Friday, October 20, 2006

Goodnight, Sweet Prince

The nkorea pill is being constructed today. We spent days pouring over everything we could get our hands on regarding kji. We’ve found a vector that can get closer than anything the big shots could come up with themselves. They are always making things more complicated than need be. Not so, our plan. Simplicity itself. The cleaning lady will unwittingly apply a tweeked-up strain of Ice to his furniture. Catalyst is polyethylene glycol in oj. Event chain is under 12 hours and the burn rate is less than one, so the collateral damage should be minimal. We’re hoping to catch him in his sleep. Less likely to have medical intervention if he just never wakes up. Not that a doc would help, just less questions asked. Will they miss him? Who in the west can say.

The fun part of this little enterprise is we are also targeting three of his closest associates. We will be infecting them with H5N1. A less virulent strain will also be let loose inside three others, who will suffer no affects but show the bug in their systems. One of these targets will soon be returning from a known hotspot, completing the scrutiny event chain.

The remaining question is how quickly can we get the pill into circulation? We have a handle on a couple mules but we don’t trust them quite enough. Our data miner is looking into purchasing histories to find a hole there for insertion. Then it’s just a matter of time until they open the bottle.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A dark hole

Getting Boris out of the block proved harder that expected, as these things usually do. We met him in a bar-café that was nothing more than the kitchen of a local house where illegal alcohol was served with a side of eggs and fresh bread and stew. The owner spends her time in opium dreams while her eleven-year-old serves up the liquor.

Boris was waiting in a cupboard behind the kitchen area and nearly bolted when Whiteface got the password wrong. I brought the prerequisite DNA screen as proof that we were his contact. It was just before sunset and there were lots of people on the streets. No problem joining the throng to get us to the river. We headed west by boat for several hours before getting off and meeting the driver who would take us to a small house near the Latvia border. Whiteface returned to make sure we made a clean exit. I nearly freaked when the driver slapped a blindfold across my face. His way or the highway until we made it to the house. It was bad enough that I had no one to watch my back, the blindness itself was terrifying.

The little row house was creepy but it hides a tunnel that travels for more than eight miles, transecting the border, though we would only be under for 5 miles. To make the trip a little more challenging, we had to enter the tunnel from a second-story dumbwaiter. That chicken-shit defector refused to go first, so I’m thinking to myself, ‘hey, this will really suck if these two bolt and leave me stuck between the floors.” Nice set-up: someone from the second floor has to release the latch that locks the tunnel entrance, letting the dumbwaiter continue downward. I listened from the darkness as Boris begged for reassurances that the tunnel was safe and complete. Our driver just laughed and hit the down button.

The tunnel felt like it hadn’t been used for decades and smelled of mold and dust. It was also heavily infested with everything you can think of. Our every whisper echoed back at us. I put to use the hand-cranked flashlight the driver supplied us with, for which I was very thankful. Having had no forewarning that we’d be traveling underground, I wasn’t prepared for what turned out to be better than 4 hours in the hole. We kicked through muck and stagnant water, and in places the smell of animal shit was overwhelming. There were periodic breaks in the bad air by way of 4-inch iron pipes that ran to the surface. These vents were no doubt the access point for whatever was shitting, and the air expelled from more than one of them came to us via a sewer.

The trek was long, cold, exhausting and tiresome. I have to admit that I did once, and only once, threaten to shoot Boris and cut his f*cking legs off there in the dark if he didn’t quit whining. I guess I should be grateful the old man waited to start complaining several hours into the trip. Admittedly, we hadn’t slept in nearly 24 hours and in several places the tunnel dropped in diameter, causing us to crawl along on our bellies or bent over. We fell a lot, rested a lot. The blisters are insane.

Just before emerging we had our roughest time. The tunnel dipped and rose in two places and the recesses were filled to hip-level with slimy water and the carcass of a small dog. Boris almost passed out on me while trying to hold his breath though the worst of it. At the first exit marker we pushed through years of overgrowth into weak sunlight and drizzle. We were in the middle of nowhere. No signs of civilization anywhere. About a mile away, foothills began to rise up to meet a mountain range that ran NE to SW. I tried but gave up trying to determine our location. Satellite phone time.

I made contact with the extraction team waiting in the Gulf of Finland. We would have to make it to the north coast of Astonia. A car would meet us in town just west of our location and drive us to the Latvia border. Just past the mark we were met by another contact that pushed us up the coast to the extraction location.

The rest of the trip was flawless. We were airlifted from the ship the next morning.
I can’t seem to shower enough to get the feeling of grime out of my skin and hair.
No one bled, no one died. I hope we get the bad guys.

BTW, Wil is going after NKorea. About f*cking time. I hate that guy.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Belarus is charming. I'm stationed in a squalid little hostel that stinks of urine and something dead not far away. The walls are paper-thin. Luckily, I'm not acutally in residence much. I'm here under the guies of getting medical treatments and my papers say I'm from Homyel, a custodian in a children's center. All I'm waiting for is the green light to pull our scientist. I've got my bag of pots and paints to dress him and his papers arrive tonight by courier. His old employer is hot to find him and we are racing the clock. The company has a very big interest in this man's handlers. Fear and rumors say they are working on small nukes and dirty bombs for the market. They are supposed to have access to materials that have been missing for quite some time. "Boris" is also connected and related to top officials in the former Union.

Wil is still working on a plan B for Generva. She is proving hard to connect with. Someone got close to her and now she's scared and recanting everything she said. She won't see us, is never alone, and speaks only through her JAG counsil.

We are putting a team in place in a Kurd stronghold, looking for an Iranian-born insurgent that will be used as the mule for his boss. Pressure on this one is mounting daily. I made a few modifications on scarecrow to allow for delay in delivery to the target, who is banging missus mule on the side. This one will be tricky. The exposure will be third-generation and may take a while, not knowing the mating habits of the mule and his wife. If they are no longer having any kind of sex, this is a waste of time, cause there's not a direct way to infect the wife, who is living in an encampment inside Iran. We're about 40% sure he'll be heading home for a while during the holy month. He makes an annual pilgrimage to his parens' grave near some mosq.

I think I have a handle on Lily. If I can take her, I will. Probably get shot.

What the hell am I dong now?

I’m being sent to South America when I get back home. I'm to help complete an exercise for the military attaché there. There are links to terror that need investigating by myself, Donner, Marg and Wil. This is the result of some electronic snooping that turned up implied relationships with an allied associate that appears to have strayed. Inpro is conducting a recent background check on who this person has been meeting with, where they’ve been going and by whom they may be getting paid above and beyond our salary. The new protocol that we just used will be used again, but with a slight twist: we are taking a clean-up crew with us. One small catch: this person has family and friends there.

Swan didn’t go well. The physiological, emotional and psychological issues associated with these deeper emotions are so amazingly complex, and I imagine we are years away from understanding how to manipulate them in any controlled fashion. We managed to create a psychotic episode that lasted 13 hours. We ended up giving the guy encephalitis to mask the research.

My physical therapy continues. Despite my having pulled a muscle during combat training a couple days ago I plod on. I am determined to recover some of the loss of use in my arm and shoulder. It is improving but is still far from good. I nearly laid my bike down yesterday when the muscle finally fatigued out and I couldn’t hold the clutch. I’d like to contact Stephen about swapping the Speed triple for the Suzuki. It has a softer clutch.

I’m beating around the bush to avoid facing what I know could change everything. I’ve been using microcameras around the lab and projects sector. I want a record of what I’m doing every day. I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m being manipulated via chemical controls. So now I’m checking the data that I’ve recorded. I’m looking for anything that I don’t remember or seems out of the ordinary for my behavior, as I perceive it. I know there have been times that I feel the ‘drone’ bug has been used. Lost time. Lost time on numerous occasions. I fear what this could mean. I can’t find anything in the burn. I wouldn’t expect to. I built these bugs not to show up.

“Why?” I ask myself that a lot. Because they think I’ll balk at some assignment? Because they don’t want me to remember? Because they need a scapegoat? God, there are so many possibilities. There is also the chance that I’m growing paranoid. That the stress of the recent years has taken over and I’m going insane.

There are days that I wake up feeling like I’ve been dreaming huge segments of time; seeing it all through a haze of some kind. This haze seems so thick at times I wonder if I am remembering actual events or imagined ones. The haze resides with me always. It sits right behind my eyes. I can feel it there. See it there, like a huge, solid wall of grey that prevents me from seeing everything clearly. It seems to actually push back when I challenge the barrier.

My mind feels caged and I can’t stop pushing against the bars, trying to see just a little farther each time I stand at the blackness and push. I feel drained from these experiences, as if my conscious mind wishes to go to sleep and forget about all the pain and death and knowledge that rests beyond the grey. But for the small voice urging me on, I would much rather let it all go. Do what the grey tells me; forget about the doubts and unanswered questions. Forget about the guilt of what I have done. Forget about what I am doing, and about to do.What