Renegade World: Future Past (23 page)

“Billy’s dad got up, but as he turned to come after me, my
mom hit him in the side of the head with a palm sap. He went down hard, and we
went outside to help Raul.”

He looked at Dr. Schmidt, surprised to see her looking at
him. She nodded.

“Investigator Bear, Billy didn’t want to do it. His dad
made him. I don’t want Billy to go to jail for this, but I do want his dad to
go to jail. I want Billy to get help.”

“OK, Naami. I want to talk to your mom alone. How about if
I get someone to escort you to the cafeteria? You can get a snack.”

“I can find my way.”

There was a knock on the door. “Come.” He smiled at Naami.
“This nice lady will escort you to the cafeteria.”

The woman held out her hand. “Come, Naami.”

Naami nodded to her and then looked back at the investigator.
She batted her eyes at him as she said, “Billy won’t go to jail, will he.” She
smiled and then left with the woman. As they passed the second room, she bent
down and retied her shoes while she listened to Billy talking to a woman.
Abraham,
show me any public defenders with the first name of Anna.
As they walked
towards the vending machines, she saw a picture of Anna King.
Send an
anonymous message to her to tell Billy that he didn’t hurt me. And pull
together all public information on Billy’s father and stepmother. I heard Billy
say she gives his father drugs, and that it was the drugs and her, not God,
that made him do this.

She looked at the vending machines.
Good, Blueberry
Yogurt.

Part IV
2164 CE

N
aami handed Raul her new bow. “Try it. I like it better than
Erica’s old bow.” Rebeka Lee had put together the bow for her as an early
birthday present from her, Miguel, and Geoffry. Though the riser was stock, the
limbs and string were custom-made, perfect for her reach.
The bow should fit him
too.
At four feet nine inches, she was still close to two inches shorter
than Raul, but her reach was almost the same as his.

Raul inspected the center of the bow. “What’s the riser
made of?”

“Hard Maple and densified, impregnated wood composites.”

“A fancy term for plywood?”

She giggled. “I guess you could think of it as high-tech
plywood.”

Raul grinned at her. “That’s the first time you’ve giggled
today. It’s so you.”

“I’m getting to old to giggle. I try not to, but sometimes
it just comes out.”

As Raul tested the bow’s pull, he said, “I think it’s
cute…for an eight-year-old.” He smirked.

She stuck her tongue out at him.

“What are the limbs made of?”

“Hard Maple covered with carbon fiber. The string is made
from a special low-stretch, high-performance material that Raul designed.
He says it increases the velocity slightly and is quieter.”

“It pulls a lot harder than Erica’s bow.”

“You can handle it. It’s only twenty-five pounds.”

“Only? That’s about one-third harder than Erica’s.”

Raul examined one of the arrows. “These aren’t aluminum or
wood like the arrows we’ve used before.” They used to shoot Erica’s old aluminum
arrows, but lately, they had been shooting the arrows that Rebeka Lee had helped
them make out of wood.

“Actually, these are the last batch of arrows we made, but Miguel
added carbon fiber to make them stiffer, stronger, and more consistent in
weight.”

“Cool. Let’s see how they shoot.”

They took turns shooting a dozen arrows at the closest
target, thirty meters away. After they each shot five times, Naami convinced
Raul to shoot at the next target out.

She shot her dozen arrows and then he took his turn. When
he finished, he said, “That was terrible. Only ten meters further and my
accuracy fell apart.”

As they walked down to retrieve the arrows she said, “You
might be getting tired.”

He shrugged. “Maybe, but we’ve only shot seventy-two
arrows. Usually, we shoot over a hundred before I get tired.”

“Today you’re drawing twenty-five pounds instead of
eighteen.”

“Well, you’re not getting tired.”

She smirked. “No, but I lift weights. I’m a lot stronger
now than two years ago when you could lift as much as me.”  Last spring, they
had set the school record for pushups and pull-ups. Raul was naturally strong,
but Naami always made sure she went after him, so she didn't do more than him. “In fact,
soon I’ll be stronger than you.”

He pulled an arrow from the target. “And taller too if you
keep growing like you have been.”  He pulled out two more arrows. “I give up.
I’ll lift weights with you, but only twice a week. Sheesh, at least you’ll stop
pestering me…about this.”

N
aami stared down at her black belt.
Things sure
change. I’m starting middle school, and Raul won’t be in all my classes. I’ve
got a black belt, but there’s hardly anyone left to challenge me when we spar.
Erica’s been gone to the Naval Academy for a whole year. Now, Aaron’s left for
Dartmouth. I miss him the most
. She saw a big hand offering to pull her up.

“Thanks, Thor.”

“You look a little down
and out.” He smiled at her. “Everything OK?”

She looked up at him. At
nearly six foot ten, it was awkward for him to spar against her. “Oh,
I’m OK.” She shrugged. “I just miss people. Your sister, Aaron, the Wongs—”

“Me too. Aaron used to
motivate me. I‘ve skipped running and weights since he left three weeks ago.”

She smirked up at him.

He cocked his head.
“What?”

“I challenge you to three
sets of 400-meter intervals.”

He rolled his lips
together as he thought about it. “When?”

“Right now.”

“Right now?”

“Sure. You wore running
stuff here, and so did I. We can warm up on our way over to the track.”

“OK. I’ll meet you out
front after we change.”

As they jogged to the
track, Thor asked, “Where’s Raul been?”

“Since his dad’s discharge
at the beginning of the summer, Raul has been helping him roof houses.  He only
comes to the studio on Mondays and Saturdays.” I miss not seeing him
every day.

“His dad was a Marine, right?”

“Yes, he was in the
military police. His brother, Raul’s Uncle Joe, who they live with, is still in
the Marines, but for now, he’s a recruiter in Bismarck.”
And he promised
Raul that he would teach us to shoot.
She grinned.
Won’t he be surprised?
They were both very
accurate with the laser trainers and the pellet gun.

When they reached the
track, Naami dumped her backpack. “How fast were you and Aaron running each 400?”

“We did 54 seconds for the
first set, 55 seconds for the second set, and 56 seconds for the third set.”

“Still on a minute and a
half?”

“Yes. And an extra minute
between sets.”

“Good. You set the pace.
Don’t hold back.”

They lined up. Naami
nodded.

Thor took off, and Naami
tucked in behind him, taking about two steps for each of his. She finished right
behind him. As they walked to recover, Thor said, “Wow. You’ve really gotten
faster. I came in at 53.8, and you were right behind me.”

She giggled. “Yes, I’m
faster, but that was almost five percent faster than I run on my own because I
was drafting off you.”

She finished right behind
him on the next nine intervals, but on the eleventh interval, she tried to pass
him with thirty yards left. He held her off, but just barely. When he got his
breath, he said, “You’re not going to beat me…at least not today.”

She turned and walked back
to the starting point. “Prove it.”

G
ood morning, Naami.

Ugh. Already?

Yes, and I have good news and bad news.

Give me the bad first.

Your latest approach doesn’t look like it’s going to be
very effective against Miguel, Geoffrey, or Rebeka Lee. So far we’ve received
only one response from any of their devices, an electric meter.

She pulled off her covers,
sat up with her feet dangling over the side of the bed, and rubbed her eyes.
A long night for nothing.

As a matter of fact, your distributed sleeper
code appears to be succeeding better than expected.

She yawned as she arched
her back and stretched.
Can you project the number of insertions yet?

I am ninety-five percent confident that it will reach
fifteen million devices plus or minus four million. Since each device reports
randomly with a mean of ten days between reports and since the aggregating and
reporting network is also random, the sample size is still small.

She stretched her neck.
So we should be able to gather
data from almost one hundred fifty million devices now?

That is correct.

For the last year, the primary purpose of the collection of tiny code fragments had been to search devices for a list of names and phrases. From these searches, she had sent tips to the police, the FBI, or journalists twelve times, signing them El Gato Renegado.

T
hor jumped from the floor onto the platform twelve
times. As he toweled off his face, Naami lowered the platform five inches. Thor
threw down his towel. “Wait, that’s still thirty inches high.”

“I can make it.”

Thor shook his head in amazement as she did her twelve
jumps. “You should play basketball or volleyball.”

“My vertical jump helps me in vaulting and floor a lot too,
but I am thinking about switching from gymnastics to basketball.”
That
probably would make Kim happy.
Though Naami deliberately designed easier
routines than Kim, she consistently beat Kim in competitions. Kim tried not to
show it, but Naami knew it upset her. Kim had even stopped taking Tae Kwon Do
in order to spend even more time at gymnastics. While Kim was still a
gymnastics and school friend, Naami rarely saw her outside of those two places.

Naami helped guide the bar back after Thor completed his
last bench press.
To heck with it. I’m not going to hold back anymore.
She had limited her bench press to her body weight until a few months ago.
Lately, she had been pressing 100 pounds, 15 pounds more than her body weight.
It still seemed easy to do fifteen reps. “Thor, leave on one of the 45s.”

“Really?”

“Really. I’m going to do 135 for my first set.”

“Have you ever done that much?”

She lay down on the bench. “Not quite, but I haven’t had a
spotter lately.”

Thor helped her get the bar off the rack. “Go for it. I’m
here for you.” He held his hands near the bar as she did her reps, ready to
grab it if she struggled.

She did twelve reps and then said, “That’s enough.”

He helped her rack it. “Wow. That was great, and it gives
me confidence that you can spot me on more weight.  I’m going to do 455 this
set.”

After Thor did ten reps, Naami said, “I’m going for 185
this time.”

“Really?” Thor took off the 25-pound plate and three 45-pound
plates and then put the 25-pound plate back on while Naami did the same thing
on her side. As she slid back on the bench, he asked, “How many reps?”

“I’m going for ten.” She did the first eight without a
problem. Her arms began to shake as she did the ninth one, but she was able to
lock them out. “One more.” She took a deep breath and lowered the bar to her
chest. As it touched, she thrust up and got it half way before it stalled.

Thor put one finger from each hand under the bar. “You’ve
got it. Push!” The bar slowly crept up. As soon as she locked it, he pulled it
back onto the rack. “That was great.”

“But you helped me.”

“Not much. A couple of pounds at most.”

After they finished the workout, Thor asked. “You want to
shoot some baskets?”

“Sure.” She smirked. “I bet I can shoot free throws better
than you.”

“Prove it.”

And she did.

N
aami?

Yes, Abraham.

I have information that was pulled off a computer at
Children of Abel.

What information?

An email, deleted but not purged, shows that Mary
Connolly agreed to kill you and Raul for fifty thousand dollars up front and a
hundred thousand more if she killed both of you.

I knew she planned the whole thing. She set up her
husband and Billy to take the fall.
After her husband had been
convicted and sent to prison, Mary had divorced him and moved to Montana.
Let’s take a deep dive into that computer
and see what else we can find.

It’s going to take time.

N
aami slid into the back seat of the car. As she looked
at Raul sitting across from her in the back seat, Naami wasn’t sure who was
more excited, her or Raul. Raul’s uncle was driving them to a private range
that belonged to a friend, a former Marine. “Hi, Sergeant Martinez. Thanks for
letting me come.”

“You can call me Joe, Naami.”

“OK.” She winked at Raul. “What guns did you bring for us
to shoot today, Joe?”

“I’m going to start you off on a Ruger 22 rifle and a
Browning 22 pistol. I brought another pistol and two other rifles that I’m
going to shoot. If you do well with the 22s, I’ll let you try a few shots with
them too.”

“Cool. Are they 22 long rifle or magnums?”

Joe looked at her in the rearview mirror and smiled. “Raul
told me you’d want to know the details about everything. Neither are magnums. The
Ruger is a 10/22 with a custom trigger and a fixed four power scope. The
Browning Buck Mark Camper has a five and a half inch barrel and a red dot. Do
you know what all that means?”

Simultaneous, they both said, “Yes.”

He laughed. “OK. I also have a 9 mm Hi-Point carbine with a
fixed four power scope, a 223 caliber Savage Model 10 with a variable power
scope, and a CZ 85 combat pistol with three dot sights.”

Abraham, pull up pictures and specs on all the guns.
“Joe, what kind of ammunition did you bring for each of them?”

Raul said, “I already asked. CCI standard velocity 22. 124
grain and 147 grain Freedom Munitions 9 mm. 62 grain Silver Bear 223.”

Abraham, prep ballistics for the three rifles in case he
lets us shoot past twenty-five yards.

Joe turned off the highway onto a gravel road. Ten minutes
later he pulled up next to a white, one-story house, the only one within miles.
He opened the truck and handed a cased rifle to each of them. “I can carry the
rest of the stuff.” He grabbed a backpack, the other rifle, and the two
pistols. As he closed the trunk, he said, “My friend isn’t home, so we’ll just
go out back.”

As they walked past the house, Joe pointed out into the
field. “You can see the farthest target, way out there, just in front of that
hill.  That one is 400 yards away.” He pointed at three other targets. “Those
are at 200, 100, and 50 yards.” All four of those targets are steel. He pointed
at a sheet of plywood. “We’re going to start with that one.”

He pointed to a table built of two by fours. “You can put
those guns down on the table for now.” He pulled four boxes of ammo out of the
backpack. “I printed up some targets that we can attach to the plywood. We’ll
start at 7 yards with the Buck Mark.” He opened the Buck Mark’s case and took
out five mags. “First, I’ll show you how to load these.”

He showed them how to press the bullets down into the ten
round mag, and then they loaded the others. “Before we go any further we need
to talk about safety. Always treat a gun as if it is loaded even if it isn’t.
Once you take it out of the case, never point it at anyone, and always keep
your finger outside the trigger guard. Also, always make sure that there is no
one behind your target.”

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