As you ride your bikes into Los Angeles, you realize that Counter Terrorism Headquarters is not just something you can type into the GPS. It doesn’t matter, because Jack leads the way. He leads you to one of the many high-rise parking garages. He converses for a while with the security guard out front, the gate is raised and Jack gestures to where you can park your bike. As you walk away from the bikes, they are descended upon by a group of men in blue coveralls who begin disassembling them. Jack walks over to the elevator which opens when he puts his hand on an electric pad. Once you are all inside Jack states his name and then a series of numbers and letters including Greek letters which also contain the words “authorization” “port” and “priority level” Otherwise, it is meaningless.
You feel a lightness, like the elevator is going down, fast. Jack gives some advice. “You are going to be asked a lot of questions. Most people will be polite, but, as you know, this is serious. So, some people will be abrupt. We are going to get Angela back, and when I say we, I mean you three and me. You are already too involved; it is already too personal; and the fact is that you are too good for me to leave you out.”
Jack continues, “You have my word on this. I don’t care if I have to call in a favor with the President. You are going to be read in to every aspect of this mission. To make it easier on me, however, I need you to trust me. Do what the people in here say. Answer every question truthfully as you can. Follow their directions. It might seem like we’re wasting valuable time, but everyone here is on your team.”
If he muttered the words “I hope” at the end of the phrase, you might never be certain. The elevator slowed and stopped. As you stepped out, there were three men of athletic build, all wearing black suits, white shirts and ties, standing near a desk at the front of a long white hall lit by florescent lights. Beside the desk, the rectangular arch of a metal detector was plainly visible.
“Jack,” one of them says with a brief head nod by way of greeting.
“Jim” Jack replied.
Pleasantries finished, one of the other men says, “I need you to take off anything metal, belts. shoes, piercings, weapons, everything and place it on the table.”
Liam was the first to comply, reluctantly removing his belt and gun and attempting transfer his booze from a metal flask to an empty plastic water bottle and put all the metal things on the table, and saying to Jack “we will get everything back right?”
“I can’t be sure about the gun,” Jack replies, “We stole it, so it’s evidence. But what is yours, will be returned.”
The men at the table love the belt buckle. They show it to each other, laughing. “I need one of these” one man says.
“I don’t think it will go with your outfit” Says another.
“Not today,” the first replies, “but you should see me on a Saturday night.”
Clyde is the next to respond: “Dude. Your security’s so tight here, I couldn’t press a button on a suicide jacket before I’d be gunned down. Or at least, it better be if you don’t wanna get infiltrated by those Mormons. They’re good.” Immediately walking around the metal detector. This results in immediately being tackled by all three men. They pulled off all his weapons and set them on the table (hide check when we play). The spirit of levity created by the belt buckle was gone.
Finally, Fellah calmly removed her metal objects and went through.
A woman appears from one of the doors in the hall, carrying a tablet computer. Her high heels click on the tile floor and echo in the hall. She says, “step this way” and leads the group through a series of hallways. In many ways, it looks like any other group of basement office suites. The doors are better, made of solid metal and sometimes an office worker typing away inside was wearing battle fatigues.
Eventually, the three of you are led into a room. It looks like a nice apartment. It is decorated in beiges and whites and. The furniture has a modern feel.
“There is a room here for each of you to rest and a set of clean clothes for you. That are your sizes, if not your styles.” The last said with look of amuzement and possible condescension at the boys.
“The refrigerator is stocked.” She points out, opening the door to reveal a number of good things to eat and drink.
“But feel free to use the ‘menu’ ap on this,” she sets down her tablet on the counter, “to order whatever else you’d like.”
While questions abound in your mind, it appears there is no time to ask them as she walks out the door. The door has no knob and no visible means of opening it.
Thus begins the most boring week of your life. The tablet has Internet, which is somehow configured so that you can surf, but not post. There is a television with access to hundreds of movies. There is everything you’d need to eat or drink. The clothes appear to be business attire.
Every day, you are taken separately to interrogation chambers. At first you are asked quite reasonable questions about your experience. Eventually, the questions get stranger. You are asked about your religious beliefs. You are asked about your sexual histories. You are asked about hobbies and families and home towns. You are asked what you decide in consultation with each other later were the questions of a Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. You are given tests that seem to be IQ tests and things that remind you of those stupid “what kind of Greek Goddess are you” tests from Facebook. At one point a man who you’d swear was George Lucas but who insisted his name is Luke Danger grilled you on knowledge of Star Wars, Star Trek and X-Files trivia. You are shown slides of pornographic images, kittens, and war ravaged bodies and asked to tell how they make you feel. All the time you keep Jack’s admonition to honesty in mind, but this is ridiculous and a person can only resist trolling so much.
Finally you are brought as a group into an office. There is a black man sitting behind a desk. He is one of those people who you are almost certain was a linebacker in college, a large strong build covered in a layer of adult fat. He is wearing the suit and tie. he has a mustache and a few of the black hairs on his head are grey. Behind him stands jack. There are four seats. You are invited to sit down and do so or not as your choice.
The man begins. “My name is Director Scalper. I guess you could say I am in charge here at CTU. First, I want to apologize for my delay in bringing you into my office. We needed to look at your records, which was difficult because they are international and [glancing at Liam] colorful. Anyway, here is what I can tell you.”
“It seems that there are six people in the world who have had extended interactions with The Church of the New Reformed Church of Latter Day Saints, Apostles and Prophets who have not ended up converted or dead. You kids are half of them. Jack is another. You may meet the other two shortly, depending on what you decide.”
“Here’s what I can offer. We switch your visas from student visas to E-1 priority workers visas. That won’t prevent you from going to school, in case you’re worried. It means that you have special skills and will make better money. Then we will give you a job here. Not only will the pay be pretty good Investigative occupation, but I am willing to offer you a couple other benefits too. You will have Collateral Secret level of clearance and if you stay with us, we will have you on the fast track to Top Secret levels. You will be issued a license to carry concealed weapons in all states and territories of our republic and a badge. We will work with Colorado University to have your work count as “internships” and “independent studies” for specific classes, for which we will pay. We want you to get your degrees. Finally, we will allow you to work with Jack to recover Angela Montoya, hopefully before the brainwashing is complete."
“Or, we can give you an armed escort back to Boulder, CO. We will leave you alone, unless you encounter more terrorists, for the rest of your life.”