Chapter 3:
returned to his quarters and stayed there until someone contacted him on the
landline phone in his room. He soon was back in the series of hallways of the
underground facility.
time his feet made a louder sound on the clean floor, with his boots pounding
out a dull thud. He didn’t pass anyone on his way to his destination this time.
wore a black tactical uniform. The RMD had specifically designed it for him and
while it bore a resemblance to a military battle dress uniform it had its
unique aspects as well. The solid black color was one of those unique aspects.
The lack of name tapes and insignia was another one.
walked a different route than he had previously. When he reached where he was
supposed to be he grabbed the proximity badge on the lanyard around his neck,
scanned it, punched in his code, and entered the room.
briefing room was much larger than the waiting room of the medical facility
where he had gone for his second physical exam. But it was smaller than the
actual medical examination room.
walked into the filled room and was familiar with many of the faces as they all
looked at him. The lighting in here was different–better–than the hallways and
medical facility. The overhead fixtures were more sophisticated and they burned
soft, incandescent bulbs. The walls were still metallic and navy blue, and the
floor was still black. But the lighting gave it a different feel.
wooden conference table sat in the middle of the room. It was large but the
room was big enough that the table didn’t congest it even with people sitting
around it. Five chairs were on each side of the table and one at the end facing
the monitors at the other end of the room.
more cushioned chairs lined the long sides of the room. There were a few chairs
at the front of the room with the monitors as well.
filled the seats and a few more stood near the monitors. But even then, there
was still adequate space in the briefing room. Adam guessed there were just
under 30 people in it. There were only 100 in the entire RMD.
lights were low and he saw a dimmer switch near the door. As everyone continued
looking at him, he moved towards the only seat left unfilled. He sat down at
the head of the table.
of the women standing at the front of the room took a step forward. "Good
afternoon, everyone. Let’s begin."
gradually moved away from Adam and to her. She wore a dark grey boardroom dress
with a matching jacket and heels. She also wore her long hair down. She was in
her late twenties or early thirties.
name is Ms. Chapman, and I’ll be your briefer," she continued as the lights
dimmed further. The largest monitor behind her lit up with the cover page of
the briefing created through a presentation program. The page had, "OPERATION CAELUS," centered in bold and
all caps on it. "This briefing is classified top secret," she said. The "top secret"
classification, along with additional control markings, were at the top and
bottom of the cover page.
again swiveled their heads to look at Adam. His clearance was interim at this
point, with the government doing the best it could to perform a security
clearance background check on him. They all knew it. And that, along with how
he came to be in the government’s employ, was a sore spot for many in this
room; many in the RMD. But he knew they weren’t going to bring it up today.
Chapman began the briefing. Another woman sat at a computer workstation off to
the side, controlling the advancement of the presentation on her cues.
Caelus is designed to kill a high-value target named Toumani Cisse," she said
as her assistant advanced the slide. Eyes returned to the front of the room. It
showed a picture of Cisse along with major details about him.
Chapman explained that he had initially been a U.S. asset but that he had
betrayed that relationship, using money and resources the U.S. had given him to
start his own terrorist group. He was a Malian native but he had taken up safe
haven in the Central African Republic.
a minute," Adam said. Everyone again looked at him. "You mean to tell me you’ve
put me through this whole vetting process and set up this task force so you can
send me after one guy?"
not just one guy," Ms. Chapman told him. "He’s a national security threat to
the U.S."
makes him so special that other U.S. forces can’t take care of him?"
was about to get to that before you interrupted me," Ms. Chapman told him.
continued and people focused attention on her once more. "The reason the RMD
has decided on this HVT as the first operation for Mr. White is because we want
to test if he can provide the U.S. with a new capability."
briefing assistant advanced the presentation and the next slide showed a map of
the CAR and the surrounding nations. "The government of the CAR has invited the
U.S. to neutralize Cisse at our discretion," Ms. Chapman said. "However, the
U.S. currently cannot get to the CAR because the surrounding nations have
denied us permission to use their airspace. And they have denied us from having
any security personnel in their nations for the purpose of counterterrorism or
military actions. In short, the CAR truly is a safe haven for Cisse."
next slide popped onto the monitor and Adam saw a stock photo of the earth from
space. It actually showed part of the earth (just enough to see its curvature) on
one half of the photo and the blackness of space on the other. The photo was on
the right side of the slide and bullet points were on the left side of it. The
heading of the slide read, "Deploying a Ground Force from Space."
we developed a plan that will test if we can successfully deploy Mr. White from
space to get the HVT, and then to see if he can return from the ground to the
delivery craft in space."