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Maelstrom in the Clouds

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posted on Jan, 11 2010 @ 02:23 AM
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I began this story with the intention of submitting it to the Short Story Board and the recent AFWC Contest. The idea was to create a storyline that incorporated as many current events and real life figures as possible while still keeping it short and readable.

Well, like I said, that WAS the intent. What happened was that I hit a brick wall in a small, sub-basement room in a Washington DC.

Qualifying notes would have to include that the main character, Dan Rudge, Russian intel operative, Anatoly Sarkov and Fox News intern, Cynthia Grant are (of course) fictitious. Beyond that, the effort was to keep locations and events as close to real life as possible.

Most of the text has already been edited for spelling, grammar and punctuation but… not entirely. That’s my excuse anyway lol.

So, with that all now being said, if anyone would like to try and add to… or sew up this story, please feel free. I hope someone does because I thought it had a lot of potential when it began.

- Redoubt

...

Intended title: Maelstrom in the Clouds

- A Cold Morning in Arlington -

The December air was unusually crisp, especially for DC. A storm front had passed through and dumped a ton of snow that made the capital look and smell a lot cleaner than it was.

Dan Rudge was a recent acquirement of the Obama administration. With a history as an analyst at Langley and later, the deep-black DIA bureau in Moscow, he had enough credentials to be of use to Washington’s outsider president in a time when being on the inside of anything was worth something. And on this late fall day; he had an appointment that would take him across the Potomac to Arlington, amidst the long rows of sleeping heroes.

The solemnity of the place had always affected him but on this occasion, the big, black GMC Yukon seemed to rob the moment. But then considering that a Russian intelligence officer had come to the nation’s most hallowed ground in what was arguably a symbol of American audacity, there was an irony to equal the loss.

Rudge knew who was behind the wheel; Anatoly Sarkov, whom he had forged a friendship with in 1990-91 while working the great red mausoleum that were those last days of the Soviet Union. He had been one of the KGB’s most promising young progenies before it all came crashing down. Then, surviving the various political and economic purges of the day, often on wits alone, he moved on to land with the SVR, where he quickly made a name for himself and got his choice of duty station… namely, Washington DC.

“Dan Rooj! Tis good to see you, no?” Sarkov’s English was nearly flawless but he always liked to play the dumb Russian tourist. Whether it was to amuse his friends or himself, was anyone’s guess.

“Anatoly, your accent is getting a little rusty. Maybe you should brush-up a little over at immigration. I hear they have plenty of Russians camping out in the waiting room.”

“Your sense of humor is certainly dryer than this weather. What is with the snow? I came to the US for the sunshine!” He was probably telling the truth about that last part. He was never a fan of the Russian winters.

“Yeah well, you could have chosen a warmer spot for this meeting, you know.”

“Hmm? Yes, and I could have at that but… what I have to talk about is not so public. The last time we spoke, it was on that ATS website the next day. Your people leak like an old Russian submarine.”

Rudge took a deep breath. The clichés were part of the speak, but it was a lot more boring than it used to be. “I don’t want to be rude but I’ve got a lunch date with Julie Banderas so… can we get on with it?”

“Julie Banderas? Isn’t she big time reporter for Fox Newz? Oh ho, you are fraternizing with the enemy, Rooj!” The faux accent returned to mock the moment but he was, of course, right. Fox News had not been a friend of the Obama Whitehouse, but that was the reason for the luncheon. Call it… information baiting in an age when information was worth more than the local currency.

“ Okay, I’m leaving now.” Rudge spun about in the slush and had taken two steps back to his vehicle when the Russian finally relinquished.

“What do you think you know about those spirals in the sky over Norway?”

The third step would not be needed. What did we ‘think’ we knew? “We think we know that you have a rocket that works as well as those leaky subs. Am I missing anything?”

Sarkov squinted and rolled his eyes as if in thought. “You are not in so deep as you may think, my friend. Our rockets work very well, thank you. That hole in the sky was not of our making.”

“That’s not what your government says.” The Russians had in fact owned up to the most recent Norway spiral.

“You listen to them? Since when? You have gotten lazy, Rooj!” Sarkov scolded.

The Russian reached into his heavy overcoat and produced a small SD memory card. “Here, you take this and see what you know. Then you call me and we’ll discuss your education!”

Cont'd




posted on Jan, 11 2010 @ 02:24 AM
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- A Late Lunch -

On any other day, the trip back to the District would have been an easy one. But the weather had clogged traffic, especially around the bridges. By the time he reached Georgia Brown’s on 15th Street, and some 30 minutes late, his lunch date had apparently already come and gone.

“Guess I’ll be rooming with Bo for a few nights.” Rudge thought to himself as he fingered some of the Chincoteague Oysters.

This meeting with one of Fox News’ prime reporters had been a priority assignment and the little memory chip in his pocket didn’t feel nearly as good as would have a positive headline. But since there was the time now, he flipped open his Dell Vostro to have a look at what he had been given by his old friend, the Russian spy.

On board the card were three folders, numbered 1, 2 and 3. Clicking the first, there were two image files and a plain text document that was titled ‘READ_ME_FIRST’.

“Okay” he thought, “I can take a hint.” The note pad opened to reveal the following information:

Image: norge.jpg –
Satellite, Northern Europe, AMZ 9 Dec 2009

Image: brazil.jpg –
Satellite, South America, PMZ 31 May 2009

As he opened each of the associated picture files, Dan Rudge had an inkling that the images themselves were not as important as whatever it was that Anatoly was trying to tell him. The sat photo of the Norway spiral was nothing to be surprised about. The Russians could have been ready with an overhead view to their attempted launch of the Bulava missile. We would have if it had been an American test launch. But the one from Brazil? And the date, May 31st?

Alarm bells were going off in his head just at the exact same moment a female voice piped in from behind, “Thanks for waiting… traffic was pure hell!”

Looking around at the same time he closed his notebook computer, he saw a very attractive woman, but not the one he was expecting to have lunch with.
“Bureaucrats aren’t very good drivers, especially in the snow. Um, have we met?”

“No, not actually, not in person. I’m Cynthia Grant, Ms. Banderas’ personal assistant. Well, one of her assistants, to be quite honest. She was called away on another assignment and asked me to meet you here. But like I said, traffic was backed up and… I really am sorry about being so late.”

The young media intern was maybe mid/late-20-ish, olive complexion with green eyes that contrasted beautifully with her dark hair. Suddenly, Rudge was out of the doghouse and in spite of the weather and the traffic, it was turning out to be an interesting day.

After introducing himself properly, he motioned to extend the table’s order of oysters but as it turned out, she was a farm girl from Ohio and was not about to risk herself on something as alien as that, especially with a stranger. The chef salad would be a little less threatening.

For the next hour, Ms. Grant would be peppering the lunch with questions that all seemed to end with the words, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and of course, Fox News’ favorite named subject: Clinton. And to that end, it was what he had been coached for. The answers would be polite, newsworthy, and politically neutral from an official source that was still well out of the spotlight.

As she was packing away her voice recorder, she asked, “What again is your position in the Obama administration?”

Without hesitation, his reply was as simply true as it could be without handing out freebies, “Knight of the realm.”

“Well, Sir Daniel Rudge, is that how I should address you in my report?” She was a quick study and undoubtedly ready to get the answer she wanted.

“Officially, I am an Assistant to the Deputy Undersecretary of Global Security and International Affairs. But, knight of the realm makes the small office and smaller paycheck seem a little bigger.”

The long-winded title bought smile from his interrogator, and despite the underlying political tensions, he had enjoyed her company. In truth, the table seemed more than a little empty after her departure, which in turn led him to wonder whether he was too old at 42 to even think about it in that way.

The short drive back to his L Street office was an uneventful one. He would put aside the issue of the meeting with Sarkov until after he had turned in his report on his lunch with the media. Then he would have to have a better look at that memory card.

Cont'd



posted on Jan, 11 2010 @ 02:25 AM
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- Paper Chase -

The small television in the corner of Rudge’s subbasement workspace was always on and generally tuned to one of the major news networks.

It had once been intended as part of a larger bomb shelter complex during WW2. Then later on in the ‘50s and ‘60s, at the peak of the Cold War, remade and annexed into the District’s network of fallout shelters.

The off-room, that was for the most part like his home, was no more than 20x20, with wood facade paneling covering solid concrete walls and a drop ceiling that came a little lower than would be comfortable for anyone a tad over 6 feet in height. But it was private and in his line of work, that was worth more than a picture window overlooking the Mall.

Turning from the TV news, he again inserted Sarkov’s memory card into his computer and began where he had earlier left off, opening the folder labeled ‘2’.

Inside, he found a single file that was written using an obscure diplomatic format that he hadn’t seen since he was sitting in front of an old IBM 5150 at Langley during the Reagan years. This one would have to wait.

Next, he clicked open folder ‘3’ and inside was another simple text document…

MEMORANDUM

1 JUNE 2009

TO: COMPOSITE 12 (ALL)
SUBJECT: AF 447

CONCLUSION: ‘NIGHTLIGHT’ - PRESUMED LOST AT SEA DUE TO OVER VARIANCE IN LOCAL OCCURING VORTEX.

DIRECTIVE 1: ‘SABERTOOTH’ - ISOLATE & SECURE IMMEDIATE EFFECTED AREA(S) TO CONTROL/LIMIT CONTAMINATION.

DIRECTIVE 2: ‘TIMETABLE’ - ASSUME STANDARD PROTOCOL(S) FOR INFORMATION MEDIA.

AUTHORITY: ‘BAILINGWIRE’ – COMMAND

Memos like this were nothing unusual and in the intelligence community, no one would take something like this at face value. Leaked memos were, in fact, more dangerous than those who peddled them to the naïve and unwary… and this one looked exactly like a worm on the end of a hook.

‘Anatoly, you old unreconstructed cold warrior!’ Rudge thought as he unplugged the card reader. ‘He knows better than to play these games.’

But then as he was closing the machine, it dawned on him, ‘He DOES know better!’

Cont'd???



posted on Jan, 11 2010 @ 03:02 AM
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Liking this, could turn out to be a veeeerrry good story. Keep coming??

linerino



posted on Jan, 11 2010 @ 03:27 AM
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I would like to contribute, but im struggling to comprehend which parts of the plot you consider most significant. So as for the direction this plot could potentially take im a little lost, not that i dont have ideas, im just uncertain about their relevance to you story.



posted on Jan, 11 2010 @ 01:06 PM
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Headshot & Dizzy,

The original idea was to link the Norway spiral to the disappearance of AF 447 and then too the notion of Disclosure from Obama in the midst of those who would silence said disclosure.

I was then gonna play the new intern as a means to foot the disclosure on the Fox network against the will of Murdoch… with a slight romantic entanglement that is genuine but not realistic because of their age differences.

Sarkov was going to come in as rescuer as Rudge and Grant were dodging NSA/CIA/etc. on their way to the network with the proof.

The problem was that the whole thing was growing like a snowball so that it would far exceed a short story and become a Tom Clancy novel. While trying to trim the edges, I got stuck and then a little pissed from the block… and went on to something else, lol.

In a nutshell, the existing text is anywhere from half to a third of what the whole should be in length. If you or anyone would like to have a shot, just pick up the story from where I left off…. only make sure you keep your ending work is posted contiguous (as a text post) so that others can do the same.

I love multiple endings!

-R

PS- You write it according to what you think. I offered my original ideas... but you follow your own... have at it!

[edit on 11-1-2010 by redoubt]



posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 03:52 AM
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Originally posted by redoubt
Headshot & Dizzy,

I was then gonna play the new intern as a means to foot the disclosure on the Fox network against the will of Murdoch…


Perhaps a little "worn" including the entanglement. Why not make the intern a plant to uncover Sarkov for passing state secrets.


Originally posted by redoubt
I got stuck and then a little pissed from the block… and went on to something else, lol.


Join the que'


Originally posted by redoubt
I love multiple endings!

-R

PS- You write it according to what you think. I offered my original ideas... but you follow your own... have at it!


Not for me... requires intimate knowledge of the location, I'm an Aussie...





[edit on 12-1-2010 by prof-rabbit]



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