BASEMENT FLOOR - APPLE HEADQUARTERS - 2022 A.D.
A short intense phone call later, Eve leapt down the elevator shaft. It was quite a drop. She couldn’t be sure but figured she fell at least two floors before she hit the concrete bottom of the elevator pit, almost breaking her legs. It was foolish for her to simply jump in, but Jobs made it look so easy. As she struggled to her aching feet, she tried to imagine how the over 60 year old computer executive had managed it.
The elevator doors on the bottom floor had already been pried half open, so she assumed Jobs had gone out that way. She climbed out of the pit and into a dark hallway.
The electricity in the complex had been knocked out, so Eve used the flashlight on her own iPhone to search the area. She kept Jobs phone in reserve to spare its battery. The carpet bombing two stories above had knocked out a lot of ceiling panels. Loose wiring and broken lighting fixtures dangled everywhere. But the walls were basically intact, a testament to the thoughtful structural design of Apple’s showcase office building. She wondered how long it would be before Google’s shock troops found their way down here. Not long, she figured.
She heard some faint whispers down the hall and around the corner. Maybe other employees had survived in the lower floors and Jobs was reconnecting with them. She beamed her flashlight down the hall and the whispering suddenly stopped. Afraid they might be running away, Eve ran to the corner to try to catch up with them.
She whispered frantically, “Hey! Wait!”
But as she rounded the corner, strong arms grabbed her from behind and pulled her into a powerful wrestler’s headlock. “Who are you?!”
Eve, painfully pinned, dropped her iPhone and the flashlight beam bounced up at the ceiling, giving the hallway an eerie glow. In the dim light she saw Steve Jobs standing nearby with half a dozen key executives around him. Tim Cook, Scott Forstall, Jonathan Ive and Eddie Cue were all battered and bloody, but alive. Despite the uncomfortable hold, Eve was thrilled. Google’s victory was not yet certain if so many of Apple’s brain trust had survived. Jobs shook his head toward Eve. “It’s okay. She’s one of our interns. Let her go.”
The strong hands let go of Eve and she turned to see Philip Schiller standing behind her, still untrusting. His hulking, bodybuilder physique made him look like a nightclub bouncer. He folded his arms in a menacing manor as if daring Eve to make a wrong move.
“Shut off that light.” Jobs ordered Eve. She grabbed her iPhone and turned it off. In the pitch blackness, Jobs continued. “You were saying… “
Eve recognized Scott Forstall’s voice answering. “I’ve got teams of surviving employees setting booby traps to cover the entry points to the lower levels. They’re crude improvised munitions, but it should at least alert us when they come and hopefully slow them down a little.”
Tim Cook went next. “Through secure communications I put all our other facilities around the world on alert. So far it appears Google’s focus is on Cupertino.”
Jonathan Ive jumped in. “Assuming that we’re going to have to militarize, I’ve got contacts working up a plan to purchase of aircraft, armored vehicles…”
“Stop.” Jobs cut him off. “We’ll address long term later. Let’s focus the immediate problem. Survival. We’ll need weapons. Have you opened the meditation chamber?”
“We were waiting for you.”
“You shouldn’t have.” Jobs strode off down the dark hall and the execs followed behind him. Eve’s eyes tried to adjust to the darkness, but she couldn’t see anything. So she followed after the sound of the footsteps. Jobs either could see in the dark or had memorized every inch of this place. He moved quickly through the black passages and everyone else struggled to keep pace with him.
He reached his goal and Eve heard a loud crunch. From the sound of it, Jobs had just kicked a door in. He knocked aside the splintered wood and lead them all into a new passageway. Eve heard soft sounds as Jobs’ fingers slid open a large hidden panel.
Schiller’s voice whispered, “Steve, the intern. You want me to keep her in the hall.”
“No, it’s alright.” Jobs said. “Let her see a little of the real Apple.” Soft warm light filled the passageway as the secret panel opened. Jobs went into a hidden chamber and the other execs followed. Eve tentatively joined them.
The light was coming from half a dozen tall pillar candles, the kind that last for weeks and are usually seen only in monasteries. They flanked a small Shinto shrine. From their light Eve could see they were in a large mysterious chamber with tatami mats on the floors. The wood lined walls were filled with cryptic scrolls and traditional Japanese martial arts weapons. Eve would later learn that this was where Jobs taught ninjutsu fighting techniques and bushido philosophy to executives in his closest circle.
Originally, the martial arts training was to teach mental focus and discipline in business, not for real life warfare. Despite years of warning signs, Jobs had refused to directly arm Apple employees for fear of provoking Google. In retrospect, it was a costly mistake, but Jobs often took the moral high road regardless of the consequences. Now, with Google launching a horrifically violent preemptive first strike, this room contained the only real weapons in the entire facility.
Each exec selected from the wall the weapons they specialized in. Eddie Cue took a pair of wood nunchaku and tucked a tanto dagger in the back of his pants. Tim Cook picked a tsurugi thrusting sword and Schiller a naginata spear. Scott Forstall armed himself with a pair of kama hand scythes. And Jonathan Ive selected a simple hanbo short staff. They also filled their pockets with a variety of ninja shuriken stars and kunai throwing darts.
Steve Jobs tucked some shuriken into his jeans pockets. He pulled at the torn sleeve on his turtleneck to remove it, but in the process ripped the side of the shirt open. He finally simply tore the entire shirt off. Eve was stunned by the sixty-year-old man’s amazingly muscular, lean, Bruce Lee physique. She would later learn he always wore loose fitting “nerd” clothing to disguise it.
Jobs pulled a pair of ancient katanas from a place of honor on the wall. He tossed one to Eve. Her hands slipped and she dropped it, much to her embarrassment. In the years to come, Jobs would tease her mercilessly about her first awkward moment with the weapon.
As Eve scrambled to pick up her katana, the other executives looked over at her, dubiously. Schiller spoke for them all. “Roshi, she has no training. You can see it.”
Eve gripped the sheathed sword defensively. “What good are swords and daggers against machine guns?”
As if it to answer, Jobs drew his own sword and the sharp edge gleamed in the flickering light. “You’ll need to move fast, and get very close. Don’t think twice. Just react.” Jobs said quietly. “Or you can stay here and hide. The choice is yours.”
On that Jobs turned and left. The rest of the executives glanced back at Eve dismissively as they followed him.
Eve took a deep breath and drew the steel blade from its saya. It seemed hopeless, suicidal even to consider fighting guns with blades, but all her life she had wanted to work for Apple. She would never have another opportunity like this to prove herself to the company. To prove herself to her hero. She ran into the darkness after them.
UNDERGROUND - APPLE HEADQUARTERS - 2022 A.D.
In the next fifteen minutes Eve learned more about close quarters combat than she would in many years of training afterwards. She had never studied martial arts, the closest she came was a kickboxing aerobics class she took one summer. But she had always been athletic, playing soccer on a high school championship team and she was a skilled mountain climber with strong arms.
Jobs had given her exactly the essential tips necessary to survive in such a desperate situation against superior firepower. Move fast, and get close. Don’t think. Just react. One of Jobs great talents was boiling ideas down to their core concepts, and his advice was enough to empower Eve to tap into her hidden talent for mayhem.
Once they went back into the dark basement halls, the executives all split up, enacting some preplanned strategy. Eve followed behind Jobs, figuring if she did nothing else, she could at least try to cover his back. But he moved so quickly it was difficult for her to keep up.
The Google shock troops had just barely begun to descend into the lower floors. Jobs made his first kills as they scrambled down a staircase and triggered one of Forestall’s improvised explosives: a crude but ingenious firebomb made from cleaning supplies. A tripwire detonated the device and a burst of burning fluid exploded, momentarily blinding the first of several Google troopers. The fire was not fatal, but Jobs certainly was. Leaping through the flames he sliced open the trooper’s throat, severing his vital arteries. As a fountain of blood gushed from the wound, Jobs quickly leapt up the steps, stabbing another trooper in the chest, spinning and then cutting through the forehead of another. By this time, Eve thought she was numb to horrific human carnage, but something about the way the trooper’s brains gushed from his shattered skull made her wince and sicken.
But there was no time to throw up. Jobs continued bounding up the stairs, taking out trooper after trooper with such lightening speed it almost seemed impossible. Eve struggled to keep up. From one of the dead she grabbed for a submachine gun, figuring it would be an upgrade from her current weapon. But the gun was held to the body by a shoulder strap and as she struggled to unclip it, Jobs shouted down to her.
“No time! Leave them for the others!”
At that moment, another trooper, barely alive, grabbed at Eve’s ankle, like Carrie’s hand leaping from the grave. Eve instinctively sliced down at it with her katana, cutting the hand cleanly from the arm. The trooper screamed as blood spouted from his flailing stump. Eve then plunged her sword tip into his heart, hoping to quiet him. Blood gurgled into his mouth and he quickly died.
Seeing Jobs had disappeared, Eve chased after him, not bothering to try to take a gun again. Steve was right, in close quarters, moving fast enough, the katana had advantages.
APPLE HEADQUARTERS - OLD CUPERTINO - 2022 A.D.
Eve emerged into sunlight and spotted Jobs fighting through the still smoking wreckage, spreading death like an avenging angel. Occasionally, he would nail a distant trooper with a shuriken to the eye, but he primarily relied on his incredible swordsmanship to slice and dice opponents. The troopers should have had the advantage, but they were too closely packed to let loose with their machine guns, for fear of shooting each other. Before they could scramble to spread out, they were dead. And as they died, others would see them drop in the smoky distance and try to figure out what was going on, only to find the fast moving Jobs already leaping in their midst.
Eve caught up with Jobs, mostly finishing off troopers he had seriously wounded, but as she got the swing of things she began to take on fresh kills herself. She chased after and nailed a trooper who was trying to circle around and gun Jobs down. A chill when down her spine when her blade cut open his throat and splatters of blood hit her face. Not because she was frighted, but because she realized she was enjoying this. After everything Google had done that day, Eve no longer thought about the right or wrong of murdering another human. The exhilarating rush of revenge was the only thing that mattered now.
Eventually, she and Jobs were almost fighting side by side, springing over the rubble with leaps and bounds, slashing down troopers right and left. She almost felt as if Jobs amazing energy was flowing into her, giving her extra strength and skills she didn’t possess on her own. Occasionally Eve would spot one of the other executives in the distance, Tim Cook piercing troopers with his tsurugi and Schiller nailing them with his naginata. Eddie Cue clobbered others with his fast moving nunchaku while Jonathan Ive’s simple but effective hanbo staff made short work of others.
The remaining troopers began to retreat, trying to get out of the battle zone so the Google tanks could cut loose with heavy machine guns and cannons. But by that time, small arms fire was heading in their direction. Dozens of surviving Apple employees had emerged from the basements behind their executives, and gathered up weapons from the dead. They began to fire at the fleeing shock troops with captured submachine guns and pistols.
Seeing the tide was turning, Eve paused to catch her breath, exhausted. It was simply impossible to keep up with Jobs. She looked out into the chaos. Could they actually succeed? Could they really beat Google?
Suddenly, a fist of steel smashed into her head like a sledgehammer. Eve’s sword flew from her hand and she crumbled to the ground, blood rushing from split skin in her hairline. As her long blond hair matted with red, the steel hand grabbed her up by the throat like a doll. It raised her up high off her feet, and a voice laughed wickedly. Dazed, Eve’s blurry eyes made out the robot like frame of a giant white mecha armor suit with the Google logo emblazoned on its chest. Over twelve feet tall, it was topped with an integrated helmet and bullet proof glass visor. Eve focused through the visor and could see the grinning face of evil itself. Inside was a laughing and sneering Eric E. Schmidt.
“Give up, Jobs!” Google’s executive chairman shouted through an amplified speaker system in the suit as he held the dangling Eve in front of him. “Or I’ll crush her like a tomato!”
Jobs slowly turned and spotted Schmidt towering nearby in the robot armor. Jobs slightly lowered his bloody sword. For the first time, Eve could see a hint of anger in his face. Schmidt saw it too. His amplified voice laughed.
“Look familiar? Yes, it’s a reproduction of the power suit you showed me when I was on the Apple board of directors. With special Google modifications, of course!” Schmidt raised up the other robotic arm and a small rocket launcher popped out of a special compartment on it. A rocket fired and rushed at Jobs. But Jobs didn’t flinch and the warhead missed him by several yards and exploded in the distance.
Schmidt sheepishly offered. “We’re still working on the targeting mechanism.”
“You can steal our ideas, but you can’t steal our quality.” Jobs murmured.
“What?! You’re going to sue us for patent infringement? Those days are over, Jobs! Google isn’t playing around anymore. Apple is finished. Done! Your beloved headquarters is rubble. The bulk of your employees are dead. Now your only choice is to give up and let me take you prisoner! You’ll never get past our tanks and I’ve called in another airstrike to finish the job. Give up, and perhaps we’ll offer you a consultancy at Google!”
“I’ll send you to hell, first.” Jobs eyes narrowed and his voice seemed to echo as if in a cavern. Eve watched, mesmerized, as Jobs sword began to glow blue, as if filling with energy. She realized it was no ordinary sword. It was some kind of electric powered katana. Another of Jobs amazing inventions.
Schmidt realized it too, and faced with Jobs’ smothering eyes and glowing sword, his bravado snuffed out like a stomped on cigarette. His robot suit began to fumble like a drunken sailor as he scrambled with the controls, apparently about to flee. But before he could get anywhere, Jobs rushed across the distance between them and leapt into the air as if fired out of a cannon. With a powerful slash, his glowing blade sliced through the robot arm holding Eve, ripping through steel and wire as if it was cardboard. As Eve fell to the ground with the lost arm, the suit began to spark and shutter. But Jobs wasn’t finished. He slashed again and cut through both of the robotic legs, cleanly severing them in half.
The trunk and head of the robot fell to the ground with a crash. Electronics shorted out, caught fire, and the helmet filled with smoke. Jobs then casually offered Eve a hand, helping her to her feet. She noticed his sword had stopped glowing.
Meanwhile, on the ground, a terrified Schmidt popped open the escape releases on the suit and frantically pulled himself out. As he scrambled to his feet, Jobs slowly stalked him like a hunter ready to finish off a wounded deer. Schmidt stumbled backwards with his hands up, desperately groveling. “I give up! I surrender! Please, Steve, I’m sorry! I’m sorry! We used to be friends! I beg you!”
With a sudden dismissive wave, Jobs sword leapt out and in one clean stroke he decapitated the Google exec and one time Apple Board member. A fountain of blood exploded from the sliced neck as the head flew off, with frozen open eyes. The head bounced twice and rolled several yards away before stopping. Schmidt’s limp body swayed for a brief second and then dropped to the battlefield like a sack of rotten fish.
Eve looked on in satisfaction, sharing in Jobs’ final conclusion of a personal and business conflict that went all the way back to when Schmidt secretly stole Apple’s ideas for the iPhone and incorporated them into Android. But there was no time to savor the victory, for the roar of returning B-1 bombers rumbled over the horizon. There was no way they could survive another airstrike. Meanwhile, she could see the cannon turrets of the Google tanks turning and rising to fire at them. Had they won a battle but lost the war?
Suddenly, one of the tanks blew up. An armor piercing shell had ripped through its flank and exploded inside. And then another tank was hit and burst into flames and another. The tanks were all being fired upon. Through the smoke and flames she spotted a quick moving calvary force of several dozen Segways, rolling up on the sidewalks of Infinite Loop. Determined looking Apple fan boys confidently balanced on the two-wheeled personal transporters as they attacked with shoulder firing anti-tank grenade launchers.
And as the first of the returning B-1 bombers appeared overhead, a chubby older man on the lead Segway swung up a Stinger anti-aircraft missile. He took aim and expertly fired. The heat seeking missile rushed straight for its target. It hit the bomber mid-air with a powerful blast of high explosives that instantly ripped one of its wings off. The jet spiraled out of control and quickly crashed in the distance, sending up a fiery mushroom cloud of burning jet fuel.
Eve smiled. She recognized the man on the Segway with the smoking anti-aircraft launcher. She recognized him very well. It was Steve Wozniak, sporting one of his familiar grins.
The rest of the bombers were likewise destroyed by Stinger missiles launched by the Segway calvary. With the air support gone and the tanks burning, what little was left of Google’s army began to flee in earnest. The surviving Apple employees lowered their small arms and began to applaud.
Eve saw Jobs finally relax his guard, looking tired and spent. “Thanks for the help. I got to go talk to Woz.” He handed his sword off to Eve and headed across the wreckage.
Tim Cook strolled up behind Eve, covered in blood and dust. He put a hand on her shoulder. His knuckles were bruised and torn like a prize fighter. “Not bad for an intern. What are your job plans after college? Would you like to work at Apple?”
Eve nodded weakly. She looked down at Jobs’ sword, trying to figure out how it was powered. “This sword is incredible. Cutting through thick steel. How do you turn it on?”
“What do you mean?” Cook asked.
“It… doesn’t it… isn’t it electric powered?”
Cook shook his head with a smile. “It’s just a regular sword. But Steve is no ordinary man. As I’m sure you’ve found out.” Eve looked down at the cold steel and then back over to Jobs in the distance. Taking it all in.
As Jobs approached, Wozniak was still calling out orders to the Apple fanboys. “Don’t chase after the Googles, but reload your launchers and keep on guard!”
“Thanks, Woz. I knew I could count on you.” Jobs said softly as Wozniak turned back with a warm smile.
“No problem. We came as soon as we could. I got the guys together with Twitter fast enough, but getting the armaments took some effort. Most of them are on my Segway polo team, but there was this National Guard officer who had keys to the armory…”
“Woz. Woz…” Jobs interrupted, his voice strained as the exhaustion of the battle set in. He suddenly blurted out. “I’m so sorry.”
“Hey, you know me. I’m glad to help. I’m always glad when you call, Steve.”
“No, I mean… I’m sorry for everything. For Breakout, for…”
“Steve, it’s okay. It’s okay. I know you had issues But you’re a good guy, deep down. You’re a great guy.” Woz grinned again. Jobs nodded and smiled sadly.
Eve watched as the two old friends hugged.
GRAND HALL - TEMPLE OF TRANQUILITY - 2032 A.D.
Eve’s thoughts returned to the present, and she became aware of the beautiful sound of the grand hall’s waterfall. It must have been specially tuned to have such a gentle but musical cascade. She was still kneeling before Jobs, awaiting punishment for killing Malick in Batyr-Aul. But Jobs looked strangely defensive, as if he had been reading her mind. As if he had also journeyed back in her memories to the time when they had battled side by side in the burning wreckage of Apple’s old headquarters.
Jobs turned away. “I killed Eric Schmidt on an active battlefield. He was the commander of the attacking force. It wasn’t revenge, and it wasn’t personal, despite what you might think. In any case, my killing him doesn’t entitle you to snuff out every Google employee you encounter. We’re not going to lower ourselves to their level just to win. I thought I taught you better than that.”
“Besides, you also killed the Microsoft exec. How was he was a threat to you? Or to Apple? A pathetic Microsoft exec? What harm could he be to anyone?”
“No, I just… it was in the heat of the moment.”
“I never tried to kill Bill Gates. Even when Windows first came out and I had many chances. I could have ended his life with a single open handed blow to his scrawny neck. But the thought never even crossed my mind because I never doubted we could beat them in the marketplace.” Jobs sheathed his katana and returned to the meditation mat. He sat down and crossed his legs.
Eve’s muscles instinctively relaxed as Jobs set his sword back to its original place. At least it was clear he wasn’t going to punish her with that. But she remained kneeling, head down, trying to be contrite. “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have killed the Microsoft exec. That was bad. But Malick. Malick was pure evil. I can’t help but think…”
“That world will be a better place without him? That’s your justification? That he was a bad man? The world is full of bad men, Eve. They don’t all deserve to die.”
“I made a calculated decision under pressure. Maybe it was the wrong one. But yes, Malick was a bad man. One of the worst. And the world will be a better place with him dead.”
“Well, then I have some news for you, Dr. Zachara.” Jobs said evenly. “He isn’t dead.”
Eve looked up, stunned. It wasn’t possible. Jobs had to be joking, toying with her. “He… he has to be. I cut his head off. You saw the video.”
But Jobs wasn’t joking. His voice was deadly serious. “Yes, I saw it. Nevertheless… Malick is alive.”
To be continued...
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