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            The General stirred uneasily in his seat.  He hated these briefings.  He hated the people at the briefings.  He hated what the people at the briefings had to say.  He just hated it all.
            There were six of them in total.  The heads of Australia’s two intelligence services – ASIO and ASIS.  The Chief of the Defence Forces.  The Minister for Defence & Intelligence.  The Prime Minister’s Security Advisor, and The General.  No one else in the government was aware that these meetings even occurred such was the sensitivity of the information discussed.  Not even the Prime Minister was privy to all the information.  None of those present would have it any other way.
            Their briefings were held every week without fail.  If someone was absent – not matter where in the world they were – they were included by either secure phone line or data uplink.  The briefings were never missed.    
Today, the briefing was dealing with a new terrorist threat that Australia simply was not prepared for.  Indeed, when The General had first been made privy to the sensitive information sitting in front of him some six months ago, he laughed so hard he had almost urinated in his uniform.  When he had been fully briefed, the idea of the type of terrorist being presented in the dossier seemed simply unbelievable.  The General believed in the power of a tank.  The General believed in the ability of Australian Troops to get in and get the job done.  The General believed if nothing else worked – bomb the bastards.  The General did not believe in genetically diverged humans.  The General had a very low tolerance for bullshit, and the dossier in front of him had initially been very much what The General would define as a lump of waste requiring shovels.
            But then he had met them.
            He would never have believed it.  Even when they were standing in front of him, the soldier in him demanded proof.  And proof they had provided.  It had taken The General exactly one whole bottle of Bundaberg Rum Red to settle his nerves from the displays of their “abilities”.  Now, he was being told that a similar group of individuals, with similar abilities, were planning a terrorist strike somewhere in his great country.  To say he was pissed was akin to saying a tsunami was a teeny wave.
            “Problem, Harold?”  The director of ASIS asked of The General.
            The General shifted in his seat before replying.  When he did it was with the usual gruffness that only reinforced the stereotypical reputation he had.  Truth be told, he liked the reputation.  It made people pause.  It promoted fear and respect in his soldiers.  It also pissed off the intelligence types.  And that brought a crooked smile to his face.  “Of course I have a bloody problem!”  He began in a shout that would rapidly evolve to a bellow.  The room had no carpet and The General liked how the acoustics leant themselves to his type of communication.  “Your friggin’ Intelligence mob is supposed to fix these things.  What the bloody hell do you need my help for?”
            The Director of ASIS cocked an eyebrow.  He liked and respected The General, but he admitted he was a pain in the arse of the first order.  The Director, however, was possessed of a much more refined civility and thus did not bellow, even when he wanted to.
            “We are doing all we can.  But unfortunately, this type of strike is not something that we alone can prevent.  You have assets all over that part of Queensland and we need you to advise them of the threat.  We need more eyes.”
            The General laughed.  It bounced around the room.  “More eyes?  You’ve got satellites.  You’ve got access to more satellites from our friends.  Why the hell should my people be moved from where they are?  Give me one good bloody reason and I’ll do it.”  The General punctuated the remark with a stabbing motion in the air.  A honeyed voice from behind him answered.
            “Because, if your assets aren’t made aware, then they could very well be the first victims of a threat that you didn’t want them to be alerted to.”
            The General cringed inwardly, even as the clicking of her heels announced the arrival of she whom The General referred to as “Bitch”.  She was, in actuality, the Director of the organization that was responsible for the individuals who had so spooked The General.  She was also a woman who carried a very big stick – and was not afraid to wield it, with devastating force.
            When she arrived at the conference table, the ASIS Director stood and politely kissed her cheek in greeting.  The two were old colleagues from many years ago and he valued and trusted her input.  The General reluctantly respected her.  She was a tough woman with access to data that she would readily share without price.  However, she also was a determined leader who would always strive to get her own way.  She spoke in her usual authoritative and business like tone that always raised The General’s hackles.
            “Harold.  I understand the inconvenience from a logistics stand point.  But you currently have six units in the catchment zone of this threat.  I’ve made condolence calls to the families of the fallen and would prefer not to see you do any more than necessary.  Considering the losses in Iraq and Afghanistan I am sure you have made quite enough calls already.”
            The General grunted in response.  Unfortunately, she was right.
            “Fine.”  He conceded none too graciously.  “You tell me where and when and I’ll get them moving.”
            She smiled a genuine smile of appreciation.  That was the other thing The General hated; she was actually appreciative of efforts expended on her behalf.  God how he longed for the days when you stuck it to the intelligence agencies.

The above excerpt is from a work written by Damien Timms and is protected by International Copyright lodged in Australia and the USA and may not be reproduced in part or whole without the written permission of the author.

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