Chapter XXXII


We got back to our favorite hotel in London rather late.  It was five in the morning and very dark outside.  Once we got to the room Frank had me run out and buy a bottle of scotch.  It was a wordless purchase as the store clerk was a robot.  Most stores are open 24 hours a day and most just use a robot to mind the store while the most humans are sleeping.  During the daytime most stores like to employ friendly humans to enhance their sales.  Only a few, like the American company Starbucks, still insists on using 100% organic labor.

When I returned with the goods Frank was already in the shower.  He was just coming out, freshly dried, when the door knocked.  I had already guessed it was a female by the sound of the approaching steps from the elevator.  I put it at 83% that it would be the Princess and I was right.  I was surprised at the energetic reunion of the Princess.  I thought my master needed some sleep, but it did not take long for him to sleep with the princess.  The passion was just reaching a climax when I heard a knock at the door.  I started to approach it and said, “Who is there?”  After all, my master was very busy and I was not about to let room service spoil his biological processes. 

It was then I found myself suddenly off line.  I had no data feeds coming to me.  It was like the world disappeared.  It would be nine hours before I suddenly received data.  It was only from Frank that I learned later what had happened.

It surprised me, if that is possible, but it did surprise Frank.  He remembers very little of it.  According to Frank there was something like a small explosion at the door.  He heard something buzzie and then he finds himself waking up in Israel.

Yes, we found ourselves at the Golda Meir Air Base in Israel.  It was the next day.  When Frank woke up the Monsignor was there sitting by his side. 

“Welcome to Israel, Mr. Frank” he said after Frank opened his eyes, “Here look at your paper.  You made front page.”

Frank slowly shifted his feet to the floor and sat on the edge of the bed.  He rubbed his head and said, “I feel like I’m coming out of an all-nighter.  Got any aspirin? How the fuck did I get here?” 

“According to your newspaper you were abducted by terrorists or something.”

“Let me see.”

Frank took the paper and unfolded it.  On the front was a photo him with the headline “Journal Reporter Violently Seized.”  He slowly read the article about how his room was found torn up and his robot assistant destroyed.  The fire department had to be called in to put out a small fire.  Further down in the article it described that a woman may have been involved since several articles of female clothing were found on the smoldering bed along with several fresh blood stains.  The article stated he was on assignment, but did not reveal what the assignment was.  The tone was one that implied there was more to the story and that much remained a mystery to London authorities.

All of a sudden Frank threw down the paper and shouted, “Where is the Princess, Pietro?  Where?”

“Safe.  She is in the next room.  Calm down.  We had to do it, Mr. Huntington. After you had your confrontation with Dr. Strangelove – “

“You know about that?”

“Yes, I had a bug planted on you and we heard the whole thing.  Anyway, she had run straight home and contacted Lutts.  They had decided to kill you, so we figured we better do it first.”

“So how was that accomplished?”

“My friends at Mossad took care of the whole thing.”

“The fucking Israeli Secret Service?  Why them?”

“I’m sorry Mr. Huntington, but the Holy See does not have the resources to pull off what needs to be done.  If you will settle down I will tell you the rest.  A Special Team was used to extract you from London.  We used several Israeli military robots dressed as hotel menials and they laser blasted a hole through your door.  They released a swam of micro-drones and they took care of robot and both of you.  About a dozen latched onto Jack and then simultaneously did directional explosions into his robotic body.  Another group latched onto you and your lady and simultaneously tasered and injected drugs to knock you both out.  It happened so fast the entire room was secured in less than ten seconds.  Then two agents from Mossad put you and your lady friend in a couple of laundry baskets and started a small fire on the bed.  They knew the fire would be detected quickly and then took off to the airport.  A leased El Al plane was waiting to fly you non-stop to Israel.  I came along for the ride.”

“Great, who is going to pay for my JAIC?  How am I going to cover Lutts?”

“Pull yourself together, Huntington.  I have already arranged for a new JAIC.  There are some clothes over there.  Bathroom is through that door.  We have a meeting with the C.O. of this Mossad unit.  I have convinced them to let you be embedded in their operation to take out Sir Terrance.”

Frank did not say a word.  He slowly walked into the bathroom and started the necessary process of getting himself functional.

As to my functionality, a JAIC was delivered to his room while he was in the shower.  When Frank came out with only a towel wrapped around his waist he immediately approached it and pulled out the keypad that is located in the area where humans have a belly button.  He keyed in a sixteen digit code and then a ten digit numeric pass and then I had data.  All JAICs have a virtual version of themselves at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Urbana, Illinois.  When the robotic body that I was allowed to use as a physical presence was destroyed by the military micro-drones all that really happened was my secondary data cache and sensors were destroyed.  In most places a data link to Urbana allows realtime updating of my experiences and thoughts.  In the rare instance that I lose touch with Urbana my robot body’s internal computer acts as my present consciousness.  As soon as my robot body can contact Urbana again it only takes a fraction of a second to synch Urbana’s copy of me.  If I was out of touch for a week it would only take .34 of a second to become synched.  Thankfully, I was connected to Urbana while in Frank’s hotel room.  There was no data loss at all. 

Frank recorded a long memo to himself that brought me up to speed on what happened to us from the moment the attack started until I was reinvested with a physical body.  I think he did this so he would not forget what the Monsignor told him what happened.  Of course, I saw the newspaper article while I was still just sitting in the Urbana computer so I knew something interesting was going on.  At that time I had put Frank’s odds at being dead at 58%.  He was lucky to be intact.

“Send that encrypted to my cloud, Jack.  Now let’s go find Marianne” as he fussed with his military boots.

Frank went to the door and found it had two very big soldiers at the door with even bigger guns by their sides.  They informed him he was to remain in his room.  They would contact the officer in charge and he would attend to Frank’s needs. Frank closed the door and whistled a note of surprise and sat down. 

“Jack, what can you tell me of this place?:

“The Golda Meir is the newest air field of Israel.  It is 90 meters underground and most likely home to their nuclear armaments.  Also, all special operations come from here.  The famous raid on Saudi Arabia seven years ago came from here.  If you are looking to find the best of the best as far as the Israeli military this is where you will find them.”

“How many soldiers do they have?” Frank asked while pacing the floor.  Frank hates being penned up.

“Unknown, Sir.  Estimates are 3,000 to 9,000 humans work here.”

Just then there was a slight tap at the door and the Monsignor entered along with two soldiers.  One only got a brief look by Frank.  That was the young Lieutenant.  It was the Colonel that Frank’s eyes focused on.  I can understand as it was Colonel Joshua Mann.  He was the very same man that lead the successful Saudi Arabia assault that eventually led to the fall of the House of Saud.  His special ops unit of both men and women broke into a secret prison and freed 21 political prisoners.  Three were from the United States and sixteen of them had just disappeared from their home countries without a trace.  The uproar was that the Saudis had taken over half of them as a favor to allies and it was all kept hush-hush.  No one knew they had those sixteen people.  All of the prisoners had been tortured.  Six of them were basically crippled and had to be carried out.  Only one of the special ops unit had been wounded and no one died on their side.  The Saudis lost nineteen men.  What was interesting was that Col. Mann only used a couple of robots.  That was rare these days.  As shown in Frank’s kidnapping robots are lightning fast.  The reason Col. Mann had depended on humans was the Saudis had at least forty military robots that were helping to guard the prisoners.  Thanks to Israeli hacking technology they were able to electronically convince the 40 military robots that they were Saudis of a higher rank and ordered them to help take the base.  Fourteen of the Saudi dead had been shot by their own robots.  The robots believed they were putting down a munity by the humans.  Sixteen of the Saudi robots had helped load up the helicopters with prisoners and then protected them as they flew away.  The Saudi military had to send two human units to kill the robots before they could take control of their now-empty prison.  The parade of testimony by the freed prisoners caused world-wide scandal and riots in the streets of Riyadh.  I did not have to tell Frank about this as he had covered the rioting for the WSJ and had met Col. Mann before.

Col. Mann was a striking military figure.  Tall and broad his chocolate skin seemed stretched like a canvas over his muscled body.  His mother was Abayudaya, a black African Jewess from Uganda, and his father was a big Russian Jew.  They had met in Israel at Tel Aviv University.  Mann’s father had been born in Israel to a Russian couple that had moved after they were married.  The blend was very striking in that Col. Mann seemed to inherit the best of both races to produce a body that symbolized strength and cunning. 

The Colonel spoke first as was his fashion in the past - he was a no nonsense type of man.  You could see the intensity and focus on his face.  One realized both brilliance and emotionally controlled mind dwelt in that physically hardened body.  For a man of fifty-four years there was no doubt in Frank’s mind that Col. Mann could take care of himself in any physical fight.  The only change Frank could see in Col. Mann is a hint of gray about his temples of his still very short military haircut.  While officers were allowed to have longer hair his was still that of a new recruit. He was respected the world over by military circles and had even taught for a year at West Point in America.  Ties between the American military and the Israeli military were involved, although privately, the Jews always quipped “A Jewish Colonel was really a General and an America General was really a Colonel.”  Meeting Col. Mann after the Saudi rescue Frank had no doubt that was true.

“Good Afternoon, Mr. Huntington.  I am glad you are up as we have a lot of questions for you”

“I will have to take your word as to the time, Colonel.  Your robots gave me a rather long beauty rest. Before I answer your questions I insist on seeing the Princess.”

The Colonel made a gesture to the young Lieutenant and he left the room.  Col. Mann turned back to Frank and said, “She will be hear in a moment, but she can only stay a moment.  She has been busy helping out Intelligence people as you will be.”

The door opened and in walked the Princess who now wore an Israeli military uniform with no rank marks on it.  The only thing that really reflected the Princess demeanor was the lit cigarette in her right hand.

“Hello Frank,” she said and then took a drag on her smoke.  It was interesting to see her hair all pulled back into a tight ponytail.  There was no makeup on her face, but she was still stunning with her natural beauty.  On her right cheek he did see the mark that was left by one of those flying mini-drones. 

“You okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine.  Only one of those flying bastards got me so I woke up a lot earlier than you, “she said with the briefest of smiles.  It seems the Colonel’s mood was catchy.

“Monsignor, I think I would prefer to hear it from you why we are here.”

“Can’t you guess?” the Monsignor said while giving Frank a look of incredulity.

“Colonel Mann has joined your Swiss Guard.” Frank said while reaching for Marianne’s cigarette.  She handed it over to him without a word.

“In a way.  The Mossad has agreed to help us with our problem.”

“How?” Frank said as he finished the last draw of the cigarette that was now only burning filter.

“You know Lutts won’t stop his plan even though he knows we know about it.  The only option is to take him and his facilities out.”

“Why Mossad?”

The Colonel spoke up and said, “Other than the Americans we are the only ones who could pull this off and the Monsignor realized the Americans would probably leak it out and blow it.”

Frank shook his head slowly up and down in agreement and said, “True, plus they tend to be sloppy in execution.”

“My government does not want to see the Jewish religion wiped off the face of the earth.  I have been given carte blanche in organizing an operation to take out each of Lutts's three labs.”

“Shit are the Americans going to be pissed at you.”

“Yes, they will be sore, but their President will realize we saved their “In God We Trust” voters from becoming atheists.  Without their religious patriots they would be kicked out of office.  Both the Democrats and Republicans play the religious patriotic card every election.”

“I can’t argue with you there.”

“Good.  Now that you have seen that the Princess is okay, let’s get to work.  Lt. Steinmann here will take you to your briefing room.  We need to know as much as possible about these rat holes this Lutts has built.”

With that said the Colonel left the room and Princess Marianne left with him.  It all happened so fast that Frank just sat on the edge of his bed with a slight look of surprise and disbelief.  It was hard for him to fully accept what was happening. 

“Since this is a briefing and not an interrogation, how about some smokes and a big plate of pastrami sandwiches, Lieutenant.  Some Scotch would be nice to wash the sandwiches down, too.”

“I think I can make most of that happen, Mr. Huntington.  If you will follow me, please.  Bring your JAIC along as well.  I’m sure he can help fill in the details.”

With that Lt. Steinmann took Frank and me about six doors down into a small conference room.  There were computer wall screens and cameras about the room.  Frank picked a chair and sat.  Also in the room was another Lieutenant who was introduced as Lt. Anderson.

“Anderson doesn’t sound very Jewish.”

Lt. Anderson gave a nice smile in response to the remark my master had made and said to him, “My mother was Jewish and my father’s family was mostly Swedish, but they both moved here when I was four years old from California.”

Just then a big cart was brought in by a robot with sandwiches, sodas, and coffee, but no Scotch.  I could see a brief scowl by Frank, but he picked up a sandwich and immediately took a bite.  After he swallowed he looked at both the Lieutenants and said, “So what is on the agenda?”

“As Col Mann has stated” Lt. Steinmann began with the same tone as his Colonel, “our goal is to neutralize the three laboratories of this Lutts guy.  We already have plans for his American Laboratory.  It is rather small and can be taken out with ground penetration missiles.”

“Whoa, there partner, you don’t think the United States won’t fire their antimissiles at some oncoming missiles from Israel?”

Both Lieutenants smiled at Frank and Steinmann said, “Who said anything about missiles coming from Israel?”

“So where will they come from?”

“They will be coming from 50 to 100 miles from the target.  They will have no more than 15 seconds warning.  And actually it will only be two missiles and only two if the first fails.  We expect the shock wave to collapse the laboratory.  We will have people there to make sure it is sealed and that no biologicals escape.  We will have several foaming trucks that will spray foam over the air vents and any ground cracks that appear.”

“Why don’t you do that for the other two?”

“The American laboratory is in an isolated location so we expect no civilian casualties.  The United Kingdom Lab, while in a rural area does have too many civilians that could get hurt.  There are a number of high traffic highways close by.  As to the Norwegian Lab, we intend to try and capture both Lutts and Larson.”

“How will you be sure where they are?”

“That is where the Princess comes in, plus we have one more asset inside the UK Lab.  What we need from you and your friend is help in confirming the layout.  You toured the London Lab and parts of the Norwegian Lab and we need as much intel as we can get.”

“As far as lay out, Jack can probably create maps accurate down to the centimeter,” Frank said now in the same tone as Col. Mann (seems to be contagious) “he can also tell you what kind of equipment he saw.  His memory is digital and my memories by this time are more emotional than visual.”

“We realize that.  I imagine your JAIC will be able to point out cameras and any other sensors he noticed.  We are particularly interested Mr. Jack, in what you sensed from the other robots and computer systems you may have had intercourse with..  We have given you access to this computer here.  If you could download any information that would be great.  Send us maps of the facilities first.  We will have you brief us and add Mr. Huntington’s thoughts.  The Princess is trying to do the same thing in another room.  Between you three sources we should be have good enough intel to plans for the assault.”

With that I prepared my data.  It included video, photos, and electronic data organized in a way to be as helpful as possible.  I did point out that my electronic sensing of the Norwegian Lab gave me the sense there were at least three more levels below the lowest level we saw and one more level above where we were.  As to the UK Lab I sensed it was much smaller.  It had not more than three levels in all.  I pointed out that the depth of the facility in the UK was not as much as what Frank felt it was.  The elevator I recall, but never mentioned to Frank, ran at a variable speed and when barely moving was being probed by various scans to check us out. 

One lucky break was that the UK Lab was built in the open and then covered with twenty feet of dirt.  Old satellite photos gave them a perfect map of the layout.  Sending in a swarm of mini-drones would be very easy to plan.  It was the Norwegian Lab that was built with stealth.  It had been mined and so satellite photos only were partially helpful.  They saw some of the larger pieces of equipment and some of the environmental equipment installed, but the only floor plan was my incomplete data. 

By the time they were done the plate of sandwiches had been replaced twice and even the lieutenants looked exhausted.  Frank complained of a roaring headache.  He did not even ask to see the Princess but just asked for some Tylenol and his bed.  We just got back into Frank’s room when there was a knock and the Princess entered.  She looked as exhausted as my master according to my emotion program.  The Princess just walked over to Frank and gave him a small kiss on his cheek and then walked over to his bed and crawled in.  Frank looked at her and said, “Make room for me.”  I don’t think I have ever seen Frank go to sleep so quickly.  Frank had snuggled up to the Princess and that was the last conscious movement he made.  I wondered if the drugs those micro-drones had used were still in his system.  Most likely it was the thorough drumming the Lieutenants did in going over the information that I had given them.  In all they asked me 466 questions and Frank 352 questions in their nineteen hour session. 

The next day they left Frank and the Princess alone.  He slept until 1:20 in the afternoon and she did not rise until 2:42 in the afternoon; Israeli time.  Frank had slowly dragged himself into the shower and had me make a cup of coffee.  After that he just sat there thinking of all that had taken place.  About the only thing I heard from his mouth was, “Where am I headed?”  He smoked a couple of cigarettes while he just sat there next to the bed.  Finally, the Princess opened her eyes and sat up in bed.  At 2:48 she got up and went into the bathroom.  A minute later I could hear the shower running.  After about 20 minutes she came back out and sat on the bed still wearing the same clothes she had worn yesterday.

“Hi Frank” she said with a small smile. Frank threw her his pack of smokes.

“Have the GI Joes been back?” she asked.

“No, not a peep from them.  I suppose they are off with the Col. Killer making their plans to save the world.  Do you ever wonder if we are doing the right thing in stopping your husband?”

“No Frank.  I don’t.  He stole something from me.  He changed me without my permission.  I don’t wish to go back to being religious, but I do feel I should have been allowed to come to that decision of my own free will.  It is free will that is the real issue.”

“Were you really free when you believed in God?”

“We always work within constraints put on us by our culture, our times, and our physical abilities and limitations.  But within that there is always free will.”

“If that is true what is wrong with just eliminating the baggage of religion from humanity?  We would still have plenty of choices in life we would have to make.”

“As you pointed out earlier, Frank, where would this technology end?  What other changes would they make without our consent?  How much can they change in us and still be considered human?”

“I get the dystopian stuff, but having religion has not been a picnic for humanity, either.”

“You have to accept the Universe the way it is, Frank.”

“Maybe I just need a good woman and an unopened bottle.”

“You’ve got one out of two here” she said with one of her warm open smiles.

Just then there was a knock at the door and Col. Mann entered.

Frank smiled back at her and said, “I guess that is zip out of two.  What is up Colonel?”

“Time to get you two outfitted with the gear you will need if you are going to come along.  We need you Princess to help convince your husband to stand down.  We need you Mr. Huntington to be our only embedded representative of the Press.  You only have about two hours before we leave.  Our first order of business is chow and then combat equipment.”

“I don’t know how to fight, Colonel” the Princess said with a slight frown.

“Don’t you worry, Miss Princess, you will be dressed as a non-com with only communication gear on you.  Mr. Huntington we will outfit you with a camera and of course you can bring your JAIC, but do you want any arms?

“What did you have in mind?  Small thermal nuclear devices?”

Surprisingly, the Colonel did flash a quick little smile, but just as quick said, “I was thinking of a side arm and one of our mini-drone packs.  We would control the drones, but it would help make sure we have all the resources to neutralize all the personnel we might find down there.”

“Do you expect them to put up a fight?” Frank asked.

“We are not sure how many he has on his security force.  We know he has a lot of robots, but our satellite intelligence can’t tell from space whether a man is a soldier or a scientist when they all wear civilian clothes on the surface.  We estimate that the Norwegian Lab has over two hundred humans there at this time.”

“Terrance would never have that many researchers or technicians” the Princess stated with an emphatic tone.

“Why do you say that?” asked Col. Mann.

“He likes to keep tight control and besides, he and Dr. Larson do all the real research.  Much of the experiments are handled by the robots.  They only have humans doing piecemeal work so they can keep the true nature of their work hush-hush.”

Frank cleared his throat and said, “She is right.  That is why his new discoveries always come as a big surprise with lots of grandstanding.”

“If there are fewer humans that is good news.  Let’s just hope the robots haven’t been programmed to be mad scientists.  Okay, it is time to go chow down,” Col. Mann said in the form of an order.

“What about the Monsignor?” asked Frank.

“He will join us in the chow hall.  He is coming, too.  We promised the Pope he could come along.  He has gone all GI on us.”


Chapter XXXIII




















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