Episode 6, Installment 1 - by J Sherer

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SUMMARY: Episode 6, Installment 1

Recap of last episode...

- Installment 5.1
o Kline infiltrates the hangar bay and plants an explosive device in the Apollo 13 module's oxygen tanks.

- Installment 5.2
o Hector and Jack watch helplessly as Apollo 13 launches, but as the rocket rushes toward space without incident, they are unsure of what the XLS accomplished in Florida.

- Installment 5.3
o Kline returns to headquarters to meet Bashui Lee. Lee informs Kline that Apollo 13 never made it to the moon, but it did make it back home. The explosions in the oxygen tanks didn't debilitate the Apollo Program as planed. Apollo 14 is scheduled to explore the Fra Mauro region of the moon.
o Lee informs Kline he'll be going to Russia.

Shadow Phase
Episode 6: The Price

Installment 6.1

Hector gulped down another large swig of coffee and swallowed hard. His eyes were rimmed with gray and bloodshot from worry and lack of sleep, and a twitch had developed in his left hand. He looked weary, like a man who needed rest and peace of mind.

Jack sat down at Hector's table. "You need sleep."

"I need answers."

The briefing room doors slid open. General Taylor and Jessica entered, taking their places at the center table. Jessica peered across at Hector before giving Jack a concerned glance. Jack just exhaled slowly, then turned to the general.

"We getting anywhere? What're they after?"

The general ignored Jack's questions, choosing instead to stare at Hector, who glared back without blinking. Taylor's eyes narrowed, but he cleared his throat and turned to Jack. "Two weeks ago we intercepted a message transmitted across a remote, rarely used XLS communication channel. We finally decrypted it yesterday. It's vague, but it's all we've got."

"It was encrypted with protocols to self-delete when traces of foreign code interacted with it," said Jessica. "We only got a short clip." She tapped the buttons on the side of the table and it displayed a piece of code:

Exodus extracted...measures in place for full...

Jack scratched his head. "That's it? A vague reference to an old science project?"

"How much do you know about the Exodus Project?" Taylor asked.

"It was a botched idea for a modern-day Christopher Columbus adventure."

"It's more than that. We prepared this."

Taylor engaged the monitor. An International Times news story jumped onto the screen. A young woman with black hair and vivid green eyes smiled into the camera. The report was old, dating back about thirty years. The woman raised her eyebrows and glanced at her co-anchor, a middle-aged man with immaculately coifed hair.

"Do you feel like your commute is getting worse by the day?" the woman asked playfully.

"I'd like to meet somebody who doesn't."

"Well, researchers say there's a good reason for it. Fredrick Douglas reports."

The video cut to a young man standing in front of an undisclosed lab who nodded grimly. "In another fifty years every natural resource we have will be depleted. Heard it before? Not like this. Studies show it will be much worse than the oil and water shortages we faced two decades ago in 2021.

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