‘Mister President, may I introduce Bill Cummins, CIA?’ Charles Whitworth, president of the United States of America, looked up at the large, bearded man in front of him.
‘Mister Cummins, I understand we have a situation here that cannot be resolved?’ he said without preamble.
‘Yes Sir, mister President. One of our submarines has been attacked and destroyed,’ he replied. The president frowned in annoyance. This kind of thing could escalate out of control in no time, and he didn’t need another war on his hands. One was more than enough.
‘Any survivors?’ he asked.
‘No Sir – not one,’ said Bill.
‘Any idea who the perps are?’
Bill closed his eyes for a moment. ‘Mister President, this may take some time to explain,’ he said in answer.
‘I have time,’ Charles replied. ‘Sit down.’ Bill took the offered seat and began.
‘About three months ago NORAD picked up a bogey flying between Africa and South America. We didn’t place too high a priority on it as we do see these things from time to time and there is seldom anything we can do about them.’
‘What exactly do you mean by bogey, Bill?’ the president asked.
‘We mean an unidentified flying object, mister President. A – well – a UFO, Sir,’ he said. The president looked at him sharply.
‘A UFO?’ he asked.
‘Yes Sir,’ said Bill.
‘Okay – carry on.’
‘Well, mister President, at about the same time, the South African government asked us for assistance in the alleged alien abduction of a kid somewhere in the bush. We sent our best agent who turned up some very interesting clues while she was there,’ he said. ‘In short, it seemed the kid hadn’t been abducted at all, but had somehow stumbled across a UFO buried in the forest and had flown away in it.’
‘Are you kidding?’ asked Charles disbelievingly.
‘No Sir. The further along she got in her investigation, the clearer the picture became. This kid, Johnny Roberts, had no prior history before arriving at the orphanage that adopted him. As it turns out, there was an atmospheric disturbance of some kind the night he was found and brought to the orphanage, and she believed that he may have been of extra-terrestrial origin,’ he said.
‘Hang on a second,’ said Charles, scratching his head. ‘This kid, an orphan you say, may be an alien?’
‘Mister President, nothing is concrete at this time, but yes – he may be an alien,’ said Bill.
‘So why the hell wasn’t he spotted before?’
‘Mister President, not all aliens are green and scaly,’ he replied, ‘believe it or not, there are some that look just like us.’
‘Okay – okay! Go on.’
‘Well Sir, we managed to track him to South America where Doctor Parker and her South African liaison, Detective Riley, finally found him deep in the jungles of Amazonia,’ said Bill.
‘When they got there they found Johnny in control of an enormous disc that displayed stealth technology far in advance to anything we can achieve. He was in the company of a young blonde girl, a native from those parts, and after a brief exchange of words, Johnny flew away never to be seen again.’
President Whitworth looked at Bill unsmilingly.
‘So this Johnny attacked our sub without provocation? Why?’ he asked.
‘Well Sir – he wasn’t exactly unprovoked, Sir.’ Bill was feeling a little uncomfortable. ‘And it wasn’t exactly Johnny who attacked either.’
‘What are you talking about man?’ Charles’s voice rose in agitation. ‘Either he did or he didn’t! Don’t speak to me in riddles, man!’
‘Mister President, on the day she was destroyed, we received a coded message from the USS North Carolina indicating that they had picked up a strange signal. We instructed them to look into it and they sent a team ashore, capturing the boy, but losing the girl,’ Bill explained.
‘They notified us that they had him in custody and were waiting for further instructions when they were attacked by a force beyond their capabilities. That is all we know, mister President. We think the girl attacked the sub to rescue Johnny,’ he finished. The president looked ready to explode.
‘So we’ve just lost one of our newest and most advanced submarines because the CIA can’t keep their goddamned hands to themselves?’ he shouted. ‘Do you people never learn? And what are we going to tell the families, huh?’
His aide stepped forward and whispered in his ear. Taking a deep breath, he steadied himself.
‘Well I suppose that will have to do, won’t it? It almost worked for the Russians when they lost the Kursk, so why the hell wouldn’t it almost work for us?’ Bill could see he was clearly upset, and chose wisely to keep his mouth shut until spoken to.
‘So what now, Cummins?’ he asked coldly.
‘Mister President, sir – we need to get our hands on that kid before he does any further damage. Plus, that ship could propel us literally light years against the Russians and the Chinese in technology,’ he replied.
‘And just how do you mean to accomplish that?’ he asked.
‘I think I have just the man for the job,’ he replied.
He was tall, in his early fifties, immaculately dressed, his silver hair trimmed neatly above a sun browned neck that hinted at the strength that hid beneath the expensive suit.
‘Have a seat.’
Graham Steele took the offered seat and watched Bill unsmilingly.
‘Graham, are you familiar with the work of Doctor Cheryl Parker?’ Bill asked.
‘I am,’ he replied.
‘Then you may know what she studied?’
‘Fine. What you almost certainly do not know are the findings of her last investigation,’ Bill said. He laid it all out, and summed up.
‘I want you to find this kid at all costs, do you understand? You have carte blanche; no restrictions, no limits, and no excuses.’
Graham rose to leave, turning for the door.
‘Oh, one more thing Steele,’ Graham turned back to Bill, ‘I want you to keep an eye on Cheryl Parker; I don’t trust her.’ Graham nodded and left the room.
Published Titles in the Johnny Roberts Series:
Book Two: Johnny Roberts and the Gods of Eden
Andrew Noble © 2013
Cover artwork: John Killin © 2013
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© 2013 Andrew Noble All Rights Reserved