The Wellwishers

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The Wellwishers
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Author Richard Fountain
Country United States
Language English language
Genre(s) Fiction (Mystery, Thriller)
Publisher The Overmountain Press
Released August 2008
Media Type Print (paperback)
Pages 285p. (first edition, paperback)
ISBN ISBN 1-57072-326-5 & ISBN 978-1570723261

John Gideon is a man who specializes in fixing problems, all kinds of them, big ones, small ones, the kind you don’t want advertised on the evening news. Yet, when he accepted his latest assignment, he never expected the tumultuous events that would transform his life. For when he uncovers a sinister plot to infiltrate and destroy an obscure military installation, he can only ask the obvious question – why?

In THE WELLWISHERS, a professional CIA troubleshooter discovers a vast political conspiracy centuries in the making. Gideon’s investigation leads him to uncover a closely guarded secret that could not only rewrite history, but also change the balance of world power. Incredibly, he learns that mighty leaders like Genghis Kahn, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Adolph Hitler owe their rise to dominion to individuals born with a very special gift, a talent so powerful and unforgiving that they can bring joy and abundance or devastation and destruction to those who control them. Known simply as wellwishers, these individuals have shaped the destiny of many a king and queen.

Gideon learns that these wellwishers can harness the power of chaos, setting seemingly unrelated events cascading into one another until the end result is what was originally “wished” for. Even worse, he discovers that wellwishers exist today. Two of them, eight-year-old twins Amy and Emily Chase, are under the control of a covert intelligence organization code-named Project Gemini, and are being held in a top-secret city buried two hundred feet beneath the earth. A technological marvel, the quaint town of Littleton is exact to the finest detail and could easily pass as any small town in America. Yet, despite its wholesome veneer, nothing about this place is natural, nor is its purpose innocent.

The brainchild of billionaire industrialist Arthur Frist, Project Gemini’s sole purpose is to harness the girls’ power to influence world events, thereby ensuring that America remains the only true superpower. A ruthless and fanatical patriot, Frist will stop at nothing to keep the girls under his dominion. His head of security is former army major Cross DeKay, a cruel and sadistic psychopath with his own twisted agenda. Bent on fulfilling his own destiny, DeKay will inflict his unique brand of pain and punishment on any who stand in his way.

At odds with Project Gemini is North Korean Pak Te Hwan. Desperate to end the United States’ global imperialism and reunite the Korean peninsula under his rule, Pak must ensure that every obstacle to success is eliminated. Through guile and cunning, the ambitious politician has learned of the Chase girls and has ordered the capture of the twins and the destruction of Project Gemini. That job has fallen to Captain Choi Yong Jin and his elite Special Forces reconnaissance team. Trained to infiltrate the United States, Choi’s mission is to bring the twins back to North Korea, or eliminate them entirely.

Once entangled in this mystery, staying alive is the least of Gideon’s worries. The girls have wished to be free of Project Gemini’s imprisonment and Gideon has fallen under their charm. He cannot let them down, for in a game where ambitions rule, exposing the truth has far greater consequences - especially when the lives of two little girls are at stake.

Joining Gideon in his quest to save the twins is FBI Special Agent Natalie Reyes and child psychologist Majel Sossoman. In a race against time and fate, the trio must fight to outwit and outrun their adversaries, each vowing to keep the girls safe from harm. Little do they know…they are battling foes from both home and abroad. The struggle that ensues casts peace in doubt, as the outcome will determine the fate of not only two nations, but the world as well.

Contents

Chapter Summaries

Chapter One - Three

THE WELLWISHERS opens at a waterfront bistro in Lisbon, Portugal. The main character, John Gideon, is undercover, masquerading as a finely dress, middle-aged Italian. A CIA agent, he is in the country to witness an FBI operation that has ramification for his own investigation. The operation is a disaster. Two FBI agents are killed. Gideon narrowly saves the third, Special Agent Natalie Reyes, but not before he is forced to kill the man responsible.

Chapter Four

Halfway around the world, Chapter Four focuses on the consequences of an ill-fated flight from Kaesong to Pyongyang, North Korea. The small aircraft is unexpectedly enveloped by a fast-moving storm. The pilot loses control of the aircraft and fatally smashes into a large cargo plane. Meanwhile, on the ground, Pak Te Hwan has planned the assassination of President Yi Sang Gojong. Unexpectedly, the president shows up at his office. Just then, a loud roar thunders overhead. An explosion shatters the windows. Pak is thrown across the room and into the president. Outside, the city is awash in flames. Pak looks into the president’s eyes and sees suspicion.

Chapter Five

Three weeks later, Gideon finally catches a break in his investigation. Four men are found floating in the Delaware Bay, their bodies riddled with gunshots. Gideon rushes to the Coast Guard morgue to see the evidence for himself. What he discovers confirms his suspicions: the men were killed trying to infiltrate Kulbeda Station. Even more compelling, the men fit the description of Russian Spetsnaz soldiers. But what is an elite Special Forces unit doing here? And what is so special about Kulbeda Station. Despite his answers, the questions regarding this station were mounting.

Chapter Six

Back in Korea, Pak Te Hwan is awaiting a call from the president. President Yi is a vengeful man and Pak suspects his treachery has been discovered. He is relieved, however, when the president absolves him of any wrongdoing, labeling the plane crash as a freak accident. Pak is emboldened by the news and vows to make sure his next attempt is a success.

Chapter Seven

Inside Kulbeda Station, Cross DeKay is not pleased. His men let the four Russian soldiers fall into the bay. He has no prisoners to interrogate, no dead bodies to run identity checks against. The FBI has been to the station twice already, following up leads. One of them, Agent Reyes, is persistent. She is going to be trouble and will have to be dealt with. With DeKay is billionaire industrialist Arthur Frist. Frist chastises DeKay for his failure to keep Kulbeda Station secure. Frist is also frustrated that the assassination attempt on President Yi failed. He orders another attempt planned right away. It is at this point that the twins, the wellwishers, are briefly introduced into the story. A subordinate of DeKay enters to inform him that the girls have been found unconscious, a sign that they have been…active. Angry at the news, DeKay orders the girls separated. Frist adds to the order, demanding that the girls be interrogated, that if they don’t cooperate, strong actions will be taken.

Chapter Eight – Ten

Chapters Eight through Ten return to John Gideon. Positioned outside the Coast Guard morgue, Gideon is waiting for FBI Special Agent Natalie Reyes to exit the building. She arrived just as he was leaving and he is ordered to stay and see what she is up to. In the events that follow, Gideon learns that a team of unknown subjects is following Reyes. When they move in to assassinate the FBI agent, he is forced to violently interfere and thwart their plans. In the end, Gideon and Reyes agree to a reluctant partnership. They will continue the investigation together and expose the mystery behind Kulbeda Station.

Chapters Eleven - Fourteen

The next four chapters follow Gideon as he penetrates deep into Kulbeda Station. Once inside the base’s perimeter, Gideon discovers that something is hidden under the base. Finding out what’s underneath proves difficult, but not impossible. Over two hundred feet beneath Kulbeda, Gideon discovers a small town named Littleton. Fully functioning, the town is reminiscent of the 1950s. Interspersed throughout are small shops and houses, many with white picket fences, green lawns, trees and shrubs. This place is also inhabited. Equally amazing, overhead is the night sky - the same one he had left on the surface. It is here that Gideon meets the town’s most prominent citizens, Amy and Emily Chase. Gideon learns that the twins have wished for him, someone who would take them away from Littleton. Skeptical, he discovers that a man named Cross DeKay runs Littleton. Gideon knows DeKay, having served with him in the military. Before he can ask another question, the sound of a woman’s voice reaches him. It is the girl’s caretaker, Doctor Majel Sossoman. The doctor and others are searching for the twins. What happens next is a whirlwind. Gideon races away as inhabitants of Littleton emerge on the park. In his flight he stumbles across Charlie Simmons, a town inhabitant recruited by the girls to help Gideon escape. Too confused to figure out how they could have planned all this in advance, he follows Charlie’s lead, learning more about the marvels and purpose of Littleton as he goes. In the end, he is able to narrowly escape the subterranean town, but not before a gunfight that leaves one of DeKay’s security men dead.

Chapter Fifteen

Pak Te Hwan slams the satellite phone down on his desk. His accomplice in America has just accused him of breaking their agreement. The man believes one of Pak’s soldiers infiltrated his facility and tried to kidnap the twins. It is ludicrous. Pak’s men were still en route to America. Pak decides he can no longer trust the American. In order for his plans to succeed, he needs those twins alive. It is time to take control of the situation. On board the Loujian cargo ship, army Captain Choi Yong Jin has just received his orders. He and his men will leave within the hour on a small outboard skiff disguised as a fishing boat. All four soldiers speak flawless English and carry forged documentation. It is their job to kidnap the twins and destroy Littleton.

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen provides an opportunity for Gideon to fill Reyes in on what he learned about Littleton. He recounts his last encounter with Cross DeKay, a man forced to leave the military under a cloud of disgrace. He knows that having DeKay involved only complicates their investigation.

Chapter Seventeen

Back inside Littleton, Arthur Frist is concerned about the lapse in security. He is questioning DeKay when the phone rings. On line is one of the security men. His report angers DeKay. It appears that both girls are nowhere to be found. A search is underway. DeKay is seething with anger. If he could, he would have snapped the girls’ little necks. Meanwhile, outside Kulbeda Station, Gideon and Reyes are staking out a vacant parking garage linked to their investigation. It has been a long surveillance and Gideon is beginning to doubt the chain of evidence. Suddenly, his eyes grow wide. Reyes bolts upright in her seat. Across the street, a lone woman suddenly emerges from the structure. It is Doctor Sossoman, the woman Gideon witnessed during his time in Littleton. Sossoman glances around nervously before walking quickly towards the center of town. Gideon follows cautiously behind as the woman leads them to the Clover Theater, a small, run-down movie cinema. She enters the theater without hesitation. Gideon and Reyes follow.

Chapters Eighteen – Twenty-Two

In Chapters Eighteen through Twenty-Two, Gideon and Reyes learn more about the twins from Doctor Sossoman. They also discover why she is outside of Littleton. Hidden inside the theater are Amy and Emily, who with Charlie’s help were able to escape to the surface. The reunion is short; as DeKay’s men arrive in force to bring the girls back and kill anyone who interferes. During this harrowing time, Gideon sees first hand the power and destruction their gift can cause. Because of their wellwishing, all but Charlie and Emily are able to escape. Gideon and the others are forced to flee with DeKay’s men in hot pursuit. Watching from the shadows, Captain Choi and his men sit patiently and wait for the right opportunity to strike.

Chapter Twenty-Three

Running from a superior force, Gideon is forced to call in reinforcements. He reports in to the director, who is astonished by what he hears. He promises immediate aid and support. Following the conversation, the director heads over to the White House. The president, he reasons, must be told what is happening. Meanwhile, the North Korean’s decide to split up. One of the men is ordered to infiltrate Kulbeda Station and discover where the second twin is being held. The others are following close behind Gideon and the other twin.

Chapter Twenty-Four

Meeting with the CIA director at a clandestine location, Gideon learns that no aid is forthcoming. Astonished, he learns that the president of the United States knows all about Project Gemini and Littleton. The director advises Gideon to surrender the twin and walk away. Nothing good, he’s told, will come of this investigation. Gideon is angry and hurt. He feels betrayed. Not one to walk away from a problem, he decides to do what is right, no matter the cost. Back at the White House, Arthur Frist is informing the president that John Gideon did not turn over the girl as requested. He hands the president a sheet of paper with a short list of names on it. The names are candidates for the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Frist is not one to keep loose ends. The director will be taken care of shortly. John Gideon, he assures, will be next.

Chapter Twenty-Five

In order to run and stay hidden from Project Gemini, everyone needs new identification. Chapter Twenty-Five explores the process Gideon goes through to start a new life for him and his fellow fugitives. Further, Reyes decides that she, too, has to flee and undergoes the emotional evaluation of what her future might look like.

Chapters Twenty-Six – Twenty-Eight

In the next two chapters, the fugitives find themselves captured by feared Russian mobster, Pavel Fetisov. He is the one who ordered the assassination of the FBI agents in Lisbon, Portugal and the failed attack on Littleton by his Spetsnaz soldiers. Using his ties to Project Gemini, he has been able to track down the remaining twin. But, just before he orders Gideon and Reyes killed, the North Korean’s strike. The team has been following Gideon all day, waiting for the right moment to attack. They are successful, killing the Russians and fatally wounding Doctor Sossoman in the process. Gideon manages to kill one of Choi’s men, but not before they escape with Amy.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Gideon and Reyes try to comfort a dying Doctor Sossoman. In her last moments, she painfully reveals that she is a wellwisher and knows precisely what the girls are going through. Born in Austria, she had a twin sister named Adalia. During World War II, they were prisoners of the Third Reich, and much of Hitler’s success, she claims, came as a result of what they wished for. Sossoman is remoresful for the lives lost because of them. Then, she explains how when they were eight, they were rescued by the allies, but it was too late. Her sister was tired of wellwishing. She was found dead one morning, her spirit broken from the strain. Before Sossoman passes, she charges Gideon to save the girls, pleading with him to find a way for them to live a normal life.

Chapter Thirty

An hour later, Gideon and Reyes are racing towards Kulbeda Station. After Sossoman’s death, they discovered the doctor’s personal notes on the twins. The woman’s insights help create a clear picture of who these girls are, how the gift can be controlled, and what will happen if their powers are not held in check. Overhead, bright lightning lights up the night sky. A storm is fast approaching, driven by an unseen force from some distant point over the Atlantic.

Chapter Thirty-One

Meanwhile, twenty miles off the Delaware coast, the Skaarsgard containership is in trouble. Embroiled in a battle with Mother Nature, the Skaarsgard is facing forty-foot seas that are getting bigger by the minute. Captain Martti Hyssälä is fighting the storm as best he can, but so far it’s a losing battle. When intense lightning knocks out most of the communications equipment, Hyssälä sends a coded message to the nearest Coast Guard base. He’s heading back out to sea to try and outlast the storm.

Chapter Thirty-Two

Inside Littleton all hell is breaking loose. Someone had sabotaged the power supply, casting the town in darkness. The sparse emergency lights do little to ease the tension. DeKay knows immediately that he’s under attack and orders his men to find the saboteurs. For Charlie Simmons, the loss of power provides the opportunity he and Emily need to escape. No one knows Littleton better than Charlie. Once he’s away from his captors, he finds a safe place for the two of them to hide.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Back on the Skaarsgard, Captain Hyssälä is running out of options. He has never experienced a storm like this before. It is like it has a will of its own, a purpose he can not fathom. A wave of seawater engulfs the ship and nearly drives it to the sea bottom. Engineering calls to report that they have only limited control of the rudder and that the propeller shaft is broken. Within a few minutes the ship will lose all propulsion and steerage. There’s no way he can fight the storm head-on. Hyssälä immediately orders the ship turned around while they still can. It’s the only decision he can make.

Chapter Thirty-Four

Gideon and Reyes arrive at the parking garage, which they have learned serves as a secret entrance into Littleton. Entering a long dark tunnel, they are surprised to see people fleeing in the opposite direction. Gideon picks up speed. He soon comes upon a parked car, the same one the Koreans had been driving earlier. He stops to investigate and finds Amy bound and gagged inside the trunk. Relieved to find one of the twins, they now have to go find Emily. The Skaarsgard has finally gotten itself turned around and is running with the storm. Using the bow thrusters, they are able to keep the ship moving with the wind and waves. Unfortunately, that means they are at the mercy of the storm. The captain orders a distress call to be sent out. Then, he determines where the ship is going to hit landfall.

Chapter Thirty-Five

In Chapter Thirty-Five, Gideon leaves Amy with Reyes so he can search for Emily. He is finally reunited with the other twin, but now he, Charlie, and Emily are trapped between DeKay’s men and a North Korean sniper. Back at the SUV, Reyes and Amy are apprehended by DeKay. Now that he has one, he is confident he can get the other. Using Amy as a bargaining chip, he calls for an end to the fighting. Caught in a standoff, the North Koreans agree. Meanwhile, Charlie has managed to sneak past the combatants and his working his way back to where Gideon left the car.

Chapter Thirty-Six

Captain Hyssälä has ordered that the Skaarsgard be abandoned. It is heading towards the rocks and nothing will stop it from smashing into the cliffs. Sacrificing his own well being, he mans the bridge, watching proudly as the crew gets safely away. He can hear the pounding waves now. It won’t be long before the Skaarsgard is no more.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Cross DeKay, Captain Choi, and Arthur Frist join Gideon in the middle of Littleton. It is here that DeKay reveals his plans to betray Frist and sell the girls to the North Koreans. Frist tries to stop DeKay but he is no match. DeKay kills him with a hidden knife. In all the confusion, Amy and Emily are quietly urging Gideon to get them out of there. They know something terrible is about to happen, something they have been wishing for for a long time. Suddenly, the entire cavern lurches with a giant shake and a tremendous rumble that breaks every windowpane in Littleton. Moments later a second groundbreaking rumble follows the first one. The Skaarsgard is ramming itself against the outer wall of Littleton. Seawater begins to flood the town. Soon, there will be nothing left to keep the Atlantic out.

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Ignoring DeKay and the others, Gideon picks up the twins and runs away from the water. With elation, he sees Charlie driving the SUV towards them. Arriving just in time, Gideon throws the kids in the car. Reyes joins them in the back seat. Gideon jumps into the driver’s seat and is ready to take off when the passenger door bursts opens. DeKay curls a bloody knife around Charlie’s neck. He’s not going to let the girls get away. Gideon watches, helpless, as Charlie makes a fateful decision. Using all his strength, Charlie lunges backwards into DeKay. Sacrificing himself for the twins, the two are thrown out of the SUV and swallowed up by a wave of black seawater. What follows is a race against time and the forces of nature. Driving with reckless abandon, Gideon weaves through the streets of Littleton; a towering wave of seawater and debris nipping on his heals. He enters the tunnel out of town mere seconds before the wall of destruction, but he is not fast enough to outrun it. Inside the tunnel he loses control of the vehicle. The water pushes them forward, faster and faster. Gideon no longer knows how fast they’re going. The car is banged mercilessly from all sides. Seawater is coming in from numerous cracks and fissures. The girls are screaming in the back seat. Up ahead, a ray of light penetrates the water. The tunnel entrance is fast approaching. Like a cannon ball, the SUV is launched from the tunnel. The vehicle lands with a thunderous crash. Airbags deploy. Outside, water rages against the SUV before slowly receding back towards the tunnel. They hava made it. The twins are safe. Days later, Pak Te Hwan is surprised by a visit from President Yi Sang Gojong. A man dressed entirely in black escorts the president. Pak draws his breath in with a loud sucking sound and shudders. The president has received word of Pak’s betrayal. The secret police have come to arrest him.

Epilogue

THE WELLWISHERS ends a year after the twins gained their freedom. Because of their powers, the girls are forced to live apart. Gideon and Amy live in Lisbon, Portugal…Reyes and Emily in Boston, Massachusetts. In the final chapter, Amy is in her room alone, yet she is having a telepathic conversation with her sister. Being separated is hard on the girls, but they know it is only temporary. Once they have control of their powers, they will be reunited. Then, they can all live together as one family. Until then, knowing that they can talk to each other whenever they need to, they will never truly be apart.

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