First Night: The Conflict Between Hope and Cynicism
Story by Dr. Lee Brazil
Foreword and Epilogue by:
Written by Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved
Executive Offices of TransSea
December 27, 2019, 10:45 A.M.
“Come in, Philip. I’m glad you could be here on such short notice. I wanted to talk with you for a few minutes before we meet with our visitor from Home Office.”
Philip Perkins took a seat across from his colleague, Bradford Jenkins, at a small table in the TransSea conference room. Bradford Jenkins was not much older than Perkins, and had moved up quickly through the ranks at TransSea. He had been stationed in Bermuda longer than Perkins.
“Is this about our unfortunate Mr. Jefferson Davis Powell?”
“No, no. I think Mr. Powell served his purpose well. Wouldn’t you agree? And Dr. Brazil is okay. He just has what they call a ‘hangover’.”
“Yes, yes. I think Mr. Powell did a marvelous job. He certainly helped convince Hollocore that our company wanted the information package that Dr. Brazil was carrying.”
“I assume Hollocore security will release Powell in a few days. I certainly hope so. I have wired his wife some additional money. I’m sure they can use it, given their condition.”
Perkins nodded agreement. “If Powell had obtained the information package, Hollocore security would have taken it from him before The Saint docked in Boston. Either way, it would have worked out in our favor.”
“I’m pleased with our sector’s performance. Our associates in London certainly did their job well. Staging that near miss at the airport with Dr. Brazil…”
Philip broke in. “And the lorry and taxi. Driving motorized vehicles in that way certainly requires skill, doesn’t it?”
Jenkins chuckled. “And you and your staff, Philip, should be commended. The rope ladder. The helicopter billowing black smoke on cue. Brilliant.”
“Thank you. And David played his role well. They say he always does.”
“Yes. We achieved the company’s objective. Hollocore believes we made every effort but failed to prevent the package from falling into their hands. They believe they have the ‘real deal,’ as they say here. Instead, they have a disk with a number of viruses.”
Perkins nodded and smiled. “A disk that should misdirect and confuse them.”
“Well, I was disappointed,” said Philip Perkins, “with our failure to have Mr. Bowman meet with Dr. Brazil at the White’s Ferry cottage.” “Well, that wasn’t your fault. Leaking propane tanks. Human beings can be so careless. At least you were able to abort the meeting.”
“Yes, that was a close one. Unfortunately, we arrived on site too late to prevent the explosion.”
Bradford Jenkins leaned forward and looked into Philip Perkins’ eyes.
“What I wanted to talk with you about was my communication with Home Office this morning. They asked that we provide our new assistant with whatever he requires. They informed me that he has specifically requested a visit to the abandoned USA Army base. He believes it to be an excellent location to receive and transform electronic transmissions. You and your team have responsibility for the security of that area. What’s there that would be useful to our assistant?”
“I’m not really sure. There are a couple of very old communication towers. I know that we have rigs stored there in dry dock and have a couple of warehouses filled with old communication equipment and transformers. The company has used these in other sectors to receive and redirect energy transmissions. I suppose we could help our assistant, ‘Jerry Wig’ something.”
“Jury-rig,” Jenkins corrected.
They both smiled.
“Unlike you and I who are relatively new to this sector, our assistant has been working for the company undercover in this sector for a very long time.”
“I will have to ask him how long it takes to get used to the climate here.”
“Well, I can tell you that when you visit home and return, it will all start over again.”
“Well,” Jenkins grimaces, “that’s not good news.”
“The bottom line — I do like that expression — is that our assistant will be in charge of implementing the company’s plans for Beta 17.”
“Perhaps we could find our unfortunate Mr. Powell a job on the Beta 17 project.”
“Perhaps. We can discuss that.”
Bradford’s friends at home admired him for taking the assignment in Bermuda. They considered it dangerous, as it was. They would kid him about wanting to save the world from itself. It had taken Bradford over a year to convince the company to place him in Bermuda. He wanted to be there. He wanted to make a difference. To change the world and, yes, maybe save it in the process.
He was a good communicator. He was well liked, flexible and he took good care of himself and his fellow employees. And perhaps most of all, he was an optimist. He believed that few things, good or bad, last forever and few events could change everything one way or the other. And, of course, he believed in treating others in a just fashion and in showing mercy. He’d learned these values as a child back home. He was aware that it had taken his community a long time to master them. But he had patience.
Bradford had returned home a number of times since he began his assignment in Bermuda.
“Home is so different from Bermuda, isn’t it, Philip?” Philip nodded agreement.
“It’s always disorienting to me. But I hate being separated from my children.” Brad had two children. They lived with his ex-partner. Brad and his partner had separated long ago. His ex-partner, an engineer, was doing quite well in her career. And the community they lived in was supportive of Bradford and his family. They expected them to raise their offspring well and to meet their responsibilities to them and their community first. The community was not free of problems. But problems were resolved. Differences and conflicts were not the main focus. You could have your opinion, but it wasn’t “winner take all” in his world. Compromise was the expectation, not the exception.
“I really miss home. Don’t you, Philip?” Philip again nodded agreement.
“I think the hardest thing about this assignment is the isolation. And feeling like we don’t fit in.”
Philip smiled. “And we don’t.”
Bradford ignored the comment and continued. “I told you about the two women in the market, didn’t I?”
“I started a conversation with them about grapefruit.” Philip smiled again.
“And I don’t know what I said or did, but when they thought I was out of earshot, I heard one of them say, ‘He’s not from around here.’” Indeed, Bradford tried hard to assimilate, to fit in. But in general he did not share the same values as most of the people he met and worked with. He found these differences troubling, since his personal mission on assignments had always been to become part of the communities where he worked. But status and the acquisition of more wealth were not important to him. Indeed, it was not that important to most of those in the community he had grown up in and lived in.
“It’s not the local people I find so different from us. It’s the people that this job demands that we socialize and work with. Those who work for the mega-corporations.”
Philip caught Bradford’s eye and his attention.
“I feel the same way, but I don’t let it bother me. I stay focused. Those are the people who control this world’s economy. Those are the people we have to work with.”
“I know, and I agree, Philip. But I don’t have to like it.”
Then there was the climate. They both loved the warm weather, especially the gentle breezes in the fall that reminded them of the prevailing warm winds of home. But the hurricanes were frightening, and they knew with global warming there would be more of them. But what was most difficult about the climate was the increasingly high levels of CO2 and other pollutants in the air. It affected their breathing, especially Philip’s. Most of the problem was not created by Bermuda, but came from the coal fired energy plants that still operated with little regulation in the United States. Some days were worse than others. Visiting home for both was a relief, but returning to Bermuda meant that adapting started all over again.
Philip Perkins took a different approach to his assignment in Bermuda. “Bradford, you and I are quite different in many ways. I’m really not that interested in fitting in here. I get tired of telling that lame cover story the company created for me: “being from a small farming community in South Africa, etc., etc.”
He did not have a partner or offspring. He hadn’t been in Bermuda as long as Bradford, but he performed his job adequately. Bradford had no complaints about that. But he didn’t have the same drive or the same passion.
“Philip, I do think it would help if you got more involved with the community. You know, we can make a difference here.”
Philip had very similar skills to Bradford. Like Bradford, he was a good communicator and had worked in other sectors as a mediator. But unlike Bradford, he was not hopeful about the company’s mission in Bermuda.
“Bradford, as I have said before, I believe the company has waited too long. The forces that we’re trying to check and contain are very strong and well established.”
Brad nodded in agreement.
“But you know that I will be there for you and the company. I will do everything that I can do to thwart the efforts of organizations like Hollocore. But as you know, I’m not as optimistic as you about the outcome.”
TransSea understood that it was now the mega-corporations — especially the energy companies of the world, not the governments of the world — that were really in control. If significant change was to occur, it would be through these corporations. TransSea would have to play the game better than its competitors. If they were to show them another way to win, they would have to first beat them at their own game. Profit was certainly not TransSea’s main objective. The company, a privately held corporation, did not have to be accountable to shareholders and certainly had the resources and the talent to compete with organizations like Hollocore. The company had been recognized for its work. But dealing with a creature like Chambers, who wanted to win the game at any cost, that was something new for the company.
TransSea had a plan. Those in Home Office had been worried about Hollocore for some time. Bradford and Philip believed they should be. Exactly what Home Office was planning, they did not know. Bradford and Philip’s work with Mr. Powell and Dr. Brazil was part of the plan. But there was something much bigger in the works that they would learn about from their new assistant this morning.
The intercom buzzed. Jerkins answered. “Yes, Judy?”
“Mr. Jenkins, are you expecting someone?”
“Yes, yes. Show him in.”
The door to the conference room opened. “Come in, sir. I am Bradford Jenkins and this is Philip Perkins.
Their visitor, a handsome young man with short blond hair and bright green eyes, extended his hand. “I am Edward Zan.”