PROLOGUE

"It can't continue. That's obvious. Someone, somewhere, has to do something."

"Yes, if these groups are going to converge into one organization...I never thought they'd be able to pull it off - too much infighting and disorganization. Unfortunately, I was wrong..."

"You weren't the only one. All our intelligence said the same thing. But they've come up with three people who seem able to unite the whole damn bunch. We can't let it go any further."

"We're all agreed on that, gentlemen. The only question before us now, I believe, is how do we put a stop to it - without it coming back to haunt us in the international community..."

"We can't use our people. No matter how hard we try, there's bound to be a leak."

"No, we can't use any 'official' group. No way. Not even volunteers from the ranks - still open to leaks."

"Mercenaries? They're notoriously disloyal - and greedy. We can't leave ourselves open to blackmail, either."

The roomful of men sat in dismal, desperate silence. A small secretive smile prowled over the lips of one conspirator, however. He had the beginnings of a plan...a plan that would not only solve this small group of dignitaries' problem, but possibly take care of a burr in his side at the same time. Not to mention create a wealth of power for future use. But it would need to be done very carefully; if not given the proper consideration, it could literally blow up in his face...

"Gentlemen, I believe I may be able to provide a solution to our mutual problem. However, it will take some time to arrange satisfactorily. There are some contingencies that must be covered - however, I would be willing to guarantee an arrangement could be made within a month's time, if not sooner."

"They would be dealt with in that time?" "Surely not!" "What's this solution?"

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, please. You all know how I work. Let me worry about the details. What I will need from each of you is the highest level of intelligence you can each get from your 'sources'. I will need completely up-to-date information on each of these three men and their organizations. If this plan of mine - 'of ours' - is to succeed, accuracy of information will be paramount. Forget the normal channels. We all have our little 'secret weapons' in the intelligence community - I suggest we use them to the fullest extent. It is imperative, as I know you understand."

Many heads nodded in agreement. They all knew that normal intelligence gathering just would not be adequate for this type of operation. They also understood, implicitly, that they could very well lose some of their 'secret weapons' in this undertaking. However, it was necessary. Only their very best would be able to elicit the information they would need without forewarning the objects of their interest.

"Very well, gentlemen, shall we meet again in say, three weeks time? I should have everything on my end in place by then, and will need your information to solidify things..."

The distinguished gentlemen of the world slowly took their departure from the hotel, using various exits and transportation. Each was hopeful that, once again, General Stockwell would provide a solution to their problem...