EVE’S APARTMENT - SAN FRANCISCO - 2032 A.D.
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:
WE NEED TO TALK.
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.
SKIES OVER PACIFIC OCEAN - HAWAII ARCHIPELAGO
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.
TEMPLE OF TRANQUILITY - NEW CUPERTINO
“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.
GRAND HALL - TEMPLE OF TRANQUILITY
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.
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?”
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…
APPLE HEADQUARTERS - OLD CUPERTINO - 2022 A.D.
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:
To be continued...