Friday, November 14, 2008

The British Royal Marines

The British Royal Marines

No matter how far I run, no matter where I go, I can never escape myself. After a couple of years trying to escape the brutal backstabbing and infighting of the Chinese intelligence community, I find myself thrust right back into situations where it seems I'm the only one capable of making decisions. I feel like Michael Jordan sometimes...he left basketball because he needed a break...but sooner or later he was dragged right back in...because deep inside he knew he was the best. I know this sounds a bit like bragging...but I'm the best at what I do. You can ask anyone. That's why no one touches me. Nobody ever orders a hit on me. They know they would pay a dear price. Death Storm tried to pull a stunt like that and look where he is now, probably being given a pauper's cremation. I just don't let people who cross me live, and right now that bitch Carrie Park is on the top of my list. She should never have come to China.

It was pretty incredible seeing Alex again. I've lost a lot of sleep over his predicament. I've known for a few months of the grave danger he faced. I've tried to contact him...tried to get him relocated, but the organization running that camp would only allow the contact if I worked for them. Something gave me a bad feeling. It seemed like many of the bad elements from China's military, political, and intelligence communities had migrated to this "Clan of the Wise." Then they brought Carrie Park aboard which provided them with the technical and financial capability to carry out this scheme.

It's been a pretty long journey to get here and I'm pretty exhausted. I don't know how much I believe of Alex's story. He seems pretty on-the-level, but so much has happened that I really don't know at this point. I thought I had finally freed myself from all this crap, from all this running around and putting out fires. But I can't help being who I am. I need to be in the action. I need to be involved. I just can't turn my back on my country and my comrades. Not in their most desperate hour of need. This Clan of the Wise has got to be stopped.

I haven't had many run-ins with British Marines in the past. I've been on a couple assignments that included one, but nothing really impressed me. They occupied a strip of land along a harbor that houses this boat which could destroy the world. My friend Alex has somehow become entrenched with them. I've studied the situation, and I feel this is the only way I'm going to get anything done here. The alternatives seem to be too harsh to contemplate.

We approached their checkpoint with our hands up in a sign of surrender. As soon as we came into view the Marines leveled their weapons at us and shouted. I nodded at Alex and we did as commanded. We got down on our knees with our hands held behind our heads. The Marines grabbed Alex and pulled him away from me. I stared into the barrel of half a dozen rifles. I knelt there for a moment while the soldiers radioed back to their control center.

In a loud, clear voice I announced, "I am a Senior Officer of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. I am here to parley with your commanding officer on behalf of the People's Republic of China. As trespassers on Chinese sovereign territory, I demand that you cease this unlawful occupation of our land and immediately begin preparations to leave. I demand to speak to someone in authority." I stared at the men in as commanding a look as I could muster. I hoped they would be cowed long enough to at least let me talk to an officer. I ran a huge gamble, but I need to talk to one of their commanders.

In a moment an officer walked up and motioned me to rise. He seemed barely twenty, probably straight out of Sandhurst Military Academy.

"I am Lt. Johnson. You're hear to parley are you? I'm going to need some kind of authentication."

I pointed over to Alex. "He'll vouch for me. Any other information is reserved for your commander."

The man appraised me for a second, and then glanced at Alex. "Wait here." He walked over to Alex and conferred with him for a second. "OK," he said, returning to me. "we're going to have to search you. We don't allow any unauthorized weapons or communication equipment on the base."

I inwardly sighed. I held up my hands and the Marines frisked me. They removed my guns and knives and started poking though my vest.

"Here," I said, removing my vest, leaving only my halter top on. I then removed my cargo pants, with only my pink panties remaining. The Marines gawked at me while they pored through my belongings, finally returning my clothes emptied, my back and inner thigh holsters removed, and my dignity a little damaged. A small crowd of soldiers wandered over to witness the proceedings.

"Anything else we should know about," asked the Sergeant in charge of my inspection.

"I have a pack back there in the woods," I pointed. "I need it. If you open it you'll trigger an explosive device. You have about thirty seconds to disarm it, just type 9241."

"Search these woods," ordered the Sergeant, "and bring me back anything you find."

The men scattered around while we stood around in the clearing. "You OK," I asked Alex. He nodded. He hadn't slept much lately, and still had some after effects from his concussion. I've got a few drugs to keep me awake and alert in these cases.

They returned with my backpack, disarmed. Lt. Johnson ordered a guard to watch me and lead me into the camp. I could hear the whispers of the men as we marched through the clearing surrounded by tents and military equipment. They led me over to a tent where I was placed by myself, with a couple guards standing outside. Nothing I couldn't overcome, but I had a mission here.

The tent contained a few monitors and a long table. The corporal offered me a chair and then departed. The guards watched me carefully. I could see by their look that they'd rather shoot me then tolerate a foreigner in their presence. I studied the room, examining possible exits and objects I could use as a weapon.

In walked two people, a medium-height Asian-looking woman and a taller dark-haired man of slight build. They obviously weren't soldiers. I started to rise but the soldiers shouted at me to stay down. The two of them stood on the opposite side of the table from where I sat. I leaned back a bit looking back and forth at the two of them. The man spoke first.

"I am First Officer Portman, this is Officer Nguyen. We're from British Secret Intelligence and we're authorized to debrief you in this matter and report back to Vauxhall. Any information you give us will be kept in the strictest of confidence."

As a field agent most of my career, I never stood much for process or formalities. I needed to talk to their commander as soon as possible, but I wanted information from these two if I could. I raised my eyebrows and appraised the girl for a moment. "You're Misty, aren't you? You were imprisoned with Alex Ross. I don't know how much I believe from Alex, but he seems to care for you."

Misty stared at me icily, and then spoke in her thick British accent. "Let's stick to the matters at hand, shall we?"

I opened my mouth to respond, but I was taken aback by her brushoff. "OK. Anyone got a mayonnaise sandwich? With Grey Poupon?"

"Ms. Galistina," said Ofc. Portman. "Please state the nature of your business here."

I sighed a bit. All business, these Brits. That's fine. "I am a duly appointed representative of the People
s Republic of China. Any intelligence I may have to offer I will only present to your commanding officer."

Ofc Portman consulted a monitor. "According to this report, you have had involvement with Carrie Park in the past. Are you in contact with her now?"

I smiled. "No. I don't associate with criminals."

"But you've associated with Alex Ross in the past," said Ofc Nguyen.

This was a bit of a surprise. Questioning me about Alex? "Uhh..., Alex isn't a criminal. Is that what you think?"

"We don't know," said the man.

I stared at the two of them. I didn't know if they were testing my loyalty or my intelligence. "You've been with him. Heck, you guys have grown close. You're telling me he's still under suspicion?"

She stared back at me. "My relationship with Mr. Ross is none of your business," she stated bluntly.

I began to have a great dislike for her. Something about her rubbed me the wrong way. Growing up Chinese, I had a natural dislike for Koreans. I still felt a bit protective of Alex, and perhaps a little jealous of his fondness for her. Frankly I didn't see the attraction.

"Listen," I stated, laying my hands on the table. "Have you made any progress here? I understand that you worked with Carrie, over in the labor camp. Maybe you're still in league with her. Are you in communication with Park?"

"We're asking the questions," yelled Nguyen. Portman waved his hand at her to get her to settle down.

"No, I am asking," I insisted. "You are the trespassers here. I want to know what the hell you intend to do here. You're putting my country at risk, and I think the Chinese people deserve some answers."

They had no immediate answers for me. I could sense they had no real authority here, but I need to know what they were made of. I might need them for the plan i have rolling around in my head. I think it might work better if they didn't like me that much.

Ofc. Portman talked while Nguyen fumed. "Ms. Galistina, we're simply trying to establish some basics. Your cooperation will greatly ease this process."

I smirked at the two of them. "Listen, you two have done your country a great service. Alex tells me of the bravery you demonstrated during the assault. Time is critical here. Let's just cut to the chase here. I'm here to get to that boat, and I'm going to need the two of you and Alex to help me. I need whatever intelligence you've gathered on that freighter, and I need it now. This interrogation is a waste of valuable time. Now bring me the commander or I'm not saying another word."

Nguyen prepared a retort but Ofc. Portman waved her down. "Ok, Ms. Galistina. We'll do it your way. I'll see what I can do." He spoke to the guards for a moment and headed out of the room.

For a moment I was left alone with the woman. I needed to reach her, somehow remove that cloak she's thrown around herself. "Misty," I said to her. "Misty, I can see you've been through a lot. Alex thinks the world of you. We've got a huge task ahead of us. Do you think you're capable of going up against Park?"

Nguyen ignored me for a moment. "Please do not talk to me," she responded, looking a bit fidgety. She crossed her arms and tried to avoid eye contact but I continued to stare at her.

"If you want a chance at getting back at Park for what she's done, you need to listen to me. There's only one way onto that boat. We can't assault it, we can't destroy it. My specialty is infiltration. We have to get aboard. And I'm going to need you and Alex. Please. I know you've sacrificed a great deal for your country. The entire world is in jeopardy. If you love your country, and you're still willing to fight, get yourself ready."

She shook her head for a moment. "I don't know. I just want to get away, to go home."

Ahh. I sensed some kind of disconnect. "I need to know something," I said softly. "I need to know if you love Alex. I need to know that what he says is true."

Her mouth gaped open. "What...what does he say?"

A tall, sturdy man walked in before I could reply. I could see from his grizzled face he was a man of authority.

"I'm Commander James Jeffries," he announced.

"Major General Elena Galistina, of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Intelligence Service," I said, standing to face him. The man waved the guards off and shook my hand with a firm but not overpowering grip. I could see the fatigue and concern written on his face.

"Ahh. Yes. We've heard about you. You've been high on our radar for a long time, General. If you've got any ideas on this shit hole we're stuck in, I'd love to hear them." He extended his hand and bade me to be seated. He walked around the table to face me.

"Good, I'm here to help," I said, hoping he would listen. "China is extremely distressed at these events. I'm here to offer our services. Well, specifically, my services. My connections go all the way to the top."

He looked at me with disbelief. "So with all the vast resources of China, the millions of soldiers and machinery, all we get is one agent? We've done our homework. There isn't a single Chinese soldier within a hundred klicks of here. There's Americans, there's Russians, there's French, and even some South Koreans."

"Make no mistake about it, Commander, I'm all you need. China is not in a position to respond at the moment. Heck, we even let a foreign commando task force deep into our territory. Let me state for the record that the Chinese government considers the intrusion as a blatant Act of War and we will take all measures to protect the sovereignty of China and all her possessions."

I held up a hand before he could respond. "But let me say off the record that it was a brilliantly designed and executed operation. I owe you a debt of gratitude for rescuing Alex Ross alive and fairly unharmed. China is tentatively delaying her response pending the outcome of this campaign. If we succeed in destroying the Singularity Matrix and Carrie Park, then I believe we can reach some amicable agreement. We'll let the pencil pushers figure that one out."

The Commander tapped a pencil on the table for a moment. "So what do you bring to the table? How do I know you're for real? Although we've compiled a huge dossier on you, we only have your claims that you represent China. All of other records have you operating in countries around the world, with no mention of China in any of them."

Hmm, I'd love to see that dossier. "I assure you that what I say is true. Do you want a demonstration? Hand me a satellite phone and I'll call in an airstrike. I'll have a special headline show up in The Beijing Daily News. Do you want a call from the Premier?"

The commander grinned at me. "Who do I look like? Do I look like a green recruit right off the farm? It seems like you've had a pretty storied career, but come on. You're just some low level special agent trying to make a name for yourself."

I held out my hand. "You name it. You tell me exactly what you want to see, and I'll arrange it I am not some low level agent, I can assure you."

He chuckled at me. "Fine. I want to see the J-10. No, I want to see a squadron of J-10's. Don't let them approach the freighter, or we'll all pay the price. I want them to come in slow over our position so I can see them, execute a ninety degree right-hand turn, then climb out of here full power. Can you make that happen?"

I scratched my nose for a second. "Hand me the phone, and give me some privacy." The J-10 is China's newest and most sophisticated fighter jet. Not many people in the West have seen it, especially in action. And the ones I have standing by have had some special upgrades installed.

The Commander grinned and waved over a corporal. In a moment I had my phone and he stepped outside. I dialed the number and talked into the phone for a minute in Chinese. I doubt that they recorded my conversation but even if they did through the satellite, I invalidated my pass code.

I called Cmdr. Jeffries back in.

"Everything go OK," he asked. "What's the ETA?"

"A few minutes," I responded. I studied his face but I didn't see any deception in it. I think he truly wanted to see the fighters, but he doubted my ability to deliver.

He flopped down on the chair again and removed his helmet to wipe his brow. A patch of grey hair touched his temples, his blonde close-cropped cut fading and thinning with age. "War is meant for young men," he said, then quickly added, "and women."

I smiled at him. "You seem to be handling this well, Commander. It's not every day that you're put in a position where you can prevent Armageddon."

He pointed out towards the water, towards the freighter. "We've tried everything. Direct assaults, drones, frogmen, para gliders. We get close and then ZAP! It's bedtime. Some of the men closer to the boat go crazy. They can knock down any electronics no matter how shielded."

I shook my head. "You can't attack them. There's a black hole on that boat. If containment is lost, there's no telling what would happen. It would make the Great Tsunami look like a shimmer in a cup of tea. Either that or blow Asia into outer space. We're dealing with an unimaginably dangerous object here."

The Commander leaned in towards me. "If you are who you say you are, then how the hell did China allow this to happen? This is not something concocted overnight. Something like this requires billions of dollars of funding, and years of development."

"It's more like a couple trillion dollars and over fifty years of research. In fact, I believe we started just after World War II. Why do you think China's been so secretive all these years? And more importantly, where do you think all the money in the world has been going? Until Carrie Park came along, we had these singularities but we didn't know how to exploit them. She took over the project, and basically has been raping the world's economy to provide herself with the resources to pull this off. If you start tracing all the banknotes and default credit swaps and commercial paper, you'll see it all leads to her. She's single handedly broken the back of the world economy. And now that she's stolen the Matrix, it looks like China won't benefit from any of it."

A siren wailed from outside the tent, and we heard some officers shouting out orders.

"Incoming bogies! Coming in low and slow, directly at us!"

"Prepare missile defense! Launch Rapiers on my mark! 5! 4!"

"Belay that order," thundered Cmdr Jeffries, charging out of the tent. Low over the water hovered 6 dots. We could barely make out the whine of the engines.

"Sir! We're losing missile lock! Sir!"

The dots grew and grew until we could make out wings and weapons. 2 klicks out...1 klick...then as one they turned on their sides and we could clearly see the insignia of the Chinese Army on the side, and well as a peek at the pilot of each craft. They turned, straightened, then roared up into the sky at maximum thrust. The ground shook with the power of their engines, and even I cringed a little bit at the thunderous sound. In a moment they had climbed out and away from the danger zone.

The Commander looked at me with wide eyes. "Who are you? I apologize, General. You're obviously no low-level flunky. No one in command would risk six state-of-the-art fighters to prove a point for some underling. Unless...exactly how high up are you in the Army?"

I looked up at the white contrails in the clear blue sky. "You don't understand, Commander. I'm not in the Chinese People's Liberation Army. I am the Chinese People's Liberation Army. I don't have an official rank, 'Major General' is just something I use when asked. I don't have even an official position of any kind. I don't run the day-to-day operations of the Army, we have plenty of career administrators for that. I simply...well...I run China. If I wanted to, I could order the Premier to walk out on the street and dance in his underwear. I could have the Politburo go trick-or-treating. I could make Christmas an official holiday."

The Commander sat down while I continued, pacing a bit in front of him for emphasis. "You see, I'm what you'd call 'The Angel of Death'. I can make anyone die at any time. I've killed more people in more ways than I can remember. I've been the hot potato no one wanted to touch so they kept promoting me. Now I don't generally exercise this authority I have. I simply monitor situations from a distance, and make modifications when necessary. But you can tell from my presence here that I'm the kind of person that will get personally involved when the situation demands it.

"So...let's sit down and talk about how we're going to attack that boat and save humanity from total annihilation."

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2008 @ 10:38 PM


Alex Ross said...

Ruler of China huh? That's a good one.

Agent Ellie said...

Hey, a girl's got to say what a girl's got to say. And how do you know I'm not?