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Infectis Chapter ? – “Ground Control”

February 21, 2012

Don’t you struggle
Don’t you fight
Don’t you worry…


The television was loud enough to cover most of the conversation from the next table, but the blond man could still make out what the girl from the Thailand section was discussing with the man across from her, the Scandinavian agriculture expert.

“Who were they going to run? Jesse Jackson?”

The agriculture expert just snickered and looked down at his Diet Coke.

The blond man just sat quietly as did the black-haired man across from him. The nice thing about afternoons in the cafeteria was that there were so few people. Blond-man guessed that Ag-expert felt safer talking to Thailand with people nearby. In the event that things got awkward, he could look over and say, Hey, what about those Cavaliers?

But clearly he did not look close enough at Blond- or Black-Hair. Especially Black-Hair.

First, he was clearly wearing the sign of a visitor. Large and bold, it ensured that the principles of LLSS would be followed by even the most absentminded, geekiest genius people working here.

If that weren’t enough, Black-hair also wore his sunglasses inside. That should have been clue enough: Stay the f*** away.

But then how much contact did people like Ag-expert have with field people? Not much at all. And that was probably why he was clearly going to foul out with Thailand: he just didn’t have the stuff to close the deal. Too bad.

Blond-man thought all of this largely as a way of not thinking too much about Black-hair. Black-hair didn’t like it when people recalled a single goddamn thing about him. Never met him before. Where he was from still didn’t even exist officially. The man was like the place: not something to even be thought about much less discussed or recalled.

But Blond-man had met his share of scary people. Stormin’ Norman had just come very close to mentioning one on CNN. And Schwarzkopf was stumping for Bush. Trotting out the war president stuff always helped.

Scary people made good cover for whatever it was they were really after. A culture of hero-worship made sure people didn’t ask questions. John Wayne and Gene Autry had been replaced by Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger; cowboys replaced with gun-toting no-nonsense good guys. The kind you want to have a beer with. The kind that made them feel safe from all of the bulls*** they threw at them every day to scare the s*** out of them.

That was what the American people thought they were.

Not the public servants eking out a wage that they actually were, risking their asses for a pension. Not the ever-expanding waistline that Blond-man looked at in wonder every morning after his shower, wondering where the years had gone. What had happened to that guy who saw everything as black and white?

Even Black-hair looked a little ragged. Those guys never seemed to change in the old days. Times, they were a-changin’.

Finally, Ag-expert gave up on getting so much as a phone number out of Thailand and pretended he had work to do. Thailand flashed Blond-hair a smile. Blond-hair decided he might try to lay her at the Christmas party. It was only eight weeks off.

Or not. Didn’t matter. All that mattered was what he and Black-hair had to discuss.

“So, you’re saying it works?” the man in the sunglasses asked.

“Oh, yes.”

“We’ll need to see some of the data, the notes…”

“I know. We’ll figure that out.”

“And what about Congressional approval?”

There was that nasal quality. It was practically as if the last two words had come from his nose and not his mouth at all. It was just Black-hair asking what they would do if Congress found out because they sure as f*** weren’t going to be asking ahead of time.

“It really…really works.”

Black-hair got it. If Congress found out, the joke part of it, the funny thing, was that the technology they were discussing could itself be used to prevent an investigation. Find out that they had succeeded in hacking the brain to this extent? You’d be next. No chance of getting caught if what you were getting caught for was the ability to escape having been caught in the first place. Better than a nuclear deterrent.

Hell, maybe they’d put it in satellites one day. Imagine what you could accomplish in the Middle East. Riots in Europe, people would thank us for taking away their civil rights.

As long as they kept the banking and energy sectors happy, there would be a pot of gold a the end of the rainbow.

“What else?”

“We’ve built in the usual stuff. Onion layers. False trails. It practically wrote itself with these people. And if we need to, we can even get some writers to do up some additional narratives. Confuse the issue more.”

“I don’t want any of these people able to…”

Blond-hair sussed out that ‘testify’ was the word Black-hair left out.

“Not a problem. Most will get some jail time for one thing or another.”

Black-hair sat quietly for a moment.

“We need something. I think this could work…”

Blond-hair smelled a deal.

“Talk to me,” he said and smiled even though he knew Black-hair was not the type to respond to such things.

“We need some cover… for our ‘ears’… something to fall back on…”

Blond-hair knew what he was referring to. Langley had of course kept up with Maryland’s eyes and ears in the sky.

Their newest satellites were more sensitive than was known. The problem, of course, was like with the Enigma machine in WWII. If the Germans saw one of their decoded messages, they would know the Brits had broken the code. NSA was facing the same problem now. What if, for example, they listened in on the Emir of Kuwait during the invasion last year and heard something sensitive? That information making its way to the Saudis would mean it could eventually make its way back to the Emir.

Then what? He would demand to know where the information had come from. How had CIA heard what he was discussing with one of his wives in private, or his brother? If they had a dupe… a human inside who didn’t know what he was doing… some patsy…

Goddamn…this could work!

“I think we can cover that. How about ‘Boogeyman’? Or is that too descriptive?”

“You guys are the poets. Name it whatever the f*** you want. What happens if he gets caught?”

“We let whoever have him. He’s not actually one of ours anyway. Just a… labrat. He doesn’t know anything, can’t give us up. We’d be under no compunction to trade or rescue. And your ‘ears’ would still be covered because they’d never believe the guy was innocent.”

Black-hair sat quietly again. Sometimes Blond-hair thought it was like he was having a conversation with someone else in his head. It was creepy.

“I’ll pass it on. Sounds promising.”

“See you out?”

“I know the way.”

Of course he did.

Blond-hair sat and thought about the little group they had built. The group that could be used to cover a multitude of sins.

The problem was always making sure you had a ripcord to pull so you didn’t smash into the ground if things went awry. Some way of passing the blame on to someone else.

He studied two of the files in particular. One had been perfect. Quiet and a bit shy, it only took a little social engineering, a little of the tech they had at hand, a few rumors, and some spit to make him out to be… what? A serial killer? An evil genius?

The problem had been who to set off against him. He glanced at the other file.

He had found him easily enough. Didn’t get into West Point. Failed to join NROTC. (The sponsor for that, a local dentist, had been found with an apparent self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.) But this one was gullible and patriotic enough. Loved Reagan…well until the whole Iran-Contra thing. He was still softhearted and ignorant to the way things really worked and that meant he was easily manipulated.

And the bait. Someone for them to fight over. That answer had been obvious. She was damn good-looking. Better looking even than Thailand. Just put them together in a crucible and watch the sparks fly. Then separate them until they needed to pull the chord to shut it all down. No one would be the wiser.

It was perfect. Practically biblical.

If it got mussed up, he could always do what they were doing now with journalists. Just feed them a false story, back it up with a few facts cherry-picked from wherever and seal the deal with the assurances that hijacking the thought process offered. It was like magic.

Maybe a novel! Maybe a novel pitting the two against each other somehow… Then feed that into their heads. There wasn’t a skull they couldn’t crack.

Then have one kill the other. One is in prison, the other dead. No problem. Project and operation all rolled up.

Yes. Blond-man had it all covered. This was going to be the big retirement plan. The sky was the limit. If all the world’s a stage, the goddamn box office receipts were going to be theirs.

There was not a single f***ing thing that could go wrong.


From → Infectis, Novels

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