SILHOUETTES - Twenty-eighth instalment - Chapter forty-eight. For more information on this novel, click Here.
Nothing was ever said to him about the money he had in the safety deposit box, either they did not know, or they didn't care. He received no feedback about whatever observations the Agent given his report to analyse had offered up. In the classroom the following day, a show of hands was asked for anyone interested in being fitted with a chip. Three others in the class held up a hand along with him, they were dismissed from the class, and asked to report to the helipad with all their belongings one hour later.
The four of them were standing at a line which kept a safe distance between craft landing and taking off, and pedestrians in the vicinity. One second they were all looking at empty space, then a wisp of air shimmer, like a mild heat haze, and a large black helicopter was there, in front of them, rotors spinning, but noiseless, except for a slight breeze of air, nothing of a gale of windy disturbance of the kind a helicopter would usually make, and the fact that it had suddenly materialised, rather than approached, left Dave open mouthed.
'LED's,' stated the Agent standing next to him with an air of knowledge and authority regarding the subject.
'What?' said Dave.
'The chopper's shell is covered in fibre-optic LEDs and cameras. The camera on one side relays the image before it to the display on the opposite side. When done in such magnitude, it appears to the naked eye that you are looking straight ahead, but in reality you are looking at a moveable screen which is displaying exactly the image behind it, so the human eye believes it is so.'
'But the angles,' said Dave, 'what if you're seeing it from different angles?'
'Ah, that's the beauty of fibre optics,' said the Agent. 'You can cram so many strands into a pin head, you can almost have one for every angle that a person may view an object from.'
Dave must have looked mystified, but he had an idea about it, and believed the explanation.
'If there's twenty strands of fibre in a pin head, and each one is angled slightly, and directly opposite the craft, another array, though this time taking images, rather than relaying them, if they are coordinated so each angled image is relayed to the exact angled LED display on the end of that particular angled fibre, then it can appear that the object between the fibres is not there, because it is putting the picture behind it, in front of it. Understand?'
Dave did understand the principle, he did not really need to understand the mechanics, though he decided it was something he would learn about when free time was more abundant.
'How come it's so quiet, and there's no wind from the rotors?' he asked the Agent.
'Ah, if he told you that I'd have to kill you both,' cried Jon Evans. 'Grab your belongings and get aboard.'
As they climbed aboard, the Agent leaned over and whispered, 'all I can say is read up on quantum aerodynamics and quantum aural-dynamics.'
'I'll visit the library when we get where we're going,' said Dave sarcastically, 'and take out The Dummy's Guide...'
All he ever knew about the facility they arrived at later that morning was that it was two and a half hours flying time somewhere south-west of where they had departed from. When they arrived they were all separated. The facilities were luxurious, and apart from when he was given exercise outdoors, where the abundance of guards and military hardware was apparent, within, it was more like a five star hotel than a billet in a barracks. There was urgency there though to get things done, and within a week he had undergone the operation for the implant. A week after the op his brain began to make sense of the fact that the implant was there and he could do begin to manipulate it.
Slowly, very slowly at first, with a great deal of frustration and impatience, he began to be able to access information and display it before him. The information was basic, the learning curve like learning to read or write for the first time, or perhaps nearer to learning a new language, but without the translation text book to refer to that made it understandable at a basic level.
Soon though, in the classroom, or the lab, and even outdoors sometimes when the weather was reasonable, he was beamed information, and was asked to display what had been transmitted to his implant before him, and then write down exactly what it was. At first basic shapes were transmitted, like an elephant, a giraffe, a triangle, or a star. As he became more adept and quicker at the recognition of such, lines of text began to be transmitted, then sentences, then paragraphs. Full pictures were begun, famous people and presidents, pop stars, then tracts of text along with a photograph. After a month of this, six days a week, mostly ten hours a day, it was thought he was advanced enough to try the same in reverse. He began to take an image in front of him, and store it in the chip. Then he would access it from the chip, display it in front of him, and then compare the actual image to the recorded image, and when he was happy they were an exact copy, he would flip a thought, as they called it in training, and the image was hopefully transmitted to the database in the classroom. The doctor-come-tutor, would access the database, and check the copy received was the same as the original image. As time passed, instead of just images, tracts of text were exchanged, one way, then the other. The images grew more complicated, resolution higher, colours more and sharper, the tracts of text became whole chapters of books, then chapters with pages of text mixed with images, and charts, and columns, and graphs.
All the time this interaction was becoming second nature to his brain, like the chip was not something he consciously thought about being there inside him, it just was there. He grew accustomed to sensing when there was a Wi-Fi link in the vicinity and automatically connected to such. Wi-Fi passwords or firewalls were nothing he had to worry about, everything was done in the background, the Agency had the best intrusion software built into the chip, and in the rare occasion it could not invade and utilise a nearby network, then it just found and tried the next one on the list. Wi-Fi was so widespread now that there was almost always a list of several networks that could be used at virtually any place in any built up area in the Western world, and increasingly anywhere in the world at all where internet access was prevalent.
In the six months he was at the secret facility, he had two more operations, each time when an upgraded chip with higher specifications and lower power requirements became available. He now no longer required the battery pack which had previously sat behind his ear like a 1990's hearing aid, there was no need for a battery pack at all, a heat pad had been inserted under his scalp that drew heat from his head and turned this into the power to run the chip. It was explained to him as like having a miniature solar panel in his head, except it soaked up heat from his body instead of sunlight from the sky. The wireless antennae was also given an upgrade, the accessible range was now greater, and the transfer of information could be done quicker, in effect, he could now practically download movies and stream them in front of him, without having to buffer the movie in memory.
He also had a much improved holographic HUD (Head Up Display) that would appear in front of his eyes when he manipulated the chip. The display not only showed information in front of him, now he could move that information around the display, open up other displays within, like opening another window on a computer. He could access menu bars at the top and side of the screen of the display, and further options and details became available. The display was there, in front of his eyes, in a kind of green neon-like, though full colour effect, holographic form, but such was the way it was projected that it was only visible to him. Except perhaps in the darkest of rooms, might a glimmer of light from the display be noticed by another. The reasons why it was designed this way was obvious to anyone in the field of covert operations. It did rely though on altering the perspective of the view from his eyes to be able to pick out the display against everything else in the environment. This was called shadowtype, the way the brain would subconsciously close off all that was peripheral to the display when access to the chip's display was required. Although this was a strange transformation, and an even stranger environment to suddenly have to transport between, especially if required to do so many times over a short period, to an outsider, whether an acquaintance, or someone unconnected, who just happened to be adjacent, or in the general vicinity, this was all undetectable, although, it may be noticed that the person undergoing the transformations had a kind of distracted look to their aspect at moments.
Jon Evans came to visit one day. He had been expecting it, and anticipating it, for his doctor-tutors were now happy enough that he could manipulate and utilise the chip they had implanted in his head to the best of his ability. It seemed the time for departing the facility and returning to the real world was drawing near.
Three hours later he and Jon Evans had been dropped in a field a mile or so outside of a small town. Some cattle in the field scattered in fear as a black helicopter suddenly appeared a few feet above the grass before them, and out jumped two figures, one carrying a large hold-all.
A car stood at the gate of the field and they made towards it, the driver coming out and opening the gate as they approached. A short drive later they were in a safe house in a town suburb. The cover story was simple, he was himself, except he worked for the IRS instead of the Agency, this tended to be the kind of employment that discouraged close friendships; everyone had a beef with the IRS, everyone hated any employee of the IRS. Regardless, he wouldn't be here for long, he was going on operations soon.
As Jon Evans explained his first operation abroad, he was a bit dismayed, it didn't seem like the Agency wanted much but information, though he was told that information sometimes was harder to access than may seem apparent. Organisations used all sorts of covert ways to keep their plans and activities away from prying eyes, whether these organisations were criminal, terrorist, or just pain in the neck amateur subversive, the Agency had to know what they were up to, and how it would affect the USA.
Dave was going to Scotland, Scotland at present was part of the UK, and the UK didn't like the fact that it was planning to have a referendum. This would give the people of Scotland the choice to decide if perhaps they might be better off as an independent country, outwith the control of the UK. Where this affected the US was in the fact that the US controlled the UK, and with Scotland as part of the UK, the US indirectly controlled Scotland. If Scotland opted for independence it would become a state with no strings that the US could pull to yank it into line.
There was always carrot and stick diplomacy, one or the other always worked, no matter what country, where. In the wider world, money or force, tended to keep another state in line. The difference with Scotland though was clear. First the main and most popular political party in Scotland, the SNP (Scottish National Party), didn't only want independence from the UK, they also wanted rid of nuclear weapons, which meant the trident missiles that the US had sold to the UK government. These were utilised in Valiant class nuclear submarines which were based in Scotland. There was also a strong possibility that an independent Scotland would shun membership of NATO, and decide to have just a small military defence force of its own. The position of Scotland in the world, south-east of Iceland, due west of southern Norway and Sweden, gave it a geographical position that would be advantageous to any ally nervous about the new sea lanes that would be opening up around the Artic. There was also the fact that Scotland was one of the greatest producers of oil and gas in the world. This fact alone was the main reason the UK government was determined to keep a hold of Scotland at almost any cost. The UK government controlled the mass media and press and manipulated this to great effect to put down the aspirations of any Scot thinking that independence may be a beneficial option for the country.
They were being frustrated though by the operation of what were termed Cybernats. These were activists that spread information regarding the benefits of the independence of Scotland, across the land, using the media of the internet. Such was the frustration of the UK government about the success of these Cybernats that they had branded them as a subversive and manipulative movement, and implied the possibility they were under the direct control of the SNP.
Always aware of an opportunity, the Agency decided to investigate exactly what these Cybernats were up to, what agenda they had, were they a possible friend or foe, and whatever they were, could they be manipulated to the advantage of the interests of the US?
'Don't look at them from the angle of how they are perceived by the UK government,' stated Evans. 'No one really gives a damn about the UK, or what the UK think about anything in the world. Everyone knows the UK government has the opinion we give it, and that's enough. Think about them from the angle of, if independence comes, can they be brought on board? Are they genuinely organised? Outwith independence, do they have an agenda? If they are an organised bunch, and have an agenda that aligns with our interests, find and meet with the leaders, make it known that funds would be available for the right projects. If they're an unorganised bunch of keyboard twangers, then keep an eye on them, compile a list and watch the most active, see what direction they're swinging, and we'll take it from there.'
Two weeks later, he was on a flight to Glasgow, he had a cover story, a flat lined up, a job to start in a few days time, and a list of people he had to track and discover exactly what they were up to.
Next instalment coming soon...
To read this novel from the start go here.
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