As we rode out of town and hopped on the interstate it was difficult for me to keep track with which direction we were heading due to the blacked out windows and after spending what seemed like hours in the SUV it even became difficult to keep track of the amount of time that had passed. ( my watch and all personal belongings had been left behind in my locker at the refitted warehouse.) And, just when I began to feel like I was about fall asleep our vehicle slowed and made a sharp turn off the paved road. Seeing that no one else in the SUV reacted to the sudden change I realized that this dirt road must be a familiar trek for the team.
Familiar or not, the lack of pavement and the cheap suspension meant I was getting bounced all over the place! It seemed that any hope of a nap had been left back on the interstate. After about ten minutes my ears started to pick up the sound of large turbine engines revving up. Within a minute or two the sound of the turbines was so loud we could not even hear our selfs think. I really wished I had told someone where I was going!
Just as I thought the bouncing and noise could get no worse they both stopped. The SUV had crested one last bump and then rolled to a very smooth stop. At the same moment the sounds of the unseen turbines seemed to be cut off and blocked out by something....just as I readied my mouth to ask a question the general looked my way and said you had better hold on! This is where it gets a little tricky! And with those words I felt the SUV lurch back and then I could feel us moving much faster than before. It was at the same moment that I realiezed that we were on a plane that the plan lifted off. Turning back seemed a little hopeless now!
The general unfastened his seat belt and speaking as if we were old friends said You are not planning on spending the whole flight in the cargo hold are you? Come on and join us for some lunch. And just like a That the General, coach Jones and Chrissy exited the SUV and made their way to the front of the cargo hold. Sensing that I had not just followed suit Chrissy turned and stared back at the SUV looking like a mother waiting for her child to catch up. It was at this point that I decided to play one of those cards dealt to me. I stayed in the SUV and did not move. Chrissy, obviously irritated turned back to the SUV with a huff and started after me. As she opened my door I half expected to be ripped from my seat and made to partake in lunch. Instead, to my surprise, Chrissy looked me in the eyes and simply said, scoot over! And with that she climbed in and slid up on the seat next to me. Before I could say a word she began to talk. Look Johnny, I know that this, this whirlwind of events must be hard for you to understand. Heck, it is hard for me to keep it all straight. But let me tell you what I can...maybe then we can go and eat. I just sat silent and nodded my head.
First, as you already know, I am Major Chrissy Snow. I work for a Special ops decision of the US military. The man you know as coach Bubba Jones is actually Sargeant Major Bradford Jones the Third. He is a carrer soldier who also is part of our special ops team. it was obvious at this point that Chrissy could see the confusion on my face because she held up her hand and began to explain. The Bubba Jones you knew back in high school is the same man. He is what we call a recruitment officer or maybe better a talent scout. He was placed at you school to specifically test you! Believe me, he was very surprised and impressed by your surveillance set up that got him removed from the school. After that, he came back in out of the field and became or top trainer of new recruits. And finally there is the General. The General has served since he was eighteen years old. He has lead men into battle, run black ops, and served as chief of staff to three presidents. He is now a shadow. A shadow is a person who no longer exists. I do not know why this happened to him but suffice it to say something huge had to have happened for him to have to disappear totally.
As she spoke my mind reeled to try and place each bit of information into its own specialized compartment for easy retrieval later. The news on the General was placed on my mental list to follow up on later. The piece of information that could not yet be filled was the information about Coach Jones.
What do you mean that Coach Jones was placed at my school to test me? He was a teacher in a public school! How the heck could he have been there for 4 years testing me?
Look Johnny, do you remember taking that aptitude test in 8th grade?
Yeah...the one that said I would make a good counselor or teacher? Those results did not even match me or any of my interests. I tossed that piece of misinformation in to the closest trash can!what does it have to do with anything.
Well. That piece of information was actually doctored before you saw it. The actual results showed that you were of the scale in an area that you later tagged as intellectual logistics and what we simply call counter intelligence. The military had never seen a score like yours before or sense. As a matter of fact, the reason Jones was placed your school was to see if you were for real.
What? Was all that could come. Out of my mouth. I am sure that I once again had stupid painted all over my face.
It is regally very simple Johnny. What you showed on that test was impossible! Your score placed you above our departments top CI computer. So...either you cheated...or...you were for real.either way you had to be checked out. So we sent in Jones.
Normally, Jones would have spent four years tormenting you and putting you through daily tests meant to verify and grow your talents and at the end of those four years, you would have been recruited to join our team if all panned out. However, your plan forced Jones to be removed and we no longer felt safe sending in another recruiter because we could not chance tipping of you or our competitors. So you were allowed to progress on your own.
That was ten years ago! I said. Surely if you wanted me so bad you could have contacted me sometime in the last ten years.
Chrissy paused and then started again. You see, with the advances in computers, technology and the fall of Russia the need for your talents seemed unnecessary. But then, then something happened. Recent events over the last month have made the need for you specific talents necessary again. Before you ask. I can not tell you more than that. But let me just say. There is not anyone else with your level of skill....that is what all of the explorer contests were meant to find. The best of the best of the problem solvers. You are the only one who made it this far. All of the others failed.
That is all I can tell you. If you want to know more we need to go and talk to the General. And with that she opened the door and slid out. this time I followed her out. Together we headed towards the front cabin to meet the General and Jones for some lunch.