Undisclosed, page 25
“No, sir.” The president’s counselor searched her notes on her iPhone. “He was a General Mattis appointment … an Apache helicopter pilot who served in Iraq … a Purple Heart recipient. Says here he was a war hero.”
“What’d he do?”
“Apparently, he lost his leg in Iraq when his chopper was shot down.”
“I don’t get that. In my book, a war hero is someone who kills the enemy or dives on a loose grenade to save his fellow soldiers. Someone who gets shot down isn’t a war hero, he’s a lousy pilot.”
He turned to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. “General, according to Shariak, there are military operations being conducted without my knowledge.”
“Not military operations, per se,” General Wade Snuggerud stated. “He referred to them as USAPs. That stands for Unacknowledged Special Access Projects.”
“Do I know about them?”
“No, sir. These are most likely black budget programs run by the CIA and other Intel agencies.”
“Still, $100 billion is a lot of money.”
“Yes sir, it is. And the last president who tried to pull in the CIA’s reins got the back of his skull blown off in Dallas. In my opinion, Shariak has opened a can of worms. He has no idea the size of the shit storm he’ll be summoning if he starts issuing subpoenas to our defense contractors.”
The president turned to Stephen Bannon, his former campaign manager and most trusted advisor. “Stevo, what do you think?”
“Shariak’s expendable. At the same time, the public supports his investigation.”
“You’re not telling me anything.”
“Mr. President, what’s important here is that none of this happened on your watch.”
“Exactly. This is another Obama-Hillary mess.”
“There’s your talking point,” said Bannon.
“Good. Make sure Spicer has that. In fact, I think I’ll put that in a tweet.” The president removed his iPhone from his jacket pocket. “That’s why you’re here, Stephen. You get what’s important.”
Los Alamos, New Mexico
The knuckles on Colonel Alexander Johnston’s fists were white as he gripped the padded steering wheel of his Chevy Suburban and waited for the wrought-iron gate to open. Growling through clenched teeth, he nudged the slowly parting fence with the truck’s front bumper before accelerating up the winding driveway to his estate home.
“Yvonne?” The colonel entered the house, stalking past the grand marble-columned entrance and down the hallway leading to his private study.
“I’m in your office.”
He pushed open the solid oak door to find his wife at his desk, busy at his computer.
“I caught it on CNN.” The gaunt, dark-haired practicing Satanist kept her eyes on the computer screen while her husband continued his rant.
“They never listen. I told them twenty years ago we needed to kill Greer!”
“Greer? Who said anything about Greer? Shariak’s the problem.”
“He’s only the problem because we allowed Steven fucking Greer to brief him. Well, I’m through listening to General Cubit and the rest of those bleeding hearts on Council. This time I’ll handle things my way.”
“Alexander, no one’s going to buy Shariak’s suicide or a diagnosis of stage four cancer hours after announcing his first investigation as Under Secretary.”
“Then we’ll wait a few weeks. Make it look like an accident.”
“Shariak’s a wounded war vet. Killing him, no matter how it’s staged, will only add credibility to the information that will be released upon his death.”
“What information? Shariak only knows what Greer has been spewing on YouTube over the last sixteen years.”
“Yes darling, but in the wake of his press conference, Shariak’s death could elevate information relegated as fringe into the mainstream. I found a better way to deal with this … come and see.”
The colonel walked around to her side of the desk to peer at the array of monitors. “Shariak’s war story? How does that help us?”
“When he was captured and tortured, Captain Shariak was aided by a young Iraqi girl in her teens. ‘My captor was quite clear; if I died, she died.’ ”
“Can you gain access to Shariak’s statements that were taken right after his rescue? I need the girl’s name.”
Yvonne Dwyer-Johnston smiled. “Darling, the first step in killing a war hero is to tarnish his medals.”
Subterranean Complex—Midwest USA
TUESDAY HAD BEEN A NIGHTMARE.
Chris Mull had gone on non-stop for nearly an hour, briefing her one moment about where to hide the zero-point-energy device once it was delivered to her suite (we equipped your Maglev hoverboard with a wider-than-usual compartment to stow your leash), and bragging to her the next about the strength of their movement (surely you must have wondered how someone with your fiancé’s credentials could have been appointed Under Secretary of Defense), until Jessica’s overwrought nerves had finally reached their breaking point. The moment she had finished running diagnostic tests on the satellite’s power pack she had fled their station to find her assistant, like a distraught second grader being teased by the classroom bully.
“Sarah, I can’t take it anymore, the man is turning my stomach.”
“Mull? What’s he doing?”
“He just won’t shut up about Scott Hopper and his damn conspiracy theories.”
“Mr. Mull can cross the line at times, but he’s one of my best techs.”
“Then you deal with him, I’ve had my fill.”
“That wasn’t the plan. The objective of having me set up a rotation was to give you an opportunity to evaluate each member of our team before they leave on break. In fairness to Mr. Mull, can you at least wait until after lunch? Otherwise I’d have to—”
“No, Ladybug. I’ve had all I can handle from Mr. Mull—switch me now!”
Sarah’s expression had chastised Jessica even more than her words. “Really, Dr. Marulli? Did ya’ll really want to lower yourself to that? You won’t last very long down here with such thin skin.”
“Excuse me, Dr. Marulli?”
They had turned to find Chris Mull walking toward them, a power drill in his hand.
“I finished testing the scalar wave converter like you asked; everything’s working fine. But I’ll need your help repositioning the outer casing.”
“Chris, Dr. Marulli and I are going over a few things. Ian’s finishing our exchange; when he’s through, I’ll ask him to join ya’ll at Station-2.”
Mull raised his eyebrows in innocence. “Dr. Marulli, did I do something wrong?”
“Did you not just hear Dr. Mayhew-Reece? Wait for Dr. Concannon at your station.”
The tech feigned confusion, then appeared hurt. “Ma’am, if I said something inappropriate, I sincerely apologize.”
Not so sure I won’t turn you in, are you—you smug little shit. And what’s with the drill? Is that supposed to scare me?
Turning on his heel, Chris Mull walked away slowly, casually pressing the trigger on the power drill every few strides, as if sending a message.
* * *
The conversion of the twenty Zeus satellite generators from zero-point-energy rotary units to the far more advanced (and lethal) nano-crystal power plants had been completed by late Wednesday afternoon. Over the next two weeks, each satellite would undergo a battery of environmental simulation tests to make sure the equipment would perform in the frigid confines of space. Barring anything unforeseen, Project Zeus would then be greenlit for launch, its payload crew sent home.
Home was where Jessica wanted to be. She had barely slept; her every waking thought consumed by the implications of Chris Mull’s actions and threats. Their paths had not crossed again Tuesday, but he had given her one last push when the work day ended Wednesday afternoon.
“Nice to get off early after yesterday’s all-nighter, huh Dr. Marulli? If you’re ordering in dinner tonight, you should try the lobster thermidor topped with the lump crabmeat. I had it last night; I’m telling you it’s to die for.”
“Actually, Mr. Mull, I hadn’t decided what I’ll be doing for dinner. I might even catch a movie and eat in the mall.”
She had walked away, only to hear, “How’s your fiancé? I hear he’s holding a press conference in about ten minutes. Any idea what that’s about?”
* * *
Rushing back to her suite, she had caught the last few minutes of Adam’s speech on C-SPAN.
“These nine projects represent the tip of a massive iceberg of corruption. What is even more troubling than the nature of these projects 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 …”
“Jesus, Adam, what are you doing?”
“Good evening, Jessica.”
Startled, Jessica turned to find the two-dimensional projection of her stout gray-haired Swedish nanny addressing her from the other side of the living room mirror.
“Ingrid, what are you doing here; I didn’t summon you.”
“Your low blood sugar summoned me, you need to eat. I ordered you something special. How does lobster thermidor topped with lump crabmeat and a velvety sauce sound, served on garlic whipped potatoes. And for dessert … a decadent chocolate crème brûlée with a hint of Grand Marnier.”
“That sounds incredibly disgusting. Cancel the order; I’m going for a workout.”
She stripped as she headed for her bedroom closet, the determined computer program following her from mirror to mirror. “Child, you cannot work out on an empty stomach.”
“Then I’ll have a piece of fruit; eating a rich dinner before exercising will make me puke.” Down to her bra and panties, she grabbed a workout outfit as Ingrid suddenly morphed into Raul.
“I am sorry to disturb you, Senorita, but the waiter is at the door.”
“What’s Spanish for—go fuck yourself?”
“Vete a la mierda.”
Ignoring the sexy male concierge, Jessica quickly pulled on a one-piece bodysuit, then located her sneakers and slipped them on as the doorbell rang. Retrieving the hoverboard from the hall closet, she opened the door to her suite to confront the waiter.
“I didn’t order dinner, Mr. Guzzo. Take it back.”
Pulling the door shut behind her, she jogged to the Maglev track, dropped the board on the grooved surface, positioned her feet inside the straps and gave the leash a hard tug.
The device hummed to life, propelling her above the electromagnetic concourse. Bending deep into each zig and zag, Jessica increased her speed until she was flying down the avenue at more than 25 miles per hour.
The neighborhood changed quickly—too quickly—as she found herself soaring by the 500 block of the townhomes, passing her destination—Unit 545-B.
Her first instinct was to execute a U-turn.
* * *
Jessica opened her eyes to throbbing pain coming from the left side of her skull. She was lying on a worn beige sofa in an unfamiliar room, cold droplets of condensation dripping down her left cheek to pool at the nape of her neck.
“Dad, she’s awake.”
Repositioning the ice bag, she saw the teen with the bright blue eyes and shoulder-length brown hair. A man she assumed was Logan’s father joined the fifteen-year-old, his brown eyes matching his short-cropped hair, his black jumpsuit the uniform of a security officer.
“Captain Josh LaCombe. My son is a terrific Maglev rider but apparently he’s a lousy teacher. Lesson number one: Know your turning radius and its limitations. The poles along the track are uni-directional, matching the bottom of your board. Like forces repel and propel, opposites attract. If you alter the orientation of the poles beyond ninety degrees—”
“I know, I know. It’s like hitting a brick wall.”
Logan shook his head. “I was trailing maybe sixty feet behind you when your board suddenly stopped and you slammed head-first into the track. It was sick. To be honest, I thought you were dead.”
“Not yet, but the day’s not over.” Jessica winced as she attempted to sit up. “Logan, I need to speak to your father in private. Would you give us a minute please?”
Logan’s complexion paled as his father gave him a hard stare. “Dad, I swear—”
“Go wake your mom; she needs to get ready for work.”
The teen left the room.
“Relax, captain. I’m here as a friend. Is this room secure?”
“Is there somewhere we can talk?”
“If you mean without Big Brother eavesdropping, I activated white noise dampeners before Logan and I brought you inside.”
He turned as an attractive brunette wearing a pink satin bathrobe entered the room. “Jessica Marulli, this is my wife, Dr. Joyce LaCombe.”
“Call me Joyce. Logan told us he made a new friend. I hope he hasn’t done anything to disrupt your work.”
“Not at all. However, I need to ask you both a few questions. Do either one of you know a man named Chris Mull? He’s an engineer in Lab-3C.”
“Never heard of him.”
“Well Captain, he sure acts like he knows you. Apparently, he was close to my predecessor, Scott Hopper and—”
His wife slammed her palm against the bar top. “Happy now? I warned you not to bring her up here.”
“She was hurt.”
“She probably wiped out on purpose.”
“Whoa … easy guys. Maybe I should leave.”
“You’ll leave when we say you can leave.” In one motion the Delta Force officer reached over to the dining room table and collected his taser, powering up the device.
Jessica’s heart raced, her head pounding from the increased blood flow. “Are you threatening me, Captain?”
“I need to know what you value more—my son’s life or that Cosmic Clearance badge dangling from your neck?”
Jessica sat up painfully, tossing the ice bag onto the coffee table. “I think the world of your son, which is why I was en route to your home before I did a head-dive onto the Mag. Mull is setting me up to help him steal a zero-point-energy generator … he demanded I bring it to Captain Josh LaCombe on Level-23, tonight.”
The couple looked at one another, unsure what to think.
“Look, I’m just an engineer. The politics of the job … I try not to think about it. But I don’t trust this guy. He may be telling me the truth, or he may be setting us all up for a firing squad. What I do know is that my life and your family’s lives depend upon us trusting one another, and that means giving me straight answers to the questions I came here to ask you.”
Josh LaCombe glanced at his wife, who nodded.
“Captain, how well did you know Scott Hopper?”
“I’m the one who knew Scott,” said Joyce. “We were recruited from the same Ivy League school and were promoted to Cosmic Clearance together. And yes, we believed—as a majority of the members of MAJI now believe—that zero-point-energy and the other advanced technologies reverse-engineered within these facilities belong to the masses.”
“If the majority feels that way then what’s the problem? Bring the damn thing out.”
“This isn’t a democracy, Marulli,” Captain LaCombe replied. “There are three rings of Council operating in North America—figure seventy-two members, give or take. Worldwide, you’re looking at about three
Joyce opened a liquor cabinet and poured herself a drink. “MJ-12 used to be a science-dominated entity. Once the military industrial complex took over in the late 1950s, they began recruiting primarily from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg Group. This ensured MAJI would be controlled by a three-headed monster made up of the banks, the military, and Big Oil. Council’s agenda is now entirely driven by money. Money buys weapons, weapons keep the oil flowing, oil generates money.”
Joyce drained half her glass, then topped it off again before returning the vodka to its cabinet. “I did some checking … Your fiancé is investigating the $100 billion a year that gets lost in the Defense Department’s USAPs. He’s right when he says that’s the tip of the iceberg. MAJI’s annual budget is easily over a trillion dollars.”
Jessica reached for the ice pack, pressing it again to her throbbing head. “A trillion dollars every year? What do they spend it on?”
“Half that money is spent on maintaining these subterranean complexes, another thirty percent is payroll. What’s amazing is the effectiveness of compartmentalizing everything; the majority of the recipients have no idea who they’re working for. Then there’s the religious fanatics, the hired killers, the media, and of course, the politicians. MAJI’s tentacles are everywhere; they’re in the West Wing, on Capitol Hill, inside the Pentagon, the intelligence services, private industry … British Parliament. It’s metastatic cancer, and as Eisenhower feared, it’s grown completely out of control.”
“Where do even they get that kind of money?”
“If I told you that, it would make you physically ill.”
“I’m already physically ill; tell me.”
The captain nodded. “They sell everything … from cocaine and heroin … to women and children. They support rebel forces and sell them guns. They support dictators and terrorists in order to steal their nation’s resources. Most of all, they profit off of endless warfare that has been going on non-stop for forty-plus years. Saddam, Gaddafi, Osama bin Laden … now ISIS. It was our intelligence agencies who recruited and armed those lunatics.”