Max Arena

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A New Enemy

1st July (15 minutes later). A New Enemy

‘Are you sure that’s him?’ the younger man in the crisp, charcoal coloured suit asked, leaning back in his leather chair as he scanned the hardcopy photos spilling out of the manila folder on his desk.

‘Yes,’ replied the more elderly Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, US Army General Robert Stratton, from a lounge across the office, ‘and his name is Maximilian Augustus Dyson.’

The man behind the desk looked over at the aging soldier from under his arched eyebrows. ‘For real? That’s his name?’

‘Yes, it is. Read it right off his birth certificate as my car drove through the White House gates.’

‘Wow. His mum and dad had a real Roman fetish thing going on. Must have sucked going through high school with that mouthful.’

‘Wouldn’t rightly know as we can’t find any evidence he ever went to school, let alone who his parents are,’ the Chairman added.

‘So, he’s a John Doe?’ the younger man asked, returning his attention to the photos.

‘Not exactly. His parents are a mystery, but we got all the routine stuff on him, no problem. He’s an average guy. Wife, two kids and lives in a regular neighbourhood. Runs a small landscaping business on his own. Pays his taxes every year and seems to keep to himself. Nothing special, until now.’

The man in the suit, Charles Ingot the Third, dropped a photo back down onto the pile and rose from his chair. Walking around the desk, he crossed the room to a sideboard and lifted the glass coffee pot out from the percolator. As he picked up a mug he said, ‘General, I didn’t get all the way into the White House to be Chief of Staff to the President by being dumb.’ He finished pouring his coffee and replaced the pot. He then turned to face the Chairman. ’I got here by knowing more than anyone else about everything and right now, I don’t know nearly enough about this Maximilian guy. You tell me he’s a regular Joe, but that clearly is not the case. You don’t get randomly selected out of a global population of over six billion to be champion of the world against an alien race. You get chosen to be champion because of something specific. No, he is not just a regular Joe. He’s somebody and you need to find out who. Now, tell me you know where he is?’

‘He’s with the Australian Prime Minister at his residence in Canberra,’ the Chairman returned, non-plussed by the Chief of Staff’s verbal belting. ‘Those photos are sourced from Prime Minister Tollsen’s own CCTV network at his residence, courtesy of our boys at the NSA, who hacked them out. The pictures are an hour old, but we believe this Mister Dyson is still at the same location.’

‘So, our mystery man is being hosted by Prime Minister Tollsen?’ the Chief of Staff mused.

‘Is that a problem?’ the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs asked.

‘I don’t know,’ came the reply. ’He’s a classic politician and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it means he’s a lot wilier than we want him to be. He might hand this Maximilian over to us willingly for the greater good because he knows we can manage him better or he might hold out because he doesn’t trust us. I don’t know him well enough yet to judge him.’

‘And I thought you said you knew more than everyone else about everything?’ the Chairman said as he rose from the couch, collecting his peaked cap from the coffee table as he did.

‘Don’t play with my words, Mister Chairman,’ the younger man said coolly. ‘You just get me what I need to know.’

‘And what about POTUS?’ the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs returned. ‘Now that you know where this guy is, what will you propose to the President?’

‘When it comes to the President, I’ve always found the concerned big brother approach works best. If the world needs saving, then the United States are here to lend a hand to our little brother, so why shouldn’t Australia hand this Maximilian over to us, so we can make sure he’s kept safe and fit until he needs to set foot in the arena? Who else would you trust with that job other than the only true super power left in the world?’

’And if they do hand him over,’ the Chairman added, ‘while you’re busy keeping him safe, you’ll also interrogate him to get the truth out of who he is and why he’s so interesting to these aliens and in the process, see if there is any scope to access alien technology and get a jump on the rest of the planet. Does that match your thinking?’

The Chief of Staff to the President of the United States fixed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in his gaze and said, ‘All in the name of peace, my friend.’

‘Sure,’ the Chairman said as he turned for the door, a wry smile slicing across his face. ‘We wouldn’t want some jumped up little backwater country like Australia out showing America when it comes to saving the human race now would we?’

’Just get me that intel, General. Pronto.’

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs let his smile harden as he opened the door, his eyes steeling over. The two men locked gazes for a moment just long enough to tighten the tension in the room and then the General was gone. The Chief of Staff watched the door close and then turned back to his desk and the photos strewn across it. His eyes bore into the face. He would have this man. He would own this man and then after he had his secrets, he would kill him.

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