Friday, December 23, 2011

Chapter 9

A test of rebirth – A test of time
Chapter 9 by Tobias Nixon

Blue Tiger Headquarters, 12:00:21, Hong Kong, China (P.R.C.)
The Ninja Master is sitting silently, apparently meditating, in the stone alcove of the small temple that is part of this fortress. Built into the side of a mountain, it had originally been a Buddhist temple that taught gung fu to the locals. His gaze is fixed on a large wooden carving of an encircled hexagram. Yellow smoke pours from a candle lit directly below the wall piece.

His mind is blank the spirit on his shoulder taps him lightly and he feels the touch like a man standing at the centre of an earthquake. The touch is heavy, the reverberations almost too much to control. As they settle his mind follows the powerful spirit. A silver trail like a cord of thick rope chases away in the distance. It is the way he imagines himself when travelling in his spirit body.

He meets the ancient master at the place they always do, atop Hung Kwong Hai mountain in central china. Amongst these mountains there is a hidden temple, the final earthly abode of Blue Tiger’s ancient master. Both men now sit opposite each other, choosing to float cross legged one metre in the air. Red light leaked from the Ninja Master’s eyes, a similar purple glow from the ancient ones.

The two of them spirit talk.

“How will you get this LU-bomb into America?” The ancient one enquired.

“Where they least suspect it, through legitimate shipping channels. Crate it up in a standard shipping container. Refrigerated so the uranium in the bomb doesn’t show up with an unusual thermal signature. We’ll leverage contacts in the North-West so we expedite its movement through customs and onto a truck. From there it’s a couple of hours drive to a disused garage in lower Manhattan.  Ground zero will be the yard out the front of the shop.” Said the Ninja Master.

“Aren’t you worried that customs will open the shipping container at some point?”

“It’s a risk, but the reality is that they only open one in ten.  Of course you’re right in that they are the biggest risk to this operation. That’s why we have invested significantly in insuring there are plenty of officials on the take. It wasn’t hard, the usual approaches were made; money first, dirty secrets second, family if they turned out to be a fucking priest.”

“When does it arrive?”

“It arrives on the 27th of June, and should have cleared customs and be in place by the 4th of July. Two days from now.”

“Good. Good. As I have asked you before though, do you want to poke the most powerful tiger in the world, straight in the eyeball? Make sure you understand the consequences of each action exactly. You must now realise they will come after you with everything. What are you going to do then?”

“And if they do? Blue Tiger are ninjas; we will just blend back into the shadows, waiting for the shit storm to fly right by us. The best they can do is wipe out all numerous front operations; delink us from our local markets in HK, Singapore and Taiwan. Our “puppets of state” strategy from three years ago worked out well. Spies in the US state department have discovered they still think our head quarters are at the old location. Lok Fung Ng, and his second man, Shi Te Tang do a convincing job of issuing our instructions.”

“So we have a proxy to bear the brunt of the inevitable attack that will follow. Of course you do not honestly believe that the US will not go after us because we are located inside China? They will hunt down and destroy everything they can find. You are talking about civilian casualties on a massive scale. If they want they could even use it as an excuse to start a war with China. A war that neither of country wants, and which America cannot afford.”

“Of course, all those things are possible, but then this was never about trying to blow up America. This is about an insurance policy. This is about our endgame for the people of Somalia. This is the last piece of the puzzle to gaining the political power and legitimacy that our clan craves.”

“Hmmm, as you say an insurance policy then. So explain to me again, in what way can alerting the Americans to the existence of a nuclear bomb on their doorstep, possibly achieve that?”

“We are going to tell them there is one. We’ll even hang the customs guys out to dry for proof. We won’t tell them where its located. Just show them some video of the bomb, and a video of the good scientist that made it talking about how it could wipe out half their eastern seaboard cities.”

“The Americans will be hamstrung initially. In the short-term they will be unable to act against us. This will certainly up the ante, and of course you must also realise that there will be no hiding once this starts? They will not stop, day and night until they believe that every last Blue Tiger clan member is wiped out. We must act swiftly and leverage the power of the situation that is presented to us.”

“Exactly! In reality the bomb will be a dud. The “LU” crystal will never leave Somalia. Construction of a massive power station capable of supplying all their needs, will give Blue Tiger social legitimacy in this country. We cannot exist within China alone. The party is deluded each year they grow bolder with radical elements. The socially progressive faction that has driven China to greatness is now subservient to factions that are driven by a level of greed that will see the country returned to the twisted oligopolies of the past.”

“So why not go build this somewhere else where a government can soak up the massive capital expenditure? Why Somalia? It’s a war zone and a famine state.”

“That’s exactly why we chose Somalia. The mood of public opinion. By the time the world see’s the “good” we are doing, the Americans will be unable to act. Until then we need the L-Bomb as insurance.”

Level 2 of the Power Station, 20:00:02, Northern Mogadishu.

Much later, several floors higher, and one hundred bombs later our intrepid adventurers were gliding in to the main turbine room number two. This was the last of the rooms on this level with a significant heat signature. Beyond was the main entrance to the building, a complex corridor of mesh wiring, barbed wire wrapped around large stakes, five inch steel blast doors and enough semtex to blow the shit out of half the city.

The message was clear enough, the place was booby trapped to the hilt. The only question was what message? The chances of anything recognisable being left within the blast zone was remote at best. It almost seemed to the men that the terrorists were testing them. The only viable entrance was the one they had chosen, the one that they had found out about.

What if they hadn’t found out about it at all? What if the bastards wanted them to find the tunnel, take the route less trodden, to what purpose?  If they had gone for a full frontal assault there would have been no bodies to hold triumphantly in front of the screaming masses. No evidence of American interference. No the options were limited at best; provide a suitable explanation to the government forces in control of the city, or if things went to plan...

No time to think the team were moving within the final room now. The devices instantly seemed more sophisticated. At a command from Aimee both men froze. One of the Americans had spotted a tell on the far wall that strangely was not registering with the suits analysis. A small dark protrusion now un-mistakable, had earlier escaped detection in the field sweep performed with an extended robotic arm prior to entering the room. Suddenly red laser light filled the room. A grid erupted silently in the air. The two men stood helplessly as the lasers crisscrossed their position. Oddly none of the neon tripwires intersected the men’s positions, coincidence or not? Or not thought Dusty.

“Commander” Dusty eye texted to Aimee, “We appear to be in a spot of bother. Nothing to worry about should be out of it in a Jiffy.”

“Don’t move a muscle, either of you.” Aimee looked worriedly back at the Captain of the SAS who was sitting cross-legged next to her right shoulder on the flat blue roof. “They won’t do anything stupid will they Captain?”

“Not on your life Commander” the Captain replied formally. “What do you suggest we do next?”

“I don’t like it, but I think we have very few choices at this point. I want you to lead the rest of the SAS into position outside the door to the second turbine room. We need to disable that sensor, whatever it is, and clear that room. Analysis seems to indicate that the LU crystal is coming from the centre of the room at best twenty metres from their current position. We cannot risk allowing it to slip through our fingers.”

“I understand Ma’am. Ghost squad, get ready.” He said it more for the benefit of the Americans that were not currently looking over their ePads.

On each device the SAS suits were showing a computer generated assault plan. The descent time, position of entry (via the hole that Easy-E had cut earlier) landing spot, and path to door were all shown in exacting detail. Total time for fast descent entry eight seconds. The first SAS soldier had already deployed a grapple next to the manhole cut by Easy. He didn’t check, he just latched a rope with a self locking carabineer and jumped through the hole. The next man followed so closely he looked like he was jumping on the head of his colleague. The captain went last stepping gracefully from the ledge, into the abyss below.

The team landed and deployed in seven and half seconds, simulation be damned. Once in position they waited for the order to begin disabling the room, starting with the strange black sensor. There Captain calmly ducked low then sprang at the open doorway. He executed two perfect somersaults, and then to his credit nailed an Olympic level landing to finish in the square of laser trip lights that surrounded the section of wall with the embedded device. He rose and immediately deployed the XO series arm given to him as squad leader. The arm extended over the device, active micro probes extended further if by mere fractions of an inch. Each probe transmitted live imaging data in a relay program. That program contacted a controller algorithm which in turn loaded a deactivation search protocol. Six seconds later the probes retreated having found a way to turn this thing off. Five multi jointed fingers replaced them, in appearance each was like a tiny blue metal rod, while in behaviour giving much the same appearance as a human hand.

The arm expertly tweaked what resembled on closer inspection a matchbox size spetnatz era space craft capsule. The jet black surface suddenly shined silver, and the arm beeped audibly.

“Fuck!” screeched the Captain softly.

At that very moment the four walls of the room began to split cleanly apart at the four corners. Less than a second later they came crashing down to the ground. The noise they made was ear shattering. The suits filtered it out without missing a beat. As the dust rose, the squad reacted quickly performing a broad spectrum scan and moving to form a defensive position behind the two still unmoving recon members.

The lasers that had previously shot out from the walls now crisscrossed the entire room. The ghost squad was now trapped in their entirety. Invisible suits mattered not in this labyrinthine maze of glistening ruby fractals.

A slight mist slowly surfaced the entire room. Rising to obscure ground level, troop without field scanners would have been blind. Instead each SAS trooper saw the scenery changing, as machine bays rose from the ground.

With no pause for good theatrics the complex web of red lasers began to shift in seemingly random patterns. Estimated time to hitting a “ghost”? One to two seconds at best. Aimee blanched her silent observation up until now bowling along nice with the tension. Now however things were starting to look somewhat grimmer.

The Captain must have caught her mood, for smiling to himself, he eye texted into the ePad general band chat room –                Never fear, the SAS are here.

With anyone else it would have read cheeserly. With the good Captain it was matter a fact. SAS never backed down.

Arms deployed from each suit once more. This time the fingers of each hand were loaded with special mirrors. The suit computers had calculated a group defence using just the outer three members to reflect up all the beams intersecting the group and their path forward to the device.

Well this was true to an extent. The computer couldn’t account for additional traps. The Captain was slowly moving his way towards the remaining members. The two recon members plus another joined him. Together they made their way toward what was the centre of the room.

No sooner had they progressed passed the area that was free of the deflected laser tripwires, than three small black cylinders rose from the ground. Each advancing trooper had his robot arm already deployed with the laser reflector attachment. It was probably all that saved them.

With a hiss and an explosion of hot gas from the base of each cylinder the weapons roared to life. They each shot out beams of blue laser light, each beam was designed not to provide a low energy tripwire, but as a high intensity stream that could cut through five inch steel plate armour. The beams were an array of vicious photons emitting extreme heat and light. The gases forced from the base filled the room with a bass like rumble, which echoed out towards the buildings walls.

The men were beaten back noticeably by the onslaught. Only the captain, being untargeted by the blue lasers was able to continue. The others duck or dodge as they might, were barely able to lose the tracking signature of the lasers. They could not continue any closer due to the power of the laser cutters. In fact two of the three were being gradually forced back. The third foolishly advanced closer, and was cut nearly in half as the laser first overloaded the arm’s reflection mechanism then proceeded straight down the middle of trooper’s body. The result was not pleasant. Each half fell down to the side, the men to either side of their downed buddy yelling, “NO!!”

The laser immediately continued its deadly arc, ignoring the advancing captain, and ganging up on the one of the two remaining members of the recon squad. The captain looked back on his under siege unit, the man being targeted suit would overload in seconds with the combined power of the two laser towers.

The Captain made a decision, the mission objective was worthless if he lost his squad achieving it. He stopped moving carefully forward, with his active field scanner, and pivoted hard to his left towards the nearest laser tower. The arm over his right shoulder became a crude yet effective battering ram,  as his spin ended it spun out like a spinning back fist that had somehow started from the middle of the back. The force of the metal hand hitting the electronic tower was ear piercing. The metal tore apart with the first blow, the electronics inside were shredded apart by a fist free now to tear it apart. The innards were soon scattered in a loose wreckage around the base of the device.

The two remaining lasers must have been co-ordinated by a CPU somewhere with multiple sensor types. The Captain had gone invisible as he destroyed the first laser tower, but the remaining two instantly locked onto him and began the attack. The Captain should have been destroyed. However as the “suit” overloaded and the invisibility failed what appeared when the invisibility faltered was not the Captain but a small device on the ground that resembled a small turtle with metallic spider legs. Atop its back was the Captains invisibility component, reconfigured to output the heat signature of a human. It advanced impotently on the laser’s and was quickly cut to pieces.

Even as the lasers attacked the turtle-spider drone, the Captain calmly marched towards the rear of second tower. The two members of the recon squad similarly attacked the final tower. Even as their metal fists descended on the electronic sentinels to wreck with vengeance these killing things, each tower made desperate counter measures. The two teams ducked quickly as a wide arc sprayed from the top of each tower in a semi circular arc. The beams missed and the towers were quickly destroyed.

The three men advanced on the centre of the room. A raised dais of metal plates folding in towards the centre sat right in the middle. Around it cables snaked over and into the middle of it. Three leather couches decorated the outside of the large raised circle. In the middle of the dais a red triangle vibrated. On closer inspection the leather couches were actually computer server bays sitting horizontally and covered with leather rugs. A icey breeze blew up from below the red triangular hatch.

The captain advanced towards the dais. “Commander Blackbear, I assume you would like me to investigate the hatch?”

“Yes. But get a trooper to connect up to the nearest server rack, I want to know what sort of information we can retrieve.”

  “Excellent! Dusty deploy your electronic scavenging. Go!”

Dusty moved up next to the nearest server rack and several cables that looked like small harpoons shot out of his arms punching through the walls of the server rack and injecting smaller cables that raced among the motherboard architecture looking for ports and slots to connect to.

Data began to stream back to Aimee from the suit. The LU Crystal appeared to be housed below the red triangular hatch. At least the servers were programmed to protect an object with the same dimensions. As Aimee continued to examine the data streaming past on her ePad an un-easy feeling began to rise in the pit of her stomach. She changed the filter on the search program to provide a report of the power output from the now defunct laser stations and the supply of energy coming from the hidden recess below the dais.

As she suspected the energy readings were not consistent with a super powerful source such as the LU crystal, but rather a more modest set of diesel generators that appeared to be located at the rear of the building.

“Sarge! Send one of the men over the side and take out those two generators around the back, the rest of you haul ass downstairs to the ground level and wait outside the entrance, for further orders.”

“Yes ma’am.” The SEAL members clipped onto a metal rappelling hook that had been driven into the roof of the building hours earlier by Easy-E. Sarge led the men over the edge two stories down to the ground, each man rappelling face first at break neck speed.

Easy-E went over the opposite edge landing to one side of the generators. Two casual shots through the sides of each metal container disabled the machines. The hum of the engines and thick acrid smell of burning diesel, was replaced with silence and thick oily smoke plumes. Having completed his objective, Easy-E began to move around the perimeter of the building looking for signs of any enemy stationed on overwatch.

The SAS inside the building were trapped. As soon as the generators cut out, what appeared to be an emergency routine suddenly activated. The room went pitch black then red lights came on. A siren started to whirl noisily somewhere far from there.

The SAS were unaffected by the dark, HD night vision was just an integrated subroutine in their suits. But what their suits were reporting was much worse than the dark. Each member’s feet were snagged in solid steel rings, which had clicked into place in sync with the confusion. Additional layers of rings had engaged soon after leaving team members stuck to the floor. The armour plates on the leg seemed to shield them, but several suits were reporting elevated levels of integral damage.

Aimee looked down at a near holographic layout design of the building below. Each floor was mapped in detail from the suit recon. Surprisingly the main generators taken out by Easy, were not the most predictable place to put them. Now that she thought about it that meant they probably weren’t the main generators.

Aimee looked up at the night sky. As she had turned her head the rush of events in this deadly battle had turned south, now looking down again the way forward felt clearer. Thoughts gradually started to unwind in time to the battle. They would get something back, if that was they got out of this mess.

“Sarge. You still at the front entrance?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I’m sending you co-ords for a blue beta attack.”

She looked below to the ground beyond the front of the building, but heard rather than saw the massive blast erupt from inside. It was a pinpoint rail strike by four warriors in perfect harmony. The shots so closely circled that you couldn’t tell fire patterns even with the US military grade image analysis package that displayed in their visors. The result was that the ground just below the Dias seemed to sink and four floors below, a massive fuel generator exploded.

The various traps disabled the SAS began to roam about looking for a control box, and a controller. Although they suspected remote control offsite, this level of sophistication may have required onsite interference. The US team below had already started smashing their way in past the dormant traps on the ground floor. Someone gave a shout from the far corner, however by the time everyone arrived all they had was the fleeting image of a set of legs disappearing down a sloping metal hatchway on the side of the building. Easy-E was dispatched to investigate the area, and recorded further footage of someone running, quickly consumed by the night and the buildings.

Buildings and Alleys, 24:00:00, Northern Mogadishu

God! Allah! Praise is to him. But still, how did he just escape those men? The insanity of this rush through madness was not lost on him. He knew he must have been given some kind blessings, and he now knew his enemies strengths. Truly today was a great day if only he could survive it. His rush took place through a thoroughfare of various shops that seemed to spill out from small multi storey terraces.
Through side streets and back streets, across a narrow dirt covered strip between two buildings, now he knew little by little he was home free. For starters he’d been moving for the last five minutes through terrain that no spy satellite could track. On top of that the area was controlled by loyal gangsters who would fold in around his entry, making pursuit next to impossible. That was unless you could withstand point blank attacks from RPGs.
In this lawless zone, he was as much a commander now as a man of science. As the scientist entered a nearby alcove a burly man, wearing a full length robes waited for him to pass and then stepped in front of the door blocking the passage. The scientist continued down a flight of steps inside the small building, down into a basement section. Here he was met by a secure vault door, with iris and fingerprint sensors embedded on the door panel. He entered a pass code on the num pad then titled forward to complete eye and finger authentication.

As soon as the door opened up the Guards on the other side stepped aside to allow him access to the narrow passage way. Once inside he would continue his work on the LU crystal. According to applications that he knew blue tiger had installed on the LU crystal field detection servers he was making good progress towards a connecting the LU as a power source to the grid. He wondered though if they knew how good that progress really was. He estimated he would have a window of two to three weeks before they realised the project was complete. More than enough time.

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