The World Wide News Network or simply the 'WWN' as it was known to audiences across the globe was in overdrive and its employees were near to a state of frenzied excitement. At the WWN Head Office on the upper flowers of the Southern Tower of the Twin Trade Towers in New York, Manhattan, logistics were being mobilised, as preparations were being made to send a 25 strong film and broadcasting crew plus 4 tons of equipment, satellite dishes, news trucks and all the other paraphernalia of media technology to a relatively remote spot some 27 miles south-east of Rome on the banks of the Tiber River. The Chief Executives were floundering as to how best to deal with the strange, yet incredibly foreboding development that was taking place just outside of Rome, Italy, at this precise spot on the river. The populace of that great city were, young and old, aghast, agape, fearful, some overjoyed, others steeped in prayer, but all terrified of what had just recently transpired there. Or, rather what had descended upon them there on a hot and tepid August night in the year 1995.
"There is no question of who shall cover this story. Is there?" asked the Vice President for News and Current Affairs Broadcasting as he stood in front of 17 other Vice Presidents of WWN. These 18 men and women controlled the greatest media conglomerate the world has ever seen. The WWN dwarfed its predecessor, the CNN and the current BBC by far. It covered virtually every major news, sport, crime, fashion, political and technological story around the globe. With the exception of large tracts of North and Central Africa and Eastern Europe where the shadowy Brotherhood of NOD had its complex of TV stations and news gatherers. These areas were off limits to the WWN (unless specifically invited by the Inner Circle of NOD) as they were under NOD military Administration. The United Nations Security Committee refused to admit that the Governments of those countries had lost de facto and indeed, de jure control over their own nations. But everybody knew that the Brotherhood of NOD were the real government in these vast areas of the globe where poverty and inequity, corruption and civil disobedience were rife.
"It must be,....!" began the Senior Vice President for Broadcasting in the continental United States. She was suddenly cut short by another voice and interrupted. A voice of a man, thick and turgid, yet aged and the syllables that came out of his mouth echoed across the vast boardroom like a sonic boom. They stood on the 108th Floor of the south tower of the Twin Trade Towers and had a beautiful view of the Hudson River, Jersey City to the West, the Statute of Liberty, Ellis Island, and to the south and east, Nolan Park, South Battery, the Red Hook suburb of Brooklyn and the bridge of that name.
"Greg Burdette!" shouted the man that just entered. As he walked in the black oak twin doors that were swung apart by black suited aides were quickly closed behind him. The 18 Vice Presidents bolted upright from their plush velvet chairs as if each of them had had a broomstick rammed unceremoniously up their assholes.
"Just what I was about to suggest, Sir!" shouted back the Vice President. "Nobody asked you in any case!" The man walked to the head of the boardroom table that was nearly the length of a tennis court. "In fact you can shut the fuck up!" There was a moments pause as he sat down at the head of the table with the 18 Vice Presidents still standing to attention.
"In fact you can all shut your pieholes. And what is this anyway? A military parade? Sit down! All of you! Your making me nervous. I don't like a bunch of people standing and towering all over me when I am sitting down at 'my' boardroom table!" Everybody did as they were told.
For the next three hours the meeting continued uninterrupted up there on the 108th floor. The man that did most of the talking was him. Who was he? He was Otto Karl Remer. The President and Chief Executive Officer of the entire WWN world network. Some say that he had even met and spoken to Kane albeit, briefly, some years ago when the Brotherhood was less well known to the world. When it was still in its fledgling state and largely operating in the shadows. From 1917 to 1995 the Brotherhood had been slowly yet inexorably gaining power. Almost everybody who came into contact with its leadership were stupefied as to how their leader, Kane, had managed to survive for so long. His real age was a complete mystery. He had lived off-the-grid for almost a century. The only thing known about Kane was that he was seen with Lenin and Trotsky in a old photograph taken in Moscow in 1920 and had appeared in several more much later photos from the 1930s and 1940s standing far in the background group of the entourage of Stalin. He had actually been seen by Western diplomats in the early 1950's during talks between Warsaw Pact countries and representatives of NATO. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. met Kane in Prague in 1961. The eminent American historian of 20th Century Liberalism could not at first believe that it was in fact Kane. The same Kane seen with Lenin and Trotsky and 25 years later with Stalin. But the more he talked with the Messiah of NOD (they spoke for some 30 minutes in a hotel lobby before Kane disappeared), the more he became convinced that it was one and the same man. Schlesinger had no explanation when he spoke to President John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy on a visit to the White House just a few days before the 'Bay of Pigs' Crisis erupted in 1961. Schlesinger told President Kennedy that he was flabbergasted and mesmerised by Kane who at that time was a high ranking official of the Political Wing of the NKVD and later the KGB under the then President of the USSR, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev. Khrushchev was a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War as the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 and as chairman of the Council of Ministers from 1958 to 1964. Schlesinger told Kennedy that Kane's knowledge of history and geopolitics far exceeded his own. He told the American President that Kane had confided in him and had revealed astonishing prophecies of the future that Kane believed would come to pass. The first contact with an alien substance. A global conflict over resources. But not just resources such as oil, coal, electricity, nuclear power and solar energy but Kane believed that a new extra-terrestrial source of energy or substance would come down to the earth either at the end of the 20th Century or the early parts of the 21st Century.
The only Western Diplomat to have an official meeting with Kane in 1969 was Dean Acheson. Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War. Acheson helped design the Marshall Plan and was a key player in the development of the Truman Doctrine and creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Acheson's law offices were strategically located a few blocks from the White House and he accomplished much out of office. He became an unofficial advisor to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, he was dispatched by Kennedy to France to brief French President Charles de Gaulle and gain his support for the United States blockade. Acheson so strongly opposed the final decision merely to blockade that he resigned from the executive committee of National Security Council. When Kane met Dean Acheson late in 1969 at the behest of the then President, Richard Nixon, it was by way of a back-channel communique. Nixon and his Administration became increasingly aware of the gradually increasing economic power and influence of the Brotherhood of NOD in 3rd World Countries. Dean Acheson was sent to meet Kane and the Inner Circle in an undisclosed underground bunker and military installation below the city of Sarajevo in Yugoslavia which was heavily fortified by NOD militia. The meeting proved unfruitful as Kane told Acheson that the United States as he knew it, was to fall, or at least to become irrelevant. He also told Acheson that the United Nations would also be marginalised along with America, to the birth of a new Western military dictatorship. Even though, Kane admitted, that most of the instigators and personnel of this new superpower of global reach would be drawn directly from the ranks of the US Military which would subsume it and supersede it.
Dean Acheson was so disgusted with the views of Kane (as witnessed by NOD General Gideon Raveshaw) that he stormed out of the secret meeting reporting failure to Nixon. Acheson died two years later in 1971 from a massive stroke at his desk. But some say that he was assassinated by NOD operatives who crept into his home and speared him with stroke inducing toxins. Nobody will ever know the truth of Acheson's untimely demise.
General Gideon Raveshaw was a cold and very aloof character in the upper echelons of the NOD hierarchy. In contrast to Kane who was a man of the people, who loved to spread the prophecies of salvation to the downtrodden populace that increasingly flocked to the Brotherhood, Raveshaw distanced himself from the public eye. General Raveshaw kept an eye on mostly the military and logistical matters that needed a firm and capable Chief of Staff for Kane. He was that man. He fitted that role to perfection in the early days of NOD prior to 1995. He tirelessly gathered the most faithful, the most capable, the most fanatical, the ultra zealots of the order and turned them into an unbreakable force. The brethren of NOD that distinguished themselves were hand-picked by General Raveshaw to form what he designated as the "Black Hand". It was Kane who gave the order for an elite nucleus to be formed but it was Raveshaw that put it into motion and brought it into reality. The Black Hand became from 1960 or thereabouts to the present 1995, the tip of the sword in the Brotherhood's worldwide arsenal. The characteristic weapon for their infantry was a highly advanced flamethrower that weighed at least 30 to 35 kilograms. That is why the men and some women that formed the rank and file of the Black Hand were the fittest, biggest and most fearsome of the entire NOD worldwide cadre that by 1995 was estimated by United States foreign intelligence, in other words, the Central Intelligence Agency, to be of the order of 7,125,000 active personnel. The same size as what the German Army had been in 1939 at the beginning of World War Two. Yet most of these troops were concentrated in NOD's two spheres or axis of power. Africa and Eastern Europe. The main subterranean complex being in Sarajevo. Many have speculated both inside and outside of the Brotherhood that it was General Gideon Raveshaw that gave the orders for an elite squad of Black Hand assassins and a female commando trained in delivering poisons silently to the unsuspecting victim, to travel incognito to Maryland, USA, where Dean Acheson lived with his wife and when the time was ripe and opportune to dispatch and liquidate that venerable politician and statesman but make it look like an accident. Nobody will ever know for sure. Neither Raveshaw nor Kane have ever admitted as much and 24 years had already passed since 1971.
However some close to Kane within the Inner Circle of NOD's command structure have reported that when Acheson arrived for his aborted talks with Kane at the behest of Richard Nixon he was first met by General Raveshaw. Before Raveshaw had time to say anything to Dean Acheson other than 'hello' and 'please follow me this way to the conference' Acheson took one look at the diminutive and underwhelming physique of the General and started laughing, saying to his face, "I never realised that you were so bloody short!" Witnesses who were there said that Gideon Raveshaw was livid with fury but held himself back from riposting. (Raveshaw was only five feet four inches tall). Many believed that after this the General was determined to kill the self-righteous American Ivy League prick that had so callously insulted him in his own military base in front of his own men.
Greg Burdette finally entered the Boardoom after several hours and sat next to the President of the WWN, Remer. It was decided that Burdette would leave immediately for Rome. There had been reports coming out of Italy that a strange and toxic green substance had started to spread at a phenomenal rate all around the vicinity of the incident near the River Tiber.
"What do we know so far?" asked Remer to Greg Burdette.
The star reporter and journalist extraordinaire advised, "On the night of the 6th August 1995 which is two days ago, the Italian authorities reported that a meteor or large rock the size of a four door sedan had crashed some 25 or so miles from the centre of Rome near the banks of the Tiber River. The impact blast produced a shock wave that was felt across central Italy. Rome itself was rocked by the explosion as a blast wave travelling at just under the speed of sound smashed more than a million windows in the city. Italian authorities reported 137 deaths from deep lacerations and 19,345 injured from flying glass and debris. This was barely 48 hours ago."
Remer said agitatedly, "You've got to get over there now! This is the greatest natural disaster of the late 20th Century." Burdette answered that it could well be. "My guys and gals are already on their way. The first plane with 13 camera operators, technicians and communication broadcasting specialists and more than 4 tons of equipment has already left from Newark Liberty International Airport. They are crossing the Atlantic now as we speak. As soon as I leave this boardroom I'm heading with the rest of my team to JFK International."
"Good!" Otto Remer pursed his lips as the other Vice Presidents sat around them in a state of stupefaction not knowing whether to say or do anything. "But I don't want you to put an alarmist spin on the whole story," began Remer. "What?" asked Burdette half laughing, half scoffing, "But it is alarming!" "It would cause world-wide-panic!" Remer was livid. "It has already Otto!" Remer shook his head and clasped his hands. He did not want to be the man responsible for creating world anarchy and a breakdown of human civilization. Stammering, "What do you mean?" Greg Burdette sank back into his chair and sighed. "Otto. Listen to me! Its not the impact of the meteor and a few thousand casualties in and around Rome. That's nothing. Its this green thing! This green, sometimes blueish ooze, sometimes flower-like, other times like a quartz crystal or mushy swamp of green algae that is the worry. Its spreading fast. It has a bad effect on both animal and plant life. From what I have heard it almost instantaneously leeches into human skin and attaches itself to chlorophyll based substances found in plant life." Remer asked could he back this up and where was he getting his information from.
Greg Burdette answered realising that time was of the essence and that he had only a few minutes to spare, if he were to gather his team and get to the plane waiting for them at JFK. "I rang the Institute for Chemical-Physical Processes in Messina, Italy. Its part of the Department of Materials and Devices of the Italian Research Council. They have other laboratories in Bari, Cosenza and Pisa. Their Scientists and technicians carry out their activities in chemistry and physics, life and material sciences, with both theoretical and experimental approaches. Their expertise covers a wide variety of disciplines including synthetic chemistry, analytical and spectroscopic techniques, thermodynamics and calorimetry, lasers, molecular design, modeling and computational chemistry, and nanotechnologies. Specimens of this green thing that was found by Italian Police and Firemen on the surface of the crashed meteor have been taken there already. Its under analysis. I spoke to their Chief Executive Office and Chief of Research. He told me that the substance is hard to contain. Its highly transmittable, even infectious. Several of his staff have already been leeched with the green substance. Its contained in Level IV Biochemical Security."
"Level IV? What's that? asked Remer flabbergasted.
"Biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) is the highest level of biosafety precautions, and is appropriate for work with scientific personnel and agents that could easily be aerosol-transmitted within the laboratory by a perfidious alien or extraterrestrial substance just like this green thing from the Tiber and cause severe to fatal disease in humans for which there are no available vaccines or treatments. Biosafety level 4 laboratories are used for diagnostic work and research on easily transmitted pathogens which can cause fatal disease such as the Marburg virus, Ebola and Lassa viruses and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic viruses that literally cause you to drown in your own blood and vomit." "Charming!" blurted out the Vice President for News Broadcasting. Remer gave her a dirty look as Greg Burdette continued, "The first laboratory outside Italy to get a sample is the European Sample Curation Facility (ESCF) in Vienna. We here in the United States are getting a sample tomorrow. Its going to Fort Detrick in Maryland via our airbase at Aviano in northeastern Italy in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region."
"Great! So that slime is coming here! I feel safer already!" said Remer with disdain but with an underlying sense of horror. "Its also going to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds for thorough testing and analysis." Remer asked where and what that facility was and what its purpose was. Burdette answered, "The Edgewood area of the APG (Aberdeen Proving Grounds) covers 13,000 acres of laboratories and testing facilities. It is used for the research of chemical munitions agents such as; atropine, mustard gas, scopolamine, 2-PAM chloride, LSD, PCP, Agent BZ, Agent VX and Sarin gas. Its located in Hartford County, Maryland close to the town of Aberdeen. Dr Ignatio Mobius works primarily in Europe as a contractor for the United States Army. He is world famous. Mobius was born in Germany and has a single daughter, Sydney Mobius. I have heard that Mobius and his daughter are on their way to Rome to study the green substance. Once a sample is delivered to the APG their top scientists may be able to fathom the matrix and form of this alien toxin? I don't know? Maybe they can make something of this alien slime they found on the banks of the Tiber?" Burdette arose and looked at his watch, "Shit! I have to get going!"
Otto Remer said, "I am counting on you Greg! This story could make or break us! Get it onto all US and European channels, newspapers as fast as you can. I want you there on the ground where it happened."
"I'll do my best as I always do for you Remer. For you and the WWN. But I sure as hell am not going to be a hero for you or the network! Fuck that!" Greg Burdette was at the door and leaving when he said to Remer and the Vice Presidents laughing, "You don't pay me enough for that!" The next second he was gone and on his way to the River Tiber.
The city of Sarajevo in the then Yugoslavia was not exactly the centre of the world. Why the Brotherhood of NOD chose to found their primary base and Headquarters there nobody will ever know for certain. It is said that Kane told General Gideon Raveshaw in one of their many conversations in the early 1970s that this city was strategically placed in Eastern Europe and also sat on a transportation hub by air, land and sea which communicated with NOD factories and personnel in Turkey, Greece and North Africa. Especially Cairo and the port city of Alexandria. It had been decided by Kane to make this seemingly innocuous locale, the place where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated prior to the outbreak of World War One, his seat and base of power for the Brotherhood worldwide. All top level commands came from the suite of offices located in that city. Some of the Brotherhood's buildings were used as command posts and others as factories. The real industrial power and most of the scientific research was performed underground in a vast labryinth of tunnels and bunkers that spread like tentacles out from the centre of the city.
In August 1995 when the alien meteor tumbled onto the banks of the Tiber River no Grand Temple or Temple Prime had yet been built. It was Kane's vision that such a Temple Prime would follow a neo-gothic, neo-modernist architectural style (with elements of the brutalist style of architecture that was popular in the late 1960s and 1970's up to the late 1980s also incorporated) and would be adorned both outside and within the interior by magnificent black and red stained glass windows and walls. The interior was to exude an eerie orange-red glow of luminescence thus created by these windows. In 1995 the foundations for the temple had been built and the first seven subterranean levels for command and control were also nearing completion. The underground dimensions of Temple Prime were 1.5 miles wide by 2 miles long. Each level starting from Stage Z and ending in Stage T (7 levels) were identical. The Stage designated T was the floor just below the ground floor of the Temple itself. Stage Z was the lowest floor which contained electrical generators and five nuclear-fusion reactors capable of producing 200 million Megawatts of power. A series of ramps and roadways would spring out from the Temple yet to be built and which would lead underground to Stages T and U. Additional subterranean space was dug out for a vast motor pool and ammunition storage facility and armory or arsenal that would be linked to these Stages. Kane insisted that there must be height room and two-dimensional parking spaces for at least 150 light tanks, 200 NOD Raider buggies, 500 NOD assault bikes and 1,250 ZIL general purpose trucks plus 750 ordinary sedan-like vehicles and utilities. All of this had already been built by August 1995. Even General Gideon Raveshaw was impressed with the progress so far achieved.
The height of each Stage Z to U was also impressive. From floor to ceiling was 22 feet high. Each stage had a central corridor leading to a matrix of offices that were arranged hexagonally. There was a command and control room precisely in the centre of each of the seven Stages. It was manned by a Duty Officer of rank no less than 'Confessor' preferably 'Deacon'. He or she would have under command 400 militia troops plus 10 Cyborgs and 200 members of the Black Hand cadre armed with flamethrowers. Each Stage also had its own individual blast doors and stairways leading up and down to the other levels or stages as well as four sets of electric elevators placed at each corner of the 1.5 mile by 2 mile bunker structure and a fifth central elevator next to the control room of each Stage that would take high ranking officers and members of the Inner Circle up to the Temple itself when it would be completed. Kane and Raveshaw expected the work to be complete by the end of 1997. The Yugoslavian Government was in a state of disarray and they were embroiled in an insurgency war with Croatian Separatists in the north of the country. The Yugoslavian Government simply let Kane do what he wanted and the Brotherhood greased them off with an annual under-the-table bribe to the President and ministers of 20 million US dollars annually. Plus various other perks and favours. It was rotten to the core. The Yugoslavian Administration that is. In any case the Brotherhood had at any one time some 275,000 troops and militiamen in-country backed by 1,200 light tanks and raider buggies and motorcycles. This dwarfed the Yugoslavian Army that was led by inebriated morons and half-educated buffoons who were fully occupied with their own religious and ethnic internal squabbling. For this heterogeneous state was soon to collapse into splinter nations anyway.
Twenty-four hours after the meteor crashed near the Tiber River on the 7th August 1995 Kane was awakened in his bedroom by a NOD officer who was known only as 'Tania'. Kane was installed on and in Stage X of the subterranean complex. The third from the bottom Stage Z as described previously. This Stage was the most secure had its own labyrinth of secret tunnels and passages that bypassed the main conduit points and led directly to the street level above. Kane ordered this to be constructed in case the levels above, Stage T to Stage W were blocked or impeded by damage due to an attack however unlikely that may be, at least at the present time. Tania held the rank of Archdeacon. This was equivalent to a Lieutenant Colonel in a regular army. Kane's suite of luxury rooms, conference halls, situation rooms, communications and server facilities, bathrooms, laboratories where he would dabble in gene-splicing techniques and meeting rooms made a 5 star hotel penthouse suite look shabby.
"What do you want my daughter?" asked Kane as Tania gently touched the Messiah's shoulders rousing him from just three hours of sleep which was all that he needed. Not many personnel in the Brotherhood had direct access to Kane. Just a handful. Tania was one of them. When she was only 12 years old she had been recruited by Raveshaw into the rank and file. The General had found her in Hungary, impoverished and an orphan, living in squalor under a bridge in Budapest selling scraps and begging to survive another day. Her parents had been killed by Soviet troops in the 1956 Hungarian uprising that was so brutally crushed. She was born in 1955 and was now 40 years old. Yet nobody would guess it by looking at her. She was a red-headed beauty standing five feet eight inches tall with measurements 38 by 24 by 36. Tania was athletic, fleet-of-foot, a brilliant pugilist, member and officer of the Black Hand and a Shadow Commando trained to use glider assault. She was proficient with all manner of knives and guns. She commanded the 2nd Light NOD Infantry Battalion comprising 1,200 men and women. This unit was stationed in Sarajevo in a complex of factory buildings that had been converted into barracks in 1989. Kane had in fact purchased 35% of the entire real estate in and around the city at a cost of $987,000,000 USD. The annual budget of NOD in Eastern Europe alone was $2.9 Trillion Dollars. Their budget in North Africa was $1.75 Trillion dollars. She also commanded SHADOW TEAM ZEBRA. This elite formation was made up of 24 super-commandos. Twelve men and twelve women. They were all experts in disguise and the women in Team Zebra were trained in seduction, poisoning and covert assassination techniques and infiltration. Kane's own disguises when he travelled to the United States and other high-risk locales was prepared by Archdeacon Tania and her team.
"Your excellency! An incident has occurred outside Rome! As foretold by you an alien presence and substance has impacted upon the Earth!"
"Where exactly?" asked Kane.
"On the banks of the Tiber River."
"My vision has come to pass!" began Kane. "It has begun! The dawn of a new and invigorated Brotherhood is upon us! All that we have achieved so far will be as nought compared to what the future will now bring to us through this alien rock that has landed!" Kane paused a moment and looked up to Tania from his silken sheets. He always slept fully clothed in his black tunic and robe faced with purple-red scorpions enclosed in the chamfered triangle design. He bolted upright to his full six feet three inches thus looking down to the red-headed beauty as she stood before him in her red and black NOD uniform, asking, "Is the substance green? Green and blue?"
Tania was aghast, "How did you know your excellency?"
Kane answered simply, "I have foreseen the destiny of the human race and the Brotherhood!"
Doctor Ignatio Mobius was a scientific genius and had been a child prodigy. He achieved his Doctorate of Physics at the age of 15 yrs from Cambridge University. His Doctorate in Applied Organic and Inorganic Chemistry was awarded to him by the renowned MIT or Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From the Sorbonne he achieved at 19 years of age the degree of Master of Theoretical Mathematics and Electrical Engineering. He travelled in the early 1980s with his daughter Sydney Mobius to Australia and studied at the University of Sydney where he was awarded a Doctorate in Astrophysics and two further Doctorates in Biological Sciences and Organic Chemistry. He held 17 bachelor degrees in scientific disciplines in addition to these doctorate awards. He also had 7 master degrees in chemical and electrical engineering as well as a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery to boot. So Mobius was in fact a 'doctor' doctor as well as everything else. The only discipline that did not interest him was law and business administration. In the 1990s he became increasingly distracted and absent-minded at times. He was notoriously oblivious to his everyday mundane surroundings as scientific pursuits engrossed him totally and absolutely. He never married and was totally asexual. There were rumours abounding amongst the scientific community that he had never been with a woman (or a man for that matter). His work was everything. While in the laboratory Dr Mobius even neglected on many occasions to wear a HAZMAT suit when such protection was clearly warranted. Mobius had an intense dislike for the press corps. The only media person he was willing to talk to was Greg Burdette from the WWN. Mobius was born in Leipzig in Germany and finished his Higher School Certificates in Vienna before moving to Paris in the early 1970s and then to Cambridge for his first of many Ph.D. degrees. In 1993 he was awarded two Ph.Ds in advanced genetics and was the man most responsible for mapping the Human Genome as Director-General of the Human Genome Project based in Vienna. In 1994 for his brilliant work in completing this task he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Science and received a reward of 4.5 million US dollars which he gave to his daughter, Sydney Mobius. Sydney was a beautiful and talented woman who, gifted like her father, turned to computer science. In 1995 she was just 30 years old but had already achieved a Doctorate in advanced programming and computer software design from MIT.
"Did you see the news?" asked Mobius as he spoke to his daughter in their home in Vienna. Sydney answered that she had and also that she was more than a little concerned as rioting and looting had broken out in Rome in the aftermath of the meteor crash. "I have to get out there at once! This discovery deserves my immediate attention." Sydney answered, I'm going too. I want to see with my own eyes what all this fuss and kerfuffle is all about. Its not everyday that a rock that size comes down to earth and makes it through the atmosphere without disintegrating. It must be composed of materials that we have never encountered." Dr Mobius commented on the 'green' effluvia that was rapidly emanating from and around the crash site on the Tiber River. 'Yes father!" Sydney began, "It is alarming as I have seen on the media that this green slime or whatever it is, after a time when exposed to our atmosphere turns crystalline!"
"Crystalline! You don't say?"
"Yes!" Sydney reached for the phone, asking, "Shall I assemble your research team father?"
Dr Mobius nodded as he pulled out a detailed map of metropolitan Rome and its precincts. Twisting in a generally southerly direction through a series of scenic gorges and broad valleys, the Tiber flows through the city of Rome and enters the Tyrrhenian Sea of the Mediterranean near Ostia Antica. Its major tributaries are the Chiascio, Nestore, Paglia, Nera, and Aniene. In ancient Rome executed criminals were thrown into the Tiber and their corpses left to rot. The Romans connected the river to a sewer system, the Cloaca Maxima. And built with it an underground network of channels and tunnels to bring its water straight to the city populace. The meteor landed on the banks of the Tiber near the town of Settebagni. The town was devastated by the blast and the Roadhouse Restaurant near the river, the 'Roma Salaria' was demolished. Reading the newspapers Dr Mobius discovered that the green substance had now spread north and south to the metropolitan borders of Rome which was designated Municipio III near the Serpentara District.
A few hours later Dr Ignatio Mobius and his team of seven scientists were on a plane to Rome. They carried with them one ton of scientific equipment. No permissions had been granted by the Italian Government but Mobius could not care less, in fact he did not even consider it. Sydney Mobius accompanied her father out of morbid curiosity. When they reached the impact site to the north of Rome they were horrified to see total anarchy. Many hundreds of people had already been exposed to the greenish substance. They showed no symptoms yet and they were free to travel back to Rome or wherever they came from. Most were ghoulish sightseers and others official like the Italian Carabinieri Police. Mobius knew that it was a disaster of biblical proportions in the making. This, he thought was just the beginning.
General Gideon Raveshaw, Archdeacon Tania and several members of the Inner Circle were deep in conference when Dr Ignatio Mobius and his daughter were already inspecting the crash site and taking samples. This time Mobius and Sydney wore HAZMAT suits. They were one of the few teams that did.
"We need to send a sizeable reconnaissance force to Rome at once. Plus our top scientists to discover the true nature of this magnificent discovery," began Kane as he looked across the conference table inside Stage X of his subterranean command and control headquarters in Sarajevo. As they spoke some 3,240 NOD engineers and tradesmen were working in shifts around-the-clock to complete the construction of Temple Prime above their heads. Each of the seven stages was 22 feet in height. Thus they were 88 feet below ground. The architectural plans called for the spire of the Temple, once completed, to be 570 feet high from ground level. Estimates completion by the end of 1996.
"I agree absolutely", said Raveshaw. Tania nodded as another man entered the conference room. His name was Seth. Everybody except Kane snapped to attention, then with a nonchalant motion of his right hand he gave the understood signal for them to relax. Kane did not even bother to turn and look at him as he approached the Messiah from behind and then took his place to the right of Kane taking a seat. Little is known of Seth except that he was found by Kane during the 1968 Czechoslovakian uprisings that like the 1956 Hungarian revolt was brutally crushed by the Soviet Union. Born in the early 1950s he was now a middle-aged man with black hair, piercing black eyes and a bulky physique standing an even six feet tall.
"How many operatives do we have in Italy?" asked Seth. Tania answered, "Three hundred spies. Thirty sleeper cells for attacks on the infrastructure and a secret base outside Florence with 1,200 militia." Kane smiled. Seth remarked, "Good!" Tania added that this amounted to approximately 2,700 agents and troops to call upon.
"I want you, Tania, to gather Shadow Team Zebra and we shall parachute you over the Tiber using C-130 Hercules transports. I want you to try to create as much havoc and confusion as you can. I don't care about collateral damage. Shoot the fucking Italian Police if you have to. Liquidate the civilians who get in your way. But first and foremost your primary mission is to bring back as much of this alien substance as you can. Back here to our laboratories for a full analysis."
"Understood Sir!" yelled back Archdeacon Tania. She was itching for action, shouting, "Its a nice day for a kill! And I am always ready! Fuck Italy! Ready for this assignment Seth! Something else you need?"
Kane answered, "No!"
Seth looked to Kane and though the two men did not speak they communicated by facial expressions and Seth knew that his master approved.
"I believe!" began Kane, as he spoke to the Inner Circle, "That this is a momentous occasion for the Brotherhood of NOD. We my sons and daughters are at a crossroads that will determine our future and that of all our brothers and sisters in the Brotherhood. For what is revealed to us from the heavens is a portent of the destiny of NOD yet to be achieved. Our might has grown but is as nothing to what will be once we utilise this gift from providence. This miraculous salve from the heavens above us, the gift of the universe. Divination is true for each of us! Have faith my children. Destinies child shall be your children, the ones that come after you, all believers in the Brotherhood. We must prevail over the fanatics, lickspittles, charlatans, grovelers, naysayers, buffoons and obsequious scum in the United Nations and the United States to become the voice of the people, the saviours of the downtrodden, the holders of the chalice of ultimate knowledge and the premier military and economic power in the word!"
"Hail to Kane!" screamed the Inner Circle.
Kane continued, "This place upon which it has fallen to us to study, to surmise and to collect the resources of science and the wherewithal of the Brotherhood's industrial might is no accident! For my sons and daughters it is no accident that this alien substance has fallen upon the River Tiber in Rome. For I have had a vision while praying to my ancestors the original House of Cain. To that Land of NOD east of Eden where my first father Cain was banished some 27,850 years ago. In my vision I saw that Cain had picked up from the earth a laurel that was beautiful in its crystalline form with the colour of emerald green and also azure or cyan-blue. Cain handed this laurel to the ancient Emperor of the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar Augustus Tiberius. The Emperor of Rome from 14 AD to 37 AD. I shall therefore call this discovery, 'Tiberium'.
Seth saluted as he turned to the Messiah and said, "From God to Kane to Seth!" Seth was the Chief of the Imperial General Staff of the Brotherhood of NOD and Kane's right hand man. He was the 'Hand of Kane'.
The conference room filled as the Inner Circle were joined by the 24 members of Shadow Team Zebra as they marched in and formed up in two ranks of twelve. Seth looked at them and they shouted with military precision, dressed in their red and black NOD uniforms, all wearing officers swords, for each was a Prefect.
"From God to Kane to Seth!"
Two girls were walking along the beach called the Municipal Beach in Tripoli, Libya. The Tripoli Municipality at the beginning of 1995 had declared that all swimming in the open sea from Bab Qerqarish to Abu-sitta equestrian field to be unsuitable for swimming or fishing activities. Thus even though the two girls wore swimsuits they did not venture into the water. The taller of the two was a beautiful five foot seven inch brunette whose name was Umagon. Her friend was the 18 year old daughter of man simply known as Dr Tratos or just Tratos. They were refugees from Chad and had been living in Tripoli since the 1970's when Umagon was born in February 1970. Her mother died giving birth to her and her father had been killed in Chad 3 months earlier. Tratos was a distant relative and close family friend who had escaped with them to Tripoli. His daughter was named Lilith from the Hebrew language as Tratos was Jewish and for that had been badly persecuted in Chad. Lilith in Hebrew meant; ghost, phantom, succubus or dangerous demon of the night. The name came from the Babylonian Talmud. Tratos trained his daughter Lilith and Umagon to be expert pugilists, knife exponents, warriors and snipers. He was hoping that one day he could return to Chad and kill the gangster militia that had butchered not only Umagon's father but also his father and mother and his entire extended family.
Tripoli is the capital city of Libya with a population of some 2.35 million people in the mid 1990s. It is in the north-west corner of Libya on the edge of the desert and is strategically vital for the NOD North African Command. Libya was to be a springboard in supply and logistics for any possible invasion by the Brotherhood of Egypt, East Africa, Central and West Africa. Seth knew, as did Kane, that they would have to secure Libya militarily before any planned offensive on the African Continent. Even before the meteor crashed next to the Tiber River Kane had already been making plans to dominate that continent.
From 1934 to 1943 it was colonized by the Italian Fascists under Benito Mussolini. The dictator sent Marshal Graziani to quell a growing revolt led by bedouin freedom fighters under Omar Mukhtar. To history he was known as 'The Lion of the Desert'. To the Italian Fascists who despised him he was known as, 'Matari of the Mnifa'. A brutal and bloody war ensued where hundreds of thousands of civilians were slaughtered by the Fascist might of their war machine. Kane had studied in detail this internecine war for liberation by the Senussids who previously had been subjects of the Ottoman Empire before its demise at the end of World War One. Kane was planning to use these same methods when he would conquer the United States and Europe. The bedouin are a group or collection of Arabic tribes that inhabited the desert regions. Umagon had spent several years training with bedouin fighters and assassins in what was once called Cyrenaica. The desert was in her blood. She felt at home and comfortable in the desert as did her friend Lilith who was 18 years old. Lilith was born in 1977 but Umagon never considered her as a sister but more as a loving companion. Both girls were breathtakingly beautiful. Lilith was a blonde femme fatale standing five feet eight inches tall with an hour-glass figure of perfection. Umagon was slightly more voluptuous and curvy but in an athletic way with a figure that would make men swoon with lust. Even at the ages of 25 and 18 years they were already formidable protagonists. Neither had lain with men. However they were more accustomed to 'loving' each other. They found comfort in that.
Marshal Rodolfo Graziani was the first western commander to deploy tanks in the desert where he defeated the forces of Omar Mukhtar at Kufra. The Senussids called him the 'The Butcher of Fezzan'. The Italian people loved him and named him, 'The Pacifier of Libya'. The Italians butchered the outmatched bedouin fighters who charged Italian light tanks on horseback. Their women were brutally raped and sodomised by the fascist soldiers. The young boys also. Graziani shot, tortured and hung them by the thousands. Hence his nickname. He was venerated by the Fascist Grand Council in Rome and had met Adolf Hitler and Field Marshall Albert Kesselring and Wilhelm Keitel on many occasions at the Berghof. In February 1937 after an assassination attempt on him in Addis Ababa he ordered a brutal and murderous crackdown known as 'Yekatit 12'. This was after his Libyan successes in Ethiopia where he was put in charge of the extermination of its people by Mussolini. Emperor Haile Selassie was defeated on 31st March 1936 at the Battle of Maychew by the forces of the Italian Fascist legions under Graziani. The date Yekatit 12 was the appointed time that Graziani ordered martial law in the city and the rounding up and brutal torture and execution of over 30,000 people who were sympathetic to the old regime. Omar Mukhtar was hung in public in one of the first concentration camps ever built far into the desert where over 3 million Senussids were packed into squalor and deprivation. Kane knew that there were lessons to be learned from the actions of both sides. The Messiah of the Brotherhood was determined to use the same methods used by the freedom fighters against the other dictatorships of Africa once the NOD War Machine was ready to strike. Kufra is in the south-eastern district of the Libyan desert inside the province of the same name. The battle occurred in 1931 and the bones of the dead combatants could still be found there. Tratos had been gathering supporters in Libya since the 1970s. They were made up of refugees from Chad like himself and others from countries all over western and central Africa who had escaped the brutal and sadistic dictatorships that ruled with an iron fist and a pitiless disregard for human life. Many of these followers had already joined the Brotherhood of NOD. But Tratos refused to align himself with Kane. Umagon and Lilith also did not want to commit themselves to a vast organisation with headquarters in Sarajevo. Their loyalties were to Africa and above that to the desert dwellers. Kufra was the site of a training camp jointly used by NOD and the followers of Tratos. This was how it was up to 1995 in the pre-Tiberium days of the world. Things were about to rapidly change for them, for Libya, for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who ruled them and for the Brotherhood as well as all of humanity. But nobody knew it yet.
As Umagon and Lilith sat on the concrete and steel rampart that was above the Municipal Beach walkway that stretched west of the centre of Tripoli they looked out to the serene and brilliant blue of the Mediterranean waters. The day was filled with glorious sunshine and there was hardly a breeze, only the sounds of seagulls and the lapping of the waters against the shore could be heard. Umagon placed her head on Liliths' shoulders as Lilith caressed Umagon's smooth and naked thigh. The two girls were supremely relaxed. For they knew that tonight they would have to report to Tratos who had a job for them. They would need all their courage and martial prowess.
Greg Burdette together with his broadcasting team and several trucks of equipment were installed in the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria Hotel and took up three complete floors. In the lobby and galleries were paintings from local artists lining the walls. Their collection of art could very well make for a lovely museum, and they can boast the presence of three Tiepolos in their very lobby! Greg Burdette was always looking for gastronomic delights, and he always dined at the charming restaurant La Pergola. However, this restaurant is so wildly popular that even if you’re a guest at the hotel, you still need reservations weeks in advance. The hotel is also equipped with three full-sized outdoor pools, a gym, and a spa. The hotel has a total of 345 bedrooms each of them with a private balcony. The suites occupy the Imperial Club floors with panoramic views of the city. The Cavalieri is quite remotely located from all the primary attractions like the Colosseum, it’s about a 15 minute or half an hour taxi ride from the center of Rome. The hotel is perched atop Monte Mario, thus offering a great view of the city below. Greg Burdette and the WWN team took up all the Imperial Club floors for this assignment.
Rome was seething with unrest and the Italian Police were hard pressed to protect only the rich and powerful guests and diplomats that had flocked to the city in the last 72 hours since the meteor had fallen into the Tiber River.
As Greg Burdette was walking out he ran into a press scrum in the lobby. Reporters from all over the world were bombarding him with questions. After all he was a celebrity who was world famous as the face of the WWN.
"I don't have time for this shit now!" he screamed as 15 members of his film crew manhandled the other reporters and pushed, kicked and even punched their way through to the main entrance. It was bedlam. Outside, in the centre of Rome a riot was in progress. Three people had already been killed, 347 wounded and 1,291 hooligans had been arrested. The Italian Prime Minister, Lamberto Dini, was about to declare a state of martial law but held back for fear that he would be ousted from government. The hospitals in Rome and surrounding towns were already packed to capacity not only from casualties from the riots but also from a strange malaise or sickness that seemed to be contracted by people who had ventured too close to what Kane now had named as Tiberium. The crystals were formed after a few hours as the liquid Tiberium started to leech minerals from the underlying soil.
Burdette was just about to exit the hotel for the drive to the Tiberium crash site when he looked around and saw Kristy Swanson at the Concierge Desk surrounded by her body guard goons (five of them, with one looking more stupid than the other) and a gaggle of paparazzi taking photos without her permission. She looked thoroughly pissed off. Swanson was one of the top box office attractions of the 1990s with films such as; Dream Trap (1990), On the Move (1991), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), The Chili Con Carne Club (1993), The Chase (1994) and Higher Learning (1995). She was currently filming, 'The Phantom' to be released in 1996. Burdette walked over to her group and said, "Hello Kristy!"
"What the fuck do you want Burdette?" Everybody in Hollywood and around the world for that matter knew his face. His face was the WWN worldwide news anchor man that was on the air around-the-clock to over one billion viewers in 65 countries.
"Just a a couple of hours of your time. That's all Kristy".
"What do you mean? A couple hours of my time? Are you a fucking retard or something? Can't you see I'm busy checking into this cheap and tardy hotel? Go and fly a kite you slimey, obsequious scum-bag or I'll have one of my guards cut you a new asshole. You stupid prick!"
Burdette was not so easily put-off. He was used to this abuse as his mother spoke to him like that every time he went back to the family home in Connecticut. "I was hoping your guard dogs here could install you into this hotel while you and I go up to my suite for a few drinks. What do you say? I'll make it worth your while."
Kristy Swanson jabbed him in the ribs and said, "So you want to fuck me? Of course! Everybody wants to fuck me. I am a star. And I fucking rich star."
"How much are you worth?" asked Burdette. "None of your Goddam business you insipid piece of shit."
"I'll make it worth your while. You will be thrilled at my offer." Burdette then explained that he would put Swanson's face together with a full spread cover story on every major magazine published by the WWN for the entire year of 1996 which would earn her millions of dollars. Greg Burdette was the Director for all magazines published by the WWN which included; Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, Elle, The New Yorker, Harper's Bazaar, Rolling Stone and Fortune magazines. All had been acquired by the WWN and they had a following of hundreds of millions.
"So what do you say?" Kristy Swanson just smiled and let Burdette lead her back to his sumptuous suite. They engaged in two hours of feverish, rampant and debauched love-making. As soon as the fuck-fest was over Burdette made his way to the Tiber River and started filming the scenes of chaos and mayhem that were dramatically unfolding there.
Italy's elite military unit, the 4th Alpini Paratroopers Regiment was a ranger type unit specialising in urban as well as insurgent warfare. It was also a special operations unit that excelled in mass demolition of hardened targets. The 185th Target Paratroopers Acquisition Regiment 'Folgore' was also with them. A total force of approximately 6,000 crack troops. They had been ordered into the Tiberium crash site area, by the Prime Minister Lamberto Dini, to prevent anarchy and to keep back the increasing tidal wave or tsunami of sightseers that now numbered over 300,000 people. The Tiberium was now crystallising as it leached into the soil north of Rome. In only 4 days it had spread out to cover 100 square miles of the Italian countryside.