The Enchanted

By Paula Osheroff All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Romance

Chapter 20: The Information Superhighway

We’d been in the new complex for a few weeks and I was starting to see things come together. I had been right about the veggie garden, and was not at all surprised to see the twins cultivating a new patch of Island Prime, which is what they’d always called their particular crop. The still was set up, which was more to my liking. We’d managed to acquire a few cattle, and stocked the refrigerators and freezers with enough food to keep us all well fed for a very long time. I knew there were plans in place to start a winery as well. I knew it would confound a lot of people as to how we got grapes to grow out here, but I’m sure someone would come up with something interesting.

On the periphery I watched this group of people, whom for the most part, I felt no true connection, and was amazed by their ability to move on. To take what was given to them and see the positive; to make things grow, to build, improve, and accept. I don’t know why, but I was incapable of those things. I didn’t envy them, frankly, at that point I didn’t think much more about them than to acknowledge their existence and be puzzled by their lack of anger. I didn’t understand then, and even now, how they could just accept what was being dished out to them and not want to lash out – to seek more for themselves. That just wasn’t who I was, hell, it’s not who I am.

I had decided it was time to step away from getting everyone else set up and move forward with what I needed to do. I found a kindred spirit in Eric, and I should have known better. I knew his bitterness and hatred went far beyond what happened to Shane, and even beyond being stuck in Montana, but I overlooked what I knew in favor of what he could do for me in my own personal crusade. He was talented. One of our most talented, and he could do things with electronics that I couldn’t, and in the digital age, his help was going to be paramount to my plans.

The first step was to educate myself. I spent several days on the internet. I was happy that Eric had been able to set up browser capabilities that ran through several anonymous servers, making it difficult to track browsing patterns as I was quite certain the WSGF would be keeping an eye on people who searched anything related – they were a seriously paranoid bunch these days. The articles continued – more bullshit about our disappearance, nearly a month later. More false accusations about the horrible things we had supposedly done. I was happy to see that they voices were getting louder each day calling for an investigation into what really happened. Asking the UN to look into the WSGF practices as they related to the Enchanted. There were countless blogs and articles calling for resignations, at WSGF, governments, etc. The tide was definitely turning our way.

I spent some time on reading the e-mail accounts that Eric had hacked for me. Primarily that of James Martin-Herd (hereafter referred to as DH –Dickhead). What a name, right? He had been appointed as the head of the WSGF about 5 years ago, and for all intents and purposes had zero scientific background. He was the nephew of a prominent politician who apparently couldn’t hold down a regular day-job. A number-cruncher who had washed out at the IRS, and couldn’t hack it at private practice. Apparently he’d been appointed at WSGF because their budget had gotten out of control and the various governments who funded it were about fed-up with ever increasing expenses for ever decreasing workloads and they thought an accountant, apparently even a lousy one, could rein it in.

The announcement of his appointment had been met with great consternation on the part of the existing management team. The correspondence showed an extreme level of panic that their slush funds were going to be reduced – one even expressed horror that their annual conference might have to be held someone other than Hawaii this year because their funding might be cut. Apparently they had been having these annual family retreats since the 2nd or 3rd year of their existence and were a bit put-out that that they might now be asked to account for everything. How could they possibly ask them not to take all their extended family on these all-expenses paid jaunts. That was unfair! Shit. Bureaucracy sucks!

There was also a lot of back-and-forth in the e-mail feeds about how best to deal with the Enchanted. Apparently we were one hell of a liability since several of the muckity-mucks had been skimming off our “maintenance” funds for decades. And what did DH do about that impropriety when he arrived to discover the travesty? He immediately cut himself a piece of the pie. They figured we’d been relatively quiet for nearly 40 years, so we could basically be written off as harmless. They had made sure that they would release “information” every so often to make sure we stayed the demons they made us out to be, so that we couldn’t gain public sympathy.

I saw all of Andie’s and Adam’s e-mails regarding the experimentation we did. It was difficult to read the things that were said. I was described as a freak, and Andie seemed to think it was an isolated ability, which is why they seemed to be only interested in me. They were planning to use me to spy on various world leaders, infiltrate the inner circles of high-ranking officials in various countries and offices. Idiots. There was also a lot of discussion about “renting” me out as something of a sex toy. Apparently Adam had described his experience rather explicitly and there were a number of Sick twisted idiots who thought this could be better than Viagra. Figures that the motivating factors for most bureaucrats are dicks and dollars. That will never really change.

The more I read, the more determined I became. It wasn’t until I got to the e-mail flurry that flew immediately after the failed negotiations meeting that I realized the levels that this reached. There was DH, there was the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America, there was the deputy Prime Minister of the UK, and a couple of high-placed senators in several countries, and the fricking King of Saudi Fucking Arabia!

They had never once planned to negotiate about anything. Their plan was simply to remove anyone they saw as taking a leadership role and stirring the pot, with extreme prejudice. They didn’t even know his name. Didn’t care. Their goal was to squash us using fear. They wanted to cow us into submission, assuming that we’d all run like terrified children. They didn’t count on the Island or us fighting back – we never had before.

Each of the individuals involved had their own reasons for wanting to start the conflict, which all of the correspondence acknowledges was the anticipated outcome. The WSGF to maintain their budgets, the Sec Def as an excuse to get his hands on some Enchanted to see if any of our abilities could be weaponized or if we could be convinced to act as spies, etc. King Farid just wanted something to kick his efforts at the genocide of the Christians in his country out of the news, so he needed something pretty big. The tail wagging the dog, so to speak. Unbelievable.

I have to admit I was gratified as hell to see the complete and utter freak-out that occurred when the island fought back. When over the next few days a couple hundred of WSGF workers, like Andie and Adam, security forces and other, what I now know to have been mercenaries were swallowed alive, never to be heard from again. Needless to say they put a stop to anyone visiting, and according to what I could find, no one had been to the island since 3 days after we left. Even the most well-trained survivalists, well…hadn’t. Our Island was fucking pissed off! Apparently satellites had witnessed massive plant growth, to the point that there was not one piece of actual land visible. The canopy had created a complete cover. There was some speculation that we had returned there, and were being shielded, and there were plans in the works to attempt to send in divers to plant explosive to eradicate the Island entirely. I wish I could have told them how stupid that idea was. They wouldn’t survive the plants and marine life that protected her. Oh well, if they were stupid enough to do it, I wasn’t going to stop them from trying and failing – which they did. Pretty spectacularly from what I understand.

I took a bunch of the memos and e-mails and submitted them through the program Eric had created that operated as sort of our own personal Wiki-leaks. It had been several weeks since the first batch, and they had been mild in comparison to these – there was going to be a shit-storm after these hit. I gave some thought to writing a manifesto and sending it on to one of the more WSGF antagonistic sites, but it was just too cliché. Instead, I went back to my research on my first target. One Mr James Martin-Herd, aka DickHead. I confirmed he wasn’t married, no kids, not even pets. Big house in the NY countryside. Obviously purchased with embezzled funds, and according to what I could find, home to a string of mistresses, and if rumors were true the regular rent-boy or two. They’d be there a few months then be traded in on newer models. And by newer, he really meant newer. There was some chatter that he liked them very young. He’d keep them just barely above legal, and was OK with it if they lied about their age. There were reports of huge parties, with naked people running rampant. The closest neighbors were nearly ½ mile away and still there were noise and indecency complaints. All of which were covered up and paid off.

I will qualify this by saying these were all rumors at that point. I had no proof of them, and no legal way to get any, but in all reality it didn’t matter. I wasn’t targeting him for those things, but if we managed to bring his nasty little habits to light, then all the better. My first step was to find out as much as I could about his personal finances. I was quite certain that he had plenty of off-shore accounts, and probably more than a few not-so-legitimate “investment” accounts. Eric had remotely installed a clandestine keystroke logger on his office computer, hoping that it would lead us to his home information, and it definitely did. It took a while looking through everything to find what I wanted as there was a ton of information, but eventually I found his banking web-sites, passwords, etc.

Eric and I had previously researched some Swiss banks, and a couple in the Caymans. We had chosen one of each – making sure they weren’t the same ones that our target had used - and opened several numbered accounts. It was preposterous how easy the transfers were. Since I had all the data, it was a quick online transfer to one of the Swiss accounts, then close the target account electronically. The following day we would transfer it to one of the Caymans accounts and close that particular Swiss account. Then we’d lay low for a while. It would be difficult for him to try to find the money since the transfers appeared to have been done by him, with all the requisite identification, there were no names attached to the accounts where the funds went, and it was all illegal funds to begin with. It would rain hellfire and brimstone down on his head if he were to go clamoring to find out what had become of his very ill-gotten gains that he had kept in secret accounts on which no taxes had ever been paid. Quite a quandary.

It wouldn’t bankrupt him. He still had plenty of legitimate money that he could tap into, but his slush fund was gone forever. Next, I sold his house. I submitted a new Trust Deed to the New York County Recorder. I mocked up all the tax documents necessary – as it turns out, he had not paid property tax on his house since he had owned it, claiming both a “government official” and “charitable organization” exemptions. However, since the WSGF was not a US government agency, and there was definitely no charity going on at his residence, his claims were completely egregious, but he apparently had friends in the State tax offices, so he’d been given a pass. I was putting an end to that. With the help of a program Eric had created just for this purpose – we planned to use it more than once – the state foreclosure and auction sale documents were filed, the auction having been won by a corporation that was buried under a million layers.

I was surprised at how fast everything moved when all the paperwork was as meticulous as this was. I had to give Eric credit – when he wanted to fuck with somebody he went all-out. Within a week DH’s multi-million dollar house would be owned by a homeless man whose information I had come across in a story about veterans who suffered injuries in the various conflicts of the last few years, and were now homeless because of the lack of proper benefits. This particular man had worked with one of the shelters to start a job training and housing program. I arranged for copies of the recorded documents to be sent to him at the shelter, along with a letter informing him that the house was being donated anonymously, and that the former owner had been evicted due to non-payment of taxes and the house foreclosed. I included in the letter that the previous owner would probably dispute the transfer of ownership, but that a large donation had been made to the shelter for the legal defense and recommended the name of a really good property attorney. That way, in case they didn’t get the house, they wouldn’t be out anything, and I’d make sure to follow it and if that happened, I’d make sure they at least got a chunk of the funny-money.

I waited until nightfall to pop to his house in upstate New York. With any luck he wouldn’t be there much longer, but my plan was to convince him he was crazy, so I popped into his bedroom. I was a little worried I’d catch him sleeping naked or something revolting like that, but he was neatly tucked under the covers, much to my relief. And the little shit snored like there was no tomorrow. I touched my hand on the corner of the bed and popped, DH, bed, and all to the middle of a construction site in Manhattan. It would be interesting when the workers showed up in the morning and tried to figure out how this guy got there, bed and all. I had specifically chosen one of those sites where they transmitted via web-cam 24 hours a day. I would stay faded so at most would be a shadow on the video. One minute the space is empty, the next there’s a sleeping guy in it. Good luck explaining that one.

The next morning I kept an eye on his e-mail correspondence, anxious to find out when he found out what was going on. It was going to be fun. The e-mail batch I had sent out yesterday morning was starting to break already. I admit I wasn’t terribly surprised – this was really damning stuff, and the need to scoop everyone else would have news agencies slip-shodding their verifications to get it out first. Since it was all 100% legit right off the WSGF e-mail servers, it didn’t really matter.

I loved that the NY Herald splashed a headline “WSGF MURDERERS” with a secondary caption “Scientific Organization Sanctions Killing For Speaking Out”. And the Times went with the “WSGF Head Found in Bed.” It was perfect. Of course anyone and everyone was in full denial mode. The construction company was trying to figure out how the camera’s had glitched, DH was screaming that some strange woman had transported him there by magic. Priceless! I found it interesting that several of the TV talk shows were now putting a call out to the Enchanted. The sort of “if you’re out there we’d love to talk to you” scenarios. No way it was going to happen, but I did think about issuing a statement on our behalf.

The electronic stuff was good, but it was the actual physical stuff that made me happy. Later that afternoon I popped down to the WSGF building, set the fade and physically walked through about 40 people, freaking each of them out as I went. I passed through the door straight into DH’s office. He sat there, staring at his computer, shaking his head. I released the fade and stood there in front of him, as if out of thin air. He squeaked like a girl! I put my hand on his desk, and popped us both to the observation level of the Empire State Building. As expected, there were a number of people already there, as there always was at the landmark – who immediately started photographing and filming the insane rant. It was, in a word, Awesome!

Later that afternoon DH’s e-mail blew up. So did his phones, office and cell. I was happy to see his unsuccessful attempts to log into the accounts we had raided. I took that opportunity to move the funds a second time, close the first account and move some of the money to the charitable account we’d set up for the shelter. Eric and I had talked about accessing his web-cam so we could see his face turn purple, but decided against it.

What I hadn’t counted on was the tenacity of the little bastard. Over the next several days a lot of shit hit the fan. He actually had the nerve to file complaints with the Swiss government, though interestingly not the Caymans. Their response was that since all the correct codes were used, they were not responsible, and that it was his responsibility to safeguard this information. I was a little surprised that he hadn’t yet even made the assumption that he’d somehow been hacked or bugged. He was that convinced of his own superiority.

The man we had donated the house to had apparently shown up during a dinner party, asking what all these people were doing in his house and actually had the sheriff show up to evict them. Since he had a recorded deed to the property, all the dinner party guests were escorted off the property. MH was allowed to take some personal possessions and apparently threw a grand hissy fit, which was later posted on You-Tube for all to enjoy. The “You Motherfucker’s will pay for this – Do you know who you are screwing with you moronic peons” rant immediately became my new ringtone.

The denials regarding all the correspondence were all flowing fast and furious, and the WSGF was now looking at US Congressional hearings, inquiries at the Hague for crimes against humanity, and a UN investigative panel. It was blowing up all around them. DH’s secretary had decided the odds were against them and decided to testify against him, and all of his legitimate accounts had been seized pending the various investigations. I was in heaven.

I watched, glued to my TV and the internet for the next 3 weeks as all hell broke loose. The SecDef was put out on his ample ass, the British Deputy Prime Minister had been asked to step down, but refused, stating that it was all a set-up and he had never really been involved, but the demands were loud and ongoing. The Saudi’s just ignored the whole fucking thing, which I expected – I had other plans for them anyway.

I watched as the search for us went viral. Every news agency on the planet wanted to talk to us. There had been sightings everywhere from China to Madagascar, to the North Pole. Luckily, there had been no mention of Australia or Montana, but that didn’t mean that some industrious reporter might not get lucky. I hoped not, but we’d have to wait it out. Luckily, it seemed that most people were convinced we weren’t dead, and that we weren’t really the evil monsters we had been portrayed to be all those years. Stories debunking all the awful things that had been said about both the Event and the Enchanted specifically had been circulating. There were even a couple stories about my dad and his work, and some about the survivors, and how we were all really just kids at the time, and how we had been denied any sort of normal life by fear and prejudice. We had become a cause celeb over the course of a month or so. It was a little crazy. I knew it wouldn’t last long though.

What shocked the hell out of me was the interview I found on CNN. The leader read “The Enchanted Finally Speak. An Exclusive Interview with Maxwell…” I’ll tell you truthfully I thought they were full of shit and figured it was an imposter til I clicked on the box and saw Max’s – really and truly our Max – face pop up. It was one of those remote split screen things with some talking head on one side and Max on the other. I was clueless as to how, when, or where all of this had occurred, but from the background it was clear that it wasn’t here at the facility. I listened to the entirety of the interview and overall was happy with how it went down. It was clear the interviewer’s agenda was a positive one so it wasn’t a hatchet job, and Max, and the Enchanted by association, came out looking good. I was still a little pissed that no one had asked me, but I had been the one to insist I didn’t want or deserve a leadership role, and at least the world knew now that we were alive and well, and not bothering anyone. Max had been able to avoid answering any questions about where we were, just saying that we preferred to remain “disappeared” until all the publicity and crazy attention, both positive and negative, had died down. I think I was most happy that he didn’t mention the fact that the Enchanted had figured out the whole procreation thing. One of our greatest weapons was that we were a limited group, who were eventually going to go extinct all on our own. The normals found that comforting for some reason and we certainly didn’t want to give them any reason to go back to hating us.

I went back to my review of the insanity taking place at the government level for just about every country. I went through the new WSGF e-mails, gathered a few and sent them out. I double checked the house situation, and it appeared that the shelter had brought in contractors and begun renovating the house to become a halfway house for the homeless, which had caused the neighbors to go into overload. There were now houses being put on the market in droves, NIMBY running rampant. Stupid fuckers. I found myself crossing my fingers that DH just gave up and moved on since none of his neighbors would ever talk to him again. His domestic accounts were still locked and he was being told that he couldn’t “live” at the WSGF headquarters any longer as he was being relieved of his duties until a thorough investigation had been completed. It was awesome!

I looked up the SecDef, since he was the one that seemed the most involved in the tactical decisions. He was currently undergoing an IRS audit, along with several members of congress who had been involved with the appropriations for the Enchanted program, and apparently it wasn’t going well. Ah, so sad.

I was also a little surprised to see that the Saudi King had “died in his sleep” from natural causes – the man was 50 years old – and his eldest son had taken the throne. I knew nothing about him, apparently no one really did as he hadn’t made himself a public figure, but was more of a scholar, less of a zealot, and from what little I could find, a definite step up. I had to assume that he had embarrassed his country a little too much and it was deemed time to make a change. I had no hard feelings about that. I no longer had to worry about coming up with new and interesting ideas to deal with a man who had more money than God. It was fitting justice, in my mind, that it would seem that he had been taken out by his own family for being a douche. Worked for me.

It seemed that pretty much everyone was getting what was due them, and I was still completely unsatisfied. Yeah, I was happy to be seeing all the havoc paying off, but it just didn’t seem to be true justice for what these people had done. I had made a promise to Hope, but there was a dark spot on my soul that was making that harder and harder to keep. I wanted them to experience real pain, not just financial or social. The Saudi’s had taken care of that problem for me, but M-H was still kicking, still living fairly large after moving in with his rich parents, and the things I had done were nothing more than gnats to annoy him. It wasn’t enough.

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