“Hello, is there anyone here?” a voice called out. I immediately recognised Mac’s voice, so I grinned evilly at the younger boy lunging at him. His eyes widened, but I had him on the ground before he knew it, so I began to tickle him mercilessly.
“Mac, we’re in the Gamesroom,” I shouted out. Minutes later, she entered to find Tobi wriggling around on the floor, his face flushed with laughter and hair all over the place. I was also huffing and puffing, but his red face was worth it.
“I’m going to wet myself, you’re the greatest pool player,” he continued to giggle as she raised an eyebrow. She looked so much like their mother; I was tempted to say something.
“Tobi thought he could school me at Pool,” I told her through my laughter.
“Have you ever played?” Mac said as she eyed the table dubiously.
“No, but I wouldn’t let my virtue be sullied like that,”
“Virtue!” she snorted, “I like that,”
“What are you doing up here anyway?” I asked, standing up then offering my hand to Tobi. He took it, pulling himself up, allowing the boy to brush himself off.
“Well, I’ve been looking around the medical bay for a few hours with the girls,” she replied, “But I thought I’d best check on you,”
“We’ve been here, what… thirty minutes?” I confirmed with Tobi, who nodded his head.
“I’ve been down there nearly three hours,” she retorted so I looked at my watch, she was right we had been exploring for ages.
“How did you get on?” I asked, “Have you checked out the Medical area?”
“The medical bay is pretty well stocked, it has a drugs storeroom that’s got stuff in I’ve never heard of and all the usual antibiotics,”
“How easy is it to gain access to the drugs room?” I asked, wondering how to keep it safe from the others.
“Only I can access the room on the key card,” she offered, “There’s a couple of dental surgeries, an actual surgical room and two wards. One appears to be a quarantine ward,”
“So, what about the research side?”
“Well, that’s the main reason I come up,”
“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
“On the card you gave Sarah, we could access the reception and a staff room, but there were four Bio Labs that we could not enter because that area needed a code to get in,”
“All right then, did you leave the girls waiting?”
“They know not to touch anything,” she guaranteed. Had it been Sarah, I would agree with that statement, but I’m still unsure about Amanda. Still, Mac led the way with her brother by her side while I followed along quietly. Once we reached Level Three, Mac pointed me to the Research Department, where I opened the door using my key card. It was a small reception with a couple of chairs and a desk with a computer on it. It could have been a GP’s office if the GP had a cupboard full of guns behind the reception desk.
“Took you long enough,” Amanda sneered making me jump. The pair were sat on opposite chairs.
“I’ll assign Sarah an access code so you can enter the Bio level suites,” I told the pair of them, “I want you to be together at all times if you are in there,”
“Why can’t I have a code?” Amanda demanded.
“Because Sarah is older than you,” I retorted entering my code, shielding the keypad so Amanda could not see it. I pushed open the doors after swiping my card followed immediately by the rest of them. There were two glass-front labs to my left marked as ‘Bio Lab Level One’ and ‘Bio Lab Level Two’. The third bio level was to my right, but I turned a corner to find a changing room with benches, a cupboard with loads of cubby holes and several bio-hazard suites. Two separate airlocks must have led to Bio-labs Level Three and Four.
“What is this place?” Tobi asked.
“Biological Research Labs, Biohazard One,” I pointed to the lab, “is the basic of levels. They research things like E-coli. Biohazard Two research things like Salmonella and Hep A. Biohazard Level 3 are more likely to research Tuberculosis and Biohazard Level Four study the big guns like Ebola and Coronavirus,”
“How do you know that?” Mac stared at me.
“Have you ever seen The Walking Dead or Outbreak?” I asked.
“Heard of them, but they’re about thirty years old,” Mac returned, not interested in watching vintage movies and TV shows.
“But they’re classics,” I argued then closed my mouth shaking my head, “The point I’m making, is that I’ve seen labs like these set up in films and done my research.”
“So they research viruses here?”
“Yeah, and probably cures,” I answered, “Imagine if a virus swept the world, the higher-ups could get here, then the researchers could develop a cure,”
“There’s also Quaritine cells,” Sarah pointed out, but I was barely listening to her.
“However, I doubt there are any samples here,” Amanda said, looking through the glass doors at Bio-level four.
“I think so too, but to be on the safe side, no one is to enter Levels two-four unless I can find out if they have anything on-site,” I told them almost getting a glare from Amanda, “What did your dad do at Porton down?”
“How do you know that?” she looked at me suspiciously.
“I’m sure I heard it somewhere,” I replied, not about to tell her the detailed file I have on her. Her face softened.
“He is a researcher.”
“Porton Down?” Tobi asked, confused. I moved them back out of the Biohazard area, a chill going down my back. Once in the reception, I checked the doors were locked.
“Porton down is a Chemical Research facility,” Amanda answered. She went off with Sarah talking about this discovery. I was about to head to the lower levels when Mac called me.
“Do you think we’ve stopped people from getting in here?” she brushed her hands through her hair, a clear sign she was nervous or anxious.
“I don’t know, but the base was decommissioned.”
“But it still could have been used?”
“It still was ready for use with supplies and everything,” I confirmed, “But we’ll never know because our parent’s locked us into the bunker before anyone else made it here,”
“But we managed to communicate with Cheyenne Mountain; surely we could contact someone else and find a way out,” Mac persisted.
“Are you that desperate to leave the mountain?” I asked, realising this place was a sanctuary to me. This was like conspiracy heaven, and here I was in charge.
“I just want to see our parents,” Mac’s shoulders slumped. I remembered she was only fifteen like me, we were still only kids, but though I liked being here, there was a lot of pressure to keep everyone safe.
“We will,” I assured Mac as Tobi hugged her.
“Alex, are you there?” Nate’s voice sounded across the radio.
“Yeah, I’m here,”
“I’ve been checking out the security office and found a few interesting things,” He explained, “If Tobi’s with you, you might want to bring him,”
“We’ll be down in ten minutes,” I returned then looked at Mac, “We will get out; it’s only six months, not six years!”
“But our parents might be dead by then,” she responded dejectedly.
“We’ll find your parents,” I promised looking at Mac, then Tobi in the eyes.
“I’m sorry for being such a grump, it just hit me,” Mac said with a watery smile, apologising to Tobi too.
“Don’t worry about it, but you know Tobi has quite a bit of ammunition on you now,” I noticed Tobi’s smile begin to grow maliciously.
“If he tried to do anything, I’d tell his best friend about his secret habits,” she laughed and received a shocked look from Tobi, which then gave way to an angry look.
“Now, this is something I need to know,” I returned, looking at Tobi who seemed to be blushing.
“She’s not going to say anything, to anyone,” he growled like a bear.
“Aww come on, little bear,” I spoke, accidentally letting the nickname slip out, but I don’t think Mac noticed.
“Doesn’t Nate want you,” Tobi said pointedly, ignoring his sister.
“OK, let’s go,” I tried not to laugh as we left the Research facility behind. Mac gave us a wave heading upwards as Tobi, and I descended the stairs.
“So am I going to find out your secret habits?” I asked cheekily but received a glare.
“No, and she better not tell you,” he snarled.
“Come on buddy; she was only joking,” I told him before pulling him into a hug, “Look kiddo, you’re one of my closest friends, and Mac was just being sisterly, we would never intentionally hurt you,”
“I know, thanks Lexi,” he returned, ignoring the kiddo bit.
“What are friends for,” I returned, a few moments later we went through the door onto level two. We found our way around the Head of Security’s office. I used my card to enter but discovered the office empty so followed by Tobi I went next door to the Security Operations room. Nate was settled in the chair watching live feeds of the cameras.
“I’ve found a way to assign profiles and set up a card for everyone individually, so they have different access,” Nate said, not turning around to us.
“That will be great,”
“But you’ll have to enter your code as the Base Commander,” he explained.
“No problems. How long will it take?”
“I think it should take just over an hour or so to program everyone in; each card will be like an Identification card with the person’s name, unique code, ‘department’ and a picture,”
“What I’m about to say is between the three of us,” I told them confidentially, “In my office, in a secure lockbox was a dossier for everyone in the Mountain. I’m willing to bet there will be secure files on the computer too,”
“I would think so too,” Tobi looked thoughtful, “As base commander, you should have access to all your Personnel’s information,”
“What does it mean?” Nate asked as Tobi sat down at the computer that could make the swipe cards. His hands flew across the keys as he muttered to himself.
“I’m not sure, but everything has to do with the Junior Ambassador Program, there are only twenty hard copies of the dossiers and only twenty people in the Mountain, so you do the maths,” I suggested.
“Well, this is your area,” Tobi replied surfacing from the computer. Nate looked between the pair of us as I swatted the boy’s head.
“He means I believe in conspiracy theories, that we were selected and bought down here for a reason,” I clarified. “That there was never meant to be anyone but us down here,”
“You really believe that?” Nate asked.
“I’m not sure, but it seems pretty logical as to why no military or VIP visitors ever got down here,” I shrugged my shoulders, feeling a bit more relaxed now that I had told someone, “But until we know for sure, what is said in here, stays in here,”
“No problem, I think the others might panic,” Nate returned.
“Right then DARYL, what’s going on with the computers?” I asked the boy. Tobi swivelled around to give me the evil eye. Nate just looked really confused, so I explained, “DARYL was a film from the last century, about a boy who turned out to be a robot.”
“Right,” Tobi rolled his eyes, “Anyway, the Mountain has an internal network with its own secure data bank. Only you can authorise people to have access to different parts of the internal server. Also, from what I can see, no one outside can access the internal network, and no one inside can go on the internet, but there are secure routes into the Mountain, namely from your office and the Operations room.”
“See I told you, DARYL,” I earned myself another glare.
“Can you give me access to give your code?” Nate asked.
“No offence to you, but I’m going to ask Tobi do all the programming and set up the various profiles,”
“No offence taken,”
“From what I can see, there are four different tiers of access: Tier One is the basic level while Tier 4 is the highest access,”
“I want Mac Tier 3 then, with the most level of access besides my own and Nate to join that though access to the research and medical facilities will be cut off for him,” I told Tobi then we went through each person, setting levels of access, creating their cards and generating passwords for them. Each card and password was put into an envelope.
“Have you seen a shredder?” Nate asked.
“I have one in my office, and probably admin has one, why is that?” I asked Nate curiously.
“So that everyone can shred their codes afterwards and no one else will know their codes,” He suggested.
“That’s a good idea,” I gave him a nod of appreciation.
“Are we all done?” I asked Tobi who had seventeen envelopes and codes on the side.
“Actually, that’s not the reason I asked you to come down,” Nate said, turning around to his desk he picked up what appeared to be a pair of armguards. He bought them over so we could take a look at them. They were wrist computers, long and flat they opened up to a screen with a keyboard on the wrist. I knew some military models had a holographic projection, but I still thought they were in the development stage.
“Wow,” I looked over them in surprise. Tobi got up to take a look, and I’m sure his face mirrored mine because he looked astonished.
“I thought these were still in the research phase,” he voiced my exact thoughts.
“So did I,”
“From what I can tell, they are wired up to the internal network, I’ve managed to find a map, but it won’t let me access anything,” he replied. I took one off him almost reverently sliding it onto my wrist and arm, making it comfortable. I opened the remote computer and was prompted for my login. I typed in my name and code.
“Welcome, Alexander,” a smooth female voice said.
“Uh, erm thanks,” Tobi, Nate and I looked at each other with surprise.
“I am DAISY, Digital Artificial Intelligence System. I monitor Fort Walker and help control it for the base commander,” I stared at the computer.
“How do you know I called the base Fort Walker?” I asked.
“I have been monitoring the Mountain since I was activated upon your arrival,” DAISY returned.
“You’re an artificial intelligence?” Tobi spoke with wonder in his voice.
“Correct Tobi, I came into life on the 23rd of October 2027 at 13.47pm,” she explained.
“What are your prime duties?” Tobi asked.
“I am to assist the Base Commander; I help with additional security. I also monitor all feeds from within and outside of the Mountain,” she answered fluidly.
“We have to keep Daisy a secret,” Tobi said, looking at me.
“I agree with that,” I returned.
“Whose authorisation do you recognise?” Tobi questioned the voice.
“I recognise Alexander Walker, Base Commander of Fort Walker,”
“Daisy, you are to recognise the voices of Nathan Williams and Tobias Callaghan,” I spoke up.
“On what tier?”
“Tier three,” I responded.
“Can you hear us anywhere on base?” Nate asked, curiously.
“There are microphones situated all over the facility, I can hear you anywhere,” she responded quickly, “I can also assist you off base through the communication system,”
“Great, this is going to make life a hell of a lot easier,” I suggested, “Can you tell us what’s happening on the outside?”
“Sensors have picked up a biological agent in the air; so far, my systems are unable to detect what type of agent it is. It could be a virus, or it could be a weapon,” Daisy spoke with a cool, unemotional voice.
“Thank you,” I said politely, “Well that was interesting,”
“Very interesting,” Tobi mused, though seemed to be thinking about things.
“Thanks, Nate, are you going to remain here?” I asked, leaving the wrist computer on.
“If you don’t mind, I’m going to have a look at the computers and check everything out,”
“Just make sure you bring the access cards when you go up for dinner,”
“No problem,” he answered. I led Tobi back to the stairs, but when he turned to go up the stairs, I turned to go down.
“Where are you going?”
“Fancy checking out the detention centre?” I asked in return. He grinned as I took off down the stairs with him hot on my heels joking as we went. I thought we had better check up on Matty and Izzy before we did anything else. When we entered the corridor, I could immediately hear them. They were in the storeroom with the armoury when I poked my head in.
“Hi Alex, come for a visit?” Izzy asked, catching sight of us.
“Thought I would see how you are doing and see what the Detention Centre is like,”
“Detention Centre?” Matty asked.
“Remember Mac had a nose around and found a detention centre,” Izzy shook her head at the boy, making me laugh.
“When he gets involved in something, everything else is tunnelled out,” I told her, “So how’s everything going on here?”
“Actually doing really well, we’ve got plenty of stores to last well over six months,” Matty jumped in before Izzy spoke.
“But there’s something weird,” Izzy said, waiting patiently for Matty to finish.
“Weird?” I looked at her.
“We’ve found a lot of spare clothes, but it’s all virtually children’s clothes from about ages 5-18,” she responded.
“Any adult clothing?”
“Not much, but most things seem to be for children, and everything seemed tailored for children,”
“Well those guns are definitely not tailored for children,” I pointed to the weapons behind them, then added, “Well I’ll think about that, dinner will probably be ready in about half-hour or so,”
“No problems, we’re almost finished,” she suggested going back to work, completely forgetting about Tobi and me. I pushed him out the door, but Tobi laughed at me, knowing why I had a sour face.
“You know how intense Matty is,” he told me.
“He’s so anal!” I grunted getting a snigger from Tobi, “You’re such a child sometimes,”
“I am not,” he appeared affronted, but I knew he was just putting on an act.
“How is it you are Einstein level smart, yet you still act like a child?”
“Natural gifts,” he pretended to polish a medal as we passed through the doors to the other side.
“Natural gifts, my arse, you’re just a whiny little brat,” I teased him.
“But I’m your whiny little brat,” he looked at me with puppy dog eyes.
“Yes, my best friend is a whiny brat,” I commented, his face changed, “Maybe Noah or Nate would be a bit more mature,”
“Fine,” he said suddenly stalking off ahead of me, leaving me standing there shocked. What the hell just happened?” When I turned the corner, he had already swiped his card and was pushing through the double doors to the Detention centre. I hurried to catch up and just about caught the door.
“What’s the matter?” I asked as I found myself in a corridor. Ahead of me read a door marked ‘Armoury’, then the hall swung left. He did not answer immediately, so I followed him around the corridor. A desk with a computer lay ahead of me and then there were four cells, each consisting of a flat bed and a toilet. He stood in front of one of the cells looking in. I lay my hand on Tobi’s shoulder, making him swivel to give me the evils.
“You really think I’m a whiny brat? Am I too young for you?” he suddenly deflated, looking his age. I knew the time had come to speak to him.
“It was a joke, but I think we need to talk,” I took a seat at the guard’s desk, “Look, Tobias, you’re the best friend a guy can have, but the age gap is too much. I am sorry, but I cannot like you like that,”
“I thought we could have had a chance,” he uttered, the tears beginning to flow down his face.
“Come here, you dumbass,” I chided him holding my arms open. Tears streaked his face, but he collapsed into my arms. I pulled him tight into my body leaning down to his ear, “You are so very special, I have known you since you were baby and watched you grow up into a wonderful young man. But one day you’ll find a boyfriend of your own that’ll treat you like a prince, or Mac and I’ll kick his ass,”
“I’d like to see you try kicking someone’s ass,” he gave a watery laugh.
“Now, do I have to lock you in here for being naughty?” I teased him, making him laugh at me. He stepped back and wiped away his tears.
“I can be very naughty,” Tobi winked at me like he was a sexy hooker.
“Where the hell are you getting that from?” I asked incredulously then implored, “Please, never do that again,”
“Right, because that was so weird,” he agreed. I pulled his face up to look at me.
“Are we good?”
“Yes, I really thought you liked me that way, but I understand.”
“Good-“ I started to say when my radio squawked. We had put the ones Tobi had bought away and was now using the military-level Motorola radios.
“Alex, are you busy?” Tom’s deep voice came from my belt. I sighed unclipping it, giving Tobi a look.
“I’m just checking out the detention centre,”
“Well, you should come to see the Mech Bay, it’s awesome!” he crowed.
“All right, I’ll be there in a few moments,” I looked at Tobi and smiled at him. About five minutes later, Tobi and I were stood in the cavernous insides of the Mechanical Bay. It was completely open and I bet you could fit a cathedral inside. There was definitely room for a battalion of vehicles; however, that was not the case. At one end of the
mammoth structure stood a pair of doors, which were easily three stories high. Halfway down the structure was a glass Operations Room that jutted out from the wall and overlooked the whole room. I could see several vehicles parked up along one wall, while on another wall there appeared to be a fully fitted mechanics section. The vehicles were grey and black camouflaged hummers, several large trucks with canvas backs and several ATV’s. Alongside the ATV’s were smaller dirt bikes and trailers that could be attached to the All-terrain vehicles.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” Tom came over, with excitement written on his face. I had never seen the tall black boy like this before. It was like seeing a kid in a sweet store.
“Well it is certainly something,” I commented, not as enthusiastic as him.
“It has everything a mechanic dreams about, the right tools, a place to work and even the vehicles to work on,” he returned.
“That’s good, but if Cheyenne was correct and we were hit by an EMP we won’t be able to find anything outside to drive,” he frowned at me for a moment, then his eyes lit up.
“But Tobi said the vehicles inside the base were protected,” he looked at the younger boy eagerly.
“They should be,” Tobi answered guardedly.
“We could try one,” Tom suggested. I thought about it quickly. If we go out, we will need some sort of transport.
“If Tobi thinks they may work, we can try one,” I decided. Tom walked off with a bounce in his step so I turned to Larry, “What would you need to make a home for horses and farm animals?”
“What?” he looked at me startled that I had asked him a genuine question.
“Well you work on a farm, so what would you need for animals to live down here?” I asked again, this time he looked at me thoughtfully.
“Well preferably goats, chickens etc. they should have a free range of space in a field, but we could mock up something down here. Though I would not recommend that,”
“Would it be all right for horses down here?”
“As long as they were ridden outside at least once a day,” he recommended.
“Even if we get the vehicles running, I would rather use animals as they would work better for us and be silent,” I explained to Larry.
“I think that’s a good idea,” I was surprised at how eager he actually looked, “We could make some stalls down here,”
“Great,” I returned as Tom came back with a set of keys. We followed him over to the row of vehicles. He straddled one of the bikes putting the key in.
“Here goes nothing,” Tom grinned as he turned the engine on, it strummed to life and began to throb, “Woohooo,”
“Right, at least we know they are protected,” I left him to tinker wandering through the cavern until I stood by the great doors. Now that I was closer I could see that one side had a set of smaller doors on hinges, which would allow access to smaller vehicles, “Great,”
“What did you say?” Tobi asked, coming alongside me.
“I was just saying, great, we’ve got smaller doors so don’t have to open the massive ones,” I looked up, hurting my neck to see the top.
“Let’s check out the control tower,”
“You make it sound like we’re in an airport,” I grinned, reaching out to pop him, but he ducked away and laughed at me.
“You can do better than that, old man,” he taunted me taking off at a run. I am not a child, so I followed with dignity, though I did speed up my pace a little. The stairs to the tower were embedded in the wall, but I was astonished when we reached the top. It was quite a large room with banks and monitors seemingly in every corner. Before the glass window was a large desk with an extended control panel on it. Three chairs sat in front of the control panel and I knew I would not be able to work out what the controls did even if I spent the rest of my life in here.
“It’s pretty neat,” even Tobi was eager.
“I have no idea what any of it means,” I admitted. Tobi started to launch into a spiel about each of the controls, but I just held my hand up, “Save it for Tom, I don’t want to know. Now I think, we best get back up to home before Mac’s calls us for dinner,”
“Just because you’re dumber than a sack of bricks,” he teased me putting on a fake American accent.
“I’m going to beat you one of these days,” I responded. We left the mechanics bay, taking Tom and Larry with us.
“I was just beginning to call out a search party,” was the first thing Mac said as the four of us emerged from the elevator.
“We looked at the detention centre then the mechanic’s bays,” I rolled my eyes at old Mother hen.
“Well, it’s dinner now,” I suddenly felt my stomach rumble so followed her into the canteen where Simon and Luc had already laid out a plate full of some kind of meat.
“Looks delicious boys,” I told them taking up my usual spot, joined as usual by Mac, Tobi and Matty.
“It is frozen, but the meal is a duck with mash and some veg,” Tobi scrunched up his nose at the word veg.
“Now eat all your greens up, like a good little boy,” I told him in a grandmotherly voice. He growled at me, but I just laughed at him while the rest of the table joined in too as we dug into our meals, “How did your day go?”
“Great, we’ve finished the entire inventory. We have plenty of equipment and clothes to last us with enough for another 200 people,” Matty estimated.
“Well if we get the doors open, we’ll see about doing some rescues,” I promised looking between Mac and Tobi, “So Mac, what did you do after we left you?”
“I came up and played with the kids,” she said with a sappy smile, “We had a good old fashioned game of monopoly. Do you remember when we used to play?”
“I remember Tobi got angry if he was not winning and threw the board across the living room,”
“I was like eight,” Tobi protested.
“Aunt Ellie was so angry, she spanked your bare bottom,” Matty added.
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that, your behind was red for days afterwards,” I took a sip of water and smiled, memories coming back to me.
“It did not stop him from ripping the head off my teddy bear a week later,” Mac added.
“You broke my Lego,” he protested. I could see this was going to become family fight soon.
“Tobi and I checked out the detention centre. Hopefully, we’ll never need it,” I commented, putting my drink down, my sleeve rode up to reveal the wrist computer.
“What’s that?” Mac eyed the computer.
“Nate found them, it’s to aide me looking after the base,” I evaded her question. We had soon finished dinner.
“I’ve got new cards for you,” Nate spoke up coming over handing Matty and Mac the envelopes with their swipe cards inside. Matty tore his open, looking at the card, his picture in the top left-hand corner.
“Wow, where did you get my picture from?” Matty asked.
“I have my ways,” Nate said mysteriously with a straight face.
“Well it looks Kewl,” Matty told him. Nate ruffled his hair then went off to one of the other tables.
“Can we go for a swim?” Tobi suggested.
“You have to wait an hour after dinner is eaten,” Mac said, sounding exactly like her mother. Tobi and Matty must have thought the same because they burst out laughing.
“You sound exactly like your mum,” I tried not to snort.
“See if I do your washing up for you,” she told me and left the table, plate in hand.
“Right guys, let’s get tidied up. Maybe we can have a competition on the Gamebox,”