donderdag 30 april 2015

Requiem: Chapter 17


       ‘I want you to find me an unscrupulous person. A cold-blooded murderer for whom I have an important mission!’ That had been the senator’s first question with which the project started. At that moment, there was not at all a project called ‘Michael’. Jack Sterlington remembered it as if it was yesterday. Jack was a man of few words, still he frowned when this influential woman asked him this question.
            ‘Just a murderer… or someone with special qualities?’ was his short response. When he was called for a new mission, there was always something dubious going on. Amazement was for idiots, for people who didn’t know the world. A world of violence, hate and especially a world where everything was about power and money. The senator had the power to give orders to certain persons, orders that otherwise were unacceptable. Not acceptable for the legislative authority of the United States of the Western Community. A world in which the senator concerned was a respectable and democratically chosen representative.
            She silently had looked at him for a moment from above her reading glasses whit those cat’s eyes of hers. ‘A serial killer, Jack! A wacko, but one that can be bent the way we want. In what way we’ll proceed, I’ll let you know later. Search and bring me the right man and I let you know what we will do and what our target is. Oh yes, you’ll need three men for this mission. So I presume you can gather your team in the meanwhile. Let them know that this mission will pay extremely well if it succeeds. The initial amount will be put on an account of your choice. A matter of keeping the motivation alive!’
            She had pushed her reading glasses higher on her nose and had taken another file. That was a sign Jack could go. This was a woman who said the necessary words, nothing more and nothing less. He appreciated it in her. Professionals like to work with kindred spirits.
            Jack Sterlington was the man and the means to bypass the laws, a man who in silence and without making much rumpus could have the right result by going outside the system. His first steps in this world of violence and power he had made after a few years of military service and afterward as a well-paid mercenary during the Big War.
            His file mentioned he had worked for different parties in the Western World. He even had done some undercover missions in the Old World, commissioned by some important men from the East. That wasn’t in the file the senator had in her possession. It was a secret he had kept from the Western World. It was something for which every Westerner would crucify him.
            Even after the Big War a soldier didn’t get a pardon for collaborating with the enemy of a former enemy. Jack always had one important principle. The one who paid the most became his liege and master. He didn’t care about politics or sentimental patriotism. The coins they’re paying… that was what it was all about. His banking accounts in tax havens, countries where the law wasn’t read in little letters, had been credited with considerable amounts. They were always payments for achievements that shun the light of day.
            In the commission of the senator, he had surrounded himself with a trio of men where he, except for Markus, had done some dirty jobs in service of who paid the most. Jack knew that in his world, trust was an overestimated principle and so he trusted nobody, but he knew what he could expect of Clint Ellory and Walter Fallon.
            He had met Clint during his mercenary period in Mozambique in the course of one of the actions by revolutionaries under the command of a mutinous army general. Sterlington used to work alone. The mission of the president of Mozambique was a downright disaster. Jack had been captured by the rebel general and met Clint Ellory when he shared a primitive cell with him.
            During a bombardment of the rebel camp by the government troops, Jack Sterlington had been wounded. Not a life-threatening injury, just a fracture of his leg, so that he was immobilized at that moment. Clint had pulled him along just in time through the debris of their collapsed temporary cell and had just put him in safety when a heavy bomb made a crater on the place they were a few minutes before. They had escaped death at the last moment. In his world that created a special bond.
            When the senator gave him the mission, he instantly was thinking of Clint Ellory. The first member of his team had agreed with pleasure after some negotiating about the price. They were both a few years older now and the field work lately had been replaced by tactical operations they led from a remote distance. Not that they didn’t keep themselves in shape, but they were older and had become smarter, now they gave the younger once their chances on the front. Clint was a military adviser. He made attack plans, analyzed the impact of the strategies. In that function, he had seen a cell from the inside where Jack had first met him and shared more sorrows than joys. Both Clint and Jack thought it was time again to play the field again.
            Walter Fallon was his second choice. An old army buddy and someone who had two right hands. Technique skills were just a second nature for him. All kinds of guns of different countries, hardware big and small and other sorts of high-tech novelties didn’t have secrets for him. When he found something he didn’t know, he couldn’t rest before he had unraveled the mystery and until he could with his eyes closed dismantled and reassemble the thing.
            He only had one big fault, he was a passionate gambler. Sometimes he was lucky and he could win back his bet triple, but as most obstinate gamblers, he was so addicted he didn’t know when to stop. Mostly he lost his winnings in the high of his former luck. A gambler needed big money for his hobby. That’s why he worked without remorse for people who thought the law wasn’t the be-all and end-all. The gambling environment, he usually frequented, after all, was a world where you kept your hand on your wallet or you would lose it in no time. At least the content if it was of any importance. Walter couldn’t resist the numbers with many zeros Jack had promised him on his bank account. With a big initial payment as a proof of confidence the senator had in Jacks preferences, Walter Fallon had joined Jack Sterlington and Clint Ellory in this project.
            For his last choice exceptionally and for the first time he was guided by his family ties. His sister, Patricia, once happily married with Doctor Albert Moore, had a son together with him, named Markus. He was a promising kid who obtained the best results at school and who, after a successful university period could call himself Doctor in psychology.
            After a failed bank robbery by which Doctor Albert Moore was one of the unfortunate victims, Patricia became a widow. Her husband had been in the wrong place at the wrong moment. She fell into a deep emotional pit and got to know the white stuff cocaine. A dangerous powder which gave her the consolation she didn’t find. She had no lack of financial means and the moment she had a shortage she sold piece after piece of her jewels and left in pawn her beautiful furniture to get her daily dose of cocaine.
            This lasted till the day Markus came home from his practice and he saw his mother hanging on one of the bars of the stairway in their classy home. They had left him orphaned and Jack had looked after him. It was a difficult time for this young man. He lost his ambition to work and investigate. Maybe it’s a platitude to say that the best psychologist can’t help themselves, but in the case of Markus it was. His practice went broke in no time and Markus became depressive till Jack picked him from the streets as a disgusting hobo without a home and goals. Jack had been close to his sister and in his way he had a soft spot for the kid.
            Nonetheless, Jack could understand the problems of his relative, he was hard on him. Eventually, he got him back on his feet and Markus became Markus again. He looked up at Jack still more than before and would go through fire if he would ask it from him. Things went so well, Jack lifted a little corner of the veil about the job he was doing. Most of the times, he romanticized the stories and that it was all legal and very top secret. Markus, blinded by the adventurous accent in what Jack was doing, had asked him several times if he hadn’t a job for him. In this project, he also needed a psychologist, someone who could read ‘Michael’ as a book. The pages to come had still to be written before ‘Michael’ could think them himself. Markus was young, but a natural and that’s why he became the last member of the team. Till now Jack hadn’t been sorry. He told Markus there would be victims, but they were enemies of the United States of the Western Community. Markus saw nothing wrong in this and so the last member had been recruited.
            Jack had informed his friends Clint and Walter about the story he had told Markus. A few white lies and ‘Michael’ changed because of Jack’s nephew in a spy who had to kill a group of terrorists in the Old World in the order of the highest upper command of the United States of the Western Community.
            It wasn’t an ordinary mission, Jack had received from the senator. Together with Walter Fallon he had hacked the necessary hardware on different places. Jack and his old army buddy had by the illegal eavesdropping through a number of satellites – it is worthwhile to be on the secret payroll of a senator – looked at thousands of images of fixed camera’s and hours of filming of mobile spybots they had taken over, to find someone who could become their serial killer. He was certainly a man who had all the necessary psychological characteristics of a serial killer and they had the evidence of it.
            After months of searching and finding some persons who were not quite what they were looking for, they had found a young fellow who was busy torturing and murdering young animals. They even had a video of it. The boy hadn’t been aware that he was filmed and photographed. After they had placed the necessary eavesdropping hardware while the boy and his mother were outdoors so that they could follow him there too, they knew they had found the right person.
            The sexual violence that spattered of the images during the nightcaps of the mother and the arousal with her son during these fragments said enough. Jack had informed his nephew Markus for the necessary profile they were looking for. It would lead to too many questions by his relative. He wanted Markus with the team, but on his conditions and without risking the family ties broken.
            The final decision was made when the young boy they had chosen on an evening returned from his Kenjutsu Keiko and met a beggar. After their subject and the beggar had passed each other, the boy returned upon his steps. He followed the drunken man and when he took an abandoned alley, where he would spend the night beneath some newspapers or a worn out blanket, they had captured his first murder of a human being on an infrared camera.     
            The boy had jumped on the man and had overpowered and tied him with a rope he obviously had with him. Probably he was already planning a long time to trade his usual animal victims for a greater challenge, a human being. Something that would give him still more power and a greater satisfaction.  In a blind haze of anger, he had made minced meat of the man. That he was aroused by the violence was also recorded on the images. At that moment, they had found their ‘Michael’.
            When Jack Sterlington brought this good ‘news’ to the senator, she looked emotionless at him. Eventually, there came a smile around her lips. ‘Take him off the streets tomorrow and bring him to the Cellar. I’ll tell you then what has to be done.’
            The following day Jack and Clint had surprised him coming home after his Keiko. Without further problems, they had sedated him and brought him with their black autobot through Jefferson Street to the underground floor. At the Cellar, everything had been prepared for the birth of an inhuman being. They would call him ‘Michael’, after the archangel Michael the companion of souls.
            They were the Christianized characteristics of the Greek god Hermes as a soul companion or with the old Greek name ‘psychopompos’ that formed the basis of the characteristics that were attributed to the archangel Michael. Hermes brought the souls to Hades, god of the death and guardian and ruler of the Underworld or Spirit World. The archangel Michael brought the souls to heaven, where he also was the guard.
            Jack made a short call to a secret and secure number. ‘Our angel Michael has descended,’ he couldn’t resist mocking about the name of the project. Of course, it was the senator who had chosen that name.
            ‘Alright, within an hour my men will arrive. They have all the equipment that is necessary for the birth of our Angel. Keep me informed!’ As always she was very brief but still her words replicated on Jack’s ironic message. A woman with balls, he casually thought.


            In the period after the Big War the United States of America becoming a part of the Old World had less damage than their opponents in the East and as a consequence they were able to repair or rebuild their destroyed buildings much faster. The battlefield in the Big War mostly was fought in a part of the countries of the Eastern bloc and China. It was not so that the countries, as there were North-America and South-America, came out intact. There had been some kamikaze missions of the Chinese Air Force on different places in Central-America and there had been heavy losses in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua by these actions. There also had been an attack on the cities of the West coast like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. In the region of the San Andreas Fault and due to the plate tectonics it resulted in a series of devastating earthquakes at which hundreds of thousands human beings died during and in the aftermath of them.           
            In Eastern-Europe, it had been the panic reaction of Russia that had taken care of a nuclear inferno that half Russia and a part of Chine had been razed to rubble and ashes. In those areas, there was no fresh start possible. It was a cemetery where only some loners had survived this Holocaust and would still carry the consequences with them for generations.
            In the United Nations of the Western Community, new laws were voted and they had chosen for the heavy-handed approach. People had become too lax. Before the Big War, everything was allowed. That was common for the time, everything was permitted, sometimes feigning ignorance of the facts, but mostly as vested rights. A time where privacy, freedom of speech and accessory mass demonstrations were no idle words. An era where big-brother practices were serious crimes and were punished that way. The decadent West looked among themselves and the democracy was questioned. Certainly some values of it.
            Privacy was a beautiful word many politicians had won some votes with. It didn’t seem to work. That was the final decision of the leaders. The more privacy, the more riots, the less they were prepared for these riots, demonstrations, assault or even worse. It was the conclusion of the new group of politicians. The new government of the United States of the Western Community possessed all the means at their disposal to confine a part of that Western mentality and to change course. It became a well-reasoned transformation of the society they were used to.
            The chipping of everybody had still been one of the easiest missions. Especially in Europe, close to the nuclear areas, people were convinced of the benefits of built-in alarm in their body against radiation. In the former United States of America, they had to use some force, but eventually everybody had been mapped.
            About the satellites they shot into space they didn’t give a lot of explication. The freedom of the press was partly reduced and from the side of the Army of the Western Community there wasn’t so much automatic information about the possibilities of these satellites. The truth was that nine of the ten satellites were equipped with some sort of spyware. Today, in the year 2112 it was possible to zoom in on everybody’s house and garden, to snoop on every telephone call or to put a tap anybody’s mobile. If Joe Public wiped his behind with the wrong color or sort of paper, it was noted and a report was sent to some kind of a Security Service, which, if necessary, removed the man from his bed, questioned him and the right measures were taken. In some cases, afterwards nothing was ever heard of this person in question.
            In other cases, some people came home and told their wife or husband and kids that they had run against a wall or accidentally fell from the stairs. The fear of telling the truth was so deeply rooted that they rather lied to their dear ones while the reality could be read in their eyes and their body. They were harsh times, but after a while it was business as usual and some measures became somewhat more flexible. Not because the assignment came from the government, but because of the laxity people treated each other. The laziness that was typical for a lot of human beings, not to do what has to be done, just because it needed an effort. Instead, they looked the other way and some had no difficulty with it.
            Then the day arrived a resourceful man discovered something with which he outwitted the government. Someone, for example, who could bypass the effect of the chip or could temporary jam the signal. It was a little seed that germinated and grew. He or she found an ally and so it went on. A human person is a very creative being, a survivor. He adapts very quickly in bad times and has resiliency which can lean on centuries of evolution.
            And so sources of resistance came into existence in the United States of the Western Community. Groups of people, which melted together and that found the means to play a bad trick to the government. They gave their association a name just like every righteous assembly of human beings granted itself a title. A name that was typical for the character of cornered human being. It wasn’t a new term. In history, so many people had used it before. ‘The Resistance’ was a group of people that wanted to sabotage some imposed government rules that were crap, especially the rules that violated the privacy of people. The steps these members of ‘The Resistance’ took were small and extremely innocent in the beginning. As one of the first members said at the start: ‘It is better to take small and cautious steps forwards than an uncertain big jump in the deep.’


            Feliciano Louis Díaz y Garcia was a ‘Graduado inventor de cosas inútiles’ or a ‘Qualified inventor of useless things’. Anyway, that was the title his mother was giving him when she had to clean up dozens of his monstrosities which here and there were hanging around in her house. ‘Feliciano, you have a studio where you can put your little toys away, why do you let everything flying about in mi casa. Busca una mujer amante. It becomes the time you search yourself a nice little woman and moves into a bigger house, otherwise I’ll still break my old legs over your… things’. She really wanted to say junk, but after all she was still la mamacita of Feliciano.
             Actually, he was graduated as a civil engineer in electro-technics. He worked already a while for the government. In his free time, he always diddled on something or tried one or another idea. ‘Someday I’ll invent something that will change the world, ahora verá mama, ‘You shall see, mama,’ he had said to his mother when he was still younger. His mother as any good mother tried to stimulate her child in everything he undertook and she had taken this illusion from him. But now, twenty years later Rosita Margarita Garcia y Pérez wasn’t so sure anymore.
            The parents of Feliciano were exiled Uruguayans and lived already for almost twenty years in Asuncíon, the capital of the República del Paraguay. As in every country of the United States of the Western Community, of which Paraguay was part of, there was a division of the ‘International Chip Scanning Agency’ or in short ‘ICSA’. Feliciano worked as an assistant with the ICSA, which mapped all the data from the capital Asuncíon of the chipped citizens. Because he was offered this job it was also the reason that the family had moved. He wasn’t homesick for Uruguay, maybe a little for the beach and the sea, but his work and his hobby absorbed him so much that he wasn’t thinking a lot of it.
            When he applied for the job, there had been just a little voice in his head whispering that this was something for him. He was extremely curious about what the chip could do and for what purposes it could be used apart from the things the government was telling. His father had also been a government official for years before he had died from the consequences of a pneumonia. Maybe Feliciano had got some preference by it in the course of the applying for the job.
            Feliciano had served so well, so that after a few years of service with the ICSA in Asuncíon there was a promotion for him that served him well. A position with the ICSA in New York. The head office! To convince his mother to go with him was a whole other matter. Then she was still further away from her native country. But as a mother as so many mothers she loved her son so much and eventually she gave in to Feliciano’s arguments and they moved to New York.
            Normally every employee of the ICSA was scanned with special equipment, leaving the workspaces or the offices to prevent the stealing of government property. Feliciano, the inventor, had worked at his new home in New York on a device that would solve this problem or obstacle. He had kept it secret from his mother. If she would hear of it, she certainly wouldn’t survive, the poor soul. The fear of repression had deep roots with her generation and she would have talked him out of it, how well he would try to explain it to her.
            His new invention looked like a small flat, pliable envelope in black fabrics. Inside there were delicate metal threads weaved and they made the envelope a mini Faraday cage. He had tested his invention at home on many occasions with his own electronic devices and a scanner. The object he scanned when they were in that little envelope didn’t show on the radar. The scanner should not react scanning a chip in this black envelope. It was a simple solution to a difficult process. Maybe because it was just so obviously nobody had thought of it.
            Feliciano Louis Díaz y Garcia had in his new position as head manager access to different kind of sections in the ICSA like there were the storage unit and the local medical department. In the storage unit they kept a significant load of chips in specially protected boxes which were implanted in the medical department in persons who weren’t chipped yet, or with persons who for one or another reason the chip didn’t work as presumed. They just implanted a new one without removing the old one.
            At this moment, the old chip couldn’t be removed because of the merging with the natural fibers that were generated during the encapsulation of the chip in the brain. Through the central computer in the head office in New York, the old chip could be deactivated, without any risk for the carrier. In the course of time, new connections were made by the chip and the brain and there was again a new light on the screens of the ICSA. The light got a code number and connected with the correct identity of the carrier present in the databases of the Agency.
            It was a little trick for Feliciano to take away a few of these chips, alter the inventory control in the computer and smuggle these chips past the scanner without it giving a signal. Feliciano was the first member of The Resistance who had played the government a very important bad trick. That also he didn’t tell to mamacita Rosita.

© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere


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