Turtle and Agata saw Mr. Goode pacing the floor of the upper room in Building 13, which was as warm and richly appointed as a modern CEO's office. The walls were painted, granite tile had been installed on the floor, and a dark wooden desk stood near one wall. There was a large computer and a set of file cabinets near the desk. A thick, red curtain covered the only window. A tall object, shaped much like a door and covered by a canvas sheet, lay propped against the far wall, and another object like it, covered in blue plastic, lay against the wall near the window.
Mr. Kincaid, Mr. Goode, and Mr. Martin were standing near the window while Agata's uncle and mother sat in wooden chairs by a glowing space heater. The room had its own small generator, the exhaust vented through a hole in the wall. It was a strangely opulent room that was essentially built into a shack.
From their vantage point, Turtle and Agata could see three more figures slightly obscured by some heavy furniture. A flat-screen television showed the game, a car commercial flickering on after a few instant replays of a goalie sliding out to snag a ball. The room was lit from above by nicely mounted track lighting dimmed just
so.Mr. Goode pushed back the curtain on the sprawling refugee camp. It was quiet now. The soccer game was winding down.
He waved an arm over the scene, taking in the entire camp in one sweeping gesture. Agata's mother sat next to him, her wrists
held tightly together with plastic cuffs; a blaze-orange parka lay draped around her shoulders. She shivered in the cold as Mr. Goode, dressed in a black wool coat and a felt watch cap, paced the floor.
Agata's uncle Ernesto stared daggers at Mr. Goode. Ernesto had a nasty black eye, dark against his olive skin.
"Give this up, Goode," said Ernesto in English. "There is nothing in the world that will let this happen—no money, no influence, no politics. You think you've stumbled upon a gold mine. Many men before you have tried and failed to harness the Mytro. You will fail. What you are trying to do is impossible. What will you do when you get them there? How can you keep them hidden?"
"That's the magic," said Mr. Goode. "We're not using the Mytro to transport anything it hasn't transported before. But now we're using the station as a factory where we can store all the machines, all the people. We'll drive the other manufacturers out of business, and they'll never know where our products are coming from. We'll start with clothing, then we'll move into electronics. We can build other Breaches. We make a million pieces here, a million pieces there. We'll flood each market, control it, and these people will have comfortable lives to boot."
"What makes you think you can make this work?" asked Agata's mother. "Other men tried."
"Other men didn't have our research, our science. We understand the Mytro more than those primitive Mytratti ever did, even more than your husband does. My organization will soon be the first in history to claim complete control of the Mytro. You, of all people, should be rejoicing in that. The Breach is just the beginning. We're using it because Perdurabo already built it."
"It's madness. These men and women aren't yours. They're not slaves," said Ernesto.
"Slavery has nothing to do with it. These men and women want to work, and we're giving them the opportunity. When they sign our contract, we'll whisk them to a factory that is state-of-the-art and safe, away from this turmoil. Their African leaders don't want them and the Italians don't want them—that much is clear. They are stuck between countries. We can place them in any factory around the world at a moment's notice. What has always been the dream of
the capitalist? To have a ready and willing workforce at the chime of a bell. Strikes? Call in my army of workers. Is your native workforce too expensive? Hire my men and women. They don't need huge factories and dormitories. In fact, their workplace doesn't even take up space. This isn't slavery, Ernesto, this is freedom. When they are ready to leave, they can go. But they won't want to leave."
"These people don't understand what they're signing up for. You control their destinies by placing them on the Mytro. They'll never be able to go home," said Ernesto.
"They have no home. Look at them. They're wretched, weak, and powerless. I give them work and a place to live and food to eat. These Italians, what do they have to offer? Nothing but fear and uncertainty. This is the modern lost tribe, men and women without a country forced to exist in limbo. I'm giving them a country. My country. We have powerful benefactors who will give them a factory the size of a city to live in. They will be fed and clothed. They will be able to teach their children and maintain their culture. They will be far from this turmoil."
"Far from this turmoil? In the wilds of Brazil? Deep in the Amazon? On a mountaintop? Under Barcelona in something that's about to collapse? They will be in a Gulag, unable to escape, unable to live freely except when they die. You're stealing them, hiding them, and making them work. How is that freedom?" yelled Agata's mother.
"Men have looked at the sea and seen dark, endless fear. They longed to cross her, they longed to scale mountains, they longed to put on seven-league boots and tromp through jungles and fields. The Mytro lets them have that power, have that freedom. To travel without moving? It's one of man's dreams, one we're going to finally realize. We will control the Mytro."
"You control nothing," spat Ernesto. "I won't argue this with you further. My niece is lost and frightened. Let us go and take me to her. We have nothing you want."
"You have nothing, to be sure, but the children have everything," said Mr. Goode.
"And you'll never find them," snarled Agata's mother. Turtle pulled Agata away from the stairs and they scuttled backwards. A hand closed over Turtle's shoulder and someone flipped him
around. Agata gasped.
"Who are you?" asked a tall man with a British accent. He wore
a coat like Mr. Goode's and carried a pistol.
"Red Cross?" asked Agata, hopefully.
"Likely story, love. You two. Who are you spying on then?
Watching the game?"
"Turtle, run," said Agata quietly, under her breath. He didn't
hear her the first time, and so she repeated it, slightly louder. "Run, Turtle!"
YOU ARE READING
Imagine if, right now, clattering underneath your feet was a secret train system that could take you anywhere in minutes. Imagine a trip full of mystery and excitement from New York to Barcelona to the wind-swept coast of Italy to the edge of space...