- Mar 4, 2015
Rewind, Part 3
Anders’ apartment – September 18, 1996, 9:00 PM
Anders continued watching the tape of Isaac Asimov, Karl Sagan, and the RANA astronomers speculating on the existence of extraterrestrial life. He put his head in his hands and started crying. One hand picked up his loaded gun from the coffee table and put it to his head. But before he could pull the trigger, the phone rang. He picked it up, but he didn’t say anything.
“Agent Humboldt?” Michael said. “Agent Humboldt?”
“Yes?” Anders said.
“There’s a matter of security,” Michael said, “Something I hadn’t anticipated. Just after I left your apartment, I was followed by some RSB agents.”
“Who the frak are you?” Anders demanded.
"Are you listening to me, Agent Humboldt?” Michael said. "Are you hearing me? We can't talk now. I have reason to believe they may be listening.”
“Did they give Angie her cancer?” Anders said. “Did they do this to her because of me?"
"They may be listening, Agent Humboldt,” Michael said, "They may be watching you. Everything you do and say.”
Anders looked around his apartment and to the light on the ceiling.
“Are you listening, Agent Humboldt?” Michael said. “Agent Humboldt?”
Anders hung up and saw a small pinhole near the light, which he recognized as a surveillance camera. Anders ran out of the apartment and up to the stairs to the apartment right about him. Kicking in the door, he found a man throwing papers and videos into a fireplace.
“Back away!” Anders shouted, waving his gun around.
The man grabbed a shotgun and aimed at him. A shot rang out.
Angela’s apartment - 10:00 PM
Angela walked into her apartment and locked the door. She walked through the dark and went to get water, but then she noticed Anders sitting in one of her chairs.
“Hey Angie,” he said.
“What are you doing here?” Angela said.
"It was too crowded in my apartment, I couldn't sleep,” Anders said.
"I'm not kidding, Anders,” Angela said.
"Good, cuz neither am I,” Anders said, "There's a dead man on the floor of my apartment, and it's only a matter of time before he starts to stink the place up."
"What are you talking about, Anders?” Angela said. "What's going on?”
"Apparently somebody thinks my life is interesting enough to put on video tape,” Anders said, "My apartment's been under an electronic surveillance for at least 2 months. Look at this, courtesy of the Roman government. His name is Sam Ostelhoff or something like that.”
He handed her Ostelhoff’s RSB badge.
“That's the dead man in your apartment?” Angela said.
"Yeah, he works ... he worked for the Bureau of Defense,” Anders said, “RSB."
"How did he die, Anders?” Angela said.
"Gunshot wound to the face,” Anders said, “Like many RSB agents, he was doomed by his hubris. And by hubris I mean his faith in a 12-gauge shotgun."
"Have you contacted anybody at the Athanatoi?” Angela said.
“Uncle Erich doesn’t have enough influence to help, Schulz is compromised, Di’s in the way of the Director, and I can’t go to anyone else,” Anders said, “Ostelhoff worked for the RSB and the military. Are you beginning to get the picture? Do you see what's happening here?"
"That the hoax is connected to the military, just like Kritschgau said it was,” Angela said.
"This hoax, your cancer, everything!” Anders said. "It just doesn't lead back to the military, it leads right back to the Athanatoi!”
They sat down at the dinner table. Anders switched on a light and showed Angela a phone log.
“Ostelhoff was set up in the apartment directly above mine,” Anders said, "I caught him trying to destroy phone records on which the same number was called 17 times."
"This is a PBX operator at the Athanatoi,” Angela said, "Who would he be calling at the Athanatoi?"
"I don't know,” Anders said.
“Anders, how long has this been going on?” Angela said.
"Maybe since the beginning, since you joined me on the X-Division,” Anders said.
"That would mean that for four years we've been nothing more than pawns in a game, that it was a lie from the beginning,” Angela said, “Anders, these men... You give them your faith and you're supposed to trust them with your life.”
"There are those who can be trusted,” Anders said, "What I need to know is who among them is not. I will not allow this treason to prosper, not if they've done this to you."
“Anders, we can't go to the Athanatoi making these accusations,” Angela said.
"No, but as they lie to us, we can lie to them,” Anders said, "A lie to find the truth.”
Anders’ apartment - September 19, 1996, 6:51 AM
After identifying the body to the police, Angela left the apartment and met Schulz in the hallway.
“Agent Hansen, is it true?” he asked.
Angela couldn’t look him in the face. "Yes, sir."
"Are you alright?” Schulz asked.
"I'm um.... I don't know what to say,” Angela said, "They asked me to come down and identify the body."
"How did you make the ID?” Schulz said. "Word has it from Constantinople P.D. that it was self-inflicted. A shotgun blast to the face."
"I saw Anders earlier this morning,” Angela said, "He was wearing the same clothes.”
"I'm very sorry,” Schulz said.
Angela walked past him to the elevator.
“Agent Hansen, Section Chief Freiburg wants us in for questioning about this,” Schulz said, “He believes you have information you haven’t come forward with.”
Pentagon, Kodima, outside Constantinople
Anders casually walked into the lobby, blending in with the crowds of tourists and officers milling around. He went to the security area and saw everybody was using a keycard to get in. He waved Ostelhoff’s badge over the scanner, which beeped green. The turnstile unlocked, and Anders entered.
Section Chief Freiburg’s office - 8:41 AM
Angela opened the door, and she and Schulz walked into Freiburg’s office. Freiburg looked up from his copy of Die Zeiten and gestured to two empty chairs.
“Agent Hansen, Director Schulz, please have a seat,” he said.
Angela and Schulz sat down. Freiburg looked through a side door at an adjacent conference room, which Angela quickly recognized as the one where she and Schulz had first met the smoking man and his accomplices.
“Some time has passed since you were last here,” Freiburg said.
“Yes, sir,” Angela said, “Almost four years.”
"From all reports, your work on the X-Division has brought you very close to Agent Humboldt,” Freiburg said.
“He was my cousin,” Angela said, “He was family.”
"We're awfully sorry about what's happened, Agent Hansen,” Freiburg said.
"But that's not why I'm here,” Angela said.
"You're here because we've been informed by the Bureau of Defense that prior to Agent Humboldt's accident, you may have been notified by one of their employees,” Freiburg said.
"Yes, that's right,” Angela said.
"And he may have given you classified information,” Freiburg said.
"He had information about the discovery of what Agent Humboldt believed to be alien corpse,” Angela said, "He said the body was part of a hoax."
"He provided evidence?” Freiburg asked.
"No... hard... evidence, no,” Angela said.
"Agent Hansen, I suggest you tell us everything you know,” Freiburg said, "If you have any knowledge of this man, you should speak up now."
"What knowledge?” Angela said.
“His name,” Freiburg said, “I’ve assembled a joint Athanatoi panel on this matter, so if you don’t explain it to me now, you’ll have to explain it to them later.”
Schulz showed her a photo. “Is this the man? Michael Kritschgau?”
The photo was of Michael sitting on Anders’ chair in his living room. The angle was from the ceiling. Angela realized it was taken from Ostelhoff’s surveillance. She gulped.
“Yes,” she said.
Michael walked down the hall. On the other side of a room, he saw Anders. He caught up to him and waved.
“How’d you get in here?” he said.
"Through the front door,” Anders said.
"You can't bypass security,” Michael said.
Anders showed him Ostelhoff’s badge. “I just did.”
Michael looked around him. “Put it away.”
"You knew my apartment was being surveilled, how?” Anders said.
"Come with me,” Michael said.
Anders and Michael entered the office. Michael turned on the light and shut the door.
"I was followed from your apartment the night we spoke,” Michael said.
"Someone at the Athanatoi is involved, this man Ostelhoff, he was in contact with somebody …” Anders said.
"How'd you get his card?” Michael said.
“He died,” Anders said.
"You know what that is?” Michael said. "What you have in your hand? That gives you Level 4 clearance."
"Level 4 clearance, that means I get to dine at the officer's club?” Anders said. “Free coffee?”
"You have access to everything, Herr Humboldt,” Michael said, "Things I don't, things I can only tell you about."
"I need to know who did this to Angie!” Anders said.
"What you can have, what you may find, is so much more than that,” Michael said.
“What?” Anders said.
"What you want most desperately of all,” Michael said.
“To find Annie?” Anders said.
“No, you idiot, to cure your cousin’s cancer,” Michael said.
Anders’ apartment - 10:02 AM
The smoking man picked the lock and entered the apartment, closing the door behind him. He looked around the apartment and picked up a framed picture of Anders and Annie as kids. He cried softly and put the picture down. He then looked up at the hole in the ceiling from where Ostelhoff had been surveilling Anders.
Angela walked in and picked up the phone.
“Athanatoi Home Division,” the operator said, "How may I direct your call?”
“Communications Center, please,” Angela said.
There was a click.
"Communications Center, this is Kim,” Kim said.
“Hey Kim, this is Angela,” Angela said.
“Angela, I'm so sorry about what's happened,” Kim said, "I just heard."
"Holly, I need your help on something,” Angela said, "I was hoping you could help me with some information."
"Sure, what do you need?” Kim said.
"I have some calls placed to the Athanatoi on consecutive dates,” Angela said, “From the 12th to the 17th. They came into the pbx operator. The first was at 11:21, the next was at 11:14, 03:07, 02:02, and 05:12. They would have all been transferred to the same extension."
"And you're looking for that extension?” Kim said.
“Yes,” Angela said.
"I've got five calls matching those times and dates transferred to an executive level extension,” Kim said.
“Whose?” Angela said.
"It's a branch extension,” Kim said, "It could be any of them at that level."
"Would Deputy Director Schulz be at that extension?” Angela said.
“Yes,” Kim said.
“Thank you,” Angela said.
“Okay, you take care now Angela,” Kim said.
As soon as Angela hung up, the phone rang again.
“Yes?” Angela said.
"Special Agent Hansen?” Vitagliano said. "This is Dr. Vitagliano over at the Paleoclimatology Department over at the Pandidakterion. You had me look into these ice core samples for you?"
“Right,” Angela said, "I...ah... I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you."
"I think you want to come down here to the lab,” Vitagliano said, "There's something I know you're going to want to see for yourself."
Pentagon - 11:04 AM
Anders and Michael walked down a hall.
"What am I looking for?” Anders said.
"Level 4 is a biological quarantine wing,” Michael said, "It houses a series of labs and medical facilities, and an elaborate facility for the storage of mass quantities of DNA."
"DNA from whom?” Anders said.
"Virtually every Roman born since 1946,” Michael said, "Every immigrant, every minority who's ever given blood or tissue to a government donor. This is what I was telling you. This is the hoax into which you've been drawn. The roots go back 50 years to the end of World War II. Playing on a virulent national appetite for bogus revelation and a public newly fearful of the Soviets’ atomic bomb... the General Staff began to fan the flames of what were called flying saucer stories. There are truths that can kill a nation, Agent Humboldt. The military needed something to deflect attention away from its arms strategy - global domination from the capability of total enemy annihilation. The nuclear card was fine as long as we alone could play it. But the generals and politicos knew they could not win a public relations war. Those photographs from Warsaw and Dresden and Koenigsberg were not faces Romans wanted to see in the mirror. Neumann knew it, of course, but we silenced him. When the Chinese developed the bomb after us, the fear in the military was not for safety at home, but for armistice and treaty. The business of the Reich isn't business, Agent Humboldt, it's war. Since the Maximists, nothing has driven the economy faster. We needed a reason to keep spending money, and when there wasn't a war to justify it, we called it a war anyway. The Cold War was essentially a fifty year public relations battle... a pitched game of chicken against an enemy we not much more than called names. The equalists called us a few names, too. 'We will bury you', Khrushchev said, and the public believed it. And after what McCarthy had done, they ate it with a big spoon. We faced off a few times in Cuba, Mitteleimerica, Siam, but nobody dropped the bomb - nobody dared, at least until World War III, when we just dropped the charade and started a real war anyways."
"But what does all this have to do with flying saucers?” Anders said.
"The military saw a good thing in '47 when the Agadir story broke,” Michael said, "The more we denied it, the more people thought it was true - aliens had landed. A made-to-order cover story for generals looking to develop the national war chest. They opened official investigations with cool-sounding names like Grudge, Twinkle, Project Blue Book, Majestic 12. They brought in college professors and senators and fed them enough bogus facts and fuzzy pictures and eyewitness accounts that they believed it, too. They even hooked Hugo Doukas, for God's sake. I can't tell you how fortuitous it was. Do you know when the first supersonic flight was, Agent Humboldt? 1947. Soon every experimental aircraft being flown was a UFO sighting. When the abduction stories started up, it was too perfect. We almost got caught in Mitteleimerica, an ambitious misstep. China and the Soviets knew it. The UN got all heated up at us."
"Germ warfare,” Anders said, "We were accused of using it in Mitteleimerica."
"It was developmental then, nothing like what we and the Russians have now,” Michael said, "The bio-weapons used in the Gulf War were so ingenious as to be almost undetectable. Developed in this very building."
"What about all the reports of abductions?” Anders said. "You’re saying they've all been lies?"
"Not lies exactly, but citizens taken unsuspecting and tested,” Michael said, "A classified military project, above top-secret and still ongoing. You've heard the recent denials about Agadir by the military, the RSB, and the Athanatoi Foreign Division. What's been the effect? Even wilder and more widespread belief. The Roman appetite for bogus revelation, Agent Humboldt."
"But I've seen aliens,” Anders said, "I've witnessed these things."
"You've seen what they wanted you to see,” Michael said, "The line between science and science fiction doesn't exist any more. This is about control, of the very elements of life. DNA - yours, mine, everyone’s."
"Then why a hoax?” Anders said. "Why create hard evidence, a body that could be disproved?"
"The body you found was so good, so believable, that only a directed scientific examination could have proven the fraud,” Michael said.
“Angie would have known,” Anders said.
"The timing of the hoax was planned so Agent Hansen wouldn't be alive to do the examination,” Michael said.
"You went along with all this,” Anders said, "You let them do this to Angie."
"I paid the price, Agent Humboldt,” Michael said, "When my son came back sick from the Gulf War, that was my retribution. I'm helping you now, but not unselfishly."
"You believe there's a cure for him in here, too,” Anders said.
"I have to think there is,” Michael said, pointing to a door marked “Level 4 Clearance Only.”
Anders used Ostelhoff’s badge to enter the door. Michael walked away and was quickly met by two soldiers.
"Michael Kritschgau...may we talk to you?” one soldier said. “We're detaining you for questioning. Would you come with us, Herr Kritschgau?"
Race track, [REDACTED] - 12:11 PM
A rider was leading a horse onto the track. The stands were empty except for the first elder. The smoking man sat down next to him.
"I was told that you needed to see me, that there was some urgency,” the elder said.
"It seems I've been left out of the loop,” the smoking man said.
"Left out?” the elder said.
"You've been watching Humboldt,” the smoking man said, lighting a cigarette, "You had a man on him. No one bothered to inform me of this."
"I know nothing of this man,” the elder said.
"I will not be cut out like this,” the smoking man said. "You need my expertise. Is this being run from the Bureau of Defense? Sentinel?"
"If it is, I am unaware of it,” the elder said.
"I've always kept Humboldt in check,” the smoking man said, "I put this whole thing together. I created his career. I own him.”
"Agent Humboldt is dead,” the elder said, "Our Athanatoi source confirmed it this morning. Humboldt killed himself. Humboldt was an asset. Without his partner, you may have underestimated his fragility."
"I've never underestimated Humboldt,” the smoking man said, "I still don’t."
Paleoclimatology Lab, Pandidakterion
"As you've asked, I've tested some of the cellular material found in the ice core sample,” Vitagliano said, "Because we couldn't classify it as either plant or animal, only as some kind of chimeric hybrid, I put some of the cells in media containing fetal bovine serum. And the cells began to divide."
"Well then they were animal cells that you found,” Angela said.
"They are not classifiable,” Vitagliano said.
"What do you mean?” Angela said. "You said there was mitotic cell division."
"When the cells began to divide they didn't just multiply, they began to go through the stages of morula, blastula, gastrula,” Vitagliano said.
"They began somatic development?” Angela said.
"The beginning of a life form,” Vitagliano said, "Growing into what, I don't know."
Anders tried a couple doors, but they were locked. A door at the end of the hall opened, and two soldiers entered. Anders frantically tried more doors and finally found an unlocked one, hiding himself behind it as the soldiers walked by. He looked behind him and saw the room he entered was a big, dark one filled with tables holding the bodies of aliens. He walked to the other side of the room and saw unconscious women on tables, connected to strange devices.
“What…the…frak…” he muttered.