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GregS and Allen Baker. They really helped.
Senator Kinsey sat in his office, going over the latest reports on what he privately had coined as the most egregious breach of secrecy he’d ever seen; that an American citizen
had dared to release information potentially proving the existence of non-terrestrial life. They had managed to shut the sites down which had contained the image, and were in the process of making fake versions to use to discredit the issue, should it happen to resurface. He was happy in the knowledge that they had managed to contain the situation, and doing so in a manner that would not be pointing at his NID.
The next question, and one he was still waiting on assessments on, was what to do about the information. He looked at his advisor, asking “And is there any way we can get a closer look than this,” holding up the image that had started it all, “without everybody else starting to take notice as well?”
Woolsey, with his ever unreadable expression, merely confirmed the statement. And not for the first time.
“No sir, we have probably covered that as well.” Woolsey replied tersely. “We really don’t have anything we can use to look at the moon, that isn’t already built for it. The NRO satellites are looking in the wrong direction, the Hubble, even if they would let us use it, can’t track anything that close, and everything short of an amateur telescope would alert most, if not all of the domestic, as well as some foreign agencies to our point of interest.”
Kinsey sat back, looking at the data the NID technicians had managed to glean from the image. At least two ships, obviously different designs, and roughly 2.5 and 3 kilometers long. “Blasted metrics, why can’t we get out scientists to use a proper imperial units,” he muttered.
“That’s NASA’s doing, they didn’t want to lose any more Mars missions because of a conversion error,” Woolsey promptly replied. That man could be a walking encyclopedia at times. Kinsey was fully aware that it was the man’s greatest strength, that and his impeccable objectivity. It also made him his greatest liability.
It wasn’t much later when his intercom buzzed, and his secretary announced some scientists wanting to see him.
“What do you have for me?” he asked when they had finally managed to settle down, they seemed excited. Happy geeks made him nervous, they tended to forget about little details like secrecy when they got overly excited over new data or discoveries. He was handing a rather slim Manila envelope, which turned out to contain a few more images, in far better quality than what he had had before, and even more data on the ships.
“Where did you get these?” he demanded, dreading the answer, and wondering how many more people had seen these ships by now.
“We managed to get a slightly larger telescope and got a few good pictures of the targets, those images are the result of merging them using NASA’s image processing software.”
Kinsey looked at them darkly, they got to the hint that he clearly wanted them to get to the point.
“In short,” one of the other scientists continued, “we can simulate a higher resolution, to a point, using multiple images of the same target.”
“And what about the rest, this,” holding up the original image, “seem to show multiple smaller targets in addition to the two large ones.”
“That is one of the side effects of the software, it was made for stellar imaging, if there were ships there, and they’d have moved in relation to the main ships between the images, the software would see it as nothing more than image noise, and filter them out. Even if it hadn’t, there wouldn’t have been enough information to tell either way.”
“Thanks, you are dismissed,” Kinsey scowled. “And do get me some better images, soon.”
After they left, he punched his intercom, hard. “Agnes, where the hell are those analysts?” he all but shouted.
“They’re waiting for you now sir,” came the immediate reply. “Shall I send them in now?”
“No, let them go home and take a nap. YES! send them in!” His doctor would have several unkind words about his blood pressure the next time he had his checkup, he was sure of it. He always did.
“Please tell me you have something tangible for me,” he started as soon as the analysts had gotten in.
“Nothing much sir. The leaked image is mostly contained, we only have two outstanding contacts to neutralize, our teams are standing by to take out their computers when they log in again. The targets is one T. Anderson in Chicago, no priors, though apparently active in some computer hacking circles, moderate risk only. Then there is a connection registered to a high school library in Sunnydale California. That last one had us worried for a while, with it being active on a Saturday, and while we initially saw some irregularities in the town, all of our analysts looking into it deemed it a non-issue, and started focusing on the other contacts instead.” The analyst finished by placing his own Manila envelope on Kinsey’s table.
“Any word from our contacts in the SGC?”
“None sir, but none of them have their scheduled check in till Monday morning. We assume that the SGC missed out on this one. We have prepared an info dump for them when they do make contact.”
“Nothing too specific, I trust?” Kinsey knew the answer, but it never hurt to ask again, just to keep them on their toes.
“Of course not, sir.”
“Thank you. Keep me appraised of any development, and be ready for a briefing Monday at ten.”
Kinsey nodded and the analysts quietly left the room. Once clear, he looked at Woolsey. “What do you make if all this, so far?”
“It is too early for me to tell. It’ll be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.”
“It certainly would qualify,” Woolsey replied with a half smile. It lasted all of two seconds. “If there is nothing else, it is quite late...,” he left the rest of the sentence hanging.
Kinsey nodded back, “I’ll see you Monday morning then, perhaps at 9:30, to prepare for the briefing?”
“I can manage that, enjoy the rest of the evening,” he nodded his good bye, and left Kinsey behind. It wasn’t until he was back in his car that he allowed the tension to surface. “Sunnydale?” he muttered, looking at his reflection in the rear view mirror, “What the hell have you gotten yourself into now, old man?”
Meanwhile in Colorado, Colonel Jack O’Neill had just arrived at his home, went through his usual routine, and went out onto his rear porch to relax, and just enjoy the evening. The last few weeks had been harrowing and he had really been looking forward to a few days of quiet and relaxation after, first, the whole Hathor disaster, then Hanka and Cassandra, where they almost lost Sam as a result of a nefarious implementation of a Trojan Horse.
He didn’t find the quiet though, as he more or less stumbled over his neighbor hiding there.
Jack quickly noticed that he was showing clear signs of abuse, a haunted look in his eyes, and almost frantically clutching a diskette in his hands. They had been friends for several years, sharing a passion for star gazing, occasional fishing, and cold beer.
“John?,” he asked quietly, “What are you doing here?”
John’s head snapped up to look at Jack, “Jack?,” he sounded almost afraid, yet somewhat relieved. “Jack, is that you?”
Jack rushed over to his friend to help him back on his feet. “Maybe we should take this inside?”
“Is it safe?,” John asked, looking around.
That little statement sent alarm bells going off in Jack’s mind. “If it’s not, someone is going to pay the price dearly. Why?”
John nodded towards the door, and Jack took the hint to move inside. He picked up another beer in the fridge, and put it in front of the now seated neighbor. In the living room lights it was clear that he had taken quite a beating. “Shouldn’t you be in a hospital?”
“Probably, but I need to handle this first. You said you worked with deep space radio telemetry, right?”
“Inside a mountain?”
“Inside a mountain. We just receive the data links and pass them onto the various institutions needing them.” Years of training and black ops work allowed him to keep his voice even.
“So there is nothing out there we should be knowing about?,” John pushed the diskette to the center of the table.
Jack couldn’t help getting a flash from a stereotypical spy movie. He looked at the diskette cautiously, and then back at his neighbor. “This is why you were beaten up?”
“It is what they were looking for. Lucky for me I made quite a few copies.” John said, taking a deep breath, which ended in a nasty cough. “They never said who they were. apart from being federal agents, though I did hear one mention something like National Intelligence...something.”
He nodded slowly, “That’s it, yes, division. I’ve never heard of any agency by that name, though.” He coughed again, worse this time. Jack quickly got up to get some water, while covertly hitting speed dial for Sam on his cell phone, knowing that even if he didn’t answer her when she picked up, she would listen and know something was up.
“The NID are bad news, and have already interfered with our work on telemetry,” Jack said after a while. “So they were the ones who beat you up?”
“They were, all that for a photo,” John looked up, with a crooked smile, “But what a photo!” The smile faded quickly though. “At least I had made enough copies that I managed to convince them that they had them all.” He paused a little while; Jack could tell he was thinking hard, as if he had a hard decision to make. “The reason I’m asking if you’ve seen something out there, is this,” tapping the diskette yet again.
“I found something,” he said. “And I made the mistake of uploading it to my website.” Another pause. “They took it all, Jack. Everything, from my telescope to my computer, cameras and cell phone. They took hours interrogating me. How can they do that? Without a warrant?”
“They can’t, not even with
a warrant,” Jack responded. That is when John had another coughing fit, but this time there was blood on his table.
Making a quick decision Jack got up, grabbed a handful of wet towels, and cleaned up the table, removed the beers and threw them in the garbage disposal, grabbed the diskette and started guiding his neighbor out of the house, “We need to get you to a doctor, right now.”
John resisted, looking at Jack questioningly.
“You have to trust someone. You found something that spooked the NID, and I am very interested in knowing about that. But first we need to have you looked at. I have to warn you, though. She likes her needles.”
“Not comforting, Jack,” John muttered.
They finally made it out to the car, and keeping an eye out for people following him, Jack went towards the mountain as fast as he dared, not wanting to alert the police, and possibly causing further delays. They were nearly halfway there when he finally spotted the sedan in the rear view mirror. He grabbed his cell phone.
“Good, I’ll be needing the infirmary ready, and...tell the guards I’m being followed.”
“Yes, probably the NID. Thanks,” and put the phone back in his pocket, without disconnecting the call.
“That doesn’t sound like deep space radar telemetry to me,” John said, half joking from the passenger seat.
“It is, until I tell you otherwise,” Jack snapped back, busy keeping an eye out for additional tails, as well as the road in front of him.
There would be more tails out there, he was sure of it, just as he was sure they knew where he was heading. Jack didn’t know it, but Kinsey’s and the NID’s first mistake that day had been misplacing the note, and not picking up on it again, and therefore the not realizing who John’s neighbor was. Then again, there were only so many places he could go from here, and reaching the final stretch of road leading up to the mountain, he finally spotted a second shadow, luckily still behind him, that is when he was almost blindsided by a third tail. Things were heating up fast, and he sped up as fast as his car could handle it.
That was when he heard the weapons discharges, though it only took him a few seconds to identify their sources, and he sped past a group of Cheyenne mountain guards waving him through, and started to lay down fire to warn off his pursuers. Someone deserved a medal for being proactive, and sending the guards ahead to meet him, he thought.
Sadly, medals were rarely given for fire exchanged between agencies. Normally those cases were swept under a heavy rug.
He finally managed to get to the gate of the mountain, finding guards, Frazier and Sam swarming his car as soon as he pulled up.
He looked at Sam, after his neighbor had been taken care of, “So much for a quiet weekend.”
“You should have known better Jack. You jinxed it as soon as you said it before leaving.”
“Now, lets go see what all this mess is about,” as he handed her the diskette. “How bad can it really be?”