Chapter no 73

Quantum Radio

“How?” Nora asked.

“First off, we have the pieces to stop the Covenant’s rocket launch.” Ty motioned to Kato. “In this world, Kato Tanaka is a Reich Europa intelligence operative. What’s more, he’s based at the Peenemünde facility.” “How does that help us?” Kato asked. “If he’s already there, how would I

even get inside the facility? They’d know I was a fake the moment I arrived.”

“Not if we change your appearance.” To Maria, Ty said, “You recently told us something about your past. What you did as a child when your mother had a bruise. And what you did before becoming a singer.”

“I was a makeup artist,” Maria said. She studied Kato’s bruised, swollen face. “Sure. Wouldn’t be hard to disguise him.”

Nora bunched her eyebrows. “Yes, but why would they even let us in to begin with?”

“Same answer,” Ty said. “Maria. She’s the missing piece. She’s performing in Peenemünde at the A21 missile launch ceremony.”

Maria’s eyes went wide. “Right. That Maria. Not me.” “They don’t know the difference.”

Kato stood. “It could work.” “This is crazy,” Maria said.

“I’m skeptical too,” Nora said, “but I want to hear more.” “Where does the Maria on this world live?” Kato asked. “Argentina,” Nora replied.

“Neutral territory,” Kato said, pacing now. “I assume the Pax Humana has an embassy in Argentina?”

“I could ask my father, but I think it’s a safe bet. Why?”

“We could use the embassy as a staging ground for an operation to kidnap this world’s Maria Santos. We simply hold her at the embassy,

which, if it works like our world, is sovereign national territory. No one will report her missing, because we’ll replace her with our Maria. No one will even know the real Maria Santos is gone.”

“Then what?” Ty asked, thinking he knew where Kato was going but not certain.

“Then, we start the more difficult part of the operation.”

Kato motioned to Nora and Ty. “We pose as Maria’s entourage as we all fly to Peenemünde for the launch ceremony. Inside the facility, we’ll each have a role. Maria gets us in and gets us access. I’ll say I’m her security detail. Ty can be technical—lights and audio-visual. Nora will be hair and makeup.”

Kato paused for a moment. “The trick will be the second replacement: finding this world’s Kato and… subduing him so that I can slip into his role.”

“How does that help us?” Nora asked.

“If I’m right, he’ll have unrestricted access to the facility. At that point, I can try to find the rockets and destroy them.”

“I see a better alternative,” Ty said. “The rockets are likely guarded against someone trying to take them out.”

“I agree,” Kato said. “But what options do we have?”

“Instead of destroying the rockets,” Ty said, “Kato and I could find the launch control area and change where the missiles are supposed to land.”

“What would the new target be?” Nora asked.

Kato held his hands out. “I see two options. The most benign would be to have them land in an unpopulated area. The northern region of Greenland, for example. The other option would be to target Covenant military capabilities. Their rocket-building facilities. The Seawall. Bases.”

“That might take a lot of lives,” Nora said quietly.

“It might,” Kato agreed. “But it would also change the balance of power in this world forever. It would give the Pax an opening to rebuild, to get back onto equal footing and give their society a chance at a real future.”

“For now,” Nora said, “let’s simply assume we alter the rocket targets away from the Pax.” She glanced at Ty. “Then what?”

“We exit. No one will suspect Maria Santos and her entourage of being connected to the malfunction,” Ty said. “When we return to the Pax, we ask for the radio medallion back, then we decide what to do. We study it.

Maybe there’s even some information about it in the Covenant files, which we can access in Peenemünde.”

At that moment, Ty sensed a presence in the room. He jerked his head and looked over at the folding tables and empty metal chairs where the staff took their meals. But there was no one there.

“What is it?” Nora asked.

“Nothing.” Ty rubbed his temple. “It’s nothing. What was I saying? Oh yeah, we get back here, get the radio, and go from there. We’ll have time at that point, with no impending rocket strike, and we will have built trust with the Pax.”

“There’s one thing we’re missing,” Nora said. “The other Nora. If she’s at Peenemünde, we should try to rescue her. And the members of her team.”

“It might make getting out more difficult,” Kato said.

The door opened, and Robert Brown stepped in and closed it behind him. “You will rescue her. That’s part of the deal.”

“You’ve been listening,” Ty said.

“To every word. You people are either crazy, or I’m going crazy, and frankly, if all of this was slightly less crazy, I’d just throw you all in a prison cell on the surface and forget about the whole thing. But what you’re talking about might be crazy enough to work.”

He studied the four of them. “We haven’t had a chance to change the balance of power like this in a long time—not without doing something as damaging as Poseidon.”

“So you’ll help us?” Nora asked.

“We’ll get you to Argentina. And we’ll send a diplomatic pouch with orders for the special operators stationed at the embassy to help you with the Santos op in country.” He paused. “But we have one more condition.”

Ty waited, knowing what it was, watching Nora, wondering how she would feel.

“Our last condition is that those rockets need to fall on a specific list of Covenant military facilities. That’s non-negotiable. If you say no—or if those rockets don’t hit the target list we supply—you’ll never again see that… radio device you seem so obsessed with.”

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