Monday, November 7, 2011

Chapter 4

A test of courage – A test of time
Chapter 4 by Tobias Nixon

VIP Boarding Lounge Virgin Club 8:02:11 Sydney International Airport

Aimee looked down at her encrypted smart phone. The sleek silver phone was super shiny, doubling as a mirror. Her long red nails contrasted against the shininess of the phone. Constant call-backs. The Director doing sit reps with a full board in conference. Ex-Com hook-ups into Executive briefings, rated top secret and above. The higher ups wanting to know what was going on.

Her sleek black dress cut an amazing shape with an ass that would turn any sane man wild with jealousy. An ass for the ages, well at least for 2002, the year she won top model with Aussie men’s magazine Ralph. And really who gave a fuck what the rest of the worlds men thought anyway. Right now one guy in particular seemed to find her incredibly absorbing. She could tell by the way he tried to look at his laptop every time she glanced in his general direction. She wondered idly how long before he told her he liked her, or maybe his professionalism would get in the way. She smiled maybe she wouldn’t let it.

Tim was pounding furiously at his laptop, as he had been every since the ninja bust-up back at the pub. There were so many possible leads, so many people to speak with. No one seemed to have all the information he needed. Aimee came over and touched his left forearm gently. He felt a jolt at her touch. Her sweet female smell. It was so intoxicating. She turned away back to an endless series of phone calls. He thought back, wondering at what point he had agreed to his part on this crazy journey. The trouble was the whole thing had been so fluid it hardly felt like he had made any decision at all. He thought back...

Early that day, directly following the attack on the pub, 7:15:08

They had arrived by chopper back at the secure facility. From the air the facility looked like a standard grouping of scientific buildings. It had been deliberately designed that way to resemble a CSIRO climate change research facility. Inside the top secret research was many, many times the surface area of the facility above ground. The unofficial joint ANZAC research facility contained all of the components necessary for creating atoms from scratch. Two thirds of the size of the facility at CERN in Switzerland its purpose was far less altruistic. Ten years ago whilst studying for his doctorate at the university of N.S.W., Tim had discovered the process by which he believed technically atomic fusion was not just possible,  but commercially practical.

As the world has long known the biggest barrier to practical fusion is the law of thermodynamics. Technically fusion is a great idea. Rather than burning uranium rods through a process of fission, 95% of which is permanent radioactive waste, fusion allows the utilisation of atomic energy. Uranium fusion, suffers from commercial realisation primarily because of the insane cost of infrastructure necessary to keep the uranium stable. Once the energy costs (before production) are factored in the commercial viability drops to almost zero.

Tim believed he had discovered a way to generate a much more stable element for fusion. He had discovered a seemingly incongruous fact. If you could restructure the uranium into a lattice work arrangement, the integral structure of the bonds between the uranium neutrons was maintained. The very problem with radioactive particles, decay, was avoided, while the inherent benefit, the release of atomic energy was still present once the lattice work structure began to be weakened by heat.

The research was considered so important and such a matter of economic interest to the seven scientists that the governments of Australia and New Zealand approached to peer review the project that it was immediately assigned priority funding straight out of each military budget. Completely off the books, the beyond top secret classification meant that it was effectively a black ops project from an accounting point of view. Even so with an astronomical budget of over 8 billion dollars it required over ten years of concerted work just to get the build completed.

The final piece of the puzzle had occurred six months ago. Unable to find the necessary laser specialist and having reviewed every single available academic paper on the topic, Tim had turned back to his government handlers for help. He needed a specialist laser capable of outputting the huge energies required to rework the uranium’s quantum structures. The laser also had to be very sensitive, in order to be capable of the type of re-programming required to design the lattice structures used to imprint the atoms.

Almost on completion of the huge atomic collider in outback N.S.W., a spy from A.S.I.O. had come knocking on his door. He knew she wasn’t a scientist straight away; for starters he’d never met any scientist that couldn’t quote every element of the periodic table of by heart. Well at least none of the techno-brains that inhabited his circles. After that he hadn’t probed too hard. She had the information he needed, and apparently she was to be his assistant and sole provider of the insights into this application of laser technology. Besides he’d reasoned at the time anyone so beautiful, really shouldn’t be that hard to work with. It turned out he was completely wrong. She was almost as much of a nerd as he was, if anything it was her beauty to which he found both immensely beguiling and distracting to boot.

Upon touching down in the military bird the facility had seemed quieter than usual. It was less apparent until they made it underground to the first of the five sub levels why that was so. Normally there would be half a dozen personal on base completing non secure operations and keeping it running and looking “normal” from a satellite perspective.

When they entered the facility every guard was dead. Most had been killed at their stations. Death by shuriken to the throat seemed to be the most common cause of death. Scientists, poor defenceless scientists had been butchered in their sleep or at their desks. No-one had been spared. They followed the trail of destruction that seemed to have operated with surgical precision. Blast doors had been cut open with a combination of portable oxy-acetylene torches and explosives. Most alarmingly secure sub section X, sub level 5 had been comprised. The vault where there newly built prize was being kept. The room was bare, the prize taken. Tim had stared at the empty robotic arm, and for the first time since his mother died, he had cried.

VIP Boarding Lounge Virgin Club 8:05:13 Sydney International Airport

“Tim!” a friendly voice roared across the bar top.

Tim was positioned at the end of the bar, with Aimee moving between standing next to him and doing tight circles back and forth to the airport window. Her voice seemed to modulate between complaint and furious depending on whether her contact was a superior or a fellow agent. Neither received anything more than at the most carefully couched threats. Aimee was known to be a master of information manipulation. Right now she was bending every asset at her disposal to acquire fast passage to Europe and the information they needed to track the bad guys down.

“Tim! I know it’s you, brother! Don’t bury your head in that laptop, you know you’ll never be a spy”, the voice laughed mockingly at him.

Tim did know that voice, although it startled him to realise it. The voice was the unmistakable timbre of his best friend Davis. He pushed his head up from the screen. His two hands never stopped typing on the keyboard. Sure enough the big friendly face of Davis Lockyer was beaming down at him.

“HAHAHAHA! Tim my friend! It’s so good to see you.”

Then Davis paused, noticing Aimee for the first time, or in Davis case, making it clear that he was noticing her for the first time,

“My god, same old Tim, head buried in a laptop, and you have the most”

Davis seemed to linger on this word placing explicit emphasis on the word,

“Exquisite lady I have ever seen less than two metres away.”

He turned his head slightly away from Tim and looked straight into Aimee’s cool blue eyes. Suddenly Davis seemed to stiffen, and then almost as unnoticeably he relaxed again and turned back to Tim.

“I mean come on Tim what are the odds anyway, huh?”

That was Davis, such a smooth customer, always ready to change directions and re-manoeuvre. Something had made him change pace; Tim could read his friend, even if he had rarely seen him face to face for nearly ten years. 

“Huh! I bet you’re what? Flying off to have a late lunch with Prime Minister Berlusconi, before dinner with the Queen?”

Tim joked; even back in university Davis’s ability to make a deal had been legendary. To getting rezoning for the student council building, to refinancing the universities long term debt facility, his seeming inexhaustible list of contacts had quickly endeared him to the universities chancellery.

“Nothing like that mate, look I can’t really say, things are ...”

An awkward pause began to develop between the two friends. Once again Davis seemed to look over at the Aimee, this time cautiously.

“Tim I know you must have a good reason to be hanging with her...”,

He looked at Tim now, his eyes burnt into Tim, made him want to look away.  Davis turned his mouth in close to Tim’s ear, whispering.

“You should know mate, she is army, or ex-army, I don’t know what you’ve been into lately, but be careful ok bro?” , he smiled again then looking caringly at Tim.

“You always were my big brother Davis, thanks for the advice.”, said Tim.

“Anytime champ. I gotta say it was great to run into you, I just wish the circumstances were different. My colleague Ronnie and I are heading to Abu Darbi.” Davis mentioned.

“What are the chances hey? Davis I gotta feeling we are on the same plane! We’re heading there first then taking a connection to Somalia”

 “Okay too weird, what the fuck are you really up to Timmy? Seriously you don’t go to Somalia, buddy, you!” Davis stared at Aimee,

“Not ever!”

Aimee turned now as if considering Davis for the first time. When she spoke she stared directly at Tim.

“Tim can you wrap this up, we need to have a chat...”

“Hey no offence lady, but my friend, I don’t know who you think he is but he ain’t going anywhere near no African hell hole.”, Davis stepped inside Aimee, standing directly now in front of Tim, protectively.

A standoff had suddenly materialised. The tension in the immediate vicinity was palatable. Those around turned as if sensing violence was about to abrupt. Some nearby suits took a half step backwards. Indeed it was probably only fractions of a second away. Indeed Aimee had already curled one of her deliciously seductive dainty little hand into a fist. It didn’t look dainty anymore.

“No!” Tim’s voice cracked.

“Listen Davis, Aimee is helping me. I can’t tell you how, but we have a good reason for travelling to Somalia. She is definitely in a position to look after me. You need to trust me!”

Tim finished, looking up at his tall friend pleadingly.

“Ok mate, I trust you.”

Davis turned grudgingly away. It seemed somewhat reluctantly. At that moment his companion came over, and Davis introduced Ronnie to Tim and Aimee.

The boarding call came up for their plane. The 777 was taxiing into the passenger boarding area. Davis glanced over at Tim’s laptop. He looked up in astonishment, but didn’t say anything. The screen was filled with a very unique type of isotope reaction. One Tim had theorised about repeatedly to Davis when they were roommates. For all Davis’s protestations at the time, Tim had just as repeatedly, almost fanatically expressed the view that such reactions were.. theoretical. Davis had had in Tim’s mind a very keen nose for money. Davis smelled rivers of pure gold. Now, though, now Davis looked extremely lost, and, hurt thought Tim.

“You always told me you wished that you could be like me, Tim, but you my brother were the one I looked up to.”

Davis turned theatrically. He moved like a dynamo pumping his chest and raising his arms to create a circle with Aimee and Ronnie. He continued.

“The one I wanted to be more like, and now I know. All the things I’ve learnt, and felt, they may have made me fell so alive.”

He said the last wistfully, staring out onto the tarmac beyond the terminals glass. Davis strode out until he was pushing against the bar, then spun perfectly through 180 degrees. His eyes shone as he said,

“But what you have discovered is amazing. I can’t begin to imagine what it felt like to make that discovery into a reality.”

He looked wistfully back at Tim again. He’s eyes shone even more if that was possible. But he said nothing further. Actually it was what was not said that seemed so poignant to Tim. He wasn’t a government tech, and right now he very much wanted his best friend to know something to help ease his hurt.

“Davis mate, I really wish I could’ve told you.”

He paused looking meaningfully back at Aimee,

“But you have to understand that to get to this point has been an incredible sacrifice.”

His friend knew instantly what he meant; they had shared much together, Davis teaching the freshman Tim the basics of reading people and many other important street skills. That Tim had gone to the government, had been working on his idea all this time. That also meant Aimee was his government minder, and that she was as Davis had earlier surmised a field agent.

“Tim mate, let’s get the hell outta here, I’ll swing it so we get matching seats to you guys.”, so saying Davis smiled and wandered off to towards the Virgin concierge.

The others grabbed their luggage and began trooping towards the exit. Davis soon caught up. He deliberately slotted in right on Aimee’s right shoulder, saying nothing but matching her pace exactly. She said nothing and they continued on to the boarding hall. The lady on boarding passengers at the Virgin checkout gate glanced at Davis as past. Right on cue he flashes his million watt smile, and she is putty in her hands.

“Ma’am, I’m so tired, did the crew make my seat up already?”

“Why yes Mr Lockyer!” smiling she asked shyly, “Are you at all related to the famous footballer?”

“What?! No not that I know of, but thank you for the comparison, miss?”

“Ms Carlton, I’ll be attending you in business class.”

“I look forward to it.”

With that Davis marched on quickly to catch the others, who smirking had all stepped ahead laughing. Truly the mood of their group had become charged Davis thought, like a crew about to hit the party circuit, each person with a single minded purpose; their thoughts in train for a night of total debauchery.

Virgin 777, Business deck 9:00:15 75km East of Singapore

Davis stared at Tim, Ronnie’s left arm was entwined in his, and she seemed to lose the constant fear she carried for those moments when she touched him. Aimee was staring at Davis, whilst talking softly into her shiny phone caressing it between long slender white fingers. Davis said,

“Tim less than 24 hours ago I almost got both Ronnie and myself...” he squeezed Ronnie’s hand,

“Killed twice. Some really nasty people, guys I’d only heard rumours of in Asia turned up everywhere I went. Kill squads, snatch squad” he paused for effect, “The works!”

Tim could hardly believe what he was saying; I mean if it was true? Then why was his friend smiling! He really was completely loco.

“So I figured Ronnie and I needed to get the hell out of Sydney. It’s too hot what with ninja death squads running around.” He was about to continue, but Aimee suddenly cried out,

“What? What did you say? Ninja squads?”

“Yes, Aimee, I believe.” She nodded back at him, “Ninjas that most normal people would’ve probably got themselves cut in half by. Any ideas why they might be waltzing around George St?”

“So! You are the one that is all over the net. I must say that was some impressive stuff. Where did you learn that?”

“Oh you know”

Suddenly Davis was coy, cunning,

“Just some backyard gym in Bangkok.”

Knowing that she would know it was anywhere but.

“But Tim why are you here? Why take some trip to East Africa if you just hit pay dirt?”

Tim looked at Aimee; she seemed to be struggling mightily. She argued twice into her phone, both times whispering harshly that it was her opinion Davis couldn’t be trusted. At the last she simply turned to Tim and her face an ice queen’s mask, nodded.

“Davis bro, you gotta understand, we didn’t just crack it. Nah mate, we nailed it. A super stable compound that has almost 100% mass to energy conversion, a safe, clean exponentially better form of uranium. Best of all, the compound, because of the inter dimensional properties of the lattice, is able, in a way I’m not yet fully able to explain trap energy and remain in a light gaseous state. This gaseous state actually has the appearance of a solid. So we ended up with a crystal that is no more than a large emu egg, weighs the same, and has the energy to power twenty cities for a decade. Bang! Right there. All the world’s energy problems solved. Next problem.”

Tim smiled for a second, the first time his friend had seen him do so since catching up again.

“So maybe they were onto you somehow through an insider?”

“Yeah maybe mate. Some ninjas jumped us and stole the crystal. I mean we can make some more, but it’ll take about six months, assuming they didn’t do any sabotage on the way out. The problem is with what’s now out there. In the wrong hands... I don’t think that I have to tell you.”
Davis nodded. Pieces of the jigsaw started to move, but one piece that was annoying him didn’t move into place.

“Aimee, the squads we encountered definitely had satellite access. What you have my friend caught up in; these guys have moles inside at least one of your departments.”

“We’re aware of the possibility.” was all Aimee would say.

Then she got back to her phone.

“So you still haven’t told me why you’re going to East Africa. All your contacts are in Europe Tim. Surely if somebody else is close to this tech, the end product might help them to crack the code.”

“I’ve spoken to everyone Davis, all morning discretely of cause, nothing remotely similar came up. Then Aimee’s white hat security expert came back with news that some group called the Deadly Eastern Wind have put out enquires to employ nuclear fusion experts, who technically don’t even exist commercially at ridiculous wages.”

“So you reasoned that this group must have staged the robbery. Ok but that still doesn’t explain why you and Miss little black dress here, are going there?”

Aimee stared him. Her eyes were burning holes in the side of his head. He seemed to get excited by the attention.

Aimee interjected, “How are going to find it? We need Tim to identify the infrastructure we think they would have to build in order to learn anything from it. Also Tim is the only one that understands its capabilities. The decision is made.”

“Ok, Aimee. Davis there’s something else, this uranium; I’ve done some preliminary projections. Unlike regular uranium used in fission, lattice uranium doesn’t require enrichment. It goes from a low output state to an ultra high output high yield state when used in a bomb. Assuming you had the tech to build a bomb this thing would give you a yield equal to one hundred Hiroshima’s, and weighing less than 30 kilograms.”

Davis whistled slowly, this was starting to make sense.

“Do you know what? Things are starting to make more sense. One sec.”

Davis got up, kissed Ronnie gently on the forehead, and made his way to the business class toilet at the back of the plane. He always hated airplane toilets. He was too tall and hit his head against the roof. He finished taking a slash, gave the snake a shake, and then turned towards the mirror washing his hands vigorously. He heard shouts outside and paused on the way out. Instead he put his ears to the door and listened. Beyond were excited Asian voices yelling in broken English,

“E bre body downnn! Nnn ow!”

Guided by instinct Davis placed his hand silently on the latch to the door, but didn’t turn it. His mind went blank. Mindscape extended. The emptiness became a vacuum. Within the vacuum the void seemed to call to him. His mind felt compelled towards the centre. A song drifted by. A song from his past, from his corroboree. A song with intent, one designed to loosen and free the mind bound in this reality for the dreamscape beyond. Inside out. The void took form.

Eyes closed his body uprooted and drifted astrally away from its mooring. A ghost floating forty thousand feet up in the air. A ghost floating right through the cubicle door and into the business class bar lounge beyond. He could see the first bad guy – more Blue Tiger ninjas by the look of things. They had regular clothes on but had pulled black ninja masks on and were wielding what must have been fully ceramic modular sub machine guns.

These guys were just too much, and he was starting to get really, really angry. I mean come on he could take out these clowns all day but picking on civilians like Ronnie and Tim? Shit was about to get real for these cats. But first he had some serious recon work to do.

KARARCH! Boom, the power word jolted him back. His physical body tingled. Nerves jumped tendons as hot energy reconnected nerve fibre bundles to consciousness. Poetry is a condition of love, then I am the colour of a feeling that makes me feel so goddam.. The rush was electric. Every. Time. He did it. Like honeyed gold it ran, dripping down his back. If you tried to explain it people thought you were a drug addict. Davis suppressed the association.

Temporary kinaesthesia brought on by astral travel was only a small drawback. The elders had told him it was because he had tried to eat something the first time they had taken him dreaming. Personally he just remembered Old Ninag and the smoke. That magic smoke that could take the tribe anywhere.

He braced his shoulder against the door, and then stopped. There was a better way. He picked up his mobile and touched Tim’s name from his contact list. His Bluetooth earpiece picked up straight away, and he slotted the phone back into his pocket.

“Tim put Aimee on straight away. Then grab Ronnie and make your way back, without starting a panic, to the back of business class. Don’t have time to explain mate, just grab Ronnie and move now!”

“What is it Davis?” Aimee’s voice was level without the earlier seductiveness that she had used around Tim and the others.

“Blue Tiger ninjas. They are taking over the plane. There are six, three of them are ahead of you in the flight deck between the flight cabin and business class. The nearest one is ahead of you moving in towards the start of business class. Approaching in 10 seconds. There are five more that I have detected still lurking in the forward hold. I need you to check that out. Davis out.”

He knew he had to trust her, the way that Tim already did. She was a secret agent though so it was going to be hard. Her steel blue eyes told him so much. Davis could make people turn away, make it hurt to look inside him. She had stared right back and then some. That told him something.

“In the world of man, there are many creatures made of fear. Those few who we call warriors are the brave because they have the courage to face these fears. In their eyes you will see the truth Davis. For it is in the eyes of the noblest of creatures that cannot hide who or what they truly are.” – 
Bear five minutes before the end. The day the world destroyed a boy and built a man.
He shouldered the door roughly, partly smashing it off the hinges, as it burst open. He was desperate to cover the distance to the bar lounge as quickly as he could. He didn’t try to land on his feet. He rolled from the impact, twice. Coming up he lunged cat like across the remaining space towards the ninja. Too late the other man turned swivelling his gun at Davis.

Davis was faster. He had the strength of a leopard charged inside his forearm and a hand that was trained in smashing 20 kilogram bricks. His attack came like a hammer blow from above, and it was in more ways than one so excruciating. The initial contact knocked his opponent unconscious. The hammer blow cracked the shoulder, causing a compound fracture that popped the shoulder bone exposing it through the skin. As his opponent fell to the side, the man’s other arm was reaching desperately for a knife at his side. It slid out from his left arm straight towards the unprotected mid section of Davis. Wearing only a shirt the blade was sure to slice right in. Davis lunged back desperately. Fighting his balance he pushed himself back. At that exact moment the plane was rocked by shaking turbulence.

Both fighters were knocked off their feet and fell head over heels onto the ground. In the time it had taken for his opponent to hit the ground, Davis had shifted his weight to his right foot and was rising like a serpent on one foot. The other foot was rising towards the ninja. It struck the remaining left arm just above the elbow. A small shattering noise signalled that the ninja had taken another compound fracture. The pain must have been unbearable. The ninja through gritted teeth stared at Davis for a moment then keeled over finally unable to take it anymore.

Davis moved quickly past the bar area into the premium economy deck. He stopped at the curtained entrance to carefully peak through. There were at least two gun toting creeps with ceramic semi automatic weaponry. The area in front of the curtain was overcrowded. Mainly due to the pandemonium that had resulted from having armed ninjas with assault rifles patrolling the isles.

Davis had no sense of how this might play out. His mind was occupied with Ronnie and his friend Tim. He hoped Aimee was securing the business class passenger deck. Without it the plane would soon be in control of the ninja clan. The deck afforded the main access point to the flight cabin. The pilot was now the main objective. He wondered if Aimee was up to the challenge.

Virgin 777, Business class passenger deck 9:30:15 406 km North-East of Singapore

Aimee was moving slowly. So slowly that she didn’t make a sound. She had no intention of allowing the ninjas to open fire. Her opponents would need to be silenced with close quarter lethal force. Two lay ahead sectioning off either end of the business class deck. Getting past either of them without being seen would be next to impossible. If they were real ninjas they’d be trained in passive field detection, otherwise known as having an active sixth sense.

She walked quietly yet deliberately past the curtain, squeezing her narrow frame past the curtains edge so that it minimised the movement. The two ninjas were facing each other, offset slightly from the doorway so they could cover each other’s doorway and still not be taken by surprise.

Crouching, she removed metal throwing knives from her jacket. With a flick of her wrist, two knives became six, the three in each hand hanging with edges extended, hilts grip locked between each set of knuckles. She pulled back her left hand and hurled the first set at the ninja ahead at the other end of the deck. One knife buried itself in either shoulder, disabling any chance of nerve pulses firing the weapon. A millisecond later a third buried two inches deep in the forehead. The ninja pitched forward onto the ground.

A full half a second later the remaining ninja reacted to the other’s demise. That was already far, far too late. Aimee pivoted smoothly to her right leg, swinging the left around in a tight arc. Her movements were small and sensual. Black stockinged pins were like a deadly whirlwind. Her hips swivelled, her arms swung high and wide. Each fist came up; colliding against the ninjas head in hammer meets the anvil. He dropped to the ground, she dropped with him. Cradling him by the arms. Her smaller frame strained under the heavy male. Disarming him she rolled him roughly onto his belly, then uncoiled a length of restraining wire in a whipping motion from behind her jacket.

She expertly tied his wrists. Her mind was suddenly filled with another presence. The passive field detection training was kicking in again.

“Give in to your senses, your mind is like a lake, when the ripples become a tsunami great danger approaches.” - PFD trainer Samantha “3rd eye” Jones

There was a presence, and it was causing waves to wash over her. She was sensitive to the way they felt as they rolled over her skin. Right now it felt like, incredibly negative.

A ninja stepped through the curtain that separated the flight deck from business class. As the curtain flashed up Aimee could see another ninja. He was using a handheld oxy-acetylene torch to cut through the door to the flight cabin. Then the curtain flashed down again and the hulking ninja stepped forward.

It was immediately apparent that this ninja was different. She stepped gingerly into the isle, looking down at his feet. She quickly studied every part of his body, looking out for any concealments or weapons. He seemed to radiate an evil power. He raised a clenched fist; suddenly she was raised from the ground by an invisible force. She grimaced with pain, there were invisible bands wrapped thickly around her neck, her whole weight pulling against them. Aimee let go of the invisible bands and held her breath. She disbelieved there were any bands around her neck. Suddenly she was falling to the ground, as the openly shocked ninja went into a defensive posture. She hit hard and rolled, coming up into a cartwheel. Her remaining knives flew out as went all aimed directly at the ninjas head. He parried each with his lead arm, as though swatting away flies.

She rose two metres from him. His eyes are grey, small slits that look like snake eyes. He looks out at her and she can feel his hate. Feel the evil that he has committed. He is used to feeling overwhelming power; it shows in his contemptuous stare. She feels rigid. It’s like there is ice in her veins. Her body is frozen and numb. She feels an urge to retreat. A little girl, one that she thought was a long way away, suddenly seems really close. She is that little girl, and she just wants to ball up into a comfy warm ball.

No! She wrenched the rapid decision making away from the false image of her past. The ninja was less than half a metre away, her elbows and keens felt jammed up. His body seemed to move towards her with lightening speed. Or rather her own limbs, still felt fresh from a deep, deep sleep.

His massive right arm shot out engulfing her lithe neck in a choke. His hands felt like solid steel. Almost as though a cyborg were choking her, the arm extended of the shoulder joint raising her helplessly into the air. She started counting; she knew she had fifteen seconds before a lack of oxygen rendered her ineffective.
Fifteen seconds to use, how often did life come down to that? Her mind was a electrified with determination, you won’t take me you, it doesn’t matter how strong you are, because you evil chump. I-am-stronger! So thinking, Aimee used the first couple of seconds to completely relax. Now that she had broken the mental hold of this evil psychic she needed to flood her limbs once again with invigorating nerve pulses. They flooded down her nerve fibres, a great ladies body is reawaken from slumber. The anger was gone now, the rage replaced with a warm uniquely female emotion far in excess of anything a male could summon. Her thoughts were crystal clear once more. Her body had been returned.

At the sixth second she smiled, and as the white of her teeth beamed out, for the first time the man in front of her looked unsure. He looked back into eyes that held not a speck of fear. His method of mental domination completely failed, he raised the other arm intent now on finishing his prey.

The other arm came up with what looked like a cruel sickle weapon. A round metal bar, one end finished with a sickle shaped serrated cutting blade, while the other had a long metal chain. The chain was clumped in his great hand with end of the bar. The weapons sickle blade was even now coming down centimetres from Aimee’s chest. She had less than four seconds of air left.

Those long, sexy black legs rose up like a gymnast on the high beams. Making perfect half circles that formed an inverted V on either side of her opponent. With one second left those long legs came in hard. Putting everything into it she squeezed her legs together into his head. The heels of her shoes crashed into his temples, momentarily knocking him a daze.

As she fell from his grip blood and oxygen seemed to want to flood in, she suppressed the feeling knowing she needed to remain very calm. She could already feel this creep trying to intrude back into her mind. Her arms struck out in a series of lightening attacks. Open palmed strikes broke against his body without any seeming effect. Then with a momentary pause in between her barrage he struck out at her. His closed fist smashed hard against her abdominals. Pain! Like a rush of hot lava exploded inside her. Hurled back five metres along the isle.

Force yourself up woman. No one is going to do it for you. Get up now. Her body didn’t want to respond. That punch had knocked her badly, she knew she would have to be more cunning, she couldn’t duke it out with the ninja. Limbs already heavy were soon forced to endure; she half punched her left arm into the ground and rose. Arise Aimee, I believe in you, I believe in me, and I will not falter. I love my nation, and right now, it depends on me. Wobbly legs straightened. You will not beat me.

Aimee advanced, it had to end now. There would be no second chances. Not this time. For the first time the ninja spoke evil dripping from his voice,

“So! A worthy opponent. By rights bitch you should be dead. I think now is the time to stop toying with your mind and put you out of your misery.”

A wave of nausea engulfed her as his mental tricks reached a zenith. As she walked closer to him the nausea got more intense. It’s just a trick; there is nothing, in this reality or the next; that can hurt me. She wiped blood from her nose. It ran away in rivulets across the top of her slender hand.

She casually wiped it neatly with a handkerchief that as if by magic appeared and disappeared the moment she needed it to. She spun once, twice, and kicked heel first. Driving hard the upswing of her kick landed cleanly into the abs of the man now behind her. Devil may care style; she somersaulted in the isle, with zero clearance for error. The tips of her shoes softly brushed the cabin roof, descending down. Snapping out and landing at the top of his chest. The ninja was knocked back, falling down, and then getting back up into an instinctive lion stance.


The man turned and sprinted back through the curtain. Aimee raced through not caring for her safety, expecting a trap. What if this freak got within the cabin with the pilot? Her mission was always first and foremost to protect Australian life. These guys were terrorists on a level of sophistication that did not bear decent people thinking about. The trouble was that they existed at all she thought.

The ninja she had just been fighting was missing but the sixth and final minion was there. Beyond him lay an open door and the final room before the cockpit. He had turned from his assigned task, looking menacingly up at her.

Enough she thought, throwing herself headlong into knocking out the bad guy with a knee to the solar plexus, then wrapping her arms around his head until she had chocked him unconscious. She slowly advanced past the door dreading what she would find. If the ninja had control of the craft.. She considered this might actually be her last mission, but just as quickly dismissed the thought.

Virgin 777, Flight Cabin, 9:32:11 415 km North-East of Singapore

Captain Daniel “Maccas” Johnson shifted within his seat, uncomfortable at the heat coming into his air conditioned cabin. The noise had been growing louder for the last couple of minutes.

They had received a brief distress message from an agent on board telling them to hunker down and keep the already locked cabin door sealed. When the captain had discreetly made enquires he’d been advised of possible terrorist action, then abruptly further communications had been cut off. Now all internal and outbound radio was blaring static across all channels. No ground contact, but the active and passive radar systems still worked. Somebody didn’t want any word getting out.

His co-pilot, First Officer Darryl “Fly-boy” Simmons was working up an unhealthy sweat in the co-pilots seat. His actions belied the nervous disquiet of someone that has far too long to think about a fate for which they would rather not. He cast furtive glances every ten to twenty seconds at the door behind them. Really though it was futile. They could put the plane on auto pilot, and then what... suddenly Maccas had an idea. 

He proceeded to put the plane on auto-pilot. He then reached under the seat and located the emergency axe that was secured there. He carefully brought it out and lofted it two handed.

“What the hell?” said Fly-boy,

“You’re not seriously thinking of using that think are you, Maccas mate?”

“Mate, what choice do we have? You know these terrorists, do you think we’ll be heroes if we meekly surrender the plane then they dive bomb into the twin towers in Kula Lumpar? Mate we got two choices. Sit still and wait for the shit that’s gonna come through that door. Or wing it and gut the thing as it comes flying through.”

So saying he lofted the axe once more and carefully made his way around the cabin to the outside of the cabin door. He waited on the side without the hinge. That way when the door swung open the first thing that stepped through had an even money chance of copping a swift path straight to hell.

Moments later the lock on the door was cut. The door was carefully, slowly opened. Fly-boy couldn’t help himself. He climbed out of his chair and turned to face the unseen menace. Slowly, slowly the door swung open.

Fly-boy just stared. At first Maccas thought that he was transfixed in fear or horror. But as he looked closer he noticed that his co-pilot’s eyes were glassy. Still no-one had come through the door. Maccas let the axe drop low resting it close to the wall. His co-pilot seemed to be mumbling semi-incoherently.

“Yes...” drooled Darryl.

“Simmons.” Maccas spoke up trying to get through to him.

“Yes..” entombed Darryl.

“Simmons!” insisted Maccas.

“Yes... Master... I... will... fly... the... plane.. for you.”, Fly-boy droned.

He then turned compliantly, his relaxed state in quiet contrast to his earlier state.
What the fuck is wrong with you? Really what was so wrong that made him act like that thought Maccas. He was deadest off his tree. Then he heard the voice. That superfluous voice. It melded with reality making you want to do its bidding.

“You can come out of the dark little hero” the voice mocked in a condescending tone.

Maccas knew it was useless, his surprise was gone. Who knew what lurked there. He stepped out into view of the doorway. Immediately he saw what had controlled his colleague. A large dark clothed man. A huge man, clothed like a, like a ninja, and with the scariest red eyes he had ever seen. Eyes that seemed to bore into him speaking of things tainted and poisonous. Things so dark and evil that no one could hope to live with the knowledge. He seemed to promise all these things to you with his eyes.

Maccas side stepped bolding out into the open, his axe pounding heavily into his outstretched left hand. It felt like some FF gym class. Like some evil instructor the faceless ninja, nevertheless had a look that expounded untold pain in the session to come. Who could face such a horror and live?

Maccas didn’t want to die. He still had his axe. He looked up at the bad guy and stepped into the breach.
Instantly he was wracked with a wave like force of unnerving pain. Real pain. The type that Maccas new, even though he had never experienced a state remotely similar with his body before, was akin to torturing his essence. He burned, from within.

Then as quickly as he felt the rush, it was gone. It didn’t exactly get replaced, just reduced to a tiny spec in his mind. The ninja seemed for a second to be looking at him as though a man that still looks upon a slave bound in heavy chain. The black ghost’s very body language was contemptuous of Maccas physical presence.

Very slowly, calling on his years of precision flight controls, Maccas kept his upper body from his shoulders down completely rigid. Nothing to give the hulking monstrosity in front of him a clue. His fear had reached the supreme level. Nothing within his field of vision did not elicit or excite some form of fear. The ninja himself was so scary that he had never dared looked on it directly and did not now. Instead he kept his gaze low and to the right, giving a cross glance of the legs and left side lower body.

Maccas knew that he had no time to lose. He had succeeded in raising the axe as close as he dared, it was now a short distance to the other man. Not knowing if he would have a second chance and assuming not, he punched out with his left hand, while he curled his right arm around the hilt. His axe went out wide of the ninja, and then he pulled it in hard. Suddenly his weight was shifting completely to the right, both hands now wrapped around the axe hilt.

The ninja instantly knew the ruse was up, but.. He had no time to react, and he knew it! He shifted his lead leg back with supernatural swiftness, but, even so, it was not enough. The leg was caught by the downward cut of the axe. Blood spurted away from the garish wound. Blood lust seemed to fill Maccas mind. He knew suddenly what the ancient warriors of yore had felt, navigators of the ocean, and warlords of the lands that they swept through. Once again just as quickly as before the image disappeared into a tiny dot within his mind.

Ever since he was a tiny kid, he’d been able to do that. Not really a skill that ever came to the attention of others, he had still at times found it to be useful. Like the time the cool kids had finally caught him, done with pranks and calls, they’d held him down. Dad had always told him how you took a beating was what defined you as a man. But just as suddenly as the punches had started he filed them all away. After that they called him mad. He had laughed at them, laughed as the biggest punched him in the head. What kind of a freak did that? Maybe dad had been right in a way, because after that nobody messed with him.

The ninja had recovered from his initial shock, the wound itself; enough to knock out a lesser man simply forced him to favour his other leg.

“So! I do not know how! But you! Argggh! We are not done little hero. Very few people have ever seen me defeated. Consider yourself in very elite company.” So saying the ninja took another step back from Maccas but not in a fearful manner.

Instead he turned to his left and bowed. Then with his left hand he began to draw a detailed hexagram in the air over the frame of the corridor. As he drew extremely thin threadbare red lines followed his left index fingernail.

His eyes glowed. Light emanated out for a foot around his eyes, and his face was bathed in an unnatural red glow. The hexagram now pulsed, then with a flash that filled the room in red light the lines rushed out toward the edges of the circle. At which point a tear in the fabric of reality seemed to open.

Maccas would swear later that was what happened. As the beautiful female agent had come into view, then a man who seemed to be her companion.  He told them the guy they were after, had simply leapt into thin air. When they then went back into the cabin, Fly-boy seemed to back in control normally. Back in control and totally unaware. The two with him weren’t though. The male who had introduced himself as Davis went over to the pilot and gently touched him on the shoulder. The pilot seemed to straighten up. He turned and smiled at Maccas.

“Hey mate, what are you doing letting all these people in the cockpit?” Fly-boy joked, not caring.
Davis looked hard at Maccas.

Maccas thought, don’t make this hard on Fly-boy. He really had no idea. Shit Maccas thought, he himself had never even seen anything remotely like that before. He didn’t even know how he’d been equipped to survive it. But he had.

Maccas piped up to Fly-boy.

“It’s all good, they are friends. Let’s get this bird home.”

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