Sleeping Giants Page 48

Do you have bad reception over there? I said no. We’re not gonna pick a fight with fifty thousand men and an armored division for the fun of it…

—Do not cross that border. I do not care what Ms. Papantoniou is telling you. Do not cross.

—An order…Are you sure, Alyssa? It sounded more like a suggestion to me…

Fire me then! We were sent here to prevent something. Now we know it’s not happening. We need to pack our bags and go home…Vincent, turn us around. We’re out of here. Vincent?

—You cannot cross that border, do you hear me?!

—We’re not crossing that border! Vincent! Move! I’m not gonna say…What was that?…

Yes, I hear you, Alyssa. I think we’ve been shot at, for real this time…I don’t know, an RPG I think. Don’t you have cameras up there? You tell me what hit us…I don’t know where it came from—close, I think. I just saw something in the corner of my eye…

In the shoulder…No, we didn’t feel an explosion, more like a hum. My suit tensed up for a second but that’s about…Wait…INCOMING!!!

—Ms. Resnik? What is happening? Ms. Resnik!?…

—…We’ve been hit! We’ve been hit!…An antitank missile. It came from a launching vehicle on the west side…I felt that one. I don’t think it did any damage, but my suit is giving me some sort of feedback. That felt like an electric shock. Vincent, did you feel that too?…

Yeah. Vincent felt the same thing. Vincent, we better turn on the shield. I don’t know how many of these we can take before we discharge…Oh, and can someone tell that idiot in the jeep to get the hell away from us?

Of course, they’re shooting at us, Alyssa. They have a twenty-story alien robot on their doorstep. They have no idea what…There’s another one! INCOMING!

Turn on the shield! GO! GO! GO!…To the left, Vincent! To the left!…GOT IT!

Did you guys see that?

—I assume that is a rhetorical question? I am on the phone in China.

—No, Alyssa, that was another missile, probably an AT-5. I meant, did you see the light? I raised my arm just in time to catch it on the edge of the shield. It was weird—the shield went flat, and it turned bright, and I mean bright. We couldn’t see through it at all for a second. I wonder why it changes shape like that.

All right. This is a whole lot of fun, but what do you say we get out of here before this gets out of hand?…Yep, take us back the way we came in. Alyssa, we’re heading back…

You gotta be kidding me. How long? OK.

Vincent, there are two MIGs under way. ETA three minutes…Yeah, I say we wait here. Turn us around. If they fire, I’d rather not get hit in the back. Alyssa, we’re about a thousand feet from where we were. We’re gonna sit tight until the MIGs get here. I’m turning my coms off for a minute…

Can you stop this?

—Are you addressing me?

—Yes, Alyssa can’t hear me. Any chance you can get those MIGs to turn around?

—It pains me to say it, but that is beyond my reach.

—OK…So, any good stories to tell? I got three minutes.

—What would you like to hear?

—Anything that’ll get my mind off two MIG 21s.

—I do not believe they can destroy you.

—You’re welcome to come here and take my place.

—I will have to take a rain check on that one.

—Tell me about Beijing.

—I am the wrong person to ask. This city is filled with bad memories. I can no longer see it for what it is.

—Fine. Tell me about your childhood. Talk about dogs.

—You have just disobeyed a direct order from your superior.

—Oh, that…Yeah, if by “disobey,” you mean not do what she asked, I might have done that.

—We talked about this before. You were trained not to question orders.

—Apparently, I wasn’t trained that well.

—…

—I don’t know what to tell you. This isn’t the Army.

—Would your response have been the same had Dr. Franklin given the order?

—Probably not. Look, I’m sorry! I won’t do it again. I won’t have a chance. I don’t think Alyssa’ll send me anywhere anytime soon.

—She may not have a choice. Perhaps this is not the right time, but I fear I may not get a chance to talk to you before you get back to Puerto Rico. There has been a development, and I believe you deserve better than to find out after the fact…

—Well, can you tell me in under a minute and a half?

—Alyssa has found replacement pilots. She will want you and Vincent to start training them as soon as you get back. The person who is slated to take your station is an Israeli pilot.

—Is he any good?

—She is the best they have. I have never met her, but I have read her file, I believe you two will get along. I am more concerned with whom they found to substitute for Mr. Couture.

—Who is it?

—Ms. Papantoniou has been—shall I say—less than forthcoming on the matter, but I have learned that a certain Army pilot has just received an early release from the confinement facility at Fort Carson.

—An Army pi…Ryan? You’re joking…

—I wish I were. Unless you can think of another reason for Mr. Mitchell to book a flight to San Juan the day of his release. I am sorry. I know this must be upsetting.

—You think?! How do you think Vincent’s gonna react?…No, Vincent, it’s nothing! Well, it’s not nothing. I’ll tell you later, OK?…

She’s just nuts if she thinks he’s gonna train him…You were right, though. You picked one heck of a time to tell me…

—I know.

—Oh, shit, they’re here. Gotta go.

—Good luck…

—…

—Ms. Resnik?

—…

—Ms. Resnik. Are you there?

FILE NO. 252

INTERVIEW WITH ALYSSA PAPANTONIOU, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER, GAIA CONSORTIUM

Location: Undisclosed location, near San Juan, Puerto Rico

—She’s gone. Ka…Kara’s gone.

—That is not true.

—She’s gone! Get it thr…through your head!

—You have resented her from the very beginning. It must be frustrating for you.

—Don’t tell me you agree w…with what she did? She disobeyed a di…a direct order! If this had been the Army, she’d have been…court-martialed. She’d already be in jail. You know that.

—Indeed. Were this the United States Army, she would most likely be dishonorably discharged after serving her sentence…unless, of course, her orders were illegal. You had no right to ask her to walk into North Korea. I was very clear about this. No offensive action. I think we can all agree that a direct strike inside the borders of a sovereign state qualifies as offensive action. I would give Ms. Resnik a medal for standing her ground. I am much more concerned with your complete disregard for my directives.

—I don’t report to you. She does to me. I gave her an order! She d…didn’t just refuse, she made a fool out of me!

—You are being paranoid.

—She defied me!

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