Hangar 4 was large. It could easily hold Air Force One and a
squadron of F-40 fighter jets.
Instead there were four American SX-44 Space Taxis. Neither Frank nor I had ever seen
one. They were used only by
American Special Forces and even they used them sparingly. They were the first space vehicles to
make a powered ascent from space.
Once in space they could rocket to any spot on Earth with 24 soldiers or
robot soldiers. Once they push the
button to come out of orbit it took only six minutes to zoom in and land. It was an incredible tour de force
entrance that created so much electro-magnetic disturbance that radars just did
not see them coming. After they had
done their business they flew away as traditional stealth helicopters. If fuel transports could be provided
then they would return to space. By
“they” I meant mostly just the humans.
Weight was a factor since the SX-44s are first air lifted up around
40,000 feet by deployment transport jets in order to cut down on the fuel needed
to get into low space orbit, so for the return trip since they don’t have the
transport jets to give them a boost they have to shed weight. They either pick up the robotic soldiers
later or more likely, have them self destruct. I could see Frank had a very
physical reaction when he realized what he was going on a SX-44. His pulse doubled and remained there for
at least ten minutes. If he was
scared he did not show it on his face.
He was always good with showing a poker face. The Princess’s heart rate was more like
the other humans in the hangar.
Elevated, but not extremely high.
don’t think the Monsignor or the Princess had a clue as to the merits of the
three Space Taxis. Also in Hangar 4
were forty Israeli Special Operation Soldiers and twenty Israeli robotic
soldiers. Any electronic
communications I got from the robotic soldiers were encrypted and beyond my low
level status. Everyone was given a
fresh combat uniform to put on.
Even I got one. The robotic
soldiers did not wear any. Their
skin was covered with a vast array of sensors, arms, and stealth equipment. I had heard they could totally disappear
in both visible and infrared spectrums.
The humans also wore invisibility uniforms that could hide their front to
the enemy. Their backs were always
visible as that was how they kept from being killed by friendly fire.
Communications could only come from the back as well. All forward sensing had to be done by
mini-drones. They were plentiful
and expendable. In an all out
battle where both sides had the latest technology the fighting would last no
more than ten minutes. The one thing that robotic military tactics had brought
the world was lightning fast wars.
The famous 1967 Six Day War between the Israelis and their Muslim foes
would have lasted less than six hours with today’s technology. Six hours to destroy the Egyptian,
Syrian and Jordanian armies. The
reality is that the human soldiers would have trouble keeping up to the robotic
soldiers. Robotic soldiers could
afford to advance into an area where they could not get 100% data of where the
enemy was hiding. If an enemy
soldier jumped out and aimed at a robotic soldier the robot would have plenty of
time to recognize the enemy and fire long before the human could aim his
weapon. A human had a better chance
of living by jumping in front of a speeding truck.
Steinmann helped Frank and the Princess get dressed. She was pretty simple to do. She wore a military uniform with the
international markings of a non-combat personnel. Frank was given a regular Israeli
uniform since he had agreed to carry arms.
Frank knew how to use a handgun, but the one he was to carry was the new
American 9mm missile gun. The
bullets were actually small missile that could steer themselves. The way they worked is that the first
round would lock on and track what you were aiming at. If you knew you hit your objective you
pulled the trigger back to a second position and all the other bullets you fired
would track to where the first bullet was.
So even if the target moved behind a tree or building the additional
bullets would find their target.
Frank’s back was an Israeli backpack.
In it was more ammo, communication gear, several computers and a pod of
micro-drones. He was told he would
not have to worry about the drones as they would be controlled by Col. Mann or
the Control Center at the base. The
Lieutenant also gave him a hand held camera that would allow Frank to take both
video or still photographs. I would
also do that, but in case “your civvy JAIC was blown to smithereens,” Frank
could continue to cover the operation.
Both Frank and the Princess would wear tactical helmets that would allow
them to hear all the chatter from H.Q. or from Col. Mann.
“Remember you guys, if
the Colonel or H.Q. gives you an order don’t question it. He will have the intel. Same goes with what I say as I will try
and stay by you as much as I can” Steinmann said with a voice both calm and
professional as he strapped on their helmets and connected them to their
is in my backpack, Lieutenant?” the Princess asked.
only have minimal stealth, communications and survival gear – that includes a
first aid kit, food and water. No
weapons. No drones – not even intel
drones. As a non-com you are given
no option to join in the fight.”
added with a smile, “You’re a sitting duck.”
Steinmann ignored the
remark and continued, “About half the time the other side will avoid taking out
non-coms. Don’t worry about
it. If we see they are fighting
dirty we will pull you both out,” Steinmann said trying to sound
reassuring. I’m not sure the
Princess believed him knowing that the battle would most likely be over in ten
minutes or so.
more thing. Here on your sleeve is
the switch to turn on your communication system. This is important. Leave it on from here on. If you just say something then no one
will hear it. If you start by using
a name the system will route it only to that person. For example, if you want to talk to
Huntington just say, “Huntington, give me a drink of water.” If you want to have
whatever you say go to a group tell your com system to start a group. For example, “Com start a group;
Huntington and Monsignor and Steinmann.” That would mean all us guys could hear
you, Princess, when you said anything.
To stop a group just tell your com to stop all groups. If you don’t have a group and don’t
start out with a name the com will just assume you are talking to yourself. It will be recorded and be part of the
data log, so be careful what you say.
all said, “Yes Sir” in unison just like in those military movies humans like so
before we got sent through the recharging line, Steinmann gave me a special
helmet. He said this was so I could
also hear the chatter since my receiving data systems were not used by the
military. The helmet was made out
of the same armor protecting plastic that the soldiers had. Too bad it couldn’t protect my brains as
they were not in my head as they are with humans.
so often there was a loud speaker announcement. The first one we heard was “80
minutes until launch. The last one
was “20 minutes to launch.” That
was when Steinmann headed us over to the recharging line. It was once said that an army lived on
its stomach, but in today’s world an army won or lost on its ability to keep its
electronics powered. Most weapons
now used electricity to operate.
The US Air Force mostly used reusable laser missile. The Navy hadn’t used chemical explosives
in years. They were all too heavy
and too dangerous.
Monsignor joined us in the line.
During most of the preparation time he had been with the Col. Mann. No doubt they were having top secret
After all five of us were
charged up Lt. Steinmann took us over to the Space Taxi we were assigned
to. Our vehicle had only about five
other humans the rest were robotic soldiers. We soon found ourselves slowly moving
out of the hangar and onto the tarmac.
Soon I could feel us being hoisted under the wing of the deployment
transport jet. There was a
surprising little amount of voices over the helmet earphones. Mostly the officers checking their
microphones for general chatter.
Frank spoke through his com and
said he had made up a group of the three of us – namely me, the Princess and the
Monsignor. I acknowledge that I
heard Frank by saying, "Read you loud and clear.” I could hear the Princess now and then
the Monsignor as they all set up a group on their com system. By the time we got that done I could
hear the transports spinning up their engines. Then I heard Col. Mann’s voice tell
everyone to finish their check list and that the transports would be taking off
in about five minutes.
After that the Princess chimed,
“Hard to believe in less than 15 minutes we will be in Norway and these guys
will be fighting. It takes longer
to get ready than to actually fight.”
“We will see. I just can’t believe Lutts would build
his Laboratory without some surprise for intruders” the Monsignor
“True. With three-dimensional industrial
printers he could print himself an A-bomb blindfolded if he could get hold of
the plutonium,” Frank said in a matter of fact tone.
“Okay, you guys, shut up. I’m sure the Israelis have thought of
everything,” the Princess said with a tone that showed she did not appreciate
such talk of doom and gloom.
While we were not privy to the
details of the operation I had formed a probable scenario. Once the transport released us the
rockets would kick in and bring us up to around 120,000 feet. We would feel a G force of around three
times that of normal. Once we hit
apogee our ascent would start and the G force would build up again, sometimes
reaching five G’s. It would be a
quick rough ride with the intent of surprise. Once on the ground the troops and robots
would exit the Space Taxis and release a mix of intel micro-drones and defensive
micro-drones. The robots who can
travel faster than the humans would move to their entrance points of the
Laboratory. Most likely they would
pick two or three entrance points.
One or more would be just for the micro-drones. They would pour in blasting through any
barriers or resistance they might find.
Any unarmed humans would be stunned like Frank and the Princess were when
they were in bed. The robots would
enter at least two entrances following the swarm of drones. On the robots' heels would follow the
human soldiers. If a robot would
come across Sir Terrance they would inform the humans and the humans would come
to where Sir Terrance was. As the
goal was to also stop the deployment of the nano-vectors that would attack a
human’s brain and kill their belief in religion that would be accomplished by
taking control of the mechanism that controls the nano-vectors or destroying
them outright. We could see a lot
of explosions if they decide to destroy the nano-vectors. Once that was accomplished an orderly
retreat with our human prisoners would take place. If we fly back it would be hours before
reached home base. I imagine they
must have a ship waiting for us in the North Sea as I can’t imagine any NATO
country would allow an Israeli task force to land. If they send from a ship a refueling
transport we could refuel and be back in Israel in twenty minutes. Frank should get a great exclusive
story. To be honest, I really did
not see a role for the Princess, but the Israelis were being
After a fast flight up to 41,032
feet above sea level the transport dropped us and three seconds later the rocket
engines slammed us back into our seats.
It was hard to tell if the G force was affecting the soldiers. They had the same grim look as when they
were in the hangar. The rocket burn
was only nine minutes and then we drifted up our projection arc until we started
I looked over at Frank as we
were speeding over the earth. He
was looking out the window with the same look on his face the first time we went
into orbit for our story about the sex trade on the moon. I remember he wrote in an article about
never taking life for granted. He
wrote, "I had seen films on space and even been to several 3-D Solidvision
productions where you can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality, but
nothing prepared me for the visceral reaction I would have upon actually being
in space. Perhaps it was looking
down at where I had lived my entire life.
Seeing the earth float and spin so majestically with no hint of mankind
visible from space I could not shake the feeling that space is real and the
world of my life was the fiction.
That experience was humbling.
It put me in my place.” I
think Frank received over three thousand emails and messages from that
The Space Taxi would start to
fire its retro rockets to keep us from burning up. Once when we achieved an elevation of
about 80,000 feet the scram jets started up to make a powered landing. Both Frank and the Princess maintained
the same grim faces as the Israeli soldiers.
The last SX-44s landed within
two minutes of the first one that landed. We all piled out and Lt. Steinmann
told us to hang back while the Special Op Team established a perimeter and
achieved access to the objective.
It was amazing to watch how the robotic soldiers took the lead and never
stopped moving. About a minute into
the operations Col. Mann announced all three access points had been
established. I could see Lt.
Steinmann was talking to someone who we could not hear. From his words it sounded like the other
fellow was at the very forefront.
Finally Lt. Steinmann took us into the hangar that we had entered the
last time we were here. Once inside
we saw three humans and one robot that belonged to Sir Terrance ground crew
lying on the floor. The robot
looked damaged and the humans looked dazed, but alive. Around them were spent
micro-drones. There were no
aircraft in the hangar. Lt.
Steinmann ushered us to the elevator.
Only one of our robots and an Israeli soldier remained on the
surface. The rest of the unit were
already below. We entered the
elevator and took it down as we had before.
It was interesting to see how
quiet it was once we reached the first underground level. Suddenly, Col. Mann made an announcement
that the American laboratory has been successfully destroyed. We entered the meeting room where we had
last talked to Sir Terrance and Lt. Mann said we would wait here while the unit
finished securing the laboratory.
The Princess took off her helmet
and said to our group, "I did not think special operation attacks were so
civil. Where are the sound of
bullets and explosions?”
Lt. Steinmann said, “So much of
that is Hollywood. An attack as
quiet as a library would not sell many tickets. I must ask you to put your helmet back
Reluctantly, the Princess
complied. The Princess was just in
time to hear another update from Col. Mann, “Attention. Maidstone has been secured. No personnel were found present at
Everyone, including the Princess
had a quizzical look on their face.
Frank said, “That does not sound right.”
It looked like Lt. Steinmann was
about to make a comment as he opened his mouth like humans do just before they
start talking, but then he suddenly stopped and looked at a small screen he had
on his right arm and also starting talking in a hurried cryptic military
manner. While he was doing that I
started hearing what sounded like muffled explosions.
Frank said, “I don’t like the
sound of that. What is it
The Lieutenant looked up at his
charges and yelled, “We need to get out of here immediately. Run, run, run!”
It did not take more than a
second for the Princess, the Monsignor and Frank to start heading for the
door. We all headed back to the
elevator which was down a long hall.
Suddenly behind us everything went dark. That same muffled explosive sound was
much closer. When I trained my
visual sensors on the hall behind us I was confused. A black wall of foam was rolling down
the hall at about a foot a second.
Frank had turned and looked while not stopping his fast pace and said,
“Shit.” I did not think it looked
like feces, but it did not look harmless.
Again Lt. Steinmann said,
“Run.” He had let himself fall to
the rear and had launched about six micro-drones to attack the foam. They whizzed towards the foam and were
immediately swallowed by it. It did
not seem to make any difference.
Then there was that same muffled sound coming from ahead of us. Everyone seemed to slow their pace and
soon stopped once they realized this black wall of whatever it was now coming at
us from both ends of the hall. Lt.
Steinmann was shouting into his helmet microphone that we were trapped. Then we heard Col. Mann voice that now
sounded shaken, “All personnel retreat to your SX-44 and prepare to
Steinmann faced the wall of foam
behind him and must have ordered all his remaining micro-drones to attack the
wall to his right. They all swarmed
and did their best to penetrate the hallway wall. Plaster dust filled the area behind him
so thick I could not see the black foam.
I sensed that the micro-drones failed to get through. From my infrared camera I could make out
Lt. Steinmann who was now trying to fire his handgun into the hallway wall. I could tell the wall was still not
giving way. He had failed to make
an exit for us. Then all of a
sudden his infrared signature disappeared.
The approaching foam had swallowed him up.
Frank yelled, “Steinmann. Steinman,” but heard no reply. By now the foam was about 30 feet from
us on both sides. I wracked my
memory banks to try and find a solution to save us. I heard the Princess scream, “Help us,
anybody.” Frank was yelling in his
helmet microphone to Col. Mann and the Monsignor was genuflecting and saying the
“Pater Noster” which is the Lord’s Prayer in Latin. Then the lights went out and I braced
for my robotic body being swallowed whole by this foaming mass. It was at this moment that the
Monsignor’s prayers were answered.
An eight foot section of wall on our left side zoomed downward revealing
a room that looked like a posh Edwardian room complete with gas lights and old
16th Century swords mounted on the walls between large book
cases. Frank grabbed the Princess
and ran into the room. I and the
Monsignor were right behind them and no sooner we all in this room than the wall
rushed up. It was a close
call. On both ends of the raised
wall that just saved us were traces of that black foaming death.
Frank was the first to find his
voice, “That was a close one. What
the hell was that stuff?”
“I don’t know, but I think we
are the only ones left,” the Monsignor said in a voice that still sounded
extremely stressed out. Both Frank
and the Monsignor walked over to the wall to look at the black foam. Frank touched it and was surprised it
was completely solid.
“What a vicious little
weapon. Ever heard of it,
Monsignor?” Frank said with almost awe.
“No, I think we might have
witnessed its debut. Another of Sir
Terrance’s brainstorms,” the Monsignor answered.
“Some brainstorm,” Frank said
shaking his head, “it took out the world’s best military unit.”
“Thank you, Mr. Huntington,”
said a voice we all recognized.
From behind a high plush chair now stood Sir Terrance. "I appreciate the
compliment. Hello dear wife. Greetings Monsignor Pietro, we finally
meet in person. You have been
hiding in my shadows for a long time.”
Sir Terrance was wearing a suit
of impeccable tailoring. One thing that surprised me now that I fully scanned
our safe room was that all the lights were 19th Century gas
lights. There was even a real fire
in the fire place. Nowhere to be
seen were any electrical device. I
surmised that was done to mask the room from prying sensors. Neither I nor the robotic soldiers had
sensed the existence of this beautifully decorated room.
The Monsignor’s face showed what
looked like as raw hatred. He
sprinted to the wall and grabbed a 16th Century sword and made for
Lutts. Lutts stood there and did
not make a move to protect himself.
As the Monsignor approached all of a sudden his face looked shocked. The sword’s handle was melting in his
hand. In less than two seconds the
blade fell to the ground. At this
point Sir Terrance reached into his pocket and pulled out a lovely pistol from
the 19th Century and said, “Sit down, Monsignor and act more like a
man of the cloth. You must remember
this is a safe room and so I don’t have any weapons here that could cause me
risk. Have you ever seen anything
made out of gallium
before?” Not waiting for an answer
the bemused Sir Terrance said, “It melts at about 86 degrees. That sword you just melted with your hot
hand and hot temper cost over $350,000 to make.”
“Terrance, I demand you release
us,” the Princess said in her royal authoritative voice.
“I think, my dear, you are not
in a position to demand anything.
After all, you have led these gentlemen here to either kill me or hand me
over to the Jews. Not to mention
trying to stop my plan to save humanity.”
“You would destroy our souls in
the process, Sir,” the Monsignor said in an acerbic tone.
Lutts gave out a low chuckle,
“Many would say I was saving humanity from destroying itself due to all his vile
religions. However, I have not brought you here to debate what is to me an old
malodorous argument. We must
discuss what is going to happen to you.”
“Since you are the one with the
gun, husband, I suspect you will tell us in your own good time,” the Princess
said with an undercurrent of disgust.
She sat down in one of the posh chairs.
“So where did you move all your
nano-vectors?” Frank asked as if he was doing an interview.
“Excellent question, Mr.
Huntington. Until I am done ridding
the world of the scourge of religion I can’t say.”
“I suppose this failed visit by
the Israelis has put you behind schedule?” Frank asked without any
“Yes, that I must admit, but as
you can see I anticipated intrusion.
I am disappointed that I will not be able to meet my Ides of March
deadline. All my personnel and
materials at all three laboratories were safely and secretly moved two days
ago. I estimate you have delayed my
new Age of Peace by a week. In the
scheme of things it is nothing,” Lutts said keeping the smirk he had had worn
since he had stood to reveal his presence.
“Why did you not kill us?” Frank
asked with a slight smile, showing he probably knew the answer.
“I realize you three have become
sort of my involuntary biographers.”
“Do you expect a flattering
account by us?”
“I think once humankind is free
of religion they would realize your bias and read between the lines as to what a
great step forward this is. You
will be seen as luddites who tried to stop progress. Unfortunately, all revolutions must have
a certain degree of destruction.
Without destruction you cannot create change.”
“This all sounds like one of
those old James Bond films from the 1960s, Terrance. Are you going to let us go or are we
prisoners?” the Princess said with a degree of testiness.
“I thought you would like to
visit Atlantis?” Lutts said with another chuckle.
“Plato’s fairyland?” the
“No, my little Jesuit, my
floating laboratory,” Lutts stated in a matter of fact tone while he walked over
to a brass candle holder on the wall which he pushed downward. The bookcase next to him now silently
moved outward to reveal a very dark passage.
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