Chapter 6: War is the Simplest Thing

Off the coast of Mogadishu, Somalia

The Dominus was an impressive ship. It was a superyacht: 56.73 meters in length, 9.2 meters at its widest point, a displacement of 588 tonnes, and a steel and aluminum construction. It had roofs painted white—to ward off the unforgiving African sun—with a hull of dark sable and a gold trim. The decks were of a beautiful walnut wood that shone like polished stone in the midafternoon sun. Surprisingly, The Dominus was purchased through legal means, one of the few ships native to the ports of Mogadishu to have been done so. However, whether the money that purchased it was gained through legal means was a whole different story.

Passing Somali fishermen could not help but set down their nets and stare in awe at the sheer power that seemed to emanate from the ship. They were careful not to stare for too long, however—Men with dark sunglasses armed with short barreled AKS-74u's patrolled the decks and a sniper or two could even be spotted laying on the roof. It wasn't uncommon for your typical mercenary captain, war lord, or businessman in these parts to have his own personal entourage of bodyguards—In fact, after the War in Somalia between US and Chinese backed forces, Mogadishu had become a hub for Private Military Contractors (PMCs) and just about anyone with enough money or influence could hire their own private army—but these men were different. They weren't your typical rent-a-thug variety. For one, many of them looked exceptionally well-fed and built—Not just impoverished Somalis looking for a way to feed their families—and every single one of them moved with an aura of self-assured confidence, the kind that only comes from years of experience and training. Whoever these men were protecting must be incredibly rich, powerful, or a combination thereof.

In the ship's reception room on the main deck, three men sat around a round table playing a game of Hold'em Poker. The reception room was lavishly decorated: Hand-woven Persian rugs covered the walnut floors, statuettes of volcanic glass—Imported from an old artisan in Egypt who had been perfecting his craft for nearly half a century—sat upon granite pedestals surrounding the room, and curtains of white gossamer thread sway gently in the breeze coming in from the open windows. Bookcases surround half the room with titles such as The Prince, Leviathan, and The Gospel of Wealth lining its shelves. Yet, despite the room having the appearance of some rich man's library, there was something more… sinister about it. Two men armed with sub machine guns flanked the French doors leading to the main deck, security cameras were bolted into each corner, and unbeknownst to two of the men playing cards, a supersonic grenade was magnetized to the bottom of the table and could be detonated with a voice command from the third.

The three men sitting around the table were as exotic and varied as the room itself. A young Arabian oil tycoon dressed in a designer grey and white cotton thobe and crème colored ghutra sat closest to the door, while a Congolese warlord wearing a red beret and sporting a set of heinous olive green combat fatigues sat across from him.

Between the two of them sat another man. He was black with dark brown eyes, and his facial features and musculature seemed to reveal a ruthless nature: A broad, proud brow, hawk-like nose, and bushy eyebrows that seemed to jut out like thorns. He was obviously in charge, with an air of someone who felt completely at ease yet coiled up like a fearsome tiger, ready to maim and kill. Immaculately dressed, he wore an expensive light grey Armani suit with a midnight-black button up shirt and gold tie. A very full half-goatee hung off his chin, and his head was completely shaven bald revealing multiple burn scars covering his crown—Leaving one to wonder the manner in which he received the scars. At his side, leaning against his chair, was a cane of ebony wood with a gold handle—A round from an AK-47 had fractured his left hip earlier in his life when he was a mere warlord, leaving him with a slight limp whenever he walked.

The man's name was Hassan Ali Qanyare, and he just so happened to be the owner of The Dominus.

He glanced over at the Congolese warlord—A man who called himself Muamba—who was concentrating hard on his cards. Hassan sighed. Was the man deranged? He already had a full house composed of two kings from his hand, and a king and two sevens from the middle of the table. Muamba could only have a three of a kind at best. The other man, Fuad, had already folded his cards and was leaning back in his chair with a concerned expression.

"You know, you can tell a lot about a man's business sense from the way he plays cards," Hassan rasped, his voice low and deep. The three men all spoke different languages: Hassan's Somali, Muamba's Kongo, and Fuad's Arabic so they had to communicate with each other in heavily accented English. He continued, "The way he bluffs, the way he risks his money… it tells everything about how a man handles his wealth."

Muamba glanced up at Hassan, then back at his cards, a single drop of perspiration on his brow betraying his anxiety. He bit his lip in indecision and finally threw a trio of chips into the center of the table. "Raise. One hundred," he said with as much bravado as he could muster.

Hassan snorted in amusement. How predictable. He was obviously bluffing, why in the world would he play his hand? Muamba was such an incompetent businessman. Fuad was a little better, though he had to do a better job at concealing his nervous habit of blinking too much whenever he got a bad hand.

Hassan simply nodded, accepting his opponent's stupidity and matched his wager. After he placed the chips into the center of the table, he revealed his full house for Muamba to see, and nearly laughed as Muamba's brutish face turned several shades darker in chagrin. The warlord threw down his cards, a pair of aces, and reached over for a glass of Brandy. Once again, he had lost.

As he collected the pile of chips from the center of the table, Hassan thought what a shame it was to have a man like this in power. Muamba controlled a sizable portion of the mines in the Congo that produced Coltan—A dull black metallic ore that is used in nearly every electronic device on the planet. Understandably, Coltan can be extremely profitable to produce… Hassan wondered how much it would cost to get one of Muamba's Lieutenants to work for him and assassinate the inept warlord sitting in front of him. With Muamba out of the way, Hassan would be free to reap the benefits of his mines. A man like Muamba didn't deserve the wealth and power anyways if he didn't have the cunning to keep them.

Hassan's thoughts were interrupted by one of his men who walked over to the table and whispered in his ear, "There's a large speedboat off our starboard side heading straight for us, sir."

Hassan leaned in closer. "Pirates?" Not that he cared. Most of the pirates in these waters worked for him as privateers and the rest knew to avoid him.

"I don't think so, sir. They're not Somali. Our men on the roof counted five men, one carrying a large briefcase."

Hassan smiled, a rare sight. If this was who he thought he was, then his fortunes were about to increase exponentially. "Send the man in charge up to me. Alone. With the briefcase," he snapped.

"Yes sir."

After a moment's consideration, Hassan added, "And get Daniels up here. I need his report on the Venice job."

His man nodded and left to carry out his orders. Hassan turned back to his guests. "My friends," he used the term lightly, "I require some privacy… I'm sure you'll understand."

In other words… Get the fuck out. The two men stood and bowed to their host before leaving the reception room for their cabins below decks. Hassan proceeded to calmly gather up the poker chips and playing cards to place in a polished mahogany carrying case off to the side of the table. He took his time to organize the chips by ascending value; he wouldn't have to wait long for his man to show up.

Sure enough, a man carrying a large leather briefcase entered the room flanked by two of Hassan's men. He had snow white hair, cut short, and a neatly groomed beard. His eyes were of a steely grey quality, and reminded Hassan of the sharp edge of a machete glimmering in the sunlight. Despite his apparent age, the man looked to be in athletic shape. He was conservatively dressed, in a long sleeved black polo with a white collar and khaki pants.

"Ace," Hassan said in greeting. He knew the man's real name of course, but he used his alias out of mutual respect for him. "Galab wanaagsan. Good afternoon. I trust the job in Paris went well?"

Hassan knew everything about Ace. The man used to be SAS, the Special Air Service—British Special Forces—until he decided that he could put his special skills to better use. Since retiring from the SAS, Ace had traveled around the world pulling off one crime after another. He was undoubtedly the best in the business.

His men patted Ace down for weapons. Finding none, they moved off to the side. Ace set the briefcase on the table and undid the brass clasps on the sides. He opened it up and turned it towards Hassan. "See for yourself. 5 million dollars in cash, with another 20 million in airtight containers back on my boat. The rest is being laundered through various businesses."

Hassan had to hold his breath as he leaned forward to inspect the money. Rows upon rows of crisp US 100 dollar bills bound with paper bands greeted him. The face of Benjamin Franklin seemed to wink knowingly up at Hassan as if to say, "You sly bastard."

Despite his many years handling and acquiring wealth, it never ceased to amaze him how much money one man could own. Hassan had grown up dirt poor, in a small fishing village a few hours north of Mogadishu, and his fisherman father had always told him how important it was to make an honest living. A great good it did him, seeing how his father died in debt and had to sell Hassan to the local militia as a child soldier. No… the only way to become rich and powerful in this world was to lie and cheat. Honesty be damned.

Nodding in satisfaction, Hassan closed the briefcase and motioned for one of his men to come over. "Call my financial manager in New York," he said to him, "instruct him to buy the defense stocks from the list of companies I sent him."

"Yes sir," he replied before hurrying away.

Hassan turned back to Ace. "Is there any way that the authorities could trace the robbery back to you?"

The Englishmen shook his head. "No. We didn't fire a single shot and the cameras were disabled. Your doing, I presume?"

Hassan sat back and stroked his beard. Interesting, so it appeared that Anonymous could be manipulated after all. All according to plan. A well timed DDoS attack would make things much easier. He only required one more element to the plan.

"You may keep 50 million for yourself and the rest of your crew," Hassan said, "That should cover any expenses on your part."

Ace nodded. He knew better than to argue, 50 million dollars was a generous payment. Besides, he doubted that the robbery would have gone so well without a problem if it wasn't for Hassan's assistance. He bowed and turned to leave, but was interrupted when a man stumbled into the room. He had a sort of haggard look about him, almost as if he had just been roused from bed. His curly black hair hung in drooping loops and his olive toned face was unshaven.

"You called for me, sir?" He said, his eyes trying unsuccessfully to focus. Hassan could smell the very faint smell of alcohol on his breath.

"Daniels," Hassan spat, "Do you have word from your man in Venice?"

Daniels scratched his head. "Uhh… No sir. I mean… My man was at the agreed upon rendezvous point but the bomb maker never showed up. We found out later that he was intercepted by a CIA operative. The bomb maker is no more, sir."

There was a moment of silence as everyone took in what was said. "Bloody cheek," Ace muttered from beside Hassan, British slang that roughly translated to "Damned impudence".

Hassan couldn't agree more with him.

He leaned forward menacingly. "And why did it take you so long to tell me?" He growled.

Daniels averted his gaze. "Quite frankly, sir, I didn't want to report anything until there was something to report. I was trying to salvage the situation by getting another-"

Hassan pulled out his pistol from his jacket—A gold plated IMI Desert Eagle—and tugged back the slide. The ominous click-click of a bullet being chambered echoed throughout the room. He placed the gun on the table for Daniels to see. "I ask again… why did it take you so long to tell me?" His eyes held a dangerous fire.

His men tensed. Someone was about to die. Once Hassan took out his gun, he didn't holster it until it had tasted blood.

Daniels seemed to be well aware of this fact as his face drained of color. All symptoms of drunkenness disappeared, replaced by terror. "I-It won't happen again, sir!" He stammered hurriedly.

Hassan was silent for a moment, his eyes never leaving the quavering raven haired man in front of him. Finally he sighed and stood, taking his cane in his hand. "Well this makes things difficult," He said out loud. He then picked up his pistol from the table and shot Daniels in the leg, as casually as one would kick a passing stray dog.

Daniels screamed and clutched his leg as he fell to the floor. Hot blood leaked from the gaps between his fingers as he writhed in agony. Fortunately for him, Hassan had placed the shot precisely one inch below his femoral artery. It would hurt, getting shot by a .357 magnum round usually did, but he wouldn't die from blood loss. Hassan ignored Daniel's pained cries and walked over to the window, using his cane to support his steps. He stopped to breath in the salty sea air. "Get him out of here before he gets blood on the carpet," he said calmly, "and set him adrift on one of the ship's lifeboats. I don't want to see him again."

His men carried out his orders, being careful not to do anything that might anger him—His gun was still held loosely at his side—and dragged Daniels bodily out of the room. Ace lazily sauntered up beside Hassan. "Well that was…" he paused to search for the right word, "Exciting."

Hassan flipped the safety on his gun and deftly tucked it away, its bloodlust sated. He didn't answer him for a moment as he thought hard. The bomb maker, Deng, was one of the best in the business. He had been carrying a prototype weapon and it wouldn't be easily replaced by the time of the meeting… Hassan would have to improvise a bit…

It doesn't take much to start a war. In fact it can be quite easy. A tiny inciting incident could spark the powder kegs and send the politicians into a frothing frenzy to clamor for war. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, The Gulf of Tonkin, the list went on. It was another matter entirely to start a war and place the blame on someone else.

Which was precisely what Hassan wanted to do.

In precisely four days, a young ambassador from the People's Republic of China would be meeting officials in Saudi Arabia to discuss an agreement to buy crude oil. A very important agreement as the world started to recognize China as the new world power.

However, Hassan was determined that this meeting would never take place.

The Saudis already had a bad track record with human rights. For an organization like Anonymous which took pride in championing the rights of the common man, perhaps to the point of blind devotion, it wouldn't take much to earn their ire. As the events in Paris had demonstrated, Anonymous could be manipulated given the right evidence. If a cyber-attack from Anonymous were to disable the Saudi security systems, and the Chinese Ambassador were to die in a subsequent explosion caused by a bomb, things would look very bad for Anonymous and the U.S, where most of its members operated from. The death of an ambassador wouldn't be enough to start a war, though. However, this particular ambassador happened to be the son of the man in charge of Chinese Ministry of Finance—The same agency that was in charge of the United States debt.

With the bomb maker gone, Hassan needed a new way to kill the ambassador and start a war between the U.S and China.

A plan began to form in his mind. He had all the resources he needed. Right here next to him in fact. He turned to Ace. "How would you like to do one last job for me?"

The Englishman raised an eyebrow. "What's the job?"

Hassan turned back to face the sea. "War has always been profitable for businessmen like myself…"

"Which is why I intend to start World War Three."


Author's Note

Thus the Antagonist makes his grand entrance! What did you think of Hassan? Was he a realistic villain? Or was he a little flat? What sort of personality traits did you get from him as you read the chapter? Did his plan make sense? Was there anything that didn't flow well or wasnt logical? This might not be as exciting as Venice Boat Chases but is it still entertaining? Is there still enough intrigue and excitement to keep your reading? Or do you find yourself bored?

Finally, just for kicks, what movie character does Hassan remind you of?

And don't forget to leave those comments! No matter how small!

-J