Episode Sixteen: Vive la Revolution

“Android.” The robot commanded.
“Oui, monsieur.” Eve said obediently as she pulled a Moto G from her jacket pocket. She was dressed in a simple peasant skirt and blouse, with cheap stockings, Mary Jane shoes and a worn dark blue jacket with matching Cloche hat pulled low over her eyes. She clicked on the Moto’s identification app and a barcode appeared. She offered it out for the robot to scan.
“Do not speak French.” The robot said in a monotone. “English only. It is the will of Google.”
“Oh, yes. Of course, I forgot. Sorry.” Eve said meekly.
Despite favorable tech news coverage at the time, Google’s purchase of France, and subsequent oppression of its people and culture, had been a disaster from the start, necessitating a large robot force to maintain order. Particularly reviled was Larry Page’s rather random demand that the entire populous switch from French to English. The subtleties of French had always been rather difficult to quantify in search results, so Larry impulsively decided it was better to get rid of the language all together. While there are many things the French people might put up with to keep peace, messing with their language is not one of them. As a result, a large underground resistance was constantly at war with military authorities.
“What is in that case?” The robot asked. The robot was about eight feet tall, with a neckless revolving half circle head not unlike the Android logo but with eyes that glowed red for a menacing touch. It had a shoulder mounted submachine gun on a swivel mount. It was a little rusty around the joints. It was the basic model Google had employed in France for the last decade and this one looked like it had not been upgraded. Internally Google designated it as a B.O.L.R.E., short for Boot of Larry Robot Enforcer. But the French called them “RuBoots.”
“It’s a bassoon.” Eve said. “I’m going to play at the Salle Pleyel tonight.” It was sunset and they were standing at the picturesque corner of Rue Boissiére and Rue de Lübeck. People in the nearby cafes tried to ignore what was unfortunately a common sight, RuBoot’s randomly stopping people for ID checks, weapon and technology searches and general harassment. Across the Seine river nearby, Eve could see the glow of the Eiffel Tower with a hideous giant neon Google logo flashing down its length in garish colors. That was another thing that really pissed off the natives.
“Bassoon’s are not allowed.” The RuBoot said.
Now the robot was beginning to piss Eve off. She knew for a fact that Bassoon’s were one of the few wood wind instruments still allowed in the city; saxophones, of course, having been banned first. She suspected the RuBoots were programmed to arbitrarily enforce imaginary rules just to keep the populous fearful, wary and unhappy.
She was tempted to pull open the case, whip out her new Jony Ive Special Edition Apple Sword and slice it apart. But instead she stalled.
“Did I say Bassoon? I meant trombone.”
“I don’t believe you… “ The RuBoot said. Then its electronic voice stuttered. “I… feel… funny…”
The RuBoot started to shake. Its arms dropped limply. A service hatch on its back opened up. The Android Moto G Eve had used to identify herself had been hacked. Eve had replaced its operating system with special version of iOS. The barcode the robot scanned included a worm that attacked the robot’s operating code. Eve pulled a thermite grenade from her jacket and set a timer. She shoved it deep into the robot’s insides through the service hatch and shut it. The RuBoot shook helplessly as Eve continued on her way.
The RuBoot blew up in a bright fireball. Tiny pieces rained down on the cobblestones.
Cafe patrons sipping coffee and wine burst into applause. Eve turned, briefly bowed, and went on her way. Someone shouted, “See you tonight at Salle Pleyel!”

Eve wasn’t playing bassoon that night. Not at Salle Pleyel or anywhere else. (Though she was a rather fine bassoonist.) She was heading to a gathering of La Résistance Française in a secret wine cellar under the Musee du Louvre. She had been invited personally by Mark Zuckerberg.
In addition to the tactical mistake of banning French, Google had underestimated the French people’s love of Facebook and the power of Zuckerberg’s amazing social media skills. Shortly after France was sold to Google by corrupt officials, tens of millions of its citizens unfriended Google in protest. Facebook had always been a thorn in Google’s side, rivaling Apple as a strategic enemy. Google’s own efforts at social media had always fallen flat. Google Plus had long been a failure, as had Google Wave, Google Social, Google Buddy, Google Friendface, and Google Just-Like-Facebook. Banning Facebook all together was not an option, even after Google had achieved the power to do so in its own territories. Facebook had created a wildly successful version for the dark web, Facebook After Dark, and all the major porn stars had fan pages on it. Banning the dark web would mean banning porn, one of Google’s only strategic advantages over Apple. Besides, if Google took direct action against Facebook, what about WhatsApp and Instagram? Even Larry Page wasn’t crazy enough to attack Instagram. And Zuckerberg had his own nuclear option: with his tech prowess he could quickly retool Facebook into an independent search engine and possibly destroy Google’s ad base. There was, of course, potential danger in a search war for Facebook also, but the threat was enough to force Google to fight Facebook in the streets rather than in cyberspace.
Eve passed on several offers for wine as she moved through the crowds of handsome half-shaved men and sensuous red lipped women who packed the dim cellars preparing for battle. France always had the most attractive revolutionaries. And the wine at these events was always terrific, but Eve was determined to stay sober. Even with her hair hidden and the Cloche pulled down over her forehead, she was recognized. People smiled, patted her warmly on the back and whispered, “Viva la Apple.”
Thanks to Eve’s handy work destroying Google’s Mediterranean fleet, Amazon’s Spanish forces had been able to break across the border into the South of France and capture Barcelona. Arianna Huffington’s irregulars had taken Sicily by sea and were using it to stage a ground campaign into Italy that could reach France by the Riviera coast to Monte Carlo. Meanwhile, Branson’s British troops were about to launch an invasion across the English channel. So the mission of the La Résistance Française was straightforward: to create as much chaos as possible in the heart of France to hamper Google’s military defense as the combined tech forces converged on it. Creating chaos was something the French underground was good at.
Which was a good thing, because most of the rebel discussions focused on symbolic gestures, like draping black flags over the Arc de Triomphe and tearing down the neon sign on the Eiffel Tower. Eve silently dismissed her plans to recruit a squad to attack an anti-aircraft battery as conversations got heated about what color flags would best symbolize the resistance, red or black or both.
She reached Zuck who was at the center of a group of resistance leaders pointing out potential targets on a map with his hook. He spotted Eve and his left hand grabbed her shoulder affectionately as he eyed her with his one eye. “Thank you for coming, Eve.”
“I wouldn’t have missed it.” she said with a smile.
“And thank you for Yahoo. Marissa kicked some ass, didn’t she?”
“That she did.”
“What about the Keynote?”
“I couldn’t get him to cancel it. It starts at 10am in the morning.”
“New iComs?”
“Probably. I honestly don’t know.”
“An Apple flying car?”
Eve shook her head.
“We’ll just have hope Page is bluffing about the nukes or that Amazon can stop them.”
“What I hear from Branson is that it’s not going well in orbit or on the moon.”
They both smiled in existential amusement that seemed oddly appropriate in France, in the middle of a war, just before a hopeless battle, knowing that nukes would fall on Paris first. Most likely that very next day. Zuckerberg grew wistful. “You know, when the bucks first rolled in after the IPO, I wanted to start a space program. Sandberg talked me out of it. Now I wish had a time machine.”
They went over the plans. Eve was once again impressed with his social networking skills. Rather than argue against the popular symbolic gestures, Zuckerberg figured out how to incorporate them into a coherent military strategy. Destroying the Google neon logo on the Eiffel tower was pointless, but at the top of the tower Google had erected broadcast antennas critical to their military communications system. Sabotaging them prior to Branson’s channel invasion would leave Google in disarray. “I was hoping maybe you could tackle that. My climbing skills aren’t what they used to be.” Zuck said, raising his hook. Eve nodded. “Meanwhile, I’ll take the main forces and try to keep the RuBoots distracted at the Arc de Triomphe.” Zuck pointed out that while there was little military value to draping flags on the Arc de Triomphe, it was centrally located in the city and away from residential areas. Therefore a good place to try to lure Google’s robot suppression forces into a street battle. Snipers with shoulder fired grenade launchers could take positions on top of it while others draped the flags.
“The flags must be black! To show the shame of France!” A handsome half-shaved rebel and cafe barista named Pierre shouted.
“No, they must be red, to show the anger of the French people!” said Emmanuelle, a sensuous red lipped erotic novelist.
“Red and black together! With two black flags and then alternating one red and two more black!” Said a half-shaved sculpture artist named Leon.
The room burst into passionate argument. Amélie, a lovely taxi driver with jet black hair in a pony tail, leaned over to Eve. “This is why Google always defeats us. Because we cannot agree on stupid things.”
There was shoving and for a moment Eve feared a fist fight was about to break out. “NO!” Shouted Zuckerberg over the roar of the crowd. He jumped onto the top of a wine barrel and shook his hook menacingly at the crowd. “No! No! No!”
The room settled as all eyes went to him. Zuckerberg held a long pause and the room fell silent in anticipation. He began to speak slowly, softly, before rising into a triumphant call to arms that echoed against the arched stone ceilings. “We shall drape the Arc de Triomphe with the national flag of France, with its glorious tricolors blue, white and red symbolizing Paris, because after tonight: France… will… be… FREE!”
Huge cheers erupted into shouts of “Viva La France!” Eve smiled at Zuck. She didn’t believe France would be freed that night, at best it faced a long bloody war of attrition. She doubted even Zuck believed it, but it was exactly what the crowd needed to hear. The cheers merged into a loud chorus of La Marseillaise and the beautiful song filled the cellar with joyous camaraderie and hope.

Above and outside, cold reality quickly came crashing down. Weapons were being handed out to the resistance fighters in the Cour Neapoléon between the I. M. Pei designed Louvre Pyramid and the Sully Wing of the 17th Century Palace. Word arrived that hundreds of RuBoots had lined up on the Rue de Rivoli, preparing to attack and burn down the museum while driving the rebel force into the Seine. The only way to save the museum would be to attack the RuBoot’s first.
“We have been betrayed!” Leon said between gritted teeth. “Someone tipped Google off that we were meeting. One of us is a traitor.”
“There is always a traitor.” Amélie whispered to Eve, shaking her head despondently.
“These will save us!” Pierre shouted as he and half-a-dozen half-shaven rebels carried in large shipping boxes. “Combattre le feu par le feu!” Eve felt a dark shutter of apprehension even before Pierre broke open the top of the boxes and started tossing the contents around. Before she could protest, shrink wrapped G-Blades where being scattered into the crowd. Delighted rebels tore them from the boxes and held them up proudly.
Eve looked over to Zuckerberg, who was also concerned. “Zuck, stop them. This will be the end. We can’t trust G-Blades.”
“I know but… I…” Perhaps for the first time in his life, Zuckerberg was at a loss for how to manage a crowd. Laser beams popped up everywhere.
A RuBoot could be heard shouting from an amplified megaphone over the walls of the Richelieu Wing. “Surrender, miserable rebels, our we will burn your filthy museum to the ground!”
“Attack! Attack! Viva La France!” Pierre shouted. The crowd took up the cry and began to move. “No… no…” Zuckerberg stammered, unheard over the shouting masses. Pierre rushed over and thrust a blazing G-Blade into Zuck’s hand and said, “Combattre le feu par le feu!”
“Zuck, no…” Eve pleaded. But Zuckerberg’s eyes were already a fixed on the glow of the seductive laser. “Combattre le feu par le feu,” he whispered to it.
“They are remotely controlled by Google. Google!”
Pierre shook his head. “No, these are blackmarket. They run Linux. They will slice through the RuBoots like a hot knife through seasoned butter!” He pulled Zuckerberg off with the others. Eve was tempted to grab them, but worried that if handed a G-Blade she might fall under its spell.
“Don’t do it!” She shouted. But Zuckerberg, the master of social media, could not resist the energized crowd. There was no turning back.
“Surrender rebels!” The megaphone demanded again.
“Viva La France!” Zuckerberg yelled as the crazed mob surged out of the courtyard like dancers rushing to a Euro disco laser show.
Emmanuelle stood by Eve, disgusted. “Men and their obsessive devotion to glowing phallic symbols.” Eve looked forlornly at crates of perfectly good grenade launchers left behind. She had gone to a lot of trouble to get them shipped in from Afghanistan along with hundreds of iComs to provide a secure communications network. She looked around and saw only about a dozen rebels remaining who had refused the G-Blades. For some reason, they were mostly women and few gay men. Were they less susceptible to evil temptations or just plan smarter? If so, what did that say about Eve who knew herself to be vulnerable to the G-Blade’s seductive power?
Amélie checked over the iComs. “These iComs are more useful in war than the grenade launchers. Are you really from Apple?”
“Yes.” Eve answered.
“Then do something!”
“What?!”
“Money! Apple is rich. How much money do you have?”
“All that is needed if it can make a difference.”
“How much?!”
Eve grabbed a fresh iCom and programmed in a credit card number from memory.
“This iCom now has a ten million Euro credit on Apple Pay.”
“That will do.” Amélie reached for it. 
Eve held it off. “Tell me what you are thinking.”
“Enough with the amateurs. We need people we can order around for money.”
“Mercenaries?”
“Taxi drivers. Paris has the best taxi drivers in the world. They beat the Germans at Marne. They hate Google and will accept Apple Pay.”
“Go on.”
“There is a secret passage back in the wine cellar that leads under the Champs-Elysées. We can carry the iComs and the grenade launchers through it to a hidden panel in the dressing rooms of the Le Crazy Horse de Paris. There we will find many women who will do almost anything for money.”
“Strippers?”
“Dancers.” Amélie said firmly. “I was a dancer at the Crazy Horse before I became a taxi driver. The dancers there are the best in the world. Strong, agile and fast. They know how to use small arms and are afraid of nothing. They will insist on cash but I can work that out with the floor manager.”
Eve nodded and handed her the iCom. “I’ll need receipts.”


To be continued…
Next episode: Paris is Burning


AUTHORS NOTE: 

Dear Eve's Hungry fans,

Eve's story is nearing it's thrilling conclusion, and so is mine.  I've finished the novel version and will publish it on Amazon KDP Select soon.  Select requires exclusivity, so I can't have more than 10% of the novel available free elsewhere.  Therefore, I'm going to be pulling all but the very first chapters very soon.  So enjoy while you can.  Only two more episodes are going to be published and the last three episodes (chapters) will only be in the published novel.

But wait, you say, you tricked us, Mackay!  We thought we were going to read the whole story for free, and now you're saying we have to buy the ebook to find out what happens (including the big Keynote climax)!

No, dear readers, Bell has not tricked you.  If you have enjoyed the story so far, I will happily send you a free PDF Advance Readers Copy of the entire book.  FREE.  No purchase required.  Just email me and it will be on it's way.  I promise not to spam you or anything.  Thank you for following along all these years!

For your free PDF of the entire Eve's Hungry novel just email me at: mackaybell@gmail.com

Of course, if you want to wait and buy the book, in Kindle eReader friendly format, that would be terrific too.  I'll let you know when it's available.

Episode Fifteen: The Great Game

New Cupertino had moved to about 25 miles off the coast of San Francisco to the Gulf of the Farallones. It needed to be close to the city to prepare for the Keynote and what Eve learned was a growing evacuation of Apple employees from California. Not only was the island ship a safe place from G-Blade riots and the chaos of war, it was not coincidentally designed to withstand a nuclear winter. It was equipped with antiballistic missiles, shielding from nuclear fallout, and could move to remote parts of the ocean to escape radiation clouds. It had its own power sources, could purify water and air and produce its own food, possibly forever.
Eve had maintained a nice spare apartment on the island ship for some time, but she’d always resisted moving there permanently, despite the obvious convenience of being close to work. She told herself it was because she preferred the nightlife and variety of restaurants in San Francisco. But the truth was she rarely had time to eat out and almost never went club-hopping. In fact, the amazing complex had quite a few different types of restaurants, all excellent, a pretty decent nightclub and two well populated lesbian bars. Probably the real reason Eve hesitated was to keep a tiny piece of her life separate from Apple. Now, in these dark times, that wasn’t possible anymore. Maybe it had never been.
Alice and Pascal had visited several times and always seemed to enjoy, and possibly prefer, staying there. When Eve settled them in they acted as if they were home. Somehow, despite the pressures of finding space for fleeing employees and their families, Jobs had arranged for Lorena and Marcie to have a executive apartment right across the hall. It was larger than their old place and they were grateful to have escaped the chaos of the city.
Apple had over a million employees around the world, and millions more that were close contractors and valued consultants. More than could possibly fit onto New Cupertino. What was to become of all of them? Eve had no time to consider. She had to get back to Central Asia. Yuliya’s emails and texts were hopeful about developments there, but Eve needed to check on the situation personally.
As she was making preparations for an air lift and HALO, she got a message from Jony Ive requesting her presence in his prototype lab. Despite having too much to do and no time to spare, Eve quickly complied. Jony Ive was refused nothing at Apple, and it had been years since Eve had gotten a peek inside the top secret room where he developed Apple’s latest gadgets. To her surprise, she felt a tingle of excitement in anticipation of what she might see. Apparently, the excitable geek girl hadn’t become completely jaded by years of tech battle fatigue.

Despite being housed deep in the underwater manufacturing sections of the already super secure New Cupertino, Eve had to pass through more layers of security before Jony smiled at her and said with his charming English accent, “Hello, Eve. Come over here. I think you might appreciate this.”
He lead her through the meticulously clean and organized lab into a separate white room. It was empty but for a waist high white display table. On the table was the most beautiful sword Eve had ever seen. It was roughly katana shaped, though slightly wider and thicker through the arc. The handle was wrapped in simple white leather with a oval tsuba guard. All of which highlighted how beautiful the blade was; it was so polished that at first it looked transparent. As Eve stepped closer she could see her eyes reflected perfectly as if looking into a narrow mirror.
“May I?” Eve asked in a hushed voice.
“Of course.” Jony said waving his hand toward the sword’s handle.
Eve picked it up slowly. It was light, but not too light, perfectly balanced, and like all Apple products instantly felt comfortable in the hand. As she carefully passed the blade through the air; it reflected light like a glittering diamond.
“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Eve said, reverently.
“It’s not too shabby, is it?” Jony said as he opened a hidden drawer on the table. He pulled something out and turned it on. “Now look at this.”
Eve flinched as the hideous red beam of a G-Blade appeared.
“Relax.” Jony said, sensing her discomfort at the sight of it. “I replaced the operating system with iOS.”
Still, to Eve it seemed to emit a wicked stench. She knew Apple frequently tested competitors’ products in their own labs; she knew that was critical, but for some reason she felt this particular device violated the purity of this most inner sanctum of Apple. What if Jony were as susceptible to its sinister influence as Eve knew herself to be? If Jony turned to evil…
“Chudan No Kamae.” Jony said in Japanese, commanding Eve to assume a basic fighting stance. Eve complied, holding the sword up at an angle with the tip pointing at Jony’s throat. Jony slashed the G-Blade right through the middle of Eve’s blade. Eve shuttered at the idea of the beautiful sword being burned in half. But to Eve’s amazement, the laser had no effect.
Jony explained, “The surface of the blade is so perfect it reflects all light, including laser. It doesn’t even heat the metal. O Gasumi.”
Eve shifted the sword up straight and level as if thrusting toward his head. This time Jony carefully raised the G-Blade and inched the laser into Eve’s shining sword at just the perfect angle. As the beam touched the blade, a flash of it was reflected down upon the table and instantly burned a black hole in it. Jony shut the laser off. The hole smoked.
“The sword is not only invulnerable to the G-Blade. At the right angles, with practice, you could reflect the laser right back into your opponent. Making rather short work of him, I would guess.”
Eve smiled as the thought warmed her. “How long before you could put it into production?”
“It’s just a prototype, Eve. I’m experimenting with new materials. It will never see production. You know that.” Jony felt no need to explain Apple’s firm ban on mass producing weapons, and Eve couldn’t bring herself to argue hopelessly against it, again. After a few gin and tonics one night several years ago, Ive had confessed to Eve that he would love to make weapons, but he had made her promise never to tell Jobs his true feelings. Many times, as the war with Google grew more and more desperate, she had been tempted to use this information to try to sway Steve, but she always kept the confidence. Besides, she had already pushed Steve as far as she could on the matter. There would be no point in potentially damaging his trust in Jony.
“However, you can have this one.” Jony said.
Eve almost jumped for joy, suppressed it, considered a hug, but Jony, in all his English formality, wasn’t really a hugger. Instead, she bowed. “Thank you. I will make good use of it.”
“That, I know. Let me show you something else. Cleona!”
Eve flinched at the name and turned to find Cleona, the killer robot and Virgin spy, coming up quickly behind her. Instinctively, Eve swung her sword, but Cleona’s robot hand flew out and grabbed Eve’s wrist. Soft fake flesh with titanium underpinnings held Eve’s sword arm firmly suspended.
“Hello, Eve. Good to see you again.” Cleona said.
“Relax,” Jony said. “Her remains were brought down before the Aurora was attacked so I could study her. It was fairly simple to repair her. She works for Apple now.”
Cleona nodded and released Eve’s wrist. Eve suspiciously lowered her sword. “How do you know for sure?”
“I replaced her operating system with iOS also.” Jony answered. “Along with some other modifications and improvements.”
“I feel much better.” Cleona said. “iOS is so much more stable than Android.”
She also looked a lot better, Eve noted. Her flesh had been restored and her face and body were as lovely as before. In fact, she looked even more stunning. Jony had made subtle adjustments to every part of her. Her fake reddish hair was now a bright orange, which actually seemed more natural and flattering on a robot. The short page girl hair style was retained, but was cut little higher in the back, which was cute. Her face was similar enough to be recognizable, but it seemed her cheeks were a little less high and her nose a tiny bit larger. Or maybe it was the tasteful make-up, which was a lot less trampy. Her breasts were slightly smaller, still large, but not quite so comic book male fantasy. Likewise, her waist was not so unnaturally small and her hips and ass were more reasonably proportioned. Or maybe that was the new outfit. Uncomfortably, Eve’s gaydar automatically went off indicating the robot was at least bi or firmly lesbian. Had iOS also changed her preference? Or was Eve projecting her own desires?
Cleona was wearing a shiny white, form fitting body suit, with a soft gray Apple logo over the right breast. The suit seemed to shimmer in the light. Jony kicked on the G-Blade again. “Take a look at this.”
As Cleona stood with runway model aplomb, Jony slashed the laser right through her midsection. The beam scattered as it crossed over the surface of the cloth, creating a diffused flash, but leaving her unharmed. “The fabric is woven with reflective fibers. It’s not perfect, you’ll feel some heat and if the beam stays too long it will burn through. But it offers at least some protection in a fight.”
Eve nodded, impressed as always with Jony’s ingenuity. “How soon can I get one?”

Yuliya had been hard at work in Batyr-Aul. The Kyzylkum rebels were now firmly united under Granmura’s command with Tremalla, as always, his chief of staff. Yuliya had successfully transformed herself in the rebels eyes from slave girl to a respected military advisor and Apple sales rep. Granmura had fallen in love with his iPad and, like most true lovers of steel edged weapons, instinctively saw the dangers of the seductive G-Blade. He declared his allegiance to Apple, in exchange for significant financial incentives, which Yuliya had negotiated herself with the savvy of a bazaar jewelry trader. Eve was quite impressed with the deal itself, which was generous but wisely incentive based. Jobs approved it immediately. It was then Eve remembered that this all began with a routine mission for her to close a simple sales and consulting deal with the rebels. Thanks to Yuliya, the deal was finally closed, which would look good on Eve’s annual employee evaluation.
Granmura promised to drive Google completely out of Uzbekistan and seize control of the area from Tajikistan to the Caspian Sea. Yuliya told Eve they could count on his loyalty–until the winds changed. So they needed to move fast.
While the main goal of the G-Blade was to create chaos and mayhem in Apple controlled territories, a goal it was quickly achieving, the G-Blade was also wreaking havoc in areas where Google dominated. That too was part of Larry Page’s ultimate plan, world wide anarchy, a thousand years of darkness, etc., etc., but Apple markets were supposed to fall first. Google had hoped to orchestrate this by mainly issuing G-Blades to its own military and security forces and keeping prices high and supply low in Android territory. But naturally, black markets thrived and millions upon millions found their way into the hands of juvenile delinquents across the world, taxing Google’s own operations.
The chaos allowed Granmura and his rebels a series of quick victories against Google’s puppet dictator in Uzbekistan. By the time Eve had arrived, the military trinity of Granmura, Tremalla and Yuliya had taken control of Zarafshan, Navoi and Samarkand. With the assistance of the bullet railway lines from Sarmarkand, Granmura decided the time had come to launch a final assault to take the capital of Tashkent, seizing the center of government.
Eve was dressed in an olive drab jumpsuit as she entered Granmura’s tent. She had just returned from an air reconnaissance mission in an old MiG-31 Foxhound. The rebels one weakness had been a lack of air support and the best Eve was able to put together quickly was a small squad of ancient MiGs. But there weren’t many pilots already trained on the MiG so Eve was flying most of the missions herself while they got up to speed. The tent had been transformed from a feasting, pillow piled playground to a serious military headquarters packed with communications centers run by Power Macs with multiple displays and satellite uplinks. Granmura stood over a large table that projected an interactive map of the area. He grumbled good-naturedly at Eve as she approached.
“Eve, it is bad enough I gave you a perfectly good slave girl and you turn her into an Amazon warrior, but now she is doing the same with the rest of my harem!” He gestured around the room at the women dressed in military fatigues as they worked, some of whom Eve remembered as scantily clad dancers and servants.
Yuliya, busily calculating train capacity on her iCom, offered no apology. “There’s no time for wine pouring and sword dancing.”
Tremalla agreed. “We need all the fighters we can get.” He looked at Eve warmly, and smiled. Eve didn’t return it. Since she had arrived it became apparent Tremalla had a terrible crush on her and she tried not to encourage it. She needed him to focus on his job. Moreover, with total victory looking possible, a simmering competition between Granmura and Tremalla over leadership of the rebels was developing. She suspected Granmura feared Tremalla, already more popular with the troops and local populations, might take over any new government installed. Eve didn’t dare show a hint of favoritism or the entire alliance could fall apart. In fact, if anything, politically she should be cold to Tremalla and flirt with Granmura. But she was in no mood for flirting.
“I have bad news.” Eve said. “Two armored divisions are assembling about a hundred miles north by Koytash. That puts them into position to attack us at first dawn.”
“Or cut us off if we try to move to Samarkand.” Tremalla added.
“We need to attack them first.” Yuliya said with a tiny trace of bloodlust.
“That’s exactly what they are hoping we will do. Get tied up out here while they fortify the capital. Even if we win, by the time we get to Tashkent we will be facing an entrenched enemy. A long siege would be the end of us. Google will have time to resupply them.”
“I agree.” Eve said, partially, to show her support of Granmura, partially because there was a danger in a long siege, but more because she needed a quick victory so she could move on to Paris where Zuckerberg was in trouble.
Yuliya shook her head. “Even if we can get to Samarkand before them, they could turn and cut us off at Jizzakh. If they strike while our fighters are moving on the bullet trains, thousands could be slaughtered and we would lose the war.”
“Then what do you suggest, General Yuliya?!” Granmura said bitterly. He knew his grand plan was falling apart. As mad as he was at Yuliya for pointing out the obvious, he was more angry at himself for seeing no alternative.
“We attack! It’s the only solution.”
“Then we lose Tashkent! And everything!” Granmura said definitively. “We might as well entrench here and break out the wine.”
Tremalla looked over at Eve thoughtfully. Eve was about ready to lose her own temper too. She could think of no solution and she was sick of the puppy dog way Tremalla kept staring at her. Perhaps sensing her discomfort, he shifted his focus to the map.
“They need to think that we’re attacking. Even as we move out to Samarkand.” He said slowly. “Eve, Yuliya told me about the holographic deceptions you used in Africa. Do you have any of those left?”
“Some, but they only fool satellites and high flying drones. As soon as you neared any force they would see right through it.”
“There’s an old desert fighting trick. You drag chains and brush behind horses to make clouds of dust so it seems like there are more riders.”
“Rommel did that with tanks.”
“Uzbeks did it first.” Tremalla said playfully. “I can lead a small tank force at first light, using your deceptions and chains to hide our size. It will look like we’re attacking while our main force moves out for Samarkand.”
“We can’t spare any tanks,” Granmura said. “We need them to assault the capital.”
“Then we’ll use horses and handheld rocket launchers. And pickup trucks with some old light artillery. Force H only had three commandos and scared off several divisions, right?”
Yuliya shook her head. “In Africa our deceptions made the Google armies retreat. Here they want a fight. They will come right at you!”
“That’s the point. Once we get close enough we can hunker down and use anti-tank guns to slow their attack. We should be able to tie them up for a while.”
“You’ll be slaughtered!” Yuliya protested. “It’s a suicide mission.”
“No… no. Not at all.” Granmura said smoothly. “You underestimate Tremalla. He’s very clever. They should be able to strike and then slip away in the confusion. Brilliant plan! Don’t you think so, Doctor Zachara?”
Yuliya turned to Eve, her eyes demanding she veto it. Tremalla also looked at Eve, again with the annoying puppy dog eyes seeking her approval. Eve spoke carefully. “A diversion would seem to be the only solution.”
“Then it’s decided! Make your preparations, Tremalla. We should be able to gather up some horses and old trucks and cannons to spare.”
Yuliya fell silent. As they worked out the details, she turned her back on Eve and returned to her train calculations.

“You’re leaving for Paris?” Yuliya asked later that night as Eve entered the tent they were sharing. Eve wondered how Yuliya knew; she’d been trying to keep it secret. She didn’t want to appear to be abandoning the rebels just before their biggest operation.
“First, I’ll do an air support pass for Tremalla’s diversionary attack. Destroy any drones and drop as many bombs as I can carry. That should help with the ruse.”
“Then you go straight to Paris?”
“Zuckerberg needs me. Facebook is in trouble. You and Granmura should be able to handle things from here.”
“You mean we can handle it without Tremalla?”
“No, I mean, the three of you can handle it without me.”
“Ju-Ju refused to go with Tremalla. He’s the bravest fighter I’ve ever known and he said no. Many others also refused.”
“And a couple dozen agreed, as I understand.”
“Those without wives or families. They all assume they are not coming back. They are doing it for their love of Tremalla. Tremalla is doing it for his love of you.”
“I didn’t ask him to do it. It was his idea.”
“Because he is desperate to impress you.”
“Perhaps he is doing it because he believes in the cause. He believes in what Apple is trying to do for his people, and for the world.”
“He is an Apple fan, that is true. But he also believes that if he wins, you might return his feelings. He is dreaming that in victory you will rush into his arms. Did you tell him you were leaving for Paris?”
“I told him I could only do one support pass and that after that they were on their own. Look, I know it’s dangerous. I know he might die and he knows too. You went with me on missions in Africa that were just as dangerous.”
“I went because I loved you. And you were always at my side. If I died I would die with you. He will be on his own. He will die on his own.”
“He will have his friends with him. I can’t go. I’m needed in France.”
“And that’s why he has to die, because you need a quick victory so you can leave. And Granmura will be happy to see him martyred for the cause and out of the way.”
“Yuliya, I have to fly out in three hours. And I need to get a couple hours sleep. What do you want from me?”
“I want you to go to his tent and make love to him.”
“What?” Eve stuttered. “What good will that do… ?”
“It will make him happy. It will give him something to hold on to if he dies in the sand.”
“I’m not a prostitute. My job isn’t to provide sex to make people happy. I have a mission…”
“You would have been killed by Malick if it wasn’t for Tremalla. You wouldn’t have gotten Granmura’s account if Tremalla hadn’t patently taught him how to work his iPad. And you won’t win this war tomorrow if Tremalla doesn’t fight. You owe him one night. One moment of the night.”
“You go have sex with him.”
“He doesn’t want me or I would. He loves you. And you will never love him, but this much you can give him before he dies.”
“I’m not going to do it. It would be a lie.”
“Like the way you flirted with him before you got the account? Like the way you seduced all the men when you danced with me? Wasn’t that all a lie too? You know that people might fall in love with you, that’s what you hope, isn’t it? That they will love you and fight for you. Isn’t that what Apple does? It makes people fall in love with their products, knowing they will have to fight in the bloody streets against Android. And what if Android wins in the end? What will become of all of us who gave our hearts to Apple? All we will have is vanished memories of our love.”
Eve said nothing. Yuliya continued. “Go to his tent and make love to him. Or go to his tent and tell him you are leaving for Paris and won’t be here to welcome him back. And tell him that no matter what he does, you will never be able to love him. At least then he can make his choice knowing the truth.”

Eve went to Tremalla’s tent that night. As the sun dawned a few hours later, she climbed into her MiG and flew air support as Tremalla’s tiny squad of two dozen rebels on horseback with old pickup trucks and a couple field artillery attacked a Google armored division of twenty thousand men. Eve flew under heavy anti-aircraft fire and dropped bombs and strafed until she was out of ammunition. She barely escaped herself.
She flew straight to Turkey where she refueled in Istanbul, which had just been captured by Marissa Mayer and Yahoo. There she learned from Yuliya’s iMessages that the ruse had worked and the divisions were tied up long enough for Granmura to capture Tashkent. The government surrendered and Granmura was promptly installed as President pro tempore. To everyone’s surprise, all of Tremalla’s squad was able to slip off in the confusion made it back alive. Except for Tremalla.

Eve never told him she was going to Paris.

To be continued…
Next episode: Vive La Revolution


AUTHORS NOTE: 

Dear Eve's Hungry fans,

Eve's story is nearing it's thrilling conclusion, and so is mine.  I've finished the novel version and will publish it on Amazon KDP Select soon.  Select requires exclusivity, so I can't have more than 10% of the novel available free elsewhere.  Therefore, I'm going to be pulling all but the very first chapters very soon.  So enjoy while you can.  Only two more episodes are going to be published and the last three episodes (chapters) will only be in the published novel.

But wait, you say, you tricked us, Mackay!  We thought we were going to read the whole story for free, and now you're saying we have to buy the ebook to find out what happens (including the big Keynote climax)!

No, dear readers, Bell has not tricked you.  If you have enjoyed the story so far, I will happily send you a free PDF Advance Readers Copy of the entire book.  FREE.  No purchase required.  Just email me and it will be on it's way.  Thank you for following along all these years!

For your free PDF of the entire Eve's Hungry novel just email me at: mackaybell@gmail.com

Of course, if you want to wait and buy the book, in eReader friendly format, that would be terrific too.  I'll let you know when it's available.

Episode Fourteen: An Appeal to Steve Jobs

YAC ALENIA C–27T SPARTAN - SKIES OVER NORTH AFRICA
Dangling under the Spartan C27T, Eve sailed over the city of Cairo like an Egyptian version of Peter Pan. As they reached the ocean, the turboprop’s hoist began to reel in the lift line to pull her up to the fuselage. A Yahoo airman offered a hand to help her through the pickup door into the cargo hold.
“You have ten minutes to target, Doctor Zachara.”
Eve nodded and he helped remove the air-harness over her uniform. Nearby, the support team had neatly arranged all the equipment Eve had requested. Without hesitation, Eve stripped off her remaining clothes and they helped her into a dark grey wetsuit. She began to check over the explosives as the kinetics engineer looked on.
“No electronics?”
“Absolutely, ma’am. Just as you instructed.” the engineer replied.
“What did you find for denominators?”
“Mechanical matches. WWII style. You click them into the mines here and…”
“I got it. I’m familiar with these.”
“But be sure to…”
“I got it.” Eve said, firmer. She packed the explosives into a plastic mesh backpack. With Cairo taken and Yahoo closing on Tripoli, the bulk of Google’s Mediterranean Fleet had fallen to Mers-El-Kébir to refuel. Algeria was likely to fall next, so the fleet might wait to rescue Google’s retreating armies, or, more likely for Google, simply abandon them after refueling. From there they might make a dash for the Atlantic, in which case they would risk being destroyed by Amazon’s long range rail guns in Gibraltar. The greater concern would be that they would head for Barcelona or Marseille, to support Google’s hold in Europe. Meanwhile, Arianna Huffington had assembled a small battle fleet of arsenal missile ships which had taken off from Kalamata to launch a surprise attack on Mers-El-Kébir. Eve’s plan was to sink one of the battle cruisers herself with an underwater directional charge planted just below the waterline. She hoped to get one close enough to the port entrance to block the other ships from escaping. Or, at minimum, in the chaos of the sinking, the fleet would be delayed long enough for the arsenal ships to arrive and launch their attack.
The problem, of course, with any individual act of sabotage was that the port was outfitted with electronic sensors to detect drones, submersibles or anything else with an electrical signature including modern scuba equipment and timed explosives. The mission required someone who could swim in alone from a mile out at sea, unaided by watercraft, plant a conventional explosive mine and set it off without being detected. It was an impossible feat for even the best underwater demolition expert, so Eve decided to do it personally.
The Spartan reached the Gulf of Oran and dropped as low as possible, skimming over the tips of the waves. Eve lept out of the cargo door without a parachute and dove into the sea below. Even at the low altitude she hit hard and plunged down deeply. But after her steamy jungle and burning desert treks, the dark cold waters felt refreshing.

MOSCONE CENTER - SAN FRANCISCO
A Kensington Security guard in full riot police gear glanced suspiciously at Eve’s ID badge as she held it out of the window of her Porsche. When he realized who she was, it became obvious he was a smitten fanboy, even with his reaction hidden behind his helmet’s darkened face shield. He quickly returned her badge but his helmet tilted back and forth as he tried to steal a couple extra glances at her cleavage. “Welcome Eve… Miss… Doctor… straight ahead!” He waved her through and Eve drove past the checkpoint to the bustling convention center.
Security was always tight at Moscone Center whenever Apple was preparing for a Keynote. But this time the precautions where on a scale beyond anything Eve had witnessed, circle after circle of security zones guarded by armored vehicles and machine gun placements. Helicopter gunships patrolled the lower skies and jet fighters scrambled through the clouds.
But precautions went far beyond Moscone Center, though it was the fortified epicenter. Eve had returned to her beloved San Francisco to find the entire city a militarized zone, with soldiers, police or private security on every street corner. California, like the rest of North America, like the world itself, was collapsing into an anarchy except for those patches of civilization where disciplined troops could be depended on to enforce martial law or where out and out war was being fought by opposing armies. Even the most tranquil rural community could be shattered by a moody teenager who decided to go on a G-Blade rampage. Mid-sized town’s police departments could be overrun by a gang of children testing the power of their laser weapons. In cities, bands of G-Blade worshiping anarchists, young and old, secretly organized by Google undercover agents, formed small armies to pillage and destroy.
What was Apple’s response to all this? As best Eve could tell, it was more of the same. Even at Moscone Center, security was still being enforced by overwhelmed local law enforcement augmented by private security firms and private military contractors. Likewise, the larger war against Google was being fought by other tech firms like Amazon and Yahoo and various Apple proxies, regional rebels, small tech associations and Mac user groups. Military operations directly controlled by Apple were either covert, like Eve’s Special Sales Division, or under the umbrella of the Apple Stores small Apple Special Forces, whose only mission was to maintain security of the chain of stores. Apple had no standing armies, no air force, no navy of its own. It manufactured no weapons, unlike Google and Amazon and even the Huffington Post. In many ways, it pretended that there was no real war taking place. It continued to open stores, even in dangerous war zones, as if beating Google simply required servicing customers tech needs, rather than preventing them from being slaughtered in the streets the minute they walked out. At this point, Eve was certain the only hope for the world was for Apple to fully militarize and totally defeat Google in direct combat and then completely destroy their manufacturing base. Even with the popularity of the G-Blade, the good will toward Apple was still strong enough that millions would rush to join an Apple army. With Apple’s unparalleled research and manufacturing infrastructure, it could rapidly switch to the production of world class weapons systems that Google could never match. But it would take some time. More time than world events were likely to allow. And there was only one way to buy more time.

STAGE - MOSCONE EAST - SAN FRANCISCO
“I’m thinking about inviting Leo Laporte to the Keynote.” Those were the first words out of Steve Jobs’ mouth as Eve approached. His beard was shaved and he was wearing his public uniform of 501 jeans and a black Issey Miyake turtleneck. He was standing on the event stage taking a brief pause from his meticulous rehearsals.
Eve was a little disappointed he hadn’t bothered to say “Hello” or “Welcome back, Eve.” Or “good work smashing the enemy fleet at Mers-El-Kébir.” Or even better: “Amazing job freeing the entire continent of Africa from Google’s evil grip. No one but you could have possibly done it.” She would even have liked a “nice shoes,” since her new Jimmy Choo’s finally arrived from Zappos, though she knew that was highly unlikely. The last thing she expected, or wanted to hear, was anything about Leo Laporte.
“No.” Eve said simply.
“I banned him years ago, but I’m starting to feel bad about it. I’m thinking of inviting him to this one.”
“No.” Eve said again.
“Yeah. I’m going to invite him.” Steve said, closing the subject. “You wanted to see me?”
“Yes.” Eve said, glancing around, not comfortable speaking her mind as workers and technicians hustled nearby making preparations. “I was hoping we could talk alone somewhere.”
“I’m too busy. You have two minutes. What is it?”
Eve anxiously tried to summarize all that she had learned about Google’s plans, particularly Marissa Mayer’s inside information about Larry Page’s ultimate goal.
“I know all this, Eve.” Jobs said briskly.
“It’s just that… we’ve suspected it for sometime, but there’s no question now. Page is planning to launch the nukes right after the Keynote.”
“So? What’s your point?”
“Not only will hundreds of millions die instantly, but the radiation will sweep the Earth for hundreds of years. Wiping out almost everything left.”
“I know.” He said with a shrug. “What do you expect me to do about it?”
“Stop them!”
“I thought Branson and Bezos were doing something to stop it. Isn’t that what you told me?” A presentation technician approached and showed Jobs an iPad with a slide of iCom sales figures. “I said silver gray. That’s pearl gray.” Jobs pointed out, annoyed.
“Bezo’s space fleet hasn’t been able to get past Google’s new Deathdealer Dreadnoughts. Google has also new base on the dark side of the moon that allows them to refuel their short range fighters. I don’t think Bezo’s can pull it off alone and Branson’s Pogo Rockets aren’t armed.”
“So? What do you expect us to do about it?” Steve said with growing impatience.
“You have to cancel the Keynote.”
Steve Jobs rolled his eyes. “That’s stupid.” It was his ultimate insult, and it sung Eve. She had heard him use the word “stupid” many times before, often bruising employees feelings, but this was the first time he directed it at her. She pressed on anyway.
“It would buy us some time. Page wouldn’t know how to react and then…”
“How do you know he won’t just fire off the nukes anyway? How do you know he won’t do it in thirty seconds?”
“Because Marissa said…”
“Oh, so Yahoo knows everything.”
“No, it’s just…”
“Don’t be stupid, Eve.” Jobs cut her off. Using that horrible word again. “Apple can’t solve every problem on Earth.”
“But there won’t be any Earth!”
Jobs shrugged.
Eve talked faster, hoping somehow she could get through to him. “The only way to stop Google now is for Apple to completely destroy their industrial base. Millions would enlist in an Apple Army if you personally put out the call. We could build the best weapons and…”
“I thought this was about stopping the nukes? Now you want us to build armies and weapons?”
“It’s about both. If you personally lead the attack on the nuclear platform, with your powers…”
“Eve, you’re thinking in liner terms. Google is doing this, so we have to do that. I’m not going to let Google, or any other company, dictate our strategy. If Google wants to destroy the world, I’m not going to waste all my time trying to stop them. If Amazon or Yahoo wants to stop them, fine, we’ll help where we can. But Apple has never been about reacting to the marketplace. What one decides not to do can be as important as what you do do. I have no interest in building armies to wage war. Apple needs to focus on what we do best. Which is to make great products that people love.”
“Google’s latest product is killing us in the marketplace. Literally.”
“The G-Blade? It’s a piece of junk.”
“A piece of junk that people love.”
“People love porn. People love drugs. People love beer. What does it have to do with Apple? You want us to start making beer?”
Jobs was increasingly annoyed, but at least he was engaged. Eve decided her only chance might be to challenge his ego. “Beer is not a tech product. The G-Blade announces that Google has won the tech wars. They’ve beat Apple. It’s the most successful electronic product in the history. Three hundred million have been sold already…”
“So what? We’ve sold over five hundred million iPod shuffles.”
“After many, many years. Google’s sales were all in the first week.”
“We had four hundred million downloads of Panther’s last single on iTunes in less than 24 hours.”
“But that was a giveaway, and a download. Not a manufactured product…”
“So what is the criteria for Google winning? The amount of trash they can dump on the street? The G-Blade is a piece a shit. The fit and finish is a joke. It’s full of bugs, the colors of the lasers aren’t consistent, the handles scratch easy, and the battery life is horrible. They’ll start falling apart in six months and Google takes a loss on every one sold. They’ll never be profitable. Is that what you want Apple to emulate? Start building expensive shit and giving it away? Don’t be so stupid, Eve.”
Jobs was angry now. He hit the “s” in stupid very hard. Eve knew she was risking his rage, but she had to break through. “G-Blades are cool. People want them. I held one and I wanted it. Kids are throwing away their iComs and iPads in favor of Android. G-Blades are cooler than anything Apple has ever made.”
Eve suddenly felt an invisible force emanate from Jobs and hit her from head to toe. It threw her back several feet. The rafters of the stage shook. The workers all stopped and stared at them. Jobs raised a hand, as if considering to strike at her again. Eve didn’t know the limits of his powers, if he had any, but she feared that with a wave of his hand he could make her body explode. Instead he lowered his arm and his voice became calm.
“If you really think the G-Blade is cool, you need to look into your own heart. I can’t help you.”
Eve swallowed, humbled. “I know it’s a gimmick. I know it’s a fad. But it’s working for Google. At least the perception is that they have beaten us…”
“Eve, you’ve got to open your mind. Get past this idea that for Apple to win, Google has to lose.”
“But they do have to lose! It’s the only way to save the planet!”
Jobs sighed, his anger had faded into bemused disappointment, which actually pained Eve even more.
“You know I’m not going to cancel the Keynote, so why are you still talking? Don’t you have anything to do?”
“What does any of it matter if…”
“I didn’t say that nothing mattered. Get back to Central Asia and do your job. Larry Page might never launch the nukes. They might not even work if he does. Focus on what you do well. And let me focus on what I do well.”
Jobs turned his back on her and spoke to the Keynote technicians. “Let’s run another lighting check. From the top.” Eve felt drained and depressed. She slowly started to walk off.
“Eve!” Jobs shouted. She stopped and turned. Jobs quickly crossed over, stepped in close and talked in a low voice.
“You need to take Alice and Pascal to New Cupertino. It’s the only safe place for them.”
Eve choked up and fought off tears. Growing concern about danger to her cats had been wearing on her from the moment she arrived in San Francisco and realized how quickly the city was disintegrating. She couldn’t remember telling Jobs that she had cats, or their names. That he would know and be concerned for their welfare, particularly at this moment, deeply touched her. She softly said, “They have a kitty sitter who…”
“I already talked to Lorena. She and Marcie are going to move to New Cupertino too so they can escape the city. It’s all arranged.” Eve struggled to absorb how Jobs could go from being so condescending in one moment, totally focused on his own grand projects, and then instantly shift to being compassionately concerned for her personal life. Eve wiped her eyes and nodded. “Thank you.”

Eve started away, afraid she might reveal more emotions if she stayed any longer. Jobs pointed at her feet and called out. “By the way, nice shoes.”

To be continued…

Episode Thirteen: The Spoils of War

OFFICER’S CLUB - WINDSOR HOTEL - CAIRO
Eve arrived in Cairo to find Yahoo in firm control of the sprawling city with tanks lined up in Tahrir Square. Marissa had confiscated the nearby Windsor Hotel to use as temporary YAC headquarters. The Officer’s Club bar off the main lounge had become her personal office.
Eve, Bullinda and Yuliya entered the bar worn out from their desert trek. Their clothes were dusty and their faces thick with dirt. “You look like you need a drink,” Marissa said as she waved for them to sit-down at a low wooden cocktail table. Her jungle queen bikini was long gone and she was dressed in an striking tank general’s uniform, complete with helmet, raised goggles and freshly shinned calf-high leather boots. Her uniform was spotless but for a neat bullet hole in the top of her helmet. The sniper shot must have missed her skull by barely a millimeter. Eve wasn’t surprised she hadn’t removed or replaced it. There couldn’t be a better good luck charm. Mayer yelled to a hotel waiter dressed in white with a red fez. “Bring us a bottle of Old Grand Dad. Chop! Chop!” She grabbed four shot glasses in one hand and straddled a low chair to sit with them.
“Congrats! Africa is ours.” Marissa said as she slid the glasses to each of them. “We should be able to keep it, at least for awhile. I’ve got to say, Eve, it’s been fun getting back into the trenches.”
The waiter hurried over, opened a fresh bottle of whiskey and set it on the table. Marissa generously filled the shot glasses one by one.
“No thank you.” Eve said and turned to the waiter. “Can I get a glass of lemonade?”
“Lemonade?! Don’t be a wuss! Have a real drink. Let’s toast!”
Eve looked at the waiter firmly. “A lemonade, please.”
“Two.” Yuliya chimed in softly. The waiter nodded and headed off.
“Fine. Suit yourself.” Marissa said and downed her own shot glass.
“I don’t mind if I do.” Bullinda said cheerfully, quickly finishing not only the shot glass in front of her, but Eve’s and Yuliya’s.
“So, Eve, now that Force H is retired, do I get Bullinda back?”
“That’s up to her.” Eve said. “She has no obligations to me.” The lemonade arrived and Eve took a long sip. It was cool and it felt marvelous in her parched throat.
“No, it’s up to you, Ma’am.” Bullinda said sincerely. “If you need me, that’s where I want to be. It has been a great honor to work for you.”
Maybe it was the glucose rush from the lemonade, but Eve felt oddly touched by Bullinda’s continued loyalty after they both had failed the test of the G-Blade. She looked over at Yuliya, who was sweetly downing the lemonade gratefully. Again, Eve found herself fighting unfamiliar emotions that were swelling insider her. Yuliya was so beautiful and pure of heart, yet smart and tough. Eve couldn’t help but reflect on her past gruff treatment of her. Eve had tried to be a firm mentor and protector, but now it seemed it was she that had learned the most and needed constant protection. Had she failed Yuliya where it counted most, as a friend? She certainly had failed her as a lover. There, the word came back. Love. Was she in love with Yuliya? Did Yuliya still love her?
Eve forced her face to remain stoic. “We’ll see.” she said abruptly. Perhaps too abruptly from the hurt expression on Bullinda’s face. Eve tried to soften it by giving Bullinda a pat on the shoulder. Bullinda nodded, professionally.
Moving on, Eve asked, “What’s going on with the G-Blades?”
Mayer poured Bullinda and herself another shot of whiskey. “In Africa? We’ve captured most of the big shipments and destroyed them. Google didn’t consider this market a priority anyway. A few stray pallets slipped into the outlining areas, but it’s not much of a problem. For now.”
Eve decided not to enlighten her about the problem the stray ones caused them in the desert.
“In the rest of the world, it’s a major disaster. Civil society is breaking down, exactly the way Larry Page always hoped. And it’s just a question of time before G-Blades slip into the black market here too. No matter what measures we take to control imports. You know this, Eve. Google banned Apple products for years in their territories and it did no good because people wanted them. Now it’s payback. Google has a product people want more than anything Apple ever built.”
She took a small sip of her whiskey and then looked up, realizing how devastating what she casually just said must be to an Apple executive. “No offense. I love Apple products. But it’s the reality of what we are up against. The clock is ticking closer to doomsday.”
Eve didn’t react, so Mayer decided to change the subject.
“So, we’re here in Cairo. The continent is subjugated for the time being. I lived up to my part of the deal. You got what you wanted. Now you can tell me the truth. You never had Steve Jobs authorization for Yahoo to become Apple’s default search engine. You were, to put it nicely: bluffing.”
“I was, to put it honestly: lying.” Eve said with a hint of a smile.
Mayer nodded unhappily. She had always suspected, but Eve admitting it out loud suddenly annoyed her. “So you knew he wasn’t likely to agree to it.”
“I knew for a fact he would never agree to it.” Eve said, finishing her lemonade. The waiter brought two more glasses over to the table for her and Yuliya.
“You bitch!” Mayer said angrily. “So are you going to at least ask him now?”
“No.” Eve said, taking a sip from her fresh lemonade. Mayer furiously stood up, knocking her chair backwards. Eve slowly put her lemonade down and rose to meet the challenge. She crossed over to Mayer and looked down at her unapologetically. Eve was a good head taller, but Mayer didn’t flinch. Bullinda and Yuliya watched tensely, ready for a serious cat fight.
Eve continued. “I won’t ask him, because I don’t need to. I sent Jobs an email yesterday about it and he’s already agreed.” Eve pulled her iCom and showed Mayer the email thread. There were several densely packed paragraphs from Eve explaining the bargain and why Yahoo was critical to the war effort. Jobs reply was, as usual, brief and to the point.
OKAY.
STEVE
Mayer’s anger melted into hopeful confusion. “But… he agreed to it? He… Yahoo will be Apple’s default search engine?”
“Yes.” Eve said with a growing smile. “Couldn’t believe it myself. So I talked to Eddy Cue to confirm it before I walked in. It’s a done deal.”
Mayer was overjoyed. “When? Will Jobs announce it at the Keynote?”
“Nope. It goes into effect tomorrow. They’re sending out a system wide update in the morning.”
Mayer hugged Eve tightly. “Thank you! This might not even matter anymore but it means a lot to me. Thank you. This would have put Yahoo right back on top. Too bad the world is going to hell first.”

ROOF - WINDSOR HOTEL - CAIRO
She was right, of course. The world was going to hell. Eve barely had time to finish her second lemonade before she was updated on how bad things were. The Fellowship of Tech, God how Eve hated that name, was winning on most of the military fronts. But the G-Blade was spreading faster than a zombie apocalypse. North America and South America were in shambles. Europe was worse. Branson had asked Mayer to continue on into the Middle East in the hopes of putting additional pressure on Google in Europe. It was mutually decided Bullinda would go back to work for Yahoo. It would need all the help it could get if it was going to open another front in Turkey. Meanwhile, it was critical for Eve to rally Apple’s potential allies in Central Asia and drive Google out before large quantities of G-Blades leaked into China on the silk road. She decided to send Yuliya on ahead to pin down her old master Granmura and see whose side he had finally decided to join. To Eve’s surprise, Yuliya accepted without hesitation. Was it because she understood the importance of the mission? Or had the time she had spend away from Uzbekistan given her the confidence, and even desire, to return not only as a free woman but an official Apple employee? Or, after all the recent drama, was she grateful to take a relationship break from Eve?
Meanwhile, Eve had to get back to Apple and see Jobs. In person. Alone. That is, after she finished one last little job in Africa.
She stood on the roof of the hotel, saying goodbye, at least for now, to Bullinda and Yuliya. She glanced down at her iCom, she had about fifty seconds left. She glanced out over the tall dust covered buildings of Cairo all around them. Down in the streets there were waves of motorbikes and busy tea shops. A turboprop plane could be heard in the distance.
“You can always text me.” Eve said. Yuliya nodded. Bullinda sighed, annoyed.
“What is it with you two, huh?” she said in her deep baritone voice.
Eve and Yuliya looked at Bullinda, confused.
“You two are nuts for each other. Anyone can see it. Give her a freaking goodbye kiss!”
Eve wasn’t sure if the order was for her, or Yuliya, but regardless, they did kiss. Softly on the lips at first, then passionately in a tight embrace. The turboprop plane appeared in the sky, heading for the hotel. An air recovery lift line lowered from it. Eve released Yuliya and looked into her lovely eyes.
“I love you.” Eve said. Yuliya softly nodded.
Eve stepped back a few feet to the edge of the roof. She clipped the magnetic sky hook off her vest harness and raised it up with her arm. As the turbojet passed overhead, a magnetic pickup on the lift line caught the hook and pulled Eve up into the sky.

To be continued…