The Coke Maker
by Omar E. Vega
“The Coke Maker” began in issue 109.
At noon, Michael returned to FBI headquarters, where he met Larry, who had a large bandage on his cheek. “How do you feel, Larry?”
“It’s okay, Mike, don’t worry about it. But, what an amazing aim you have! You shoot exactly where you look. You have an eagle eye,” said Larry, quite proud of his boss and friend.
“It’s just practice, Larry,” said Michael humbly, and he changed the subject immediately. “You were very courageous, too, Larry. And look at what happened to you!”
“It’s nothing, Michael. It’s my lucky day, anyway. Now, what do we have?”
“As far as I know, I believe a Colombian cartel is behind the shooting. Khera said it when he was dying, and the entire evidence matches.”
“It appears Khera did not accept a deal for smuggling drugs in his containers. But he said something more. He mentioned the Coke Maker.”
“The Coke Maker, Jesus Christ!” Said Larry with surprise.
“What do you know about it?”
“Nothing, but Jerry, in the drugs division, told me something that happened in Japan last month. The police raided a warehouse that had a very large machine in it: a cube four meters on a side called the coke maker. He told me that it was drug dealers used it to produce synthetic cocaine.”
“Gee! Let’s get in contact with Jerry immediately.”
They called Jerry right away, but he didn’t know the details. However, he did mention Inspector Tamisuki Negishi of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. Michael and Larry rushed to the conference room, where they make an urgent high-resolution call to Negishi’s office in Japan.
“Hi gentlemen, how may I help you?” Said Negishi with a perfect English accent.
“We have a crime here, sir, and we would like to know more about a machine called the coke maker. I was informed you found one,” said Michael.
“Yes sir. The coke maker is a sinister machine. Drugs dealers use it to manufacture artificial cocaine and other drugs. They save a lot of money producing the drug in that way.”
“Were the Colombians involved?” Asked Larry.
“Yes. But not in the way you may guess. The Colombians are actually the losers in this game.”
“How come? Colombians have been the main drug dealers for more than half a century now,” commented Larry. “Yes. But the East Indians are breaking into this market.”
“East Indians? asked Michael.
“With their machine, the coke maker”
“That explains it. Were there any killings in Japan between Colombians and East Indians?” Asked Michael, who saw the pieces of the puzzle fitting together.
“Yes, sir. We have some shootings and killings that are still going on. We’ve been able to control it, though. So far, at least.”
“And what is the coke maker, Mr. Negishi?” asked Michael.
“It is a machine that mass manufactures chemicals from raw materials. It actually assembles chains of chemicals by mounting them atom by atom, as if it were a car manufacturer’s assembly line. These machines use the most advanced techniques of nanotechnology and the newest quantum physics models to carry the atoms to their positions. The machine separates the raw materials into its basic atoms. They are then conducted by means of quantum interactions and tunneling effects through a plate that drives them together.
“It is a long and complicated process that allows millions of atoms to reassemble in new structures, following a varying field structure that serves as a mold. Quantum computers calculate all the steps necessary to move the atoms and make sure that the assembly sequence follows the right order. The atoms are ordered in long molecules that emerge from the machine in a continuous, regular flow. The chemicals are collected in buckets. Just one of these machines can produce ten kilograms of cocaine per hour. Imagine how much you can produce in a month.”
“Why are these machines made in India?” Asked Larry.
“Don’t you know, Thompson-san?” said Negishi. “India is the manufacturing superpower of the moment. The times are gone when Japan or even China could compete in the manufacturing of mass-produced goods. Today East Asia works in design, media content, software and projects, the same as you in America. We also have sent our manufacturing plants to India and Africa.”
“I see,” said Michael. “And why do these machines have to be so large?”
“They have a lot of components; they are very difficult to operate; and they cost quite a lot: a billion each. That’s the reason you don’t see them very often.”
Michael and Larry continued to talk for a while with Negishi, but the main questions were already answered; they were in the right track to solve the case.
Michael Martinez Thomas, the cartel leader, was a tall, brown-haired, blue-eyed man with a face and attitude that resembled the phlegm of a member of the British aristocracy rather that the brutish aspect of a standard drug lord. He was gentlemanly and educated; a good family man and a beloved boss. He went to church every Sunday to implore God to forgive his many sins; too many for a regular conscience to resist. Because behind his caring expression and his good manners he was a bad person; a cruel and sadistic criminal capable of torturing women and killing men for the smallest fault. Everybody around him knew that the man played rough and that he would take revenge on anyone who opposed him. They feared falling into disgrace, which would mean a bizarre and immediate death.
However, they also knew that Michael was more than generous to loyal men, keeping his court living like princes, well beyond the level any one of them would have had otherwise. So, they forgot their fears and enjoyed the pleasures of life -- while it lasted. Meanwhile they convinced themselves of their love for Martinez; that way they had a greater chance to survive.
“Who asked you to kill the Indian?” asked Martinez with a calm voice and a stony gaze.
“I thought it was your wish, Mike,” said a very worried man in a low tone. “I heard you to say you wished all those dammed Indians would die! You said it, Mike. Didn’t you?” “Yes, I did say it. Those stupid, roasted Aryans should disappear from the face of the earth. They are trying to dominate the world with all the junk they mass-produce in their shacks. In just twenty years they managed to ruin the Chinese. Who would have believed it, thirty years ago! And now they want to get rid of us. No! I will not allow that. While I am still alive, those dark people will not take control. No sir, they are going to pay for what they are trying to do. I swear it!”
He breathed heavily and then continued. “Cocaine is tradition. Coke has been the sacred plant of the Andes for thousands of years. I will not allow them to sell that junky synthetic cocaine to our customers as though it were the real stuff. No. I swear by God I’ll stop them!”
“So, I did the right by killing the Indian. Didn’t I?
The eyes of Martinez threw flames. “No, stupid. Did I order you to kill that guy? Did I?”
“No, Mike. I thought...”
“You thought! You thought! You stupid bastard. You don’t have to think. I don’t pay you for thinking, and you don’t have the brains to think, anyway. I pay you for acting under my orders. Do you get it? Under my orders!”
“Why it was wrong, boss?”
“When you killed the guy, you put all the evidence against us. Moreover, Malone, and Chang where shot on the site. The police will make the connection with our organization, especially now that we’ve blown up half of the port. Now the police will come because you gave them the clues to find out who was behind the attacks. They’ll come to get us, because you allowed it to happen.”
Very nervously, the employee asked, “So what will we do, now?”
In a very soft and natural tone, Martinez gave the final answer. “We will find a way to cheat the police. You will help me in solving this problem, Paul. Are you willing to help me?”
“Of course, Mike. Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do. Just say it. What do you want me to do?
At that point, Michael pointed at Paul with an automatic gun and said, “Die.” And he fired.
It did not take a lot of time for the investigators to put together the pieces of the puzzle. Only two days after the explosion, a large squad was ready to attack Martinez’ office. The building was located in the outskirts of the city, in a brand-new industrial location mainly used by high tech industries. In one of the buildings, under a big neon sign that said “Southern Agro-Industries,” the cover company of the cartel, there were twenty gunmen ready to shoot anyone who tried to break in. Outside, the police and a large contingent of FBI officers were ready to go into action. The order was straight and simple: capture Martinez dead or alive on charges of bombing New York harbor.
The police spread and called the gunmen to surrender, but they did not listen and their only answer was a round of gunfire. The shooting increased in intensity in very few seconds, and men started to die. In the final recount the law enforcement lost two men, but the cartel got the worst part in the battle, losing more than fourteen of their gunners. And Michael was mainly responsible for the good guys’ record.
“9:30, upper floor,” said Larry. A moment later, Michael sprang and one gunner crashed to the ground with a bullet drilling his heart.
“Ten o’clock, basement,” said Larry once again, and a second later Michael emptied the eye and the brains of another evildoer.
Michael shot eight times, killing exactly eight gangsters. After a couple of minutes most of the gunners were dead or so badly injured that they surrendered easily. Martinez, the tough godfather, was not strong enough to keep the fighting alone, so he also gave up willingly.
Martinez was in big trouble, accused of terrorist activities, a charge that could easily result in a death sentence. He was afraid, and for the first time in a long time he felt afraid that he really was a coward. All his character seemed gone now that he was trapped like a rat. “You have a big problem, right now, Martinez. You are accused of being a terrorist. What do you have to say about it?” asked Michael.
“Go to hell, gringo,” said Martinez, with his last ounce of courage.
But Michael knew what “gringo” meant. “You look more gringo than I do,” said Michel smiling. “You don’t look like a poor Latino peasant to me. What’s more, it seems me that you don’t care much about your countrymen at all: fifteen of them were buried because of your cowardice. They were loyal to you, Martinez, and instead of fighting to the death honoring their sacrifice, you, their boss, surrendered at the first opportunity.”
“You dammed coppers!”
“Now you are lost, Martinez. I don’t think you are going to recover your freedom. As a drug dealer you might spend the rest of your days in prison. That is, if the court allows you to remain alive. On the other hand, if it is shown that the attack on the harbor was directed not to a cargo vessel but against the city, I bet you will be condemn to death. Is that what you want, Martinez?”
“Of course not! I want to live. Perhaps we can make a deal.”
“What kind of deal?” asked Michael, knowing that the truth was coming, finally.
“If I do tell you what I really know, will you help me?”
“I might try. I can’t promise anything, but if what you say is important, I can help you somehow.”
“Okay. I have nothing to loose. I will tell you the truth. Please record whatever I say because I won’t repeat it, and you will be astonished when I show you the facts.”
“Wait ten minutes and we’ll be ready.”
“I’ll wait. I know that I’ll have a lot of years to learn patience.” The minutes passed quickly, and Martinez told the FBI everything he knew. The transcripts of his speech would serve the police as a working tool in the decades to come. But perhaps the most important part of the document was the following:
“We attacked the container ship because the Indians were trying to introduce coke makers into America. These were not of the kind the police discovered in Japan; that is, huge machines that needed the space of a whole warehouse and an army of men to attend. The Indians have developed a new kind of coke maker, made of integrated quantum-mechanical parts.
“Two years ago the micro-assemblies department of Stanford University was developing a new chip for atom-by-atom assembly. They had an idealistic purpose in mind: accelerate the production of pharmaceuticals in such a way that even the poorer regions of the world would be able to buy the most expensive medicines.
“However, the Indians that manufactured the large coke makers of the time found out about this chip and sent a grad student to Stanford to steal the blueprints. Because most of the manufacturing plants are located in India, anyway, they developed the machine very quickly.
“The containers we blew up were the first shipment in a series whose objective was to flood the American market with portable coke makers. They were planning to sell it at only $100 dollars each, so every addict in the country could afford one. They expected to make hundreds of billions of dollars in a couple of years.
“If we allowed them to introduce the machine in this country, the traditional cocaine industry would be destroyed. We could not allow that to happen, so we bombed the shipment. Besides, we wanted you find out about those machines so you could help in stopping that traffic.”
Michael and Larry were happy that the case was resolved and that the police had taken all the necessary precautions to prevent the entrance of the coke maker to the country. The Indian government was informed and several raids destroyed most of the underground and illegal nanotech manufacturers.
They might have been quite happy with their work, but just a week later, while they were eating lunch at the cafeteria, the large television screen showed a news anchor announcing:
“The police have raided several Internet providers in China looking for sites that allow free downloads of programs for coke maker machines. The police know that programs to produce cocaine, heroin and peyote are already on the Internet. Addicts download them directly to the coke makers’ memories to produce cheap drugs. They add flour, sugar, salt, jelly and other simple material to the machine, and the drugs are produced very quickly. But the worst is that police also found a coke maker program for making TNT and several kinds of plastic explosives.”
Michael looked very upset. He was distraught over the prospect that the world would be facing the worst.
“Let’s drink a glass of wine in honor of the scientists: stupid nerds,” said Michael to Larry, in a very angry mood. “They brought us the atomic bomb, DDT and every single problem we have on our troubled planet. And instead of learning something, those arrogant, dumb fellows have done it once again, with the coke maker.
“But we have to take it easy. We don’t want to get tired, because there’ll be a lot of work to do. That invention makes me believe that in the years to come we’ll have an invasion of drugs and bombs on the streets of the entire world.”
Copyright © 2004 by Omar E. Vega