Undisclosed, p.30

Undisclosed, page 30

 

Undisclosed
 



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  Jessica watched as Dr. Concannon escorted one of the satellites as it rose on its anti-gravity pedestal past the Atlas’s engine and booster before it disappeared into the open payload fairing atop the rocket. Her eyes locked onto Sarah Mayhew-Reece as she flew into the Hive from the tunnel and landed next to her.

  “We finished prepping the SATS while you were in the infirmary,” she said, removing her anti-gavitics vest.

  “I feel like I should be out there helping.”

  “The Zeus crew can handle it.”

  “I don’t see Mr. Mull.”

  Ignoring Jessica’s comment, Sarah pointed to the ceiling above their heads. “The air conditioner duct leaked again; must have happened the night you were brought to the infirmary. Ceiling panels fell … it was quite the mess. Rats must have chewed through the security system’s electrical wires. They finished repairing everything a few days ago.”

  She’s warning you that we’re being watched.

  Sarah turned to Jessica, scrutinizing her pallid complexion. “You look peaked my dear; are you hungry?”

  “A little.”

  “Come with me; I have just what you need.”

  Sarah led her across the empty expanse to her office. The stacks of containers holding the zero-point-energy devices were gone and it appeared from the open cardboard boxes on the floor that her assistant was in the process of packing her personal belongings.

  “Are you getting ready to leave?”

  “My last day is Friday. I’m meeting my husband for a month-long vacation in Hawaii.”

  “Sarah, that’s wonderful. When is my last day?”

  “I don’t know. I heard Council has meetings scheduled through mid-October; I’m sure you’ll be leaving soon after that.”

  “Two more weeks?”

  “It’s not so bad; I haven’t seen my family since April. Do you like to cook?”

  “Not really. Why?”

  “Come with me … I’ll show you the hobby that keeps me sane.”

  Sarah led her to a door sealed with a padlock. “I had to put a lock on the door when I caught my staff stealing from my private stash.”

  Jessica pondered what kind of secret life her assistant could be leading while Sarah removed a key hanging from a lanyard around her neck and opened the lock and door.

  Inside was a modern kitchen, complete with a walk-in refrigerator, aluminum prep stations, ovens, and two floor-to-ceiling wine racks—no doubt Sarah’s “stash.”

  “This is … wow. I wouldn’t have expected such an elaborate kitchen in a lab.”

  “I’ve been working for the organization going on twenty years. It’s in their best interest to keep me happy.”

  She walked over to a gas stovetop where a large cast iron pot was simmering on a low flame. “Like you, I never had time to cook. However, I quickly tired of eating Jeffrey’s lunch meat sandwiches, and the room service entrees are too rich to eat every day … I must have gained ten pounds every time I had to report on assignment. Last year I decided I was going to learn how to cook—a virtual chef taught me how right in my apartment—and guess what … I love it.”

  Sarah removed the lid from the cast iron pot, releasing an aroma that filled the room.

  “Mmm … what is that?”

  “Chicken and dumplings … a new twist on my grandmother’s recipe. There’s drinks in the walk-in—help yourself. Grab me a sparkling water, would you my dear?”

  Jessica pulled on the metal handle of the vault-like refrigerator and entered.

  Stacked on the floor were open wood-slat containers holding fresh fruit, heads of lettuce, and an assortment of vegetables. Shelves held large bricks of different cheeses and milk, along with the remains of a carton of thirty-six brown eggs.

  She found an open case of sparkling water on the floor and extracted two bottles.

  Sarah had set their lunch on a small folding table covered by a vinyl red and white checkered cloth. Steam rose from the two heaping bowls of chicken and dumplings, the scent causing Jessica’s mouth to water.

  Before she could dip her spoon into the food, Sarah reached across the table and grasped her hands. “Would you like to say grace?”

  “I’m a little out of practice. Would you mind?”

  Sarah closed her eyes. “Dear Lord, we thank you for the food we’re about to eat and pray you’ll keep us safe from harm. Amen.”

  “Amen. That was simple.”

  “Spirituality is simple; religion complicates everything. As for grace, that’s simply asking God for a blessing we haven’t earned.”

  “I like that.”

  “Silly me … I forgot the sourdough bread. I made it from scratch last week and froze several loafs. It’ll take about four minutes to defrost in the microwave; go on and start eating while I heat up a loaf.”

  Jessica waited until Sarah disappeared inside the walk-in refrigerator before dipping her tablespoon into the lumpy broth. “Oh my God, Sarah … this is amazing.”

  She looked up as her assistant placed an object inside the microwave—only it wasn’t a loaf of bread. She set the timer for four minutes and pressed start, filling the room with static white noise.

  Sarah returned to her seat, her expression now all business.

  “The object I placed in the microwave is designed to scramble any security devices that could be eavesdropping on us, along with any psychotronic waves. As you’ve probably guessed by now, Mr. Mull was never a member of Zeus—he works in counter-intelligence. His boss is a sick bastard named Colonel Alexander Johnston, or as he prefers to be called—Dr. Death. Johnston fits the definition of a sociopath and recruits military personnel who also share this abnormality.

  “A sociopath is wired differently than the rest of us, Jessica. A sociopath lacks the capacity to love. To these individuals, God is a black hole; morality a compass they were never equipped with at birth. While we may feel sorry for them, I can assure you they do not feel sorry for us. History has been poisoned by their rise through the business, political, and military ranks; millions have been tortured and murdered by their calculated cruelty. Pol Pot, Saddam and the sadistic members of his Republican Guard who now run ISIS … Kim Jung Un, Vladimir Putin … all sociopaths. Hitler was a madman, but it was psychopaths like Josef Mengele who ushered Satan into the Third Reich. Like moths to a flame, the sociopaths who ran European and American banks and corporations during World War II never hesitated to do business with the Nazis, and when the war was over, they offered them sanctuary.

  “It is from this pool of soulless agents that MJ-12 recruited its most hardcore members during the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, and into the nineties. As the Cold War ended, things began to change. Today, most of the younger members of Council, as well as the scientists and military intelligence who work for the organization now calling itself MAJI, are moral individuals who realize that we have at our fingertips an endless clean energy source that can reverse climate change and end poverty, hunger, and disease … that if we simply put aside our differences we can evolve as a species and travel across the galaxy.”

  “If the sociopaths are the minority, as you say, then what’s the problem? Kick the bastards out … or terminate them. I won’t be shedding any tears.”

  “Hitler’s generals had made similar plans. They tried, failed, and were executed. Any revolution in the ranks must account for Dr. Death, who has access to psychotronic devices that can drive you into madness. His version of the S.S.—the Sociopathic Security—remain loyal to him.”

  “Why are you telling me this?”

  “I’m trying to protect you, Jessica. The air conditioning duct … punching through the foil shield that surrounds the Hive—I had to cover your tracks. I found the anti-security device in your lab coat. I assumed you used it to access my office.”

  Jessica felt the blood drain from her face. “I didn’t break in … I was thinking about it when the ceiling started falling … when the roof retracted—”

  “Don
t lie, Jessica. We both know you wanted to steal one of the rotary ZPE devices.”

  “Okay, I did break in, but not to steal one of the units … to return it. Mull was blackmailing me … he switched out the rotary ZPE from SAT-3 with a fake device, then had the real thing delivered to my room. Instead of handing it off to some mysterious contact, I broke into your office and returned it.”

  “Who gave you the looping device?”

  “Why do you need to know?”

  “I need to know in order to determine if I can trust you, Jessica.”

  “And I need to know if I can trust you, Sarah. If you respect that, then you won’t ask who helped me.”

  “Let me see your forearms.”

  Jessica hesitated, then she held out her arms.

  Sarah inspected each limb, tracing the veins along her assistant’s biceps.

  “What are you doing?”

  “This area along your left arm … is it sore?”

  “Yes.”

  “The physician who treated you implanted a nano-device inside your brachial artery. Dr. Death obviously doesn’t trust you either.”

  “How do I get it out?”

  “It will dissolve by itself in a few weeks before you leave; in less time if you exercise.”

  That’s why Lydia wanted me to work out. She knew …

  “Jessica, it’s very important that you not leave the facility until after the device dissolves. If the colonel arranged this, then you can bet the farm he equipped it with a charge that functions sort of like an electrical dog collar and fence.”

  “I don’t understand.”

  “If the dog passes outside the boundaries of the electrical fence it receives a shock. If you leave the electromagnetic shielding that surrounds this facility before that unit dissolves, a tiny charge will cause the device to explode inside your arm like a firecracker. The brachial artery is a major blood vessel; you’ll bleed to death before anyone can help you.”

  32

  Washington, D.C.

  THE CURVY REDHEAD SEATED ACROSS from him in the beige business suit adjusted her reading glasses, revealing the wrist tattoo.

  “Mr. Shariak, my name is Kim Mather and I’ll be serving as lead counsel. The purpose of this meeting is to determine the best course of action in dealing with what has quickly become a P.R. nightmare for the president.”

  “Is that why he flew to Beijing three days early?”

  “President Trump asked the Chinese to move up trade talks so an agreement could be in place prior to November’s Climate Change Summit in Boston. I’m sure the change in schedule had nothing to do with you.”

  “Of course not.”

  Ignoring the comment, the redhead opened the sealed military file before her. “We’ve reviewed the Army’s report detailing your Apache being shot down over the city of Karbala, as well as a statement from your co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Jared Betz.”

  “And you have my report?”

  “We do. But I’d rather you tell us what happened … in your own words.”

  Adam gazed around at the oval conference table at the other eight attorneys—all men. He wondered whether Ms. Mather would have been included in the “boys’ club” had his accuser been a male.

  He directed his response to the woman. “The cockpit had collapsed around me. Jared attempted to move me but my left leg was badly injured, the femur had snapped on impact and the pain was pulling me in and out of consciousness. I vaguely remember him telling me that he was going for help. The next thing I know I was being removed from the wreckage by men wearing masks.”

  “Was the woman with them?”

  “You mean Nadia? She was fourteen at the time … hardly a woman. No. I didn’t meet her until I came to inside the cellar.”

  The attorney checked her notes. “Ms. Kalaf claims that she and her father carried you up three flights of stairs to their apartment.”

  “I don’t know who carried me or where they took me, but the place I was kept was quite small and definitely underground. They were using it as a weapons cache.”

  “What makes you so sure it was below ground?”

  “Concrete floor … concrete walls. No windows. Sound was completely muted; they never worried when either one of us screamed.”

  Kim Mather paused from jotting notes on her legal pad. “Tell us about Abu Anas al-Baghdadi.”

  “At the time all I knew was that he was a commander in Saddam’s Republican Guard. Years later our military hired him to recruit members of the Shia Badr militia into the Wolf Brigade, the 2nd battalion of the interior ministry’s special commandos. Essentially, the interior minister hired them to terrorize insurgents. They wore red berets and sunglasses and drove around in convoys of Toyota Landcruisers. They had a reputation for torturing Iraqi prisoners using electric drills. These are the same sick fucks who are now running ISIS.”

  “Tell us about the girl.”

  “She told me she had been kidnapped and made a sex slave. Nadia’s mother had been a nurse; in Ali’s mind that qualified her to keep me alive. My leg was in horrible shape … my foot had swollen to twice its normal size and gangrene was setting in. Baghdadi spoke to me in English, claiming he was negotiating a prisoner exchange. What he never realized was that I understood enough Farsi to figure out that his plan was to get as much information from me as he could, then take me to a bridge located just south of Baghdad and publicly behead me.

  “He quickly grew frustrated as all I ever did was babble incoherently. Some of this was exaggerated, but by the end of the first week I was in such bad shape that they no longer bothered shackling me.

  “I was close to death the morning two guardsmen arrived carrying boxes of fliers. They warned Nadia not to touch them and ordered her to prepare me to travel. They’d said they’d be back in thirty minutes and left.

  “The two of us were alone in the basement, but we could hear men walking on the first floor above us. I knew they were going to kill us; I just had to convince Nadia. I begged her to read one of the fliers. She translated the Arabic for me: ‘This American soldier killed innocent Iraqis and raped the girl. He has been slaughtered in accordance with God’s will.’

  “When Nadia read that, she knew they were going to kill her, too. Unfortunately, there were no weapons left, but there was a small wooden table and four chairs set up in a corner for cards. With Nadia’s help, I unscrewed one of the legs and then returned to my spot on the floor, covering my makeshift club with a blanket.

  “When the two men returned, they found me unconscious and Nadia naked, in the process of getting dressed. She tried to fend them off, but they quickly had her bent over the table … never noticing the missing leg—until the table collapsed.

  “Nadia and the guardsman who was sodomizing her went down in a heap. By then I was standing behind his partner, who was laughing hysterically. I took him out with one blow to the back of the skull. I had his gun in my hand before his partner could react. The girl took the table leg from me and beat him senseless.”

  “You said there were soldiers upstairs … how did you manage to escape? Could you even walk?”

  “My leg couldn’t bear any weight. I grabbed one of the guard’s weapons and made my way up the ladder leading out of the cellar. Nadia walked out ahead of me to draw the soldiers’ attention and I came out firing. We managed to make it outside to a main thoroughfare where she flagged down one of our Hummers. The rest is a blur.”

  “Was that the last time you saw Ms. Kalaf?”

  “Yes. Until she showed up yesterday, I had no clue whether she was dead or alive. But I certainly didn’t rape her or pour boiling oil over her scalp.”

  Kim Mather finished writing a note before turning to one of the firm’s senior partners. “Sean?”

  “Why do you think she showed up now, Mr. Under Secretary?”

  “I think a fifth grader could answer that. This is a classic CIA counter-intelligence move designed to focus the public’s attention on my credibility
and away from the investigation and the testimony my witnesses were in the process of disclosing.”

  “And what was that, Mr. Shariak? What is the big secret?”

  “You’re kidding, right? It’s not in your notes?”

  The female attorney searched quickly through her folder … shaking her head.

  “UFOs … extraterrestrials! These Unacknowledged Special Access Projects that have been secretly channeling trillions of dollars into covert programs which successfully reverse-engineered advanced alien technologies … and yes, I know I sound like a complete and utter asshole, but it’s all true. And the Intel organizations preventing public knowledge and access to these technologies—which include free, clean zero-point-energy generators—basically shut down the message, as they have done for the last seventy years.”

  Adam’s gaze fell upon the redhead’s wrist tattoo. “Courage … Strength … sorry, I can’t see the last word—”

  “Faith.”

  “Faith … of course. Certainly words to live by, but words without action don’t effect change. I never claimed to be a war hero, Ms. Mather, but I think you can see I’m no war criminal … that Nadia has been coerced into doing this.

  “The question now is whether the Trump Administration has the balls to see this thing through.”

  33

  Subterranean Complex—Midwest USA

  IT WAS LATE IN THE AFTERNOON by the time Jessica returned to her suite. She had spent two hours in the gym and the last twenty minutes buying groceries from the mini mart. After setting the perishables inside the refrigerator, she grabbed a bottle of water and flopped down on the recliner.

  Her iPhone dinged with a text from Sarah. “TURN ON CNN!”

  The live CNN report showed General Ronald Rahn, Head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, standing behind a podium before a room filled with reporters.

  “… the president wants to make it perfectly clear that the Under Secretary has the White House’s full support and confidence. However, due to the sensitive nature of these accusations, all parties felt it was best that Mr. Shariak step down until the issue can be properly investigated.”

 
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