Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers- Chapter 20

Chapter 20

Cody had dreaded the meeting with the President and he had been right to be hesitant.  The Commander in Chief had been less than pleased with the report and had become angry, yelling several times; something Cody had only seen him do once before.  Operation Stargate had been buried years ago and to have had someone within his Administration resurrect the covert project had infuriated him.  Now that the American government was still buried up to their proverbial necks in the mess only complicated the picture.

The order from the President had been clear.  Stop the project.  Remove all ties with the American government and make sure it did not become an international scandal.  A past president had assured the American people research in this area had ceased.  Honesty was already a questionable commodity where politicians were concerned and the President did not want the integrity of his office to come under scrutiny. 

Cody slowed his walk as he neared his office and decided to walk around the block again – it might make his head stop pounding.  Cody had gone only a short distance when he became aware of a car following him.  At first he had not noticed the sleek silver sedan, but he had caught a reflection of the vehicle twice in the last two blocks in store front windows.  He was being tailed.

Stopping in front of a window for a men’s clothing store, Cody waited.  The vehicle slowed and pulled to the curb across the street, slightly behind him.  Deciding to press the issue, Cody turned abruptly and walked straight toward the vehicle, avoiding vehicles in the roadway that honked their displeasure as the man navigated the busy street.

Drawing near the vehicle, Cody slipped his right hand inside his jacket pocket and was unsnapping his weapon when the rear door opened and an elderly man stepped out.  Smiling the man waited for Cody to draw abreast.

“Hi, Mr. Garrett.  My name is Juan Domingo. I have come a long way to meet you.  I apologize for the tactics of tailing you, but I wanted to make sure you were alone.”  Juan extended his hand.

Juan Domingo.  This was the man Lance had told him about that was in charge of the Nine.  They were responsible for resurrecting Operation Stargate.  Cody offered his hand.

“You are taking a chance aren’t you?  Coming to the States to see me.  I thought you would have preferred me to come to you.”  Cody allowed himself to be directed into the rear seat of the sedan.

Once seated, Juan replied.  “I would have preferred that, but time is of the essence.  I know Lance has spoken with you and if we are to stop Gunter, we must move soon.  Besides, Gunter has already tried once to assassinate someone close to you and the President.”

“You’re talking about Shirley Waterbury.”

“Yes.”

“Lance told me about the attempt.”  Cody’s eyes bore straight at Juan.  This problem had been unceremoniously dumped into his lap and he was not pleased by it. 

“I did not think Lance would contact you and I’m glad I was proven wrong.  I believe he had nowhere else to turn.”

“Is there a possibility Gunter will try another attempt on Shirley’s life?”

“I believe there is.  Gunter desires a pharmaceutical chain, Akron Pharmaceuticals, that Ms. Waterbury is buying stock in.  Gunter was trying to devalue the assets so he could conduct a hostile take-over.  With Ms. Waterbury supporting the company, that makes it impossible for Gunter to achieve his plans.  Even Gunter does not have the resources to outbid Waterbury Enterprises.”

“Why does he need the company so bad?”

“For distribution of his experimental drugs.  He is already extremely wealthy, but he is obsessed with developing Mind Walkers.  By branching out into hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, it puts him into contact with physicians and others in the medical world and allows them….”  Juan was stopped by the upraised hand of Cody.

“And allows them to funnel potential patients to him for research.”  Cody finished the sentence.

“Exactly.  With these resources at his disposal, he could expand on several continents away from the prying eyes of governments.  With multiple research facilities he could develop Mind Walkers and we would never know.  It is not a scenario we like to envision.”

“How do we know he doesn’t have more of these research laboratories on other continents now?  He could have moved behind the scene where the Nine could not have watched.”

Juan Domingo extracted a cigar from his breast pocket and inhaled its rich aroma for several seconds before answering.  When he did, he made direct eye contact with Cody.  His face was somber, his demeanor stoic, rigid. 

“Because we, too, have Mind Walkers, Cody.  We have been reluctant to have them enter this fray, but the time has come for us to do so.  We have a young man who will help.  I want you there to witness the events when he ‘Walks’ for us to shed some light on this developing state of events.” 

It was Cody’s turn to remain silent before answering.  “We need to alert Shirley and her friends there may be another attempt on her life.”

Juan held up his hand.  “Not yet, my friend.  There is time.  Gunter will not move that soon.  Shirley is safe with the security force she has around her.  I believe you are familiar with most of them.  There is, however, one individual we believe is in danger.  We know he has just visited the Colorado Springs Brain Institute and is currently in Fairbanks, Alaska, meeting with a young man who was treated at the Island. We keep the Brain Institute under surveillance.”  Juan had clarified his statement when he saw Cody arch his eyebrows. 

“The Brain Institute.  Lance mentioned it.  Is it controlled by Gunter?”

“By him and a Dr. Rodney Hammermill.  Rodney is a brilliant doctor, specializing in mental disorders.  He was the one who pioneered the concept behind the experimental drug used to enhance the abilities of Mind Walkers.”

“Do you have access to the drug?”

“We do and we have used it in moderation with volunteers and none of them suffer from autism or any other mental disorder.  Unlike Gunter, we will not succumb to such practices.”

“Lance said Gunter had compiled damaging information on the governments who had participated in the construction of the island, including the American government.  Do we know where this information is?”

“No and that is part of the problem.  When we move against Gunter and we must move, it must be done quickly and without governmental intervention.  There can be no ties to our respective countries.  The information Gunter has could cripple us in the international community.  What started off as a purely scientific experiment has escalated into what we had no intention of it ever becoming.  All because of one man.”

“When do I need to leave with you?”  Cody had made up his mind.  Gunter had to be stopped and the reputation of the United States had to be protected.

“Today.  This afternoon.  A jet is waiting for us.” 

Without another word, Cody stepped from the car and turned to Juan.  “I’ll meet you at the airport.  I hope we can resolve this to the satisfaction of all.”

Cody closed the door and disappeared down the street.  He had to get things in order for a trip.

 Gunter had taken a recent dose of the stimulant and his mind was on fire.  Things were so vivid, so clear – they were unbelievably real.  It was as if his mind could sense and touch everything all at once.  Gunter gazed at his own fingers, not comprehending they were his.  He only saw the hair, skin and cells, each fiber comprising the whole.  He was moving past the normal to the extraordinary.

Slouching over in his chair, his breathing became labored as the chemicals raced through his veins igniting the chaos he desperately desired.  He felt he was evolving, moving to a higher plane than normal human beings.  It was his destiny.  He was the future of mankind, of existence.  Images floated before him, things that were real and events that he was not sure about.  Was he experiencing a moment of vision?  Could he be on the launch pad of becoming a Mind Walker? It was too much to expect, to hope for. 

After several hours, Gunter left the chair and started to slowly pace the small room.  Never before had the stimulant affected him like that.  Never had the results been so dramatic, so intense.  Was his body changing, molding into something new?  A life form he had not contemplated?  The answers were not before him.

Leaving his private lab, Gunter walked straight to his office.  Perhaps this new sense of being could shed some light on the dilemma before him.  Akron Pharmaceuticals was slipping away from him.  The failed assassination attempt on Shirley Waterbury had complicated matters.  She had redoubled her efforts to shore up the company, recognizing the suitor for Akron Pharmaceuticals may be the one who had sent the men to kill her.  Gunter had to admit Shirley had guts.

Sifting through the information on the desk provided by his security staff, Gunter read in record speed.  Tossing each piece of paper to the side when he was done, he voraciously consumed the written reports looking for hidden clues to give him an advantage.

Leaning back, Gunter let his eyes roam across the ceiling tiles, patiently following the lines made by the stucco.  Intricate patterns developed before him and he could make out shapes and images.  Tiring of the mental game, he leaned forward and examined his position.

The diamond find in Australia, if proven successful, would be a huge boost to his fortune.  The real estate deal was almost complete.  The owner had haggled over the price, but had finally settled on an amount they could both live with.  Now he needed to develop the find.

The gold mine in Argentina still continued to yield its yellow treasure.  Gary’s find was proving to be as vast as speculated and the operation was going on around the clock to withdraw as much of the raw ore as they could from the ground.  So far, they had been able to keep the find a secret, but he did not know how much longer that would hold out.  When the Argentina government found out about it, they would move in to investigate.  Gunter knew they would demand their share of the profit, thereby limiting his take. Best to ship as much gold out of the country as he could before the operation was exposed.

The Island still held promise, but the recent death of the last Mind Walker had him concerned.  Dr. Hammermill was scared of pressing too hard and he understood that, but chances had to be taken.  It was a Mind Walker who had found the gold mine and the diamond find.  It was a Mind Walker who had alerted him to Dr. Stanley Watchman being a traitor.  It would be Mind Walkers that would lead his organization into the future.  He needed them.  They were his insurance card, so to speak.

The Nine.  They were a constant threat to him and he knew he would have to deal with them sooner, rather than later.  Why not let someone else address them?  The thought came out of nowhere.  Gunter grimaced as a bright white light shot through his mind, setting his synapses on edge.  The plan formed immediately, coalescing into a thought within seconds.  Why had it remained hidden? 

Jumping up, Gunter raced to a white board and grabbed a marker.  Feverishly he started to make an outline, connecting names and places and inserting dates.  For five minutes he scribbled on the board, using his shirt sleeve to erase a mistake or obtain more room.  When he was done the plan had taken form and he could see it, touch it, feel it.  It was tangible and a viable solution.

Moving back to his desk, he sat down and stared at his work.  The idea was flawless:  use the defunct United States experiment and the men who had created it against them.  He knew Juan Domingo had been in touch with Lance Young – his sources had confirmed it.  That meant Juan was soliciting outside help to remove him from the picture.  He could not allow that.  Before Lance could find help within the American government, why not throw them into a tailspin of his design?  He could control the combatants and the outcome.  If orchestrated properly, they would doubt the loyalty of each other.  Once trust was broken, they would turn on each other and annihilate his competition.  Secrets were a dangerous thing.  Once a secret was broken, trust would evaporate and the finger pointing would begin.  Next was destabilization. 

Operation Stargate, conceived by the American military as a weapon of war, would finally fulfill its promise.  Only the method and implementation had altered from the original course.  Now the experiment would be tested on the creators.  There was an irony in the turn of events and Gunter could not help but laugh out loud.  Brilliant.  His strategy was brilliant.   

There had been twelve key players with Operation Stargate.  All cleared by Military Intelligence and vouched for by the CIA.  Now they would provide the distraction needed for him to move forward with his plans.  When the new alliance formed by the Nine started to break down, Gunter knew he could move forward and take over Akron Pharmaceuticals.  If Shirley Waterbury insisted on being an impediment, she could be removed.  The Island could be fully developed and if there were any surviving members form the Nine opposing him, they could be eliminated.  He was curious - how many Mind Walkers had Juan Domingo secured? 

Removing his cell phone from his shirt pocket, Gunter called his Security Chief and relayed some instructions to him.  Finishing the conversation, Gunter walked over to the white board and crossed a name off the list. 

The chaos had begun.  Operation Stargate was officially resurrected, only to die once again.

Read Chapter Twenty-One