Monday, March 6, 2017
Juggernaught: Chapter 17 - California
Back on the day the Bible Study was disbanded, Dr Puttery had moved out of the mansion and into the old fish-processing plant that housed all of his inventions.
Of course, "moved out" was a relative term. He was effectively living with his machines to begin with. Most nights he preferred to crash on a tattered couch back at the warehouse rather than in the premium down comforter waiting across town.
Now it was just official, is all.
It was here that Micheal found him this morning, seated in a worn roller chair and going over a tractor-feed printout of hexadecimal gibberish. He tapped him on the shoulder.
Dr Puttery jumped.
Turning around, "Oh, it's you Michael. What are you doing here?" Then he frowned, "I'm retired now, you know."
"If you're retired, why did you ask me to come?"
"Why did I ask you to... what?" He was having a little trouble switching gears from what he was working on.
"To come. You called me. Why?"
"That's what I asked."
"You asked, what?"
"What?" they both asked at the same time.
Then they started laughing at the mutual confusion.
A third voice joined in the laughter. When the amusement tapered off, it added, "Maybe I can shed some light on this."
Both men turned to see Carl leaning back against a bulky piece of industrial machinery. His arms were folded, and one high-booted foot rested on a low wooden box marked Fragile.
A dark stain emanating from beneath, made the warning seem long-since moot.
"Carl? What??" asked Dr Puttery.
Michael gave him a shove, sending the roller chair a few feet across the floor. "Oh, don't start that again!"
Carl laughed again. "Maybe this will refresh your memory." Without looking, he withdrew something from a roll of papers in his back pocket.
He unfurled it and held it up for both men to see. It was the torn corner of a blueprint drawing. It was spattered with spots of something that may have been blood.
"Certain 'sources' intercepted this design changing hands between two pretty nasty players in the European underground."
Michael stepped closer to get a better look. "Whose blood is this?"
Michael continued his inspection. "There's a caption, here. 'Juggernaught'. What's that?"
He made eye-contact with Carl, but the other man only nodded to Dr Puttery. "Tell him."
"First off, I'll call you fellows' attention to the scale indicated here." He used his feet to paddle his chair closer, and then tapped a location on the paper. "3 centimeters to the meter."
"So whatever it is, it's big?" asked Michael.
"Correct. Also, from the bill of materials, it lists things like armor steel, missile launchers, et cetera. Furthermore, the portion of the drawing we do have appears to be some kind of tracked drive system."
Michael summarized, "So, it's big... and it's military."
"And it's being built by some very bad people." added Carl.
Michael rubbed his chin. Then as it hit him, he looked back at his former leader. "Who?"
"That's been a little hard to pin down. He's smart. He always works through intermediaries and gives out a different alias every time."
"So how are you going to find out?"
"No, no, no. That's not the question at all."
Michael looked confused. "It isn't?"
"No." Carl reached into his back pocket and took up all the papers. Thrusting them into Michael's hands, he said, "The question is, how are you going to find out?"
Michael's mouth hung open in stunned shock. He turned to Dr Puttery for help.
"Don't look at me. I'm retired now, you know?"