The Cauldron by Charles Goodwin Chapter 20

The Founding of Chiron

Chapter 20
The Seal Of Empowerment

‘Quick, call Karadra and Melissa in. We need a doctor here ASAP!’ ordered Rebecca as she knelt next to Wakonda supporting his head in her lap. ‘He’s unconscious but he is still breathing.’

‘There is no point calling for a doctor,’ said Karadra softly as he limped unannounced into the anteroom with Melissa. ‘Wakonda is untying the navel knot. We must carry him to his quarters immediately.’

Paul and Don gently lifted the holy man off the floor and into their arms.

‘Please follow me,’ said Melissa quietly as she directed them to Wakonda’s bedroom.

‘What did Karadra mean by ‘untying the navel knot?’ whispered Rebecca to Bashar as they followed the others down the long corridor to Wakonda’s suite.

‘The astral body is bound to the physical body by a fine silver chord at the navel. Wakonda is moving the center of his silver chord from the navel to the third eye region. We adepts know this as untying the navel knot.’

‘In other words he is dropping his body,’ interjected Sonia.

‘Yes Sonia, when a master such as Wakonda drops his body it is a conscious decision of his will. How do you say it? To him it will be like freeing himself from a straightjacket, yes?’

‘Then how could Karadra see that as he walked into the room?’ countered Rebecca.

‘A master’s death is always an unselfish act of service. If my hunch is correct you will soon experience yourself what Karadra was able to see.’

Paul and Don laid Wakonda on his bed. Melissa placed the master’s forearms on his chest crossed at the wrists with palms face down. Bashar drew the heavy curtains and then in the dimness lit several scented candles. Karadra sat on the end of the bed and began chanting in an indigenous language unfamiliar to the new arrivals.

Rebecca knelt down next to the bed, clasped her hands together and prayed silently.

‘Please, come and sit down over by the wall on the rug with me,’ said Bashar to Don and Sonia. ‘Try to still your mind and center your spirit. This may take a while.’

Paul gently helped Rebecca to her feet and whispered, ‘Let’s sit with Bashar and the others by the wall.’ And then asked caringly, ‘ Are you all right Rebecca?
‘Yes, strangely peaceful,’ she answered as she thought to herself, ‘I can’t understand it – Wakonda is dying – poisoned – and I feel peaceful. Why aren’t I falling to pieces? Why aren’t I at least crying. Perhaps it’s the energy of the Mandir. This feels like a profound and sanctified spiritual experience rather than a sad death.’

An hour elapsed. The candles occasionally flickered as if a draft had suddenly wafted through the dim room. Karadra was now silent and patiently waiting. Melissa sat next to her brother at the end of the large bed.

Bashar was drawing in long slow breaths through one nostril and then pausing for about ten seconds before exhaling slowly.

The second hour was nearly up. ‘It’s started,’ announced Karadra.

At first it seemed like a fine silken thread rising into the ethers from Wakonda’s temple. The
ectoplasmic luminescence rose a few feet and then turned horizontal, parallel to the master’s body.

The thread grew thicker, brighter – and although it had the composition of spirit it seemed to appear denser than one might have thought possible. The seemingly unstoppable excretion continued as a stream, exteriorizing out from Wakonda’s third eye area and into the ghostly materialization of light that was now beginning to form. In subtle degrees of change the hovering evanescent ectoplasm slowly took on Wakonda’s features. The original fine thread gradually grew thicker and began to look more like a spiritual chord as the spirit body formed.

Wakonda’s astral illuminated the room and still the ectoplasmic excretion continued rising.

Suddenly the mysterious process stopped.

Still attached to his physical body by the spiritual umbilical cord, Wakonda’s astral body eerily began to drift away from the bed and float over to those seated on the floor.

Paul clutched Rebecca’s hand in a vice like tensed grip. The experience had reminded him of the horror and evil of the ritual in Marduk’s caverns under the Castle a few days before. ‘It’s ok Paul,' whispered Rebecca sensing Paul’s fear. ‘This is a blessed experience of the light not the outcome of some dark and sinister ritual.’

Don also heard her whisper and drew much needed comfort from her words.

Wakonda turned his astral body from a horizontal position to a vertical position and gently lowered to the floor. The first attempt to stand proved quite humorous as Wakonda’s feet at first was still two feet in the air and then with the attempted overcompensation was through the floor up to his knees.

‘Please do not move and do not try to touch Wakonda until he severs the chord,’ stated Karadra.

The Shaman finally stood there smiling in front of the group, his feet now ‘firmly’ planted on terra firma. He raised his arms outward and upwards and with a ritualistic act of will severed the umbilical cord. Simultaneously, a death rattle could be heard coming from the now dead body on the bed.

‘I feel like the moth finally freed from the cocoon,’ announced Wakonda in an ethereal voice. ‘The earthly body can become a real millstone around one’s neck,’ he added humorously. ‘I am sorry to keep you waiting so long but I had much to arrange with the Angelic Council.’

As it is experienced in the presence of saints, the light and the intense spiritual energy being emitted from Wakonda had the effect of stilling the mind to the point where thoughts were hard to create. This compares with the usual chattering mind whereby, without training and practice, thoughts are difficult to stop. Wakonda looked radiant but not ghostly. His streaming aura filled the room in kaleidoscopic rays of mauves and purples.

Bashar was the only one to find his voice after the miracle performed by Wakonda and even he had the Bhakti tears of devotional love in his eyes. ‘You did this so Rebecca and Paul and Sonia and Don could give witness to the victory of the spirit over death of the physical body, yes, my blood brother?’

‘Yes Bashar – as you well know death is but a transition and I have now proved this fact to you all first hand. Witnessing this truth will give you the strength to battle through the war ahead. My presence commencing ten days hence at the morning Darshan will eventually draw millions of people to Chiron from throughout the world. All will see the resurrected shaman curing the sick and performing miracles in God’s name.’

‘So you will stay in your astral on Earth and not ascend to the heavenly spheres?’ asked Bashar.

‘As I did in my incarnation known as Mahavatar Babaji, I will remain here once again to serve the spiritual evolution of all humanity.’

Rebecca gasped. She had read as a girl, Paramahansa Yogananda’s classic book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ and remembered reading about the great saint Babaji who had lived in the Himalayas in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Then it struck her, ‘Wakonda even looks like the saint shown in the only available picture of Babaji.’

Wakonda gave a beautiful smile to Rebecca, acknowledging her thought. ‘Please advise your friends Monica and Justin of today’s happenings and also that I will be glad to marry them at the evening darshan in ten days.’

‘Fantastic! Thank you Wakonda. They will be both honored and thrilled.’

A few moments later, Melissa rose from the bed and bowed to Wakonda. She gently placed a sheet over Wakonda’s physical body and without saying a word left the room with Karadra. Rebecca sensed there was communication between the three without understanding the import of the transference.

Paul spoke next. ‘Wakonda, as far as Rebecca and myself, what exactly will be our role here as Stewards of Chiron. What is expected of us?’ What are we do to do?’

‘Defend and maintain Chiron!’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Defend and maintain Chiron!’ repeated Wakonda. ‘Bashar will teach you how to use the powers of The Holy Seals Of Chiron. The rings you and Rebecca wear will afford you ever-increasing powers as your esoteric and occult knowledge increases. See the Seals as a trans dimensional portal to the powers of the Angelic Council and beyond. Simply do as you intuitively feel is right. You have both been carefully chosen for these roles. Paul you are a born leader and Chiron will need to be led and defended. Bashar and Don will be your trusted advisors. And Rebecca, Paul needs you by his side supporting him. Melissa and Karadra will be your advisors and teachers. I would like Sonia to eventually head Chiron’s new scientific faculty.’

Paul interjected, ‘Please Wakonda, I still do not follow – you used the word defend, yet you preach non-violence – how can I defend Chiron non-violently?’

‘I would like you to read the Bhagavad-Gita several times and as you read it, picture yourself as Arjuna in the eighteen day war against the Kauravas. Krishna tells Arjuna that for a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil. Yes, wars fought against each other’s belief systems are maniacal – especially when each side fights in the name of God. However this fight for Chiron is trans-dimensional. It is the battle against evil itself. Remember always, as it is written in the Bhagavad Gita:

‘Self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity.’

'Paul you will uphold your dharma, which is the universal law that holds all life together in unity.’

And then Wakonda asked a series of questions of Paul that left Rebecca staggered.

‘When you were with the Israeli Prime Minister did you not ask him to consider mounting a joint attack on the Austrian fortress with their special force commandos and the Australian SASF? Had you not already discussed this proposal with Bashar on the chopper flying in today? And didn’t you already have a preliminary discussion with Don to see if his CIA friends could arrange such a mission with the Australians?’

‘Well yes Wakonda. I admit that. The Israeli Prime Minister immediately agreed and said they already had contingency plans drawn up for such a mission. They feared a new world anti-Semitic regime would emerge with the advent of the World Government. However all that was before you appointed Rebecca and I as Stewards of Chiron.’

Wakonda continued. ‘You arrived here today with the express intention to say goodbye to Rebecca in case you didn’t come back from this planned mission, did you not?’

Paul was more than perplexed with Wakonda’s directness. He has indeed intended to return to the Castle. In his mind the balance had to occur. Cause and effect – he had been manipulated as the victim all his life for the most vicious and foul motivations and unless he returned and balanced out the cruel conspiracy perpetrated against him and his parents, he sensed he would remain the victim for the rest of his life. In Paul’s mind he did not have a choice. A Virgo must have order and balance or live the life of a frustrated neurotic.

‘Wakonda, I realize you already know, but these monsters are totally evil. I do not seek revenge although I feel I have every right to. As you are aware, they murdered my parents, lied to me all my life, framed me with a murder I did not commit and then attempted to have us killed as we left. No, it is not revenge, more a sense of honor, or as you said – it is my dharma – my duty – my destiny. I feel that a successful two hour raid could set their diabolical programs back years.’

‘But Paul you are not a soldier – you wouldn’t stand a chance. It’s sheer lunacy,’ cried Rebecca.

Paul stood and answered with unconvincing bravado. ‘My so-called father made sure I had training in firearms. I’m a crack shot with a rifle and handgun. I was also forced through the crash commando course on self-defence and survival techniques. I’ve kept myself fit.’ Paul paused and sensing Rebecca was not impressed, changed his tact. ‘In any case I would be there to simply bluff my way into the Castle as Paul Ravenscroft. The guards think I am the new head of the syndicate so their confusion might buy us enough time. Even Heinrich Ravenscroft would not think I’d be stupid enough to return. I have conceived a plan and discussed it with Bashar and Don. We think it might work. Bashar and Sonia know the layout of most of the installations and Bashar has access to secret maps of the Castle.’

‘Who dares wins! Yes?’ piped Bashar quoting the insignia on the Australian SASR gold and silver flaming Excalibur badges.

Sonia smirked and said, ‘I’d be happy to come with you Paul. I could certainly help distracting the guards’ attention – and besides, remember they tried to kill Don, Bashar and myself as well. It seems we all have a score to settle.’

Rebecca stood up, tears streaming from her eyes. Sonia’s well-aimed arrow had found its mark. She embraced Paul and then pulled away. 'You are serious aren’t you? You actually want to go back. What about us? We have just got married! What about your child, our future? Please I beg you - I don’t want to lose you Paul.’

Wakonda flashed a telepathic thought to Rebecca, ‘There will not be a future for you or anyone here if you do not let him go. The Angelic Council has given their imprimatur for this mission with good reason. Please hear Paul out.’

Rebecca gained her composure took a deep breath before continuing, ‘Are you certain your motive in returning is not just to kill your father?’

‘No on the contrary, part of the plan I spoke of is to kidnap him and bring him to Chiron.’

‘Kidnap him! You must be joking.’

‘What’s wrong with a little insurance? Heinrich is an important cog in the New World Order – Bashar is sure that he is also the link between Marduk and the Syndicate. Capturing Heinrich may grant Chiron some time.’

‘If successful, the mission will grant Chiron the necessary time,’ confirmed Wakonda out loud. ‘As I said Paul you were destined to be leader as Marduk well knew. You must uphold your dharma.’

Rebecca’s previous high level of elation had once more taken a nose-dive - crashed into the quagmire of despair. ‘Damn it,’ she thought. ‘It’s as crazy as those old westerns that her father used to love watching. ‘A man’s gotta do what man’s gotta do.’

Her voice was now subdued. ‘It seems I am checkmated. If you must go then I presume the quicker you can carry out this mission, the more chance the element of surprise will be on your side and the sooner we can be together again.’

‘Thank you Rebecca for your understanding, I promise you I’ll be back within a week.’

Rebecca turned to Wakonda. ‘Can you promise Paul will return safe and well.’

‘No I am afraid I can’t give you such a guarantee. Marduk has immense occult power. The mission will be dangerous. However don’t underestimate Paul’s abilities, the power of the Seals of Chiron and the combined abilities of the Israeli and Australian Special Forces.’

‘Wakonda, please answer one more question. If Paul came to say goodbye to me why did you arrange to keep us apart until after we had agreed to marry and to become the Stewards of Chiron. To be honest I now feel in some ways cruelly set up.’

‘What I did was out of love, not out of cruelty. Do you think for a moment that Paul’s mission would have had any chance of success without The Sacred Seals Of Chiron that now conjoin both of you as man and wife?’

‘I guess not, but I am unsure of the extent of these powers.’

‘The intense psychic power of the fortress emanates from Marduk. The power of Chiron flows forth from The Angelic Council. The Seals combine to be the conduit of light between the spiritual dynamo of Chiron and those who will undertake this hazardous mission. Once inside the Castle this higher dimensional light energy will hopefully create havoc with Marduk’s occult control. The Seals are able to link because of your love for each other, the vows of marriage you undertook and the child in your womb. Paul will also be able to utilize the Seal’s specific powers as and when they are needed.’

‘Can’t you see Rebecca,’ pleaded Paul. ‘Meeting you was the catalyst. You have opened my eyes to the power of love. Also I am to be a father and I finally have something noble to live for and yes, if necessary, to die for. We are both playing out a destiny and we must see it through to the conclusion.’

As Paul spoke Melissa quietly re-entered the room. ‘Excuse me for the intrusion. I have just been informed that the Israeli Prime Minister has already talked to his Australian counterpart in Canberra and they have agreed to the joint mission you spoke of in my absence. Don, Bashar and Sonia will accompany Paul by armored limousine to the RAAF Base Williamtown, which is about 180 kilometres north of Sydney. From there you will take the five-hour flight to the RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia after which you will travel by car to the SASR headquarters in Swanbourne to liaise with the SAS unit for the mission briefing.’

‘When do they have to leave?’ asked Rebecca, surprised at the suddenness and the official sounding wording of Melissa’s detailed message.

‘Right now I’m afraid. I’m sorry Rebecca. The plane at the RAAF base is currently being fuelled for take off. Now the mission has been agreed to, time is of the essence. I’ve already arranged for the few bags that they brought with them today to be placed in the car. Any delay will only add to the danger.’

‘Then we go, yes?’ exclaimed an enthused Bashar. Please say your good-byes to Wakonda. Then we must let Paul and Rebecca have a few moments alone.’

Wakonda once again raised his arms outwards and upwards in a loving blessing. ‘Dear Lord our Father, please bestow your Divine protection to these four brave souls and to the warrior commandos who will accompany them, for it is your essential work they wish to carry out. Bring them back safe with their mission accomplished.
Thy will be done.’

The Shaman lowered his arms, smiled lovingly and slowly disappeared. They heard his final words echoing from the now empty space where he had been standing. ‘I will be with you at all times. Fear not!’

As the others left, Paul and Rebecca lagged behind in the corridor. They stopped and Paul held Rebecca firmly in his arms. ‘Please be careful,’ she whispered. ‘God I love you. Kiss me Paul.’

Their lips met and both felt the warmth and the longing of each other’s bodies. The pulsating throb, the kinetic energy of magnetized hungering. They held the raw passion for a few extended and precious minutes. ‘Darling don’t worry, I’ll be back – you’ll see. I would move heaven and earth to be in your arms again.’

‘Oh my darling Paul, you have depths to your soul that I just want to immerse myself in. It’s as if I’ve finally experienced the totality I’ve spent lifetimes searching for. Oh God, be careful.’

‘I think I have it pretty well worked out. I’m banking on the fact that I know Heinrich and how he will react.’

‘I hope you are right. You seem a little too confident for my liking. Lynette was right about you. She said that you might agree to lead the armed resistance and here you are off already! You are a man of so many colours Paul.’

Paul smiled and took Rebecca’s comment as a compliment. ‘Lynette is one of Don’s CIA friends. She’s on our side so go easy with her. I’ve never met her but from what Don tells me Lynette’s heart is in the right place. You can trust her if you need someone to talk to.’

‘I’ll remember that. I have been a bit offhandish and hormonal to Lynette. I was meant to have tea with her this evening but so much has happened since yesterday. I’ll try to catch up with her later.’

Melissa appeared at the end of the passage hinting that Paul had to leave.

‘Take care of yourself and the little one while I’m gone. We have so much to catch up on once I’m back.’

‘I was hoping that you might agree that we could take off to explore the mountains for a few days as our honeymoon.’

‘That’s an appointment I will definitely keep.’ He looked once more into her eyes, ‘Auf wiedersehen Rebecca,’

‘Noin, au revoir Paul.’

‘God I do so love that man. Please come back in one piece,’ she whispered as he hurried off down the passage, through the doorway and out of sight. ‘And please Sonia, keep your beady little eyes off him!’


The phone rang in Heinrich Ravenscroft’s office and was answered by one Wolfgang Gödel, a close friend and advisor of Heinrich.

‘Ya, Wolfgang Gödel.’

‘I wish to talk to Heinrich Ravenscoft. The matter is most urgent.’ The caller spoke in German but with a middle eastern accent.’

‘Ya, ich verstehe! Einen Augenblick!’ He turned to Heinrich. ‘Heinrich you’d better take this phone call. It is on your private line and he said it is urgent.’

‘Every damn call is urgent these days. Here I’ll take it on the speaker phone.’ Heinrich pressed the button on the phone, leaned back in his office chair and placed his boots upon his antique walnut desk. ‘Ravenscroft here!’

‘We have your son!’

‘You what?’ roared Heinrich, immediately removing his boots from the desk and sitting bolt upright. ‘Did you say, you have my son?’

‘Yes sir, we are holding four hostages, your son Paul, an attractive young woman called Sonia, an odd-ball Romanian who goes by the name of Bashar and an American, Donald Ormsby.’

‘Who the fuck is this, how dare you?’ fumed Heinrich. ‘What do you mean you are holding them hostage?’

The caller was undaunted by Heinrich's ranting. ‘A group of partisans found them wondering dazed and suffering from frostbite in the mountains several days ago. Apparently their old chopper ditched after having engine trouble soon after takeoff. After they were clear the chopper blew apart – must have been a fuel leak or something. Once we confirmed that Paul was your son, we negotiated a price with the partisans to take the four off their hands as, shall we say, a speculative investment.’

‘You haven’t yet said who you are and what you want from me.’

‘We are a splinter group of the Viennese Radicals. As you may know there is a power struggle going on within our group in Vienna and we urgently need funds for weapons and bribes to launch a takeover.’

‘I could have you round up and shot for this - every last one of you! I don’t give a stuff about your infernal politics.’

A few moments silence elapsed that served to add to the tension. ‘Well then Mr. Ravenscroft, you will not see your son again!’

‘Hang on a moment.’

Heinrich switched the mute button on the speaker phone. He smiled sadistically at Wolfgang. ‘As you heard, the mother fuckers have Paul – he survived alright and that’s why we didn’t find any bodies in the wreckage . They want me to pay a ransom to have him bought back safely! How’s that for a fucking joke?’

Wolfgang smirked and stroked his neatly trimmed beard. ‘Perfect. You simply refuse to pay and hopefully they will behead them and deliver their heads to you. Wunderbar!’

Heinrich nodded and picked up the handset and spoke into the phone. ‘And how much do you expect to get for these so called hostages of yours?’

‘Six million Euros deposited in our Swiss bank account before handover.’

‘Ha, you must be joking, spat Heinrich. ‘Do you think I am a fool? And what if I don’t pay this ransom? You intend to kill them I presume.’

‘No we do not think you are a fool Mr Ravenscroft. In fact we have great respect for you. And no we cannot afford to kill them. As I said we paid good money for these hostages and need to recoup our investment. I am sure you of all people would understand that. We will simply on-sell them to the highest bidder. I am confident that under interrogation they would have valuable information for the Israelis or the freelance CIA elements - or even the Australians. Do you really want the torturous death of your son on your conscience? Six million Euros is chicken feed for you Mr Ravenscroft. We would hope you would see the payment as a fee for service rather than a ransom.’

‘Hold on a moment.’ Heinrich put his palm over the mouth piece. ‘Fuck it, if I don’t pay they will hand them on to our enemies! That could be big trouble. I haven’t dared tell Marduk yet that their bodies weren’t in the wreckage. It’s crazy, I have to pay the god-damned ransom just to have them killed.’

‘Ah Heinrich, the Radicals are just gutter rats. A bunch of anarchists and amateurs. Call their bluff. Offer them a million up front and the remainder in gold on delivery. Tell them we insist on doing the exchange outside the Castle and that I am to be your go between. We will organise a little reception for them all! Then afterwards you can show Marduk their bullet ridden bodies.’

‘Yes you are right. They are actually doing us a favour. And thank you for that offer. You are the one person in this whole bloody establishment I can trust.’ Heinrich barked again into the phone. ‘Right listen here! I’ll only say this once. Here are my terms and if you do not accept them you can go and suck a bull’s cock as far as I care. We will pay you one million Euros up front into your account and the remainder in gold bullion at handover. We will make the exchange outside this Castle and I’ll be sending my trusted friend and advisor Wolfgang Gödel to do the deal. I warn you if even one hair of my friend’s head is hurt, I will personally not rest till every last one of your whole organisation are dead – and that is a promise! And one more thing, before I pay a fucking cent, I want definite visible proof that you have my son.’

‘Please hold on Mr Ravenscroft.’

‘They’re obviously discussing it,’ said Heinrich gritting his teeth.

‘Don’t worry my friend, they will agree to the terms and I will enjoy the turkey shoot.’

‘Mr Ravenscroft. Have your security cameras zoom out from the front gate of the Castle about a kilometre. We are just over the small hill and behind the trees. We will come into view for a few minutes so you can see Paul and our other three captives. Do not make any stupid moves. There are six of us and fully armed. We will not hesitate to kill all four and cut our losses should you attempt to trick us. If we hear any choppers taking off or heading our way we will consider an attack is imminent and we will take the appropriate defensive action.’

Heinrich tapped the keyboard on the computer, over-rode the security scanners and zeroed in on the rise. A few minutes later Paul, Sonia, Bashar and Don came into view from around the hill. Each were accompanied by a gang member holding a gun to their temples. He briefly scanned Paul. He zoomed into Sonia’s open necked sheer blouse and remembered all the voyeuristic nights he had enjoyed watching her through the two way mirror. He wasn’t happy at all that these six buffoons now had Sonia in their possession.

‘It’s them alright,’ he sneered. ‘Perhaps I’ll keep Sonia locked up here for a while rather than kill her. It would be such a waste of good talent. I have to admit I do miss watching her.’

‘Mr. Ravenscroft are you there?’

‘Yes I’m here. So what do you want me to do?’ Heinrich turned the speaker phone back on so Wolfgang Gödel could hear.

‘Send two trucks out from the Castle, one of which we will retain. The gold is to be placed in one of the trucks. Other than the drivers, your friend must come alone. The backs of the trucks must be open with the tarpaulins rolled up so we can be assured they are not carrying soldiers. We intend to take Bashar and Donald Ormsby with us to the Swiss border as insurance. As further security the gold, Bashar and Donald Ormsby will each be in separate vehicles. These terms are also non-negotiable.’

‘I’ll need an hour to arrange it.’

‘You have exactly twenty minutes. That is how long we need to check that the money has been placed into our account. Please write down this account number.’

Heinrich scribbled down the number and muted the phone. ‘Those fools, they think they have thought of everything but they have missed one important factor – we don’t give a stuff if they kill them. It will save us the bullets!’

‘As I said Heinrich, we are dealing here with a bunch of low sub-human amateurs. Later when this is over we will crack down on the Viennese Radicals to ensure the return of the million Euros ransom.’

‘And with a healthy interest. We’ll teach the bastards never to try a stunt like this again.’

‘Let’s face it,’ added Wolfgang, ‘even asking for two trucks works in our favour. We have available the new modified trucks the Peace Keepers designed. You know the ones Heinrich, the trucks with the specially designed false bottoms. They have armor plated upper trays that are hinged along each side and join down the middle. Twelve soldiers can easily lie down flat in the false cavity of each truck. The truck stops, the armor plated trays then spring up into a vertical position. The soldiers leap up from behind the barriers and start firing.It will be a wonderful Schützenfest!’

‘Yes I have seen them. Quite ingenious and perfect for this occasion. Our soldiers have drilled for such an eventuality,’ smirked Heinrich. ‘The driver positions the truck to take full advantage of the surprise attack and gives the three second signal for action. Can you imagine the Peace Keepers’ driver slowing moving into the middle of the demonstration seemingly alone and just when the crowd think they can lynch the driver, Bang! Up flips the barriers and twelve MP-5 sub machine guns open up into the crowd. Now that’s what I call creative thinking!’

‘And we get first use out of them. This will be an ideal test.’ Wolfgang paused and with some hesitation added, ‘The only problem I see is that the use of two dozen soldiers will deplete our security here at the Castle somewhat. Do you think we should inform Marduk?’

‘Hell no. We will only be at less than full strength for a half an hour or so. And besides if any contingencies arise they are only just outside the Castle’s walls. No, I think we are quite capable of arranging this little picnic.’ Heinrich tapped the computer keyboard, opened up one of his bank accounts and transferred the required funds.’

‘I’ll get the trucks and the soldiers ready. Naturally we don’t load the gold?’ joked Wolfgang as he headed for the door.

‘Ha funny! The only metal those fools will be feeling today is a gut full of lead.’

‘Do you want us to take Paul alive or dead?’

‘It makes no difference. No on second thoughts bring him back alive so I can shoot him myself in front of Sonia. It could be fun!’


Bashar grinned at Paul. ‘Brilliant absolutely brilliant Paul. He has fallen for it, how do you say it? Hook, line and sinker, yes?’

‘Yes, so far so good,’ answered Paul confidently and revelling in the excitement.

Sonia gleamed up at Paul. Her emerald eyes portraying cheeky seduction. ‘God we make a good team Paul. Even from here I felt Heinrich’s lecherous gloat run up my spine. Now I was wondering Sir, in this brilliant plan of yours, am I supposed to be the extra carrot on the stick or the icing on the fruit cake?’

Paul gave a paternal wink to Sonia and then turned to Shamir of the Israeli special force contingent. ‘Your German was excellent Shamir. You are to be congratulated.’

Shamir remained stone faced. ‘Before I joined the special forces I had acting experience on the stage in Tel Aviv. I must admit though, for a while there I was beginning to convince even myself that I was a Radical.’

‘Now if Sonia and Bashar are correct about those new trucks they saw at the Castle, my hunch is that Heinrich is certain to use them. I also expect he’ll send a chopper this way from the outside heliport to stir the pot and check us out.’

‘Do you really think he would risk that? asked Don. ‘Shamir did warn him against such a move.’

‘Oh yes. I know Heinrich. He will willingly sacrifice a pawn to get our nerves on edge just before the trucks roll out.’

‘I’ll tell Alpha group to be ready,’ said the Australian SASR Commander standing next to Don and adjusting his throat mike and earpiece. ‘I’ll instruct them to begin the jamming of communications and to bring down any choppers in this vicinity that attempt to fly this way.’ After passing on the orders he added, ‘Alpha group is five troopers selected from my contingent who will remain outside the Castle and take out the communications towers and satellite dishes up on the summit of the mountain. They will also blow the main power lines to the Castle. We will take care of the two internal back up generators as an initial priority.’

‘Alpha group will also cover our arses as we leave,’ added Shamir.

‘Excellent. From what I can deduce, you and your special force units have planned your side of the operation well. Maximum force, maximum shock and maximum damage. My mission is to get us into the Castle safely, capture Heinrich and then to make a successful escape. I promised Sonia that we would also attempt to get as many of the several thousand workers out before your teams blow the place apart.’ Paul turned to Bashar, ‘Speaking of which, have you got the leaflets padded under those robes of yours ?’

‘Yes sir Capitan!’ answered Bashar saluting. ‘I look like I have put on a little weight around the stomach, yes?’

‘Good the flyers are not just for the propaganda value. The Israeli Mossad went to great lengths to track down high ranking ex-employees of the Castle to add to their intelligence data. The only problem was, there wasn’t any. It seems that no one with any important job had left the Castle alive! So at the appointed time we intend distributing the leaflets to inform the employees they have real cause to fear for their lives.’

‘Without willing employees the Syndicate will certainly have a hard time re-establishing,’ said Don.

Sonia added, ‘Many of these employees are my friends and colleagues. They are over idealistic perhaps, but most are innocent of any wrong doing. They don’t deserve to die neither by us or the Syndicate.’

‘Paul, how do you intend to evacuate the employees? asked the appointed Mission Commander. ‘That will take some doing and our planned schedule doesn’t allow for much time in there.’

“It all hinges on me getting my hands on Heinrich and getting into his office. And that means of course getting past the cyanide gas at the entrance to Heinrich’s building! So make sure all of your men know that Wolfgang Gödel must not be harmed. I need him alive if this mission is to succeed. I knew of course Heinrich would not make the exchange personally but I counted on the fact that he would send someone he trusted.’

‘Ok, we need to get into our positions as planned, so before we do, let’s run through it once more.’ Paul fired off stage two and three of the plan as if it had been indelibly etched on his brain. ‘We can expect that they will try to ambush the ‘six radicals’. What they will not know is that we have forty four of the world’s finest Australian and Israeli special force commandoes waiting for them to attempt just that.

If they use the converted trucks we proceed as agreed. As they drive around the hill and out of view of the Castle, they will see us poor hostages standing here under the trees with six of you ‘scruffy looking radicals’.

‘Yes, they will see exactly what they expect to see,’ enthused Bashar.

‘As Bashar was pointing out, Wolfgang’s focus will be on us as a group. Your special force commandoes are trained to conceal themselves from view. Even if Wolfgang checks the landscape briefly he will not see anything to make him suspicious.’ Paul paused momentarily, ‘Ok so far so good. The split second those trucks stop, the drivers are to be taken out. And now for the important part. The exact moment those armored side plates spring up, two SAS commandoes must be ready at the rear of each truck to spray the detachment of soldiers as they attempt to clamber to their feet. They will be lying in the recumbent position so there will be a few seconds of disorder. We can expect up to about ten maybe even a dozen in a truck.’

‘I almost feel sorry for them,’ shuddered Sonia. They won’t stand a chance!’

'I think that is the whole point,’ answered one of the commandoes from the group. ‘Hey, remember that is what they had intended for you!’ said another.

‘Well we’ve agreed that we won’t be taking prisoners! Too much is at stake here,’ answered Paul before proceeding. ‘Now to err on the side of caution we’ll have four more commandoes, that is, two for each truck, hidden up in the trees to open fire on them from above. Any surviving soldiers who poke their heads over the top of the vertical trays will also have the nine of us lined up in front of them to contend with. Sonia is not wearing a bullet proof jacket so I want her to initially stand behind us.’ Paul turned to Sonia as he spoke. ‘Sonia, remember as soon as the shooting starts you must get out of the line of fire behind the tree.

‘Oh I intend to. I hardly want to watch the massacre of twenty or so young men.’

Paul brushed off her concerns. ‘Now if they don’t use the new trucks we’ll know the moment they exit the Castle. Contrary to the arrangement with Heinrich, the trays will be either be covered or partly covered to obscure the soldiers. If that’s the case we’ll all hide and our special force squads can pick them off at will as soon as they’ve rounded the bend.’

‘Either way their ambush will fail and we can move on to stage three of the plan,’ noted Don, relishing the thought that for him it was about to be payback time for the brutality and anguish he’d suffered.

‘Now, the bodies will have to be moved out of the trucks quickly. The blood will have to be washed down. All of our units will wear the same black uniforms as the military in the Castle so you six must change quickly. Twenty of you will lay in the flat position under the trays and the rest will be on top cheering elatedly as we drive back to the Castle and on through the gates. We four poor souls will appear to be standing up in the back of the second truck as the condemned hostages. Wolfgang will have a concealed gun jabbing in his back and standing with us to act as a shield.’

‘Once inside the gates, a few of you will hop off the trucks and enthusiastically gang around the guards at the gate. You will quietly take them out and drag their bodies into the guard house. You will then take their place as guards. The trucks will back up to a wall just inside the compound with the keys left in the pre-arranged place. When the evacuation of the staff begins the signal will be given to spring the trays. Those commandoes inside the trucks will then continue with their various assigned tasks. Our extra equipment and arms must be made to look like ‘the spoils of war’ taken from the ‘dead Radicals.’

The menacing sound of a chopper’s twin turbine engine suddenly was heard preparing to take off from within the Castle.

‘Well I was partly wrong,’ quipped Paul. ‘Heinrich is sending the chopper straight from within the Castle. He must be feeling confident and that perhaps is good!’

As the chopper rose above the walls the Castle’s steel armor plated gates cranked open. The chopper hovered straight up, higher than expected and didn’t attempt any forward movement. The forward scout, concealed in the bushes and with clear views of the Castle, immediately relayed the information to the SAS Commander and then on to Paul.

‘Damn, they are trying to get high enough to observe us from the air,’ commented Paul.

‘We could send a warning missile or do you want us to shoot it down?’ asked the Commander.

Paul’s mind flashed. ‘Heinrich is a trifle too confident. He is more likely to make the wrong decision if he is nervous. And if a scare is sent through the occupants of the Castle the more relieved they will be when their soldiers are observed returning victoriously.’

‘Bring it down!’ he yelled.

Within a minute an infra-red homing surface-to-air Stinger missile shot out from between the trees from a shoulder-mounted launcher. Seconds later the 3kg penetrating hit-to-kill warhead found its target. A deafening roar like thunder, then all eyes saw the yellow orange flames and plume of smoke belching up into the sky. Another ear splitting explosion followed as the chopper hit the ground.’

‘It came down inside the Castle!’ advised the Commander. ‘That will wake them up.’

Paul felt Sonia’s pain and knew what she was thinking. ‘I’m sorry Sonia. It can’t be helped. I had to make a snap decision. We can only pray that none of your friends were under it when it came down.’ His unconvincing attempt at reconciliation fell on death ears.

The distant sound of motors and the expected announcement came through via the scout. ‘The trucks are on their way. You were right Paul, it looks like they have sent the ones with the extended concealed trays.’

They took to their positions and waited.

The noise of the powerful diesel engines and gear changes grew louder as the trucks approached.

Paul checked his German Heckler & Koch 9mm USP pistol. He coldly screwed the silencer on the extended threaded barrel and placed the gun in his inner jacket holster.

The noise abated. The truck engines idled in neutral.

‘Keep your nerve people,’ warned the SAS Commander who stood pointing his SR-25 rifle at the ‘hostages’. ‘Our Wolfgang is just surveying the landscape before proceeding.

The gears changed and the trucks rounded the rise and into view.

Sonia’s mouth gaped in shock. ‘Paul no, you can’t,’ she gasped.

‘Keep quiet!’ he ordered. He also could see what Sonia had seen. The drivers were young civilian girls. Like he had used Sonia to attract Heinrich and intended to continue to use her in the Castle raid, Wolfgang had selected young ladies as drivers to help momentarily draw the attention of the ‘six radicals.’ Wolfgang sat smirking in the front truck next to his attractive driver.

The trucks pulled to a halt directly in front of them. And even as Sonia shouted ‘For god’s sake stop them!’ the girls had slumped forward with a gaping bloodied hole in their temples.

Sonia froze! The following seconds were carnage. The plated sides sprung up. As if out of nowhere Minimi light machine guns fired their lethal rounds. Pathetic cries of ‘we surrender’ went ignored. Terrifying screams of the dying, the crying and clamouring. A single bloodied grasping hand, then an arm appeared over one of the barriers. A single shot from nowhere and the arm went limp. Four or five other single shots were fired as ‘the take no prisoners policy’ was adhered to – and then it was over.

Don said, ‘Shit, maximum force is right. These guys really are pros. It’s as if they do this sought of thing everyday before breakfast.’

But nobody answered.

Paul had surreal thoughts of his own. He was parked in the Mercedes alongside the canal that ran parallel to Spuistraat in Amsterdam drinking Bollinger and listening to the screams of the protesters. He remembered Rebecca and how she’d valiantly struggled to escape into the canal. He remembered holding her in his arms and placing her in the car...

The Commander interrupted Paul’s thoughts. ‘Wolfgang is cowering down in the cabin. He’s in shock and sobbing. Do you want us to drag him out?’

Paul did not answer immediately, he walked round to the back of the trucks and stared at the bullet ridden bodies. There were females among them. Many were still in their late teens. He felt no emotion. No disgust. No guilt for the massacre. This was his dharma, his duty. He was not the cause nor the effect. He was merely the actor playing out his role in a state of supreme detachment.

And he remembered Wakonda’s words:

‘I would like you to read the Bhagavad-Gita several times and as you read it, picture yourself as Arjuna in the eighteen day war against the Kauravas. Krishna tells Arjuna that for a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil.

But these soldiers are not evil, he thought. They are manipulated by the evil ones. These poor souls too were just acting out their own dharma.

And then Wakonda spoke to him. ‘Paul, be not concerned. Stay detached. These before you have already crossed to the Heavenly spheres. Remember: ‘Self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity.’ Please now proceed upon your mission. There is much at stake.’

A few of the commandoes began to drag the bodies from the trucks.

Paul turned away and faced the Commander. ‘Yes drag the bastard out!’

Wolfgang was pulled violently from the truck and placed up against a tree. The shock defeat had taken its toll and his legs no longer could support his weight. He slumped to the base of the tree, his face beetroot red from the blood pressure rushing through his veins.

Paul casually walked up to him, pulled his pistol with the attached silencer from his holster and placed the butt hard up against Wolfgang’s forehead. ‘Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t blow your brains out!’

‘Please… Please I don’t want to die. I’ll do anything, anything - please I beg you. Don’t shoot me.’

‘This dispute is between my father and I,’ lied Paul. ‘That bastard has double crossed me and tried unsuccessfully to have me killed one too many times. Today I intend to get even. I am the rightful heir to the leadership of the Syndicate and when the truth of this operation gets out, I will have earned the respect that I deserve. Do you understand?’

‘Oh yes. I do understand. Anything! If I can help in any way, just ask and it will be done,’ sobbed Wolfgang. ‘I was always told you were to be the leader.’

Paul smiled and his sadistic sneer shocked even those who were watching his performance with the captive. ‘Ah, you say you understand but you see you don’t understand. In these surrounding woods, I have the finest team of mercenaries at my beck and call ever assembled in Austria. You’ve already seen how coldly efficient just six of them can be. My vengeance must be seen to be total. We intend to take over at the Castle. Anyone who doesn’t accept my leadership will be executed.’

Wolfgang gulped. Then managed a strained answer, ‘Take the Castle, but why?’

‘My negotiating position will then be absolute. By controlling HQ and having Heinrich as my hostage, I will control the Ravenscroft conglomerate and its fortune, the anti aircraft missiles, the staff and the various projects. The World Government will not be able to survive without the other Syndicate heads agreeing to my terms. My terms will be both reasonable and, in the circumstances, just. I merely want to regain what is rightly mine!’

‘But what of Marduk, his power is indestructible. If he doesn’t agree with your plans, you and anyone who sides with you will be killed.’

Paul intuitively held his ring, one of the Holy Seals Of Chiron, a few inches from Wolfgang’s eyes. ‘Look into the light from this ring Wolfgang and tell me what you see.’

Wolfgang stared into the vortex of brilliant light the ring suddenly emitted. His complexion turned from crimson red to frigid white. He began trembling, petrified with fear.

‘Tell me what you see Wolfgang,’ insisted Paul.

‘I see… I see the Hells Paul. I am looking at myself incarcerated in the Hells for eternity! So much suffering and anguish. The depression, it’s unbearable. Please… Please take it away. I can’t bear to look at it.’

Paul lowered his hand. You have your choice Wolfgang. Continue to be fearful of Marduk and your vision will certainly become your reality - or follow me and I promise you salvation. Marduk’s aim is total disintegration of society - not the order and control you seek. Marduk is literally ‘evil personified’ and is using the greed and ambition of the Syndicates to destroy this world. The World Government will not be successful until Marduk is destroyed - and only I, and not his convert Heinrich, will stop him.’

The ring’s piercing light had managed to penetrate the hardened crust smothering Wolfgang’s soul. He realised for the first time that his fear of death was not the fear of his earthly physical life ending. That much he could grapple and come to grips with. No it was more than that. His fear was the fear of an eternity of fear. A nightmare that would never end. A ghoulish hallucinary horror from which he would never awaken. His resignation showed in his face and Paul knew that he had won.

‘Tell me what you want me to do…’

‘First a test, Wolfgang,’ snapped Paul still brandishing his weapon. ‘Tell me, when we arrive at the Castle, as far as the guards and other soldiers are concerned, will they view me and my fellow ‘hostages’ as freed and triumphantly returning, or will they consider us Heinrich’s prisoners?’

‘But I cannot answer that truthfully,’ stammered Wolfgang. ‘The soldiers I brought here were under strict secrecy and of course they are all now dead. The others knew nothing. So the guards will accept my orders and advice as to your status. However Heinrich has a mind of his own. He often acts on his gut feeling. At the last moment he even ordered me to change the drivers to young civilians girls opted from the street. He is capable of any surprise.’

‘How confident was he when you left that you would succeed in taking us.’

‘Absolutely confident. We both were.’

Paul once more held the ring up to Wolfgang’s eyes. ‘One last question, were you to bring us back alive or dead?’

Wolfgang shut his eyes as he answered. ‘I asked him when I left the room. His exact words were ‘It makes no difference.’ Then he said, ‘No on second thoughts bring him back alive so I can shoot him myself in front of Sonia. It could be fun!’

Paul thought for a few seconds, revising his strategy. Then he barked his orders. ‘Right Wolfgang, when we arrive at the Castle you will order the guards at the gates to open up. Once inside the Castle’s grounds you will be seen to order a detachment of six of my men to escort yourself, Sonia and I to Heinrich’s office. You will …’

Sonia listened intently as Paul fired off his orders. Wolfgang submitted to Paul’s firing verbosity like a meek lamb to a butcher’s knife. She now saw a different Paul. Not the insecure, handsome young man whom she’d met at the chopper a little more than a week before.

This new Paul now acted like a Napoleon Bonaparte. He was the supreme confident leader and nothing was going to stop him from completing his mission and accepting and fulfilling his destiny.

She had now seen the cold, calculating ruthless Paul. The man who could make snap unemotional decisions on whether a person should live or die, solely upon the desired outcome of his battle plan. Heinrich and the others had trained this man to be a leader and had succeeded beyond their expectations.

Doubts about the motives and character of the real Paul began to linger within her. Paul had tasted blood and was no stranger to wielding power. If the visions that she had experienced with Wakonda, Gabriel and the Angelic Council were correct, and she had no reason to doubt them, Paul will end up being in control of Chiron and the New Lemuria. He, followed by his son, will be the appointed leaders of the new world super power. A new dynasty of Roman like Caesars will have begun.

But the one thing she was absolutely sure of was that Paul loved her. Yes, she knew he loved Rebecca also. She felt that his love for Rebecca was almost a maternal love, like the connective almost incestuous love between a mother and son that had grown over many incarnations. His love for her on the other hand seemed trans dimensional and although paternal, so damned sensual.

And she knew that she still loved him intensely and would do virtually anything to keep him.

Sonia then made an auspicious but dangerous decision to ensure her future connection with Paul. Whilst at the Castle, should the opportunity arise, she would risk her life to seize her own moment of destiny. ‘Right Rebecca,’ she whispered to the wind, ‘two can play at your game!’


The two trucks slowly approached the heavy iron gates. Paul once more gazed up at the sculptured three-meter thick archway over the entrance. The same mossy mythical gods and demons greeted him with the same haunting mocking stares. The grotesque faced gargoyles again gaped down from their leaded placements on the gutters. He purposefully raised his hand up as if to shield his eyes from the sun. Somehow he sensed that his ring would act as a bulwark of defiance against the protective occult shield of the Castle. Marduk’s impregnable dark energy beamed down from the effigies at the entrance. The negative energy zeroed in on the ring’s high dimensional light and reflected straight back to its source.

This repulsed energy did not go unnoticed down in the catacombs where Marduk sat scheming.

Wolfgang, standing on the back tray of the first truck, nervously waived his arm to the guards to signify an order to open the gates.

‘This is it,’ said Don. ‘The gates will either open or we’ll get a hail of bullets any second now.’

‘They’ll open. They’ve got to open,’ answered Paul. ‘Remember Wolfgang, if they don’t you will be the first to die.’

They heard the cranking sound and the gates inched open.

‘Now look and act victorious,’ reiterated Paul to the commandoes standing on top of the tray around him.

The trucks lumbered through the opening and stopped momentarily, their engines left idling. As planned, the two heavy vehicles partly obscured the guarded entrance. The commandoes from the second truck leapt to the ground and could be seen enthusiastically greeting the guards. Four seconds later, four bodies, their throats slit, were being dragged to a makeshift morgue in one of the two guardhouses.

At the same time another commando, his arm relaxed at his side and pistol with an attached silencer in his hand, walked boldly into the second guardhouse. His trained eye scanned the room. A woman in her late thirties was watching a VDU security monitor at her desk and over near the left hand wall a young officer was chatting and laughing with his co-worker in front of an opened filing cabinet. The commando casually walked up to the couple, lifted his arm, aimed, then fired four shots in rapid succession. Even as the two bodies, both with shots to the neck and head, crumpled to the floor, he turned to face the woman at her desk. She was about to scream and jump to her feet when the bullet slammed through her forehead.

Without watching her fall, he turned and left the room as casually as he had entered. He gave the thumbs up and the all-clear signal was relayed to the drivers. The trucks reversed up along side the row of armored vans and close to the brick wall that adjoined the inner car park adjacent to the entrance and of course, the exit. An exit that the warrior group now controlled.

As Wolfgang was helped down from the truck the SASR Commander whispered to Paul. ‘As expected, we have already spotted at least a dozen or so snipers on the rooftops overlooking this forecourt. They could keep us pinned down later. Why not take them out with stealth now while we still have surprise on our side?’

‘Not that I doubt your team’s abilities, but it’s just too damn risky,’ replied Paul. ‘One return shot and we’ve lost the element of surprise. And Wolfgang hasn’t the authority to step them down from their posts. No let us stick to the plan. I’ll need twenty minutes at the outside. If I succeed, when you hear the siren, all the guards including the snipers on the roofs will be reporting to the guardhouse for instructions. Then we may have to have another turkey shoot! ‘If you don’t hear the siren, then activate plan B.’

‘If you can pull that off Paul, I will make you an honorary member of the SASR and I’m sure our Israeli friend’s will do likewise.’

‘Then you’d better polish up my ‘Who Dares Wins’ cap badge in readiness,’ replied Paul grinning and polishing his ring on his jacket. Paul took a deep breath and vaulted off the truck. He walked over to where Wolfgang and the others from the tray of the first truck were standing. ‘Ok Wolfgang, you know what to do, lead the way and you’d better make it look and sound convincing.’

Heinrich had seen what he’d wanted to see. He’d heard the short volleys of shots via the microphones on the Castle walls from his computer’s speakers. He’d seen the trucks’ triumphant return with his friend Wolfgang standing stark upright on the tray of the front truck looking like Field Marshall Erwin Rommel returning from a famous victory. And he’d seen his jubilant soldiers with their captured hostages.

Yes, he had seen what he’d wanted to see.

Now he could also see Paul and Sonia being escorted by Wolfgang and six of his soldiers to the entrance to his office building. He leaned back in his swivel chair and checked his revolver before placing it back into the right hand side drawer of the desk. ‘I wonder if Marduk would let me keep Sonia,’ he mused. ‘If she thinks the chopper had engine failure maybe I could explain it away as simply a stroke of misfortune. Why I’ve even risked my friend’s life to rescue her from those uncivilized radicals.’

Heinrich watched the monitor as Wolfgang swiped his security smart card through the scanner and keyed in his pin number. The bullet-proof exterior doors were now locked. The antechamber was small and for the nine of them to fit in at once was not only an extremely tight fit but also most irregular.

Wolfgang managed to place his left palm in the electronic devise stencilled ‘Electron Scanner’. The surveillance camera matched the computer records with his facial features.

Paul didn’t dare look up at the cyanide gas nozzles in the suspended ceiling. His two aces up his sleeve were of course Sonia and Heinrich’s friend, Wolfgang. Notwithstanding, he sensed Heinrich was watching whilst they were trapped in the anti-chamber and knew that the slightest hint would have spelt total disaster. He waited. The intense seconds cruelly seemed to slow into eternity.

A melodic note sounded and the same friendly male computer voice that Paul had heard once before said, ‘Welcome Wolfgang. You may now enter.’

The second set of doors slid open. Paul heaved a sigh.

Heinrich ogled Sonia as she ungainly attempted to exit, her breasts squeezed up against the soldiers bodies. ‘There are hundreds of attractive women here at HQ,’ he thought as he studied her, ‘How can Sonia constantly tease me into acting like a frustrated voyeur when the rest can’t?’

The intercom buzzed and Heinrich knew what the question would be. ‘Yes Karl, send them down!’ He got up and unlocked the heavy door of his office suite and looked out to ensure that his four body guards were on duty and at their posts.

He sat back down and waited with almost an excited anticipation. Heinrich had personally killed many times before and had ordered the deaths of countless others - and he certainly intended to kill Paul. ‘Ah, it will be interesting if nothing else,’ he thought. ‘This time I’ll make certain!’

The lift took them down to the sixth sub-floor and to Heinrich’s main office suite. Wolfgang still led the way. He knew that the hidden pistols were aimed at his back but felt giving his allegiance to Paul was the correct move in the circumstances. ‘If Heinrich does lose the Castle,’ he thought, ‘such loss would be catastrophic. The Syndicates would not tolerate such failure, even from someone as rich and as powerful as Heinrich.’

They approached the bodyguards.

Inside the office Nergal crackled.

‘Oh shit, what does he want now?’ cursed Heinrich out loud as he readied himself at the keyboard to type in answers.

‘Is Paul Ravenscroft dead?

‘He will be any minute!’

‘Tell me dear Heinrich, what was Rommel’s nickname given to him by both his friends and enemies in the Second World War?’

‘Why the Desert Fox of course.’

‘And why was he called the Desert Fox, Heinrich?’

‘Rommel used the most cunning tricks to outsmart his enemies and he was a proven master at improvisation.’

‘Excellent Heinrich! So why did you compare that buffoon friend of yours with Rommel when the real fox was standing behind him with a pistol aimed at your friend’s back?’

‘I… I don’t understand Nergal.’

‘Were the drivers of the trucks male or female?’

‘Well they were female when they left and male when they…. Oh fuck!’

The questions came in rapid succession.

‘And who other than Paul would have the intimate knowledge that Sonia would prove to be your Achilles heel? Didn’t you personally select Sonia to seduce him?’

‘Why would Wolfgang not sit in the cabin of the truck on the return journey?’

‘Why would the trucks temporarily stop inside the gates, shielding off any view of the guards?’

‘Why would Wolfgang squeeze into the cyanide anti-chamber with eight others? Highly dangerous don’t you think?’

‘Why would you invite them down to your office?’

Graphic sordid images of the Castle burning - people screaming and dying as they attempted to escape the inferno - came across the screen.

Heinrich grabbed the revolver from the drawer and shouting for the guards, leapt to his feet and stumbled to the door.

‘Are you going somewhere father? Considering there happens to be six M-60 machine guns and my pistol pointing at you, don’t you think you should drop the gun?’

Heinrich recoiled, dropped the revolver on the floor and kicked it over to Paul. He momentarily looked down at the bloodied bodies of the bodyguards, their necks partly severed with the long thin tempered steel blades of Gigli saws. ‘And they call themselves bodyguards!’ he sneered. He paused and glared at Paul in defiance. ‘So shoot me fuck you! I’m not scared to die. Marduk has granted me eternal life. You will not get me to crawl for mercy!’

Paul stepped inside the room and let loose with a karate punch to Heinrich’s stomach. Heinrich fell to the floor, doubled up in agony. ‘Oh I am probably going to kill you, but you are not getting off that easy, you murderous snake. Paul signalled by nodding to two of the commandos. Heavy military style boots began to crash into Heinrich’s legs and torso.

‘Stop it!’ screamed Wolfgang. ‘Heinrich do as they ask and they will spare you! Live to fight another day my friend. Paul has an army of professional killers. Heinrich you cannot win. ’

Heinrich spluttered and coughed up some blood onto the carpet. ‘Then what is it you want – do you want to cut a deal?’

‘That father is up to you. You are valuable to me as a hostage and you are valuable to me dead! Either way I take the Castle and take what is rightfully mine.’

Heinrich sneered and held his cracked ribs as he painfully rose to his feet. ‘You’ll never run this place and handle the other Syndicate bosses without me. That much I know. For a start Marduk would never allow it.’

‘Oh won’t I?’ Paul walked over to the computer still showing the graphics of the Castle burning. ‘Hello Nergal, remember me?’ Paul placed his hand flat down upon the scanner. He willed the ring to begin emitting light. ‘You see Heinrich, when all is said and done, light is energy. It is just nature’s method of sending energy through space. However light energy also travels through the dimensions. The ring that I wear acts as a portal from which infinite light originates. Infinite light equals infinite energy Heinrich. And of course infinite energy equals infinite power. Now watch this carefully.’ Paul’s will intensified. The flow of electrons passing through his ring dramatically increased. ‘More,’ demanded Paul silently. ‘Increase the flow.’ His hand began to tremble with the incredible level of power being directed into the sensitive scanner. The hand began to feel blistering hot and was turning red fast. The searing pain intensified. ‘Increase it further,’ he yelled, without really knowing to whom he was yelling.

In the caverns deep below, Marduk cussed and hissed and having now tested out Paul’s energy source, made a considered decision.

Nergal suddenly went into overload mode and shut down.

Paul lifted his hand from the scanner, ‘So you see Heinrich, I can handle Marduk and his pathetic security computer!’

Marduk seethed with contempt. ‘You imbecile Paul, if you really believe that waffle, then the size of your ego is only matched by the smallness of your pea-brain. I’ve merely lost the rook I always intended to lose. The war has only just begun. Now we must protect Sonia in her quest for the holy-grail - or in her case her loving spoonful.’ A horrendous laughter shrieked and echoed through the catacombs and into the lower dimensions of Hell.

If Heinrich was impressed with Paul’s demonstration in having the Castle’s whole security system shut down, he didn’t overly show it. ‘So if you want a deal, name your terms,’ he snapped still coughing and spitting blood.

Paul fired just three conditions at Heinrich. ‘Firstly I want a severance pay of one half billion Euros paid into the same account that you paid the one million into. Secondly I want you to override the emergency measures for evacuation and order the mass evacuation of the Castle. The exception to the evacuation will be the garrison, who you will order to stay locked in their barracks until further notice. Thirdly you will order all on duty guards and snipers to gather immediately at the entrance guardhouses to receive further orders to assist in overseeing the evacuees. You will agree to meet them there to allay any suspicions or insecurities they may have. My own army will then take over strategic positions in the Castle. We will then slowly allow all evacuees who promise to accept and support me as their new leader, to return. Those dissenting will of course be executed.’

‘Executed? Mass executions? Don’t give me that hogwash. You haven’t got it in you to kill Paul. You are too yellow bellied. I have watched you grow up from a baby. You let others do your dirty work for you.’

‘Paul lifted up his pistol and aimed it at Heinrich. Heinrich merely scoffed. Paul then turned to Wolfgang. ‘I promised you salvation Wolfgang. I’m afraid thanks to Heinrich and his lack of faith in me, this is your salvation.’

Sonia screamed as the muted shots thudded into Wolfgang’s chest. He stared at Paul bewildered as he slumped face down to the floor. Paul fired one more shot into the back of Wolfgang’s head to complete the execution.

‘Now you were saying Heinrich?’

‘Ok… Ok, you’ve proved your point. What is to become of me if I agree to your terms?’

‘You will be my hostage and at times my advisor. You see Heinrich; once you realize that the other Syndicate heads no longer accept you as a leader, you will be happy to see me in your place. After all, that is exactly what you originally promised me. I’ll expect we will learn to get along, even if it is out of mutual convenience. But one way or other I will be the new boss!’

‘A half a billion Euros, that’s some severance pay.’

‘I have a private army to pay for. Besides that’s a small fraction of your assets and remember, if you are dead, nothing you own will be of any use to you.’

Heinrich shrugged, sat down at the computer and transferred the money. The killing of his friend in front of him had been the final straw. He was beaten and he knew it and as Wolfgang had advised, it is better to live to fight another day. He spoke dejectedly as he reached for the phone. ‘With your permission Paul, I’ll stand down the guards first, because once the sirens to evacuate begin, pandemonium will break out and there is likely to be riots. Half of the guards would leave their posts and make a run for it to save their own bloody arses anyhow.’

Heinrich rang a number and spat out the orders to his chief of security. ‘Yes that’s exactly what I said! The army is to be confined to barracks until I advise them otherwise, and all other military personal are to report to the guard houses for further orders. We have to evacuate the whole damn Castle. A lethal contamination has occurred and this time it is not a practice drill.’

Sonia felt no pity for the defeated Heinrich. However Paul’s actions had shocked her to a new level. It was impossible for her to tell when Paul had been acting out his role of deception or when he was being genuine. ‘However, that killing was no act,’ she thought. ‘He deliberated planned to execute Wolfgang simply to ensure the success of his beloved mission.’

The sirens began to wail throughout the whole complex and the pandemonium that Heinrich had predicted proved correct.

The commandoes wasted no time in directing Heinrich to the door to exit the building. Sonia followed behind with Paul. She spoke softly, ‘I need to get down into ‘C’ section Paul. Once outside I’ll need about fifteen minutes. Wait for me near the trucks.’

‘C’ section! What on earth would you need to get to ‘C’ section for?’ quizzed Paul mystified. ‘I can’t let you do it. Once the charges are laid, we’ll be blowing this place to smithereens!’

‘Trust me Paul. Wakonda wants me to head Chiron’s science faculty. There’s some newly developed anti-viral drugs and vaccines I need to get my hands on down there. I also need the notes and disks on the composition and make up of the anti-virals so we can reproduce them. When the pandemics begin Paul, Chiron will need these drugs and vaccines to survive. This whole exercise will be futile if I don’t get them.’

Paul relented. ‘Right, I’ll assign two men to go with you. Please be careful.’

She stopped and tugged at him to stop also. ‘In case I don’t come back, would you hug me one last time?’

Paul held her and he immediately knew that he shouldn’t have.

‘Kiss me darling, I’m so much in love with you,’ she purred.

Their lips met gingerly, then passionately. She hugged into him tightly until she could feel his throbbing response.

‘God, I don’t know what you do to me,’ he whispered.

‘Perhaps Sir, you may just happen to love me as well.’ She kissed him again. ‘And Paul?’

‘Yes Sonia.’

‘I think you’re pretty wonderful.’

Paul grinned and replied, ‘Hey you’re pretty cute yourself. Be careful down there. I need you to be with me in Chiron.’

‘Well in that case Sir, I promise you, I will be back!’

Once outside up at ground level and amid the continuous wail of the sirens, they made their way through the throngs of employees who were attempting to move forward en-masse to exit through the front gates. Some of them were laughing and treating the evacuation as a huge joke whilst others were almost panicking and forcing their way to the front of the disorderly queues. The group could see the tall figure of Bashar ahead, jovially giving out the leaflets to as many of the passing people who cared to accept one.

They joined the others over by the trucks. The rest of the commandoes, also dressed in the same black uniform of the Syndicate’s security force, had already exited the crawl space under the trays. In the confusion no one gave them a second thought as they quite openly readied themselves with their allotted packs of explosives and detonators.

Don came over to Paul and seeing Heinrich with the commandos, took Paul to one side. 'Congratulations, your plan has worked to perfection. Now it’s over to the Special Forces to do their job.’

‘Thank you Don, but your congratulations are a little premature. We’re not out of this yet. Right now my concern is for Sonia. Sonia has gone down to 'C' section to get some important vaccines and anti-virals, which she insists we'll need back in Chiron. Apparently she also needs the lab notes or disks relating to them. I've had to arrange with the Commander that they go ahead and set the charges as planned but they are to give Sonia twenty minutes before they blow.’

Don looked hesitant. Paul sensed that the hesitancy was not about Sonia’s immediate welfare. “What’s on your mind Don? You look anxious about something.’

‘Paul, please listen. I want you to try to stop the massacre of the sixty or so guards who are mulling around at the guardhouses waiting for Heinrich’s orders. Surely they can be disarmed and locked up or something. Many of them are just young boys and girls in their late teens.’

Paul was steadfast. ‘We agreed with the SASF that we’d take no prisoners. They outnumber us and are fully armed. The mission must come first. Once they are neutralized we will have a clear run.’

‘But Paul they are already neutralized. They are not even attempting to fight us. You performed your act so convincingly we don’t need to shed any more blood. If they are all murdered then surely we are no better than Heinrich and the others.’

You are asking me to instantly devise a plan to save the lives of sixty of the enemy without incurring any measurable risk to our lives, to the lives of our men and to the success of the mission. And how do you suggest we go about that?’

‘That’s the problem. I’ve had time to mull it over and I don’t know. We can disarm them and lock them up in separate groups but as soon as our backs are turned they are bound to be on their mobiles warning all and sundry. Even if we are successful in taking all their phones off them there are thousands outside who will hear their calls to be set free. The alarm will then go out to the nearest enemy chopper bases. We’ll be shot down before we make the border.’

Paul looked over to the guardhouses near the gates. ‘Don was right,’ he thought, ‘many of them looked so young.’ Some were sitting down, their rifles laying at their sides and others were standing casually watching the continuous stream of humanity piling through the exit and out along the road to the woods. Paul knew that once the towers were blown and his teams had vacated the immediate area their jamming of the communications would be compromised.

‘I’m sorry Don. I don’t see an answer.’

When Sonia reached the now deserted laboratories in ‘C’ section she knew exactly what to look for. She asked her two escorts to guard the door while she began to search through the refrigeration and freezer drawers. Her first priority was the coded metal container containing the IUI units, stored in 0.5 ml sterile straws under liquid nitrogen at minus 196 centigrade. The same metal container that she had arranged to be placed there prior to leaving the Castle. She carefully transferred the straws into a lightweight aluminum dry shipper especially designed for the safe transportation of biological samples at cryogenic temperatures. Sonia flashed a satisfied grin as she sealed the container.

She turned her attention to packing the vaccines and the anti-viral drugs. She selected several insulated containers, or as she called them ‘cool boxes’, specifically designed to carry vaccines in a temperature range of between 2 to 8 degrees centigrade. She hurriedly packed as many of the vaccines as she could into the containers. She also packed a large carton of the new anti-viral tablets that the lab had formulated and tested.

Sonia called to the guards, ‘Come and pick up these containers and get them safely up to the trucks post haste. Put them carefully into the cabin of the first truck and have someone guard them. Protect them with your lives if necessary.’

‘We have been ordered not to leave you down here,’ countered one of the commandoes as he began stacking the containers. ‘We can’t leave without you.’

‘I have to get the lab notes and the disks relating to these vaccines and drugs. I must have their compositions.’


‘Look don’t argue. In the containers you are holding are the vaccines that might soon save us all! Now for God’s sake get going and stop wasting time.’

The two burly commandos looked at each other and then nodded ‘Right, we’ll get these up to the trucks. I’ll come straight back and my buddy here will stand guard for you.’

Paul was now more than just anxious. He was concerned on several fronts and his analytical virgoan mind did not operate as efficiently when emotions clouded his judgement. Don’s request haunted him. A decision had to made relating to the guards and he felt that he alone would have to shoulder the responsibility.

And then there was Sonia – her time also was nearly up.

The Commander had informed Paul that Alpha group was now only ten minutes away from blowing the communication towers up on the mountain. Paul knew the precise order in which the explosions inside the Castle were to take place. The first to blow would be the two back up generators. As the fuel storage depots and the munitions storage facilities were to be the next priority, evacuation from the Castle by the teams would immediately follow so as to be well clear off the walls before the Time Delay Firing Devices were to be detonated. Finally a whole array of charges would be simultaneously detonated, turning the subterranean buildings into a mass of buried rubble and burning fuel. It was to be left up to Alpha group to then destroy the main power lines to the Castle before meeting at the planned rendezvous.

The crowds outside were becoming frustrated and angry. By now the leaflets had been passed around. Heated arguments were breaking out and a number of scuffles had resulted in a few minor injuries.

Paul’s heartbeat quickened. He felt his ring and attempted to will the correct decision from his soul. He yelled out to Heinrich. ‘Come Heinrich we have work to do.’

Heinrich was brought to Paul and Don flanked by the Commander and four other commandos. ‘I want you to tell the guards that I am your spokesperson and that they should do exactly as I ask.’

‘I’ll do as you say but you don’t fool me Paul. You intend to tell them to disarm so you can have them lined up against the wall and butchered.’

‘Is that what you would do Heinrich if you were in my position?’ asked Paul, a little surprised at Heinrich’s forthright statement.

‘But of course - why would I risk otherwise?’ Heinrich answered sadistically more as if to mock Paul rather than to goad him into a particular course of action.

Paul gritted his teeth and made his decision.

Don cringed and feared the worst. He wanted to walk away. The prospect of watching another blood bath sickened him to his stomach. Yet Paul still mystified him. Paul seemed to be operating from a different and mysterious level. The problem was that, like Sonia, he wasn’t sure if that level was of the higher or lower dimensions.

Minutes later Paul began addressing the guards.

‘I regret to inform you that once again we have saboteurs in our midst. As you know we’ve had no option but to evacuate the Castle due to the release of a dangerous contaminant. The good news is that you have been ordered to assemble here because we are confident that you are the lucky ones. We believe that as yet none of you have been exposed to this lethal contamination.

There are others here who want me to give you the job of controlling the crowds outside – many of whom are carriers. The problem is that right now we do not know who of those outside are contaminated and who aren’t. I would prefer not to risk any of you to this serious health danger.
We have been advised that our only option is to incinerate the infected sections of the Castle. A group of very brave volunteers, who probably have sacrificed their lives, in order that the rest of you may live, are currently laying explosives. Remember their bravery when you are next with your families and loved ones.

I have decided to send you all on a relatively safe but important mission. In about an hour and a half many teams of specialists will begin arriving at our airport on various planes. The airport is, as you are no doubt aware, some forty-two kilometres away. Your job will be to reinforce the guards at the airport and ensure these specialists land safely and reach here alive.

You are all sworn to secrecy. At all times keep radio silence and do not let the others know at the airport what has happened here. Trust no one other than each other. If word gets out, our projects and your jobs will be jeopardized. I have also decided that each of you will receive an additional two months pay as a bonus should you succeed in securing the airport and keeping a lid on the happenings here at the Castle. Be vigilant at all times for saboteurs.

Take the armored vans and leave now to avoid any further risk. Thank you all and good luck to each of you.’

For a few dramatic seconds the guards were both silent and dumbfounded. Paul and Don held their breath. The commandoes stood at the ready, their machine guns in a semi-raised position.

‘Well let’s go! What are we waiting for!’ One of the guards yelled, ‘Come on, go, go, go! They grabbed their weapons and sprinted to the armored vans. Within seconds, a disorganized convoy of vans, their windows safely up and horns beeping, exited the open gates and pushed through the clambering and angry crowd.

Don felt like leaping with joy and cheering. Instead he said, ‘Paul you are a bloody genius! I don’t believe it. You have just saved their lives. Wait till I tell my friends in Langley about this!’

The Commander was less enthusiastic. He too was shaking his head in disbelief but for different reasons. ‘It was your call Paul, but I hope you haven’t just made your first serious blunder. That was one hell of a gamble that could see us all dead.’

Heinrich stood speechless and still at a loss to discover what the real motives of Paul and his men were.

‘I hope so too,’ answered Paul glumly. He looked at his ring. The golden seal brightened and Paul could see Wakonda’s face smiling at him from the brightness. He turned back to the SASR Commander and smiled confidently. ‘No, I’ll retract that last statement. I know I’ve made the correct decision.’

As he spoke the first of the expected explosions shook the ground beneath them. Plumes of black smoke billowed into the air above the mountain. Spasmodic machine gun fire could be heard in the distance. The previously noisy crowd outside the gates went sullenly quiet.

‘Alpha group is right on time,’ noted the Commander checking his watch. ‘The party is about to begin.’

‘Could you get a couple of your men to fire a few rounds over the crowd’s heads to get their attention?’ asked Paul as he began to walk away in an obvious hurry. ‘Tell them that the rumors they have heard are correct regarding a serious contamination leak and that we are going to incinerate sections of the castle. And tell them that they should move well back and lay flat on the ground. That should buy us a bit more time and maybe save a few of them from being killed by flying debris.’

‘Right, consider it done.’

‘Good, now I must find Sonia.’

‘You called Sir?’

‘Sonia, where the hell did you spring from? I was beginning to get damn worried about you.’

‘I promised I’d be back Paul. You are not getting rid of me that easily.’

‘Did you find want you wanted down there?’

‘Oh yes and more,’ she answered cryptically.

He have her a brief hug. ‘Thank God you’re safe. Now come with me, I want you to come and sit in one of the truck’s cabins till this is over.’

‘Now that sounds exciting. Coming with you in the cabin would certainly set off some fireworks.’

‘Gee, you are one hell of a tease. You just don’t stop, do you?’

Sonia didn’t answer. Two ear shattering almighty blasts, seconds apart, coinciding with an enormous blue flash of light all but threw them off their feet. Window frames in the surrounding buildings buckled as shattered glass crashed to the roadways and footpaths below. An ever-expanding ball of whirling smoke and dust mushroomed into the sky.

'They’ve hit the transformers,’ shouted Paul. ‘That means evacuation! We have to quit the Castle before the Time Delay Devices are detonated. When the fuel and the munitions storage facilities blow we don’t want to be here!’

‘This place will really be Hell on earth when they go,’ gasped Sonia as they approached the trucks. ‘My containers are in the first truck. From now on, I don’t intend to let them out of my sight.’

‘Right. I’ll see you at the rendezvous point. I need to make sure we don’t leave anyone behind.’

‘Be careful Paul. I need you in Chiron also.’

When Sonia climbed up into the cabin Bashar moved over into the center.

‘Aha, my beauty, do not be concerned. I have been guarding your packages well. They are important, yes?’

‘Oh yes Bashar, most important.’

Bashar stared at her in the eyes as only Bashar could do. ‘The contents of these containers, they are designed to save life rather than to destroy life, yes?’

‘Of course Bashar,’ she answered and then imitating Bashar, added with a cute wink, ‘And perhaps even to create life, yes?’

Bashar grinned. ‘I see you are telling the truth on both counts. Be careful Sonia. You may be treading along dangerous slippery paths.’

‘Oh I intend to Sir,’ she answered with the bewitching gleam in her eyes. ‘I most certainly intend to.’

Sonia dared to relax back into the seat for a few seconds. The assault understandably had taken its toll on her nerves. ‘Bashar why did you risk coming on this mission?’ Was it to look after Paul or to be an observer? And if an observer to whom will you be reporting back to?’

‘I do not report to anyone. I am, how do you say it, a freelance. My sister Nadia, she died in front of my own eyes here. Nadia took part in a failed sabotage attack on the Castle and paid for it with her life. Naturally I want to see this evil place destroyed.’

‘And Paul?’

‘Paul will someday have immense power. Someone must watch over him. I am like Merlin watching over King Arthur.’

‘Watch over him for whom?’

Bashar muttered a Hebrew saying whilst tapping his nose twice with one of his long fingers signifying that the answer to her question would for now remain a secret.

The commandoes were returning to the trucks in groups of five from different directions. Paul was anxiously attempting to count them as they arrived.

‘Relax Paul. These professionals are trained not to take any unnecessary risks. We play by the book, not some Hollywood movie script. I’ve been constantly in contact with each group and I can assure you all is well. Other than a few isolated reports of resistance, the mission has proceeded as planned.’ The Commander paused. ‘Oh yes, and there was a handful of hard nosed employees and guards down in “F” section who wouldn’t evacuate.’

‘Is that right? So what happened?’

‘I couldn’t put my men at risk so I had to give the order to put them down. Bashar told us before we started, that “F” section is where they are producing the pandemic viruses and human cloning experiments. Naturally that made “F” section a priority target. We didn’t have the time to drag them out forcibly and still lay the charges. Unfortunately they chose martyrdom.’

‘I understand. Any reports of our casualties?’

‘Yes, one injured I’m afraid.’

‘Ah, I’m sorry. How is he?’

The commander flashed a rare smile. ‘He has a sore foot. He received the injury kicking Heinrich as per your orders.’

Paul laughed and his laugh was more of a release of tension rather than one of mirth.

Within minutes the full contingent, minus Alpha group, had returned and were quickly accounted for. They wasted no time boarding the two trucks. The false plates on either side were now left in the upright position affording the standing passengers some protection from possible snipers.

Heinrich had been gagged, his hands tied and his head covered with a hood and placed in the cabin of truck two. He sat in the middle flanked by the driver and another commando. Paul and the Commander were the last to board. Don assisted them up onto the tray of the second truck just as the trucks began to lurch forward.

As they passed through the now unguarded open gates, soldiers from each of the trucks fired their weapons in the air to keep the angry and terror-stricken crowds at bay. Those attempting to climb aboard the trays from the rear were forcibly ejected.

‘Get back! Get as far away from these walls as you can. This place will be blown to pieces any minute,’ yelled the special force men waving their arms at the crowd. But to most of those gathered their yells seemed to fall on death ears.

‘How much longer?’ asked Paul, pointing to his watch amid the din.

‘About four and a half minutes!’ answered the Commander.

The trucks drove at high speed down the road a few hundred meters and once they were well clear of the mined area, veered to the left along a grassy rarely used track.

Two minutes later they stopped the trucks and waited. A short pause and the Commander began the countdown. ‘Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one...’

A terrifying doomsday roar rattled the trucks violently as the blast’s shockwave, preceding the first mighty explosion, radiated out through the surrounding countryside. The second high velocity explosive followed a split second later. A luminous orange flamed fireball, blasted high into the sky above the Castle. The humongous fireball was immediately followed by a second, even larger inferno. Then a whole series of intense explosions were heard. Dust and deadly smoke plumes billowed ever upward with ferocious power.

‘Holy shit!’ stammered Paul in utter awe. ‘It’s as if a nuclear bomb has detonated.’

Even the highly trained and experienced commandos were stunned into momentary silence.

Tons of rubble, blasted high into the sky began to fall. Some of the rubble could be seen dropping over the screaming ex-employees. Mass hysteria quickly enveloped the crowd. Many ran for their lives in sheer terror, tripping over the wounded and the dead as they attempted to escape.
Lesser explosions added to the sheer devastation as the remaining fuel and ammunition stockpiles blew from the intense heat. The crash of buildings collapsing into adjoining structures and subterranean earthquake like rumbles continued long after the initial explosions.

The final series of larger blasts came not from within the now destroyed and burning Castle but from the direction of the mountaintop where Alpha group were producing their own little encore with the main power lines.

Only then did the hardened warriors break into unrestrained cheers. For a few well deserved seconds their usual self-regulated disciplined manner was set aside. With Paul’s help they had accomplished the seemingly impossible – they had taken and destroyed the Castle, afflicting maximum damage with nil Special Force casualties.

Paul knew that the celebrations were premature. The knot in his stomach had intensified since he had sent the guards packing to secure the airport and wait for the non-existent visitors. His mind kept asking the same nagging question - had he in fact unwittingly sacrificed his own team’s lives to save the sixty or so guards? Time was of the essence. The two H-3 Sea King twin-engine helicopters would have to arrive on time and get the whole contingent across the border into Switzerland. This had to be accomplished before the Syndicate chiefs became aware of both the extent and cause of the damage and before they forwarded directives to organize a counter assault.

Wakonda had given Paul an assurance via the image in the ring – yet the taut knot still persisted. There seemed to be that certain something he hadn’t counted on but couldn’t quite work out exactly what.

‘Here comes Alpha group,’ shouted one of the troopers, as an armored personnel carrier came hurtling over a distant rise with the five commandoes on board. Immediately the truck engines roared into life. A few minutes later the three vehicles proceeded. The track wound its way through a picturesque wooded area and eventually into a clearing surrounded by Austrian pine trees and other native flora.

‘The Israeli contingent are boarding one of the Sea Kings together, as once they are over Switzerland they are heading off in a different direction to us,’ announced the Commander to Paul as they climbed down off the truck. ‘They will be back in Israel long before the fires go out in the Castle I warrant. The rest of us will climb aboard the other chopper which will rendezvous with a US Hercules troop transport at a small Swiss airfield just over the border. We especially selected the C-130 Hercules as they are capable of short takeoffs from country runways. From there we will be flown to an RAF base in the south of England and from there back to Australia.’

Paul nodded but the worried look on his face showed that his mind was still elsewhere. ‘So close yet so far,’ he thought. ‘What is it that’s bugging me? Something is wrong and I just can’t put my finger on it.’ He looked at his ring. ‘Tell me damn you. Tell me!’

‘What is the ring telling you?’ quizzed Bashar as he and Sonia walked over to Paul and Don.

‘I sense danger. But that’s it. I can’t work out what is wrong.’

‘You sense an attack is imminent, yes?’


‘You do not suspect that the freed guards have reported our presence, do you?’

‘No, it’s not the guards. It’s something else.’

Sonia tried to pacify Paul. ‘In a few minutes we’ll be gone from here. Darling your job is finished. It’s over. Now try to relax a little.’

Paul shook his head. ‘No Sonia, I’ll only consider this mission finished when we are over the border. It’s too early to relax.’ He glanced over to the other truck. ‘Where’s Heinrich? I need to talk to him.’

‘He’s under guard, stretching his legs over by that large pine tree. He’s still suffering from the beating. We’ve given him a pain killer and unbound his hands.’

Paul strode over to Heinrich and to the two commandos guarding him.

Heinrich sneered at Paul with total derision. ‘You bastard. You stitched me up from that first fucking phone call. I fell for your lies totally. You’ve destroyed the Castle and in doing so you have destroyed me. I thought you wanted to take over control of the Syndicate but I now know you are backing a different horse to win this race. You are aiming for a bigger prize.’

Paul replied with venom. ‘And what the hell did you expect! Your father had my parents murdered. You’ve lied to me all my life. If it wasn’t for Don, Rebecca would now be dead. And you’ve tried to have me killed twice. Do you really think I would let you get away with that. I set out to destroy you and all you stand for.’

‘You will not escape from Austria alive. I have already made sure of that.’

‘Then we will die together, you friggin monster.’

Heinrich’s voice turned to a sneer. ‘Ah but I am ready to die. I have nothing left to live for. You have seen to that. But you Paul, you are different. You have your ambition for power bred into you. You have your two whores and you now have an extra half billion Euros. You are young and have much to live for. I will die satisfied, knowing that I will take you with me.’

As Heinrich ended his chilling threat, Don came sprinting over to Paul. ‘I’ve just been told that the Sea Kings will be here in a matter of minutes. The pilots want a four or five minute turn around so we will have to move quick.’

Paul nodded. ‘Don, do me a favour and watch this bastard like a hawk. He’s up to something and I’d like to know what.’

‘Leave it to me Paul,’ replied Don. ‘I’ll watch him.’

‘I repeat, you will not escape from Austria alive,’ shouted Heinrich as Paul walked away to join the others.

The sound of the four turboshaft engines grew louder. An air of tense excitement surrounded the group. All eyes were in the one direction. All waiting for that first split second when the huge seventy three foot long and seventeen foot high machines would appear over the tree tops. Paul scarcely breathed.

The noise grew deafening.

‘Thank God,’ he muttered, as the two giant Sikorskys hovered victoriously overhead and immediately touched down upon the clearing.

The Israelis clambered aboard their designated Sea King without the expected back slapping and shaking of hands and prolonged goodbyes. ‘Just another day in the office and a job well done,’ quipped the Commander. ‘We are trained to retain anonymity at every level. But I have to say the Israelis are a great bunch of guys to work with.’

Once aboard the other Sea King, Paul made sure he sat opposite Heinrich. He’d also asked Don to sit on the adjacent seat in case Don’s alert mind could spot any tell tale warning sign from Heinrich.

A couple of minutes later the choppers took to the air.

‘The pilots have elected to fly above these low clouds at the maximum ceiling of about fourteen thousand feet rather than skimming the tree tops.These Sea Kings have an airspeed of about one hundred and thirty miles an hour. So we will be across the border in no time at all,’ reassured Don.

‘I told you, we will not make the border. We will be shot down, you’ll see!’ snarled Heinrich.

‘How can you be so sure?’ asked Don calmly, not really expecting an answer to the question.

‘Ah, you think you are all so clever. However you overlooked one important detail.’

‘Oh and what might that be Heinrich?’ asked Paul.

Heinrich grimaced with pain as he leaned down and removed his left shoe. He twisted the heel counter clockwise then turned the shoe upside down. Installed in the heel was an electronic devise. ‘The wonders of modern technology. We call this our doomsday tracker. Once this GPS personal tracker is activated, a signal is emitted. The signal via the satellite communicates just one message back to base and that message is decoded as ‘total destruction warranted’. You see Paul, I went along with you while I thought you wanted to control the Syndicate because I knew you would eventually need me. When you destroyed the Castle I no longer had that option. Naturally as soon as my hands were freed, I activated the signal.’

Don rose to his feet. ‘I’ll inform the pilots and the Commander right away.’

Heinrich merely smirked. ‘That will not do any good. It’s too late. These Sea Kings will by now have been picked up on our radar. Our standard procedure would be that at least two fully armed groups of KA-50’s black Shark helicopters will be intercepting us from different directions within five to ten minutes and we will all be blown out of the sky. And Paul, the beautiful thing is, there is absolutely nothing you, or even I, can do to stop the attack!’

Paul’s mind raced. ‘Is he bluffing? Is this a futile attempt to get us to land the choppers in Austria so we can be rounded up and slaughtered on the ground? Yet we are obvious soft targets if we dare remain in the air.’ He looked at Heinrich in the eyes. ‘So what is your deal?’

Heinrich shook his head. ‘No deal this time Paul. That’s why we call this the doomsday tracker. Once activated there is no turning back.’

Don leaned over and whispered in Paul’s ear. ‘We need to talk urgently. I will also need access to the pilots’ cabin.’

Paul spoke to the nearest two commandos. ‘We have to go up front to the pilots. Throw both of this bastard’s shoes out of the hatchdoor ASAP. If he tries to stop you, throw him out also!’

Paul tapped the Commander on the shoulder as they passed and signalled him to follow.

‘What is it Don? Have you any ideas how to get us out of this mess?’ asked Paul befuddled.

Don looked anxiously at his watch. He spoke fast without pausing. ‘Yes I have, but first I must make a frank admission. To cut a long story short, I went against protocol and have been secretly dealing with certain CIA friends regarding this mission. My colleague Lynette, has trusted connections in the Pentagon. Both the Australian and Israeli Governments have also kept these same interested connections informed as to the precise details of the mission. Basically, I requested and received back up air support. The support is coming from their new top secret semi-stealth fighter bombers from Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. Should we have failed in our mission they were to bomb the castle and every one in it, from the air. We would have been given either the credit or blame on the bombing depending on which way one wants to see it. More importantly the three aircraft are currently shadowing us over the border to make sure we arrive safely.’

‘That’s fantastic, why didn’t you tell me? You know you could have trusted me.’

‘That was part of the deal. You may well have been captured and tortured for the information. The air support was to be a black op. We had to maintain a cover of plausible denial. Officially these aircraft do not exist and of course officially the USA backs the World Government.’

‘Don you have not only saved Rebecca’s life, you have now more than likely saved us all. You are proving to be one hell of a guy to have around.’

‘Glad to be of service. Now I must make contact with the US fighter pilots and tell them that we are likely to be intercepted.’

Don felt hesitant and unaccustomed to talking over the radio to aircraft pilots. His knowledge on such matters had been restricted to the occasional DVD and a few dated novels. He briefed the Sea King’s pilots on the coded contact details he’d been given. With so much at stake his nerves were on edge as he spoke.

‘Joshua to Gaspipe one, do you read me. Come in Gaspipe.’

The Texan voice was friendly and reassuring. ‘This is Gaspipe one, we’re reading you loud and clear. Congratulations on your little bombfire down there.’

‘Thanks Gaspipe one. We have reason to believe that a least two groups of KA-50’s black Shark attack copters will be attempting an intercept. Request neutralisation Repeat: Request neutralisation, over.’

‘No problem Joshua. Among all the commercial traffic, we have been tracking two groups of three choppers. Both groups appear to be heading for the border and may possibly intend interception.’

‘Gaspipe one, those may be the KA-50’s, over’

‘We’ll keep our eye on them. Oops, hey hold on a jiffy… Targets have just changed course. Yes siree, they are now heading straight for your jugular.’

Don Gulped. His attempt at official radio speak vanished. ‘Well shoot the fuckers before they get a chance to hit us!’

‘Will do Joshua. We already have them in our 'no-escape zone'. Preparing to destroy target.’

Within seconds, six air to air missiles with advanced missile guidance electro-optical imaging fired to their designated targets.

The fighters’ computers and radars continued to track the targets and sent second by second updates to the missiles of subtle changes in the direction and speed of the targeted KA-50’s. The missiles adjusted their course as they closed to self homing distance. They automatically turned on their active radar seekers as each searched for its individual target.

Those in the cabins of the two Sea Kings waited with sweated intensity.

‘Joshua, we can now confirm target destroyed.’

‘Shit! What all of them? Already?’ gasped Don.

‘Six kills confirmed. Target is as you requested ‘neutralised.’

‘Thank you Gaspipe one,’ answered Don with some disbelief.

‘No, on the contrary, thank you. We needed a covert mission to test these new black birds out. We’ll keep a watchful eye on you till you make the border. Then its over the North Pole, aerial
refuelling and back to Groom Lake for us.’

‘Good luck Gaspipe one. We are sure glad you came along.’

‘Phew that was a close shave,’ said Paul as they returned to their seats. ‘Now I shall relax.’

Once seated, Don aimed his comment at Heinrich. ‘Well you were right. They did send up six Black Sharks. If I were you Heinrich, I would start praying for salvation. To spend eternity with Hans Van Der Hyde and his friends will definitely be Hell, that is for certain.’

And both Paul and Don took relish in watching Heinrich sweat.


Rebecca sat next to the phone in her suite at the Mandir. It was after midnight and for the third night in a row her attempts at sleep proved fruitless. She sat on the couch in her dressing gown. Tears of desperate anxiety ran down her cheeks as she bravely attempted to fight off yet another panic attack.

The waiting. The acute fear of tragedy. Rebecca was so close to total emotional breakdown.

Melissa had promised her that as soon as news broke, good or bad, about Paul and the mission she would personally deliver it to her.

She could hear footsteps echoing along the marble floored passage way. Rebecca rose to her feet trembling. She dried her eyes with a tissue. ‘God please let her tell me that Paul is safe and well.

A weak tap on the door reinforced her belief that it was Melissa. She opened the door and stepped aside to allow Melissa to enter.

‘Remember me? I’ve brought you these flowers!’

‘Paul! But how ....’

From behind a huge array of the most exquisite flowers, popped Paul’s audacious grin. He was wearing a SASR sand-coloured beret with metal gold and silver flaming Excalibur badge. ‘Rebecca, sorry for just dropping in like this - I thought if I rang first, you might hang up on me. I desperately needed to see you again.’ Paul used the exact same words that he used in the flat in Amsterdam.

Rebecca was caught completely off guard. She didn’t know whether to scream with delight or finally allow herself to break down emotionally. Once again she was clad in her dressing gown, without make up, dark rings under her eyes and with hair uncombed. Instead she just stood speechless - blushing - as if petrified to the floor. Her heart raced.

‘Please, may I come in?’

Still without uttering a word, she moved two paces backwards - and nodded.

Marduk was there, unseen, standing in the corner. A sinister satisfied smile enveloped his panther face.

The End




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