Divine extinction, p.1
Sequel to ‘The Sacred Protocol’
Hylton H. Smith
Published by Promethean
Copyright 2011 by Hylton H. Smith
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Sincere thanks to Rhys J. Smith and Anne Flint for their patience, support and suggestions.
Osvaldo Martinez had served only four years of his life sentence. He had unofficially changed his name. Following his incarceration in Hell’s Island high security prison, the Iberian government had dramatically increased their vigilance and investment in Central Security activity. The apartheid world of Iberia and Orient had thawed slightly since they had cooperated in bringing down a conspiracy which would have altered life on Earth forever. The narrow escape, literally by a few days, from the penetration of the SACRED communication system, had illustrated their Achilles’ heel, or at least one of them. SACRED was the acronym for the corporation which had provided the salvation of the Iberian Republic, when the internet collapsed in 2016. It consisted of the space elevator, a girdle of gargantuan satellites around the planet, and a lunar distribution point which had been thought to be impregnable. Signal Amplification, Correction, Revision, Encryption and Distribution were operated through membership and licence of guaranteed secure stations belonging to the corporation. Business organisations such as banks had inbuilt hardware, whereas individuals used booths, which were run by SACRED personnel. All users had to be registered with DNA, facial vectors and retinal scans before they could participate. The input side was based on Earth and covered the first four steps. The Encryption and Distribution were executed from the Moon and were thus supposed to be absolutely secure. It quickly replaced the internet and pretty much decimated the personal computer market.
Such was the confidence given by this remarkable achievement that the internet collapse didn’t cause the anticipated slide to dystopian society. The initial deaths of protesters against this closed ‘big brother’ system were considered to be random. When links were eventually established and proven, the deaths increased almost exponentially. Central Security, with the help of the Londonis police precinct, and an independent investigative reporter, exposed an agenda to systematically control the minds of the population. This was targeted initially at the bottom of society’s pyramid in order to subvert the masses, and then use that momentum to scale the ladder of control to law and order chain of command, and finally government hierarchy. It was the ‘brainchild’ of a right wing cult. Isolation of the neurogenic indoctrination within SACRED, and elimination of the head of the cult had prevented Armageddon this time, however most of the enlisted members were still at large, but not Osvaldo Martinez. He had not disclosed the names of any cult members despite an opportunity to plea bargain for leniency if he cooperated. This effectively meant that the task of running these people to ground had to begin all over again, in order to prevent the cult agenda from re-surfacing.
Ricardo Pierze, head of Central Security of Iberia, wanted to retain as much of the original team which thwarted the plot, as possible. Manuel Salina’s presence was felt to be crucial. Manuel was the elder son of Antonio Salina, who was Pierze’s predecessor and one of the most senior cult members. His exposure had led to his death, and the police suspected he was murdered by the brotherhood, despite it being made to look like suicide. Manuel had despised his father for many reasons. He had moved to Uruguay and worked as an investigative journalist until his younger brother Konrad, one of the key protestors against SACRED, committed suicide. Manuel was then approached by one of the owners of the SACRED organisation, to conduct an investigation into all such previous deaths, alleged to be associated with the very same corporation. This began in Londonis, with his brother’s case, and he teamed up with Maxi Duarte and Elle Butragueno, both from the police precinct. They subsequently persuaded Pierze to work with them, and this unlikely alliance became the instrument of exposing the cult and its agenda of global mind control of the population. Manuel was the lynchpin in the strategy, via the improbable participation in SACRED’s virtual reality programme – Futureworld. Konrad had pleaded with him to adopt his character after his death, to truly convince Manuel that his outrageous claims of manipulation of the mind were not only possible, but actually happening. This became the pivotal breakthrough in the investigation.
Since then the SACRED system had been purged and additional security measures installed. It was once more considered to be worthy of its former flagship reputation. The rigorous overhaul had even satisfied the government of Orient. The new accord between the two superpowers resulted in a phenomenal increase in customer base for the Iberian corporation. It also worried Pierze insofar as there was now another potential tributary open to corruption.
Osvaldo Martinez had spent all of the four years of his confinement in the pursuit of resurrecting the cult. Despite his conviction and sentence, he still had human rights and one of these rights was access to the absolute fortune he had made as a co-owner of SACRED. It was legally argued that if the wealth accumulated by the other two owners was legitimate, then so was his. One of the first things he did was to instruct his many visitors to keep him apprised of the dispersed brotherhood. He then set about authorising his shareholding in SACRED to be sold to the other two stockholders. The vast funds were then broken up and dispersed several times into untraceable accounts, mainly in Swiss-Iberia, and in proxy names. Having established the means, he began to introduce his ‘currency’ to the prison environment, and quickly established control of the inmates, then many of the staff. It took the best part of two years to get the funds appropriated to the reformation structure of the Sidonia cult. The research was also underway and his escape was now in the planning stage. Once on the outside again he would need to alter his appearance, voice characteristics and even undergo certain genetic modifications, to truly create a different person. When this was all in place he would once more change his name to sever all connection to his past.
The explosive charges which had been planted around one corner of the outer prison wall, completely opened up the courtyard, and caused absolute panic in the ranks of the guards, except for those who had been recruited by Martinez, with a promise of a lucrative life within Sidonia. In the midst of the chaos at the breach point, many prisoners were let out as an additional distraction. Some got through the cordon, others were shot. Martinez was provided with a guard’s uniform and was accompanied by his select band of new Sidonians to the flat roof, where they were whisked away by the circling helicopter, decked in bogus police livery.
The news of the breakout was patched through to Pierze and his overtures to Manuel Salina now had concrete purpose. Even though not imminent, the threat was back.
The reconfiguration of Osvaldo Martinez had commenced, now that the various authorities admitted he had simply vanished into thin air. The years he had spent in prison had been productive in the sense that he had still managed to sculpture the new headquarters and hierarchy of Sidonia. The research facility was unparalleled in both personnel and investment. He had ensured that a much stricter profiling programme was instituted for full membership of the cult this time. He was still scarred by the experience he had in discovering that the former leader tried to save his own skin, by becoming an informant for Pierze.
Ricardo Pierze was in a contemplative mood as he awaited the arrival of Manuel Salina. He reflected on the huge slice of luck which brought down the cult four years ago, and how such suppression of information was never going to be an option now. The public outcry which was precipitated by leaks within Central Security had seen to that. It had been the policy to bury any hint of just how close the cult had come to achieving its objective. This knowledge fermented and spawned a new era of openness in such matters. It was extremely unhelpful to Pierze, but ‘Manna from Heaven’ for Martinez.
Manuel had been delayed. His flight from Londonis to Madrid had been subject to a technical fault. He was brought up to date with the escape of Martinez. Most people had forgotten he had changed his name and missed the connection, and Central Security would be forced to remind them. “Manuel, it’s good to see you after all this time, but the circumstances could have been better. We have no idea where he is, who helped him to get out, or what will happen next. The only thing we can be certain of is that his agenda will be unchanged. In the four years since his arrest we have not apprehended a single member of the cult.” Manuel was included in the majority who had temporarily forgotten the association of the name Martinez with Sidonia. He had always and deliberately remembered only his original name – Constantin Boniek.
“How could they let this happen? It’s not as if he was ever going to reform, he told them that himself! I must say Ricardo that I initially had no intention of coming back here, let alone enlisting in your project. I have a very good life in Londonis now, my private investigation agency is thriving and my mother is happier than at any time in her life. However, I agree with you, Sidonia has to be eliminated otherwise everything we achieved was for nothing. The evil which Mart…, no damn it, Boniek represents, requires total eradication this time. I suppose we can rule out another scourge coming through SACRED. It is much more tightly controlled, Futureworld was scrapped, and anyway Boniek will want to avoid past mistakes – unlike our prison service.”
Pierze was relieved that Manuel had already taken the gravity of the situation on board. “Are you and Elle Butragueno still er.. friends?”
Manuel smiled as he nodded. “Of course, but we still live separately. We decided it was best for our careers as well as our relationship. It seems to work at present, but there will come a time when we want other things. How about Duarte, is he still helping you out?”
Pierze buzzed his secretary and Maxi Duarte strolled into the room. It was quite an emotional reunion. “I hope you are taking good care of my favourite police officer Manuel, how is she?”
Manuel gave him a letter from Butragueno. “She said it was private, so you tell me when you’ve read it. I don’t want to seem rude Maxi, but do you really need more of this Boniek stuff?”
Duarte asked for coffee and replied, “None of us do Manuel; it just has to be dealt with. I hope it isn’t going to be too time-consuming Ricardo, as my boy is on the verge of the Madrid first team squad and I want to enjoy his first, enthusiastic years for the game while the money is still secondary.” They spent the rest of the day sketching the potential ‘battlefield’, knowing it would have to cover threat of new technology and a new executive structure of Sidonia.
Martinez was indeed intent on avoiding past mistakes. He had thought this through very carefully during his incarceration. Using a government department for too many aspects of the plan had in retrospect been a weakness. He felt that the previous hierarchy, being overpopulated with Central Security personnel and other civil service freeloaders, was fundamentally flawed. He did however recognise that some mass communication technology would be fundamental in priming the millions of subjects required to cause the government to implode. He felt that the only other way was for some almost evangelical revolution to emerge, but this was unlikely. The location of the research and operational headquarters had also been a key decision. It had resulted in the chosen facility potentially delivering an option for an obscure inroad to the mass communication industry.
While in prison his already active senior cult figures had used his laundered capital to purchase shares in a major technology supplier to the communication industry. The company wanted to expand their share of the market in Orient, and this was convenient, as it fitted with another requirement for Martinez. Over a period of thirty months he had steadily increased the share of equity in this company in small steps. It finally gave him the platform to cleverly stimulate a clandestine hostile bid from another big player, and the board of directors was only too happy for him to acquire a controlling interest. The board preferred the devil they knew, only to be later relieved of their positions in an orderly but unalterable fashion. The procedure was of course fronted by proxy investors. Martinez wanted to build on the good reputation of the company before embarking on the transformation of his identity. This would give time for Pierze to sweat, and for the diversion of resource to his secret research.
The proxy investors were his two most trusted cult members, who would now turn their attention to quietly extending the recruitment drive. This had to be finely tuned to the anticipated growing influence over the masses. Martinez was as confident in his strategy for this, as he was about his own ‘conversion’ to another person.
Pierze introduced Viktor Lopez to the meeting. Manuel and Duarte knew him as the instrument through which Sidonia had indoctrinated the users of Futureworld. He had been abducted and installed in a secure underground technology centre, and his unique expertise in directed neurogenic emission was the cornerstone of the subversion of individuals exposed to the ‘treatment’. He had been working on all manner of possible technology threats since being rescued by Pierze. The problem lay in predicting which new breakthroughs could lend their primary function to adaptation for sinister purpose. Lopez described it aptly. “It is a bit like trying to predict when a sleeping volcano will become angry or even worse – simply become the worst natural disaster in history.” He presented some of the things he’d been working on and many provoked raised eyebrows for the audience of three. The meeting ended with the agreement that they were in observation alert mode, and they would re-convene every month unless the circumstances dictated otherwise.
The transmogrification of Martinez was an intensive and intrusive process, including genetic alteration procedures to evade DNA checks. The recovery from the procedures took much longer than the setting up of his new identity papers. Lionel Zara came into being on the 18th of August 2027, and this would become the timeline to which several future events could be retrospectively traced. So different was his appearance that his first meetings with anyone other than his two trusted aides would be a charade. The participants would be told that Martinez had head-hunted and installed Zara as the new chief executive. The plan was that Martinez would become a recluse and never be seen or heard of again. Zara desperately wanted to get up to speed with all avenues of research in order to devise a critical path to the decision to initiate trials on real people. It would require procurement of people who would of necessity have to die, whether or not the tests were successful.
Olga Assante was overjoyed with her birthday present. It was just one of many to mark her eighteenth anniversary, but she was obsessed with it. Not everyone had the latest ‘think-phones’ and she would let most of them know that. It had all the usual facilities for those in a hurry to complete tasks, but she liked the more challenging aspect of concentrated thought to execute the same chores, and she was very proficient at it. That was the root of her obsession, and even if others had the device, they may not be capable of rendering the keyboard as one such obsolete feature. It truly was mind over matter.
Frederic Moreno ran a blue
Patrick Kipketer, as an Olympic gold medallist, had a very busy schedule. He wasn’t just running at events all over the world, but had to fit in advertising endorsements for his sponsors. He had an agent of course, but still had to be available for contact virtually all of the time he was not asleep. It was however not always convenient to reply in the middle of a training run. After all, it was his running feats which had made him rich, and in demand as a consequence. If he was to continue in this vein, his running had to come first. He had taken to this new technology immediately; it gave him so much freedom and had such a calming influence.
By spring of 2028, Zara had increased the stake in his chosen technology company to 77%, thus avoiding power of veto from minority shareholders, and although it was registered within one of many holding companies, he very much wanted anonymity. He would not further increase the equity for another six months, as other elements had to be in place first. One was the perfection of the research on his new brainchild, and the unexpected U-turn he made with respect to evangelism. Having dismissed this at an early stage of his master plan, he now believed it had perfect synergy with the product under development. He wanted a dispersed and uneven geographical approach with the genesis of the new faith, and this meshed well with the research hub being fronted by a legitimate technology business. This business shield now had a name – Cerberus Enterprises Corporation. It had been adopted after careful consideration, being believed to serve many purposes. The ancient Greeks often depicted Cerberus as a three-headed hound which guarded the gates of Hades, to prevent those who had crossed the river Styx, from ever escaping. The balance of symbolism and strategy appealed to Zara. Sidonia was now effectively controlled by three people. The gates of Hades were represented by the legitimate business camouflaging the hell which would be unleashed by the clandestine work of the research arm. No escape meant Sidonians signed up for life, with death upon betrayal ensuring adherence to the mission. Zara’s arrogant nature twinkled when the name itself could possibly attract attention, which would subsequently stand up to scrutiny in every way, while breeding the alien venom.
Divine Extinction by Hylton Smith / Science Fiction have rating 4.2 out of 5 / Based on38 votes