TESLA

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Summary

Darren Mathews, a former Australian SAS super soldier, is a loving father married to his soulmate, Anna Mathews. They are both devoted parents, living with their daughter, Dana, on a small island off the coast of Florida. They seem to have the perfect family life, but they are hiding a dangerous secret: they both work for the Orange Corporation, an umbrella company of the CIA controlled by the shadow government. From aliens to giants, they have seen all that the Hidden Hand has kept from the world. Almost. When a routine recovery mission puts Darren face-to-face with original Tesla documents, he makes an impulsive decision which will alter the course of not only his own fate but the fates of his wife and daughter forever. What will Darren do with the Tesla notes and diagrams? Will the shadow government discover what he has done? And will Anna turn her husband over to the Hidden Hand, or will she stick with him for better or worse—until death do they part?

Genre:
Mystery / Thriller
Author:
JasonWalker369
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
16
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Prologue

Eiffel Tower

Location: Paris, France

Year: 1889

The Eiffel Tower’s wrought-iron lattices glimmered in the lights surrounding the Champ de Mars. The day had ended with many anxious Parisians and tourists awaiting the opening of the magnificent structure named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built it. It took two years to make, from 1887 to 1889, and it was supposed to be over the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, only a week away now. It was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but what they didn’t know at the time was that the tower would go on to become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

The tower was 324 meters tall and was the tallest structure in Paris. During its construction, it surpassed the Washington Monument in America’s capital to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title that it would hold for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930.

The tower had three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second levels. The top level’s upper platform was 276 meters above the ground—the highest observation deck accessible to the public in all of Europe. The climb from ground level to the first level was over 300 steps, as was the climb from the first level to the second. Although there was a staircase to the top level, it was usually accessible only by lift.

Three men climbed the stairs of the Eiffel Tower. Were they to be passed by the numerous tourists that would later fill the structure on the opening of the World’s Fair, someone would have recognized them. Thomas Edison was forty-two years old and had already gained international notoriety for his inventions and cutthroat business acumen. Next to him was his far more soft-spoken, yet no less brilliant, thirty-three-year-old Nikola Tesla. And serving as a barrier between the two scientists, breathing a bit heavier than his younger companions was fifty-four-year-old humorist Samuel Clemens, better known to the world by his pen name, Mark Twain.

The tension between Edison and his former employee was palpable, the air so rigid that Twain found himself struggling to breathe from how anxious it made him feel. These two men were powerhouses of personality and genius, and the fire of their imaginations was matched only by their mutual animosity. Things had hardly been civil with these two men since Tesla left Edison Machine Works. Twain wasn’t even sure what could have possessed Alexandre Gustave Eiffel to invite both men to the same meeting. His only guess was that Eiffel needed young Tesla’s extraordinary intellect for something and Edison was too deeply involved in their societies for him to not be invited.

Twain sighed as he glanced up at how much further they had to go. At the very least, all of this would make for good material for his next short story. He was writing another science tale, like his “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” though this one would be a murder mystery set in London. Whenever he spent time with his two brilliant friends, he inevitably learned some new words of science he could apply to his work.

On the final landing before the top of the tower, Eiffel himself was waiting for the three men with a broad smile.

“Bonjour, mes amis! Bienvenue à Paris. Comment allez-vous çe soir, Messieurs?” he greeted them, heartily shaking each man’s hand, starting with Edison. When he came to Tesla, he lingered a moment longer than he did with Edison and Twain, looking the younger man square in the eye.

“You must be Monsieur Tesla! I have heard much about you. I am Alexandre Gustave Eiffel.”

“Bonjour,” Tesla replied in accented Austrian. “Thank you so much for having us, Mr. Eiffel.” Tesla grinned back at Eiffel. He took a quick look out of the corner of his eye at Edison, and seeing the sour look on the other man’s face, his grin widened. Tesla did so enjoy seeing Thomas annoyed.

“Please, Nikola—if I may call you Nikola—call me Gustave.”

“Of course, Gustave,” Tesla agreed and shook the man’s hand once more.

Eiffel stepped back and opened his arms to the three men in a grand gesture. “Well, gentlemen, we have many friends waiting for us. We should go join them before they get too impatient. I am afraid I left the bourbon unattended, so we must hurry if we wish to sample any.”

Tesla, Twain, and Edison followed Eiffel to the top of the tower. They stopped in front of a nondescript door of the same metal and shade of black as the rest of the structure. If one did not already know it existed, it could easily be overlooked. Eiffel stepped up to the door and was about to reach for the handle when he suddenly stopped and looked over his shoulder at Tesla.

“Monsieur Nikola, what you are about to see has been seen by very, very few others,” he said.

Edison exhaled through his nose in annoyance. He had grown impatient with Eiffel’s sycophancy. “Can we get on with it,” he said tersely.

Eiffel ignored the man’s gruffness and continued to grin at Tesla. “Only the most talented and brilliant people in their respective fields, the most elite members of society, are given the honor of being here. That means you must never tell another soul about this place. Ça va?”

Tesla quickly nodded. “Yes, Gustave. I won’t tell anyone.” Nikola had grown accustomed to keeping secrets, due in large part, if not entirely, because of Thomas.

“Good.” Eiffel winked. “I appreciate your discretion, Nikola.”

When Eiffel opened the door, it revealed a secret apartment complete with furnishings and a kitchenette. To their left was a sitting room filled with well-dressed men sipping bourbon and chatting away. The men looked up at their appearance, and several saluted the newcomers with a raise of their glasses.

“Messieurs,” Eiffel addressed these men, “I am sure you all remember Thomas and Samuel.” Acknowledgement rumbled throughout the group.

“Mark!” one of them exclaimed, motioning toward Twain with his glass. “So good to see you. Did you jump here all the way from Calaveras County? Or did you take just take the frog?”

The group burst out in laughter, and Edison nudged Twain the ribs with his elbow. Even Eiffel chuckled.

Twain let out an exasperated sigh and waved his hand dismissively at the group. “No, I’m afraid some cheat poured lead shot down its throat and it was far too sluggish to make it here in time for the World’s Fair,” Twain replied, causing the men to laugh even harder.

Twain took a seat next to his heckler and Edison sat directly across from him, leaving Eiffel standing beside Tesla and addressing the room. “I would like to introduce you all to our special guest, Monsieur Nikola Tesla.” Eiffel gestured to the man.

The men offered greetings to Tesla, but he was not paying them any heed. His gaze locked onto something to his right: a fully equipped lab, sterilized, well lit, and filled with only the latest tools and technology. In fact, there were many devices and tools in the lab which Tesla did not even recognize.

“Nikola!” Eiffel’s voice snapped him back to the gathering.

“Hm? Yes?” Tesla blinked and looked at the room, almost forgetting where he was for an instant.

“I was just introducing you to the group,” Eiffel said.

Tesla nodded and turned to face Eiffel’s guests. “Yes, of course. A pleasure to meet you all. I beg your pardon, my mind tends to wander, and I could not help but notice your lab, Gustave.”

Gustave laughed. “Yes, I thought you and Edison both would like this addition to the apartment.”

Edison sat up in his chair and peered over at the corner lab, though he did not allow himself to show any overt emotion. He may have been impressed, but he’d never let on like his younger colleague did.

Tesla gazed over the lab once again. “It is a very nice one, I’ll admit. Much nicer than anywhere I’ve worked before.”

Twain smirked and raised a brow at Edison before throwing back his bourbon. Edison glared at Tesla and sipped at his drink but otherwise acted as though he has not heard Tesla’s thinly veiled insult.

“Perhaps I can give you a tour after our meeting is done, ça va?” Eiffel offered.

“Sounds wonderful,” Tesla smiled politely and silently wished he could tour the room at this very moment. Seldom had he seen such a fine setup that was not his own design. He sat with Eiffel, and the meeting began.

The men spoke for over three hours, and eventually, Tesla grew weary of waiting and rose to stretch his legs and wander the apartment. He soon lost track of what the men were saying, he was too distracted by the details of the hidden home. He peered at the shelves and cabinets in awe of the ingenuity of the architects and engineers who had been able to hide such luxuries within this wrought iron lattice tower. The rooms had been supplied with the most up-to-date equipment, including electric lighting provided by—much to Tesla’s disdain—Edison’s incandescent light bulbs. The poor choice of lighting aside, he admired the equipment in these rooms, as well as the wrought iron frame that was the tower encasing them.

“Isn’t that right, Tesla?” someone asked aloud.

Tesla was brought out of his reverie by Edison’s voice scraping his eardrums. He looked around at the men’s faces and realized that any business they had been conducting must have been over with for several minutes, replaced by more of the good-natured conversation and camaraderie that Tesla, Edison, Twain, and Eiffel had come in on.

“Pardon me, my mind was wandering,” Tesla explained with a sheepish grin. Edison snorted, but Nikola ignored him and asked, “Would you mind repeating what you said?”

Edison replied, “I was just telling our friends here about the hilarious prank that my manager and I played on you before you quite suddenly quit Edison Machine Works,” Edison drawled, a smirk tugging at the corners of his lips.

Tesla’s smile disappeared and brow furrowed. “I don’t remember any sort of prank, Mr. Edison, but I do distinctly recall you owing me a $50,000 bonus for designing twenty-four different types of standard machines.”

Edison waved his hand dismissively. “That was the prank! Ah, you still don’t understand American humor after all these years, do you, my friend?”

All the men except for Tesla, Twain, and Eiffel laughed. Twain and Eiffel exchanged a look, clearly concerned about what this argument might escalate to.

Tesla clenched his fist behind his back but, being the gentleman that he was, merely forced a smile and said, “I suppose not, friend.”

As Tesla hissed that final word, everyone else fell silent, truly appreciating the animosity between the two inventors. Some men dared to sip from their drinks, the ice clinking together, but that was all that they did. No one was willing to break the tension, and some even anticipated a row. Tesla and Edison stared each other down, Tesla trying to suppress his anger while Edison just watching him with unparalleled amusement.

“Well,” Eiffel finally said with a loud clap of his hands and stepping to block Tesla and Edison’s view of each other. “It seems that our gathering should be coming to a close, Messieurs. You will be contacted with the time and location of our next meeting. Please, remember to leave either by yourself or with one other person, and try to give a few minutes between departures to avoid drawing attention. Merci. Bon soir, mes amis!”

The men trickled out in singles and in pairs, with Edison and Twain the last to leave. Twain offered a sympathetic glance to the other inventor, and with a kind nod, Tesla thanked the writer for bringing them. Soon, only Eiffel and Tesla remained.

Eiffel handed Tesla a fresh drink and clinked the glass. “So, you wish to have a tour of the lab, c’est vrai?”

Tesla nodded. “Yes, please, if you would be so kind.”

“Come, then.” Eiffel gestured for Tesla to go first, and the two made their way from the sitting area to the lab. “What do you think of our little… organization?”

Tesla sighed and said, “I am afraid that I really did not pay enough attention to pass any judgment.”

Eiffel chuckled. “Yes, yes, you were very distracted, it seemed. What could have been going through that brilliant mind of yours?”

Tesla’s posture straightened some at the compliment, though Nikola was far from the egocentric man Edison was. “I was just admiring your accomplishment, Gustave,” he said politely. “The Tower itself is impressive enough, but to fit an apartment and small lab inside it as well? And for it to be completely undetectable from the outside?”

“Ah, yes. Well, my friends and I do like our privacy. It makes conducting business much easier, you know.”

Tesla nodded slowly. “That is what you were doing tonight, correct? Business?”

“Yes.”

Tesla felt his cheeks flush. “I apologize for not paying closer attention. It must not have left a very good impression on the others.”

“C’est la vie. Think nothing of it. They know that a mind of your caliber can be hard to harness, especially when so close to technological wonders.”

“You flatter me.”

“It is true.” Eiffel chortled. “Of course, I would be lying if I said I invited you here just to show off my toys.” He leaned against a lab table that had been cleared earlier that day, and Tesla followed suit as the Frenchman continued, “You see, I am looking for someone to help me design a wireless transmission system for the Tower.”

Tesla’s eyes widened. “A wireless transmission system? Me?” His eyes suddenly narrowed with suspicion. “Why didn’t you ask Thomas while he was here? He is already a member of your organization.”

“I talked to him before. His ideas were no good,” Eiffel said lazily and sipped his drink.

Tesla can’t stop himself from smiling. “I didn’t think I would ever hear those words spoken about Edison.”

Eiffel leaned toward Tesla and spoke in a hushed tone. “You must not tell anyone this, but I do not trust him. I do not think he is as much of a genius as he wants everyone to believe. He is smart, certainly, perhaps one of the smartest men of our generation, but I feel he might be more of a showman than an inventor. I have heard many rumors about him stealing designs and patents right out from under inventors’ noses, and every rumor must start with something.”

Tesla held back his dark thoughts and simply offered a polite, “Believe me, Gustave, I understand.”

“I knew you would. You see, you are not like Thomas. I see much potential in you, and I doubt you would ever need to steal another’s ideas. The rumors about you have been much more favorable.”

Tesla’s smile wavered and he felt beads of sweat begin to gather on his forehead. He resisted the urge to pull out a handkerchief and dab them off. “What might those rumors be?”

“That you helped to design something that went into the Washington Monument several years ago. Something so secret that you would not be able to tell me about it even if you wanted to.”

Tesla hesitated then nodded. “Yes, you can say that something of that nature occurred.”

Eiffel put his hand on Tesla’s shoulder and gave it a firm squeeze. “Do not worry, your secret is safe with me. It just shows me that you are truly the best of the best.”

“Thomas is not going to like that,” Tesla muttered, hidden laughter coloring voice.

“Well, all the better for you, right, my friend?” Eiffel and Tesla both laughed at the inventor’s expense. “So, before I give you a tour of the lab, do you have any suggestions? As you have seen for yourself, winters can be quite harsh here and I am afraid that the wireless transmission designs we have been working on so far will not do well in such conditions.”

Tesla turned all the way around, scanning the room and imagining the outside of the Eiffel Tower in his mind’s eye. He stopped as an idea hit him. “Gustave, have you ever considered adding an antenna to this structure?”

Months went by, and Eiffel and Tesla worked closely to design a wireless transmission system for the Eiffel Tower. Out of courtesy—and knowing that he would hear about it eventually and complain—Eiffel invited Edison to join them. All the older inventor did, however, was criticize Tesla’s ideas, sometimes even mocking them. Tesla and Eiffel continued the project without Edison’s toxic influence, and by the early 1900s an antenna was installed at the top of the Tower. A fully operating wireless transmission system was installed not too long afterward, and by World War I, the French military was using it to search for communication among spies and their contacts. Thanks to Tesla’s design, the French military captured a female German spy and hanged her for the crime of espionage in 1915.

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