Red Crown: Okay, so one of my reviewers sent me a personal message that pointed out several things that were missing from the ending of my story. I was very shocked that I had not included these in my thought process so I will include them in an extra chapter. I'm going to run back to talk to a certain publisher. Thanks, Wing Zero Alpha!

"What do you want?"
"Just coffee. Black - like my soul."
― Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE: "Uncertain Future"

Date: September 24th, 2015

Time: 1100 hours, 11:00 P.M. (Beijing Time)

Location: Unknown, People's Republic of China

A group of generals and admirals are seated in front of a large plasma screen TV. These are generals and admirals from every branch of the PLA services: army, air force, and navy. Seated in front of them is the Minister of Defense and State Councilor, a man of the name Long Jing. Long was a veteran of the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1978. He had spent his young days running through the jungles of Vietnam and fighting the battle hardened Viet-Cong. Most of his life was nothing but dedicated service to the Middle Kingdom. The events around the Middle East and Russia had shocked him. Now he was worried that this situation would bring more war.

He had decided to make his generals watch the western news outlets because it helped them gain perspective on what the Americans and the Europeans thought about the events. The current reporter they were watching was from a British news network. It had Chinese subtitles, but Long Jing didn't need them. He understood English perfectly well.

The female British reporter went on as visual images of a shattered Middle East were displayed. "The Middle East has been decimated by a large string of meteor strikes. Many question if this is the biblical prophecy in the books of Ezekiel fulfilling itself. However, much of that is only speculation. The countries hit by the meteor strikes extend from North Africa and go all the way up to Russia. Most of these countries have had their armed forces completely crippled. Their ability to restore order within their own borders has diminished considerably. All reports available have shown that the meteor shower has caused widespread panic in all of those nations affected. This begs the crucial question though that the world is asking: How will the world get its flow of oil out of the Middle East when there is no government able to provide security for it? Meanwhile in the Russian Federation we have only recently confirmed that Russian president Sergei Chemezov and his administration were killed in meteor strikes, leaving the country leaderless."

Suddenly the reporter paused abruptly. The screen switched to show her sitting down behind a desk and did so just in time to catch the shocked reaction on her face as she was given news through an ear-piece she was wearing. "This just in! Russia has fallen into a state of civil war! I repeat! Russia has fallen into civil war!" The image on the screen changed to that of Russia and showed Mi-28 Havoc helicopter gunships flying over Moscow and firing at targets in the streets. Rows of Russian Army tanks rolled into the capital as soldiers began to open fire on the police. In the middle of all this were the ordinary citizens scrambling to find the means to survive. The reporter began to read new information she was getting as the images continued to show. "Without a leader the Russian government loyalists have found themselves facing a large insurrection from political parties of ultra-nationalists. Heavy fighting has spread throughout western Russia and is heavily concentrated around Moscow. It is unclear which side has the advantage..."

As the reporter continued to read on Long Jing's face was saturated with worry. Russia was a nuclear power and anytime it went through a transition it put all of its nuclear weapons at risk. However, Russia had undergone a new government transition when the Soviet Union fell without a nuclear incident. Jing hoped that they could do it again despite the increased level of violence. Jing turned to his generals and admirals before lowering the volume on the TV and saying, "We need to focus our intelligence assets on the conflict in Russia. We must make sure that none of our enemies or outside radical groups get their hands on any nuclear warheads. I'll coordinate our information with intelligence groups in the United States. We have to find a way to keep nuclear materials out of the wrong hands."

All the high ranking officers in the room nodded. Suddenly, from the corner of the room they heard a smooth cool voice say, "What we should also be doing is preparing for a shortage of oil."

All eyes in the room turned to look in the direction the voice came from and settled on a particular general with a scar that went along his right cheek and down into the collar of his uniform. He had hair that was graying over and eyes that were worn from combat. Although his eyes were worn from war there something else in them as well. The skin around his eyes was wrinkled, but deep in his orbs was a hidden fire of passion that had remained over his many years of life. Jing responded to the man by saying, "I am well aware of that possibility, General Yang."

General Yang of the People's Liberation Army had fought the Vietnamese in several skirmishes that occurred in the 1980s. However, there was something about General Yang that worried Jing. He could not quite put his finger on it. Maybe it was the fact that General Yang was much too popular a figure within all branches of the Chinese military for his actions against the Vietnamese. Maybe it was the fact that he also had many friends in the intelligence services and the secret police. Maybe it was the fact that those same friends of his had masked his activities as of late and now no one in China knew what he was doing or where had been for the past couple of months. These were all factors that made him a man of great power and great mystery. He had many connections and many supporters, but an agenda that no one could draw any conclusions from.

General Yang spoke again. All the high ranking officers in the room payed very close attention to his words as he held sway over the room. "If we run out of oil we will need to get it from somewhere else. Our suppliers in the Middle East are significantly crippled. Our only other option was Russia, but there's no telling how long their civil war will last nor if their industry will be able to make deliveries under the current pressure that it's enduring. The Americans will still be getting oil since they normally rely on imports from Canada and they can simply increase those imports at will to meet their demands. If our reserves run low we may need to look to our south. Don't forget that our growing nation is in the greatest demand for natural energy to keep itself on the rise. Any slow down could hurt the Middle Kingdom's efforts to take its rightful place."

Jing narrowed his eyes at the veteran general and replied, "Be mindful of what you say, General. I hope you're not thinking of starting some level of violence beyond our southern borders in the South China Sea to obtain that oil."

General Yang merely stood up from his seat and said in a manner that was calm, yet terrifying, "I wouldn't dream of it." He then turned to the door. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have several matters of my own to attend to." He walked out of the room.

General Yang went down a long hallway. There was a certain level of calm to his stride as if every motion was deliberate. At the end of the hallway was one of his admirers whom he had personally ordered to be brought to him: a J-20 pilot named Major Feng. Feng was in his dress uniform and stood at attention. When Yang approached him he gave a sharp salute. "At ease, Major Feng. Follow me."

Feng lowered his salute and followed the General as they walked down the hallway. "Sir, it's an honor to meet you."

"I've read your record, Feng. It's pretty impressive," the General said.

"Thank you, sir."

"I also know about what you did in Russia a few days ago."

The look on Feng's face saddened slightly. "It was a failure, sir."

General Yang put a hand on his shoulder before saying, "You were up against impossible odds. What you did is still impressive. You also understand that we turned on the westerners to protect our interests for the overall good of China, correct?"

Feng was hesitant to answer. The truth was that deep down inside he knew it was the best action for China to betray the Dark Horses. This still did not make him feel any better about it, but his loyalty to the PRC ultimately came first. "I understand, sir."

"Good," Yang said. He reached into his uniform and pulled out a folder that he placed in Feng's hands. "You're working for me now. I have big plans for China. I trust I can rely on you when I need you."

Feng opened the folder and read the contents to discover that he was being transferred to a special unit that reported exclusively to General Yang. "You can count on me, sir," he said before giving another sharp salute as the General walked further down the hallway and disappeared down a dark corridor.


Red Crown: Okay, now it's the end. More reviews means you will get the first chapter of Flood of Dragons sooner!