Missed the story so far? Find the previous chapters here:
Chap 01 <a href=”https://clancelts.com/2017/07/31/the-clan-connection-chapter-two-evil-now-needs-no-flag-to-fight-under/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Chap 02 Chap 03 Chap 04 Chap 05 Chap 06 Chap 07 Chap 08
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN – VELES IS THE MOST HONEST OF US ALL.
“But hang on a minute.” Liam suddenly commented. “What you said before was that we should pay attention to what happens to all the tanks in the game. He paused for a moment whilst he formulated how he was going to phrase what he wanted to say.
“And when I told you that the only thing I could see that they all had in common is that when they </</aawere destroyed they all blew up in some way.” Liam added.
“Yes that is correct.” The Commander confirmed.
“And then you went on to tell us that all of these rogue tanks blew up when outgunned or defeated.” Liam added. It was a statement the direction of which the other three in the room could already see.
“But we are talking about two different things here, aren’t we?” Liam asked. “One of those things being fantasy – a simple online game played on the Xbox and also the PC and PS4 for that matter,” he added, “and the other being actual real life tank battles in the real world. Even if those ‘tanks’ aren’t conventional tanks and don’t have actual crews.”
“Or are they two different things?” Sully offered, closely watching the Commander and Kevin’s reactions to the suggestion.
Kevin and the Commander once again looked at each other for a moment without actually verbally saying anything to each other. Their doing so – or so Sully thought – was fast becoming a regular occurrence and would – under any other circumstances – also have fast become irritating. But this was a totally different circumstance. Heck it was a totally different world. And the sheer level of secrecy and sheer depth of importance in how things were handled was understandable.
“Yes and no.” Kevin finally answered. “Yes most – over 95% in fact – of the tank battles that you have played on the Xbox have had nothing to do with these rogue tanks.”
“But not all of them.” The Commander finished Kevin’s statement for him
It was a revelation which this time would cause Liam and Sully both to lean forward in their seats.
“You mean to tell me that somehow, and I really don’t have a clue how they would be, but somehow, some of the battles we have played on the Xbox have actually been linked to some of these real battles.?” Liam asked. Absolutely bewildered by the question and the linked inference he was making by asking it, he looked at Sully as he did so.
Standing up the Commander went to the sideboard on which the flasks of tea and coffee were located – there already having been replenished during the lunch time – and started pouring himself a fresh cup of coffee.
“I know that it is a a great deal to take in.” The Commander told them as he did so. “And yes I understand that in many ways it is hard to believe even possible. But the fact is that it is true and the fact is that if this is that there are very valid reasons why it is that way.”
Lifting the flask – which actually was more of a thermos jug than a thermos flask – of tea he held it up and offered the lads a refill. Something which both of them willingly accepted by getting up and carrying their cups over to the Commander.
“But what I can tell you,” the Commander continued as he poured them both fresh cups of tea, “and what I do want for you to know, is that at no point were you or your families at any risk through your game play being employed in that way.”
“Which whilst that is something that we don’t envisage actually changing in the future,” Kevin added as he also stood up in order to get a fresh coffee, “it is also something that we can’t actually guarantee – especially if your involvement, the number and frequency of connected battles you are involved in – is to increase in the future.”
This time it was Sully and Liam’s turn to sit in relative silence and to simply look at each other.
“How many others in the clan have been involved in this without their actually knowing?” Sully suddenly asked.
“Very few indeed.” Kevin answered.
“And the identities of those who have are not important and not something I am willing to have disclosed at this time.” The Commander quickly added. “The human memory is a very strange thing and the fewer the amount of possible recall triggers you are given, the safer things will be.”
In truth neither Liam nor Sully could tell whether the Commander saying that was in order to prevent them from asking additional difficult question on that topic or as a warning to Kevin telling him not to give anything else away om that topic.
But in reality the opportunity for them to ask anything further was very abruptly removed from them by the sudden sounding of an alarm as the room lights took on a red hue.
“Detection, section NAE-15 Commander.” Veles suddenly announced ina direct and concise manner.
Immediately standing up the Commander looked at Sully and Liam. “Two simple questions.” The Commander spoke clearly and without offering explanation. There was a very obvious controlled sense of urgency in his voice. “Have you heard enough in order to be able to make a decision concerning whether you are willing to help us? And if so what is your decision?”
Even the look on the Commander’s face communicated the urgency of the matter.
Again, Sully and Liam looked at each. The fact that the Commander wanted immediate answers was obvious, but that simply made the decisions – which after all could prove to be huge ones – even more difficult.
“I’m sorry, I have to go and attend to this.” The Commander told them, unable to wait any longer for an answer, “I will leave you to talk it through with Kevin and we can always pick it back up when I return.” He told them as he walked towards the door, whilst also instructing Veles to unseal the room.
“If positive decision is made whilst I am gone.” The Commander added – obviously directing his comment to Kevin, “bring them along.”
“Are you sure Commander?” Kevin asked, somewhat surprised by the instruction.
“Absolutely” The Commander’s confirmation came from somewhere in his office has he continued on his path of exit.
“It’s a huge question.” Liam commented, no doubt trying to explain why they had not given an immediate answer. “I have Nicola and Leon to think about. Not to mention a whole load of other considerations.”
“Aye, and I have me ma, and others.” Sully added.
“I know.” Kevin agreed. “And as I said, whilst your involvement to date, albeit that you weren’t actually aware of it, hasn’t put you or them in any danger, and whilst we don’t envisage your continued involvement putting you or them in any danger we can’t guarantee…” It was at this point that Kevin seemed to hesitate before continuing his statement. As the two lads looked at him they couldn’t help notice that he appeared to be conflicted about what he was saying or more importantly what he was about to say.
“The fact is.” Kevin told them, leaning forward in his chair as he did so. “As I said, we don’t think you or your families will be at risk if you get involved. But the fact is, as I have told you, we can’t guarantee that. But here’s the rub, and I need you to know that I am not just saying this to sound dramatic or to apply additional pressure on you. The plain simple fact is that until we fully understand and have fully dealt with those who are behind all this, we are all at risk. Each and every one of us. Whether they are involved or not.
“So you do now who is behind this.” Sully commented.
“He can’t tell us, Sully.” Liam volunteered. “You saw the Commander’s reaction earlier. “Until we have actually agreed to help, he can’t tell us.”
“I know.” Sully explained. “But knowing that they at least know who is behind it, does help us know that we will know who we are fighting and hopefully we won’t end up going against folk whose argument, who’s cause or fight, we actually agree with.”
It was an explanation which made total sense to Liam. Growing up where they had grown up and experiencing the experiences that they had experiences had taught them both that sometimes those carrying out the conflict are justified in their cause.
It was also an explanation which made sense to Kevin and one which caused him to state that he was 100% certain that there was no way that either Liam or Sully would have any allegiance to those who were behind this.
“I can’t believe that I am actually saying this.” Liam suddenly spoke up. “But somehow, even though we don’t really know what our getting involved will actually entail, somehow I think we should do it.”
It was a statement which pleased Kevin greatly to hear, but one which was not so pleasing and which was a little surprising to Sully. Something which was obvious from his facial expression in reaction to hearing Liam say it.
“Kevin says it is very important and he has assured us that we will not be fighting against anyone we could have allegiance with or who’s cause we would support.” Liam explained having noticed Sully’s reaction to his statement. “And when have you ever know him to lie us?”
“Apart from keeping this whole thing from us, involving us in real life battles without telling us, hacking our phones and being a secret agent for some sort of huge outfit we still know next to nothing about, you mean.” Sully countered.
“I know, I know.” Liam responded. “But show me one actual lie that he has told us in all of that. Show me where we actually asked him if he had done those things or if he was some sort of secret agent and where he actually lied about them. Sure he’s covered things up, huge things up, and sure he has kept things from us. But don’t we also have stuff that we don’t tell people about? Things that we choose t hold back?”
Liam’s point was a good one and Sully knew it.
“And I do have some idea, some inclination, of how you both feel about different governments and the such.” Kevin offered. “And I can assure you that whilst all the main world powers are aware of and are, to some degree or another, supporting us, no one government, or world power for that matter, is in control. We are completely autonomous in that regard.”
“I still don’t understand why us? Or what use we will be?” Sully observed.
“But a lot of that is just part of your nature, Sully.” Kevin offered. “It isn’t in your nature to big yourself up or to be acutely aware of you skill or abilities.”
“Aye, well I guess that is true.” Sully had to agree.
“And the fact is,” Liam volunteered, as the light in the room suddenly changed back to their original hue, “how do we know that even if we say no, some of the games we play in the future won’t still be linked to real battles without our knowing?”
“I still don’t understand how all that works. And what if we do agree to get involved and then some time in the future decide that we want to stop being involved?” Sully asked. “What then?”
“Then you simply stop being involved.” Kevin told him. “The fact is that at this point we don’t actually know how long we need you to be involved for. How long all this is going to last or what direction it is going to take. What we do know however is that at this particular time your involvement would be very beneficial.” He thought for a moment before continuing. It was important to him, to their trust of him, that he was as honest as he could be at this point. And he knew it.
“Obviously you would be asked to sign the Official Secrets Act which would deter you from revealing any knowledge that you have gained so far and whilst being involved.” He added. “But the only reason you would need to sign the Official Secrets Act is because that is the relevant legislation in place where you guys live. We have all had to sign the legislation relevant to our nationality and/or residency.”
Sitting back in his seat Kevin simply waited as the lads – and especially Sully – sat quietly trying to process it all, and to decide on the right course of action. There was so much to consider. So many unanswered questions. So much they still din’t know. Still didn’t fully understand.
“Why don’t I go through and wait in the Commander’s office and give you both a chance to talk privately?” Kevin suggested. At least that way you can both talk openly and freely.” He pointed out.
“Just me, Liam and Veles you mean?” Sully observed.
“Sorry. you’re right.” Kevin apologised. It was a sincerely apology. “I am so used to Veles I often forget that she is there. No offense meant Veles.”
“And none taken.” Veles offered. “But our guest is correct. Part of my programming is to operate in such a way that I can, subject to assigned clearance levels, facilitate appropriate responses or provide relevant information at all times within the complex perimeters.”
“In other words.” Kevin chuckled. “She is always listening.”
“So far it seems,” Sully laughed, “Veles is the most honest of all of us.”
“Again, our guest is correct.” Veles offered playfully.
“Listen,” Kevin tried to clarify things a little. “I know this is all still very confusing and I know that you have less reason to trust me than you had before, what with everything that has happened and with my having had to keep things from you and to try to engineer getting you here without actually telling you why.” He looked at both of them. “But I really wouldn’t have done all that unless I truly believed it was necessary and unless I really believed that you were the right people for the task. And I can tell you,” he added, “that the Commander obviously trusts you and believes you are the right people for the tank or he wouldn’t have told me to bring you along and he wouldn’t have fought against the opposition to your involvement.
The anteroom doors suddenly sliding open attracted their attention.
“Apologies for that.” The Commander told them on reentering the room. “Have we come to any decision?”
“Nearly.” Liam answered.
“We were just told that you have had opposition to our involvement.” Sully told the Commander. But the Commander knew that it was more of a question, an invitation to elaborate, than it was a statement.