Chapter 26

July 13th, 2024 0653 Arabian Sea Goa, India
The Norseman cruised into the foggy morning skies of Goa. From a window of the giant transport craft, Daniel watched a fleet of derelict freighters at anchor with no place to go, rusting just a few miles offshore from the famed vacation paradise.
He straightened up and watched the two pilots as they prepared for landing. There was a break in the fog, and a shaft of light from the early morning sun hit the dark, glossy hair of the beautiful Italian pilot Rossi.
The fog obscured the Norseman as it zoomed silently over the water. It carefully dropped lower and lower, the jet engines rotating upward until it hovered over the water. With a whine, a trio of massive floats extended from the fuselage, and the Norseman settled onto the ocean surface.
They were a few miles offshore, far away from any commercial traffic lanes. The active camouflage system had been engaged long before the craft went below 10,000 feet. Daniel looked over at a nearby monitor to see a simulation of the giant aircraft completely obscured by the adaptive camouflage system. He noted that it took a bit of time for the computers to calculate exactly how to mask the giant craft, but the effect was incredible.
He looked out the cockpit window again, this time with a enhanced monocular, and marveled at the fishing boats. Most of them were arrayed with bright, contrasting colors. Made of wood, all of them seemed to sport a unique, oversized prow. If some fisherman didn't accidentally ram that unique prow directly into the Norseman, they would be safe, even though the Indian Air Force occupied a large military base nearby. Even directly under the nose of one of the world's largest air forces, Daniel noted that Markus was confident of the aircraft's capabilities.
Rossi spun in her chair to address the group. "We've set down just off the coast," she said as a holographic map of a fortress snapped into view on the main conference table. She pointed at several antennas on the castle rooftops and a pair of communications trailers on the map. "Rupinder has sophisticated equipment, even more advanced than the Indian Air Force," she continued, "but we should be safe if we keep station."
Markus nodded in her direction to show appreciation for her skillful piloting. "Right, Caro, Locke, Reyes, get on the skiff. Your destination is the marketplace just below Rupinder's fortress. Find us options."

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