There had been no attempt by the builders of the main room of the underground cave that was once a silver mine. Its walls were rough surfaced carved out rock. This large main room was without a doubt a working laboratory. It featured a scattered hodge podge of computer terminals and electronics measuring equipment: oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, elaborate multi penned graph plotters, multi band radio and slow scan TV receivers, transmitters, transceivers, and a variety of seemingly home brew items of questionable origin and usefulness.
David Sawyer and Nicole London seated themselves at separate computer terminals and, after activating a sophisticated encrypting and cloaking mechanism, they each logged on to the new government restricted Ultranet.
"So," Nicole said, "What's the latest on Gottlieb's findings?"
"Inconclusive," Sawyer replied.
"Isn't it always?"
"Yes, but Gottlieb is the top man in his field, and that has to count for something."
"You're right about that. But he's so cautious about committing himself to a specific conclusion. It's a wonder he'll even admit that Balzac and his group are undoubtedly genetically deviant in any way, not to mention his aversion to admitting that they might be superior."
Sawyer chuckled at that. "He has to recognize the startling results of the test results stemming from testing Ricardo Newman, Pindar Balzac's sidekick. That exhaustive battery of physiological lab tests, the blood work, the DNA charts, and all the rest conclusively indicate that Ricardo Newman does indeed exhibit a major deviation from the norm of Homo sapiens, and from human norms in general."
"How did you find out about the test results? Did Zenger at long last decide to trust you after all and to share major top secret documents with you?"
Sawyer shook his head in the negative and said, "I wish."
Nicole sent her computer mouse's pointer to the top of her monitor and clicked on the link 'Password' which brought up an unlabeled field box with a bright red background. She typed in "Paco2Rosa" and watched as the home page of an untitled four column data base appeared.
Sawyer, after a brief pause, said, "I have some undeclared sources."
"Okay... but don't hold back anything that might help me to help you."
Sawyer turned his attention away from his own terminal, which displayed a detailed graph presenting him with a multitude of color keyed lines. The page was also untitled. He gazed at Nicole and said, I won't, please believe that. You've proven your loyalty again and again. And I haven't forgotten that I actually owe you my life. That Beirut incident."
Nicole returned his gaze. "I think that the two of us are the only ones looking in the right direction, and for the right reasons."
"It appears that you are right about that. And everyone else, all the way to the top are out to keep us in the dark. Especially our boss, Tobias Zenger, the Agency's so greatly esteemed Director. And even others at the highest levels."
While she scrolled down the list of names and their respective government positions, Nicole said, "I've been thinking about Gottlieb's findings; what if this Pindar Balzac group really is the first stages of evolution of our species? There's no law that I know of that assures a mutant must be a superior variation. What if these people have evolved into a type of human being that is inferior to the rest of us?"
"Hm. An interesting theory."
"It's not a theory. I'm merely proposing a hypothetical possibility."
"Great Regan's Ghost," Sawyer exclaimed. "Look at this."
Nicole moved from her terminal over to peer at the graph on Sawyer's screen. As she brought her face close to better read the data, she steadied herself by placing her hand on Sawyer's broad shoulder, and her left breast pressed into and against the taut muscles of his arm.
Sawyer could smell the sweet somewhat fruity aroma emanating from the intimately close presence of her body and he said, "That's a terrific perfume you're wearing."
"Not wearing perfume," she said.
"I can smell it. It's fantastic. Reminds me of fresh cut peaches."
"That's Rosa's cobbler you smell. It's my breath. Sorry, I didn't take time to brush my teeth."
"No offense intended, London," he said.
"None taken... David."
Moving slowly away from their bodily contact and returning to her own terminal, Nicole said, "You know, we should repeat that series of tests on others, not only on members of Balzac's group, but on other patients, on all of the other hospital inmates, especially on the worse cases of those proven to be unalterably deranged."
"Maybe. What if a goodly percentage of the mentally ill also display the same deviations, the same indicators of evolution in progress?"
"Interesting," Sawyer said.
"And we should also delve into this heightened emotional state shared by the group members. We should correlate emotional responses to stressful stimuli of the Balzac group with those of the inmates, and additionally, as a control, with test result of normal citizens."
"Okay, I'll go along with that. What have we got to lose?"
# # #
Paco and Rosa Flores joined hands and raised their eyes to the wide star strewn bowl of the night sky. Rosa lifted her chubby arm and pointed a finger toward a medium bright pinpoint of light that twinkled down at them, a far off star shining well above the familiar shape of Ursa Major.
"That's home, my husband," she crooned.
"Yes," Paco said.
"The Nicole is staying late with her friend."
"Yes," Paco said.
"She is in great danger."
"We cannot interfere."
"No," Paco said.
# # #
There exists a special room in the White House. This room has no official name. It measures ten meters in length, eight meters in width, and nine and three quarters meters in height. The ceiling and walls are painted all of one color. The room is sound proof, electronic snooper proof, and guarded securely by robot eyes, ears, and deadly weapons.
It is a semi secret room, known about ostensibly by five people, the President of the United States, the Vice President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of The Agency, Tobias Zenger.
All were present at the hastily scheduled midnight meeting.
The president opened the proceedings by standing up from his chair at the head of the small table. With his recognizably stern but confident manner, he addressed the other four:
"Folks, we find ourselves trapped in a corner. There will be no passing around of any printed matter, as circumstances are dire and the details I am about to reveal to you are to be considered ultra top secret. As you all know, the 'ultra' prefix means that if information dispensed here is leaked, the perpetrator will be immediately ferreted out and summarily eliminated with the greatest dispatch."
The president looked into the eyes of each of the listeners one at a time, then continued, "Is that understood?"
All nodded instantly and replied in unison, "Yes sir."
"Okay then," the president said. His voice deepened and became even more ominous in tone. "I'm sure you have all heard about the small group of Americans led by a charismatic individual who calls himself Pindar Balzac, the members being a diverse clique who claim to be a new, more highly evolved offshoot of the human family. They also seem to believe they possess extra sensory abilities which allow them to receive communications from extraterrestrial entities."
The four again nodded their heads in assent.
The president again spoke. "While we have no foolproof method to affirm these allegations, the nation's top psychologist had determined by way of exhaustive testing of one member of that group that DNA and other means have proven that these folks are indeed of different make up than are we normal people.
"Whether or not they are truly in touch with extraterrestrial life is doubtful. This doubt is strengthened by the opinions rendered by our own space visitor contacts. Yes, the same ones responsible for the innumerable UFO sightings and the ancient Area 51 rumors. The aliens that we, the ongoing ruling class, depend on for remaining in power year after year."
Mister President, if I might interrupt, Sir."
"Yes, Toby... go ahead."
Tobias Zenger stood and said, "We know about all that, of course. And I thought it was understood that this is a minor matter, to be systematically controlled by my people at The Agency."
"Right you are, Toby. But these folks are not the problem I was referring to. The crux of the matter is, I have been informed of a new and unexpected threat, a threat springing from a heretofore unknown source, a much smaller but much more insidious attempt to overthrow those of us who have so long remained in seats of power."
All of the others jumped to their feet and began to talk.
The president called out, "Here, here... let me continue."
When silence returned, he said, "Our alien friends have discovered and revealed to us this threat. They do not know, or at least they claim ignorance of the exact identities and locations of these mysterious operatives."
Zenger said, "Mister President, what's the source of your information about this new enemy?"
"Come on now, Toby," the president said, "You know better than to ask me that. You know I am not a king, just a president, just a government employee if you will. You have to know there are greater powers behind myself and the administration. You are out of line when you ask such questions.
"And besides," he continued, "you have some of the most gifted and intelligent agents in the world working for you. Use them."
The president placed his hands palm down on the table and leaned forward. "Gentlemen, here is the plan..."
# # #
The turnout for Reverend Potts' outdoor rally was sparse, to say the least. His sermon regarding the wrath of God in which he emoted mightily was cheered on by Diana and the few others from back in Wheatland who had remained in the city, some of them for private reasons of their own.
Potts waved his arms in the air and loudly intoned the words he'd read on a website of Fire and Brimstone sermons, words he'd memorized to be delivered at this rally to the motley crew who stood in the drizzling rain.
"Vengeance is mine speaketh The Lord!"
The reverend paused for effect, then continued.
"The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemy. The Lord is slow to anger, great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles in his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him. The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood, he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness."
Reverend Potts paused long enough to accept a dry towel tossed up to him by a man in the small audience. He wiped the dampness from his face, flung the towel back to the man who had sent it, and then resumed:
"Beware you that shuns the Lord your God, you with the blasphemous idolater's name that dares to flaunt your false doctrines of Evil-looshun and take for your own the wickedness you claim was spewed from the maws of your imaginary space aliens, filthy creatures who are in reality the Jezebel spawn of heartless and soulless devils.
"Oh how you, Pindar Balzac and your horde of perverted minions will suffer for your iniquities!
"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire, he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours."
From the front row came a high pitched shriek, "Yee-ESSS! Tell us, preacher!"
The orator stopped, looked down at fat, frumpy Diana Sorensen, the one who had cried out her encouragement to him. His chin drooped down against his soggy necktie and his arms fell to his sides to hang there limply.
And the rain began to pour down upon him in thunderous torrents.