Ghost of Empire


Ghost of Empire

An ancient empire ended in the 1970s with little notice taken by the world outside the Middle East. Twenty-first century descendants of the Persian Empire are determined to revive the fallen Empire; the book opens with the placement and detonation of a nuclear bomb in Tehran, followed immediately by the release of a man-made plague simultaneously in Beijing and New Delhi. The lost empire, in all its glory, will be re-established in the vacuum of the plague and explosion.

American intelligence asset, Eric Lantz and his Saudi counterpart, Alia al Faisal from Doctors without Borders, begin a race against time and the empire’s descendants’ malicious determination to destroy half the world’s population. Eric and Alia follow the trail of evidence and destruction from the twisted wreckage of a helicopter used by the bombers in Tehran, to Babak Castle and on to Tabriz, where they uncover the motive underlying the plot of destruction. The final confrontation between the empire’s descendants and the modern world takes place in Hazdan Armenia. Will the world survive this trauma, or will the Ghost of Empire rise again?

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  • Category: Iran, nuclear weapons, bio weapons, United States, drones, Azerbijan, Turkey, mystery, international, technology
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Tuesday May 7 Beijing, China and New Delhi, India

  • Beijing’s central railroad station was bustling as thousands of commuters made their way into the city for work, shopping or visits with loved ones. Others were passing through on their way to destinations outside the city. Still others were working at the station maintaining the facility, selling food and other provisions, issuing tickets or directing passengers. A typical day in one of the largest transportation hubs in the world.

    A man in a blue jumpsuit stood in front of a large pile of cans and painting equipment, waiting for his crew to arrive. His orders were to complete painting the interior of the train station by Monday. A ceremony was scheduled at the station to announce a new program of mutual trade between China and Iran. The central government wanted everything to look neat and tidy - - and successful. He expected that his men would meet the deadline, thereby securing for him the hefty bonus promised by the contracting company. The bonus was sorely needed as he was the primary bread winner for his family of eight, including his two kids and both his and his wife’s parents. This bonus opportunity would ease the strain on his family’s budget.

  • As the crew arrived, he assigned each to a defined area for painting. The workmen opened the first cans of pale blue paint. Wrinkling his nose, he noticed a sharp stinging smell to the paint. The color did not appeal to him, nor did the odor, but the work promised to be lucrative. He was willing to tolerate the smell in order to earn his bonus.

    It would normally take them a week to paint the interior of the main hall of the Beijing station alone. With the incentive, however, he was confident he could drive his crew to complete the job by the shortened deadline. The lure of the money was great enough that he picked up a spray gun and started to assist the crew. He filled the hopper of his spray gun and started the Korean-made compressor. The gun sputtered, and then began putting out a fine mist. Back and forth, up and down, the paint went on smoothly. Overspray hung in the air as he steadily worked his way down the scaffolding, and then slowly settled on the floor.

  • Some of the overspray settled in the clothing and exposed body parts of the passing riders. One or two were aware of the overspray and gave angry glares at the nearest painter, but no one stopped or protested. As was typical in the bustling station, travelers were far too interested in catching the next train on one of the nearly 100 tracks running through the colossal building to take time to pay attention or complain about a seemingly harmless paint overspray.

    Once painting in the main hall was completed, the painters would work through the remaining 14 waiting rooms in the station. At over 50,000 square meters, painting the Beijing railroad station was a job that could employ the large painting crew for several weeks. The foreman doubled his crew in order to hit the time target. When the paint in the hopper ran out, he refilled the sprayer and continued his work. He continued to find the odor of the paint to be offensive, but a full truckload of the stuff had been delivered several days earlier, and he steeled himself for the assault on his nostrils as he went about his work. Someone told him that it was a new formula from Iran that was supposed to last longer and resist wear and graffiti. He hoped the paint was not so impervious as to diminish his future work opportunities, but for now he was glad of the work and the opportunity for the bonus.

  • Other teams of painters were working around the main hall. By early afternoon, a slight mist hung over the area. Dozens of spray guns hummed as the workers busily applied the paint and tens of thousands of travelers made their way through the hall. The routine would be repeated for the next two days. By the fourth day of the process, the painting crews would not show up for work or for anything else thereafter.

    In New Delhi the daily ebb and flow of humanity continued as for thousands of years. The scent of rotting garbage mixed with curry and spices to create a pungent mixture that nauseated visitors, but was unobserved by the residents. The sun beat down on the city, and the populace scurried from shade to shade to avoid the heat.

    Mukesh turned the corner to the service entrance of the train station. He stepped in out of the beating sun.

  • “Mukesh!” shouted a figure from across the room, “good day! Good to see you!” Rajiv Sandovari greeted his friend.

    “Good Morning Rajiv,” replied Mukesh. “What do we have in store for us today?”

    “Ah, Mukesh, we get to mop the main room today. The boss wants to tidy things up, apparently some kind of government program to make things nicer for the travelers. As if a clean floor will make up for the crowded train or sitting on the roof of the cars. Anyway, today we do the main room, tomorrow, we start on the anterooms. We need to have the whole station mopped by the end of the week. The Prime Minister is hosting some foreign bigwig on a tour. I told them that it would take longer, but the big man insists that we meet the schedule.”

    “Just you and me?”

  • “No, we have six more workers to help us. We should get things done in the time they gave us, and then we can go back to our routine.”

    Mukesh stretched “well,” he said, “I guess we should get started, eh?”

    Rajiv came across the room. “No rush, my friend, our six helpers aren’t here yet. Let’s have some tea and see when they arrive. We can start then.”

    Thirty minutes and a pot of tea later, the eight men gathered their mops and disinfectants. They spread out across the East side of the main hall and began to clean the floor, a task which had not occurred for many years. As the dirt came up, a native stone floor began to peek out. The disinfectant carried a sharp tang which cut through the background scent for those close by. Some of the passersby noticed a slight tingling in their nose, but it quickly passed and they thought nothing more of it. As the day progressed the eight men proceeded across the floor until they were finished with the great hall. They all took a minute to look back at their handiwork. It was barely possible to see that the floor was cleaned as the footsteps of thousands of travelers mostly obliterated their work.

  • Mukesh and Rajiv paid the six additional workers, keeping, of course, their cut of the wages. As the two friends stored the pails and disinfectant containers, they congratulated themselves on a job well done. Looking forward to tomorrow and another cut of the wages of the six laborers was an unexpected treat for the two friends. They had no way of knowing that within two weeks, the two friends, the six laborers and nearly one third the population of India would be dead and decaying in the hot sun.


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