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510,30’N, 00 –
LONDON, SCOTLAND YARD
A ray of glorious sunshine broke through the heavily laden rain clouds far above, illuminating the southern stretch of the Giles Westhorpe club course. It was a typical English Sunday morning, the church bells were ringing and a gentle breeze played through nearby trees, rustling their leaves occasionally.
A tall, slightly overweight man dressed in a pale cream cardigan and checked plus fours, was lining himself up on the thirteenth for the putt of his life. Right on cue, an extra burst of sunlight highlighted the green’s depressions, as if a director had signalled action. He mentally plotted a theoretical course, and swung his club gently and confidently. The ball trickled to the left of the mark, veered right, then, came back on course at the last moment, to roll right into the thirteenth hole. Four below par: impossibly good luck and his best performance ever. He felt elated and almost danced a jig.
Chief Constable Harry
Holland was a busy man. The only peaceful pursuit and the love of his life, was a game of golf. It kept him sane in an insane world of crime and corruption. Sunday was the one day he indulged his passion. The after hours drinking in the clubhouse, also kept him away from his wife until the afternoon lunch. Many a crime was solved at the nineteenth hole. Just five more holes to sink. Then unexpectedly his pager went off. He would have turned the blasted thing off, but regulations were regulations. He looked down at the screen message: ‘Urgent you call the Yard. Flannigan.’
Blast. Harry knew if he didn’t call, the suspense would ruin his game, and that if he did call, that would also probably ruin his game. He pulled an
old Blackberry from his golf bag top pocket and dialed: Yard. Three rings later, Shaun
Flanagan answered. “Sir. We’ve had a break in.”
“What,” said Harry, who’s we?”
“The Yard. I know Sir. Not only is it true, but you’ll never guess what they’ve taken?”
“Go on.” “Sir, the one thing we promised the public could never happen.”
Harry roughly threw his club into the bag, and jumped on the electric golf cart, setting off at maximum speed for the club house, grooving the course in the process, for which he would be fined by the club. Thirty-five minutes later with a heat plume pouring from his tyres and an engine fit to burst, the Chief Constable guided his
cherished E-Type Jaguar into the reserved parking place, not in the slightest concerned that he’d broken the speed limit in a built up zone, practically the whole journey. Speed cameras would later catalogue his excesses in the interests of national security. Harry’s mind was racing, his heart pounding fit to bust. The press mustn’t get hold of this.
Once in the offices, Harry headed for Sergeant
Flanagan's desk. As the duty staff saw their Chief coming, they averted their eyes and tried to look extra busy. It wasn’t a bright thing to attract attention when the heat was on. There was though no need to find his sergeant, he just followed the trail of smashed doors, bullet holes, and seriously injured officers, his worst fears realised. This led him to the National Crime Database, the NCD, thought to be the most secure information network in the world. The storage hardware for which is housed in a steel lined reinforced concrete basement the size of a small warehouse, with several levels of physical security bulkheads, time-locked doors and electronic sensor arrays to rival Fort Knox.
In addition, only secure terminals with level one operators, who were in turn vetted and electronically monitored daily, could gain access to the NCD. Requests for information flowed into and out of Scotland Yard by the hundreds, daily. The fourth most common request being for DNA comparison. The United Kingdom was
not the only country in the world to maintain DNA on file, long after crimes had been solved. Other non criminal DNA data was also kept, despite human rights protestations and the obvious problems this might create if there was a security breach.
This was it, the mother of all breaches. The entire database had been compromised. The highjackers had made off with almost all the thousands of DNA samples, both physical and digital. Special Branch and forensics officers were already milling around in white overalls. The Chief too had to pull on overalls if he wanted to see for himself the damage, which of course he did. But, oddly enough, there wasn’t much damage, in hardware terms, just a few doors blown open at this level. Clearly then, the thieves had overcome resistance by this time. It was the human cost at the upper levels that was worrying. The Yard looked like a war zone. It looked like a military operation.
Utterly devastated, the Chief Constable tried to retain his composure, even though he knew that if this was possible in his back yard, nowhere was safe. “Alright everyone, stand still and listen,” Harry bellowed, as he stroked his chin thinking. “It goes without saying that nobody says anything to anyone about this. Is that clear?” A silence followed, where all those in hearing range nodded. “Everyone is to report to me. No exceptions. I need to know anything and everything. Right now I’m going back to my office and I want the CCTV feeds from all cameras, inside and out, for about an hour prior to this incident, in the surveillance operations room, in about twenty minutes. Get onto it gentlemen - ladies. Nobody leaves until the area is sealed off and secured.”
Harry briskly marched to his office, without observing any of the niceties. He slumped at his desk and flicked the intercom. “Sally?”
“Bring me a strong sweet tea will you love and hold all calls.” He picked up the desk phone, selecting a secure line. “Hello, put me though to the minister please. Yes, Chief Constable
Holland. Yes, I know it’s Sunday.” Harry unlocked his desk drawer and took out his service automatic, a compact 9mm pistol. “Minister?”
Holland. What’s so important you’re disturbing me on a Sunday?”
As Harry relayed details of the attack, the justice minister slumped in his chair. He’d backed the Chief’s plans many yeas ago, to store DNA, against public opinion. It was good for his career. They’d said it was safe and would prevent crime – good for a few political brownie points. Obviously, this was a terrorist attack, or some other group with a grudge against society. But, protestors didn’t kill people. The puzzling thing though was the robbery. It took such a lot of extra effort and planning. Why didn’t the highjackers just destroy the database?
There had been a long line of justice ministers trying to control crime using questionable methods.
Nick Johnson was one of them, a whitewash merchant, who’d risen through the ranks and learned all the dirty civil servant tricks, until voted an MP. Once privy to the real agendas, all he’d been required to do was stay tight lipped. Never answer a question honestly and let the senior civil servants run the show. Nick Johnson was as expert at this, greasy as butter and sickly sweet. All he had to do was stick to the script and this little hiccup would soon be covered up. They just needed to catch the culprits, or a scapegoat and some diversionary slight of hand.
“Okay Chief, so that’s the bad news. Now this is your mess and you can jolly well clean it up.” Harry did not like being dictated to. “I seem to remember backing you minister, when you wanted a rival roughed up.”
"Okay, okay Chief, we’ve scratched a few backs. But, be a good fellow and catch the bastards, or find a do-gooder to take the heat.”
Heat. There’d been plenty of that over the years. Enquiry after enquiry. Trigger happy armed officers had shot several innocent members of the public, which took a lot of explaining. The police were largely unaccountable, where justice machinery flowed like treacle molasses in winter. Enquiries took years to conclude, and recommendations just swept under the carpet, like so many European Court rulings.
Thousands of criminal convictions had been obtained in suspicious circumstances to massage figures for political purposes. Prisons were full to bursting point, tinder boxes of discontent, further alienating those within from society, rather than building bridges. Prisoners rights were taken away and access to the courts cut, to quell protest. It had been like a police state for years, but the voting public were none the wiser, where spin doctors told them what they wanted to believe. Politicians kept the awful truth to themselves, and the police became more powerful as a result. Unfortunately, such tactics had bred ever more discontent in the underworld, which inevitably would spill over one day.
The banks effectively controlled politicians, who’d been happy to milk the system themselves and just keep their eyes closed to the inevitable meltdown this would lead to. Ordinary people were milked of taxes and interest charges, to keep the lucky few at the top drawing huge bonuses for doing very little, except turning a blind eye to the social inequality they were perpetuating. Never ending growth is of course unsustainable in a world of finite resources. Zero growth should have been the equilibrium target.
“What we need now, is someone gullible enough not to realise he is being used, and with the right image. Some kind of intellectual, a professor or expert who might head a quango. The hint of a knighthood would be sure to secure cooperation. Catch my drift?” Harry was thinking the same thing. Once again he’d got the official go ahead he was after. Now who’s gullible and disposable? “Minister, let me have a memo to that effect and we’ve got a deal.”
“Okay old boy, done. Now let me get on with my Sunday there’s a good chap,” and with that the justice minister put the phone down.
Now, what about that footage. If they could catch the culprits, they’d not need a patsy. Harry climbed out of his overalls, still wearing plus-fours. For just such occasions, the Chief kept a change of clothing in a wall cupboard. He somewhat clumsily swapped outfits, with a dark blue uniform and cap. There was a knock on the door. Harry pushed a button on the floor with his right foot. A green light flashed outside and Sally entered the room holding a tray with a china tea set, and a plate with biscuits. “Custard creams okay sir.” “Dandy. Now, can you see how they’re doing with that CCTV?” Sally gracefully placed the tray on his desk, smiled, blinked and retreated to her desk, briskly.
The chief again selected a secure line. “Hello, put me through to General
Dunbar.” There was silence on the line for six interminable minutes. “The General sir,” came back a husky female smokers voice. “Sorry for the delay.”
“Something big is going on, is it your crowd?” “
Not sure what you mean Harry. Give me a clue?”
“Do you know anything about a covert op on the database?”
“No not us, what’s the heads up?”
“Well, let me put it this way, how is your super soldier project coming on. Any strays? Awols?”
“No, said the General. Christ, are you suggesting …..” “Why don’t you come to my factory and take a look see – plain clothes?”
“Don’t mind if I do. “Thirty minutes?” “Splendid.”
The chief exited his office. “Sally, keep them open. I’m going down to surveillance. The General is meeting me in thirty. Can you show him where love.”
Harry made his way to the surveillance operations room, on the third floor. Actually, the whole landing was surveillance, but the operations room was the central hub. There was no damage on this level, no debris to negotiate …….
POISON ASP -
2. WRATH OF THE GODS - The destruction of
Thonis and Alexandria
3. NEW WORLD ORDER - A Neo-Nazi plan to regenerate Aryan supremacy
GENETICA - Nano computer technology is purchased at an auction by a
5. INCUBUS -
7. TREMORS - Cleopatra's
tomb lay lost for centuries. Until a shift in the tectonic
plates triggered a tremor off the coast of Alexandria.
RUNNING MAN -
9. THE AMAZON -
RAIDERS - Safiya
Sabuka and Musa
Bomani dive among sifting sands to discover
precious artifacts and golden treasures.
ALEXANDRIA - Neo-Nazi occultists recover Cleopatra's
sarcophagus from underwater tomb near Palace.
13. KIDNAP - Charley is taken prisoner
14. UNESCO -
Catholic Church fear grave desecration heritage
theft, asks agencies for help. Interpol issue Red Notice.
15. REPLICANT - The Society reproduce Cleopatra using Francisco's
RepliVator™, uploading synapse sequence and implanted memories.
16. FULL STEAM AHEAD - Storm speeds to Thonis, then uses the Swann's AI
sensors and the Ark
database to find tomb has been plundered.
17. RITUAL SACRIFICE - The Baron prepares a drugged Cleopatra for ceremonial
INTERRUPTUS - John finds secret Nazi hideout near Alexandria,
disturbs ritual - rescues Cleopatra, arresting conspirators.
19. THE CHOSEN ONE - The reincarnated Cleopatra falls for her rescuer. John comes under her
spell, despite her being a replicant.
INTERVENTION - The military detain Cleopatra to appease stakeholders, despite media
& medical protests. Storm distraught.
21. DÉJÀ VU - History repeats itself,
military lock up technology as gross violation of human rights, John left disillusioned: FINALE