Read Sedition (A Political Conspiracy Book 1) Online
Authors: Tom Abrahams
A POLITICAL CONSPIRACY
A PITON PRESS BOOK
A Political Conspiracy Book 1
2016 (c) by Tom Abrahams
All Rights Reserved
Cover Design by Hristo Kovatliev
Edited by Felicia A. Sullivan
Proofread by Pauline Nolet
Formatted by Stef Mcdaid at WriteIntoPrint.com
This book is a work of fiction. People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events is purely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author and publisher.
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THE TRAVELER POSTAPOCALYPTIC/DYSTOPIAN SERIES
JACKSON QUICK ADVENTURES
PERSEID COLLAPSE: PILGRIMAGE SERIES NOVELLAS
For my co-conspirators: Courtney, Samantha, & Luke
“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”
—George Bernard Shaw
Dexter Foreman’s death was remarkably silent.
He was alone in his office.
Foreman required a half hour each morning to read the paper and drink a cup of fully caffeinated coffee. He often joked coffee was a drink that, without caffeine, served no godly purpose.
It wasn’t just the quiet, the newsprint, and the Arabica he enjoyed in his office. A student of architecture, Foreman loved the neoclassical style of the room; the two-foot rise of its domed ceiling, the niches inset into the curved walls. He admired the eighteenth-century sentiment.
He and his wife had chosen to honor the office’s first occupant with green accents throughout. The subtle pea green of the rug complemented the alternating white pine and walnut flooring.
The matching curtains and valances on the windows were muted with cream sheers. It was colorful but tasteful. Historians loved the homage to an earlier time. Despite the office being more ceremonial than practical, Foreman loved his time there.
He was reading
The New York Times,
a below-the-fold article about his efforts to enhance Public Law 107-56, an act initially designed to “provide appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism”. He’d not gotten past reporter Helene Cooper’s byline.
Foreman drew the mug to his lips, blew on the hot coffee, and took a healthy sip. He placed the mug back onto his desk and spun so the Nationals baseball logo faced him.
The moment the artery blew within his head, he felt a sharp lightning bolt of pain as the blood exploded into his brain.
The last image he saw was the portrait of George Washington hanging in its gilded frame above the white marble fireplace across from his desk on the north side of the room.
He lost focus. The portrait dissolved to black. His eyes fixed.
His face dropped onto the thick English oak, cracking the bridge of his nose. Blood pooled resolutely around his head, sticking to the gel in his styled salt-and-pepper hair. It leeched onto the corner of the
Had it not been for a planned meeting in his office just three minutes later, his body might have gone unnoticed for a half hour. But because of the meeting, his senior aide knocked on the northwest door of the office just forty-five seconds after the vessel popped.
That aide knocked twice, as was the custom with Foreman, and then opened the thick door from the hallway outside. The young man’s head was down as he entered the room. He lifted it to meet Foreman’s eyes with his. But instead of the expected nod from his boss, he saw him slumped on the desk across the room.
His mind flooded with confusion and panic. At first he wasn’t certain he was processing the scene correctly. There was a bright diffused light from the triplet of south-facing windows directly behind the desk. It backlit Foreman’s body and made it difficult for the aide to focus. And what the aide saw before him appeared surreal: a cup of coffee, a newspaper, and an unconscious, bleeding Dexter Foreman.
He hurried to the desk, lifted his wrist to his mouth, and spoke hurriedly.
“Bandbox respond. Boxer is down. Boxer is down.”
Two other doors swung open into the office from the rose garden outside and from an adjacent smaller room. Men in dark suits rushed to the desk, their fingers on the DAK triggers of their drawn .357 Sig Sauer P229 sidearms.
“Sir?” The aide touched Foreman’s shoulder, not expecting a response.
Regardless, he repeated himself as three more suited, armed men ran into the office. This was not the meeting on the schedule.
“Mr. President?” The aide’s voice was shaky. He swallowed hard past the thick lump at the top of his throat, focusing on the empty distant gaze in Foreman’s eyes. His own welled.
Steam rose from the cup of coffee to Dexter Foreman’s right. The president was dead.
PART ONE: THE CONSPIRATORS
“A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public.”
Fifteen miles south of Baltimore, Matti Harrold was avoiding the main gate to her building. After showing her green identification badge to a series of M16 armed military police officers, she wound her way across the 5400-acre Fort George G. Meade toward the eastern side of the campus. Normally, she would have taken the “official” route, but today she felt like a change.
It was a random choice she’d spontaneously made on the short drive to the office.
Matti was taking baby steps. She was trying to be “less predictable”.
Security at Fort Meade was at its standard post 9/11 level. Outside of the Oval Office, nobody yet knew of the president’s death.
Matti turned the steering wheel as she approached her facility, a pair of high-rise, green reflective glass buildings. She parked and retrieved a small black, soft leather briefcase from the floorboard of the front passenger seat. The twenty-nine-year-old code breaker checked her watch and walked toward the headquarters for the National Security Agency.
For nine years now, she’d driven to work on a secured base, pulled out her green (fully cleared) identification badge and slipped it over her head on a beaded neck chain. She invariably reported to work exactly fifteen minutes early. It could take a quarter hour to clear security on some days. Matti slid the badge into an access control terminal. She punched in her personal identification number and opened the door.
Once inside, she waded through three checkpoints and was searched at each one. Her bag was checked for weapons, cameras, phones, iPods, and a host of other items banned by the agency’s M51 Physical Security Division.
There were two distinct areas within the NSA headquarters: Administrative and Secure. Matti worked in the Secure area.
She reached her fourth-floor office exactly on time. It was small and she shared it with three other analysts. On her desk were a computer, a notepad, and two telephones. The gray telephone was a secured line; the black phone wasn’t. Whenever a black phone was in use, the others in the office were alerted and they refrained from speaking aloud.
She placed her bag on the floor next to her desk and sat down. She was adjusting her seat when the black phone rang.
“In my office,” said a man’s voice.
“Yes, sir,” Matti replied and hung up. She immediately stood and left her office for the unscheduled meeting with her supervisor. It wasn’t often he contacted her directly.
What did he want?
Matti Harrold sat across from her supervisor’s desk, stunned as much by what he was asking of her as she was by the president’s sudden death.
“Do you understand what your assignment is?” he asked without a hint of expression.
“Yes sir,” she replied, refocusing. “Though I
“By what?” He was looking down at his desk, tapping on a closed letter sized folder. It was stamped “Secret” at the top left.
“Well, sir,” she said hesitantly, “we don’t deal in human intelligence. We protect American systems and information. We collect adversarial signal intelligence only. Executive Order 12333 prohibits gathering or sharing information about US citizens. Isn’t this out of the realm of what we do?”
She’d often impressed teachers and superiors with her ability to rattle off long streams of text or complicated sets of numbers. Technically, she was an
, the name given to the estimated one in a thousand adults with an eidetic memory. It was a gift that had faded with age, as it did with most eidetic children. But she still possessed a significant ability to mentally retain detailed images for long periods of time.
Her memory wasn’t truly photographic, but she could filter out the clutter and focus on particular images and structures. Matti knew there were always skeptics who thought photographic or eidetic memory was a farce. Even her own therapist, who’d helped her through the darkest days of her adolescence, doubted Matti’s ability until she’d recalled to him the verbatim details of police reports and eyewitness accounts from the night her mother died. They were pieces to a code she’d never been able to crack. But her memory wouldn’t let her let go of it. It was a gift and a curse. And at the moment, she knew her boss was cursing it.
Her supervisor lifted his gaze to her without lifting his head. “No, Harrold,” he said. “There are many things we do here at NSA which are outside the realm of ‘what we do’. The Edward Snowden debacle should have made that clear to you. You’ve read the classified briefs on what that traitor did and did not reveal.”
“Yes, sir,” Matti said. “I read the Snowden briefs and saw the news accounts.”