About Deadly Delivery
Deadly Delivery is a morality tale of a clash of cultures.
Status: Second draft completed. Undergoing a copy edit by Bobbi Beatty of Silver Scroll Services
Summary: Hwang Soo-jin, a female air force pilot of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is tasked with a secret plan of which she knows very little. As she journeys to different centers in her home country, she is trained in various ways so she can successfully complete her mission. She travels under false passports to China, Canada, and the United States of America to carry out her deadly delivery to its terrible conclusion.
Cynthia Donaldson flies McDonald Douglas MD-10 and MD-11 aircraft for Land Air Sea and Space (LASS), a global freighting company. She is tasked with preparing a risk management report for the company in the event of hostilities breaking out over the sabre-rattling between the US and North Korea.
Both women steadily come to the awareness of the evolving situation, reaching a climax on board Cynthia’s aircraft.
Cynthia Donaldson strode across the room towards the desk. Sitting behind it was a lean fit man in his mid-fifties, dressed in uniform and engaged in a conversation on the telephone. He was long boned and lanky with his face matching his body. He had a moustache clipped thin and his hair was combed neatly, parted high on his left side. It was kept firmly in place by a liberal application of hair gel adding to impression he had stepped out of the World War Two era.
Cynthia was above average in height, though not as tall as Captain Henderson who sat opposite her. She was fit and quite attractive with thick natural blond hair that was cut at her shoulders and curled inward. She had fair skin but it was concealed by the skilful application of a darker foundation. She applied minimal eye shadow, mascara and liner and accented her look using a glossy lipstick slightly darker than her natural lip colour suiting her full lips and aquiline nose.
Captain Henderson looked up as Cynthia approached, cupped his hand over the mouthpiece of the receiver and addressed her.
“Hello First Officer, please take a seat, I’ll be with you in a moment.”
Cynthia nodded and sat down in the chair, arranging her uniform before she clasped her hands gently in her lap and relaxed. Her boss finished his conversation, set the handset into the telephone cradle, and placed his arms on the desk. Cynthia watched as Captain Henderson interlaced his fingers and then rested back in his chair.
“Thank you for coming, I have a job for you to do,” he stated.
“Well, not a job, more of an assignment really. I understand you’ve just returned from a vacation, down south, I believe. How was it?”
“I liked it, sir. It was good to get away from everything and we were able to take the kids before they needed to be back at school after Christmas,” she replied.
“You have two children, right?”
“Yes, sir, that’s right. Eleven and fourteen…although the fourteen year old thinks he’s twenty-one.”
Captain Henderson smiled.
“I know what you mean. Mine have left home and it’s a lot easier now. Flying is tough on kids though, always in one country or another and rarely at home.”
“I’ve been lucky, sir. They were both pre-school when I was posted here. They were able to make friends from the first grade and keep them as they moved from elementary school to middle and high school. They’re happy. Jonathan is always there,” she added.
“Your husband? What does he do?”
“He’s with Ocean Sciences, y’know, the institute about a kilometre west of here. At Patricia Bay near the airport.”
“Oh? That’s close. An easy commute,” Captain Henderson observed.
“Yes, it’s his base really and he only has to go away for an occasional meeting or conference. His lab and his colleagues are here, although when he is away, he can do a lot of his work through the internet.”
Cynthia felt she’d already gone through this conversation before with Captain Henderson. Although he was new to the area, having come from Toronto a few months before, she had outlined all this to him soon after he arrived. It was one of those formal interviews that were purportedly meant to develop a cordial relationship, but with Captain Henderson she found it strained. Her previous boss had retired and the company shipped Henderson west to take his place.
Captain Henderson wasn’t a bad sort of person, though he was ex-air force and considered it normal to be addressed by his previous rank of captain. He never directly requested his subordinates to call him Captain, but one always inferred he expected it, mostly because he consistently referred to himself as ‘Captain Henderson’ in his emails and in office meetings. She became used to his formality and even found herself succumbing to it, not only in his presence, but away from his influence. She didn’t really mind as she liked the self imposed discipline it gave her.
Captain Henderson nodded some time before continuing.
“That’s good. Now, I should outline your new assignment. Here’s what we need you to do. You know all the kerfuffle that’s going on between the United States and North Korea? Our company doesn’t want to be caught unprepared should the situation escalate into an unwanted scenario. We, that is Land, Air, Sea, and Space have been charged to come up with contingency plans along with communication protocols to minimize the impact on our operations. Based on the outcome of these plans, we may need to conduct specialized training and joint exercises,” Captain Henderson said.
“Oh? They feel this is serious then?” Cynthia frowned.
Cynthia felt she was in a time warp. This was so surreal. Not only did Henderson…excuse me…Captain Henderson refer to the large multi-national corporation that employed her as ‘Land, Air, Sea, and Space’ instead of the more common “LASS” she and her fellow employees used when referring to her place of work, he seemed to see this as some military operation. _No_, she thought. _He’s the one stuck in a time warp_.
And what was the ‘Space’ bit? She had heard the story about the time when the company was incorporated in the mid sixties, NASA was preparing to put a man on the moon. Eachaan MacTavish, one of the original founders of the company, had made a joke they were going to deliver freight everywhere and that included space. His being Scottish probably influenced the name, as the legend went, he often referred to his company as his “bonnie lass.”
“No. It’s just we need to implement precautions in case there is a minor incident. It wouldn’t be good to be caught napping,” Captain Henderson explained.
“I see,” Cynthia said. “But I thought I would be back on my regular flying schedule.”
“Thompson can take over your duties. He’s a good pilot and has plenty of flying hours on the MD-10’s and MD-11’s.”
“Will I go back to flying again when this, ah…assignment is finished?” Cynthia asked.
“Of course. We need to figure out your future schedule, but I’m sure it’ll all work out, First Officer Donaldson.”
“Thank you, sir. I’m glad to be staying here at Sidney. What will I be doing for this assignment?” Cynthia asked.
“Okay. Here’s what we want you to do,” Captain Henderson said, leaning forward and grasping the edge of his desk. We want you look at potential incidents, initiated by either North Korea or the US, that impact us here in Canada. You are to determine what our response should be in order to mitigate any disruption.”
“Disruption? I don’t understand sir. Isn’t this just between the Americans and North Korea? The Americans have a huge military, wouldn’t they be handling it?”
“You’re right, however let me draw you a picture. Say North Korea does send up a missile and it’s aimed to hit the Trident submarine base at Bangor, near Seattle. Let’s say when the Americans see the missile go up, they turn off GPS satellites to prevent it from acquiring its target. Now, they’d have to have the GPS system down for some time. Maybe thirty minutes, maybe more. What happens if we’re undertaking a flight in poor visibility at that time? Do our crews need extra training to navigate without GPS in bad weather? What if they are close to the coast or in the mountains? You see what I mean?”
“Yes sir, but would the Americans do that? I mean, don’t ICBMs use inertial guidance as well? They’re still going to hit their target. Or at least close enough it wouldn’t matter.”
“Of course. But we just don’t know how the North Koreans have built those things. Perhaps the inertial guidance is crude and not too accurate. It would make sense to switch off GPS,” Captain Henderson said.
_This conversation is bizarre_, Cynthia thought. _I know I’ll soon wake up from this dream. I’ll have to go with the flow_.
“That certainly doesn’t feel good. The missile might end up over the top of Victoria…or Vancouver. Is that the scenario you’ve assigned to me?” Cynthia asked.
“No. The scope of your assignment is to focus on known unknowns. We don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of trying to second guess every possibility.”
“Yes sir, I understand. When do I start?”
“You’ll need time to hand over your responsibilities to Thompson. This coming Monday work for you?” Captain Henderson asked.
“That’s in four days time. I’m not sure. I’ll have to check my schedule first.”
“You do that, but I think you’ll find it’ll work. Besides, I’ve already asked Thompson to take over your work on Monday. After you hand over your responsibilities, he should be ready. Any further questions?”
“No, sir, I’ll work on transferring duties right away. Where do I report on Monday?”
“You can report here. I’ve set aside an office for you.”
“Will I have staff to help me or will I be on my own?”
“Of course you’ll have help. You can use any of our clerical staff as needed.”
“How much time do I have?”
“We have to have our plans all filed in three months time, though if you come across anything requiring immediate attention, we can address it quickly. I’ll need a weekly progress report from you and I may request draft copies of your plans from time to time.”
“Yes, sir. Will that be all for now, sir?”
“I think so. I’ll brief you further on Monday morning at 0900.”
“Thank you, sir. I better get back to my duties now.”
“Thank you, First Officer.”
Cynthia walked out of the room with her brain abuzz. She didn’t get it. Was she being demoted? A desk job like this was not a good sign. She was a good pilot and one with a flawless record. She’d worked hard over the years and expected steady advancement. She liked to fly and she liked the people with whom she shared a similar love of aircraft. She would really like to get hold of the original instructions Captain Henderson received from head office or wherever it originated. She suspected Henderson had seen an opportunity to pretend he was still a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force and his military demeanour encouraged him to expand the scope of what had been asked. She wasn’t happy with this assignment, though it would mean more time at home and that was a good thing. She needed to think about it some more. For now, she had to get back to work.