Chapter Four: The Briefing
Rain lashed the windows of the nondescript government building in downtown Portland, the rhythmic drumming on the rooftop providing a contrast to the tense atmosphere inside. He had arrived there half an hour ago, ushered into a quiet room with pale, flickering fluorescent lights overhead. His eyes, hardened by years of service, scanned the room, taking in the familiar surroundings. It was a room of cold, hard facts, where lives were weighed, and decisions made. A room he had hoped never to see again.
He looked across the table, his gaze landing on the woman seated there. Her face was a stern mask of professionalism, the air around her cold and detached. She returned his gaze, her eyes betraying a hint of worry beneath the icy exterior.
“Karkarov,” he said, his voice a low growl. The name echoed in the silence that followed, a ghost from the past that hung heavily in the air. The name of a man he had once considered a nemesis, a man he had believed was long gone.
The woman nodded, the light catching her glasses as she inclined her head. “We thought he was dead. We were wrong.”
“Clearly,” he replied, his tone dry. His gaze fell on the photographs spread out before him. Images of destruction, of chaos. Buildings reduced to rubble, streets filled with panic-stricken civilians. A stark, painful reminder of Karkarov’s ruthlessness.
“And the weapon?” he asked, his eyes never leaving the photographs. His fingers traced the edges of the images, the scenes depicted there hauntingly familiar.
“We believe it’s a device capable of disabling digital infrastructure on a global scale,” she replied. Her voice was steady, despite the gravity of her words.
A chill ran down his spine, the implication of her words sinking in. He raised an eyebrow, finally looking up to meet her gaze. “A digital apocalypse.”
“Exactly,” she nodded. “Karkarov could cripple communication systems, financial institutions, government operations. The world as we know it would come to a standstill.”
Silence fell between them once again, the weight of her words pressing heavily in the room. He had dealt with dangerous missions before, faced enemies that…