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CHAPTER THIRTEEN – “YES, THE ‘UNDERWORLD’ WAS QUITE APPROPRIATE, REALLY.”
The morning came far too quickly for Liam and Sully, who – if truth be told – still couldn’t really believe that they were on a Lea Jet somewhere over the world, waiting to see just what they – or rather Kevin – had gotten them into.
Breakfast, much like last night’s Chinese, had been very good and very much appreciated. But truth be told it did come much earlier than they would normally have liked. So too had the cold Russian air, which met them as they followed Kevin down the boarding steps and into a waiting car, come far too early for them.
Although, due to the fact that all of the window shutters in the jet had been down and locked into place, and the fact that some sort of jamming system was making their mobile phones virtually useless, (trust me, both of them had tried them) they had no idea it was in fact Russian air. Nor indeed did they have any idea just where they actually were.
Thankfully, Kevin had supplied them both with suitable skiing-like jackets and gloves. And anyway, the journey from the runway to the large industrial-looking building took but a couple of minutes. So pretty soon they and Kevin were standing at two large metallic looking doors.
First removing the glove on his left hand, Kevin placed his palm up against what looked like a small screen situated immediately to the left of the doors. Liam and Sully watched as the a green light seemed to scan Kevin’s palm and finger prints before, seconds later, the two metallic doors slid open to reveal a long very clean looking corridor.
Kevin led the two lads in and they had hardly set a foot inside before being greeted.
“Good morning Agent Bold.” A soft digital female voice welcomed them as the metallic doors closed shut behind them. “It’s been a long time, I see your mission was successful.”
“Morning Veles.” Kevin responded, as naturally as you would respond to another human. “Yes, the lads have agreed to see if and how they can help.”
“Good morning Liam.” The soft digital voice welcomed Liam, as Kevin led the lads to some lift doors. “I trust your flight was a comfortable one.”
Liam looked at Sully and then simply – although with a slight sense of awkwardness – said good morning to the voice. He then also confirmed that their flight had indeed been a comfortable one.
The three lads entered the lift – the doors of which seeming to have opened for them without the need to push any buttons. As soon as the lift doors were closed the lift started to descend. Once again without the need for any button pushing, and seemed to do so for some time.
“Good morning Sully.” The soft digital voice welcomed Sully. “Or should I say, “What about ye Sully?” It added almost playfully.
Sully and Liam looked at each other in complete and utter surprise and could hardly belief their ears Hearing some strange digital voice using the greeting for Sully that Liam – and more recently many others – always used, just seemed weird, even surreal somehow.
“Um, good morning.” Sully responded a little hesitantly.
“The Commander is waiting for you all in his office, Agent Bold.” Veles informed Kevin as the lift came to a halt and the doors opened.
“Thank you, Veles, I trust you have notified him of our arrival?” Kevin responded. And with that he led the two lads out of the lift and down the corridor.
“I have, of course and he is anxious to meet our guests.” Veles added before then going silent.
Kevin led the lads a little further down the corridor, finally stopping at one of the many doors along it’s walls.
“Agent ‘Bold?’ Sully suddenly asked with a broad smile, able to control himself no longer.
“I know, I know.” Kevin smiled in return. “It comes from a nickname I was given by a pastors wife shortly after I moved to Ireland and refers to my having a mischievous nature. She called me Bold (or naughty) Kevin. And anyway, he added, what would you prefer, ‘agent DadKevin'” He asked, referring to the Gamer Tag that the lads knew him by.
Almost immediately after having arrived at the door, it automatically slid open, having been activated by Veles.
Kevin led the lads into a large and very modern office and then immediately introduced them to a uniformed man who had obviously been waiting for them.
“This is the Commander.” Kevin told the lads. “Commander, I’d like you to meet Liam and Sully. Who, as you know, are the ‘Commander in Chief’ and the ‘Executive Officer’ of the Fighting Irish – The ‘Celts’ clan.
Standing up and walking round from behind his desk, the Commander shook both of their hands and welcomed them. “I trust that Veles has already welcomed you?” The Commander smiled.
Both Liam and Sully nodded. “Yes,” Liam confirmed. “Although that was different, to say the least.”
“Think of her as you would ‘Siri’ on a iPhone or ‘Alexa’ on the Amazon Echo Dot.” The Commander suggested. “Although she is so very much more than that, and far more advanced as well. He added.
“‘Veles’ is actually an acronym for Virtual Encrypted Logistical E-communications System.” And that should give you some idea of her function.
“Veles is also the name of a Slavic god.” Kevin added. “And although traditionally he was male in gender, ‘Veles’ was god of earth, water, forests and, and I think you might enjoy this next part – also the ‘underworld’. Quite appropriate really.”
Liam and Sully looked at each other. The whole set up so far; the private jet, the large complex they were now in, Veles – the almost human like digital voice, and even and especially the fact that this ‘Veles’ had known to greet Sully the way she had, was, to say the least, extremely impressive. It was also – in so many ways – the stuff of spy novels and conspiracy theories. Both of which the lads had no mere passing interest in.
“How was your flight?” The Commander asked. “Do you need to rest or are you keen to press on and to find out just why we have brought you half way across the world?”
Liam looked at Sully and then suggested that they pressed on with whatever was planned.
“Good, good.” The Commander smiled and he then led them into an anteroom in which there was a small boardroom like table surrounded by eight chairs.
Once inside, the Commander offered each of them a seat and then sat down himself, before placing his hand on a small screen embedded into the table by his seat.
As he did so Liam and Sully looked around the room. It was very smart looking, very neat and organised, modern and had some very stylish and expensive looking furniture. Furniture such as drawer units and sideboards and the such all around the walls. Walls into which were embedded several screens. Also on the walls, above the sideboards and drawer units, there were numerous pictures. Nearly all of which seeming to be themed around tanks, battleships and military planes etc.
Kevin suggested that the lads took their jackets and gloves off as the temperature in the ‘complex’ (as he called it) was controlled at a comfortable room temperature. He then asked the lads and the Commander, if they would like tea or a coffee? And once they had responded he simply and quite playfully said, “Veles, be a dear and sort those out for us will you?”
“We spend Millions developing a state of the art system,” the Commander commented with a smile, “and you insist on treated it like a wife.”
“Sorry Commander.” Kevin smiled in return. “It just amuses me. And besides,” he added, “I think that Veles secretly likes it, really.”
The Commander just looked at Kevin and smiled for a moment before then turning his attention back to the lads.
“There are three things that I want you to know right from the outset.” The Commander told Liam and Sully as they both sat down, having now removed their jackets.
“Firstly, everything that I am going to tell you today is classified to the highest level.” He told them. It was a statement which caused Liam and Sully to look at each other knowingly.
“Secondly,” he continued, “You are under no obligation whatsoever. No pressure will be applied to you or your families and no underhanded tricks will be employed to force you to get involved. If you decided that what I am proposing is just not for you, then I will respect your decision. And you will both simply wake up in your van tomorrow morning with absolutely no recollection of the previous 24 hours.”
“You’ll wipe our memories of what happened?” Liam asked, somewhat surprised by the Commander’s last statement and – if truth be told – his honesty
“Government departments, world powers and intelligence agencies keeping secrets from people and hushing up things that they don’t want Joe-public to know.” The Commander responded. “That, and the fact that, if you decide you don’t want to get involved, I will need to protect the secrecy of this organisation, should come as no surprise to you boys.”
It was an honest response and one which not only could neither Liam nor Sully argue with but also one which – due to it’s honesty – also reassured them somehow.
“And the third thing that you wanted us to know?” Sully asked.
“Is that if you decide to join us and help us, you will be making a very real contribution to safeguarding the future of our world. Although no-one will ever know you have.” It was a statement that the Commander made in total seriousness and with no sense of the dramatic at all.
“The world up there,” the Commander continued, “Joe public, the everyday man, woman and child on the streets, knows nothing of our existence. And even though the heads of every world power knows about us and is indeed working with us, there are but a handful of people – oh, and Veles, of course – who know the full depth and gravity of what is going on.”
The Commander studied Liam and Sully’s body language and facial expressions trying to gauge what they were thinking right then.
In truth, the notion of secret organisations and of world powers conspiring to keep secrets from their people, came as no shock to either Liam or Sully. But he fact that they might one day – this day – become wrapped up in it all had never occurred to them.
And in truth, to them, it was another world. The extent of which, they could never have anticipated. It was a strange world, a secret world. A dark world. A completely different world.
“Even the fact that this digital voice – which Liam and Sully now knew to be part of something far more complex and far more capable – was a very real entity which was treated almost as a real person – demonstrated the complexity and the secrecy of this world.” Liam thought to himself.
His mind thought back to that statement Kevin had made earlier, when the Commander had explained about Veles. And as he mentally replayed the Commander’s words, his mind highlighted and echoed Kevin’s previous statement about Veles being appropriate because the original Veles was god of the ‘underworld’.
“Yes, the ‘underworld’ was quite appropriate, really.” He thought.