The Peak of Power

Chapter 3:

Mental Metal

Shots were heard. A secret agent tumbled behind a short rectangular stone pillar as a bullet missed her by inches. Her attacker, with his pistol at hand, ran in her direction. He wore reddish clothing. The secret agent was breathing hard. She looked around several short stone pillars, searching for her attacker.

Suddenly…he rammed his fist into the back of her head by surprise.

The secret agent fell to the ground, her head pulsing with pain and blurriness. Her pistol fell from her hands.

The agent instinctively wrapped both feet around the attacker's leg, tripping him and knocking him against a short stone pillar.

With both of them dizzy and in pain, they uneasily got back up.

The secret agent tried to punch him. But, the attacker grabbed her hand and hurled it backwards at her. The secret agent coughed loudly as she fell back towards the ground.

Days earlier…

In a Brazilian office, there were a woman with shoulder length brown blackish hair and a man with short black hair. They were sitting in black comfy chairs…each at their own desk parallel to the other. A personal adviser with short blondish brown hair came into the office, with a report in hand.

The woman with shoulder length brown blackish hair asked in another language, "what's up?"

The adviser concluded nervously, "it's about…project Ringleader."

The man with short black hair said nothing. But…he was nervous too.

The woman with shoulder length brown blackish hair was handed the report. She looked at it, getting more nervous herself as she read it.

The woman with shoulder length brown blackish hair urged in the Portuguese language, "that'll be all."

The adviser slightly nodded, then left the office with a partial sigh of relief.

The woman with shoulder length brown blackish hair turned to the man with short black hair, "Ringleader twelve…has been stolen."

The man with short black hair said in shock in Portuguese, "but…we had a high level of security around those machines." The woman with shoulder length brown blackish hair confirmed, "good security is hard to come by these days, Bricin. There always seem to be a price around it."

Bricin complained, "but with project Ringleader, there'd be no more price to pay."

The woman with shoulder length brown blackish hair protested, "everything we do here seems to have a bad consequence. Do you really think that certain politicians in our own government would approve of what we're doing?"

Bricin sighed, "part of why we turned this project over to the Brazilian Intelligence Agency. I almost forgot, Arica."

Arica concluded, "it's all right. The law has been based on playing by the rules of criminals to keep them at bay. But every now and then… Sigh. Even that isn't enough."

Bricin encouraged, "we'll get Ringleader twelve back. We've got to."


An hour later…

In Carter's office, a certain personal adviser with long reddish blond hair and a black formal suit had come through the office door. And back behind a certain desk was Carter himself.

He sighed, "ok. What's the bad news?"

The adviser wondered taken back, "how'd you…?!" Carter muttered sarcastically, "lucky guess."

At the same time, the personal adviser handed him a report. Carter read it over.

He remarked, "Brazil's latest toy has been taken from them…and they're asking us for help." The adviser responded in an annoyed tone, "yes, sir." Carter chuckled, "they've got some nerve, all right."

The adviser asked, "what do you suggest we do, sir?"

Carter openly said, "I'd be glad to help Brazil retrieve their super large computer."

The adviser concluded in surprise, "you actually care…don't you?"

Carter sighed, "I confess. I like how Brazil runs things. And if I could rewrite American laws to have their justice system here, I would."

The adviser realized in concern, "but that system's brutal…and almost completely inhumane!"

Carter muttered, "I'll be the judge of that, madam." The adviser glared as she said, "very well…sir."

The adviser walked out of the office without another word. Carter chuckled to himself, "I love the Free Opinion Act."


Back at Sarah's office…

Sarah was back at her desk. Her personal adviser came into the office. A report was in his hands.

Sarah wondered, "what's up?"

The adviser urged, "urgent news…from Brazil."

Sarah was handed the report. She read it over with growing concern and interest.

Sarah concluded with mixed feelings, "a prototype Brazilian supercomputer was stolen last night. It was created by the Brazilian Intelligence Agency…to become the most sophisticated and academically oriented wireless database known to humankind." The adviser suggested, "sounds rare."

Sarah pointed out, "but with such a sophisticated computer…there wouldn't be a need for teachers anymore. And that's something their Ministry of Education would never agree on."

The adviser wondered, "I'm curious as to why."

Sarah revealed, "project Ringleader has all the knowledge of the school curriculums in their data banks…from first grade to graduate school level. They also each have enough artificial intelligence to adapt to any learning disability or learning method of whoever uses it…which is equivalent to a human being's typical intelligence. These computers' intelligence can even go so far as creating a small game out of the information they're given."

The adviser concluded in shock, "edutainment software would also be dominated by the same computer." Sarah slightly nodded.

She continued, "true that. But, what we have to be most concerned about is project Ringleader's artificial intelligence. In the wrong hands…"

The adviser finished the sentence, "…even one of them could be the ultimate computer hacking tool."

Sarah went on, "and that's why we have to get it back. A South American country could be a target…or even the United States."

The adviser realized, "because no computer or cell phone protection would be safe enough from it."

Sarah confirmed, "exactly. Now what we need to do is send agents that specialize in computers across South America, just in case the thief is still on the continent." The adviser confirmed, "very good, Sarah."


In a Paraguayan city…

Shots were heard.

People on the nearby sidewalks were running on the side of the road to get out of range of the shooting…screaming. Cars sped away. Cars crashed into each other. The drivers that crashed into each other ducked in their seats…as bullets crashed through then broken windows of cars.

A masked gang in black clothes was firing pistols at a masked gang in red clothes…with the other gang firing back from across the street. The two gangs were getting closer and closer to each other, jumping on top of crashed cars as they kept firing their pistols.

No police were seen for miles…for they were bribed by a ton of Paraguayan dollars not to even come. And either one of the gangs, or someone closely associated was clearly responsible.

A gang member in black clothes chuckled evilly, "you're going down."

He fired at a car's gasoline tank, blowing up the car under another gang member's feet. The second gang member in red clothes jumped off the exploding car, tumbling onto the road while firing several more bullets at her attacker. The gang member in black clothes was killed by one of the bullets.

Another bullet took out a traffic light, sending it crashing down towards another gang member. The second gang member in black clothes tumbled out of the way…while shooting several bullets at the gang members in red clothes. Several gang members from both sides fell down to the road below.

They were permanently taken out of the action…as some cars' gas tanks exploded into pieces. A fire was spreading across the road…with fire trucks coming towards the scene from a considerable distance away.

One of the gang members in red commented, "just give us the money, and we'll walk away."

One of the gang members in black cried out, "never!"

They both fired at each other as they jumped over the rising wall of flames, spinning in midair to dodge their exchanged bullets. Then, the gang member in black shot a bullet through the fire…lighting the other gang member's clothes on fire. All when he tried to tumble out of the way.

The gang member in red cried in pain, as he jump charged at the first gang member in black.

The gang member in black simply rammed his fist into the other gang member's chest, sending him flying across the road. The second gang member in red crashed into an apartment building. He was heavily bruised by the impact.

Firefighters started taking out the growing fire with water.

The remaining gang members were in the middle of the cloud of steam and smoke that was coming off of the water and fire all around. They couldn't see each other, and so instinctively fired at one another in confusion.

The gang member with a suitcase full of money and credit cards just ran, zigzagging and tumbling out of the way of incoming bullets. That is, until one of them hit him.

In the confusion, every gang member but three were taken out by bullets. Two of them charged at the fallen suitcase, firing at each other as they did. They kept dodging their exchanged bullets…which ended up taking out a few firefighters in the process.

The third just ran away from the action, into the chaos of a resurfacing crowd of citizens.

Without a firefighter holding it…one of the firefighter hoses went out of control. It sprayed a gush of water at both gang members, knocking them to the side of the road with the suitcase.

The wet gang members kept fighting, but by wrestling to the ground. They exchanged punch after punch, until the gang member in black gave way to the way of the cold road.

The gang member in red got back up and grabbed the suitcase, jumping onto a fire truck's ladder to get away. The firefighters were still busy with putting out the fire at the time…too much so to warn any righteous authorities.

The gang member in red jumped off the ladder…tumbling and disappearing into a store on the side of the road.


In a certain Venezuelan office…

There were a certain man with short brownish black hair and a woman with long blond brownish hair. Both were in black formal suits. They were sitting behind a brown desk twice as tall as a typical desk. A personal adviser with short black hair came into the office.

The man with short brownish black hair asked in Spanish, "what's up?"

The adviser simply said, "an update on foreign relations, sir."

He gave the man with short brownish black hair a report. The man with short brownish black hair read the report over with growing interest.

He slightly chuckled, "the same intergovernmental organization that disowned us…had been disbanded a week ago." The adviser confirmed, "indeed, sir."

The woman with long blond brownish hair checked in Spanish, "you mean OPEC?"

The adviser confirmed, "that's right." The man with short brownish hair suggested, "you may go." The adviser added, "yes, sir." He then left the office.

The woman with long blond brownish hair wondered unassumingly, "why did it happen, Will?"

Will answered with a question, "remember that short lived Muslim war?"

The woman with long blond brownish hair figured, "yeah. I think it was referred to as The Seven Day Crusades."

Will continued, "well Herana… During the Seven Day Crusades… Saudi Arabia lost a considerable part of their land to Palestine, Yemen, Pakistan, and Iran."

Herana guessed, "and there were many underground oil reserves there?" Will concluded a little distracted, "that's right. There…were."

Herana asked with concern, "what?"

Will admitted with a sniffle, "I miss him." Herana reflected, "I understand."

Will sighed, "what was I saying?"

Herana suggested, "you were talking about Saudi Arabia's oil reserves."

Will nodded slightly. He went on, "oh…right. Shortly after the Seven Day Crusades, according to this report…heated debate followed."

Herana in concern wondered, "over what, exactly?"

Will explained, "over what nation would get what oil reserves from Saudi Arabia's conquered land…among Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia itself, Palestine, and so on."

Herana concluded, "and so member nations of OPEC had an internal argument so harsh that they decided to disband altogether."

Will deduced, "yep. And more recently…all six nations have joined the intergovernmental oil corporation of ONU."

Herana wondered, "what does that stand for anyway?" Will explained, "Oil Nations United."

Herana commented with some disappointment, "I like the short version better."

Will went on, "do you know what that means for ONU though?"

Herana guessed, "that Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are still in heated debate about their territories?"

Will concluded, "they were…until Crozim and Forziama decided to rule both kingdoms as one kingdom."

Herana with concern checked, "does that mean they're still fighting each other?" Will commented, "if the assassins that are trying to kill both of them have something to do with it…I sure wouldn't be surprised."

Herana realized, "but if you weren't talking about that…what were you talking about?"

Will admitted with disappointment, "much less money for the Venezuelan economy."

Herana sighed, "is that all you can think about?!"

Will added, "when I think about the lack of needed money that's supposed to keep the Venezuelan economy running…it's hard not to."

Herana pointed out, "what about all those billion dollar deals you've been dealing out to other underground oil countries…like that one and a half billion dollar deal to Cuba?" Will admitted uneasily, "oh…right."


On the next day, in a Paraguayan office…

There were a man with shoulder length brown hair and a man with short black grayish hair. They wore black formal overcoats. Both of them were sitting in gold rimmed chairs, behind a table.

The man with short black grayish hair pointed out incredulously in Spanish, "but we've been turning to Royalcon for our computer needs for decades!"

The man with shoulder length brown hair insisted in Spanish, "and for the twentieth time…sir… That's why we don't need them."

He comments, "we've asked for a custom made security camera system that would send every significant image back to our office…and all it's been giving us is every single image like every other typical security system does."

The man with short black grayish hair realized, "so you blame the city crime rates on Royalcon's closed source technology."

The man with shoulder length brown hair added, "of course I do, Alex. This is why I think we should turn to Openmind's open source technology instead."

Alex asked surprisingly openly, "but even if we do make a deal with Openmind…who's to say Royalcon won't shut down every other computer product and software that we've gotten from them?"

Before the other man could reply…a police officer with long brown blondish hair came into the office.

The man with shoulder length brown hair wondered in partial annoyance, "what is it?" The officer urged, "it's important, sir."

She handed the man with shoulder length brown hair a report. The man with shoulder length brown hair looked at the police report with growing unease.

He concluded in shock, "Royalcon bribed the police…to stay away from a gang war?" The police officer gulped, "yes, sir."

Alex wondered, "and what that means is…you were bribed too?" The police officer replied firmly, "more like tempted…but not satisfied. In other words…sir…I reported the bribed police officers as guilty."

The man with shoulder length brown hair figured, "even if that were true, you'll still have to go through a lie detector test to prove it."

The officer commented, "of that, I have no doubt." The man with shoulder length brown hair urged, "you're dismissed."

The officer left the office. She muttered to herself with a chuckle, "best paycheck I've made this week."

Alex turned to the man with shoulder length brown hair, "I can see your point, Forn."

Forn pointed out, "the only question is: Can we really trust Royalcon anymore?"

Alex figured contemplatively, "only time can tell for sure…on what's to come."


Up in North America…

Goran was staying in a room in the Wonder Rooms.

He was watching the news…when a news story caught his full attention.

A reporter with long red hair was standing to the side of a crowd of citizens…on the sidewalk with a microphone at hand. What made up most of the crowd was a group of teenagers. They were all carrying signs and calling out as they marched onward, "we don't need parents! We don't need parents!"

The reporter nervously started talking, "as you can see…a group of spirited youth is protesting about their own parents. Now, so we can all understand why…let's review."

On cue, the television screen showed in the upper left corner an image of a somewhat empty building. People were still inside this school. Just with much fewer people inside than usual.

The reporter continued as she continued walking down the road, "since the Free Opinion act has gone into effect…there have been mixed opinions. Not the least of which have been about the guaranteed right for teenagers to be able to vote. Starting last week, many parents have refused to go to their jobs. Many of their children have even gone so far as refusing to go to school. The nerve of them!"

The picture in the upper left corner briefly enlarged and changed to the moving image of a reporter with short blond hair. He was talking to a random parent, at their front door.

This reporter asked, "may I ask you a question?"

The parent, with a blurred onscreen face answered with, "sure. What do you want to know?"

This reporter went on, "why have you decided to stay home during work hours?"

The anonymous parent concluded firmly, "it's really quite simple: I'm on strike…for the sake of a better learning environment for my child."

Goran muttered in shock, "oh…my…god."

This reporter inquired, "any further comments?"

The parent continued in a serious tone, "oh yes. Ever since that stupid law granted teenagers the right to vote…it's been clear to me that president Carter doesn't really care about the people. I mean, teenagers are not yet ready to be adults. That's why we have schools in the first place: To prepare them for adulthood! And if it takes a strike to put sense back into the government…then so be it."

This reporter added, "and are you aware that many parents like yourself haven't been coming to work either?"

The anonymous parent chuckled slightly, "no…though they have my sympathy."

The screen returned to the first reporter. The crowd of protesting teenagers had walked off the screen.

The reporter continued, "and there you have it: A national strike from parents across the country. And over their own children!"

Goran muttered, "the whole country's going mad."

The small screen in the upper left corner changed to show a parent being escorted by police officers out of a house.

The reporter added with a sniffle, "this isn't even the worst of it. As you can see…in this week alone…more parents than usual have been arrested for serious child abuse across the country. Just like this one. In the meantime…more children are legally moving to new homes. However, not surprisingly…many teenagers don't want to move to new homes. So, they've been organizing protests…like the one that just passed by here."

The reporter continues, "the tricky thing here is…because of the Free Opinion Act…no protests can be seen as unlawful. Unless it involves purposely hurting others. Therefore…no police have acted upon it. No matter how much they should. Sniffle. That is…except for the ones that have had the decency to act. Even if that something is with legal action..."

By this point, Goran turned off the television set in his hotel room.

He muttered to himself, "Carter's got to do something about this...and fast!" Goran left his room in a hurry…to look for Carter.


In a South American country called Uruguay…

Two CIA agents were following Bricin across a city. For, these same agents overheard him talking nervously to someone about a meeting. All with help from a listening device that's a function…on one of the secret agents' cell phones.

He whispered over the phone, "don't you think I should at least have my bodyguards near me? All right already! I'll come alone…but I won't be in uniform."

One agent was a woman with long brown hair. The other agent was a man with short blond hair.

The woman with long brown hair had whispered, "sounds like we should be at that meeting."

The man with short blond hair had responded, "no kidding."

They were disguised as… Well, as some of Bricin's official bodyguards. This made it very easy to follow him without falling under suspicion.

Unfortunately, Bricin had so far only gone to a hotel and a local area. So, the two agents had to resort to using nano sized cameras disguised as chewing gum and sunglasses with wired in viewscreens to look around for signs of suspicion.

At this point though…Bricin pretended he was ill in an attempt to leave his bodyguards behind.

The two agents though saw right through it, and took a taxi to go after Bricin. The two agents paid the taxi driver and got out, when Bricin parked a rental car behind a palm tree.

Bricin was dressed in brownish clothing, as he walked onto the edge of a grassy plain. No one else but three figures and another rental car were seen for miles, according to the zoom in lens of the chewing gum cameras.

The woman with long brown hair gasped, "that's…president Carter."

The man with short blond hair realized, "and it looks like he actually has bodyguards with him."

The two had climbed up the palm tree to spy on them from above, considering how tall and thick leafed the tree was.

President Carter whispered, "deal…or no deal?"

Bricin sighed, "I'm just not sure if your country's ready for it, Carter."

Carter insisted, "don't you think I should be the judge of that?"

With their listening device, the agents could hear what they were saying.

Bricin figured, "very well. But how is it that you have bodyguards, and I don't?"

Carter remarked, "they're just that well paid. They won't say anything…unless my life depends on someone knowing."

Bricin concluded a little uncomfortably, "we'll call you if Ringleader twelve gets recovered."

Carter muttered, "good. Now get going." Bricin responded, "right then."

Carter and Bricin were returning to their rental cars.

The agent with short blond hair turned to the agent with long brown hair, "now why would Carter travel all this way…just to secure a call?"

The agent with long brown hair realized with unease, "we better call Sarah."


In a big Argentinean building…

There's some big old fashioned styled shelves of windows stacked up in an upper left diagonal pattern. All with a figure with shoulder length blond hair and reddish clothing on, in an executive office. The sign on the building said Royalcon on it. The office had a glass plated desk, with a flat screen computer screen and keyboard on top of it. An assistant with long black hair came into the office.

She deduced, "our stock report, mister president." The assistant handed the executive a report, then left the office.

The executive read the report with a chuckle.

He concluded, "stock is up, and Openmind's stock is way down. Everything's going my way now…even though they seemed to get what they were after."

Suddenly, the executive noticed something. His coffee was beeping, even though it sounded like a computer beeping. The executive could tell, because his relatively advanced computer beeps differently than the other computers in the building.

The executive ran out of the office with panic on his face.

Behind him, the coffee cup exploded into pieces, setting the entire office on fire while spilling the coffee. The cup itself was a waterproof bomb…laid down by a paid assassin.

Water sprinklers went off. But, only after the windows of the office shattered…did the fire start going out.

Some bodyguards had gotten a fire extinguisher, which they used to put out the fire.

The executive muttered with partial relief, "I think I underestimated Openmind's personnel."


With help from their chewing gum cameras…two agents from the CIA had noticed the explosion in Royalcon's office.

One of the agents had long whitish blond hair. The other had short black brownish hair.

The agent with long whitish blond hair checked, "should we investigate?"

The agent with short black brownish hair asked sarcastically, "maybe. What do you think?"

The agent with long whitish blond hair suggested, "if we follow whoever is supposed to be in that office…whoever did it will come to us."

The agent with short black brownish hair concluded fairly impressed, "and maybe somehow it's connected to Ringleader twelve."

The agent with long whitish blond hair concluded, "Openmind and Royalcon have been going at each others' throats for decades." The agent with short black brownish hair whispered, "so maybe I'm on to something?"

The agent with long whitish blond hair insisted, "maybe. But…it's too early to tell without conclusive proof."


Since whoever set up the bomb might try to kill him again…they decided to follow the president of Royalcon to an airport. But, with bodyguards around the president of Royalcon…it wasn't easy.

A woman with shoulder length blond hair was moving through a crowd of people at the airport…following the president of Royalcon from a distance.

The agent with short black brownish hair remarked, "Hilda…conclusive proof at nine o'clock." Hilda turned to see the woman with shoulder length blond hair, noticing the pistol that she was drawing out of her pockets.

The other agent aimed his pistol at the woman with shoulder length blond hair. But, he was fired upon by another woman…from across the airport terminal's open space. She had two pistols at hand, and had long red hair. The agent with short black brownish hair was hit in the arm.

Hilda almost cried out lowly, "Janum!"

She tumbled out of the way…as she too was fired upon by the same sharp shooter.

The woman with shoulder length blond hair fired her pistol at the woman with long red hair, wounding her in the shoulder. One of her pistols dropped to the ground. People all around the airport terminal were running from the scene in a panic.

In the confusion of the crowd and the shootout…the president of Royalcon and his bodyguards were disappearing into the crowd.

Hilda fired at the woman with long red hair. But, she tumbled out of range. At the same time…she fired at one of the bodyguards. He falls dead to the floor.

The woman with long red hair also fired back at the woman with shoulder length blond hair…who was soon joined by a man with short brown hair. He had a pistol at hand and wore a police uniform. The woman with shoulder length blond hair also had a police uniform on. But, both agents couldn't see that uniform in the confusion…and so assumed she was a bad guy.

Luckily…the police woman tumbled out of range of the bullet in time.

The police man fired at the woman with long red hair. But…she hurled a dagger at him with her other hand while spin jumping sideways.

The police man shouted, "on the ground, now!"

Then…he was killed instantly by the dagger.

The woman with long red hair got back to her feet and picked up the pistol. She ran after the president of Royalcon…who almost completely vanished from sight.

Hilda, the police woman, and Janum kept firing at the woman with long red hair. Both of them were chasing after her. The attacker jump kicked off the airport terminal's walls, barely spin jumping out of range of the incoming bullets. She fired back at her pursuers from behind. But…the bullets missed them too. They got out of the way in half circle formations. Glass shattered and walls cracked…which were both resulting from the impact of the missing bullets.

The attacker soon pocketed one of her pistols and took out a handheld bomb. She hurled the bomb straight at the police woman while firing at her. She retaliated by shooting her pistol back at her. The police woman was saved by Janum firing his pistol at the bomb, before it could reach her. The bomb exploded early…bursting into flaming shards of metal in the air. The attacker ran into a food court, jumping from table to table.

Hilda ran after her in one direction, while the police woman and Janum looked around for any more attackers. They were no others. So, they returned to the food court to corner the one attacker. The president of Royalcon was still in sight…as the attacker was tripped by the police woman kicking over one of the tables. The attacker spun kicked off, sending the table crashing into the police woman. She was taken out in the process. At the same time…the attacker fired her pistols at both agents.

Hilda and Janum tumbled sideways in opposite directions, while firing back at her.

Janum though was hit again: This time…in the back. He violently groaned with piercing pain…as he collapsed onto the floor.

The customers were running out of range, making sure they weren't the next targets.

Hilda asked in worry, "are you…?!" Dizzily, Janum insisted, "don't worry. Just go!"

He wasn't moving much…but he was still breathing.

The attacker tumbled onto the floor, back up to her feet. A third officer noticed Janum lying on the floor.

He called out, "someone call a paramedic!"


The attacker kept running after the president of Royalcon, with Hilda uneasily continuing to follow her.

The attacker charged through customs, kicking and shooting down several airport security officers before they could react.

One of them called out, "stand down! I repeat, stand…!"

The security officers tried to draw out their pistols. But…the attacker was too quick for them. She had kicked one of the security officers against the floor while shooting both pistols at the other two security officers. All three were killed at once.

Hilda fired at the attacker. But, she jumped onto the luggage conveyor belt and tumbled sideways through the luggage scanner to get out of range.

The attacker ran towards the covered box shaped bridge that the president of Royalcon was walking hurriedly on. This was the very same Jetway bridge to the president of Royalcon's flight plans.

From behind the attacker, Hilda suddenly punched her in a surprise attack. The attacker fell against the wall of the Jetway bridge…knocked onto the ground from the impact.

Hilda muttered, "your flight is cancelled."

Both of them drew out their pistols. The attacker got up in the same amount of time.

She chuckled, "guess I have to change my plans a little."

The attacker spun kicked into Hilda, sending her across the airport terminal floor. Hilda tumbled back to her feet as she fired at the attacker…hitting her in the same shoulder as before. The attacker clutched her arm in sharp pain.

The airplane was starting up its engines.

She barely pocketed one of her pistols…while firing at Hilda with the other pistol. Hilda jumped out of range in time, tumbling onto the Jetway bridge. Several more security officers were coming their way. Hilda ran after the attacker, who just got into the airplane when it started to close. The security officers soon after came into the airplane…firing at the attacker with their pistols down the single vertical aisle from within.

The stewardess cried out, "get down!"

The passengers ducked fearfully in their seats. Bullets went across the airplane…making holes in random seat cushions. The attacker was tumbling from seat to seat, firing back at the security officers that followed her.

Hilda soon came in, showing her fake identification badge to the flight attendant. It was that of a foreign tourist, with reservations at a hotel in Argentina.

Two of the four security officers in the plane were killed in the crossfire.

The flight attendant shouted over the noise, "and you thought this would be a good time to board?!"

Hilda shouted back, "it's a long story!"

The flight attendant shouted, "you can take the next one! Just go!"

Just then, Hilda stealthily fired another shot into the attacker…taking her out at last. All over the noise of pistols firing.

Hilda though had to leave all the same.

And so…she slipped out of sight by running as fast as she could.

She muttered to herself, "damn! We were so close to a possible lead."


Several hours later, in an Argentinean office…

There were a man with short blond brownish hair and a man with short black brownish hair. They were sitting in comfy black chairs from behind a desk.

The man with short black brownish hair was talking in Spanish to the man with short blond brownish hair, "you sure you want to do this? I mean… I understand that our crime rate should go down. But… Sigh. this may not be the best way to go about it."

The man with short blond brownish hair turned to the man with short black brownish hair, "but that's the point. When this new law soon goes into effect…terrorists and hackers will be discouraged from continuing their criminal ways."

The man with short black brownish hair commented, "I hate to break this to you Kirn. But…our justice system is already discouraging enough on its own."

Kirn sighed in Spanish, "I guess its back to square one then."

A personal adviser with shoulder length brown hair came into the office, with a report in hand.

Kirn checked, "what is it?" The adviser suggested, "a foreign relations matter."

Kirn pointed out, "but this looks like a police report." The adviser insisted, "I know: It's that important."

Kirn sighed, "very well."

He read the police report.

Kirn sadly realized, "hours ago…an assassin was caught at one of our airports. Now the CIA is requesting permission to interrogate the assassin."

The man with short brownish hair wondered, "what's bad about it?"

Kirn pointed out nervously, "the assassin was trying to kill Royalcon's president. His headquarters and main living quarters are here…in Argentina. And with so many prisoners lined up for trial…she has to stay in prison for a long time before she could even have a trial."

The adviser wondered uneasily, "with all due respect, sir… Can't you just pull her briefly out of prison for interrogation?"

Kirn admitted, "of course I can. I just wish we had more order in our justice system these days."

The adviser concluded sympathetically, "I do too."

She then left the office.

The man with short brownish hair suggested, "you know…we could just organize our lawyers together to come up with some order."

Kirn pointed out, "except they haven't been much good at their jobs lately." The man with short brownish hair slightly chuckled, "they can't all be bad, Kirn."

Kirn added with partial hope, "then let's sit down with the best lawyers we got…and make some better laws."

The man with short brownish hair suggested, "don't forget judges."

Kirn chuckled slightly, "I haven't, Gron. I just think they'd only delay it." Gron figured, "fair enough."


In a big circular Uruguayan building…

It's made up of four pillars worth, of elevators and glass windows in between. Inside is a figure with short black hair and reddish clothes on, in an executive office. The sign on the building said Openmind on it. The office had a glass plated desk, with a box shaped computer screen, two computers attached to the same screen, and a keyboard on top of it. An assistant with short red hair came into the office.

He concluded, "we did another stock report. But…I don't think it'll do much good."

The assistant handed the executive a report. The executive read it over.

He exclaimed incredulously, "but we can't be short on stock! We just can't!"

The assistant suggested, "what about the stolen credit cards, mister president?"

The president of Openmind insisted, "the police recovered them before the thieves could even use them." The assistant wondered, "then…how did we lose our rich stock in one day?"

The president of Openmind figured, "well, either I'm wrong… Or… someone hacked into our computer systems to steal our monetary stock." The assistant realized, "our security systems are quite average."

The president of Openmind suggested, "then what are you standing around for? Check on our security systems!" The assistant confirmed, "yes, mister president."

The assistant left the office…leaving the executive alone with his annoyance.

The president of Openmind sighed, "if I don't find out how Royalcon drained my stock…my company and my life is doomed. Yet…there is one card left to play." He chuckled deviously, "all I have to do is use my secret weapon to get back my stock…and no one would be able to realize it until it was too late."


On the following day, in a Uruguayan office…

There were a woman with long black hair and a woman with shoulder length brownish black hair. They both wore black formal suits. A big window with reddish curtains was behind them, and a desk was before them.

The woman with shoulder length brownish black hair wondered uneasily in Spanish, "what do you think about the latest environmentalist protests?"

The woman with long black hair sighed in Spanish, "there'll always be opposition to change…even when it is in people's own best interests. If we gave into the protests today, many more of our citizens would protest about it tomorrow."

The woman with shoulder length brownish black hair realized, "you're talking about a revolution."

The woman with long black hair muttered, "and all over some pulp mills along a river."

The woman with shoulder length brownish black hair commented, "the majority's opinion can be sickening at times. But…for the good of the nation…we must respect it."

The woman with long black hair remarked, "in our case though…it doesn't give us much to respect."

Then, a personal adviser with shoulder length brown blondish hair came into the office. He had a report at hand. The adviser suggested, "madam president…you should take a look at this."

He handed the report to the woman with long black hair. She read the report over.

The president deduced, "Argentina's Secretariat of Intelligence has recently stopped a hacker from hacking into their database…and the hacker came from Uruguay. Heavy sigh. As if foreign relations weren't already tricky." The woman with shoulder length brownish black hair urged, "you're dismissed." The adviser left the office in understanding.

The president turned to the woman with shoulder length brownish black hair, "what do we do about Argentina?"

The woman with shoulder length brownish black hair suggested, "negotiate some more, I suppose. Why do you ask, Acanie?"

Acanie explained, "because the last time we were negotiating with Argentina…it was a heated disagreement over the pulp mills that nearly led to war."

The woman with shoulder length brownish black hair says nervously, "then we may very well have to be at war someday."

Acanie sighed, "then let's hope it doesn't come to that, Danile."

Danile confirmed sympathetically, "that's why we have diplomats in the first place." Acanie commented with partial relief, "true that."


At Carter's office…

Carter himself was back from South America…and back in his chair.

Goran came in with a serious expression on his face. He demanded, "where have you been?! I've been looking all over the District of Columbia for you!"

Carter sighed, "ok. What is it now?"

Goran insisted, "this is serious, Carter. The whole country is tearing itself apart…over the right for teenagers to vote. All from your damn "Free Opinion" Act!"

Carter remarked coldly, "the whole country does it on a daily basis. It's called criminal activity."

Goran urged, "more so than usual, in this case." Carter muttered defeatedly, "go on."

Goran explained, "just yesterday…there was a big news story on parents going on strike: Nationwide! Add to that a nationwide increase in child abuse cases…and now teenagers protesting their own parents!"

Carter laughed slightly, "teenagers protesting their own parents… That's a new one."

Goran insisted in an annoyed tone, "the important thing is that we need to do something about it…and soon!"

Carter sighed, "yes: I see what you mean."

He was noticing another crowd of rebellious teenagers through a window of his office…marching on the streets with signs at hand. They too were shouting, "we don't need parents! We don't need parents!"

Goran insisted, "so what do we do now?"

Before Carter could answer though…a certain personal adviser with long reddish blond hair came into the office. She was interestingly accompanied by several people in white formal suits and black formal suits.

Carter muttered, "what is it?"

The personal adviser revealed, "you're under arrest, Carter."

Goran asked in shock, "on whose authority?"

The personal adviser slightly chuckled, "the CIA's."

Carter chuckled, "oh, that's a laugh. I thought you said you were going to arrest me."

The personal adviser assured him, "no joke, Carter. And you have no idea how good this feels to me. Gentlemen…escort him off the premises."

Carter realized coldly, "Sarah."

Two of the agents in white formal suits and black formal suits grabbed Carter by both arms, forcibly moving him out of his chair.

He tried to strike back. But, one of the agents simply punched him out.

Goran urged with mixed feelings, "but…this is a delicate time for our nation!"

The adviser insisted with a chuckle, "then why don't you take it up with the director of the CIA, and see what she says? I bet it'll sound better anyway…coming from her."

Goran concluded, "maybe I will."

The adviser figured solemnly, "good luck with that then."

She left the office, along with the CIA agents that took Carter's body away.

Goran turned to Carter's desk, which was covered in reports for him to look at. He sighed, "time to get started."

Without another word...president Goran started reading the reports that have yet to be fully read by a president.


Back in South America…

Hilda had tracked down the president of Royalcon. With Hilda's partner still in a hospital…she was on her own.

Hilda managed to get the president of Royalcon's flight plans from the assassin that tried to kill him. Though…the assassin wouldn't reveal much else. Hoping that the president of Royalcon could shed some figurative light on things…Hilda found the president of Royalcon in the country of Bolivia.

She tried to outright talk to the president of Royalcon. But, he simply said he was too busy to answer questions. And…that seemed to be the end of that.

Hilda sighed to herself, "this'll be harder than I thought."

She followed the president of Royalcon and his bodyguards to a train station…where the president of Royalcon got on a train. The train passed by sights of grassy plains and mountain tops…along with several transportation protests on the road.

At one of the stops…the president of Royalcon got off the train to walk towards a particular dome shaped mountaintop.

Hours later, Hilda and the bodyguards were exhausted from walking so much. The president of Royalcon and his bodyguards ran out of water in their water bottles. Surprisingly, the president of Royalcon was more physically fit than he looked. And so…he wasn't as exhausted.

He suggested, "I'm going to go find some water."

But…instead of heading to a store…the president of Royalcon circled back around to his bodyguards from behind some trees.

Hilda wondered in confusion, "what is he up to?"

The president of Royalcon then took out a handheld bomb, which he threw at his own bodyguards. They were too exhausted to run far enough away…and killed on impact.

Hilda's shock was vastly silent.

The president of Royalcon then took off a convincing face mask, revealing himself to not be as he appeared to be. He wears a black mask underneath.

He muttered to himself with a chuckle, "and only Openmind left to blame for it."


The masked figure ran towards the dome shaped mountaintop…with Hilda running after him.

She called out to him, "stop right there!"

The masked figure took out a pistol and kept running, while Hilda did the same thing.

The masked figure pushed aside a group of tourists, with Hilda following right behind him. When there was no one between the masked figure and Hilda… They began shooting.

Hilda ducked behind one of many short rectangular stone pillars…barely dodging a bullet in her exhaustion.

Her attacker jumped on top of one of the stone pillars to get a clearer shot. But…Hilda tumbled between two short stone pillars to shield herself in time.

She fired back, hitting her attacker in the chest. It didn't take him out though.

The attacker had a bulletproof vest under his clothes.

The impact though did set the attacker off balance…with the attacker tumbling back to the ground below.

He shot back in mid tumble…hitting Hilda in the shoulder. Hilda groaned in sharp shooting pain. She jump kicked off of one of the short stone pillars, landing on her feet behind several more short stone pillars.

Shots were heard again.

The secret agent tumbled behind another short rectangular stone pillar…as a bullet missed her by inches.

Her attacker, with his pistol at hand, got up and ran in her direction. He wore reddish clothing.

Hilda was breathing hard. She looked around several short stone pillars...searching for her attacker.

Suddenly, he rammed his fist into the back of her head.

Hilda fell to the ground…her head pulsing with pain and blurriness. Her pistol fell from her hands.

Hilda instinctively wrapped both feet around the attacker's leg…tripping him hard against a short stone pillar.

With both of them dizzy and in pain…they uneasily got back up.

Hilda tried to punch him down. But, the attacker grabbed her hand and hurled it backwards at her. Hilda coughed violently…as she fell back for the ground.

She grasped the support of a short stone pillar, spin kicking the attacker from the ground. The attacker fell to the ground with a sharp moan. His head was pulsing with pain and blurriness.

The attacker cried out, "no!"

He barely got back up, running from the stone pillars.

The attacker continued cautiously down the other side of the mountain…toward the side of a grass covered cliff. Hilda barely got back up…cautiously chasing after the imposter.


On the side of the grass covered cliff… And covered by several uprooted bushes… There was a computer screen surrounded by eight computer modules.

A keyboard and touchpad mouse was built into two of the computer modules…like buttons on a science fiction spaceship. Two speakers, a volume dial, and a power button were built the same way in two other computer modules. A large scoop shaped net of thick rope with big hooks held up the prototype supercomputer…alongside the cliff face.

A construction worker was most likely hired by the president of Royalcon to put the supercomputer there…for safekeeping.

The masked figure jumped into the net…with Hilda soon jumping in after him.

Hilda gasped between breaths, "Ringleader…twelve."


The masked figure took off his sweaty mask…as the now tired construction worker. He was struggling to catch his breath, with his ruffled medium brown hair.

He chuckled, "yes…quite a…piece…of work. Isn't it?"

Hilda wondered in shocking disbelief, "how did…you…?!"

The construction worker had a pistol aimed at her, "a fricking stupid president "practically" handed it over."

Hilda glared as she asked, "why?"

The construction worker turned on the prototype supercomputer with his other hand.

He slightly chuckled between breaths, "why not? In our…so "advanced" modern age of corporate sellouts… This computer has…the power…to make me a god of a new age."

Hilda muttered between breaths, "and…what makes…you so special? All you…want…in the end…is power! Like "corporate sellouts" do!"

The prototype supercomputer had a loading screen up.

The construction worker muttered, "it's not…that simple. My intention…is to…buy out the world."

Hilda gasped, "that's insane!"

The construction worker argued, "oh…is it really? There's so many sellouts…out there…which is bad for us good working people. But…not anymore."

Hilda deduced in further shock, "you're…going to steal all the money in the world. Just so you can be a dictator!"

The construction worker concluded, "oh, that's harsh. I'm going to be the world's keeper. Everyone would have to turn to me for money…and I won't give it to them… Unless they "play nice". What better way to keep the world together…than a god?"

Hilda remarked, "I'd never bow to you…you damn bastard. I'd die first."

The construction worker sighed, "you know…I was thinking the same thing. Pity. But, no matter. Slight laugh. You'll die…right now!"

Suddenly, a computer voice said, "very well, fellow student. All money in the world will be yours in three hours."

The construction worker turned to Ringleader twelve, "can't you…go any faster?"

The computer voice responded, "to do so would overload my circuits. I kindly suggest you change your attitude, fellow student."

The construction worker sighed, still pointing his pistol at Hilda.

Then, a thought comes to her.

Hilda called out deviously, "but I can't!"

Before the constructor worker could react… The computer voice spoke, "you've just earned yourself a trip to detention, fellow student. Request denied."

The computer then started rebooting itself, turning itself off briefly to turn back on.

The construction worker cried out, "no!"

While he was distracted with his complaining, Hilda took out her pistol.

The construction worker fired several shots at Hilda. But, Hilda jump flipped out of range of one bullet…while hurling her pistol into the other bullets. The pistol exploded into pieces…as it was jump kicked into a shocked construction worker.

It sent him crashing down into his own net. If it wasn't for a lack of focus in the midst of great frustration…the construction worker would've taken out Hilda instead.

Hilda gasped in relief, breathing very hard.

Unfortunately, some of the shots snapped some of the net's ropes. The weight of Ringleader twelve was putting a ton of stress on the net…snapping several more of the net's ropes.

Hilda struggled to climb out. But, her weight just made more of the ropes snap.

The net was giving way to gravity. The combined weight of the construction worker, Ringleader twelve, and Hilda split open the net.

Ringleader twelve was sent crashing down to the tree covered ground below…with Hilda holding on for dear life. The body of the construction worker was falling out of the net, heading towards the ground below.

Hilda muttered under her breath, "I can't believe I'm doing this. But…"

She grabbed the body of the construction worker, keeping him from falling to his doom. Hilda finished, "…it's our duty to save people."


Hours later, in a Bolivian office…

There were a man with shoulder length black hair and a woman with shoulder length blackish brown hair. They both wore black formal suits with a striped banner across the chest. An unlit fireplace was behind them, and two desks were in front.

The woman with shoulder length blackish brown hair urged in Spanish, "why do you insist on making this highway anyway?!"

The man with shoulder length black hair pointed out in Spanish, "because the Amazon rainforest is hard to get around without using boats or airplanes. This would not only provide a sense of safety to travelers…but also save them money!"

The woman with shoulder length blackish brown hair insisted, "but Donon…we already have trains and buses for that purpose. What's the point of adding a paved road, when there are already so many roads to get around the Amazon jungle with?"

Donon concluded, "and what about the blockades and the protests that have threatened our public transportation system…the very same ones that we haven't been able to stop in our cities? Huh?! Huh?!"

The woman with shoulder length blackish brown hair turned to Donon, "and that isn't happening again this time?"

Donon sighed, "well…you come up with better. Then, we'll talk."

The woman with shoulder length blackish brown hair suggested, "actually consider their opinions?" Donon insisted, "believe me Garcia…I already have."

A police officer with short blondish brown hair came into the office with a fax in hand.

Donon wondered in a somewhat annoyed tone, "all right…what is it?"

The police officer revealed, "a message from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency."

Donon read the fax, which indeed had the official seal of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency on it.

He concluded with partial amusement, "looks like that miniature supercomputer we found at the bottom of the cliff belongs to the Brazilian Intelligence Agency. We might as well give it back to them."

The police officer added, "very good, sir." He left the office, leaving the fax behind.

Garcia muttered harshly, "well…you seemed to handle that well "enough"."

Donon exclaimed, "oh, come on! You're getting upset over a single road?"

Garcia insisted, "it's more than just a road here, and you know it."

Donon challenged, "what do you expect me to do?! Give in to their unreasonable demands on our fragile economy?"

Garcia sighed, "you may have something there." Donon confirmed, "damn right I do."

Garcia suggested, "at this rate, maybe we should join ONU."

Donon pointed out, "with that second layer of oil, that's not a bad idea."


A few hours later, back in a certain Brazilian office…

Sarah was talking to Arica and Bricin.

She was saying delicately, "I'm sorry that we couldn't do business. But…at least you understand why."

Arica confirmed, "I understand. I had no idea that the United States was facing such a personal crisis."

Bricin added, "me either. But, you did find a solution?"

Sarah slightly chuckled, "it sure wasn't easy. But…I found Goran's solution to be well called for."

Arica wondered, "and what was that solution?"

Sarah revealed, "he started an advocacy group in support of neglected children…giving teenagers the choice of choosing their families. The teenagers are starting to stop their protests, and the number of child abuse cases is significantly dropping."

Bricin said in approval, "sounds quite innovative." Arica agreed, "yes…quite."

Sarah figured uneasily, "glad you agree. So…now that you got back what's left of Ringleader twelve… Are you still planning to expose project Ringleader to the public?"

Arica suggested, "I know there'll be lots of negative opinions at first. But… I think it's worth the risk."

Bricin added, "and I know we have a bad reputation…when it comes to crime and to our justice system. But, with plenty of knowledge…and plenty of students getting that knowledge… They will be far too self aware to feel insecure enough to commit crime in the first place."

Sarah commented in admittance, "what an interesting concept. The only question is…what do you do with criminals that are self aware already?"

Arica answered firmly, "with students secure about themselves…they'll be secure enough with the law to cooperate with it and courageous enough to resist discord in any way they can." Bricin concluded, "in other words, Miss Sarah…students will be able to help put a stop to crime in more ways than one."

Sarah happily urged, "well… I wish your plans are successful."

Arica responded, "thank you, Sarah."

Sarah replied, "you're welcome, Arica."


Two nights later…

Sarah and Goran were having dinner together, in a certain room in the Wonder Rooms.

Sarah was saying, "so…how are you holding up?"

Goran sighed, "between public appearances and paperwork…it's been more exhausting than usual."

Sarah commented, "I noticed. Maybe you should get some sleep." Goran figured, "I'll think on it."

Sarah suggested bittersweetly, "well…you won't have to think as much anymore."

Goran started to say, "that's nice of you to say. But…"

He then noticed someone familiar coming into the room. Goran gasped, "Carter?!"

President Carter had arrived…with several familiar figures with black formal suits and white formal suits right outside the door.

He remarked, "so…is my country still in one piece?"

Sarah slightly chuckled, "yes…thanks to Goran."

Carter muttered, "no thanks to you."

Sarah pointed out, "actually, my people helped save the world. But, I admit that I…made a mistake when I arrested you."

Carter realized with partial relief, "what was your first clue?"

Sarah gestured to the figures outside to go with her hand…and they obeyed without question.

She revealed, "when Arica and Bricin helped me see their true intentions. Slight chuckle. I assume it would…"

Goran interrupted, "wait a minute…is this about that supercomputer?"

Carter slightly chuckled, "well…what did you think we were talking about?"

Goran muttered, "well… Never mind."

Carter went on, "o…k then. How about telling me what's happened to my country?"

Goran revealed, "I started an advocacy group, and that calmed everyone down."

Carter commented, "just like that…huh?"

Sarah added, "just like that. By the way, what did you think we were talking about?"

Goran insisted, "it's not important anyway." Sarah remarked, "then you shouldn't mind telling me."

Goran sighed, "very well. For a moment there…I actually thought you were going to rewrite the rules of the United States to match Brazil's justice system. That is…with Carter here being very persuasive about it."

Carter commented, "that certainly would be nice…if I could."

Sarah sighed, "you're such a piece of work."

Carter went on, "doesn't mean I'm wrong."

Goran added, "doesn't mean you're right either."

Carter remarked, "that's a matter of opinion."

Sarah slightly chuckled, "one of the few things all three of us can agree on."

Carter and Goran slightly chuckled at this.

Goran admitted to Carter, "you know something? After all of this…I still don't like you." Carter commented, "the feeling's mutual." Sarah commented to Carter, "same here."

Goran suggested, "maybe we should just stick to business."

Sarah commented, "that'll be the day."

Carter slightly chuckled, "I'll drink to that."

Goran gave in, "cheers."

The three government officials clinked glasses. Then they continued the rest of their evening in small talk...and more talk.

Possibly with more talking in the future.

The End