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Modern Crusaders: The Battle for Europe ...
AD 2038, 17 July, 1400 hours GMT.
Massive explosions in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Bonn, Berlin, Brussels, Moscow, Jerusalem, Mecca & Medina.
London: Thames House, Vauxhall Cross and Whitehall all destroyed by explosions in the underground parking areas.
Paris: Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure ; 141 Boulevard Mortier is destroyed by an underground explosion.
Amsterdam: The Hague is destroyed by multiple powerful underground explosions.
Bonn/Berlin: The Hardthöhe; Bonn and Bendlerblock, Berlin each destroyed by underground explosions.
Brussels: NATO Headquarters and the seat of the European Union both are imploded from below.
Moscow: The Kremlin and Lubjanka destroyed by huge explosions from beneath them
Jerusalem: The Temple Mount destroyed by subterranean explosion
Mecca: Kaaba destroyed by huge blast
Medina: Mohammed’s Tomb incinerated.
At the core of the Cheyenne Mountain operations center General George Barret sees the conflagrations as they occur. He presses a button on his control console connecting him directly to President Henna Terrel in Omaha, Nebraska.
Terrel places the document she was writing in the safe next to her desk and locks it. ‘Yes?’
‘See the text coming on your screen now? H1 will arrive in 15 minutes to bring you to us.’
Terrel’s visor comes alive and the text of the 10 target areas appears followed by:
In response to the lack of retaliation against the progressive invasion of the Christian world by Islamic extremism we THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR on this anniversary of International Criminal Justice Day, have taken upon ourselves to provoke action against the heathen aggressors. We shall continue our Crusade unabated until the Jihad is eradicated.
‘On my way.’ With a practiced glance around her office to ensure all is as it should be Terrel leaves her desk moving quickly to the rear lawn to board the helicopter which will take her to Cheyenne. On her communicator she hears Barret, her military commander.
‘Permission to launch Aurora.’
‘Approved.’ She was inclined to say Go, but thought better of it since it may have been misheard as No.
Twenty pairs of doors to twenty hardened shelters carved into the rock face of the cliffs on the periphery of the runways at Bodo, Norway, silently glide open and twenty Aurora 3 reconnaissance vehicles launch in tandem destined for the sites of destruction. Each vehicle is controlled by a highly skilled recon officer at a console deep within the Cheyenne complex. Each pair will cross over their planned zones six minutes apart and will return to Bodo in three hours. Each carry a full complement of digital photo and advanced radar imaging equipment together with electronic emitter intelligence systems. Command staff awaits data link results in a tense atmosphere.
As Terrel straps into her seat for the ride to Cheyenne she muses:
These Europeans call themselves a nation yet whenever anything crops up they fracture instantly into their own self-interests. At least here we’re all Americans. We fought to be free of their domination and succeeded. We united against their tyranny. The French, English, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedes, Danes all took their turn to conquer this land yet we won. We saved their asses in two world wars. Then we broke their backs to forge financial independence against their crumbling Euro. I brought the Canadians and Mexicans in under our umbrella. ... hell, half of them were here anyway. I’m just now beginning to make in-roads to the South and soon our influence should extend to Antarctica as one united mass. Now it’s falling on me to squelch this threat and move on to dominate the free world.
H1 comes to earth, Terrel disembarks and is moved through the massive blast doors to her position at the center of the complex. She nods to Barret while quickly donning her survival and communications gear. As the support technicians verify its integrity she opens channels to all European leaders.
She sees a blank screen from the UK and a misty fog from France. David Jurgensen, leader of NATO, appears in front of a chaotic scene of destruction at what was once The Hague’s NATO Command and Control Center. She wonders what’s wrong with the Brussels connection. No response or return from the German capital and the Russians ... typically ... are ranting about a covert attack by the western powers.
From Tel Aviv the Israeli President asks, ‘What next?’
Terrel begins ‘Reconnaissance units are currently airborne and preliminary results should be available within hours——’ but is interrupted by the glowering face of Andres Brynjar.
‘I see you finally got my message the hard way. I spent nine years of my life and over 300,000 of my own money doing the research and warning you all of the impending doom of giving the Islamics unfettered entry into the Christian world. I tried to raise your awareness in July 2011 and was rewarded by persecution and 21 years of solitary confinement by my own people. But now, hopefully, you will see the avenging light of the final crusades. This time there will be no defeat. This time there will be no submittal to the heathens. This time we the avenging angels of GOD shall prevail and wipe the scourge of Islam from the earth.’
He disappears from view and babble ensues among what remains of the western leaders until Terrel shouts! ‘Listen to me! Listen to me now and know that we are the ones who shall overcome this evil and this evil has taken the form of the KNIGHTS TEMPLAR.’
Terrel to Barret: ‘What do we know about Brynjar? What’s his location? I need all information available on him and how to dispose of his threat. And find out how the bastard invaded our secure communications channels!’
British Prime Minister, Malcolm Rothschild, comes on line to inform her, ‘Your Aurora 3s show all that remains of Whitehall is a smouldering crater. Vauxhall Cross is now a small lagoon on the Thames and the surrounding vicinity is flooded. Thames House is a gutted ruin. They all erupted from their underground parking areas within 2 minutes of each other.’
‘When you know the full extent tell me.’
Jurgensen also reports. ‘I am moving my base of operations to Brussels and will be your contact for Europe.’
‘Good David. Please feel free to assume the reins of control. We ‘ve always worked well together in the past and I’m sure we’ll succeed in this current endeavor. Thank you.’
She receives a follow-up text from Rothschild:
Detailed analysis of data from your Aurora 3’s reveal The Ministry of Defence, Whitehall has been reduced to smouldering rubble. Imagery shows a set of four tunnels with one running directly to the Thames. Where once stood this proud building which weathered the blitz now lays a pile of granite in a muddy lake. Vauxhall Cross, home of MI6, has been pushed laterally into the Thames nearly blocking the river with its debris. Imagery here reveals once again a series of four tunnels, one of which begins on the opposite bank of the river, runs beneath and is suspected to have allowed the breach of water into the underground parking area. At Thames House (MI5) one of the two buildings is totally in ruin while the other seems to have escaped major damage. The building that fronts Lambert Road is a chaotic mass of stone and steel. Imagery reveals nothing out of the ordinary. Though there seems to be evidence of some small fire damage to the remaining structure one conjectures a possible failure here. More in-depth review will be required.
Rothschild’s voice sounds in her ear. ‘We presently have the situation in hand but could your people be so kind as to forward a full intelligence report on this Brynjar character and would you entertain a meeting of the full NATO security council to discuss a plan of action?’
Terrel’s response is clipped. ‘We don’t need to discuss anything. The plans are in place and when you read the contingencies you’ll find all you need. If you have further concerns don’t hesitate to contact the proper offices. Jurgensen is moving to Brussels and will coordinate all efforts for Europe. If you need further guidance contact him.’
Next Terrel directs her attention to the French President, Jacque Perrion.
‘Jacque, we know that your DSGE headquarters has been attacked. You’ll please do an on-site damage assessment and forward the analysis to Director Jurgensen in Brussels so that he may assist with appropriate actions and a coordinated response.’
Perrion: ‘We need a general meeting of the NATO security council to discuss a strategy’.
Terrel: ‘I just heard that from Rothschild and I’m telling you the same thing I told him. Pull out your contingency plans and you’ll see that we do not need to discuss anything. We need to take action! Now.’
Perrion: ‘We request that your people freeze all financial Arab financial assets held in US banks immediately. Also that your people activate the European anti-missile Defense Screen.’
Madame Ester Strauss-Kahn, the French foreign secretary interjects. ‘I have just received a threatening message from the Arab League. They demand——’
Terrel: ‘Transmit it to Jurgensen. He takes care of military matters concerning the continent.’
Strauss-Kahn: ‘I don’t yet know if this is or will become a military matter.’
Terrel: ‘I assure you Madame. We are in a state of war with the Islamics and if you hold a threat from them in your hand it’s indeed a military matter. Now forward it to Jurgensen.’
Terrel next addresses William Blijdenstein IV, Chief Minister of the Netherlands. ‘What’s the extent of the damage? What can we do to help you?’
Blijdenstein: ‘The Hague NATO Command and Control Complex (C3) has been completely destroyed. We have yet to find any survivors. While I have your attention would you activate the European Anti-missile Defense System? It would go a long way to calm the populace. Strauss-Kahn just said the Arab League has issued a declaration of war against Europe and the people are very nervous.’
Terrel informs Blijdenstein that Jurgensen has survived at NATO C3 and is en-route to Brussels to establish C3 for the European response. She requests that everything be forwarded to him for resolution.
Jurgensen speaks directly to Blijdenstein, ‘I shall arrive on station shortly accompanied by Eva Katzenbaum, director of the Israeli Mossad, who has graciously offered her services. We first must evaluate the local Brussels situation after which we
shall formulate the proper response. Once established we shall contact everyone.’
Terrel contacts Mikhail Khodorkovsky, President of Russia. Russia for a few years was brought into the fold of Europe but broke away when Europe was lulled into acceptance of Islam as in the Southern states of the former Soviet Republic.
Khodorkovsky: ‘My people look to the Islamic radicals as the cause of this attack and are quite prepared to open full scale hostilities against them.’
Terrel: ‘Whoa, slow down there. We’ve yet to determine the sources of this devastation and with parallel attacks to us and them how can you be certain your information is correct?’
Khodorovsky: ‘I have mobilized our resources to defend and protect our interests. If you and your people wish to hold debates as you have previously been so well known for, you can. But we have no such delusions as you democrats. Our patriots will put an end to this once and for all.’
Unbeknownst to Khodorovsky his conversation has been channeled to Jurgensen for distribution to Katzenbaum.
Finally Terrel makes contact with Hanzel Wolf, the ultra far right President of Germany. He is an intimate friend. They both attended the PhD program at Berkley.
The Berlin light flickers on Terrel’s console and then glows steadily. She connects to hear the voice of Hanzel Wolf.
‘... is Hanzel Wolf … building … in ruin. I am in the bunker. … over 100 of us … and we are in need of rescue. … water … rising …’
Terrel sends a flash to Jurgensen: Berlin is alive. Get a team there immediately.
Terrel feels a warm glow build in her from the fact that her schoolmate from Berkley, the now German Chancellor, is alive. In slow motion a kaleidoscope of memorable moments flashes through her mind.
Debates around the political correctness of the far right point of view.
Seemingly endless arguments at the all night coffee houses surrounding campus on the righteousness of expelling Islamics from the Western world.
Warm cozy feeling of spending the night wrapped in each other’s arms, having fallen asleep atop that bearskin in front of a crackling fire while working on a treatise expounding upon the desires of the people to live their lives unfettered by bureaucracy.
Yes Wolf is an ultra-right radical but he is one of my few dear friends. Although we don’t see eye-to-eye, through compromise we agree to disagree on methods, which will allow us to bring stability to Europe and bring them into the fold to form one nation against the evils encroaching upon our Western culture. But it seems we were just a bit slow to implement our plans and now this external force has interjected itself and compelled us to an uncoordinated response.
Ester Strauss-Kahn opens a direct channel to Terrel. ‘We have news that pieces of the German government have survived and we are sending a rescue team post haste.’ Her tone is urgent.
‘What’s your president’s opinion?’ Terrel asks.
‘He is in process of becoming irrelevant for his failure to foresee the current disaster,’ states Strauss-Kahn flatly. ‘As we have been the least damaged by these terrorists the people have demanded that we take a leading role in aiding our neighbouring states to combat these threats. I have been appointed to speak for the people and appreciate that you as the democratic leader of the Americas will accompany us in our efforts to seek out and destroy the perpetrators. We have evidence that the initiators are based in Norway and once we have complete proof we shall present it to the world.’
Terrel opens a secure channel to Jurgensen. ‘David, we have a problem with Strauss-Kahn.’
‘Yes, I see that and will have Eva take appropriate actions although this will take some finesse,’ Jurgensen replies.
Henna Terrel, 48 years old, 5’10’, 145 lbs, flowing long auburn hair, flashing green eyes, traces her heritage through 10 generations to a manservant transported from an English debtors prison who took up with a Seminole woman in what was to become Savannah, Georgia, USA. The family quietly came to power during the chaos which surrounded them after the American civil war and it’s the women who have always possessed the shrewd business skills required to push their agendas forward. Terrel has been nurtured since infancy and bred for success and leadership. From a baccalaureate at Duke University to a Masters at Princeton in Finance, a PhD in Philosophy at Berkley, through a Rhodes scholarship in humanities she is well prepared for the challenges which face her. Now the leader of the free world she wonders just how the current crisis will play out—―
Deep within the tunnel system below the Vermork Hydro station midway between Oslo and Bergen accompanied by over 100 co-conspirators sits Andres Brynjar at his control console. Having spent 21 years in prison, and after seven years formulating his plan (His final Crusade against Islam), he gloats over his initial successes. He had put together in the most minute of details all that was required for the first knockout blow. Twenty teams of twelve members each. Each team consisting of engineers, explosive experts, tunnel rats, communications/navigations personnel, and weapons specialists trained for three years. Two teams for each of the 10 target cities. Thus, Brynjar was assured of redundancy and a high probability of success. All teams were connected directly to his control console through the duration of the mission. Now since he has success, with the flick of a button he dispatched the signal which would carry each assault team member to heaven. There would be no possibility of capture, torture, coercion or exploitation. There would be no one left to lead anyone back to him or the locale of his operating base.
He too had full visual imagery of his first successes. Each of the teams had transmitted constant visuals from the beginning preparation through and including the destruction of the targets. He witnessed the entire process and had recorded the events for later historical purposed undisclosed to his remaining colleagues. He knew that he was writing and re-writing historic events as this new world history evolved.
Born in Bergen, Norway 1983 Brynjar stands 5’10', weighs 170 lbs, has blue eyes and blonde hair. His dress is the traditional red crossed white vestment of the ancient order of Knights Templar. He was educated at Oxford and is a radical Christian. His personal world view; Islam is out to conquer the world as the west stands idly by and allows this sacrilege. He is a hypnotic public speaker. The timber of his voice coupled with obvious conviction easily sways his audience.
From his control console through the ingenuity of his master spy, partner in crime, and consort who willingly provided his two sons; Vilma Naess, he monitors the transmissions from Bodo to Cheyenne.
Radar imagery from the Mecca flights reveals what may possibly be the form of 23 bodies in the spokes of the tunnels radiating from the Kaaba. Photography of the site shows a still molten mass where the Mosque once stood. Crowds are gathering and surround the temple area.
Imagery at Medina shows a similar wheel and spoke system of tunnels which at first glance appear empty. Photography reveals that the tomb of the prophet is indeed no longer. Again crowds have gathered surrounding the temple. Outside the city the roads are filled, surprisingly rapidly converging on the temple, not fleeing in escape.
In Jerusalem analysis of the Temple imagery confirms there a cylindrical, smooth walled excavation through the rock on which the temple stood on for over 1500 years. The foundation stone of the original temple is nowhere to be seen. Fierce clashes between Arabs, Christians and Jews have erupted throughout the city. The Israeli Army is quickly putting down these uprisings using gas and rubber bullets on all who oppose them. In the six hours since the attack there have been 127 casualties and it is feared there will be much larger numbers if control measures are not swift and harsh.
The Ministry of Defence, Whitehall has been reduced to smoldering rubble. Imagery shows a set of four tunnels with one running directly to the Thames. Where once stood this proud building which weathered the blitz now lays a pile of granite in a muddy lake. Vauxhall Cross, home of MI6, has been pushed laterally into the Thames nearly blocking the river with its debris. Imagery here reveals once again a series of four tunnels one of which begins on the opposite bank of the river, runs beneath and is suspected to have allowed the breach of water into the underground parking area. The other three must have been used to levy the force of explosion to move the building into the river. At Thames House (MI5) one of the two buildings is totally in ruin while the other seems to have escaped major damage. The building that fronts Lambert Road is a smoldering mass of stone and steel. Imagery reveals nothing out of the ordinary. Though there seems to be evidence of some small fire damage to the remaining structure one conjectures a possible failure here. More in-depth review will be required.
141 Boulevard Mortier Paris, home of the Surete, Directorate-General Security External, imagery shows rubble in which fires still burn filling a crater large enough to swallow the Dallas Super Dome. Parts of the building have flown as far as the soccer practice field to the South. There appears to be a system of tunnels leading to the site of destruction but it will take time to isolate these findings given the complexity of the underground system in this vicinity.
The Hague NATO Command, Communications and Control Center on the periphery of town has been totally demolished. It appears as though the charge emanated from the central cross section and brought the building down. No sign of tunneling.
Brussels, NATO Headquarters has been decimated by underground explosions from a series of parallel tunnels perpendicular to the architectural design. The Berlaymont building (EU Headquarters) imagery shows again a system of wheel and spoke tunnels converging on the very center of the structure. Once more there is evidence of bodies in this tunnel system. As they did not shift between flights one and two we surmise they are dead.
The Kremlin’s once proud onion domes lay scattered in shattered crumpled masses. The office complex has sunken into the web of underground tubes which formed the transit system. Imagery analysis is severely hampered by the subterranean explosions within that system. Lubjanka is another story. Here imagery shows a portrait of underground tunnels in a spoke pattern converging beneath the structure. The foundations beneath the seven subterranean layers are destroyed so that the building collapsed on itself.
Berlin, Bendlerblock (German Military Headquarters) imagery reveals once more a system of four tunnels and four craters which provided the force to move the building laterally into the main canal. There is infrared evidence of bodies in these tunnels. At Bonn Hardthöhe is a shattered ruin. Yet again, tunnel systems have been used to burrow beneath and charges set to implode the structure. Fires burn and the scene is structured pandemonium as rescue personnel seek to aide whatever survivors may remain. The frantic activity obscures further analysis.
Naess attended Cambridge while Brynjar was at Oxford. She most easily succumbed to his charms and of similar mind is a strong adherent to his political and religious beliefs. He effortlessly steered her towards a posting in the MI5 training program and has held her closest to him since. She remains by his right hand and he trusts her completely.
Naess speaks softly to Andres, 'It appears that we must send cleaners to deal with a possible breach at Mecca and also to ensure the situation in Brussels remains in our favor. We wouldn’t want this Jurgensen to form a coherent grip to mount a counterstrike.'
'Yes, certainly. Do that.,'
Naess activates one team of four at Eilat and directs them to Mecca to terminate and dispose of stragglers. A team of eight are dispatched to Brussels instructed to track down and eradicate any survivors of the initial strike force and create as much havoc as possible.
'J’arrive,' announces Jurgensen to Terrel’s ear. 'As both Berlaymont and my headquarters are in ruin we will base from Palais de Justice.'
'Fine. Stay in touch.'
'Eva arrives shortly and will coordinate efforts to disrupt the plans and movements by the French as a beginning. We shall quickly relegate Strauss-Kahn to a by-stander and move to aide our German friends,' says Jurgensen.
'Please liaison with Rothschild. We must at the very least act as though he is relevant since he may be able to aid us in a stand against these Northern fanatics.'
During transit from Tel Aviv Eva dispatched three Osprey aircraft with 99 Israeli special forces to Berlin. Their first task upon arrival was to inform the inbound French contingent of the runway closure at Templhof airfield, after which they proceed with dispatch to Bendlerblock and begin search and rescue operations. A midst this mass confusion the French force returns to Orly.
Eva arrives at Palais de Justice.
'Hello my friend,' Eva whispers into David’s ear. 'It seems the French have turned back from their incursion into our domain. But this is a natural occurrence whenever a politician attempts to direct military operations. One would’ve thought that the French would’ve learned after the mess they made in Libya that political ramblings can do nothing but inhibit military efforts.'
'Nice to know we do not suffer from their ineptness,' says Jurgensen, as his lips trace softly down the nape of her neck.
Back to the business at hand. Jurgensen contacts Rothschild.
'Malcolm how are you and your people? What are your immediate needs? How can we be of service?'
'I am afraid I must inform you of the passing of the King. Yes, Robert was at Whitehall when the building came down yesterday. His body was discovered during the night.', states Rothschild flatly. In that monotone peculiar to British officials he continues. 'We are arranging transfer of the crown. The ceremony to be held Saturday as usual at Westminster Abbey. Your attendance has been requested.'
'As to matters of state,' continues Rothschild,' we have lost many military and civil leaders, members of Parliament as well as Leaders from each of the service arms where killed in the Whitehall explosion. MI6 and MI5 personnel have been devastated and frankly we could use your help with the intelligence arms.'
'We recommend now is a good time to give serious thought to dissolution of the crown and finally absolving the people of that centuries old burden,' suggests Jurgensen.
Jurgensen sends a flash message to Terrel.
King Robert is dead. They found his body amongst the rubble at Whitehall. With Millicent not of the royal line this leaves a welcome void. Yet Rothschild informs me there will be an anointing ceremony on Saturday.
The thought passes through Terrel’s mind that perhaps she has found an ally and can devise a plan to bring down the British monarchy. She stores this away for the future. Small pleasures are what make this job bearable and this particular pleasure puts a sparkle in her tired eyes and brings an involuntary smile to her lips.
'David, it seems that you and I have are in uncanny harmony regarding royalty and we together must carefully plot the downfall of the house of Windsor. We must not miss this moment..'
Rothschild informs both Terrel and Jurgensen that, 'As the Cabinet offices and number 10 have become uninhabitable I and my people will operate from the Main Ministry of Defense offices where we shall be self-contained. Especially since we are now in a technical state of war with two enemies, these knights and the Arab world. It has been passed to me by one of our MI5 people in Norway that these knights have established operational cells in the North and perhaps even the periphery of London. I have directed a task force from the home office to seek them out and bring them to justice.'
The directors of MI6 and MI5 at the P.M.’s insistence put aside their territorial disputes and cooperate to ferret out what is to their combined minds the most immediate threat. Agents are activated to seek out and bring in suspected knights on British soil. The thread from Norway implies Edinburgh may be the seat of their operations.
Back at Cheyenne Barret finally sends the intelligence gathered on Brynjar and his knights to Terrel:
Born in Bergen, Norway 1983, Brynjar stands 5’10', weighs 170 lbs, has blue eyes and blonde hair. His dress is the traditional red crossed white vestment of the ancient order of Knights Templar. He was educated at Oxford and is a radical Christian. His personal world view; Islam is out to conquer the world as the west stands idly by and allows this sacrilege. He is a hypnotic public speaker. The timber of his voice coupled with obvious conviction easily sways his audience. His concubine is Vilma Naess. She is trained by MI5. The two met whilst at university in England. Brynjar seduced her and she has remained by his side since. We are not yet certain where her loyalties lie.
Brynjar wrote a rambling theses titled 2083, freely available on the Internet, in which he feebly attempted to gain sympathy for his hypothesis that the Islamic world was underhandedly encroaching upon Europe with its goal toward genocide of all true Christian believers. When his view proved inconsequential, in a fit of radical rage he murdered 173 people in and around Oslo and was condemned to isolation for 21 years. The maximum penalty under local law. Released in 2032 he disappeared from the radar and was not considered a threat….until now.
'OK George,' says Terrel. 'Let’s remain on top of this. Find this Naess. Make discreet contact and see where her loyalties lie. If she stands with us, use her. If she stands with him, dispose of her.'
'I’m on it,' says Barret 'How do I contact Rothschild? Has he moved? I tried him but no response on his channel.'
'Sorry George, yes he’s switched to channel 11,' says Terrel.
Switching channels Barret contacts Rothschild.
'Malcolm, if you would like our aide in dealing with your problems up country we have perhaps all necessary assets available in-house ready to assist,' says Barret.
Rothschild answers, 'As I mentioned recently to your President, we have all well in hand but will make a request if and when required. Thank you for your offer .'
Barret sends a message to his assets in London:
Proceeding with hasty caution, seek out knights in the vicinity of Cambridge and Oxford. Bring them in and elicit all information to ascertain the whereabouts of one Vilma Naess. She is believed to be in Norway and MI5 can be used to validate information coerced from who ever you may pick up.
Agents slip discretely by various routes from London headed for their assigned venues ——.
Four Arab women traditionally clothed in full abaya with niqaab wander toward Mecca’s center having been deposited by taxi 10 blocks away at a tea shop. They are headed for a vacant house on a street to the east of the central temple. Within they shall enter the tunnels system recently excavated and begin their search. They must remedy the situation caused by the failure of the device which was to eliminate all traces of the perpetrators. On the way to the scene they could not help themselves and a lively debate about the consequences of this failure ensued in hushed tones. One puts forth that the wench is to blame and should be summarily put to death, while the others believe Brynjar holds her too close and will excuse the failure.
Entering the tunnel system they are immediately engulfed by the fetid stench of decomposition. Slowly and carefully they move through the system searching for any signs of life. They seek not the dead but one who may remain alive. Completing the circuit of the outer ring each separately moves toward the next ring via one of the four spokes. Nothing yet. Moving into this middle ring they come across the first of 23 bodies. They all seem to be in peaceful repose as though they have simply lay down for a small nap. However, they have rapidly begun to bloat due to the heat trapped within the tunnel system and radiating from the central cauldron where once rested the Kaaba. Still no sign of a survivor. Moving along the next set of spokes they sense hazard as the temperature increases. It is good that they were well briefed and provided with respirators, easily concealed beneath their robes. Reaching the inner most circle they fan out with still keen eyes. He must be here. The collective thought flashes through them all and their senses are on heightened alert. But alas, they find no trace. Quickly they retreat to the outer circle. They must explore and find the other entrance to the labyrinth and they were not briefed on its location. Once more they deploy along the circular tunnel looking for any hint of another entrance. Their logic tells them that the escapee will have left some evidence of his passing.
Sure enough they come across a panel in the tunnel wall behind which is a staircase leading upward. Slowly they creep up these stairs ever mindful of the unknown beyond. These stairs finally end with a locked overhead trap door. They hear muffled sounds of movement above but no voices. As it is now 0800 they decide to wait for 0900 prayers before attempt to pass through this portal.
Four of Vilma’s assassins arrive in different parts of Brussels by land transport while four more come into the airport. They are informed while in transit that Jurgensen has established his base at Palais de Justice. Thus, they will carefully avoid this area. Forming up as four two-man teams they split the city into quadrants to search for two suspected survivors of the initial attack force.
Having arrived at the airport, team one proceeds directly to the still smoldering remains of NATO Headquarters to begin its search. Team two hops a bus over to the Berlaymont. Teams three and four diverge to cover the other areas of the city. Their plan; to disrupt communications between Jurgensen’s forces and both Terrel and Rothschild.
Team one arrives NATO Headquarters and it is immediately apparent the huge complex is not completely destroyed. This will be an enormous task and they decide to successfully complete their mission they must be reinforced. The leader opens communications with Naess.
'Team one here at objective one,' he begins.
'Why have you opened a channel?' replies Vilma in a voice cold as a icicle.
'This place is not destroyed. It is enormous and with just the two of us we can not successfully complete the mission. Request six additional personnel as soon as possible. The main buildings are damaged, but many of the connecting buildings seem to be intact.', he says.
'It will take a couple of hours to get you more people,' replies Naess.
At Berlaymont team two arrives to a scene of utter carnage. Fires are burning in dispersed patches amongst the rubble of the fallen glass, concrete and steel. It is obvious that there have been few if any survivors. But these two can and will make short work of their surveillance and then go to the aid of team one. There is mass confusion as the local police and fire brigades attempt to quell the flames, re-route traffic, control the mass of curious by-standers and search for possible survivors.
Just across Avenue de la Jonction from the prison team three enters the complex of buildings and makes its way to the roofs. They place electronic and laser communications jamming modules pointed directly at the antenna farms sprouting from various rooftops of the Palais de Justice. They verify the effectiveness of these devices by monitoring the noise, instead of coherent signals, now emanating from Jurgensen’s communications systems. Satisfied their task is complete, they scour the area of any possible trace of their transgressions and depart for NATO Headquarters to aid their companions.
Team four reverses course and heads for NATO Headquarters autonomously deciding that they would be of better use there in search of any possible comrades who might have survived the initial assault. These witnesses can not be allowed to fall into enemy hands. Time is of the essence and a couple hours can not be wasted awaiting reinforcements. If necessary they can always return and place additional disruption devices once they are certain there is no one left alive to point Jurgensen to Norway.
Back in Mecca, the team cautiously opens the trap door above them as they hear the Mullahs voice begin the calls to prayer. Entering a dimly lit storeroom containing scattered cartons of what appears to be canned goods and plastic packages of dried fruits and vegetables they plainly see evidence of recent passage by two persons. Marks on the floor show that one is somehow wounded as scuffs show he is dragging his left leg. The trail of the second is marked by blood drops. Stealthily, the leader cracks he storeroom door just a hair and peers into the shop. It appears empty as the faithful have all departed to honor the call. As she leads her accomplices into the shop she senses movement to her left. Without emotion she silently slices the throat of the shopkeeper who had remained behind on his rug in prayer rather than leave his shop unattended. But the team may not enter the street to continue following the trail of its quarry until prayers have ceased. This mission is proving more difficult that originally envisioned. They had not, nor had Naess, considered the full complexity of actual operations in the seat of Islams beliefs. Prayers every four hours sun-up to sundown, Women always en-wrapped in head-to-toe shapeless black heavy flowing garment trapping and intensifying the already unbearable heat. Religious Mullahs on constant prowl for unattended females. How are we every going to complete this mission, thought the group leader to herself.
In a flash the solution dawns on her. She exchanges clothes with the dead shopkeeper. He after all, has no use for his but she certainly can use them to her advantage. Brilliant! She will be the male escort for the other team members which should satisfy the Mullahs.
Exiting the shop they follow the blood trail across Abrahim Al Khalil Boulevard toward the Intercontinental Hotel. Entering the hotel by a rear service door the trail leads them to down a flight of stairs into a basement labyrinth. Patiently they begin a meticulous search. They find a hinged set of shelves against a wall. Once they open this doorway, they enter a room containing 24 cots. On the farthest cot in a rear corner lays the figure of a person, covered in dust, dirt, with a bloody left leg. The figure does not stir as they make their way toward the rear. The team leader prods this figure, but there is no response. She stoops for a better look in the dim lighting. Shallow breathing, but no movement. Once more she tries to awake the figure. In one quick motion, from beneath her garb her razor edged sickle knife severs his throat. His fingerprints having been previously removed and his teeth being caps it will be safe to just leave the body to decompose.
The team makes a silent hasty retreat, retracing their steps out the rear of the hotel. They must make their way from Mecca to Jeddah if they are to escape. The leader’s gaze is caught as glancing up an alley she catches site of what had been the resting place of the Kaaba. Now all nine minarets lay in ruin and still in the central region of the temple there remains the warm glow of bubbling glass. They hail two taxis for the 65 kilometer ride. The leader sends an encrypted text to Naess:
They all settle down for the hour ride to the Jeddah airport.
The Brussels team is not so fortunate. They have been searching for hours through the numerous remaining buildings without the slightest clue or hint of a knight survivor. Night is drawing near and will hamper their efforts still further——.