A team of Special Forces Operatives have to look to the past to save the future.
Jonastal, Thuringia, Germany April 1945
April 26, 1945, 1500 hours: The Germans were dug into the cliffs. A Lethal barrier of machine guns and 20 mms bristled from bunkers, which over watched the mouth of the gorge leading to the Jonastal Pass. This was the last line of defense to the Jonas Valley Industrial complex. A last ditch attempt to prevent the Americans and Russians from getting their hands on German technology along the ever-shortening road to Berlin.
Able Company of the 'Rolling W', 89th Infantry Division, was to lead the primary assault on the Pass in the densely forested hills above Liebstein. Charlie Company was to provide suppressive fire.
Angry White-hot bolts of illumination cut through the mist, and the smoke as the soldiers ploughed up the tree lined hills. The burnt-egg stench of sulphur hung everywhere. A seething hellhole: flames, explosions, smoke and craters, bodies strewn across the savaged landscape, chaos rumbling.
The opening salvos' of mortar fire from the German defences separated Sergeant Manny Decker, and Privates Dempsey, Genaro, and Cole from the rest of the Company. They were part of 30 Advance Unit, the former 30 RN Commando, under the command of Commander Ian Fleming, they all knew he was in reality one of the backroom boys from Westminster, and not part of the military machine.
All the men assigned to 30 Assault had the task of moving ahead of advancing Allied forces, or to undertake covert infiltrations into enemy territory by land, sea, or air, to capture much needed intelligence, in the form of codes, documents, equipment, or enemy personnel.
The unit often worked with the Intelligence Corps' Field Security sections. Individual troops were present in all operational theatres and operated independently, gathering data from captured facilities.
Information had been obtained about a vast underground complex in the Jonas valley area, so their unit being the closest had been attached to the two US companies that had been dispatched to take the valley, not expecting it to be as heavily defended as it was. The nearby POW camp at Ohrduf had been abandoned by the Germans, leaving behind a handful of emaciated prisoners and thousands of corpses. Decker and his men had to push on alone, the rest of their company were pinned down by hellish fire far to the right of them.
Decker felt the hot whisper of displaced air to either side of him, as he made his way towards a fallen tree.
Scrambling to the earth, he reached the cover of the tree seconds in front of his comrades. They took advantage of the few moments of safety to get their breath back and still their beating hearts. Cole crossed himself and looked up to the sky as he tried to become part of the fallen trunk, his nineteen-year-old face pallid beneath the dirt smudges.
"This is fucked up," Dempsey wheezed, his willowy fingers gripping onto his weapon.
"Yeah, one company to take out those bunkers," Genaro added his point, as he kissed the twin dice, which hung from a chain around his neck.
"We're here to soften 'em up for when the tank boys get here."
"Wouldn't it make more sense to wait for the tanks?"
"Ours not to reason why, Genaro."
Machine gun fire fragmented the trunk above them. Mortar fire exploded all around, showering soil down on them like heavy summer rain.
Decker risked a quick peek. A hail of machine gun fire was his reward. Shards of wood exploded into the air all around him, a few slivers cut his face.
"They got us pinned good," he said, "but we are only a couple of hundred yards away from the first bunker. If you boys lay down some covering fire, I think I can get close enough to lob a grenade in."
Before any of them could answer, they felt the ground rumble, and the sound of a heavy diesel engine, and the crack of timber. Looking behind them, all four were horrified to see the approach through the trees of a Kigstiger, the most feared tanks in the German arsenal.
Fear pinned them to the spot. The fifty-six ton monster rocked to a stop ten yards away from them.
Decker regained some balance. Grabbing Genaro, he was about to scramble away, when the 88mm barrel angled up towards the bunker.
"What the fuck!" Cole stared open mouthed at the scene before them.
They all hit the deck as the high velocity round exploded from the muzzle.
Decker, despite covering his ears felt as though he was underwater. The change in air pressure muffled all sound. The tank fired again. The world rocked around them.
They crawled over to the tank. Decker risked a look at the bunker; it was now a jumble of smoking rubble.
A head popped up out of the turret.
"Thought you Tommy's may need a hand," the grinning face of Tony 'Duke' Parsons looked down at them.
"Where the fuck you get this from?" Genaro slammed a hand against the tanks track.
"Ask me no questions."
Duke was one of those kind of men every unit seemed to have in its ranks, you wanted something, they could locate it.
"Carry on men, got to go help the others," he banged on the turret, "Wagon's Roll!"
A thick cloud of blue smoke swept over the bushes and trees to the rear of the Tiger. With a rumble of rusting tracks, the tank set off again towards the other bunker positions.
Decker rubbed the back of his neck as he watched the tank crash through the trees, then turned to the others.
"C'mon boys, up the hill."
They vaulted over the trunk, and proceeded up towards the now silent bunker. After checking the wreckage was clear they moved off to regroup with the rest of Able Company. Duke and his tank helped even up the odds. Within the space of an hour, they had cleared out the rest of the bunker positions.
Upon entering the pass, Able Company found evidence of a hasty retreat. The Germans had not bothered to take valuable equipment with them, weapons and vehicles littered the pass. They found the same when they arrived at the Jonas Valley Industrial Complex beyond the pass. No one could understand why the soldiers had defended with such vigour then to leave in such a hurry.
As the sun sank behind the forested hills of the valley, Decker, Cole, and Genaro were taking a well-earned break at the newly established forward operating base. The top brass had taken over a collection of offices with some work sheds turned into billets. A message from company command had been received telling them to hold the valley until further notice.
Outside in the muddy valley, the dispatch riders came and went, skidding through the thick mud. The sounds of shouted orders from platoon commanders drifted on the night air. For now, the percussive sounds of war were absent.
Decker was a veteran of many campaigns so did what all veterans did, he got his head down. You never knew when the chance to sleep would come so you took it when you could. Genaro and Cole had hooked up with three other guys from Charlie Company and started a card game.
"I heard there's a lot of Nazi gold hidden in this valley," Cole said.
"Oh yeah, where'd you hear that?" Genaro laid down his cards and whooped as he took some more pay from the mooks that he was swindling.
"Oh man, that's me out," Cole threw down his cards in disgust, "Heard some of the brass talking earlier."
"You hear too much, Cole, sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut," Decker said, his eyes shut.
Before Cole could protest, Able's troop commander, Capt. Hardesty strode in.
"On yer feet men, I need you for a mission."
They all jumped to attention.
"Grab your weapons, and follow me."
Hardesty went outside to wait for them.
Decker grabbed his Thompson, and helmet. The others tousled for their M1 Garand's before following Decker outside.
He lit up a cigarillo while they waited for Hardesty to finish conferring with two infantrymen. Decker noticed a man in the uniform of an SS-Obersturmbannfrer in the jeep parked behind them. He was secured with handcuffs, and looked as though someone had given him a good going over.
Hardesty nodded to the men then came over to speak to Decker.
"It appears a small group of officers, and some scientists have taken refuge in one of the mining complexes they did not manage to blast upon their retreat, I want you men to go in and flush them out before they destroy anything else."
"Only the six of us, sir?"
"The Oberst there says they are not heavily armed, everyone else is tied up with other duties for now, head on down see if you can find them, I'll send some others down as soon as I can free up some bodies."
Hardesty pointed up the valley, "I've put two men at the entrance, head up there, they'll give you a radio."
Without another word, he walked over to the jeep and climbed in alongside the infantrymen. The jeep reversed, and then headed off up the pass.
"Another bullshit duty, "Cole griped.
"Quit yer moaning, let's get this done, then you can get back to losing money."
Using prisoner labour from Ohdurf to bore twenty five-tunnels into the hillside overlooking the valley the Germans had been in the midst of a vast construction enterprise. Evidence of the construction lay all around. Before their retreat they sealed off some of the entrances, the ones that were intact now had infantrymen on permanent guard duty outside, their weapons trained into the tunnels.
As they approached, a guard waved them over. Decker and his men jogged up the side of an embankment, then up to the tunnel entrance.
A metal canopy had been built above, possibly the beginning of some kind of camouflage system.
"Just the six of you?" He asked as a greeting.
"I'm afraid so," Decker answered.
"How many's supposed to be down there?" Cole asked.
"About twenty two, officers, scientists and a couple of Waffen bodyguards."
"But there may be more, right?" Decker threw down his cigarillo, crunching it out under his boot.
The guard shrugged.
Cole took the radio off the other guard, and strapped it to his back.
"C'mon then, let's do this."
Decker tramped towards the tunnel. The first few feet were dug out of solid rock, stretching into semi darkness, the way lit by weak lights every few feet. The hairs on the back of Decker's neck stood to attention. He knew this was a shit detail; also, he had a fear of confined spaces after falling into a sinkhole when he was a kid. The land around the farm he had grown up on in Devon was riddled with tunnels from a nearby mine, he had been out wandering the fields with his dog, Skip, when the ground beneath his feet had opened up, swallowing him and his dog. Despite his screams, he was not discovered until the next day.
He felt a cold sweat break out all over his skin. A hand on his shoulder broke the spell, he turned to see Genaro.
"You okay, Sarge?"
"Yeah, let's do this, eh."
Gripping his Thompson, and taking a deep breath, he stepped into the cool air of the tunnel.
Keep it together, Decker thought.
Not wanting to appear weak in front of the others, he took point. They walked in single file through the rough-cut tunnel. No one spoke; the noise of their breathing came back at them from the tunnel walls.
Decker felt the whole bulk of the earth and rocks above him.
A series of twists and turns brought them to a concrete wall with a submarine-style hatch set in the center.
Decker held up his hand.
"Stay where you are, they could have booby trapped the door."
Decker put his hand on the central locking wheel, but stood to one side of the door. He turned to the others, signalling them to hit the deck against the wall of the tunnel.
He had seen it before, where doors or vehicles had been turned into bombs. The thought made his hand sweat. He rubbed his hand on his jacket before placing his hand back on the wheel. Giving it a hard twist, he threw himself away and against the wall. Nothing happened. He turned back to the door, and pulled it open. Machine gun fire exploded from the open door. Bullets, spanged off the walls, and caromed around the tunnel.
Genaro and Cole returned fire.
Decker pulled a grenade from his utility pouch, pulled the pin, and then tossed it through the door. The explosion when it came was loud. He felt his ears pop. He jumped in front of the door and fired from the hip. There was no need though, he saw the German soldier who had been operating the Spandau machine gun, slumped over the sandbag emplacement, blood pouring from his head.
Decker stepped through the hatch, weapon at the ready. He moved to one side of the door as the others followed. The interior here was different. The walls were constructed of reinforced concrete. A well-lit corridor extended before them, studded along both sides with open doors. They could also hear a faint whining noise coming from beneath their feet.
Before moving off, they checked the rooms leading off the corridor. Finding nothing but desks and scattered paperwork, they headed deeper into the complex. The noise became louder as they descended deep underground, along a series of switchback corridors. Each one leading to workshops or storerooms. The workshops were full of strange equipment the likes of which they had never seen before.
"This is a wild goose chase, Sarge, the krauts probably long gone by now," Genaro said, his face etched with the tension they all felt. The strange noise was now ear splittingly loud.
They had arrived at a large hatch door set in a gray wall of the now familiar block building work. A Swastika emblazoned above the door.
Decker was about to answer when the hatch burst open, a man in a white coat stumbled out. His face was flushed, blood poured from his ears and eyes.
"Die Glocke ltet, Die Glocke ltet, Kammler ist verrkt!"
The man screamed before collapsing, his body wracked by some kind of fit.
They all froze except for one of the men who made to move towards the man.
"Don't touch him, we don't know what they've been doing down here," Decker said, "Anybody understand what he was saying."
"Something about a bell ringing, and someone called Kammler being crazy," Genaro supplied.
They all looked at him as if he had been the one raving.
"What! What! I had a German friend before the war, taught me a few words, education guys, you should try it sometime."
They moved around the now still figure, and edged towards the door. The noise was deafening now. A reddish purple light glowed beyond the threshold.
Decker stepped through followed by Genaro, Cole and the other men.
The sight, which greeted them, was the strangest any of them had seen before, beyond any experience. They stood in a vast cavern, taller than a cathedral, and wider than a football field. Around the edges sat various pieces of electronic equipment, the purpose unknown to Decker or the others. The bodies of many dead scientists lay on the floor of the cavern. They had all been shot.
The strangest sight was in the center of the cavern, a massive circular structure; a circular concrete construction 30 meters wide and 10 high. With its 12-meter-thick columns and horizontal beams, it was part reminiscent of some ritual pagan edifice. It reminded Decker of the concrete foundation of a cooling tower only bigger. Attached by thick, heavy looking chains to the concrete columns but floating in the air was a device which looked like a huge bell, by Decker's estimation it was about fifteen feet tall, and ten feet wide. The base of the bell was furiously spinning anti-clockwise; electricity arced from the top of the device. The bell was throwing off a reddish purple glow, enveloped in this glow was the men they had come to find. Twenty-five men stood beneath the bell, some in uniform others in scientific smocks; the glow bathed the group of men.
The noise was now climbing up the scale, becoming unbearable. Decker dropped to his knees, pain wracking his body, the others followed. He felt a popping in his ears, felt warm wetness run down his neck. His skin tingled and itched as if he was covered with ants crawling all over his skin. As he watched, the bell began to lower onto the group. One of the men, in the uniform of an officer, smiled at him and raised his right hand in a Sieg Heil gesture. The bell covered them all, suddenly a bright flash burst from the bell shaped device, which spread out-wards. Where it touched Decker, it burned like nothing he had ever felt, he had a brief image of being back on the farm, running with Skip, and then nothing.
A WAREHOUSE ON THE BANKS OF THE THAMES, LONDON, PRESENT DAY
The roller shutter doors to the warehouse rose to allow entry to the dark coloured Ford transit van. Once it had vanished into the murky depths of the building, a man holding an AK-47 stepped out and lit up a cigarette.
"I have eyes on one x-ray," Adam Bane said into his throat microphone, "He is armed, and standing by the main entrance to the warehouse."
Bane was positioned in a flat overlooking the compound.
"Have that." Came back the reply from the SAS Op room.
Bane scanned his binoculars to the left, a red Mercedes was driving into the warehouse compound.
"Target is now on the plot," he transmitted.
"Have that, all teams go amber."
The smoker dropped his cigarette, crushed it under his boot, and gestured to someone out of sight. Two stocky shaven headed individuals emerged from the warehouse; one held a pistol, the other was unarmed.
Bane relayed the information.
The driver of the Merc climbed out, and opened the rear nearside passenger door. Henry Mueller, the primary target exited the vehicle.
Mueller was a fixer, a shadowy figure who acted as a go between for various terrorist organisations. He had appeared on MI5's radar about two years ago when he negotiated the purchase of Sarin for Al Qaeda. They had managed to intercept the shipment, but Mueller had eluded them.
The shipment he was involved with now was Eastern Bloc Uranium. Though associated with the chaos of the immediate years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, reports of nuclear smuggling in the former Eastern bloc continue to this day, and are no less ominous for the number of false alarms that are raised from time to time.
There was no information on who he was working for but the purchase was being made from a Moldovan criminal gang, although no one had any information on why the deal was happening on sovereign soil.
The Moldovan authorities had passed on the information to Interpol who in turn passed it to them, that the suspects, who included four Moldovans, one Russian and one resident of the Russian-backed separatist region of Transnistria in eastern Moldova had been in contact with Mueller.
Bane watched the driver remove a metallic suitcase from the boot, while the unarmed man patted Mueller down. He took the case, and all three walked into the warehouse. Cigarette man followed behind, closing the doors after him.
"All x-rays inside target building, go, go, go!"
Several things happened all at once, an armored Range Rover burst through the compound fence. Four black clad trooper's abseiled down from the roof of the warehouse where they had earlier concealed themselves, they crashed through the windows. The explosion of flash bangs inside the building followed.
Eight troopers exited the vehicle and headed for the doors, which had begun to open. Cigarette man appeared, the troopers cut him down in a hail of bullets as he raised his weapon.
Bane threw down his binoculars, drew his Glock, and headed out of the flat.
He had volunteered to be on over-watch because Mueller had become a cause celebre for Bane, he had been involved in the original operation with the Sarin, and had taken it personal that the man had escaped capture. This time around, he wanted to be in on the kill so to speak.
Bane reached the compound as the final gunshot echoed out of the warehouse.
He holstered his weapon as he walked around the Range Rover. An SAS trooper was walking out of the interior; he removed his gas mask as he approached Bane.
"All targets are down," he shook his head, "Not by our hand either."
"What do you mean?"
"They all shot themselves."
"Yup, him too, all before the guys hit the deck, one made for the van, he was the only one we took out inside the warehouse."
Bane was having a hard time processing this information, these men were as tough as they come, ex Spetznaz or FSB to a man, yet they chose suicide over capture.
"Have your men secure the perimeter."
The man nodded, and called the others out.
Bane walked into the warehouse. The stench of death filled the air, he learned long ago, in his line of work, death reeked of copper and cordite. This scene was no different.
He moved carefully to avoid the rapidly spreading lakes of red. The van was parked in the center of the darkened warehouse; the only light was the bars streaming through the smashed or murky windows.
He looked down at Mueller, half his face had been blown off, this made no sense at all, and in all his experience, he had known nothing like it. Bane made his way over to the van, and tried the handle on the rear doors. They opened easily. Inside, he saw a medium sized wooden crate. Stencilled on the side facing Bane was the eagle and swastika symbol of the Nazi's. Bane frowned, the box was too small to contain the amount of uranium they had been told about, and it certainly would not have a Nazi symbol on it.
DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
CLASSIFICATION: TOP SECRET/EYES ONLY/BLACK ALPHA
AUTHOR: WEBB, CHARLOTTE (D-6)
SUBJECT: GEHEIME STAAT
Before 1990 there was no mention of GEHEIME STAAT. After 1990 graffiti began to appear on the streets of Berlin. GEHIME STAAT plus the words Steigende Bald-Rising soon.
A man called Kurt Daluege walks into Prater, a rowdy beer garden at Kastanienallee 7-9
Berlin 10435. It is 1400 and the bar is full of customers. He shouts out Sieg Heil and opens up with an automatic weapon. He killed 80 people before turning the gun on himself. He had GEHIME STAAT and a swastika tattooed on his chest.
INCIDENT 1: 9/9ATTACK ON A MARINE BASE
Helmand Province, Afghanistan
In the early hours of January 12, a heavily armed force of over one hundred men attacked a remote United States Marine Corps staging and supply base in southern Afghanistan.
The force attacked with precision, skill, killing all of the twenty-two engineers and maintenance staff stationed at the isolated base.
The attackers' objective, it seems, was not the murder of US service personnel. They were after the aircraft kept at the base.
The attackers took eight Marine Corps V-22 Osprey 'Warbird' gunships
INCIDENT 2: 10/10
THE THEFT OF THE 'Petr Veliky'
One month and one day later, on October 10, a Russian cargo freighter, persons unknown off the west coast of Africa seized the Petr Veliky.
According to its cargo manifest, the ship was carrying timber, fuel, and building supplies destined for Zimbabwe and its seizure was initially believed to be the work of West African pirates. But then the Russians sent half of their Atlantic fleet to find the ship.
Our investigations have revealed that the Petr Veliky was actually carrying a large weapons shipment intended for sale to three embargoed African regimes. Its cargo was:
* 310 AK-47 ASSAULT RIFLES;
* 4.5 million rounds of 7.62mm AMMUNITION for those rifles;
* 90 RPG-7 GRENADE LAUNCHERS;
* 9 STRELA-1 ANTI-AIRCRAFT VEHICLES, each equipped with four 9M31 surface-to-air missiles;
* 12 ZALA-421-08 unmanned aerial surveillance DRONES;
* 18 machine-gun-mounted JEEPS;
A ten-man squad of Spetsnaz Special Forces troops manned the freighter.
This last fact makes it extremely unlikely that African pirates took the Petr Veliky. African pirates are usually poor fishermen who attack commercial vessels for the purpose of securing ransoms; at the first sign of any military presence on a ship they invariably flee.
On the contrary, the force of men that took the Petr Veliky knew exactly what was on it and was skilled enough to defeat a team of crack Russian paratroopers to get it.
INCIDENT 3: 11/11
THE TORTURE OF AN AMERICAN OFFICIAL
Washington, D.C., USA
Shortly after midnight on March 3, a small group of unidentified men raided the Georgetown home of the former US Secretary of Defense, killed his two bodyguards and kidnapped the ageing Secretary.
The Secretary was found - alive - by two early-morning hikers in Rock Creek Park, bound to a torture device. He had been water-boarded. During his subsequent debriefing, the Secretary exhibited symptoms of severe shock. He continually shouted Geheime Staat
INCIDENT 4: 12/12
PRISON BREAK-OUT SUDAN
Soon after midnight on January 1, a force of armed and masked men raided a temporary UN prison camp in the Darfur region of Sudan.
102 prisoners variously described as 'revolutionary fighters, Islamic militants from several African nations, and narco-mercenaries of German origin were freed from the prison and spirited away. All but two of the camp's UN guards were killed.
The two surviving guards reported that the raiding force used a variety of Russian-made assault weapons and two American Cobra attack helicopters. The raiders departed with their large number of escapees in two V-22 Osprey gunships with US Marine Corps markings.
Before they left, they spray-painted a message on one of the prison's walls: ' GEHIME STAAT JUST GOT STRONGER ...'
INCIDENT 3: 11/11
A ROBBERY OVER GREECE
In the early hours of November 11, an unmarked German Gulfstream jet carrying nine billion euros from Germany to Greece disappeared from the skies above northern Greece.
The plane's cargo of hard currency was intended for use in the latest stage of Greece's financial bailout.
The wreckage of the plane was discovered the following morning. One crewmember was missing; the other three had all been shot in the head at close range. The money was gone.
The incidents outlined above describe in somewhat grim detail the rise of a new non-state entity calling itself the Geheime Staat
Where it is based and who comprises it is not known.
What is known is this: A force of militarily trained individuals has obtained for itself a considerable supply of weapons, finance, and labour.
It does not, as yet, show any religious or cultural motivations for its aggressive acts. We do not yet know what is driving this rogue 'Army'.
But it wants us to notice it.
It has carried out one operation a month, every month, for the last seven months, in accordance with a pattern where the number of the day and the month are the same. Clearly, it wants us to see this pattern, and we should be aware of it, because tomorrow is April 4...
After handing over to the scene of crime officer, Bane returned to Thames House on the north bank of the river. He had a lot to consider regarding the ending of the mission, which had left many unanswered questions. He would have to have answers for his boss too. Sir Alec Walton, a former Colonel in Chief of the Special Air Service, and as hard nosed an operator as Bane had ever known. Not a man to suffer fools gladly or a mission gone sour.
Taking a deep breath, he knocked on Sir Alec's oak panelled office door.
"Come in," came the scratchy voiced reply.
Bane pushed the door open and walked in to the richly carpeted office. Sir Alec sat behind his desk, which was an exact copy of the Resolute desk that sometimes sat in the Oval office at the Whitehouse, a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 and was built from the timbers of the British Arctic Exploration ship Resolute, hence the name.
On the wall behind Sir Alec, hung pictures of the Queen, and the present prime minister, David Llewellyn. Bane noticed his boss was not alone; a whipcord thin man in his late fifties sat in one of the two chairs in front of the desk.
"Have a seat Adam."
Bane sat down in the other chair.
"So the job did not go to plan," Sir Alec leaned his elbows on the desk and steepled his fingers.
"No, not exactly, we did retrieve the shipment though."
"A very unusual situation all round, I've just been informed the shipment was not Uranium, it was something called Xerum 525, otherwise known as red mercury."
"Red mercury, isn't that just an urban legend?"
"I'm not a physicist, so I could not say, but this gentleman may be able to shed some light on the matter, Adam Bane meet Colonel Brice Montague, C in C of Omega."
The man leaned over and shook Bane's hand.
"Good to meet you, Adam," he had a southern American drawl to his accent.
"Omega, I've never heard of it."
"Good, then we are doing our job correct. We are a deeper than deep black ops outfit. We manage, er...Unusual situations, a small but very elite group of operators. Drawn from the ranks of the US and world military and now recently given special autonomy to defend the entire world--from threats that were beyond the comprehension of traditional military forces. We are not under the flag of any one nation, a multi-national group, we go anywhere we are needed."
"How does this concern me, and this Xerum 525," Bane had a feeling he was not going to like the answer.
Sir Alec answered for the colonel, "They've lost their British security asset, so I am putting you on secondment to Omega, Colonel Montague viewed a few personnel files, and picked you, your involvement with the red mercury shipment was an added bonus."
"But what about all my other jobs? I still have several ongoing."
"Chris Deakin can take them over; you'll need to brief him before you leave of course."
Bane did not like this one bit, but he knew he had no choice. What Sir Alec said was then written in stone, still he loved a challenge, and he felt this was going to turn out to be the biggest challenge of his life.
Montague handed Bane a file, which he had taken from the briefcase by the side of his chair.
"We have two missing scientists to locate. Their field of expertise is anti-gravity and boosted fission weapons. The feeling is that somebody somewhere is building a mother of all bombs, that's why the need for the red mercury, I'm told it's a super-conductive material used for producing high-precision conventional and nuclear bomb explosives. There is a ticket in the file which will get you to Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport, you'll be taken to our headquarters from there, you'll report to Commander Morgan, the file contains all the Intel you need on our current mission, and your expected role. Anything else, Morgan will fill you in."
Montague stood up.
"I'll bid you good day gentlemen, and I will see you in a week Adam."
With that, he exited the office.
APRIL 4TH BACK GATE SECURITY SHACK, AREA 51
Beyond the Jumbled Hills, in the wide Emigrant Valley of southern Nevada, bracketed by the Timpahute and Pahranagat ranges, lies Groom Lake, one of the many dry lakes that dot the desert reaches of Nevada and California, an expanse of white, hard alkaline soil--caliche soil. Rocky Mountain sheep and wild burros often wander onto its surface. Relentless winds lift small pebbles and drive them across the surface. Once or twice a year, a couple of inches of rain leave a thin liquid layer, a mock lake, shimmering and wavy, whose evaporation smooths it to a high polish. The land sat like this for centuries before the asphalt and metal buildings, the wooden barracks and hangars, arrived, turning it into the Shangri-La, the Forbidden Temple of black, or secret, technologies
High above the road leading to this forbidden place an eagle cut a circle into the bruised and troubled sky high above Tikaboo Valley, a hunter, seeking its quarry below, on the sun-scorched verge of the Intersection of 375, or the Extraterrestrial Highway, as it had been dubbed by Nevada State legislature, and Back Gate Road. Here, Tikaboo Valley, 25 miles wide and six times as long, as lonely a place as you could find on the planet, stretched into the distance until it merged with the horizon. Tikaboo Valley connected the outside world to Area 51, or to those who are in the know, those who work there, it is known as The Complex, or sometimes, The Ranch, hidden by the jagged peaks and ridges of the Groom Range and the Jumbled Hills. A place where death and life met beneath a sun bleached sky in a battle for supremacy. Tikaboo Valley, where bodies and secrets were buried side by side.
The bird wheeled and circled before diving towards whatever it was hunting. Karl Smith watched and silently cheered the creature on. He watched until the eagle reappeared from behind a line of Joshua trees and headed off towards Coyote Summit.
This would be a day for hunters, he thought, as he entered the guard shack. Smith checked his watch, one hour to zero, he saw. He picked up his radio to check in with Central Security Control, which he had to do every hour on the hour. If he missed the check in even by a few seconds, the armed response teams would descend on his location with all bells and whistles sounding.
"First base to Dutch apples, receiving, over."
"First base, go ahead."
"I have a code-5, repeat, I have a code-5, requesting a Pony 122," Smith said into the handset using the codes for shots fired, and nearest response vehicle to attend.
"We are dealing with several Code-2s' First Base, but will free up a Pony to attend your location." Code 2's were joyriders setting off motion senses near the invisible borders of the base. A code 5, which he had called in was an incursion onto base land.
"First Base is 10-4."
Smith grinned, of course you are having Code-2's you schmuck, he thought, we organised the party for you.
Wackenhut Security had employed Smith for over two years; he had to prove himself before being given the assignment here at the complex, better known as Area 51 by the crazies out in the world. Its official title was the Nevada Test and Training Range, approximately 100 miles North of Las Vegas, on the edge of the Mojave Desert; it sits inside the largest government-controlled land parcel in the United States. Encompassing 4,687 square miles, this area is just a little smaller than the state of Connecticut--three times the size of Rhode Island, and more than twice as big as Delaware. It was huge. On top of nearby Bald Mountain, elevation 9,380 feet, sat the radar site and observation post that gave security officers an unrestricted view of all traffic entering and transiting the area. The first of several security rings and sensor networks employed by the Air Force to ensure that nothing penetrated the discreet cordon sanitaire around the base. The others, if you were unlucky, could be a lot less passive, more in-the-face: the sworn-in deputies from "Pittman Station" who patrolled the valley looking for miscreants and who occasionally locked them up and were said to throw away the key;
Parts of the location were the most inhospitable on Earth, the result of hundreds of nuclear bomb tests, both above and below ground leaving the land irradiated for thousands of years to come.
After fifteen months Wackenhut assigned him to the base. He had to prove himself all over again, riding shotgun with a supervisor in one of the response team vehicles. If the supervisor decided he did not like him, he would be ghosted from the job. Lucky for Smith, his super turned out to have been a Navy SEAL just like him, so they got on great guns.
Once the approval was given he became a trusted employee, given more freedom about the base, or as much freedom as could be expected. Now he was assigned to gate duty, his real job could begin.
He took a piece of gum from the packet on his desk and stuffed it in his mouth before taking the M16 from the grey cabinet at the rear of the shack.
Stepping outside, he looked around. There was no sign of the response team yet. Heading to the rear of the shack and out of view of the CCTV camera, he raised the weapon and fired. The camera exploded in a shower of sparks.
As the last broken parts landed on the ground, he heard the approach of the response teams white Jeep Cherokee, coming in from the direction of Crescent Reservoir to the southeast.
He leaned against the side of the shack, nonchalantly popping his gum, seconds later the Cherokee topped the rise beyond a cluster of storage sheds, dust disturbed by its passage made the vehicle look as if smoke was spewing from its rear.
The jeep pulled up in front of him. Mac Dowdle, his Supervisor and a new probationer whose name Smith could not remember, climbed out. He smiled to himself as he noticed they had left their weapons inside the cab.
"What's the problem, Karl?"
"No problem, everything is cool."
He raised the M16 and shot Mac in the throat, his head was almost decapitated as he flew back against the truck. The probie's eyes went in to saucer mode. Before his reactions kicked in, Smith put a round in his chest then his head.
He turned away, pulling a cell phone from his pocket, he hit speed dial.
"Hunter Koenig, Zeit zu kommen in die Partei eintreten, Heil Hitler."
Bane used the week before his flight to tie up the loose ends of his life, he had no idea how long this secondment would last, but he figured long term rather than short. He did not have a partner, or siblings, and his parents were dead, so there would be no tearful goodbyes.
Bane, in his mid-thirties, was about five-ten, with a rugged creased face and black hair. He usually wore his hair cut short and his chin clean-shaven, but after seven weeks in the field chasing down leads on Mueller, then following the shipment, his hair was longer and he had healthy stubble around his jaw. Bane had striking blue eyes and would have been considered handsome were it not for the scar running from his hairline down to the right side of his mouth, giving him a perpetual half smile, a trophy from an earlier mission that had gone bad. He spent a day briefing Deakin on his ongoing jobs; after he was up to speed, he decided to head off to a pub run by a friend of his, Bob Jennings. Smileys was on Herrick Street opposite Millbank Gardens. Jennings had recruited Bane straight from int and squint, otherwise known as 14th Intelligence Company. The unit conducted undercover surveillance operations against suspected members of Irish republican and loyalist paramilitary groups, and Bane had been especially gifted in intelligence gathering, he had an unerring knack of seeing things as a cross between a jigsaw and a giant dot to dot puzzle, he never failed to complete the puzzle. He had joined the unit towards the end of the troubles, but still managed to shine within the company. Jennings approached him when he put in an application to take part in the SAS induction course, he persuaded Bane he would be better off crawling through the seedy world of spy vs spy, than mud and blood.
Jennings was retired now, but still kept his finger on the pulse of the intelligence world, he may have been in his seventies, but his mind was as sharp as a newly forged Toledo blade. Bane wanted to know more about Omega, but did not want to go through official circles; Jennings was the best man to ask.
He pushed open the main door of Smileys. He was welcomed with the pungent aroma of spices and beer, the spices came from the afternoon lunches cooked up by his Gurkha chef, Tamang, the little man was a virtual wizard in the kitchen.
Jennings raised a hand in greeting when he saw Bane. The pub was busy as usual at this time of day, so he took a seat at the end of the bar to wait for Jennings to come over to him.
The pub was a regular stop off after work for many staff from Thames House; they felt comfortable with Jennings being one of their own. Bane nodded to a few familiar faces, and ordered a Whiskey Sour, his favourite tipple, from the young girl behind the bar. Jennings came over to him as she was handing him his change.
"Good afternoon, young Adam, what brings you in here so early in the day?"
"Thought I'd check on my old friend, see if he wanted a lift to the old peoples home."
"Get away with you, I'm not even close to joining the shit in my bed brigade," he laughed, and flicked the towel in his hand at Bane.
Jennings leaned across the bar, speaking in a low tone, he said, "Word on the ticker tape is you are being shipped out to the Greeks."
"You still don't miss much, do you?" Bane laughed and took a sip of his drink.
"What do you know about them? I've never heard of them before."
Jennings looked deep in thought for a moment, then came around the bar, and led Bane by the elbow to a booth in a quieter section of the pub.
"I know about Omega," he said when they were seated, "Because my counsel was sort out when the company was in the planning stages."
"Okay, tell me more."
It came as no surprise to Bane; Jennings had been a global intelligence operator all his adult life. He began with the SOE, the Special Operations Executive; it was officially formed by Minister of Economic Warfare, Hugh Dalton, on 22 July 1940. They conducted espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers, and also aided local resistance movements. After it was dissolved officially on 15 January 1946, Jennings was taken into MI6's fold, where he spent many years butting heads with the soviets during the cold war, before transferring over to MI5. Some said he was the inspiration for Flemings James Bond. A hard-nosed operator whose kno swledge of international affairs as pertaining to clandestine operations was incomparable.
"Omega was initially put together by a United Nations Security Council resolution, as an information gathering unit, primarily in the field of WMDs."
"Why did they need extra information gatherers? They already have plenty of those."
Jennings went on to explain.
The resolution was what is known as a closed-door resolution, not needing the whole of the council present, Omega was going to be run along the lines of the SOE, which is why they needed Jennings input. It was the belief of Ban Ki Moon that his inspectors may have succumbed to bribes to doctor the information they gathered. Omega was to be the answer to that; they would gather their own information via clandestine means, and then sabotage whatever factories or labs they uncovered. All made to look like accidents of course.