Someone wakes up on a train. They have no ticket and no memory of how they got there. Oh, and one more thing: the train shows no signs of slowing down.
The sun rises over the horizon as the city comes to life. At a local train station, passengers eagerly await the bullet train to take them to work, shopping, and several other destinations. A faint light appears signaling a train's approach. People walk to the train line while greeting each other with good mornings.
A man takes a few extra steps forward beyond the dotted line for passengers to wait behind. His heart skips a beat and he stumbles backwards.
The sheer force of wind knocks passengers back and onto the ground. Some crawl, some cover their faces with jackets, as all begin the scream. The bullet train never slowed to a Stop. The usual off-white train is replaced by this blur of black titanium alloy. It's a monster travelling over 100mph and climbing.
Passengers slowly rise to their feet to the sound of helicopters. Military helicopters. They speed by as passengers decide to return home. Calls to loved ones ensue. Of course, something must be wrong.
A young woman comes to. Her head is throbbing; her body is aching. Is this a normal day in the life of... She can't remember her name. An accelerated heart rate doesn't help the fact that she doesn't know how she got on a train. A train? This is a train?
Her eyes widen as she takes in the futuristic Style and Design on the Console. A massive touchscreen display hovers mid-air above a digital keyboard surrounded by an array of color-coordinated buttons. Fingerprint ID. Retinal recognition. Password-Encrypted digital files on the display. What kind of train is this?!
Only now does she look down to notice her lengthy lab coat, shiny black boots, and navy-blue pants in sync with the long-sleeved shirt. She moves aside her long, slightly curled hair in search of her own ID on the lab coat. Nothing. Great.
The window on the front of the train is shielded off. Literally, with some type of plate. Carbon fiber material? For all she knows, the train will crash into something at any moment. "Time to go," she decides while turning to face a sealed door.
Where's the doorknob? With a slight look up, the door seems to recognize her as a small red light turns blue and the door slides open. Retinal scanning. But how does it know me, she wonders. "Oh, this isn't a good idea." The next Car is pitch black, spooky to say the least. Still, she has to get off this train somehow.
The door slides closed behind her. Her arms feel around for something, anything to grab onto. "Hello?!"
Dim sky-blue light illuminates the Car. Screens on the wall begin to pop to life. Eyes wide, she can see a digital blueprint of the seven-car bullet train. A few more steps forward, the entire Car lights up. Motion sensors. She gasps at the sight around her. Various weapons from rocket launchers to assault rifles line the walls. She backs into the door while trying not to panic.
Quickly moving forward, she looks up above the next door, red light to blue, and the door slides open.
This doesn't make her feel better. Military equipment in large black crates along the floor with limited seating strategically placed in the Car. She dares to press a button on the wall. Body armor of several sizes stored in large pull-out drawers. The entire train is a technological marvel. Obviously built for war. But whose war?
Bullets ricochet off the train as it whirls through another city at 120mph and climbing. Helicopters struggle to keep up with it. More bullets fly.
She's on her knees. "Help! Somebody help me!" The rattling of bullets can be heard, but they're not penetrating the train's armor. "Please!"
"May I help you?"
She stumbles backward. "Hello?! Who's there?" Looking around, she notices an audio line on a display monitor. "Who are you?"
"Project: Jettison A.I. at your service. You may call me, Janice. You are under attack. Would you like me to return fire?"
"Wait. What? No! Well, uh... Who's shooting at us?!"
"Not to worry. The Jettison's shields maintain optimal levels. Oops, we have incoming," the A.I. continues.
She felt that. "What is going on?!"
"I believe you would use the phrase, sticky grenade," the A.I. concludes.
"Oh my gosh!"
"May I return fire, now?"
"No! I don't know where we are. People could get killed! Can you stop this train?"
After the few moments, the A.I. responds, "Oddly enough, my access to the Main Console has been Denied."
A loud sigh.
"May I offer an alternative suggestion?"
"Sure," with a slight note of sarcasm.
"Camouflage? You can make the train invisible?"
"Of course. Stealth Mode is a standard feature on the XJ Model. Opposition will be unable to lock-on to our position."
"Yes! Please. Do that."
Within moments, the bullet train disappears to the frustration the military forces throughout the region trying to track it down.
The Pentagon is in a frenzy. Officials try not to run into each other while scurrying from one hallway to the next. A high-ranking official moves swiftly through the fray carrying important documents in a manilla folder. He reaches the General's office.
"Mr. President, if I may..."
"Test. I said test, Wilmington. Not zip through the continent for a quick spin. No military drills..."
"No military exercises whatsoever!"
"There was an accident."
"How do you accidentally trigger Stealth Mode on the XJ Project?!" the President asks.
"Sir," the General swallows, "we're going to neutralize the threat."
"If this Project gets back to us..."
"Sir, I realize..."
"Fix this now!" as the President slams the phone down.
General Wilmington looks up at the official with the manilla folder and gestures for him to sit down. Their attention turns to a projection in the middle of the room. "What happened, Janice? What happened?!"
The official speaks up, "Janice Kilmore. The mastermind herself!"
The General eyes him, then stares back at her, "How in the world.."
"The situation would have been under control if your goons would not have shot at my Project."
"Don't gloss over the fact that you lost control.."
"I didn't lose control.."
"XJ left the drop point. Shot outta a cannon!"
"It's in Stealth Mode, now, Wilmington..."
"It's going to take a little more time to access the system remotely," Kilmore ends.
"Time? You've got fifteen minutes. IF we're lucky."
"I'm not. I had a plan in place all along," Wilmington adds with a smirk.
Now Kilmore feels her heart skip a beat.
Although she can't remember her name, her curiosity is still intact. Wandering through Car No.5 her access to most of the containers is Denied. "Darn. What are they hiding in here? Do you have any idea, um? Wait. You're a super-sophisticated Artificial Intelligence, but your name is Janice?"
"Your disapproval is noted, though not appreciated."
"As for hiding, yes. Project XJ is Classified with only a small percentage of officials aware of its existence. Doesn't that make you feel special?"
"Why would I feel speci.." she jumps as she notices the red light over the door to Car No.6 blink twice. It blinks red twice again. She gets nervous. Finally, the red light switches to blue. She dives for cover behind a large black crate.
The door slides open. Shots are fired. She screams. Seven armed men enter Car No.5.
She can't make it to the door back to Car No.4 without being shot, "Stop shooting!" Difficult for them to hear as bullets whirl by her face.
One aggressive soldier charges forward. As the gun is pointed towards her face, she instinctively sidesteps, grabs the barrel pulling him into a crunching blow to his face. Well, at least she's armed now with one soldier out cold. She fires shot of her own. The soldiers scatter, she picks off one, then another.
"We're taking fire," one soldier calls out on the radio. In his earpiece he hears, "Alive. What are you... We need her alive!" The soldier lowers his weapon and charges her. Before he knows what happened, she has him around the neck while high kicking another soldier. Crack. The back of his head stings as he blanks out.
The soldiers left standing began to retreat while dragging dazed soldiers with them back into Car No.6. With a kick to the mid-section of the last soldier, she calls out, "Lock it, J!" As the door slides closed, she catches a glimpse of labels on crates in Car No.6 that read, Caution: Radiation.
The door is sealed. She can feel herself start to panic.
The A.I. decides to interject, "Ms. Kilmore, your elevated pulse will lead to hyperventilation."
She frowns, "What did you call me?"
"Ms. Kilmore. Do you not remember your name, Rachel Kilmore?"
After a few beats, "You do know who I am. You recognize me."
"Your ID has been elevated to Second-in-Command," the A.I. continues.
"By you," the A.I. finishes.
Her hands are shaking.
As the monitor in Car No.5 pops to life, static is heard over the connection, "Rachel? Rachel, can you hear me?!" Janice Kilmore asks.
"M.. Mom?" she asks.
"Oh my gosh, Rachel.."
"We don't have time! You have to st..." the signal breaks up before Janice Kilmore finishes her thought.
"Mom? Mom! J, get her back." After a few moments, "Janice? A.I.?" No answer. More static as the monitor feed changes. "Wilmington."
"Hello, Rachel," General Wilmington confirms as he sits in his Washington, D.C. office.
"What did you do?!"
"What did I do?" his eyes narrow. "You must have hit your head harder than I thought." He sees her expression change, "Yes. I finally got access to the Security Feed. I think you're smarter than your mother gives you credit for."
A second window pops up showing the Security Feed from moments before the train bolted off.
The General continues, "Seems that your curiosity also led you into Classified files within Project Jettison. When you tried to copy these files... To share them, I assume? Well, it triggered the Jettison protocol."
Rachel is clearly confused.
"That means you initiated the mission. It's a GO. Meaning the train took off the execute the plan. XJ took off so fast it knocked you unconscious and.. apparently caused some memory issues."
"This can't be what I think it is," Rachel shakes her head.
"Ultimately, this is in the best interest of our country, Ms. Kilmore. We need you.. Well, I need you to make sure this mission is a success. Otherwise, you may be captured, more likely killed in enemy territory. And Project XJ will be used as a tool against us."
"You are a monster."
"You have less than five minutes before launch. Good luck," as the video feed dies.
Rachel is out of breath as she reaches the main console in Car No.1. "J, you have to help me! I don't even know where we are!"
Windows pop up on screen to show the train has come to a near crawl at a supply station in the middle of a military base.
"Oh, shoot..." Rachel cries as her fingers fly over keys looking for the right file.
"Stealth Mode is active," the A.I. finally confirms. "Yet, we are drawing attention."
Soldiers look around feeling the heat emanating from the bullet train. Their curiosity turning into high alert for something.
"Restore Access to the Main Console. I may be able to..." Flashes on the monitor of Red Alert before the A.I. can finish the sentence.
Rachel Kilmore hears a loud buzzing sound as she closes her eyes and braces for the worst.
Janice Kilmore sits in her office at the drop point for Project XJ, tears running down her face. The last thing she heard from the train's audio feed was gunfire and explosions. She's left not knowing what to think.
Small rumblings around her office turn into a noticeable commotion causing Janice to jump from her chair and head to the train tracks.
An incredibly hot wave of heat emanates from thin air for a few moments before the bullet train comes into view.
"Stealth Mode Deactivated," a voice rings out.
Janice runs towards the first car as the security's body scan recognizes her and the door opens.
Buckled over on the floor, Rachel finally feels the courage to bolt for the entrance to get off that train.
Mother and daughter Kilmore hug with sighs of relief. As expected, a military escort is present to take them away.
Two weeks later, the unrest continues across the European continent to the coast of Asia. Conspiracy theories reign as governments try to uncover the truth behind this travelling ghost.
Janice and Rachel Kilmore sit in their living room watching clips on the news of what happened two weeks prior. Enemy soldiers firing at the air and tossing grenades at the rise in heat.
Fortunately, Janice, the A.I., assumed control of the Main Console to implement the Kill Code for Project XJ. The train headed away from the base as military reinforcements arrived to investigate.
Janice Kilmore gets up from the couch and looks out the window.
"They're still out there?" Rachel asks.
Her Mom nods her head, "Mmhm."
Rachel rolls her eyes, "House arrest. This is ridiculous! At least let me go back out into the field. They can watch me from there."
"Yeah, I think they've seen enough fighting from you, sweety. A lot of egos still recovering," her Mom concludes.
Rachel stands beside her Mom, "Do you think I did the right thing?"
She frowns, "What do you think?" returning her daughter's question.
"Mmm. Yeah," Rachel smiles.