Prologue – Greed, Power, and Corruption-What’s New …The Enigma Chronicles
Poland, 80 years ago
Military troops all had their favorite places to blow off steam. This one was large, with areas for local musicians, reasonable food, a range of alcoholic beverages and a few private rooms available for a price to indulge in other refreshment fare. Only those from money or with high rank could afford them. In this case, the man waiting for someone had both.
Kondrat Mickelowski was of the older, more honorable, wealthy families that struggled with the constant regional conflicts that had been brewing for almost 20 years. His commanding presence was complimented by his height, speech, and impeccable grooming, all of which spoke to his status. His jacket was of the finest wool, cut in line with the fashionably rich of the times. Though his family indeed had position, money, and property, the values of education, human kindness, and a logical view of cause and effect had been instilled from birth. These are the values he imparted to his only son.
Life in this place in any position, he believed, was short lived while the maniac in Germany gained ground. That lunatic, in the opinion of many across Europe, surrounded himself with cruel and greedy men without conscience. Reflecting on the various recent conflicts, negotiations, treaties, and shifts in political power, he realized things were coming to a head. Hence the request for this meeting with his son, the Lieutenant.
Lively noise and revelry from the soldiers coming in for a start to the weekend spilled into the private dining area. Dark beers were flowing, in line with the weekly pay vouchers delivered earlier in the day. Military units from all sides were doing exactly as the strategy planners intended. Here’s the target, the reasons are above your pay grade, and when these invaders evacuate this place, all will be well. Warsaw political leaders felt the annexation of the railway junction at the city of Bohumin was the only stop gap to German invasion.
Noise levels increased in the private room as the door opened and his son entered. He cut a fine figure in his uniform and had earned the rank of Lieutenant, even at his very young age. With his education and training, he had entered service at a very early age. Tall and commanding like his father, he strode to the table, and as his father rose they embraced. They sat in adjacent chairs and the barmaid brought in steaming plates of food and two brimming steins.
Kondrat looked up graciously after she had set the provisions down and said, “Madam, thank you. That’s all for now.”
The barmaid was taken aback, as she’d expected his customary scowl, rather than a kind word.
The Lieutenant, who added a small smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes, also voiced, “Yes, thank you, madam.”
Uncertain but pleased, she grinned, curtseyed and left without a word.
“My son, how was your travel? Any issues?”
“No, Father, though the rumors swirling about the New Order and what they plan are everywhere. It seems to be inevitable, regardless of the negotiations by our leaders.”
“Agreed. It seems that the mandate is for a total Germanisation of Europe, one territory at a time. Without the intervention of the west, it is only a matter of time. The various delay tactics are just that. Our families, languages, traditions, religions, and associations will be wiped out if the lunatic is not stopped.”
“How can I help, Father? What can I do? I am rising in the ranks and gaining ground from those currently in power, though I sense some reluctance to share information. Officers are having sidebar correspondence with those outside of Poland. With the latest border change negotiation, it seems we are being painted as a German annexation. Is that how you view it?”
“Exactly, and it will only get worse. I have a unit I would like you to request transfer into, though it will appear to be a demotion. Meanwhile, I am going to try to liquidate some of our assets and place them outside of our country. I will let you know where and the details for access. It won’t be as much as I would like, because I want to make certain that our staff and the surrounding community have a share to help overcome what I feel certain is going to be devastating to everything you know and how you were raised.
“Men who get addicted to power, especially over other people and land, stop at nothing to gain what they want. This is one of mankind’s biggest failings. There always seems to be some narcissistic psychopath who quietly rises up with the right message to gain his or her agenda. With education or the right influential circle, they often further their power addiction by military means. But you should know that our threat from the Nationalists in Germany is not the only consideration. The Soviets to the East are uncommonly quiet in this theater of aggression, and that is just as troubling.”
The young Lieutenant nodded and stated, “Father, how do you stop someone like Hitler, or is it even possible? The old wounds from the Great War have left many feeling guilty and ready to acquiesce to calls for repatriating lost territories, regardless of new national identities. Poland finally pulled away from the Kingdom of Prussia after the Treaty of Versailles set the stage for our independence. Now here we are again, being looked at as another territory to be annexed by Germany.”
“Honestly, my son, I sadly think that a bullet to the head would be the most effective. However, it is morally wrong, period! The best way to stay ahead of the interlopers is to stay ahead of them and not let them get a foothold. Vigilance, coupled with better information and methods to apply the information, is the right solution, though it is the most elusive. As an example, if you can watch all the pieces on the chessboard during the entire game, you can know the traps in advance to know what to avoid. It is a skill that few possess.”
The Lieutenant was lost in thought about the commentary as he finished his food. This logic flow was not a new concept to him. However the current world situation was much closer to home. “I will make arrangements for the transfer, Father, when I return to Command. Do you think it will be enough to make a difference?”
Kondrat emphatically stated, “It always makes a difference to do the right thing, especially against tyrannical maniacs. Thank you, my son. You are the hope of the future. Stay safe. God speed.”
Various organizations find that using new digital currency is a surprisingly dangerous endeavor in the 10th outing in Breakfield and Burkey's (The Enigma Dragon, 2017, etc.) techno-thriller series.
When there's a security breach at the Global Bank, Interpol enlists the help of the R-Group in Switzerland, which specializes in cybersecurity. But the bank also needs assistance in getting control of assorted cryptocurrencies on the market after the appearance of a brand-new digital medium of exchange. Seeking additional help, Global Bank separately contacts Petra Rancowski, descendant of one of the R-Group's founders. Other groups want to implement the new currency, as well, including a Chinese terrorist group that goes after R-Group associate Su Lin and her husband, Andy Greenwood. Once a part of the Chinese Cyber Warfare College, Lin created a particular type of cryptocurrency code. Combat-trained Mercedes Field of the Cyber Assassins Technology Services team (prominently featured in other series installments) essentially becomes Lin's bodyguard--and soon, she must deal with an abduction. Meanwhile, Petra; her love interest, Jacob Michaels; and R-Group hacker Quip enter the cryptocurrency war by developing their own digital product while R-Group Financial Director and Jacob's grandfather Wolfgang Mickelowski struggles with a grave illness. Breakfield and Burkey excel at efficiently recapping earlier events and character histories while also delivering a fresh story. The pace is unremitting throughout, aided by the authors' use of very short scenes and chapters. Wolfgang's ailment provides this entry with some tender moments as well as a further peek into the R-Group backstory; Jacob discovers books, written by Wolfgang, that tell of the organization's possible origin. As in preceding entries, the technological jargon is both modern and comprehensible, and the abundant humor never sidetracks the narrative; one advertisement for Petra's new currency, for instance, is amusingly flashy: "We broker 1's and 0's at digital speed for peace of mind!"
Another top-tier installment that showcases exemplary recurring characters and tech subplots.