Undisclosed, p.31

Undisclosed, page 31

 

Undisclosed
 



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  They fired Adam? What the hell happened? She glanced at the engagement ring on her finger. I need to call him—

  “General, doesn’t it seem a bit odd that this Iraqi woman would suddenly appear out of the blue on Shariak’s first day of the DoD’s hearing? How did she get here? Who sponsored her trip?”

  “There’s little doubt Ms. Kalaf timed her announcement to grab the media’s attention. As for your other questions—”

  “What about the Under Secretary’s investigation? Will these secret projects be looked into now that Captain Shariak has been dismissed?”

  “The Department of Defense will continue to cooperate fully with the Senate Appropriation Committee’s investigation. It’s the Chairman’s decision when the hearing will resume.”

  “General, at least two dozen eyewitnesses who were in the Dirksen Senate Chamber that morning have come forward claiming these unacknowledged projects deal with advanced technologies reverse-engineered from UFOs that crash-landed … beginning with the incident years ago in Roswell, New Mexico. Can you comment on that?”

  “I wasn’t in the hearing, but that sounds pretty crazy.”

  “Why were C-SPAN’s cameras shut down?”

  “They weren’t shut down, there were technical difficulties.”

  “Is that what happened to everyone’s cell phone service?”

  “Will you be making the transcript available?”

  “That’s all people … thank you.”

  Jessica muted the television. Reaching for her laptop, she Googled her fiancé’s name, quickly accessing the story:

  Defense Secretary Accused of War Crimes.

  She scanned the article, her pulse pounding in her neck. Lousy bastards. Adam tried to challenge MAJI and they crushed him. You’re a part of Council—you could have warned him. You could have …

  She had been glancing at the giant screen, the muted sound causing the closed caption to describe what her eyes were seeing.

  “Oh my God …” Jessica turned up the volume.

  “… the neon blue spiral appearing in the night sky over Beijing was witnessed by more than a million people. At first it was thought to be a special effect intended to honor President Trump’s arrival earlier in the day, however, a military expert we spoke to indicated it was more likely the testing of a space-based weapon, something officials in both the United States and China firmly deny.”

  Grabbing her hoverboard, Jessica fled the apartment and dashed across the thoroughfare to the side of the Maglev track heading toward the elevators. In less than three minutes she was aboard Elevator-7, the multi-directional car weaving its way to Level-3, Section-C.

  Sarah was already pressing her face to the lab’s retinal scan when Jessica arrived.

  “You saw the blue spiral on the news?”

  “Of course I saw it.”

  “You think they’ve begun deploying Zeus?”

  “We need to find out.”

  The two female engineers made their way through the connecting corridor and into the Hive. Wasting no time, they donned anti-gravitic helmets and vests. Thirty seconds later they were soaring over the empty expanse of concrete, heading toward the wall separating the Hive from the launch facility.

  Red warning lights flashed as they approached. The automated doors failed to open, forcing the two women to pull up and hover.

  Sarah squeezed her eyes shut, focusing her thoughts on the barrier of octagonal panels before them.

  “Sarah—”

  “Shh! Let me focus.”

  “Listen! Do you hear that rumbling?” Moving closer to the wall, Jessica pressed both palms to the framework. “I think the roof is opening. Is there any way we can see what is happening?”

  “I forgot … the panels are tinted!” Sarah focused her thoughts on several octagonal panels, causing them to turn opaque, then transparent.

  From out of the darkness, a patch of blue sky appeared in the distance, illuminating the far end of the dark cavity.

  “You were right; they’re getting ready to launch another satellite. Jessica, how many rockets can you see?”

  Before she could get a count, the Hive’s walls began vibrating as if struck by a giant tuning fork, the thunderous reverberation followed by a brilliant orange flame which unleashed a tsunami of white smoke and an avalanche of sound.

  The two women hovered before the blinding, deafening blizzard, mesmerized. Through the smoke they saw a spark rise beneath one of the Atlas’s boosters seconds before the rocket and its satellite payload rose majestically out of the subterranean complex and into the patch of blue on its journey to space.

  Seconds later the scene appeared to replay in reverse as high-powered exhaust fans rapidly inhaled the smoke, returning the subterranean launch deck to its pre-flight visual.

  * * *

  The Eiffel Tower shimmered gold in the Parisian night sky, its presence dominating the rooftops visible from their balcony perch.

  Sarah adjusted the quilt higher on her chest before pouring herself a second glass of wine. She left the bottle on the table between the two lounge chairs, glancing at Jessica. “Are you cold? I have plenty of extra blankets.”

  Jessica sipped her wine, hoping the alcohol would ease the edginess of her rattled nerves. “Why don’t you just tell the computer to make it warmer?”

  “This is the accurate temperature for Paris in autumn. This view … it’s the actual view from our flat. My husband and I plan on spending three weeks in Paris after our trip to Hawaii.”

  “They’ve launched two satellites, Sarah. What’s the minimum number of SATS needed to engage the Zeus array?”

  “Thirteen.”

  “Why didn’t they tell us they were launching?”

  “My dear, everything around here is strictly ‘need to know.’ We may be Cosmic Clearance, but we’re just Indians, not chiefs.” Sarah closed her eyes. “No more talk. We’ve talked all day and night and now I’m tired. You can have my bed if you want to stay over; I’m going to sleep out here with my wine and my view of Paris. Lovely Paris …”

  “It’s not real, Sarah.”

  “Sweetie, as John Lennon once sang, nothing is real. Life is just one big video game … when we’re out of time God tallies the score and sees if we’ve done enough good things to earn our way back inside the pearly gates … strawberry fields forever.”

  Jessica reached over and took the wine glass from Sarah’s hand as the older woman passed out. “Good night, Ladybug.”

  * * *

  “Level-23, please.”

  Jessica held on as the elevator plunged eighteen stories in under five seconds, an illuminated sign above the map of the complex flashing as the magnetic brakes took over:

  Level-23

  WARNING: RESTRICTED AREA

  The doors opened and she stepped out to white polished marble floors which led into a small circular lobby, its two-story domed ceiling illuminated bright emerald-green. From this starting point there were three long white empty corridors; one directly ahead, the other two on either side. All three appeared to run on forever.

  There was not a soul in sight.

  “Direct me to Dr. Joyce LaCombe.”

  The corridor in front of her remained lit, the other two vanishing into darkness.

  “Thank you.” She walked forward, her third stride disappearing into a gelid barrier—

  —her body emerging on a grass-covered knoll overlooking a winding stream. The sun, still high in a cobalt-blue sky, warmed her face—even as a chilled mountain breeze blew in from the distant snow-covered Rockies to compensate.

  Jessica inhaled the fresh air, feeling invigorated. It was the scene she had awoken to this morning. Whatever it was—a hologram or a drug-induced dream—she couldn’t fathom. Regardless, it was impressive.

  Follow the brook downstream …

  Joyce LaCombe’s voice cooed in her brain, and yet the words had not been spoken, they had appeared in her mind’s eye as a whisper of wind.


  She made her way down the knoll to a footpath bordering the three-foot drop-off that was the brook. As instructed, she followed it downstream, its trickling waters providing a soothing chorus of sound. Gradually the diminuendo over shallow beds of pebbles and stone deepened to a crescendo of moss-covered chasms of rock as the brook widened into a swiftly-moving river, its shorelines hedged in by a forest of pine.

  She stayed with the footpath as it abandoned the waterway and cut through the trees, the sound of the river steadily deadening, the air cooling noticeably as the canopy of branches grew thick overhead.

  Jessica stopped dead in her tracks, her eyes catching movement up ahead. “Hello? You can come out; I know you’re there.”

  The being stepped out from behind the trunk of a tree ahead and to her right. Gray-skinned and three-and-a-half feet tall, it possessed a large, hairless bulb-shaped skull which accommodated two oval eyes, the immense sight organs completely black. The being’s upper body seemed emaciated yet powerful, the cord-like tendons of its limbs making up for a lack of muscle mass. The long four-fingered hands were delicate but dexterous, ending in concave tips. From the neck down it was clothed in a sheer microfiber body suit, the fabric of which appeared to be blending in with everything it touched—the bark of the tree, the dirt path …

  As she watched, the being leaned closer to the Pine tree and disappeared—

  —only to step out from behind another tree trunk a second later, this one ten paces to her left.

  “Well, that was a neat trick.”

  It disappeared again, this time reappearing six paces ahead of her and to her right. And then it was seemingly everywhere, randomly appearing and disappearing, popping in and out of existence so fast that Jessica was convinced there had to be at least a dozen of them.

  Dr. Marulli has been secured. Cease mind-control and reveal yourself.

  Jessica heard a click and then the sky and forest collapsed into a trillion droplets of water, evaporating as they struck the unseen floor.

  In its place was the inside of an extraterrestrial space ship. Jessica found herself lying on her back on a metallic table, unable to move.

  There were three Grey ETs visible. Two appeared to be operating the vessel from a central hub; the third was hovering over her lower abdomen and groin which had gone completely numb.

  Her blood pressure dropped as a wave of anxiety rushed over her.

  It’s probing me!

  Why did you launch the scalar weapon? Our treaty does not permit the placement of advanced weaponry in space.

  Treaty? What treaty?

  If another satellite is launched you will be removed from this planet.

  Please … I didn’t know—

  Zero-point-energy field generators are not permitted on your planet. If the quarantine is broken then both you and your mate will be abducted and removed from this planet … and your pregnancy terminated.

  “Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahhh!”

  Jessica sat up and expelled a blood-curdling scream as the lights came on, revealing her bedroom suite and a hologram of the nurse who had treated her back in the clinic.

  “Dr. Marulli, are you alright?”

  Still shaking from the night terror, her tee-shirt soaked in a cold sweat, Jessica fled the bedroom—

  —the hologram re-engaging in the bathroom mirror. “Dr. Marulli, should we send help? Please respond.”

  Dropping to her knees, Jessica bent over the toilet and puked.

  34

  Greenbelt, Maryland

  IN THE END, IT HAD COME DOWN to Newton’s Third Law of Motion—for every action there had been an equal and opposite reaction, only in his case it wasn’t equal, he had fared far worse.

  When Adam had attempted to use the power of his office, they had threatened his boss, the Secretary of Defense.

  When he had publicly announced his investigation, they had bribed him.

  When he had brought forth witnesses, they had shut down all media coverage.

  When he had attempted to enlist the public’s support as a war hero, they had tarnished his reputation; when he refused to back down they had taken his job.

  And now, this afternoon, when he had called a press conference to present his side of the equation …

  * * *

  Using the TV remote control, Adam switched from station to station, his excitement waning, changing from frustration to outright anger.

  MSNBC: “… the ousted Under Secretary of Defense claiming that eighty to one hundred billion dollars a year of taxpayer money is being spent on—are you ready for this—advanced technologies reversed-engineered from UFOs that crash-landed as far back as the late 1940s.”

  FOX NEWS: “… extraterrestrials. According to the former Under Secretary, man-made flying saucers known as Alien Reproduction Vehicles, or ARVs, have been secretly reverse-engineered. Where are these man-made flying saucers, you ask?”

  CNN: “… stored in secret subterranean military bases all over the country. When asked where these bases are, the former Under Secretary had this to say, “I don’t know.”

  “Huh? That’s not what I said! I gave out the locations … Edwards Air Force Base, Haystack Butte, China Lakes, Nellis, Los Alamos … You bastards edited them out!”

  He clicked back to MSNBC: “Chris, how will Shariak’s appointment and sudden ouster affect the Trump Administration?”

  “I’d say the blowback is more on Shariak’s brother. Senator Randy Hall is up for reelection next year and—”

  “Ugh!” Adam threw the remote as hard as he could at the flat screen TV, the impact cracking the surface.

  Six months ago he’d had it all … a good job, the love of an incredible woman who was the girl of his dreams. Now he was jobless and blacklisted … rendered unemployable. Steven Greer had been right when he had said, “there are things worse than death.” His enemies had succeeded in making him persona non-grata while setting him firmly on a path of self-destruction.

  How long will Jessica stay with a man who can no longer support himself?

  Could her family accept a son-in-law who the public believed had committed a war crime?

  More important—where was Jessica? Was she safe?

  The knock on his apartment door startled him. “Jess?”

  He hobbled to the door, the smart-prosthetic sent off-kilter by his thoughts.

  The DHL delivery man looked up from his scanner as the door opened. “Adam Shariak?”

  “Yes?”

  “I have a package for you … just need you to sign here please.”

  Adam took the inkless pen and signed his name on the tiny screen.

  The delivery man scanned the package’s barcode and handed the small box to Adam. “Say, aren’t you—”

  “No!” He slammed the door as he eyed the label, his heart racing as he saw Jessica’s name under SENDER. Expelling a grunt, he tore open the four-by-six inch cardboard container.

  The iPhone rang the moment he removed it from its bubble wrap.

  “Hello?”

  “Do you recognize my voice?”

  Female … definitely not Jessica. “Give me a clue.”

  “I gave you a reach-around in Phoenix.”

  The blonde from counter-intelligence … what was her name? He searched his wallet and found her card … Kelly Kishel.

  “What do you want, Kelly?”

  “Paybacks are a bitch; I thought you deserved one. I’m texting you an address. Memorize it and then dispose of this phone. I’ll see you there in twenty-four hours. Come alone.”

  Los Alamos, New Mexico

  The home office was windowless and sound-proof—a pentagon-shaped room with a two-story-high ceiling. Three of its five walls were covered by oak bookshelves, the upper levels of which were accessible by a matching built-in ladder on wheels. The wall directly before the horseshoe-shaped desk displayed a five-by-seven-foot flat screen television, along with six smaller monitors, the signals of which were fed in from two large satellite dishes situated
in the backyard.

  When asked about the enormous objects, Yvonne Johnston told the homeowners association that her husband was an avid sports fan.

  Of course, the only sport Colonel Johnston ever engaged in was psychotronic warfare.

  * * *

  The black and white images rotating across three of the small monitors were originating from two different spy satellites and a drone. Only a few members of Council’s governing body knew the colonel had tapped into the NSA’s network, but the rumors alone were enough to maintain a healthy dose of paranoia among the junior members of MAJI.

  The cabal’s tentacles reached throughout all branches of the intelligence services and the colonel never hesitated to eavesdrop on the private conversations and texts of those Council members whose “politics” were suspect. When former CIA director William Colby had asked a personal friend in the military to contact Steven Greer, the colonel’s response had been swift—the TWEP order issued before the long-time member of MAJI could deliver a black-shelved ZPE generator and $50 million in start-up capital to mass produce the clean energy device. It was a professional hit involving two wet teams; the first one assigned to kidnap and kill Colby and safeguard his remains long enough to allow the victim’s internal organs to decompose beyond the point of identifying a cause of death. The other team planted his sand-filled canoe along a Potomac River shoreline so it could be discovered the next morning. As with any TWEP on a public figure, there were unanswered questions—why would Colby choose to take his canoe out on the river so late at night; how had it taken the authorities nine days to locate the body so close to where the canoe had been found less than twelve hours after he had gone missing. In the end, the coroner had ruled death by drowning, the suspicious circumstances swept away as conspiracy theory.

  The colonel’s latest challenge was a bit more complicated.

  Like Colby, Jessica Marulli’s parents had powerful allies in Council and the evidence against their daughter was circumstantial at best. Moreover, the importance of Project Zeus could not be understated. If a technical problem arose, the engineer’s expertise would be needed, therefore, she could not be sanctioned.

 

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