Ciro van Guz, a sergeant in the Foreign Legion rendered heroic services in Chad, survived the offensive of warlike operations impossible to control, and to understand well what happened there, we must know that this was not only a remote place, but also a dangerous and exterminating experience where Lieutenant Reich, his German-born comrade, a pilot and expert of all kinds of armaments, died in an atrocious manner beheaded by the steel splinter of a shell, and he, unhinged, picked up his head and returned it to the base for not to leave it abandoned as food for carrion.
That was the final push he needed to get out of there escaping the ruthlessness of the Legion in Chad and the horrible of that place he had not to invent it, to survive it was necessary to tattoo himself a destiny with fire on the steel of the rifle, become scorpion or mutant because there wasn't required courage or honor, any virtue was transformed into a drag, those combats were not part of the famous repertoire of the Geneva Convention.
Filthy of all that he retired abandoning his legionary name, returning to inhabit with his civil identity of Dutch citizen. Ciro van Guz was his real name and now worked as a security officer in the 'Derricks' guarding the digital system of machines of the 'ZIP Corporation' that pumped oil day and night on behalf of a United Nations projects in Iraq. He received a huge pay because after the infamous invasion nobody wanted to go there voluntarily. His plan was very simple, to retire with a meticulously planned pension, deposited faraway, in a tax havens country.
In the small steel shed that served as an office in the desert south of Baghdad the temperature reached 45 degrees Celsius and the air conditioning had stopped working. Van Guz, slim and nervous, dressed in his orange jumpsuit came in and knelt as in time for ritual prayers, he took out a bunch of keys, chose one accurately, and opened the steel casket embedded in a square of reinforced concrete, with a quick gesture he selected a satellite telephone, closed the tank again, adjusted the glittering tile above and then composed the number of Code inscribed on the back of the device.
"Mister Reichdon?" He said with a German accent.
"Reidon, Reidon!" Replied the other, exasperated.
"Okay, I'm Guz, Mr. Reidon!"
"Kronos 38, stopped working 15 minutes ago."
"It can't be ... -said Reidon, cautious - the Kronos 38 has an online program with the central plant in the Istanbul office, direct alert"
"It's not about that"
"So what's about ?"
"The Kronos 38 continues to pump, also electronic system is intact"
"Then ? " Shouted Reidon.
"The Kronos 38 only pumps air; water with residues, no Oil remains in the well ... "
"Impossible, not before 6 years ..."
"I don't know Mr. Reidon, I tell you what is happening today," insisted van Guz.
"This is your first call?"
"... I follow the the manual instruction Mr. Reidon."
For a few seconds the connection to the satellite was interrupted, and the Reidon's dull voice came again, this time with a fiery commanding voice.
"Guz, go back to the Kronos 38, disconnect the system and trigger the alarm via intranet our engineers will be able to take action."
"Guz! move fast ... "
"It will not say that the Oil is over, do I break the digital code? ... everything is drying up !"
"... Guz? ..." ... the telephone link again cut off ...
"... at your command ..."
"... Return to the Kronos 38, Now!"
The satellite stopped working. Ciro van Guz, sweating in his orange diver, put everything back in his place, picked up the bunch of keys, closed the case, jumped into the Jeep, and sped away on the trail, while letting behind him a very fine rain of yellow dust from the most arid desert in the world.
Guz still driving fast did not seem to notice the object drawn against the horizon, sharply gaining a fraction of a millimeter in the space of a few seconds over the uneven line of the mountains and what at first was only a contrast of brilliant aluminum, was transformed, and Guz still without realizing it and the jeep jumping through unevenness following the trail marked by the huge tires from heavy trucks that left a drawing printed on the broken plain.
Was during one of those jumps when he saw the first flash, far away, a sort of slight burst in his rear mirror, he reached out and wiped the dust with his sleeve, instantly understood that it was a plane and also his fault because the fatal error that was his satellite call to the ineffable Reidon. This was a 'drone', they sent it to eliminate him, then he cried loud it in rage.
Now saw the flash becoming clearly metallic, the Jeep was on bouncing around on the rocks. He measured the angle of the sun, compared data with the GPS screen glued to the steering wheel side.
The object was coming directly to him, no doubt, so rapidly leaning beneath his seat, he pulled out a small box containing a 'portable' connected to another satellite channel with no relation to the Oil corporation."Tourism Las Palmeras!" reply a neutral voice, in several languages.
"Room 301, is urgent," said Guz.
"Are you sure ? 301 is not connected! " answer the voice."To the Palms owner, now" he replied.
"Can I help you?" said a man.
"A model aircraft follows me and encompasses my displacement""Concierge? wait, we are visualizing it on the screen, it is an automatic flight, belongs to a private service we do not have frequency to neutralize it ".
"Can you intervene?" Guz insisted.
"Can't do anything, it's not a compatible model ...""Then what to do ? shouted Guz."Follow the rule, leave the place ... they will sweep you out"
Guz slipped the phone under the seat, the satellite still connected and listening the voice echoes from room 301 while the Jeep continued to raise a reddish dust that enveloped everything.
Now the metal object was a remodel aircraft, a plane with wings in delta and remote control equipped with a flight mimic while the real eyes of the pilots were directing it from a cabin seven thousand kilometers away.
The 'drone' lost height tilted one side and at the lower part of his right wing stood a tiny launching ramp from where abruptly was fired a luminous object with a long stream of foam at 120 meters per second speed, starting in straight line towards the reflective Van Guz orange jumpsuit that served as a focus. In four seconds the impact was precise with steam and fire followed by the noise of an explosion but attenuated by the vastness of the desert; mute protected by the immensity of space, that was the only thing that was seen in the distance.Then the 'drone' continued its route, briefly changed direction flying again over the place, passed over the smoking rubble. The pilots in the control tower verified the total destruction of the vehicle before resuming height and moving it away in the direction of Baghdad.
The Adirondaks mountains printed like a blue spot could be seeing drawn on the border of the United States. Portrayed against the last clarity of the afternoon in an autumn already finished. The daylight was quickly lost, it darkened early and the snow was not long in coming. Down in the prairie by the trails and the water the herds returned to the stables wandering, slowly approaching dairies farms where they would spend months protected, and heated.
Again Quebec was preparing for another long winter, the opaque mist rose from the 'Two mountains lake' and cypresses and pines was the only green left, behind was the high skeletal maple logs drawn as a gray and black plot and from far away the sound of the continuous rumor from the 'transcanadian highway' that extended its black asphalt to the western routes.
Pablo, depressed, put on a leather coat and a long scarf, the cold began and the snow could surprise him at any moment, he descended the hill with a steady pace stabbing his cane in the dry leaves covered by the shade at the edge of the pine trees although at that hour no one was on the route of Saint-Lazare. He stopped at a bend when he found the the truck drivers hideaway with giant trucks parked on either side of the restaurant behind a huge sign of blue neon tubes with their glass partitions where it read on an intermittent reflection that one was, more or less, in the "blue of the Greek islands". Inside a mirror covered the entire wall, high above a giant screen in perpetual connection with golfers on vacation at all hours of the day in remote places where sailboats floated in a blue harbor of postal tourism.As he set foot on the doorway, his iphone alarm went off. Then he walked to an armchairs at the counter bar and settled in answering the call. It had to be explain so they would understood his email, that for more than a year he had not heard of about the 'Dutch character' and although in the past he heard a lot of talk about him, he never saw him neither in photos or online, nor his voice so that all he could do was trust that the call was really from the 'Dutch'. Do you want to know how it all started ?
The plot, or sort of complicity was set by Casimiro de Montrond, whom he met in a encounter at the Camps family home in Montréal during one of those rare visits from Montrond, at that time still living in Iceland. Then Casimiro asked Felipe Camps if one day it appeared in Montréal a strange fellow, a Dutchman, asking for help because he was really in a crisis situation when he identified himself, he unavoidable had to use a key phrase: "I bring a message from his aunt, Doña Alma Errante" and only then could they accept that it was something of extreme urgency, at the same time, verifying, they had to ask him how many years has Doña Alma Errante achieved and there was no possible mistake in that. She was 100 years old on December 31st, for over a century. "A household tradition" had insisted Montrond, with that slyness that characterized him."You do not know me, I'm Dutch and live in Istanbul" he said in impatient and cutting Spanish, with a slight German accent. He was at Montréal International Airport calling from a telephone booth. It was 7:30 p.m. and it was in the arrivals hall of the P-E Trudeau airport leaving customs; on a flight from Toulouse, no stopover, was his transit but later he had to continue to the United States, Salt Lake City. but now needed someone of confidence to accompany him to Montréal, remove an envelope from a UPS mailbox in downtown which would not take more than an hour and then return to the airport because the flight to the US was at 02:30. Casimiro de Montrond gave him this number, no name but simply said 'that he had a message from his aunt, Alma Errante' mentioning that it was related to 'the investigation of the Bach's cantatas'.Suddenly Pablo became absorbed in his memory and fall back to the previous summer when the meeting with Montrond and Felipe Camps took place to discuss the first part of the investigation about 'the famous Bach cantatas'. Outside still the reflection of the neon blue blinking and the giant screen showed parsimonious golfers in Las Vegas and the line of the portable caught the echo of noises of broken voices coming out of the airport's loudspeakers."I understand, tell me then to identify you, how old was Doña Alma Errante on December 31th" ?
So the next minute he trotted up the hill to get his truck and then drove quickly to meet Van Guz at the Montréal airport to try to get him out of the quagmire and even if the iphone sounded again, insistent, he didn't answer, surely it was a call from Orlando Elcanoso and that would have turned it into an endless conversation.
With this email he was going to complete what happened telling them exactly as it was told by Van Guz about what happened when he returned aboard his Jeep to the Oil wells of the ZIP Corporation. Explaining that when he was able to reach Istanbul through Syria in a horse caravan, it was Montrond, who saved his life and now was sending him to Salt Lake City for they scheduled a meeting within a month with the Church of the Mormons, the only ones who maintained a complete genealogical and up-to-date ancestral repertoire. Family tree for generations."I did not know Montrond was interested in genealogy," said Pablo."The files Casimiro is investigating belong to Europol but Mormons have offered help and Montrond says it's the only way forward" answer Van Guz.Entering Montréal, he left the Bonaventure motorway, taking the elevated way to go directly to the city's downtown at a time when there was not much overnight traffic, so without delay he entered through the Rene Lévesque Boulevard to the east until he stopped at the corner of rue Peel in front of the Canadian Imperial bank building."I'll be back in a few minutes," said van Guz curtly.
He saw him crossing 'Square Dorchester' and get lost where the majestic Sun Life Insurance building stands in front of Montréal Cathedral with the 12 Apostles statues at the top crowning the sector next to the Canadian Pacific railway where the Windsor Station conform an historic rectangle with the Saint-George-Anglican Church and the glass-and-aluminum skyscraper of the IBM tower rises a little further back.
The truck continued with the engine running when few minutes later Van Guz returned and settle again, this time carrying a yellow wrapping envelope, sealed with clear gummed paper.
-Thanks, we can return to the airport.-Inside was his new identity another passport already stamped, social security card, registered in a Belgium parish with Bruges registry, already validated credit cards and medical insurance with his new name and surname.
In a UPS's mailbox left his old identity with the old passport in a waterproof envelope within a packet, disintegrating slowly in a poured acid liquid before it locked under key.
-There's no danger of degenerating into a fire ?- Pablo said cautiously.-They're just a few drops of acid, erasing the ink in the documents, nothing spectacular- he answer.
Since they still got a couple of hours before the next flight they went for a coffee at the airport and there he told him in detail the inside about what really happened when he was returning to the Oil wells by that old path at the Iraq's desert and that infamous 'Drone' mysteriously fired a rocket that exploded his Jeep, he need to emphasized, it was from there everyone thought him dead and even the Oil Corporation had published death notices in European newspapers.
What saved him was that he was always wearing a Keffiyeh rolled up in a Kandora tunic, as well as a pair of leather sandals, which he had used it since his time in the Foreign Legion.
At first he saw, incredulous, how the Drone was coming to him, and in a second, like a contortionist, he managed to take off his orange romper and hang it on the back of the seat, then he covered his chest with his cotton backpack and without hesitation he threw himself between the stones from where he rolled down bouncing the slope while the Jeep continued forward leaving a fierce cloud of dust.The blow was tremendous, at all sides and the pain left him unconscious for a few seconds. He was finally among a pile of rocks in the hollow and without any awareness that the plane overflew the place again. Wasn't before long minutes until he was recovering, now he knew with deep anguish he had to disappear quickly. Though he had no idea how or which direction to take, especially that now, for sure, returning to the Oil wells was impossible. Nor did he know exactly when the 'Drone' launched the rocket but believed that it only fired one and that was like a huge dynamite blow.
At dusk, he rose slowly, had nothing broken only bruises. He pulled the Keffiyeh out of the pack, put on his sandals and then wrapped his head, covering his chest and torso, then dressed in the Kandora robe trembling with fever always fearing that the damn Drone was watching him. But then the sun was gone, the first stars announced a cool evening, thus began that long march to Istanbul and now if everything goes well he would get to Salt Lake City, Utah.