The Beholden – Chapter 5


Jarek, one of the outspoken members of the Rogue, sat and pondered his next move.  He and his followers were now set to break away from the main group.  He could not let the Beholden expand.  The result would be a world with an everlasting humanoid race bound by passion.  A race that would live without the need for rule and last a millennium.  He needed to squash the Beholden to ensure dictatorship and toil would drive them and the human race into extinction.  Afterwards, the remnants of civilization could be mended together with the Rogue inheriting the planet.  He called the group into the room.

“Gentlemen, it’s time to put our Barcelona plan into place.”

They stepped into an adjacent room that was constructed with a state of the art glass-like material.  This material was similar to a breathable glass mesh.  It allowed for a fantastic, 3-D hologram to be displayed separating lasers into millions of points of light driven by a super computer.  An actual walk through of Jarek’s plan, scene by scene, was presented and rehearsed.  From the outside of the hologram, it appeared as just a confusing mess of light.  Once the hologram was entered, it was as if they had stepped into an actual place.  Special glasses were needed to separate the light so that the space became realistic.  These glasses were the strength and the weakness of the Rogue’s technology.  They had to be worn to maintain their advantage.  The glasses actually plugged into the user’s brain through an implant.  The glasses were a storage device that once plugged into the implant, all the data from the hologram and the acted out scenes would be transferred into the implant’s microprocessor and neural net. This gave the user advantages in calculating time and distance within a space.  The optic nerves were tricked.  Instead of seeing Barcelona, they were seeing its hologram.  Since mapping technology was so precise, there was no need to see the actual city.  The world they lived in was now mapping everything in real time and updating every few seconds. An open window, a pebble, and even stray animals were mapped and tracked.

Jarek began walking his henchmen through the taking of Madison.  He had placed a spy in Mittenwald and knew Arnina sent Connell and Alden on a mission. He assumed correctly that it would be Connell who would go after Madison. He knew Connell’s habits. He expected him to act leisurely.  He would most likely want to stop at a restaurant or two in order to sample the food and drink during the return trip.

“You must eliminate every possible escape route, Jarek said.  “Madison must be brought to District 19 in Prague.  As far as Connell, he is expendable.”

After rehearsing and storing the scenarios, they moved on to discuss the capture of Stephan and John.

Connell sped to Barcelona in no time.  He could not explain how he got there and did not recall the path he traveled.  There was no sensation of transport when the network pulled someone from place to place.  There was a lingering electrical tingling.  Some members of the Beholden would become slightly off balance ranging from a few seconds to minutes.  He arrived in front of a taxi at the Barcelona Renaissance Hotel.  With the rear door still open, he leaned over and said to the passenger, “Could we share this taxi?”

Madison replied, “Ah, yeah, you look familiar to me.”

“It’s Connell, I am a friend of Stephan.”

Before he could continue, Madison started rambling in half sentences, “How did you…, what on earth…, Where is Stephan?”

The taxi driver reminded them they needed to pay upfront for the ride.

“Take us to Piripipao. It’s just past the hypermarket to the north,” Connell happily said.

They arrived at the café and took their seats at a table toward the back and next to the small bar. It was a simple, bustling place for lunch, perhaps twelve tables or so.  The floor pattern was a diamond checkerboard of tan and white. The furniture seemed to be a stain finish of either mahogany or walnut.  The wide window trim was of the same finish. Above them, the café seemed to gravitate towards a more contemporary look.  The light fixtures were suspended from a copper-like arching pole and the ceiling colors transitioned from goldenrod to avocado.

Madison ordered the gambas al ajillo and Connell selected the fiero patatas bravas.  Madison tried to deter Connell from ordering her a drink but he insisted on two Bulldog apple gin cocktails.

“Trust me, you are going to need it,” Connell said.

“I think you are right,” said Madison.  “Ever since the incident on the plane I have this tingling feeling. It must be my anxiety.”  Throughout lunch, Madison told Connell her story of the events that occurred on the flight to Europe.

Connell listened with intensity and when she finished he said to her, “You are beholden.  You are now one of us. The tingling feeling is not anxiety and you are now forever obligated to the woman you saved.”

Connell went on to explain what he knew of the Beholden and how the network had some control over their lives.  Just as he finished, a man stormed through the front door and began shooting the customers.  Connell flipped the table over on its side and pulled Madison behind it. Connell fired two rounds into the intruder and he dropped to the floor. Suddenly, bullets pierced through the glass windows from the roadside and shattered pieces fell like a hailstorm.  Connell grabbed Madison and they moved through the side door and into the kitchen.  They quickly found the rear delivery door and out into the alley they went.  Surrounded by members of the Rogue, Madison’s sharp eyes snatched a broom. She broke off the broom head and now had her staff as she also knew Kobudo.  Madison engaged the group to her left, knocking them down one by one as Connell had her back but could not hold off the second wave of the Rogue approaching from the right. Seven, eight, perhaps, ten casualties lay before them.  A sniper from the roof shot Connell’s gun out of his hand. In an instant, the pull of the network sent Connell away from the situation. However, Madison was overwhelmed and captured as planned.

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