Read 24 Declassified: 03 - Trojan Horse Online

Authors: Marc Cerasini

Tags: #Action & Adventure, #Fiction, #General, #Suspense, #Thrillers, #Espionage, #Terrorism, #Media Tie-In, #Computer Viruses, #Award Presentations

24 Declassified: 03 - Trojan Horse

BOOK: 24 Declassified: 03 - Trojan Horse
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This novel is dedicated to my mother
,
Evelyn May Cerasini

Tro•jan horse

noun

1:
the large, hollow wooden horse filled with Greek soldiers and introduced within the walls of Troy by a stratagem

2:
a seemingly innocent computer program that is willingly downloaded by the user without suspi
cion, but when executed, activates hidden programming that performs malicious or unwanted actions

After the 1993 World Trade Center attack, a division of the Central Intelligence Agency established a domestic unit tasked with protecting America from the threat of terrorism. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Counter Terrorist Unit established field offices in several American cities. From its inception, CTU faced hostility and skepticism from other Federal law enforcement agencies. Despite bureaucratic resistance, within a few years CTU had become a major force. After the war against terror began, a number of early CTU missions were declassified. The following is one of them . . .

Content
s
PROLOGUE
1
1 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 5 A.M. AND 6 A.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
5
2 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 6 A.M. AND 7 A.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
26
3 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 7 A.M. AND 8 A.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
42
4 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 8 A.M. AND 9 A.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
54
5 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 9 A.M. AND 10 A.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
70
6 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 10 A.M. AND 11 A.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
87
7 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 11 A.M. AND 12 P.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
104
8 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 12 P.M. AND 1 P.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
121
9 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 1 P.M. AND 2 P.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
139
10 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 2 P.M. AND 3 P.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
158
11 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 3 P.M. AND 4 P.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
176
12 THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 4 P.M. AND 5 P.M. PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
194

13

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 5 P.M. AND 6 P.M. PACIFIC

DAYLIGHT TIME
212

14

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 6 P.M. AND 7 P.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
227

15

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 7 P.M. AND 8 P.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
241

16

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 8 P.M. AND 9 P.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
256

17

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 9 P.M. AND 10 P.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
269

18

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 10 P.M. AND 11 P.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
277

19

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 11 P.M. AND 12 A.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
284

20

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 12 A.M. AND 1 A.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
293

21

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 1 A.M. AND 2 A.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
300

22

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 2 A.M. AND 3 A.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
310

23

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 3 A.M. AND 4 A.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
322

24

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN

THE HOURS OF 4 A.M. AND 5 A.M.

PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME
328

EPILOGUE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OTHER SERIES OF 24 DECLASSIFIED BOOKS

COVER

COPYRIGHT

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER

prologue

He found Jack Bauer hunched over the conference room table, head cradled in his arms. It took Admin
istrative Director Richard Walsh only a moment to realize his agent was fast asleep. Setting the digital audio recorder on the table, Walsh wondered how Jack could find peace amid the chaos that still reigned on the other side of the wall, in CTU’s war room, hours after the crisis had presumably passed.

Walsh unbuttoned the suit jacket that seemed to stretch too tightly across his broad shoulders. He would have preferred to leave Jack to his dreams.
God knows, the man earned his rest.
But with his bosses at Langley demanding answers—probably because
their
bosses in the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were demanding same—Walsh had no choice but to gather all the statements as soon as possible, and deliver his findings. The Administrative Director of CTU shut the door, sat down in a steel chair across from the sleeping man.

Jack awoke at the sound, instantly alert. He sat up, arrow-straight, fully aware of his surroundings. Jack self-consciously rubbed the stubble on his jaw, combed his sandy-blond hair back with his fingers, embarrassed to appear before his superior in such a disheveled state.

“ ’Morning Jack. Have a nice nap?”

Bauer shrugged off the gentle jibe as his superior tossed him a sympathetic smile. It vanished a moment later when Walsh keyed his digital recorder.

“Log number 32452, subheading IAC. Debriefing Special Agent Jack Bauer,” said Walsh, adding Jack’s service tag, the day, date, and time. Then Walsh scratched his closely shaved chin and fixed his pale-blue gaze on the man across the table.

“Ryan Chappelle tells me that a raid on a major movie studio triggered this unpleasantness. What the hell were you and Blackburn’s tactical team doing in Hollywood?”

“Utopia Studios is not a major movie studio and it’s not in Hollywood,” Jack replied. “Utopia
was
a marginal direct-to-video production company until they fell on hard times—a combination of rising production costs and diminishing interest in the soft-core porn and low-rent horror films they were peddling did them in.”

“So Utopia Studios became a threat to national security?”

“Utopia Studios doesn’t exist. Not anymore,” said Jack. “Its CEO declared bankruptcy, incorporated a brand new firm with a new financial partner and shifted production facilities to Montreal. The move saved him a bundle but left his old studio on the ass-end of Glendale’s industrial zone vacant, its proprietorship a matter of ongoing litigation. In the meantime, narco-terrorists moved in and set up shop—or at least, that was the intel we had at the time.”

Walsh studied the sheaf of papers in front of him.

“According to the DEA this was primarily a drug raid.”

“That’s true. Chet Blackburn and I were members of a joint task force working with the DEA—part of District Director Ryan Chappelle’s interagency initiative.”

“Yeah. I think I got the memo on that,” Walsh said dryly.

“The initiative was launched because the CIA and the DEA unearthed intelligence indicating a new level of cooperation between international terrorists and certain drug cartels. Chappelle thought it best to team up with the Drug Enforcement Agency in order to better manage the problem—”

“And spread some of the responsibility around in case things went south.”

Jack nodded. “That too.”

“So beyond some faulty intelligence, what was the rationale for this
interagency initiative
?”

“Things are heating up. In the past twenty months, the DEA has captured military-grade weapons in several raids along the U.S.–Mexican border. And you recall that CTU recently thwarted a plot to use smuggled North Korean Long Tooth shoulder-fired missiles to down U.S. commercial airliners.”

Walsh smoothed his walrus moustache with his thumb and index finger. “You’re talking about Hell Gate.”

It wasn’t a question so Jack didn’t reply.

Walsh shifted in the steel chair, which seemed too small for the brawny man.

“Chappelle also tells me that despite the obvious threat to national security, you initially resisted this assignment. Now why would you do that, Special Agent Bauer?”

Walsh was staring at Jack now, waiting.

“Permission to speak freely, sir.”

Walsh turned off the audio recorder. “Talk.”

“When it comes to the Counter Terrorist Unit, interagency cooperation has always been a one-way street,” Jack began. “CTU
gave
, the FBI, the DOD, the DEA
took
. Period.”

“It’s gotten better,” said Walsh. His lined face was impassive, unreadable.

“I’ll concede that the situation has improved in recent months. But CTU is still getting squeezed out of the big picture—by some of the same people Chappelle ordered me to work alongside.”

“You could have refused the assignment. You could have come to me and I would have handled things with Chappelle. You had to make a choice here.” Walsh paused. “So what changed your mind, Jack?”

“Karma.”

Richard Walsh activated the recorder. “Tell me everything that happened to you and members of the Los Angeles unit in the past twenty-four hours, Special Agent Bauer. Start at the beginning...”

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLAC
E
BETWEEN THE HOURS OF
5 A.M. AND 6 A.M.
PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME

5:01:01
A
.
M
.PDT Atwater Village, Los Angeles

Jack Bauer gazed at Utopia, or so the sign proclaimed. But beyond the vacant security gate and tattered chain link fence, Bauer saw only an expanse of pitted as
phalt abutting an interconnected cluster of ugly, graffiti-stained concrete block buildings.

Squinting through a telescopic imager, Jack scanned the shuttered loading docks and steel doors, the windows boarded up tight. He double-checked one particular entrance, with the number 9 painted on its flat steel door. Then he tucked the tiny device into a sheath on his night-black assault suit. Now that the sun was creeping above the horizon, he no longer required the imager’s thermal or light-enhancing capabilities to pierce the gloom.

Sprawled on his belly atop a rocky brown rise that separated Utopia from another dusty industrial park, Jack lowered his head behind a clump of scrub-grass and adjusted the assault rifle in the Velcro zip holster strapped across his back. He had arrived at his position hours before, moving into place along with five members of Chet Blackburn’s CTU assault team, now scattered and invisible among the rocks and low hills around him. Though Jack could not see them, he knew another tactical squad from the Drug Enforcement Agency lurked in the bluffs on the opposite side of the complex. When the signal came, the two assault teams would converge on the buildings in a coordinated two-pronged attack.

In the dead of the hot dry night, the tactical units had converged to surround the supposedly abandoned production studio, unseen and undetected by those inside. Then they waited until the sun was a hot yellow ball surrounded by hazy dust, until the arrival of the big fish both agencies were hoping to scoop up in their net.

Jack shifted position, clenching and unclenching his sweaty hands, stretching his sleepy arms and legs, always careful not to expose his position. He moved a stone that had been chafing him, rubbed his sore neck. Compared to his days as a member of Delta Force, this was not a particularly unpleasant mission. In the line of duty Jack had experienced far worse things than watching the Southern California sun rise from a quiet bluff. Perhaps it was merely his age that made his joints ache, his muscles stiff from inactivity. Perhaps creeping old age also explained why, as zero hour approached, Jack felt an uncharacteristic edginess, an impatienceashewaitedfor thesignaltomove.

Or perhaps it was the fact that Jack Bauer had to wait for that command, just like everyone else. Working in tandem with the DEA was not part of Bauer’s job description, nor did he appreciate taking orders from others. That’s why, when Ryan first handed him this assignment weeks ago, Jack refused it. Chappelle didn’t seemed surprised by Bauer’s reaction; rather he advised Jack to look first, then decide.

“Go to the briefing this afternoon,” Ryan said. “Listen to what the DEA has to say. It may change your mind.”

To Jack’s surprise, his mind
was
changed after the DEA briefed him and other select members of the intelligence community about the dangers of Karma, a potent new drug poised to hit the streets of America, a narcotic that had the potential to make the crack epidemic of the 1980s look like an ice cream party.

According to researchers who studied a sample of this substance, Karma was a type of super methamphetamine. But Karma wasn’t merely a powerful stimulant. The drug also induced a sense of invulnerability and euphoria in the user, sometimes accompanied by mild hallucinogenic reactions. The pharmacological experts who studied the new compound and its effects on the brain believed Karma to be more addictive than crack cocaine or even heroin.

Karma was ingested orally—dissolved under the tongue like a lozenge or simply swallowed—and the drug’s ease of consumption was an element of its appeal. Virtually undetectable, it could be dissolved in a flavored or alcoholic beverage, which made it the perfect date-rape drug.

No one knew what criminal or narco-terrorist group initially synthesized Karma, but the drug had first appeared in the streets of Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Chechen Republic nearly a year before. Karma was not available in America or Western Europe as yet, because it was difficult to manufacture. It required real laboratory conditions to be synthesized properly. Even after synthesis, the compound broke down rapidly, making for a relatively short shelf life. Complicated, well-equipped labs for churning out the stuff had to be established locally.

The upside for criminal producers was that once the network was up and running, labs would be difficult to find. No illegal smuggling was involved in the manufacturing process. Karma’s ingredients were not controlled substances; they were common chemicals available commercially. Already, at least one overseas crime lord was bankrolling the establishment of Karma labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal.

According to the DEA’s best intelligence, the illegal manufacturing facility inside of the Utopia Studios complex was the first of the U.S. labs to go on line. The DEA wanted to shut it down and capture its operators before their poison ever reached the street.

His musings were interrupted when Jack’s earbud chirped.

“This is Angel Three. A car’s just come off North San Fernando Road. It’s moving east along Andrita.”

“This is Angel Two. Roger,” Jack replied, voice calm.

Angel Three—Agent Miguel Avilla—was a twenty-year veteran of the DEA. Thin, wiry and acerbic, Avilla was positioned in plain sight, right outside the studio gate and across Andrita Street from the abandoned movie studio. Unwashed and unshaven, shuffling around wrapped in a dirty blanket, Agent Avilla had posed as a homeless man for the past nine days while he’d observed the activities at the old studio.

To better reconnoiter the facility, Avilla had taken up residence among a copse of twisted trees in an empty lot, where he swilled booze openly, urinated in the gutter, and generally elicited no notice from those who worked along the lightly traveled street. He also made hourly reports to his superiors at the Los Angeles DEA office—relating the number of trucks arriving at and leaving the supposedly deserted studio, and observing several visits by a well-known representative of a Midwest narcotics distributor.

On his third day living on Andrita Street, several
cholos
emerged from Utopia Studios and dished Avilla a pretty severe beating. They punched and kicked him while going through his filthy clothes. Not satisfied, the punks tore up the rickety shopping basket Avilla pushed around, scattering its contents across the empty lot. Fortunately Avilla was careful and the punks found nothing but a half-bottle of cheap wine, which they poured in the gutter. After that, Avilla had established his authenticity in their minds, and the punks working at the studio pretty much ignored the homeless man just like everyone else. As a precaution, Agent Avilla continued to bury his radio and weapon in a shallow grave at the base of a scrub oak.

“This is Angel Three. The car has stopped outside the gate. Repeat, the car has stopped.”

“This is Angel One. Roger that. Probably waiting for someone to unlock the gate...These goons don’t have a clue what’s coming for them. Over and out.”

Even over the headphones, Jack could hear the tension in the other man’s voice, tension masked by too many words, too much bravado. It was obvious to Jack that DEA Agent Brian McConnell—Angel One— was not yet ready to make command decisions or lead an assault team in a raid of this scope and importance.

So why was he put in charge of the tactical teams?

“This is Angel Three. Someone’s coming out to open the gate.”

“This is it,” cried Angel One, voice tight with tension. “Get ready to move.”

Breaking protocol, Jack spoke. “This is Angel Two, hold your positions. Hold your positions.”

But no one was listening. No one from the DEA anyway. Jack could see men in black assault gear and lumpy body armor rising from cover on the opposite side of the studio compound.

“Get your men down before they’re observed, Angel One,” Jack commanded. As he spoke, Jack slipped the Heckler & Koch G36 Commando short carbine from its sheath across his back, chambered a 5.56mm armor-piercing round.

Another voice broke into the net. “This is Archangel. Stand down, Angel One. Wait for a positive ID on the men in the car.”

Jack was relieved to see the men on the opposite bluff melt back into the terrain.

Archangel was DEA chief Jason Peltz, the overall commander of this operation. Late forties, stoop-shouldered with salt and pepper hair balding in the middle, Peltz more resembled a high school history teacher than a major force in the Drug Enforcement Agency with two decades of experience. Last year Peltz had moved into the top spot at the DEA’s Los Angeles office. Since then, he’d become more of a bureaucrat than a front line operative. But Peltz was savvy enough to surround himself with dedicated, competent and incorruptible veterans of the drug wars like Miguel Avilla, so his pension was secure.

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