"Thank you for driving us here, Sister Cathy. Give my regrets to Father Kelly that I need to leave him in charge of things for awhile."
Her face looked up out of the dark interior of the car to the gathering dawn at the municipal airport.
"I will, Father Casull. Be careful and let us know that you arrived safely."
"I will, Sister Cathy. God Bless you."
"God go with you, Father Casull and with you Kyle."
Kyle Reese looked back and gave a slight smile, "Thanks."
"Come, my son, lets not keep the plane waiting..." he picked up his bags and Kyle shrugged an old backpack that had been left at the church over his shoulder.
Sister Cathy watched them go into the bright building then drove off as they were directed off to a side hallway.
Father Casull and Kyle say the pilot holding the small white sign with a black cross on it, and with some sort of outline of a gun cartridge. He shook his head at that, as it was something he was living with for over a decade - he could not help having the same last name, and learned to realize it was just another way that God shows irony in the world. What did take him back for a moment was that the pilot was female, dressed in a blue shirt with black jacket and pants, with hair pinned up under a black cap. Almost like a chauffeur for planes... which she was.
She looked at them and smiled, while placing the sign off to the side.
"Yes, that's me,"
"And this is Kyle?"
Kyle nodded in the affirmative.
"Good! I'm Vivian Rose, pilot of Mr. Wayne's western airfleet operations, which is currently in the desert just east of here. Come on out, the short flight to there is about 20 minutes and then we take something better as Mr. Wayne has put a 'rush' order on this."
They looked out at the sleek private jet waiting for them on the tarmac.
Father Casull looked back to Vivian, "Something better?"
"You'll see. Come on, I have ten minutes left on my take-off window, and I don't want to wait for a half-hour for my next one." She stepped to the doors and Father Casull picked up his bags, and followed. Kyle followed him, looking over the aircraft.
"Keep your luggage with you, its a very short flight."
The light whine of the engines increased as they got closer, still just idling. The Priest and Kyle stepped into the aircraft, which was a small corporate jet that had room in front for a small meeting, an open area with four seats around it and what looked like a small sleeping compartment in the rear.
After they stepped in, Vivian hauled up the stairs, and secured the door.
"Find a place to secure your luggage, under the seats is fine, then fasten yourselves in. It will be a short flight, but a fast one."
They nodded, noticing the co-pilot, a young man similarly attired to Vivian in the right hand seat. Vivian took the left and was going through the checklist as she strapped herself in. Then she started talking with the control tower. The co-pilot looked back.
"Hi! I'm Richard and if you have any problems just holler out."
"Thank you, Richard," said Father Casull.
"My pleasure, Father," he then looked out the forward windows and checked the area around them, then went to the controls.
The aircraft started to taxi to the runway, with Vivian in contact with the tower as they went.
The intercom sounded.
"It's a bumpy ride as we never really get into proper airspace, and this always makes the flight controllers antsy," she said over the intercom.
Kyle watched as the nearby buildings slowly went past the front of the cockpit and then further buildings until a turn brought the long expanse of the runway into view. Richard checked back, gave a 'thumbs up' which Kyle gave back and nodded.
The jets roared to life and the sound became almost deafening. Then a high pitched keening and the plane trembled, still stationary. They could see Vivian nod and shift while pressing some levers down. The plane jumped forward and almost immediately went nose up, while the entire aircraft shook. Flaps re-configured and wheels pulled up as the jets gulped in air and the plane took off almost directly into the sky, did a corkscrew and then came out on a flat course and trajectory headed east.
"Those flight control guys just hate that," Vivian said over the intercom.
Father Casull had not so much as spoken one word in prayer. He couldn't. He was gripping the armrests too hard and looking out the window to be too amazed to give any prayers. Kyle looked at him.
"It's the landings that count," he said.
"You got that right, Kyle," Vivian said over the intercom. The jets started backing off, to flight idle, and Richard looked back.
"Any prayers are best said now, Father," he said with a wide grin.
Kyle grinned in approval.
"Oh, hush, Dick. I haven't crashed a plane since I was 13!"
"Yeah, but you've left some landing gear in odd places."
"Sub-standard work, I tell you. No one ever keeps that shit up to specs."
"Uh-huh, and no one ever does a touch and go at full throttle, either."
"Hey! The boss wanted it, he got it!"
"And what do you call the landing without landing gear?"
"A controlled skid. Perfect, too, right through the foam and restraints and everything. Didn't need that stuff, could have done it on the grass and been tons safer."
"Viv, the 'grass' ended in a lake."
"A shallow one! Perfectly safe."
"Well, you walked away from it."
"That's right, Dick. It is what counts."
Father Casull looked to Kyle, who looked back. Neither had ever flown with test pilots before, and they seemed to have a different definition of 'safe' and 'good landing' than most of the rest of humanity.
"Ok, starting descent."
The plane had veered to the side of the desert towards some mountains. It was below the tops of the mountains.
"Well, not descent, really... close your eyes if you haven't done it before. I haven't lost a passenger yet, and I don't want to start now."
That brought the Priest and Kyle's attention to the cockpit windows, as they heard and then felt the jet slow, flaps start to deploy, wheels go down. The desert rushed beneath them in a beige blur and the mountains loomed. Then one mountain. They were not going to fly above it.
Richard had turned on a small video screen with boxes appearing and getting smaller into the distance. The plane banked slightly, and shifted with the boxes. There was less and less of desert to land in, while the sheer, black wall of the mountain loomed.
"Dear God," Father Casull whispered.
Kyle's eyes widened, his hands gripping the seat arms.
Soon there was only sheer mountain side in view and getting very, very close.
Father Casull and Kyle braced themselves for the upcoming impact... then suddenly everything went very bright and the wheels touched down on a landing surface and the jets throttled in reverse. A mountain tunnel far larger than the jet they were in opened up, and even now outside light was disappearing, as the plane slowed and then taxied to a circle marked with a large 1.
Vivian cut the jets, and started the power down procedure. Richard double-checked and when the last of the controls were going dark he got up and went to the door, opening it, and jumping out as it dropped down. He ran to the side of the circle, picked up some chocks and quickly headed back to the plane, positioning the chocks as the last of the engine motion ceased.
Vivian got up and stood in the cockpit door.
"Welcome to Wayne Corp. Experimental Products Division, Aircraft Test Unit - West. Everyone else is still in bed, but we have a plane to catch. Grab your bags and follow me."
Kyle looked at Father Casull.
"Who the hell are these people?"
Father Casull had never been prepared for anything like this in his life. Even time he spent in the local hospital's emergency ward didn't prepare him for this sort of thing. He had only heard OF Wayne Corp. but never much about it. And almost all of that from its Medical Equipment Division, which all the doctors and staff had praised.
"I have no idea, Kyle. I've never encountered anything like this in my life."
"Me neither," said Kyle who was taking the seatbelt off.
Father Casull let go of the armrests and then started to get his things, and followed Kyle out of the aircraft. Vivian and Richard were checking over a sheet with a member of the ground crew and then handed a clipboard back to him.
"Come on, you two, the plane is waiting, follow me," said Vivian.
Richard picked up another clipboard from the ground crewman, and walked next to Vivian. They went down a corridor that had been chiseled from the rock and yet had modern lighting and flooring. They came to a freight elevator, a large one, and stepped into it. Richard pulled the doors shut as Vivian hit the control for 'G'. The elevator went down from their level of '9' floor by floor. When it arrived at 'G' Richard opened the door and Vivian walked out and stepped to a table in what was a large hangar.
She turned and smiled.
"Everyone gets a vest, helmet, and flight coveralls. All the fittings will be obvious once you are seated, just get the stuff on now."
She turned and picked up the black coveralls and slid into them, leaving her jacket and cap on the table. Richard was doing similarly and Father Casull went to the table and saw the coveralls were OSFA, but someone had put little tags of 'Somewhat small', 'Medium more or less', 'Larger than OSFA', 'XL factory reject special made'. Father Casull to the 'Larger' and Kyle stepped up and took a 'Medium'. Vests also had such labels and they put those on. Similarly the helmets were adorned.
Richard came over to help Father Casull get the right helmet, and when that was on, both Richard and Vivian checked over the Priest and Kyle. The helmet intercom came on and Vivian spoke up.
"Looking good, you two! Have you worn-in as test passengers in no time. Follow me."
She turned and threaded her way past a number of aircraft, some small jets, some military types, a helicopter, until she reached the end of the hangar area that was sealed off by a large metal door. She went to the side and hit the control and the door slowly started to roll up. The aircraft that was slowly revealed wasn't as large as many of the military jets, but was very, very sleek looking. Plus it was on a rail going that went upwards at a very steep angle into a space hollowed out of the mountain. She walked under it, inspecting it with Richard.
"Head to the elevator just beyond and I'll take you up in a minute, I just want to check out everything, first. You can never trust just the ground crew."
The sleek, black plane had neat grey letters 'XP LS 01', the two men went under it avoiding contact with the aircraft that was gently humming. They waited in the open elevator as Vivian and Richard checked into various parts of the aircraft, checked its mounts on the rails, and then came over to a panel to the side of the elevator and started pressing buttons. Parts of the hangar floor rose up.
"Blast redirection shields." Richard said.
Vivian closed the panel and walked over to the elevator and then Richard brought up the small bar on it and their platform started to ascend.
"Each of your pieces of equipment has a feed for it. The passenger section is simple. Just take the right shaped feed and plug it into the right shaped connector on the wall to your left. When it is all plugged in and functional, the center light will go to green in each of your sections."
Vivian's voice was matter-of-fact as the elevator rose next to the aircraft. It reached the level of a catwalk and Richard opened the bar.
"Baggage in the rear area, Father Casull is probably best just in front of that and Kyle to the forward of the passenger section."
Kyle nodded and tossed his backpack into the rear area... or dropped it in as the case may be. He took Father Casull's two bags and followed suit. Then he stepped up to the railing on the platform and clambered into the top area of the passenger section, followed by Richard who helped him strap in and find the connections. Vivian was doing the same with Father Casull. As each section showed green it was sealed along with the last area. Then they each took up gangway ladders to the next catwalk and stepped into the aircraft.
Being strapped into a small seat, with 5-point restraints with a helmet, vest and flight suit on was not something a Priest should be doing. But then God does work in mysterious ways.
Vivian was on the intercom as the front compartments sealed.
"ATC this is Long Sword One, we are in final prep, what does the flight plan look like, over."
"Roger that, Long Sword One this is Wayne Desert ATC. We have contacted Mil ATC and they don't like it, over."
"ATC this is Long Sword One, yeah, thats normal, they always bitch on the daylight ones, but they usually do give clearance, over."
"Long Sword One this is ATC, Roger that. Approval given, but the Canadians are pissy and refusing today, want Flight Plan 2 or going with 1A, over."
"Roger ATC from Long Sword One. We will do the one alpha and let them wet themselves, I hate the seaboard approach. Do we have a clearance time, over?"
"Roger One Alpha. We have clearance opening in 5 minutes and closing in 10 minutes."
"Roger, five to ten minutes, Long Sword One going into final prep and topping off. Will advise on ascent, over."
"Long Sword One from ATC, Roger that. You have final clearance and window, will advise. Good flying, Long Sword One. Over and out."
"Ok, Richard start the disconnect and retraction sequence."
"Gotchya, Vivian. Fuel and oxygen disconnect proceeding. Gantry retraction in three minutes. Final check-out proceeding."
Thereafter came a list of things, one by one, checked and cross-checked by the pilot and co-pilot. The light thuds of hoses dropping off were followed by the sound of mechanisms moving the catwalk structure into an alcove in the wall and then a metal door rotating into place around it. Exterior lights dimmed then shut off.
"Forward camera is on. Passengers can use the layout pad under the screen to get views from that part of the vehicle."
The screen lit up in front of Father Casull and showed darkness with bright indicators for which camera was on and dull ones for those that were off.
"ATC this is Long Sword One, starting final sequencing, over."
"Roger that, Long Sword One, we are coordinated. You have all clearance and 'systems go'. Break a leg, Viv. ATC out."
"Roger that, ATC. Thanks Frank, its a milk run. Over and out."
Somewhere deep in the back of the craft there was a vibration, then a rumble, then sudden light all around them briefly illuminating the secluded hangar.
"All systems check. Locks disengaging in 5....4....3....2....1..."
The vehicle suddenly sped hard upwards at a slant, and Father Casull saw a light dot on the screen suddenly show up. A speed indicator was climbing past 100 mph.... 200....300... 400... the bright circle grew, turned blue then suddenly the vehicle was out into the air and accelerating rapidly upwards. The craft rumbled and shook until it suddenly grew still.
"Mach 1, ascension as planned. Good-bye to the bonds of Earth."
Light blue sky started to deepen in color, turn deep blue then briefly violet then slowly fading into black. Father Casull had been pinned to his seat as if a Sumo wrestler had decided to sit on him.
Richard spoke up.
"If you need a flight sickness bag, its in your upper left pocket. Just attach it to the mouthpiece and it does the rest. Waterbottles under your seat. Sugar cubes in the upper right pocket of your suit."
Not that anyone could get these things.
"Cut-off in 5...4...3...2...1...."
Suddenly the Sumo wrestler disappeared and things were weightless.
"Cruise mode at 80,000 feet. ETA in 1.1 hours."
"ATC this is Long Sword One, over."
"Long Sword One this Denver Center, over."
"Good morning, Denver. We are on Flight Plan designation Wayne One Alpha to New York, over."
"Good morning early riser in Long Sword One. We have you at 81,000 feet, parabolic, for the next 20 minutes then you will be on Kansas City control before switching to Chicago Central, over."
"Roger, Denver ATC. KC and then Chicago. Did we wake anyone up in Utah, over."
"Negative, Long Sword One. You are clear sailing with nearest Mil track three five zero southeast at 50,000 at five four five at distance one zero five miles. All other traffic is below you, over."
"Got that Denver ATC. Someone has an F-16 ferry ride, huh, over."
"Roger Long Sword One, no idea, just flight plan, you have clear space in front of you. Denver ATC over and out."
"Roger, Long Sword One, out."
* * *
As it drove it heard a distant sonic boom and stuck its head out the car to look up and to the south, but could catch no sight of the aircraft.
Aircraft had too low a probability for survival once landed.
Trains were too slow.
Assured kill was necessary to complete the mission.
This required infiltration. It was time to infiltrate.
* * *
She looked up as the door jingled and a tall man stepped through.
"Hello, and welcome to Marty's Consignment shop, how may I help you?"
"Men's clothing." he said in a flat voice.
"That is on the back and to the right, boots are along the wall."
He turned and walked to the back of the shop, his black t-shirt, pants and boots having that big city look to them. In a few minutes he was back with an armful of clothes, and a pair of boots.
"Oh, my! That is quite a lot! Is there anything else I can get you?"
His eyes looked around the shop and caught on something on the bulletin board. He walked over and took it down. It was a picture of an old truck, with 'For Sale, Cheap' on it.
"Where can I get this vehicle?"
"Oh, that's Naz's old farm truck out back. Something busted in it and its been gathering dust for a year or so. He couldn't figure out what was wrong with it and it wasn't worth taking to the shop, so he just put it up for sale. Probably going to scrap it soon."
"What's the price?"
She looked at him and smile.
"Well, that and the clothes should do just fine at a $100 even."
He took a bill and put it on the counter.
She was taken back, a bit, then reached under the counter and got him the keys.
"There you go! Oh!" she pulled out a slip of paper and signed it then put it on top of the clothes, "That's the title, just put in your name so its all legal, like."
He nodded pocketed the keys and title, then picked up the clothing and walked over to the truck putting it all inside. She watched as he looked it over, tried starting it, then lifted the hood. He walked around the side of the building for a few minutes, then came back with a battery, wires and a duffel bag that looked full. He put the duffel bag in the truck, worked under the hood for a half hour then started the truck and drove off.
She thought for sure that he would come back for the car.
* * *
It was a minor fix.
Outside of town it changed clothing, stashing the old clothes in the duffel bag.
It tipped its cowboy hat and rolled the sleeves of the old, red plaid shirt up, untucked the shirt from the jeans and made sure the old brown boots had the jeans tucked into them. It had placed the shotgun and rifle it had picked up from the store in Los Angeles in the rack in the truck.
Now it 'fit in'.
That took less than one hour. It was satisfied. Infiltration was necessary.
It pulled onto I-70 outside of Grand Junction, CO, heading east.
* * *
"Hello, is this Kyle?"
"This is Kyle..."
"The man who wanted to warn Sarah Connor about something coming to kill her..."
"... I think you gave the impression it wasn't just a man, could you tell me what it is?"
"...its hard to describe..."
"Thats ok, Kyle, just go ahead and tell me what you told Sarah..."
"...you wouldn't believe me, Mr. Fox..."
"... we are used to strange things here at WayneTech..."
"... it will sound as if I'm crazy..."
"... Kyle we are used to crazy things, too, but you do need to protect her..."
"... and so do we, we are in this together, Kyle..."
"... she needs protection..."
"So tell me about this man coming to kill her..."
"... it isn't a man, Mr. Fox..."
"Then just what is it, Kyle?"
".... what is it? You won't believe me..."
"Kyle I'm trying to help here, understand?"
"There are many strange things we have seen here at WayneTech, strange technology..."
"... so believe me when I say you will have a hard time being incredible no matter what you say."
"... it is an infiltration unit from the future, a cybernetic organism that has a living flesh exterior on a metal internal frame..."
Bruce Wayne hit the PAUSE button and looked at the two technicians analyzing the recording.
"That is the third time I've heard it and it is still a very strange call. Marty, John? What's the analysis?"
A tall, thin and somewhat young blond hair man in a lab coat with a name tag that had Martin Keller on it spoke up.
"No changes in stress or intonation, Mr. Wayne. Mr. Fox did a good job of drawing him out so that changes would be outside of normal range if he was attempting to hide something."
Mr. Wayne nodded.
The other man, a bit shorter, stockier, with unkempt dark hair and black rimmed glasses nodded his head in agreement.
"Not artificial, Mr. Wayne. He might be psychotic, but that would demonstrate some variance in intonation and enunciation. 'Kyle' shows none of that, but normal human variations, like someone who is patiently trying to get something across, perhaps a bit under stress, but used to stress."
Looking over to Sarah Connor who was looking at the speaker and then looking at each of the techs who wanly smiled, then to Lucius Fox.
"That was Father Casull you heard earlier, right?" Lucius asked.
"It was, Lucius. I've seen him a number of times and that is him. He runs a small shelter for the homeless and for 'wayward youth' who come to him. A good man." she said.
"Not easily taken in with fabrications and used to seeing the mentally ill, then?" asked Lucius.
"Yes, he is. He is willing to listen to their stories from what I've heard, to give them solace and help them."
"A good man... a very good man," Bruce Wayne said softly.
"He is, Mr. Wayne. I didn't attend... well... I went with Ginger as she liked him and attended church... 'someone had to forgive my sins' she was always saying."
"So that leaves us with a man who Father Casull in no way hints as being psychotic, or he would have gone to proper authorities in Los Angeles. Plus he gives us local verification that the individual involved in the killings is the one described by Kyle. Either Kyle is very deranged or believes that he is telling the truth," Mr. Wayne said looking at Lucius Fox, "or is telling the truth as he knows it."
"Yes, Mr. Wayne, that about sums it up. And I think it would take a truly great fraud to attempt to fool a priest for something that has no real chance of payback. A fraud in character, morals and financially. There are very few of those around in LA or anywhere, who would try that on a priest. That's why I sent for them, high priority."
"I agree wholeheartedly. Were those the police records you got a few minutes ago?"
Lucius nodded handing the folder over to Wayne. He smiled, nodded and opened it on the table in front of Sarah and himself.
"Let's see what we have here. Three murders of Sarah Connor in the LA Basin area... one shot with a 9mm, two shot with a .45 pistol... the deaths at your old apartment... Matt Lloyd? I believe you mentioned a lover of Ginger's?"
"Yes, thats him..."
"... brutal killing with multiple broken bones, obvious signs of a struggle... snapped neck, broken spinal cord... trauma... Ginger killed with a .45 pistol... evidence of some things moved around the phone stand by a gloved hand... truly horrific, cold blooded killings, each of them. Housewives, mothers, your friend and her lover, all killed brutally and directly, not caring about their lives."
Sarah was still in shock, but less so. Seeing the reports, descriptions, even photos... she stopped to look at Mr. Wayne.
"How did you get these?" she asked softly.
Smiling shyly he gave her a side glance, "Lucius has his sources," he said in a surreptitious tone.
"Sources?" Lucius gave a 'humph' sound, "No magic, Sarah. We got these going through our security unit out west as we were and are worried about employee safety. Plus the FBI got involved just before we got the folder."
Bruce looked at Lucius.
"It did? Why?"
"Police place Ginger's killing around 10pm, no later than 10:30pm when a unit was sent to see if Sarah still lived there. Apparently there was a man killed in a carjacking about two blocks north of the apartment building between 10:15pm and 10:30pm. The car has been found at a small dealership outside of Las Vegas. A 24 hour used car sales lot. The night shift owner was found killed around 2am local time. The security cameras got a good shot of the man who killed him." Lucius handed over a manilla envelope to Wayne.
Bruce Wayne opened it and took out pictures to see a tall, obviously muscular man in dark leather jacket, dark leather pants, sunglasses, cropped hair, black leather gloves and black boots. In one he was walking in, a second he was meeting a salesman, a third he was looking at the camera, a fourth had the salesman dead on the floor and he was turning towards the camera the pistol in his hand aiming directly at the viewer and at the camera.
"He shot the camera?" Bruce asked softly.
"That's right," Lucius nodded.
"He took a late model Toyota."
Shuffling the photos to one side he took out the three different artist sketches of the 'Phonebook Serial Killer' in Los Angeles. They were all the same man.
"Cold blooded, methodical, uncaring murders."
"Very much so, Mr. Wayne."
Coming to a decision, Bruce Wayne gathered up the materials.
"Sarah, do you need any rest? It will be a few hours until the people we sent will get to Father Casull and Kyle. I need to do some research on this. And I will want Lucius to let Commissioner Gordon know we have an employee that is in shock over the killings and thinks the killer might be coming after her. It will sound outlandish, but it will keep missing persons inquiries for you on notice as no one will be looking for you, right?"
Sarah nodded 'no'.
"No one will be worried about me, but a couple of friends will probably try to get a hold of me about Ginger."
"Sarah, I think you will be very much safer here than in your apartment or talking to a police psychologist or 'bereavement officer'. We have some quarters that Wayne Corp. built a decade ago and that now serve as our archives and military equipment test facility. Those are spartan and normal VIP quarters with decent security can be yours in this building complex or the one north of here. If the police are interested, they can ask for you or send an officer here, but I doubt they will be. I take this threat very seriously, and the stature of that individual in the photos and drawings would be obvious to Father Casull. Whoever 'Kyle' is, he is not a cold-blooded, methodical killer. If you stay here I can get you much safer living arrangements, have your calls forwarded to you and, if you like, have someone stop by to pick up clothing and any essentials at your apartment. That choice is yours, Sarah. If you go home I will assign a competent security detail to watch over you, but you have seen what the Sarah Connor killer is like."
Sarah smiled and nodded.
"Here is fine, Mr. Wayne. After seeing those incidents... I'm shaken. Nervous. I've never experienced...."
Bruce Wayne smiled and held out a hand to Sarah. She stood up and took his hand.
"Nervous energy? Worried?"
"You couldn't sleep even if you wanted to, right?"
She smiled and nodded again.
"I have just the thing... Lucius, could you get the training unit to free up some time and teach Sarah the basics? A couple hours of that, and some range time and she will be ready for a cat nap, then meeting Father Casull and Kyle."
"I'll arrange it, Bruce. And secure quarters for Sarah... would you like the high-rise or the Vault, Sarah."
Sarah looked at Lucius as she let go of Bruce's hand.
"Against that?" she nodded at the folder Bruce had opened to page through, reading, "Any place called the 'Vault' sounds very safe."
"It is that, Sarah. And training will be on the level below it, so I can show you to both of them and get you situated. Anything you will need from your apartment Sarah?"
She smiled, nodded, "Clothing mostly. A few odds and ends..."
Bruce smiled, "I'll leave you two to get things arranged, while I look a bit more at this... thing."
He opened the door to the analysis room to see Alfred holding a tray with paper bags, talking with Wendy, and then he looked up and smiled.
"There you are, Mr. Wayne! Wendy wouldn't let me deliver your meals as you had requested."
"No clearance, Mr. Wayne," she said.
Bruce glanced at Alfred.
"Did you forget your pass again, Alfred?"
"No, sir, I didn't. Your employee, however, seems to be under the belief that you were not to be disturbed. My ID is currently hidden behind the tray I'm holding. She told me to stay as I was while she confirmed your wishes. Apparently no one was answering the phone inside."
Bruce looked through the open door to the two techs.
"Sorry, Mr. Wayne, we muted it and didn't see the small flashing light."
Bruce Wayne shook his head from side to side, smiling.
"Thats ok. We'll eat in the break room. And Alfred will need to get some things for a room in the Vault, anyway."
"I will, Mr. Wayne?"
"Yes, Sarah needs a safe place to stay for awhile."
"Ah, yes, Mr. Wayne. The Vault is very good for that, but tends to be a haven for those liking the night shift."
Bruce smiled deeply.
"I will eat and run, Alfred. Corned beef sandwich?"
"Yes, Mr. Wayne, swiss cheese, mustard and a glass of tomato juice."
He nodded and started walking to the break room, the others following.
"Good enough. Lucius you get Sarah situated, get a security team on re-routing Sarah's calls and picking up anything she needs. If she needs more, get it. She can use company clothes for training if she doesn't have anything appropriate here I am sure that some of our VIPs have left something that will fit. If not, the local stores will provide, I'm sure."
Lucius smiled and looked to Wendy who nodded.
"Easy enough, Bruce. What kind of training were you thinking?"
Bruce stopped inside the break room and looked at Sarah.
"You do aerobics, some personal defense routines and gymnastics in high school, right?"
She looked blankly at Wayne and nodded.
"Good. H2C3 intro and basic firearms with pistol range time I should think, but security will know better once you get there. I'll leave it to you, Lucius. Alfred, let me see what you have for the repast."
"Of course, sir," as Wayne headed to the break room, "I have bag lunches for Mr. Fox and Miss Connor, front two with the tags on them."
Lucius Fox stepped over to take the one marked for him, and then Sarah did the same.
"Thank you, Alfred," Lucius said.
"Yes, thank you," said Sarah.
"My pleasure, to you both," Alfred then he turned with the tray, two bags on it and a glass of tomato juice also on it. His ID tag was clearly visible just above the first button of his suit jacket.
"Sarah, I think we will eat on the run to get you situated," Lucius said stepping from the break room.
Sarah nodded and followed, looking at Lucius. Then a quick glance behind as Mr. Wayne was talking with his butler.
"I don't know what I pictured Mr. Wayne as, but nothing like this," she said.
"Most people don't need him like this, Sarah. Come on and we will get your purse and anything else from your desk."
He went with her down the hallways that were starting to see the morning staff arrive.
It would be a busy morning.
* * *
Bruce picked up the bag and looked to see if it did have the promised sandwich in it, and it did. He smiled taking it out and taking a bite from it while standing, then swallowing some tomato juice.
"Delicious as always, Alfred, these early mornings are always difficult," he said smiling.
"Yes, one accustomed to the lifestyle you lead doesn't often get to greet the morning part of noon, sir."
Bruce smirked and took a second bite and repeated with the juice.
"Alfred, I'll need you to pick up a couple of people at the East facility. One is a priest, a Father Casull, and the other is a man by the name of Kyle. They may be a bit shaken after the Long Sword trip, and might appreciate something to calm their nerves. They should be coming in just a bit after 2pm, so you still have awhile."
Alfred nodded, "Of course Master Bruce, will there be anything else?"
"Get a copy of this report on Sarah Connor from Lucius' office, you'll need to be in on it. Next see about contacting the Archbishop of New York and Father Casull's diocese, probably through your social contacts, and see if we can get some good PR for a donation from WayneTech and a matching donation from me, the first to Father Casull's church or work he sponsors, and the matching to local work sponsored by the Archbishop. Make it an 'in kind donation' for help needed. I'm sure you can work out the details and let me know if Wayne Corp. can donate any equipment from its various divisions and make me personally available for ribbon cuttings and giving checks plus any social gatherings to back these up. Some of our Hollywood social contacts would be a help, and for free PR that is always something to gather more funds for charity. Let the Archbishop know we are seeking to do this for Father Jordan's mission in Gotham."
Alfred Pennyworth was often caught off-guard by Bruce Wayne's mind. He could fight off a merger one moment, plan the takedown of a criminal the next and then put in for a number of donations plus gala events right after that. The PR teams and overall division for that had complained that they were overworked just because of Mr. Wayne's good ideas. But no one argued that these lowered profitability of Wayne Corp. Quite the contrary, it was one of the few large corporations that had excellent standing in both defense and social circles, plus the medical community bought up Wayne Medical equipment as fast as it could be made as it was done to the highest tolerances: the Dr. Thomas Wayne medical kit for poor doctors was the common 'black bag' sold in the market within two years of its introduction and overseas sales skyrocketed.
"Of course Master Bruce. Will the two guests be staying with us?"
Bruce looked up with the last of the sandwich in one hand and a report that was on the tray in another.
"They will, Alfred. Good penthouse rooms or standard VIP, your choice. And any dossiers of Father Casull you can get from our PR division. I will be corralling some of our research scientist from the weapons group and a few parts of Wayne Corp. for a quick discussion. Do we still have any research physicists on staff?"
"Yes, Mr. Wayne, I think the XP division in Wayne Tech or their equivalents in Wayne Defense Systems will have what you need. This sounds like a different sort of project, if I may say so, Mr. Wayne."
"It is, Alfred. There is a lot to track down and almost none of it by my night time contacts, although I suspect a few will need to be, ahhhh, asked for a job or two."
"Of course, sir."
"Ok, thats it for now, I'll be on the phone for a few minutes, probably from Lucius's office and I'll work with him when he gets back from looking after Sarah."
"Yes, sir, Mr. Wayne. And I will be doing similar as you requested."
Bruce Wayne handed the financial report back to Alfred, smiled and looked him in the eyes while clasping a hand to his shoulder.
"Alfred, I don't know where this will lead. I've never encountered anything like it, so I expect we will all be working very hard the next few days. I'll see if I can't arrange a meeting of the principles for early this evening or late afternoon, because this isn't normal night time work."
"What will it be about, if I may ask, sir?"
"Fighting the future that has sent its war to us."
Alfred furrowed his brow.
"Should I be contacting my old friends?"
Bruce arched an eyebrow and nodded in the positive.
"No cowboys, but good survivor types. What we have can't be dealt with normally, so anyone used to the abnormal would be a help. We need observation and information, not contact and conflict."
"I'll phone a few up, Master Bruce. I am sure a couple could use a good paid vacation."
Bruce Wayne lowered his arm and smiled.
"A working vacation, Alfred. Now we both have a lot of work to do."
* * *
Sarah had known there was a 'Vault' under Wayne Corp's offices, but had never realized just how extensive it was. Mr. Fox had explained how they had to go for bedrock to get good foundations for the buildings that went up in the 70's, and Wayne Corp was more heavily defense and medical, system-wise, back then. When Bruce came into his majority and started to receive controlling shares of the corporation, he diversified the company into multiple other areas in pharmaceuticals, industrial machining and chemicals, plus areas of technology that were just starting to get cheaper by the end of that decade. Even with somewhat absentee ownership, the Wayne Corporation and its subsidiaries all did well as Bruce Wayne's management team slowly removed those that had gotten corrupt or were ill suited to positions of responsibility. Wayne Financial also did well and became its own profitable sub-unit, helping small and medium sized businesses with finding good financial advice. The 'Vault' slowly moved from hardened test facilities to archiving and some safe quarters for people who needed them. Most of the old weapon testing facility had moved upstate or out west, but there was still some of that for equipment to bulky too move or innovative technologies that needed to be kept under lock and key.
Sarah was in the upper administration and housing area, and experienced the voice analyzer and hand analysis unit that allowed her to open the door to her room. Mr. Fox handed her off to Sally Wentworth who helped to administer the upper levels and she arranged for clothing and other goods to be brought in to stock the room. Sarah's gym bag had been retrieved from her locker and brought down, and Sally was soon introducing her the man that would be handling her introduction to Hand to Hand Close Combat Conditioning or H2C3. The gym a level up was used, which was a sub-basement of the building and used by a number of people, herself included during the weeks she had been working at Wayne Tech.
Martin Carstairs was obviously fit, physically, and the visible scars on his arms and legs indicated that he had been in a few close combat situations.
"Hello, Sarah," he said in a moderate tenor voice, his short red hair and speckled complexion would be described as 'boyish' if it weren't for the hard muscles and compact stature, "I'm Martin Carstairs and Mr. Fox has let me know you need some basic training in H2C3. So lets go to the stairs machines and talk about that while you get warmed up."
"Nice to meet you, Martin. I really don't know what to expect..."
He laughed lightly.
"Who does? That is what I'm here for. I have two tours of 'Nam, 10 years on GCPD ending up at Special Crimes Unit then decided to get a job with decent pay here at Wayne Corp. when my brother told me they were hiring. So I've seen some more of the unexpected than I've ever wanted to in my life."
They got to the machines and Martin set his for a fair amount of resistance and started stepping methodically.
"Go for a low resistance if you haven't used one before then dial it up as your muscles get used to it. Don't strain your muscles and back off when you start to get tired."
Sarah looked and saw the resistance controller, set it down and then turned on the machine and started climbing in place. As she found her pace she dialed it up just a bit and then backed down when it was starting to fatigue her.
"Good! Now, Mr. Fox says you are being stalked by a person responsible for a series of killings, and that he isn't normal. Basically its like he has no organs or nerves to deal with and something like armor to protect everything else. Well that is hard to deal with, let me tell you. But he is still in man shape and maybe taller and bulkier, but still has basic kinematics and body-mass distribution problems. You probably don't want to get into a hand to hand or close quarters situation with him."
"Isn't that kind of hard to do in a city?" Sarah asked breathing hard.
Martin laughed, merrily.
"Damned right it is! And if he is armed with guns or rifles, you don't want to give him a clear shot, either. Still if you have to deal with him close up the best thing you can do is: avoid getting hit. If he is down to that, then the basic physics of his body come into play. So the basics will be avoidance, and we will practice that with gloves and padding, then how to break free of grappling with him as he will outmass you, and then the last ten minutes or so will be how to apply your mass to him when he shifts his center of mass so as to push him forward and/or down. There are some techniques I've picked up from a number of courses to do that, but if he is immune to the effects of kicks, punches and normal attacks, then most of those go out the window. So a bit of Savate, some Jiu-Jitsu and Judo, and maybe a tempered steel knife, if you have a second to use it, if he is face down and you can get to something 'vital', which will probably be the neck or back. Sounds good?"
Sarah nodded, and gasped, "Yeah..."
"Great. You're winded now, so dial back and then we will hit the store room for pads and gloves... remember slow down and lessen resistance."
Sarah realized that Mr. Wayne had suggested this, and that she was already working off her nervous energy and had been able to actually listen to what Martin had said.
There was more than one person trying to keep her alive.
* * *
Sitting down at the small meeting table in Lucius Fox's office was Bruce Wayne, which didn't surprise Lucius too much. He already had the folder material spread out in front of him and was on the phone.
"Renny? I'm trying to arrange a meeting and need a specialist.... yes, thats right mil systems specialist, someone with a background on the latest command and communications systems, helps if they know computers, too... Richard Bennington? We hired him after the GM layoff two years ago, right? .... uh-huh, sounds like the man. Ok, look its..." Bruce checked his watch, "... 12:30 and I would like to get him here by 1:30 to read some materials and then give me his opinion... good... earlier is ok. The materials will be with Lucius Fox. Ok? Good, earlier is fine. Thanks a lot, Renny, I know its a short fuse but... still its appreciated. Have other calls to make so no chit-chat time, but catch up with you later. Good-bye."
Bruce Wayne set the phone down.
"Raven runs a good shop, Bruce, and I knew Richard from the Urban Vehicle contract. We've kept his clearances up so he is a good source to go to."
"I knew she would have someone good. So, Lucius, before all the experts get here, what do you make of it?"
Lucius Fox had taken off his jacket and hung it up next to Bruce's on the stand, closed the door and then sat down across the table from him.
"It's different, Bruce. I really don't know what to make of it. This 'Kyle' is describing something fantastic, more science fiction than science, particularly the time travel part. That's just..." he shook his head from side to side.
"We need an expert on that, Lucius. Even just the theoretical end. Anyone like that on staff?"
Lucius smiled then pressed his lips together.
"Just about every science-fiction fan we can round up, but you mean from the theoretical physics side?"
"That isn't a normal Wayne Corp area, but we do have some fundamental research contacts in-house. Probably Don Carstairs of the simulation group has the best grounding in it, not only relativity but quantum physics, plus a bit of cosmology thrown in. Anne Dickerson from the nuclear defense group might serve for that also, very much in the applied area more than theoretical."
"Good, get them here. Also someone from your cybernetics branch and good on computers should be here..."
"The entire department will want to be here, but Ken Chapman is the head and he will know if its smoke or truth, Bruce."
Bruce nodded with just a hint of a smile.
"That is what I'm looking for. And if this is true, these are the kind of people I want for the applied work, probably someone from the industrial chemical and controls group. Can do?"
Lucius Fox nodded.
"I'll get the conference room down the hall, and have my secretary make copies of this material. Eyes Only?"
Bruce Wayne nodded.
"See if you can keep everyone separated, maybe use some of the reading rooms two floors down? I'll be back at 1:30 to talk with anyone who has gotten here early."
"Will do, Mr. Wayne. Really I don't know what to make of the story. It sounds fishy from so many ways, yet it does hang together."
Bruce stood up and nodded.
"Those pictures didn't come from fish, Lucius. And a hoax this elaborate would have fallen apart at this point. I'm taking it as credible and actionable. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to see Father Jordan, as I think we really should have someone local to help on that end of things."
"It can't hurt, that's for sure."
"See you in an hour or so, Lucius, and will phone if there are any delays. Get a good recording for the meeting as it will have to be short and intense. Overtime for everyone because I will want them for a first-hand talk after we have a talk with Father Casull and Kyle once they arrive."
"No problem, see you in about an hour."
Bruce Wayne nodded, shrugged his coat into place and headed out of the office. It had been a few months since he saw Father Jordan at the Mission, but he made sure that it was always provisioned for the poor and homeless that came in. Really one must have sustenance for the body before addressing the soul.
* * *
It had noted the posted speed limit. It had noted the average speed of other vehicles. It utilized average speed which was higher than the speed limit and had passed one place where it had noted radar use by police in two cars.
They paid no attention to a car only mildly speeding.
It 'fit in'.
The drive would be long, and it powered down higher thought processes and left driving necessary ones active. Its neural net slowly built to adapt to its necessary infiltration needs.
The mission objective was primary.
Parameters were non-conforming.
The neural net adapted to non-conforming parameters.
That would take time.