates. It took a generation or two to reconcile things, but eventually all those in power end up joining our cause. In other words, the reality of our history is much different than what you’ve been told. This is an intentional misdirection that we constantly have to maintain. For the most part, we’ve kept everything going according to plan.”

Covington raises an eyebrow.

“Plan?”

O’Hare laughs. “It sounds strange, I know. But yes. By plan I mean we’ve done everything we can to maintain control and order over humanity. We don’t do things to be evil, mind you. But on occasion we have to stage things to achieve a greater good. Nine eleven, for instance. We had to find a way to create order in the Middle East. So we allowed certain events to transpire which gave us the justification to make that happen. But that’s not what I brought you here for. I want to show you the next step in human evolution.”

Covington, at a loss for words, follows the president as he makes his way further into the room. As they weave their way in between the tables and beds, O’Hare points at various objects, explaining along the way.

“Humanity has always strived to find a way to last forever, Director. Hundreds of years ago, we were told tales of the Fountain of Youth, which sparked many expensive expeditions. Obviously that was a fairy tale. As time went on and our understanding of reality became more sophisticated, we began to realize that science is the only key capable of unlocking the secret to immortality. We are on the brink of completing that key, my friend.”

Stunned at what he’s hearing, Covington looks at the president with a blank stare.

“What do you mean?”

Putting a hand on the Director’s shoulder, O’Hare goes on.

“Our scientists have successfully transferred the consciousness of a human being into a robotic vessel.”

“What?!” Covington asks.

“Let me explain.” The president replies. “Many years ago, we first discovered that sensory perception is processed by the electrical impulses in our brains. Existence, as we perceive it, is all based upon synapses within the brain. Our bodies merely serve as conduits for our consciousness. We knew that if we could find a way to preserve our brains that we could live on indefinitely. The only problem is that our bodies are finite – they decay over time, which is why we die. So, many years ago, a project was started in an attempt to find a way to transfer our sensory perception, or brain, to another conduit. Conduits that wouldn’t decompose, such as the ones you see around you now. We discovered that if we could successfully transfer a human brain into a system that provided the same support, impulses, and nutrition that our bodies provide, that we could essentially create a synthetic body for ourselves. Our brain would be the only biological component we would need to preserve. We’ve done it, Director. After more than sixty years of painstaking research, we’ve done it.”

Still trying to process what he’s hearing Covington blinks several times at the president, mesmerized.

“Why are you telling me this, Mr. President?” He asks.

“Because, Director, once this little…situation is behind us, we’re going to reclaim the Earth under one, collective government. Once this asteroid impacts the planet, almost our entire population will be wiped out. Those that survive will be under our supervision. I want you to play a role in that vision, Bradley.”

“But how is that possible? What would Russia say? Or China? And the rest?”

O’Hare sadistically smiles. “They’re all a part of the plan, my friend. The borders that separate our countries today will be absolved after this is over. They’ll no longer exist. Every citizen will be granted the same rights as their peers across the globe. And they will all be subject to our supervision and scrutiny. Come, follow me. There’s one last thing I want you to see before we return to the others.”

Knowing that objecting to the president’s ideals would mean certain excommunication – or worse – Covington follows O’Hare as he makes his way to the end of the room. As they near their destination, the pair approach yet another locked door with a keypad mounted next to it. After punching in a series of numbers, the president smiles as the door opens itself.

“After you, Director.” He says, gesturing for Covington to enter.

As the door closes behind them, the Director looks around the room. It appears to be some sort of residential unit, with a bed in one corner and a small staircase leading to a second floor in the adjacent corner. Hearing footsteps, he sees a figure begin to make its way down the stairs. As she enters the area, a stunningly gorgeous, flawlessly proportioned brunette woman struts toward them.

“Director Bradley Covington, meet Doctor Mary Fritz.” O’Hare says, his face gleaming.

“Pleasure to make your acquaintance”, the woman says as she reaches her hand out to shake Covington’s.

“P…pleased to meet you”, Covington replies, his hand meeting hers.

O’Hare pats Covington on the back. “Dr. Fritz here is the result of our long, arduous journey in uncovering the secret to endless life. Since she was our leading scientist in the effort, we decided it was only appropriate that we grant her the opportunity to reap the benefits first.”

Covington, clearly speechless, can’t believe what he’s witnessing. The woman looked completely human. There were no discernible differences between her and the man standing next to him. Even her hand had felt like a genuine human’s.

Chuckling at Covington’s disbelief, O’Hare explains the state of Dr. Fritz.

“I suppose you’re wondering how this is possible,” he says as Covington nods in response. “Well, her body is one hundred percent synthetic. It took ages to create a composite that resembled human flesh, but alas, we did it. The only part of her that remains organic is her brain, which still processes information just the same as her old body. Her consciousness remains intact – she is essentially the exact same person as before. She can feel, smell, see, hear, and taste…exactly the same as she used to. In fact, we’ve even upgraded some of her biological capabilities.”

“What do you mean?” Covington asks.

Interjecting, Dr. Fritz answers him.

“Well, Director, my body before had some…imperfections.” She says, pointing to a picture frame on the desk near her. The photo encased inside was of an overweight woman wearing glasses.

Seeing this, Covington gasps. “Are you telling me that was you? Before….before this?”

Dr. Fritz nods, smiling. “It sure was. But not anymore! Now I have perfect vision and am finally rid of my little weight issue you see there. Or big weight issue, I suppose.” She says, chuckling at the pun.

Sitting down in the chair next to the desk Covington slouches down, resting his hands on his head.

“I don’t know what to say, Mr. President. This is…unbelievable.”

“Quite!” The president exclaims. “But enough theatrics for today – let’s get back to the others before they start wondering where we’ve been. And Director, I needn’t remind you of how important your discretion is regarding what you’ve seen here. The consequences of a leak would be…dire.”

“Of course, sir.”

Returning upstairs, Dr. Fritz bids them goodbye as the president leads Covington back to the center atrium of the base. Covington’s mind was racing, incapable of fully grasping what he’d just seen and heard. He had no idea what this would mean for humanity – or perhaps more importantly, what the president’s intentions were.


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