• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Chapter 46

[Beijing, China]

(September 10, 2013)

General Zhang took the wheel and drove back into the capital. He stopped outside the bank so Yun could get off before weaving through the streets searching for a parking space. Despite weaving through all the streets, he was unable to find a parking space. Instead, he drove back to the bank to check if Yun was finished with the transaction. Arriving at the bank, Yun was seen standing on the sidewalk. The general checked his rear view mirrors and ordered Yun to get on when he didn't notice any vehicles behind him. As soon as the door closed, the general pressed on the gas and the trio made their way down the street.

"How did it go?" General Zhang asked while keeping his eyes on the traffic. "Any problems?"

Yun replied no and silence resumed in the vehicle for a short while. The Scorpion suddenly broke the silence. "Anyone willing to tell me what that transaction is about?" The Scorpion stared at Yun who refused to meet his eyes. When he turned towards the front, the general, having caught his eyes in the mirror, smiled. "What's so funny?" The Scorpion noticed the smile and blurted out the question.

"You were just like me when I was younger. Not liked to be kept in the dark. Tell him, Yun." The general returned to his driving through the perilous road where everyone played the game of chicken.

Yun thought for a moment before he finally spoke. "I was told to deposit cash. A million to be exact."

"Who is the money for? A friend?" interrupted the Scorpion.

"An enemy." Yun saw surprise on the Scorpion's face. "Well, we're not helping him. The money will help with blackmail."

The Scorpion leaned into his seat and began processing what he just learned. A minute later, he nodded and smiled. "Who is the lucky soul to receive this much money?"

"The right hand man of the guy we want to eliminate." It took a short while for the Scorpion to realize that it was General Zhang, not Yun, who spoke. He also noticed that they stopped moving and was parked by the street. "Let's eat. I'm starving." General Zhang exited the vehicle first with the other two men following him. Wearing civilian clothes, the three men appeared to be ordinary men out for lunch. To a trained eye, one of the men would stand out with a slight bulge that would suggest a weapon. The trio entered a small restaurant that only had a few empty tables left.

The three men chatted around the table like good friends. With a bottle of beer for each men, they drank and ate while enjoying the music from the radio. It was way past noon but the place was still packed. The Scorpion also noticed a few young ladies trying to get his attention but he avoided eye contact with them. Instead, he spent much of the time watching the man who claimed to be his father. The Scorpion knew that, if he were to see the general in a public place, he would appear no different from any other men. The fact that he was able to change his appearance from a serious and strict general to a relaxed, carefree civilian was quite an accomplishment. The general and Yun did most of the talking while the Scorpion ate and watched the entrance for suspicious people. Two hours later, they would leave the restaurant with the general paying the meal.

"What's next?" asked the Scorpion as they made their way to the vehicle.

"We visit the enemy who is a million dollars richer." General Zhang said matter-of-factly as he returned to the driver seat. The Scorpion and Yun stared at each other for a brief second before getting into the rear passenger seats. When Yun was seated, the general tossed him a cellphone. Yun took out a piece of paper from his pocket which showed a phone number. He entered it into the phone and waited. A short while later, the person on the other end picked up the phone.

"Hello, friend. About this one million dollars in your account, ..."
 

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Chapter 47

[Beijing, China]

(September 10, 2013)

General Zhang drove his team to the nearest mall and found a parking space with much difficulty. The trio took the elevator up to the floor with suits and began shopping for Yun. They took a few minutes before they decided on the right suit for Yun. The suit appeared expensive while not giving Yun a snobby look. As for the general, he picked out a cheaper suit that was clearly inferior to Yun's suit. As for the Scorpion, the general felt that his apparel was simply fine and left it at that. The general paid for the suits before he and Yun changed into their new clothes. Yun complained slightly about feeling out of place with his suit but the Scorpion managed to shut him up. Yun was then given some lessons on how to appear professional in public and, following many tries, he managed to appear somewhat acceptable before the general. Once he was satisfied with what he had, the general led the way as the trio rode the elevator down to return to the vehicle. This time, General Zhang told the Scorpion to take the wheel while he and Yun sat in the rear. The Scorpion complied without any questions and they headed to an address given to them earlier.

The Scorpion drove through the terrible traffic with caution and arrived outside the building. Apparently, the building was a nightclub with a sign suggesting it was already open. The general and the Scorpion scanned the surroundings and noticed a few suspicious men. They looked at each other and came to the same conclusion. The general ordered Yun to take out his cellphone and enter the number he called earlier. After one ring, the man on the other side picked up the phone.

"Hello, friend." Yun signaled that the man already picked up the phone.

"I'm not your friend," the man said.

"I wonder what will happen if I leak the information on a woman called Yu."

There was a short silence. "Alright, I'm your friend. Please, I cannot let anyone else know."

Yun ignored the pleas of the man. "Would a person send a bunch of hired guns after his friend?"

"I ... Sorry, I'll call them off now. Please. Please don't leak anything. I'll do anything!"

"Call them off now! Otherwise, the news station will have some juicy content to report." Yun ended the call and nodded to the general.

A minute later, the suspicious men moved in an orderly fashion to a parked vehicle and left the scene. The general and the Scorpion scanned their surroundings again and found the coast was clear. With a nod from the general, the trio exited the car in unison and made their way across the street to the nightclub. While crossing the street, the general and Yun looked straight ahead as the Scorpion still looked around for any threat. They stopped outside until the Scorpion gave a cough before they entered the nightclub. There was still light outside but there were a few people already inside the nightclub. A large dance floor occupied the middle with many tables and chairs positioned along the perimeter. The general caught sight of the 'victim' first and directed the trio to walk towards the man. The man, seeing the new arrivals, came to the same conclusion that the trio were here to meet with him. He stood up and came over to shake Yun's hand. He quickly gesture Yun to sit down in one of the chairs and called for a few drinks from the bar not far from them. Yun sat down without even looking at the man. The general smiled when he noticed beads of sweat on the man's face as he carefully returned to his seat. General Zhang sat down beside Yun while the Scorpion stood behind them.

"My friend," started the man, "I apologize if I crossed your path but there must be a way to mend our relations."

The general waited at the side as he watched Yun stared past the man without any interest. He let the man sweat out a bit more before finally saying something. "Mr. Sha, I'm afraid you will speak with me. You see, my client isn't very happy with you."

Sha turned his attention to the general. "Client? Are you his lawyer?"

General smiled. "We are here for answers, Mr. Sha. If you are going to waste our time with questions, I'm afraid that we will have to leave."

Panic immediately showed in Sha's eyes. "No, I apologize. I'll be happy to answer any questions of yours." He returned a nervous smile as he switched his attention between Yun and the general.

"You see," the general continued, "General Hua has broken his word with us on a business agreement. We tried to contact him but he refused to speak with us. We need your help."

"Do you want me to contact him?" General Zhang saw Sha breathed a sigh of relief.

"No, we just want his travel plans from you. We wish to give him a surprise."

"I ... General Hua is dangerous. He-"

The general slammed the table getting the attention of the other customers. "Maybe these people would like to hear about the woman Yu." He watched panic rushing back onto Sha's face. "I could ask nicely or we could see the damage of a leak."

"No, alright. I'll do it. Let me call my office."

"No need," the general took out a piece of paper along with a pen, "I'm pretty sure you are familiar with General Hua's schedule for the next few days. Just jot them down and we will be on our way."

Sweat streamed down Sha's face as he jotted down the schedule by memory. He handed the paper over which the general took a short while to go over.

"That concludes our business. Good day, Mr. Sha."

The trio exited the nightclub leaving Sha still shaking in his boots.
 

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Chapter 48

[Beijing, China]

(September 10, 2013)

Sha gulped down his drink in a hurry and walked briskly to exit the nightclub through the backdoor. Standing in the alleyway, he pulled out his cellphone when he noticed a presence nearby. He looked up from his cell and saw the Scorpion smiling at him. To Sha, it appeared as though the man appeared out of the shadows and his skin turned a ghastly white. He tried to smile back but his body seemed to be frozen in pain.

"Mr. Sha, I hope you weren't going to call General Hua." The Scorpion continued to smile at Sha.

Sweat was dripping down Sha's forehead as he tried to act innocent. "No, I ... I wouldn't do that." Sha shook his head the entire time.

The Scorpion walked a short distance past Sha and looked down the alleyway. "It's interesting that no one is here at this hour."

"Very interesting," Sha said as he wiped away the sweat off his head. He even failed to noticed that he dropped his cell on the ground. Sha kept his eyes on the Scorpion the whole time watching the man's hands. One of the Scorpion's hands was in his pocket while the other was by his side. Sha had caught sight of a weapon earlier and his gut told him that the man wouldn't be afraid to use it. "So, was there ... something that wasn't mentioned to me earlier? I ... I wish to make your boss a happy man so he ... he could stop a potential leaks of some rather bad rumors about me." Sha finally got his smile down as he began to relax. Taking a quick breath, he backed up against the door and pushed against the knob. To his horror, the door was locked and it wouldn't budge. When the Scorpion turned towards him, he gracefully moved away from the door while maintaining his smile. The man was looking at his watch which suggested that he was waiting for something. "So, what are you waiting for?"

The Scorpion looked up with puzzlement as if he forgot Sha was there. "I'm waiting for a confirmation. You see, the boss wants to know that you provided accurate information."

"Oh? I ... I can assure you that I'm the best there is. I know that your boss just wants to clarify a few things with General Hua and wish him no harm."

"Indeed." The cellphone on the Scorpion rang. "Sorry about that. This is important." He then picked it up. Half a minute later, he laughed and hanged up. "Wonderful news! You are indeed a trustworthy man. My boss told me to thank you." The Scorpion approached Sha to offer to shake his hand. Sha smiled back and, with relief, took the hand. While their hands were in contact, Sha noticed the Scorpion's other hand bringing out a gun. Before Sha could say a word, two shots were fired from the gun. Thanks to the silencer, the two shots sounded just like two balloon pops and even those sounds were quickly drowned out by the horns on the road. "Goodnight, my friend." The Scorpion positioned himself under Sha so the man would fall onto him. He carried the man in a fireman carry as he walked a few steps to his right. The Scorpion lifted the corpse and carefully shoved it into the dumpster. After that, the Scorpion picked up Sha's cellphone, made his way down the alleyway and turned left onto the main road. He crossed the road and opened the passenger door before entering the vehicle. Once the door closed, the vehicle headed off to its next destination.

-meanwhile-

Kim raised the pet carrier to her head as she stared inside. Bella was still shaking from the flight and Kim tried to comfort her for the last hour with no success. Kim and Sonu were waiting outside the terminal for Sonu's friend to pick them up. Sonu was busy calling her other friends to book dinner and other fun things. Kim let her friend do what she pleased as she tried repeatedly to get Bella out of her pet carrier. Suddenly, they heard a horn and the noise startled Bella to the point she started whimpering. Kim and Sonu looked up to see a vehicle stop before them. The driver exited and Sonu immediately ran towards her. The two friends embraced for a while and they spoke in Chinese which Kim couldn't understand one bit. Sonu then directed her friend over to introduce her to Kim. The two strangers greeted each other before Sonu and Kim began putting their few luggage in the vehicle. Sonu sat in the front while Kim had the rear passenger seat all to herself. Kim watched Sonu chatting with her friend with slight envy before turning her attention back to Bella who has, by now, got curious of her surrounding. Kim was able to get Bella to come out and held her close. Bella stared around at her new surroundings and, once she got bored, she began to lick Kim mercilessly. As Kim was trying to wipe away Bella's slobber, she wondered where they were headed.
 

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Chapter 49

[Beijing, China]

(September 10, 2013)

Kim followed Sonu into the suite they were renting for two months. The apartment was in the downtown area which was necessary for Sonu to meet all her friends and family. Kim decided to stay indoors most of the days as she tried to figure out who was responsible for the bombing. As she entered the suite, she immediately loved the place. It had a homely appearance that reminded Kim of Vilken's home. She let Bella out of her pet carrier for the puppy to explore on her own. Bella, curious about her new surroundings, ran everywhere to get a sniff of the new scents. Kim giggled while she watched the puppy checking, or rather, sniffing every inch of the suite. Sonu has already went back to her cellphone in one of the two rooms busy making her calls to her friends and relatives. Kim made her way to the living room and settled herself on the sofa. As tempted as she was to take a nap, she took out her laptop and got to work.

Bella has, after a few minutes, satisfied herself with her exploration and was looking for Shui. Shui was lying down beside Sonu's feet when he noticed Bella enter. Shui looked up to see his owner occupied and walked over to Bella. Hoping not to disturb his owner, Shui led Bella to the other room which would have been empty had the bed, along with some of the luggage, not been there. Shui went over to one of the bags and poked into the opening before bringing out some toys. Bella instantly rushed over to play with the toys. Shui watched Bella play with the toys for nearly half an hour when the two dogs heard the doorbell. Shui and Bella exited the room and waited by the door as they watch Kim head towards the door. Kim looked through peephole but she didn't recognize the person. Believing that the person might know Sonu, she opened the door. The woman outside seemed a little bewildered when she saw Kim. She spoke many words which Kim couldn't understand one bit. Just as the woman was about to leave, Sonu appeared behind Kim which indicated she must have heard the doorbell while on her phone. The woman, having caught sight of Sonu, maneuvered around Kim and embraced Sonu. She immediately broke down into tears and Sonu, unsure what has happened helping her over to the couch. Kim went over to the coffe table and grabbed her laptop before returning to the room assigned to her.

Kim realized that much of the furniture she needed weren't bought yet and settled herself on the bed. She made a note to remind her friend that she needed some furniture later when Sonu was done her seemingly endless calls. Bella has gotten over her curiosity with the stranger and came over to join Kim. Kim picked the puppy up and placed Bella beside her. She then returned back to work as Bella quickly fell asleep after climbing onto Kim's lap. Kim typed away on her laptop with Bella taking a nap. She wasn't sure when Shui entered her room but he would take a nap himself in the corner. Meanwhile, Sonu was comforting her friend and, after much difficulty, finally got her friend to explain her presence in Beijing. The two friends talked for a long while with Sonu constantly providing Kleenex to help dry her friend's tears. As Sonu pieced together the information from her friend's distressed speech, she began to frown. She listened patiently until her friend has finished her story before heading to the kitchen to pour them both some orange juice. Once the two friends emptied their glasses, Sonu's friend has calmed down considerably and Sonu has agreed to help her. Only then did Sonu remember Kim who was in her room with the two dogs. She excused herself briefly to talk with Kim.

Sonu waited outside the room and knocked the door twice. Kim was so focused that she didn't hear it the first time. Sonu knocked the door three times with a bit more force and finally got Kim's attention. Kim was startled by the knocking and looked up.

"What's up?" asked Kim.

"My friend's husband got into a bit of trouble," said Sonu. "I agreed to help her."

"Don't worry. Just prepare enough food for me in the kitchen and I can survive." Kim returned to her laptop and typed in a few more commands.

"I was hoping that you could come and help me."

Kim stopped typing and looked up at her friend. She managed a weak smile. "Sonu, I could barely communicate in China. How am I supposed to help you?"

"Her husband got involved with members of the Kkangpae," Sonu interrupted.

At the mention of the name, Kim nearly jumped and her movement woke Bella up. Bella stared up to her owner sensing distress. She got on her hind legs and began licking Kim. "Alright, that's enough, Bella." Kim placed Bella back onto the floor and turned her attention back to Sonu. "I couldn't say no to my best friend." Kim closed her laptop and followed Sonu to the living room.
 

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Chapter 50

[Beijing, China]

(September 10, 2013)

The woman has calmed down when Kim returned to the living room. Her eyes were red from crying but she managed a weak smile seeing Kim. Sonu introduced her as Fu and she got straight to business. Fu sat politely beside Sonu as Sonu explained the situation. Fu's husband has gotten a gambling addiction and went into debt. Instead of cutting his losses, Fu's husband decided that he needed money so he could win back all his money. He foolishly went to loan sharks who worked for Kkangpae because these people could acquire cash quickly. As expected, Fu's husband lost all his money and, being unable to repay the high interests, the loan sharks have decided to lock him up until they get their payment. Fu was notified that, unless she returned all the money, including the interests, her husband would be maimed or even killed. Since her husband has used all their savings for gambling, there was no way Fu could get even a fraction of that amount. Feeling helpless, Fu sought out her friends but she was turned down by all of them. When she heard that Sonu has returned, she made the last ditch effort of finding Sonu hoping to get her help. Sonu couldn't turn down her friend's call for help but she, herself, could do little unless she meet with the father she hasn't seen since she left for Korea.

While Sonu explained the situation, Kim listened carefully and asked questions when needed. Once she was done, Sonu spoke with Fu and escorted her out the door before saying her goodbye. Sonu then returned to the sofa with a sigh.

"You don't look forwards seeing your father?" Kim watched her friend with concern in her eyes.

"We had a falling out when I left. I don't know if he is willing to forgive me yet."

"Why not meet with him?"

Sonu stared at Kim with disbelief. "What kind of dumb idea is that?"

Kim laughed. "Meet him alone and deal with this problem. It's better if your mother isn't around to soften him up."

"You right," said Sonu defeatedly. "What do you think I should do?"

Kim thought for a brief moment. "Do know happen to know your father's secretary?"

"Yes!" Without another word, Sonu picked up the phone and entered the number of her father's secretary.

The other side rang once before the secretary picked up. Sonu explained that she wanted to meet her father one on one and hoped the secretary could help her book an appointment, preferably sooner the better. The secretary suggested that she would book Sonu under a fake name as a client. Sonu thanked the secretary and mentioned her pet. The secretary, after much difficulty, managed to find a high end restaurant that was dog-friendly. Sonu quickly noted down the time, which was later in the day, and location before thanking the secretary. When she hanged up the phone, she saw Kim watching her with a smile.

"That was the easy part," Sonu countered. "What are your plans then?"

"Drop me off at this address." Kim passed over a piece of paper. "I know a few people there."

Sonu looked at the address and nodded. The two friends quickly packed up what they needed before they left the apartment to hail a taxi. Kim was dropped off at the address while Sonu proceeded to the appointment with her unsuspecting father.
 

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Chapter 51

[Beijing, China]

(September 10, 2013)

General Zhang drove his vehicle into a parking lot. The lot was still very much empty and the general parked at a space near the stairs. The trio exited and made their way up two floors to the roof. The cool breeze blew past them as they made their way to the edge of the roof. Yun looked down at the traffic below him while the general and the Scorpion talked amongst themselves. The discussion between the two men lasted a few minutes before the Scorpion made his way to the stairs. He arrived at the vehicle and pulled out a bag from the trunk. Casually, he swung the bag over his shoulder, descended the stairs and exited the parking lot before making his way across the street. Before he proceeded forward, he stopped at a nearby bakery and grabbed a bun for lunch. He ate while he walked towards a residential building right across from the parking lot. He just happened to help an elderly woman by opening the door for her before slipping inside. Next, he made for the stairs and ascended to the roof which was fortunately empty. The Scorpion crouched down placing the bag before him. He unzipped the bag and took out parts which he used to assemble a sniper rifle. He loaded up the ammunition and made adjustments to his scope until he was satisfied. Finally, he would wait patiently for the vehicle.

The general, upon confirming that the Scorpion was already set up on the other roof, had Yun follow him back into the vehicle. Inside the vehicle, they spoke briefly before the general took the wheel and headed for the exit. They continued down the street and, as they were turning a corner, a sniper bullet lodged itself into General Zhang's head. His vehicle swerved out of control into the path of an incoming truck. The collision killed Yun on impact and the vehicle burst into flames. The intersection became a scene of chaos as people tried to figure out what happened. Not far from the accident, another vehicle slowed down due to heavy traffic and a few bullets penetrated through the side windshield killing the rear passenger and the driver in that order. The vehicle collided into the truck ahead and was stopped dead in its tracks. The Scorpion threw a well-aimed grenade from the roof that landed close to the vehicle and the resulting explosion changed the vehicle, along with the truck it hit, into a burning wreck. Several bystanders were crying out from pain as the blast wounded them in different degrees. The Scorpion disassembled his rifle and stuffed it back into the bag. He took one last look at his handiwork before making his getaway by sneaking out the back door.

-meanwhile-

Kim knocked on the door of the address she was given. She waited only a brief moment before someone answered the door.

"Brother!" Kim leaped forward and embraced the man.

The barks of Bella reminded Kim that her puppy was caught in between. She quickly separated herself and checked on Bella. The man shut the door before giving Kim a pat on the head.

"It's good to see you alive, Kim. We were worried when we heard headquarters was leveled."

Kim looked at at her brother. "Chung, it wasn't leveled. The inside was demolished but the building still stand."

"What matters is that you are safe, little sister." Chung turned to walk down the stairs with Kim following him.

"I still need to find out who was responsible." Chung stopped on the stairs and sighed.

"I prefer you don't get involved," Chung said as he turned around. He looked at his sister with worry in his eyes. "I don't want you to get hurt."

"Brother-."

Chung raised a hand signaling that he wasn't finished. "Listen, Kim. Whoever did the job is or are professional(s). You are out of your league." Before Kim could complain, Chung walked down the remaining flight of stairs not willing to hear her answer. Kim and Bella stared at each other until Bella broke the staring match by licking Kim's nose. Kim laughed and hugged Bella tightly. She then entered the doorway taken by her brother and found herself in a room with several monitors. Chung, along with two other guys, were working away at the keyboard. The two guys didn't pay Kim any attention which was fine for her. She stood beside Chung looking at his monitor surprised to see what was shown. Apparently, Chung was replaying the surveillance tape within the building before the explosion. She looked up at her brother who smiled back. "I know that you won't give in so easily so I decided to give you a hand. Don't ask me how but something told me you would survive the blast and come here to see me.

"You're the best, brother." Kim didn't try embracing him this time with Bella in her arms. Bella was fascinated by the monitors but she managed to stay silent the whole time not distracting anyone from their work. "What should I do next?"

"I could no longer help you here. There are three people in Shanghai that can help. Go there and I'll email them whatever information I got thus far." Chung paused briefly. "Stay safe, little sister. You are the only family I have left." Chung returned his attention to the monitor and entered a series of commands. "You are set to go."

Kim bit back her tears while she left the room alone. She did look back once to have a good look at her elder brother before she exited the building.
 

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Chapter 52

[Beijing, China]

(September 10, 2013)

Kim took a cab to the mall which was the meeting place for her and Sonu. However, her friend didn't show up until several hours later. Sonu's eyes were red while she seemed exhausted. Kim was in the food court finishing her dinner when her friend came. Bella was quietly resting in her pet carrier after eating a chicken leg. Kim has forgotten about bringing the pet food but Bella didn't seem to mind the change in diet. When Sonu sat down beside her, Kim didn't notice her at first despite just texting her friend where she was at.

"Hey, what you thinking?" Kim snapped out of her trance hearing Sonu's question. She took a good look at her friend. "I look that bad?" Kim nodded and was about to say something but she wasn't given a chance. "My reunion with my father was emotional. He has apparently forgiven me and we cried over lunch." Sonu paused and Kim, unsure what to say, said nothing. "So, how did your trip go?"

"I will find my answers in Shanghai." Kim was surprised to see her friend suddenly smile.

"Excellent, Fu's husband is held in Shanghai. We will take care of the transaction there." Kim smiled back hearing the news. She felt relieved that they could stay together.

"Where's Shui?" Kim just noticed that Sonu's dog wasn't with her.

"Oh, him?" said Sonu. "My father took him home to visit my mother. They have been close since my mother adopted him when he was a puppy. I don't want him along for the journey anyways." Sonu looked down at Bella who stared right back. "Shoot, I forgot about Bella."

"It's fine. We'll take her with us."

"You sure?" Sonu looked at her friend questionably.

"Yes, now you can make up for being late." Kim gave one of her more sinister smiles.

"How?" Sonu was taken aback by the sudden change of topic.

"I heard there's a nice restaurant here. I'm still hungry so you can treat me."

"I forgot your nickname was piggy." Sonu had a defeated look. "Alright, I will treat you."

Kim felt alleviated with her small victory. "Bella, how would you like some fish?"

Sonu immediately stared down her friend with a glare. "That's not good for her. Did you forget the pet food?" Kim turned red with embarrassment as she nodded. Sonu reached into her bag and fed Bella some pet food suggesting that she was still hungry. Sonu turned back to her friend to continue the interrogation. "What else did you feed her?" Kim pointed to the chicken leg getting a facepalm from her friend. "I regret letting you get a pet. You are just so irresponsible." Sonu took Bella out of the pet carrier and did a quick checkup. She then breathed a sigh of relief. "Good thing she didn't get sick. Otherwise, we could be here for a day or two."

"Sorry."

-meanwhile-

The Scorpion sat on the bed in a hotel room waiting for the general and Yun. He tried to call the general but couldn't get the call through. He began pacing in the room worried about their absence. Hoping to distract himself, he turned on the television for the news. He was hardly paying attention to the news until the reporter was speaking about the intersection he performed the assassination. To his surprise, the reporter spoke of two major accidents in the vicinity which didn't make sense. He turned up the volume and listened as the reporter first explained the explosion involving the vehicle he was targeting. The reporter then moved onto a second vehicle with a make similar to that the general was driving. When the camera was focused on the burned wreck of the vehicle, the Scorpion made out parts of the license plate and his face turned pale instantly. He just realized that the general and Yun was dead while he was executing his assassination. He tightened his fist as he struggled to contain the anger boiling inside. The general was his father and, while they didn't know each other for a long time, he felt a bond between them that couldn't be severed. The Scorpion was unable to avenge her mother but he vowed to avenge his father. He immediately went over to the phone to make a quick call to a friend. He intended to track down the person responsible and make him or her pay. After that, he would go after those that ordered the execution of his father.
 

blklizard

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Chapter 53

[Beijing, China]

(September 10, 2013)

General Chen paced around the room. His adviser, who was also his closest friend, just entered bringing bad news. Chen was working late into the night as he tried to finish organizing his report for an upcoming meeting. His adviser, Jian, entered without knocking which alarmed Chen. Knowing his friend was usually polite, the fact that his friend barged in without permission must be urgent matters. Chen put down the documents in his hands and looked at his adviser. Jian didn't waste time and immediately reported the deaths of General Zhang and General Hua. He also mentioned that they were killed along the same street which suggested their deaths weren't unfortunate accidents. Chen was shocked to hear two veteran Chinese Generals killed within minutes of each other. Suddenly, the documents on his desk had little importance. He stood up and began pacing his room with his adviser staring at him nervously. Chen smiled at his friend and reassured him that he was safe. Jian was surprised by the general's optimism resulting in Chen explaining that, whoever ordered the executions, they were targeting Chinese generals who held considerable power in the government. Chen was only recently promoted to General making him not only the newest general but also the youngest general at the age of twenty. While Chen stated his quick promotions were due to his father's influence in the government, many agreed that Chen was a naturally born leader who could rival many great Chinese generals in the past.

Chen paced around the room as it helped him think. Jian wasn't reassured but he tried his best to appear passive. The phone then rang and Chen picked it up after the first ring. He listened to the orders from the other side and nodded a few times. When he hanged up the phone, he told Jian that they were going to meet with some high officials within the government regarding the recent deaths of the two generals. Chen grabbed his coat and, with Jian, walked out of the room making their way down the dimly lit hallway. They took the elevator to the parking where Jian would drive the two of them to a secret meeting place. The drive took an hour and, by the time they arrived outside the building, they noticed only one parking space was left. Seeing that everyone else arrived already, Chen didn't wait for Jian to shut off the ignition before exiting the vehicle. He made his way straight for the entrance where several guards turned to stare at him. One of the guards recognized him and gestured him to go through. Chen walked down the familiar hallway and stopped outside a door. He knocked and was immediately allowed in by two guards standing at the door. He would enter the room and proceed to the seat designated for him. With everyone in attendance, the meeting would commence. As for Jian, he would wait inside the vehicle until Chen finished the urgent meeting.

Chen scanned the faces in the room and noticed most of them were statesmen with only a few military personnel. Other than him, only two other generals were attending the meeting giving Chen uneasiness. The death of two generals was vital matter for the military but seeing so many statesmen making the final decision didn't bode well for Chen. Still, he was a new general with much to learn and he knew better than to question his superiors. Thus, he kept his concern to himself and listened to the speaker. An hour later, Chen concluded that the Chinese government blamed the Japanese for the two deaths but they were reluctant to openly denounce the nation on the grounds they lacked evidence. Chen has always despised those statesmen who cower against the Japanese like the last few Chinese Emperors that bowed to all demands of the foreign powers. In a way, Chen hoped to change the Chinese government once he had more influence and power which was partly why he chose to become a general. The other reason was that the Chinese generals, especially those with abundance of power and wealth, had no actual experience and simply got their position by succeeding their parents. China was a mighty nation but incapable general cannot protect the nation at times of war should conflict arise. With the tension between China and Japan rising, such a conflict may just be on the horizon. When that time came, Chen hoped to play a vital part in protecting his nation.

For the next few hours, the statesmen argued amongst themselves over useless matters with Chen focusing on his own agenda. Chen was relieved when the meeting was over. He waited for the statesmen to exit first before making his way to the door. Before he reached the door, one of the generals tapped him on the shoulder and asked for a private conversation. Chen, along with the two generals, stayed behind until everyone exited the room. They sat down and discussed matters they didn't mention during the meeting. By the end of the short conversation, the three generals reached an agreement. The two generals left first while Chen wrote some notes in his notebook. He then exited the building to only find Jian's vehicle in the parking lot. He got into the vehicle and Jian, without another word, turned on the ignition and drove back to headquarters. Chen didn't say anything and Jian didn't prod. The drive was in silence and, an hour later, they returned to headquarters. Chen looked down at his watch realizing that it would be midnight soon. Suppressing a yawn, he made his way back to his office to take a short nap. Jian waited until Chen returned to his office before taking the stairs up to the roof. Jian took out his cellphone and made a short call. Following that, he headed to his own office where he fell asleep on the sofa instantly.
 

sebas379

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Interesting...
Not sure what else to say :)
 

blklizard

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Interesting...
Not sure what else to say :)
Sorry, I'm trying to work on the plot while fleshing out the main characters. All these deaths just mean these characters didn't make the cut and were removed physically from the story :p. The shenanigans should be over soon with the introduction of the villains/bad guys in the story. They've lurked in the shadows long enough.

Chapter 54

[Beijing, China]

(September 11, 2013)

Chen stretched out like a cat and yawned out loud. He rubbed his eyes before taking a look at his watch. He looked at the blinds to see some light shining through. Following another loud yawn, he stood up and walked out his office. Making his way to the kitchen, he tried to think back to the meeting the night before. Still drowsy, he gave it shortly after and made tea in the kitchen. With a pot of freshly brewed tea in his hand, he returned to his office where he filled up his thermos. A small sip returned some energy into him and, by the time he finished the tea, he felt awake and energized. Chen turned on his laptop and looked through the news. The death of the two generals weren't mentioned anywhere suggesting that the statesmen want this information to be kept hush-hush. Without anything else important in the news section, he reached for the phone and entered his father's cell number. After two rings, his father picked up.

"Dad, how are you today?" asked Chen.

"It was going well until you called. What can I help you with, son?" replied the father.

"Have you heard about the two deaths?"

"I've been informed early this morning. It's bad news."

"What should I do?"

"Are you nervous?"

Chen laughed. "I don't think I'm a target."

"Not yet. You will be unless you find them first."

"Any ideas?"

There was a pause on the other end. When Chen thought the call disconnected, he heard his father cough.

"How's your health?" asked Chen.

"I'm strong as an ox. Don't worry about me. Truth be told, I have no idea what you should do. There's no precedents like this."

"Who do you think are responsible?"

"Japanese government."

"Not you too, dad."

This time, the father laughed. "Don't worry, I'm not one of them yet. I think the Japanese are responsible for only one of the deaths."

"I see. There was another party involved."

"Give me a moment."

Chen heard some voices at the other end. Moments later, his father returned to the phone. "Your mother wanted me to go for a checkup. I'll call you later. Bye, son."

"Bye, dad." Chen hanged up his phone and pondered over the conversation. He felt that more questions arose than answers and it was giving him a headache. Needing to pick someone's brain, he went next door to see Jian. However, his friend was asleep still and Chen didn't want to wake him up. With nothing else to do, Chen changed into job pants and went jogging in the neighborhood. He hoped some fresh air, as fresh as it can get in Beijing, would help clear his head.
 

sebas379

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Well, the prologue, if you could call these episodes that (they'r a whole story in and of themselves ofc, but if you'r "just setting the scene"... is very interesting.
 

blklizard

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Well, the prologue, if you could call these episodes that (they'r a whole story in and of themselves ofc, but if you'r "just setting the scene"... is very interesting.
I wouldn't say these episodes are part of a prologue since they aren't exactly opening to the stories but, rather, a part of the actual plot. It probably doesn't make sense to have a 37 chapter prologue :p.

Chapter 55

[Beijing, China]

(September 11, 2013)

-phone call-

"Who is this?"

"I'm not in the mood of playing charade, buddy."

"Oh, hello friend. What a nice sur-"

"Shut it and listen. Why did you eliminate General Hua?"

"Who? I don't know wh-"

"Don't play dumb. Two generals were killed at that street. Are you telling me it's an coincidence?"

"You see ... I was only responsible for General Zhang's death."

"Our superiors are furious. I suggest you tell the truth."

"I am telling the truth."

"It's a shame. I actually enjoyed working with you."

"Really?!"

"No, that's why I'll enjoy blowing you to pieces."

"Wait. Wait! I'll find out who did it. Just give me two days. Please."

"I got orders, soldier. You would do the same if you were me."

"Please! I really wasn't responsible. You got to believe me."

"I believe you."

"Then please tell the superiors that I'm innocent."

"We need a scapegoat."

"A scape-"

"Now do you understand? Your sacrifice is necessary. You will die for the cause."

"I ... have been betrayed."

"You are nothing but a tool. No different from me."

"You will die one day as well?"

"Indeed."

"..."

"Are you still there?"

"..."

"Damn it, do you think you can escape? We will hunt you down to the ends of the earth!"

"..."
 

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Chapter 56

[Beijing, China]

(September 11, 2013)

The Scorpion knelt on the rooftop looking through a pair of binoculars. Following the call to his friend, he gathered the information he needed to track down the sniper. Finding the sniper wasn't difficult because Scorpion's friend had connections in the black market that helped in tracking down people who has recently purchased a sniper rifle. In addition, his friend just happened to have connections within the Chinese military making it simple to get a copy of the reports on the generals' death. The reports clearly laid out the type of sniper bullets used in the death of General Zhang which helped narrow the potential candidates down to a single man who the Scorpion concluded was the sniper. The Scorpion chose to watch the sniper first for his habits before making a move in capturing him alive. Thus, he settled on a rooftop across from the building the sniper was living in and watched. The Scorpion watched the sniper speaking into his phone but, for whatever reason, dropped it and disappeared from sight. The Scorpion wasn't sure whether or not the phone call alerted the sniper of his position but he took no chances and quickly arrived at the ground floor where he merged with the crowd. The Scorpion stood near the building entrance casually while keeping his eyes on the entrance opposite him. Minutes later, he saw the sniper leaving the building in a hurry with panic showing in his eyes. The sniper had a backpack with him and was clearly making a run for it.

Just as he was about to take off in pursuit, the Scorpion caught sight of two men. The two men seemed ordinary on the outside but his years of experience told him they were trouble. Staying inside the building, his suspicions were soon confirmed when he saw the two men chasing after the sniper. Unsure what was taking place, the Scorpion left the building in a hurry in pursuit of the sniper. Knowing that two men were after the sniper complicated things greatly. The Scorpion learned of no covert action by the Chinese government following the deaths of the generals so he was sure that the two men had no association with the government. Still, there were many questions that surfaced but he had to put them in the back of his mind. Maneuvering through the dense crowds, the Scorpion was gaining on the two men but he has long lost sight of the sniper. He would have continued the pursuit had he not noticed the sniper in the corner of his eye. The sniper has apparently noticed the two trackers and managed to hide in the crowds. The two men missed him and the Scorpion would have missed him too had the sniper not poke his head out from the alleyway. His action confirmed that he had no knowledge of the Scorpion which made things much easier for the avenger. The Scorpion, hoping not to alarm the man, turned into a nearby McDonald and stayed near the entrance where the sniper was still within view. He saw the man smile as he started walking the other way. The Scorpion waited a few seconds, left McDonald and tailed the sniper with at least two people between them.

The sniper was oblivious to the Scorpion's presence and that suited the avenger just fine. Tailing someone that walked was much easier than someone running and the Scorpion managed to stay close the entire time. Soon, the sniper entered a hotel where he headed straight for the front desk. Knowing that he wasn't detected earlier, the Scorpion entered the hotel and kept walking past the front desk and proceeded to the elevators. Looking down at his watch while leaning against the wall, the Scorpion appeared to others as a man was waiting for someone. With his back to the sniper, the Scorpion felt satisfaction seeing the man walk past him without a glance at him and took the elevator. The Scorpion walked past the elevator just before the door closed and noticed the sniper was heading to the ninth floor with the help of the mirror behind the sniper who just happened to be reading his pamphlet. He then took the stairs two steps at a time and arrived at the ninth floor. He exited the fire exit and waited around the corner for the sniper to exit. As expected, the elevator door opened with the sniper stepping out. The man just happened to head the opposite direction with Scorpion closing the distance the moment he turned the corner. The sniper stepped before his room and swiped his keycard. Before he can react, the Scorpion closed the remaining distance with a gun to the man's hip. He ordered the man to stay quiet and step into the room quietly. Any lack of cooperation would result in a nasty bullet wound. The sniper obliged and the two men were soon alone in the room with the Scorpion between the sniper and the door.
 

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Chapter 57

[Beijing, China]

(September 11, 2013)

The Scorpion ordered his prisoner to lie on the bed with his hands behind his head while he trained his gun on the sniper the whole time. He noted that the sniper didn't try to reach for a weapon earlier which may suggest that the sniper didn't have one. He wasn't going to take a chance though and prefer to not take any unnecessary risks.

"Who do you work for?" asked the Scorpion.

The sniper sat up slightly and looked back with surprise at the question. It took a while before he recovered from his surprise.

"Who are you?" he asked. "How much do you want? I can pay you all I got."

The Scorpion could see the sniper calming down as though he found the situation under control. The fact that the sniper viewed him as a mugger almost made him laugh.

"I worked for General Hua," the Scorpion said and felt satisfaction seeing panic returning to the sniper's expression.

"I didn't do it, honest."

The Scorpion heard trembling in the voice. "I don't believe you. Your kind kills anything to make a quick buck and will lie to save your own skin."

"I really didn't kill General Hua."

"Who did?"

"I don't know. You got to believe me."

"Why should I?" The Scorpion pulled out a knife from his pocket. "After all, you weren't willing to tell me who you work for."

"I'll tell you. Please don't hurt me."

The sniper explained that he was recruited by a group calling themselves the FR. He claimed he didn't know what the abbreviation stood for but they paid very well. The sniper got a job that had him eliminate a Chinese general called Zhang. Once the job was completed, he would get his money and escape the country. However, he discovered, shortly after his execution, the group decided to hunt him down. He has been running and thought he was safe until the Scorpion surprised him. The Scorpion interrogated the sniper but the information he gathered was still insignificant. He soon concluded that the sniper was a tool that was used and meant to be thrown away in the end. The Scorpion knew he needed more information to find the mastermind behind the plot but he must first dispose the man. The Scorpion ordered the sniper to get up from the bed and walk onto the balcony. The sniper obliged and, the moment he stopped, the Scorpion rammed him from behind sending him over the rails. The Scorpion then left the room entering the fire exit. Instead of descending the stairs, the Scorpion ascended till he reached the roof. On the roof, he sat down and called his friend. He had a few leads that, even he would admit, weren't much to go on. He gave his friend the new information and leaned against the rails on the roof. He listened to the sirens from below while counting the minutes before it would be safe for him to leave.

An hour later, the Scorpion merged into the crowds and left the hotel. Most of the officers have left the building thinking the murderer has already left the perimeter leaving a few that were too busy holding back the crowds and reporters. The Scorpion pulled over a cab which drove him to a popular nightclub downtown. He paid the cabdriver before making his way to the nightclub entrance. The bouncer at the entrance looked down at the Scorpion and let him in without a question. The Scorpion sat himself down in the corner with a view of the entire interior. He scanned the room and soon find the person he was looking for. The other person looked up with the two of them making eye contact. The man nodded but, before he headed over, he went to order two drinks which he brought with him to the table.

"Long time no see," said the man.

"What have you got so far?"

"You didn't provide me much."

"I know but you can still dig something up."

"I did."

"What?'

"Fourth Reich."
 

blklizard

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Chapter 58

[Brasilia, Brazil]

(September 11, 2013)

Two men exited the vehicle and walked towards a building where two guards stood at the entrance. The men showed their IDs and were allowed into the building. The interior was dimly lit but the two men were familiar with the building as they ascended the stairs. The building was silent and the two men climbed the stairs with haste. They felt excitement as their plan would soon be set in motion. Reaching the second floor, they entered one of the rooms on their right and got themselves seated at the table. One other man was already seated and he was reading a book under a light bulb. The man didn't even look up from his book when the two men entered but he grunted to show he was aware of their presence. The two men waited patiently for the man to finish his reading and turn his attention to them. It was common knowledge that interrupting the man in his books meant one doesn't live to see another day.

"Thank you for waiting," said the man as he put away his book. "What have you got for me, Tadeu?

The man called Tadeu quickly reached into his pocket and pulled out several well folded documents.

"General Cardoso," Tadeu said while handing the documents over with both hands, "these are the names of people supporting our cause along with our finances."

Cardoso took the document and briefly looked over them. Both men breathed a sigh of relief seeing the general smile when he put down the documents. Cardoso stood up and called for one of his officers. The officer entered in a few seconds and the general whispered a few things in his ears before dismissing the officer. Cardoso then sat down again and turned his attention to the other man.

"Guilherme, you and your brother has performed superbly. I want men like you to guide the future of Brazil." Cardoso paused to light a cigarette. "You will both be rewarded. Go home and wait for the news. Brazil will be our by tomorrow."

Tadeu and Guilherme both thanked the general and left with haste while not hiding their joy. Cardoso walked to the window where he enjoyed his smoke. He watched the two brothers leave the building and debated whether to make his call. He knew that Brazil would soon belong to him and only the Americans could do something about it. When he finished his smoke, he decided to pick up his phone and place a long distance call. Three rings later, the other person answered the phone.

"This is Cardoso. The plan is going ahead as expected. Brazil will be ours shortly."

"Excellent news, general. I knew I chose the right man. I will continue transfer funds to your bank account."

"When will we see fireworks on American soil?"

"Very soon, my friend."

"I hope so. Otherwise, we might have some difficulties with the Americans."

"Don't worry, we don't let our friends hang out to dry. As we speak, our teams are already making their final preparations."

[Cape Town, South Africa]

(September 11, 2013)

A group of men exited their vehicle and walked into the marketplace which was filled with people. Each man carried with him a small container and placed it in the specified location. Once they accomplished the simple task, they returned to the vehicle and drove off towards the airport. When they were a few blocks from the marketplace, one of the men pressed down on a trigger. The small containers would explode with the effect of fire crackers that startled the people in the marketplace. However, the civilians soon forgot about the small explosions thinking teens were pulling off pranks but the hidden killer has been released that would soon ravage all of Africa.
 

sebas379

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It seems the general didn't make the character list after all :)

"Fourth Reich."
Ok now you've got my attention :p
 

blklizard

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Ok now you've got my attention :p
That was the whole point :p. We're going to get into the meat of things soon.

Chapter 59

[Boston, USA]

(September 11, 2013)

A mundane vehicle stopped outside the hotel with two men getting off. One man carried a large luggage while the other man opened the door for him. The two of them went to the front desk to book a room. They soon entered the room where they carefully opened the luggage revealing two odd devices from within. To an untrained eye, the devices may appear to be a prop used in a Sci-Fi movie. The two men carefully removed the devices from their casings before entering sets of code on the keypads that started a countdown. After triple checking that the timer and wiring were working as intended, the two men rushed downstairs and return to the vehicle. They drove off in a hurry with the two men only staying in the hotel for ten minutes. The driver headed directly for the airport where they would eventually get on a private jet heading eastwards. By the time their jet lift off from the runway, the timer only had an hour left before hitting zero. Aboard the jet, a man made calls to his team members and learned that they finished with their tasks and were leaving the cities as they spoke. The man hanged up his phone smiling about the new era that was about to begin. He checked his watch which seemed to be running awfully slow. He wondered if he needed to replace the batteries.

[Off the Coast of New York, USA]

Two masked men entered the cockpit with their weapons trained on the pilot and copilot. The passengers behind them have quieted down after some persuasion of one hijacker using a knife on one of the flight attendants. The pilot and copilot looked at each other but neither had a clue what to do. The pilot listened to the orders of the hijacker pointing the gun at him and quickly called the air traffic control tower in New York to patch the hijackers through. The hijacker immediately sent his demands and threats over the air and smiled seeing raw fear in the pilot's eyes. These terrorists have planned out to carry out this operation at the exact anniversary of the September 11 attack so they could accomplish the most terror. The pilot then obediently cut off the communications and was ordered to change the final destination of the plane. The copilot attempted to fight back but he received a bullet through his head for his troubles. The pilot, having lost his nerves, obeyed without thought as he changed the course of his plane. Silently, he has already prayed to God and hoped that salvation awaited him once he died.

[Baltimore, USA]

A second plane was hijacked by the same terrorist group as they, like their buddies on the other plane, told their demands and threats. These men knew the Americans would never agree to the demands but their threats would add fear to the enemy's mindset. The copilot was pulled out of his seat and joined the passengers in the back while two hijackers stayed with the pilot. The pilot was shocked to hear that his destination was the White House but, with a gun to his head, he wasn't in a position to argue. As he changed course, one thing came to his mind. The hijackers have mentioned their attack on the White House earlier when they said their demands and threats. Numb from fear, the pilot swallowed his spit and focused on the controls instead of pondering on the idea. He was unsure when the American air force will react but he knew it was already too late. While the copilot was exiting the cockpit, the pilot heard the mention of bombs strapped to several passengers. He began to debate which explosion will kill him first: the crash itself or the bombs.

[Washington DC, USA]

Two men said their prayers to Allah as they sat inside their vehicle. Several of their friends were on binoculars on the lookout for any movements within the White House. They have received calls that the hijacks were successful and the President along with his staff should be evacuated soon. One of the men turned back to marvel at the explosives packed in the rear. The explosives were picked due to their large explosion radius. The terrorists knew that the two men may not get a chance to close in on their targets after driving through the fences. Their vehicle was designed to handle all weapons, including sniper rifles, to a certain degree and the objective was to get close enough for the explosives to do their work. The terrorists made modifications so that, once the vehicle reached a certain speed, the explosives would set off the moment the vehicle come to a stop. The plan was for the two men to drive through the fence in their heavily armored vehicle and head directly for the White House. As long as they covered half the distance between the fence and the White House itself, the explosives would be quite effective. The ideal scenario would be casualties but the terrorists would be satisfied with striking fear in the Americans.
 
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Chapter 60

[Washington DC, USA]

(September 11, 2013)

The two men were in the middle of their prayers when their walkie talkie sounded. One of them picked it up and listened carefully. He nodded a few times and turned to his friend with a big grin on his face. His friend, who was the driver, grinned back knowing that it was time and placed his hand on the ignition key. After a few more nods, the man on the walkie talkie told his friend to turn on the ignition before placing his walkie talkie beside him. The driver noticed some sweat on his hands but he blamed it on the excitement. The vehicle was running for a few seconds before the garage door was opened. The two men made their final prayer before the driver floored the gas and they were off.

The vehicle raced down the street receiving honks from many drivers. However, the vehicle kept going ignoring all the complaints with its driver focused only on the White House. As the vehicle closed the distance with the fence, two police officers just happened to be standing by the fence. They saw the vehicle speeding down the street and signaled it to slow down. They soon realized that the driver wasn't stopping and pulled out their handguns which they used to fire at the driver. The windshield was build to withstand bullets and the passengers inside the vehicle remained unharmed. The two officers dove out of the way in the last minutes as the vehicle stormed past them breaking through the fence.

The gunshots from the officers alerted the White House secret police officers who immediately brought out their weapons. The officers shot at the vehicle but no one has managed to shatter the glass while the vehicle sped across the lawn heading straight for the nearest entrance. It took another thirty seconds before the officers shot the driver that saw the vehicle slowing down. Moments later, the vehicle exploded with a blast that saw some of the officers ducking for cover. The explosion also shook the White House and, for the next few minutes, no one dared to move. There wasn't much left of the exploded vehicle except for its parts that scattered here and there. Its last position was determined by a medium size crater surrounded by burnt lawn. The sound of the explosion itself seemed to echo in the city with many people stopping to pinpoint its location. The blast proof glass in the White House absorbed the explosion without breaking and protected everyone inside. No one was killed in the terrorist plot but many of them were terrified by the close call. Had the vehicle actually drove through the entrance, its blast would have most likely killed everyone inside.

[Outskirts of Baltimore, USA]

The hijackers were checking out the view in the cockpit when they heard some beeping from the machinery. The pilot explained that someone was trying to contact them and one of the hijackers nodded. The pilot turned on the communications and the other person immediately barked orders to the hijackers. The other person was a pilot in the US air force who was tailing the civilian aircraft in a fighter jet. The fighter pilot demanded the hijackers to surrender or he would shoot the plane down with all its passengers. The hijackers laughed at the thought an American would do such a thing and decided to call the bluff. Unknown to the hijackers, the fighter pilot suffered considerable trauma in losing his loved ones in the September 11 attack and flew his jet without authorization. Thus, his demands were purely his own and, when he saw the terrorists refusing to negotiate, he locked onto the civilian aircraft and fired a missile. The missile had no problems pinpointing the aircraft and, upon impact, blew up half the plane. The front end of the plane was still intact but it began to break apart as it descended to the ground. The two hijackers and pilot were shocked by the blast and the three prayed knowing that they have lost completely control.

For many people on the highway, seeing a fighter jet tailing a civilian aircraft was quite a sight. However, it paled in comparison with the missile blowing up half the civilian aircraft that saw its front end diving towards the ground. It appeared like a comet crashing down towards the ground heading for an open field. Bits and pieces of the aircraft were breaking from the aircraft as its elevation dropped steadily. Occasionally, a large piece of debris may fly out and crash onto the highway narrowly missing a onlooker or a vehicle. There was, however, a rare chance where a piece of debris found a vehicle and killed the passengers instantly. Several onlookers rushed over to help the passengers of one such unfortunate vehicle but the roof of the vehicle has collapsed inwards killing the passengers instantly. Several of them still tried hoping there were still survivors but their efforts were in vain. Suddenly, someone screamed that gasoline was leaking out and everyone rushed to get away. Moments later, the vehicle exploded leaving only a burning wreck in its wake. A small child walked over to the license that flew from the vehicle. She picked it up and saw "U.S. Government" on the top of the plate.
 
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Chapter 61

[Off the Coast of New York, USA]

(September 11, 2013)

One of the hijackers lifted the body of the copilot and threw it onto the ground. He then sat in the seat while keeping his eyes on the pilot. His friend stood behind the pilot taking in the view of New York in the distance. The two men have never left their home in the Middle East and seeing New York was indeed a rare treat. They have never imagined such a city was possible but they also knew that such a city was built upon the blood and sweat of their people. The city represented the greed and arrogance of their enemy. The plane they hijacked would aid in bringing down the corrupted empire called America and free their people from its oppression. One of them asked the pilot how long they had before reaching the city and he answered ten minutes or so. Suddenly, the three men in the cockpit caught sight of a brilliant light originating from New York itself. Moments later, the aircraft shook violently as though it entered a region of massive turbulence. A look at the pilot told the hijackers that such turbulence wasn't normal as the hapless pilot tried to regain control of the aircraft. It was becoming obvious that the pilot was losing control with the aircraft descending steadily.

The two hijackers, instead of looking at their soon to be crash site, looked up to see an incredible sight before them. They see before them a large mushroom cloud exhibiting a reddish color which engulfed nearly all of New York. The cloud was so thick that they couldn't see beyond it. The two hijackers were absolutely mesmerized by the sight and forgot about their aircraft making a direct course into the ocean. The mushroom cloud seemed to reach into the heavens where the two hijackers believed they were headed being martyrs for their religion. The pilot was still fighting against the controls hoping to fight the descent and, while he did pull the nose of the aircraft up slightly, it was already too late seeing the aircraft plunging straight into the ocean. The impact upon which the aircraft crashed into the ocean shattered the cockpit glass and the resulting force killed the three men instantly. The passengers in the rear have already realized something was wrong following the violent shake and many of them screamed as they felt the plane hit the water. The body of the aircraft held for a few seconds before it broke apart sending the passengers into complete panic. There would be no survivors from the crash.

[Off the Coast of Halifax, USA]

The man double checked the time on his watch and his phone. He was almost certain that the timers have went off but he needed confirmations. There were several men assigned to watch the spectacular sights at a distance and report the situation to him. Ten more seconds ticked by before the first call arrived. Soon after that, eleven other calls reached the man confirming that all twelve nuclear bombs were set off without a hitch. America will be devastated with the loss of its twelve cities and its inhabitants. The Fourth Reich has dealt its first blow against its most hated enemy. There was, however, one more target left. The man stared at the luggage sitting across from him secured to the plane itself. He was thankful the Chinese was so sloppy at guarding such powerful weapons. He especially loved the irony that USA would suffer from a weapon they have created and used to terrorize so many other nations. The man also wouldn't forget how the Americans used this weapon against Third Reich's closest friend and ally. Now, he would use the last weapon at his disposal to rid another enemy that was to blame for the Third Reich's defeat. The nuclear weapon would be placed at her capital and, like the Americans, her people will know true terror and helplessness. The man laughed at the thought and was interrupted by a call. He looked at the number answering almost instantly.

"Ulrich here!"
 
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Chapter 62

[Washington DC, USA]

(September 11, 2013)

"This is CNN news and we are sorry to bring the terrible tragedy that has befallen our great nation. We have just learned that several nuclear bombs were detonated along the east coast killing millions and destroying twelve cities. The destroyed cities were: Concord, Boston, Albany, Providence, New York City, Hartford, Trenton, Dover, Richmond, Raleigh, Columbia and Atlanta. So far, we are relieved to learn that Washington DC was spared as we are considering the possibility the terrorists made a mistake. According to our brave reporters on helicopters, we were told that the targeted cities have been completely leveled. It's very unlikely for survivors to be found near the blast radius unless civilians just happened to be deep underground. Emergency personnel have been proceeding with caution with the appropriate protections as they tried to search for any survivors under the rubble. This attack on American soil will not be forgiven and we have already received word that the President has denounced the terrorist vowing to take action against the enemy of USA. Before we can avenge our fellow Americans, let us spend time grieving for those who lost their lives for our great nation. Their sacrifices won't be in vain because we will find those responsible. We will track them down to the ends of the earth if we have to so we can achieve justice. With the nuclear fallout, our reporters cannot get close enough to get pictures on the ground but their few shots so far sadden our heart. Twelve great cities have been annihilated in matters of seconds with millions of innocent lives lost. It's truly a great tragedy for our nation..."

[Brasilia, Brazil]

The streets surrounding the National Congress building was silent when multiple gunshots were heard. The security rushed to investigate the gunshots only to be picked off by enemy snipers. The government officials were busy in a meeting but they soon received word of gunshots. The head of security thought it was best to evacuated everyone and conclude the meeting early. However, the evacuation came a little late with the rebels already encircling the building. Tanks and infantry were advancing forward and shooting at anyone with a weapon pointed at them. The circle was closing and the government officials hid nervously in their meeting room hoping that the military could come to their aid. What they didn't know was that General Cardoso has already taken complete control of the military and he planned this coup for several years. The general would have been hesitant to act had he not receive a visit from two men earlier in the day. Knowing that he had the support of many powerful and influential people in Brazil, the general chose this exact moment to act. The government officials just happened to be gathered in one place making the National Congress building the ideal location to target. The security inside could deal with intruders but, against the military, they stood no chance. Soon, the security was disposed of and the coup was accomplished seeing a junta established with Cardoso at its head.

The first act of Cardoso once he rose to power was appearing before the television. He gave a long speech about a new Brazil hoping to calm the people down. The general wasn't worried about any uprisings since he had the military backing his every decision. Still, he wanted some airtime on television so he would be recognized as the new leader of Brazil. The speech was aired live not only across Brazil but also getting some airtime in neighboring nations. Cardoso spoke of a new Latin America free from foreign influences where its people guide its future. In the speech, the general mentioned that he wasn't alone in the quest which, to many, seemed to be directed to his officers and soldiers. However, his speech served another, yet greater, purpose. Cardoso had many allies in neighboring nations that shared the same ideals as him. They, too, were backed by the same powerful organization that funded Cardoso's coup. These people were prepared and waited for the word to act. Like Cardoso, they hesitate to act fearing much resistance. However, the organization knew that, should Cardoso succeed in his coup, the other group would follow. As expected, the successful coup in Brazil sparked multiple coups in the neighboring nations of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. By the end of the day, seven Latin American countries changed government to a military dictatorship with the first objective being declaring war on the United States of America.