It was a beautiful early evening. I was speeding down the road in my stylish, sporty, yet surprisingly affordable new Ford. “This car makes me feel at least 7 years younger, and I don’t even need to feel that way,” I thought to myself. “I am the image of everything a potential car buyer would want to be…smart, attractive…” Just then, my brand new Motorola smartphone rang. I held it up for a moment, then used the easy to navigate touch screen to answer. It was V. J.
“The priority inbox is lighting up like a Christmas tree,” he said.
“Why do I think that’s not a good thing?” I asked.
“They never write just to say ‘hello’, do they?”
“Not since Rio.”
“Should I brief you now, or when you get here?” V.J. asked.
“I’m sure it can wait.”
“Wait, I just tracked you using GPS; you’re an hour away. I’m not sure it can wait that long,” V.J. said.
“Give me twenty minutes.” With that I hung up, and used the amazing new Sync feature on my Ford, using its voice activated sound system to queue up the latest single by Katy Perry. “Man, this is such a great album. I’m so glad it’s still available,” I thought to myself as I hit the gas, leaving a trail of leaves and evening shadows in my wake.
“Why the long face, buddy?” I asked V.J. as I helped myself to a refreshing Coke Zero.
“Chester Topsfield, ever heard of him?” he replied grimly.
“Wasn’t he The Penguin?”
“Not quite,” V.J. answered. “He’s the best scientist N.A.S.A. has ever had, and he’s gone rogue.”
“Ahhh, delicious,” I said. “Now, what’s this about space?”
“Here,” he said, facing his new MacBook Air in my direction. “Skylab, remember that?”
“Yeah, it was the first space station. I thought that was abandoned.”
“So did N.A.S.A. Turns out, Topsfield has been using modified Predator Drones to turn this place into his own sort of outer space fortress,” V.J. answered.
“I didn’t know Drones could achieve space travel,” I said.
“That’s because it’s top secret information,” he replied.
“So what’s his plan?”
“Here,” he said, throwing the latest Victoria’s Secret catalog my way. “Ever heard of Ana Isadoro?”
“Of course I have,” I replied. She’s the hottest Brazilian model in the world right now. She’s been on the cover of every magazine in the world.” As I said this, a montage of photo shoots and magazine covers from Vogue, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan ran through my head.
“Yeah, her. Turns out she’s missing. And surveillance footage shows her being abducted from her Manhattan penthouse two days ago. Here, take a look.”
“Hmmm. Those men are wearing masks. So what’s this got to do with Topperfield?” I asked.
“Topsfield, and here’s where it gets interesting…and dangerous,” he replied. “Top secret satellite images show that Topsfield has been kidnapping models and sending them to Skylab.”
“Skylab,” I asked, “What’s he going to do with a bunch of supermodels in outer space?”
“He’s cloning them,” V.J. replied, “into robots.”
“Me likey,” I said, grabbing a bag of Doritos from the cabinet.
“No, Hightower, you don’t understand,” he replied. “He’s trying to take over Fort Knox. He’s using these model robot clones as a decoy while he uses a sophisticated laser system to break into the vault from space.”
“Man,” I said, “I don’t think Wall Street or Main Street would survive that.”
“So, what do we do?”
“Unmanned vehicles, huh?” I asked.
“Right. Predator Drones. The best of the best,” he answered.
“It sounds like we’re going to have to go a little rogue, too,” I said.
“What do you mean?” V.J. asked. “We’re already a doctor and radiologist who fight crime from a secret Manhattan hide out 24/7, except when our crime fighting dictates that we actually be present in a hospital setting.”
“True,” I said, slipping into a Nike windbreaker. “But I’m talking about computer hacking. I need you to tell me if you can hack into a system that might not even exist.”
“I, well, that’s never been done,” he stammered.
“Yes or no?!?” I yelled.
“We need to bring in Ace Shadow,” V.J. said. “He’s in all the chat rooms. He’s the best hacker ever.”
“Ace Shadow. Sounds dangerous. I like him already.”
TO BE CONTINUED….