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Keeping the Peace

Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 2:55 am
by C. Syphrett
Christopher Smith, the Peacemaker, frowned at the reports on his desk. He leaned back in his chair, trying to decide on a course of action. He had been appointed the commander of a task force for the UN. He didn't like the fact that one of his new operatives was feeding private information back to his government.

It was something he would have to fix somehow. He didn't know how he was going to do it without sending the operative back to his native country.

Smith decided the best thing he could do was confront the spy and get this over with as soon as possible. The security of the nations that had helped form this task force had been violated by the man who was supposed to be looking out for the welfare of the world instead of his country's need to pry into everything.

Smith hated this type of thing.

He stood up, and put the reports on his desk away. His team was in the renovated training center, including the spy. He headed toward the gym, jaw set as he went over his speech. He had already decided to provide a transport for the man back to his country.

Smith strode into the command center for the gym. He ordered a shutdown, then took the small elevator to the floor space. His team had made him proud in the short time they had been operating. He hated to do something like this.

"Captain Song," he said. "Get your gear. You're out of here."

Captain Song Lo Wang knew his infiltration had been reported, exposed, before Smith spoke. He didn't need his telepathy to tell him that. Being sent home would earn him some type of punishment, and loss of prestige.

Captain Wang had done his duty to his country, even though he was supposed to be acting as a member of an international task force. His telepathy allowed him to garner secrets from his comrades that China could use to blackmail them if they needed something for nothing. No one was supposed to know that he was the source of the information.

Wang nodded, not protesting. He reached into Smith's mind for the identity of the spy that had betrayed his true purpose in joining the unit. His effort only revealed that both the US and USSR had forwarded the information through their intelligence networks. The possibility of a mole would have to be reported to his superiors.

Would they believe him?

Captain Wang headed for his quarters. An armed escort fell in beside him to help him along, and then make sure he got on a plane. He knew that he would be out of the country in minutes after packing his clothes.

He should have told Smith what his real mission was so this wouldn't have happened.

He could have defected.

The only way he could avoid punishment by Chairman Mao was to find the agent that leaked his secret back to the UNITF. His telepathy should make that easy. One glance would reveal anyone's guilt.

It had only failed twice in his experience.

The Scots that had joined the task force had both caused his talent to fail. One, MacGraw, always seemed to focus things that had no bearing to who he was, his experiences, any memory. His mind was one track in some ways, but a many branched tree in others. The captain always found himself diverted down some side path away from his objective.

The other, O'Kent, seemed to have a mind made of numerous other consciousnesses that ejected his thought probe before he could get pass any reaction to his presence. The conglomerate had primary residence in the giant's head, and expressed their anger at any intruder.

Wang had sent whatever he could glean from the others back to his government. Only some of it was useful in his opinion. The rest was so personal that he excluded it from his reports. No one needed to know some of the things he had discovered.

Now he was going home.

The guards kept their faces neutral, but their minds danced around the question of Captain Song Lo Wang's exile. Smith hadn't broadcast his spying, or his powers. That was good.

The guards escorted the captain from the facility, to a waiting van, which would take him to a public airport where he would be put on a plane back to China. He had seen the whole route in the one man's mind as he considered short cuts from UNITF's headquarters to the closest airport.

His government had already been informed of his blown cover and was expected to pick him up in Bejing when he arrived.

Captain Wang expected a long debriefing, then some mission in the interior of the country. Better that than a bullet in the back of his head.

Wang closed his eyes at the thought of internal exile. He knew that was the best he could expect for being found out, even if it was not his fault. He had to do something to save his life. These thoughts were uppermost in his mind on the long trip back home.

The escorts waited for his flight to roll to the runway, before they left him alone. The captain watched them go, wishing that he had said something before his identity had been revealed. He should have arranged something, even if it had made him a traitor to his country.

Wang joined the crowd heading for the plane after it taxied to a stop. One glance at a waiting flight attendant told him that it was going to be a long trip. At least his tickets and passport were already taken care of by Smith, and being a member of the diplomatic community allowed him to pass through Switzerland's customs with ease.

Wang boarded at the end of the line, reluctant to leave. His carryon went in its place before he sat down in his chair. The seat next to him was filled with an elderly woman mentally humming a song that hadn't been on the radio since before he was born. He looked out the window, trying not to hear the thoughts running through his neighbor's mind.

The plane took off smoothly after the safety instructions and the command to buckle up and stay in their seats. Wang appreciated the comfortable change from his usual mode of travel on government cargo planes which weren't nearly as quiet as the bird he was riding home.

Captain Wang had taken a seat near the door at the back of the first class section of the plane. He had the window on his right, and appreciated the view of the landscape as the jet soared out of the mountainous borders of Switzerland. Everything looked so peaceful on the ground.

His reverie distracted him from his surroundings so that he was caught unaware that trouble was brewing before it overtook him. His first indication was a man with a heavy beard pushing the flight attendant toward the cockpit. He didn't need his telepathy to tell him the man was holding a gun in his jacket pocket.

Wang looked around, his telepathy veering through the thoughts of everyone on the plane. He found two more hijackers holding coach. The captain settled in his chair, glad that he had decided to wear a plain western suit, and not his army uniform as was his custom. That might have saved his life, allowing him to blend in with the rest of the hostages.

"Would everyone please rise and move to the back of the plane, please?," the flight attendant said over the PA system. "We are having some minor problems near the forward door. It's nothing serious, but we feel for your own safety, that everyone should move back as far as they can until the crisis has passed."

Wang waited until the rest of the passengers had started moving to the back of the plane before he stood and got in line. The same thought that had urged him to wear civilian garb, had also told him to leave his pistol in his luggage, out of reach when he needed it.

He would have to improvise something.

Captain Wang's telepathy was good for gathering information, even broadcasting his thoughts to others, but its range was limited to what he could see. The only people he could broadcast to were in the back of the plane with him. He needed a way to alert the authorities to what was going on without getting anyone killed in the process.

He wasn't ready to fall on his own sword yet either.

Wang wiped his sweaty forehead off with a handkerchief, trying to remain calm. Some of his feelings must have been sensed by the people around him as they calmed to a watchfulness. They seemed to be responding to his effort to keep his wits.

Wang decided the best thing he could do was find out who he was dealing with. The easiest way was to invade the closest man's mind, and cull out what he needed while the man kept an eye on the hostages. Anything could be useful as long as he didn't let on that he was planning some counter move before he could plan such a move.

It only took a moment to sort the hijacker's memories out. The plan was to hijack the plane, and send it crashing into a target in Europe. The leader of the group had that information, but not the lackeys. Then the infidels would burn up, while the faithful went to paradise when the plane hit.

Captain Wang didn't plan to let that happen. He wanted to live despite the welcome home he expected from his superiors. To accomplish his goal, he had to take out the two gun men in the back of the plane first. Then he could try an assault on the one in the cockpit. He needed some way to distract their attention until it was too late for them to block his move.

He needed to separate them.

Wang concentrated on the one man he had already violated. He pushed his own thoughts in the man's head, making the man want to leave the cabin. The man shook his head, like gnats were bothering him. He declared he had to go to the bathroom at the back of the cabin. He walked down the aisle and vanished into the closet before the other man could protest.

Now to take care of the other man before the first one was done with his business.

Wang directed another passenger to wave his hands to get the other hijacker's attention. When the man turned around, a dozen hands grabbed him. The captain made sure he couldn't fire his weapon as feet did their work.

Wang confiscated the hijacker's weapons before moving to the locked bathroom door. One bullet would stop the resident inside, but there was no telling what the bullet would do. Wang decided to wait for the man to come out.

The door opened as the second hijacker stepped outside. He had a moment to realize that his compatriot was on the cabin's floor before something hard crashed against the side of his head. He fell to the carpet, blood exploding from the cut where the captain had clubbed him with the other man's pistol.

Only one left.

Captain Wang moved to the front of the plane, scanning ahead with his telepathy. The leader had locked himself inside the cockpit with the pilots. His underlings had never failed him, so he didn't expect that the passengers would have disarmed them, and trussed them up like turkeys in the aisle at the back of the plane. The element of surprise was in the security officer's favor.

The problem was that Captain Wang couldn't think of anything that wouldn't stop the last hijacker from crashing the plane once he knew that something was up. Wang didn't have any experience storming locked rooms either. He was an intelligence gatherer, not a commando.

Wang put his hand on the cockpit door. He felt the minds at work in the confined space. He had bungled his assignment, allowed his betrayal to be known by the people who trusted him. Now they were the only ones he could call to help him. Smith would never allow innocents to be killed over a personal dislike.

Wang gave his situation some consideration before an idea sprang loose. He couldn't control other minds, but he could talk to them and tell the other brain some information it could use. He needed to get a message out and the pilot was the only one who could do it. He told the pilot what to say on the radio to call for help.

Wang waited by the door to the cockpit. He couldn't tell if the hidden words he had asked the pilot to send would be understood by ground control. His range wasn't that good. It would tell him if the hijacker was suspicious of some of the chatter. That was the best he could hope for at the moment.

This would be easier if he had been able to keep his radio as a member of UNITF. He could just call HQ with a report of what was going on. Now all he could do was wait, and hope his former comrades were alerted. It wouldn't take long for Red Star, or O'Kent to catch the plane with their great speed.

Minutes later, after the other hijackers had been locked in the bathrooms for their own safety, Wang felt a familiar mind approach the plane as the pilot tried to stall reaching the target. It wasn't the choice he would have made, he thought, as Svarog clamped on the door. The metal face stared through the porthole at his former comrade. The cyborg's expression was impossible to read, but it didn't take a mind reader to know he wanted a good explanation.

Wang filled in the mechanical man on what had happened, and what was planned for the plane. Svarog nodded again, his mind filled with the strange American rock and roll pathos he used. It was the most bizarre thing about the Russian creation. His face disappeared from the porthole.

The Russian cyborg had the ability to change his body. It was an experimental thing performed on someone who should have died. There was some secret there, but Wang hadn't been able to ferret it out.

Svarog drifted to the front of the plane, scanning the cockpit with his artificial senses, muttering to himself. He didn't want a catastrophe, just a surgical strike which would let the plane land without exploding on the tarmac, or coming apart in the air. He took aim with his fingers, letting them channel the laser power he wanted to use. The cyborg jetted into view of the pilot, and his passengers. His fingers blazed before anyone had a chance to do anything but wonder what was going on. The hijacker collapsed with a hole burned in his forehead.

Svarog sent a land at once to the pilot in his strange vernacular. The plane began to descend right away, the announcement that the crisis was over following moments later. Wang nodded to himself, knew that the cyborg was following the plane down to whatever strip they were heading for. The authorities would have everything in hand.

Wang made sure his prisoners were secured and out of the way while the plane landed. He didn't want anything to go wrong since the emergency was over. That would be insult on top of injury.

He wondered what would happen after things were settled with the captured hijackers. Maybe he wouldn't be shot after returning to his homeland.

The passengers were allowed to disembark before Spanish police boarded the plane. Captain Wang was escorted off the plane, frowning at the official from the Chinese embassy waiting on the tarmac. A private plane awaited, as soon as he could get the Spanish to release the good captain.

Wang couldn't miss Red Star and Svarog standing to one side.

The official talked to one of the officers, gesturing for Wang to be handed over. The Spaniard said something it didn't take mind reader to understand. The aide drew back. Red Star and Svarog took Wang by the elbows and led him to a room reserved for Customs to do searches of passengers.

"Very good work, Comrade," said Red Star, blocking the door with his armored body. "I am surprised that you acted so altruistically."

"I don't understand," said Wang, who knew what was going on as soon as he saw what was in Red Star's mind. The hijacking had been an excuse for the two Russians to intercept the plane and deal with him according to the orders of their government.

Execution had been Red Star's orders from on high to keep whatever Wang had not reported away from his masters. The captain really hadn't expected anything less.

"I am expected to murder you for the good of the Motherland," said Red Star. "I prefer not to. My commanding officer in the GRU would like to have you dissected. There's no telling what the Americans want."

"What do you plan?," asked Wang, sure that the Russian hero wouldn't do anything to him. The former cosmonaut was a hero through and through.

"Mabeline," said Svarog. "Why can't you be true?"

Wang understood exactly what the two planned then.

Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 1:32 am
by Press Guardian
This is a fun story with a hint of 911 in the world of heroes.
I enjoyed reading what you have done so far, but what does this have to do with the Mighty Crusaders?

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 12:46 am
by C. Syphrett
Press Guardian wrote:This is a fun story with a hint of 911 in the world of heroes.
I enjoyed reading what you have done so far, but what does this have to do with the Mighty Crusaders?
This is just a sideteam based out of the Five Earths history. I believe that they pulled all the MLJ stories down so only the Charlton stories are still on their archive page.

Keeping the Peace 9

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2005 10:59 am
by C. Syphrett
"Peacemaker won't allow my return," said Wang. "He was blunt about that."

"Your government could persuade him, especially after this," said Red Star. "The problem will always be that you're disloyal to your comrades in arms when they are expecting your assistance."

"I was only following my orders," said Wang. "Comrade Wu wants to know as much about superhumans as he can, so China can create her own. That is the only reason he sent me to Switzerland. Now I shall return and be reassigned."

"I don't know how you arranged to stop the hijackers, but you did," said Red Star. "That will count for something in his eyes. The problem is that both I and Svarog, and I am sure that Captain Commando, have orders to kill you from our prospective governments due to your information gathering skills, whatever they are."

"I don't understand," said Wang. "You're willing to defy your governments for me. Why?"

"We want you to be the hero you could be," said Red Star. "There's more to your future than being a drone all your life."

"What if I refuse?," asked Wang.

"Oh, Mackie is back in town," Svarog said, holding up one of his metallic hands. The fingers and thumb joined together into a buzzing mass that the captain knew could cut through steel in a swipe. "Don't pull on Superman's cape, don't mess with Slim."

Wang didn't need an explanation for that. The cyborg had definitely made his point with the minimal amount of effort. He took a few minutes to think of the possible futures that his career had led him to until now.

"Is everything all right in there?," the official from the consulate asked, locked out of the room.

"We're discussing some private business," said Wang. "I will inform you of the results when we are done with our conversation."

"Our plane is ready," said the aide. "We can't delay for too much longer."

"Fifty ways to leave your lover," said the metal man. He waved his buzzing hand slightly.

Keeping the Peace 10

Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:27 am
by C. Syphrett
Captain Song Lo Wang considered his options, a telepathic push on the aide waiting for him gave him time to think about his situation. A glimpse in the man's mind had told him that operatives supposedly capable of dealing with him would be waiting in Bejing when he arrived. The man surmised a bullet retirement for the operative he had been assigned to meet after the situation on the plane.

Wang looked at his options quietly. Red Star and Svarog waited by the door. He could see they wanted to take him back, if he could be trusted to do the right thing. He would have to prove his trustworthiness somehow in a way that no one could mistake it for anything else. He didn't know how to earn that trust again after what he had done.

"Your offer is generous, but I don't think that I could return," Wang said. "There would always be some suspicion that I was still spying for my government. I don't believe my government will allow it either. You understand?"

"Yes, we do," said Red Star, smiling quietly. "Any sign of treason and someone would get at you no matter how well we protected you. Politics is a strange thing. Good luck, comrade."

The captain nodded as the Russian heroes retreated from the room. He had been offered a stay of execution. He just couldn't take it. He had already lost too much face. What he had left would have to help him get through whatever Comrade Wu decided for him.

Wang joined the messenger from the local embassy, brushing off any attempt at communication. There was nothing he could say to the lackey that would explain why his former comrades had wanted to be alone with him. He also knew that it would be reported along the chain of command, so why give the man more ammunition to use in whatever report he filed.

Wang was loaded into a limo that ferried him across the airfield to a plane waiting for him. The aide explained that the charter would fly him to North Korea, and then home. It wasn't perfect but it was the swiftest thing that could be arranged after the attempted hijacking.

Wang nodded at the explanation. His status must have suffered greatly between Switzerland, and where he was now that he needed a private plane, and pilot, to get him to his firing squad on time.

Maybe he was being bitter without proof of intention. Being a telepath allowed him to look into other people's minds. He rarely saw anything pleasant. Most had buried resentments and desires that made their minds cesspools. It taught him what to expect when he dealt with someone, but every once in a while his talent fooled him.

Keeping the Peace 11

Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:39 pm
by C. Syphrett
The stopover in North Korea was brief. Captain Wang was allowed to look out the window at the refueling of his plane. He had almost been killed once. His government was not taking chances that something might happen to him wandering the airfield.

Wang couldn't blame Comrade Wu for being thorough.

Eventually the plane took off and headed toward Bejing with an exchange of pleasantries to the terminal tower. The captain watched the countryside roll by below, thinking about the people going about their duties, their lives as best that they could. He had been in the intelligence branch for a long time, isolated from a normal existence by serving the Committee.

Wang felt relief when he saw the lights for Bejing Airport. At least his traveling was done as soon as they touched ground. Well, most of it. He was sure a car would be waiting for him to take him to Intelligence HQ.

Wang's assumption proved correct. A black limo rolled up to the plane as soon as it rolled to a stop. The aide grabbed his arm in one hand, and luggage in the other, hustling him to the door before the steps could be dropped to the tarmac. Wang glared at the aide, forcing him to drop his arm. He could get down three steps and into an official car on his own.

Wang got in the back seat of the car, not surprised that Comrade Wu was waiting for him. The older man was inscrutable on the outside, with a fairy tale story running in the background of his mind. He knew well what his subordinate could do, and how to temporarily block it.

"I am glad that you are back, Captain," said Wu. "We have had an emergency that requires your special talent."

"I am pleased to hear that," said Wang. "I thought you were here to kill me."

"That would be a waste," said Wu, handing over a file. "We have gathered this through our more mundane agents. It seems that a weapons smuggling ring has been set up to import weapons from Hong Kong into the interior of our country. We have only identified one man with this operation."

"This is unexpected," said Wang, frowning, putting the file aside. "I expected some kind of reprimand to be honest."

"I can't waste my time with that," said Wu. "Other agents are running down the leak that broke your cover. This is something immediate that we need you on. We might have a time limit."

"How big is this smuggling ring?," Wang asked.

"We don't know," admitted Wu. "Our one suspect should lead us to the rest, but we don't know how many are involved. Obviously that is why your talent is invaluable to find these men and arrest them before whatever they planned happens."

"I see."

Keeping the Peace 12

Posted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 3:51 pm
by C. Syphrett
Captain Wang changed to a new suit after cleaning up at the small apartment provided by the Ministry. He wanted to keep his investigation as low key as possible. He could pass himself off as a businessman looking for customers as long as he was careful.

He already knew what would happen if he wasn't careful.

At least he hadn't been shot in the back of the head, or sent to internal exile where he would die in poverty.

The captain crossed the border into Hong Kong just like hundreds of others did every day. He found a hotel away from any other intelligence operation, and checked in. He didn't want to be observed, and identified, before he could get to his real assignment.

Wang reviewed the information in the case file from memory as he tried to settle in his hotel room. It gave him a nice hook to look into if he could find Chow Loo, and pick his brain. Then he could follow the lines to others. The best part is that he didn't need to question them if he could observe them from a distance.

It was a more normal use of his talent than pursuing menaces with costumed lackeys from other countries.

Tomorrow would be a busy day, so Wang tried to go to sleep and rest up. He tried to, but couldn't because of the low intensity buzz he felt coming from the room next to his. It was almost like someone was thinking of him.

Wang was positive that he hadn't been followed from his entry point. He had checked with his telepathy. Whatever was going on in the next room couldn't possibly concern him.

Wang unpacked the pistol he had smuggled across the border with him. He tucked it at the small of his back in a concealed holster. Something was going on, and he couldn't be caught flatfooted by whoever was in the room next door.

The captain made sure he had his project money tucked away before moving to the window. He looked out, grimacing at his possibilities. A narrow ledge circled the building, with red banners announcing the name of the hotel from poles every few feet. There was no fire escape on the front of the building where his room was. A narrow drainpipe hove close to the corner on the other side of the belligerent room. He could jump and try to hit a passing truck, but he was sure to break a leg, or worse.

Wang tried to make up his mind as the buzzing increased to actual words. He was going to die if he didn't think of something fast.

Keeping the Peace 13

Posted: Thu May 05, 2005 10:29 am
by C. Syphrett
Captain Wang stepped out on the ledge, hugging the brick front of his hotel. He edged along to the neighboring room, pausing to peek in the window. The occupants held weapons and were lined up at the door. The uppermost thoughts in their collective minds were his death, and how to accomplish it.

Wang held on to his precarious perch, willing himself to be silent. The last thing he wanted was a shoot out in a hotel even though he knew that his cover had been blown sky high. Every one of his would-be assassins knew his real name, and what they needed to do to him.

The captain closed his eyes, trying to think what his options were. He didn't like the simple choices that everything seemed to flow into. He could stay on the ledge until he fell, or was pushed off. He could go back to his room and shoot it out. He could try and catch his assailants from behind. He could keep moving until he found a way out of this mess.

Wang decided that the best thing he could do was get off the ledge. He waited for the assassins to burst into his room before scooting along to the corner of the building. He seized the drainpipe with both hands and shimmed down the thin metal pole to the street. That was the best he could do at the moment.

He needed help, but already knew that his agency was compromised. That was the only explanation for an ambush before he could settle into a room, and start looking around. Someone had given them his face and cover before he had arrived in Hong Kong. That was the only reasoning that made sense.

The captain joined the crowd on the street, glad that he still had his pistol and the traveling money he had been given to go with his cover. He could hold up somewhere else, think of a new plan. He avoided the thought that his own commander had sent him out in the field to die just to draw out anyone who wanted to stop their interference.

The problem was he couldn't put it beyond suspicion. Comrade Wu didn't get to be the head of his agency without a certain amount of ruthlessness. Selling out an operative was not unheard of. That might be how the UNITF learned of his fact gathering for his home government.

Wang decided that a visit to Embassy Row would be the best thing he could do at this point. He needed information, and this was the only way he could think to get it. He had to be sure his own government had not leaked his cover intentionally.

This wasn't a guaranteed way to do it, but it was better than moving in the dark with everyone trying to kill him.

Captain Wang caught a bus, switched several times, then took a cab to a street holding the envoys of other countries. Hong Kong still belonged to Great Britain, and would until the end of the century. While that was in force, China had to settle for an embassy like any other country.

Keeping the Peace 14

Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 11:35 pm
by C. Syphrett
A small mansion was an ornate block behind ivory walls of brick and cement. The Chinese flag was the uppermost on the pole just beyond the gate. Guards checked invitations as a line of guests arrived and went inside. A man stood across the street, hands in his pockets, watching the scene, checking his watch as if he was waiting on someone.

The man on the street started walking away. He put on an expression of irritation, but inside he fought to keep fear and depression down. All of the diplomatic attendees of the party at the Chinese embassy knew he was in town, and were on watch.

Captain Song Lo Wang was a marked man, and everybody wanted to know what he was doing and how to exploit it to their advantage.

This was worst than what he expected. Such a flood of information was supposedly unheard of from the security service. Worse than that from his point of view, someone had painted a giant bull's eye on his back. There was nowhere safe he could turn in Hong Kong.

Wang was totally alone in this. It would be suicide to continue with the mission. He knew that he couldn't count on an extraction either. He needed help, and his agency wasn't going to give him that.

Comrade Wu wanted him to die.

He had two choices as far as he could see. He could try to complete his mission with everything going against him. That would certainly mean that he would be killed trying to do that. His cover was blown, and the bad guys knew he was coming. Infiltration was almost certainly out.

He could disappear and use his talent to get out of the country and hide until he was forgotten. Faking his death would be the best way to do that. That way he wouldn't have to look over his shoulder for Comrade Wu's other subordinates.

Wang walked the dark streets, thinking about a solution. A third option opened for him if he could pull it off. It would be tricky. The people he would have to deal with were hard to fool.

Still it was the best thing he could think of at the moment.

Keeping the Peace 15

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2005 2:45 am
by C. Syphrett
Wang decided the first thing he needed to do was to secure a suspect, and interrogate him. The arms dealers had been real, unless Comrade Wu had been able to fool him about that like he had about everything else. The men at the hotel knew him, and wanted to get rid of him and they had to work for someone not tied to the intelligence community.

Agents could be taken, were taken, but rarely were they shot on sight unless there was an open conflict.

Wang toured the target area he had been assigned by Comrade Wu. The locals made no secret that Ken Pei had moved from his warehouse in a hurry after a phone call. Some rough looking friends had helped him. No one knew where he had gone.

That was the captain's starting point. He had a composite from every memory he had searched so he knew who to look for. Now he needed to know where he could find the elusive Mr. Pei.

Then he could ask the tough questions that would lead to the next link in the chain.

Hopefully by then, he would have enough to craft a trap for some unwitting assistance.

Wang had been placed in a hole with no hope of digging out on his own. Any way he turned could lead to a trial for treason and a summary execution. Someone in his government, perhaps his own agency, had decided to send him on a suicide mission. His only hope was to complete the mission, and identify that rogue before more damage could be done.

The agent moved along after the memory of the moving. Brief scans of the day in question in the minds of the residents on the streets led him toward the harbors Hong Kong was famous for. The trail ran out on the water. Pei's movers had taken a boat and fled the shore.

A few of the nearby sailors remembered the numbers on the boat, and what model it was. That was enough for Wang to rifle the harbor master's log book for the owners of the boat. He smiled once he had an address in hand. It was a link to take him to the people who wanted to kill him.

A crosstown trip on a bus gave Wang ample opportunity to plan what his next move should be. He definitely wasn't going to burst in with guns blazing. He was going to take the easy way to keep his chances of survival high. It wasn't heroic, but it was the way he liked to do things.

Wang scanned the house that matched the address he had gleaned from his search. One mind instantly synched with his, giving him the complete operation as far as that one man knew it. He was especially on the lookout for a man he knew was going to try and stop them making money. He had been ordered to shoot on sight.

The guard didn't know where Pei had gotten the information. It had just been passed out to keep the crew on the alert. The hit at the hotel had missed even though they had been given an exact location to attack. They couldn't miss again.

Wang walked away before he was spotted. He had a focus to spring his attack. All he needed now was a trigger to get his former comrades to arrive. He thought about it as he looked for a street phone. Maybe a call would whet their interest enough for Peacemaker to send someone to look into things.

Wang considered his words as he searched for pocket change to put in the payphone to call Switzerland. He decided to keep it brief and disguised so his direct involvement wouldn't be known. The telepath believed that Smith would just turn him down flat if he called as himself.

Wang dialed the number and waited.

"UNITF headquarters," said a cool voice after Wang had nerved himself to call around the world. "How may I direct your call?"

"I want to speak to Peacemaker right now," said Wang. "There's something bad going on here in Hong Kong. He has to take care of it."

"I'm sorry, sir," said the receptionist. "I don't understand."

"Tell him to hurry," Wang said, wiping the phone before dropping it and walking away.

Keeping the Peace 16

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:41 am
by C. Syphrett
Christopher Smith listened to the tape one more time. All calls to the facility were taped for analysis if they needed to later. He frowned at what he heard.

"Sounds like Wang," said Jock MacGraw, standing by the door, black mask hiding the hawkishness in his face. "Lots of street traffic."

"This is bad," said Red Star, standing by the sound analyzing hardware, looking up at the lights.

"It looks like he has been dumped in the cold," said Smith. "Why not call his own government for help?"

"Maybe he can't," said Red Star. "It wouldn't be the first time an intelligence agency sold their operatives out."

"It explains the leak getting back to you also," said MacGraw. "His agency told the other governments what he had learned so that they would tell you and that would lead you to sending him home for his disloyalty, and he would be under the pretense of finding a leak that wasn't there."

"Sounds convoluted," said Smith.

"I don't believe he knew what had happened," said Red Star. "It could just be as Comrade MacGraw says. His government might have turned on him. Might be using him as a pawn in some scheme that we can't fathom as yet."

"This is what we're going to do," said Smith. "MacGraw, I want you and the Knight to pack up and get a plane to Hong Kong. Use any means that can't be traced back to us. I want you on the ground to pick up Wang's trail and keep him under surveillance until we have a handle.

"Red Star, I want you to check your connections in the intelligence community. See if you can find out any more about the leak we received. I'll talk to the US people and see if we can find a link."

"I would like to get O'Kent in on this," said MacGraw. "He's a dose of cold water for any trouble."

Jock O'Kent was a giant, and recognizable anywhere he went. He was also capable of ripping metal apart with his hands if he had to.

"He's not the most clandestine minded man I have ever met," said Smith, eyebrow raised at the request.

"His talent lies in wrecking things," said MacGraw. "He's also someone who can take care of himself in any situation."

"You think all of the unknowns will go after him?," asked Red Star, smiling slightly. "That wouldn't be smart for them."

"He's unstoppable," said Smith. "Let's go with it. Two teams with the small team leading, then the back up taking station after things get started. Let's get busy. We don't know how much time we have."

Jock MacGraw nodded, featureless mask hiding his thoughts as he headed for the dormitory. That was where he had seen the Knight last. He would have to make some phone calls to locate O'Kent. His fellow Scot liked to commute from Switzerland to Scotland. That meant that people from the places between had reasons to hate the giant when he decided to give the authorities a hand.

That didn't bother MacGraw except that O'Kent moved fast and was hard to grab on the fly until he was actually in Scotland. Anyone there could pass on a message after that.

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:16 pm
by Press Guardian

I'm enjoying the story so far, Thanks :)

Posted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 7:25 am
by C. Syphrett
Thanks. I appreciate any comments. I am hoping to write a Blue Beetle story later. Something a little more straightforward than these novels I seem to be working on now.

Keeping the Peace 17

Posted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:41 am
by C. Syphrett
The Knight looked around the airport, travel bag on her shoulder. The briefing had been short and to the point. She had dealt with similar things in the past for CHESS. Covert police actions were routine.

What wasn't routine was her partner letting her ride the plane on her own undercover while he used his own methods to fly around the world. She admitted to herself that the masked Scotsman was more mysterious than she usually dealt with back home.

The tall man waiting for her to step off the plane was the opposite.

Jock O'Kent was an unmistakable giant with fiery red hair crammed into a black T-shirt and blue jeans. He seemed right at home among the other shorter people waiting for flights to come in or leave Hong Kong. He grinned at the sight of the Knight cutting through the crowd.

They were a strange pair from the looks the onlookers gave them. Maybe it was just Jock. His grin was enough to make some back away.

"How long have you been waiting?," the Knight asked, brushing back her hair over her ear. She kept it short to fit under her helmet.

"Just got here," said O'Kent, taking her bag in one ham-sized hand. "It was only a wee jog for the likes of me."

The Knight couldn't tell if the Scot was joking. She did know that he commuted across the English Channel to his home from Geneva. Maybe he was being sincere. How much trouble did MacGraw expect to ask O'Kent along.

They were an effective team.

The Knight had witnessed their efficiency in training, and on missions. CHESS had shown her the gathered information on the two when she had been assigned to the United Nations team. She remembered being impressed at the thick jackets.

"Let's get out of here," said the Knight, smoothing her suit jacket and skirt. "We may already being drawing the wrong kind of attention."

"We are," said O'Kent, leading the way to the airport's exit. "Why do you think MacGraw wanted me along. He's a sneaky one."

"We draw the trouble while he operates on his own," said the Knight, following the giant, eye on the crowd. "I should have known, but I didn't really think he would do that."

O'Kent laughed, thunder rolling across the air.

"Our faceless friend will do what he thinks is best," said O'Kent. "We'll do the same. Whether or not we agree on that subject, that's for talking over a pint."

"He's already here and digging, isn't he?," said the Knight.

"Aye," said O'Kent. " But I'll wager we'll get faster answers to our questions."

The two adventurers fled the bustling terminal, joining the crowd at the entrance with seeming boredom. The Knight did have some contacts in this part of the world, and CHESS did have some resources she could draw on to help her. She would have to exercise a little care. Her organization dealt with a lot of things with methods not approved outside certain circles.

Her boss wouldn't approve of any limelight being shone on that darker side of secret warfare.

Keeping the Peace 18

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:02 am
by C. Syphrett
Jock MacGraw wore someone else's face as he moved along the harbor area. His thoughts were on what kind of fish he wanted to buy from the local market, but his eyes took in every detail so he could use it later.

It was an old trick he had taught himself in his commando days. He could act like he belonged in a certain place, even think like a native, but his memory would take pictures of everything he saw that he could reassemble later in privacy.

If he had to visit this place at night, he would know where everything was, and how to get to where he had to go without anyone seeing him.

MacGraw picked something small and placed it, in a wrapping, inside a bucket he was carrying. He was just out looking around in his borrowed face, maybe on the look out for an old friend. His surface mind let those free associations roll on while he mapped his operating area.

If he did see anyone he knew, it wouldn't be an old man that came to visit them in the night.

MacGraw cleared the market area, heading into the city. He still had a lot to do before the night came on. One of those things was finding a place to live and a vantage point to watch the reaction to Jock O'Kent being in town. The giant should be drawing preemptive strikes by the handful by now.

They had rolled up part of the Mars Council network using information they had ripped from operatives for the weapons dealers. That had moved the Scots right up the most hated list to join Peacemaker who had already captured the Weapon, their chief enforcer and hit man. If any of those elements were behind this present problem, O'Kent would be an itch that needed to be scratched.

The Knight would hopefully be able to gather information from those attacks that he could use to his own advantage.

The real question was what had this to do with Captain Wang? Why had these extreme measures been taken to isolate him in the middle of an underworld that would try to kill him just on principle? Who were they hoping to draw out into the open?

Despite the call, Wang must also be trying to find that answer. Would he try to use O'Kent as MacGraw was, or would he try another angle? It was obvious he was trying to bail himself out and he couldn't trust anyone.

MacGraw continued his tour, using the public transportation system to cross through the high towers and the crowded low places being one with the crowd around him. The night would bring answers. Until then, he had nothing better to do than practice his Mandarin and Cantonese as he looked out the window.