Episode Two - The Razor's Edge

Eve barely got back to her apartment and introduced Yuliya to her two cats, Pascal and Alice, when word came that Mr. Jobs wanted to see her.
It was not a surprise.  After a mere 38 hours, the video of her beheading Malick in Batyr-Aul had gone viral on YouTube with over a 100 million hits and counting.  Ironically, despite the brutality of the Apple/Google war, iPads still had an option to directly upload to YouTube.  Apple always put its customers first.  Naturally, Google made sure it was featured on You Tube’s front page.  Various parodies and tribute videos had already sprung up and it was the talk of the blogsphere.  While hardcore Apple fans cheered, there was no doubt it was a major PR disaster for the company.  Steve Jobs had recently said that Apple wasn’t looking to get involved in the rebellion in Uzbekistan.   Her mission was supposed to have been covert.  And Jobs probably wouldn’t be happy about her broadcasted tips on searching for dark web porn on Apple’s devices.
Eve had avoided looking at her flooded e-mail account during the hurried trip back.  Unquestionably there would be serious consequences once she returned.  But while Jobs would be pissed off, she hoped it would take him a couple days to decide if she should be fired or worse.  Yet on the commercial jet traveling from Tokyo to San Francisco, she suddenly felt a chill run through her entire body.  She sensed that an e-mail had arrived from Jobs himself, summoning her.  She didn’t have to check her account.  She didn’t have to see it.  She simply knew as clearly as if he had called her from across the room.  Jobs’ powers were such he could reach across the space time continuum and directly influence human consciousness when he wanted to.  She didn’t actually read the e-mail until after rushing home and then only to confirm.  It was typically brief:
He didn’t need to say when, she knew it was immediately.   She also knew a video conference wasn’t going to be enough.  She would have to head out to New Cupertino to meet with him in person.  Right now.
She isn’t happy about leaving Yuliya alone in her apartment.  Yet taking her to New Cupertino, even if Eve could get authorization, was wildly ill-advised.  They had been subject to many stares and snickers by people who had seen them dancing together in the snuff video.  At the airport, in the taxi, even walking through the building lobby.  The last thing Eve needed was to show up at Apple’s main headquarters with the now semi-famous Uzbek slave girl in tow.  
Eve, at first, firmly refused when Granmura offered Yuliya to Eve as a “present.”  Not that Yuliya’s dark sensuous features and petite curvy body weren’t appealing.  In fact, she’s exactly Eve’s type.  But sales execs are not supposed to accept gifts from potential clients and human trafficking in particular is looked down upon by Apple.  When she declined, Granmura said that if Eve didn’t take her, he would hand her off to one of his soldiers.  Yuliya fell to her knees and begged Eve to accept her.   It was clear from her watery eyes that she desperately wanted to escape her fate as a dancing plaything for dusty rebels in a rocky warzone.  Eve finally accepted, figuring once she got her back to America she could pass her off as a regional consultant.  While it was possible Yuliya might be a spy for Granmura, or more likely Google, turning spies and creating double agents was part of Eve’s corporate job description.  It was also something she was rather good at.  Seducing Yuliya and learning her secrets, if she had any, wouldn’t be an unpleasant side project.  On the plane ride over, Eve found her to be intelligent, if apparently uneducated, and sadly world wise for someone barely nineteen.
Simplifying matters, Pascal and Alice warmed up to Yuliya immediately.  Alice even allowed Yuliya to pick her up, which she rarely does with strangers.  Alice was a good judge of character.  So Eve gave Yuliya quick tour of the apartment, warned her about the dominatrix across the hall, and set her up with a spare iCom.
At the controls of her private Harrier jump jet, Eve flew past Ni’ihau, the forbidden isle of Hawaii.  Its emerald forests and rocky flatlands are outlined by perfect white beaches that stand out in sharp contrast to the deep blue waters of the vast Pacific Ocean.  The antique Harrier had been a gift from British MI-6 for some assistance Eve provided in Sri Lanka and she had grown quite fond of it.   It wasn’t the fastest aircraft Eve had access to, but it had automatic clearance for New Cupertino and she wasn’t completely comfortable with the controls of more modern V/STOL jets.   What she lost in speed she gained in not having to arrange for another pilot.  But as fond as she was of this particular old warbird she made a mental note that she would have to do some more pilot training on Apple’s fleet of Lightening IV-A’s.   They were not only faster, with a longer range, but much better armed.  Not that Eve planned to do aerial combat missions.  Apple had much better pilots for that.  But these dark days even simple business travel might evolve into something unexpected and Eve liked to be prepared.  Of course, all of this was moot if Jobs ended up firing her shortly after landing, which was still a distinct possibility.
As she contemplated the possible end of her career at Apple, Eve’s thoughts drifted back to that fateful summer in 2022 when she was first hired as a part time college intern.  She was finishing up dual masters in computer science and liberal arts at Stanford.  Even before high school her singular dream growing up had been to work at Apple and perhaps some day to meet the legendary Steve Jobs.  Little did she know that just one day after her orientation at the “Spaceship” headquarters in Old Cupertino, she would be working closely at his side during one of Apple’s darkest moments.  Worse than when Jobs was forced out in 1985, worse than when he returned in 1997 with Apple at the edge of bankruptcy.  Nor could she have known that all the years she spent studying computer programming, design, art history and music, hoping to impress Mr. Jobs with her well rounded education, would be irrelevant once she finally met him.  How could she have known that what would matter most, and lead to her full time hiring and rapid promotion, was her innate capacity to remain calm in the face of mass destruction and an untested gift for close quarters battle?  Even today, ten years later, she vividly remembers the smell of burning human flesh and the painful sting as flames boiled the sweat upon her face.  And, of course, the strange, horrible, frightening, but oddly satisfying feeling she had killing her first Google employee in self-defense.
Ahead of the Harrier, an isolated island mysteriously appeared far east of the Hawaiian archipelago, beyond where charts said any island should be.  Its land mass was dominated by what appeared to be the remains of an extinct cinder cone volcano.  Of course, Eve knew it was no volcano.  And the “island” was over five miles beyond where it had been the last time Eve visited.  Eve banked the jet toward its wide crater mouth which appeared to have a bright green lake of rainwater inside.  As Eve aimed the jet’s thrusters downward and began to land in the crater basin, the fake rainwater split in the middle, like the parting of the Red Sea.  The crater bottom opened to reveal the lake was fake and the volcano hollow.  Inside, the artificial rock walls were held up by a beautiful spiderweb of giant metal supports.  Just below the crater entrance, four huge landing pads were laid out like a cloverleaf and glowed with flashing landing lights.
The traffic controller’s voice came over Eve’s headset.  “You are cleared for landing on A3, Dr. Zachara.  Welcome to New Cupertino.”

Steve Jobs created many amazing things in his life.  Barely out of high school he and his friend Steve Wozniak introduced the Apple II, and turned a company that began in his garage into a Fortune 500 business in less than five years.  He then led a new team that revolutionized computers with the ground breaking Macintosh.  He build a digital movie powerhouse with Pixar and, of course, supervised the introduction of the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iCom and countless other amazing products that made the world a better place.
As incredible as all these accomplishments were, many people, including Eve, thought that New Cupertino was his greatest single creation.  It was a stunning achievement in design, engineering, and execution.  From the outside, it looked like an uninhabited tropic island, but inside was a city that covered over forty square miles, about half the size of Manhattan.  Almost two thirds of the city was below water and from the bottom of its sunken hull to the top of its fake volcano it was five times taller than the Empire state building.  The entire city was completely self-contained, with its own power generation, water purification and sewage processing.  There were offices, research labs, luxury apartments, outstanding recreational facilities and a small university.  Hydroponic greenhouses created food (vegetarian only) and there were even light industrial manufacturing facilities.  The landscaped interior was illuminated with natural light captured from fake glass rocks on the exterior and beamed inside by a clever mirror and lens system.  Over three hundred thousand people, mostly Apple employees, lived and worked in this amazing floating metropolis, the largest structure ever to be designed and build in a single plan.  The entire city was self propelled by environmentally friendly hydro jets, and could move at 12 knots when necessary, making it also the largest moving machine ever created.  Yet gyro stabilizers, which also generated electricity by capturing sea currents, could hold it rock steady at precise deep ocean coordinates as if it truly was a natural island.  There was no danger of sea sickness and even when it was moving, people could barely sense it.
On some levels the melodramatic touch of it being disguised as an island seemed unnecessary.  The volcano entrance was frankly ripped off from a minor James Bond movie.  Google undoubtedly was aware of its existence and it was openly speculated about on all the Apple fan boy sites.  Some sites even included spy photos and fairly accurate renderings of its layout.  The fact that it moved made it somewhat more difficult to bomb or assault, but there was enough traceable flight traffic in and out that Google was surely aware of its approximate location at any given moment.
Yet, Steve Jobs knew of the publicity value of mystery and the fact that Apple’s main headquarters were in a super secret location didn’t hurt the powerful aura of the company.  Apple didn’t deny the existence of New Cupertino, it just refused to comment on it.  This was a constant reminder to the public of the horrors of what happened to Old Cupertino, which Google unsuccessfully continued to claim was an unfortunate accident.  The bombing and slaughter had a huge effect on Jobs, particularly the leveling of Homestead High School where he and Wozniak both studied.  It was clearly not a military target, or even a business one, and Jobs took it personally that Google went out of its way to demolish it.  After the truce with Google, the city of Cupertino was generally restored to its pre-bombing state (with the notable absence of any Apple facilities) and Homestead rebuilt.  Many suspect that Jobs’ primary motivation in moving New Cupertino out to sea was to prevent any further innocent bloodshed in his old hometown.  It’s also been rumored that the basic design (sans the fake island exterior) was already on Jobs’ drawing boards as a kind of environmentally friendly iCity to showcase of Apple’s technical prowess.  Once the war started,  Jobs decided to keep the effort secret and move the corporate headquarters into it.
As the Harrier touches down on the A-3 landing pad, Eve is also reminded of the other rumor about New Cupertino’s real purpose.  The landing pad is far larger than necessary even for the biggest V/STOL aircraft, tilt rotors or cargo helicopters.  It would, however, be about the right size for extra orbital spacecraft.  It is well known that Google has a secret program to capture the moon, and possibly Mars too, and it would be unlikely Jobs didn’t have some kind of response at least in the planning stages.  Eve wasn’t aware of any Apple space program, but on the other hand Jobs didn’t tell her everything.  A stable floating launch platform close to the equator would have enormous benefits for manned launches.  Could there be another secret island fortress already be floating around the seven seas?  One devoted primarily to a space effort?  Eve could only speculate.
“He’s expecting you.”
One of Jobs’ white robed executive assistants, Byron, led Eve through a beautiful Japanese styled garden toward the “Temple of Tranquility.”  Officially named “Building Zero,” Jobs’ core office suite  was a modernistic combination of glass and black steel with echos of a Zen temple, thus prompting the nickname.  Of course, the “Tranquility” part was darkly humorous, since Jobs intensity and explosive temper were world famous.  Even on a good day, tranquility was the last thing one was likely to find there.  The “temple” and garden were both contained inside the giant island atrium but the illusion of being outside was only broken when Eve glanced up at the metal works far above her.  The carefully directed accent lighting illuminated the temple like a sunset painted by an old master.  No matter how often she came, Eve found New Cupertino breathtaking spectacular.  An entire city perfectly designed by a visionary with almost unlimited resources and a passion for beauty and perfection.  Even the great emperors of China never had as much power building their private palaces as Steve Jobs did building his.
“What’s his mood like?”  Eve delicately inquired in hope of getting some clue as to what to expect.
“The same.”  Byron dryly replied.  Eve didn’t bother to follow up.  She was foolish to expect any other answer. 
They walked up a wide grey stone staircase to the entrance and Byron slid open a frosted glass door which resembled a Japanese shoji screen.  He bowed to Eve.  It was clear she’d be going in alone.
The glass door closed behind Eve as she stepped inside a grand receiving hall about the size of a basketball court.  A tall vaulted ceiling provided mysterious lighting over a dark ebony wood floor with no furniture.  The entire back wall was covered with a silent floor-to-ceiling waterfall.  Three stories tall, the smooth stream of water looked like a single piece of shimmering glass.  Except in the center where, if you looked hard, it subtly rippled in the shape of a giant Apple logo.
In the middle of the empty room, Steve Jobs sit cross legged on a mediation mat, reading from an iPad X.  His long thin white hair was backlit by a discrete beam of light from somewhere above.  On the floor in front of him were two sheathed katana swords.
Eve kneeled by the entrance and bowed deeply.  “You summoned me, Roshi?
Roshi is the Japanese word for “master.”  It’s a term Jobs once discouraged but lately tolerated from his closest disciples, at least in private.  In the seclusion of New Cupertino, Jobs was finally able to abandon much of his carefully orchestrated public image.  He allowed his hair to grow into a pony tail and a long Zen master beard.  He rarely wore his famous blue jeans, which he always hated but felt were necessary to project a corporate rebel image.  Free of the public eye, instead of a black turtleneck, he wore martial arts attire, a loose black aikidogi and hakama.  It was more fitting for an eighth dan master of ninjitsu and leader of the secret Iga Kotodama-ryu.  He did, however, still wear New Balance 992 sneakers which he found comfortable.
“You like to play with swords?”  Jobs said without looking up from his iPad.  His famous voice was softly steady but dark with ominous undercurrents.  The room’s acoustics were so perfect it sounded to Eve as if his voice came right from over her shoulder.
“You put the first one in my hand, Roshi.”  Eve responded with her eyes averted and head still bowed.  Eve knew the trick with Jobs was to be humble and deferring, but also direct and honest.  He sensed fear and uncertainty and it only fed his anger.
“Very true.”
Eve didn’t dare look up, but sensed as Jobs’ eyes rose from the iPad and focused on her.  She could almost feel a physical weight from his intense gaze.
“You think that gives you the right to wield a sword in my name?  To make war as you see fit?  To be judge and executioner of anyone in your way?”
“No, Roshi.
Eve straightened and stood on her feet.  Jobs hit a button on his iPad and a video clip of Eve at Batyr-Aul was projected on the huge waterfall:
“… Who do you think you’re fucking with?  Huh?  I work for Apple!  Apple!  Heard of it?”
Jobs stopped the clip.  He set down the iPad and picked up one of the katanas.   Almost eighty years old, he was still robust and agile.   He rose to his feet with the firm confidence of a great warrior still bursting with energy.  He tossed the sword across the room to Eve.
Eve deftly caught it.  She wasn’t sure where this is going, but there is no stopping Jobs once his mind was made up.  Whatever show he has decided to put on for her, or with her, including her execution, she will have no choice but to participate.
“You showed some small skill in decapitating a defenseless man.  How are you against an armed opponent?  I assume you think you are better than me since you so easily disregarded my direct orders.”  Jobs puts his arm out and the other katana springs from the floor into his hand, draw by a mysterious magnetism.  It’s a kind of Jedi Master parlor trick he rarely displays except when he’s really angry.  He unsheathes the katana and flips up the sharp edge.
“I am no match for you, Roshi.”  Eve says softly.
“Defend yourself… or die!”  Jobs sprung at her, leaping across the room in an instant and swung the katana at her throat.
Eve barely managed to leap backwards before being sliced in half.  She drew her own blade just a microsecond before Jobs attacked again.  There was a loud clang of steel as the two blades shattered into each other.  It echoed in the grand hall.
Jobs spun and attacked her legs.  Eve jumped to the right and blocked it.  Instantly another cut swung up at her head and Eve ducked.  She counter attacked, thrusting her own blade out at Jobs heart, but he turned just enough for the point to miss.
Eve knew Jobs was toying with her.  If he really wanted her dead, she would already be in bloody pieces on the floor.  Nevertheless, the worst thing she could do was not take the fight seriously.  So she tried with all her skill and concentration to cut through his defenses as if she really wanted to kill him.  
“You had orders not to directly engage Google in Uzbekistan!”  Jobs shouted as their katanas clattered back and forth at a furious pace.
“I was captured.  They murdered my contact.  I learned that Google had infiltrated the rebel movement.  I was under threat of torture and I made an executive decision.”
“To save yourself?!  You put your own life ahead of the company’s interests?!”
Eve dropped her sword just as Jobs swung at her throat again.  Mid-swing, his blade instantly stopped just before it would slice open her neck.  The razor edge froze against her soft skin.  Eve’s katana hit the floor with a klunk.  They both made intense eye contact, and Jobs stared deeply into her soul.
Eve kneeled before him again, with the sword blade following her down.  She lowered her head, offering the back of her neck for him to sever.  She said, with all sincerity: “If I have lost your trust: kill me now.  Apple means more to me than anything.  I would have taken my own life if I thought it was best for the company.  I would have submitted to Googleplex torture.  But I made a decision that the rebels would only respect power and I felt I had to put on a show of force to protect our corporate interests.”
 “What corporate interests does Apple have in Uzbekistan?”  Jobs asked as he held his sword suspended over her bowed figure.
“Uzbekistan has the largest supply of uranium in the world.  It’s critical that we have access to it.”
“Google already controls it through their alliance with the dictatorship.  We already lost that battle long ago.”
“The rebels were challenging that control.  It presented us with an opportunity.  We have to find new sources of uranium for the power cells on the next generation MacBook Pros.”
“Eve, you’re in sales.  Not product development.  What makes you think the new MacBook Pros will have uranium power cells?”
“Roshi, everyone knows already.  If we have power cells in the iComs we’re going to put them in the MacBooks.”
“That decision hasn’t been made.  The power requirements are different.  But obviously, it is a possibility.”  Jobs lowered his sword.
Eve relaxed slightly.  Jobs was testing her, as he often does.  She realized now that he wanted to be sure she was really looking after the big picture, and not just trying to save her own ass.  Jobs required absolute loyalty.  He would occasionally forgive mistakes from valuable employees, even ones this big.  But he would never forgive any lapse of total devotion to his cause.
Apparently satisfied with her answers, or purged of his anger by the light workout, Jobs took on a fatherly tone. “Whatever our corporate interests, it didn’t give you justification to kill in cold blood.  Even a Google exec.  We aren’t murderers, Eve.  We’re Apple.  We’re better than that.”
On one level Eve knew she should just shut up, but she wanted Jobs to know the truth.  “Yes, but while you can’t see it in the video, he was armed and going for his gun.  I only had a second…”
“Then you could have cut off his arm.  Taking a life should be a last resort.”
Eve silently nodded in agreement.  But then she made the mistake of letting her mind briefly wander.  She couldn’t help but think back to to that fateful day in 2022 when she first saw a man decapitated with a sword.  It was also a Google exec, and it was by Jobs’ own hand.  She tried to push out the thought, but it was too late.  Jobs had already read her mind.
“That was different, and you know it!”  Jobs shouted losing his temper again.
“Yes, sir…” Eve tried to suppress her memories, but the harder she tried to force the images out of her head, the stronger they flooded back…
There was no doubt about the main target when the first Google cruise missile struck Apple’s circular “Spaceship” headquarters in old Cupertino.  The deafening explosion shook through the entire ring of the building but the bright light came from the northeast section where CEO Steve Jobs office was located.  A second cruise missile struck the same area just moments after, and then a third.
All four floors near the strikes quickly collapsed into burning rubble as if a huge fiery bite had been taken out of the giant donut shaped structure.  The rest of the complex fell into chaos and panic.  Everyone near the blast was screaming, hiding under their desks or running away from the heat and spreading flames.
Everyone except a young Stanford under grad on her second day of an unpaid summer internship.  She ran in the opposite direction from other fleeing Apple employees.  Right into the fires, over the shattered glass and under the collapsing ceilings.  She had no reason to believe that a fourth missile wouldn’t be coming shortly.  But when the explosions rocked the complex, and the thick glass windows burst from the concussions, Eve’s only thought was to try to see if her new boss was alive and needed help.
During her orientation tour the day before she had been lucky enough to encounter Jobs, in his old black turtleneck and jeans attire, passing by with a small assembly of senior staff.  He briefly paused when he saw her and the half dozen other interns.  When it was explained to him who they were, he simply said, “Welcome to Apple,” and then continued into his office.  Eve remembered its general location, but as she fought her way through the flames to it, she found herself climbing out of the building into open sky and unrecognizable wreckage of the collapsed floors.  Dead bodies, many of them burning, most of them in pieces, were scattered everywhere.  There didn’t appear to be any survivors.  In the shattered rubble it was impossible to even distinguish the individual office spaces.
Strangely, Eve’s impulse to risk her life by running toward the explosions almost surely saved it.  Because as she made her way out into the blast zone, she heard the approaching jet engines of a second attack wave.  B-1 Lancer supersonic bombers, wings swept wide and prominently marked with the colorful Google logo, roared overhead and dropped cluster bombs on the rest of the building and surrounding campus.  The only area the bombers didn’t target was the burning section already destroyed.  The place were Eve was now standing.
The carpet bombing struck just as fleeing employees emerged from the rest of the building.  The cluster bombs hit with powerful bursts that spun out hundreds of smaller bomblets which exploded in a chain reaction like giant strings of Chinese firecrackers.   Anti-personnel shrapnel mixed with incendiary napalm created an terrifying blend of blood and fire.  It was clear Google planned to leaving nothing and no one to rebuild.  The B-1’s made a single pass, and were gone in almost an instant, but in their wake almost every remaining trace of Apple’s once beautiful green campus was wiped out.  In its place was a blackened killing field of fire and destruction.
Eve, unable to emotionally process the horrible devastation that had destroyed her dream job, simply took it in for a breath and then quickly returned to her hopeless mission.  She searched through the dead bodies around her and overturned smoking desks and office equipment looking for more.  She shifted through broken glass until her hands were bleeding.  Then, in a shattered wooden picture frame, she spotted a shiny brass medal on a smoking red, white and blue ribbon.  She recognized it immediately as an extremely rare National Medal of Technology.  Ronald Reagan had given Jobs one in 1985.  It had to have been hanging in Jobs office.  Eve slowly picked it up in her bloody hand.  It was still hot from the explosion and singed her fingers but she held onto it tightly, her hand shaking in anger.
Just as it seemed it could not get worse, Eve saw Google tanks and trucks filled with shock troops roll up in the distance.  The tanks took up positions blocking the main roads, apparently to prevent help from arriving.  The shock troops, wearing paramilitary uniforms and carrying sub-machine guns, leapt out of the trucks and began searching the wreckage for survivors.  It was at that moment Eve’s hatred of Google hardened like a hand forged sword pounded to a razor’s edge.  It was so unnecessary.  Google’s victory had been complete.  There was no resistance.  Yet their shock troops marched over the smoking campus in jackboots and fired their guns at any living souls they discovered.  They even shot up some dead ones just to make sure.  There would be no prisoners.  Eve would later know never to expect any mercy from Google but back then she was still innocent.  A quote from Steve Jobs she had heard long ago echoed in her head: “Don’t believe Google’s “Do No Evil” thing.”  
Truer words were never said.
Suddenly, through all the chaos, the still burning fires, the gunfire, the screaming of the dying, the sickening laughter of the shock troops, Eve heard a faint stirring behind her.  She spun and turned to see a soot covered hand rise up from the rubble.  It grabbed a heavy twisted aluminum support beam and tossed it to the side.  Before Eve could rush to help him, Steve Jobs rose up like a phoenix from under layers of shattered glass, twisted wiring and pulverized drywall.  On his dust covered face, a bright red line of blood ran from the corner of his mouth down his chin and neck.  One lens of his glasses was cracked.  One arm of his black turtleneck was torn at the shoulder to reveal his lean but surprisingly muscular biceps.  
He stood tall as he gazed over a cruel landscape where it appeared everything he had built over the last five decades had been destroyed.  To Eve’s surprise there wasn’t any emotion in his face, no heartbreak, no confusion, no hint of fear.  Not even any anger.  He simply surveyed the war zone and began formulating a plan to respond.  His focus was so intense, Eve hesitated to disturb him.   But the distant shock troops were heading in their direction and it was just a question of time before they were spotted…
Eve grabbed his arm.  “Mr. Jobs, we have to hide!  They’re coming for you.”
Jobs turned and looked at her as if coming out of a trance.  “Eve?”
In a day filled with shocking events, the most shocking thing to Eve was that her hero Steve Jobs remembered her name from their brief encounter yesterday.  “Get out of here,” he said.  “You aren’t even a paid employee.  Run.”
“I want to help!”
“There’s nothing you can… wait.”  Jobs pulled his iPhone 8 out of his jeans pocket and tossed it to her.   “Call Woz!”  He then turned and ran off through the smoking rubble.
“What?”  Eve said, uncomprehending.
“CALL WOZ!”  Jobs shouted back as he continued to run.  
Eve suddenly realized what Jobs meant.  But not wanting to lose him completely, she ran in pursuit even as she slid the unlock on the iPhone touchscreen to activate it.
Jobs reached the twisted remains of what had been an elevator tower.  The elevator itself had been blown away, leaving an open shaft to the underground floors.  As Eve caught up, she saw Jobs leap into the shaft and disappear into darkness below.  
Eve was afraid if she went down after him she might lose the phone’s signal.  So she ducked low and quickly searched through the phone addresses.   She didn’t find it under the “Favorites” speed dial and frantically switched to the “Contacts” app.  She scrolled down to “W” and found it:
 Steve Wozniak.

To be continued...


Episode One - The Sword Dancer

Eve Zachara holsters her HK G20 7mm caseless machine pistol and thrusts a freshly sharpened K-BAR knife into her tactical vest.  She is prepping for a business meeting in the evacuation compartment of an Aerion supersonic executive combat jet.  She picks up a Smith and Wesson 20mm hand cannon.  It's supposed to be a simple meet and greet, but she likes to be prepared.  The S&W is a great last minute equalizer if something goes wrong.  It holds six rocket assisted explosive rounds and can stop a medium sized tank.  Despite that, it looks relatively innocent as hand cannons go.  Still, it’s bulky and she doesn’t want to appear to be packing serious firepower at an informal negotiation.  She sets it back down on the prep table.  If something goes wrong, she’ll make due with her thermite grenades.
She removes her corporate DNA-ID badge and seals it in a finger print lock box.  Standard company protocol requires that executives do not carry identification on covert insertions into hostile markets.  Still, if she is captured there will be little doubt what company she works for.  
Because she is also carrying two iComs.  One clipped on her arm guard like a large wrist watch and the other hidden in the throat of her boot.  Only two major tech companies operate in this particular war zone.  Agents for one, and their minions, always carry Android Globemasters.  There will be little doubt any executive carrying an iCom…
… works for Apple.
The pilot’s voice speaks over the Aerion's intercom, “Dr. Zachara, we’re two minutes from the drop zone.” 
Eve straps on her parachute, puts on her helmet and secures her oxygen mask.  She presses a button and the entire compartment depressurizes with a sharp whoosh.   Wind howls as the jet's rear boarding ramp slowly opens.
A green light flashes over the open ramp and the dark roaring airstream beyond.  At the last second, Eve changes her mind and snatches up the hand cannon.  She tucks it in her vest and runs out the back of the jet.
She leaps into pitch blackness.
Eve drops out of the unmarked Aerion Mach 2 and the boarding ramp closes behind her.  She is executing a HALO (High Altitude Low Landing) jump at eighty thousand feet.  At that height she is in near outer space.  The black curvature of the Earth frames the dark sky with the sliver of a new dawn rising half a planet away.  The Aerion quickly sails off and disappears as she seems to hover weightless in the thin atmosphere.  She looks overhead and can see an untarnished view of an intensely bright Milky Way star field and galaxies beyond.  These fleeting moments of floating in sub-orbital space are an accidental perk of her work for Apple that she really enjoys.
But she is not actually floating, she is free falling.
As the air thickens and the speed of her drop increases to terminal velocity,  the sensation of weightlessness disappears.  She instead feels like a human bullet.   Which is also kind of fun.  She places her hands in front of her like a superhero and uses her palms to channel air and guide her descent to the drop zone.  With her parachute still unopened, she falls for about sixty thousand feet before checking her iCom's altimeter.
The latest HALO Pro app is fairly accurate and estimates she's dropping at 126 miles per hour.  The altimeter spins down from 18,000 feet to 9,000 in the time it takes for her to glance at it.  A heartbeat later it hits 3,000 and its alarm flashes that she needs to activate her chute.  But she still waits as she hurls down to the ground.
A vast shadowy landscape springs across her line of sight in all directions like a hammer heading for a nail.  For a moment it looks as if she is too late.  But just before she is smashed to bits, she calmly pulls her rip cord and her parachute instantly unfurls.  It wrenches hard through her harness and slows her descent so quickly it seems as if she is briefly tugged back into the sky.
Not missing a beat, she hits the sandy desert ground with bent knees and pulls the pack release.  The chute breaks free and flutters off, disappearing into the distance like a blown leaf.  Eve tosses off her helmet and oxygen gear.  She shakes out her long blond hair.  Unclipping her iCom from her wrist guard, she uses the touch screen to switch to the GPS map.  She notes with a smile that the pulsing blue dot shows she’s only thirty meters from the red pin in her target spot.   She captures the screen shot of her position and sends it with a text message to visicalc82:
A reply quickly comes:
Eve knows it's a joke, and texts back "BITE ME" as she heads for high ground.  She's landed in the no man’s land of the war torn Kyzylkum Desert.  She reaches the top of a sand dune and scans the barren scenery.  There doesn't appear to be anyone or anything for miles.  She texts again to visicalc82:
Eve crotches low and waits.  She's about half an hour early for the rendezvous with the rebels, which is how she likes it.  She swipes her finger over her app display and checks her e-mail.  There's a message from her mother, which she's sure she doesn't want to read,  an invite to a club concert and a shipping notice from Zappos for some red pumps she ordered.  She switches to a live video feed of her San Francisco apartment and the nanny cams she has set up to keep an eye on her two cats.  She finds one sleeping peacefully in the large cat tree and spots the other in the kitchen by the food dishes.  Her cat sitter seems to be keeping the dishes filled and everything clean.
Overhead, she can hear the sound of another aircraft approaching from a much lower elevation.  She switches her iCom to the SEAL NIGHTSCOPE app and directs her rear camera to the sky.  It quickly picks up the moving object and automatically zooms in with an enhanced infrared image.  It's an unmanned tilt rotor container carrier.  It approaches and passes overhead without stopping but not before dropping its truck sized container from underneath.  The container falls for a few seconds and then dual parachutes spring open automatically from each end.   It drifts to the desert floor and lands with a heavy thud.
Before heading down to it, Eve detects tiny clouds of dust on the distant horizon.  She re-aims her iCom's nightscope and spots some trucks heading her way.   Hopefully, it's her rebel contact and his men.  She texts him at rakhimovB:
The reply is instant:
The lead truck briefly flashes its headlights to signal her.   Eve wonders if anyone else saw the drop.  This is rebel territory, but unfortunately, there are several competing groups of rebels and Rakhimov's group isn't the most powerful by any stretch.  One of her larger goals, if she succeeds with this product placement, will be to get the rebels to join forces against the dictatorship that's currently ruling Uzbekistan.  She's not here just as a sales rep, it's critical to Apple's long term industrial strategy that the rebels win.  Uzbekistan's vast holdings of uranium are a critical future resource in the new tech version of the Central Asia's “Great Game” war of empires.
The trucks are getting closer.  There are six of them with open beds packed with armed rebels and two battered light armored vehicles with heavy machine guns.  They spread out in a circle around the drop area.  Eve heads down toward the cargo container.  She uses her K-Bar to cut loose the parachute cords.
As the trucks stop, surrounding her, the rebels leap out from the beds with guns ready.   The two mounted machine guns are swung around and aimed in her direction.  Eve's fingers instinctively twitch as she considers drawing her hand cannon.  But even if she had a pulse rifle, she wouldn't be able to take out this many before she gets cut down.  Instead she sheaths her knife and raises an open hand in greeting.
The door of one of the trucks opens and someone is shoved out hard.  He collapses to the sand, his face bloody from a horrific beating.  He looks up at Eve, pleading.  It's Rakhimov.  She has only seen him remotely on FaceTime, and his face is now barely recognizable, but she can tell it’s him from his eyes.
"Eve… I'm sorry… I told them… everything."
Several rebels come up behind Eve with AK-98's aimed at her head.  She reluctantly raises her other hand in surrender.  A shadowy figure steps out of another truck and slowly approaches with a methodically sinister gait.
"Dr. Zachara, we meet again."
Eve can't suppress an ironic smile as she looks into his beady eyes.  "Malick."
"Ah, you remember.  Good.  You should have killed me in Bora Bora when you had the chance."
"Apple, unlike some tech companies, has rules against killing prisoners.  Even Google scum like you."  
"That's why you're going to lose this war, Doctor.  Apple's romanticized humanitarian delusions can’t compete in today's market place."  He draws a powerful Mateba automatic .357 revolver from a shoulder holster.  He steps over to Rakhimov and aims down at him.  “I guess we don’t need this prisoner anymore.”
Malick fires.  The bullet pierces the back of Rakhimov’s skull and explodes out of his face.  “One less Apple fanboy to worry about.”  Malick says with a sadistic grin.
Eve’s heart sinks as she watches the blood pool under Rakhimov’s body and disappear into the sand.  She would be lying if she said she hasn’t had her own doubts about this latest product war. Particularly, the relentless toll on innocent customers like the newly deceased rebel who simply wanted the best tools for his war effort.
In 2022, Google officially changed its motto from “Don’t Be Evil.” to “Yes.  We’re Evil.  Get Over it.”  The second Apple/Google war took place shortly after.  (The first was in 2009 with the introduction of the Android operating system.)  Five bloody years later, after old Cupertino was wiped out in napalm firestorms, a truce was signed, various patent lawsuits settled, and territories divided.  Apple got China, Japan, Central and South America, Google got India, Africa and Europe.  They split North America with Apple getting everything West of the Mississippi.  But in many ways the war never ended.  Apple’s products continued to be more in demand in almost all territories and Google accused it of manipulating the black market.   Officially, the “Third War” began last year with a Google bio-weapon sneak attack at an Apple product unveiling that killed five hundred technology reporters.
But while bloggers can argue over the difference between the current declared war and previous cold wars, Google’s propensity for dirty tricks, murder, malware and torture to further their corporate goals never changed.  And at times, even to Eve,  Apple’s commitment to playing by its often mysterious company ethical code seemed as if it is clinging to an outdated chivalry created in a time of peace that never really existed.
Malick is the perfect Google creature of these dark days.  A pointy rat like nose peeks out from oversized glasses under an awkward bowl hair cut.  For some reason that kind of haircut seems popular with Google senior sales executives.  And a disproportionate number, like Malick, have red hair and freckles over their cheeks and the backs of their hairy hands.  Malick wipes a fleck of freshly spilled blood from his nose with a smile.
Of course, there is only thing lower than a Google executive, and Eve isn’t surprised as one slinks from the shadows and takes up a submissive position behind Malick.  He looks down approvingly at the dead body and then longingly at Eve.   He whispers in Malick’s ear with a faint stutter.
“She has pretty lips.”
It’s a Microsoft sales rep.  Balding, hunchbacked, with small boils over its pocked face.  Eve recognizes him from the corporate website: William Woag.  By the time Google purchased Microsoft in 2025 it was a broken, twisted entity and under Google’s thumb it continued to wither and rot.  Yet it still clung to the underbelly of the tech world like some kind of fungus or black mushroom, mostly through Entourage updates and remaining enterprise accounts.  Woag’s open hand extends out toward Eve like a zombie drawn to her life energy but Malick slaps his arm down.
“No!  She’s not to be spoiled.  Not yet.”
“Yes, Master!”  The sales rep hunkers down like a frightened animal.  Eve isn’t afraid of anything, certainly not any competitors, but Microsoft executives make her skin crawl.
A burly rebel with an eye-patch, Ju-Ju, disarms Eve, quickly taking her HK, Smith and Wesson, knife and iCom.  He carefully pats her down, his thick calloused fingers firmly exploring her lean muscles and lingering longer than necessary on her soft curves.  He finds most of her lipstick sized thermite grenades and a small bag of gold Kruggerrands, which he clearly recognizes from its heft.  He secretly slips the Kruggerrands into his pocket.
Ju-Ju straightens and nods to the others that she's clean.  Whether in his haste to appropriate the Kruggerrands, or his thrill in feeling her up, he misses the iCom in her boot and one grenade in her vest.  He gives her a passing smile which Eve half returns.  She's had worse first dates.
  Malick holsters his pistol.  The door to one of the armored cars opens and out steps the rebel group’s leader.  From her research on the Uzbekistan uprising, Eve recognizes him instantly as Tremalla, the handsome first lieutenant of Granmura, the strongest rebel warlord.  Ju-Ju offers him the choice weapons taken from Eve but Tremalla is only interested in the iCom.  As he examines it, other rebels push forward and quietly fight over the S&W and the remaining prizes.
“Is this the newest model?”  Tremalla admires the fit and finish of the beautiful communicator, taking note of his reflection in the Apple logo on the back.
“Yes.  It’s an iCom 6, with iOS 21.  And quantum encryption.”
“It’s not true quantum encryption!”  Malick objects.
“It is.”  Eve says calmly.  “The particles are full entangled.”
“Rubidum particles decay over time.  The Globemaster will be using Caesium, which is much more stable.”
“The half-life of entangled Rubidum molecules is five hundred years.  I think that’s long enough for most personal communicators.”
“It’s a pretty piece of junk!”  Malick angrily.  “The new Globemaster will have ten times as many features…”
“And bugs.  If it ever gets released.”  Eve says with a smile.
Malick’s face is red as he looks over Tremalla’s shoulder at the iCom.  “We need to destroy it.  Apple can trace its location.”
“You can turn off the tracing if you want to play with it for awhile.”  Eve offers.  “Just go to general settings and switch it to airplane mode and it won’t send out any signal.”
“Oh, like you can trust an Apple rep.  Their products are loaded with spyware.”  Malick grumbles.  But Tremalla follows Eve instructions and changes the settings.  He looks through her iPod playlists.
“Some great music here.  Coldplay.”
“I like classics.  And unlike Android, which can be remotely altered by Google, iOS has solid user controlled privacy protections.”
Malick is growing uncomfortable.  He pulls his revolver again and aims it at Eve’s head.  “I’ve changed my mind.  I don’t think we need to take her back to Google.  Better to get rid of her here.”
But the second he pulls his gun, Tremalla grabs Malick’s wrist firmly with his muscular hand.  “Put it away,”  Tremalla says.
“We had a deal, she belongs to me.” Malick argues, his wrist obviously hurting from the vice like grip.
“You can have her later.  I talked to Granmura on the way here.  He wants to talk to her.”
“That’s not what he said to me!  He said I could do what I wanted with her.”
“Then take it up with him.”
Tremalla releases his wrist, and Malick reluctantly backs down, holstering his pistol again.  Tremalla goes over to the cargo container and unlatches the locking bars.  He swings open the door.  The interior is filled with large white shipping cartons bearing the Apple logo.  He pulls down one carton and opens it.  Inside are dozens of sealed boxes containing the iPad X.
The rebels go nuts, frantically pulling out shipping cartons and ripping them open.  They hold up the iPad X boxes and dance excitedly making war hoots.  Malick and Woag look on in disapproval.  Malick shouts.  “Those all need to be destroyed!   Google is the exclusive technology provider for this revolution.   I have a deal with Granmura! ”
“Whose going to take them away?   You?”  Tremalla asks Malick with a smile as he clicks his fingers to his men to take a couple sealed shipping cartons to his own armored car.
“Tremalla, I just want your men to have the best products.  The iPad is a closed system.  It doesn’t even have access to the dark web.”
“You can access the dark web through dozens of third party apps.”  Eve says, shaking her head.  “If you can’t find your taste in porn through normal channels.”  As always, one of the few “advantages” Google’s operating system has over iOS was its access to the most vile imaginable pornography, and all the malware that comes with it.  It’s particularly ironic, because Google was at the forefront of assisting governments in censoring the original internet, which lead to its gradual abandonment and the creation of the dark web, access of which is technically illegal in many countries.  This is why Apple doesn’t provide a dark web browser on its own products, but Google designed the browser on the Globetrotter tablet so it could jump between the various internets.  To provide a legal fig leaf, the Android user license states that you’re not allowed to actually use the browser for accessing the dark net, but of course, most people do.  As a result, Globetrotters are constantly picking up toxic viruses, but it does take a few seconds less to access creepy hard core porn sites.
While Google defenders try to tout the browser as a major advantage, the Globetrotter has little else to recommend it.  Like all the previous Apple iPads, the iPad X is more powerful, with a longer battery life, sleeker looks and better interface.  It is the computer tablet of choice to anyone allowed a choice.  In many Google controlled countries, like the Congo, Saudi Arabia and France, having one is punishable by death.
Almost instantly, the cargo container is emptied as the excited rebels whisk the fresh iPad’s away.  Tremalla glances at Eve.  “You can ride with me.”
Tremalla leads Eve, more like a guest than a prisoner, to his armored vehicle.  Malick watches annoyed.  Woag grumbles as drool runs from the corner of his month.
“He seems to like her.   She is awful pretty, even for an Apple employee.  And they’re usually easy on the eyes.”
Malick cuffs Woag hard on the back of the head.  “Shut up!”
Tremalla sits in the back of the armored car examining the tasteful artwork on a sealed iPad X box.  He carefully removes the shrink wrap by cutting the edges with his fingernails.  Eve can tell right away, this isn’t your average tech loving rebel.  The way he opens the beautifully fitted cardboard shows he intends to keep the box for storage.  He checks through the contents, noting each detail, even studying the standard Apple stickers.  He then places everything back in the box before he even turns on the iPad X.  There is no doubt.  He is an Apple fan.
“You were foolish to come here alone.”  He says with a trace of sadness.
“I didn’t know Granmura had made an exclusive deal with Google.  When did this happen?”
“Granmura is a technophobe.  He doesn’t care about computers, except for porn.  Google offered him a lot of money.  And he said Apple refused to pay anything.”
“We can offer equipment, training and support.  We can’t provide cash to one rebel group that might use it to kill another.  If you all unite, then there might be some way around that.”
“Well, that’s exactly what Granmura did with Google’s money.  He used the money to pay off traitors, kill his opponents, and he now has effective control.  Rakhimov’s men sold him out.  Now they work for us.”
“And you’re not bothered by the fact that Google also finances the dictatorship you’re fighting against?”
“We’ve been promised, when the time is right, Google will turn on them.”
“Google has a terrible history of abandoning people and technology platforms, without caring who gets hurt.  Remember what happened with Wave? ”
“I don’t trust Google, and I hate Android.  But I’m not the one making these decisions.  I have a war to fight.”
“And you’re going to do it with second rate tablets?  Why don’t you get rid of your guns and use bows and arrows?”
Tremalla eyes Eve evenly.  “I’m not an Apple salesman.  You are.  And you better be a good one.  I was supposed to hand you right over to Malick.  I lied about Granmura saying he wants to talk to you.”
“So what is he going say when we arrive?”
“Once he takes a look at you he’ll want to talk.  He loves beautiful women.  I suggest you try to charm him if you want to change his mind about Google.”
“And if I can’t charm him?”
“Then I’ll have no choice but to hand you over to Malick.  Which I suspect will not be pleasant.”
Eve nods.
Tremalla’s armored car arrives at the rebels main headquarters, hidden in the rocky hills of Batyr-Aul.  It passes through a gate guarded by sentry towers and tanks into a dusty barbed wire surrounded encampment.  A couple dozen yurts, round traditional Uzbek tribesmen tents, provide sleeping quarters, mess halls and storage.
One yurt, in the center of the encampment, is much larger than the others.  It’s almost the size of a small circus tent.  As Eve steps out of the armored car with Tremalla she learns that it’s Granmura’s private quarters and meeting area.  Tremalla checks in with a guard outside.  “I don’t know how he did it, but Malick beat us here.   You won’t have much time.”
They enter the tent where a huge feast has been laid out.  Rebel’s are eating and drinking heartily.  Granmura, a huge fat older warlord, who slightly resembles Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, sits on a pile of pillows being served by several beautiful women in harem outfits. 
He smiles as Tremalla presents Eve.  “So, you’re the famous Dr. Zachara.”
“I’m honored a great warlord like you has heard of me.  Call me: Eve.”
“You’re Senior Vice President of Apple’s Special Sales division?”
“Special Sales.  More like department of war.”  Malick grunts as he sits on a pile of pillows in an honored spot to the immediate right of Granmura.   Behind him is Woag, who sits on a bare rug.  Malick continues.  “You lied, Tremalla.  I was just talking to Granmura and he said he never asked you to bring her…”
Granmura interrupts with a wave of his hand.  “It’s to be forgiven.  I can certainly see why he thought I might be interested in meeting her.  Eve, would you like to freshen up after your travels?  Perhaps take a bath.  I’ll have one of my harem girls assist you.  Maybe even a massage with fine oils…”
“Perhaps later.  If you don’t mind, I’m quite hungry.”
“Of course!  Sit, sit.  Join us, you can watch the show.”
Granmura motions for her to take a seat on his left.  A rebel officer moves over to give her and Tremalla space.  They both sit.   One harem girl brings over a platter of food and another brings a small wash bowl decorated with flowers.  Everyone is eating with their right hands.  Eve washes her hands in the bowl and then takes a a bite of the meat and bread.  She nods to Granmura.
“Excellent tandir and obi non.”
“Do you cook?”  Granmura asks.
“No, not really.”
“But you are a woman.”
“There is no man in your life to care for?”
“My work keeps me very busy.”
“Or perhaps you prefer women?”  Granmura asks with a suggestive smile.  One of the harem girls next to him looks at Eve with smothering eyes.  “I’ve heard that all the women that work for Apple are bisexual.”
“No.  They aren’t.”  Eve takes another piece of meat and places it on some torn bread.  She takes a bite.  “But I am.”  She returns the harem girl’s look with a steady gaze.
Granmura laughs.
Malick sneers, annoyed.  “But they are all sluts.  Right, Doctor?  All you Apple girls are whores.  Right?”  Woag snickers.
The room tenses.  Tremalla gives Malick a stare like he might hit him, and Granmura looks over to see Eve’s reaction.  But she casually brushes it off.
“We like to have fun.  If that’s what you mean.”  Eve says with a bright smile.  Eve gestures toward Granmura’s men in the room, many of whom are fiddling with their new iPad X’s as they eat and talk.  “I see your men are having fun with the new iPads.”
Malick leans over to Granmura and talks in a low voice.  “We need to do something about that, sir.  Those iPad’s are a serious security risk.  They need to be destroyed.”
“Relax, they can play with them tonight.  In the morning they’ll be bored with them and hand them over.”
“I doubt that.  They’re like a drug.  An evil drug.  Why take the risk?”
Eve interjects.  “Why are you so afraid of them, Malick?  If your tablets are better, why not let the men choose?”
Granmura smiles.  “You are a good salesman, Eve, but I am a man of my word.  I made a promise to Malick.  He paid me handsomely to be the exclusive provider, I can assure you.  Besides, as a woman you won’t understand, but my men like pornography.  It’s a good relaxation for them.   And since the iPad won’t let them access…”
“That’s not true, sir.  They can use all the porn they like on the iPad…”  Eve protests.
“Bullshit!  The iPad blocks access to the dark net.  They’re not interested in soft core porn.  These are real men.”  Malick argues.
“It takes two seconds to download an app…”
“Not true!”
“Enough!  Enough!”  Granmura waves his hands.  “I don’t care about these boring technical issues.  It is common knowledge that Steve Jobs hates porn and the Google Globetrodder has better hard core porn access.”
“Sir, respectfully…”
“This is my tent, doctor.  We shall speak of it no more.  The decision has been made.  Tomorrow all the iPad’s will be destroyed.   Now enjoy your meal and some wine.  There is still a chance I might change my mind about your personal situation and spare you from Google.”  Granmura motions for a harem girl to pour Eve some wine.
Eve takes a sip of it and considers her next move.  As she does, Granmura claps his hands.  “Begin the show!  We now know a little about the women of Apple.  They are tough and beautiful.  Much like our own women.  You should enjoy this, Eve.  A traditional Uzbek sword dancer!”
Music plays and a beautiful young dancer in a elaborate folk dress appears and dances into the center of the room.  She is carrying a long scimitar.  She dances gracefully as she sweeps the sword through the air.
Malick whispers to Granmura.  “If it’s a question of money, I think an extra reward can be provided for the capture of Dr. Zachara.”
“Not now, Malick.”
“I mean, of course, after you’ve had your way with her.”
The sword dancer picks up an apple from a bowl of fruit and tosses it in the air.  Spinning quickly, she turns and slices it, proving the sword is quite sharp.  The apple is cut cleanly in the middle, and the two halves fall to the tent’s carpet.
Woag laughs and whispers to Malick.  “Apple cut in half.  Get it?  It’s a good omen.”
“A better one will be the Doctor’s head severed from her body.”  Malick muses.  “And I intend to see that day.”
Woag smiles.  “Look, see how scared she is?  She’s getting drunk.”
Malick looks over and sees that Eve has finished her wine and motions for her glass to be refilled.  She watches the dancer intently.
The dancer balances the sword on top of her head and removes her embroidered jacket, revealing long slim arms.  She tosses it to the side and begins to remove layers of her long skirt, revealing her legs in transparent harem pants.  It’s a sort of Uzbek strip tease.
Eve gets her wine refilled again as she watches the dancer.  Granmura whispers to her.  “You like what you see?  Her name is Yuliya.”
“She’s very skilled.  She makes the sword seem weightless.”
“It’s a real sword, I assure you.  Quite heavy.”
“One way for me to find out.  With your permission.”  Eve finishes off the glass and rises.  To everyone’s surprise, she moves out onto the floor and sexily approaches the dancer.
Yuliya, the sword dancer, is unsure at first.  She glances at Granmura for permission and he nods excitedly.  Yuliya starts to dance close to Eve, who begins moving rhythmically to the music.  It’s quite sexy.  Eve strips off her tactical vest and then her military style shirt.  She swings them around and then tosses them off.  Underneath she has on a simple sports bra that shows off her well endowed cleavage.
Everyone is stunned by the sudden change in Eve’s personality.  She seems quite drunk and is coming on like crazy as she dances with the sword girl.   The fact that Eve is about six inches taller, and leanly muscular, just adds a deviant yang to the softer more curvy yin of Yuliya.  There’s no question who is literally wearing the pants.  Around the room, rebels are using their new iPad’s to record video of the erotic sapphic dance.  What they don’t see, is that as Eve removed her vest, she palmed her thermite grenade in her left hand.
Malick notes with some discomfort how thrilled Granmura is with this enhanced show.  “How pathetic.  She’s clearly groveling for her life.  It won’t do any good.  It’s sad, really.”
As the dancer swings the sword around again, Eve’s right hand slides up her arm, caressing her.  As Eve’s fingers reach up to the sword handle, the dancer offers it to her.  Eve takes the sword.
Eve swings the sword skillfully through the air.  It’s clear she knows what she is doing.  A wave of panic sweeps through Malick.  He whispers frantically to Granmura.
“Wait.  All Apple executives are trained in martial arts.  She wants the sword.  You’ve got to stop this.  It’s dangerous!”
“Don’t be a spoil sport.  She’s just…”
But before Granmura can finish the sentence, Eve swiftly crosses the tent.  Malick grabs for his sidearm, but before he can draw it, Eve spins with the sword and slices his neck clean through.  His head rolls off his body and compressed blood bursts upward in a fountain of red.
Woag begins to scream as Malick’s head hits the floor in front of him and he is showered in warm blood.  His eyes look up in terror.  He screeches, “NO!  NO!  It was all Google.  It was all Google…”
Eve briefly hesitates at the piteous screeching, but then memories of decades of abuse Apple suffered at the hands of Microsoft fill her with rage.  She swings again and severs Woag’s throat.  His head rolls off and blood gushes.
The room erupts in chaos.  Rebels leap for their guns as the bloody bodies flop to the floor.  But Eve is ahead of them.  With her right hand, she skillfully whips the blade up to the throat of Granmura, not cutting it, but forcing him to attention.  As she does, she reveals the thermite grenade in her left hand, loudly popping the sealed safety cap and placing her finger on the trigger button.
“This is a thermite grenade!  In two seconds it will burn up everyone in this tent.  You want to go to hell together!?  I’m ready!!”  The rebels pause at the sight of Eve’s fierce, crazy eyes and blood splattered face.  They slowly lower their guns.
Granmura looks over at the lifeless bodies of the two tech executives.  Blood is pooling around them.  The blade of the sword is almost cutting into the skin of his neck.
Eve looks down at him contemptuously.  “Who do you think you’re fucking with?  Huh?  I work for Apple!  Apple!  Heard of it?  You think Google’s going to win this war?  We’ve murdered every tech company that’s come up against us.  Remember Commodore?  DEC?  No?  That’s because we demolished them.  And Dell, Adobe, Microsoft and dozens of others that tried to fuck with us.   You think those losers at Google know what they’re doing?  They’re a search engine company with crappy software  and delusions of grandeur.”
Now that Eve has everyone’s attention, she slightly lowers the blade, so Granmura can relax a hair.  She continues: “I didn’t come all the way here to beg you to take our products.  I came here to see if you’re worthy of our support.  And so far, you look like a bunch of clowns.  Give him your iPad, Tremalla.  Give it to him!”
Eve motions to Tremalla, who hands his new iPad over to Granmura.  “Now, hit the home button to turn it on.  Go to the App store.  Just hit that round blue “A” button.  Yes.”
Granmura nervously works the touch screen.   Eve continues.  “Now you’re in the App store.  There’s half a dozen free dark web browsers.  Just type dark… right.  There you go.  They all work about the same but pick Dark Lord.  Fine.  See how fast it’s downloading?  Boom.  You’re done.”
Granmura looks up at Eve, confused.  “Done… with what?”
“Hit the Dark Lord button.  You’re in search.  Type: strap-on amazons.  And hit the button.  There, all the hard core lesbian porn you want.”
“It’s very fast.  That’s all you do?”  Granmura clicks through various of hardcore porn websites.  “But everyone says the iPad isn’t good for porn.  Why is that?”
“It’s Google propaganda.  The iPad is fine with porn.  Click and twist on any picture and you can pull it into iPhoto for later.  You can get anything you want from the dark web.”
Granmura continues playing with the iPad.  “It’s very light and thin.”
Tremalla jumps in.  “And it’s faster and the battery lasts longer.”
Eve hands the bloody sword back to the dancer, who takes it nervously.  She picks up her discarded shirt and vest, all the while keeping her finger ready on the grenade.  She pulls her hidden iCom from the boot.  She turns it on and makes a call.  “This is Doctor Zachara.  I’m going to need an emergency evac.”
Granmura looks up from his porn sites.  “Wait!  Wait!  You’re going?  So soon?  We were just getting to know each other.”
“I thought you had an exclusive deal with Google?”
“I made a deal with Malick, personally.  But I have no obligation to a dead man.  So… maybe there is still time to convince Apple we’re… how did you say, worthy of your support?”
Eve speaks into her iCom.  “Cancel the evac.  I’ll get back to you.”  She hangs up.
Granmura smiles.  “You’re definitely going to have to clean up now.  Yuliya, why don’t you show the good doctor to your tent and help her with a bath?”
Yuliya looks over at Eve and shyly smiles.
Eve stretches out in a warm bath scented with rose petals as Yuliya gently massages her shoulders.  She’s going to have a lot of explaining to do when she gets back to New Cupertino.  She certainly broke some company protocol, but in the end, she knows Mr. Jobs is mostly interested in results.  And for now, this particular account looks promising.  She’ll just have to explain what happened the right way.
Yuliya pauses as Eve’s shoulder muscles suddenly harden.  “What’s the matter?  You just tensed up.”
“I just remembered something.  Something not good.”  Eve’s face falls.  She just remembered that several rebels around the room were using their iPad’s to capture video of her dance and… probably everything else.  Oh, shit.
Eve slowly sinks into the bath, allowing the warm water to cover her face.  She’s in a lot of trouble.

To be continued…