“And?” Bryson asked. “How’s he done so far?”

“So far, perfect,” answered Helga. “By all accounts, he’s fooled them all. He helped us place others in the Latvian embassy in the U.S., including their very own ambassador. That man is named Guntis, and he’ll be the one who gets us inside the embassy itself. We’ll use their state-of-the-art NerveBoxes to enter the summit virtually, pretending to be members of Guntis’s staff. The credentials are all laid out.”

It troubled Michael, as usual. They all seemed proud of what they’d done, placing one of their own in such an important political position, no matter the size of the country represented. But again, they’d stolen a life. It was impossible for him to get past that little—no, huge—part of the puzzle.

“Michael, you look upset,” Helga said. “And we haven’t even started yet.”

“You know why” was the best response he could manage.

Helga folded her arms and leaned against the window. “This…this is why I went through all that trouble to take you to the Hive. You’ve been there, you’ve seen it yourself. These people…they’re still alive in every sense of what makes a human a human. And I’d bet my own life that when all is said and done and we’ve helped stop the madness that Kaine has begun, they’ll thank us. And they’ll get their bodies back. We all swore to it, Michael. We’re not here to stay.”

Walter fidgeted a little when she mentioned what they’d sworn, and Michael knew what he was thinking. They’d also sworn not to bring the so-called true death to anyone, but they’d done just that. Back in the woods, in front of the barracks.

“I need everyone together on this,” Helga said when Michael didn’t respond.

He didn’t know what to say. But following her seemed like the only viable way the world could ever get back to normal.

“Michael?” she asked.

“Okay,” he said. “I wasn’t even going to bring it up until you asked. But I’m in. Tell me the plan, how I can help. Let’s just get it done.”

“That’s more like it,” she said with a satisfied smile. “Now here’s what we’re going to do.”

6

A good part of the Alliance plan went off without a hitch, swallowing Michael into a surreal scenario that felt like a dream. He’d worried about language barriers, but that wasn’t an issue—they were only observers, from a small country, virtual visitors. Practically invisible.

They took a cab to the Latvian embassy, where Guntis himself greeted them at security and escorted them inside. He was a tall, brusque man with a very heavy accent. Michael couldn’t tell if that meant the Tangent inside had been Latvian himself or the poor guy who’d been Doctrined into him could only use what he had to work with physically. It didn’t matter. Two hours later, he, Bryson, Helga, and Walter were all inside luxurious state-sponsored Coffins, along with Guntis, their encrypted Auras transported to the World Summit itself. No one seemed to suspect who they were. No one even acted as if they existed, virtually or not.

Soon holoprojections were entering the famed UE headquarters. It was a vast cavern—a room so enormous that Michael was baffled by what sort of architectural engineering kept it from collapsing in on itself. It was fancy, also. Enormous decorative pillars flanked the entrance and there was dark mahogany everywhere you looked. Leather chairs, maroon velvet, lush carpet—and the smell. The scent of wood polish and perfume hung in the air. The virtual experience was created to be an exact replica of the actual, physical UE headquarters. Michael wasn’t disappointed.

As he got his bearings, Michael admired the simplicity of the layout. Every official member country of the UE had its own antechamber off the central auditorium. Within the Sleep, each country had a Portal directly outside these antechambers. This was a plush room filled with leather couches. It was fully staffed and stocked with food and beverages. Glass doors led from this room onto a balcony that overlooked the central space below. Michael took it all in as they arrived with Guntis, who immediately introduced them to the prime minister and her chief of staff—the man taken by the Tangent Levi.

“Levi had her ear all week,” Guntis was telling Helga in his thick accent. Michael, Bryson, and Walter hovered around Guntis and Helga as they spoke. They had inched into a corner of the big room, and Michael was trying his best to adjust to the surreal experience. “She might seem a little intimidating, but she’s not the type to put power before reason. If she thinks it will help her cause or her country, she’ll listen to anyone. And she listened.”

“So how’s this going to happen?” Helga asked.

Guntis gestured toward the doors that led out to the chamber proper. “The prime minister is an executive member of the UE, so she has a good amount of time to speak. Levi convinced her to make Kaine and the Tangent invasion her highest priority. She’s going to make a pitch for money and resources, hopefully get you whatever you need to begin the pushback.”

As Guntis spoke, the people mingling around them had begun to move toward the seats. Guntis gestured to them to follow, and Michael and the group joined the mass of people moving toward the doors. From what Michael could tell, it looked like attendance was about half virtual and half physical—at least for those filling the chairs in the balcony. Michael walked in a daze. He knew that to those actually in attendance at the summit, he appeared as a shimmery projection—people probably even thought he was unimportant because he’d only been invited virtually.

“What did we get ourselves into?” Bryson whispered to him. Before Michael could answer, Helga ushered them to a few empty seats in the back row of the section reserved for virtual visitors. They sat as close to the aisle as they could.

“Something’s wrong,” Michael said. Maybe he’d just grown accustomed to things never working out the way they were supposed to. But he couldn’t shake the nervous feeling in his chest. He searched the room for anything that seemed out of the ordinary, but he realized that he wouldn’t know if something wasn’t as it should be.

“What’s the deal?” Bryson whispered to him.

Michael slumped in his seat.

“Something’s wrong,” he repeated.

CHAPTER 11

CHAOS CAPTURED

1

***

***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com

***