It took me a moment to recognize the man after he entered our cell. I mean, yes, he was famous, but I hadn't exactly had the time to study up on him in my two weeks of freedom. Gabe, however, recognized him right away. "Why is Tom Markovitz visiting us?"
The guy guarding our cell had a similar question. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I'm taking four of them into my custody."
"Your custody." The guard was incredulous.
Tom handed him a paper. I never got a chance to read it, but it looked super official from where I was sitting.
Tom turned to Spectrum. "Sorry Jackson. You have a rather lengthy rap sheet, and springing you would necessitate pulling a rather large number of strings." Tom sounded so cordial, it took me a second to realize that he was mocking the captive MAD.
Jackson's scarred face contorted into what can only be described as an evil grin. "You know me, Tom. I'll be out off here eventually."
"You two know each other?" Gabe was impressed.
"Y-Hold on," the guard said. "If you think I'm going to let Tom Markovitz, billionaire mook, walk out of hear with not one but four criminals, you are very wrong."
Tom sighed. "Did you not notice the governor's signature? They are in my custody now."
"W-well, how do I know it's really the governor's signature. Maybe you just faked it using some of your mook technology."
"Are you saying you would like me to call the governor of Massachusetts, who is your boss's boss's boss's boss's boss's boss, and ask him whether he really signed this?"
Tom sighed, and punched two numbers into his phone. I guess he had the governor on speed dial. "Hey, Charlie. Yeah. Of course, glad you could make it. Yeah. Uh-huh. No, actually I'm calling on behalf of... James Moony, a prison guard. He take his job so seriously, he needs me to actually call you up before he'll accept you signature. Here, I'll put him on." Tom handed the phone to the uncomfortable looking guard.
"Yes... sir. Yes, sir. Yes. Yes, sir. YES SIR!"
The guard handed Tom his phone. "Here you go." He dialed some numbers into a keypad, and opened the door. He opened the locks attaching me, Gabe, Daniel and Joanne to the walls.
"Goodbye, my friends," Jackson laughed. "I will see you soon."
"Doubtful," Tom said, as we walked away.
The billionaire led us through the police department, along with two tough-looking guys who I assume were there for security. He led us into a very nice looking limousine. "Electric," he said. "It could drive itself, and it can go over water and fly short distances. Although you might not be able to witness those features. They are all somewhat illegal."
The car pulled away away from the police station, under the guidance of a human driver.
"It's frustrating," Tom continued. "I give more money to charity than Bill Gates. I have helped cure three of the twenties deadly diseases in the world. And yet everywhere I go, I am still met with distrust because a few irresponsible MADs have poisoned our reputations."
There was an awkward silence.
Tom laughed. "No, no. I'm not talking about you! I'm bringing you on because I think you have quite a bit of potential." The richest man in the world extended his hand. "I suspect you know me, but my name is Tom Markovitz."
Another brief moment of awkwardness, before I grabbed his hand and shook it. "Allegra Complex."
"Uh, I'm Gabe. Gabriel Complex"
"My name is Daniel O'Connor."
Tom narrowed his eyes at Daniel. "We've met before haven't we? Yes, yes. Breast cancer fundraiser. October 6, 2012. You were that fellow in the stock market." Tom smiled. "You never told me you were a MAD!"
"I hadn't been diagnosed yet."
"Of course, you suspected. You probably wanted to walk up to me and talk about your financial analysis algorithms for twelve hours straight. But you knew that people would take notice. They would realize what you were trying to deny, even to yourself."
"I have a question," I said.
"I'm sure you have hundreds," Tom replied.
"You offered Samuel fifty million dollars for me. Now you're getting me out of jail. Why do you want me so much."
Tom sighed. "Very well. You caught me. I don't mean any disrespect to any of you, and I genuinely do think that you have the potential to do useful work, but Allegra is the reason I am here. An associate of mine, a man named Alexander Dalton, has read some of your work. He thinks that it might be very useful in one of his projects, and wants to bring you on board."
"Two years ago, you created a virus that attacked genes only in a very specific set of organisms, with only a very specific range of chemical compositions."
"Not specific enough," I said. "It turns out some humans were in that range."
"Yes, and that was tragic. But the fundamental idea is still sound. The only problem, and this is somewhat embarrassing, is that neither Alexander nor myself has been able to make heads nor tails of it these past two years. We were wondering if you might help."
I felt reluctant. I didn't want to think about the time I my work had killed six people. Which reminded me of the last time I thought about it. "When I was in J.S. Greenberg, I was asked about my work, in violation of the Ortega protocols. Was that your doing."
"It was Alexander's doing, yes. He is a rather influential man within the government."
"Then how come I've never heard of him," Gabe asked.
"Alexander serves as an adviser to president Walsh. You can imagine that it would rather... controversial if it became widely known that the President was relying so heavily on such a man."
"What will happen to him when Walsh loses the election," Gabe asked.
"If Walsh loses, it is likely that his successor will be less receptive to Dalton's aid. I will probably find him a job within my organization, or perhaps try to find him employment at the side of another world leader."
We flew in Thomas' private jet. "My best private jet," he said. "Not only does is it capable of leaving the Earth's atmosphere and docking with the international space station, but it also has a soda fountain."
We landed in an airfield near San Francisco. We entered another limousine. "This one is bulletproof, fireproof, and would still run after forty years underwater."
We entered an Xcom facility. Not their main headquarters, but a secondary building. "This is our main headquarters," Thomas explained. "The public things we are centered in some secondary building, but this is where all the magic happens." Tom pressed a button, summoning his private elevator. "And by magic, I mean science."
We traveled down. Down and down and down. "Alexander doesn't think we need a name for our underground complex. He thinks it's silly to have a collective name for a bunch of basements. But I like to call it The Basement. Like a codename, don't you think?"
Tom brought us down to basement level twelve. It was filled, floor to ceiling with supercomputers. "Gabriel, Daniel, you might enjoy working here. It is the most powerful computing cluster in the world, so far as I know. We do simulations in meteorology, theoretical physics, and we used to study the interiors of stars quite a bit. Oh, and a couple weeks ago Alexander needed to go through a bunch of brain scans."
Tom returned to the elevator, and brought us down another three levels. We found ourselves on top of a small thunderstorm. And when I say small, I mean compared to actual thunderstorms. "Largest underground chamber in the world. We call this the Lightning in a Bottle." Damn! He stole my awesome name! "We needed quite a lot of data, and the computers weren't up to the task."
"It seems that it would be easier to upgrade the computers," Daniel said.
"Well, we are MADs," Tom grinned.
"How do you power this," I asked.
"Excellent question. We have six fusion reactors on basement level twenty-four. We need to do something with all that power, and people would notice if we sold it all back to the grid."
"You have fusion reactors?" Gabe was incredulous.
"Alex and I got our first one working in 2007."
"How come I haven't heard of this," I asked.
"Tell, me," Tom said, "when was the last time you heard about a MAD trying to build a fusion reactor."
"Oh," I realized. "2005, in Topeka. You don't think the public would take kindly to your invention."
"Wounds do heal," Tom said. "And the public does forget. We plan to announce the invention by next year."
The elevator moved to another floor. It took us fifty two seconds to descend through the thunderstorm, and we arrived one floor below it. It was a room filled with computer tablets. "This," Tom said, "aught to bring you up to speed on everything MADs have discovered these past twelve years. You'll find out books are quite a bit more... concise than those written by neurotypicals. Also, some of them have holograms."
Daniel, Gabe and Joanne rushed to explore the new worlds that had been discovered. I was reluctant.
"You're still afraid of it," Tom said. "You still don't trust yourself not to hurt anyone. Yes, it is understandable given what you did two years ago. But please understand that could never happen again. When you hurt people, you were working in isolation, with materials scavenged from a college campus. Here, you have billions of dollars worth of resources, as well as other MADs to check your work." He put his hand on my shoulder. "Allegra Complex, I give you my word that nothing you create here will every harm anyone."
I walked over, and picked up a tablet.
I felt like a kid in a candy store. No, I felt like a kid in a candy laboratory that had invented candies decades more advanced than I even knew existed. Answers to questions I hadn't thought to ask, and answers to the questions they raised. Fourteen hours later, I called it quits, feeling more intellectually satisfied than I had in my entire life. I took the elevator up several floor, to my new home, living with my loved ones. I will go to sleep soon, but I just felt the need to document this, the most amazing day of my life.