[ A novel in progress]
MIDGE IN CARTER LANCE’S NEWS HEADQUARTER’S OFFICE
“Now, let me get this straight.” Carter put his elbows on the desk and momentarily rested his chin on upraised clinched hands. “You were watching our Lance News crawler and homed in on this Chinese Commando rescue operation off the Coast of Somalia? Then you asked our media department to give you a copy of the American drone’s night time camera view released by the Pentagon. Right?”
“Yes, and…” Midge began.
“And,” Carter continued, “When our tech started to get additional feed from the Pentagon, he, our tech, said it was interrupted by…”
“By something or someone on the Pentagon end.” Midge explained, “Hackers or something. No more drone surveillance tape was transmitted. So I checked with my contacts there.”
“And they told you what?”
“Nothing. They have no record of any additional footage beyond that which they originally released to the public. And another thing.”
“My sources said they were told to leave this alone. That even the brief tape that was released was an error and should never have left the defense department.”
“Tell me again what you think you saw”
She felt a slight tightening in her neck. A microsecond of concern flitted through her mind. Midge had experienced firsthand how Carter Lance pursued all details, all relationships, with passion, but this boring -in had a bit of an edge that triggered caution. “I saw a pirate surrendering.”
“Surrendering? You mean, with his hands up?” Carter mocked a Cowboy Western holdup.
“Well, not exactly. His gun, or at least I assume it was his gun,” a slight confusion entered her brain. “His, the, gun was at his feet and he appeared to be in the act of raising his hands, a hand. There was this bright flash that I have come to learn is from the muzzle flash from a gun…”
“You have come to learn?”
“Yes, from my source at the, well, at the Intelligence Department; that’s all I can say at the moment.”
“Then the man’s down and apparently dead. A moment later, the door to the ship’s command bridge opens and a man, steps out.” Midge could feel unaccustomed beads of sweat form up under her bangs. “Another flash; he slams to the wall and slumps.”
“No, that’s just it. He looks relaxed, like he thinks or has been told everything is okay; that it is safe to come out. Then the drone picture cuts off. And another thing. This time that gun flash comes from the opposite side of the camera view from where that man is standing. The two commandos below him are looking up at him with their guns at their sides.”
“And you think…?”
“I think that man coming out of the ship’s command room was the captain, and he came out because he was given an all-clear signal, and,” Midge felt an unaccustomed reluctance. “I think he was killed on purpose.”
Carter shifted in his chair as he straightened his back, “Interesting. Now…, I know you. I know that you do not get down a trail like this without some sort of an idea of how this story will look like when it’s done. Tell me, what are the taglines that are forming in your pretty little head?
“This whole thing about China operating in the Indian Ocean, albeit with international sanction is a diversion; a diversion from something else they are really trying to accomplish elsewhere in the world.” Midge regained more of her accustomed confidence and forth rightness. ‘So that’s why…”
“Yes?” carter leaned back in his desk chair, giving the desk-size mounted world globe a significant spin.
“…Why my bags are packed for a Lance News Network all-expense paid trip to Africa.”
The last rays of the setting sun flickered off Mombasa’s Kilindini Harbor as Kenya Airways Flight 614 lined up on final runway approach, completing its one hour flight from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
“KENYA AIRWAYS WELCOMES YOU TO MOI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT MOMBASA” proclaimed the individual red letters incongruously suspended by flimsy metal strips above the terminal…