Undisclosed, p.5

Undisclosed, page 5



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  “You asked me about President Obama’s initiatives. Before you evaluate his administration’s policies you need to understand the Islamic State’s endgame. The Fedeyeen wearing the black cloaks want control over the region. To get that, they are unleashing the jihadists—the religious radicals in the Muslim faith. Their goal is to convince the rest of the Islamic world that an apocalyptic process is underway which will lead to a confrontation between an army of Muslims and the Western crusaders… equating us with the Romans. Everything they do, from these public beheadings to the terror plots in Paris, is designed to elicit violent responses from the West that keeps moving us down the road leading to Armageddon. President Obama understood that.”

  “If that’s true, Captain Shariak, then why did his policies fail?”

  “They failed because Saddam’s former Ba’athist officers are running Islamic State’s territories like a business, generating several billion dollars which the jihadists want to use to purchase weapons of mass destruction. To prevent that from happening, we need to cut off the flow of funds coming from Turkey. Iraq may be salvageable if we can convince Baghdad that they need to have new elections to establish a coalition government with a place at the table for Sunnis and Kurds. As for Syria, that’s more complicated. Assad has to go, but it’s a mistake to support the Syrian rebels, most of whom are affiliates of al Qaeda. While President Trump scored points with Putin by calling out Turkey for buying oil from ISIL; the real supporters of Islamic State are the Saudis. Unless you force our biggest supplier of oil to stop funding terrorism and its messages of hatred which target Israel and the United States, we’ll never defeat radical Islam.”

  The half-empty chamber broke out in a smattering of applause.

  Joe Rangel was seated in one of the upper rows, out of range of the C-SPAN cameras. He glanced down at his iPhone screen as a new text message appeared:



  The White House

  Washington, D.C.

  July 2017

  ADAM SHARIAK FOLLOWED the press secretary past a security checkpoint and through the West Colonnade, his left sciatic nerve slightly inflamed from the long walk from the parking lot. Entering the West Wing, they were intercepted by Kelli-Lynn McDonald, Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff.

  “Mr. Under Secretary, President Trump apologizes. He’s been in a photo shoot and breakfast get-together with the Clemson Tigers … I guess you know they won the 2016 College Championship.”

  “I may have heard a rumor.”

  “Well, there’s a game tonight between the Cubs and Nationals and the president wants you to join him in his luxury suite. Be sure to arrive thirty minutes early so you two can talk.”

  Nationals Park

  Washington, D.C.

  Located in the Naval Yard section of Washington, D.C., Nationals Park seated a cozy 41,500 fans, while offering a view of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building from the first baseline bleachers.

  Adam had attended more than fifty games since the new park had opened back in 2008; many with his brother, Randy who had season tickets along the third baseline. Jessica preferred the back and forth pace of hockey—after the first two innings she had spent the rest of the game texting on her iPhone.

  He arrived at 5:40 p.m. for the 7:05 start. Access to the luxury suites was from a private entrance beneath the stadium. After swiping his ticket, the attendant called for a personal concierge—an older Caucasian man in his eighties who went by the name of “Pops.”

  “Pops, Suite 18.”

  “Eighteen it is. Sir, if you’ll come with me—”

  He followed the spry man onto an awaiting elevator and up to the suite level which featured a private mezzanine that looked like a Las Vegas-style sports bar, every wall covered in giant TV screens.

  Pops led him to the first suite by the elevators where two stadium security officers were posted outside the metal door, the outside of which was receiving a new numbered plate and corporate sponsor’s logo from a maintenance man.

  “Here you go sir, allow me to show you inside.” Using his pass key, the old man unlocked the door and held it open for Adam, who entered.

  “Nice …”

  The suite was divided into a kitchen and dining area, card tables, sofas and recliners, a pool table, and two levels of luxury seating in front of an unencumbered view ten degrees down the third base side of home plate.

  Pops pointed to the two rows of buffet tables lined with empty metal trays. “You’re a bit early. Food arrives in about forty minutes, along with the bartender and waitresses. Bathrooms are to the right. If you need anything, just pick up the service phone. Secret Service should be by anytime, I’m guessing.”

  “Thanks.” He reached into his wallet for a tip, but the concierge waved him off and left.

  Adam glanced at the wall clock … 5:56 p.m.

  For the next few minutes he watched the players stretching and jogging in their warm-up jerseys while the first group of Nationals prepared to take batting practice. Bored, he moved to the pool table and selected a cue stick from one of two wall-mounted racks.

  He turned as the door opened and a muscular black man dressed in a dark suit entered the suite, the ear piece identifying him as Secret Service.


  “Excuse me?”

  “Who are you?”

  “Adam Shariak, Under Secretary of Defense.”

  “Shariak, huh?” The big man checked his iPhone. “Name’s familiar, but you’re not on my list which means ya’ll don’t belong here.”

  Adam reached for his ticket as the secret service man reached for his gun.

  “Whoa, big fella, I’m just showing you my ticket. See … Suite 18.”

  “This is Suite 8.”

  President Bill Clinton walked in, placing a reassuring hand on the big man’s shoulder. “Easy, Samson. They’re changing out the door plates. Pops probably got confused.”

  “Mr. President … I’m so sorry.”

  “Nonsense. Nothing to be sorry about. Samson, this is Adam Shariak, our new Under Secretary of Defense. I caught your confirmation hearing on C-SPAN. Best explanation of ISIS I’ve heard. You were direct but succinct; forcing that senator to accept the fact that every military action creates a ripple effect throughout the Middle East… that dropping bombs and deploying more American troops is exactly what these radicals want us to do.”

  “Thank you, sir.”

  “Too bad Trump wasn’t watching.”

  “I’m actually supposed to—”

  “Say, Shariak, you any good with that pool cue?”

  “Not very.”

  “Good, rack ’em up. Samson, maybe you can close that drape before you leave so I can see. The sun’s blinding me.”

  “Yes, sir.” The secret service man pulled the curtains closed and left.

  “Sorry about Samson. He gets overprotective.”

  “Do you know if he played nose tackle at Ohio State?”

  “I believe he did.”

  “I think he recognized me. Way back when, I played fullback at Indiana. OSU always beat the tar out of us, but in my senior year, I had a pretty good second half against the big fella.”

  Bill Clinton’s face lit up. “I’ll be damned. I remember that game. You ran for about a hundred and thirty yards in the second half and almost led your team to a huge upset.”

  “You have an excellent memory, sir.”

  “For some things.” Clinton gestured to Adam to have a seat at one of the card tables. “Mind if I ask you a personal question? Your head coach at Indiana hadn’t played you all season. What made him change his mind at halftime?”

  “Our starting tailback was hurt. We were losing twenty-seven to nothing in our only nationally-televised game of the year and coach was pissed. So he asked a bunch of seniors for their advice. When he came to me I said, ‘just give me the damn ball coach, and we’ll score.”

  “Give me the dam
n ball and we’ll score … I love it. And you did score—three touchdowns if memory serves.”

  “Two. I tore up my knee before we scored on that last drive.”

  As Adam watched, President Clinton removed a small stack of three-by-five cards from the back pocket of his slacks. Making eye contact with Shariak, he pressed an index finger to his lips for silence, causing Adam’s pulse rate to jump.

  “I love football,” Clinton said, “it really is America’s game.”

  Reaching into the pocket of his windbreaker, he removed a small keychain with a flashlight. Turning it on, he aimed the purple light at the first card in his hand, causing a message to appear in yellow ultraviolet ink:


  Seeing the urgency in the former president’s eyes, Adam nodded.

  “My game was rugby; I played on the rugby club when I attended Oxford. Ever play rugby, Shariak?”

  He flipped to the next card:



  “Really? Where’d you play?”

  “Play what? Football?”

  Clinton shot him a “stay focused” look. “Rugby.”

  “Rugby? Sorry … no. Just football.”

  The former president turned over the next card:


  You recruited me? How the hell did you recruit me? And who’s we?

  “I loved rugby. Of course, they don’t wear helmets like they do in American football.”


  “What is … I mean … no helmets … that’s crazy.”

  “It is crazy.”


  Adam felt light-headed, the scene surreal. Free energy? What the hell is he talking about? Why is he doing this? Is the suite bugged?

  “So Shariak … how are you getting along with President Trump?”

  “We’ve never met. Tonight … it’s our first meeting.”

  Clinton turned to the next card, responding, “I read where the Doomsday Clock has advanced thirty seconds since he’s been in office.”


  “I read that … the Doomsday Clock. It’s symbolic, of course.”

  “And yet it’s representative of our times … the threat of nuclear war … the effects of climate change. Trump has no regard for the environment … to him it’s simply a speed bump for the economy.


  “So … what am I supposed to do … as Under Secretary?”


  Adam felt the blood drain from his face.

  Bill Clinton removed a cigar from his windbreaker and lit up. “Do you have any children, Mr. Under Secretary?”

  “Children? No, sir.”

  “I’m a father and a grandfather. I fear for them; I fear for their generation. We’re doing the same things we’ve done over the last century—burning fossil fuels to create energy. We’re killing ourselves and the planet, and this new administration is taking off the brakes. I’ve traveled a dozen times around the world since I left the Oval Office and the things I’ve seen would break your heart. Africa’s dying. India’s a cesspool; its population is drowning in sewage. Pakistan’s ripe for a coup, and the EU can’t hold back the tide of immigrants escaping from the Middle East. Did you know the hottest-selling products in China these days are respirators? In Bulgaria, it’s radioactive nuclear material. It’s only a matter of time before ISIS or al-Qaeda or another one of these radicalized Islamic groups gets hold of enough plutonium to set off a dirty bomb … or your new president decides the best way to deal with Kim Jung Un is to strike first.”

  Clinton turned to the last message.


  “You wanted the ball, Mr. Under Secretary … run with it.”


  As Adam watched, the forty-second President of the United States pressed the lit end of his cigar to the stack of three by five cards, the ash immediately igniting the chemically treated paper, instantaneously burning everything into a solitary cinder.

  A moment later two Secret Service agents escorted Pops into the suite.

  “Hell son, we got to get you out of here, you’re in the wrong place.”


  8:12 p.m.

  JESSICA KEYED INTO HER TOWNHOME to find Adam seated on her den sofa by the lit fireplace, a bottle of wine and two glasses on her coffee table.

  “You’re home early. How was the game?”

  “Trump never showed, his Chief of Staff said he decided to take the First Lady to a concert.” Adam handed her a glass of wine. “Jess, I need to pick your brain.”

  “But first, you felt the need to ply me with alcohol?”

  “It’s a strange subject. One of my assistants was going on today about something called zero-point-energy. I spent most of the afternoon reading about it. Is there any basis for it, or is it just theoretical nonsense?”

  She slipped off her shoes and took a sip of wine from her glass. “Just because it’s theoretical doesn’t make it nonsense. By definition, vacuum fluctuation or zero-point-energy is an ambient field that harbors the energy state of life. According to quantum physics, every cubic centimeter of space that surrounds us has enough energy in the ambient field to power the entire country for a day. Again, it’s all theoretical.”

  “If it’s all theoretical, why were Nikola Tesla, T. Townsend Brown, John Keely, Viktor Schauberger, and Otis Carr harassed and their work confiscated under the Warfare Act? Why was Professor John Searl and Adam Trombly poisoned?”

  “Baby, that’s Conspiracy Theory 101. Believe me; if zero-point-energy really existed we’d have it.”

  “Enough energy in a cubic centimeter of space to power the country for a day? I can think of a few groups that might prefer the status quo.”

  “Where’s all this coming from?”

  “I’d tell ya, only your security clearance is too high.”

  Leaving her glass on a coaster, Jessica straddled Adam’s lap, nuzzling his neck. “Maybe we can raise your clearance to meet mine.”

  Science Applications International Corporation HQ

  Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

  The 2011 silver Jeep Grand Cherokee inched its way south on Interstate 495, its driver more focused on the thoughts swirling through his head than the morning rush hour traffic.

  Adam Shariak had never met Dr. Neale Manley, but he knew who the physicist was. Jessica had worked with him before she had joined Kemp Aerospace, the two of them succeeding in developing a simple oscillating electronic circuit that put out more energy as resistant heat than was required to drive the device. Manley’s employer, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), had bought the design, along with the services of Dr. Manley—much to Jessica’s chagrin.

  “Might” always seemed to overcome “right” when it came to dealing with corporate giants, and SAIC was one of a dozen major defense contractors feeding at the massive trough of the United States Defense Department’s annual $600 billion military budget. So entwined was the Pentagon with its suppliers that there was a perpetual revolving door among government personnel serving in the private sector, and both political parties abused the system. In December of 2012, Deborah Lee James had been president of SAIC’s technology and engineering sector. A year later, Chuck Hagel swore her in as Secretary of the Air Force.

  Meeting Dr. Manley—let alone picking his brain about zero-point-energy—seemed a daunting task. From what Jessica had told him, the physicist was involved in what she termed, “Weird Science
and Freakin’ Magic.” Though she refused to elaborate, Adam got the gist—Manley and his work were off-limits, even to the new Under Secretary of Defense.

  He decided on an innocuous “front door” approach, instructing his secretary to schedule as many “meet and greets” with military contractors during the next three days as possible. To save drive time, he had her book him into the local Hyatt Regency.

  Science Applications International Corporation was his first stop on his list.

  The flow of morning traffic opened up as the silver Jeep Cherokee entered northern Virginia. Adam Shariak exited the Capital Beltway in Tyson’s Corner, a commercial center that was home to the corporate headquarters of some of the biggest tech companies in the world.

  Turning off Leesburg Pike, he followed signs to the gated entrance of the SAIC campus, its fourteen-story-high concrete and glass structure looming ahead.

  * * *

  Sam Mannino, former Air Force Chief of Staff and current CEO at SAIC, led him into his office suite. “It’s good to finally meet you, Captain Shariak. You did a nice job running Kemp Aerospace; though it’s still a bit unusual for a high-ranking government post to be filled by a nominee hailing from such a small supplier.”

  “I would think the CEO of an $8 billion employee-owned tech company would appreciate an occasional victory for the little guy.”

  “Touché. So what’s on your mind?”

  Adam removed his iPad from its small carrying case. “I’m a bit concerned about SAIC’s backlog of signed business orders. At the end of the last quarter it tallied approximately $7.4 billion, of which $2.1 billion was funded. The biggest red flag is your progress on the Marine Corps’ new Amphibious Combat Vehicle.”

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