- Flight 23
- Reference Notes
A passenger aircraft destroyed by an American covert operation led by Lt Col. Speers
This tragic incident cost the lives of many innocent civilians and became cause for a political and international scandal that almost brought the British and Americans into armed conflict.
Driven to obsession by his inability to capture the mysterious Alex, George Speers became increasingly desperate in his attempts. With hindsight it can be seen that Speers was already under the influence of the Demon entity Sheol, who had been visiting him within his dreams. But Speers' descent towards madness and the American State's fear of the Exile threat proved a terribly potent combination.
Fed by a vast flow of U.S resources, Speers' grip on reality was faltering as he tried ever more elaborate plans to trap Alex, but the man appeared to have an unnatural prescience, and appeared to always be one step ahead of them.
After the catastrophic failure of the Behringer Incident, when Speers lost several of his best men, including his Head of Operations to Alex's agents, Speers chose an unthinkable course of action.
Obsessed with the idea that Alex seemed to always be aware of his next plan, Speers decided his only course of action would be to commit an act so unthinkable that Alex would never suspect it.
Some of Speers' undercover agents had been in contact with one of Dragor Millovich's team, posing as members of a research company trying to buy classified technical data about the Maunsworth site. The Exiles would often use their access to industrial secrets via the Field, to sell information used in industrial espionage. Their unique ability to gain access to secure company data was often a lucrative way to fund their cause.
In this case however, Speers had information that Alex would be picking up money for the deal, and (under extreme protest from his new Head of Operations Carl Gutteridge), decided to make an assassination attempt on him by rigging the money with an explosive device.
Even when Gutteridge contacted Alex, handing him the case in person, still Speers would not let him act. He had been in this situation many times before, and knew that if he attempted to take him by force, Alex would find a way to escape. So he continued with the plan, handing over the case, knowing he would take it aboard Flight 23, and knowing that they would be sacrificing the lives of so many civilians in order to destroy one man.
The plan came very close to working, and Alex's usual sixth-sense seemed to abandon him on this occasion, as if he knew something was wrong, but couldn't accept the lengths Speers would go to in order to kill him.
But in the final few moments before take-off, Alex made the decision to escape, stealing the identity of another passenger to evade detection from Gutteridge's operatives at the airport.
The failure to deal with Alex was a deep setback to Speers, but the destruction of Flight 23 was also a blow aimed at the British Standing-Point project, something which Speers was intensely-threatened by. Following reports from his undercover operatives within the Maunsworth Research Facility, Speers wrongly suspected that the Exile attacks from the Field upon American political and military figures were in fact originating from Maunsworth. Such was his level of paranoia, Speers invented the possibility that Alex and the Exile threat were in fact a British construct, and he was determined to shut the British down at all costs.
So Speers had his operatives plant a virus upon the Maunsworth systems that would manipulate data from their experiments to indicate an electromagnetic pulse from the facility had in fact been the cause of the destruction of Flight 23.
This became the main course of investigation for the British, and did indeed cause the shutdown of the facility for several weeks, until the truth was chanced upon by Thomas Sullivan.
When the truth of the destruction of Flight 23 began to appear it caused a major political incident between the two countries, and had it not been for the desperate nature of the threat from the Exiles, Speers would have faced a prison sentence. However, political tensions were allowed to escalate while the U.S. worked feverishly to complete their own Standing-Point Arrays.
Only events within the Field, when Speers deserted, and the full situation was finally discovered, were political agreements made. These culminated in the signing of the Field Treaty, whereby it was agreed that work should cease immediately upon Standing-Point Research until further investigation had taken place.
At the time of writing, the investigation into the tragic deaths aboard Flight 23 is still ongoing, and it is hoped that one day George Speers will be brought to justice and face appropriate punishment for his terrible crimes.