Operation Firestorm Edit
20 May, 1968 Enciphered communiqué to the Green Monastery, Andorra
Delivered by Rogue-at-Marque Allan Quartermain.
From: Cardinal Marcus Valenwood, Intelligence Branch
To: Alias “Brother Thomas,” Director, Chamber Epistolary
Greetings brother, I hope this letter finds you well. I have sent this by messenger with the utmost secrecy, as I believe that we have been presented with a most timely and unique opportunity. Enclosed with this communiqué is a copy of a letter received from a field recon team in Africa. I believe Brother Zacharia has rather succinctly described the opportunity, but there is more information.
I’ll describe it briefly: One, on fourth May, nineteen sixty-eight, the allied nations performed the first field test of an unique weapons system Codenamed “Athena.” Included are reports from certain spies regarding this weapon system, and blueprints smuggled out of Amsterdam.
On sixth May, with the recorded data from the test ,and the aftermath, and despite the loss of the entire field test group, Allied Command approved the full-scale construction and fielding of the Athena system. According to spies in the R&D division at Futuretech, they have already begun launch of six satellites and the construction of six more, in addition to the two already in orbit.
Now the plan. The triumvirate has personally approved the acquisition plan, and has placed at your disposal the original recon team from Africa, and Rogue group twelve. Dossiers are enclosed. We have a small window here, brother. In two weeks time, the first significant security measures on the Athena system come online, after which a quiet hijacking will become impossible. This operation has been coded : Operation Firestorm
- Work fast, and go with God
- Cardinal Valenwood, Penzance Abbey
The church was a small mission-style chapel in the worst neighborhood in Madrid. The windows were boarded up, the faded brick walls were shot full of old bullet holes, and the steeple was in great need of repair. The sun was setting, the sound of distant sirens could be heard in the distance, and a flight of allied bombers shot by overhead, en route to some warzone somewhere.
The first to arrive was a battered Ranger pickup. Its extensive rust, worn and battered tires, and cracked windshield, were belied by the growling, of its powerful-sounding engine. The driver was older, with graying hair and a thin mustache. He wore worn jeans, a tweed coat, and a .44 Magnum on his hip that stood in marked contrast to his harmless appearance.
Behind him by ten minutes was a Leopard, dusty, with a couple of dents that looked suspiciously like bullet holes, but with the Int. Inc logo on its grille clearly visible. The SUV growled to a halt, and two people got out.
The passenger was a bit over three meters tall, huge in the shoulders and chest, and his skin was black as night. He wore a black Mohawk that stood five centimeters off his head, and went all the way to his neck. His jeans were held up by a leather work belt full of tools, and something that looked suspiciously like a sheath was slung over his back.
The driver, on the other hand, looked like the quintessential military man. In contrast to his passenger, he was wiry, his salt-and-pepper hair shorn close to his head, and wore a Japanese wave-force katana with the air of one accustomed to its weight.
These two found the first arrival in the chapel itself, looking around with some distaste at the worn pews with their stained threadbare cushions, the stained plaster walls, and the dim, dusty lights.
“Ah, hello.” The older man’s voice was exceptionally average. “What does the Eagle seek?” The burly guy with the Mohawk answered, in a deep bass voice,with a Bronx accent: “The death of the Scorpion. You are…?” “Alan Quartermain, at your service.”
“The legendary Rogue. The triumvirate must be serious.” The quintessential military man stepped forward: “Crusader Zacharia Wernik, chamber Epistolary. This is Paul Bishop, technical expert. Weren’t we supposed to meet someone here?” Alan frowned at a knockoff Rolex on his wrist. “There was someone, but he seems to be late.”
A door at the back of the chapel opened, and a priest stepped into the light stepped out. “Good evening, gentlemen. Is there anything I can do for you?”
Quartermain looked up; “ah, yes, in fact. We were supposed to meet a ‘Brother Thomas’ here. You wouldn’t happen to know if he’s here, would you?”
The man chuckled to himself. “I’m not certain. I don’t know of this “Brother Thomas” of which you speak, but if you like, you can wait in our kitchen.” He smiled to himself, and led the three somewhat bewildered men back into the chapel’s spacious kitchen.
He turned. “Tell me, what brings three native English speakers to this humble house of the Lord?” “We’re here to meet with somebody called ‘Brother Thomas.’” Zacharia allowed some of his annoyance to come through his tone. “As to why, it’s none of your business.”
The priest raised his eyebrows. “indeed, Crusader Wernik? If it’s ‘Brother Thomas’ you seek, then it is ‘Brother Thomas’ you have found.”
Quartermain looked sharply at the man, noticing for the first time, the priest’s distinctly Japanese features, and that he was probably in his forties. “You are the Chamber Epistolarie’s primary mission coordinator?” “Not quite, Alan. But close. You could say that I’m the Chamber’s best kept secret. Would any of you like a cookie?” so saying, he turned to the oven, removing a batch of fresh-baked sugar cookies. “There’s beer and Coke in the fridge, if anyone wants.” Paul went to the fridge immediately; Alan and Zacharia called for beers, Paul took out two Cokes, one for himself, one for the enigmatic priest, and passed out the drinks. “Brother Thomas” slid the cookies onto a plate.
“Alright. Zacharia and Paul are already aware of the business that brings us together, but for Alan’s benefit, a quick review; First: Last week, Futuretech unveiled the Athena Satellite Defense Network to the Allied Nation’s top brass. This system uses a number of orbiting ‘Solar Energy Beam cannons’ to provide artillery support. Zach and his recon team stumbled on the first combat test of the new system. The Triumvirate has ordered that we attempt to take control of one of these satellites.”
Alan held up a hand; “Excuse me, er, ‘Thomas,’ but hijacking a satellite seems a bit high-profile for us, doesn’t it?”
Zacharia glanced at Paul, who in turn, looked at Alan; “Yes, it would be, except that security procedures have yet to be implemented.”
“Thomas” held up a hand; “I think I can anticipate your questions, and I think you’ll find my, review of the events, satisfactory. At any rate, the Triumvirate has decided that one of these satellites would be immensely useful to the cause, so we are going to, ah, ‘Co-Opt’ one before the security systems go online in ten days. We have three objectives…”
In the wee hours of the morning, three men left the church. A battered Ranger with an unusually powerful engine went one way, a Leopard with dust and recent bullet holes went the other. It was nearly three A.M. when a nondescript, vaguely Japanese individual in jeans, a button-up shirt, and the white priest collar, left the church, locked up, and drove away on a battered moped. As the moped rounded a corner a mile away, an old pickup truck rattled by, and slowed in front of the church. As it slowed, a tarp in the bed was thrown back, and a man fired a mortar set up in the back. whatever was in the mortar must have been powerful,'cause, as the truck sped away, a massive conflagration enveloped the old building, blowing it, and almost the entire surrounding block, sky-high.
Weeks later, when Peacekeepers were investigating, the residents (All of them,) described a middle-aged Japanese guy, who had come to them early that same day, and told them to pack up and leave for twenty-four hours. Every resident on the block was saved.