The Wangluo operatives had already abducted a member of the Cyber Coalition ambassador’s office, Moreen DeMarco, and she was to be beheaded on live Internet channels if Waltz did not intervene quickly. The tiny woman was filmed on a chair with a black bag covering her head and upper torso; she held her passport in quivering hands for the cameras. Wangluo denied all affiliation with the radicals who held Ms. DeMarco in a secret location. But Waltz had found them out, confirming the ambassador’s representative was being held in the embassy via her tracking nodules.
The Boston Clam Jam blasted in his headphones with the drums throbbing, Ba-Da BOOM BUM, Ba-da BOOM DUM. It urged Waltz to action, as if there was not anymore pressure for him. His legs shook feverishly, once his typing stopped. He waited.
The United Nations Wangluo Embassy was hallowed ground. He was at a stalemate while the eyes in the sky kept watch over everyone. Without the cameras going blind, he could do nothing. The world would not allow for any transgression on such neutral territory, and the world would answer swiftly with war to protect “the peace.” It was the one safe haven each country’s diplomats could rely on without question, and it was one of the few things that had been able to stalwart peace and stymy a world war.
“Thank the gods for coffee,” he said to himself as he watched the long lines of worms unzipping the protective grids of the security system code.
The draught of black java was steaming, and the silken tendrils found their way over the keyboard, up and up into his nostrils. It would be his third cup of the night, but he needed it to stay more than awake and warm, to stay focused and alert beyond measure of all but the most adept cyber spies.
Though the Colombian bean was incredibly rare and terribly expensive due to the coffee plant blight in Central and South America, Cyber had responded kindly to his working tool and provided him with a supply monthly. Waltz was low maintenance in regards to the tools he required for his trade.
Many Cyber Warriors relied on tech implants into their bodies, which meant their bodies were physically in constant upheaval with their own immune systems and their anti-bodies. A simple scrape alongside an A-block phone bio-implanted in the forearm brought heavily amplified infection. Something as simple as brushing cement caused suffering more often than not. The interface of the cellular with the electronic tech was not yet perfected. Such infection required super-engineered antibiotics the like of which only government disease control centers, like Cyber’s and Wangluo’s, were capable of engineering safely.
The indigo clusters pulled apart and disintegrated on the screen. Flashes and swirling numerals marked the security system’s attempts to raise alarms and push Waltz out. The window was short: twenty minutes and all traces of the invasion would disappear.
He was in.
With a slow, sloppy pull from his mug, Waltz finished the coffee and ran across the rooftop. Night and the thick rain had given him the cover needed to evade the restaurant’s meager cameras, and they had no thermal sensors. Unfortunately, the grid Waltz’s virus had just taken offline was wholly separate from the establishment across the street.
As he rushed to the ladder on the side of the building, a heavy firedoor swung open and bashed him off of his feet. The security guards were more than the typical retired cops, they were tall, square, blocks of muscle that took advantage of his falling. They quickly pummeled his head and ribs. All thought, the racing streams riding the coffee buzz, abandoned Waltz.
“Clearly you guys are Russian mafia-”
A fist cracked his jaw and cut him off. His nose was next and the smell of blood filled him. He struggled to get off of his back while the two giants kicked and jabbed with freakish speed.
An elbow connected with his temple.
“That’s a joke, guys. I’m sure you have no fucking idea who the KGB were.”
Waltz entered the fetal position and tried to roll. Heavy boots swarmed his back from one guard and his ribs and gut from the other. The thin layer of Kevlar beneath his clothes was the only thing saving him from being crippled permanently.
His pocket vibrated. There were only fifteen minutes left to save Moreen DeMarco’s life. There were only fifteen minutes left to prevent an all-out cyberwar. Shielding his face as best he could, Waltz put together enough thoughts to form a swift plan.
Time slid away, like the rain on the slippery metal roof. In between pummeling blows, he reached back and pulled the laptop from his pack. The guards anticipated his using it as a shield. Instead, he rolled with it to the nearest deep puddle and plunged it home.
God, I hope the super-ion battery’s charged enough, he thought.
As the guards each aimed to break the device in half with their punting of it, Waltz seized their ankles. As he grasped their pasty, almost luminescent skin in the night’s storm, he leaned his own elbows into the sizzling computer, and the three of them were jarred with agonizing electrocution.
They were thrown in three different directions away from the shorted machine. The already dark and shadowy world dimmed to black.
* * *
The vibration of his A-block woke Waltz to a start. He had training in the most adverse of circumstances and dealing with a digitally electrified world’s infrastructure on a daily basis, he was quite resistant to all but the deadliest of high voltage shocks.
He turned and threw up, the coffee boiling his esophagus horribly as it exploded across his black suit and then sputtered onto the rainy rooftop in Eastern Russia. Oh man, he thought, there’s only ten minutes left. I have to get her out, if it kills me.
Being born with a fair share of hard lumps offset by a good amount of luck, Waltz sat up and realized that despite their enormity, the mafia restaurant security guards were still unconscious. Their white dinner jackets were soaked with grime; their heads were lying against doused steel, and their sunglasses were cracked. But they were asleep.
Waltz was free to go. Then he noticed the miniature ocular computer on the side of their glasses. They had been filming him. And he did not have time to undo the oncoming assault of mob guys protecting their territory that were surely on the way.
“No wonder the embassy allowed the restaurant to open right across the street from it,” he said. “No one in their right mind would trespass here.” He laughed at himself and coughed, holding what was surely many a bruised and broken rib.
“Stay focused, genius. Time’s running out on her.”
Despite being barely able to walk, he rummaged along the rooftop until he found an air conditioning unit and the 220-volt lines coming into it. His experienced hands were unbroken and did their work on autopilot: wires were exposed, the ground’s disconnected, and the rest were shorted against the metal casing. Sparks, smoke, and fire erupted upward.
Waltz shielded his eyes and hurried away to the nearest ladder. He slowly lowered himself down the three-story building, wincing with every movement and every rung of the slimy ladder. Thunder rocked his recovering eardrums.
Since the cameras were down, he walked through the front gate and right on into the embassy. The U.N. representative, his name plaque said he was Sergio, looked curiously at Waltz’s drenched suit and beat up face and started to pick up a phone to call security over.
The buzz went off again. Five minutes was left until the system went back online and captured him.
“Oh that won’t be necessary my good man,” said Waltz in perfect Russian. “Can I call you Sergio?”
“You may,” said Sergio answering in Russian. “Are you alright?”
“No, I am not. I was just mugged. They took my laptop, my wallet, and left me to-“
“Oh my god, are you alright?”
“I’m afraid I’m hurting a great deal. I need help, Sergio.”
“Let me call you a paramedic-“
“What’s going on here?” said a guard cutting off Sergio.
She was armed with a M6 semi-automatic rifle approached with her barrel pointed toward the floor. Her head was shaved. She looked ready to go ten rounds in a boxing match without showing a bruise.
Cameras lined the desk, the walls’ crown molding, the ceiling and many of the floor tiles. Big Brother’s eyes were everywhere. And Wangluo was blind for almost five more minutes.
Suddenly, Waltz slumped and feigned shifting woozily. He collapsed to the floor. As the guard leaned down, he grabbed her M6 and clocked her across the side of the head. She fell to the tile, passed out.
“Come on, Sergio. You’re going to bring me inside to where you’re keeping the Cyber lady, Moreen DeMarco.”
“Move or die, Serg,” said Waltz, “it’s up to you. But choose quickly.”
The somewhat round U.N. agent led the Cyber Warrior through a few long hallways in the lush mansion hurrying as though his fervent waddling was the only thing that would save his life. Sergio gingerly opened the door to the wing’s powder room where Ms. DeMarco was gagged and tied to a heavy wooden chair. There was a bucket below her, filled with refuse, but not a sign of the guards.
Waltz pointed to the floor in front of Sergio to indicate he stay put. Sergio looked down, and got bonked on the back of the head. Waltz caught him and lowered him to the wooden floor. The weight of Sergio was sheer agony, as it was to move so quickly.
Waltz slipped to the bedroom door, which was ajar. Inside the dim room was a thick fog of cigar smoke where half a dozen men sat in a circle cheering with fistfuls of paper as a woman rolled a set of dice. He caught the crimson glow of someone’s bionic eye, but they were focused on the bottle beside them and the rattle of the cubes. Fuck it, he thought.
Waltz stepped back to Moreen DeMarco and untied her. As she took off the blindfold, he held his finger over his lips in a sign of silence. She nodded, took out the gag, and pointed to her bruised and battered legs and signed for him to pick her up.
What does she want me to do, fall over? I know she’s small but I’m barely walking here. Damn it, why did I have to go and knock out Sergio? He could’ve lifted the bitch.
To his utter horror she opened her mouth to persist:
“Pick me up,” she whispered.
“I will murder you right here and now, and make you watch as I gouge my own balls out with that fork,” he said pointing to a catering cart nearby, “if you speak out loud again.”
He did his best to lean down and let her put a slender arm over his shoulder. As she rose, her feet stumbled and nearly fell out from under her. She grasped hold of his side with her other hand, and he felt something pop; a rib moved in a wholly unnatural way.
Waltz straightened her up and with his free hand bit into his fist as pain threatened to make him pass out. His lungs throbbed and swelled and restricted his breathing.
The stars started to fade from his vision when his phone vibrated another warning: he had two minutes to exit unseen.
I’ll never make it, he thought.
They ambled out of the powder room and he looked both ways, immediately regretting again knocking out the only guide he had for the building, Sergio. He had no idea where to go to reach the exits he had mapped out and get out on time; there was just the way they had come, the lobby, and it was sure to have people investigating the sloppily disposed of guard that he had foolishly left on the middle of the floor in his hurry.
I’m not thinking clearly, he realized. It’s only the pain. The pain is not going to get the better of me. I can drown it out. His ear buds had long since fallen out, but the sound of guitar soloing filled his head anyway and pushed away the paralyzing agony.
He stopped and turned Moreen around. They headed back to the powder room.
“You can’t take me back,” she protested.
“Shut the fuck up,” he whispered. His eyes glowed threateningly, preternaturally, almost as if they were bionic and red, but they were not – they were just furious. The music came back and he sought peace, found peace.
* * *
The alarms sounded blaringly. Waltz’s song snapped off in his head. He hurt so much. And the clangor made his head heavy with pain.
From the cramped storage of the catering cart, he sat with his charge on his lap. How they fit in that tiny coffin, he did not know. Every time Moreen shifted her weight needles fired in his broken body. He hated her guts.
They were wheeled down to the shipping area where the food carts were swapped for ones laden with more sustenance for the guests at the embassy. Talk of the escape and the lack of any video evidence added mystery to the story; it was thick in the voices of the staff. They were just meagerly paid servants, but Cyber was feared all the same . . . and for good reason.
This is a work of fiction exclusive to Cyberwarseries.com and was written by author R.J. Huneke. It explores the protagonist of Cyberwar, William Waltz, and takes place before the events of the book, but within the world of Cyber.
PRE_ORDER this upcoming novel Cyberwar for as little as $10 on the publisher's site here: http://pentian.com/book/fund/601