Part 2: The Horrible Bear Of Colorado

Things were quiet at the makeshift camping area, with just a few minor periodic snorts and snores breaking the silence. The nine remaining recruits of Upsilon had managed to drift off to sleep, shivering in their sleeping bags as the temperature continued to drop. Suddenly, the peaceful Colorado night was interrupted by aggressive whispers of a frightened young Laurence Dubois.

“Psssssst! Psssssst! Jackson!” whispered Dubois, shaking Jackson awake, urgent.

“Dubois?” mumbled Jackson, half asleep, eyes wide with confusion. “What is it? Is it midnight already? Ian, dude, I’ll pay you to take guard duty for me.”

“Jackson, there, there, there’s a Kodiak Bear in the woods!” exclaimed Dubois, terrified, and no longer whispering.

The recruits were awakened by the excited young Dubois, then most just gripped their sleeping bags tighter, and rolled over, away from the racket.

“Dubois, there aren’t any Kodiak Bears here!” exclaimed Jackson, now wide awake, peeking at the boy over the top of his sleeping bag. “That’s Alaska, man. And, it’s just 11. Go back to your post!”

“But, well, maybe the bear swam to Colorado,” stammered Dubois, shivering from the freezing cold, and afraid to go back to his post.

“Yo, Jackson,” interjected Ian, pulling his sleeping bag snug, yawning, rolling over to get more comfortable. “You might as well go look. Dubois is pretty upset. Besides, it’s technically possible for a bear to swim to Colorado from Alaska if it wanted to bad enough.”

“Aw, dang, man,” Jackson huffed, unzipping his bag, then wrapping it around his shoulders, “alright, come on, Dubois. Let’s go find your bear.”

The two boys walked across the open field to the fat pine tree at the edge of the forest. As Jackson and Dubois stood silently, it wasn’t long before the growls began again. The grumbling roars filled the night. Dubois hid behind Jackson, pulling his sleeping bag tighter around his shoulders as he peered into the treeline. Jackson slowly made his way toward the noise, shining his flashlight into the night. Dubois pressed against Jackson’s back, inching forward toward the horrible sound. The growls became louder as the boys moved closer. Suddenly, Dubois shrieked as Jackson located the angry animal’s eyes with his flashlight. The animal jumped and moaned, snorting loudly. It didn’t take long for the boys to realize the growls were actually loud snores, coming from the sleeping Sergeant Perkins, who was now awake with the blinding flashlight still shining in his eyes.

“What are you people doing!” groaned Perkins, confused, squinting at the bright light.

“Sorry, Sergeant Perkins,” answered Jackson, embarrassed, but still accidentally shining the flashlight in Perkins’ face.

“Shepherd, is that you!” grumbled Perkins, still mostly asleep.

“Sir, yes sir,” responded Jackson, “just looking for a spot to go to the bathroom. Have a good sleep sir.”

“So, find a spot, do your business, and get back to bed,” Perkins mumbled, actually falling back to sleep as he spoke.

Jackson and Dubois jogged away from the treeline, giggling uncontrollably as they hurried along. Jackson spent the rest of the hour with Dubois, sitting beneath the pine tree, wrapped in their sleeping bags. The boys chuckled quietly amongst themselves, and joked about the crazy-eyed look upon Perkins face. They couldn’t wait to tell the other recruits about their adventure with the horrible, Kodiak Bear Perkins.

The Turbo Hydro-Hawk 3000

“Please, close your eyes for a moment,” said Major Pia Holt, addressing the class. “Now, I want you to imagine that you have found a way to strap yourself to a bolt of lightning.  Imagine, you are in control of the lightning bolt, and at will you jet through the clouds then rocket downward through the surface of the ocean, exploring the depths. Now you know what it’s like to pilot the new Turbo Hydro-Hawk 3000.”

The Hydro-Hawk has the ability to fit through the smallest cracks in the ocean floor, and while traveling at a high rate of speed, gives the gunner enough fire power to destroy anything in the way. The on board weapons system contains dozens of Raptor Class missiles, as well as hundreds of rounds of automatic hydro ammo. 

The design of the new Hydro-Hawk is based upon the world’s old, pre-quake fighters; the F-22 Raptor, F-16, F-14, Ru35, Stealth Fighter, among others. The Hydro-Hawk has no equal on the planet, above or below the surface of the Grand Ocean. This machine has the ability to fly at speeds of up to 3,700 kilometers per hour (2,300 miles per hour) while maintaining squad formation a mere ten meters above the surface of the ocean. The revolutionary Hydro-Drive engine manufactures power by converting ocean water into fuel. The engine requires a steady supply of moisture to operate most effectively. So, the closer the fighter is to the surface of the ocean the faster it will move. The revolutionary engine design also gives the ship the ability to reach speeds up to 1,600 kilometers per hour (995 miles per hour) below the surface of the ocean. And, yes – that’s beneath the surface of the ocean.

Just like an attacking sea bird, just a fraction of a second before water entry, the wings and tail of the Hydro-Hawk retract, making the fighter more aerodynamic. Once the ship is below the surface of the ocean, the wings and tail shift into the optimal position for the Hydro-Hawk to operate most effectively.

The tiny fighter is built in proportion to children’s smaller bodies. An Ager couldn’t fit inside the cockpit, even if he or she wanted to. The Hydro-Hawk is designed to hold one pilot, and one gunner. The gunner seat electronically rotates into battle position, placing the gunner upside down, in the Plexiglas nose of the ship, for a better view. 

The Agers

Scientists were baffled as to why land dwelling children were not affected by the illness. Only land dwelling adults experienced the effects of the Ager illness. The adults afflicted with the illness, or Agers as they were called, suddenly acted as if they were elderly. The Agers didn’t appear to be any older, they just behaved as if they were old.

It was truly bizarre to see a completely normal looking nineteen-year-old man or woman with young, smooth skin, behave as if he or she was 115-years-old. These Agers walked slumped over, usually needing a cane or wheelchair to support their weight. Within a couple years of the earthquake there wasn’t an adult left upon the face of the earth who had not become an Ager.

Meeting Conner Thomas

Conner Thomas is the seventeen-year-old brother of Ian and Sofia Ann. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Colorado at an early age. Although Conner is technically an Ager, he manages the illness much better than most people his age by using experimental Ager illness treatments. Conner is a brilliant scientist. He has spent the past several years at the science institute in Canada, working toward a cure for the Ager illness.