Before we get into this week’s installment of Road Kill, I wanted to start with an apology for not posting last week. I took some needed R&R in South Florida with some friends from high school. I fully believed that I would keep up with my blogging and writing schedule, but I didn’t. I felt guilty, but I also feel fortunate that I was able to have such a good time with friends that I’ve known for nearly 40 years to the point where I would be somewhat irresponsible.
Of course, instead of talking about girls, we sat around and talked about things like gout, diabetes, high blood pressure and other age-appropriate topics.
In the last installment of Road Kill, I left you with a cliff hanger in which a new character, well-known to our protagonist, enters the picture. This week you will discover more about this character and those of you that have read my books will also recognize him by name.
Please enjoy the latest installment of Road Kill:
Road Kill – Part 19
When I saw the familiar figure of my mentor, Commander Brad Rafferty, enter the room, I was surprised at the mixed feelings that bubbled up.
Brad was a Naval Intelligence Officer who started his career as an analyst. His skills and his expertise in nuclear weaponry helped him move up the ladder quickly as the threat of these weapons emerged from Iran and North Korea and continued in the former Soviet Union.
Brad flew under the radar until he led the team that investigated a devastating domestic terrorism attack that utilized radioactive material. He ended up finding the perpetrator and was nearly killed in the process of attempting to capture him. The story was too good to allow him to keep his face out of the press. He had become the poster child for America’s ongoing campaign to limit nuclear capabilities in unfriendly countries.
Unfortunately, the notoriety did not help him do his job effectively. When it was known that he was coming to assist with an inspection, the countries being scrutinized rolled out the red carpet and cleaned up their act. The fact that he was here spoke volumes in the importance of what we had uncovered.
“Well look what washed up on this ship,” Rafferty said as he saw Ben and I. “I told you two you should have stayed in the Navy. Look where civilian life has landed you.”
“If I had known that I’d end up going up against the U.S. Government, I might have stayed in,” Ben said.
“It’s worse, trust me. Going up against the government cost me the ability to do my job,” Rafferty said.
I sat in stunned silence. I had initially thought that Rafferty would be the ideal person to help with this. Donovan said that he was otherwise engaged. Apparently that engagement was over.
“This one was too big for me not to stick my nose in it,” Rafferty said as if reading my thoughts. “This administration wanted to cover up the attack on the Carrier Dome. When I heard this, it was too much for me to take. There are some corrupt people in D.C. and we need to clean house.”
“How are we supposed to do this in a black operation that is a subset of another black operation?” Ben asked. “How do we get traction against the State Department?”
“That’s a great question, Ben. I believe the answer may surprise you,” Rafferty said as he sat down at the table. “First, Donovan has spent his long career building trust and making friends with some highly placed people. Second, people like the Secretary of State and the President are just placeholders in the government. They are in office for four or eight years and try to build their own little empire during their time. They leave those of us with lifelong commitments to public service to clean up their messes. Well, I’m done. These are bad people and they need to pay. I told Donovan I’m all in on this one.”
I was relieved to hear Rafferty say this. He was known to respect authority when it deserved respect. He was also known to do what was right over what was expected. I looked up to him as both a superior and a human being during my time in the Navy.
“Let’s get started,” Rafferty said. “I want every detail of what you found. We need to set up a plan that will prevent the attack, tie it to those behind it and, finally, take them down in a very public way.”
“Why in a public way?” Ben asked.
“If we do this behind the scenes, it will send a message to others with these kinds of aspirations that no matter what evil they do, it will be swept under the rug. Susan Martin-Conway needs to pay. Her ambitions are self-serving and not in the long-term interest of the country. She wants to be elected president. What’s worse is I believe the President is looking the other way because he sees her as a way to continue his legacy. Don’t forget, he wanted to blame the Carrier Dome attack on the Middle East as well. They see the oil there and they get blinded by the dollar signs. I’ll be damned if we’ll allow them to invade a country to justify taking their natural resources.”
We went through all of the details from the information on my infamous phony laptop backup to what I downloaded from the State Department. Rafferty was incredibly gifted at quickly assessing detailed information and forming a big picture view.
“How the hell did you hack into the State Department?” Rafferty asked as we reviewed the memos and email.
I explained to him that we had used an outside source that had developed an incredible algorithm for gaining access.
“Ah, the infamous Mr. Jones,” Rafferty said. “My sister dates his partner. His name and talents keep popping up on my radar. It’s a good thing he’s a good guy. I thought about trying to hire him on in government service, but I want him to keep being a good guy and, from what I hear, he couldn’t afford the pay cut.”
We continued to go through the data. When we were done, Rafferty sat back in his chair pondering what we had.
“A lot of this is credible in terms of the where and what of this plan. What we don’t know is exactly when they are planning the attack on the stadium. We do know who will be carrying it out, however. Normally that would make the job easy. Every prisoner processed through GTMO was implanted with an RFID chip. That chip would make them easy to track in any mass transportation hub like an airport or bus station. My guess would be that they would have these chips removed before they enlisted them for anything like this. Either that, or they would have to sabotage security along the entire chain of events until their plan is carried out. Removing the chips is a lot easier.”
What Rafferty was saying was new information to me. I knew the technology existed, but it’s practical use was above my paygrade.
“So how are we going to find these guys and if we do, what do we do?” Ben asked. “If we track them before the attack and bring them in, it will tip off Conway and it will look like the government did a great job in thwarting a terrorist attack from the very country that they are targeting. They can’ lose.”
“That’s true,” Rafferty responded. “That means we are going to have to track them and stop them in the very minutes leading up to the attack. In the meantime, we are going to need to have ironclad evidence that the Secretary of State ordered their release and this operation. To do that, we are going to have to dig into the situation at GTMO that will lead to their release and we also need to see what they were promised in return for cooperating. This is essentially a suicide mission for them in which they are not only giving up their lives, but they are throwing their country under the bus. There must be a big payoff.”
To find the information that Rafferty was talking about, we would have to be able to hack into the records at GTMO. Video surveillance was kept of every interrogation with the prisoners. Also, any meetings or movement were painstakingly recorded.
“How are we going to hack into GTMO? I heard the CIA has some world-class security wrapped around those prisoner records,” Ben asked.
“That same could be said of the State Department security which was hacked effortlessly with Jones’ algorithm. I think it’s time we get off this boat and head back to Jacksonville for a little meeting. It shouldn’t take long by chopper.”
Things had turned around. With Brad Rafferty helping our cause, we had a much better chance at succeeding. I just couldn’t see at the time how such a small effort could bring down leadership at such a high level with numerous resources at their fingertips. I would soon start to see the possibilities.