The Shaking

Seismic terror is about to strike...

Maverick geologist Brian McLean was ridiculed when he warned London and south east England were at imminent risk of suffering a major earthquake. But when the unthinkable happens buildings collapse, power grids crash, transport is gridlocked, and high-tech life grinds to a shuddering halt.

In the stunned aftermath courier Ryan Buckland journeys through a shattered city to be reunited with his family, Deputy Prime Minister Stuart Pullman sees the emergency as his chance to seize power, while nuclear engineer Alan Carter desperately tries to avert a far greater catastrophe. If he fails, destructive aftershocks will be the least of our problems...

A homage to penny dreadful natural disaster potboilers, The Shaking will rock you to your very core!

A 103,000 word novel. Rated PG 16.

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30. Chapter Thirty

Whitehall. Stuart Pullman's Private Office. 17.44.

An inspection of the Downing Street bulidings had revealed no obvious serious damage; a testament to the horrendously expensive taxpayer funded preventative reinforcement against possible terrorist attacks which had been undertaken. As a consequence the offices had been declared safe, however the Emergency cabinet would continue to convene in the depths of PINDAR until further notice, just in case a strong aftershock were to bring one of the ornate ceilings crashing down on their heads..

At long last Stuart Pullman had been allowed back into his office and had been able to snatch a few minutes of private time in which to launch his scheme. Inside his personal safe, and locked in a strongbox to which only he had the key was a tablet computer he kept for standby, extremely private communications such as this. After retrieving it Stuart powered up the device and accessed it by thumbprint as well as inputing no less than three separate passwords he alone knew into the device's custom operating system. Those who had given him the machine were insistent on using the most enhanced security protocols available, and they were expert at their trade. Even so, the Deputy PM remained nervous, even though the extra consideration he'd given his actions while waiting had only reinforced his determination to act. Though up until now he'd kept the Organisation at arms' length, this was the irrevocable moment when both parties called in each other's markers.

Once logged in he opened an innocent ebook reader. At the beginning of a chapter in one of the many books a particular sequence of screen swipes opened what at first sight appeared to be a covert stash of lesbian S&M porn, but that was merely a disguise for a far more secret application; it would be far better for Pullman to risk public humiliation by the sacrificial disclosure of the erotica than deal with the severe consequences arising from the discovery of the programme it camouflaged. A further pattern swipe on a thumbnail picture of a nubile woman engaged in congress with a german shepherd dog brought up the encrypted messaging app.

From his official folio Stuart extracted the paper copy of the Prime Minister's newly revised schedule for the next twenty four hours: As his deputy Pullman was one of the restricted circle of people entrusted with the knowledge. The document outlined Rampling's aerial tour of the affected region planned for tomorrow.. Quickly using the tablet's camera to photograph the file, he sent it as an attachment to each of the few addresses listed in the contacts directory. That done, he made sure all records of the message were erased from the system, even though the email was primed to self-destruct if not read before a preset time period expired. His task completed, Stuart closed the app and powered the slate down.

As he replaced the re-locked strong box back in his safe Pullman felt his insides quivering. This wasn't just another powerful aftershock he was feeling but the pure fear and adrenaline rush caused by the action he'd just taken kicking in. No longer merely disloyal or scheming, Stuart had stepped beyond the political boundaries deep into the treacherous realm involved with soliciting an act of terroristic murder.

 

An undisclosed location. 17.45.

Stuart Pullman's message arrived in the inbox of an automated remailer, this cut-out link yet another Organisation safeguard to ensure the message chain couldn't be traced link by link back to the source if it were somehow compromised. Again the message split itself into infinitesimal heavily encryped fragments small enough to escape the notice of surveillance systems before bouncing their way innumerable times around the global tendrils of the internet. Eventually - though to the human sense of time instantaneously - the various parts of the email arrived at their final destination, were recompiled, decrypted, and attracted the attention of the human recipient.

On opening it the anonymous Commander realised at once the opportunity this presented, but also the difficulties of making anything useful of the leak now. Had these been normal times and he been given more time to prepare it might have been possible to put an operation together; but in the midst of the earthquake chaos and with very few of his people on the ground, as well as only a limited period within which to act, his options were few.

In fact there was only one reliable person he could think of who had the skills and the commitment to do such a short-notice job. It might be a forlorn hope, but if anyone could pull off such a difficult assignment it would be him. The Commander copied the attachment on to a USB drive; then connecting it to a separate computer and using a different secure email account to preclude any trail of connectedness, forwarded the information to the operative known as the Shadow Man.

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