We stood in salute to the President. Gotta say my reaction to him was a bit less awed than the others'. Probably on account of my being British. He wasn't the most impressive man I'd ever seen to tell the truth. He wasn't the man I was most interested in speaking to though. I already knew the brief and he'd just be filling in the rest of the team with a bit of presidential support. A bit of well wishing from the most powerful man in the world, some good luck from uncle Sam. The real interesting case here was Jung. In all honestly the President was about useless in this situation. All he had was 'give my daughter back or else.' 'Or else what?' was all he was gonna get back from the terrorists. He had no leverage. Any military action would constitute an act of war and any chance of successfully recovering his daughter would be gone the moment anything official happened. Chances are they'd execute her in that situation and publicly. He needed this off the record, which is why we were the guys doing the job.
Jung was a different story. Come into power almost by political accident, the last dictator had sought to use him as a figurehead or a pawn and manipulate him into just another tyrant. Didn't expect Jung to have such a vast popular support. Quickly the North Korean people had rallied around Jung promising them a government for the people and the old regime was out and Jung was bringing North Korea out of isolation. He would know the country, know the people, know everything that could be found out about the terrorists who he spent everyday trying to fight, that is why he would be useful.
He stepped forwards as the president finished his speech. He was a diminutive man in a tan suit with black hair and glasses. He addressed us in thickly accented English. "Again I must extend my most honest apologies. I am sorry for... all trouble caused. These radicals are a bad representation of my people. There are still too many following the old ways."
He straightened his tie as an orderly walked in holding a slide projector.
"This is the business at hand. The radicals are likely to use.. uh.. blackmail. They will threaten to kill Mr. President's daughter in exchange for something. Either they will negotiate I be removed from power or demand weapons or other munitions."
The lights dimmed and the a slide came up on the wall.
"This is the main area of operation of the radicals," he indicated the slide which had a series of red circles deep in the icy mountains to the far north of North Korea. "We know a general location of a number of their bases and entrances to the cave network. They have bunkers defended by missile batteries and heavy artillery, we have not been able to attack them from the air. They also have tanks and helicopters along with aircraft of their own launching from a base deep into the mountains," The slide changed to an aerial view of an air base bristling with weapons and covered in ice with a massive bunker dominating the screen. "This is most likely where they have the hostage. It is their centre of command and almost inaccessible. Our army has not been able to get close."
I raised my hand.
"So what do you propose sir? If it is inaccessible then what are our options?"
He nodded at me in acknowledgement. "We believe that a smaller team may be able to sneak in by helicopter and disable the defense systems. Then our other armed forces can join the first team and defeat the insurgents."
"And that's where we come in presumably."
"Precisely Mr. Lewis."
I was surprised he knew my name but he was trustworthy. I could tell from how he was speaking. He was also an astute tactician. He had turned an appalling situation into an operation that would allow us to kill birds with one stone. Striking at the terrorist leaders and recovering the president's daughter with one swoop. I liked him.
"We have a transport plane ready for us to go to Korea. We will discuss more precise tactics on the way and when we arrive."
"The team will need an hour or so to prepare. This will be far more like a military operation than most of us will have experienced before."
We were filled in. We were left for a last few hours of relative relaxation. The real mission was just getting started.