The Twinning Factor
Joseph McGee Private Investigator: Book Seven
McGee Faces A Conundrum
By Carl Douglass
Neurosurgeon Turned Author Writes With Gripping Realism
After eight grueling months of globe-trotting, scanning thousands of documents, untangling tens of thousands of spread sheets, and serious thinking, the Beelzebub mysteries were beginning to narrow and to focus on the United States, especially on the federal government and the military. Sybil’s access to teenage Russian hackers—the best in the world–came up with a breakthrough.
“Directors,” one of them told Sybil and her own Russian boss, “we have found only one other rather strange thing. There are multiple encrypted messages to, from, and about, “geniuses” working with linguistics. I looked up what an arcane study of foreign languages had to do with our area of interest. I am not exactly sure what is going on; but one thing is clear, the volume of communications among all our suspects is not at all ordinary. They are deeply involved with each other. Even the decrypted messages are spoken of in some sort of personal messaging code. The most common communicator is the US Navy, and many of the messages come from a computer in a naval facility referred to only as the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.”
Sybil was dumbfounded. That, she knew, was the grand home of the vice-president. Since it was impossible that the man himself could be involved; and, since, the CIA was forbidden by law to carry out its activities against American citizens on American soil, she asked McGee and his people to tail every employee of the observatory, even the janitors, 24/7 to see if anything suspicious would turn up. As an afterthought, she assigned two of her most favored operatives, Lincoln Howard and Andrew Young to head-up a team of expert trackers and watchers to record the vice-president’s every move, phone call, e-mail, and text. To stay on the safe side, she got the president and the NIC to intercept every outgoing and incoming secure message.
Michael Yvgenevich Petrovsky and his six cohorts in the Russian cybertage factory worked through the night, partnering with their counterparts in DARPA and the FBI CRRU [Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit], and the Cyber Division’s Investigative Department. The implications–even beyond this specific case–were appreciated immediately: computer intrusion cases—counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal—are cyber program priorities because of their potential national security nexus. Everyone recognized the dual needs for an all-out effort to unearth any pertinent evidence and to let the chips fall where they may. They also committed to an absolute pact of secrecy with only a small handful of vetted officers knowing the whole story…ever.
The entire top-secret watching project was extremely well coordinated. None of the employees or the vice-president himself was ever aware. Ivory White faithfully followed the veep’s aide-de-camp for thirty mind numbing days. As the net began to close on the linguistics organizations in the US, Caitlin had a brainstorm. She made a spreadsheet of all the for-profit linguistic companies in the United States, found out everything possible about each of them, and winnowed the list down to three prime suspects. What they should be suspected of, she did not know; but, she finally narrowed her list down to one most suspicious—the Morgantown Applied Linguistics and Media Development Center.
She called McGee from her computer desk in London; he made an emergency call to Sybil on her secure line; she called Lincoln Howard who set the entire operation in motion. The result was that the company was a vipers’ nest of traitors pandering to would-be dictators using their computers to do Beelzebub’s bidding.
The trackers and watchers were numb from following every deadly dull movement of VPOTUS. Sybil, McGee, the DFBI, the DNI, were all convinced that vice-president Broomhead was their man; but he refused to make an incriminating move or to reveal himself. There was not even enough to get a search warrant.
Sybil, McGee, and Lincoln Howard, hatched a plan. She kept it a personal top secret until she met with the major federal crime fighters in Washington. There was doubt, indecision, efforts to make sure that they would not be to blame if anything went awry. It was on Sybil’s shoulders. She decided to make a go and enlisted a small elite crew of co-conspirators within the Congress.
The following morning, the vice-president took his seat on the dais of the Senate, shuffled his papers, put down his brief-case, and picked up his daily copy of the Washington Post for a perfunctory look.
The headline slashed across the top of the front page above the fold shouted the magnitude of the statement and its importance and implications. He restrained his heightened emotions and glued his eyes to the page to avoid drawing attention to himself for the time being.
“VICE-PRESIDENT REVEALS HIMSELF TO BE THE MYTHICAL BEELZEBUB, ACKNOWLEDGES HIS SUCCESSFUL TAKEOVER OF THE PRESIDENCY, AND DELIVERS AN IMPROMPTU ACCEPTANCE TO THE SENATE”
The large print article was capsulized in two paragraphs which included a large flattering photograph of himself in front of a standing flag. The gist of the article was that the great American patriot and savior of the nation had almost single-handedly stepped in to quell the chaos going on in the country and the world, to gain the cooperation of the leaders of the United Nations and of our allies and former opponents. The third paragraph quoted the proposal which was put forth as a joint statement by the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“After lengthy negotiations in which the plight of the United States of America was deemed to be a failed nation, President Willets proffered his resignation and Vice-President Randall Broome was persuaded to take over in his stead. The legislators unanimously agreed to make a public offer–with all senior members of the press corps in attendance–to grant an unprecedented request for Mr. Broome to be named “President for Life” and to be addressed hereafter as “Your Majesty”.
The proud–but trying to act humble–Broomhead realized that this was his moment. He must be decisive and act. He stood up from his seat and gaveled for attention.
The new first officer of the United States looked out at the assembled senators, the full gallery, and the crowded press corps, and calmed himself to appear humble, yet powerful.
His crumpling of the newspaper had drawn attention to him in the otherwise very quiet and sedate senate chamber. The majority leader got up from his front row seat and approached the VPOTUS.
“Is there anything you would care to say to the assembled senators, Mr. Broome? Every single member is in attendance today—a rare circumstance as is befitting the occasion’,” the majority leader said portentously.
Broomhead’s eyes were misting. His fingers trembled slightly. However, he had rehearsed this speech as he had never done for any public utterance before in his long political career.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the world,” he began. “I am sure you have been following the recent career of an individual heretofore known to you only as Beelzebub.”
He made a little nervous cough, and an uncontrolled brief chuckle, “Ha, ha, ha.”
Sybil crossed her fingers.
“My subjects. This is a red-letter day. No longer must I hide behind the cloak of my alter-ego, Beelzebub, the Magnificent. It appears that you here, governments around the world, and leaders of industry, and the recognized leaders of academia, have finally come to your senses and realize what must be done, why it must be done, and who must do it.
“I humbly accept the title of President of the United States for Life asked of me. Of necessity, we will have a new capital city built in upstate New York to accommodate the business interests of the nation and the world. I will make further announcements by proclamation as necessary. Be prepared for great changes. I accept the challenges and know that you realize the revolutionary actions my comrades and I have had to make to get us to this point. We will write a new history in due time to acknowledge my leadership and their fine service under my instruction.”
Before he finished his fine short speech, the entire audience had caught on to the joke with the monster hoisting himself by his own petard. A few titters began to be heard sporadically. Sybil shook Granger Nelson’s hand—the editor of the Washington Post—with whom she had faked the newspaper. He broke out laughing uproariously. She could not help herself; it was infectious; so, she laughed until she cried, a cathartic release. The chamber began to rock with laughter. Then, it all subsided as the magnitude of the crime they had heard the man confess struck them almost as a monolithic unit. The laughter became a choir of booing, hissing, and cursing.
FBI agents approached the stricken vice-president cum monster, who surprised everyone by dashing away into a secret door in the chamber wall. There was a brief chase until Beelzebub was flattened by a court reporter, who became an instant hero.
He did not live to be brought to trial. He was unfortunately killed in an automobile accident, the papers said. His closed casket sat for three days in the center of the capitol rotunda, the place of ultimate honor.
Only Sybil, Lincoln Howard, McGee, and POTUS, knew the truth. He lived on in wretched detention, never to see the natural light of day again; never to talk to anyone except Sybil when she deigned to check him out. Peace reigned in the world again for a while; but the trackers, watchers, agents, forensic accountants, various spies, and even three private investigators, worked still behind the scenes to clear up the mess.
McGee and Associates were paid well for their contributions; the record for which was contained in an obscure mention in an even more obscure one-line notation in a geodetic survey spread sheet among thousands of other such line items. McGee treated the entire office to a filet mignon and champagne dinner.