Undisclosed, page 24
“Wednesday afternoon at 5:15. That way, I can go live on the evening news.”
“And the call with your fiancée?”
“Tonight at ten.”
“Then we’d better get busy, you have a lot of documents to sign.”
* * *
“Hey, babe! Oh my God, it seems—”
Adam waited several seconds for the frozen image of Jessica Marulli to re-animate.
“—so long since I’ve seen you.”
“I know. Jess, this is a bad connection … the image is freezing up.”
“It’s security … there’s a seven second delay. So don’t say anything about our sex life.”
The image froze on her mid-laugh.
“Jess, I need to speak to you about something important.”
For the next several minutes, Adam spun a tale about how his meetings with defense contractors had motivated him to perform an audit by cross-checking the last decade’s worth of projects subcontracted to Kemp Aerospace.
“Jess, nine of our projects could not be accounted for by the Pentagon. Based on what we were paid just for our share of the work, we’re talking about tens of billions of dollars worth of contracts. When the Secretary of Defense asked two of the defense contractors to brief him, they refused, and the blowback was enough to soil Jordan Denny’s underwear.”
“Adam … what are you planning to do?”
“Denny’s letting me run with the ball.”
“You’re opening an investigation?”
“The president wants accountability. Kemp’s share of these projects is nothing. We’re probably looking at $100 billion a year secretly being channeled into these Unacknowledged Special Access Projects.”
“If these are CIA—”
“They’re not. It’s something much bigger … something unbelievable. Jess, if anything should happen to me … I made arrangements for the evidence to be released to the public.”
“Adam, what did you just say? I couldn’t hear—”
The image of Jessica froze mid-sentence.
Adam waited, only this time the transmission didn’t clear.
“Jess, can you hear me? Jessica?”
The screen went black before returning to the Skype logo.
Okay, Shariak. You’ve tossed enough shit for one day; let’s see how long it takes for it to hit the fan.
Subterranean Complex—Midwest USA
THE TWENTY NANO-CRYSTAL zero-point-energy generators, and their four armed escorts from Delta Force, arrived at Lab-3C at 1:35 p.m., each device secured within the padded foam confines of an aluminum case. Sarah Mayhew-Reece wasted no time in dividing her technicians into pairs, assigning Chris Mull to work with Jessica at Station-3.
Swapping out the man-made zero-point-energy units for one of the far more powerful nano-crystal devices required removing a section of each satellite’s electromagnetic shield in order to access the circuit board.
Wielding his power ratchet as if the tool were an extension of his hand, Chris Mull had the internal workings exposed before Jessica had donned her orange jumpsuit.
“That was fast.”
“Your predecessor taught me well.”
“I take it you and Dr. Hopper were close?”
“We grew close because of our politics.” Using a flathead screwdriver, Mull pried open a plastic control panel, exposing two columns of buttons. Pressing the third one down caused a horizontal drawer to slide out like the tray of a DVD player.
Inside the unit, connected to a series of red and green couplings, was the hockey-puck-size zero-point-energy device.
“As Dr. May likes to say; the walls have eyes and ears. Be careful what you say.”
“Fuck Ladybug, and fuck MAJI. See this watch? It blocks any sound or video within ten meters with white noise. If I have something to say, I’m going to say it.” Disconnecting the rotary generator, he held it up for inspection. “See this miniature power plant? It wasn’t designed by an advanced race of extraterrestrials; it was conceived and invented by human scientists, many of whom who were murdered. Do you know what their crime was? They were attempting to make the world a better place to live. What right does an oil executive or the CEO of a bank have to keep this technology from the rest of us? Who died and appointed them masters of the universe?”
“I’m not going to debate the issue with you, Mr. Mull.”
“Then debate it with your fiancé. He’s investigating these unauthorized programs. From what I’m told, he intends to bring zero-point-energy to the rest of the world. And we’re going to help him.”
“Who told you that? And who is we?”
“I can’t tell you the who until you help me with the how.”
He opened the aluminum case, revealing a platter-shaped, nano-crystal generator packed in form-fitting foam, its circumference twice the diameter of the unit it was replacing. A smaller doughnut-shaped cut-out lay vacant beside it, intended to hold the manmade ZPE unit it was replacing.
Glancing around to make sure none of the other members of their team were watching, Chris Mull quickly reached inside a compartment of his jumpsuit and removed a rotary-style zero-point energy device, pushing it firmly inside the accommodating vacant foam hole.
“Where did you get that?”
“It’s not real, it’s only the outer casing, but it’ll fool security.” Popping the real rotary generator from the satellite’s power pack, he slipped it inside the hidden compartment of his jumpsuit.
“Mull, put it back—now.”
“There’s a firm in India that can mass-produce these units if we can get a working model to them—Scott made all the arrangements weeks before he was terminated. We can’t have the unit on us when we leave the lab—security performs an external and internal body scan as we exit the Hive—but I can get it out through the kitchen.”
“You’re wasting your breath; I’m not doing this.”
“Tonight will be a late night. Tomorrow you’ll order dinner in. I suggest the lobster thermidor topped with lump crabmeat and a velvety sauce, served on garlic whipped potatoes. Oh yeah … and for dessert—a decadent chocolate crème brûlée with a hint of Grand Marnier.”
Jessica’s lower jaw dropped. “Oh my God … you hacked into my suite’s private server.”
“All room service meals are covered by fancy aluminum covers. The one that will be keeping your lobster thermidor warm will be composed of a lead alloy that will appear solid to the security sensors; in reality, it has a false bottom that pops open to hold the rotary ZPE—just like the one you used to smuggle this empty ZPE shell to me your first night in this facility. Who gave it to you is anyone’s guess … Lydia Gagnon? Kirsty Brunt—”
“Bastard … you set me up!”
“Shh. Wish I could take the credit, but that belongs to someone far higher up on the totem pole. Now pay attention, because your life and your fiancé’s life depends on it. Tomorrow night you’ll order the same lobster meal. The waiter will bring you the hot plate top which will contain the real ZPE unit. At precisely 2:33 a.m you’ll summon Elevator-7 and take it down to Level-23. Only Cosmic Clearance personnel know the lower floors below Level-9 even exist. Exiting the elevator, you’ll proceed to the first checkpoint. The Delta Force commando on duty is named Josh LaCombe … I believe you know his son.”
“Logan?” Jessica felt queasy.
“Give Captain LaCombe the package; he’ll get it to our people on the outside. You’ll have exactly seven minutes to complete the transaction before the security cameras aboard Elevator-7 and on Level-23 cease their video loop.”
“I’m not doing this, Mr. Mull! Now put the real unit back.”
“Too late for that, Dr. Marulli, you’re already involved and implicated. Turn me in, and I’ll squeal like a pig to my MAJI interrogators, confessing that I’m working for you and your accomplice—Under Secretary of Defense, Adam Shariak.”
Pentagon Press Briefing Room
“The Pentagon has a long history of mismanaging funds. The last reported gaff happened in Fiscal Year 1999 when the Department of Defense somehow ‘misplaced’ $2.3 trillion. When Former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, went public with this information on September 10, 2001, he blamed the problem on an inability of DoD computers to communicate. Others have called the situation systemic in that the CIA and other intelligence agencies have been operating for decades in a vacuum of secrecy without any Congressional oversight.”
Gripping the edge of the podium, Adam shifted his weight in an attempt to relieve the sciatic nerve pain in his left buttocks.
“The need to maintain secrecy does not give these agencies the right to conduct operations without the knowledge and consent of the President of the United States, nor does it allow them to write blank checks to their partners and associates in the military industrial complex. And yet that is exactly what has been happening. These secret programs, known as Unacknowledged Special Access Projects, or USAPs, have been siphoning approximately $80 billion to $100 billion from the U.S. Treasury every year, generating billions of dollars in unreported revenue for defense contractors. These criminal activities must be stopped and the participants prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“The challenge is in piercing the gauntlet of lies, greed, and corruption that permeates an industry where retiring military officials routinely enter the private sector as high-salaried lobbyists, and well-connected defense contractors leave the private sector to accept top government military posts. I am an example of that very process. While serving as the managing director at Kemp Aerospace, I accepted billions of dollars worth of subcontracts for defense projects—the specifics of which remained hidden from me for, what I was told were, security reasons.
“What could not be kept from me were the names of these projects, their budgets, and the supervising defense contractors involved. Armed with this information, I was able to cross-check these projects against the allocations of dollars funded by the Pentagon. To my surprise and disgust, I discovered the existence of nine USAPs—projects that were clearly funded by the Department of Defense, despite the fact that no records pertaining to any of these transactions officially exists, either in the public record or inside the Pentagon. While I may not know the nature of these projects, I do know the individuals to subpoena in order to obtain that information.
“These nine projects represent the tip of a massive iceberg of corruption. What is even more troubling is the existence of a shadow quasi-government that has operated under a variety of names over the last six decades, hidden under a transnational umbrella organization composed of rogue elements of the military industrial complex, Wall Street, private banks, and monopolies within the energy sector. This transnational entity not only controls these projects, but clearly possesses their own agenda—an agenda intended to keep them in power by preventing advanced energy technologies from being shared with the rest of the world.
“This, then, is the dirty underside of the iceberg that must be exposed, prosecuted, and permanently shut down. With the support of the Trump Administration, the Comptroller’s office intends on doing just that.
“I do not expect this process to be an easy one. For those individuals working under these umbrella organizations, who have suffered under the pressure of secrecy for so long, I offer complete amnesty and financial incentives if you come forward now and provide information and evidence against these criminals. Once my office issues subpoenas, the financial incentives of this whistleblower program shall be rescinded.
“For those of you out there seething in the shadows, let me assure you—I have come into possession of a list of names and the nature of their crimes against humanity. Should something happen to me or any of my loved ones, the incriminating evidence I have compiled shall be released to the public, and you and yours shall follow us to the grave.”
Having finished reading from his prepared statement, Adam looked up at a sea of raised hands and shout-outs from the attending members of the media.
“I’m sorry. I know you have questions but that’s all I can say at this time.”
Collecting his notes, Adam exited to his right and down a short flight of steps to a small conference room where Secretary of Defense, Jordan Denny, was watching the end of the press conference on a wall-mounted flat screen television, the event broadcast on a two minute delay. Rolled up in his hand was the list of names of those defense contractors Adam wanted to subpoena.
He turned as the Under Secretary entered. “A shadow government has been in existence for the last sixty years … are you insane, Shariak? Where the hell are you getting this information from? You sound like a conspiracy nut.”
“How would you have explained it?”
“I wouldn’t have even brought it up! Two days ago you came to me wanting to investigate misappropriated funds; now you just announced to the world that there’s some transnational umbrella organization out there, made up of the military, Big Oil, and God-knows-who else. How are you going to prove that? By subpoenaing the CEOs of the biggest defense contracting firms in the world? Are you expecting them to confess to being involved in some New World Order? The Illuminati maybe?”
“Who threatened you the other day?”
“No one threatened me, Shariak. But your actions and accusations have sure threatened the defense contractors that keep America safe. And I’m not going to allow you to go on a witch hunt.”
“There’s billions of dollars that cannot be accounted for, Mr. Secretary. Unless you can figure out a better way to shut that deluge of funds off, stay out of the way and let me do my job.”
Snatching the list out of Jordan Denny’s hand, Shariak left the conference room and strode awkwardly down the hall to an emergency exit. Yanking open the metal fire door, he exited the basement floor, limping and dragging himself up two flights of concrete stairs.
He was exhausted by the time he exited the stairwell, emerging on the ground floor of the Pentagon.
A sign indicated he was in C-Ring, Corridor-7.
Patting his pants pockets, Shariak located his iPhone. Stealing a quick glance at the screen, his fingers spun through his contact list as he maneuvered his way through the rush hour crowd, his eyes searching faces for lingering stares.
“It’s Shariak. Where are you?”
“Where are you?”
“North exit—got it. I’ll meet you outside in four minutes.”
Following the crowd, he headed in the direction of D-Ring.
He was hobbling badly by the time he entered E-Ring. Two minutes later he found himself outside of the north exit beneath threatening gray skies, the change in atmospheric pressure causing the leaves on the surrounding trees to invert.
Up ahead, a black Mustang screeched to a halt by the curb, former Tech Sergeant Eugene Evans waving at him from the open passenger window.
Yanking open the door, Adam climbed in, wheezing from the effort.
“You okay, Captain?”
“I need … to speak … to Greer.”
The bodyguard removed his iPhone from its charger on the console, scrolled through his contacts, and handed the device to Shariak.
“Well, Mr. Under Secretary, you certainly rattled a lot of tiger cages for one day. How do you feel?”
“Like I’m about to be eaten. How will they come after me?”
“First they’ll offer you money—more money than you can spend in a lifetime. Assuming you turn that down, they’ll try to break you … tarnish your image, accuse you of molesting puppies—anything to prevent you from forcing these defense contractors to testify. Not that they will anyway. They’ll simply plead the fifth.”
“It’s not their answers that are important, Steven. It’s all about starting the conversation by posing questions about UFOs and ETs and zero-point-energy systems on C-SPAN and across the mainstrea
“Don’t be so sure, Shariak. It only takes one well-positioned gatekeeper to derail the entire train.”
Oval Office, White House
PRESIDENT DONALD JOHN TRUMP paced like a caged tiger in the Oval Office behind the sitting area as he unleashed his pent-up rage at the members of his National Security Council.
“Since when does some goddam Under Secretary take it upon himself to call a press conference? There’s only one star of this show, and that’s me. What the hell does an Under Secretary even do? Can someone explain that to me? Domenik?”
Domenik Davis, the president’s latest addition to his National Security Council, felt everyone’s eyes upon her. “The Under Secretary serves under the Secretary of Defense. As comptroller, Shariak has oversight responsibilities for all military programs. While he may have blindsided Secretary Denny with some of the things he was suggesting in his press conference, he was essentially doing his job.”
“Domenik … sweetheart—forget Denny, Shariak blindsided me!” He glanced at his watch. “Where the hell is Jordan Denny? Teresa, I specifically asked you to make sure the Secretary of Defense was in this meeting.”
Teresa Ann Hurtienne—one of the president’s three personal assistants—nodded, hoping the affirmation would blunt the anticipated negative response. “Sir, Secretary Denny apologizes; apparently he had an urgent personal matter to attend to and—”
“Fuck him! I’m the goddam president! He’d better be in the goddam hospital dying of fucking cancer to miss this meeting.”
Trump turned to Kellyanne Conway. “Adam Shariak … Kellyanne, who is this guy? Did he work in the campaign?”
by Steve Alten / Science Fiction / Horror / Suspense have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes