Location: Manchurian Plain
The People’s Liberation Army Quarters (PLAQ), is a massive underground intelligence and military facility located within the Manchurian plain in China. Construction of the facility began in the year 2000, but it wasn’t until 2025 that it was completed. The Chinese had been very careful for until 2020, they had to contend with the Americans and their ‘eyes in the sky.’ To aid their clandestine construction of the facility, they had developed Signal Reformers. These devices were so sensitive that they could pick up the directed photons from a satellite lens and react by reforming the image captured. The KH spy satellites the U.S had relied on for decades, were no match for the Signal Reformers and construction had gone on undetected. Still, they had been cautious, and caution meant progressing a bit more slowly. With the advent of the war, and with U.S resources deployed to combat more active enemies, a bit of caution had been thrown to the wind. The result was a spectacle to behold.
The tall Chinese man reflected on these things, as he made his way through the massive lit hallway which had many hatch doors on either side. He stopped at one such door marked with the alphanumeric sequence A49Y. The man adjusted his black suit before placing his right palm on what appeared to be a biometric reader, beside the door. As the reader scanned his palm, two automatic guns whirred out of their slots in the wall and trained their nozzles on him. He understood. If he failed any of the authentication procedures, the guns would open fire on him.
Finger and Palm print match.
Suddenly, the glass deformed and pinprick needles emerged beneath each fingertip, piercing them as they did. The man could see his blood slide down the glass and get absorbed by it. A few seconds later, the mechanic feminine voice spoke once more.
Blood type and DNA match.
Finally, a blue light shot out towards the man’s right eye. Another couple of seconds passed before that authentication was done.
Retinal match. Welcome Mister Chen Zhang.
Chen knew all too well this final hidden authentication. Voice. If he failed to respond, or his stress tones, pronunciation and pacing did not match the baselines built for his profile, he’d be a dead man.
“Thank you.” Chen responded.
A whoosh of air followed his response and the hatch slowly moved forward, before sliding over to the side. Chen stepped inside the room and the hatch closed up behind him.
The room was really an office complete with a display, a desk and chair, a laptop and an occupant working on it. The office architecture was in stark contrast to the sleek and modern facility it sat in. The man who sat behind the laptop was dressed in a white shirt, unbuttoned at the top and sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His black hair, gelled and slicked back, shimmered in the yellow light of the office.
“Mr. Chen. So nice of you to visit.” The man said. The Slavic accent was unmistakable.
Chen observed the man for a moment. He was trim in a wiry way but his lethality could not be understated. His eyes though trained on the computer screen in front of him, missed nothing that moved around him. His entire frame was perfectly shaped, conditioned and chiseled to make him a smooth fighting machine. If Chen had been a lesser man, he would have been so terrified as to wet himself. However, he wasn’t, and as such, he regarded the sitting man as one would regard an equal threat.
“Pressing matters bring me here.” Chen said in response.
“What more could be pressing? We rid you off your chronic monk problem.”
“The American is asking too many questions and researching too close to the truth.”
The sitting man stopped typing and leaned back on his chair. He slowly shifted his gaze towards Chen.
“He would never do that. He is a professional.”
“I am not talking about Horus. He is no more American than I am.” Chen said.
“Then who are you talking about?”
“The popular reporter. Her friend dug too far, and now so is she. She must be stopped.”
“Then do it yourself.” The sitting man said with an air of dismissal. “I watched the news. I saw what you did to John Buchanan. It wasn’t particularly clean. But… I suppose that level of professionalism will have to suffice.”
The sitting man smiled after his jibe had been let loose. He gazed intently at Chen, his eyes littered with excitement at the prospect of a reaction. Chen did not give it to him. He had his own card to play and there couldn’t be a more perfect time to do so.
“If she uncovers the truth, your ruse, your plan… years… centuries… will go up in smoke.”
Chen allowed himself a small smirk when the sitting man’s eyes widened in fear for a brief moment, before settling back. He knew he had struck a raw and very real nerve. He was going to strike once more.
“I’m sure you will want the… highest level of professionalism to attend to this.” This time, Chen smiled.
He had him right where he wanted him.
The sitting man sighed and picked up his phone.
“I will place a call to Andrey. He knows where to find those two.” He finally said.
“I knew you would understand. If you don’t mind, I’ll keep myself in the know.” Chen said, as he whirled around and pushed a button.
The hatch door unlatched with another gust of wind, letting him out of the office.
The sitting man waited until the hatch door had closed before speaking.
“Andrey? Yes. Activate Horus and Set. Destination, United States. Target, Meghan Castella.”
The white house overlooking the Gironde River was tastefully built in classic Parisian style. The house had recently been renovated and sported neat modern windows, hidden surveillance cameras, intrusion and attack detection systems and a state of the art underground bunker with military grade nuclear blast resistant doors. No onlooker would know about these modifications unless they were shown or they belong to the same world as the occupant. That occupant was making his way to the kitchen, where he poured himself a glass of orange juice from the fridge. He took a casual sip from the glass before walking over to the living room. A local news station was covering the recent murder of renowned Global Watch Anchor, John Buchanan. Officially, there was no theory on who would want him dead, or why they would. The occupant knew the truth they hid from the public. John had dug too close to Berlin for his own good. The local newscaster was moving on to details about John’s more famous colleague, when the man’s phone chirped. He glanced at the number briefly, before picking up.
“Speak.” He said tersely.
He listened for a while before speaking again.
“I remember asking for the target’s identity.”
The assassin’s eyes widened and his breath hitched slightly as he listened.
“Yes… I’m here. Nothing… it’s just a cold. Nothing I can’t take care of. I’ll be stateside, tomorrow.”
Horus ended the call and slipped the phone in his jeans pocket. He glanced back at the screen. The local newscaster was rounding up his report on Meghan Castella.
“… has asked to be given some privacy. Sources say she is very distraught at the moment.”
Horus switched off the T.V. He slung a shirt over his sculpted torso and grabbed a pair of keys on the center glass table. He picked up a gas mask from the kitchen counter, as he stepped outside. There was a parked Bugatti Celeritas, outside. It was the replacement to its very popular predecessor, the Veyron. The sports car was painted a matte black with darkened headlights and back lamps, giving it a batmobile aura. Horus got inside and pushed a button that roared the engine to life. He pulled out of the driveway and hit the road at breakneck speed. Driving always liberated his mind and he needed it more than ever now.
MeMe, just what have you done?