Divine extinction, p.19
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       Divine Extinction, p.19

           Hylton Smith
 
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  Pierze recalled that De Boer had mentioned previously that Freema believed she had figured out the code names of the other two controllers. He believed that if he could dislodge one more crucial brick in the wall, there was a chance that Olmeda would fold his poker hand. Freema was allowed to visit De Boer for a short period without any officers present. She was beginning to see, with De Boer’s coercion, the sense in cooperating. It was rather naïve to assume that she could limit the degree to which she was a liability in the eyes of the ruthless people who approved her recruitment. She either was or was not, there was no in-between. She asked to see Pierze.

  “I am able to relate certain categories of information we were asked to obtain, to code names and project numbers. I am not able to put faces to the code names, but if you have Olmeda and Ibanez in custody I can verify the former is Atlas. De Boer says your man Salina recognised Ibanez from the picture and he was according to Johann – Medusa. That leaves Thor and Poseidon. Atlas you already know is the overall controller for Project 3, which was to terminate Nelson Ortega and President Sanchez. I have collected sufficient information for Medusa to believe he is going to wreck the space elevator, under Project 1. Thor wanted habitual updates on any contact between Central Security and the two owners of Sacred. I don’t know why. Poseidon is the strange one. The others all had traceable communication trails to Southern Iberiana. Poseidon has never surfaced, and he or she requests information through the other three. There is evidence, if your computer people are up to the job, on Atlas’ laptop, of allocation of data to each project. Poseidon’s come from sub-folders of the others’ information I had to upload. I hope this may be considered in me appealing for the same deal you have given to De Boer.” Pierze said he would let her know if this proved to be useful.

  *

  Manuel had struck lucky in Tobruk. The local militia had taken Ibanez, Al-Ahmed and the man at the sharp end of the arms importation. He was on his way back, assisted by two militia men, with Ibanez. It was expected the Tobruk police would get the opposite number of the dealer in Orient out of their captive.

  Before Ibanez arrived, Olmeda was given sight of the picture of all four controllers. Pierze went through his well-rehearsed routine. “We have all of the code names and project objectives. The only details we are missing are the real names of Thor and Poseidon. We will get this one way or another. The information base is in Southern Iberiana, but there are repeated connections to Southern Africana. You should also bear in mind that your organisation recruited all three of your moles from counter-terrorism units, and they are busy with the tracing mechanism. They don’t like people poaching their highly trained staff, and they have to ensure they haven’t slipped through to the other side of the rather porous membrane.”

  He then suddenly started to yell at Olmeda. “How the hell do you think we exposed them? You are bloody amateurs. It is a cardinal commandment of this line of work that you don’t underestimate your adversary. I have adhered to that; it seems you have not. Oh, I forgot why I really came to see you. Ibanez is expected within the next two hours. I can’t see him being quite as self-righteous as you are. He knows Manuel Salina very well and more importantly he knows that he can get these two names from his contacts in Montevideo. You never know how much he will be prepared to implicate others in his desperation to survive. He made no such heroic attempt at martyrdom as you did, and there is the small matter of the lies he has already told us. Manuel says he seems rather keen to make amends. We will interview you together after we have final statements from each of you; even if you maintain your silence you will be able to hear what he has to say. I doubt if any of his concern will be directed at your family Snr. Olmeda.”

  The wall of silence was breached. “I can see you are trying to divide us by fear of each other’s capitulation. Normally I would hold firm, but Ibanez is not known for putting his head on the block. He is a poker player and a good one; he has a sixth sense of when someone else is bluffing. Your information, albeit fragmented will make him uneasy. I need some guarantee you can get my family to safety before I fill in some of your blanks.”

  Pierze asked the guard in attendance to leave the room, and turned off the recorder before assuming his natural predatory ability to recognise the moment for the kill. He spoke very quietly and very politely. “I began my first interrogation of you with the declaration that had it not been for your previous association with Antonio Salina, we would in all probability have been working together now. Precisely the same probability can be ascribed to Manuel getting me the rest of the information I need; it is, and I repeat, purely a question of time. You have to help yourself before I can consider helping you. If I decide to do that, then you have my word. I can keep my word – simply because I don’t see why your children should suffer for your misjudgement.”

  Olmeda took a deep breath and indicated he was ready. Pierze switched the recorder on again. “I am a lawyer by discipline and my experience persuades me that you may indeed have the means of building on what you have already, in order to determine the names of those you seek. I am therefore not willing to be associated with giving you such assistance, but you may be more successful with Ibanez. I can also envisage that your tenacity will deliver more on the connection you referred to between Southern Iberiana and Southern Africana. The analysis of the project data will also yield information which will compromise this overall strategy, if your computer forensics people are good enough. If I therefore accept that I am weighing up my family’s lives on the basis of you having the data a little ahead of time, I have no choice. I repeat that I will not give you names. I will trust you to keep your word.

  “Southern Africana and Southern Iberiana have a fundamental historical injustice in common. Our lands and people were subjected to the most barbaric destruction of our culture and enslavement of our people by imperial invasion. Although these atrocities began hundreds of years ago, the effects are still seen today, in terms of living standards and true freedom from corruption. For some time there has been much contact on the benefit of a southern hemisphere state. It would require secession by Southern Iberiana, but Southern Africana has only agreed alignment to Iberia, the only other historical choice having been Orient. As with all such grandiose ideology, it always comes down in a practical sense, to the power conferred by wealth. Our information, being filtered from Iberian Central Security out into the trading world was critical. We needed to know what share of Iberian technology we would need to acquire to become self-sufficient. That was Poseidon’s remit. Thor was to explore the possibility of obtaining a controlling ownership of SACRED. We believe that the owners are not unwilling to consider a buyout. This would have given us strong leverage in the coming years, as it still owns the only space elevator. Medusa was to identify weaknesses in the security of this elevator as it was such a critical pivot in our plans. We needed to quantify risks of terrorism or military action. This project was to be last, simply because it would be irrelevant if the others could not be successfully completed. The only act of inhumanity in all of this was the need to remove Nelson Ortega. That did not seem too high a price to us when compared to the butchery of the Incas by Herman Cortez. We were prepared to countenance this because he was plotting to remove Sanchez, and install Falcorini. Because Ortega is seen as the modern day Cortez, due to his treachery while he was ambassador in Southern Iberiana, and his agenda after the planned death of Sanchez, we felt his removal had to be executed first.”

  The expression on Pierze’s face was circumspect. “Well that does neatly stitch together the disparate knowledge we already have. I have two questions. It seems as if you are saying Project 3, which you were responsible for, didn’t include the elimination of Sanchez. How then do you explain the grenade deployment on the fifth and then ground floors, prior to the sniper appearing on the roof?”

  At first, Olmeda looked confused. “We were all primarily responsible for overall control of one project, but we had to draw upon each other’s talent
s and demonstrate four-way sign-off evidence as a security measure. I am sure you will agree that I was better suited to evaluate the benefits and legal implications of acquiring SACRED, but I drew the short straw. The others felt equally disadvantaged but it was intended to act like a five-point mortice lock. It was Ortega’s plan to procure the Southern Africana individual to deal the fatal blow to Sanchez. Our intelligence there alerted us, and the sniper was persuaded, don’t ask me how, to target Ortega himself. It was supposed to be with a rifle – no collateral damage. We were amazed when we saw the carnage on the roof. The rocket launchers were only supposed to strike the ground floor entrance and cause the people to ascend to the roof, where our man was waiting. I don’t know why the fifth floor was hit first. The arms procurement was part of my delegation to Ibanez, and it obviously went wrong somewhere, as he even got the gunman’s weapon wrong. Perhaps you had better ask him.”

  Pierze was satisfied about this in a general way, and then posed his second question. “Despite our tapestry of evidence being inescapably but gradually completed with the appropriate missing pieces, you surprised me with the speed of your transition from silence to pragmatism. Would you care to elucidate?”

  Olmeda managed a smile for the first time. “I thought you may have figured that out for yourself; it was due to more influential factors which are outside your progress in this investigation. It was expected to take more than a decade to even approach finalisation of the economic strength to trigger secession. That timescale has now to be set in the context of two apparently separate, but intrinsically linked items - Comet 2005NB5C and this Circle of Light. They each in their own way ask whether we all stand a better chance of survival if there is unity. I hate the cliché, but the timing could have been kinder. Project 3 was initiated before we knew of these issues otherwise Sanchez would not have been unnecessarily injured.”

  When Ibanez was grilled, having listened to Olmeda’s recording, he gave the names and completed the picture, by daubing in the final details. Pierze had to arrange an urgent meeting with Sanchez.

  Chapter 18

  “Snr. President, I now have an almost complete picture of the assassination attempt and the good news is that it clears Orient of any wrongdoing, other than someone at Sukahara illegally selling their arms. We have confessions from two of the four men controlling projects, of which the studio attack is one. The other two names are not familiar to us but Manuel is confident he can get the real background on them by going to Montevideo then Africana, and he is on his way. The more disturbing side to all this is the bigger picture we have unravelled. As you know Olmeda from his days in Madrid, I need not remind you of his ethnic origin. Ibanez is from similar lineage and I’m guessing that the other two are descendants of anti-colonial martyrs in Southern Africana. They were part of a detailed timetable of Southern Iberiana’s secession from the Republic and the joining with Southern Africana in a super southern hemisphere state. Its name was to be Liberta. The people who were to head up this state used the deep-rooted hatred of these men to fuel their elaborate plan. The vice-president of this new alignment was to be Samuel Managway, written as ‘Manague’. He has been on our security radar over the last few years, but only for inciting political radicalism, we have never had proof that it went any further. The intended President is a different matter. Falcorini has played a superb role as an incompetent ‘sleeper’ in our midst. I’ve had to dig deep to find out why. Tracing back his family tree yielded the answer. Falcorini is not a typical indigenous Iberiana family name, but his grandmother’s maiden name was Cubillas. Historical records of the Conquistadors throw this name up frequently and there are many references to this mini-dynasty taking several Inca royal princesses as concubines, into their bloodline. I’m not too hopeful that I could ever authenticate this in terms of law, but we may provoke him into exposing it through his own desire to become a martyr, now that we have uncovered his plan. Falcorini has been happy to be your deputy and study the legal complications of secession from within the enemy’s camp. His access to all kinds of information have helped the four project controllers build their strategy. By being considered a liability as a diplomat, he has also been ignored as a danger. The one remaining area I want to clean up before this hits the media, is the fate of the two people who fired the grenades. Ibanez says Falcorini wanted to arrange this himself. Although this appeared irregular, and it was not executed to the agreed plan, it seems only Falcorini knew of the changes. The initial objective of the plot was to take out Ortega by sniper, having blocked the ground floor by grenade fire. The changes orchestrated by Falcorini were twofold. He altered the rocket launchers’ plan to hit floor five first in an attempt to eliminate you. He also arranged for the sniper to use the bomb which was to remove Ortega and you, if you had survived the grenades. Bear in mind this whole episode came about through intelligence that he had on Ortega, who had already planned for the sniper to execute you Snr. President, with a rifle made and supplied from Brazil. Falcorini was so pleased with the outcome, apart from your recovery, that he invited Ibanez to his residence, the purpose being to feed Manuel disinformation. During the alcohol-rich self-congratulation he couldn’t resist telling Ibanez that he had paid off the unnamed grenade duo by drugging their celebratory champagne. He laughed about storing their limp bodies in his large basement freezer, and when they were rock hard, he processed them through his powerful wood-chipping machine, together with logs he had set aside. According to Ibanez he was particularly proud of scattering the conglomerate of tissue, bone and sawdust on his borders as plant feed. He expected insects, rodents and birds to purify the scene. We should be able to find traces of human tissue as it happened only a few weeks ago.”

  Sanchez sat shaking his head, partly at the complexity and the time needed to connect all of the stray dots, but also at the realisation of the enemy within. He sanctioned Pierze to arrest Falcorini. He was to be interrogated on the detail involved with projects 1, 2 and 4, once his arrest had been accomplished. As he left Pierze, tried to reassure the President. “I’ve thought about Olmeda’s statement that their grand design was already in jeopardy anyway, due to support melting away. He claims that Tunguska and the Circle of Light have conspired to cause this eclipse. I have an appointment with Lionel Zara and I will ask for his help in moderating the demonstrations before they turn violent.”

  During this intense effort to close the assassination case, Pierze hadn’t found the time to digest the latest advance by the code breakers. Using the meanings ascribed to the growing list of symbols understood, they had applied computer pattern algorithm programming to develop the rudiments of a language structure. It wasn’t an obvious or indeed logical approach, from a human viewpoint, and in fact it was this already recognised probability, which led to the flexible orientation of the algorithms. Although it was early days, they were sure they could expect a true breakthrough. A valid test of this assertion was requested of the command of the probe on its way to Phobos. If the early structural linguistic concepts were correct, the coordinates on the moon diagram, discovered earlier, were the location of a device of some kind. They wanted maximum resolution pictures of this location and the surrounding area.

  *

  When Pierze addressed Zara he was quite hopeful of a positive response. He even took the risk of filling in some of the recently acquired details from Project 3. “I wanted to ask you, as being credited with founding this faith, for assistance in tempering some of the demands being made. Your influence would go a long way toward instilling some patience in the followers. Their ranks are continuing to swell at an alarming rate, and all of our experience with such trends is that they suffer splintering when they perceive inertia from the elected government. The process almost inevitably spawns violence. Are you in a position to convey to them that this Truth they crave can only be obtained by mutual trust between government and citizens?”

  Zara looked him straight in the eyes. “The short answer is no. Firstly, I’m now only a
figurehead. That is the way I want it, as too often with matters of faith, those initially worshipped become perverted by the temptation of power. Secondly, what kind of truth gets hijacked by compromise at the first hurdle? This isn’t politics we’re talking about; it is the remnants of our severely curtailed future – and yours. Third, and probably most important, is the issue of unity. It’s a word which gets bandied about quite a bit, but my fervent belief is that it is the only real weapon we have against this planet-killer. Its shadow has become part of the drive for such homogeneity. The species comes before individuals, groups, cliques and governments. These are all products of so-called civilised society. The comet is a product of the unthinking, indiscriminate laws of physics – alias the Truth. Snr. Pierze, you seek order in your remit, and probably in your personal life. The Circle of Light seeks that same order. As soon as someone in government decides what is acceptable for others to know and what is to be withheld, that’s the equivalent to the cosmic outcome in which matter prevailed over anti-matter. It becomes a step in which it is virtually impossible to foresee any route to reconsideration. That is what is meant by the Truth. You want order; so do they. I’m surprised at your request because you are fortunate to have the means in your own hands; you don’t need my help. I fear you can’t see this and even if you could it would make you afraid.”

 
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