Chapter 72 - Resignations at the White House
Chapter 72 – Resignations at The White House
The President accepted the resignations of both the Head of Whitehouse Press Office and of the NSA Director. After a period of what lawyers called Gardening Leave, which was a notice period where they were paid to keep out of the public eye, both Sally Carmichael and General Kevin Alexander were free to further their careers. Not as easy as you may think for the ex-Head of the Whitehouse Press Office and the ex-NSA Director. Neither had risen through the ranks without making enemies along the way. As the saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. They had both made some pretty big omelettes in their careers.
Both published their memoirs. They worked with separate publishers and ghost writers. The books came out about the same time, but neither made it to the best seller list.
Sally was a master of self-publicity of course, and it wasn’t long before she was back in the papers in her own right. She joined one of the many Government lobbying firms in and around the Washington DC area, but quickly became bored with the constant round of breakfast, lunches and cocktail parties.
As she put it to a long-time girlfriend and confident ‘my job is to flirt with fat old men with bad breath, so other fat old men with bad breath get what they want.’
Kevin Alexander had taken a consultancy job with QinetiQ the UK based defence contractor. QinetiQ’s British CEO was in town, and the firm was hosting a cocktail party at the Washington Four Seasons Hotel, just off Pennsylvania Avenue. The General had hired Sally’s lobbying firm to fill the room with interesting peoplefrom The Pentagon and US Defence Department officials. The General wanted to make an impression on the CEO.
In the end they had a reasonably successful evening. The CEO went away happy, and took his entourage with him. All except Michel Devereau the Deputy Director of ESA who had somehow got himself invited to the event. Sally towered over Michel in her high heels, which gave Michel an eye level view of her cleavage in her low cut cocktail dress. He had clearly not forgotten the favour he was owed for the press release about the asteroid, and had conveniently taken a suite in the hotel for the night.
There were twenty or so people left in the room apart from Michel and Sally, mostly pretty hostesses employed by the lobbying firm as introducers. The introducers’ job was to poor drinks and introduce the guests to each other so that the interesting people got to mix.
There were also some men and women in uniform. These were recently retired US military officers paid by the lobbying firm to attend these events and ‘mix’. Also the General was there of course, resplendent in his dress uniform. There were also four catering staff from the Hotel who had served canapés to the guests.
Sally was the most senior representative from the lobbying firm that night and was in charge of the event. The rule was no one went home until after the last guest had left, and the person in charge released you. Everyone was waiting for Sally to finish talking to the short Belgian. They had all had enough to eat, you can only eat so many small bites of smoked salmon with quail’s eggs, and enough to drink.
They all drank alcohol sparingly, so the guests felt they were not drinking alone, but most of their glasses of champagne were still full. The liquid inside had long since warmed to reach room temperature. The bubbles were no longer effervescent.
The staff were standing around in small groups, chatting amongst themselves, and trying not to look at their watches, or look in Sally’s direction. Eventually the General came to her rescue, butting into the conversation much to Michel’s annoyance.
‘Michel’, he said, ’Holding out his right hand.
The Belgian had just accepted a fresh glass of Champagne and changed the glass from his right to his left hand so he could shake the General’s outstretched hand. The General could feel the dampness of the chilled glass as he shook Michel’s hand warmly.
‘Michel, it has been wonderful to see you, and thank you so much for coming. I do hope to be able to see you in Europe next time I’m over.’
‘Likewise’, said Sally.
And with that, the General deftly took the glass from Michel’s left hand, and still gripping his right hand as if in a handshake marched him to the door. Sally waived goodbye and before Michel could protest, the General shut the door to the suite and locked it from the inside. Sally mouthed a silent ‘thank you’.
Sally thanked and dismissed the staff. They all ignored the gentle tapping at the door, and Sally and the General took the service elevator down to the front desk, where they stepped into a waiting taxi. They couldn’t help their laughter, even though they both knew how unprofessional it was.
That night in Sally’s apartment they decided to set-up in business together.
The plan was simple really, they both knew a lot of people. They could bring clients in to lobby and do media relations for them. Why work for someone else, when you could do it just as well for yourself?
Despite Sally’s tiredness they sat up to 2 AM making their plans. The General slept on her couch that night.
Now 3 months on, Alexander Carmichael and Partners was boasting six clients. They had offices on Pennsylvania Avenue. The General’s second wife had filed for divorce, and the General slept most nights in Sally’s bed. Neither did anything to hide this amongst Washington society, and it kept their names in the papers. This was all good for business.
However, it had been a gruelling few months, and they decided on a short vacation. So they left a wet and windy Washington DC for a week of sunshine in Jamaica.
They travelled on a scheduled flight to Orlando and then changed planes for the flight to Jamaica. A few heads had turned on the Orlando flight, they were reasonably well known faces, but on the Jamaica flight they were just treated as ordinary passengers.
Everyone on the flight seemed to be on vacation, and nobody was interested in talking politics. Let alone Sally and the General. They arrived in their rental car at the Buff Bay guest house as two totally anonymous American tourists. After a couple of welcoming rum punches and a swim in the pool they were both a million miles from Washington and ready to relax.
Sally had chosen the Guest House with care. They wanted a no-fuss anonymity. Somewhere where other American tourists were unlikely to go and recognise them. Plus they had both had enough of the inside of luxury hotel chains like the Four Seasons. If they had stayed there or at a Marriott, they may as well have stayed in Washington. The design and the decor of those hotels was so similar the world over.
The Guest House served no-nonsense home cooked food. Fresh fish and Jerk Chicken were the specialties. It had a bar and a pool, and good access to a sandy beach. But by the third day they had both had a little too much sun, and decided to take the car the next day to explore the Island a little.
The General had lived his life by a plan and a routine, and on vacation he liked to do the opposite. They just left when they were ready after breakfast, and they decided to drive along the coast until they wanted to turn around and come back. The rental car had an inbuilt sat-nav, so the General was not concerned about getting lost. They drove east along the coast towards Port Antonio.
The stopped at the Port resort for lunch, and like most places the restaurant had free Wi-Fi. They both checked their emails on their smart-phones and dealt with some minor business issues.
Sally pulled up Google maps and leaning contentedly into the General’s shoulder, they both looked at the small screen as sally swiped her finger across the map to move it on her smartphone screen. As she did so the names of towns and villages appeared. Then the name Williams Field appeared.
The name took the General back to another conversation several months previously, and he remembered the name of the safe-house that Jesus had been taken to. He explained the significance to Sally, who looked at him curiously. They were both thinking the same thing, and thought ‘why not?’ Neither had seen this creature from another world, and they were curious.
Just before they left the restaurant, the General went to the men’s room and locked himself in the only cubicle. There were some things known only to himself and that he had not shared with Sally. During his time at the NSA he had stored documents on a secure server. He had done this discretely. In his job, he trusted no one. This was his insurance, should things ever become difficult.
The process to save the documents was easy. The NSA spent most of its resources monitoring internet traffic and the vast amounts of data that moved around the world every day. The powerful computers were programmed to look for code words, phrases and patterns. The General knew if he had emailed the documents to himself there would have been a record that the NSA would have tracked.
To avoid being spied on themselves, the NSA often used memory sticks to exchange documents. These small devices or flash drives were about half the size of a packet of cigarette papers and would fit in almost any computer using a standard USB port. Nonetheless the memory sticks contained vast amounts of data. The data on them was automatically encrypted and protected with a password. If the password was used incorrectly three times the data on them was automatically erased.
The General kept dozens of these memory sticks in his office drawer, and if he had to take a document home to work on, would often ask his assistants to save it on a memory stick so he could work on it on his home computer. He often added additional documents to the files his assistants had saved for him. In this way, he sequestered vast amounts of data, including all of the highly-classified Silver Testament and Silver Shield documents. Accessing them now was through an unbreakable 128-bit encryption link between his smart phone and his files. He quickly found the details of the CIA safe house at Williams Field, and even the records of the two agents assigned to guarding Jesus.
He committed the details to memory and the deleted the downloaded information from his smartphone.
Their rental car was an Audi, and the air conditioning system was highly efficient. Despite the heat of mid-afternoon, the car was cool.
The General deliberately drove by the sign to Williams Field even though Sally pointed it out to him. He explained that he wanted to drive the back way around, because there would almost certainly be CCTV on the main gate.
From the main road, they could see nothing of the big house or the heli-pad. But before they took the next right after the Williams Field sign, they saw a helicopter rise into the sky. The helicopter was not close enough to see who was inside and rapidly flew away out to the open sea.
He didn’t really know what he was doing here, but it was an adventure, and being this close to his old world of highly sensitive US secrets was stimulating. He slowed the car and pulled to the side of the road under some tall trees. This was a single-track road that skirted the rear of the property. There was a high wall, but appeared no obvious barbed wire or alarm systems. There was a faded sign on the wall saying Jacobs Creek – Private.
Although the sun was shining, he could see rain clouds building in the gaps between the tree branches. He had learned that it rained heavily most afternoons in Jamaica for 15-20 minutes, and then the sun came out again. He said to Sally, ‘Let’s wait in the car until it rains, it will give us better cover. We can then take a look over that wall.’
Sally looked up at the gathering rain clouds, and said ‘OK’. She then got out her smartphone and began to browse. She began a monologue commenting on the information she found, ‘it’s also raining in DC, Democrats want a vote on gay marriage, German Chancellor is in town …’
He kept the engine running so the air conditioning continued to function, and although he was listening to Sally’s monologue he was also watching the wall to the property for any sign of movement.
When the first oily drops of rain hit the windscreen, the General turned off the engine and they both got out of the car. The heat hit them immediately in spite of the rain. The General felt the perspiration start, part heat, part excitement. He loved the adrenalin rush of action.
The General found a convenient tree and scaled to the top of the wall. He put a hand down and Sally scrambled over after him. They crouched under some trees, sheltering from the worst of the rain. There appeared to be a path to their left, the General pointed and holding Sally’s hand began to move towards it.
The General was startled to see a tall handsome young black man staring down at them from the end of the path. His features appeared serene, as if perfectly chiselled from black marble. He seemed to have appeared from nowhere.
The General raised his arm to waive, and was about to say they were tourists and had got lost, when the high velocity bullet tore into him. He was dead before his body hit the ground.
It was a difficult shot through the trees and the rain, but the CIA agents Mat and Jessica had been selected for a reason. They were both excellent shots. The second bullet fired from Mat’s high velocity rifle left most of Sally’s head splattered against the perimeter wall. The newly promoted NSA Director, the Admiral, had just left by helicopter and given the agents specific instructions to shoot any intruders on site.
Jesus continued to walk along the path until he came to both the inert bodies. He couldn’t believe why these people still inflicted this type of violent death upon each other.
The two agents jogged up to the inert bodies and ensured they were both dead, then Mat climbed over the perimeter wall and checked the unlocked rental car.
Only when Jessica rolled the General’s body over to look at his face did she recognise him.
‘O shit’, she said under her breath. But they had their orders, shoot intruders on site. No information about the Silver man must ever be allowed to leak out.
Later that evening, the silver space craft appeared from the night sky and hovered perfectly just above the helicopter landing pad.
Jesus walked up the side steps and touched an invisible panel on the side of the craft. A door opened and he stepped inside. The door closed behind him. Shortly he emerged in his silver suit. No part of him was visible, but Mary could tell it was him by the way he moved and the set of his shoulders.
He waved to the small group of people below the launch pad, then turned with the grace of a ballet dancer and stepped inside the craft. It hovered for a few seconds just above the launch pad and then rose silently, rapidly disappearing into the night sky.
Mary waved with Mat, Jessica, Jed and Lisa and through tears, whispered to herself ‘God bless you Jesus.’
Ali and the Admiral stood to the side. They hoped Jesus would succeed.
The Admiral had returned once news of the shootings reached him. He could now focus on what to do about his ex-boss’s body and his lover, the ex-White House head of the press office, both sealed in body bags in the basement below the heli-pad. He also had to decide what to do about Jed and Lisa, they had heard the shots.
Jesus took up a position just behind the elimination capsule. He could see it growing in size. The sensors indicated that the planned destruction of Earth was a hybrid approach, there was to be an impact, followed by the controlled release of an organic virus. It was uncertain how the planet would be affected by the large impact, so the organic virus capsules would be activated later to a greater or lesser degree.
He was feeling the effects of high velocity space flight now. He felt a little light headed and found it difficult to focus. His sensitive and immature rebirth tissues should not be subjected to those rigors, until he was later through his cycle. This was a very dangerous thing he was doing.
The asteroid was growing in size through a constant realignment of the carbon molecules inside. The elimination capsules were buried inside it, they had activated the carbon growth. After the impact, the deadly organic virus would be released remotely if required. The impact would not release the virus, the capsules were designed to withstand these cataclysmic events.
His craft carried no weapons, what he had to do was reverse the growing process until the asteroid shrunk in size. He would then pick up the elimination capsule and fly it into the sun. Only the intense heat of a star could destroy the elimination capsules.
He used a high frequency laser, similar to the one he had used to stun Greta, the King and his two companions about 1,000 Earth years before. However, this time the laser was programmed to a different frequency. The effect was to reverse the chemical vapor disposition process that allowed the carbon atoms to multiply.
He was feeling the effects of the space sickness and his calculations were challenging. He found it difficult to concentrate on the complex formula to calculate the exact laser frequency. He programmed the laser to the required frequency, and fired it at the asteroid in three 10 second bursts. It was a powerful laser beam, and used a great deal of the stored energy on the craft.
The effect of the laser was delayed, because there was momentum within the asteroid. The asteroid would continue to grow for about 1 Earth hour before it would begin to shrink.
After an hour, the asteroid was still growing. He checked his calculations, and realised he had made an error. He then re-programmed the laser. He fired it again. Three 10 second bursts.
The Silver man slumped at the control console on the Silver craft. He ate some high-energy food. The effect of the space sickness was terrible. He realised he must get back to Earth to continue his rebirth, or he may never be able to fully regenerate again.
His instruments told him that the craft was now down below half of the stored energy reserves. He didn’t want to think about the fact, that if he had to fire the laser again, he would probably not have enough energy to fly the asteroid to the sun and return to Earth.
He felt alone, and desperately wanted to talk to someone. He couldn’t communicate with his own people, he desperately wanted to speak with Mary. But he couldn’t risk opening a communication channel for fear of detection. So, he waited, tears filling his eyes. It was a human emotion he realised.
At last the hour passed and the asteroid began to shrink. It would be a few hours before the object was small enough to be towed by the craft. But he busied himself connecting the towing structure.
He calculated the energy needed to tow the asteroid and then return to Earth. It was going to take the crafts energy reserves down to within dangerously low levels. So, he decided to tow the asteroid at a slow speed to conserve energy. Unfortunately, this slow-speed flight made him more easily detectable both from his people and from astronomers on Earth.
The flight to the Sun would normally have been a few minutes, but because he wanted to save energy and because of the weight of the towed asteroid, the journey took two Erath days to complete. All this extra time in space while his body tissues were not fully re-generated, took its toll on his strength.
He released the asteroid about halfway between the orbit of the smallest planet Mercury and the Sun. A mixture of the momentum from the journey and the Sun’s massive gravitational pull accelerated the asteroid into the fiery heat of the Earth’s closest star. He watched alone as the asteroid and the elimination capsules were consumed into the white-hot mass. He turned the craft back towards Earth and collapsed at the controls, exhausted.
The two nearest planets, that he knew the humans called Mercury and Venus, had no water for refuelling, So Jesus used the last of the crafts energy reserves to return to Earth at half speed. He removed his silver suit as the craft touched down on the helicopter pad in Jamaica. It was early morning, before anyone was up.
There was a golden sunrise. The birds were singing. He stepped naked into the pool. He closed his eyes and floated for a few seconds.
As he opened them Mary came into view carrying a clean robe. Her smile turned to concern as she saw his drawn and haggard features. She knew he had succeeded, NASA had tracked the asteroid. But she now saw, at what cost to his health.
Jesus slept for the next 18 hours and when he awoke he admitted to Mary that he thought the damage was permanent. He would not be able to be re-born again. They wept together.
At the exact moment that the elimination capsules were destroyed by the white-hot heat of the sun, Greta awoke.
She smiled to herself as she heard JC’s gentle snores, as he lay next to her in the huge bed in their New York apartment. The grey uncertainty of her terrible vision had just vanished. Her certainty of seeing New York City in ruins with scores of dead people had just disappeared. She didn’t know why or how it had occurred, but she now knew that she was free of the terrible burden of her vision 1,000 years ago, the uncertainty of the future was gone.
She patted her stomach.
Although it was still the middle of the night in New York, it was morning in Fleet, England. Ellen had just awoken and was sitting up in bed drinking her morning tea, while Keith sat next to her reading the morning papers. These days they took both the Telegraph and the Daily Chronicle, Cathy Murphy was now the Deputy Editor of the Chronicle.
Keith was reading a story in the Telegraph about an asteroid that appeared to be on a collision course with the Sun. There was a spokesman from ESA, a Michel Devereau, claiming it was not anything unusual.
Apparently, this had been anticipated, and in an unprecedented spirit of cooperation between the US, Russia and China, they had all sent deep exploration rockets to investigate. Apparently, the operation had cost the US $37.5 billion. Or as the headline put it:
US wastes third of a Trillion dollars on space mission.
His friend from NASA, Dr Ali Palaszwaski, was quoted denying a report in the Weekly World News that two Chinese astronauts had been sent on a suicide mission. Keith made a mental note to email Ali and see how he was doing.
The front page of the Daily Chronicle was about a mysterious double murder in Jamaica of two senior ex-US Government employees. Apparently, some drug related thing, and unconnected with the third of a trillion overspend.
All of a sudden Ellen felt Greta’s joy. The cats stirred in the bedroom, and Ellen let out a small cheer, punching her fist in the air as if he had scored a goal, ’yes, yes’. She yelped.
Keith looked up startled, thinking there was something wrong. ‘You OK?’ he asked.
‘Yes, I’m fine she said, just some good news from Greta.’ Ellen took his hand and put it on her pregnant stomach. Ellen also felt Greta’s comforting touch on her belly from her bed 3,500 miles away in New York. By now Keith was used to the way that Ellen was able to communicate with Greta using some form of telepathy, and he accepted it without question.
Even though she was thousands of miles away, Greta could feel the new Sister growing in Ellen’s womb. She knew she would be a very special Sister. Greta wondered now that the terrible burden of her vision had passed, could she also experience the elation of her own child? She began kissing the back of JC’s neck.