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The Eden Conspiracy: The Liberty Box, Book 2

The Eden Conspiracy: The Liberty Box, Book 2

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The Eden Conspiracy: The Liberty Box, Book 2

Length:
321 pages
4 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Oct 9, 2016
ISBN:
9781370038824
Format:
Book

Description

The refugee caves have been destroyed, and most of the refugees are dead. The Potentate now knows of their existence and will stop at nothing to wipe them out completely. He suspects that terrorist Jackson MacNamera is among them, as well as reporter Kate Brandeis’s fiancé, hacker Will Anderson—and probably therefore Kate herself. Now that the Potentate is aware of security threats, most of the strategies the rebels used to get back onto the grid before now no longer work. The Potentate knows the rebels are on foot, and he knows they were at the caves not long ago—they can’t get far. The remaining rebels, among them Jackson and Kate, have Kate’s fiancé Will to thank for their survival: he arrived back from the dead and in the nick of time, bearing classified information about the Potentate’s plans to expand his influence internationally. But the remaining rebels and the Council cannot agree on whether their top priority should be spreading truth far and wide and freeing as many citizens from government control as possible, knowing that they will likely die in the process—or escaping to New Estonia, in hopes that they might live out the rest of their days in peace. Kate, meanwhile, finds herself torn: between Jackson and the fiancé she thought she lost, and between the damsel-in-distress she once was, and the rebel she believes she has always been underneath. Whether the other hunters will support her or no, she knows she must use her influence over the people of the Republic to tell them the truth, no matter the cost. But is she strong enough to withstand the government’s lies?

Publisher:
Released:
Oct 9, 2016
ISBN:
9781370038824
Format:
Book

About the author

C.A. Gray is the author of three YA Amazon bestselling trilogies: PIERCING THE VEIL (magic and quantum physics meet Arthurian legends), THE LIBERTY BOX (dystopian metaphysics and mind control technology), and UNCANNY VALLEY (dystopian coming-of-age with neuroscience and super intelligent A.I). She starts with some scientific concept that she’s interested in learning more about herself, and then creates lots of epic chaos and high-stakes action to go along with it. Her stories are free of gratuitous violence, language, and sexual content, and she abhors depressing endings... but they’re not all kittens and rainbows either. She also reads and reviews audiobooks on her website (www.authorcagray.com), Goodreads, Instagram, and on her podcast, Clean Audiobook Reviews, where she also occasionally interviews other authors.By day, C.A. Gray practices naturopathic medicine, podcasts, and writes medical non-fiction under her maiden name (Dr. Lauren Deville). She lives in Tucson, AZ with her husband Frank, and together they maintain an occasionally contentious film review blog (under her real name: Lauren Baden. Three names. Yes.) She’s kind of the queen of multitasking—so in her spare time, she creates whatever meals or crafts she found most recently on Pinterest, drinks lots of coffee (Aeropress btw) and occasional wine (reds—and she saves the corks for craft projects), works out (while listening to audiobooks), and studies the Bible—about half of the podcasts on Christian Natural Health are scripture meditations. She does sleep, too. Promise.Join her newsletter for best-of-the-month reads, freebies and giveaway information, as well as new releases! http://eepurl.com/F3rof

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The Eden Conspiracy - C.A. Gray

Author

The Eden Conspiracy

Book 2 of The Liberty Box Trilogy

C.A. Gray

www.authorcagray.com

Copyright and Disclaimers

The Eden Conspiracy

By C.A. Gray

Copyright 2016, C.A. Gray

All Rights Reserved

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

No Portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including, but not limited to, audio recordings, facsimiles, photocopying, or information storage and retrieval systems without explicit written permission from the author or publisher.

Published By:

Wanderlust Publishing

Tucson, AZ

Cover Art By:

Nathalia Suellen, Copyright 2016

All Rights Reserved

WWW.NATHALIASUELLEN.COM

FREE eBOOK

INTANGIBLE (Book 1: Piercing The Veil)

Peter Stewart grew up on a unique version of the Arthurian legends taught him by his father, a harebrained quantum physicist who asserts that anything is possible.  But Peter disbelieves anything which cannot be scientifically explained, despite a nagging sense that there is more to the world than meets the eye.

Lily Portman is an orphan with a secret: she can see creatures that are invisible to everyone else.  These creatures control every human being she has ever met to varying degrees… until she meets Peter and his father.

When a mysterious stranger stages an accident which nearly costs Peter and Lily their lives, suddenly Lily learns that she is not crazy after all, and Peter discovers the truth of his father’s stories… including the existence of Arthur’s ancient nemesis, one who calls himself the Shadow Lord, and a prophecy with implications so profound that it will alter not only the course of their lives, but potentially the fate of the world.

In The Liberty Box…

Kate Brandeis, former it girl and reporter for the Republic, comes across a list of recent EOS’s (Enemies of State) and finds that she knew one of them in childhood. The name, Maggie Jensen, triggers her own memories of a reform school where she was brainwashed to believe in a perfect nation, despite the reality that its citizens were malnourished and impoverished. She shares the memories with her fiancé, hacker Will Anderson, who begins to help with her investigation into whether or not her memories are true—and Kate receives a comm that he was killed in an accident shortly thereafter. Kate knows it wasn’t an accident, and she knows she’s next. She flees for her life and nearly dies in the wilderness of exposure and dehydration when she’s found by a group of refugees. The head hunter, Nick, takes her to their community of caves, off the grid.

Meanwhile, Jackson MacNamera, originally an American, was raised in Iceland by his missionary aunt and uncle and also his mystical adopted Grandfather who taught him both how to harness the power of his own mind and how to live off the land. He returns to the Republic for his mother’s funeral, but he never makes it: as an unregistered citizen, he’s quickly picked up by agents and taken to The Liberty Box, where his brainwaves can be recorded and his movements tracked by the government control centers. Jackson fakes his own death to escape, and finds his way to the same cave community, where he joins the hunters and meets Kate.

Kate is in shock, attempting to process both her grief and the fact that everything she thought she knew was a lie. She mentions to Jackson that before Will died, he found a database of citizens slated for execution. Jackson shares this with the hunters, and they decide to take Jean, a member of their community who was once a Database Administrator (DBA) in her former life, back onto the grid in an attempt to hack into the database with the goal of rescuing those slated for death. The mission sets off a controversy in the caves, as their own Council and their leader, the Crone, prefer to keep to themselves in order to ensure their own continued survival and quiet existence. The hunters go anyway. While back on the grid, they do manage to collect two names of doomed citizens… and meanwhile, Jackson realizes that despite their knowledge of the true nature of the Republic, the hunters are still susceptible to the government signals. They see a prosperous world, and not the dilapidated hovels he sees. More importantly, they believe the agents who come to hunt them down are firing real bullets (of the deep impact variety), though Jackson can see that they are only blanks. If they believe the bullets are real, Jackson wonders, can they die by them?

Jackson tells Kate all this, excited because he realizes that his ability to see truth—a gift he previously did not value—may turn out to be critical in the Republic. All his life, Jackson has been haunted by the question of his purpose in the world, and now he has found it. Kate, moved by his passion and drawn to his certainty, so like her late fiancé’s, kisses him. He gently pushes her away, telling her that it’s too soon for her to think of anyone that way. By her own admission, Kate has always been passive, looking for a man to tell her who she is—she’s only latching on to Jackson now because she thinks he fits the role. She needs to find out who she is, Jackson tells her, and find her own purpose. Kate is mortified, and Jackson later wonders if he made a mistake.

On their second raid to rescue two citizens, Jackson’s group again draws agent fire—but because Jackson knows the bullets are not real, he easily disarms the agents despite apparently being hit at point blank range. The crowd watches this, and their eyes, too, are opened. Jackson leads all of them out of the Republic, triggering massive media attention as the next rebel leader and the nation’s most wanted fugitive.

As Jackson feared, two of the hunters die on this raid, believing that when hit with the slight debris of a blank explosion, they were in fact mortally wounded. The Crone and the Council put Nick, head of the hunters, on trial for both their deaths and the exposure of their community to the rest of the world. After much controversy over whether to stay hidden or attempt to rescue those on the grid who still believe the lies, Nick is acquitted, though the Crone becomes the clear enemy of their cause. Meanwhile the recently rescued citizens discover as they talk that all of them began to wake up around the same time—leading the hunters to speculate that perhaps the control center signals were disrupted somehow around that time. This leads them to speculate whether they might disrupt the signals again on purpose, with similar widespread results.

Kate tells Jackson that while he was gone, she gave serious thought to what he said about finding her own purpose, and she realizes now what hers ought to be: she’s famous, and the people in the Republic love and trust her. She can use her position to go back on the grid and stream a broadcast, telling everyone the truth at once. Jackson, who is starting to care for Kate too, doesn’t like the idea at first because it would put her in danger. But he realizes it’s a good idea and he cannot stop her from contributing where she can, so instead he argues that they first need to focus on disrupting the control center signals. That way when Kate does the broadcast, it will be as effective as possible.

After the funerals of the fallen hunters, Nick pulls the remaining hunters and Jean away from the rest of the community to return to the grid and get more names, and also to find out whether or not the control center signaling had indeed been interrupted around the time the recent rescues all began to wake up. But Jean can’t hack into the database anymore: a new firewall not only won’t let her through, but sends her targeted taunts and threats intimating that the rest of the cave community is in danger. The hunters flee back to the caves, only to find them overrun with soldiers and most of the community already gunned down—this time with real bullets, as the deep impact variety wouldn’t work without the government signals convincing the people that they are real. One soldier helps a small percentage of them escape, including Kate, Jackson, the hunters, the Crone, some of the Council, and Nick’s wife Molly—but as they flee, the caves explode behind them.

As the unknown soldier leads them to safety, Jackson watches how intimately he greets Kate. Even before she tells him, he realizes that this must be none other than her supposedly deceased fiancé, Will Anderson.

Prologue: Ben Voltolini

The battalion of soldiers presented themselves for inspection, and Ben Voltolini paced before them with measured steps. The Tribunal stood at his back, the soldiers at attention before him. They stared straight ahead, like robots.

Lieutenant Colonel, he barked. The commander snapped his legs together. Voltolini went on, Did the mission succeed? Have the refugees been successfully eliminated?

Not all of them, sir! the Lieutenant Colonel nearly shouted. Their caves are destroyed, and we estimate almost ninety percent of them are dead. The others… escaped.

Voltolini paused in his pacing. One-one thousand. Two-one thousand. Three-one thousand. Four.

Escaped?

Yes sir! shouted the Lieutenant Colonel.

Voltolini lowered his voice, and brought both of his own feet together, leaning toward the soldier. To where?

We do not know yet. Sir!

Voltolini pursed his lips. I see. And how did these—ten percent, you say? He resumed pacing. How did they escape exactly?

We believe there was an—imposter among us. Sir!

The air in the room grew thick.

Oh? Voltolini purred.

The Lieutenant Colonel fidgeted. Corporal Ramirez was found dead. And stripped of his uniform. Sir.

Voltolini pursed his lips. And who was wearing that uniform, if not Corporal Ramirez?

We do not know, sir!

Take a guess.

The Lieutenant Colonel hesitated. Will Anderson has not reported for duty in several days, sir.

Voltolini inclined his head. Anderson. He paused, looking back at the Tribunal. Anderson…

Jefferson Collins, the Speaker for the Tribunal, took a tiny step forward and cleared his throat. A recent EOS, Your Excellency. We presented him to you weeks ago for elimination. But because he is extraordinarily skilled at detecting and exploiting weaknesses in computer systems and networks, you elected to spare his life—

Ah, yes, yes, Anderson, Voltolini waved him off. Engaged to that reporter who vanished, right?

Yes sir, murmured Collins, but we told Anderson that we had her captive to ensure his continued cooperation….

Right, right, I remember him, Voltolini cut him off. I understood he was performing beautifully, though. Thanks to him, we’ve infiltrated New Estonia’s mainframe and have Control Center construction underway on the ground there as we speak, isn’t that right?

Yes, Your Excellency, said Collins, shuffling his feet. He paused, and his eyes flitted about the room before he spoke again. But—

Why the hell did we send a guy that valuable on a mission to blow up some caves in the first place?

Collins’s eyes flitted around the room even faster and he shuffled his feet once before taking a tiny step back in line with the rest of the Tribunal. Voltolini whirled to face the Lieutenant Colonel instead.

Well? he demanded.

He—snuck in, sir. Unfortunately we’ve been unable to locate the fiancee, and we suspect that Anderson discovered that she is still at large. Our hold over Anderson was therefore…weakened.

Voltolini opened his mouth and closed it again, his face expressionless. "He snuck in."

The air in the room grew thick.

Hurst, Voltolini said, looking back at the Tribunal and focusing on a man towering six foot eight, with a jaw like a horse. Please take the Lieutenant Colonel into custody.

The Lieutenant Colonel’s eyes grew wide and his breath shallow, but he did not move as Hurst seized him by the elbow with one enormous hand and dragged him from the room.

Hurst was the Tribunal’s Chief Executioner.

When the Lieutenant Colonel and Hurst disappeared, Voltolini turned back to the battalion before him. Major, he said to the man who had stood beside the Lieutenant Colonel, Congratulations on your promotion.

If the Major felt shaken, he did not show it. Thank you, sir!

Among the bodies found in the caves, Voltolini went on, did you find the terrorist Jackson MacNamera?

The Major hesitated. No, sir!

Voltolini nodded. I see. One-one thousand. Two-one thousand. He turned back to the Tribunal, this time focusing on the Chief Technology Officer. Barrett, he barked at a middle aged woman, We need to tighten security. The bullet trains from now on will require that the brainwaves of the individual correspond to the ID chip used to board.

Barrett nodded swiftly. Done, sir.

How long will it take?

She hesitated only for a second. The technology exists. Implementation should take—forty-eight hours at the most. Her eye twitched as she said this. She knew her team would have to work around the clock to deliver on this promise, and even then everything would have to go perfectly according to plan. If she failed, Hurst would haul her off next. But the Potentate would not tolerate reasonable deadlines requiring ordinary working hours when there was a terrorist organization on the loose. This she knew.

Excellent, said Voltolini. You also told me last year that it was theoretically possible for us to upgrade the brainwave technology to target the brainwaves of a specific individual and  customize their subliminal messaging.

Barrett balked visibly before she caught herself. It’s… technically possible, but it will take months to create the technology—

I want it in a week, Voltolini said, and smiled. She sucked in a breath, and smiled back.

Collins wrung his hands and cleared his throat, taking a tiny step forward. Sir, he squeaked, As you know, we’ve already changed our entire security so that the rebels cannot penetrate our databases again. But… that may not stop Will Anderson for very long. He is an extraordinary man.

That is why we need targeted signaling as quickly as possible, Voltolini turned his deadly smile upon Collins, who shuffled back into line.

Voltolini turned again to face the battalion. The remaining refugees are on foot. They cannot have gotten far. Fan out, comb the area. When you find them… show no mercy. He turned back to the Tribunal and said conversationally, Anderson was admirably compliant until now. That’s interesting. He looked at the Major. The reporter, Brandeis—was her body found in the caves?

No, sir!

Voltolini nodded.  I can only assume that she’s with the surviving refugees, then. If she’s there, take her alive. She may be useful. He paced. As for their presumed leader, Jackson MacNamera—he will come to us, sooner or later. Count on it.

Chapter 1:  Kate

Will sat on the edge of the canyon with his back to me, staring out over the vast ghost town below—a remnant of the old United States. The forest gave way to many uninhabited cities like this one, left empty after the death and disease that ravaged the nation decades ago.

It had only been a day. One day since the caves blew up. One day since we arrived at our new temporary home.

One day since I’d found out that my fiancé was alive, after all.

I started to approach Will, but stopped, watching his profile, trying to make sense of what I felt.

When I first saw Will among the troops at the caves, just before the bombs exploded, I thought I’d seen a ghost.

Kate! he ran to me, breaking ranks. "Kate, thank God! I knew you had to be here—"

He threw his arms around me when he reached me, pulling me in for a hug and dragging me with him as he attempted to sprint toward the forest. I stumbled with him, still shocked, moving only because he moved. Behind me, I heard gunshots and screams.

We were a good hundred yards into the forest when I managed to gasp, You’re alive?

"Kate, listen to me. I’m going to leave you here and go back to rescue as many of the others as I can. Stay here and stay out of sight, no matter what happens—do not let anyone know you are here! Can you do that?"

You’re alive! I cried, throwing my arms around him at last, even as the screams sounded in the caves. I looked back and choked on a sob. And you’re—a soldier now?

I’m not a soldier. I’ll explain everything later, but I need you to promise me—

Stay hidden, I repeated to show that I’d heard him. But Will?

He half turned, already moving away as he glanced back at me.

Come back to me this time.

He gave me a weak smile, blew me a kiss, and vanished.

Will returned with a crowd. He left me in charge of them and went back for more. When he came back the second time, Jackson and the hunters were with him.

We hadn’t been alone together since. We’d been on the move, and then set up a makeshift camp for the night, though no one slept very much. Without the shelter of the caves, the night air was cold—especially since we couldn’t build fires either, to make us more difficult to spot in the wilderness. None of us had eaten.

I’d caught Jackson watching Will and me a few times, and I wished I could talk to him. But what could I say?

This morning, the hunters went out to find food for what was left of the refugees, while Molly and the other women went to forage for berries, root vegetables, and herbs in the forest. I saw Will glance at me before he slipped off by himself, and I knew he wanted me to follow him.

But now that I stood watching him, I didn’t know what to do or what to say.

He turned around and saw me. But instead of a greeting, he said in a flat voice, You took your ring off, I see. Before I could answer, he said, And you and Jackson seem awfully familiar. How long did that take?

I covered the distance between us. That’s not fair, I said, sitting beside him and taking his hand. I thought you were dead. I paused. Are you ever going to tell me what happened?

He let me hold his hand, but his remained limp. When I was researching your old roommate, I hit a firewall that must have alerted the agents what I was up to. They showed up at my office, and invited me out for a ‘chat.’ I thought that was it. But instead, they told me the Potentate decided I was too valuable to kill. They wanted me to hack into New Estonia’s mainframe and deliver classified information that would enable them to infiltrate it and build control center technology there, too. They told me they already had you in custody, and they threatened to kill you if I didn’t do what they wanted.

It was a lie, I murmured. They tried, but they never caught me.

I figured that out later, Will said, still not looking at me. At first I thought it was true, because I went to your apartment and found a half-packed suitcase, and I didn’t see you on the  news broadcasts anymore so something had obviously happened to you. I started to wonder why they didn’t ever let me hear your voice. Once I started investigating, it didn’t take me long to find out that you’d vanished, and they were looking for you. He paused, and turned to me, his expression bleak. I still played along for awhile, delivering little bits of information here and there so they’d still think I was on their side. But meanwhile I set up what I hope was a secure, encrypted server, and sent classified information to New Estonia, leaking the Potentate’s plans.

I gasped. Did they get your message?

Will shrugged. I have no idea. I’d only just completed it when I discovered that there were refugees hiding in the forest, and the Potentate sent a battalion to blow up their headquarters. I figured if you hadn't already escaped to New Estonia yourself, that’s probably where you were.

But with the control centers, how did you sneak in undetected?

The control centers can only track the undocumented, or people they’re specifically looking for, said Will. I figured it would take them a little while to start looking for me, and by then I’d be off the grid.

But the uniform, and everything?

He paused, and took a long, deep breath.

How did you get the uniform? I pressed. How did they let you in to the battalion?

I found someone about my size, he said. I tracked him. I waited until I could get him alone. And then I slit his throat.

I didn’t react for a moment, sure I couldn’t have heard him correctly.

Will turned back to face me. These are desperate times, Kate.

I realized I’d been holding my breath, and exhaled.

So your turn, he said. Since your last broadcast, you fled for your life and found the refugees. I got that much. Anything else?

The wind ruffled my hair and I shivered. That’s the basics, I told him at last. Everything else has just been happening inside my head I guess. So far.

Will withdrew his hand from mine. Oh yeah? His voice was flat.

I wrapped my arms around my knees. I feel—different, I told him at last. I mean, it’s a lot to take in. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I found out in that time that everything I thought I knew and believed was a lie. It felt like before I was just… sleepwalking. But now… I think I know how I can help the resistance, Will! I looked at him, getting excited. The people in the Republic are all still brainwashed, but they trust me, like they trust no one else except maybe Jillian and the Potentate himself. So what if I can use that? What if I can find some way to go back on the air and tell everybody the truth?

No, said Will. Not a chance.

Why not?

He paused, like he was trying to decide whether or not to say what he was thinking. Finally, he turned to face me.

You’re weak, Kate.

I blinked at him. Excuse me?

I know you. You’re not a fighter. When things get rough, you don’t rise to the challenge. You panic. You’re not a problem solver and you’re certainly not brave. Look, this isn’t supposed to be a criticism, he interrupted when he saw my expression, it’s just a fact, all right? The only reason you survived this long is because you stumbled upon the hunters. Otherwise I guarantee you would have died out here long before now.

I’m not the girl you remember, Will, I whispered.

Not the girl I remember from like two weeks ago, the one I’ve known for years? he retorted. "Come on, Kate, be real. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior—bar none. The second you catch sight of an agent you’d lose it, and it would be up to me to save you, as usual. No."

I fell into an angry silence for a long time, and Will didn’t speak again either. It felt like a showdown.

Besides, there might be another way, he said at last. Nick told me you discovered that a bunch of citizens all started to ‘wake up’ around noon or one pm last Thursday, corresponding to time zone changes in different parts of the Republic. He said you all figured that happened because the control centers must have been centrally disrupted all across the Republic at exactly that time. He turned to look at me and gave me a humorless smile. Guess why?

I gasped. You?

I didn’t know if it had worked or not until I got here. But as far as I know, the Potentate and the Tribunal aren’t even aware that it happened, which means they’re not expecting it to happen again.

How long was the interruption? I asked.

"Only one minute. I didn’t want to call any attention to the program at first, I just wanted to see if I could do it. Now that I know I can,

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