This is not much of a story, I'm afraid. It is about a grand scheme for smuggling AWTS into Europe and getting them distributed to those it would be necessary to communicate with to rescue Ruth from the clutches of NatAlSec. Though Sally and I had no use for politics, we could not help being conscious of the obvious irony that our work was to save an American citizen from an evil government, the very government that pretended its purpose was to protect its citizens.
Our advantage was that we had no organization, no program or movement, nothing that could be identified or watched. It was just individuals choosing to deal with one another. Sometimes we did not even know each other. I do not know how many used Ned as a financial courier or conduit, but I know Sally and Frank did, but no one knows who "the bank" is. "The bank," is what we called it, but who he is or they are or where it is, only Ned knows, if even he does. We don't even know how he carries out his financial transactions with, "the bank."
All we know is what Ned had told us, which is very little, though enough.
"I know you cannot tell us who they are, Ned, and I know you have complete confidence in them, and we certainly have no reason to question that. We're just curious about how you can be so certain of the reliability of "the bank."
"I know because they are the same kind of people as you, and Sally, and Frank and those who Roger had confidence in. Reliability is their product, Mark, which includes security, confidentiality, and ruthless integrity in all their dealings. It's how they make their money."
"Then there are others!" Sally exclaimed.
We had talked about the possibility that there were other individualists, others living as freely and independently as those few we knew, but who simply kept to themselves.
"How many others are there, Ned?" Sally asked.
Ned looked at Sally, as though he were trying to make a difficult decision. "I honestly do not know, Sal. I know some of them, and about some others, but I'm sure there are not more than a handful of true, 'fully human beings,' as Roger referred to them. There are more, I think, who are like Jo, before she met Roger. She knew she did not really belong to any group, not the feminists, not the libertarians, not any other kind of, 'we,' but still longed to find others like herself.
"I think there are others like that, others who feel like aliens in this world with nothing in common with anyone in society, sharing no common interests or purposes, knowing their only purpose is to be all they can be as human beings, living and enjoying their own lives. I think most of them give up and despair of ever finding others like themselves, of ever being understood, or of ever finding others they can truly love."
It was those "others" who were a large part of our plan to rescue Ruth. It was very simple, but required an enormous amount of planning. The plan itself had four parts:
ONE: Bill and Sarah, as business agents of ALT, American Limited Telephone, will take a hundred AWTS units to Europe as prototypes to be demonstrated to various markets. Ned would arrange to have Bill and Sarah have the necessary ALT documentation and authorization. Frank would be their pilot.
TWO: Sally would arrange all the flights and routing with a minimum of possible government oversight. It would be one of her planes they would be flying. They would fly to Belgium, where some of those unknown others would be waiting to distribute the AWTS to even more others who would carry out the plan in Holland.
THREE: When everyone was in place and everyone understood their part, which could be managed from here when everyone had their AWTS, Ruth would be kidnapped.
It would intentionally be a very clumsy operation, leaving clues everywhere indicating who kidnapped her, (common thugs, no government ones) where they had taken her, (Portugal), and what their intentions were, (an absurdly large ransom). That is what the authorities would see, and what the payed eye-witnesses would testify to.
FOUR: While she was being kidnapped, Ruth, wearing a very simple disguise, would take a taxi to a certain home, from which she would be driven to a private Belgian airport where Frank, Sarah and Bill would be waiting to fly her out.
The original plan had been to fly her to Thailand, where Sally controlled resorts she technically no longer owned, but once we were able to talk to Ruth, she insisted, if possible, to be flown here to be with us, by which she meant Sally and me and the others the NatAlSec were after.
That was the plan. What actually happened was a very different story.