The Butterfly Dragon: Night Boat - Episode 05 (Latest Update March 4, 2023, 11:30 AM EST)


Chapters

  • Satellite Communication
  • Silent And Deep

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Satellite Communication


In the corridors beneath the main deck of the Many Faced Maiden, at the midpoint of the Gearing Class Destroyer refit, the men under two different leaders faced one another. Each side had drawn their line in the galvinized steel that made up the floors of ship, and their borders were currently fiercely defended by their most capable SMG armed warriors.


Men who used to work together, as a unified team, now faced each other with distrust and scorn. A mood that was only punctuated by the presence of automatic weapons on their person. They had been divided down the middle, separated at the weak points of their commitment to a single purpose.


For one side, their Captain was their vision. Their purpose. A man who'd set about freeing himself from the constraints society had imposed upon them and himself. He'd mercilessly worked amongst the very world from which he was trying to free himself. And then, on one of the runways of Tokyo International Airport, he'd  taken the final step and liberated himself as those seeking to imprison him sought justice in their effort to capture him. As the combined forces of no less than sixteen different nations closed in on him, he escaped with a small fortune in untraceable assets. Like the pirates of an age gone, he fled those hunting him and made his own freedom on the bridge of the retrofit Destroyer, Many Faced Maiden. 


The other side was led by a modern messiah. A man who'd risen to the heights of power through an industrialist empire he'd built from nothing. A man who wielded the puppet strings of the world, through the secrets of world leaders, of industrial nations, of every competing power there was on the globe. He had a line into everything  and everyone the world over. The globe was his chess set, and every nation of the world was his pawn. He held this power until he'd drawn the attention of an international investigation, brought about by one of his own. 


That man had fled to his presence, while hot on his trail a team of four women followed in pursuit. Both men fell to these women on the Island of Treadwater, though only one of the men lived to tell the tale. The very man who led the other half of the forces that now divided the ship which had set him free.


One side, had control of the bridge and the galley, not to mention all the command and weapon systems the destroyer had to offer. The other side controlled main engineering, the engines of the ship and its main supply fuel and stores. The two sides, in all truth, needed each other in order to proceed, and that they did, onwards to the Island industrial facility of Cora Hau. At the whim of the industrial messiah known as Alomera Constanza Zekestes. A man better known to the authorities who sought him as Mr. Zek.


Amidst these corridors amongst which the two sides once had worked together, was now strung a clump of wires which followed the upper recesses of the corridors, kept together by spans of ABS piping. These cables led from the main reactor of the ship, following a maze of corridors forward into the engineering workshop, from which the bulk of cables split into three separate clumps. The first clump led to a set of computers Zek had installed in place, with connections to the internet for his current endeavors seeking the supplies he'd need to realize his goal on Cora Hau.


The second clump led to a complex monitoring system that his techs had setup in order to secure his side of the ship. They provided a combined series of image feeds in the visual, thermal and UV band of light, meaning they could see in the dark and through steel walls if necessary.


The third set of wires led directly into the improvised residence of their industrial messiah, powering a satellite phone system which at this very moment, he was using to further their ends.


"No, M'aam. I guarantee you that if you pass my message along, that he will want to speak with me very much. It might even  be healthy for your continued employment..." Zek spoke into the ad-hoc satellite phone.


"He's a very busy man. May I ask who's calling?" the receptionist guarded her employer.


"Tell him that his Cheerleader's father is looking to speak with him. Sooner preferably. We all know how damaging a late call can be..."  Zek insinuated, though his expression went beyond her as he'd intended.


"Hold the line a moment please..." the receptionist responded, putting him on hold.


"That's better," he said to himself, as she'd left him by the time he'd spoke.


"Sir, the rest of the systems are in place. You should be able to make calls to anywhere in the world undetected," the tech informed him.


Zek nodded at the tech, smirking slightly as he did. The tech caught the gesture and vacated the doorway to his quarters.


"Who is this?!" a panicked voice emerged through Zek's earpiece.


"It seems my message for you arrived, did it? You can call me an old friend from before your time," Zek informed his quarry.


"If you're one of my father's enemies, he's gone. You're wasting your time," the panicked voice responded.


"Mr. Santers, I never waste my own time," Zek said in a cold yet firm voice.


"I'm at a loss. You know me, and yet, I don't know you..." Mr. Santers responded with implied curiosity.


"You don't know me personally, but I can guarantee that you know of me. It has come to my attention that the company for which you've become the new poster boy has recently acquired the facilities on a Southeast Asian Island known as Cora Hau. Is this true?" asked Zek of Mr. Santers.


"Who am I talking to?! I can't speculate on company matters to someone I don't know," Mr. Santers responded defensively, already suspecting that he was dealt a losing hand in this conversation.


"Let's just dispense with names, shall we. Names carry so many stigmas for men of our position in business and life, don't they? Why don't we instead focus on actions. Life events. Our personal histories. The aspects of our being that defines us," Zek spoke eloquently, drawing his prey carefully into his trap.


"And what actions to which do you refer?" Mr. Santers confirmed with Zek.


"Right to the point, like a real business leader slash poster boy. I bet Walton Norler is just seething at the thought that you've taken over his place at Tynan..." Zek further led Mr. Santers along.


"Mr. Norler is no longer employed by Tynan And Associates..." Mr. Santers confront Zek, uncertain of whether he should hang up or not.


"And its a good thing too. That's a man who had few if any strings attached. Speaking of which, have you settled up with your cheerleader friend? You know the one? The girl who clearly said no, which you misinterpreted as yes. You remember her, don't you?" asked Zek, firmly taking charge of their conversation.


"I don't know what you're talking about, but if you're implying any wrong doing on my part, you'd best address any further correspondence to my lawyer!" Mr. Santers replied cautiously, yet he hadn't yet hung up the phone.


"That's alright. I've got the dirt on your lawyer too, but we'll avoid that for now," Zek smiled on his end of their connection.


"Who are you?!" Mr. Santers panic betrayed him as being disheveled.


"Mr. Santers, I'm what your predecessors used to call the devil in the flesh, though I find that statement to be rubbish. In this case I'd prefer to be known as the devil you know. Don't pick the devil you don't," Zek played his position to its fullest.


"A devil that could, if you play your cards right, be on your side..." Zek continued.


"...Are you threatening me?!" Mr. Santers responded defensively.


"Are you my enemy, or ally. Find the answer in that question and you'll have yours," Mr. Zek responded diplomatically.


"So what are you asking of me?" asked Mr. Santers.


"I'm not asking. I'm telling you, that you'll give me complete access to the facilities at Cora Hau, to produce a very special and potent product. A product that won't be available to everyone you know. Just those that we choose..." Mr. Zek began explaining the terms of their deal.


"I don't know who you think you are, but the world is changing! I will not be bullied by one such as you and your old school ideals and sense of honour!" Mr. Santers did his best to distract Zek from his weakness.


"Oh no, Mr. Santers. I have no sense of honour. Only a sense of will. Those who get in the way, are often pulled to the depths by its undertow. What I'm offering you is an opportunity to avoid such a fate. To be part of what is to come in this world. A world where we do away with the old powers that be, and found the new! Our own order! Free of the whims of misdirected ideals that pursue values none of us can understand! We will make the new rules, as the old world dies off and falls to our purpose," Mr. Zek explained his plans clearly to Mr. Santers, who at once was divided by his words.


"...and what of Mentis? Of the Dragon? For if an old fool like you has no knowledge of such matters, then you are clearly of no worry to my person or Tynan And Associates!" Mr. Santers confronted Zek with knowledge that went well beyond Zek's own.


Zek was confronted again by a memory. One he had of a recent conversation with his allies in Mexico and South America...


...it is as if the world is coming off of its hinges. There are people in the North Americas who speak of hearing voices, and their numbers are only rising in account. There are those who are plagued by community and others who are expelled entirely by a new order. I've heard some of them speak of a man of the mind. A collective that inhabit the minds of a growing number of people, while others speak of dreams of a shadowy dragon! A serpent that encompasses the universe itself and showers chaos upon us all. These are trying times, Alomera. That is why your people need you as the messiah you've long been for us...


Zek realized that those words were not those of a disilliusioned man, but an observant one. One who had all of his eyes open. One who had become aware, where all others had chosen to close their eyes, hiding their heads in the dirt, imagining that if they didn't know of their enemies, that they'd simply disappear.


"From the sound of your sudden silence, you've obviously re-thought your position on this matter. I'd suggest that you shrivel up and crawl back into the same hole from whence you came..." Santers continued his affront of the man who'd threatened him only minutes ago.


"Very well Mr. Santers. We will speak again when I am next at your doorstep. Perhaps then, your imaginary friends... Mentis and the dragon might save you, lest you've come to your senses by that time of course. Good day Mr. Santers," Zek hung up the phone.


Mr. Santers immediately dialed another number on his phone.


"Get me the head of Tynan Security!" he demanded.


"Tynan Security, Samuel Merack, speaking," a man answered the phone.


"This is Michael Santers. Look, I've recently received a threat over the phone, and I'd like you to arrange for active security measures immediately! I want my home protected, my office and any travel arrangements as well. Around the clock from this time herein. As well, I want you to do a forensic trace on all the calls I've received over the last hour!" Santers demanded of the head of Tynan Security.


"Will do sir! I'll send a security and bug trace team to your office to secure it right away. They should be there in fifteen minutes, half an hour latest," Mr. Merack responded.


Santers hung up his phone, and then retrieved a different phone from the inside pocket of his suit jacket and hit one of the speed dial buttons on the interface.


"I thought I told you never to call me from your office..."  a man's voice answered the phone.


"I was threatened by someone...!" Santers replied.


"By who?" the man  asked Santers.


"By someone... powerful..." Santers responded.


"We're the only power there is... and the only power there will be," the man responded to Santers.


"Then there's someone who suspects... knows..." Santers spoke slowly.


"Then I will take care of it, like I always have done. Like I always do..." Mentis hung up the phone.


...


"Hello George," Zek greeted his former nemesis over the radio headset.


Zek waited patiently amidst the radio silence.


"I know you're there, listening on our private little channel. I just thought that you might like to know that arrangements have been made for our arrival at the Cora Hau facility, and any attempts at reversing the situation will have dire consequences for both your crew and you," Zek paused, the sound of his breathing just slightly higher than the squelch setting on the radio.


"Very well. If you don't feel like talking today, that's fine. However, I will be expecting you later in the day. A half-hour before dinner should suffice for us to go over details?  We will speak then," Zek terminated his radio communications with Steadman, though he kept one side of the portable headset inserted into his ear.


Zek then got up from his seat in main engineering and made his way to the adjacent tool room. In one of the storage chambers therein, his tech had setup a temporary server and workstation and was busy merging files from Zek's original blackmail database with yesterday's daily updates.


These updates came to him in the form of encrypted attachments to a secret email address that was kept hidden from outside scrying by an entirely custom written email server software which was designed for the purpose. 


A deep learning system had been trained based upon the original entries to Zek's blackmail database in order to flag any newly received updates for review by a human. The reasons for doing as such were as simple as making a slight change to the original record to whom the update pertained, or as complicated as that update being feasible given the nature of the original entry. All new entries into the database were flagged, but only a few were reviewed and by none other than Zek himself. 


As for all the other updates, that task had in the last two days, fallen into the hands of Zek's own tech, whose handle was simply xēēk. A handle he'd chosen as a tribute to Zek himself many years ago before he'd officially begun working for the secretive Industrialist whose empire had long since fallen.


Zek loomed over xēēk's shoulder, watching him as he went through the updates that the deep learning system had flagged for his review.


"This system is surprisingly efficient, but sometimes tedious..." xēēk remarked to Zek, who leaned against the cold metal door frame of the storage unit.


"If it surprises you, then there must be something you've overlooked. Something you can attend to after you've done what I'm about to request of you," Zek addressed the tech.


"What could be more pressing than updates to your world leader cookbook?" asked xēēk of Zek.


Zek reached down to his belt with his left hand (his only hand for that matter), and unplugged the headset from the radio and battery pack. He then stepped into the storage unit and closed the heavy door behind him.


"What I am about to discuss with you right now, will remain between us, and us alone. Do you understand?" Zek clarified that his tech had heard him correctly.


"Lay it on me, Emperador," xēēk replied, sounding like someone well educated whom was trying to sound street wise.


"The other database. The one we recently decrypted. You know the one to which I refer?" Zek asked xēēk.


"La Mosca española? Your secret formula?" confirmed xēēk.


"That very same one. The disk that you and your team scribed it to, I want you to create two more disks using the exact same hardware disk you used for the original..." Zek began.


"You want me to make two copies, Emperador? You say and it will be done!" xēēk replied, all too happy to oblige the one who'd given him a new sense of purpose.


"No. Not copies. On the same disk, there are three files in total. The one true formula whose filename is CORRECTED349A, and two other files. Each file is the exact same size as the one true formula. Roughly three gigabytes in computer terms. They are marked simply as ERRORA and ERRORB. I want you to load one of the disk copies with the file ERRORA and the other with the file ERRORB. However, on both of those copies, you'll give the files the exact same filename as the one true formula from the original disk. After you've completed those copies, you'll delete the files ERRORA and ERRORB from the original, leaving only three disks. Two with the wrong files, and one with the correct file. I want you to burn the following text onto the casing using the ship's engraving gun: ZCA APPROVED. Do you understand?" confirmed Zek with xēēk.


"Just to be clear on this, you want me to take make copies of the files ERRORA and ERRORB onto two disks that look exactly the same as the original and rename these files to CORRECT349A, after which I'll erase ERRORA and ERRORB from the original disk, and then mark the case of the disk with ZCA APPROVED, using the engraving gun? Sure thing Emperador," xēēk responded all too eagerly.


"Wait. You will not discuss this with anyone else, anywhere else. If you can follow these simple instructions exactly as I've stated, you will be amongst those I reward the greatest for their loyalty to me once I have restored my empire. If however, you fail me on this task, your entire family in Liberia will join you in an excruciatingly slow death on the island of Cora Hau, and the Costa Rican city from which I expunged your spoiled rich privileged life from, will no longer recall anything of your existence. Are we in complete understanding?" asked Zek unflinchingly.


"Why do you even need to question my loyalty to you, Emperador?" xēēk pleaded with Zek.


"Muerco, you recall the stories that my friend Dantos spoke about when he talked about my Manor on Treadwater Island?" Zek addressed xēēk by his real name.


"Of course. He said you lived like a King! Like the leader of entire world, but I don't see how this relates to your testing me like this?" asked Muerco of Zek.


"A man can only truly know himself when he is faced both by his greatest triumph, and his greatest peril, realizing either one while the other is still clearly in view. Dantos himself could have ended up in my arboleda de cuerpos en el puerto. My grove of bodies in the harbour. Yet, he is now amongst my most trusted of allies. Someone who was there from the beginning, and who demonstrated his loyalty by helping us to take this ship by storm. On a clear day on Treadwater Island back then, and at that time, from my patio overlooking the harbour, the bodies were very clear to all. Everyone who saw them instantly knew that as the mirror side of their fate. Knowing this gives a man perspective, reminding him of how close the temptation of failure might be and how tragic an end awaits upon embracing such fortune. Consider this test your own gauge for the heights that you might aspire as one of my loyal allies," Zek asserted to Muerco, placing his (only) hand on his shoulder while holding up his right stump.


"I will begin immediately, Emperador, and I will not fail," xēēk looked at where Zek's missing right hand would be, as if it were still there, and instead chose the hand on his shoulder.


"Speak of this to nobody, and if anyone asks about the other disks, tell them that they are merely backups," after speaking those words, Zek opened the storage door, leaving xēēk to his work.


Silent And Deep


A large drone hovered a thousand meters above sea level, though the thirty meter waves made that concept barely measurable, if not for the accuracy of the global positioning satellite network.

The machine listened carefully for any chatter amongst numerous electromagnetic channels, analyzing thousands of channels at a time and relaying the results to its host in seconds.

Somewhere, in the distance, some hundred and fifty nautical miles on to the north west, a fleet of four ships under the command of Admiral Harris progressed on their way back to port in Hawaii. The drone tracked their progress too, relaying the same information back to its host before it began descending back down much closer to the waves.

Just fifty meters beneath it, something large and metallic broke the surface of the water, the waves veering and folding to its shape. As the vessel progressed into a region of calmer waters, the drone centered itself over an upward facing landing pad, a steady beacon and relay keeping the device centered above its target as it descended.

After ninety seven seconds of descent, the device connected with the grapple, and began recharging thanks to the vessel's fission Uranium-238 based reactor. Once the drone was secured upon the landing pad, the vessel once again returned to the depths beneath the waves that kept it hidden.

"Captain Spiers? The latest data from the Archimedes is in. There's something you might want to see for yourself," First Mate Tagman told the Captain of the Icarus.

"Maintain a steady course on this heading until I advise otherwise," Captain Spiers ordered his bridge crew as he began making his way through the inner structure of the heavily modified Attack Class Seawolf submarine.

"So, how are you liking it onboard the Archimedes, Ensign?" asked Captain Spiers of his younger officer by almost two decades.

"A learning experience Sir. That's for sure. At this rate I'll be on the bridge in five years," Ensign Wilmers responded to his Captain.

"Ensign, keep that attitude up and you'll be on the bridge, in two and chomping at my sea legs the next year in," Captain Spiers smiled as he walked the single lane of the Attack Class Seawolf, to the Data Center.

Captain Spiers made his way into the data center and over to the analysis team and their workstations.

"Captain on deck!" one of the analysts shouted, immediately standing and saluting.

"As you were, sailors. What have you got for us today?" asked Captain Spiers.

"We've been running an analysis series thanks to the new AI rackmount we had installed at port. The Archimedes' most recent survey indicates an anomaly. There's something creating a line of turbulence based hydro-oxidation, five hundred nautical miles from us. Archimedes was able to confirm this thanks to its polarized light and spectrometer readings," Lieutenant Danning, one of the analysts explained to Captain Spiers.

"Anything on the anomalous data that Admiral Harris provided to us?" asked Captain Spiers.

"We're out of range for any meaningful hi-precision readings from Archimedes, but if we close bearings on the heading of the hydro-oxidation line, we should converge with sensor range in eight hours, Sir," Ensign Huo added.

"So it looks like that line of hydro-oxidation might be our mystery target. Excellent work team. Keep it up," Captain Spiers remarked.

"Captain, that trajectory takes it into a line of oceanic international trade routes between the West and East. Converging somewhere on either side of the Island of Cora Hau," Ensign Huo explained to Captain Spiers.

"Ensign, I'm fully aware of that, but that shows incentive that you took the time to consider that on my behalf. We'll set course for the new target hydro-oxidation line trajectory and Cora Hau. I think you sailors are onto something here. If and when you get new analysis data from Archimedes and the AI rackmount, you're to contact me immediately. Understood?" asked the Captain.

A resounding: Yes Sir! came back to him from each workstation.

"As you were sailors. Keep up the good the work," Captain Spiers spoke firmly before he left to return to the bridge.

To be continued in The Butterfly Dragon: Night Boat - Episode 06


Credits and attribution:

Artwork: Amy WongWendy PuseyGhastlyBirdman, Brian Joseph Johns, Daz3DUnreal Engine...

Tools: Daz3DCorel PainterAdobe PhotoshopLightwave 3DBlender, Stable Diffusion (Easy Diffusion distribution), InstantIDSadtalkerGoogle ColaboratoryMicrosoft Copilot (Windows 11), Hitfilm, Borderline Obsession...

InstantID by: Wang, Qixun and Bai, Xu and Wang, Haofan and Qin, Zekui and Chen, Anthony. Research Paper Title: InstantID - Zero-shot Identity-Preserving Generation in Seconds.

Sadtalker by: Zhang, Wenxuan and Cun, Xiaodong and Wang, Xuan and Zhang, Yong and Shen, Xi and Guo, Yu and Shan, Ying and Wang, Fei.
Research Paper Title: SadTalker: Learning Realistic 3D Motion Coefficients for Stylized Audio-Driven Single Image Talking Face Animation.

Gratitude: Our Mentors, Senseis, Sifus, Sebomnims, lifetime inspirations, family, friends, the Nomads (ask Stanton about that one), the Music, the Movies, the Theatre, the Arts, ASMR, (both YouTube and Bilibili and the many other creators on those platforms), the Gaming and Developer communities and of course, the audience.

Martial Arts (in the words of real experts and at least one comedian): https://brucelee.com (home of the real Dragon and an entire family of inspirations), http://iwco.online International Wing Chun Organization (International presence of a very scalable intensity martial art, protected and developed by Shaolin Nun Ng Mui), https://iogkf.com International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karatedo Federation (even Hanshi had his teachers), https://itftkd.sport International Taekwondo Federation (Here there be Taegers), https://tangsoodoworld.com Tang Soo Do World (the path of Grandmaster Chuck Norris), https://www.aikido-international.org International Aikido Federation (how else would Navy Chef Steven Seagal liberate a Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier from a team of hijackers?), https://www.stqitoronto.com Shaolin Temple Quanfa Institute (The City Of Toronto's own Shaolin Temple), https://www.enterthedojoshow.com Master Ken's Ameri-Te-Do presence (If we can't laugh at ourselves, then we can at least laugh the loudest at others, and other Zen)

Special thanks to AitrepreneurHugging Face and the YouTube educational content producers, including those catering to the AI content production pipeline and of course AlphaSignal.

Something to give you perspective: The very first teacher had no formal education, didn't graduate and was self taught, but only because they had no other choice. We do.

This content is entirely produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at 200 Sherbourne Street Suite 701 under the Shhhh! Digital Media banner.