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FORTY-ONE

When all was said and done, things had played out more or less as well as had been hoped. The Rainbow Warrior and Spanish bombings, of course, had been completely unexpected. No one had ever expected the Russian government to respond with mass murder and a false flag operation. The coincidence of the two events had led many to conclude that both events were committed by Russia. But the London bombing had worked perfectly to channel the discourse in the intended direction. It didn’t create a perfect trail of breadcrumbs, but the narrative was compelling enough, and taken with what was going on in the United States, many people quickly accepted it. An added benefit to Russia’s response was that it made world politicians more willing to entertain the crackpot idea that Russia was deliberately thawing the arctic. The government that was the architect of Blackbody Six was currently polishing a letter to send to the United States to ask if it wanted to cooperatively investigate the matter. Few doubted an affirmative response.

What was so remarkable about all of it was that the discovery of Russia’s activities had actually occurred relatively recently, long after the first phase of the project of which Blackbody Six was a part had commenced. The original goal had been to trigger a massive wildfire near Los Alamos National Laboratory, destroy it, use the ensuing pandemonium to conduct espionage, and create a credible scapegoat to obscure the planners’ involvement. Discovering Russia’s plan in the Arctic had presented an unexpected opportunity to add meat to the narrative they were constructing.

In any event, on July fourth, the original mission of Project Moonstone came to fruition. On that day, the largest wildfire in New Mexico history came within a quarter mile of the perimeter of Los Alamos National Laboratory. By this time, the Park Service had already declared that Los Alamos’ evacuation could no longer be delayed. Coordinating with local fire departments, evacuation of all on-site personnel took place at six am. By mid afternoon, the campus began to burn. Firefighters from Los Alamos and neighboring counties, as well as members of the National Guard, the Army, the Bureau of Land Management, FEMA, and fire crews from all over the country had arrived on site to assist in the control effort. The Park Service was lucky; no one was blaming them this time, as they had, somewhat unfairly, in 2000, when prescribed burning by the agency had actually facilitated the similar catastrophe of that year. Not that any of the employees of the site cared, as their offices burned and they had to scramble with masks to conduct FEMA personnel to containers of hazardous waste that could not aerosolize under any circumstances.

How had this happened? The officials told the press that they thought it had something to do with a combination of factors. The devastating and likely deliberate arrival of invasive insects which had weakened unbelievable quantities of woodland, and unusually high and erratic winds which were exacerbated by low pressure areas over the wildfire.

By seven pm, acres of offices had burned. At seven-fifteen pm, power at the facility and in the surrounding county was lost. This didn’t severely hamper coordination efforts by emergency personnel, though. As expected, they had planned for this contingency. But it did make things more frustrating for the firefighters, who by this point, had already lost two personnel today to heat stroke. Shortly after eight, severe disruptions were reported in the computer networks of the Santa Fe Dispatch Center, which was tasked with dispatching firefighting resources to Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pecos National Historic Park, and Las Vegas District, among other locations. Again, the impact on the firefighting effort was minimal. The individuals quarterbacking the firefight were actually located in a fire camp on the eastern side of the Pajarito Mesa. But that wasn’t the point. No, like the power outage, this disruption’s purpose was to mislead intelligence officials. It would later be determined that both events stemmed from cyber attacks originating from a server belonging to Greenpeace, in Germany. And that in both cases, the malicious code used was a variant of the Trojan horse Quechua. A few days later, messages would be intercepted by CIA, ostensibly from the senior leadership of Al Qaeda, congratulating commanders for a well-run operation carried out in cooperation with elements of Greenpeace against the military research backbone of the United States, in response to major U.S. ground operations in Syria to combat ISIL. Earlier e-mails recovered later from a Darknet server would reveal an ongoing series of communications between the two organizations dating back as far as eighteen months.

At twelve forty-three am, it was reported that all of the more critical hazardous materials were expected to be secured or rendered inert by FEMA by four am and it was announced that firefighters would begin to withdraw at that time. The situation had gone beyond their control.

And at one am exactly, a lone firefighter walked through a courtyard and entered into what would soon no longer be the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory. The building was already starting to burn. Having never been here before, he consulted a map that he had memorized by rote and followed it with inhuman calm. Up one corridor, down another. Somewhere, far away, a ceiling collapsed. He kept walking. Looked down. His boots were leaving sooty footprints on the immaculate floor. Oh well.

The smell of smoke penetrated his mask and he crinkled his nose. Turning the last corner, he arrived at the computer lab and beat the door down with his ax, stepping over it and inside. He looked around. On the counter, there were a pair of old Solaris Unix workstations. Behind them was a glass window, overlooking a large bank of servers, their status indicators blank in the emergency light.

Turning one of the computers over, he opened up its case and removed its hard drive. Stifling a sneeze, he did the same to the one next to it and stole a glance over his shoulder. No one there. He heard his regulator click as he breathed in air from the tank on his back. Hiss, click. Hiss, click. He looked back down at the opened cases. Clutching the bag that was dangling from his shoulder, he set it down on the counter. His mind was already estimating the amount of time it would take to get the hard drives from the bank of servers. He placed the hard drives inside.

The hard drives were out of the country in two weeks. Via FedEx.

The destruction of Los Alamos was a catastrophe. And bizarre. Elements of an activist organization known worldwide for peaceful operation had somehow formed a strange, destructive coalition with one of the most notorious terrorist groups on Earth. The rough hypothesis developed by intelligence agencies was that a radical faction of Greenpeace had formed a relationship with Al Qaeda more than a year and a half ago after major U.S. ground operations intensified in Syria and then that faction had given birth to Blackbody Six, which they had continued to fund and collaborate with.

All over the world, Greenpeace and suspected Anonymous servers were subpoenaed by law enforcement agencies. All worked together against a new and unexpected threat. Eco-terrorists. The very notion sounded laughable. But now things had changed. It took months to sort through all the data and interrogate everyone.

But it was around the second month that they began to realize that the pieces simply did not fit together. There was a profound lack of compelling evidence on Greenpeace’s and Anonymous’ servers that anyone had any knowledge of the New Mexico plan. Malicious code had been traced to a Greenpeace server but not one server was found that seemed set up for hacking.

And then there was the nagging problem of secrecy. There was no chatter in Greenpeace e-mails about a plot to trigger wildfires. That was going back two years. Through examination, it became clear that Greenpeace was not nearly compartmentalized enough for a subset to execute a plot like this while keeping it secret from most of the rest of the organization. As time passed, investigators assimilated this reality. And confronted an alternative, and far more sinister explanation.

This explanation was confirmed when new conditions at Los Alamos permitted access to the site and it was discovered that many sensitive hard drives were not among the rubble. The moment that discovery was made, investigators knew that a state was involved. Greenpeace had no use for nuclear weapon designs. Unfortunately, however, by design, it was already far too late to make any arrests. As planned, the real perpetrators were well out of harm’s way before investigators made this critical discovery.
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