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Keeping the Peace 19
Posted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 12:30 am
Captain Wang kept his gaze in a store window so he wouldn't betray the look of happiness crossing his face. One of his assailants from the hotel had crossed into his field of view without seeing him where he stood.
Wang fell in behind the thug, casually scoping out his mind so he could react before the other knew he was there. There was nothing new in the man's mind, except his band had ordered all members to be on the look out for him.
Wang did have a list, a list he could use to get clear of his problem. All he had to do was arrange to have them arrested. That would take care of some of the trouble he was in.
All he needed was the right setup.
Wang grabbed the next destination out of his subject's mind, and headed around his prey. If he could beat the man there, maybe he could arrange a trap for the man.
That would be a big step toward getting himself out of the trouble he was in.
Wang hired a cab, gave the address and sat back against the seat. He paid the driver when the small car pulled to a stop in front of a two story tea house. This would be a little more difficult than he had thought at first.
He shook his head as he went inside. His quarry hadn't arrived yet as he was seated in a corner out of sight of the door. Familiar thoughts came to him from a screen blocking a corner of the restaurant for privacy.
It looked like the gang was meeting.
Wang sipped his tea, picking the minds flowing behind the privacy screen. He frowned when he learned all they knew. None of them had anything useful to add.
No one had met the mastermind behind their orders.
The captain asked for change for the payphone in the lobby of the restaurant. He could watch the stairs without drawing attention to himself. He also felt a need to get some type of law enforcement on the scene. The minuscule cover he had wouldn't stop a bullet.
Wang paid for his tea and food, before heading to the lobby. He stationed himself at the phone, his mind on gaining some nugget of information he could use. He found something. He didn't know how useful it would be until he tried it.
Wang picked up the phone, putting coins in the slot. He dialed the local police station, and reported the crime he had discovered and the person who had done the deed. He warned the desk sergeant about the group with their suspect.
That would stir things up, Wang thought as he let the phone receiver hang down on its cord.
Let's let the police do their job and follow the trail without him.
Wang left the tea house, crossed the street, and stepped into a shadow cloaking the alley facing the restaurant. He didn't know what the results of his call would be, but he did expect a rumbling to be caused. Maybe that would flush out his enemy.
Wang knew that cellular construction of a network made things hard for him to trace back to whomever called the shots. Still he might be able to do something, and UNITF would certainly help him with their own investigation.
Anything to stir the pot would help at this point.
Keeping the Peace 20
Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2005 12:16 am
Jock O'Kent and the Knight walked the city streets. Hong Kong was busy at night, much like most major cities around the world. The giant Scot smiled and laughed, talking to the people on the street. He had even dug up a black t-shirt with a target on the front.
Being bait didn't bother him at all.
It did bother the Knight. Out in the open meant you had no way to identify the threat until it was on you. It meant everyone's eyes were on you so you couldn't get anything done. It also meant that other agencies were evaluating you for their own purposes, and trying to decide to interfere or not.
That was totally against her training as a CHESS agent.
Still she put on a happy face and went along with it. The second team would be in the city soon, set up to strike at any target they could locate. They would keep away from O'Kent and her until it was necessary.
"You're the envy of the ladies," said O'Kent. "Perhaps you should smile more."
"I've smiled enough," said the Knight. "How long do we keep at this before we try something else."
"We won't have to wait long," said the giant. "I'm sure MacGraw has already found someone he can squeeze for information. That's when things will be hot for us."
A group of thugs began to cut their way through the crowd, aiming for the two adventurers as they pushed people out of their way. Handguns were displayed openly to make sure potential witnesses received the message.
"Here's comes your excitement now, lass," said O'Kent, grinning again.
"Stop me from shaking," said the Knight, glad that she had worn practical fighting clothes instead of a skirt. "Just leave one able to talk."
Ten men separated from the crowd, pushing people out of the way as they walked toward the two. They were wearing casual clothes to blend in with the crowd. At least one held a pistol close to his leg.
"We want you to come with us," said the man with the pistol. "We have questions we want answered."
"That's interesting," said the Knight, holding up her hands. "So do we. Can we go somewhere private and talk? Just you and us."
"What?," said O'Kent, looking surprised. "Oh. Aye, laddie. Take us to your leader."
"Is this some kind of trick?," the thug asked, he looked around at his fellows for support.
"We can do this two ways," said the Knight. "You can take us where you want and we can talk peaceably."
"Or we kick all of your Sassenach butts right here and now," said O'Kent, flexing his hands at chest level. "And then we talk at the hospital of your choice."
"There's ten of us," said the man with the pistol. "There's only two of you. What do you think you're going to do to us?"
"First, I am going to take that pistol from you and shove it somewhere unpleasant," said O'Kent. "Then I am going to hurt you. A lot."
The man laughed until the giant was suddenly in front of him, gun in a hand the size of Christmas ham. The man stopped laughing as the Scot grinned down at him.
"This is going to hurt you a lot more than me," said O'Kent.
Keeping the Peace 21
Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 1:33 pm
The Knight waited, glad that she had worn her bulletproof armor under her street clothes. She wished she had been able to bring the gold helmet that went with the black uniform. Still she was armed with her baton and her service pistol.
Everything depended on what the thug would do. None of the others seemed armed with anything but their hands. That wouldn't help them against someone like O'Kent.
Nothing would help them against someone like O'Kent.
The Knight contented herself with defending herself when one of the thugs came too close for comfort. One baton whack was usually enough for that. They were getting more mercy from her than the giant Scot, who seemed intent on showing them how to become weird shapes.
"Anybody willing to talk now?," she asked, whacking a gangster trying to charge her on the head. "We'll let you go if you do."
The thugs broke and ran. One didn't get away. A giant hand snatched him to the street before he could take one step. The giant smiled down on him, waving slightly.
"Want to try talking?," the Knight asked, smiling. "On the other hand, I have no compunction about my friend jumping up and down on you."
The man resorted to speaking in his native tongue to avoid giant boots crashing on his skull.
"He says they were supposed to hassle us because they can't find Wang," said O'Kent. "Supposed to flush him out in the open to join our side of things."
"You speak Chinese?," said the Knight.
"Of course," said O'Kent. "Doesn't everybody?"
"Who do you work for, nitwit?," said the Knight, forgoing what she wanted to say to her colleague. "Who sent you?"
Another brief flash of comprehensive exposition followed her demand.
"Hired off the docks near the Floating City," said O'Kent. He turned to look in that direction. "He said someone has gone into business there and he wants people who would upset the status quo to be told to leave."
The Knight kept her thoughts to herself. The foremost was that someone had identified them as threats as soon as they arrived. That was an unbelievably good network to grab onto them that quick. She had really expected to be on the loose for a few more days.
Still the mastermind had neglected to inform his minions of who they were dealing with. Ordinary thugs had as much chance of stopping O'Kent as a baby could stop her from taking its pacifier.
"Let's go see your boss," said the Knight. "Maybe we can reason with him."
The thug held up his hands in a take me to jail motion.
"It's all right, lass," said O'Kent. "I don't need his help. Finding his boss shouldn't be a problem once we start looking around."
Keeping the Peace 22
Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2005 9:33 pm
Jock O'Kent and the Knight arrived at the waterfront almost an hour after their fight in the street. They had to file a report with the local police, then catch a bus that would drop them off close enough to walk the rest of the way. The giant complained since he was much faster than any machine, but she wanted a look at the area of operations beforehand.
If this was the lair of the enemy, they would lay low and hope the two disappeared. There was no need to reveal yourself if you weren't sure you were blown. It was better to wait until you were sure.
All of that speculation depended on how desperate the mastermind was to keep his secret place from prying eyes. A cooler head might wait until they came close before he felt he had to do something. It would help to know who they dealing with so they could try to predict his movements.
Still the Knight knew their very presence would cause an amount of worry, if not outright fear. O'Kent was bound to spot something, and he had built a small reputation with those who followed the superhuman scene. He and MacGraw's investigation into the Mars Council had indirectly led to the founding of UNITF.
The Knight swept her gaze across the water, wondering if a sniper was lining up on her. She felt exposed even in a crowd of people to use as cover. She spotted the lookout, nudging O'Kent with an elbow.
"I see yon toughie," said O'Kent. "Also his mate, trying to hide behind his beer. I think these be our lookouts."
The Scot's brogue had increased to a buzzsaw whirr. It was hard for her to understand his speech. She had heard him like this in the training room, right before he and Svarog went after each other.
"I'll go over and talk to the one that looks nervous," said the Knight. "You keep watch for trouble. There might be back up around."
"I have it," said O'Kent, crossing his hands over his chest.
The Knight walked toward the obvious look out. The one in the bar had too many civilians standing around for her to try and take him. One stray round would be bad for anyone caught in the crossfire. At least in the open, people had a better chance to get out of the way if things went bad.
"Excuse me," the Knight said. "Can you direct me to the head bad guy?"
The lookout went for a gun stuck in the back of his waistband. A steel baton met his face before he could pull it. Then a foot lifted him off the edge of the dock. He fell into the water with a scream.
"This one would like to talk to you, lass," said O'Kent. He had the other man by the scruff of the neck. "Wouldn't you, laddie boy?"
The Knight smiled, almost laughed. The other man looked like a chew toy in the grasp of a large playful dog. And he was miserable for it.
eping the Peace 23
Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 12:40 pm
Jock MacGraw wore his usual gear as he moved along the city's waterfront. Most people stepped to one side when they saw the black metal mask and old army fatigues and jacket he wore. He gave off an aura of violence as he moved.
Things had started going faster than he had planned. He should have known that O'Kent would speed things up. He had no doubt the Knight had lent a hand in this. She was as good as any fielded by CHESS in the last few years. The two of them had probably found a short cut to the prize while he had been probing the underworld on his own.
MacGraw stopped to watch the scene unfold. The Knight and O'Kent were questioning two goons that had been stationed as lookouts. The two men looked like they couldn't wait to talk their heads off. O'Kent's thick fingers on their ears might have something to do with that.
The masked man pointed a hand at the roof of the closest building. One squeeze and his grapnel hook lifted him to the top of the building. That should give him an overview of the situation. He doubted that the mastermind would just wait for the UNITF members to tear his building down around his ears.
On the waterfront, the logical means of escape from prosecution were by boat, or by some tunnel leading back into the city. Either led to some risk of capture by the authorities.
MacGraw bet on a boat, examining the buildings closest to where the questioning was going on.
He rolled back the sleeves of his jacket and shirt. Adjustments to the arm launcher put a tracking beacon in the breech of the device. All he needed was one clear shot if he was right.
The Knight and O'Kent secured their prisoners by wrapping them up in a metal sign pole. They walked to the front of the nearer warehouse. Then O'Kent knocked the door down with one punch. The pair went inside. Roaring guns and screams told the passersby to keep moving unless they wanted a dose of what was going on inside the building.
A boat dropped into the water at the far end of the noisy battleground, roaring away as fast the driver could push it. Ordinarily that wouldn't stop the burly O'Kent from sinking it somehow. Still it made good time, moving to blend in with the other harbor traffic. The driver never noticed the slight impact on the stern of his boat.
MacGraw descended from his perch, avoiding the still ongoing battle. There was no doubt who was going to wind up the victor, and he had a bigger fish to fry. He had a sense that some kind of conspiracy had come to life because of Captain Wang's exposure as a spy. All he had to do was confirm his theory.
MacGraw followed his beacon across town, making sure to try and get ahead of the pilot. The man was following the near coastline so that wasn't a problem. If he had gone across the harbor, the Scot would never have caught him before he ditched his escape craft.
Still it was close enough as the boat pulled into a slip, and the man was on the dock and heading to a parked car just a little ahead of MacGraw actually arriving to meet him on land. The man paused as he saw the commando scaling the fence around the small private lot. Keys shook as they tried to fit the lock of the car where it waited. The masked man dropped to the ground, took aim with his arm launcher, and fired a rubber slug with pinpoint accuracy. The fugitive went down, clutching his leg.
MacGraw jogged forward, as the man went for a gun in his waistband. A kick to the face stopped that. The pistol dropped under the car, out of reach.
"You can talk to me," MacGraw said, "or to the man you were running from. Which shall it be?"
The man grimaced at the offer.
Keeping the Peace 24
Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 8:55 pm
Captain Song Lo Wang smiled as he walked among the teeming crowds jamming the Hong Kong streets. He didn't have a handle on what he was doing yet, but at least some of the people looking for him had been put in jail while he continued to move around at will.
Casual mindscanning earned him the information that the UNITF was in town. An alert had already been passed through the police. Of course that would be leaked to the underworld through the pipelines put in place. Captain Wang wished them luck.
His own problem still remained the same. Everyone wanted to kill him, and he had nowhere to go. Still he had managed to cut a swath through anyone trying to collect the reward on his head.
What he needed was a way to cut that bounty offerer off and lift the reward.
He needed an idea that would allow him to find that man, and he was drawing a blank.
Maybe if he started questioning the known associates of the men he had turned in, that would give him that handle he wanted.
Wang paused in the middle of the sidewalk, pondering his idea. It wasn't perfect, but he could see how any information he gathered would help him put the pieces of the puzzle together. Now he needed to think of a way to break into the police headquarters to look at the files on those people.
Wang looked around, hoping that no one else had noticed his moment of indecision. This would be so much easier if his cover had not been thrown to the winds. At least he had been able to cobble together a thin disguise to pass casual inspection.
Wang threaded through the busy streets, alert for anything that might be a danger as he considered what he was going to do to get inside the main police station. He needed to gain access without arousing suspicion. Declaring himself a Chinese intelligence agent in need of assistance was out of the question.
He would just be turned over to his government in a trade.
Wang paused when he found himself in front of the big brick and glass building. He scanned the minds around him, looking for an opening he could use for a new disguise. Finally something presented itself, and he knew he was on his way without a problem.
He just needed a moment to turn his aura up all the way.
The captain put on his military bearing, making sure his clothes were presentable before he headed for the front door of the huge nerve center. Policemen and citizens veered from his path as he moved forward, picking up the things he needed from those minds that stood in his way. He made it to the records division without being challenged.
The easy part was over.
"Can I help you?," asked the uniformed woman behind the counter. A computer screen glowed blue as it waited for input from its operator.
"A gang was arrested at Three Canaries tea house," Wang said. "I need to see their records if you don't mind."
"Right away, sir," said the officer.
Keeping the Peace 25
Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 8:48 am
The force of nature that was Jock O'Kent frowned as he examined the papers in front of him. He shuffled them again, looking for some invisible connection that might lead him back to Captain Wang's government. He put the papers aside, thinking he needed more information.
"I can't find anything useful to us," he said to his companion.
"I did," said the Knight, examining the boxes pressed against one wall, stamped and invoiced already.
"These came from the Chinese military according to the bar code on the side," she said, pointing at the invoices. "They are supposed to be going to Cambodia."
"I don't follow," said the giant.
"Someone inside the Chinese government arranged this shipment," said the Knight. "All we have to do is look at the source."
"You are saying someone in Wang's own agency turned him in," said O'Kent.
"Someone close to that agency," said the Knight. "Intelligence is shared despite safeguards. If there was a mole, Wang's identity and picture would be easy to spread through Hong Kong."
"Let's see what we can do with these labels, lass," said O'Kent. "I have an idea what we can do about our trouble maker."
The two heroes went over the paperwork again. The coded accounts didn't stand up long to O'Kent's brute force approach. A map was displayed with a Chinese military base marked out. A small tree marked the paths of the boxed weapons from Hong Kong.
"That was impressive," said the Knight.
"I have a mind to do things, and the world helps me do it," said O'Kent, in a matter of fact way. "Let me get a copy of this, and we can let the police do their job without any more of our presence."
"They'll be able to take the weapons," said The Knight. "China won't admit these weapons were made at one of their facilities and shipped across the border to be sent around the world. It might trigger an internal investigation, but we won't know what the real results, if any, were. The task force would be cut out."
"You sound like Captain Commando," said O'Kent. "I can't disagree with your assessment."
"Where do we go from here?," asked the Knight. "I don't think Peacemaker would like us crossing the border and busting someone's head."
"What he doesn't know," said O'Kent.
"Don't even think it," said the Knight. "We have enough information that we can use and fill in the blanks."
"You are such a nanny," said O'Kent.
The two went to the door of the warehouse, looking out over the sea. Two more dissimilar people could not be found anywhere else on the docks. White police cars flashed their lights as they rolled toward the two adventurers. They knew that this was going to be a long interlude before they had to get back to real work.
They were going across that gulf of blue water. They knew it, but they didn't know what would happen when they did. Policemen approached, looking at the men wrapped in metal, asking questions. O'Kent started explaining everything in his flawless dialect with ease.
Keeping the Peace 26
Posted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 10:12 am
Jock MacGraw stood on a rooftop, black mask hiding his features as always. Below was a man he wanted to meet. O'Kent and the Knight had answers they could exploit as leverage. The commando had a link in a chain. They were separate aspects of the same problem, and the two Scots had different methods to get to a solution.
O'Kent was the whirlwind, something that could not be denied.
MacGraw was a sword, slicing through his enemies in the night, unseen and silent.
MacGraw waited for his quarry to leave the crowd of retainers he had gathered, and join his bodyguards beside the limo that was parked a few feet away. He made the gesture to signal his driver to cut the car on so they could move on to the next destination. The limo's lights came on as the men got in.
MacGraw took aim with his arm gun, and fired. A small projectile crossed the space invisibly, scoring the roof of the car. The bulletproof armor kept the slight impact away from the people inside. The car joined the evening traffic with smooth grace.
The man in the metal mask started across the roof tops, not trying to keep the slow moving car in sight. His projectile had marked the limo for him no matter where it went in a five mile radius. All he had to do was stay in that range, and he could go as slow as he wanted.
MacGraw dropped on the roof of a double decker bus pushing through the traffic with the speed of an express. It allowed him to watch the limo pull into a garage ahead. He rode the bus pass the building before jumping off at the corner.
MacGraw took a moment to examine his target. It was a glass and steel apartment building over an underground garage. The garage had three, four, exits on the street that he could use to get inside when he wanted. There might be a guard on the car. He would have to check that.
MacGraw checked the metal exit door, pulling a thin rod from his jacket when he found it only opened from the inside. He inserted the rod, and tripped the bar. One pull allowed him to merge with the shadows in the stairwell beyond.
The commando moved silently, using the cars and pools of shadows as cover as he glided toward his goal. He spotted the limo next to the elevator, the driver sitting behind the wheel reading a newspaper.
MacGraw was the night, and it was nothing for him to appear in the corner of the driver's eye like a green man appearing in a wood somewhere. The chauffeur had a moment to register the looming menace, long enough to send him reaching for his pistol tucked on the seat beside him. His reflexes weren't faster than the gloved hand that pulled him out of the car through the open window, or the knee that turned everything black. He didn't feel the impact of his face hitting the car door with a nose breaking slam before he fell on the garage pavement, blood on his black suit and white shirt.
MacGraw left the driver there, walking toward the elevator. A set of emergency steps beckoned but he didn't think they would go all the way up to where he wanted to go. He decided to call the elevator. He waited for the cab by examining the loose papers in the limo after he stashed the driver in the trunk. The doors slid out of the way, and he put the next phase of his plan in motion.
One push from his hand opened the access door on the top of the elevator cab. He climbed through in a blur of motion. Cold eyes went over the elevator shaft. There was a ladder on the inside of the vertical corridor. The commando started climbing, saving his grapnel for when he needed it.
MacGraw paused at the top of his climb, listening to his world. Small noises beyond the sliding doors told him that no one was waiting for him. All he had to do was get these doors open without being shot trying.
Luckily he had the thing to do that in his fatigue jacket.
Keeping the Peace 27
Posted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 12:29 am
The first inkling that Yuen Po's staff had that something was wrong was the explosion in the elevator shaft outside of his apartment. The doors blew toward them on a pillar of smoke and flame. Then the green ghost appeared with a face that was a black blank of fury.
The closest bodyguard tried to go for a pistol under his arm. The explosion had knocked him senseless for a moment and he had a hard time trying to figure out how to pull the gun from its holster. By the time his hand started working normally, a gloved hand shoved his face into a wall hard enough to knock him out for the count.
The other man had been far enough away to only be slightly affected by the blast. He had time to get his pistol out as the green kuei came for him and his partner. He didn't have time to use it as the commando smashed him in the face with his own pistol as he took aim. Then it was skittering away as a boot stomped his lights out.
Jock MacGraw kicked open the inner door, glad that his initial attack had only lasted seconds before he moved to the next phase of his assault. Submachine gun fire rattled as the defenders in the inner sanctum got over their surprise.
MacGraw tossed in smoke grenades for a shield. Red and green battled it out over who could cover the most area. Choking came to him as the room inside disappeared in the motley cloud.
MacGraw charged forward, knowing the gunners would try to shoot at him if he stumbled. He had one advantage. None of the gunmen could be sure who he was when he encountered them. They would be afraid to shoot a friend by accident. All of them were his enemy so he didn't have to worry about who he was hurting.
There were three men protecting the inner sanctum. He could hear them choking around him as he charged into the battlefield. His wrist gun held rubber bullets and the first man he ran across took two to the head, sending him to dream land. He caught the second one in a choke hold, and strangled him until he passed out. The second guard went into the third with a hearty shove. Then a boot ended the small struggle. The Scot used his victims to push the door open so he could use them as decoys.
"Who's there?," said a frightened crime boss, trapped in his own bed room.
"Yuen Po," said Jock MacGraw in Cantonese. "Do not make me angry enough to walk in that room and do things to you that you would not like. Come out here like a man, coward."
"I'll show you coward!," shouted Yuen Po, firing an AK-47 from behind the cover of his bed. The mattress might stop some return fire from the mad man who had destroyed his apartment.
"Wrong choice," MacGraw said as the bullets chewed up the scenery.
Keeping the Peace 28
Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 8:54 am
Captain Song Lo Wang walked the busy streets of Hong Kong, whistling to himself. He still didn't know what had caused him to be dumped into this snake pit, but things were happening he could use to save himself.
Yuen Po had been captured and tied to a shipment of weapons from China. The police and other agencies were grabbing up anyone connected to him. The men that Wang had turned in were a bonus for the authorities, especially where they could be linked to Po's men.
Wang paused, wondering why someone was thinking about him. He kept walking, glancing around as he had been trained to do. He spotted a man who was trying to be too casual, looking into a storefront for women's underwear. One hand was tucked under his opposite arm.
Armed and dangerous.
Wang looked around. He only had one watchdog from the feel of things. That was good. That gave him room to move.
Wang decided that a sports shop would be the place he could go to try and set up an ambush. He went in, turning down an aisle away from the front of the store. He wandered among golf clubs, waiting for his chance.
His follower arrived, and hung out near the front of the store. He gave an I'm just looking excuse to keep the clerk away from him. He eyed the colorful shirts hanging on a spindle.
Wang picked the man's mind while trying to decide on what to use. He was pleased that he was supposed to be taken alive, and had led the agents looking for him on a merry chase. The most important thing was that a general in the Chinese Army wanted to talk to him.
The problem was he wasn't going along with the program.
Wang picked up the golf club. He approached the counter to pretend to pay for it. He asked a lot of questions about heft, weight, range, things gleaned from the mind of the clerk. The agent relaxed for a moment, thinking he could wait until they were both outside before making his move.
He was wrong.
Wang turned, swinging the golf club as hard as he could. The head of it struck the agent across the jaw, spinning him around. The captain shoved him into a display case to keep him off balance. He brought the club down on the back of the man's head.
"This is a good club," he told the clerk, who was suddenly afraid of him.
Wang dropped the club on the counter. He searched the man, pulling the gun and identification from their places. He emptied the weapon and placed that on the counter, along with the wallet.
"Maybe you should call the police," he suggested. "That man just tried to rob you. Luckily some good Samaritan prevented that from happening."
"That man just tried to rob me," said the clerk. "Luckily someone stopped him before he could get away with it."
"A little more enthusiasm and you will be perfect," said Wang. He started outside, mulling over what he had learned. At least none of the other customers had seen what had happened. Tampering wasn't something he wanted to bet his life on.
Keeping the Peace 29
Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:10 am
Christopher Smith looked at his assault team. The information gathered by his advance team had triggered an alert through the UN, which had filtered down to him. He was expected to find out what was going on at that army base and stop it.
Smith had gotten a set of pictures from a satellite. Copies had been made for his people. Everyone knew what they were supposed to do. Only Svarog seemed to be ready to do it for his own reasons.
There was no telling what he was thinking inside that metallic chassis the Russians had given him.
"Is the mission clear," Smith asked.
"We break in and grab this guy on his home turf before the Chinese can stop us," said Captain Commando. "That seems clear. Why can't we get the Chinese to do it?"
"The reason stated is conflict of interest on their part," said Smith. "The real reason is I don't like anyone trying to set me up. Mission documentation will be used and handed over at the end. There will be a protest, but hopefully that will be squelched by the diplomats in the Assembly and the Security Council. Is there anything else?"
The members of his team remained silent. They all wanted to say something. He could see it on their faces. Their team had uncovered this mess, they were responsible for cleaning it up. That's what mattered.
What didn't matter was who had pointed them at it in the first place. Someone in the Chinese government had wanted this to come out and put his team on the spot. After this was over, Smith was going to have his pound of flesh.
"Any other questions?," Smith asked.
The assembled heroes gave various gestures of negativity, picking up equipment if they needed it. Smith donned his helmet, making sure the control system activated. The group filed out of the briefing room, and headed toward the attached hangar hidden based in Taiwan. This was where they would launch from to reach the target area in mainland China.
This should be an easy mission to accomplish. Smith knew that the easiest missions had a habit of turning into disasters.
That's why he had the heavy hitters paired with lightweights. Svarog and Red Star should be able to protect Captain Commando and Lui Le Long during the raid. He would feel better if O'Kent was there, but had already decided to let the advance team do what they could in Hong Kong.
Things were going to be settled, one way or the other.
Keeping the Peace 30
Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 1:40 am
Jock O'Kent and the Knight waited on a roof top near the harbor. O'Kent stared out over the ocean, as if seeing what was happening across the water.
Maybe he could.
Jock MacGraw arrived, hand pulling Captain Wang up the stairs to the roof. The intelligence officer looked a little worn, and roughly used. He tried to smile, but settled for a nod of greeting.
"Do you want to talk about it?," said the Knight, baton at the ready.
"My identity has been revealed," said Wang. "I still don't which member of my government did it, but everyone has been appraised of my status as an agent."
"We believe a general has been shipping arms to the Mars Council, and others from one of his bases," said the Knight. "We have enough proof to launch a raid."
"How do you plan to handle retaliation from the world's governments?," Captain Wang asked. "They won't like this intervention in an internal problem."
"Not our worry," said MacGraw, black mask hiding his face, as his mind hid his thoughts. "Our problem is what to do with you. It's obvious that people want you dead. Everyone has underestimated you so far. That won't last much longer."
"There's not much I can do about that," said Wang. "I traced the leak back to Military Intelligence. I believe my control is dead. I am alone for the moment until I can think of a way to leave the field."
"You can always ask for your spot again," said O'Kent. "Smith isn't exactly thrilled to be maneuvered about in this."
"I don't think that would be a good idea," said Wang. "Additionally I foresee problems with the official sponsorship needed from my country."
"We need to place you in protective custody until we get this sorted out," said the Knight. "Your testimony could be the only thing to prove treason was committed."
"I would never be allowed in front of any judge," said Wang. "We all know that. All that remains is that I take some of them with me. At least you have cut some of the cancer out with your cleaning up here."
"There are options," said MacGraw. "I think you owe us some time to consider our course and to help us carry it out."
Keeping the Peace 31
Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:55 am
Lui Le Long wore the emerald and amethyst uniform copied from the historical Thunderbolt that had protected Tibet for generations. He had studied under the monks, but a Westerner had won the prize. Still he had learned things that were valuable to him.
One of the things he had learned was how to jump over fences.
He had been a policeman in Beijing before being assigned to fill out China's spots on the new UNITF with Captain Song Wang. He knew it was because his government was aware that he had been trained. He was still a policeman, only his jurisdiction had expanded to the world.
He was a policeman with a warrant to serve.
The emerald thunder dragon concentrated as he moved toward the fence. His body responded to his will, his mind commanding its matter. He bent his legs and then vaulted the fence as easily as a man jumping a curb. He landed lightly on the other side.
Svarog followed, his machine body copying Lui Le Long with precision. He held a forefinger ready to point at anything that tried to stop them before they reached their objective. The cyborg was unusually silent.
Lui Le Long hoped that meant his mind was on the task ahead and not in the clouds.
Svarog seemed quick witted enough but it was hard to tell what he was thinking with his use of American rock and roll phrases as his native language. The policeman wondered what Russian scientist had come up with that.
Lui Le Long led the way to the commander's quarters. General Chang had built a small palace near the spot where the two men from UNITF had vaulted the fence. The mission was to snatch him out of bed and get him ready for transport to Hong Kong.
Captain Commando and Red Star should be at the headquarters searching for paperwork to take with them. If anything went wrong, they were to meet at a spot a mile south from the base.
Long paused at the front porch of the General's house. A sentry stood on the porch, bringing up a rifle to shoot at the two as they jogged forward. His reaction was slower than the policeman's. The rifle barrel slammed the young man in the face before he could pull the trigger.
"First gear," said Svarog, trying the door knob. He produced a pick from his index finger and unlocked the barrier. "That's all right."
Long pushed the door open, checking for more guards as he started searching the house. They had to keep moving if they wanted to avoid a fight with Army regulars just trying to do their job.
Keeping the Peace 32
Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 10:04 am
Lui Le Long encountered a guard as he reached the stairs leading to General Chang's personal quarters. The soldier went for his rifle, opening his mouth to shout a warning, or a command to halt. The policeman was faster, kicking the man in the gut, then sending him into the wall with a grab and throw. A punch knocked the man's senses from his head.
Another guard appeared, alerted by the noise of his comrade being subdued. The problem was that both Svarog and Lui Le Long was faster than he was. A metal fist at the end of a long tether his face like a mace. He went down in a heap.
"Upstairs," Long said, moving as stealthily as he remembered. He winced at the heavy clanking behind him.
Lui Le Long sped up to silently keep ahead of the louder Russian machine man. General Chang could keep track of the heavier cyborg by sound, while he glided unnoticed to the door. The policeman had no doubt the General was armed and dangerous.
The bedroom door cracked open as Long slid against the wall beside it. A pistol reached out uncertainly to cover the dark hall. The Chinese hero grabbed the wrist, holding the weapon away from his body as he pulled the owner into the elbow of his other arm. He did that again before knocking the pistol away to the carpeted floor.
Long was surprised to be throttling a woman in a night robe. He seized her neck as he pushed her against the wall. A few seconds later, the woman was asleep on the floor. He wondered if the woman knew what Chang had done already, and if she was part of it.
"Why do fools fall in love?," Svarog asked, as he joined his comrade by the bedroom door.
"I have no idea," said Long, pushing the door open with his left hand. He was surprised there was no gunfire trying to shoot at the movement. "We may have come to the wrong place."
Svarog popped an attachment out of his shoulder, counted to three, then shone a beam of light as bright as the beacon on top of a lighthouse into the room. Everything was thrown into black and white relief by the spotlight.
"Slip out the back, Jack," Svarog said to himself. "Make a new plan, Stan."
That didn't take an interpreter to understand. General Chang wasn't where he was supposed to be, so either he was carrying out some plan, or he was told they were coming and was fleeing the net. Either way, it looked like the officer's quarters was empty and they would have to look for him.
"Inform Peacemaker," said Long, entering the room. "Then we have to start searching for a clue where he has gone. This could just be unfortunate timing."
The policeman examined the bedroom under the bright light for a moment, then cut on the lamps, and overhead ceiling light. The general's side of the bed looked unused, the end table empty. He checked the closets and found women's dresses, shoes, and other things in one, uniforms in the other. No men's street clothes hung anywhere among the uniforms. A set of bags was also gone.
"As I wander along, I wonder what went wrong," said Svarog, in a bad imitation of Dell Shannon.
"He was told about us," said Long. "The question is what do we do about it?"
Keeping the Peace 33
Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 12:46 am
Captain Commando and Red Star had flown over the fence on the other side of the facility. They landed in an alley, and stuck to the shadows to reach the records building. The mission was to grab any records that might pertain to weapons smuggling.
The heroes encountered one guard. Commando tranquilized him before he could sound an alarm. The soldier went into a closet out of sight for the duration of their visit. It was an easy search through the deserted building to find the filing cabinets of information they wanted.
"You can read Chinese, right?," the captain asked his Russian comrade.
"Some," said Red Star. "Perhaps we are the wrong team for a records search."
"I'll be right back," said Captain Commando, vanishing back the way they had came. He returned moments later with the sleeping guard. "Let's see if he can tell us something when he wakes up."
A few minutes passed, then the soldier's eyes blinked open. He reached for the pistol that was normally at his waist, but was surprised it was gone. He found himself looking down the barrel of a pistol.
"We have an order for all records on shipping and receiving of weapons," said Red Star, speaking in Chinese. "We would like for you to help us find those records if you don't mind cooperating."
"What if I refuse?," asked the soldier.
"I would have to burn off your face," said Red Star, holding up a hand. Nuclear fire rolled in the palm slowly. "Am I understood?"
The soldier nodded frantically. He went to the file cabinet on the end and pulled at it. He winced when he realized it was locked. Red Star pulled on the drawer, bending the lock out of the way with almost no effort. The soldier pulled out several files, opened them to check the contents, then said something Captain Commando didn't understand.
"The records are missing key pages," said Red Star. "It seems General Chang was warned that someone was looking at him."
"Giant trap springs to mind," said the captain, looking around. "Bomb, or an alert?"
"Giant bomb seems to be the best way to wipe out evidence if you ask me," said Red Star. "Of course we'll be blamed by all sides."
Red Star fired some questions at their hostage, explaining their thoughts. The soldier told him that the base did hold a nuclear arsenal, and Chang naturally had the required knowledge to set that arsenal off. The Russian told him to sound the alarm and try to get a message out to the Chinese government.
Captain Commando's radio sounded in his earpiece. He listened, then relayed the suspicions to Lui Le Long, who had told him of the missing General. A meeting at the nuclear stockpile was arranged.