Authors: Frank J. Derfler
After she cleared the door, Jose turned to his computer and started an email to General Arthurs and Sally. He outlined the initial positive meeting with Dr. Rae Dunnan including her ideas about using new sensor data.
After a moment of thought he added General Landry and Bill Wirtz in the cc: line. Then, in the main body of the email he wrote, "Dr. Dunnan has the credentials and personality to be useful in other liaison roles."
He knew that vague reference would key the others to think about the discussions with the Japanese. Landry and Wirtz were still on the Japanese northern island of Hokkaido where they had approached a small team of Japanese university professors about the work going on in a rural town named Tobetsu. The two Americans were acting curious, naive, and open while drinking a lot of fine Sapporo beer. They had no official status with the US State Department and wanted to keep things on a professor-to-professor level.
Everyone in the Project hoped that the branch of the Japanese government involved in developing a time displacement operation on Hokkaido would respond to this low level-opening with some cooperation. But while Landry and Wirtz had clear associations with the US Department of Defense, Rae Dunnan was a fresh face with no association or knowledge of any of the past operations of the Project. The Japanese might be less threatened and more accommodating to NASA than to the DoD.
Jose sighed, nodded to himself, and sent off his email.
Chapter 3: "Keep It Inside"
Tuesday September 1, 2009 1400 Eastern
Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
E-Ring, The Pentagon
Excerpt from the Personal Narrative of Mr. Ted Arthurs
Recorded May 2014
CLASSIFIED TOP SECRET/TA
"The 2008 election really changed our direction. Plainly stated, we didn’t trust anyone who came in with that administration and worried over how they might abuse the power contained in The Project. Even as a professional member of the military, I had never before thought much about how politicians use the military. That was very naïve.”
Jose would have sighed even more deeply if he could have seen Major General Ted Arthurs at that moment. Ted had just marched across the carpet in front of the desk of the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and snapped a salute that would have looked good on the parade ground at Colorado Springs.
"We should make you a recruiting poster," the Chairman quipped as he returned the salute. "Sit down. Ted, how are you? No Bullshit."
"Feeling like I should, Sir. I got beat up, but I'm moving well and there's no funny stuff in the head. I've got a flight physical next week."
"How's your attitude? How's Sally's attitude? No Bullshit," the Chairman said again.
"No bullshit. We've both got mixed feelings, Sir. We've been doing this off and on since ninety-five. It amounts to a huge amount of boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror. Sally doesn't mind the terror parts as much as she claims. We both know that at some point it would be good to get out and make some real money, but the economy isn't great right now."
"Shit, Ted, you're a major general and she's a GS-13, you're not about to starve."
Ted simply nodded. He sensed that the Chairman had more to say than to ask him about his attitude.
"In hindsight, I should have invited Sally up here too. I forget how much you both are linked into this. I have to tell you something that might change your minds.... one way or the other."
Ted remained silent and kept his gaze on the Chairman. The other man played with a pen on his desk for a moment.
"Let's go for a walk," the Chairman said, catching Ted totally by surprise.
Ted followed the four star out the door and out into the E-ring corridor. An aide and a security officer in plain clothes scurried to catch up and then walked several steps behind. "Been to the POAC lately?" the Chairman asked. He pronounced the acronym as poe-ack.
"I was here when they opened the new facility in 2004. It blew everyone's mind," Ted replied.
The Pentagon Officer's Athletic Club or poe-ack was how both men remembered the run down, dark, moldy facility in the basement of the Pentagon that dated back to the end of World War II. During his Pentagon tour starting in 2002, Ted was a daily customer. As dingy as it was, in the good old days the officers had a facility where they could play basketball, lift weights, snap towels, fart, maybe even bring in a keg of beer for a special event, and talk trash without being naked in front of a bunch of enlisted men they commanded. In 2004, the enlightened DoD opened a new athletic facility for "all ranks." It is clean, glistening, sober, egalitarian, a little elegant, and completely boring.
Both men entered the ground floor of the shiny athletic center and the Chairman led the way to an observation deck overlooking the pool. The Chairman looked around and confirmed that they were totally alone. The aide and security officer took up casual poses some distance away. The four stars on the Chairman’s shoulders guaranteed their privacy. The Chairman moved closer to Ted as they stood by the railing. The sounds of the swimmers chugging out laps in the pool echoed around them and drowned out any possibility of anyone overhearing them.
"I don't think my office is bugged, but who the hell knows. In the 1970s they were still finding bugs in the Joint Chiefs offices that Kissinger put in to spy on Westmorland. They had a whole security investigation called Grapple Trip. They claim they got everything, but now with Homeland Security prancing around, who knows. We're safer here for a few minutes.”
The Chief gazed at nothing for a moment. “Here's what you need to know. For the time being, no one has briefed this administration on the Project at any level. We haven't briefed the political appointees in the Pentagon and we haven't briefed anyone in the White House. Those people are all too busy taking over the banks, running the car companies, and hijacking healthcare. In all honesty, we don't trust them. God only knows what they would do if they knew they could change history without anyone knowing what they've done."
Ted kept looking at the pool and grunted to show the Chairman he understood.
"There are a few Congressmen and Senators we trust and they know about your operation and watch over the funding, but nobody trusts the community organizers and their fellow travelers who are in charge over there at the White House. So, here is how it comes down to you. In this big picture you are a little guy. But, you're a little guy that everybody here trusts. If several of us go down…If I get fired and some others get taken out, we trust you and we trust Sally. You, Sally, and Fred Landry are going to have to bury the past and appear like weirdos looking for space rocks crashing into the Earth." With that, the Chairman fell silent.
After a minute or more, Ted said, "This is like the old Mission Impossible TV shows. At some point it says This Tape Will Destruct in Five Seconds."
The Chairman nodded. "We just can't trust them, Ted. They seem to have no honor. You should see the background intel on some, hell on most of the political appointees. It reads more like a threat warning assessment for the Constitution of the Unites States. "
The Chairman did another slow look around, turned again toward the pool, and flicked his right hand toward the water. "This reminds me that honor and morality started an open downhill slide with JFK screwing his bimbos in the White House pool. The press knew about it and never said a word. LBJ was both a political whore and a womanizer. He made terrible decisions for political reasons. Then, the Clintons; a couple of amoral hippies. But, all of that was minor stuff. Today the Executive Branch looks like an asylum run by the most dangerous inmates. Congress is no help. Except for a few, morality died there in January 2009. They're like a bunch of teenagers at an orgy. Nobody can get enough."
Ted turned toward the Chairman, "Sir, you said that they would have no compunction about changing history if no one would know what they had done. Why not make public the technology for tracking the sub-atomic patterns indicating attempts to change the time line? It's only computer code. Most of the data is already available to the scientific community. Put the computer source code out on the Internet. It would be like earthquake detection, everybody around the world would be watching."
The suggestion obviously caught the Chairman completely by surprise. "Ha!" he said. "That’s one approach. But they would see what we did in the past, wouldn't they?"
"Oh, it's not a perfect solution. It might not even be a good solution, but it is an alternative."
"Let me ponder that, Ted, It’s a good thing to have in a back pocket," he paused. "Your history guru with the crystal ball: Wirtz? I want him to do some research for me, but I want you to have complete deniability. This is eyes-only between Wirtz and me. In other words, don't read it and don't ask about it." The Chairman reached inside his uniform blouse and handed Ted a regular business envelope. As Ted took it he noticed that it was sealed, but unmarked. Ted's only response was to say, "Yes, Sir."
"Ted, the capability in the Project, this weapon you can launch, requires more fundamental morality and caution than even nuclear weapons. Old Tom Jefferson said that liberty, truth, probity, and honor are the four cardinal principles of society." He looked back at the pool with a sad face.
"We don't see any of those things in this administration. If they found out they could change things in history without accountability, they could not resist it. On the bottom line, we... the Country... needs you, Sally, and Fred to stay in place for a while. Kind of just in case."
Ted didn't take even a moment to frame his reply. "Until twenty twelve then. That's all I can promise, but that is my promise. Thank you, Sir, for your confidence. Until twenty twelve."
The Chairman nodded and shifted gears, "Anything you need?"
"You know about the Japanese?" Ted asked in reply.
"Yeah. Can you keep that low level? "
"That's exactly the plan, Sir," Ted said.
"If it smells like the Japanese thing is getting loose in the State Department, let me know. Most of those folks in Foggy Bottom like their present boss and only tolerate the amateurs in the White House right now anyway. They're like you... looking for twenty twelve."
Ted laughed out loud. "For very different reasons, Sir. For very different reasons. Oh, and can I keep the two jets?"
The Chairman nodded and the deal was done.
Chapter 4: "Space Rocks"
Thursday September 3, 2009 1600 Pacific
TCA Detachment 1, Boulder City, Nevada
Excerpt from the Personal Narrative of Jose Valenzuela
Recorded July 2012
"The space rock threat is really scary. Having the ability to do a little something about it gives us another important mission.”
The training room was crowded. The word about the beautiful NASA astronaut moved through the unit quickly. Even the off-duty shift was in for the briefing, so except for two people on leave, the whole detachment was occupying chairs or lining the walls.
Jose began, "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration partially funds this facility because we are the only practical and immediate means of influencing the path of objects from space that threaten the Earth. We are now very fortunate to have a liaison officer from NASA assigned to us who is an astronaut, a pilot, and who has earned a doctorate in astronomy. I've asked Dr. Rae Dunnan to tell us something about these space objects and our role in moving them out of the way."