Monthly Archives: September 2013

Lion’s Head Deception by Chuck Waldron

Lion's Head DeceptionTitle: Lion’s Head Deception
Author: Chuck Waldron
Publisher: Booklocker
Pages: 318
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626463689
ISBN-13: 978-1626463684

Purchase at AMAZON

In the prologue, the backdrop for Lion’s Head Deception is set, amongst rioting and unrest in a destabilized city.

Matt Tremain is a shy, private person who discovers a passion for writing blogs—a mission that propels him into investigative reporting. A tipster warns him of a diabolical scheme Matt simply can’t ignore. After the tipster is killed, Matt honors his memory by going forward to investigate the truth behind the conspiracy. He meets a television reporter and a cameraman also investigating the intrigue. Are they potential partners or rivals? A detective offers his assistance, but Matt is unsure of his true motivation. He is equally unsure of the allegiance of those in the top administration of police services. Matt Tremain and his friends are forced to go on the run, evading the newly-formed security teams. They must expose the truth before they are discovered, arrested and perhaps exterminated themselves…

The reader is introduced to Matt Tremain when a test message warns him of impending arrest. The first part of the novel provides an understanding of how he learns about a conspiracy, and the person behind it. A television journalist is investigating the same treachery. Will they be able to join forces? The end of part one introduces a police detective. Will he be friend or foe?

Part two takes place at a private retreat. The antagonist, the scheme’s architect, unveils the complete details of his plan and gets the backing of his three co-conspirators. The location is the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. It takes place at Lion’s Head and gives the novel the working name.

In an action-packed run to the finish line, will Matt and his partners be able to face the challenges it will take to expose the lies and treachery behind Operation CleanSweep?

First Chapter:

UNEXPECTED EVENTS

 

“This story just in to our Action 21 News desk . . . police have tentatively identified the person who apparently jumped to his death from the City View Condominium building last night. According to a detective on scene it was Matthew Tremain, popular investigative blogger. No further information is available, but a source did say that Tremain was undergoing treatment for depression.

The suicide count is now up to fifteen, according to reports. Ever since the rioting began and the new regulations have been implemented, it has been difficult to access official records.

In other news, there is still no word on the whereabouts of Action 21 Television’s own reporter Susan Payne and her cameraman. Prior to her disappearance Payne was working on a background story regarding Operation CleanSweep and its connections to the rioting.”

He tried to ignore the Looky-loos, gathering faster than fleas eyeballing a dog’s back. Holding his badge up and crouching to step under the crime scene tape, he heaved a sigh. “Detective Carling,” the tone reflected his displeasure. “This had to happen at the end of my shift. There’s a paperwork hurricane heading this way, for sure.”

“It shouldn’t be too bad, suicide for sure. It’s been like this ever since the riots,” the officer holding up the tape replied. “Just this morning—”

Carling stopped him, not wanting to hear the rest. He sniffed the unpleasant, acrid smell, still lingering as reminders of the numerous fires during the week of rioting.

Hearing someone say, “That guy’s straight out of an old black and white movie with that hat,” Carling turned to glare in the direction of the comment and removed his fedora to wipe sweat from his forehead with his shirt sleeve. Stopping to talk briefly with another uniformed officer, he was pointed toward a woman who was trembling, coffee spilling over the rim of the take-out cup in her hand.

He put a hand on her shoulder and gently moved her away as the growing crowd leaned forward as one, trying to hear what was being said. Carling took a deep breath to conceal his irritation.

“I understand you saw the…uh…incident.”

She nodded with a look that could have been a yes or a no.

“Yes, it was an appalling thing to see,” she told him with a shiver.

He opened his notebook, ready to document the interview.

“I didn’t know bodies bounced,” she said and started to cry.

After finishing the interview he noticed a man holding a martini glass, empty except for a green olive nestled in the bottom. He called to a uniformed officer who lifted the tape and ushered the man over to be questioned.

“It’s quite unusual to see a man wearing a smoking jacket to a crime scene,” Carling’s tone implied his curiosity, hiding behind sarcasm. “What did you see?”

“I was sipping a perfectly chilled martini, about to say something to my wife, when I saw something falling past the window. It was most odd. I thought it was a man.” The witness looked down at the empty glass in his hand, as if realizing for the first time it was unfilled. “Like I said, it was most odd. I tell you it unnerved me to the point that my martini glass began shaking.”

Never stirred, Carling couldn’t help thinking.

“It was a man falling past the window, I was certain,” the witness continued. “I had just seen a man flapping his arms almost as if he could fly. When I told my wife she asked me if I was sure. She was quite correct with her question. We do live on the thirty-first floor, after all,” he said and then paused as if reliving the moment. “I thought it had to be my imagination until I saw people running towards our building,” the witness in the smoking jacket gestured toward his condominium.

“I do hope those dreadful riots aren’t starting up again,” the witness murmured as Carling watched him re-join the crowd standing in the smoky air, wrinkling his brow at the police barricades being erected in front of his condominium building. “Something like this just doesn’t’ happen here,” he said to a man next to him.

His fifteen seconds of fame, Carling decided.

“Look at that guy,” the detective heard again. “He has to be a cop with that hat,” an observation repeated to the amusement of the onlookers.

Ever since the rioting my city has had its back broken, it’s gone to hell in a hand basket, and all he can be concerned about is my hat?

 

***

 

Two weeks prior Matt had no way of knowing about that newscast in his future. It was almost a normal day, so far.

Matt Tremain didn’t consider himself to be brave, certainly not one of those superheroes having steely resolve in the face of danger. Being short and walking with a limp, he once said he wore a bull’s-eye target on his back when he was in middle school. Picked on and pushed around nearly every day, he finally took a stand to face down two of the largest bullies. He didn’t decide to stand up to them; it was more like he recognized he had no real alternative. He went at them like a pit bull, tenacious and unrelenting. When the fight was over, and the pain gradually subsided, his reputation was reshaped. Even though he lost, people openly admired his tenacity. It didn’t hurt to have a big brain, either.

Now, he would need both of those attributes again when his phone chirped.

Looking down at the text message, Matt felt like he had been hit with a sucker punch to his gut. Before his phone started to vibrate, it had been just a regular day. He later wondered how many people had a record of the exact time and date of such a turning point in their lives.

It was a Thursday morning, his least favorite day of the week, when he walked into Le Rôti Français, a trendy coffee house with a caffeinated menu filling an entire wall.

He tried to ignore the TV mounted high on the wall behind the service counter. Ever since the rioting, there was little news other than continual coverage of the destruction. Action 21 News was the only station back on the air, and they had been airing commercial-free, non-stop updates about the rioting. Many, like Matt, were beginning to feel anaesthetized by the repetitive stories and images.

Walking through the door, Matthew Tremain noticed a woman watching him walk with a slight limp. The limp was evident, but not pronounced. A speed bump in his DNA double helix caused one leg to be a bit shorter than the other. It was that way when he was born, and it was still that way 32 years later. He tried to pretend it didn’t bother him as he glanced over at the woman who wore a sympathetic look on her face. He knew he should be used to pity like that, but it still bothered him, a lot. He pushed his anger aside and walked to the counter.

Running late, and this morning, of all mornings! Fidgeting, he asked himself, why did I have to end up standing behind these two?

CleanSweep! The word came, uninvited, into his mind. When did I first learn about CleanSweep? Tanner’s email! Was it only a few weeks ago now?

He brushed the word, and his growing anxiety, to the side of his thoughts, overhearing the discussion in front of him.

“I’m going to have a latte,” the first young woman said, sounding hesitant.

“Are you sure?” her friend countered. “You were going to try a cappuccino,” she said. “If you aren’t going to have that, why not just get an ex-presso?”

It was all Matt could do not to shout, to tell them there was no ‘x’ in espresso.

CleanSweep! The word clawed at his memory again. He couldn’t get CleanSweep out of his head.

“I want to try something different,” the first woman insisted. “I just can’t make up my mind,” she said, sounding pouty. Finally, after what seemed an interminable wait, she said she was ready and pointed in a vague way, “What does a masha…mashia…”

“Machiatto,” the clerk –

Matt had been enjoying the clerk’s annoyance when his phone started to vibrate, his ringtone for an incoming text message followed. Struggling to get it out of his jean’s pocket, he flipped it open to look at the screen, his life-defining moment, time stamped at 9:56 a.m.

It was the warning he’d been hoping he would never get it. Now, as he was reading it, an emotional trap door opened under his feet.

His shock immobilized him as he gripped the phone, his breath and heart rate fast-tracking. Anyone looking would have noticed his eyes widen a bit, a silent primal scream starting from somewhere deep inside as he stared at the screen, not wanting to believe.

ST2MORO@7. GY6. 7FF. 14AA41.        

He translated the text-speak in his mind:

ST2MORO@7: same time tomorrow, at seven.

GY6: I’ve got your six.

7FF: seven friends forever.

14AA41: one for all and all for one.

The real message, however, was a hidden numerical code within the code. Three critical numbers were those following the number two. He scanned the message. The first critical number was 7, the next a 6, and the third another 7, SOS on a standard telephone keypad. It meant he was in grave danger; he was being warned.

How long do I have?

The simple code was never intended to be unbreakable, simply enough to frustrate anyone trying to poke around and sniff through e-mail, texts, and chats.

Will it be enough now? Does this give me time to escape?

A voice in his head urged him to run, although running was the worst thing he could do right now. Instead, he walked to the door of the coffee shop without ordering, his thumb clicking two letters in response, CX for “cancelled and going offline.” He pressed the enter key, letting his team know he understood the significance of the danger he was in. They knew he would contact them when it was safe.

Will I ever be safe again? He couldn’t help wondering.

His CX message also triggered a program on his primary computer, and he knew it was already at work eliminating all history of any documents, contacts and communications, along with all traces of his back-up system. His hand went up to his chest, an instinct to make sure he could feel the four media cards hanging on a lanyard under his shirt. Everything was on those media cards.

On the sidewalk he looked around to make sure no one was watching as he pried open the back of the phone, removing the battery and tossing it into a trash receptacle. He used a finger to pry out the SIM card, kneeling to drop it through the slots of a drainage grill. Cyberia warned him his movements could be tracked by the SIM card, even if the phone wasn’t being used.

            Is someone watching now? How would I know? He should have been thinking about that before now. He had to be more careful. Looking around again to see if anyone was looking, he let the phone drop, stepping on it hard until the plastic case shattered. Then he kicked the shards off the curb and into the street. He winced at a ticklish sensation—sweat droplets forming on his cheeks, tracing their slow path to his chin. As he walked to the subway entrance, it took all of his self-control not to run. Cyberia had warned him there would be teams of watchers, looking for exactly that type of panic. “Don’t let them see you sweat,” he had said. What Matt knew about the tradecraft of spies and undercover techniques was limited to what he read in books and watched in movies. This wasn’t make-believe though, not a game to be played at.

Will my clumsy effort at tradecraft be enough? Will it keep me alive? Oh, man. I’ve been looking over my shoulder like this ever since CleanSweep put a price on my head.

He did his best to imitate an oyster closing its shell for protection. He wanted to conceal his fear as shoppers and commuters rushed past him like the current in a river flowing around a rock.

“Morning, Buddy.”

Matt’s head snapped up.

“Filthy weather, isn’t it?” A man in a soiled army surplus jacket was standing next to a newspaper kiosk, clapping his gloved hands, his breath steaming. “Especially with all this smoke,” he said as he started coughing, a cough that soon turned to spasms, causing him to pull out a stained handkerchief to press to his lips.

“Morning…,” Matt managed to mutter, forcing himself ignore the man’s dirty rag and turned instead to examine several of the newspapers on display. He started to complain to the news vender, to ask him why he allowed a homeless man to hang around like that. He choked off the words, chiding himself for his lack of compassion. It has to be all this…the stress.

Instead, he tried to look like a man unable to decide on which newspaper to buy.

More importantly, he used the opportunity to look past the display racks, on the alert for anything out of the ordinary—a head turning away too quickly, or someone abruptly stepping back into shadows to avoid detection.

He was sure he read about doing something like that in a spy novel—how to spot if you were being tailed.

He reached for a newspaper, choosing one at random. Starting to sort through coins, he noticed a man across the street. Is he looking directly at me? Yes, straight at me. Matt froze, seeing the man holding his right sleeve up to his mouth.

Oh no, he’s whispering into a microphone!

Matt watched the man cough into the elbow of his coat sleeve, then turn and wave to a passing taxi. Matt let out a long, slow breath. It was nothing. As he exhaled, he did his best to maintain a puzzled look, to appear like he was curious—like a man with no purpose in mind—as he turned around to use a store display window as a mirror. He didn’t see anything suspicious and started walking again.

If I can only get to the subway, blend in at rush hour.

He saw the sign for the subway entrance and pulled his collar up against the falling temperatures. He shivered, knowing it was as much fear as weather, as he felt the first droplets of cold rain splattering against his face.

That’s when he saw them. A sharp pang of fear gripped him, like a lion raking claws across his chest. Two large men were walking towards him. This time, he knew the danger was real. They wore their suits like detectives, each man with dark circles under his eyes, badges of sleeplessness and too much coffee. They were poster boys for the guys he knew were coming for him. It took every ounce of his self-control to look calm. He wanted to run.

It’s hopeless. He was cornered. Oddly, he felt relieved, watching as they drew near. The taller one, the one on the left, pulled his hand out of his coat pocket. He was holding something in his hand, and he began swinging his arm up in a menacing arc. They flashed counterfeit smiles, recognition in their eyes. He flinched; they almost knocked him to the ground as they shouldered by, then he turned to see them shake hands with someone walking to meet them.

“We have a reservation,” he heard one of them say in a voice that hinted at annoyance, “I was just going to call you on my cell.”

Matt left the rest of their words trailing behind, a sensation of intense relief spread over his face as a short, wizened woman carrying a shopping bag gave him a puzzled look.

He pulled his jacket tight as icy pellets started to prick at his face.

Am I shaking from the cold or that near miss? He wanted to laugh at himself. Panic and paranoia were taking over and making him feel and look irrational.

Shaking off his emotions, he began to move. Daggers of ice pellets assaulted him as he fast-walked to the subway entrance. He fished a token from his jeans and pushed through the turnstile. Directional arrows pointed the way to the train platforms where he was greeted by an eclectic perfume of steamy clothes, garlic, and closely packed commuters. Standing on the platform, he felt a gush of wind signal the approaching train, pushing compressed air into the station. The grinding sound of its wheels sang a harsh song of metal on metal, like the gnashing of a giant’s teeth. He waited for it to come to a stop, standing to one side to let passengers disembark. A young woman with a backpack was the last exiting passenger. He darted through the open door and lunged for an empty seat. He waited for the doors to whoosh shut, and silently urged the train to move. When it did, he welcomed the familiar rocking motion, even the scream of the wheels making their ear-piercing racket as the train lurched around another curve.

He started to relax. I’m going to make it.

He looked up at the electronic advertising panels, flat-screen images scrolling around the car. It was a continuous looping picture along with a warning to call 711, the new hotline established for Operation CleanSweep. It was a video showing his own face, staring back at him from the electronic panels ringing the subway car, flashing hi-definition video displays of a wanted man.

Why didn’t Cyberia disable –?

Suddenly, the video images scrambled to snowy static, visual white noise, and went blank. Holding the back of a seat, he pulled himself up as the subway train braked to a stop and the doors began to open.

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Categories: Dystopian | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Wrage by Joseph Spencer

WrageTitle: Wrage
Author: Joseph Spencer
Publisher: Damnation Books LLC (June 1, 2013)
Genre: Occult Crime Thriller
Pages: 214
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161572978X
ISBN-13: 978-1615729784

Purchase at AMAZON

Sometimes the toughest fight lies within yourself.

As more dark secrets come to light, the battle for souls pushes Prairieville to the brink of war in the living and supernatural realms.

Jeff Wrage swears a blood oath to Abaddon, the supernatural avenger of murder victims, to hunt the crooked cop who butchered his wife. Jeff wonders whether he can be the executioner Abaddon requires. Their pact throws the supernatural realm in chaos and threatens to trigger an apocalyptic fight for control of the afterlife between the Sons of Darkness and Sons of Light foretold in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Orlando Marino sees the death of Cyrus Black as his opportunity to restore the Marino family’s stronghold in Prairieville’s organized crime scene and become a mob kingpin. He unleashes a plague, turning its victims into mindless followers. Cyrus’ heir is busy rooting out a traitor and is unable to stop the coming turf war in the realm of man.

The fate of all rests with Homicide Detective Anna Duke, who steps into the shoes of her mentor while coming to terms with unrequited love. As she tries to clear the fallen hero’s name, she takes on a case where corpses go missing. Her new partner is reported dead. She learns the truth about her true identity and uncovers a trail of secrets questioning her tragic past. She journeys to avert the destruction of all creation.

Book Excerpt:

“What do I have to do? I didn’t know rules before I did the ritual,” Jeff cowered into a ball, pulling his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. It was definitely the weirdest conversation he’d ever had, considering he was talking to himself or whatever was inside of him now.

“My terms are simple,” Abaddon rumbled, once again speaking to Jeff through his own lips. “You must avenge the lives of the wrongful dead by killing those who robbed them of their rightful place in the afterlife. After I’ve collected the souls you’ve punished, I’ll help you avenge your wife. I’ll help you kill Christopher Sinks.”

Jeff’s eyes searched his suddenly glowing skin looking for answers. “What if I can’t kill for you? I’ve never hurt anyone. I don’t know how I’d do something like that.”

The beastly laugh once again rattled his chest so hard his ribs hurt. “Don’t worry, boy. I’ll show you. Let me see if I can convince you. Hear the plea of the souls stuck in limbo, waiting for judgment against their murderers.” Jeff’s hands were forced toward each other. A thunderous clap echoed when they met together. The wound on his right palm reopened and drops of blood littered the ground.

Immediately, loud rustling noises surrounded Jeff on all sides. Clumps of dirt in front of graves everywhere shook and collapsed. Pale, glowing hands clawed out of their disturbed burial plots. The bony hands reached out toward the sky, fighting to be free of their earthly bonds. Gradually, heads, torsos and full bodies climbed out of the overturned soil. Some were only skeletons, while other corpses growled as they inched closer, sagging, rotting flesh dripped blood, dirt and worms to the ground with every step. Some were dismembered. Some were riddled with bullet holes. Others bled from gashes in their sides, stomachs and necks. All of them had a blinding light poking out of the cracks and crags of their rotting flesh. They reached out toward him. None of their mouths moved. Yet, an otherworldly buzz of whispers filled the air. The uncovered corpses seemed to be chanting.

“We’re the wrongful dead,” they whispered. “We’re robbed of our eternal bed. Our souls mark the evil deeds. Punish those with bloodthirsty needs. Kill the ones who took our eternity. Kill them and set us free.”

Categories: Crime, Thriller | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Crypto, by James Stone

Crypto_smTitle: Crypto

Genre: Mystery/Adventure

Author: James Stone

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Purchase at AMAZON.  

Cryptographic chips unique to the National Security Agency are found where they should not be. The FBI forms a task force and demands open access to NSA, which they cannot legally have. NSA assigns Ellen Drew, a new recruit from LAPD Homicide. The assignment quickly leads her into a maze of duplicity, treachery, and treason. Lives, everyone’s lives, are on the line as the full scope of the plot emerges.

Excerpt:

Prologue

 

Moscow pedestrians forced to walk past Number 2 Lubyanka Square generally do so on the other side of the street. It is not that the walkways are better on that side. It is not that the view is better. It is simply that citizens of Russia understand from the depths of their souls that the Russian Secret Police are hazardous to their health. Home to the Russian Secret Police for almost 100 years, the Lubyanka is the seat of contagion, a place to be avoided at all times and under all circumstances. Its current incarnation, the Federal Security Service, FSB, wasn’t believed to be any different from its predecessors.

The normally minimal traffic had been further reduced to the vanishing point by darkness and a snow storm. This was even more so on the small street that ran behind the Lubyanka. No one witnessed a black ZIL limousine turn in at a narrow portal, curtains drawn for privacy. And another. And another.

The parade of quiet limousines disgorged, one after the other, a flow of equally quiet men who slipped into a doorway manned by guards who needed to see no identification. The quiet men made their ways to a top floor cloak room where they divested themselves of their overcoats. An astonishing array of braid and brass emerged. Generals abounded. There were some bear hugs of greeting, and some good humored banter, but they were mostly subdued, out of character for these normally demonstrative men. They waited, grouped together along lines of affiliation, and talked quietly. The director had not yet arrived.

An aide appeared and beckoned them into the adjoining conference room. He indicated that the director had entered the building and was on his way up. The men looked around and counted noses. They could be sure that those already present constituted the totality of the gathering. The director would not have arrived otherwise.

The conference table was in the shape of a long U. Cards were in place for each person. The director’s seat was at the head. The choicest seats were along the outside, at the extremities. The worst seats were on the inside. Those unfortunate to occupy the inside seats felt that they were in a fish bowl. People overlooked them from every direction. They felt especially vulnerable from the rear.

Each arrival looked with mixed curiosity and apprehension to see where he was placed. Some swelled with satisfaction. Others were stabbed with dismay. Those favored naturally felt that their positions had been mandated by the director. The others tried to tell themselves that the director had nothing to do with it, that the cretin who set up the table was at fault. None questioned their positions aloud. They stood at attention behind their appointed chairs.

The director was one of the most powerful men in Russia. As the head of the FSB, he controlled all overseas espionage, including an unknown number of exceptionally trained assassins. He also controlled all domestic intelligence and counter intelligence. Following time honored practice, he had set up a variety of sub-organizations, each with its own head, each intensely jealous of the others. The director balanced each against the other, thus keeping them mostly away from his own throat. Then too, there were always the assassins. Hence, the anxious readings of the entrails of a freshly slain conference table for omens of the future.

The director strode into the room and took his seat without a word. There was a general scraping as the others seated themselves. The director cleared his throat and spoke to no one in particular. “Comrades, the President sends his greetings. He asked me to tell you he appreciates the way in which you are carrying out the business of keeping our homeland safe.”

There were polite smiles and nods. They recognized the opening ploy and flowed with it. The director’s gaze scanned the table and settled on a small, elderly man at the far corner of the table. “Comrade Alyushin, what can you tell us about the American Situation?”

The assembled group looked at Alyushin, the Director of Planning and Analysis, with wooden expressions. They tended to treat him and his staff with contempt. His group was widely viewed as a pasture for those who didn’t have the good sense to retire when they should. However, he and the director were old compatriots, so they would give him a polite hearing. Alyushin removed a pipe from his mouth and spoke quietly to the director as though they were the only two in the room.

“The Americans have severe internal political and economic problems. Their lawmaking bodies keep switching parties, and their current president is widely viewed as having little international affairs sense or strength. Their economy is in shambles, only slightly better than the Europeans. Their obsession with global warming, and other things they call ‘political correctness,’ has made them vulnerable to terrorism and increasing dependence on foreign energy and other natural resources.

The group as a whole seemed to become more alert and more focused on Alyushin. A thinking man might not know where this was leading, but would be sure the director was responsible for the direction. A prudent man would watch and listen carefully.

Alyushin continued, “In short, it appears the Americans are in the worst shape since just before the ‘Great War’ and are basically paralyzed internationally.”

The director looked around the room. “If I have understood this presentation correctly, we have to contend with a country that is seriously weakened, and a president who is not in a position to respond internationally. Does that conform to your understanding?”

There were general nods around the table. No one was willing to disagree until he knew the name of the game.

The director turned to a General of the Army. “Please report on the combat readiness of the Army.”

“Highly satisfactory, Comrade Director. Regular combat divisions are at full strength. All are equipped with the latest combat weapons. Morale is high, especially in the division that recently completed an exercise.”

“Did you use the new cryptographic equipment?”

“We did indeed. It performed flawlessly.”

The director nodded his satisfaction. “You might explain this new system to the rest of the group.”

“Yes, comrade.” The general appeared to gather his thoughts. He began quietly. “What you are about to hear has been one of the most closely guarded secrets of Russia. Until the recent maneuvers, less than a hundred people knew even of the existence of the system. It went by the code name ‘Solid Ice.’ Its concept is no less grandiose than the total security of all Russian communications, from those supporting our diplomatic missions down to the lowest radioman in a rifle squad.”

Murmurs rolled around the room. The general continued, becoming more animated. “I can see that the significance of this breakthrough captures your imagination. With total communications security, we will be able to conduct the most sensitive diplomatic activities without fear of exposure. We will be able to exclude all outside intrusion into our affairs. And, best of all, we will be able to prepare for any military action without revealing the associated troop and logistics movements. I foresee the day, not long distant, when the despised U.S. National Security Agency will be put completely out of business.” The general basked in a round of general applause.

A man in civilian clothes, whose applause had been more polite than enthusiastic, leaned forward and cleared his throat. “How long distant, Comrade? What is the nature of this new miracle, and how fast can it be fielded?”

The general looked modest. “Not really a miracle,” he responded, “just the genius of our mathematicians and physicists. You see, since before the Great War, encryption has been based on the fact that any communication can be represented by a sequence of numbers. Further, the number set can be limited to ones and zeros. Scramble the numbers according to an algorithm known only by the sender and receiver, and the result is difficult to read. Not impossible, until a recent advance by our mathematicians. Our encryption is now unreadable by any practical method, even with the most advanced computers expected to be available in the next decade.”

The man in civilian clothes spoke again. “Assuming I accept that the messages are unbreakable, what prevents someone from watching radio traffic between units and inferring what is happening?”

“Another of our advances. Our new radios hop frequencies at very high rates, so they don’t stay on one frequency long enough to be detected. The same algorithms used to encrypt the core message are used to control the frequency hopping, so it’s doubly impossible to see who is doing what and where, or even that anyone is doing anything.”

“Next,” said the civilian, “how do the systems ensure command and control from the top to the bottom?”

“There, we’ve copied the American concept of combat net radio. Each unit, at whatever level, has its own network. The commander at that level is in his network and also in the network of the next level up. And so on, to the level of the prime minister. Also, we’ve put in a twist that allows higher levels to override all lower levels and take direct control.”

“Next,” said the civilian, “when will the new system be completely fielded?”

“Twelve months. That includes not only the new combat radio, but also all communications by any element of the Russian government. All will use the new master encryption system.”

“Impressive,” said the civilian. “Two final questions. You mentioned ‘practical methods.’ What about impractical methods? And how did the funding for such a program sneak through?”

The general flushed slightly. “It is theoretically possible, given enough computing power, to break any encryption. However, the computing power to attack our new encryption is decades away.”

The civilian stared at the general for a long time. The silence lengthened painfully. At last the civilian murmured, “You are certain? Absolutely certain?”

The director chose to step in at this point. The lack of love between the civilian and the general was well known. “As certain as anything in an uncertain world,” he said briskly, looking around the room. “To answer your other question, no one in this room except me knows how the funding was ‘sneaked’ through.” He turned to the general, eyes cold. “Have the new system fielded within the year. Fully.”

As if on cue, the door behind the director opened, and his aide entered with an arm load of folders. He began distributing them. They were dun-colored and marked “MOST SECRET.” Each folder had the name of a department, or organization, inscribed in the corner.

After the aide had left, the director looked around the room again. No one had opened his folder. “These folders describe projects each of you is to set in motion. Each of you is to return to his organization and began work immediately. Completion is to be one year from now. If you have problems, surface them immediately. No excuses will be accepted a year from now.”

The director abruptly stood and left the room. The others sat for a while wondering whether the meeting was over, wondering also what this new project might be. Finally, someone gathered sufficient nerve to leave. The logjam broke, and the parade of ZILs began quietly carrying their anonymous cargoes into the night.

Categories: Fiction, Suspense | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gem City Gypsy by Kristin Kuhns Alexandre

Gem City GypsyTitle: Gem City Gypsy
Author: Kristin Kuhns Alexandre
Publisher: Sisterhood Publications
Pages: 158
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1940016029
ISBN-13: 978-1940016023

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When you read “Gem City Gypsy” you must conceptualize a whole world.

Gypsies.

Socialites.

The Wright Brothers.

The KKK.

Industrialization leading to WWI.

So many vivid elements. The story is about a gypsy girl who must leap over bodies to survive the sinking Lusitania and escape murderous Germans who kill her mentor in Ireland. She later returns to her hometown, recreated as a wealthy woman trying to meld into the upper class.  Neci Star captures our imagination and heart as she claws her way out of one class and into the abyss of another.

Book Excerpt:

She didn’t like the way he looked at her.

Nineteen-year-old Neci Stans scurried around the small cottage, tidying things that looked out of place, and trying not to make eye contact with Graham Moore. She tried to pretend he didn’t make her nervous or self-conscious, because she knew that was exactly what he was trying to do.

He gave her looks. Those looks. Neci had seen gazes like this before, from men just like Graham Moore. Perhaps she was even used to them. She knew what they meant; what they wanted. But unlike other times in her life, Neci felt safe; protected.

She knew this was because of Lord Pool, and how he treated her. The whole reason she was here, safe, and living in Kinsale, Ireland, was because of Lord Pool. She owed him everything. He’d rescued her from more than death, when they both survived the sinking of the Lusitania after it was torpedoed by a German sub. He’d rescued her from a life she didn’t want to live, teaching her to be a proper young lady, to speak correctly; dress correctly; act correctly.

She’d already been on her way, traveling with the Hubbards–as a maidservant–on the Lusitania to what she was sure was a new life and bigger and better things. Things didn’t end up the way she planned. While at first it was terrifying, the end result was even better than she could have planned. Neci was no longer just a “wild gypsy” girl. She had become a proper lady. It was all she had ever wanted.

Lord Pool lost his family in the horrible event. He watched them die, and was helpless to save them. Then an explosion knocked him overboard and he awoke on a small fishing boat to find Neci caring for him.

Neci knew she’d become a substitute for his lost wife and daughter. But she didn’t mind, or care. She was all he had, and he was there to help her achieve her dreams. She had him and her beloved dog, Theda, and they took the place of her family back in the States.

For the past two years they had lived peacefully in Kinsale, Ireland. Neci had escaped the gypsy camp—a rather dramatic escape,  she thought ironically, remember her time floating in the water escaping the sinking Lusitania–and now she had learned the finer things in life from the elegant, refined, and kind-hearted Lord Pool. Graham Moore wasn’t going to change that, even though she was pretty sure he wanted to do just that.

She didn’t care what she had to do. This man she did not trust, with his quick tongue and his fiery eyes, had an agenda. Even though he was ruggedly handsome, despite the horrible war trench scar that ran from his left eye to his chin. It made him look very dangerous, which was appropriate, because Neci knew he was not to be trusted. She could sense it. She had, after all, been born a gypsy girl with a gypsy heart.

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The Ark’s Cargo by William W. Buisch, DVM Book Blast – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Ark's Cargo Front CoverABOUT THE ARK’S CARGO

This memoir describes the challenges a young man faces in achieving his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Even a period of homelessness and limited resources do not interfere with his commitment to achieve success. And this is only the beginning! Soon he is faced with the challenges of working in the jungles of Panama, facing the ravages of a roaming black jaguar and the defenses of a native village against the entrance of man or beast. Then, how about Haiti, where the Tonton Macoute militias believe in instant justice, rarely valuing life, or Columbia, where the drug lords have absolute rule. As if that isn’t enough, consider working in the African continent, along the tales surrounding the first shipment of Charolais cattle to the United States or the many facets of working with the wild mustangs in Colorado. Each exciting adventure is told with suspense, drama, and humor! Enjoy!

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Trafford Publishing

ABOUT WILLIAM W. BUISCH, DVM

Inspired by biblical passages and teachings, the author cherished his work as an international veterinarian. His passion for improving the health and welfare of domesticated and wild animals is most noteworthy. Working within diverse cultures, he observed vast health improvements in animals and, as a result, in people living nearby.

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins September 9 – September 20.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Saturday September 21, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

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ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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