The Graveyard is a sanctuary for Unwinds to hide in until they are 18, found in Southwest Arizona. It was once under the supervision of the Admiral, but, after his retirement, was later replaced by Connor Lassiter.
Because of the dry, clear and virtually smog-free climate that helps minimize corrosion, and alkaline soil so firm that airplanes can be towed and parked on the surface without sinking, Southwest Arizona serves as an ideal graveyard for airplanes. For a long time, it had been assumed that the Graveyard was believed by the outsiders to be just a dumpsite and recycling place for airplanes and their parts but, as it turns out, authorities have known about its activities with the escaped AWOL Unwind for more than a year by Unwind; they just let them be because, since the Admiral takes them in and keeps them in the desert, therefore getting them off the streets, they are no longer problems for the cops.
In several, different places are safe houses that take in Unwind AWOLs on the run. They keep these children for a few days before being picked up by 'the ice cream man', actually a man driving around a ice cream truck, paid to drive the children between safehouses and keep quiet about it. This goes on for a while, until they are brought to an abandoned warehouse close to airports. The children are then placed in cargo boxes and are loaded into a jet or plane set to be decommissioned and sent off to the 'airplane graveyard' in Arizona.
Housing several grounded jets, thirty-three (33) occupied by hundreds of AWOL Unwinds, now called Whollies, three adults in the Admiral's employ and the Admiral himself, the Graveyard is a thriving, partly illegal business. The Admiral buys decommissioned airplanes and sells the parts, or even resells them whole. The real work in the yard is done by the Unwinds. There are whole teams specially designated to strip the jets, sort parts, and get them ready for sale. It's just like any other junkyard, but on a larger scale. Not all the jets get stripped; some remain untouched, if the Admiral thinks he can resell them whole. Some are retooled as living quarters for the kids who are, both literally and figuratively, under his wing. Most business is done online; the Admiral is able to acquire about one retired jet a month, each arriving loaded with a secret cargo of Unwinds.
When certain buyers want to inspect or to personally pick up merchandise, the Unwinds are warned early and given time to hide. The Admiral tells people who wonder what he docs with all the rest of his time that he's building a wildlife preserve.
'Work call' happens about once a week beneath the meeting canopy—the only structure in the entire graveyard that isn't part of a plane, and the only place large enough to gather all 423 kids. It is a chance to get out into the real world. When clients are looking for workers, they are announced at work call. Although there is no salary for the Unwinds, the pay goes to the Graveyard funds. Other than being given the chance to have lives outside the Graveyard, the volunteer Unwinds, called takers and mostly sixteen-year-olds, are given new identities by their sponsoring clients which they can later use when they turn eighteen and are then set free into the world, safe from Unwinding. Seventeen-year-olds are too close to eighteen to make outside work worth their while, and younger kids are too intimidated by the prospect.
The kids' skills are assessed, and they are assigned to their permanent squads, grouped in teams best suited for their jobs, their ages, and their personal needs. A lifetime of experience molding military boeufs into a coherent fighting force has prepared the Admiral for creating a functional society out of angry, troubled kids. Girls are never grouped with boys.
The money earned by the Admiral, for selling jets or their parts and for placing Unwinds into service positions, is used to feed the ones who remain and to pay for the safe houses and warehouses that get runaway Unwinds off the street. It pays for the aircraft that get them there and pays off anyone who needs bribery to look the other way. After that, the money that remains goes into the pockets of each Unwind on the day they turn eighteen and are sent out into the world.
Spy satellites can catch the activity, but, the Admiral hoped, that CIA data analysts have far more pressing things to look for than a band of refugee Unwinds so they wouldn't be bothered. To be sure, the Admiral implements strict rules. All activity takes place in the fuselage or under the wings, unless it's absolutely necessary to go out into the open. The heat helps enforce the edict.
There are video feeds all over the yard, so everyone knows The Admiral is watching; although, whether or not every camera is constantly monitored, no one knows, but the potential for being seen is always there.
The Admiral doesn't exactly own the Graveyard, but his management is undisputed, and he answers to no one but himself. A combination of business sense, favors owed, and a military willing to do anything to get rid of him are what made the whole thing possible.
Being a community, a society of AWOL Unwinds, with the Admiral's law and rules to be followed by the Unwinds, it is stated to not be a democracy but a dictatorship, the Admiral being the dictator. It is the most effective way to keep the Unwinds hidden, healthy, and whole until they turn eighteen, the age when they cannot be touched by the law and their Unwind orders.
The only adults under the Admiral are two office workers stationed in a trailer far from the Unwinds, and a helicopter pilot. The pilot, Cleaver, has two jobs. The first is to tour important buyers around the lot in style, and the second is to take the Admiral on trips around the Graveyard once a week. Cleaver is the only employee who knows about the hoard of Unwinds sequestered in the far reaches of the lot. He knows, but he's paid more than enough to keep quiet; and the Admiral trusts Cleaver implicitly, not knowing this man's disturbing desire for chaos.
The Admiral has a list of his ten supreme rules, posted in each and every plane where kids live and work. The kids call them "The Ten Demandments." He doesn't care what they call them, as long as each and every one of them knows the list by heart.
The Ten Demandments of the Admiral
- YOU ARRIVED HERE BY NECESSITY. YOU STAY HERE BY-CHOICE.
- SURVIVING HAS EARNED YOU THE RIGHT TO BE RESPECTED.
- MY WAY IS THE ONLY WAY.
- YOUR LIFE IS MY GIFT TO YOU. TREAT IT LIKE ONE.
- YOU ARE BETTER THAN THOSE WHO WOULD UNWIND YOU. RISE TO THE OCCASION.
- EVERYONE IN THE GRAVEYARD CONTRIBUTES. NO EXCEPTIONS.
- TEENAGE REBELLION IS FOR SUBURBAN SCHOOLCHILDREN. GET OVER IT.
- HORMONES WILL NOT RULE MY DESERT.
- AT EIGHTEEN YOU CEASE TO BE MY CONCERN.
- MAKE SOMETHING OF YOURSELF. THIS IS AN ORDER.