Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

He stepped over the bodies of the last two assault teams and walked swiftly to just below the camera blister on the ceiling. Waving a hand, he spoke calmly.

“Hello Justin, I’m Agent Dessall. I’ve come to chat about what we can do to end this stand-off without any further loss of life.”

I smiled at that.

“I think we both know how that can happen.”

He shook his head.

“Jared says he will not give in to your cowardly threats.”

“Cowardly? He took my fiancée and eight others prisoner to force the release of his brother and two other fanatics when he knew the international stand over no negotiation with hostage takers.”

He looked uncomfortable. I knew the conversation was being relayed to his section chief.

“I know that Justin, but this really is not helping our efforts to get Pamela and her colleagues freed.”

I laughed.

“As you stand there, six sniper teams have switched from rifles to rocket-propelled grenades in the hope that you can lure me out. If I appear, you are collateral damage.”

He paled as his section chief assured him that no such thing was happening. On another channel, instructions were issued to switch to another frequency and change encryption.

“I don’t believe that, Justin. We’re so close to negotiating the release of the hostages. Don’t ruin five months work.”

“Agent Dessall, even you cannot be that naïve. I have taken control of an office block in the country that harboured and trained Jared. This is an international incident and embarrassment to my home country. I have caused the death of thirty troops that I note carry weapons supplied by your country despite the embargo. In addition, amongst the people in the building are three members of Jared’s family.”

He turned momentarily as distant automotive mayhem became audible.

“I’ve shut down the local traffic control grid. Way too many suspicious vehicles heading this way.”

He looked up at the camera.

“Justin, how can you justify this?”

Ah, now we came to it.

“I cannot. Nations stand by as people die because no-one will take responsibility or try to challenge the causes. So when Pamela was taken, I put into place something she and I had discussed when the CityOS projects first started. Every city that deployed the infrastructure is vulnerable and I have them all. Where governments will not, I will. This is merely the first example. As such, it has to show what can be achieved. So, for your hard of hearing companions, I have uplinked this situation worldwide and I do hope that Jared is watching.”

Agent Dessall paused and then ran flat out for the doors. I let him go. The attack helicopters were coming. The inhabitants of the building were deemed expendable in the face of the threat I now posed.

In minutes, the building was burning rubble. As the dust clouds dispersed, I kept the uplink going, then patched into their tactical net and coughed politely.

“I do hope that was edifying for you all. Did you really think I was in the building? Jared, I would like my fiancée released immediately or your capital city will suffer a complete infrastructure failure. If it moves, it will have no brakes. If it supplies, it will be contaminated. The death toll will be huge. I do not negotiate. Obey or be punished.”

Governments across the world activated contingency plans for their CityOS to find that they only existed in the manuals they were reading from.

“You wanted terrorism? You have it. I will be in contact. Overlord out.”