Part 1 [17/5/13]
The next day Max and Jaz wake early and after dressing get presented with breakfast. After finishing, both sort themselves and their luggage out, then, with the help of two stewards, report to the bridge.
"Ah. You're here," the day pilot says. "Now then. If you follow me, I'll take you to the car we'll be using."
Out of the bridge through the back door instead of down the stairs and to a smaller back room. Using a ramp, to get down, there was what looked like a garage and something Max recognised very well.
"Where did you get one of those from?" Max asks. "They're only prototypes."
"Well, it was a favour from the company your dad works at. Testing this car will get it more likely to be produced. And we might get a bonus from him if it does."
"Well then. Shall we get on?" Jaz asks.
"Sure," the day pilot says. He then sets about instructing the stewards to load the luggage into the car, then instructed Jaz to one side and Max to the other.
When Max gets inside, it is immediately apparent why they were told to do this. Where in a normal car there would be a third seat, in this one there was a cup holder and universal port docks. In front of him was a table, and looking left over to Jaz's side, he could see Jaz was amazed at having a table and maximum leg room. At the minute, there was also a glass door in front of Max, as well as a seat facing the front door. Well, where the front door should have been. Instead was a ramp that was lowered to allow the driver access to the middle pilot chamber. This chamber had all the usual controls of a normal car such as the steering wheel and gear change.
As the day pilot sat in the chair, the ramp rose up and locked itself in place. The glass door swung round and as it locked into place, two lights appeared on the middle part of the roof, and Max remembered something he had forgot about this car.
"How much did this thing cost to make?" Jaz asks as the pilot takes the car forward.
"He can't hear you," Max replies. "Those two lights on the roof indicate that no mic is active."
"Since the glass is double-glazed, no sound can get through. We use this switch here to turn the mic on, and the left light turns green. When his is active, the right side one will be on."
Jaz turns the mic on and asks the question again.
As the answer is revealed, the car drives down onto the port of Weston Super-mare and joins with the road.
The journey back to Jaz's is under way.
Part 2 [26/6/13]
Max was used to the layout of the UK's road system, since it kept most similarities to the Republic Antarctic one. He was also used to the differently styled cars and houses.
The day pilot, though, wasn't. And was asking questions left, right and center about all that was different. Max and Jaz explained as easily and as simply as they could about all that was different. By the time a break came in the questions, they had told him about the differently sized buildings, all the different car manufacturers and the importation and exportation of nearly everything in the world between countries, as well as the varying degrees of technology used.
"What? They don't have one centralised internet service?"
"No, we don't," Jaz says. "And it varies between counties and providers what bandwidth you get."
"Hah. That's ridiculous. The internet's free with us, and there's no interference. Maybe that's why we split from the UK. Too many corrupt officials."
"But there-" Jaz starts up again before Max quickly presses the button again. Then speaks very fast and quietly "Don't tell him about our little adventure. No-one's meant to know about it until that news becomes official on our news network."
"Hello? Is this thing still working?" the pilot asks through the comm.
"Oh! Dear, dear. I almost spilled the beans," Jaz gasps. "Sorry, dear chap." Then he presses the button again and speaks again to the pilot. "Sorry about that. Didn't realise the mic was still active. As I was saying, there are some in the UK who aren't corrupt either."
"Yes, but not as many as we have. That's why everything is so cheap. If we were ever introduced to the UK, I bet your government could learn a lot from ours."
"Yes, but it's going to take a lot to get the rest of the world to change," Max says. "It's not just the UK we'll have to change if we ever did reveal ourselves. Anyway, it would never happen. Our government is too strict on that particular aspect."
"I suppose you're right. Just count ourselves lucky we can even be here."
Conversation was silent after that, and so was the rest of the journey. When they pulled off the M5 to head along the road leading up to Wolverhampton, conversation started again. And it was the awkward type.
Part 3 [26/6/13]
"How did you know to pull off there?" Jaz asks.
"What was that?" the pilot asks.
"How did you know to pull off at that junction of the motorway?"
"I don't know. I'm just following these instructions from the navigational computer."
Jaz looks over at Max. "And how would my address be in that sat-nav if this is meant to be a prototype car?"
"Because..." Max starts to look a bit awkward. "Because... it looks for markers so it can set the easiest route to it."
"But there are no markers around here. This i- Max... Tell me you didn't."
"I placed a marker at your house before we left so that when we had to bring you back we didn't have to rely on your directions. It'll be gone when I go!" Max then adds defensively.
"Oh," Jaz laughs. "Don't worry about it. It is indeed easier. And forget about taking the marker back. You might want to visit again sometime."
"Well... as long as you're okay with it..."
"I am. But next time, at least let me know."
Conversation was again ground to a halt, but this time because they had arrived at Jaz's house. opening the boot and carrying their bags, the two walk in and are greeted by Jaz's parents. Welcome backs and hugs were given, and they even greeted Max as well.
Jaz's mom says that food would be taken up to them while they were unpacking. Jaz says thanks and him and Max head up the stairs and into Jaz's room.
"Hello room. Good to see you again," Jaz says as he places the bags on his bed. "Right then. If you've got to get into town... How do we go about it?"
"Isn't the college on?"
"Not for another two weeks."
Max's eyes suddenly goes wide. "Oh! I forgot! Well..."
Max loads up his computer, which seemed to be getting a lot quicker, and instantly accesses the internet. Almost immediately, the pilot rings on the Skype-like program. "Are you all set now?"
"Um, sure. Why?"
"Got to be heading back."
"Well, I'll see you sometime soon. Well, when I need a lift back."
"See you soon then." And the conversation ends.
Part 4 [4/7/13]
The night before had entailed in another Skype conversation with a lot of Jaz's friends, but again, Chris was on holiday.
Today, Max had checked his mail to see an official looking letter sent by the government of the Republic Antarctic, as well as Gamestation. Both said roughly the same thing. If contact with the shop could be made, then the operation to import to the UK could commence. The only thing both letters stated though was that the origins of them were to be kept a secret. And secretly, they would be taking games from the UK.
This seemed like a good idea, and so both took a bus into the town of Halesowen. Max was unsure whether the shop would be there still, but sure enough, it was still doing business. It also seemed to have got more popular. More people than ever were around the gaming stations, playing a range of games. A queue was filing away at the counter but more people kept joining the queue.
"What do we do?" Jaz asks. "There's no way we can go to the front and just ask for the manager."
"Thanks for the idea," Max comments, and walks forward.
It was then Jaz notices that Max has his laptop with him. Instead of calling him back and asking why, he just follows Max to where he was going.
Which, indeed, was the front of the queue. And he was just in time to hear the word 'manager'. Max had copied exactly what Jaz had said not to do. He could hear grumbling from some of the queue, but if you wanted to see the manager, what else could you do?
After a bit more talk, the man at the counter walks into a back room, and it is a while before he returns. Nothing is said when the man does come back out, and Max starts drumming his hand on the counter.
A minute passes. Then another. The queue thins a bit as people are served, and the booths start emptying as people head out for lunch.
"Should we just go?" Jaz asks. "I think they're going to continue to ignore us until we continue to go."
Max shrugs and turns around. A man in a business suit walks in, but one that Max recognises instantly, judging by his shocked face.
The man walks up to Max and speaks. "Aha. So you are this representative from the RA. I didn't expect anyone from there to be here."
Part 5 [25/7/13]
"Um, can we take this conversation somewhere else?" Max whispers, looking behind him at the queue. Some people were looking at them, curious.
"Well, we can go to my office if you like," the man says.
Max and Jaz follow the man out of Gamestation and out of the mall. Out in the open circular area, with steps curving around the plaza, they are lead up a side road and instantly the man stops outside a door.
"Bought this place once we'd got enough money," the man says as he pulls a key from his pocket. His attitude was quite lax, as though nothing could upset him. "I preferred this place as a secondary storage unit."
The man led them in and up the stairs, closing the door behind him. Up the stairs was an office filled with the standard computer of the Republic Antarctic, and other energy appliances, all equipped with the same solar panel energy gatherer that Max uses with his laptop. These were the only things from the RA though.
"How do you manage to get the games onto proper disks that work in the consoles?" Jaz asks.
"Well... the newer games we have to obtain by normal means. The older ones we just cloned the authorisation code within them and stuck them onto the required disk. After all, the Gamecube has smaller disks which we needed to acquire before getting them going."
"And the consoles which allow people to play for an hour?"
The man halts at this and looks at Max. "Maybe later..." he says slowly.
"Oh! Don't worry," Max informs. "I'm not here to close you down."
"So, finally seen my way of thought after all then?"
"More of a partnership," Max says. "A trading of games. They'll allow transfer of games to here in exchange for the games of this country."
"Hmm. I accept. I'll see the documentation later. Once we sign this deal. Name's Adam by the way."
"Nice to meet another from the RA," Jaz says. Max shakes Adam's hand. Then Jaz asks "We've heard some of the story from the Gamestation employees of the RA, but I'm curious as to your thinking behind leaving."
"Well... the story..."
Part 6 [26/7/13]
"I believe you have heard that I was a good worker while working at that store. Never ignorant and never one to go wrong. But I was also researching. I managed, though very hard, to find out about the world, and their games, and was impressed at what they had managed to produce. But then I looked back at our catalogue of games. It was much more fleshed out, and none of the gaming consoles had our increased capacity of features, including our superior digital stance.
"I knew that we had originated from the UK, and asked if we could visit for a gaming meeting with the UK - see if they liked what we had produced. But I was instantly turned down. The government in the Republic Antarctic is strict. They say there is to be no contact at all with the outside world. We are forced to stay on the island. They feel that the rest of the world is too corrupt, too unwilling to sort its own problems out when they are so obvious.
"I kept at it however. I argued that even games can be educational. You, Max, know of the loophole that allows trips for educational purposes. It's how you come to be out here. But even that is restricted. Again, I was turned down. When I kept at it, they took less notice of me. And not just the store managers, but even the other staff members. I eventually couldn't bare to stay.
"I took a look at a map, and hired a boat. Well, bought it really. I then set off alone for the UK. When here, I immediately felt alone, but caught up on the fact that a store chain had recently closed down. That chain was called Gamestation. My curiosity peaked. Why would they deny me access to this country when they had already set up shop? I found that it wasn't anything to do with the RA, and my plan was sealed. I hunted for the rights and bought them. I hired as many staff as possible, and opened just the one shop to see how things would play out.
"As I understand it, you were here on that opening day, weren't you Max? And you, Jaz."
"Can I just ask how you know our names?" Max asks. "We never introduced ourselves."
"I was curious about why so many would come from a particular place of a weekday. I tracked the college down and asked a few questions, though they were hesitant at first to answer. I then met with one of the teachers, and he told me of a student who wasn't from around here and wanted to invite one of his students to a new place. I asked, and he gave the answer. You had come for Jaz, and you were to head back to the RA for a scum filled hive that is Plutes."
"You know of Plutes?" Max asks.
"Of course I know. I've been there." A haunted look filled his eyes.
Part 7 [30/7/13]
"You've been there?" Max asks. "You're one of the few who broke the spell of the place?"
"Yes." Adam says.
"It's not important. It's one of the few place in the RA that are corrupt. Well, that Stanley is anyway. There are only a certain few who are actually corrupt. I've seen this place. And this government. There really is nothing more to say about it. But the number of things the RA's would have done when this one hasn't is quite a record. And the more corruption spreads... Well, it's the same with the video game business, isn't it? Developers spending too much then setting higher prices just to try and reclaim the money they spent.
"I can't see the point in it. That's why I decided to set the prices low and reasonable for everything. Not so low that the business is wiped out, but not so expensive that the majority of people look the other way."
"I have to agree," Jaz says, "that your way is better."
"Thanks. Now then, let's get these forms looked at and signed."
Max pulls out his laptop and loads it up and pulls up the necessary files for signing. Adam does this after thoroughly reading through each in turn.
"Can't be too careful. That strictness of theirs might have left a few loopholes."
Max grunts. "Well, aren't you trusting of our government? Corruption does start with trust."
"Um... I do trust them. But there could always be the chance that they might withdraw this whole operation."
"Doesn't matter. Now then, all we need is a contact so we can sort out transactions and the like."
Adam supplies one email and one name for the Skype-like program.
"Anything else?" Adam asks.
"I think that should be all. Now all that needs to be done is contact between the two of you. Although I'm sure that could wait. Right now I want to be playing some Star Wars Battlefront."
"I'll join you on that one," Jaz says. Then turning to Adam asks "The store does allow the units to connect to each other, doesn't it?"
"Well, if it's two player you want, just one unit will do."
And with that, after Max packs his laptop back into his bag, Adam leads the two back to the store, locking his management office up.
Part 1 [23/1/13]
"And so all we've got to do now is get the train safely to Central, where the coaches will pick you up," Telisa says.
"Why don't you come with us? Leave the train at the station?" Max asks. "Surely there's a lock up area for that thing?"
"Sure. It's a pile of scrap and metal with a disused station. What's going to be harder is hiding the train."
"Well just go to the- Oh."
"Can't you just put it into reverse from here?"
"Well sure, but reverse speed is slow. And I think you'll know where I'm going with this when I say that the police are going to notice that a train is going too slowly, and upon closer inspection will see that the control carriage that's meant to be moving the train is missing. Then they'll contact the government."
"No. I don't actually."
"Plutes was secretly funded by the government."
It looked to Max that it had taken a great deal of energy just to say that one sentence. And it was a revelation to him. Secret government funding meant that they were a part of this plot, which meant it went deeper than even he imagined it did. He could not tell anyone, and he would need to alert the Detection Legacy as soon as.
But no-one else could know, and Telisa would also have to be placed in the Detection Legacy's care. If Stanley was still alive, and he was definitely alive, then his contacts in the government would be looking for her.
Thankfully, everything else except what was mentioned could wait for another time soon.
"So, what are your plans for tomorrow, since you probably won't be back before nightfall today?" Telisa asks.
"We'll be going somewhere where you will be safe today," Max replies. "It's on the way to mine anyway."
"Like you said, if the government are alerted, than you will be a target."
Part 2 [28/1/13]
The rest of the train journey passes without talk for the two. The fields turn into buildings as the track starts to go underground as they reach Central station.
Telisa slows the train down slowly so that by the time it reaches the station end it hardly bumps as it hits the stopper. She then throws a switch forward and a clink is heard. She then rips a panel off the control board and pulls a few wires out.
"That'll stop anyone trying to use this thing," Telisa says. "Now let's see how everyone else is coping."
The two get out and see the amount of students who are disorientated. The two teachers look fine, and so does Jaz. All three of these are talking to each other, so Max and Telisa go to join them.
When the teachers see Telisa, they instantly fire up.
"What a phony place that is!" Tom shouts. "Why we even bothered to go there and pay all that money I'll never know!"
"What harm have you inflicted upon our students!" Lee protests. "And to us! You had us controlled all this time, and we was agreeing with your decisions!"
"It- It wasn't me," Telisa tries to argue. "It was Stanley!"
This just brought more angry protests.
"You was still supporting it though!"
"You could have rebelled at any time!"
"What do you think she is doing here?" Max speaks up for the first time. "During the entire of this scam holiday, I've managed to convert her. She helped me, and she will continue to do so."
"Oh," Tom says surprised. "You converted her? She got you out?"
"No. I got myself out. You see, that place has some severe security loopholes," Max chuckles. "And what with Jaz and Telisa wearing microphones and a camera each, I've been able to get around easily."
"So, what happens now?" Lee asks.
"We get on the coaches," Max says.
"I meant to Plute- Oh. I see it now. Plu-Tes. Set-ulp. Set Up. Very good. But what will happen to the place?"
"Well, there's a good amount of live explosives around the place. Easy enough for it to be set off by accident."
"Will anyone be hurt?"
"No. Of course not. There isn't even anyone there any more."
"Bu-" Telisa starts.
"No-one to worry about, anyway."
"To the coaches then," Tom says. "And as soon as we get back, that advertisement for Plutes is coming right down.
"Everyone!" Lee calls. "Up the stairs and out to the car park!"
Students, teachers, Jaz, Max, and Telisa all start walking to the stairs.
Part 3 [1/2/13]
Up the stairs, Max turns round to look at the train again. It wouldn't be moving anywhere any time soon, that was for sure.
The entire group turn left at the top of the stairs, and Max was surprised he hadn't really noticed how close the stairway to the Plutes train was to the main entrance of the station. There was quiet a lot of history he didn't know about the place, but if he could, he would.
There was a lot of grumbling as students got on the coach, and Max deliberately told Telisa and Jaz to get on the one that was less crowded. Fortunately, that also meant getting on the coach without the teachers on it. And Max was glad of that, as it meant he could do something he hadn't done in a while.
This whole week has been great. Finally getting everyone to see the truth of Plutes, as well as shutting the place down-
TELISA: What are you doing?
It's a voice recorded journal I keep.
TELISA: On a memory stick.
I'll explain later. Anyway, now that we are away from the place, and heading back home, it feels good to have done all those things. Sure the capture and torture weren't fun, but we got the end result just fine. Shutting Plutes down, well, it hasn't really. That will be for just the right moment. The news teams will get a field day, for sure.
JAZ: Why? What are you planning?
Nothing for you except getting you back to the UK and starting our business venture. But for me, this whole thing really has just begun.
The main road ended as everyone was starting to get bored. The students could feel that they were back in home territory, as they perked up and started looking around and pointing out parts of the scenery and buildings.
When the coaches pulled up outside the college, the students actually cheered and started to rush to get off the coach. Looking at his watch for the first time in ages, Max saw it was 19:49. Very late indeed.
When all the other students had finally rushed off the coach, Max gets up, followed by Telisa and Jaz and exits the coach, thanking the driver.
Outside the coach are Tom and Lee. Standing and looking at the three.
"Follow," Lee says.
Part 4 [7/2/13]
Max, Jaz and Telisa follow Tom and Lee up the college path, where the college reception is still open.
"We waited before closing up fully, just like you asked," the receptionist says.
"Thanks," Tom replies. "Now is there a spare classroom for usage?"
"Your classroom should be open."
Tom then leads the pack to the classroom, where he turns on the lights and shuts the door when everyone is through it. He then turns to Max and Jaz.
"Okay. I want to hear the full story," Tom says. "And yes, while you did stop the scam in question, you brought others into danger and by arranging this whole set-up-" At this point he waves his hand at Jaz. "-you have also breeched a contract of trust within this state. You do realise that he will need-"
"Don't worry," Max says. "We've already sorted an agreement."
"I have got to hear this," Tom mutters.
Half an hour later, the three were walking to the Detection Legacy building. Jaz and Max also had their suitcases and other bags with them, which was slowing them down.
"You really had to tell them everything, didn't you?" Jaz asks.
"They would have found out anyway," Max points out. "After all, without the memory modifier drug, they're remembering all they have done. So they'd be able to piece it together."
"Yes, they would," Telisa says. "Are we there yet?"
"Just around here, in fact," Max says, as they turn a corner.
The office block was in the dark, but the light red plaque above the door had lit up, so the dark blue writing of 'Detection Legacy' was thrown into the light. Max knocks on the door, and the three wait. Almost instantly, it is opened.
"Ah. The valiant hero and his knights," Elijah says. "You did infiltrate Plutes?"
"Yes. In fact, I have a former member of the team with me," Max says.
"Get in. Quick. All three of you."
The door is opened wider and the three quickly pile in. The first room was pretty much the same as when Max was here last, except for the fact it had more cream coloured sofas in it.
Sat on those sofas were Darren and Chris, the other two of the Detection Legacy. Darren sits up straighter as he sees the three.
Part 5 [11/2/13]
"Now then," Elijah speaks once the three had sat down, "who are the other two you have with you and what were their roles within this plan of yours?"
"On the left of me is Jaz. He's from a college in England which I managed to visit. He was the main reason I was able to infiltrate Plutes again. But it took convincing lies to be able to get me into the trip as well. I was captured a few days in, but then that was how I came to convince Telisa here that the scam is wrong.”
“Sofi,” Telisa then says.
“Sorry?” Max asks.
“Sofi. That’s my name.” She then sets to explain. “Upon signing the pact to join we had to change our name to one of the presets that Stanley had chosen. I guess he hoped it would clue someone into the fact that something was not what it seemed with the first letters of the names equaling ‘set’ and the surname of ‘Upper’, as well as the name of the place. That way, he could have some fun if they did.”
“That doesn’t sound any good,” Elijah says. “You two, would you mind staying here while we ask for details?”
“No problem, dear chap,” Jaz says, and sits back, lounging.
“Wait- What- I” Max stutters.
“Don’t worry,” Sofi says. “There’ll be no trouble."
Max calms just a bit, but is still on edge as Sofi walks into the other room.
“She’s got fighting spirit. She’ll be alright,” Jaz reassures.
“I know, but I suppose they want inner details of the place,” Max says. He then sits down to wait.
They had only been waiting five minutes when Sofi walks out with news.
“They’ve given me a room in this building where I can stay, so I’m not a hassle to you. They say you can visit when you want.” She then ducks her head around the door and they distinctly hear her say “Can I show them the room?”
The two heard no answer but it was obviously positive as the door was swung open and Sofi lead them across the room.
When Max had been here last time, he had seen no evidence that there were more than just two rooms, what with the tables and sofas surrounding the room. On closer inspection though, he sees something he had missed on his earlier visit.
Part 6 [16/2/13]
The corners on the far side of the room weren't exactly a corner, but instead had
horizontal buffers on them, which took quite a bit of the space from the room.
These had been lifted half way to the ceiling to reveal a corridor at each one.
Sofi lead Max and Jaz to the left side one, and instantly upon entering they saw a corridor on the right that connected with the right side of the building. However, the three walk straight on to a door on the left side, and the room Sofi will be staying in was revealed.
Designed and styled exactly like the other rooms of the building, Max couldn't agree that there was anywhere better for her to stay.
"So. This is where I'll be," Sofi says. "I'm sure you two will be visiting a lot."
Max and Jaz look at each other.
"Well, the thing is..." Max starts.
"I think this would be better coming from me," Jaz says. He then turns fully to Sofi and says "I don't know whether Max told you, but I'm from another country and won't be staying."
"Another country?" Sofi asks. "Well I heard you talking about in the classroom, but I didn't think you meant an actual proper different country."
"Oh yes. And like we explained, all the agreements between us two have taken place.
Not to worry though, I'll be back, I'm sure of that."
"Well, if you're sure..."
"Hey," Darren calls. "Visiting time's over."
"What visiting time?" Max rebukes. "Unless you're trying to say something?"
"Well, won't your parents be wondering where you are? You have seen the time, haven't you?"
"Oh," Max states. He then looks at the clock in the room. "Oops. C'mon Jaz. See ya soon, Sofi."
Max runs out of the room, with Jaz and Sofi stood watching each other.
"Well, goodbye. Unless of course I do see you again," Sofi says.
"Yeah. Alright," Jaz says. "Bye then."
Then he follows Max out of the door. Max was standing just outside the building,
waiting. The two then silently, half running, walk back to Max's house.
Part 7 [12/3/13]
Max reaches the door first, and knocks on it. Jaz catches up as the door opens, and Max’s mom is revealed.
“Good time on the holiday?” she asks.
“Yes, very good,” Max replies. “We managed to get all done we needed to.”
“In you come then.”
Both get in, and the next person they see is Max’s dad. “Finally, you’re back. Never took you this long last time.”
“Last time it was a different driver who didn’t care for speed limits on the train,” Max bluntly lies.
“Well, there’s food ready in your room for you. Not sure about how warm it is, but…”
Max and Jaz then haul the luggage through to his room, where they place it down, and not talking, eat the food. Max then takes the plates away once finished, and then both get into their pyjamas. Max then climbs into his bed, and Jaz settles into the sleeping bag he had been using while staying at the house.
The next morning Jaz wakes up to see that Max had already gone from the room. Slowly, he dresses, still a bit sleep fuzzed, and then Max enters the room with two bowls of cereal.
“Just been talking to my dad,” Max alerts. “He says we can have the boat to get you back home, as well as transport to traverse the streets.”
“And before I asked him for even more trips, we’ve got a bit of checking up to do.”
“Well, you remember our arrangement of a game transfer? I was wondering if that Gamestation that opened up in Halesowen is from the same chain as the ones here.”
“But your mom works for the Gamestation. Surely you could have asked her earlier?”
“Yes. But you’re forgetting the second part of the arrangement. Six yellow datasticks, three blank and three full of games. I’ll let you choose the games.”
“Oh, yes. I’d forgot about that. So what is this mission for today?”
“I’ll tell you while we walk there.”
After eating the cereal, Max takes the bowls away to the kitchen with Jaz waiting by the front door. When Max returns, the two exit the house and start walking down the street.
Part 8 [31/3/13]
At the main entrance to the shopping mall, Max and Jaz head straight for Gamestation. Not many people were playing this early, though some were browsing through the books for games.
Walking directly to the table where the clerks were stood, Max asks for more information on the ex-employee.
"Well, for a while he had indeed been talking about expanding out from just this island. The boss had said no. To reveal our secrets beyond these borders is usually forbidden, except in special circumstances like education."
"That employee didn't like it at all though," Max's mom continues. "Even trying to argue that games could be educational and just taking them along to sell. Obviously the boss still didn't trust him. And then, abruptly, he left the company."
"And now, like you said, he is trading secrets anyway without our permission."
The store manager had walked in on the conversation.
"Since when did I say that?" Max asks.
"A few weeks ago when you was in here last. You said a store similar to this had opened up in a town near to where your friend lived."
"Well, a store like this has indeed opened, but I looked through the logs, and nowhere was a single game listed from here."
"Would the employee have recognised you and removed the games from the logs?"
"I highly doubt it. There was a lot of people with me from the local college."
"When you get back to that town then, give us a definitive answer. It's vital if he is sharing secrets with others without permission that he is brought back in."
"What about if you made contact with him to join forces again?" Max asks. "That proposition I made to get their games could be made much more beneficial if it acted like a trade."
"That's not... It doesn't... I'll have to ask and see. The government are strict with that."
"It's settled then. Get back to me within three days and I'll see if I can make contact with that store."
The manager then walks away to the back room again. Jaz then walks back to the counter, asking "What are these gamer bundles advertised?"
The rest of the morning is spent inside Gamestation checking out the latest releases in games and buying new things.
Part 9 [29/4/13]
After lunch, the two took to the mall again and explored even more of the shops. Then, when it was time to head home, the two bought burgers each and walked it back making small talk about their adventures.
Upon reaching the house, there was something odd. Max could faintly remember a situation the same as this before, but couldn't exactly place it. Before he had left, he had activated the screening filter of his room's windows, and outside was someone looking at them. Max quickly indicated to Jaz that there was a secret entrance. He had finally made the connection of why the situation had been odd. The exact same scene had occurred after his first trip to Plutes. Thankfully, the man never looked their way, and so the two could slip around the house's left side and through the secret entrance.
The three were in the car. Max and his dad, and Jaz. It wasn't a long journey to the boat docks, and so conversation was short. When they arrived at the boat docks, and parked alongside the right boat, Max's dad let the two of them out and got out himself as well.
"Now then," he starts. "Some things I'm sure you'd like to know. The first thing is that the night shift boat pilot has been fired."
Max gives a small cheer and fist pump at this. Jaz asks why.
"Well, I've hired a more efficient night shift pilot, and that brings me onto the second thing. The day pilot has been given a car and clearance codes should any law enforcement stop him. And the third thing is that the boat should now get around faster due to its new upgrades. As well as speed and comfort, there are some new services available if you'd like to try them."
"Great," Max says. "Well thanks for everything, and hopefully I'll be back by next week."
"Thanks for everything, Mr Rushden," Jaz then speaks. "It has been a joy to be here. And also thanks for letting me stay at the house."
"Not at all," Max's dad comments. "Now then. Time for you two to be on the boat. And also to more adventures."
Max and Jaz wave as they walk towards the ramp, where the day pilot greets them, then shows them to their room. Ten minutes later, their luggage is brought into the room, and the pilot announces that they are on the way.
Part 10 [30/4/13]
Settled down, Max gets his laptop out and activates the Skype-like program. When Jaz sees this he pulls up a seat as well and looks at the laptop.
"Now then, we'll see how everyone has been getting on," Max whispers.
Jaz heard him say that. "Yes. But what if they ask about the holiday?"
"Say it's been fun and you'll tell them in more detail when you get back."
The call is then sent out, and the first people to get on are Jess and Liam. More people then start to come on, like Shannon, Amy and Kayleigh. The only disappointment was that Chris wasn't on, though Jess explained that he was on holiday.
Max enjoyed listening to all that had been going on, and Jaz was relating all that had been going on with him and Max. At twelve o'clock, food trays were wheeled in with lunch on them. After the pasta had been eaten, which Jaz commented had been very nice, the conversation continued fully again.
People went offline and came back on again, with Jess nursing a cup of tea half way through the day.
At five o'clock, a steaming hot roast meal was wheeled into the room, and Max could see the astonished faces of the others. Jaz commented "Your dad wasn't kidding when he said upgrades. This is much better than last time."
At six fifteen, when the meal had been washed away with orange squash drinks and a glass of flavoured water, Jess made an 'ooh' noise and said that Chris had replied to her message on Facebook, and that he said hi, and that he hoped Jaz's adventures were great and sorry he couldn't be on, but the internet connection wasn't that great. All in a really fast voice.
At 12 o'clock, only Jess, Shannon and Tasha remained, but they were all still talking about their adventures in the Republic Antarctic. Tasha had joined at nine o'clock and asked for all that had been going on.
A few minutes later, an announcement comes through. "We are now arriving at Weston-Super-Mare docks. We are now arriving at Weston-Super-Mare docks."
"What was that?" Jess asks. "You're back in England?"
"Yes," Jaz says. "It seems we are. Upgrades indeed."
A knock on the door then alerts everyone on the call. The door then opens and a waiter comes in. "We are now back, but since the day pilot is asleep, you won't be leaving the boat until tomorrow."
"That's fine," Max replies. "We also need to be getting to sleep."
"Aaaw," Jess says. "Do you have to go?"
"We'll be setting out early so it would be best."
"Oh. Okay. Hope to talk more tomorrow. And remember, the full account."
Part 1 [24/11/12]
The LED light was now in the hands of the torch bearer, and Max has a good idea of who it is. Walking down the other side of the hill, Max gets down on hands and knees and starts feeling for the large rock which was the entrance to the underground. It wasn’t located on the tracker, which made Max think that it had been dug by a previous occupant, who had also escaped.
His hand found the rock, which was quite large, and he started to crawl around it. On the other side, he then pushed it up and slipped inside.
Whether Stanley knew about it, he was unsure. Now it just a case of finding somewhere good to sleep ready for tomorrow. He was the star of the show, and it wouldn’t do good to miss the fun.
Jaz woke up at 07:00 on Saturday morning. He would have thought they’d at least give a lie in the students here of a weekend, but no. More toiling, and more work. Boring work that is. Who in their right mind would call tuning equipment that should already be prepped work? But if Max was to pull this off, he needed to co-operate. And as such, needed to attach a camera to him. Unsure on what to do with it though, Jaz thought back to what Max did, while changing.
He then throws the camera lightly at his shirt. It clings on. And as an added measure, Jaz attaches a microphone to his shirt as well. This is more difficult, as it doesn’t seem to auto attach like the camera does. Placing it lightly on his shirt however makes it stick.
Looking in the mirror, the attachments are hardly noticeable. Walking out of the door, and into the café, Jaz gets food and eats alone.
Telisa then walks in, followed by Stanley, who looks angered by something. It was then Jaz remembers he had forgot something. Finishing quickly, he runs back into the dorm area and to his room, barging into the washroom, and sitting on the toilet.
Refreshed, he walks out more slower than he came in. It is then he notices four things. Max’s laptop bag had disappeared, there was a piece of paper on the floor, the door to the room was open, and Stanley was standing right outside.
Part 2 [26/11/12]
Slowly, he walks to the bed and gets down, moving the piece of paper into his right hand while reaching for the suitcase. He then brings the suitcase out and gets the Tic-Tacs out of a compartment. With his right hand, he then puts them in his pocket.
“Come on,” Stanley calls. “Time for briefing.”
Jaz follows Stanley back to the café and sits down. Stanley walks to the main door and turns around.
“Right then,” he says. “While me and Telisa get the cameras ready for you to film, you lot will be in the sound suite. When you get there, Ean will explain everything.”
“Follow me,” Ean says.
The students file out of the door. Jaz looks around as they all walk up a different hill to the ones they’ve been walking up all week. When he gets to the top of this one, Jaz sees that there is a lot more foliage and rockery spread around.
Walking down the hill, Ean picks out a key. When he reaches the door, however, he looks frantically around and runs back up the hill. Halfway up, he turns around and says “Don’t move anywhere. I’ll be right back” to the students, then disappears over the top of the hill.
Taking this opportunity, Jaz takes the piece of paper from his pocket and reads it. Again, it is another note from Max.
“Don’t worry. I have the laptop bag. I sneaked in last night to get it. Now get ready to watch the performance of a lifetime.”
Looking up, he sees a small rock move. Walking over to it, he sees a pair of eyes appearing from behind a bush. Jaz starts to walk forward, but a hand appears through the bush telling him to go back. Wondering why, he walks back to the rest of the group, putting the note back in his pocket.
Five seconds later, Stanley appears on top of the hill with Ean. They walk down to the building, where Stanley looks at the door.
He then turns to Ean. “Get everyone to the café area.”
Part 3 [28/11/12]
"Everyone! Follow me!" Ean calls.
The students follow Ean back up the hill. As Jaz looks back however, he could of been imagining the movement of a rock.
"And get Telisa for me," Stanley calls.
Ean leads the students to the cafe again, where the two teachers are just exiting.
"What's going on?" Tom asks.
Jaz doesn't catch the answer that is said.
Telisa then walks out of the cafe as well, yawning. "What's going on?" she sighs. "Oh, don't tell me. I've got another job."
"Yes. Stanley wants you at the the recording studio. It seems that Max has been about."
"Oh great. So what do I have to do with it?"
"He put you in charge of the recapture of Max, and so you should be responding, or even looking for him."
"Why do you think I was yawning my head off? I have been doing what he requested of me. In fact, I found something else he dropped as well. Suppose I'd better see what Stanley wants. See ya."
Max breathes a sigh of relief. So it had been Telisa with the torch, not Stanley. Telisa who had the torches. He hoped she had put them back in the drawer.
"You wanted me?" Telisa's voice sounds through the speakers.
Max had his laptop out and had found a good vantage point in which to keep it under power. He was now listening to the mic he had placed on Telisa's jumper. As he had instructed her, she hadn't swapped it for another.
Telisa then coughs. "What was that for?"
"You know I hate it when you don't respond. Now then, the door was open with the lock broke. What do you think Max has been doing?"
"Can't say for certain. Maybe he wanted a closer look at the building. In case there was anything hidden anywhere."
"Good. Now look around the area for him."
"You didn't expect him to be lingering anywhere here. You want me to go over the other side and start looking for him there."
"Good. Keep at it until lunchtime. I don't you out of energy during tonight. Fourty-seven students to move, as well as two teachers. And I want tight security. If Max is wanting to get away from here, he's got to get on the train before it leaves."
That was something Max was dearly looking forward to. The performance had only just started.
Part 4 [30/11/12]
Jaz was wondering when they'd be able to continue when Stanley comes walking in, and beckons Ean closer. After a whispered conversation in rushed tones, Ean then calls to the students "We can head back now, but we will have to stayover lunchtime. There are supplies of food however, so there's no worries."
He then leads them back out of the cafe, up the hill and down to the recording studio. Inside there was the standard equipment Jaz was used to, but in a different configuration.
"So then, we'll set to work in tuning this stuff to your voices so they can get the best pitch."
Jaz, however, knew why they wanted the tuning of the voices.
Telisa hated how Stanley was always pushing her around. Wasn't she good enough material for this? Not if she was planning to help Max and escape from here. But anything was better than being pushed around by Stanley.
A piece of the hill she was walking on then moves. As if intruding upon her thoughts, Max then pops up from the ground.
"How's it going?" he asks.
"Good," she replies distractedly.
"Well tomorrow we'll be away from here, and I'll be able to present evidence to the group."
"First let's get away from here. From tomorrow, it will be all right. All of this won't matter. It wi-"
Max disappears and the ground becomes smooth once more. Stanley then comes up the hill.
"Well? Have you found anything?" Stanley asks in a rough manner.
"No. Well... I-" she was still in two minds. Who did she want to betray. Before she could come to any sort of descision, she was already saying what she knew she mustn't, and saying it quickly. "I've had contact with Max. He just appeared out of the ground around here."
The hardest punch yet followed these words as Stanley yells "Why didn't you tell me sooner then!"
However, knocked off balance, Telisa hardly heard these words. She was being battered by the hill as she tumbled down it. Again she was forced to consider why she even stays here.
Part 5 [2/12/12]
Stanley comes walking down the hill. Slowly.
"Now then. You will be dealing with the memory modifier drug all on your own tonight. But before that, you've got sort outthe usual measures to make sure no-one gets into their rooms. So get up and get along!"
Telisa gets up, says "Sure," grudgingly and walks off to the dorms.
Why Stanley was treating her like scum was all to clear to her now. He still didn't trust her. All she could do was hope she survived until tonight.
Max was heading for the lift up to the next level. He had been down in the underground far too long and risking it in the next level up wasn't that bad either. Besides that, he wanted to plant a few little scarers to indicate he could easily get around.
In the lift, it took no time at all to program it using an electrical shocker that he wanted to go up one level. When the doors opened, what he saw was one passage going off from a rather large lobby area. He could see three beds and a door that must lead to storage.
Deciding to follow one of the paths, he sees indications that it is more widely used. Unlike the underground, however, this was one straight path. And he had a good idea where it was headed.
This was confirmed when he turned right and right again, and saw a slope rising upwards. Starting to walk that way, he then sees another passage that curved right and went downwards wondering what was down there, he follows this passage instead. It doesn't last very long, and ends in a spiralling slope.
Climbing this, he sees a treasure trove of goods. Computers, stacks of money, boxes full of who knows what, as well as what looked like blueprints on tables. Looking inside one of the boxes, he sees high-spec cameras and tripods. Looking inside another, he sees guns and grenades. Another box holds explosives. Another holds the memory modifier syringes that are used.
Digging inside this box, he pulls out a plan of how to make the drug required. Folding this up and putting it inside his laptop bag, he goes to look at other blueprints as well, but then hears footsteps walking down the corridor.
Part 6 [4/12/12]
Quickly, he dodges behind a crate and peeks around it. He sees no-one, but still hears the footsteps. Reaching into the crate, he feels what is inside. Closing his hand around one of the devices, he withdraws the hand and sees a grenade. Up close, it looks real.
Scrounging a few more, he puts them inside his pockets, making sure the pins are still in. He then gets one more and waits. A shadow passes across his box, and he pulls the pin out and throws it as far as he can.
An explosion rips across the room spreading chaos. Fast footsteps follow once the explosion dies down.
Max grabs his laptop bag and, after peeking around the crate to see if the distraction was working, ran for it while making no noise. All the way back out, to the lift, and breaking open the emergency hatch at the top. He then climbs through that and starts climbing the structure after making sure the hatch was shut again. At the top, he works the lift doors open and flips up the sliding door beyond. Closing both, he then wires the grenades using a piece of wire and attaches them on the lift door.
Continuing to run, he heads out, not bothering to close the door behind him. Running up the hill, he then heads back down, removes the rock and heads back inside the underground. Pulling the rock back into position, he then travels to a spot of the underground with the most space.
There, he gets his laptop out and listens into the mic, and also Jaz's camera. It appeared that Stanley was in the recording studio. He kept a watch to see if Ean would appear, and then he saw a sleeve of Ean's jumper.
But that meant the only person with access to the clan house was Telisa. And if he had just blew part of the storage area up, and fused grenades onto the lift door, then she was in for a big surprise.
He then hears more footsteps, and closes the laptop quickly. He still had a few grenades left, but he seriously didn't want to test the integral structure of the place. Laptop back in the bag, he runs in a random direction and almost immediately collides with something running the other way.
Part 7 [6/12/12]
Max recovers long enough to recognise the voice and sees Telisa looking confused.
"How did you get down here?" he asks.
"Well you throw a grenade, obviously it's going to break a wall that's only two metres thick, especially if there's another crate of small explosives where it landed."
"How did you find that place anyhow?"
"Took the lift up one floor from the underground to have a look around. I thought you were Stanley."
"Well, if we were planning to stop students getting into the dorms before, it's a whole lot easier now."
"I'd guessed where the storeroom was located. But how are you going to tell about it?"
"The truth," Telisa says, though she seems a bit scared of even saying it.
"Good. But whatever you do, I'd stay away from the clan house unless you want to get blown up by accident."
"What did you do?" Telisa says, sounding shocked.
"Rigged a tripwire using some of the grenades I had left," Max says noncommittally.
"Well, to get at Stanley yes. But what about Ean?"
"Does he fully support this scheme?"
"Well, yes. I guess."
"Same goes for him then. Now then, can you drive the train?"
"Good. When everyone is loaded onto the train, you will take control of it. Get us away from here as fast as the train will allow."
"Um. Sure. I'll be off to do these jobs then."
"Good. And remember the full objective here."
Telisa turns and walks off. Max follows and turns down a different path.
Part 8 [8/12/12]
Jaz was wondering how long this could go on for. Being a master at audio technology, he knew how long it took to tune microphones, but this was stretching it by a far amount. He knew better than to say so however.
Everyone else was taking no notice of how long it was taking. In fact, he had started to see changes in them. Changes that resolved around them liking the holiday, if it could be called such.
"Right then," Ean calls after what felt another eternity. "That's good. Let's head back and get some food, and then we can sleep."
The students file out, hungry but entertained, with Ean in the lead. Jaz was almost next to him. Telisa was waiting outside the door to the café area, a grim face set.
"Sorry everyone," she says. "Some of our stored explosives appear to have been set off and destroyed some of the dorms. We've managed to collect all your possessions and have stored them in the café area." She winces, rubbing her neck. "Collect them, then sit down and grab your food."
Everyone enters, and the first thing they see is a load of sleeping bags packed in one corner. Another door had appeared with what looked like a toilet sign on it against the far wall.
"Just in case you need to go," Telisa says. "However, it is linked to one of the boys rooms, so don't stay in that room."
Everyone hunted for their things, chose a table and put all their things underneath, then went to get food. During the course of this, nearly everyone went to the toilet. When the first of the people had finished their food, Telisa showed them to the sleeping bags, and told them to take one each and find space where they could. The others were also finishing, and by 20:00, everyone was tucked inside a sleeping bag.
Jaz wasn't even feeling tired however, and just lay for ages staring at the wall by the door to the boys dorms. Checking his watch, he sees it was 20:15. Time was creeping slowly by. He at least wanted to be doing something.
A door then creaks open. Lifting himself up a little, he sees that nearly everyone else is asleep. Only one other person was awake, standing looking down at another sleeping bag. That person then looks up, and sees Jaz at the same time Jaz recognises who it is.
"Telisa!" Max whispers through the gap in the door. "It's okay! We're game."
Part 9 [10/12/12]
Max then turns around and smiles at Jaz as Telisa walks through the door leading into the dorm room.
"What are you two doing here?" Jaz whispers.
"Well, I have a key here to get that door that's always locked open," Telisa says. "And then I'm to move all of this lot to the train, where it will then go back to Central."
"I'll help," Jaz says.
Telisa laughs. "Sure. But you aren't going anywhere until I know it's safe for you to be moving around. Stanley could be hiding somewhere. Wait until I'm back."
Telisa then walks to the door and unlocks it. Once she has walked through it, Jaz says "Ah, it's really good to see you again, dear chap. I know it's only been a few days but being here has made it more like a few weeks."
"Join the club," Max drily comments. "I feel the same however. And once we get back, there is only one day or so before we have to go back."
"You'll have to go into the college on Monday, I suppose. Although, if they don't have the drug to stimulate the memory and add a full weeks worth of memories of the good times here, they will see what a bad place it really is and there won't be what there was last time the trip ended."
Telisa then comes back through the door. "It's safe," she whispers. "Now let's start loading."
The loading of the students, teachers and luggage takes over half an hour. Following the path Max took to reach the storage, then heading straight on instead of down the path to the storage. Through the next door is the station, or what appeared to be the station. Telias explains about the underground part of the station to both Jaz and Max.
By the time everything and everyone had been loaded, all three of them are tired out.
"At least you get to rest," Telisa says to Jaz. "I've got to ride the train to Central, and Max is on lookout duty."
"Like I could sleep anyway," Jaz says.
"Well I'd say you could join us in the control compartment, but you need to look like you've been moved like the rest of them."
"If you can't sleep, at least try and stay out of harms way," Max says.
The three then enter the train through two doors, ready for the long nights journey.
Part 10 [13/12/12]
"So. We just raise the train to the main of the platform, and we'll be on our way," Telisa says.
"Yes. And then this whole ordeal is over," Max agrees.
The train slowly rises as the rail moves up through mechanics that connect the train and this piece of track. When fully raised, two clacks indicate that the connectors have broke away and have returned to their rest postions.
"Right then, let's get this train underway," Telisa says.
She flips switches and pulls a lever to get the train started. She then uses another lever which was stiff to increase the speed slightly. Max understands why, and knew that Telisa recognised that comfort was needed when going over bumps.
Once navigated past the area boundary, she then raises the speed more with the lever. Slowly, the train gains more speed until the scenery blasts past in a blur.
A screech then resounds through the compartment. But then both Max and Telisa realise that the sound is external, and feel the bumpyness of another force acting against the train.
"Uh, what's going on?" Max asks.
"Someone's activated the other control bay and is trying to get us back to Plutes."
"That's not good."
"No," Telisa says. "It isn't. Any ideas."
"A wild one." Max then opens the door of the control bay and climbs out.
"Are you crazy? Do you have a death wish or something?" Telisa screams.
"One, no. Two, I want to see who it is in the other control bay. And three, there is one grenade left in my pocket which I can use."
"You really are crazy. But go ahead. I'll see what I can do here."
Without replying, Max grabs hold of the roof and starts to work his way across. It was all very easy, as the roof of the main carridge was fitted with a type of holder that could allow for multiple things to be attached to it.
Once across, he holds on with one hand while reaching as far as he could with the other to the door of the other control bay. Inside, working furiously on all the controls, was Stanley. It appeared he didn't trust Telisa one bit.
The grenade was a lot harder to manipulate, but he managed to wedge it near to the bottom between the gap of carridge and control bay. Quickly he works his way back to the other end, and as he reaches the half way mark, the grenade explodes. The train wobbles wildly as the track is ravaged, but the link between the other control bay and the carridge is severed.
Both shoot away from each other as though magnets repulsed from each other. Max works his way back to the control bay and enters again.
"Job well done," he says to Telisa.
Part 1 [20/8/12]
When in the clan house, Max is dragged to the end of the hallway. Telisa presses a hidden button, concealed within the wall, and a door opens. This is a lift, and made of steel. Dragging Max in, Telisa then presses the bottom button in a line of three before standing in front of it.
The lift starts to descend and Telisa whispers "In time, you will tell us where that equipment is hidden."
"I don't think that is likely," Max retorts. "Before this week is out you will have betrayed your clan members and your journey back to reality will be complete."
Telisa scoffs. "If you think that."
The lift then opens and she pushes him out. "Let's see if you can survive in here for a day or two."
The doors to the lift then close as Max tries to get up. When he does get up, he sees no buttons to call the lift. However, he realises that he wouldn't be able to call the lift yet anyway. Telisa would still be around.
So he set to exploring.
The tunnels were steel as well, reminding Max of Star Destroyers and other hallways of cruisers from Sci-Fi shows. Wondering down one, he mentally mapped his position to where he remembered the sound studios to be. Maybe there was more than one way out. Only problem was, he mused, it was a maze down here.
Not one corridor lasted very long. There was more than one way to go each time. And even Max's knowledge of placing an almost accurate account of which way was north wouldn't be much good here. But even so, he set off down a tunnel to the left.
Jaz had been wondering what he was going to tell Max's parents when he got back. Lunchtime had arrived and they were all sat in the cafe. Jaz wasn't though.
He was searching for anything that Max might have left behind.
That was when he stumbles across a note in the cupboard. Pulling it out, Jaz knew it had been left quite a while ago. All it said was 'Left of'.
Jaz shook his head, wondering what it meant. He put it in his pocket to look at later. Heading out into the cafe to get some lunch, Jaz wonders where Max is now. Knowing exactly where he was would be better than saying he didn't after all. And it might give him a chance to get instructions off Max, however vague they might be.
Part 2 [4/9/12]
Max woke at a hard pain in his ribs. Uncurling himself, he looks up to see Telisa standing over him.
"Up now," she says. "Stanley wants a word."
Max slowly gets up and follows Telisa back down the passage, who was following some GPS device. Max sees Stanley before he sees the lobby where the lift is.
"Now then," Stanley says in his best sweet voice, with his best kindly smile on, "we will discuss the location of your hidden devices."
Before Max could reply, a hand had come from behind Stanley's back, and a needle had been jabbed in his left arm.
Ever since Max had been found, security had been pretty lax, Jaz had noted. So much so that he had gone from where they were working that day to the cafe without anyone noticing.
Taking the note from the day before out of his pocket, Jaz reads it again, and starts thinking. After a few seconds, he stands with his back to the door and walks left. At the end of the building, he turns left again.
Following the building all the way along brings him sight with the train.
"Of course," he softly says.
Running to the train, he jumps in. But no bag is in sight.
He looks under the train, inspects every inch of the train, but cannon find Max's bag.
"Please please please don't say they've already found it. Wait... Logic. If I was in a hurry, I'd want them to believe this is where I've left it."
Following this thought, he then follows the track. The only thing he sees is the rails. Keeping to his train of thought like a train on the rails, Jaz soon comes along a part of the track he remembers.
Near to the end of the journey, just as they slow down, there is a bump in the ground. The rails couldn't fully accommodate this and so they had left a small gap between the rails and the ground.
Somehow wedged into this was Max's bag.
"How I'm going to get this out is well beyond me."
And so, kneeling down, Jaz sets to some proper work.
Part 3 [4/9/12]
"How many more times do I have to say it?" Max screams. "The. Station."
"Do you really believe us to be fools?" Stanley says. "I'd rather you gave the exact location." A pause. "Actually, Telisa keep him here. I'm going to wait for a bit to get that drug active. Then we'll see how persuasive he is."
Stanley enters the lift and it goes up.
"You'd better consider telling him, otherwise he'll have me searching all over for it. You don't want that do you?"
"I'd much rather you all suffer," Max retorts. "But two's good enough."
He gives a little time for that to sink in before saying "You're not used to this, are you?"
"That's the second time you've said that blasted line!" Telisa screams.
Max could tell he had hit some kind of mark that time. "It would be easier on me if you'd let me show you where it is," he tries suggestively.
"What. So you can run off?" Telisa scoffs. "No way. This job isn't worth losing."
"Surprised you call it a job."
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
"Look at what you are doing! How is this a job? All you are doing is conning people out of their money! That's no job! That's theft!"
Telisa then backhands his mouth. "The job is more complicated then you could care to imagine."
"I care to imagine quite a lot," Max retorts, tasting blood as he speaks. He then shudders.
"Sure you can," Telisa says as the lift door opens again.
"Right then. Time to ask you again." Stanley then pulls another syringe out of his pocket. "And I promise that if you don't tell this time, more than a simple flu virus will be entering your system."
"Fine. If you want a location for it, it can't do know harm to tell you," Max says slowly eyes downcast.
"I wedged it underneath a piece of track in the station. The storage area where all the spare track is kept." Max made sure his voice was injected with enough sense of defeat to give them the impression he was telling the truth.
It worked. "Fine," Stanley says. "Telisa, come on. Let's go search." He raises the syringe just a bit higher. "But I swear if you are lying this will go into somewhere painful." He then puts the syringe away, and takes Telisa's arm.
Ever so slowly, Max reaches out to Telisa as their backs are turned. His hand grabs the GPS in Telisa's hand.
The grip tightens, then is gone as Stanley slaps Telisa on the back. When both are in the lift and are about to turn around, Max legs it from the lobby, quickly diving around a corner.
Peaking around the corner, the lift doors close up.
Part 4 [12/9/12]
It had taken Jaz roughly half an hour to get the bag out from the track. With it over his shoulder, he then heads back to the cafe. Looking out to the distance, he starts running.
Two figures were seen in the station, and he had a good idea who they were. Heading in the opposite direction from the station, Jaz runs around the building then slows to a walk when he reaches the door.
"Hey!" a voice calls.
No! No! No-no-no! Jaz thinks. They've found me.
However, it was only the teacher called Tom. Looking in the direction of the shout, he sees that the entire group is heading back down the hill.
Jaz quickly dives around the door, runs to his room and hides Max's laptop bag in the cupboard. He then runs out of the room, and back to the cafe. When the others arrive, Jaz is already sat down.
Tom immediately rounds on him, sitting at the table as well. "What are you playing at?"
"I came back early. Earlier than normal," Jaz says.
"Well I can't blame you if you're hungry. But wait in the future, until all other students have gathered as well. Otherwise the instructors here might think you're... up to something." The last three words are said slightly slower, as though he was thinking things through. "They tell me Max has been here. He was with you."
"Yes." Jaz sees no reason to say any more.
"I don't know what he is planning or what he has, but he was spouting nonsense about this place being a con."
"I heard the same thing." Jaz again doesn't let on more than needs to be said.
"Directly from him?"
"So what are you in his plan?"
"I know nothing of his plan." Then feeling this conversation should come to a quicker end, "When he contacted the college he made no mention of it being a con. It was only near the beginning of this trip when I heard any mention of it being a con, and that was because I had overheard him talking in his room."
"Can we just go to your room?"
"Er... sure." How? And why? Does he know something?
Part 5 [9/10/12]
"Does it have to be now?" Jaz asks quickly, sparing a glance at the serving bar, which had just opened all its shutters.
"Well, if you're hungry I suppose it could wait until after you've eaten," Tom replies slowly.
"Great." And so Jaz gets up from the table and walks to the serving bar, queuing with the others who were ready and waiting to be served food, thinking how he would be able to get out of this one.
Not really paying attention to what he was eating, he suddenly jumps up.
"What?" Lee, the other teacher, had been watching him.
"I've just remembered I haven't taken my Tic-Tac's."
"Tic-Tac's?" Tom asks, having heard this. "What are they?"
"Tablet-like substances which revive energy. I was meant to take one a while back, but forgot to bring them out with me."
Jaz gets up, and Tom makes to follow, but Jaz see this and says "I am able to find and take them myself. Just watch my table and make sure no-one nicks my food."
He then walks sedately towards the boys dorms and enters through the doors. Heading to his room, he them locates where he left Max's bag and exits with the bag, heading to a room he was sure was empty. Opening the door, he sees that it is. This room had a view of the station. Looking out of the windows, he sees that Stanley and Telisa aren't around any more.
Looking down again, he pushes the bag under the bed, exits that room and makes a note of where it is, then heads back to his own. Just as he was about to get inside, he hears footsteps and quickly reverses direction of door opening, so that he closes it instead.
Looking, he sees Tom quizzically glancing at him. "You took them then?"
"Oh yes, they was stuck inside my suitcase which was stuck under the bed," Jaz replies.
"Well hurry up and get back to your food. Then we can have that talk inside your room."
Still looking at him quizzically, Tom walks away. Jaz follows after allowing arms distance between them.
Part 6 [3/11/12]
Max had put the GPS to good use. He had located certain exits around the park that would give him an advantage. He didn't dare go out into the open. It would spoil the entire part of the new plan.
And besides which, the more they suffered, the better.
Jaz had finished his food, and he and Tom were sat in his room. Tom was giving him a stern look. Then he started to speak.
"If you know anything about Max, you should give that infomation up to the instructors. Max has been spurring up trouble ever since he got back, and it's all been centred around this place being a con. I'm guessing that's why he invented this whole scheme of getting you here, as well as visiting your country to get a better idea of life outside this island so he could take a different personality and face while here."
"Well, like I said before, I knew nothing about his plans. And also, he never confided in me at all. As I said, the only way I ever heard anything off him was when he was making one of those stupid recordings of his."
"So you admit he still does those?"
"Yes. It's sort of a thing of his. Fussy about his logs."
"Right then." Tom then gets up. "I'll leave you alone. But if you do see him. Report it. Okay?"
"Yeah. Sure," Jaz says.
Tom walks to the door, opens it and exits, closing it behind him. Jaz lies on the bed and heaves a great sigh of relief.
"He lied!" Stanley screams. "Lied."
"I told you he would never consiously betray the location of that equipment," Telisa says breathlessly, trying to keep up.
Stanley was storming back to the clan house in a full anger. "We need another course of action!"
"What course of action?" Telisa says exasperated. "There's nothing else we can do!"
"I'll make good on my promise and stick that syringe in his eye. Then if he doesn't reveal anything, his other eye will make great target practise."
Stanley storms round to face her. "You object?" His eyes are popping. "You actually care for him?"
"No! But what would his parents say when he arrives back like that! And think of the teachers! What would they say!"
"We'll cover it up. We'll send him home with a note saying it was an accident."
"Sticking a syringe in someone's eyes isn't an accident!"
Stanley storms back round and walks off to the clan house. Telisa hurries to keep up. Inside, they lock the door, then head to the secret lift. Down into the underground, it becomes apparent that Max isn't around.
"Where is he?" Stanley shouts. "Give the underground tracker."
"Don't have it," Telisa says.
"What do you mean?"
"You gave it away."
"When you slapped me into the lift, he had a grip on the undrground tracker."
"So it's your fault! Not mine! Get a better grip!"
"How could you say such a thing!"
Stanley turns to go back to the lift but turns around again to say something else.
Telisa's foot can be seen whipping around the corner.
Part 7 [7/11/12]
Stanley runs across to where Telisa was and sees her turning down into another corner. He follows then stops short. Following her through the maze of the underground would mean he, the manager of this enterprise, would be lost too. And with no manager, things would fall and fail. As well as that, he needed to make sure Ean wouldn't go the same way.
Max was just walking back to one of the secret exits he had found when someone ran into him, knocking him flat. He wonders who would be running around down here. Then he looks between his legs.
"What are you doing here?" both he and Telisa say.
"You know why I'm here," Max says, "but the question remains why are you down here? Unless Master Chief of the entire scam got you to get me?"
"Nah. I ran away. You were right. I'm not used to this. I'm probably already blacklisted from the clan."
"Doesn't that worry you?"
"Not if I escape with you. You do have a plan right?" Telisa asks.
"Well, I need to get a message to Jaz. And then we should be all set and waiting for Sunday."
"You do realise there's no food down here, right? And the possibility of ever getting out of here is nill?"
"I've already done both. What do you think I've been doing with this GPS thing?"
"So what's the plan?"
"First we need to get that message to Jaz..."
On the Thursday, Jaz had started to miss Max. It had been another hard days toiling, and he had got a blister in his right hand. He had completely forgotten about the spyware Max had got on his laptop.
But he was starting to get a bit bored of a night, and with Max locked away somewhere, there was no way he would know.
So after eating in the cafe with his left hand, he finishes early and heads to the room he had left Max's laptop bag. Picking it up, and returning to his room, he sits on the bed and opens the bag.
A note is lying on top of the laptop. Jaz picks it up wondering how it got there.
Part 8 [12/11/12]
After staring at the note for a while longer, Jaz decides to see what it read.
"Jaz, it took a while to find it, but I knew you'd be able to figure out the clue and get the bag somewhere else. While you lot were busy today, I sneaked to where I hid it, and found it wasn't there. Searching all the rooms lead me to where you hid it. Great hiding place, by the way, but there is more important things to discuss. On the last day, they will take you to a hill that is a soundproofed recording room and get you to tune the equipment in one room. You will be heavily supervised on that day. That's so they can get ready the big 'surprise' that the area is flooded from another storm. On that day, I want you to keep a camera attached to you at all times. This is the only part of the plan, and I won't be telling you anything else.
"Dispose of this in the regular trash. It will not be seen."
Jaz is thankful that Max is okay, but keeping a camera on him somewhere all day might be a bit of a problem.
"It's vital to the plan."
"It's foolhardy and reckless."
"Not if you spin the coin the right way."
Max was having difficulty persuading Telisa to go ahead with the latest part of his masterplan.
"I'm telling you I don't want to do it. If he kills me-"
"He won't. He might treat you a bit harshly as soon as he first sees you, but give him a chance, and he'll see he'll need you."
"But what will you do here, all alone?"
"I've got other things to be doing."
"But what if he wants me to return down here and bring you up. He'll most likely think I've been with you all this time."
"Then tell him you've searched this area and found no sign at all of me."
"He'll still want me to hunt you down. He'll have me looking all over the hills and the entire grounds. He'll be paranoid that you're hiding somewhere around here."
"Then you'll just have to show him the signs."
"You'll see. Just go."
He then pats her on the shoulder. "And just keep that jumper on. I'm relying on you. No messing up."
Telisa then walks away.
Part 9 [19/11/12]
"You!" Stanley screams. "You! How dare you come back here!"
Stanley storms up to Telisa, and she makes up her mind quickly. "Hey! Don't be harsh on me. You wanted the boy and I was searching for him."
Stanley scoffs and so she adds, "You did want him to torture. I was only following orders."
"If you've been searching for him, where is he?"
"Well, I was down there for a day, but there was no traces of him. And I searched everywhere."
Stanley relaxes his shoulders then quick as a flash his right fist comes up to connect with Telisa's left cheek. Her head is sent onto her right shoulder and she starts to spin, staggering.
"What was that for!" she says, emphasising the third word.
"For walking away without a word. For making me not trust you. And for not even an apology or reward when you returned. If you've been down in the underground for a full two days..."
"I only had my water bottle on me, taking sips from it over the two days."
"Fine. Get in the cafe and get a lot to eat. Just get back to the clan house as soon as you're done and be ready for work again tomorrow. I'll be watching you, and if you ever speak to me like you did Tuesday again, I make sure you get as worse as Rushden will get when he's found."
"Sure," Telisa says, and walks into the cafe building. She was just hoping all she would get from that punch was a crick in the neck.
Jaz was still pondering over the note when a knock on the door brought him back to his senses. Quickly stuffing the note back into the laptop bag and stuffing that under the bed, he answers "Hello?" to the knock.
The door slowly opens and the woman clan member's head pokes through.
"What do you want? I know nothing!"
"And I know everything," she replies. "Now be a bit more quiet so everyone doesn't hear."
"Oh. Come in." She does so, sitting on Max's bed. "So you know where Max is?" Jaz instanly asks.
"Yes. He just wanted me to come here and say not to be alarmed on Saturday when the coming events happen."
"I already know. He left me a note."
"Well, just so you know. Oh, and he says leave the laptop well alone if you know what's best for the cause."
And with that she goes to leave. Leaning against the door, she appears to be listening for something. Then she opens the door and exits.
Part 10 [22/11/12]
The night of Friday saw Max sneaking out through one of the secret exits he had located. He knew that his dark clothing would protect him in the long run, but when it came to sneaking into the student building he would have to employ stealth.
Running over the hill, he sees the faint light of the student building and heads to it. Once down the hill, he stops and looks around. Seeing no-one, he continues to the door.
Slowly opening it, he sees no-one inside either. Without bothering to even wonder why they never lock the doors, he opens the door even wider and enters. From inside his jacket, he pulls the torch that he had made a long time ago. This one was a simple LED creation, but still had all the tracking technology of everything else he made.
Flashing it across every door, he looks for the room that he had chosen for him and Jaz. Locating it, he pushes open the door slowly. Shining the light on the ground brings no results, except a flash of a reflection under the bed Jaz was sleeping on.
Getting on the floor, Max looks under the bed to see what he was after.
Opening it up, pulling out a square piece of paper, he writes another note, quickly, for Jaz when he wakes up.
Closing the laptop bag up, he puts the strap over him and exits the room, follows the route back to the cafe, then out of the main door. He then starts heading back to the secret exit; his work done.
Looking around to see if anyone was out, he sees the searchlight. Shining brighter than normal. The maker had been revealed with his own weapon. It appeared that Stanley had found the torch Max had hidden in the drawer of the clan house.
Realising that staying near a solid object was a sure fire way to get caught, Max runs to the hill. Looking down, he sees a reflection of light.
Betrayed! Again! By his own things. Looking back, the light seems to be wobbling, as though someone is running. Max decides to increase his speed and makes it up the hill. However, he had dropped the other torch somewhere on the hill, so getting back to the entrance of the underground would require precise action. Turning around to see however, it seemed the torch bearer had found something much interesting.
A second light comes on.
Part 1 [16/6/12]
Everyone was making a lot of noise. The students were stood up, with suitcases around them of different colours, and were mingling with each other. Two teachers walk around the room checking the list of students.
Two other students were standing in a corner. But these weren't students of this year group. One was student of Halesowen College, far away in the UK, and the other was former student of the Lower Clifton College taking the identity of another student from Halesowen College. These two were Jaz and Max.
"Okay!" Tom calls. "Everyone is here. Let's get on the coaches."
All the students file out of the classroom, lead by the other teacher, Lee. Tom takes up the rear. They are lead into a lobby area directly left from the lobby into which they enter.
Tom calls them to a halt and they wait, shifting from foot to foot or just looking around. A few seconds later, he calls for them to walk again.
Waiting outside are the two coaches, and all students file onto either one. Within a few minutes, both rumble off.
The chatter of the students as they talk while the journey continues washes over Max as he sleeps. Jaz looks out the window, watching as the cities and the countryside flashes past.
All too soon, the coaches pull up outside a train station.
"Train station?" Jaz asks. "Nice place to set up a film company."
"Whuh? We there?" Max asks sleepily.
"Yes. We've arrived at a train station."
"Oh. Wonder what comes next?" Max remembers the part he is meant to be playing well.
The students file out of the two coaches and onto the car park. They are lead into the train station proper and to a special platform.
Before the board, Tom and Lee speak to the students.
Part 2 [20/6/12]
"Okay," Tom begins. "This train will take us to Plutes."
"The idea of this is to get you ready for the tasks that lie ahead during the filming," Lee adds. "There are no seats."
"So basically we get to be adventurers during the journey," Jaz jokes.
"Yes," Tom says slowly, giving a wistful smile. "This is also a test of your stability and endurance."
"Let's get on the train then," Lee says, signalling the students to get on the train.
The train then starts off slowly at first, with all the students still getting used to standing on the train. The first jolt has about half of them on the floor, and a quarter of those who ended up on the floor stayed on the floor, thinking it would be safer.
Max shoots a look at Tom and Lee, who somehow have managed to grab hold of straps on the ceiling of the train. Max looks up, but there are no others.
Another jolt strikes the train.
"I don't know about this," Max says, acting as Chris. "Seems dangerous."
"No, no," Jaz inputs. "It's I've got a bad feeling about this. And also, Jedi don't feel danger."
"Yes. Star Wars. If only I had the Force," Max says after almost being thrown to the floor. "Then I'd be able to stay rooted to the floor."
"Although," Jaz grinds out as the train picks up speed and the jolts get even rougher, "a TARDIS would be a better proposition. That way we wouldn't have to suffer this. But still, it's fun, I have to say that."
"It is dangerous." Max then gets thrown into Jaz, and whispers "They use this method to weaken everyone before they arrive and so no-one else can access the place." He is then thrown away again, whacking his elbow on a wall.
"Well, it doesn't matter so long as we get a rest from all this."
"I hope so."
After a lot of jolts and most of the journey complete, nearly everyone is on the floor, and everyone's luggage is everywhere. The train starts slowing down, and the jolts become less frequent. Out of the windows, hills and countryside can be seen. The station then comes into view.
The station seems to have had a makeover since Max was last here. The door is still in the same place as last time, but the floor is polished and still it is an open air station.
And on that station, three people wait. The doors of the train open.
Part 3 [29/6/12]
The three on the station wear green jumpers and blue trousers, with black boots. Behind them, hung up, is a banner with the Plutes logo and the words 'welcome you all' underneath it.
Excited students start pushing their way out of the door. Max allows himself to be pulled with the flow, waiting.
"Now. Now," one of the three adults on the station calls. "No need for that."
As Max is pushed through the doors, he pulls from one of his bags a micro recorder, and chucks it at the wall with a surreptitious arm movement. He watches it grip the wall and track the person who spoke, who he recognises as Stanley.
Stanley then speaks up when all the students are quiet. Max recognises that they have stood in the same positions as last time.
"Now then," Stanley says. "Welcome to Plutes, the home of set design and film making. I'm Stanley Upper, and behind me to the left is Ean. Telisa on the right. We are all family and this is our home."
"Plutes is the best place for budding film enthusiasts," Ean says. "This is because you get to build the sets, and also film on them."
"We'll show you where you will be staying over the course of the week, shall we?" Telisa commands.
The students, teachers, and instructors walk from the station to the front of the train and onto a path, following it right to a stone building.
Max whispers to Jaz "That door. Did you see it?"
Jaz keeps his voice equally low. "Yes."
"That door and one you'll see in a bit are connected somehow."
"Like a temporal vortex?"
"I'm not sure. But there must be an underground passage. I want to uncover all I can."
As Max finishes this sentence, the students stop, and Stanley says "This is the residential area. We are in a house you can see behind. Let's get in."
As the door opens, the students gasp. As Max walks in, he can see why. This area has had an even grander makeover than the station. The cream walls and floor had gone, instead replaced with ruby red marble wall tiles and a black crystallised marble floor. The original benches and tables had gone, replaced with new ones, but plastic and with the same marble shine as the walls and floor. The chairs were cushioned and high backed.
The only thing that hadn't gone through a change was the door connected to the station.
"This is the cafe area," Ean comments. "The girls' dorms are to the left, boys down the far end."
Stanley then looks up, as though someone had said something. Max could remember last time he was here, he had asked what was behind the door to the right. Stanley must have been remembering that too.
Telisa then says "It's getting dark and we'll be starting early in the morning, so get unpacked, return here for food, and then get back to your dorms and get some sleep."
Ean and Telisa then move off. Max, knowing he might not get another chance, slips another micro recorder into his hand. Stanley is still standing where he was. As Max and Jaz pass him, Stanley stares into the side of Max's head.
Max lets the micro recorder flick up to Stanley's jumper with a tiny hand movement. With that done, Max and Jaz then head to the boys dorms to try and grab one that had two beds in.
Part 4 [8/7/12]
Okay. So. I'll only be able to do these in this room. All my equipment must be kept hidden from all who may enter, otherwise I will be discovered as Max. After eating our fill at the cafe, we returned to the room, where we now have to plan how we are going to do this.
JAZ: This means I have to follow your orders again. But still I wonder why I can't come with you as well.
You will be on the field all of the time. Don't you think it's going to look a bit weird if both students from a far off school go AWOL most of the time? At least this way, if I am caught, you won't be revealed until the time comes in our contingency plan.
JAZ: Contingency plan? The real Chris would have said something about the Republic Commando books by now.
And so, while all this is going on, I will be monitoring that microcam I placed on Stanley to see what it can dig up about the place they stay in. I'll also consider planting a few other surprises in their if I can.
JAZ: Hold on. With you sneaking around and not with the group, surely they will notice that you aren't there.
Wrong. They never check who is and who isn't in the group at present. In fact, it's almost as if they don't care who's there so long as they get the job done.
JAZ: Bit harsh if I do say so myself, but if you say the total plan will work, I'll go along with it. But then, I'm not one to say no where adventure is concerned.
Good. Now then, tomorrow will be an important day, and you had better be prepared. The first part of our plan will start then, but you've got that much more of a hard job. Trust me, putting those sets up or painting a wall all day is hard work.
JAZ: I'm prepared.
I just hope you are. And meanwhile I will be-
JAZ: Mandalorian curse. I picked up the odd word from Chris.
Part 5 [15/7/12]
Jaz keeps quiet while Max packs the Secure-disk Rec back in its bag quickly. The footsteps get louder as they go past the door, then fainter again as they walk across to the other side.
Both Max and Jaz let out silent sighs of relief. But still they don't talk. Instead, they get into a bed each and get some sleep.
Outside the door, Stanley watches some students go by. He was sure he had heard voices inside the room he was outside, but knew better than to knock on the door and find out. For all he knew, they could have just been talking, but it didn't really sound like they were talking to each other.
After another ten minutes of waiting, in which more students passed and quizzical looks followed him, Stanley then leaves and walks back to the clan house.
"Anything?" Ean asks, as Stanley closes the door.
"No. I was sure as well."
"Sure on what?" Telisa asks as she walks in with a bowl of crisps.
"That one of the students who had previously been here had returned."
"That's silly. You know the whole entry process is regulated by the teachers of any given school."
"I know, but the feeling was strong."
"If you say a student is back here," Ean says, "then which do you propose it is?"
"That one you said had a laptop, and all those other weird gizmos."
"If he is back, then why?"
"That's why I want to know."
"Well do we have any anomalies here?" Telisa asks.
"Not that I know of," Ean replies.
"I'll check tomorrow when we get everyone together," Stanley says.
"Until then, there is nothing we can do. So goodnight," Ean says.
"Um, I'll just finish these," Telisa mumbles.
Stanley waits until Telisa finishes the crisps and takes the bowl away, then walks to his own room.
He cannot sleep however, and all he does is pace the room. Thinking. Thinking about all he had built here, and all the money and time invested into the project.
Where is he hiding? The tech kid.
Whta does he want from coming here and how did he break our spell?
Eventually, he can't pace no longer, and he himself goes to sleep.
Part 6 [19/7/12]
The next day, the students get up at alarms that ring all across the building at 07:00. Students make their way to the cafe area at roughly 07:10.
Only Ean sat at a table, but at 07:20, Telisa came in with roughed up hair and a flushed face.
By 07:30, everyone had eaten their fill. Except two boys who walk it from the boys' dorms just as Stanley walks in through the main door.
"What are you two doing?" he says as he sees the two.
"Uh," Jaz says.
"We forgot to pack last night and couldn't find our clothes," Max interjects. "Won't happen again. We're sorted now."
Stanley looks a bit suspicious, but indicates to the other two. They walk to the far corner near the girls' dorms.
Max and Jaz walk to the food counter and get some cereal each, then seat themselves at a table and eat quick.
They are finished five minutes later.
The three instructors walk back to the main group, and Telisa starts up. "Okay. So we are ready to start the week. One problem. You saw yesterday the sets fully constructed. A storm blew in last night and destroyed most of them. You will have the task of rebuilding them."
The group moan as one. Jaz looks at Max.
"Now. Now," Ean speaks up. "Teamwork should get the sets built again, so the quicker you rebuild them, the faster you get to film on them."
The students aren't happy that they can't film straight away, but agree that if they get the sets rebuilt, they can get to filming.
They all leave, and Max whispers to Jaz "Fall back." They do.
"What?" Jaz whispers.
"I'm tripping up in a bit. Just act normal and don't look back."
Jaz picks up speed to get back with the group. No one else has looked back to see where the two late-to-breakfast students are. Max, to make it look more real, then starts jogging to catch up as well.
He then trips up in an overly exaggerated way. Still on the ground, he watches the others walk over the hill. When the last head has disappeared over the hill, Max gets up and bolts it in the direction of the clan house of the instructors.
Part 7 [31/7/12]
Max, standing at the door of the clan house, uses a small tool to pick the lock. Looking left toward the hill, he enters.
Quickly checking each of the rooms, he then unclips the torch he had built and hides it in one of the drawers of the lounge. He then places two cameras within the house, where they offer the best view of the occupants.
Walking back to the front entrance, he reaches out. But the door opens before he touches the handle.
Telisa is standing in the doorway. Max was thankful it wasn't Stanley. He would have been instantly suspicious. Telisa, he guessed, still wasn't used to this sort of thing.
"What are you doing here?" she asks.
"Lost," is all Max supplies.
"Well this door was locked. What were you looking for? A map?"
"Something like that."
"I thought everyone was with the group anyway?"
"Tripped over. When I looked back up, you'd all disappeared somewhere."
"Well we're over the hill. Just wait here, and I'll take you there once I'm done here."
Max waits until Telisa is gone, then starts taking in detail of the hall. He had seen the white walls and cream floor, but on closer inspection, it was revealed that both walls and floor were decorated with a vast majority of shades of their colour, and each sector of the wall or floor had its own pattern. There were a few plants hanging on the walls, high up, and Max saw fit to attach another of the microcameras in one of the baskets. This time, though, he also hid a microphone in it.
Turning to face the door, Max hears Telisa's voice. "Come on, then."
Max and Telisa walk outside. Telisa then locks the door to the clan house again. Max then counts the number of rooms that he had visited again. Three including the hallway. No stairs or sleeping quarters.
So where do they sleep? Max wonders.
But no time for thinking, since Telisa was leading the way back to where the others were. As they walk over the hill, Max asks a roundabout question.
"You're not used to this, are you?"
"Used to what?" Telisa replies, though Max could hear in her voice the mix of emotions and doubts.
Interesting, he thinks, as Telisa storms away down the hill.
Part 8 [5/8/12]
Max also makes his way down the hill. Telisa reaches the other instructors and talks with them, breaking off whatever Stanley was telling the group.
Spotting Jaz among the crowd, Max heads directly to him, receiving a glance or two from the others.
"If only it were opposite day..." Max ventures.
"Ah," is all Jaz says.
"I'm just glad Telisa found me. If she hadn't, I'd still be wondering around out there."
The two were late to breakfast this morning because they had been planning for things like this, where they weren't allowed to talk freely.
The conversation between the instructors stops, and Stanley gets back to what he was saying. Once finished, he then runs with Telisa back over the hill.
Max then takes the chance when the other students broke up. "Sir," he says to Tom. "I think I twisted my foot or something when I tripped. Can I head back for some rest?"
"I'm sure it couldn't hurt," Tom says. "That okay, Ean?" he then asks, turning to the instructor.
"Sure. Just make sure you don't stay there all day."
Max and Tom then head back to the students dorm, with Max making sure he hobbled occasionally. Once in the room, Tom asks if he needs anything, but Max declines the offer, putting a leg onto the other bed. Tom then leaves.
Max waits for another thirty seconds, then quickly but quietly pulls his laptop from his bag. Opening it up, it already has a live feed of a conversation between Stanley and Telisa going. Obviously, they were standing outside the clan house with the door open.
"-can't understand it." Stanley finishes.
"I was certain I locked the door."
"If anyone should have checked the door, it should have been Ean. You were out wrecking havoc on the set the students are now working on."
"So what are we to do?"
"We'll ask Ean at the first available moment."
"But should we be worried about that student?"
"I don't know Telisa. But if he steps out of line again, I'll be sure to keep a l-"
Stanley then looks directly into the camera, then walks forward a bit.
"What is it?" Telisa asks.
A hand then grows in the camera's field, then the pickup appears black. The microphone is dislodged and falls to the floor with a dull thump. A crunch then sounds as the microphone is trod on.
Part 9 [11/8/12]
Max stares at the computer screen. Not even seeing it. Not even seeing the room. He is deep in thought. How could Stanley have found that! And how much does he really know?
One thing he did know for certain, was that Stanley would come after him, and search this room. The only question he didn't know was when.
Sneaking the door open a crack, Max sees no-one around. So quickly, he makes an escape from the dorms with all his equipment in one bag, as per usual. Walking across the cafe area, he makes for the door.
The door opens on its own, however, and Max quickly ducks down under a table, making sure the bag doesn't clank on the marble floor. All he can see are two pairs of feet. They leave the door open, and walk immediately for the other end of the room. He then hears the rushed voices.
"But I can do it quicker."
"Yes, you might. But I will be more thorough in examining the room."
"No. Just- Just-" The door to the boys dorms then slams shut.
Max waits a minute, then quietly sneaks to a table in front of him, careful not to drag the bag too much. Out from under the table, Max gets up onto his left foot, then dashes through the main door, hearing a "Hey! Wai-" before he closes the door.
The main group was to the left and over the hill, and Max had only a few seconds to make good his escape.
The door of the dorm opens as Stanley is still searching.
"Aha- Telisa! What!"
"He was under the tables," Telisa says.
"So what are you doing standing here telling me about it?" Stanley snaps. "GO!"
Telisa quickly escapes from the room.
The items weren't in here, of that Stanley was certain. He just hoped that Telisa would be able to capture him.
He gave it five minutes more searching anyway, then headed out.
"Hey! Stan!" one of the chefs call. "Aren't you meant to be with the students?"
"If you want to keep your job," Stanley says slowly, "when you serve lunch, you won't mention about our little runaway snitch."
"Good!" Stanley barks, then storms from the cafe area.
Jaz was helping another student lift a piece of material that was meant to be a makeshift wall when he saw Stanley storm over the edge of the hill and down. The other instructor, he noted, wasn't with him.
Conferring with Ean, the one remaining, Stanley immediately heads for him. Jaz drops the side of the material, and then blows on his hand, acting as though he dropped it because of a burn.
"You," Stanley says, "are coming with me to have a little chat."
Part 10 [16/8/12]
Jaz follows Stanley back up the hill. When they reach the top, Stanley asks "What do you know of this other person you hang with? The one from your college, in far off England."
Jaz thinks fast and hard. "I don't know," he says, making sure to keep his voice level. "He was called on to the group visiting much later than me, and the only reason I'm hanging around with him is because we're both from the same college. It's not like I'm friends with him or anything."
"And what do you know of someone called Max Rushden," Stanley says slowly.
"Who?" Jaz tries to look convincing, trusting all his acting skills will work so he can pull this off.
But no more is needed to be said. From the far end of the building housing the dorms and cafe, is Telisa dragging Max, mask now removed, by his left arm.
"Go back to the group," Stanley says to Jaz.
Jaz however doesn't move. Just seeing Max revealed to what he now came to realise as a force of evil makes him stare in shock.
"Now," Stanley forcefully says.
Jaz runs back down the hill, contemplating.
"And so Max Rushden is finally revealed to us," Stanley says slowly, when Max is pulled up to him. He then turns to Telisa. "Did you find his electronics?"
"He's hidden them, but won't say where."
"Take him to... the underground."
"There he will learn the true punishment of failing to comply to orders."
For the first time, Max speaks. "Like your orders really matter. 'Oh no! I accidentally knocked down a wall and spilled some paint on it. I know! I'll ruin it some more and force the next lot of students to come here and repair i-"
He was interrupted by a slap on the face, to the right cheek. Obviously he had struck a nerve.
"It doesn't matter. You haven't infiltrated anywhere sensitive to this operation, and nor will you."
Max just gives a scathing look at this.
"Take him away," he calls to Telisa, who drags Max off in the direction of clan house.
Part 1 [5/6/12]
The two weeks passed quickly, and Max had used the time well. He had secured a way of getting linked to the global internet even without Wi-Fi access. It linked directly to the satellite. He had also started on the Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles game, having asked Chris for lots of Star Wars information, read the CDSMEDIA stories of the crossover series, and also listened to the audios that had been made. During the pre-production of the game, he had watched the TV series of both Doctor Who and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, using a handy program that accessed files from reliable sources - even digging into deleted videos and old archive footage from the companies own computer memory chips. It had then stored them into an open access folder back in the Republic Antarctic's Wireless Network Station.
He could access them any time, and that meant he could get ideas whenever he wanted. Chris had said however, that most of the info for Star Wars came from the books, but easily be accessed by a website called Wookieepedia - if he knew where to look.
The final day for him came, and he and Jaz walk to the bus to take them to the college. The ride is quick and the two arrive at the college in time to meet the others, then head into the computer room they have Hannah in. That lesson passes quick, and Max is soon at Scott's lesson. At the end of that lesson, Scott calls for both Max and Jaz to stay. The others say they'll wait outside. Shannon closes the door and Scott speaks.
"So, the arrangements have been made. I will take both you down tomorrow, to the port we were at two weeks ago Monday."
"Okay," Max says. "But while here, I need another favour."
"Remember what I said, about wanting to go again to Plutes? Can that be arranged, so that two students come from here? But in reality it will be me and Jaz. And also, it will allow me to show him around while here, without making it obvious while there."
"Okay. That's fair enough. But won't you think your teachers will recognise you?"
"They don't need to-"
Scott's phone starts ringing. "Hello?"
"Ah, hello." The voice is instantly familiar to Max, even if it does come through speakers that are sub-standard in his repertoire.
"Tom. How are you doing?"
"Great. Now arrangements."
"Oh, don't worry," Scott says, pausing to check with Max. Max gives a short nod and Scott continues. "The student who contacted me about this whole thing sorted that about two weeks ago."
"And those are?"
"He meets tomorrow at one of the ports of the UK and returns with a student of my choice."
"Great! So then-"
"Oh, another thing I wanted to ask," Scott says after a nod from Max. "Am I allowed to send another student? Two would be better, so I can get more than one opinion of this Plutes."
"I sure it would be good yes. Just send them along with that other student and Max, and we'll pick them up on this end."
Max held his breath. He could hear every word. Scott heard Max's intake of breath.
"No. No. I'm sure Max can direct them to you."
"Fine. Tell Max when you meet him to send them on Monday, as I'll have more time to talk to them."
"Okay. I will. Bye for now."
"Yes. Bye." A beep then indicates that the call has ended.
Everyone in the room breathes out in relief, but none as much as Max. That was hard to keep, and if he wanted to pull this off, he needed to think ahead grandly.
Part 2 [10/5/12]
"That was too close," Max says. "I seriously doubt the ruse of me being another student and having Max at the same time would have held. Tom would have waited for me to come out even if Jaz said I was getting home another way."
"Still, at least it has worked out alright," Scott says. "Off you go know. Everyone else is waiting, and Jaz, have a good time."
"Oh, I will," Jaz admits. The two walk outside, and Scott locks the door.
"Have a good holiday," Scott tells everyone, then walks off.
"So that's it?" Max asks. "College over for a year?"
"Well this year's over anyway," Chris says.
"That's what I meant."
"Anyway, I've got to go. Dad's already waiting."
After a lot of goodbyes have been shared, the group then head to what Max came to call the cafe, simply out of taste for the place. It just had that feel. The place isn't that full, since Scott had let them go early, so they grabbed two rows of benches. They then sat talking about trivial things until the main of the food is served.
Once everyone has ate, the time is 12:10. Conversation then turns to the last of the goodbyes, especially for Jaz, since he will be out of contacts for at least two weeks. Or so he thinks.
At 12:30, everyone exits the college to the coaches. When they arrive, some say other goodbyes or are arranging meetings during the holidays. Max and Jaz enter their coach and take seats roughly halfway.
"Oh, I forgot," Max says, pulling out the Secure-disk Rec. "I haven't made one of these in ages."
"One of what?" Jaz asks.
<Faint chatter of other people present>
So, the final day. I will miss those I have befriended, but maybe I can come back sometime. I can definitely talk to them over the program they call Skype. One of my first software programs was a voice chat software that could connect with any other voice chat programs.
JAZ: So that's how you managed to contact Scott.
Yes, it is.
JAZ: So that means I could talk to everyone else.
JAZ: So why didn't you tell them that?
To keep it as a surprise. Anyway, I would like to come back. But now the real adventure is soon to begin. I must be able to disguise myself effectively to pass scrutiny over Tom and Lee. If they suspect anything, it is game over. Luckily, once my own operating system and programs are complete, they won't be able to get anything from my laptop. Another week should crack that. And also, I think Jaz would like that Doctor Who: Star Wars Chronicles game complete.
JAZ: Yes, I would. But don't rush it.
I won't. I'm already planning it and I have been doing testing runs. That should take about two months of hard work. Now that I have left college, however, that is easy enough to do.
JAZ: Don't you have university to go to?
Well there is, but I'm not really up for going yet. And besides, university would mean I wouldn't be able to create all these things I do.
<Sound of engine accelerating>
So that is me, signing off for now.
Part 3 [14/5/12]
Back at Jaz's room, both people are packing their things. Jaz was asking all sorts of questions like can anything be adapted to work off the Antarctic Republic's energy mainframe, and what food and drink there was. What the weather was like, and what films were made. Max answered all of them, or as fully as he could.
When the time came, and everything was packed that was needed, the only thing out was Max's laptop, and they were using it for a conversation with the whole group.
"Max, make sure Jaz has as much fun as he can," Jess says. It is audio only. "And then he can tell all of us."
"Yes," Chris says, who had finally activated his mic on Skype. "It sounds very interesting."
"Hey Chris," Max asks, who hap become used to Chris' absence from these conversations, "Why are you suddenly on?"
"Well, my parents are out, and so is my sister. Got the house to myself. For once."
"Ah," Jaz says. "That's normally what he says.
Music starts coming from a source outlined as Tasha. "Oh, sorry," she says. "My TV's started playing up."
"Sound control," Max mutters.
The conversations goes on into the night, with the first go off being Chris. Soon it was just Jess, Tasha, Shannon, and both Max and Jaz.
"Now then, since this is the last time I will see you. Well, hear you anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to send this." Max then sends a video through to them. But then gets complaints that they can't open it. "Yes. I know. It won't activate until tomorrow."
Food is brought up for the two of them and they start talking and eating. At around midnight, everyone else has left Skype. The final message sent before the goodbyes was from Max and it had said 'Let the others know about the video'.
Max packs the laptop up and removes the solar generator from the window.
The next day. Both Max and Jaz have two bags each, Jaz's somewhat bigger than Max's. People looked at them on the coach, but neither Jaz nor Max seemed to care. Each was wrapped up in their own thoughts. Max knew the dangers of impersonating someone else to sneak back into Plutes. Jaz was just thinking about exploring new things.
They didn't have to hunt far for Scott. He was waiting with a mini-bus on the left-side car park. "So, everything ready?"
"Yes." Both Max and Jaz speak, getting into the mini-bus with their luggage.
Scott then gets into the drivers seat, and the mini-bus drives off.
The journey seemed to take less time, since Max and Jaz were talking to each other. Max remembers back to when he was in here the first time, and the awkward conversation between him and Scott.
Max suddenly remembers that he hadn't checked in with the pilots of the boat. His dad's boat, he kept thinking.
"Hello," the day pilot says. Max was glad it wasn't the night pilot. You could never get a good word in with the night pilot. "Been keeping well?"
"Well enough," Max replies. "Soon to be back at the port. Anyway, been keeping any good?"
"Well, I have. John just seems to want to get back home."
"Well tell him we'll be home soon enough."
"I'll let him know and I'll tell him to make it half speed. We don't want another power shortage, do we?"
"Not really, no."
"Well power's starting up ready for when you get here."
"Thanks." Max then closes the link.
The journey lasts another hour, and soon Max sees the port in which he had been dropped off. The mini-bus pulls up on the side of the road, and Max, Jaz and Scott exit the mini-bus with Scott sitting on a wall. Jaz and Max face him.
"Thanks for everything," Max says. "It has been a pleasure learning these ways and cultures and hope to give you some in return through Jaz."
"No trouble," Scott says. "Just keep in contact."
"We will," Jaz says. "And I'll be back ready for the next term."
The two then head half-way along the path to the boat, then look back. The mini-bus drives off. The two continue walking, luggage in hand, and are greeted by the day pilot, who shows Jaz to a cabin next to Max's and loads the luggage in there.
"We'll be setting off now," the day pilot says. "Enjoy the two to three day ride."
Max sets up his laptop and says to Jaz "Time to give the group a surprise I think."
"Not yet," Jaz says. "Remember the Friday thing?"
"Yes. However, it is best to keep watch."
Part 4 [18/5/12]
"Looks like a lot of people are on," Jaz says. "Maybe the Friday course isn't going."
"Well I'm pretty sure no-one would go even if it was on, unless they had to collect a certificate," Max remarks.
"Let's give them that surprise then."
Max presses a button on his laptop's keypad, and a full audio call is sent out. Pressing another button turns it to a video call.
"Hold on. No-one on Skype can receive a video call of that magnitude," Jaz points out.
"That's what you think," Max says, pressing another button.
"Hey! Jaz! Max! How'd you get on here?" Jess is the first to scream as the link loads. "And why's the Skype interface looking weird?"
"Yes. I think we'd all like to know that," Chris says.
"Well," Max begins. "I located what program files Skype uses, and then edited them using my video call interface so you would have it too."
"Ace," Natasha says. "Can we keep it?"
"Only when I host the group call," Max remarks. "If I go off, you will revert back to the normal interface."
"So this is the surprise mentioned in that video you sent us."
"Cool," Ryan Small says. "Jaz, keep us up to date with what is happening, okay?"
"I will," Jaz says.
The conversation goes on for hours, but when it starts to get dark, Max ends the conversation saying they will be in touch at least once every week right up to the point where they go on that holiday. What Max doesn't tell them is that it will only be three weeks away.
After some goodbyes, Max ends the link.
"Why did we have to go?" Jaz asks.
"In roughly fifteen minutes, the night pilot takes over from the day one. And he is cranky about using the ships power for, as he calls it, unnecessary activities," Max explains, shutting down the laptop.
"And how much power does this thing have?" Jaz asks.
"Usually, it is about five hours. But I've got a lot of processes running and also hidden applications, which eat a big chunk of the power, therefore, only giving me an hour. Maybe less."
"And these are?"
"The secret apps? Spy devices and alarm systems. If I deactivate them, I have to manually activate them. Don't worry, when we get back, I'm working on a better processor and operating system to handle all the spy cams and alarm systems. Swapping them from one computer to another is as simple as transferring account details to one computer from another."
"So, now what?"
"Let's explore the ship and then get some rest."
"What about food first, then explore the ship?"
"Or, we could eat while exploring."
Jaz and Max then exit the cabin, still arguing the order in which to do things first.
Part 5 [22/5/12]
The boat hits the harbour pier and the day pilot takes the two to the car that Max had taken two weeks earlier to reach the port. The day pilot hen drives the two of them back to the house. Jaz stares in awe at the massive differences, the mainly large one floor houses and the different sizes of the cars.
These cars were more like large karts than anything else. They had a roof over them, but those roofs could be took down. The doors slid up from the bottom of the car. There were others, shaped like custom bobsleds, which were single person cars.
When the car pulls up at Max's house, the day pilot says "Don't worry. I've alerted them to the guest. Now, what are you going to do about infiltrating the Lower Clifton college?"
"Easy," Max says. "A synth-form mask. Failing that, hair and eye dye. As well as careful application of a few new spots and shaved eyebrows, up to a point."
"Well, good luck anyway."
Max and Jaz then get out. The car pulls away.
"So, you've showed me your house. Want to see mine?"
That tour offer lasted five seconds. The door sprang and a man stood framed in the door, waving. A small girl also poked her head out of the door.
"We've been waiting for you son," the man says. "Welcome home."
Max walks up to him, and Jaz follows. Into the house and directly through the door opposite leads to the dining room, which had been converted to something resembling a club. The tables were on the outside of the room, against the walls, and food lined them. A banner read 'Welcome home, Max' which looked like it had been designed by his sister. But at least she got the red colour to match with the blue.
The party, such as it was, included all his family, including uncles and aunts, and Max was put through the test of recounting his adventures in the UK, who Jaz was and all he was about, and even showed them a clip of Doctor Who on his laptop. They were all impressed.
Max showed them the link he had forged to the main satellite relaying the internet to the rest of the world, now properly encrypted thanks to help with Jaz, and then Jaz logged into Facebook to show off loads of places and people of the UK.
Max's family then started asking Jaz what he found interesting about the Republic Antarctic so far, and what he hoped he would experience. Jaz answered as best as he could.
Soon the party wound down enough so that Max and Jaz could retreat to Max's room.
"They seem like a friendly bunch."
"Yes," Max replies. "Now then. You can either stay here in this room, make yourself comfy in the corridor, or share a block with my sister."
"I'll just stay here. The room is big enough for both of us."
"That's settled then. Now then, tomorrow you can tour the town. And I'll show you that shop that's just like Gamestation."
Part 6 [26/5/12]
Max and Jaz walk along the main road. This road was full of bustling business people on breaks and shoppers who just wanted to get everything done. Cars of various sizes zoom along the roads, which all seem to be one-way roads in the main city areas. All the buildings are various sizes as well.
After walking a bit more, they turn into a side alley and a door is in front of them.
"So this is the entrance to the all-amazing Gamestation," Jaz jokes.
"No," Max points out. "Secret side entrance to the mall."
Max opens the door and the two walk inside. Directly opposite them is the logo they saw back in the UK. The sign of Gamestation.
The mall is full of shoppers of various positions. Either loungers who have all day and aren't bothered what time they go, bored shoppers who feel they do this once too often with no help, or those busy people who like to follow schedules. A few shoppers look at them with funny glances. Jaz turns back to see a sign on the inside of the door. 'Workers entrance only'.
"Secret entrance indeed," Jaz says, still looking at the sign.
Max turns around. "Well my mom works at Gamestation, so she knows the code, and passed it onto me," he says quietly. "Anyway..."
The two walk across to Gamestation, with the layout being roughly the same, except there are a lot more consoles and no shelves. Along the entire back wall is a counter with multiple clerks sat down. Max walks to one of them and Jaz follows. One thing he notices is that a lot of people are playing games on the consoles.
"Hello Max," one clerk says. "Ah, and hello Jaz."
This brought Jaz from his review of the place. "How do- Oh, hello Mrs Rushden."
"Enjoying the place so far?"
"Yes. Quite enjoyable. One of these has opened up near the college I go to."
"Ah yes. Expansion. Well, it was an ex-employee actually. Cut ties to the place and went elsewhere. Now we know where. Now then Max. Yesterday you said you could give a proposal for an idea that would benefit us greatly."
"Yes, when I go back with Jaz after his trip is up, I'm thinking of setting up a base in that port. One which would be a trading route between me and Jaz and this shop, as well as the other shops in this branch."
"And this idea would mean what, exactly?" another clerk asks.
"Well, I can offer you a trading stance that would offer even more games on the market. When I was in the UK, I found I couldn't play any of his games on my laptop. So I bought an old disk tray from an old computer that was rotting away. Used the tech in it to create a proper disk driver that could read their type of disks. Portable disk driver, as well. So then I bought used games, and ran them in the disk driver, the aim of this to create a program that would rip the files and be able to play them on my laptop and the RA's tech. I succeeded, and managed to run the games. That program managed to replicate and map the controls for the games onto the controller I had plugged in.
"So then I thought, why not allow the Gamestation branch in the RA to be able to use these games. No-one from the UK would have to know. And the export route is simple. The boat travels to the port we was in, I buy up a piece of land and use that as a warehouse. I put a tracker in that place, as well as some people. They then send money through to Jaz, so he can buy games in stores, or use the special account I set up to allow the deliveries to be sent direct to that place. Then the boat ships them here, we rip the files, and store them on the computers here. If they get enough interest, allow them to be sold."
"That's an interesting idea," Max's mom says slowly. "I'll have to ask the manager about it."
She presses a button on the desk.
Part 7 [30/5/12]
The manager then walks in through a back door on the far left. Looking down to the other side, he spots the obvious source of the call.
"What is it?" he says in a silky voice. Wearing a business suit, with smooth features and eyes better suited to a cat, he was tall.
"Max has a suggestion that could benefit the company," Max's mom says.
"Recount," is all the manager says.
Max tells the story and the plan as he had said it to his mom and the other clerk listening in. He had a bit of trouble at first, but then got it into his head that he was talking to an ordinary human, and found greatly improved reserves of courage. Through the recounting, the manager says nothing at all. When Max finishes, he ponders what was said.
His first question is aimed at Jaz. "And there are lots of gaming consoles in the UK is there?"
"Yes, there is. So many that people actually argue over which is best."
"Interesting. And what is your view on this?"
"I'm willing to go through with it. I've known Max for about three weeks, and have learned a lot about this country by his comparisons to the UK."
The manager then turns to Max. "Didn't you say you already had some of these games?"
"Yes. All of them work as far as I can tell. I fully tested them."
"Send them to us as well as this conversion thing and we'll see what response we get from them. The names and genres?"
"Well, there is Star Wars Battlefront 2, which is sort of a action shooter set in a fictional universe. Quite entertaining. Burnout Paradise, an open world racing game. Also enjoyable. Then among other action shooters are Call of Duty 4, Halo 2 and Metroid: Other M. In adventure games, there is Super Mario 64 which I managed to source from one of the consoles' online shopping services. In other racing is Mario Kart: Double Dash."
"Okay then. When this shop closes, we'll advertise them as export games, and the graphical quality of them will be assessed and numbered in the catalog. If, in a week, enough interest has been shown in them, I will consider going through with this plan of yours."
Max produces a memory stick coloured red. "Every game on there, including files for controls, and, for any game with online play, a bypass router to connect to our game servers."
"Very good. You may go."
Max and Jaz walk out and turn to go toward a bench.
"Wow," Jaz says. "That was brilliant. But how will the servers recognise the games?"
"Our servers recognising a new game for the first time install the online play files necessary."
"Ah. So, now that's over, how are you planning the next adventure. Fooling your teachers?"
"Easy." Max walks to a store he had been concentrating on for a while now.
The store was full of what looked like masks and vocoders.
"Er, wouldn't the teachers recognise these?"
"Not after I'm done with them," Max says, and walks in. A few minutes later he walks out again with three masks and a vocoder with a data chip. Jaz recognises it has the same port as a mini-b cable. He comments on such.
"Well you wouldn't expect to get a Universal Port transfer on one would you? Don't worry, the mini UP cable will link to the UP jack."
"Who was worried?"
The two then return back to the house, and Max starts working on his creation while Jaz loads up his laptop and opens Skype. The distinctive start up tone is heard.
Part 8 [3/6/12]
The two were walking down to the school. It was Monday. Jaz had questioned him about the school, and Max had replied with ease about the school breaks. At the Republic Antarctic, Max had explained, there were no long breaks. Instead, there were a multitude of smaller two and one week breaks. Once you finished the college at the end of the course, you would finish two weeks before the next two week holiday.
Now, as they walk to the Lower Clifton College of Arts, Max was wearing a fleshform mask that looked completely different from when he had first bought it, and the vocoder set to increase the pitch of his voice and make it a bit faster. He had taken inspiration from Chris' voice. The vocoder was inset in his mouth, meaning that he would have to avoid eating too much with it in place. But that was only for today.
At the entrance, Max staged a conversation with Jaz and the supposed other person, with them in view of the reception and the supposed Max giving them instructions from behind a wall that those in the reception couldn't see. Then the two of them waited a bit more to make it look like they was watching Max walk off, then walked to the reception.
Inside, the lady behind the counter gave them passes after listening to what they were here for.
Tom then appeared from a door. "Jaz and..." Tom looks at Max.
"Chris," Max supplies. As well as taking the voice unknowingly from his friend in the UK, he had also taken his name.
"Jaz and Chris," Tom says. "Welcome to the Lower Clifton College of Arts. But I thought Max was supposed to be here. Where is he?"
"He had to go," Jaz says. "Important business, but he told us about what we had to do at the entrance."
"Confirmed," the receptionist says. "I was watching the meeting between the three of them."
"Okay. Well follow me and we can see what you are made of, and whether you have what it takes for this trip."
Max and Jaz follow Tom through the door he had come through to meet them
Max thought to do this properly. It was all improvisation from here. "Don't you have lessons to teach?"
"Only one lesson of a Monday for me to teach. And that was with Max's group. It would have been good to meet him again."
"Well, maybe you will sometime. I mean, he's bound to drop by again."
"Yes," Jaz says. "It should be better if he came to you of his own choice. From what I heard though, he seems determined to stay away from this place from a certain incident."
"Oh, that," Tom says. "It was nothing really."
"Well, what do you want to know anyway?"
"Just a quick test really, to say that you want to go. It's nothing really."
"Well, let's get on with it then."
"In here." Tom leads them into a room set out with chairs and tables. The only thing about the room that was odd was that no technology was inside. Not even lights. But there was plenty of windows.
"This is what the Science department use to grow plants," Tom explains. "Now then, do both of you want a better understanding of working in the film industry through physical experience?"
"Yes," both Jaz and Max reply.
"Then you pack your things and meet in a weeks time at the room I will show you now, around eight hundred hours."
"Okay," both reply.
Tom then leads them into another room that had to be entered from the outside. It looks more like a mobile, and this was the classroom that Max had seen most during his second year.
Tom then let's them go, saying that he hopes to get to know them more on the trip.
Part 9 [7/6/12]
That went better than expected. After Tom had let us go, we went back to the reception to sign out, then walked back to the house. I just wish I had more time to prepare. Alternating between finishing the game I'm making for Jaz, and the new operating system I'm making for my computer, I haven't had any time to do any more research on the hidden agendas of Plutes-
JAZ: The hidden agendas?
Okay. This is something I have to tell you now, Jaz. I see no other way around it.
"Well, I'm sure it's not much that you've been keeping from me anyway," Jaz says coolly, "I can take anything you say."
"Fine. The reason you are here is so that I can gain access to restricted movement Plutes again and finally uncover hidden truths of the place."
"Well now you know. Plutes is just a big sham, and the reason I contacted your college was so that I could gain access again. When you get back, you will have to say everything that I tell you to."
"Um, sure. But what have I got to gain from this? If the reason I came here for isn't."
"Well you'll have my experience and the technology from here, so I'm sure you can cover your tracks when downloading games."
"Well that seems a fair deal."
"And you'll also have this game I'm making for you."
"True. But is all that worth all the games of the UK?"
"I think so," Max says. "If not, I could also give you the yellow datasticks."
"And what is so important about the colour anyway?"
"The yellow ones switch automatically to the game that is on them if the switch is set to it. At least three games can be put on them depending on size. You can take three blanks and three full of games."
"That's more like it. But why didn't you tell me this at the start?"
"One, you might have rejected and never come. And that leads to two, where you would have been mislead about this country as a whole."
"Fair enough. And what have this Plutes done that makes you want to uncover the truth?"
"I'd tell you, but you wouldn't believe me if I did. You'll find out when you arrive, but I'll give you some reference material on the place from reliable sources."
Max loads up the relevant pages on his laptop and Jaz gets to reading.
Part 10 [11/6/12]
Jaz has read up on Plutes and all it stands for, real and sham both, and says he is ready for whatever they throw at him.
Finally, just a few hours earlier, I had completed the operating system I was making for my laptop. After running tests, I can confirm it is working perfectly. Also, I made sure it had the most memory capacity it could to handle the most important thing of all.
I have unlocked the hidden secrets of Jaz's laptop, meaning that I can edit and make programs for the Windows operating system, and I have also taken the basic programs of Microsoft, so it looked like something from the UK, as well as the Office programs. They should prove very convincing. Even the operating system I have made is based off Windows, though I used older versions of Internet Explorer to edit rather than the newer versions, and included all I could find from Firefox and Chrome, internet browsers from other companies, into the package. I relabeled it Internet Explorer 12 beta. No-one will know.
And so, while I record this, I am packing things into suitcases ready for the holiday. I am fully prepared for this. Once this recording is done, I will upload it to the old operating system, where all the recordings are staying.
The old operating system is now on a yellow datastick which I can access whenever I want. The great thing about them means I don't have to select if I want to swap to it. It will stay until I deactivate the datastick.
I also checked in with the Detection Legacy group to say things were on schedule. They were more than impressed with how I had set things up. Elijah also gave me this advice. 'Make sure you don't give them any reason to doubt you. If they even so much as get a hint that you are Max Rushden who visited a few weeks ago, I cannot guarantee we will be having another conversation.'
And so it is that I have modified the synthflesh mask so the vocoder is outside of my mouth so that I can eat. My only hope is that I don't have to do what I did last time.
JAZ: Which was?
Dive into the water of their lake to recover some paddles that had 'sunk' to the bottom.
JAZ: Well as much as I'd love to laugh, Chris didn't when others would when something I'd rather forget happened.
And that was?
JAZ: Tripping up over a log in hail.
Now that is funny. To not laugh, he must have consideration, and a lot of it.
But anyway, we need to get ready. Tomorrow is the start of a week when we need our wits about us.
Part 1 [9/4/12]
Two weeks have passed since the call between the two colleges. Max has contacted the Detection Legacy group of his plan for sneaking into Plutes. Some finer details were still being sorted out, like how to appear someone different. Meanwhile Max was also taking reference material from the far off island via the link to Halesowen College. Since Max needs to act like someone from the island called the U.K. and the country of England, he needed all the files he could relating to life there.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when the latest link conference brought an unexpected trip with it.
"You can see all of the life of England. Much better than some videos and films," Scott says.
"But what about here? Where I live?" Max asks.
"You'll only be here for three weeks, and then Jaz will be able to go with you. It will be an experience."
"And I can bring my laptop?"
"Whatever you want," Scott exclaims. "But don't lose it or try to sell it. That technology might bring unrest among the majority of people."
"Don't worry. Only what is necessary for the running of my laptop then."
"Great! When can you get here?"
"What date is your computer giving you for today?" Max asks.
"Twenty-eighth of June," Scott replies. "Why?" he then adds.
"Twenty-eighth..." Max says slowly. "First of July... Right! I can meet you on the second of July. Do you have a map I can look at of the country?"
"Yes, of course. Sending a link to you now."
Max opens the link that is sent through to his e-mail and studies the map.
"I can get a boat to the port of Weston or Brean. Your choice."
"Well, call when you get in range of the U.K. and we'll meet you at Weston."
"That's decided then. Good meeting, and I'll see you again soon. Number to call?"
"Being sent now. Bye for now."
"Got it," Max reports. "And see you soon."
The link disappears, and Max pulls up the cam link for the Lower Clifton College Media Staff Room. No-one is there except some others from the drama department. Max closes the link and shuts the laptop down. He then packs the laptop in a case, with the charger and other accessories needed. He then packs the suitcases in his room with any clothes he can find.
Then he heads into the dining room, to tell his dad of the latest holiday.
Part 2 [12/4/12]
"What is this for though?" Max's dad asks.
"It's a trip out to see more of the world than just this island," Max replies. "I've already got it sorted. I just need the hire of a boat."
"No need. I can contact my pilot of our boat, and he'll take you there. It's fast."
"Great. But will it be able to make a journey to the other hemisphere in two days?"
"It should be. My pilot can tell you."
His dad then picks up a phone and calls the pilot. After agreeing to something, he then quits the call and phones someone else.
Turning to Max, he says "Is it urgent you get there immediately?"
"I said I'd meet them on the second of July," Max points out. His dad then goes back to the call.
Finishing that call, he says to Max "My pilot is contacting a fast driver who will be here in an hour. The boat will get you to where you want to go, presiding you can direct him in the right way, in three days."
"OK. I have time to check some last minute things."
Max leaves and sets his computer back up, searching for a map of the world using the bad encrypted channel to the world internet access. Having accessed one on a search engine called Legoo, or so it looked like, he saved it as best as he could using the file conversion software. It was slow going to save, but eventually it did. Accessing the saved file, he matched the map of the UK to its position on the world map. Using the editing software it was open in, he drew a circle around the UK and matched the average position of the island he was on.
Realising he couldn't, Max wondered if he would lose his way when trying to get back.
Within three hours, they had set off in the boat. Max was reassured when the pilot said he would be able to find the way back when the time came. Guiding the pilot, Max had realised, was a lot harder with no accurate position of their home country. He had directed the pilot along the spine of what his map told him was Africa during most of the first day and around the curvature during the second. On the third they had reached the UK during the night, but when Max checked his map again, he realised they were on the wrong side of the UK. Loading up his laptop, plugging it into the power source of the boat, he told the pilot to follow the bottom area of the UK and around the area that held Plymouth, Falmouth and Newquay and head straight into the Bristol Channel. Zooming in further, he then located Weston.
But then the power had ran out.
Max had drained the power stored in the battery from the solar rays.
They would have to wait until morning to do anything else.
"We was running short on power, what with the sun going in," the pilot of the ship states. "And there you go, plugging your laptop in. Surely it had enough power?"
"Yes, it did," Max replies with a growl. He really didn't like this pilot. The day shift pilot was nicer, and friendlier too.
The fact was his laptop was still running, but its power cell was driven to its limits by the unstable operating system Max was running. It wasn't the OS itself, it was all the add-ons and background work it had to process. So even with a dual Z battery, the best you could get, it still wouldn't run for more than an hour.
Max returns to his cabin aboard the ship, just so he could escape the pilot, taking his laptop with him.
The day shift pilot started running toward Weston as soon as he reached the bridge. Max dialed up Scott and told him they would soon be arriving. Scott then said transport would be waiting to pick him up and take him to the college.
Max relayed this to the day shift pilot, and also told him to wait until instructed. Reaching the port, the boat is pulled in by Max with the holding rope.
On the street, after walking up a maze of passageways, Max sees a coach but dismisses it. Weston seemed like a holiday destination, and so parked coaches were to be expected. Dialing Scott again, on his laptop - very conspicuous near a beach, he gets video chat. Scott tells him to wait where he is, and describes the vehicle coming to get him. Max sees windows behind Scott, and asks where he is.
"Oh, I should have said. Me and another lecturer are bringing another group down to film something. One coach and one mini-bus. The mini-bus has all the equipment on it."
"Oh," Max pronounces. He had no idea. "So Jaz isn't with you?"
"No. But we'll be with you soon."
The cam deactivates and Max packs the laptop away again. Keeping a firm grip on the case, Max turns around and watches the people on the beach.
A rumble of an engine makes Max turn around, and Scott and Max face each other for the first time.
Part 4 [18/4/12]
Scott then exits the mini-bus and starts directing the students from the coach to collect the gear. Max waits patiently while this is done. Leading the students down to the beach entrance, Scott turns off and walks to Max. Some of the students turn to look at him, but Max takes no notice, looking at Scott.
Light brownish hair, with a slightly pointed face and stubble on his chin. Blue eyes and a kind and understanding expression, Scott then speaks to him. "So you must be Max." The voice had a slightly airy tone, but with a bit of grit.
"Yes. Since when was this arranged?" Max indicated the students, now setting up for filming something.
"About two weeks ago. The project the students had demanded a port and sea for most of them, although some decided to do a documentary on boat museums or on boats. I changed it when you contacted me to this location, since it was easier to close off."
"Will it affect their grades?" Max asks.
"Not really. Now then, what is this place you were talking about. It sounds like a good thing."
"Yes. It is." Max's tone darkened a bit, but then resumed its normal vocals. "The place itself is nowhere near any city so limits of noise aren't applicable to the place. The class learned a lot there." Max hated lying about this, but he needed to if the plan was to go ahead. A little theatrics might go a good way to impress the quality of the place. "I wish I could go again, but there are security restrictions which mean only groups of more than twenty can go."
"Hm. Must be a good place then, to be wanting to go again. Now what about how you got here? Will your captain wait?"
"Pilot," Max automatically corrects. Scott looks quizzical at him. "That's what we call them, back at the Republic Antarctic. Where I live," Max informs. "Since we have no air vehicles, who's drivers are normally called pilots, the original prospector of the Republic Antarctic felt that captains should be renamed pilots in the spirit that they were pilots in their own right."
"Interesting. Your culture seems more advanced than ours, at least in terms of ideals." Scott then indicates the laptop bag. "But how will that thing run? Can it be adapted to run off our electric mainframe?"
"No," Max admits, but then explains, "It runs off solar energy, with a fully functioning generator which collects and stores it. All things do."
"More advanced in terms of electric and gas too. You might find some things to be a bit different, and others to be a huge advancement from what you know. Now then, could you find something to do while I check upon the students?"
"Of course," Max says.
While Scott moves off to check upon the students, moving around the different groups and seemingly asking if all was going well, Max watches them at it. Leaning on a wall, Max then loads his laptop back up to check his messages. One thing he notes is that he can latch onto the national Internet a lot easier, but the Republic Antarctic's Wireless Network Station was reporting slowdown from being far from the relay. Dependent on how long he was staying here, he would need to sort that link out, and only to tell the pilots on the ship how to do it.
They would be bored if he didn't get that soon, and Max knew a way to do it already. Alerting Scott he was going on a quick trip, he walks back to the ship and shows the day shift pilot how to access the national Internet and then insert a code which relay's back to the RAWNS. The day shift pilot thanks him and gives Max a small communicator which should be used to alert them of any news.
When Max returns back to the beach area where the filming was going on, he notices that most of the students have gone. Walking to where the mini-bus was parked, Scott is sitting on the step watching the stragglers.
"Everyone else has finished, but we can't return here, so we've given that lot over there a few minutes more."
"Very thoughtful," Max comments.
Soon those students are finished as well, and when they return to the mini-bus to give the equipment back, Max gets more stares, and he knows that they were thinking why he was still here. Scott tells him to get in and follows the students to the coach. A few minutes and Scott was back.
They then got underway, heading back to Halesowen College.
Part 5 [21/4/12]
"The ride back will be about an hour," Scott comments.
"That's OK," Max assures. "So when will I be able to see Jaz?"
"Tomorrow." Max's face stares in shock. "That's when he is in," Scott says. "The prototype enlistment that his group are on means they only have to go in for three days."
Conversation stops for a short while. The coach turns away from the beach and into a built-up area.
"The buildings here are a lot different from back home," Max slowly states.
"Why? How are they different?" Scott asks.
"The buildings back home are all one floor."
Conversation halts again. Some fields start going past the windows.
"So what exactly do you do?" Max asks. "In the course you teach."
"Well there is theory and practical behind the course that goes on. History of editing, filming short films. Working to proper filming standards of the industry. Learning about different types of cinema and film."
"Sounds boring," Max bluntly states. "At the Lower Clifton College of Arts, we always go on trips and sometimes even holiday's. Sometimes trips will be organised that have no relevance to what we are doing, just so we can escape the classroom environment. But then in the last few weeks, all the trips stop and it's a lot of paperwork as we strive to finish the course."
"That's..." Scott pauses, trying to think of a soft way to say it. "Unusual. Don't the teachers there ever get bogged down trying to control the students?"
"No. The counter rule stops that."
"Any offense gets a counter next to your name. With five, no trips are allowed at all. Ten, one grade is docked off your overall mark. Fifteen.., expulsion from the college. However, good behavior and great marks will pull the counters down."
More fields flash past as the speed of the mini-bus increases. Max looks out of the front windshield to see no cars in front, and only one thin road.
"Won't he crash if a vehicle comes the other way?" Max asks.
"This road has been closed off for us. We can get to whatever speed we want. Anyway, do you have anywhere to stay?"
"You can stay with me, just for one night."
"Won't anyone else mind?"
"Well... I suppose another student might be willing to have you... Or you could just stay in the college itself. Secretly, like. Actually, scrap that."
"No. That's fine."
A sudden deceleration then grips the mini-bus. It turns left and continues along another road. The journey continues, with fields continuing to whip past the windows. Buildings start appearing in clusters again, and it is apparent a city is being passed. Soon a blue sign with 'M5' in white is spotted by Max, and the mini-bus accelerates again.
"It's been an hour," Max says. "You said it would only take an hour."
"Forgive me. I meant two."
Fields and buildings flash past the windows, and soon the mini-bus decelerates again. It heads down a hill and takes the third exit off the roundabout it comes to, as Scott calls them. It continues straight down the road, takes the first exit off the next roundabout, then the third exit on the roundabout after that. The mini-bus follows the thin road to the end, which a sign labeled as 'Old Hawne Lane' then turns right. First a school is seen, and then the mini-bus stops outside Halesowen College.
A familiar looking person is stood by the entrance.
Scott exits first. Max follows.
"Hello, Jaz," Scott says. "Why are you here?"
"Hi Scott. Hi... Max, was it?" Jaz asks with a slight turn of his head. Max nods. Jaz then turns back to Scott. "Anyway, I heard from another teacher while in Block 7 that a trip had been rearranged by you due to a meeting with someone. I took a guess that it was Max here. A place to stay has already been arranged for you," he then adds to Max.
"Well, I'll leave you two together," Scott says and starts walking to the coach that pulled up behind.
"Scott!" Jaz shouts. "Is this mini-bus available for another hour or so?"
"Well, I can take a slight detour. Why?"
"Because Max here is staying with me and I need transport home."
Part 6 [24/4/12]
The students file out and collect the equipment. Some stare at Max, as if wondering how he got here, not even considering that he came on the mini-bus with Scott. When the students all enter the complex, Scott then tells Max and Jaz to follow him.
"Right then," Scott says as they enter the mini-bus. "You'll have to direct me."
"OK. Do you know where New Birmingham Road is?" Jaz asks.
"Yes, of course."
The mini-bus starts up and drives off, turning left at the intersection and down a hill. Max sees roadworks on what looks like another hill, and the mini-bus turns left again. Straight the way to the end second exit off the first roundabout, then the second. Third exit off the third roundabout, a long road then followed.
Max then turns to Jaz. "Will your parents mind me staying, though?"
"Of course. They know it's for all the right reasons. Anyway, you'll be staying in my room, so most of the time you'll be out of the way."
"That's good, then."
A third exit off a large roundabout, and then two second exits then Scott says, "New Birmingham Street. Now where?"
"Find somewhere to park up and we'll walk the rest of the way."
Scott, in response, continues ahead, then Jaz has a change of mind. "In fact, park up in Meadow Lane."
They get to Meadow Lane and the mini-bus parks up. "I'll be seeing you two tomorrow then."
"You live far from the college," Max remarks. "How do you get there?"
"The college has its own coach service that stops at various points."
"Nice." The two then walk, which takes half an hour at a slow pace, to Jaz's house.
The houses all look the same down the street. The same garage at one end, the same extended window next to the garage.
"Where's the door?" Max asks.
"Round the side," Jaz says, as though it was obvious. The two then walk round the side and Jaz opens the door. The two walk up the stairs and left twice. They then enter Jaz's room.
The room, from the door, is all to the left with a window in the middle of the opposite wall, and a bed on that wall as well. Both curtains and bed sheets are a dark blue. The wallpaper is a light whitish-blue. Posters cover the walls of things that Max has no idea of. Some have what looks like a logo with the lettering 'Doctor Who' on them.
On the wall holding the door, a length-wide table on the wall holds a laptop and other items. Drawers are also present in the table.
"This is it," Jaz says. "That sleeping bag is for you, and I'm sure I can give you half of the table for any work you have to do."
"Don't worry," Max says, putting his two bags down on the floor. "There is only five changes of clothes in this bag, and I only have a laptop with me for entertainment." Max then looks at Jaz. "Hold on. Scott said I'll see both of you tomorrow. He's not expecting me to go as well, is he?"
"I would only suspect for a day or two."
"And the college coach?"
"Don't worry. Stay with me and you'll be allowed on. All I need is a photo of you and I can forge a bus pass from an old one I have."
"And signing in as a visitor?"
"I'll guide you to where you need to go."
Max then opens one of the bags, the one with his laptop in, and takes out a small device with a circular port, and a flat shaped shiny item with a small box attached to it. He sticks the flat shaped object on the window, with the circular port device held in his hand. He then presses a button on each device at the same time and a small green light shines on the object stuck on the window. He then sticks the circular port device into his laptop.
Jaz stares, fascinated. "What's that?" he asks.
"A solar energy power source wireless-adapted to sync with any automated solar panel available or to a handheld solar panel which is now stuck to your window," Max explains. "You don't mind, right?"
"Of course not. Can you give me one of them?"
"Dinner!" a voice shouts from downstairs.
"Come on. Time for you to taste food you might not be aware existed."
Part 7 [27/4/12]
Back down the stairs, the dining and lounge room was located in roughly the same position of Jaz's room. There was one table at the far end of the room, with four people already sat at it. Two were children, female and both looked almost the same with most of Jaz's features. The tall male Jaz said was his dad, who also had jet black hair but a sharp featured face, turned to look as the two walked in.
"Chicken burgers for tea," he says. "Sauces on the table." he then looks quizzically at Max. "Have you ever tried southern fried chicken? Home made."
"I've eaten something like it," Max replies, taking a seat at the end of the table. Jaz sits next to him.
At least three plates are on the table, each containing five burgers each. Max grabs two and starts eating. The taste was spicy. Everyone else had already eaten at least one, so the plates were cleared of burgers pretty quickly. Then Jaz's mom brought in two plates of cake. Those were divided up and slices handed out. Max's was slightly larger, he notices, but eats it all the same.
"So, where do you come from?" Jaz's dad asks Max.
"An island on the southern hemisphere, near the Antarctic," Max replies. "We have advancement in technology due to better governmental ideals."
"And what are those governmental ideas?"
"I don't know all of them," Max starts slowly, "but we are supposed to make research and development a priority. Our systems of computing power might be of a higher standard. We even use solar energy for everything."
The conversation stops as the cake is finished.
"Thanks for the meal and dessert," Max says.
"No problem. Your a guest. Anything you need, be sure to ask," Jaz's mom says.
"Thanks." Max then follows Jaz back up to his room.
"Ever heard of Star Wars or Doctor Who?" Jaz asks.
"No. Why. What are they?"
"Star Wars is a mass multimedia production. Flims, TV, games books. You name it. Doctor Who is the same. Both are sci-fi based. Actually, I have a game of Star Wars that might get you into it. A friend of mine from college said he got into Star Wars by playing it, and recommended I try it. It is good, trust me."
Jaz then inserts a disk into his laptop as he sits down, and 'Star Wars Battlefront 2' launcher loads up. Going through the titles, he then selects a mode, then a map. Once that loads, all Max has to do is think of real soldiers, a slightly different spawn screen - split into character select and map respawn point, and he recognises the game instantly.
"It's like Frontal Assault," he says.
"What?" Jaz exclaims.
"This game. It reminds me of Frontal Assault."
"And what is that exactly?"
"A game based off a series of books that are a prequel series to one of the best selling books in the Republic Antarctic."
"And it has spawned all the other media for it?"
"Well, no. The sci-fi book that started it all has a game made about it, as well as a film split into two parts, but the prequel series only has the spin-off game just like this Star Wars Battlefront here."
"Why is it that sci-fi does the best?" Jaz asks.
"Who knows. But I get the feeling that you have something on your mind regarding the two series you mentioned."
"Yes. Me and the friend who recommended Battlefront here have created a spin-off series with both of the series, but we're having a bit of trouble advertising even now. And we want something like a game."
"I have the software to make one, easily. What I need is a disk driver from your computers so I can export it onto a disk that will run on your computer OS'."
"I was more thinking of a Flash game I could link on my website."
"Flash game? I might have software like it that I can link to. Although now you mention it, I have access to your internet base anyway. I can make a game and crush the file size down so that it could work as a download game which you could put on your website."
"Really?" Jaz sounds both exasperated and shocked at the same time. "What about payment?"
"What about it?"
"Don't you want it?"
"When can you start?"
"Research, one week minimum. More if necessary. You'll be coming with me to go to Plutes anyway once my two weeks here are up. As for starting, no time like the present."
Max loads up his laptop. Jaz notes the OS is called 'DynaBoom'. The internet browser, called 'Axium Alpha', is like the FireFox browser, but slightly different with a constant left-side tab showing icons which were most likely favourite set websites.
Then Max set to work.
Part 8 [1/5/12]
The next day, Tuesday, came. Jaz had figured a reasonable way of cloning his college bus pass, so Max was sat next to him on the bus. During the course of last night, Max had done some research into Star Wars and the basic principles of what it was about.
Jaz had suggested, the night before, to talk to his friend Chris, who was more of a Star Wars fan then he was. The bus journey took roughly half an hour, making multiple stops on the way. It then went up the road the mini-bus had took yesterday and parked outside the same spot.
Both Jaz and Max leave the bus and walk past a shop on the left within the college boundary. The two then turn left and walk on a road. A restaurant was on the right of where they were facing. A barrier stood before them, yellow and black, and beyond that a car park.
It was then that Jaz remembers, "Wait. We need to get you a temporary pass."
"Yes. I forgot too."
The two then turn and walk back the way they came, turning left into a reception. Jaz then says to the receptionist "This is Max Rushden, who will be staying for some time and needs a temporary pass."
"No trouble," the receptionist says, turning to Max, "we'll get one sorted now." She then asks for full name, date of birth and other details. She then hands him a pass. "This is valid until the end of the term."
"Thanks," Max says, and the two then head back to where they came from. At the barrier, they turn right then they reach a building and turn left, then almost straight after right again. Straight down the path, they turn right and walk up a ramp. Some students are waiting already.
"Everyone, I'll wait until everyone is here to make the formal introductions, although I think Scott might do that anyway, but this is Max Rushden, and he will be coming in from time to time, maybe each day, to see what we do here."
"Hello," one girl says, wearing a red coat. The others then follow in saying hello. One student is wearing all black, and has light skin with brown hair and eyes. He is also wearing glasses.
"Ah, Chris," Jaz says. "Max here, said he'd develop a game of some sort for Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles. Part of advertising the game."
"That's good," Chris says. "This is Ryan, by the way." He indicates the male next to him, with a sharp feature set, brown ees and hair, but more spiky, and spots dotted around his face.
"Yes. I'm sure everyone will introduce them to you. And if they ask, who knows? We might even be best of friends."
Scott then arrives with some folders and a key. He opens the door, and others arrive up the ramp as the second door is opened.
As everyone takes seats, Scott pulls Max aside. "Okay, everyone," he says. "This is Max Rushden. He will be joining these classes to get a feel of what lessons we do here regarding media and TV and Film."
"So where does he come from?" one student nearest the door asks.
"Well..." Scott prompts.
"Okay," Max starts. "There is no way that you can find it, but the place is called the Republic Antarctic. Basically, it is near the south pole. We have a lot of advancements in technology, including our own internet network, which is why no-one would be able to locate us. We have colleges as well, but know nothing of the way of doing things here. And then, as a favour for this, Jaz will be coming with me to sample our way of doing things."
"Ace. Make sure to tell us all about it," another student says.
"Don't worry. I will," Jaz says.
"And now, while we get on with our lesson," Scott states, "You need a seat. Maybe next to Jaz?"
"OK." Max walks to Jaz, and Scott then says "But don't disrupt anyone, not that it matters much."
Max takes his seat, and Scott starts the lesson.
Part 9 [3/5/12]
The lesson ends, and the students get up making small talk. They had been finishing watching a film called Johnny English, and Scott had then mentioned another film, Speed, and the group was asked to compare the two films. Apparently, they had watched that film beforehand.
As everyone left, Jaz asked if he was accompanying him. Scott, however, pulls Max aside.
"Jaz, can you just leave for a bit? Go outside?"
"Yeah, sure," Jaz answers Scott.
After he walks outside and closes the door, Scott says to Max, "That was just one lesson. They've got another lesson in here, so I'll leave a message on the board for the lecturer. You'll be here to explain to her as well. Then all I have to do is find the other lecturers and explain to them."
"Fair enough," Max says.
Scott then picks up the folder and DVD's, as he calls them, and leaves the room. A few moments later, Jaz walks back in with Chris. The others of the group, Amy, Jess, Liam, Shannon, then start entering again as well.
"So, you stay with us?" Jaz asks.
"Yes. Oh, and does anyone have any paper? I know I'm meant to be observing but it still does get a bit boring if nothing much is being done."
Chris pulls a folder out of his bag, black with a shoulder strap, the folder white and ring-bound, and pulls two pieces out. "Sketching ideas?" he asks.
Over the course of the rest of the day, Max had a limited view of the lessons of TV and Film in the UK. After the lesson with the lecturer named Hannah, a small and cheery person, Max had to endure the same two hour break that Jaz said they had to endure every college day, but was worse of a Wednesday as it was two and a half hours. To spend the time, they collected some food from the canteen or refectory, it was hard to tell which it actually was as everyone called it one of the two, and then walked it into the town of Halesowen. Shops were on both sides of the walkway when they reached it by going through a churchyard. Then they entered the inside shopping mall, and there were shops all over, separated in the middle by an influx of advertising campaigners and benches. The shops were varying in size, and one shop in particular, a game shop, was closed. But a new sign had been pasted over the windows, Jaz alerted him. That sign said that a new shop was opening tomorrow. They made a mental note to check back tomorrow. The atmosphere during the break was relaxed, but also had a slight wearisome, as though they did this nearly everyday.
Back in the class, an older man, also cheery, just let the students do what they want. He had introduced himself as Mick, and said they had finished all assignments for the unit he taught so he didn't have anything to give them, and most left at 15:00. Jaz it seemed, was one of those people.
"So, you've got a few ideas on which of the two sci-fi series?" Jaz asks, back in his room.
"Well I started on Star Wars. Seemed the most interesting. Now seems the most complicated."
"Talks with Chris should rectify that. He knows more about that sci-fi series than I do. My profession is Doctor Who. In fact, it might just be easier to read what Chris has already done for the story of the Doctor Who: Star Wars Chronicles on his website, and from my audios, which he writes."
"But neither of you have the experience to make a game?"
"None whatsoever. Audios and novels are our profession. Well, Chris is good at animation, but not good enough to do any proper 3D things."
"So me this website then." Max loads up his laptop, and access his internet browser. Jaz directs him to cdsmedia.tk.
On it, Max instantly sees the Doctor Who: Star Wars Chronicles, as well as a Star Wars section, a story called Pokemon: Shadow Boom, and also one called TV and Film Residential Camp. He almost missed the last story.
Located by a page called links, the name 'Zincite Storm League' sprang out. His curiosity wanted him to take a look. He looked to Jaz, hovering his mouse over the title.
"Ah, that's another of his original creations. As well as sci-fi and fantasy, he likes racing cars and racing games. So he made another story that is all about racing set on another planet. The first original creation story he came up with was TV and Film Residential Camp."
"Interesting. I'll have to catch up on all these, although, if I can have access to any technology you can get from your wireless communications device for delivering internet capabilities, I might be able to boost my signal so I can keep in contact when you leave the Republic Antarctic."
"Will do. I might be able to buy one second hand."
"Need money?" Max asks, and pulls out a card that looks official and looks like a debit card.
"Is that what I think it is?"
"Yes. Our currency is the same. The only thing that probably is."
Part 10 [4/5/12]
"How much do you have?" Jaz asks.
"Well, we get paid depending on the grade we get for each assignment," Max starts, "so I'd say roughly one-thousand-and-seventy."
"That much!" Jaz exclaims. "What are the payments for each grade?"
"Highest is an ess grade, and that brings in one hundred pound. Next is an ay grade, which gives fifty pound. Bee grade gives twenty. See grade gives ten. There are no other grades."
"Yes, let's get to more research however."
The next day passes, but it is three lessons Max watches. Well, the first two passed the same as Mick's yesterday, but they were more interesting, as quizzes relating to TV and film took place. Then a lesson with Hannah takes place after the three hours, but this is just under an hour. And soon, the two and a half hour break.
Jaz, Shannon, Jess, Chris, Liam, Amy, Tasha and the two Ryan's tag along and the trek to the town begins, once everyone has collected food and drinks that wanted to. The first stop was to a sandwich shop called Subway. Anyone who didn't get something at the college bought one of the sandwich-and-a-drink meal deals for three pound. Eating in, the atmosphere is lively as everyone chats about what the new shop is. Then the time comes.
Entering what is called the Cornbow, they instantly see the advert for the new shop hanging from the ceiling. The shop is called what it was before. Gamestation. However, the logo looks a lot different, and not just because of the new font. Red writing and surrounded in green, the plaque it is printed on is white. Inside, console hubs stand along the walls with the counter on the far side, opposite the door. Two computers, one or two consoles of each type, and also one or two handheld devices of each type. Along the middle, rows of shelves have games and DVD's.
"Hello, and welcome," someone says from the counter, wearing a red t-shirt. "This is Gamestation, and any console or handheld is available to play. If there is a game you want to play, just book a game and console."
Everyone walks toward the counter.
"The place only opened about ten minutes ago. Take a look at our library if you like." He indicates three books on the counter. Thick books.
"This is just like the places we have back in the RA," Max whispers to Jaz.
Chris speaks up. "Do you have any Pokemon games?"
"If looking through those books is going to be too much, there are computers over there," the man behind the counter says, pointing to his right.
Chris and Liam go over there, and are busy at one of the computers. Liam then returns and asks, "Can we buy these games?"
"Depends on whether we have more than one copy," the man says.
"Prices?" Jaz asks.
"Do a search yourself." The man indicates the computer again.
"And what if we wanted to play one of the consoles?" Ryan Small asks. A friend of Jaz's, he had short brown hair, and brown eyes. Smooth features and skin as well.
"Newer consoles, it is five pound for an hour. Older ones - two. The handheld consoles, newer ones are four pound an hour. Older ones - one."
Chris then walks back and says, "I'd like Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness please." He then adds to the others around him, "Been looking for it for ages, and I've got two pound left."
The man then returns and hands the game over, and Chris pays the two pound. Ryan Small then books an hour on a console called the Playstation 2 and plays a game called Crash Tag Team Racing while everyone else watches. Chris wonders back to the counter half an hour into the play session and returns quite quickly.
The day had been great for all, and as they walked back to the college, everyone was making small talk. The reason was, once they had explored Gamestation, they soon got quickly into a game Jaz said they liked to play often. Extreme Hide and Seek. The rules were simple. Just run and hide, and try to gather everyone but one person - the victim - without the victim finding them. There was another game they played which involved teams, but as not enough people had wanted to play that one, they were left with just Extreme Hide and Seek.
The last lesson passed in a breeze and soon Max was back to Jaz's room doing more research, and he was sure that Chris was playing his new game.
Click to read Chapter 4 - Plan Extensions.
Part 1 [10/3/12]
I just can't get their faces out of my head. None of them.
Stanley and his smug expression, black hair and dark skin. Ean with his egg-shaped bald head, blue sharp eyes, and cunning expression. Telisa, and the red, gold hair that spirals down. If I didn't know better, I'd say that it was true she was new, but was under an alias name. The S, E and T of the names. The name of the camp itself - Plutes.
I smell a fish, and I am determined to find out the truth of the place.
Over the next few days, Max spent ages on his computer, and the ones at the college during breaks, to find out as much about Plutes as he could. He was compiling a list of every single rumour and fact that pointed to the real truth of the place.
On the Friday, the time came to report on what each student like about the trip.
The day starts as normal with Max waking up, walking to his wardrobe and changing clothes. He then walks down the corridor into the main of the house. The house of Max and his family is a fairly large house, with a main room consisting of kitchen and dining room with a corridor running around the outside of the two rooms. Off this looped corridor are more corridors leading to other rooms. From the door at the north-east side is Max's room. The south-east corridor leads to the bathroom and storage units. The south-west corridor leads to the main bedroom and the garage. The north-west corridor leads to two other
bedrooms. Between the north-west and south-west corridors is another building that houses the storage and laundry units. Each corridor has its own toilet unit. Each corridor has red carpet and blue walls, with a white ceiling.
Breakfast is already on the table as Max walks in.
"Hello there, Max, " his Dad greets. "Another great day today is it?"
"Yes. It should be informative," Max says as he sits down, grabbing an apple.
As he eats it, he looks at his watch. And then quickly gets up.
"Sorry. Got to dash!" Max quickly announces as he exits through the door.
In truth, I've still got a fair amount of time to get to the college. I just wanted to get out and talk things through with myself. I've been thinking back to the trip, and I've managed to get a few quotes to back up what I'll say. But
I've also thought about what Stanley said. 'We are all family'. How can that be true is Telisa is new? Unless it's like a clan. That makes better sense, but then, why the names?
If I cannot convince anyone of the truth today, I will try elsewhere. If that fails, I'll take my investigation further.
Part 2 [12/3/12]
The college gates are in sight, so Max switches off the Secure-disk Rec. The chatter of people can be heard.
Max walks through the gates, turns left about twenty steps from the gate and walks through the car park to the room his class take their lessons in. A hole in the fence, a mis-sight of the person who designed it, stopped the fence at the foliage that formed the perimeter of the college. Thus, after a few attempts, the students had broke enough of the fence so a shortcut was formed to rooms on the left side of the college, which would otherwise be a winding road to access them. The teachers knew about it, but thought it was for the best to not do anything. At least until construction was finished on the old building.
Inside the class, Max walks to his seat and seats himself, pulling out folders and work from his bag, his Secure-disk Rec safely strapped to his left wrist.
Tom and Lee then walk in, with cups of tea in their hands, talking. Over the course of five minutes, more students walk in and eventually the room fills. The two teachers then start the lesson.
"Right," Tom says. "You should all have gathered your reports for today. Put up your hands if you haven't."
Only two do.
"That doesn't matter, as I know you two weren't there."
"OK. Who's to go first?" Lee asks.
Only a few people put up their hands.
"Toby, you first," Lee says.
The student called Toby, who is sat in the front row, walks to the front and inserts a memory stick into the main computer of the room.
"Right then," Toby says nervously. "I present to you what I liked about the holiday. First off, the train journey to the place was an adventure in itself, and I really liked it. Filming at the place was great, as I feel I learnt a lot of information..."
Max secretly activates the Secure-disk Rec.
Max: <Quietly - Yes. You feel alright.>
Toby: I mean, I was fairly awful at recording, but going to that place, I was able to get to grips with a camera after all these years. The instructors were also very helpful.
Max: <Quietly - As if. They never even worked with us. They were against us the whole time.>
Toby: -of help. They were kind and considerate with us. They never shouted and they made the whole situation of... Well... What I meant was that they made the holiday one of the best I have ever been to.
Tom: Was there anything-
Max: <Quietly - Wait.. Was that something true coming through...>
Toby: What I didn't like? Well the ending train journey. Why was we in sleeping bags?
Lee: We have the answer to that. They need to send the previous group back quickly so that the train can be ready for the next group. And also so they can prepare for the next groups arrival.
Max: <Quietly - Yes. They have to prepare. They need to make a dramatic entrance.>
Tom: Max. Since you are being so vocal, why don't you go next?
Part 3 [14/3/12]
Max, just as secretly, deactivates the Secure-disk Rec. He then answers with a simple 'Sure'.
"That concludes it then," Lee says. "Anything else, Toby?"
"No, Lee. I think I've said everything," Toby says.
Toby takes his memory stick out of the computer, and Max heads to the computer. Before he sticks the Secure-disk Rec into the computer, he flicks a switch on the side. When it is inserted, it is just a simple memory stick. All the files regarding the recording and other parts are hidden.
The file is then opened by Max, and he begins.
"While the trip was entertaining, it was hard work. For one, we was just left to our own devices, with no help from the instructors, who, in actual fact, never even gave us any work to do regarding filming. They instead had us building sets for the entire time, using deceit and lies to cover it up. The evidence here backs it up."
"Just because you didn't find it entertaining," another student says.
"I concur," a thrid says. "You were hardly the star of the show, no matter what you thought. So what do you do? Try to bring up the dirt."
"This evidence is clear and true," Max demands. "From a site relating to school and college holidays, some saw the truth. I don't know how they do it, but they have mind altering devices-"
"Quit it! Just because you aren't the innocent citizen!"
"Everyone! Please!" Tom shouts. "So then, Max. To round this off, what did you like about the holiday?"
"Even you are being controlled," Max insists. "They do it to everyone." He clicks onto the next page. "Some research points here state they are psychics-"
"No matter what website you got it from," Lee says, "they obviously hated the holiday as much as you did, and are being equally prejudiced as they are."
"No, I'm not. It's true, I tell!"
"Go outside and cool off," Tom commands.
"OK," Max says uncertainly.
He takes the Secure-disk Rec from the computer and flicks the switch back to full mode. He then walks back outside.
Ten minutes later, he activates the recorder.
Well, I can hear the others now, giving their presentations. They talk just like Toby. All praises about the place and completely inacurate facts. Why are they all short sighted? And Tom and Lee. They must be subject to it each year whenever they head to the place, whatever they use to alter the minds. Why can no-one fight it? The list just gets longer. Thankfully I leave this year so I can-
Part 4 [16/3/12]
“They say you can go back in now,” a student says as he opens the door.
“Right.” Max stretches the word out to some length.
Max walks back in, but the other student doesn’t follow.
“Are you coming back in?” Max asks without turning around.
“No. I’m off to the toilet, so Tom said to get you to come back in.”
Max continues on inside and takes his seat just as a student finishes their talk on the holiday. Both Tom and Lee look sternly at him, but say nothing.
As each talk goes by, Max says nothing. But inside, he is seething with anger at the short-sightedness of all the class. He feels like exploding with that anger.
At the end of the class, Tom walks up to Max and says to follow. He is lead out and follows the route of left from the end of the ramp, then right, and into the main building. Another left turn in the lobby and into another corridor. On the right, the construction can be seen of the second lobby and entrance into the building. Straight down the corridor and Max is lead into a door on the left, halfway down.
A staff room of media teachers, Max instantly sees the assaulting poster advertising Plutes and heads toward it, planning to rip it from the wall.
“Max!” Tom calls. Max freezes on the spot. “I called you here for a reason.”
“Yes?” Max asks.
“Why do you hate that place so much? Everyone else is right. It was a grand holiday and worth it.”
“Well I know the truth. Well, parts of it,” Max says. “They use everyone that appears there, for their own ends.”
“Can you prove it?”
“I have audio recordings of when I was there.”
“Audio’s can be faked.”
“Even one with two of the teams’ voices?”
“Well yes. Of course,” Tom says, but he looks a bit unsure. “Anyway, I don’t need evidence. All I am saying is don’t bother doing any of this again.”
“Of course,” Max automatically replies. But as he says this, he releases another microcam in the room. It attaches itself to the door.
“Now go have your break and don’t say anything else,” Tom says, turning away.
Max does exactly what is asked of him, and leaves the room, safe in the knowledge that no-one will realise the cam on the door.
Part 5 [18/3/12]
The teachers are unconvinced. There is some who would believe me, but the teachers won't allow it. I contacted them over break, and they seemed interested. But then next lesson came, and they were warned I was a lying traitor to Plutes. No-one believed me after that. I tried and I tried to convince people. No-one seemed interested.
The weekend came and I put more effort into a campaign to raise awareness of Plutes and the fact that it is a rip off. Some were convinced, but most turned a blind eye in ignorance. I did all I could to persuade them, doing what I had done with the presentation at the college. Still no luck.
Soon the weekend turned into a new week, and new films had new trailers released.
"Right then," Tom says, at the start of the Monday class. "New films are soon to be released, and we have trailers of them."
"What we want you to do," Lee adds, "is to look and analyse the trailers and see if they will make their money back or not, from a budget that you estimate."
The first film shown is an action film, where all things blow up. Everyone rates it at a high budget film and says it will definately make its budget back.
The second film looks familiar to Max. It features a park area in open ground and a caravan park that looks newly repaired.
"That looks like..." Max begins, and then he shouts out "Plutes!"
"Very observant," Lee calls out.
"But- But-" Max stammers. "They- Doesn't matter."
"Very well," Tom calls. "Continue with the analysis."
The group is undecided on whether the film will make its budget back, but they are also undecided on what the budget for the film is.
The film trailers progress and each one follows with the class analysing it in terms of budgetary amounts.
"Right," Lee starts. "That concludes this lesson. Now make sure to keep those advert analyses safe, as we'll be using them even more next week."
Everyone packs up their things and leaves. Max does the same and heads outside through the hole in the gate. Monday's were only one lesson long, so the rest of the day was free.
As Max reaches the gates and crosses through the threshold, a man walks in step with him.
"Max Rushden?" he asks.
"Yes," Max nervously replies.
"We've heard what you are doing. We would like to hire you."
Part 6 [20/3/12]
"What would you like me to do?" Max asks.
"We need to assess you first, to see if you have what it takes."
"Who needs to assess me?"
"The group of course," the man says. "We would like to infiltrate Plutes. We know the stories about it that aren't revealed to the public. Our group is too old, and anyone we have approached are saying the public opinion about it."
"And since I know the truth..."
"You can essentially see what is going on, again."
"So what are these tests?"
"Follow me. And don't worry. My name is Elijah, and I am as trustworthy as they come."
Max follows Elijah across three streets, until they reach an office block. Just one floor. The name of 'Detection Legacy' rests on a light red rectangular plaque in dark blue writing. Inside, the same colour trend follows, with the walls being light red and the floor being dark blue.
The block is only two rooms. The first is the lobby, which is where the two are now. It is sparsley populated but large, with just two square tables either side of the two doors on the walls. Directly opposite the door the two entered is another door which they walk through.
That room is better furnished, with a curved sofa with a cut out part facing the door. The floor and walls are both coloured the light red, with the sofa the dark blue. More plants and tables cover the walls, with computers and storage units also covering the walls. A fridge is in the far left corner.
Two other men sit at the sofa, both with drinks in their hands.
"Who's this," one of them says, who is sat on the left side.
"The person who can spy for us," Elijah says.
"He's at school? Already been to Plutes? Knows what it is really about?"
"Yes. This is the one that has been trying to persuade everyone of the truth."
"OK," the second says. "Let's see if he has got what it takes. My name is Darren."
"And mine is Chris," the first says.
"Let the testing begin," Elijah says, sitting down and indicating that Max should do the same.
Part 7 [23/3/12]
"So you create your own technology?" Chris asks. "What sort of technology is it?"
"Spy camera's," Max replies. "So small no-one would be able to see they are there. Centrally controlled by a main computer which holds all the recording information required. All the camera itself needs is a wireless chip to send the data."
"Interesting," Elijah says. "You're technologically advanced enough."
"Of course. I have a whole box full of junk I use to make things. I'm halfway through making an operating system for a computer, with the internet browser and basic editing equipment required for it."
"Expert with computers as well?" Darren exclaims. "Whoa!"
"Well, I suppose."
"Modest," Chris says. "So, anyway. You went to that place on a college holiday. How did you break from the mind control?"
"Well, I have this recorder I named the Secure-disk Rec. It's essentially a memory stick that doubles as a recording device, which saves the recordings I make in folders I name and locate beforehand. When I arrived back home, I still knew that I had been doing the recordings, so I loaded them onto my computer. When I listened to them, I was shook out of the state of memory replacement they used. One thing I really want to know is how they do it. How they replace the memories of people."
"We can help with that," Elijah says. "All we need is someone willing to go back to Plutes. Many people are afraid to return. Are you?"
"Of course not. I'm determined."
"OK. We'll be in contact. Would e-mail be preferable?"
"Definite," Max says and recites the contact detailing.
"We'll get onto you as soon as we need you for something else," Elijah says, loading the e-mail into a computer.
"I'll be going now, then," Max says.
"Sure," Darren says. "And be careful. We need you if we're going to pull this off."
"Sure. Bye then."
Max leaves and heads back home using the most direct route he can. When he arrives, his dad is at the table in the dining room.
"What have you been doing?" his dad asks. "Lunch has been waiting for ten minutes."
"Wanted to walk around a bit," Max says. "The lesson was awful."
"Well, I'm sure you wanted to take your mind off it, but remember there is only six weeks left until you finish the college proper."
"You need to get your work done for your other assignments."
"Almost all complete."
"I'll just take my food to my room, as I've got some finishing to do."
"No making a mess."
Max answers with 'fine' as he enters into the kitchen to grab his food and takes it to his room. He locks the door and sets to work on his computer.
Part 8 [26/3/12]
The interesting thing is, I've just had a conversation with three people I'd never even met before. And I'd followed them to their base of operations. My hatred of Plutes must be really strong for me to make decisions like that.
Anyway, what I am studying is what that camera I placed in the staff room has picked up. It can detect when movement occurs and puts all those minutes where movement occurs into a separate folder for easier access. So far, no-one has been on the phone to call out another trip to Plutes, but I'm guessing I can persuade another college to send a student along to see about the trip. That way, it will persuade the teachers at the college to book early. Then I can make my move. But that can wait. No point doing it while I'm still at college, but I will work hard to get my tech advanced for when I have to make my move. I'll also complete the various projects I have on the go. That way, if anything is needed to be sold for extra money for bribes, I can easily supply it. And besides, the unique stuff always goes for the highest price.
Max is busy at a table in his room, holding a hilt shaped like a cylinder with the top part missing. Also missing is one of the side panels. These panels are split into quarters and held together by rings at the top and bottom of the hilt. Wires are poking out of the missing quarter, and it is these at which Max works on.
A sweat drop starts to bead on his forehead, so Max lifts his head and wipes it off. As he looks up, he sees out of the window. Outside the window is a man dressed entirely in black, wearing sunglasses and a hat. This man is staring directly at Max's bedroom window, though Max knew he couldn't see anything as the black outside tint of the window was active.
Max regards this as nothing and moves back to his work. Still, curiosity gets the better of him, and he looks up again.
The man has gone.
Max shakes his head and moves back to work. It was only one person, and people are always wondering about the tint on his window when no other window in the house has one. Carefully picking in the insides of the device, Max clips one end of the wires to a portable generator, and the others to a flat light-bulb. The bulb lights up bright. Brighter than is expected.
Removing one of the wires from the bulb, instantly causing the light to vanish, Max pulls a switch with four different settings available and clips the wire onto one end of the switch. Grabbing another wire, he clips that onto the bulb and the switch. He then flicks the switch between settings, and the bulb glows ever brighter with each setting selected. Turning it off, he then grab two more wires and a wireless data chip.
On the computer is a scanner waiting to be activated. When Max passes the wireless data chip across the camera in the computer, that scanner then activates with all the info and processes that are happening with the link between the two. Max opens a folder on the computer, and copies across two codes into the scanning software. These are uploaded onto the wireless data chip, and instantly a GPS opens up on the computer with a red dot indicating where the data chip is located.
Turning away from the computer, Max wires the data chip into the hilt, then assembles the rest inside with the bulb held loosely away from the device. Taking off the two rings and snapping off another part of the hilt, Max then puts a support inside, and then inserts the bulb into that. He then snaps the part back into place, grabs the switch and feeds it through the gap in the final part of the hilt. Snapping that back into place, Max then replaces the two rings and tests the device.
It works. Fifteen centimeters in length, it is covered all in white with red stripes where the splits from the separate pieces are. The switch is small and unless you knew it was there, you wouldn't be able to locate it.
"Max!" his dad's voice shouts through the door. "There's someone here for you outside the front door!"
Max, understanding the need for haste, activates the hibernate function of his computer, and slips the device and Secure-disk Rec into his pockets and zips them up.
Unlocking his door and walking to the main one, Max sees that the man standing there is the same one who was looking through his window.
Part 9 [29/3/12]
"And what do you want?" Max stubbornly asks.
"I understand you contacted the Detection Legacy group," the man says. "And I understand there have been problems with you not taking a liking to Plutes."
"Well it's just a big scam," Max reports. "Anyone with a brain cell should know that when they visit."
"I heard you had some recordings from the holiday. May I come in and listen to them?"
"You can't come in, but can certainly listen to them."
"That's fair enough my me."
"And I'm not going to reveal any secrets, about myself or what I do. Now wait here."
"Sometime soon then," Max hears the man quietly say. Max ignores this, wanting the man away from the house as quickly as possible.
Inside his room, Max quickly inserts a disk into his computer and copies the recordings onto it. Then he heads back to the main door. The man is still waiting, and accepts the disk in silence.
"Maybe we can talk again," the man says, once the disk had been put away. "When you've had time to think where your loyalties lie."
"I'll keep myself confined to here and the college from now on, since you obviously don't want me straying out of the boundaries."
"You are smart," the man says, and walks away back down the path.
Max doesn't even bother to look however and closes the door forcefully, then returns to his room. On the computer, when he focuses on it, is a warning.
Max instantly reaches into a drawer and pulls another memory stick-like device out of it. Inserting it into the computer, a window appears saying 'select a character'. A list of characters appears underneath the text. Max selects one, and an overworld appears with the character he selected in the middle of the screen with its back to the screen.
Taking a controller from the side of the computer, Max moves the character in search of the enemy.
The virus software is one I created myself to combat viruses and malware on my computer effectively. Taking the engine of Frontal Assault, I edited the code of a powerful virus software over it. Depending on the virus, it will appear as a different enemy. Once all viruses have been deleted, a message will appear like it does on virus software once a scan is complete.
I bet that man was behind this one. There is something odd about him. Something I couldn't understand. Dressed all in black, he even covered his face with a mask and hood. Although there was a hint of something in that voice I've heard before.
Over the weeks, no contact from either Detection Legacy or the unknown man happens. Max has finally contacted a far off college, who say they will send a student. Max has alerted Tom and Lee, who say they might have to get an early booking, and to leave that college's contact information with them. Max knows what their plan is, however. They hope to cut him out of the loop, but a deal was being secured behind their backs that might just allow him another attempt to gain more information on Plutes.
Part 10 [1/4/12]
"We'll be more than delighted to relay messages between you and the student we are sending along." The voice is coming from Max's computer, and the face of both Max and the teacher from the far off college are being broadcast to each other. "I know the teachers of your college are trying to block you out of this, but I feel that what they don't know can't hurt them."
"Yes," Max says. "If I can have direct contact with this student..."
"That can be arranged. We will talk with this student later and hopefully get him onto this call. Until then, wait on this link."
"Will do," Max says, wanting to meet the person who will gain him second access to Plutes.
The teacher moves out of cam-range and while he waits, Max checks the camera in the college staff room to see Tom on the phone to someone. Looking back at the video link, he sees the teacher from the far-off school on the phone himself. It doesn't take a genius to work out who the audio link is between, Max thinks.
A few minutes later, Tom puts the phone down and so does the other teacher. Both leave the room. Max is then left staring at two empty rooms. The teacher works at a college called Owenshale, or so it seems. Or maybe that was the teachers name. Max couldn't remember. All he knew was the college wasn't even on the same island.
Minutes pass, and still nothing moves in either cam link.
Then in a blur of motion, two people move into view of the far-off college's cam. One is the teacher. The other is a dark-skinned, black haired male.
"Well, I'll leave you two to talk. There needs to be something that needs sorting out." The teacher then leaves, but not before the other can say a quick "Yes, Scott."
The other then looks at the link, and at Max.
"So it is Owenshale that is the name of the college," Max states.
"Hardly," the other replies. "You're encryption must be bad. This is Halesowen College, and I'm a student of TV and Film. What do you do, might I ask?"
"This is the Lower Clifton College of Arts, and I study on a TV and Film course. Though I'm leaving in two weeks."
"Wow. You're lucky. There's still another five weeks left where I am."
"Too bad. Anyway, I'm second year of this course, so I finish it proper."
"Only first," the other admits. "Now then. I'm told you can get me into a place where TV and Film thrives?"
"Well, sort of. It will be an experience. And it will be expected of you to represent your college when you come over here."
"No problem. But what encryption are you using, if you can't even read the college's logo right?"
"I'll explain everything when you get here. It will be too difficult to understand otherwise."
"Fine. What's your name, by the way?"
"Max Rushden. You?"
"Jaspreet Singh, but you can call me Jaz."
Click to read Chapter 3 - Differences of Nature.
Part 1 [7/2/12]
The crowd in the classroom was rowdy. All the students were pushing each other as excitement reached its peak. The usual bags were replaced with suitcases packed with clothes.
This was a college holiday, a week at a proper film industry.
This industry has the best reviews, and as it is out in the open countryside, no proper filming regulations exist that do in the city.
“OK! Everyone! Be quiet!” Tom Hughs shouts. “We need to be sure that everyone is here.”
“Everyone in groups of ten,” the other teacher, Lee Johnson commands.
The students push each other more as they get into the specified group numbers. Tom then moves around the students counting all of them.
“OK. Forty five, that’s great,” Tom says. “Now then. This college holiday has been set up so you can get to grips with what it is really like in a film
"We've been going to this place year after year, and it's never failed in terms of enjoyment and experience," Lee adds. "So then, let's go. The coaches should be here by now to take us to the train station."
"Err Lee." One of the students enquires, "Why do we have to go there by train?"
"Good question," Lee says. "And the answer is that the people at Plutes [Plu-tes] wanted a quiet environment, so they chose somewhere no cars could access, and then built a train line which runs to the Central Station."
"But that's a long way from here," the same student says. "Surely it would be a lot easier to have a shorter line instead."
"Don't question the logic," Tom says. "Anyway, let's go now."
All the students then pick up their suitcases, and still pushing, file out of the door with Tom leading. Lee trails at the back.
The group walks down a corridor lined with red carpet and cream walls, and out of a blue lined door. Outside, the weather is brisk and slightly windy.
The group then stops by the reception building. Tom enters and two minutes later exits again.
“The coaches are waiting just outside the gates. Remember, one by one get in. No pushing,” Tom says. “Let’s go.”
The group, lead by Tom, walk down a sandy gravel path lined either side with a garden of grass. The black iron gates are already open as the group reaches them. Turning left onto the main road, two coaches wait in the coach bay.
“Split into two groups and choose either coach,” Lee says.
Roughly half get into coach 1, which is blue in colour with red writing. Coach 2, which the others get into, is red in colour with blue writing. The writing is the name of the coach company, and that company is FarSight.
Part 2 [9/2/12]
The student that asked the questions in the classroom is named Max Rushden. Short, black hair covered by a red cap and pale skin, he is quite the curious person. It is due to this curiosity that he has been able to hack the systems of phones and computers to maximize full security within them. He keeps himself to himself and doesn’t reveal secrets about his successes. One of his best creations is a secure data storage stick which can record voice messages and write them onto the storage
space. His security state also carries onto his choice of clothes as well, as he never has a jumper if it doesn’t have at least one inside or hidden pocket. It is one of these pockets, while sat on the coach which is travelling towards its destination, that Max pulls out his self-named Secure-disk Rec and activates it.
Journal entitled ‘College holiday’. Chapter 1.
Finally. This is the holiday we’ve all been waiting for. A real experience of film-making in open country. How many of my class have talked about this for ages. Just going on and on about it. I know I’m excited about it as well, but I’ve never liked tutorials. Even in theory based work, I’m always doing a trial and error based approach so I know I’ve got it right. The other class members laugh at me for doing it, but with script writing, storyboarding, or even photo-taking, I always experiment. Experimentation will get you forward. It’s how I’m recording this now. To go on this holiday, I have had to put a project I’m currently working on out of my mind. But even now, I’m still thinking of ways to approach making it. I’m creative, and it’s those people that use trial and error methods that are most creative. They aren’t let down by a failure. They’ll just save it for another project.
And so, while I am willing to go on this holiday, I’ll probably find it less useful than the other students.
Tom Golden is a TV and Film teacher at the Lower Clifton College of Arts. So is Lee Johnson. While both have peachy skin, the differences end there. Tom is taller than Lee, and two years older. Lee however, has more experience within the film industry. He has worked at various companies including Animation Art, Short Films Inc., and Documentaries and Dramas Net. He even had a short placement at the Entertainment Network Plaxton, working for the country news. It is therefore why Lee likes a more practical approach when teaching. Tom uses theory and practical combined, though sometimes not to the greatest of effects. Both of them decided to book the holiday for the students together, and over the weeks, the students were more interested and more signed up to go. It also helped that the two had experience with the place, since both had been lots of times before.
Part 3 [11/2/12]
The coaches pull up at a car park, which a large building is shadowing.
A train hoots its horn and pulls out of the station.
"Don't worry," Tom says. "Now everyone out. And remember to take everything with you."
Much grumbling and groaning follows this as students try to be the first out so they can stretch their legs. Max just sits and waits for everyone else to move away. Then he picks up his bags and moves out of the coach to, thanking the driver as he passes him.
Outside, the two groups then merge and collect all their suitcases. The group then walks to the station building.
Inside, shops line the walls, selling books, games, food, and nearly everything else. The group isn't led to any of these however, but to a lower floor where a single train waits. The single door lies open.
"Everyone in then," Lee commands.
Everyone starts groaning again as they have to sit down again so soon.
However, there are no seats.
"Tom, if there's no seats, how are we going to survive the next hour or so?" Max asks.
"Well, this is the first part of the adventure," Tom says. "There are no seats so you can get to grips with being adventurous."
"This is to test your stability while on moving objects," Lee adds. "But move away from the door. No-one else can get in."
Max moves deeper into the train, and everyone else then walks in uncertainly. After hearing what was said, the students take stances they hope will stop them falling over. Tom presses a button on the door when all are inside. The train slowly sets off and those unprepared start falling. Those sat on the floor fall sideways.
"Death trap," Max whispers quietly to himself. "We'll be lucky enough to survive the first five minutes."
Journal entitled 'College holiday'. Chapter 2.
This is no way to travel. If I was able to sue this place, I would. There is nothing else worse than to travel this way. I would have rather been on that coach with leg cramp than trying to survive on here. As soon as we first set off, I knew things would be bad. They got worse. Half of the people on the train fell over within the first five minutes of the journey. All the luggage that people let go of to save themselves is now in a pile at the back. I've still got mine. I strapped it to me as soon as I found out that there was no luggage space.
I think I'm the only one that has really survived so far. The two teachers are alright. They moved straight to the back and are leaning against a wall right now, talking. Who knows what about. Even I can't decipher that while everyone's screaming.
Part 4 [13/2/12]
The train starts slowing down. Everything, people and luggage, fall again.
Max, who was able to stay standing, looks out of the window.
The landscape is hilly and green, with a forest of trees near a building made of stone. Some film sets look like they've already been made. A few caravans look like they have obviously been placed by planning.
A rough jolt then brings Max to the floor again. The train halts. The single door then springs open.
"Everyone, collect your things then join us on the station," Tom calls to the students.
The students all get up and start rushing around, trying to find what is theirs. Max, who has his luggage still strapped to him, waits inside for a while, not wanting to be the first out. After a while though, he admits defeat and unstraps his luggage while walking out.
Outside, three others are waiting. All adults, and all with green jumpers and blue trousers. All wear black boots. Behind then, hung up, is a banner with the Plutes logo and the words 'welcome you all'. The sound of grumbling alerts the three to the other students pushing there way out of the door.
"Now. Now," one of the three calls. "No need for that."
When all are on the station, the door of the train closes. One of the three instructors then claps their hands.
"Now then," the instructor says. "Welcome to Plutes, the home of set design and film making. I'm Stanley Upper, and behind me to the left is Ean. Telisa on the right. We are all family, and this is our home."
"Plutes is the best place for budding film enthusiasts," Ean says. "This is becuase you get to build the sets, and also film on them."
"We'll show you where you will be staying over the course of the week, shall we?" Telisa commands.
The three instructors, two teachers and fourty five students walk off the station, down a path, and to the right. Another stone building can be seen.
"This is the residential area," Stanley comments. "We are over in the house you can see behind. Let's get in."
Everyone follows Stanley inside.
"This is the cafe area," Ean comments. "The girls dorms are to the left, boys down the far end."
From the door everyone entered, the boys' dorm door can be seen directly in line with the main door. At a fourty-five degree angle to the left, the girls' dorm door can be seen. In the middle of the space are lots of tables. The walls and floor are cream coloured. Running along the whole of the right wall is a serving counter. To the right of this serving counter, almost in line with the main door, is another door.
"What's behind that door?" Max asks.
"Behind that door?" Stanley says, caught off guard. "Oh, that's kept locked all the time. Access to the kitchen, that door is."
"Anyway," Telisa says, "it's getting dark and we'll be starting early in the morning, so get unpacked, return here for food, and then get back to your rooms and get some sleep."
The three instructors then walk back out of the main doors. The rest of the group seperate.
Part 5 [15/2/12]
Journal entitled ‘College holiday’. Chapter 3.
There isn't something right. I just can't explain it, but something is not right.
Firstly, the station and the dorms are right next to each other. All the dorms are single rooms, but more importantly, that door I asked about cannot lead to the kitchen. It just can't. From the boys' dorms door, you could obviously see the wall, and it was before where that door is. And there was no other door on that wall.
The rooms being single only is something I like, since it gives me privacy. And I have work to be doing. It might seem stupid, doing work on a holiday, but I intend to get this mystery sorted. And first way to do that is set up hidden cameras. If I can.
The activity is rocketing, what with everyone trying to get seats or food. Max, however, does none of these things. Being first into the cafe room, he had collected some food and already ate it. And so he just sits in a seat. No-one bothers him.
A bell then rings announcing closing time of the food. Max makes a slight movement with his hands. The door to the right of the serving counter remains closed however. Only the door on the left of it is ever used. Max then moves his hands away from the table and drops something onto the floor. It takes him quite a while to pick it up.
Then he joins the boys heading back to the dorms.
Journal entitled ‘College holiday’. Chapter 4.
I knew something was up. That door is not connected to the kitchen, no matter what any instructor says. The whole place feels different than it should. That's all I can say. I don't like admitting it, but I should have done something more. What I did do was attatch a camera of my own design to a table. The only thing it needs is a wireless microchip, meaning it can be as small as it needs to be. The recording equipment is right here in this room. Right now though, I feel as though anything I can do is pointless as something always does.
My only prediction is that this whole place is... hiding something. I feel as though I've been here before.
Part 6 [17/2/12]
The alarms go off at 07:00. All around the building, in every room. No-one can stay asleep at the noise. All get up groggily and start getting dressed.
At 07:10, the first students head into the cafe. Max can hear them.
Max doesn’t head out straight away though, but moves to his laptop and activates a secure program to stop access. The he walks out, making sure he has the essential items on him.
In the cafe, two of the instructors wait. Telisa and Ean are sat at a table on their own. Talking. Max moves the serving counter to get food.
By 07:30, everyone has eaten their fill.
“OK. So everyone is now ready to start the week,”Telisa begins. “One problem. You saw yesterday that sets had already been constructed. A storm last night destroyed them. We need to see teamwork from all of you to build them back to how they originally were.”
The students groan. Max in particular, makes a scathing face.
“Now. Now,” Ean says. “Teamwork should get the sets built again, so the quicker you get them built, the faster you get to film. OK?”
The students aren’t happy that they can’t film straight away, but agree that building the sets would be the best option.
And so they set off to the hillside to start building the first set again. This set is a caravan park scene, which only needed a quick clean, but with one hundred caravans on site, it took all morning. Returning for a quick food break, the next set to be
rebuilt was a park scene.
The swings had fallen over and some of the chains needed to be fixed. This required ten people, with an extra two to lift it into position. The gravel needed to be picked up from the area, and new gravel needed to be re-laid. The slide also needed to be lifted into position again. The climbing frame that had been perfect the day before was now all tangled, and some bolts had come out. Finding them in the gravel was a time-staking pain. But it was done by students.
The teachers and instructors were nowhere to be seen; occasionally walking back down the hill to see how much progress had been made.
By 19:00, the set had almost been rebuilt.
“Excellent,” Stanley remarks. “Truly brilliant. Right then. Take this time to refresh for tomorrow. Head back, eat, do whatever else you must, and get to bed. Up at seven in the morning again.”
The students walk back to the dorms. Max, however, rushes up to Stanley, who takes no notice of him and walks in the direction of the house.
“Hey!” Max calls. And when Stanley doesn’t reply,“Hey!”
"Max, stop it,” Tom calls.
“But I wanted to ask a question,” Max dejectedly says.
“Ask tomorrow then,” Lee shouts. “But you heard him. Up at seven again in the morning. Come on.”
And so Max has no choice but to return to the dorms. He has little to eat, and almost immediately after returns to his room. Then he sets about compiling a list of questions that needs answering.
The other students, however, are too sleepy after their food and the hard day working and so return to their rooms and fall asleep almost as soon as their head hits the pillow of their bed.
Part 7 [19/2/12]
The same things happen like the day before. The alarms go off at 07:00 and everyone’s in the café by 07:15. By 07:30, they have all eaten. Stanley walks in at this time and tells everyone to head back to the park set, where the final touches need to be
This took until 10:00, however. Then the students were led up the hill where the teachers and instructors were seen heading down yesterday.
“We need some students to help with this,” Telisa says. “We can’t find any other way.”
Everyone reaches the top of the hill and a massive pool of water with fallen boats await.
“No way!” Max calls out.
“Wait until you hear what you are doing!” Tom calls.
“Yes,” Ean calls back. “Now then, what needs doing here is these ropes need pulling to get the boats back to the edge. Now surely that can’t be too difficult, can it?”
And so the students pull into groups and grab hold of one of the ropes. Then they start hauling the boats in.
Journal entitled ‘College holiday’. Chapter 5.
Until 12:00, we spent the day hauling the boats to the edge of the lake using ropes. But I knew that as soon as I called out, there was more to be done at that lake. And so it is here I stand recording this, taking all the electrical out of my pockets, as I know that I am in for it when we return to the lakeside. When I exclaimed at the water and the teachers and instructors looked at me, I could tell I would be first for whatever lay ahead.
<Faint – “Max? Max where are you?”>
Oh dear. I’d better stop now. But I’ll make an excuse for why I was in here.
Max quickly puts all the electrical items in a bag. The door opens as he turns around.
“What are you doing in here?” Lee says.
“Just putting my wipes back,” Max comments.
“Well come on then. Everyone’s waiting to get back up to that lake.”
Max follows Lee back to the café area. Everyone then walks back to the lake on the hill.
“Right then,” Stanley calls to the group. “We’ve had a look in the boats and found some items missing from them. We need good swimmers to dive down and collect them.”
“You,” Telisa calls to Max. “Why don’t you go first?”
Max silently growls. “Fine.”
Max then walks to the edge and jumps in. Gasps rent the air as the others see him dive straight in and almost instantly back up with two paddles in each hand.
“Well done,” Stanley comments. “Now then. The best swimmers step forward and jump in. Those not confident enough stay at the water’s edge ready to collect the items off the swimmers.”
And so they set to work again, as a team of one.
Part 8 [20/2/12]
The next two days follow the same format as the last two days.
First the alarms blare at 07:00 and everyone wakes up. They all meet in the café area where they all eat their breakfast, and then the bad news spreads as more sets need rebuilding. On the Thursday, the sets were a building lot, a park scene and a car park. On the Friday it was a continuation of the car park followed by a painting of all walls within a storefront.
Each day, a break came as soon as the students finished the first set of that day. Each day, the teachers or instructors never helped at all. Each day finished at 19:00. And each day, Max never got to ask the question he wanted so desperately to ask.
And something was starting to affect the students. They all seemed to start enjoying the holiday.
The last day. Saturday. All the students would be returning back home the next day. And finally, the sets had been completed. Or so they thought.
“Sorry everyone,” Stanley says in the café of the morning. “We need help with one of our sound suites before we can continue, well start, filming. It is entirely soundproofed and no distractions can come from anything happening outside.”
"If you’d like to follow me,” Telisa says.
The students all file out of the café and up a different hill than the ones of previous times. At the top is one building. Inside, only one set of stairs going down is found. The students all head down these stairs.
The sound suites are top class. All the rooms are white and not even one speck of dust can be found. A filtration unit above the door picks up the dust from the students as they walk in.
“Telisa will stay with you and explain what needs to be done. Me and Ean will go get the cameras ready,” Stanley reports, and with that, exits again.
“OK. We need some sound testers and some people to do the tuning of the equipment,” Telisa says. “What we really need is quality sound from each of the microphones. The tuning is off and just us three wouldn’t have been able to get them all done before you had to film.”
“So why didn’t you do it the last couple of days when we were toiling hard on the sets?” Max demands.
“Shut it!” Telisa shouts. “The microphones of all the other suites have been done, but this is the last suite and this is the last day. Get it?”
She then shakes herself. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have lost my temper, but I would have thought it was obvious.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter,” Tom says. “We should really have explained what our part was to the students.”
“Well, now it’s all clear, shall we get started?” Telisa asks.
And so everyone sets to work.
The tuning takes the rest of the day. At 19:00, everyone returns back to the café. But water is on the ground. When they all get to the dorm building however, it is battered.
Stanley walks out and calls “Sorry everyone but another storm struck here. This building is now a danger zone. Well, all except the café. We’ve rescued your things from the rooms so find them and eat then settle down to sleep in the sleeping bags we’ve
The instructions are carried out by all the students. Max, however walks to the door of the boys’ dorms and is about to open the door where water is leaking through when Ean holds him back.
“I wouldn’t do that if I was you,” he says.
So Max has no choice but to return to the middle of the room. Ean is guarding the door when Max looks back. Before he settles down to sleep, he checks that everything is in his suitcase. It is, even his laptop, and so he picks out his Secure-disk Rec and waits until everyone else is snoring.
Part 9 [21/2/12]
Journal entitled ‘College holiday’. Chapter 6.
Everyone else is now asleep. The instructors have gone too. I’m speaking quietly in case I wake anyone. They’ll be wondering what I’m doing. Who else carries a memory stick with a recording device in it? This has been one of the worst holiday’s ever, and I vow to return. This has been one of the worst holidays ever because there is deception at every turn. Something about the feel of this place. It’s getting hit by storms, and they have the money to repair it, but choose not to. Instead they ruin a students’ holiday and get them to do the dirty work. As for the money… I want to find out all I can about this place, as the money is the most important aspect of it. The only way here is by that rotten train, or by air.
And they will notice an air vehicle and I bet they’ve paid for the area to be deleted from the automated routes as well. Still, they can’t keep everyone out.
<Faint – “They should all be asleep now.”>
<Faint – “Let’s get set up then.”>
That doesn’t sound right. I’d better go to sleep fast.
Journal entitled ‘College holiday’. Chapter 7.
Morning. It was a rough day yesterday. Doing filming was great. However, one weird thing happened. We’ve woke up in sleeping bags on the train. Everyone’s too busy talking about the trip to take much notice of me. Another weird thing was that this recorder was left on. I can’t edit the files on the thing itself, so I’ll have to wait until I get back home to do that. Which is hopefully not that long away.
The holiday was a complete success and I enjoyed it to the fullest. Recording film scenes in the open is just the best. Seriously hope we can go again sometime, but since this is my last year at college…
Not like it matters. What matters is I had the best experience.
The train pulls up back at the station, and all the students file out and pair off to get back onto the coaches. When back at the college, everyone then splits up to go home. Max checks he has everything on him then heads on his way.
Back at his home, and inside his room, he activates the download mechanism of the Secure-disk Rec once it is plugged into the computer. Once the download is complete, he then listens to all the recordings made.
When he reaches what was meant to be a complete silence after journal six, however, changes that expression to shock.
Part 10 [22/2/12]
Journal entitled ‘College holiday’. Chapter 6 Extended.
TELISA: <Faint - Everyone asleep yet?>
EAN: <Faint – Hopefully. Now we need to get this serum injected.>
TELISA: <Faint – What is this serum again? I can’t understand it.>
EAN: <Faint – Well since you’re new here, I’ll explain again. Once they wake up in the morning, they will realise that no filming will have been done at all. They’ll complain. They spread the word. We go down in business until we go bust. This serum is to replace the memory of this week with a great experience so the word spreads and we get more money. What do you think we spend the money on?>
TELISA: <Faint – OK. OK. Let’s get to work.>
TELISA: <Faint - That’s done. Now what?>
EAN: No need to talk quiet now. That makes sure they’re asleep.
TELISA: Yes. OK. Now what?
EAN: A special serum for the teachers and we load them all through the door and back onto the train.
<Recording continues with straining of both people and slow, heavy footsteps>
Max stares at the computer screen, unable to comprehend what he’s just heard. Then it slips into place. Instantly his hands fly over the computers keyboard and then he inserts a disk into the driver. The download starts and a voice calls Max. He then leaves his room.
When he returns, the download is done. Max then puts that disk into a protective case, which he then slips into a red, bulky bag.
The room Max calls his own is mostly black, with red stripes, wallpaper. This same design is also carried over to his bed covers. From the door, the bed is opposite, and the computer/work station is directly left of the door. A metal and components box can be seen directly right from the door. The only window is at the right side of the bed. Even this has curtains of black with red stripes. Against the left wall from the door is a widescreen TV. Just standing on its own. Max had worked on this previously so that it could pick up a signal from far away. This allowed him to access all channels from most other regions and in fact all if it was a clear day. A door on the right side wall held the storage for unfinished projects.
Max stares gormlessly out of the window. What he sees is a mystery, but the journey was one to forget. He, however, remembers every little detail.
Click to read Chapter 2 - Truth Convict.