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An Event Group Thriller
By David Lynn Golemon
St. Martin's Press Copyright © 2009 David L. Golemon
All rights reserved.
EVENT GROUP COMPLEX, NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, NEVADA PRESENT DAY
The Event Group Center was as quiet as anyone stationed there had ever heard it. For the men and women of Department 5656, a dark and secret entity of the National Archives, the day was darker than even their mission for the United States government. They were saying good-bye to forty-six of their own people. One man in particular — Colonel Jack Collins, United States Army.
The assembled military, scientific, research, academic, and philosophical staffs were seated in the overcrowded main cafeteria of the complex, because the small chapel deep on level eight would have been too small for this massive turnout.
As the Dire Straits' haunting tune "Brothers in Arms" played, the mood was somber. Director Niles Compton had made the decision, and the new head of security agreed, that no eulogy for those lost would be given; the memorial would be a silent tribute to men and women lost in the Atlantis operation six weeks before.
The Event Group was the most secret section of the federal government outside of the National Security Agency. Their task was to uncover historical truths from the past, changes in the fabric of history that led to world-altering events. This helped identify them or their parallel in today's world, and advise the president of the consequences, good or bad, so he could make the decision whether to act or not act on a fluid situation that resembled an event from the past.
The agency was a ghostly rumor to almost everyone in government service. President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt built the permanent Event Group Complex in 1943 under the strictest of secrecy. It served as a research and storage facility that protected the greatest secrets of the world's past. The concept was a child of Abraham Lincoln, thought of in the waning days of the Civil War, and finally brought into being as an official agency by Woodrow Wilson. The group's chartered mission was to uncover the civilization altering events that could change the course of history.
The Atlantis incident was the reason they were gathered today, to pay their respects to those lost. The scrolls of that once-mythical civilization, which described a weapon of immense power that could shatter cities by the manipulation of the earth's plate tectonics, were discovered thousands of years later by an unscrupulous society that attempted a financial takeover of the world. This group was responsible for the deaths of millions, including the men and women remembered today.
Captain Carl Everett stood hidden in the back of the cafeteria with eyes lowered. His best friend, the head of the security department, was why he was there. Now promoted into that friend's position within the Event Group, Everett was hesitant to start his new duties.
He failed to see a small man stand in the front of the room and move silently toward him. Director Niles Compton cleared his throat when he saw Everett was deep in thought.
"Sorry, I was someplace else," Everett said, adjusting the sleeves of his blue jumpsuit.
"You're not wearing your class-A naval uniform," Niles stated.
"I really didn't think I would find myself here."
"I see. Thinking about Jack?" Niles asked.
"Well, more Sarah than Jack."
"Captain, Lieutenant McIntire is where she needs to be. I ordered her home to spare her things like this. She doesn't need a complexwide gathering to remind her she lost Jack. She needs to heal up, and then return to the Group when she's ready, not before."
Everett only nodded his head.
Sarah McIntire had been in love with Jack Collins, and his loss had affected her far more than anyone. She was outwardly strong and wanted to stay, but Director Compton had ordered immediate convalescent leave at her mother's in Arkansas.
"Captain —" Niles caught himself being officious. "Carl, go back to your department. We have to get the Group restaffed. You have some flights to make to different bases for recruitment, to get the security department up and running again. The world moves on."
"Yes, sir," Everett said as the last refrains of "Brothers in Arms" echoed inside the large cafeteria.
The large assembly of Event Group personnel started moving out of their chairs, and passed by Everett silently. He locked eyes with two men, Lieutenant Jason Ryan, detached from the navy, and Lieutenant Will Mendenhall, a former staff sergeant in the army and recently promoted to second lieutenant. They nodded their greeting, and then walked past the captain.
Everett saw their strength. Saw that no matter what, they would move on, not forgetting about Jack Collins and the others, but keeping what they had with the man close inside themselves. Everett decided he would do the same.
They would all honor Jack by doing their duty.
THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON, D.C.
The president was sitting in the Oval Office, looking over a speech he had written for his appearance at the United Nations the next day. His address would cover the humanitarian efforts currently being conducted by the free world to assist North Korea and the Russian Republic in rebuilding the areas of their countries ravaged by earthquakes during the Atlantis incident, about which the public knew nothing. The extremist cell behind the earthquakes had been dealt with in the harshest capital terms, and now the president was trying to put the pieces of a smashed world economy back into the black.
He was sipping coffee when the phone buzzed. "Yes," he said into the intercom.
"Mr. President, the director of the FBI is insisting upon seeing you."
"Send him in, please."
William Cummings and National Security Advisor Harford Lehman soon entered hurriedly.
The president looked at both men with his coffee cup raised halfway to his mouth.
"Billy, Harrison, it hasn't been a good couple of days, and you're not here to cheer me up, are you?" he said, placing his speech on the desk.
"We received this at ten this morning, addressed to me personally. I am instructed to forward it to you."
The president set his cup down, opened the red-bordered file, and read the first page.
"And you're taking this seriously?" he asked the director as he flipped to the next page.
"Yes, sir, the communication came in through a secure FBI covert channel used only for field operatives in foreign service. Someone knows an awful lot about our procedures to crack that little gem."
"You're thinking a terrorist threat?"
"That's our conclusion, but it really doesn't matter at this point."
"All it is asking is that we convince Venezuela to delay the opening of the oil production facilities in Caracas for seventy-two hours; then this faction, whoever they are, will address to the world the reasons why the plant cannot go online."
The president held up his hand when both men started to say something.
"President Chavez isn't exactly listening to us Americans lately; he won't want to delay opening that facility because of a threat passed to him through us. Remember, I signed the OAS petition to have him closed down. If he won't listen to his neighbors in the Organization of American States, he sure as hell won't listen to me, not with China and most of the European Union screaming for his product."
"Sir, some maniac is threatening him with a nuclear strike if that plant goes online," Harford Lehman said, pointing at the message.
"Of course we'll pass this on to the Venezuelan authorities with the highest alert possible, but they won't take this threat seriously. Are we chasing down any leads on this?"
"We have the obvious courses of action in the loop now, sir — Greenpeace, the Coalition for Green Solution, but they wouldn't issue such a threat; they know everyone would take it as a joke. A nuclear strike is somewhat beyond their power scope, and also a bit counterproductive to their goals."
The president looked from the director of the FBI to his security advisor. He then pressed his intercom.
"Marjorie, I need to speak with our ambassador in Venezuela. He has to get President Chavez to take a call from me; it's most imperative that he listen to what I have to say. If that fails, I need the ambassador of China to that country. I have to talk to someone down there. Also get the directors of CIA and NSA in here, ASAP."
"We wouldn't term this as plausible, but breaking into our secure computer system makes this more than just your average nut," the FBI director said, looking directly at the president. "They could have done God knows what to our system, but their only interest was to get our attention and to pass on this message."
The president closed the folder in front of him.
"Well, whoever they are did exactly that, didn't they?"CHAPTER 2
He was dreaming once again. As before in other dreams, he tried desperately for that one snatch of breath but found the effort far too great for the mere reward of air. He allowed the hot waters of the sea to claim his body even as his mind refused to submit. The past swirled about him as did the water, spinning him in all directions.
He saw in the dream the darkness close in, as did the feeling of loss, not for himself, but of something, or someone just out of sight of his dying consciousness. A womanly smile momentarily lingered at the edge of memory and then vanished. He felt the horrible pressure of the sea as it started to claim his physical body. He could stand it no longer; he opened his mouth and tried for the breath he so desperately needed. The hot waters of the exploding sea entered his parched mouth, and then the pain he had been feeling started to fade.
The sunlight from above dimmed, and his body grew limp. He was drowning, and while that was once a repugnant thought to him, it now became comforting. He knew he had succeeded in what he had started out to do, and so it was all right. His mind was at ease, except for that one thing his memory could not grasp.
The dream took a different turn, as it always did at this point. Hands were pulling him away, pulling him deeper. He always wanted to shout out that he was dying, so why not just let him get on with it. Regardless of his pleas, they would still pull him down until a false bright light filtered into his closed eyes. Then the pain started as it always did, but now for the first time, a new element was added to this most uncomfortable dream — voices from the dark.
"Our guest is coming around."
"Captain, you scared me. The last I heard you were sound asleep in your cabin."
"The last I heard, Doctor, I had the freedom of my own ship."
"Yes, ma'am, I was just —"
"This man is far more formidable than you are used to dealing with, Doctor. I do not want him to know where he is, and he is not to know who pulled him from the water. Can you keep him under?"
"I can place him into a coma if need be. If I may ask, why save him if he is a danger to you — to us?"
"I have my plans for him. With what I can learn from this man, the dangers are worth the risk of his being here, and we can avoid the risk of losing our asset inside his agency."
"Captain, why the sudden change of mind about placing the implant inside this man?"
"I believe your job onboard this vessel is as physician, mine as captain. That is all you need know."
The dream was fading and the man's mind seemed to be dimming with it. The voices in the dark had an echoing lilt to them as he fell deeper into the abyss of the mind, but the man managed to force his eyes open, if only for a bright, flashing moment. There was a figure standing in the dark. Then he heard a mechanical announcement: "Captain, we have come to the specified coordinates." With that the figure turned and vanished.
A moment passed, and then with blurry vision he saw another, very much smaller form step from the back of the room. Then a soft voice —
"Why did you allow the captain to cancel this man's surgery, Doctor?"
"You heard her, she's the captain and she — what are you doing with that? The captain said no implant!"
The man tried desperately to open his eyes. He saw the small figure holding a jar, or was it a glass? The figure handed the object to a man who was sitting down. Before his eyes fluttered closed, he saw the thing in the jar — a gelatinous, tentacled mass, clear, bluish in color, and about the size of an aspirin as it floated at the center of a clear solution. The man tried to frame a thought, but as he did the world went dark, and sleep started to overtake him once more.
Before going completely under, the man saw that someone was standing over him, looking at him for the longest time, as if examining him, seeking a truth of something he could not begin to understand. The smallish figure was but a shadow, but he could swear the eyes were bright blue and ringed in green, just as the deep and cold oceans.
"We need to keep a closer eye on our captain, Doctor."
SEVENTY-FIVE MILES OFF THE COAST OF VENEZUELA
The aged supertanker Goliath made her way slowly along the Venezuelan coast, her empty oil bunkers allowing the VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) to ride high, well above her loaded waterline. The newly constructed crude depot at Caracas waited to load her with its inaugural shipment of refined oil from the controversial facility. The many construction shortcuts and current unrest of union oil workers allowed a pall of contention and outright anger to hover over the plant's ceremonious opening.
The Panamanian-flagged Goliath was no stranger to controversy herself as she plied her way toward port. The old, decrepit tanker was a constant thorn in the side of most nations and oil companies, as her deteriorating double-hulled design was continually leaking her wares into the open sea. It was only the recently rogue nation of Venezuela that kept the supertanker viable and in business, as the other exporting nations shunned her almost to the scrapheap.
A mile to her stern was her ever-present Greenpeace escort, Atlantic Avenger, out of Perth, Australia. She shadowed Goliath, taking water samples and harassing the great vessel whenever she could. The Chinese diesel-powered attack submarine Red Banner shadowed both vessels at one kilometer away, far beneath the sea. The communist Chinese government was taking massive, and some would say illegal, steps to ensure Goliath made her delivery date in the next few weeks, as the oil-poor superpower sought desperately to feed her ever-expanding industrial might.
On the bridge of Goliath, Captain Lars Petersen scanned the waters just to the south. The telltale wake of a submarine periscope was cutting a wide, intentionally arrogant path through the Atlantic as the Chinese made their presence known to the activist ship shadowing them. Petersen smiled, and then walked out onto the bridge wing, scanning his binoculars to the south and west.
The Atlantic Avenger was starting to make her hourly run toward the stern of the giant ship. They would pass close to the supertanker, filming the leakage of her bunkers and holding up their protest banners stating his vessel was the scourge of the sea.
"We have surface contact bearing one-three-eight degrees. Contact is possible Venezuelan navy escort vessel."
Captain Petersen took one last look at the 100-foot Greenpeace ship, then turned to his first officer.
"Our friends are starting their harassment run. Watch them and make sure they keep the proper safety distance."
Petersen stepped into the giant bridge of the Goliath and scanned the horizon. He finally spied the vessel in question, and he could see by her silhouette it was their old friend, the General Santiago, a small missile frigate formerly belonging to the French navy and then sold to Venezuela five years before.
"I have visual contact. Send to General Santiago welcome and to please take up station to our starboard beam. Inform them we have a friendly submerged contact bearing one kilometer astern."
Petersen was about to walk out onto the bridge wing and view the Greenpeace run on his ship when a sudden, piercingly loud alarm warning sounded.
"We have a submerged contact bearing zero-one-nine at two thousand yards. This is a hard contact, we wouldn't have heard it, but — oh, my God — someone is opening torpedo tubes to the sea!"
Excerpted from Leviathan by David Lynn Golemon. Copyright © 2009 David L. Golemon. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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