“The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future.”
“...official death toll now stands at sixty-two, with over one hundred wounded including twelve of the gunmen who were killed in a shootout with authorities.
The New York Police Department now confirms that there were sixteen gunmen involved in the incident and they have managed to apprehend four of them, although two are not expected to survive their wounds. The other two have not been permitted to be interviewed and neither local nor federal authorities are releasing any specifics on the men that they've apprehended, the Northstar Patriots(sic) have released a statement yesterday afternoon claiming responsibility for the attack and threatening further attacks until the United States government meet its primary demand of withdrawing from all international cooperation in fighting the war.
This is just the latest and most bloody in a string of attacks that the domestic terrorist group has claimed responsibility for. Prior to this, their most notorious attack came just two weeks prior when a truck bomb was set off outside a munitions plant in Columbus, Ohio, killing twelve. This marks the first attack that has not been directed against a government or industrial target.
The Justice Department released a statement...”
-New York Times article, dated December 30, 1987, written by Max Klein
-10:23 PM January 1, 1988, Trenton, New Jersey, United States
Clarice dodged a rather large group of people as she made her way through the crowded train station, all the while her attention never wavered from the young man about thirty feet ahead of her. He was a rather unremarkable man, probably in his early 20's, dark brown hair, he wore a pair of nondescript wire frame glasses, and was carrying three large suitcases with him. Aside from that, she did not know much anything else about the man, not even his name or what he was doing there.
The fact that she had so little information on the situation was unsettling to her, Clarice didn't like walking into an information black hole like this, but there was little time for research or fact finding, this was a rare window of opportunity that neither Roger, nor she, was willing to pass up.
About eighteen hours prior, Dr. Post had made a phone call to the voice mail service like he'd been instructed to, when she and Roger managed to meet with him, he had said that while completely cracking the code had eluded him, he had managed to partially decipher a message sent through one of the classified ads. It was a short little passage really, a reference to a plane landing in Philadelphia International Airport followed by information on three separate trains starting at the airport and eventually stopping in Trenton. No other information was available, just that someone or something was going from the airport to central New Jersey that evening.
Narrowing down just who from that flight they were after was not the easiest task in the world. Not so much due to any kind of subterfuge on the part of the man she was following, but due to the fact that Clarice had to figure it out and avoid detection in mere minutes. Twenty-six people went from the airport terminal to the train platform. Of those, twelve boarded the train to 30th Street Station, five of them stayed at the station rather than taking a bus, and three of them caught the train to Trenton. Two of those were a woman with a four year old daughter, and the other was a single young man with a large amount of luggage for one person.
Clarice had made a judgment call, there was nothing that directly pointed to the young man over the mother and daughter, but everything that Clarice knew indicated that chances were good that he was the one she was after.
He made his way down the stairs onto the street, passing by the bus stop and rounding a corner. Wherever he was headed, it was apparently within walking distance. She had let the young man get further ahead of her by now, without the crowds getting in the way, it was far easier to follow him, and letting the distance open up decreased the chance that she would be noticed, not that she was too worried about it.
Whoever he was, he was either very good, or completely oblivious to the fact that he was connected to a multinational conspiracy. He never seemed to look behind himself, the way he carried his bags left him at a considerable disadvantage in the event that he had to make a run for it or draw a weapon, and he showed no indication that he even had the slightest clue that someone might be interested in following him. She also concluded that he had no shadow, or any protection of any kind, at least none that she could detect.
After a few blocks, the target took a left, crossing the street. Two men who had been walking between herself and the young man took a left as well. An alarm instantly went off in her head. She'd spotted them three blocks before, but had dismissed them as merely walking in the same direction, but now she wasn't so sure.
They were dressed in worn out jeans, one sported a tattered denim jacket, the other a heavy grey trench coat, it was stained and worn. One of them was wearing a beat up pair of Nike hightops, the other a pair of faded Air Jordans. Their pace had also picked up as well, at this rate they would overtake the target in less than a minute.
One of them; the one in the denim jacket, reached into his pocket and pulled something out, she couldn't make out just what it was until something small flicked outward from his closed fist switchblade. The other one in the trench coat had also pulled something out, it was a snubnose revolver, small, probably a .22.
The body language of both men was jerky and uneven with a bit of swagger thrown in, street thugs to be sure, probably crackheads, definitely not pros. It was probably just a coincidence, a run of bad luck for this particular person. Then again, she didn't believe in coincidence. Her own pace quickened, just short of a full on jog. She reached inside of her windbreaker and thumbed the safety on her Glock 17 but did not draw it.
The wind cut right through Brad like he was nothing but wet tissue paper, he did his best to stifle a shiver as his muscles strained under the weight of his luggage. He gave thanks that he was only about two blocks out from his apartment, too bad the heat has been off in there for nearly a year and it wouldn't be much warmer when he got inside.
All thoughts of warmth and home were suddenly cut short as a pair of hands grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him into an alley. Pain shot through his knee as he hit the pavement and one of his bags slid off into a corner. He didn't know what had happened and was still trying to regain his bearings as he attempted to lift himself up off of the ground.
"Stay the fuck down man!"
He didn't know who had said that, but he didn't have time to wonder about that before something hard and blunt slammed into his side, sending even more pain through his body and knocking him back down to the ground where he partially rolled onto his side. He grunted in pain as one of his hands went instinctively to the spot where it hurt, as he started to look up, he was able to make out two pairs of legs standing before him.
"Where the fuck's your wallet shitface!"
It was the same voice, he thought it belonged to the man on the right, the one with the trench coat on "w- what?" Brad said confused. It was then that he noticed that both the men were armed; one was holding a knife, the other... a gun. He was being mugged.
His heart skipped a beat and his stomach felt as though it was about to drop out his backside "oh, oh please don't hurt me, I- I don't have any money on-" he was prevented from finishing his sentence as another kick to his stomach sent sharp stabs of pain throughout his entire body.
"Oh, you did NOT just tell me that you little bitch! I think I'm gonna have to cut you just for that."
It was a different voice this time, probably belonging to the man in the denim jacket. As he looked up his eyes met the barrel of a gun, the man in the trench coat was kneeling down in front of him. Fear cut through the pain in his abdomen and he started to try and crawl away from the man with the gun "l- look, you can have my wallet and everything in it. Jus- Just don't kill me, please" he pleaded as his right hand went for his right back pocket.
Clarice crept up around the corner of a building to get a look down the alleyway where the two thugs had shoved the bookish looking man about ten feet distant. They were standing over him, weapons drawn, neither of them even seemed to pay the slightest bit of attention toward the alley's entrance no, definitely not professionals.
She took a half a second to feel the weight of her weapon inside of her windbreaker, but let it stay there. She wouldn't need it against these two.
Taking care not to make any noise, she approached the pair of thugs, she crossed the distance in a few short seconds. Her first target was Denim Jacket; the one with the knife.
He was oblivious to her presence until her right foot slammed into his ankle, shattering several bones and causing him to lose his footing. He let out a cry of pain and his right arm slashed out, attempting to strike back at this new attacker with his knife, but she was already expecting it. She grabbed his one arm with both of hers and twisted it back behind his back sharply, an audible pop indicated that she had managed to dislocate the man's shoulder, then with little effort she pulled the knife from his fingers. With a final blow, she swung downward with a sharp chopping motion and crushed his windpipe, he hadn't even finished falling to the ground yet.
Trench Coat was just swinging his own weapon to bear on her.
"What the fuck?!"
His words were full of anger and confusion, his eyes had already locked onto her, fury shot out from them. She could tell from his expression that he had every intention of using that gun on her the second it was brought to bear.
What most people assume; wrongly, is that a gun is the end all be all of weapons. That by carrying one, a person automatically is far more difficult to kill or harm, and that attempting to fight someone who is armed with one without having a gun of your own automatically means that you will lose. In actuality, a gun is only as good as the person who uses and maintains it, without proper training and practice, and without the proper care taken to maintain the weapon, it can be just as dangerous to the gun's owner as anyone he may try to use it against.
A gun also loses much of its advantages at such close distances. This combined with the false sense of security that it often bestows can lead a firearm to become a serious liability rather than an advantage, especially against the right kind of opponent. Clarice was just that kind of opponent.
There were several options open to Clarice, most of them involved increasing levels of complexity and took longer to get the job done the more caution she employed, she decided to go the most direct route.
Before he had the chance to swing the gun around to fire on her, she knocked his arm to the side and the gun with it. Simultaneously she crossed the scant four feet between them and shoved her newly acquired knife through his eye socket and into his brain. A small stream of blood shot out across the alley and landed on the pavement a few feet away, and then the man collapsed to the ground, dead.
Brad stared up at this woman in almost abject terror, first these two goons had shown up and shoved a gun in his face, and then this woman who he didn't know appeared out of nowhere and killed them both in the blink of an eye. Why had she come to save him? Where had she come from?
Her words were cold and emotionless as she crouched over one of the dead men.
"Look, I just-"
"I said keep your mouth shut."
Again her words lacked any sign of emotion, she looked up at him, her eyes were as threatening as the barrel of that gun had been, he decided that he had better do as she said. She started to rifle through the pockets of the man in the trench coat mugging the muggers? Who is this woman?
Brad's confusion deepened when he saw the mystery woman find something in the dead man's pocket; it looked like a crumpled up wad of cash, and she just tossed it onto the ground like it was a waste of her time. After about twenty seconds of searching, she found something that did interest her.
The idea that something could aggravate the woman who had just killed two men with such ease did not comfort Brad, he started to back away from her.
When she looked down at the photograph of the young man there with her in the alley, she knew that it had been far more than a coincidence but why would they hire amateurs like that? It leaves too much to chance. Something nagged at her from the edge of her mind, something she missed, but what?
"Who do you work for?"
There was only silence, she looked up at him, her gaze was intent.
"Who do you work for?"
The young man opened his mouth as if to speak, but no words came out. After a very long pause, he finally managed to form coherent speech.
"I- I just- Princeton University, but-"
"These men were sent to kill you, so don't bullshit me, who, do, you, work, for?"
"but- I- they ...they just wanted my wallet."
The confusion and fear in his eyes actually started to make her wonder if maybe he was telling the truth. She stood up, took a step toward him, and tossed the photo onto his lap "look, your average crackhead doesn't usually carry around pictures of the people they intend to rob, they were sent to kill you. Who do you work for?" she said as she crouched down and looked him right in the eye.
He picked up the photo and looked at it, his eyes lit up with what appeared to be a combination of both abject horror and realization "but, I- I do work for Princeton University, it's the truth!" he protested.
Clarice paused for a second, many of the men who built the atom bomb had worked for universities "what department do you work for? Physics? Chemistry? Biology?" she said as she stared at him intently.
He shook his head abruptly "n- no, I'm a research assistant in the archeology department" he said with some confusion.
She allowed a bit of confusion to creep into her tone; something wasn't right, this whole situation wasn't right, why would they send two men to kill an archeologist? What the hell was going on? What was it that kept giving her that nagging feeling at the-
The sound of a car pulling up followed immediately by the slamming of multiple car doors stopped her train of thought dead in its tracks of course.
First rule after assassinating someone was always to get rid of the assassins, she cursed herself stupid stupid stupid, she couldn't believe that she had made such a simple mistake. Pushing her own self recriminations to the side, she crept up to the entrance of the alley and poked her head around the corner. It didn't take her long to spot what she was looking for.
A few hundred feet away was a parked black Lincoln sedan, three men had gotten out, they were headed directly for the alley, all carrying weapons. Pulling her head back behind cover, her mind raced, these guys weren't amateurs like the two crackheads, they were most definitely professionals, and they had probably spotted her before she entered the alley. She looked over her surroundings, the alley was a dead end, so there was no escape except through those men heading her way. After surveying her options she made a decision, then headed back toward the young man.
Brad was still trying to make heads or tales of the situation, what did that woman want? Why was she there? Was she going to kill him too? After about a second or two, she turned and headed back towards him "what's going-"
"Keep your mouth shut."
When he saw the expression on her face, he decided that disobedience was a bad idea. When she was a couple feet away she leaned down and reached into her jacket, her hand came back out holding a gun, his eyes widened, she looked him in the eye, a very serious expression on her face "if you want to live past the next thirty seconds, I suggest you do exactly as I say, do you understand?" she said sternly. He nodded.
"Alright, in about twenty seconds, three men with guns are going to come around that corner and they will kill anyone in this alley that is still alive, so here's what I want you to do..."
DiCarlo felt the weight of his MP5 in his hands and thumbed the safety to the off position, the other two members of the team flanked him on either side, their own weapons at the ready. He didn't know who it was that had followed the target down that alley, but they would soon be very dead if they weren't already, the Old Man had ordered that there be no survivors, and DiCarlo was in the habit of following orders.
They finished crossing the street and came to the entrance of the alley, the other two members of his team were the first to arrive, they gave a quick visual sweep of the area, then signaled to DiCarlo that it was clear. He walked over until he was staring down the alley at three bodies, two were dead, one was very much alive, a dumpster, a large cardboard box on the opposite side of the alley from that, a pile of trash bags at the end, no sign of the fourth person. He looked down at the target who had somehow survived, the young man stared back at them with a terrified expression on his face "where's the other one?" asked DiCarlo.
The young man didn't say anything, but his eyes went to the dumpster typical thought DiCarlo "some breathing holes if you please" he ordered and he as well as the other two men raised their weapons. The sound of automatic weapons fire filled the alley and muzzle flashes illuminated the area with strobing white light. The metallic structure of the dumpster would normally have proven somewhat of a barrier against small arms weapons, but not armor piercing rounds, they went right through the dumpster as if it were made of cardboard. After he had been convinced that they had thoroughly saturated the dumpster, he ceased fire, as did the others.
Thoroughness was one of DiCarlo's greatest professional strengths, he looked at the other two "go check" he said. They nodded and headed for the dumpster. Dempsey reached for the lid "now" said the target.
DiCarlo's heart skipped a beat what-
His thought was cut short as the top of the cardboard box flew open and out popped someone: the mysterious fourth person. His muscles tensed and he started to bring his weapon up, but she was quicker, her gun had already been brought to bear on him, she fired. A sharp pain shot through his chest and a sudden splatter of warm liquid hit him in the chin. Her weapon fired a second time and then all thought ceased.
Clarice didn't have time to wonder whether or not her second shot had done the job, she immediately shifted her aim to the other two men there in the alley who were already turning to face this new threat. They were quick, with reflexes that had probably been honed through years of practice at this sort of thing, but she was quicker. By the time the first man was starting to bring his weapon up to his shoulder to fire, she had already drawn a bead on an invisible bulls-eye painted on his chest. She squeezed the trigger twice then swung her Glock over swiftly and placed two rounds the third man too.
Looking this way and that, she checked to see if any other threats presented themselves, if either of the three men in the alley there had survived her first attack. None of them moved, seemingly lifeless, she did not want to take the chance though, so she got out of the box, and walked over to the man closest to her and put a bullet in his head, then did the same with the other two as well.
Satisfied that there were no additional immediate threats she returned her attention to the young man on the ground, he was no longer staring at her, but at the body of the man closest to him, an expanding pool of crimson was creeping toward him "you- how?" he managed to stammer out a couple words. She didn't pay him much attention at the moment as she examined the three new dead bodies, all three were men; with close cropped hair, probably ex-military. Their weapons also drew her attention, two MP5s and an UZI SMG, these guys were definitely not amateurs.
Finally she turned her attention toward the kid "look, whatever your allegiances were before, your only option if you want to live is to come with me, any problems with that?" she said to him as she holstered her weapon.
He looked up at her, but didn't say anything for a moment, then "okay" he nodded.
About a half hour later they were sitting in a booth at a diner, a pile of bags stuffed into the benches next to each of them, they were sitting at a relatively deserted corner of the dining room "alright, so you say that you are a research assistant at Princeton, what exactly are you working on? Massive amounts of gold? Priceless artifacts?" Clarice asked over a cup of coffee.
He shook his head "Well, I haven't seen much gold at the dig, and while I would certainly call the artifacts that we have been handling priceless, I don't think they would fetch much in a sale if that's what you mean. To be honest, I really have no idea why someone would want me dead" he explained.
Clarice raised an eyebrow "well, whoever it is that hired those men, the last three we ran into were not the kind of people you can hire for cheap, so perhaps you had better think hard about that, are you sure that you can think of no one who would want you killed?" she asked.
Brad took a deep breath "sorry, no can do. Say, are you a spy? Working for the CIA or maybe the FBI? I'm starting to think that Dr. Atwood was right after all" he said with a sigh.
Clarice froze for about half a second, then looked him square in the eye "did you say Atwood? Dr. William Atwood?" she asked.
"Yes, that's right. Do you know him?"
"Is he still alive? Do you know where he is?"
"Last I saw him, yes he was still alive, and as far as I know he's still down at McMurdo Station in Antarctica."
-6:38 PM January 5, 1988, Moscow, Russia, Soviet Union
Nikolai studied the shot glass in his hands for about a second, examining it; and more importantly, the clear liquid contained within, then without further delay, he drained its contents quickly. It was good quality stuff, not the shit he had been able to get back home, and it warmed him as it went down his throat. If nothing else, these parties at least proved to be an adequate source for quality liquor "another if you please" he said to the bartender as he placed the empty shot glass down on the counter top. The bartender quietly filled the glass then went back to serving other guests.
Before reaching for his drink, Nikolai surveyed the guests. Dignitaries, high ranking members of the Politburo, members of the international press corps, bureaucrats, military officers. All manner of powerful and influential people, all here to celebrate the strength of the Soviet Union. It was not much different from any of the other publicity events that he had attended since coming back to Russia, all fancy pomp and circumstance and it all disgusted him. He understood the need to keep up appearances for the public at large, to keep up morale during such dire times, but this was excessive.
While good men and women suffered and died out at the front, and the vast majority of Soviet citizens suffered under strict privations, the ruling elite gorged themselves at these rituals in excess. His mind went to thoughts of the October Revolution, of days when Russian nobles and autocrats indulged themselves at court while the Russian Army was being massacred by the Germans and poor peasants starved in the streets of St. Petersburg. He wondered if the Communist party would have been headed for a similar fate if not for the war.
Nikolai had never been much of a believer in the bullshit spewed out by the party, he was certainly not a very good communist at heart, but one did not have to be a good communist to be pissed at the excesses he witnessed at these publicity events, and yet it wasn't really the principal of the thing that angered him so much. No, the powers that be had given him some very much more personal reasons for despising these cesspools of extravagance.
He reached up and fingered the gold star on his chest. Someone high up in the Politburo had decided that Nikolai had been deserving of the award of Hero of the Soviet Union. He certainly didn't feel that he was due such an award, he had said so much when he was informed of the decision, after which he had been promptly told that refusing would not be a wise idea for himself or his family. So upon his return to Russia, rather than being flown back home to Balakovo, he was shipped up to Moscow, and during a highly publicized and overly ostentatious affair, he had that star on the red ribbon pinned to his chest. He had been honored to be sure, it was the highest honor that anyone in the Soviet Union could receive, one that Georgy Zukhov himself had gotten four times.
The novelty had worn off quickly however. Soon he realized just why it had been given to him, not for anything in particular he had done, but because Pravda needed something optimistic to write about for the masses, although he was certain that had he just been sitting in a supply depot in Siberia all this time, he wouldn't have received the award. Ironically enough, when he read the articles about what he had done out there, he was surprised to find that the story had hardly been embellished at all, at least as far as he could tell anyway.
He was paraded around for the public like some prized animal, like a horse or a dog, sent from one publicity event to the next, told to smile for the cameras and give a few nice words for the journalists. Worse yet, they wouldn't let him go home either. It was infuriating.
He drained his glass again and slammed it down on the counter once more "another" he ordered the bartender who again complied silently, though the look in the man's eyes seemed to say 'comrade sergeant, don't you think it is time to stop?' Nikolai paid the man no heed.
A woman sitting further down the counter from him caught his attention. She had been eying him for at least the last five minutes. Draining his shot glass yet again, he slammed it down on the counter and made his way over to her. She was attractive, with long blonde hair, wearing a black pants suit, it was simple yet fashionable, probably made in France or somewhere else in Western Europe "are you enjoying the party?" he said casually as he sat down next to her.
She gave him a quick glance "about as much as one could be expected to enjoy such a spectacle. The politicians seem to enjoy congratulating themselves as much as they do fucking" she said with a strong tone of sarcasm.
He was taken aback by such a direct answer, he had never expected to encounter someone at one of these events with such a blatant disregard for niceties, he grinned at her "it's nice to meet you, perhaps I should introduce myself, I am-"
"I know who you are Comrade Sergeant Antonov, I don't think there is a single person in the Soviet Union who doesn't recognize your face."
"You have me at a disadvantage then, just who might you be?"
She gave him an enticing smile "my name is Marina Gurov" she said before downing the last of the contents of the wine glass she had been holding.
He returned her smile with a grin of his own "I see that you do not much enjoy these events then?" he inquired cheerfully.
She shook her head "that would be an understatement, and you? You seem to have made far better friends with the bartender than anyone else here" she said.
He formed a glib expression on his face "I find myself almost nostalgic for days when I had horrific alien beasts trying to disembowel me on a daily basis" her replied half sarcastically and half seriously.
She gave a gentle chuckle.
The next morning he awoke in his hotel room bed to see Marina walking in through the doorway with a towel around her waste and nothing else. The sight warmed him slightly and he smiled.
Shortly after their friendly meeting at the party, they had managed to extricate themselves and make it back to his hotel room. What followed was about a two hour long session of sex, drinking, and more sex. It had been a most satisfying experience, a way for him to take out his frustrations in a less than violent manner.
Once, about a month before he had been conscripted and shipped off to Afghanistan, he had had his first sexual experience with a young girl by the name of Nadya. It had been a clumsy and awkward affair, it had also felt like a lifetime ago, and yet it was less than three years prior. Marina was far more well practiced than Nadya, and Nikolai had been far less nervous. Perhaps it was because after experiencing what he had, there wasn't much left to fear, perhaps it was because he didn't really care about Marina or what she thought. Honestly; he didn't know, and didn't really care.
He looked up at her with a faint smile on his face "why did you come to bed with me? Is my celebrity status that much of an aphrodisiac?" he asked.
She shook her head as she sat down on the bed next to him "maybe a little of that, maybe a little of me wanting to do my duty for the motherland, maybe I thought you were attractive and wanted to see how you would fuck" she replied.
He chuckled slightly "and just how did I do? Did I receive a passing grade?" he asked with a touch of humor.
She smiled as she leaned over and kissed him on the forehead "slightly better than average, not bad for a boy your age" she said.
"Well then, how about doing your patriotic duty once more before you go?"
She looked him over then answered him by giving him a long, passionate kiss on the lips.
An hour later she was gone and he was still laying on the bed. They hadn't exchanged any information to contact one another, he didn't even know what she was doing at the party or what she did for a living, and yet it didn't matter. They both knew that it wouldn't progress beyond that one night, they had both gotten what they wanted out of it and that's as far as their relationship had progressed.
He made a personal promise to himself as he finally picked himself up out of bed and walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower. He decided that no matter what his handlers at the Politburo said, he would go home finally. He would go home to see his sister and not a single thing would stop him, not this time.
-2:22 PM January 6, 1988, Trenton Police Department, Trenton, New Jersey
Detective George Stenton poured over the reports and photographs on the desk before him. This was big, unpleasantly big. Whatever had happened in that alley over off of Walnut last week had been a lot bigger than a simple mugging or drug deal gone bad. Whoever had killed those five men wasn't fucking around.
First there were the two skels, one had three bones in his ankle broken, a fractured collarbone, and his windpipe had been shattered; all seemingly done without the use of a weapon. The other had been killed by means of a switchblade shoved clear through his own eye socket into his brain, and forensics had reported that prints from his dead friend had been found on the weapon along with a set of prints from an as yet unidentified third individual, and even more alarming was the fact that the .22 still clutched in his cold dead fingers had not been fired once before the poor bastard bought the farm.
It didn't take a master detective to realize that someone had somehow managed to overpower and kill two armed men seemingly without any weapons of their own. He wondered if Batman had decided to take up residence in Trenton, he didn't think it likely though.
Of course then there was the second group of men, all heavy hitters, all carrying some pretty impressive hardware, all of whom had taken a considerable disliking to the dumpster there in the alley, and all of whom were dead; and if ballistics was correct, all of whom had been killed with the same weapon(seemingly by the same person). Why did he get the feeling that it had been the same guy who had capped the two crackheads?
Whatever had gone down, it did not sit well with him one-
His train of thought interrupted, George looked up to see two well manicured men in suits standing before his desk “uh... yes?” he asked, perplexed.
The gentleman standing closest to him reached into his jacket and pulled something out “good afternoon, I'm Agent Donnell, and this is Agent Trent, we're here in response to your call to the FBI last week regarding a shooting” he said as he extended an FBI badge in George's direction.
He gave the badge a cursory inspection then nodded “oh, what took you guys so long? It's been nearly a week since we called you” he said half complaining.
Placing his credentials back inside his jacket, the FBI man gave the precinct a look around, as if looking for something "I apologize sir, we've been awfully busy. What, with that rash of terrorist attacks over the past month. As I'm sure you understand, we are a bit short handed at the bureau” he said almost dismissively.
“Alright, well I'll be glad to have you guys helping us out in whatever way you can. We're busy enough as is without a mass murderer running around the city.”
“That's quite alright detective, we'll take it from here. We'll just have to collect everything you've got on the case.”
George almost fell out of his chair at that “wait... what? You're taking over the case? You can't do-” he started to protest as the Donnell cut him off.
“I'm afraid that we must, you see we have evidence that this is related to terrorist activity and is a matter of national security. I'm sure you understand” explained the federal agent as the other one pulled out a folded packet of paper from his own jacket and laid it down on George's desk “we have a warrant and have already run this by both your chief of police and district attorney. As you see, all of the paperwork is perfectly in order” he said, his tone was almost smug as was his expression.
George wanted to plant his fist right in the arrogant bastard's smirking face, he reached for the papers and started to page through them, ready to look for anything improper “now you jus-” he was stopped again by a hand on his shoulder.
He looked up to see Captain Timony “sorry George, they're right. I just got off the phone with the District Attorney's office, they've got the jurisdiction. It's their problem now” he said apologetically.
Fifteen minutes later, the man who had called himself Donnell was driving away with his fellow impostor with four cardboard boxes full of police documents and crime scene evidence in the trunk. He picked up his Motorolla DynaTAC and dialed the Old Man “yes?” came a voice with a faint southern twang.
“This is Duncan, we've just confirmed why the Trenton team didn't report back on time.”
“Yes sir, all of them.”
“What is your assessment, the altar boys?”
“Not enough information at this time, but it doesn't look like their style.”
“One of ours then?”
“Possible, but unlikely. All the other covenants have kept to their part of the agreement on IGLOO. This may be a new player.”
There was a pause, then “are you sure about this?” came the question, it was almost an allegation as much as an inquiry.
Duncan paused himself, he certainly hoped that he hadn't overstepped his boundaries “not certain yet sir, but I think that we have to be open to the possibility. We've been making a lot of moves these past months and the risk of a certain level of exposure is considerably higher as a result” he explained.
The Old Man hesitated once again “alright, you may be onto something. Have you cleared up everything at your end?” came the inevitable question.
“Yes sir, we're just leaving the police department now, all the empties are on their way from the freezer to the shop to be disposed of as we speak.”
Such a simplistic way to refer to disposing of dead bodies always struck him as odd, but it didn't bother him.
“Perhaps it is time that you take a side trip to Boston then.”
Duncan stopped there, for a second he caught himself gaping. He hadn't expected that “You'd like us to shutter the doors on the cleaners then?” he asked after a while.
“That's correct, every last door.”
Duncan nodded “very well sir, it will be taken care of by the end of the week” he said emotionlessly.
-2:03 PM January 10, 1988, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Colonel Miron Fedotova shuddered against the cold as he stood and watched the tall silhouette before him. It was freezing out there, and he didn't much care for the weather, but this was an important test, and anyone of any importance in the Federal Space Agency was here, he was no different.
A group of men in coats murmured to one another about ten meters away, he could tell that some of their murmurs were disapprovingly directed at him. They didn't like him, not that it was unexpected. The increased militarization of the space agency had not been welcomed by many of the civilians, especially the more senior staff. They thought that he was going to replace them, either with himself or some other Air Force officer.
The truth was that that had yet to be seen, but he did not have time for being diplomatic. Despite the victories of the previous fall, the war was not going well, not with the sudden appearance of the enigmas. Whatever it took, they had to succeed here, the entire species was at stake.
It didn't help that the Kremlin was making every effort to consolidate the Space program into a single unified organization, something that also was very unwelcome there. Despite the fact that he had nothing to do with that last bit didn't change the fact that Miron was the face of these new changes, and thus received the majority of the ire that was related to it, but that wasn't his problem. As long as everyone did their job right and things went as smoothly as possible, they could piss and bitch about it all they liked for he cared.
"I hear that the Americans will be ready to send us the first prototype weapons for testing in less than two months, do you think we will be ready?"
Alexey Leonov's voice reverberated across the bleachers, Miron turned to face him. The cosmonauts as a whole had been more welcoming to Miron's presence than the scientists and administrators here at the space agency, and as such had acted as sort of a go-between for him & his staff and the civilian personnel "who knows, I just pray that this doesn't turn out like the N1" he said.
The cosmonaut waved his hand in a dismissive gesture "bah, Energia was meant to be launched for the first time almost a year ago, the men in lab coats have used that time well ensuring that no unforeseen mishaps pop up. I'm more worried about Slawn. As much care as they took with it, that doesn't change the fact that it was a rush job" he said a bit ruefully.
At that, Miron eyed the large pointed cylinder attached to the booster stack out there on the launch pad. The Slawn cargo module had been custom designed and built around the American project DAMOCLES: a series of orbiting tungsten rods ranging in size from a mere fifty kilograms all the way up to over eight thousand. He furrowed his brow "well, let us hope that our friends here have managed to catch all the minor details, although we may wind up sitting around waiting for the Americans in the end anyway" he explained.
Leonov raised an eyebrow in an inquisitive expression "I just received word this morning, they announced that they are pushing back the first launch of Enterprise another month. You know, for all their achievements in getting to the Moon so fast, they certainly have taken their time with everything else since then" Miron said wryly.
The cosmonaut gave a faint humorless chuckle at that "yes, and now both our space agencies are 'joined at the hip' as they would say. Perhaps we are doomed after all" came his sarcastic retort.
Miron was cut off by the sound of an announcer on the public address system starting the countdown "-well, I guess we're about to find out just how much we truly are in the shit" he finally managed to say.
As the countdown neared its end, a distant rumble started to break through the sound of the wind.
Miron turned his full attention toward the launch pad out there before the bleachers just as the countdown reached zero. The rumbling suddenly increased drastically, sending a deep vibration right through the ground and up into his feet and body. A massive plume of smoke and steam rose up from the launch pad, and a bright yellow light illuminated the surrounding landscape like a second sun, then the launch tower fell away. Time slowed to a crawl as the moment of truth passed, and Miron watched intently to see if this new spacecraft would triumphantly soar above the plume into the heavens, or collapse in a fiery conflagration in a dramatic show of complete failure.
His hopes were not dashed however, as the tapered nose of the booster stack started to ever so slowly rise into the air. Seconds ticked by and it started to accelerate, soon it had cleared the roiling smoke and steam, and was now climbing into the air, a column of fire and smoke billowing beneath it like a gargantuan white tree trunk.
Since no launchpad explosion came, and as the booster lifted higher and higher into the sky and out of sight, Miron felt the tension in his muscles start to relax. He felt a gentle pat on the shoulder "well, it's starting to look like it will be the Americans who will be hurrying to catch up to us after all" said Leonov.
"Quite, let us just hope that they know what they are doing."
Last edited by guest on 2011-07-03 03:29pm, edited 1 time in total.