Fiction: The Butterfly Dragon I: Heroes Of Our Own - Act III: Island Of The Blackmail Empire by Brian Joseph Johns
Warning: This story deals with some mature situations. Reader discretion is advised.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Act III: Island Of The Blackmail Empire
2006 Treadwater Island
A resort paradise and home of Torman's mysterious employer, Alomera Zek. The throne of his empire and his vast fortune and island home. Cornered by those who despised and feared him, he rules from this part of the world, still pulling the puppet strings of leadership the world over. It is Alomera Zek's resources that Torman hopes to exploit in order to reverse engineer the SY349 formula taking over from Zek along the way.
Empire Of The Island
Torman walked the length of the boardwalk which took him to the marble steps leading up to Mr. Zek's massive estate. The marble steps wound through a thicket of jungle and brush before emerging in the lavish front of his estate. Torman took time to admire the estate from its exterior as he approached Zek's armed guards. Though not the only financier of hospitalities and amenities on the island Zek's share was forty three percent which was remarkable considering the sizable GDP of the island. Most of it was fueled by the profitable tourist industry. The remainder was shared amongst two other hospitality giants and a local community of privately owned vendors and family businesses, none of which had any dealings with the mysterious Mr. Zek.
All of his dealings were through his own holdings and conglomerates and he kept everything tightly controlled through a hierarchy of management on a short leash. He would often team two such managers together and play them one against the other so that no secrets would be kept from him with regard to the matters of his business and holdings, most of which were illegal or at best a bit shadowy. There was always someone looking to get ahead at the expense of their competitor and Zek knew how to benefit by this arrangement. By keeping the competitors in close quarters with one another he guaranteed that he'd always be in the know when something went wrong and needed his exacting attention. He'd promote one the other would fall or be discarded and sent packing with damage. It had worked for every aspect of his business thus far and he intended to make no changes to his successful modus operandi. Torman operated similarly while preaching to his fellow and former gang members about loyalty, which was nothing more than a cover for Torman's lack thereof. After all, Torman did not make money by sharing the losses or gains with his fellows in the gang. They had his leadership and insight and he was took advantage of his position to ensure that he was amply rewarded.
Zek's hospitality holdings on Treadwater were the laundry for his other dealings which often were more lucrative but also tended to draw the attention of foreign Government agencies and world policing intelligence quite frequently. His hotel, resort and casino on Treadwater were his link to the world of legitimate business and provided ample means for the cleansing of his dirty money and assets thanks to the high cash flow. The other competing hospitality chains had set up similarly with hotels resorts and casinos on the island and yet Mr. Zek somehow managed to maintain his hold on Treadwater and lived comfortably there mostly tax free. The businesses on the island with the help of Zek's competitors had set up an island improvement fund to ensure that the workforce had access to all of the modern amenities to keep their employees happy. Everyone who lived there was employed in the worker townships or the hospitality industry unless they were retired or physically unable to work. All who lived there lived well and to many this was a turbulent heaven bustling with activity to maintain those who sought to relax and enjoy. To spend their hard earned money for a few weeks of paradise.
There was no official Policing force for the island but every resort had their own private security firm which acted as the law for their property. The security for the workforce townships was paid for out of the improvement fund which had set up a strict judicial system which favored the protection of the customers and the workforce. There was little to no crime though and the security acted as information kiosks and concierges more so than armed enforcers. They each bore a handgun and a taser none of which had seen any use except at the training range. Zek's security force on the other hand had been hired mercenaries and professionals. His closest elite guard were often called upon to carry out the dirty work of dealing with those who'd double crossed him. In addition he had a line and contact with professional assassins the world over for times when military brute force would not accomplish his objectives. Rarely did his brand of manipulation and control come to violence for he had other means of keeping his reigns tight and those reigns literally wrapped around the entire globe. Most of the was handled through his unique database, a technological wonder he paid to have developed that would ensure his might for time to come.
The data center housed here on Treadwater was not limited under any international laws and therefore contained a complete accounting of all of his business dealings though transactions were often coded. In addition to accounting and inventory systems, he also housed the largest single database of blackmail and extortion videos, photos and media that existed in the world. Worthy against those who preached might for right or those of more despotic measure under the guise of might is right. Everyone, even the mighty had their secrets and it was their secrets that had given him much of his power and that ultimately had built his empire. If the mighty did not have any secrets, he'd manufacture them or set them up. Those who'd plan against him he'd play against one another by divulging their personal and most damaging secrets to the media or some other public form of forum. The internet had amplified the effects of his unique form of power manipulation and solidified his place on Treadwater. He kept this database as a means of pressuring political or company officials and other individuals who'd become a problem or an obstacle to his goals and those for his empire. They were the incentive he used to elicit any potential threat to his power to back off lest their life and career be ruined to shambles. Because of Zek's safety from international law they could host such files on the island without any repercussions for making them available publicly.
On one such occasion he'd sent an aspiring Senator a link via email to a video recording of his wild night with a sex trade worker. One the Senator had undertaken while on a business trip away from his wife and family. The Senator was a proponent for organizing an international policing agency that would have been a threat to Zek's power had the bill been passed. The link was sent on the same day of the birthday of the Senator's ten year old daughter just as an extra reminder of what he'd lose if continued lobbying for the policing agency. The Senator backed down and withdrew any of his support for the bill even voting against it upon seeing the video. The truth was that Mr. Zek had already a mass of ruined careers by such means and he'd come to respect it as the weapon of choice when dealing with unruly rivals. It was the thing that he loved the best about information technology. With close business associates he'd often arranged such set ups or compromising situations in order to ensure that he'd have such material if he needed it against someone. Even those he trusted though he really trusted no one. He even had something on every one of his own management including Torman should the day come that he needed to pull the plug.
Torman was not unfamiliar with this way of doing things because on his turf they dealt with problems in a similar fashion. The gang had enough clout in some communities that they could actually bury the existence of their targets. Erase someone from existing to the rest of society while diverting everything that person produced to the members of his gang. Like having their own personal cattle as he'd often put it. They'd done it a number of times in his home city and even Monique's ex-boyfriend Samias was readying to do the same thing to her before she left him. Monique had enough independence and sense to stay clear of Samias' lifestyle and the problems it wrought. They would have taken her credibility first and then had her working for Samias as a prostitute. They'd done it before and they'd do it again. If not for the serendipity of her chance encounter with Heylyn, Monique might have become another statistic on a social committee's chart.
Torman arrived at the top step of the marble stairway which was bracketed by elaborate water fountains and massive sculptures on either side. He stopped at the door and was greeted by Tiny, one of the elite guards of Mr. Zek's estate.
"Mr. Torman. How are you today?" Tiny asked politely as he directed a guard to probe Torman with the metal detecting wand.
"I'm OK. How about yourself?" Torman responded.
"I can't complain. Who could living here?" Tiny replied knowing that Mr. Zek could hear everything.
"I can't disagree there." Torman replied as the guard okayed him to proceed inside.
The magnetic lock clicked and the guard pushed the door open for him. Torman proceeded inside through the massive foyer to the glass elevator, which ran the exterior of the building diagonally toward the deck where Mr. Zek most often resided during his waking hours. The elevator arrived and Torman stepped out onto the deck which was complete with a dining area with several tables, a bar, a dance floor all beside an Olympic pool and whirlpool. On the other side of the pool there were a series of steps which led down to the beach which was closely monitored by high technology and security around the clock.
"Ah. Mr. Torman. I am so glad that you could make it to see me today. Please. Do sit down." Mr. Zek gestured to the seat on the other side of his desk.
"Why, thank you Mr. Zek. I've heard what a nice place you have, but this...? This is beyond my wildest expectations." Torman sat in the chair.
"Would you like a drink? Maelena makes an excellent Pina Colada." Mr. Zek seemed uninterested in Torman's flattery.
"Not right now, but how about a coffee and liqueur?" Torman asked him.
"Maelena. A coffee and liqueur for my guest Mr. Torman. You've met have you not?" Mr. Zek beckoned to the girl behind the bar.
Maelena a beautiful girl from the island workforce in her mid twenties stepped out from behind the bar.
"I recently hired her to replace the prior bar tender, who'd been selling information about me to the global authorities. He's currently tied to an anchor which resides at the bottom of my personal harbor. He sleeps in the salt water with the fishes." Mr. Zek gestured towards his personal harbor in the distance.
"Maelena on the other hand comes from a hard working family that are all my employees. I've taken a special liking to her. Her beauty and youthful innocence. She'll prove no such problem for me. Her family's expenses are all taken care of as are her Grandmother's medical bills. You see, loyalty can be purchased with all of the right rewards mind you and an occasional reminder of the alternative. Maela. Have you met Mr. Torman?" Mr. Zek addressed Maelena who approached the desk slowly enough for both men to admire her body and step.
"No, I've not met Mr. Torman. It is a pleasure to meet you. A coffee and liqueur is it?" She curtsied slightly for him.
"Pleased to meet you. Yes, with a little cream if you could." Torman replied with a smile like she'd seen from many others in Zek's employ.
Maelena returned to the bar to make Torman's drink knowing they should be left to conduct their business.
"Now. We can talk business. You have something that I want. I have something that you need. How can you compensate me for what you need?" Mr. Zek asked Torman as he bridged his hands with his extended fingers.
"I have it. You need it. Once I have the reverse engineered formula in my hands, you're a complete partner. Fifty-fifty. Then we can set up our operations everywhere in the world and with no interference from anyone." Torman said to him already speaking like a partner.
"Forgive me for saying so Mr. Torman. I am expending all of the effort into the reverse engineering process while you relax and enjoy my hospitality. I am making all of the effort while you are a guest in my resort and soon to be my island, all for free. Surely there must be something more lucrative that you can offer me for my services? After all, you merely took the formula from others who'd developed it. Surely Mr. Walton Norler would agree? Most certain Alicia Westin would." Mr. Zek asked slowly and tactfully.
"Regardless of where and how I got it, I have it. If full partnership isn't enough, then what is?" Torman asked, a bit of an edge on his voice.
Mr. Zek sat still a moment pondering as if Torman had asked him a question for which he'd not prepared. He looked to Torman, very seriously and continued.
"I propose that you give me full control of the formula and all information and material related to its use. I let you live under the full protection of my vast resources and build you a sizable home on this island. You will receive fifteen percent of the take for everything related to the formula and not a cent more. You are free to expand your own business dealings with my prior approval first." Mr. Zek said looking at him in dead seriousness.
"Where I come from you wouldn't last a minute. You fell into these riches and never had to earn one cent of them. You're ripping me off. Are you kidding?" Torman asked Mr. Zek like he'd somehow missed a joke somewhere along the way.
"I never kid Mr. Torman." Mr. Zek responded keeping a steady gaze upon him and remaining calm.
At that moment the tension was broken by the immaculate timing of Maelena who'd arrived with Torman's drink.
"Your coffee and liqueur Mr. Torman." Maelena placed the drink in front of him giving him a whiff of both the coffee and her hair and view of her bust line.
Torman accepted all that she'd offered and thanked her as she returned to the bar. He admired her behind and the subtle hypnotic rhythm or her hips as she walked.
"I want forty five percent. No less." Torman continued directing his words to Mr. Zek.
"You'll get twenty five and a nice home. Not quite like this one but a mansion by your standards with its own private beach." Mr. Zek told him firmly.
Torman was frustrated being taken this way but he was desperate and needed the resources that only Mr. Zek could offer him right now.
"Let's get that in writing." Torman told him.
"It's already done." Mr. Zek said pulling a contract from his desk drawer.
Torman looked at the contract seeing that all of the values they'd agreed upon were already hard written into the document.
"Pretty smooth. You knew what we'd agree on. I can see how you have all of this." Torman said.
"And how I've kept it. I take it that it is to your liking?" Mr. Zek inquired.
Torman looked it through making sure there were no catches or hitches to it. He'd examined enough contracts in his life to know where to look and what to look for. When he was satisfied he put it on the desk, searching himself for a pen.
"Here you go Mr. Torman." Mr. Zek said handing him a silver pen.
Torman grabbed the pen from Mr. Zek still a little frustrated that he'd been taken.
"Now, if you don't mind I have another appointment in ten minutes. The formula if you would please?" Mr. Zek extended his hand.
Torman reached into his pocket and placed both the vials and a pack of the accompanying pills on Mr. Zek's hand retaining a small sample of the formula and a few of the capsules just in case.
"Thank you for your business. You can expect work to start on your home in the next few days. I will have my secretary send a copy of the signed contract to your hotel suite. If you have any questions you most certainly know where to find me. Good day to you Mr. Torman." Mr. Zek did not stand but merely waved to Torman as he rose from his chair.
As if to rub salt in Torman's wound, Maelena walked over to Mr. Zek and stood by his side gently caressing his neck still giving Torman a view of her buxom.
"Good day Mr. Torman. It was a pleasure to meet you." She offered him.
Torman turned and left entering the elevator and frustratingly pounded the button with his fist. He could hear Maelena's giggles and laughter as the door closed.
Torman had thought about using his "ability" on Mr. Zek and everyone present on the deck. Instead he thought that he should play it safe for the time being and make the grab for power at just the right time. He would use his influence on the security chief instead and have him keep an eye on the Mr. Zek's affairs. When something had come back about the formula, Torman would be the first to know. For now he'd sit tight and enjoy his time with Delinia.
A Hero's Welcome
The airliner had safely landed and the passengers were directed out of the aircraft and onto a mobile exit ramp. Treadwater's airport had one runway which was big enough to support the airliners and a smaller runway for the smaller local craft. There was no loading terminal and passengers were unloaded onto the tarmac where they were directed into the airport passenger and administration building itself. From there the tourists and travelers alike could find suitable transport from a variety of limousines, taxis and even rik shaws to just about any point on the island.
Alicia looked a little uneasy stepping down the ramp as she'd been thrown off by the rapid descent of the airliner and the sudden fear of an accident. She thought how amazing that she could leap from a high rooftop slow herself by grabbing hold of various outcroppings on the way down and land on her feet twenty stories below but she'd not gotten over her fear of flying. She clung to the handle for the walk down the ramp and onto the tarmac.
Monique flew past her taking in a breath of the tropical air and swallowing it deeply. This was a new experience to her and one that she intended to live to its fullest. Heylyn stepped out of the aircraft and onto the ramp. Upon seeing Alicia's uneasiness she stepped through the passengers ahead of her to Alicia's side.
"You handled that like a star!" Heylyn told her as she helped her to right herself.
"Thanks, but next time I'll swim." Alicia mustered up enough energy for her attempt at levity.
"If you're good at that then I guess we'll just have to change your name to the Mermaid." Heylyn returned the attempt at humor.
"Just as long as you don't call me the Haddock. I don't want to end up in somebody's fishing net." Alicia grovelled still on the edge of nausea.
"Well, you'd definitely be the catch of the day." Heylyn laughed.
"Or the sole survivor." Alicia smirked and smiled finding a bit of energy to make it the rest of the way down the ramp unsure if Heylyn had caught her intentional pun.
Monique had passed a small crowd who'd gathered at the bottom of the ramp eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of the passengers. She held her arms up in air spinning and marveling at the warm air and the smell of the oceans which was sweet, salty and cleansing. She had never once left the concrete jungle in all of her life and for her this was as life changing as the career start that Heylyn had afforded her. Deep inside she was grateful and though her enjoyment of it was natural and not feigned out of some implicit debt to Heylyn. Heylyn had told Monique that the rest was up to her.
She stopped when the crowd converged on Heylyn as she arrived on the tarmac. A small group held autograph books or garments of clothing for her to sign. One held out a magazine interview that Heylyn had given a year ago a pen thrust in her face.
"Are you OK from here?" Heylyn asked Alicia quietly.
"Yes. I'm alright, unless the ground starts moving. Go do your thing. One of us has to remain incognito." Alicia said graciously with a bit more energy than a moment ago.
Heylyn went to the business of signing autographs for the ten people who'd been there to greet her. A reporter stepped forward and put a microphone in her face.
"Heylyn Yates. What was your involvement with the airport take down in your flight's last stopover?" She asked Heylyn.
"Nothing really. I was just being a good Samaritan though that credit should really go to the airport security and the advanced tactical unit they had there and all of those people keeping us safe from such threats. My involvement was nothing more than sticking my foot out to trip up one of the assailants. It was actually kind of scary." Heylyn spoke in a practiced manner into the microphone.
"Rumor has it that you are an expert martial artist. Did you use any of your martial arts in the confrontation?" The reporter asked Heylyn continuing her line of questioning.
"Well, I really just studied as a way to stay out of trouble when I was younger and for exercise and discipline. I'm really out of shape now and I did nothing more than stick my foot out to trip up one of the assailants. As I've said, be thankful for the fine people making the effort to protect us from such dangers. They spend a lot of time and effort making sure that we can lead safe lives, sometimes at the expense of their own." Heylyn offered her answer.
"Why have you come to the Treadwater resort? Is there someone special in your life? A secret lover maybe?" The reporter asked her tactfully.
"No. Just a much needed vacation. I've never been on one and thought that the time would be right to relax a bit and recharge for my upcoming summer wear line. No secret lovers. Just a little fun under the sun." Heylyn answered trying as best she could to remain incognito herself.
"Enjoy your vacation and thanks for your time." The reporter finished up.
"My pleasure." Heylyn replied before attempting to catch up to her friends.
Alicia and Monique waited for Heylyn just outside the doors to the airport building joining her as she approached.
"All done. Let's go pick up our luggage and check into our hotel rooms." Heylyn told them.
"Rooms?" Monique inquired.
"Yes. Rooms. I checked our itinerary during our flight. Something that you should have done as a personal assistant if you're going to keep your cover. We each get a room however our rooms are joined with a door between each of them." Heylyn told them.
"I just need a bed right now and about an hour of rest." Alicia responded to Heylyn.
"Does that mean that we can have company to our room?" Monique asked Heylyn.
"We've got to attend to the business at hand first. Keep your mind on that. There are a lot of people relying on us. Let's get to know the island and get some kind of idea where Torman might be and who he's in bed with now." Heylyn told Monique to be careful not to speak too loud.
"Our priority is to get the formula. It might be en route to be reverse engineered and if it is, we have to pursue it until we have it. We can't let it be reverse engineered and most certainly not mass produced. We can already assume that its in the wrong hands and they won't be using it to cure Cancer or reverse the damage of other diseases. They'll be using it to make others like us." Alicia reminded them both.
As if on cue Alicia's and Heylyn's phones chirped indicating that they had messages. They continued on their way to the baggage claim pulling their phones and checking their messages.
"It's Alex. I thought he was off the case? He says we have some new consultants working with us." Alicia told them.
"Who?" Monique asked.
"A teacher and her students." Heylyn answered.
"What? Are they geniuses or something?" Monique asked them.
"They're even more than that." Alicia told her without revealing too much.
"They're Alicia's fans. Alicia saved them after all." Heylyn winked to Monique not kidding at all.
"Saved them from what?" Monique asked intent on getting her answers.
"Debilitating and degenerative diseases." Heylyn told her.
"They saved themselves. We just gave their bodies the help they needed to do so." Alicia replied modestly spotting and picking up her suitcase from the conveyor.
"Who knows they might save us too." Heylyn said observantly as she grabbed her luggage before it slid past her.
Monique's luggage came out a moment later and she struggled to drag it off of the conveyor.
"I said to bring enough for a week. You brought enough to move in." Heylyn looked to Monique with a sarcastic smile spread across her face.
"This is exactly one week's worth of clothes for me. I'm the one that has to carry it so mind your own bus..." the huge case fell off the conveyor as she struggled with it and landed on her foot.
A moment later the three of them walked out of the airport together Monique limping on her foot. Alicia followed behind her. Heylyn appeared moments later with their things.
"I thought she was supposed to be my assistant." she said with an exasperated look on her face as she pretended to struggle with both wheeled suitcases.
Stop Over And Drop Over
Valerie walked through the terminal after having exited the first leg of her flight. She'd managed to get enough rest to recharge for the next step which would be much more difficult. The C-130 she'd chartered to take her over Treadwater island was refueling at the terminal. She'd chosen the craft as a means to make a high altitude low opening jump over the island mostly for its large cargo hold and the fact that it could retract its cargo ramp in flight for such a jump making them mostly effortless. She'd been an experienced skydiver, something she'd done in her early twenties over the course of ten weekends. She was certified for free fall dives but she'd never attempted anything like this before. Her plan was to make her jump over the island for a touchdown just offshore. She'd heard about it being done by airborne paratroopers and thought that it was nothing that she couldn't handle. Still using Torman's own resources she conscripted the aircraft for a sizable sum out of his pocket of course and had someone fetch the kind of timer she'd need to match the altitude of her chute opening.
On her way to the private flight terminals she observed a high degree of security activity in the airport. They must combing the place for me she thought. While on the flight she'd tucked her hair under a baseball cap and threw on a heavy coat which obscured her figure making her nearly unrecognizable from a distance. She walked with little concern though inside she was a little bit nervous from the possibility of being spotted. She spied one of the security personnel watching her out of the corner of her eye. She continued along trying as hard as she could to ignore him and keeping her eyes forward. When she'd arrived at the departure check point she passed her luggage through the x-ray machine though much less attention was paid to her in the private departure terminal than it would have been on a commercial flight.
She stepped out and onto the airport tarmac where she was met by a pair of men. She patted her head twice with her palm and spoke.
"Its a good day to do business?" she smiled behind her sunglasses.
The two men each patted their stomachs twice in much the same way she'd done with her head and then they replied.
"Not as good a day as it is to take a business!" they replied.
Valerie visibly eased a little though inside thinking you've been had and that serves you right working for Torman.
"So, what now?" she said without missing a beat.
"Here's the timer you requested. The altimeter's there and the chute release adapter is there. You know the rest I'm sure." he said to her handing her the device which was about the same size as a modern smart-phone.
"Looks pretty simple. I should be able to handle it." she replied.
"We've got an oxygen mask on the plane. You'll need it jumping from this altitude, although I've never heard of a birthday stunt like this. I'm sure he'll be surprised." the other man said to her.
"Oh, I'm sure he'll be very surprised. Very. Wait until he sees what I'm going to wear for him. He'll be in tears." she said coyly alluding to her vengeance.
The three of the them strode towards the C-130. It had a sizable ramp on the rear of the plane which one could drop anything from an armored personnel carrier to a platoon of men while in flight. The three of them strode up the ramp and into the plane while the two men continued on to the front cabin making preparations for takeoff. The large ramp closed as Valkyra looked for a place to set up and get her jump gear ready. She knocked on the cabin window and gestured for the men to close the curtain while she changed. She stripped down to her underwear and bra and treated a wet suit she'd brought along for the jump as she'd planned for a water landing. She had sprayed the inside of the wet suit so that the formula would not be exposed to the salt water of the ocean. She wouldn't need scuba gear for the jump as she'd be landing less than a quarter of a mile from the shore of the island. A distance that she could swim with ease. Her pack would be kept light in the water by inflatable buoys she'd procured.
The effects of her business lady power suit had been infused to her which amounted to immense strength, cunning and a seductive allure that was captivating to others regardless of their sex. She hadn't tried to her beguiling charms upon others but she had used it against those in Torman's organization to influence them into going along with her plans. Its only limit seemed to be the limits of the range of communication. She paused for a moment pondering what effects the formula might have had on the wet suit.
"I hope it doesn't turn me into a giant leech or tube worm." she said sarcastically to herself.
The intercom came on in the cargo bay.
"Is everything OK? Say again?" the pilot asked his voice loud and crackling through the speakers.
"Oh I was just saying that these seats are too firm." she responded quickly.
"I'm sorry Miss Aspen. Would you like me to come back there and fluff them up for you?" the pilot said jokingly in a friendly demeanor.
"No that's quite alright. There's been enough fluff for today already." she responded humorously.
"You should get strapped in soon, we'll be taxiing for take off in about three minutes." the pilot informed her.
She finished up her application of the formula and put the wet suit on just as the big cargo plane started its journey towards the runway. She got the rest of the pack ready and put it on the same rack with her chute. She prepared the altimeter and timer and attached it to the chute giving it a last minute inspection. She sat in one of the passenger chairs and strapped herself in keeping her air mask close beside her. Four minutes later they were in the air and on their way to Treadwater.
She slept for most of the trip which was choppy as the large and unladen plane was buffeted by turbulence. It gently lulled her into a daze and finally to a deep slumber. She awoke to the sound of a buzzer. She opened her eyes seeing the clearly lit sign Oxygen which indicated that they should don their masks.
"We're ascending to your jump altitude now. We'll be in position for your jump in about twenty minutes." the pilot informed her over the intercom.
She grabbed her mask and put it on before standing to prepare her chute and pack. She put her waterproof backpack on wearing it on her front making sure it was sealed. She then carefully put her chute on, securing all of the clips and straps and checking them thoroughly before sitting back down and waiting for her jump. Jumping alone was always the most dangerous because you often lacked a second set of eyes to inspect your gear for any problems. Her heart thumped in her chest in anticipation of the rush she got from doing it. In a non-free fall jump the strap was required as it was what opened your chute. In this case she would jump and fall for about fifteen thousand feet before her chute would open less than five hundred feet from her landing altitude. If she lived through it, this would be her highest jump ever. What a way to deal it to Torman. She'd have to play it by ear and play the role of a guest until she found him. Then she planned to deal with him directly and harshly for what he'd done to her and his betrayal of the world all in the name of profit.
"We're nearing your jump point. The ramp is going to open so don't be too startled. Just wait for the jump light to know when we're at your jump zone then you can take it from there. Happy landings." the pilot told her audibly over the intercom.
Two minutes later a klaxon sounded and a ceiling mounted siren filled the passenger cabin with an eerie red light. The back ramp started the slow process of opening letting in a barrage of sunlight and the scream of air pressure balancing itself to the atmosphere. A calm descended over her and she stood and walked down the center of the cargo bay toward the ramp and waited at the top for the jump light. She could see the cloud tops below and the entire cloudscape appeared like it might be a land of its own. Rounded hills and curvaceous valleys. It was all very beautiful and serene for a moment and then the jump light came to life keeping time with her heart. She stepped forward as she ran down the ramp towards the opening at the bottom and leapt out into the bosom of the atmosphere and from her C-130 cocoon into the open air of a freefall. An open faced smile spread across her face as she screamed into her oxygen mask.
"Torman. Here I come." she said aloud as she sped towards the barely visible ocean below.
Of Children And Strawberries
Hero Of A Different Kind
Torman And Zek
Torman's End: Zek's Beginning
Hotel Room Recovery
Suffer The Children
Watching The Enemy
Continue to Act IV: Trouble In Paradise