Accession: CATU Book 5 Ch. 01byJoeBarnosky©
CATU Headquarters, Washington D.C.
Mike Grines, Director of CATU, sits behind his desk with his arms across his chest and a frown set on his face. Sitting on the opposite side of the desk are the newest members of the new division Grines has created within CATU.
The new Special Terrorist Response Team, labeled STRT, focuses on fighting terrorists headed by or involving demons within their ranks. The idea was initially thought up by CATU's former director, Roger Cornelius.
The two new members underwent a procedure that introduced nano technology into the body which then can target the part of the brain that gives people Second Sight and allow the sensory portion to work as if the person had Second Sight. The only thing the person would then lack was the increased stamina, strength and agility that came with Second Sight. Specialized training, however, made up for it. The purpose of the program is to allow CATU's resources be used more efficiently and effectively.
Grines is happy the new division ready. What makes him displeased is the woman standing off in the corner of the room with her arms similarly crossed across her chest. The woman is Julie Branon, an agent of the Black List and Black List's head of its science department. Grines doesn't have personal issues with the woman herself, but with the organization. He had never heard of the Black List until after joining CATU. Even then it wasn't until Roger had an interest in him and began prepping him for the job of director.
Grines accepted what he was told about demons and the world many people had no idea even existed. He believed it not because he was going on blind faith but because he knew Roger a long time and Roger didn't bullshit about anything. At times he wasn't even sure Roger had a sense of humor.
After Roger explained the world to him and then moved on to the Black List, he began his dislike of the organization. The more he learned about it, the less he liked it. But Roger insisted that even though you may not like or agree with a potential ally didn't mean you discarded them.
In Roger's case he saw how important it was to have such an ally, especially one that had been around for a few thousand years. The Black List had technology no one else in the world had, including America. They had more assets and people at their disposal than anyone could imagine and it was enough to make his head spin at the thought. And though he knew patience and the need of such allies it still didn't quell his distaste of having one of its members in his office. The silence of the office is enough to unnerve anyone but it doesn't bother him. He is just ready to get the meeting over with, just as soon as Spencer Reeds shows up.
No sooner does he finish the thought does Spencer walk in.
"Good to see you decided to grace us with your appearance Reeds," Grines says standing up.
"Sorry boss, I was doing some follow up work."
"And I told you to take some time off."
"Until I find out what happened to Sam, you know I can't," Spencer says with a sad look of guilt.
"Well you can't blame me for trying," Grines says returning the same expression. He liked Sam, as did many throughout CATU and the FBI. She was a good agent.
"You said you had a something important," Spencer says changing the subject.
"Yes I did." He gestures for Spencer to have a seat, but he respectfully declines and chooses to remain standing. Grines retakes his own seat. "You know Special Agents Stone and Dupree," he says gesturing to the two agents sitting in front of him.
"Yes, the two newest members of the STRT."
"And we have a special guest from the Black List." He looks to the corner and Spencer follows his gaze.
"Julie Branon," Spencer recalls.
She breaks from the corner and walks over to Spencer. He holds out a hand for her and she takes hold of it and leans in to give him a hug. He returns the gesture. She whispers into his ear, "I'm sorry."
Spencer clears his throat in response as she releases him and steps back. It is words he has heard for the last three months and ones he cares to not really hear anymore. "I almost wouldn't expect you to be here," Spencer says.
"Because of that stunt you pulled with leaving me unconscious behind Chinese enemy lines?"
"Anyhow," Grines says with minor annoyance, "I initially planned for you to accompany Stone and Dupree in the investigation into True Group, but Agent Branon is running a similar case that you will be interested in hearing."
"That's correct," she says taking over. "We have been following True Group as closely as we can, but it has been rather difficult. From what we suspect, the company is legit in every way, but it is headed by a group known as the Ternion."
"Never heard of them," Spencer remarks.
"And I'd expect many haven't. They are the only three Asura on the demon council Winter and the three most powerful of Asura."
"The ones we faced in Argentina?"
"That is correct," she confirms. "And because demons and everything that goes on is kept hidden from the rest of the world it makes it a bit difficult to remove them."
"That isn't something has stopped the Black List before," Grines interjects.
"True," Julie says nonchalantly. "But in this case if we did it would cause a lot of suspicion and investigations. They are helping the world which provides the perfect cover and they have funding from many sources."
"Kind of strange to be helping when all they do is destroy," Spencer comments.
"Which is why it is the perfect cover," she continues. "You can become the savior of the world in the eyes of the people and blind them from what you really are doing."
"So what does it have to do with us?" Stone asks then clarifies. "I mean if we can't bring them down."
"Exactly," Dupree agrees. "No matter who takes them down its still going to raise questions."
"That is true but a terrorist group called The People's Hope have been rallying against True Group protesting against them, accusing them of polluting the planet and even being terrorists. They are even suspected of attacking the cargo vessels."
"Then it sounds like we can slip in and finish them off, no questions asked," Spencer remarks.
"If only that was the end of it," Julie continues. "About the same time these protests and attacks began the Black List has fallen under attack. We have been losing agents at an alarming rate."
"With the recent events I don't find that surprising," Grines remarks a little harshly.
If Julie is offended by the tone she doesn't show it when she turns toward the man. "I could say the same if it happened to you, but these are agents that hold positions, high positions, from law enforcement to government."
"And you're not thinking it's random," Spencer states leaving the statement hanging and beginning to see something of a pattern coming together.
"When you look at the terrorist attacks compared to the militaristic attacks on our agents they do not look even closely related. But both attacks started at the same time and only our members in those positions are being targeted."
"And if it were random, any Black List agent would be a target," Dupree surmises.
"What is it you need from us that you cannot solve on your own," Spencer asks. He knows she wants something and he is growing tired of guessing.
Branon pauses to stare at Spencer and hesitates. "Samantha is alive." She tries to keep as much of the disgust out of her voice as she can muster. Julie didn't like the woman even before she met her. Since Sam was a Marid, Julie immediately held no love for her.
Spencer doesn't have words for the feelings that well up inside. His first thought is Julie is playing some kind of cruel joke on him but when he looks into her eyes he knows she is telling the truth. But there is a motive behind her words. She doesn't like Sam, so what would have been the point in letting him know this?
"How does she tie in with the rest of this?" Grines questions seeing it is odd to only now mention Sam in any of this.
"A better question is what happened to her?" Spencer asks in an almost demanding tone.
"She was reborn a Djinn," Julie says with a look of sadness in her eyes. She feels for Spencer. "And she now under the control of Typheryian, the leader of the Ternion."
"What do you mean under control?" Spencer demands.
"More manipulated than controlled," she recants. "Asura don't have the same abilities as demons but they share a common background. We think that somehow Typheryian found Sam and has begun to control her through manipulation."
"To what end?" Dupree asks.
"We don't know, but it cannot be a good thing," Julie answers.
"So how do we handle this?" Stone questions beginning to feel a little pumped about their first mission as part of the STRT.
"You won't," Julie says curtly. "This is a mission for me and Spencer. Your task is parallel to ours."
"That's correct," Grines says jumping in. He has already discussed the majority of the mission with Julie, with only the startling revelation about Sam undiscussed. "We know where True Group's facilities are and that is where you two will be traveling."
"In the meantime," Julie picks up, "we will be putting pressure on the Ternion."
"And what about the Black List agents?" Spencer asks.
"My uncle has that situation under control."
"Stone and Dupree, your mission will be to infiltrate the facilities and find any information you can about what is going on," Grines instructs. "You need to make sure you are not discovered or cause an international incident. Remember that we technically don't exist and if something does go wrong it will that much harder for us and you."
"Understood," Stone and Dupree answers in unison.
"Good," Grines says. "Here are your details." He hands Stone and Dupree a large envelope then looks at Spencer and Julie with a smile. "I'm sure the Black List has you two covered."
"Don't worry about things on our end," she answers matching his smile.
Julie turns and leaves the room. Spencer looks at Grines and gives him a shrug. "Good luck and watch your back," Grines tells him. Spencer nods and follows Julie out the door.
Spencer has to run to catch up to her just as she reaches the elevator doors. He grabs her by the arm and spins her around.
"I didn't want to bring this up in front of anyone in there but why is it you're so insistent on helping me find Sam?"
"She's a demon now and with you there it may be enough to bring out her human side," she explains. "Otherwise we will have to destroy her."
"How do I know that won't happen anyway?"
"How?" she asks looking almost angry. "If you can't take my word for it then I don't need you along."
Spencer stands staring her straight in the eyes. Neither of them blink or say a word until finally Spencer breaks away and presses the button for the elevator. The doors open and he says, "After you."
Julie throws him a look that says a thousand words, but Spencer brushes it off and followed her inside. "Don't worry about leaving me behind. I am alive after all," she says with a warm smile. "Besides under certain circumstances I would have left somebody behind."
She doesn't clarify the meaning of the message and for Spencer she doesn't have to. He knows she referred to Sam but what now intrigues him is as to why she is so willing to help him find her.
The ride goes fast and quiet and when the elevator stops the doors part to reveal a near empty floor with a single desk and security guard.
The guard nods at the two as they exit then he looks back to the magazine he is holding. Julie and Spencer step past the guard, out the far door and into the open street of Washington D.C.
"So what's the plan?" Spencer asks.
"Well first we're—"
"What the hell is that?" Spencer asks after following Julie's gaze toward the sky.
"Whatever it is, it can't be good." It is the only thing Julie can think of as an explanation at the moment.
Grines has just dismissed Stone and Dupree when his phone rings. He picks it up and gruffly says, "Grines."
The voice on the other end tells him he should turn on the television. So with his other hand he grabs the remote and hits the power button. He doesn't have to change any channels because he keeps it set to one channel: the news channel.
The screen shows coverage from a helicopter flying high above a circular stone structure. The caption scrolling at the bottom calls it Swinside near the town of Cumbria, England.
He pushes the volume button turning it up to almost its maximum. The reporter in the helicopter is explaining what he is seeing with a heavy English accent.
We are flying above Swinside and some form of light is coming down from above us from what appears to be space. As you can see it has expanded in diameter from what it initially was. So far official inquiries to top nations of the world have all denied being involved in what is happening. This reporter believes if it is the work of terrorists or extraterrestrial or as many of you may believe some government out there is once again showering itself with denial.
We have just felt some kind of shockwave just after the light pulsed. What is that down there? Zoom in a see if you can pick it out.
The camera man zooms in where the reporter is pointing. In the center of the beam of light stands a form bathed in pure white light. The camera man zooms in even more and the form seems to turn its head toward them and then raises its hand up at them.
It seems there is something standing in the center of the light. Wait a minute. It's raising a hand in our direction.
Oh my God! Pull up! Pull up!
The camera erupts with light and the news feed goes dead. The screen is filled briefly with colored lines before switching back to the news room.
We seemed to have lost contact—
By then Grines is no longer watching. "Get me the President on the line he says into the phone then he hangs it up. He sits back for a moment before he picks the receiver back up and begins slamming down numbers.
Spencer's phone rings startling him out of his daze from the light. He picks up on the second ring. "Reeds."
"This is Grines. We seem to have something strange going on, you—"
"Does it have to do with the light coming down from the sky right now?" he asks.
"You seeing it?"
"How can we not?" Spencer questions. "What the hell is that?"
"Whatever it is we're out of the loop. I don't think anyone has technology like it but it seems to be coming from space and targeting some stone circle in England."
"Can you still see it?" Grines asks dismissing Spencer's question.
"Yeah. Wait it looks like its fading. It's gone."
"I don't know what that is Reeds, but I want your ass over there ASAP."
He hangs up the phone and throws it back into his pocket. Julie is standing looking at him with an expression of dismay. "What about England?"
"Something about the beam targeting a stone circle," he explains.
"Son of a bitch," she murmurs to herself.
"I told my uncle we needed to destroy those damn stone circles, but he insisted there'd be too much red tape and they were no longer significant."
"What the hell does that mean?" Spencer demands.
"They are places like Stonehenge. Nobody knows what they were built for and so they have been left protected by whatever country they reside in?"
"You obviously know something about them," Spencer accuses.
"I had suspicions," she admits.
"Care to elaborate?"
"We need to go," she says. "I'll explain it later."
As she turns to leave Spencer grabs her arm and spins her around. "We're not going anywhere until you explain now. You want trust then I want some straight fucking answers."
The look in his eyes tells her he isn't going to budge. Whether she likes it or not she needs his help.
"There is nothing that clearly says what the sites were used for but from what records the Black List has. Asura are mentioned together with the sites. The Asura have never been successful with summoning an Ancient to Earth. At every attempt they have been stopped, whether by the Black List or someone else."
"So what are they? Some kind of gateways?"
"I believe so."
"So how do we destroy them?" he asks, looking at her to have the answer.
"It may already be too late."
"What the fuck do you mean too late?"
"This may be the only one or one of many. Obviously the Ternion have found a way to do it after all these millennia. We don't even know where the next will be if they is one."
"So what are we waiting for?"
"Hey, you're the one that insisted I tell you everything."