The Eighty-eighth Key, Chapter 65.2

stormtree 88k WP

Another short break for tea today.

[Pat Metheny \\ Cathedral in a Suitcase]

Chapter 65.2

Henry Taggart was at the wheel on aquaTarkus, with Daisy-Jane now hugging his side, as they passed West Race Rock just ten miles out of Victoria, British Columbia. Debra was down below, packing duffels and getting ready for a quick getaway. The latest plan the General had cooked up had Debra heading one way and Dana leaving with Ralph and Dana Richardson and heading to one of Boeing’s less well known facilities outside of Everett, Washington. Once her boat was secure Henry would head to Seattle, and Daniel Wingren could go to Hell – at least as far as Taggart was concerned, anyway.

The General had another plan, of course.

And that one involved Tracy Abernathy and Ralph Richardson — and of course, Dana.

And still Henry didn’t know how he felt about all that. He was conflicted. Dana still claimed she was his daughter yet what on earth was she, really? She wasn’t human, yet machines didn’t physically grow — at least not the way she had during the course of these two ocean crossings. So what did that leave? A genetically manipulated human variant, or a human-machine hybrid of some sort…? Some as yet unknown sort? Yet Henry could hardly believe the General’s overall plan was on morally sound footing.

For if Dana was indeed human, even partially human, the kinds of deconstruction he and Abernathy had in mind were nothing short of torture.

But then Dana had gotten involved in the discussion, and she had her own ideas how to proceed, ideas that had at once proven unimaginably ambitious and financially lucrative beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings.

And that was when all the pieces of the puzzle began to fall in place, at least as far as Henry Taggart was concerned. Dana might not have been lying, at least strictly speaking — he told himself, when she said he was her father, but it was clear now she was on a mission that did not include him. And now something else was very clear to him; neither he nor Debra would not be allowed to stand in her way. She was guiding the discussion now, she was declaring what the nature of her confinement would be like, not to mention what the end purpose was, and right then and there Henry had simply let go. He turned her loose, cut himself free from the notion that he was somehow responsible for her well-being. Or that he was her father.

Because he wasn’t. It had to have all been a ruse and now he felt used.

Her parents, if the word had any meaning at all in her case, resided somewhere else. The place where the spheres reigned. Who or whatever controlled the spheres was controlling her destiny now. And he was no longer needed.

Even Debra felt it now, this feeling of being used, and over the course of the last week she had pulled back from Dana. Slowly at first, then it was like a rapid decompression took hold and staying away became an act of self-preservation. As Dana grew, both physically and intellectually — let alone emotionally — the more obscene the idea of parentage became to Debra.

Yet Dana hadn’t been in the least upset by these sudden changes. Like everything else, this unwinding seemed to be just one part of some grand plan that only she knew about, and in that one regard her growing attachment to Ralph Richardson now seemed only too natural. This too had left Debra feeling used, bereft and used.

Perhaps Henry and Debra might have consoled one another, yet the opposite had seemed destined to occur — and only Daisy-Jane remained to bridge the chasm between them. Despite that bridge, Debra had remained in her cabin unless needed for watch standing, and Henry hadn’t objected. Between Dana’s and Debra’s aura and mind reading abilities, he no longer felt comfortable around either and was content to finish the voyage in comparative isolation…

+++++

Didi Goodman’s instructions were clear and to the point: continue to observe and report, and be prepared to help Callahan defend the premises if an unknown but presumed hostile force approached and tried to apprehend Brendan Geddes. If that appeared impossible, she was to take Brendan by any means possible to SFO for transfer to Israel, and if possible get Callahan and Eisenstadt to join them.

“But I think that Brendan and Harry are working together,” she told her father. “In fact, I’m not sure Brendan can do much of anything without him.”

“Are you sure?” Colonel Goodman had asked his daughter.

“At this point, I think I am. The boy may learn how on his own, at some point, but as of right now I think he’s dependent on Harry.”

“Then getting Callahan back to Israel may become a priority.”

“I don’t think he’ll come, father. Not voluntarily, anyway.”

The colonel had grumbled on hearing that. “What about his assets? Any leverage there?”

“No, none. His assistant has secreted all his fungibles beyond my reach. The only assets I might be able to manipulate are his properties in Switzerland, but I doubt he’ll be using those again anytime soon.”

“Well, I’m sending Ida to you. She’ll remain undercover for now, but she will be nearby should the need arise.”

“Understood.”

“And keep working on Harry. His life may depend on his relocating here.”

“I will.”

+++++

“Where’s the kid?” Harry asked Deborah Eisenstadt.

“Down on the beach, with Miss IDF.”

“You really don’t like her, do you?” Harry sighed.

“No, but then again, neither do you.”

“True,” Callahan said, grinning. He was making smoked chicken salad, adding finely diced pecans and cranberries as well as a dash of garam masala to his usual mix of mayonnaise, green onions, and celery, and he was taking his time today, glad to be back in his kitchen and doing mundane chores like this. “What are they up to today?”

“Somersaults again, and she’s teaching him him to body surf, I think.”

“Too many sharks out there. She ought to cut that crap out.”

“Do you know what happened to her?”

“No. Last time I saw her she hadn’t had all those reconstructive surgeries.”

“She won’t tell you what happened?”

“I haven’t asked, and I don’t plan to, either.”

“Do you think she’s been spying on us? Like…last night, when Jim was here?”

“That’s her job, Deborah. And she’s good at it, so I doubt we’d know if she had. She’s not the type to make mistakes.”

“Why do you think she’s here?”

“To take the kid.”

“Where? To Israel?”

“Yup.”

“You don’t seem too concerned about that, Harry.”

“I’m not.”

Which meant, Deborah knew, that Harry had been making a few explorations on his own. So, at least he was trying to stay a couple of moves ahead on the board.

+++++

Henry backed aquaTarkus into a slip in front of the Empress, then he and Debra tied her off and hosed the salt encrusted hardware down before heading below for their duffels, and then Debra and Daisy-Jane literally stepped off the boat and into a waiting De Havilland Beaver seaplane and took off for parts unknown. Henry powered down systems and hooked the boat up to shore power, then he stepped off the boat and into another Beaver, his heading to Lake Union in downtown Seattle.

Daisy-Jane had loved on him big time before she left, but Debra hadn’t even said goodbye, and he hadn’t been in the least surprised.

‘So, that’s that,’ he sighed as he watched Vancouver Island recede into the mist. ‘The end of the affair. Oh well, c’est  la vie.’

The next part of the General’s plan would see the Swan heading into Vancouver, only now everyone else was going to the secret lair outside of Everett before splitting up. That is, everyone but Daniel Wingren. The General, apparently, had something special in mind for Wingren, but when Henry had asked about all Henry could make out was a mumbled flurry of words concerning plausible deniability. Henry decided it was better not to ask.

After he returned to Seattle, Henry Taggart withdrew into the world he knew best but liked the least; the world of work. He would never see Debra Sorensen, or Daisy-Jane, again. Not in this life, anyway.

© 2016-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | and as always, thanks for stopping by for a look around the memory warehouse…

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