Dominant Deception [Black Ops Brotherhood 3] (Siren Publishing Classic) (10 page)

BOOK: Dominant Deception [Black Ops Brotherhood 3] (Siren Publishing Classic)
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“Why here?”

“For the same reason I’m here. CYBERCOMM. I believe your group is slated to be transitioned into that organization?” O’Malley asked.

“Yes, but as you know that still hasn’t become official yet. What do you think, Captain? Will it ever fly?”

“I’m not paid for my opinion, sir. I’m paid to follow orders. I do think we’re onto something here. I would like for you to reassign Ms. Santiago to our group, Colonel.”

“In her case, it’s called a loan,” Colonel Jackson said, taking a sip of coffee. “For how long?”

“Indefinitely, sir. I don’t know how deep this water runs.”

“Fine with me. Her boss might squawk. Can we say ninety days and then extend later?” Jackson suggested.

“I’d rather not, sir.”

“Okay, if she can help you, go ahead,” Jackson said, puzzled.

“Sir, as you’re well aware, I’m a part of Special Operations Command. She’ll be on loan to them, and I’ll make sure this gets resolved as soon as possible.”

Colonel Jackson was well aware of the position Captain O’Malley was in. Special Operations Command reported directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense. There were no middlemen in their world. He was curious about the whole situation that had transpired over the past few days. Obviously, O’Malley wasn’t telling him everything. Jackson also knew that Captain O’Malley was extending exceptional courtesy. Although Jackson was clearly the senior of the two officers, Captain O’Malley held significantly more authority. He could’ve just taken what he wanted. Jackson started to question the situation he was finding his organization in but stopped short.

“However I can be of service, Captain,” Jackson said.

“Thank you, Colonel. Will you be the one telling Ms. Santiago she has been reassigned?”

“No, I’ll let her branch chief know. He can tell her. He’s on site at Brooks,” Jackson said.

“Colonel, sir, if I may, I’d rather you do it. I want as few people as possible knowing this information. We don’t know if there’s someone on the inside helping these people.”

“Are you suggesting one of my people could be involved in this?” Colonel Jackson asked, sitting up in his chair,

“Not necessarily, Colonel. At this point we don’t know.”

“I wish I could say it wasn’t true.” Jackson looked down at his desk, thinking.

“If it is someone in this organization, there’s a possibility Ms. Santiago could be in danger. That’s why I want this little chat between us kept on the down low. And I would like for you to tell her she’s being reassigned.”

“Do you want me to tell her what you think?”

“Of course not. I’ve got no proof. All she needs to know is she has a new desk. I’ll tell her what I want her to know.”

“Okay, I’ll keep it as minimal as possible.”

“I would appreciate it, Colonel.”

Chapter 12

 

Randolph Air Force Base, Texas

Information Technology Support Branch

July 28, 2008/1245 Zulu

 

Anna rushed into the office because she was late for work and hadn’t been able to sleep in two nights. She had an eerie feeling something was wrong somewhere. She’d gone to visit her mother yesterday. Everything was fine. She called her brothers. Everything was fine. She called her grandparents in Kingsville, and they were fine. Tammy was fine. This feeling was driving her crazy.

Beth was waiting for her like an excited child.

“Anna! It’s about time you showed up. Colonel Jackson wants to see you ASAP,” Beth said.

Beth’s eyes widened as she held up the message that had been waiting for Anna.

“Colonel Jackson? Our group commander?” Anna asked.

“Yeah! Yeah! He said as soon as you walked in for you to turn around and come see him. What happened? I know there was a trouble call over the weekend. Did something go wrong?” Beth asked, sensing she’d latched onto something juicy.

“Trouble call? What trouble call, Beth?” Anna asked, puzzled.

“Uh, I saw a note,” she said, turning away.

“What note? Beth, if I have to go see Colonel Jackson, please tell me what you saw,” Anna said calmly.

Anna hadn’t completed a trouble ticket yet and base ops never followed up on a support call. Captain O’Malley had asked her to keep this quiet. The only one who knew she’d been called out was Tammy.
How does Beth know about this weekend?

“Uh, it was on Ed’s desk. He left himself a note to talk to you about this weekend,” Beth said sheepishly because she knew she’d been caught snooping.

Anna had forgotten that she’d seen Ed in the office on Saturday.

“Oh? I wasn’t on call this weekend. I’m off to the commander’s office,” Anna said calmly.

“What’s going on Anna? Do you know?”

“I won’t know until after I talk to Colonel Jackson. Will I?” Anna said as she left.

As Anna walked out the door, she heard Beth stomp her foot in frustration. She walked out into the sultry, almost oppressive morning. The weather added to Anna’s miserable mood as she climbed into her own car. The common vehicle they used around the base had no air-conditioning. There was no way she was driving to the other side of San Antonio in this weather with no air-conditioning.

Anna arrived at the group command office within thirty minutes. She entered the building and checked in with the commander’s secretary. She hadn’t had the chance to sit down before Colonel Jackson was asking her to come in and meet with him. The colonel was pleasant as he asked her to come inside his office. Anna was uneasy as he closed the door silently behind her.

“Ms. Santiago? It’s nice to meet you,” Colonel Jackson said, extending his hand.

“Thank you, sir. It’s nice to meet you, too,” Anna said, politely taking his hand.

“May I call you Anna? Please sit down,” Jackson said, taking his own seat.

“Yes, sir.” Anna took a seat.

Colonel opened a folder that was sitting in front of him and glanced at it briefly. “Anna. I want you to know I had a visit today from the commanding officer of Navy Special Warfare Group Five. He has asked me not to send this message forward.”

What’s O’Malley up to?
Anna said nothing, deciding to wait until Colonel Jackson asked her a direct question. She wondered if something else happened after she’d left on Saturday.

“He’s also requested that we place you on loan to his organization. And I’ve granted that request.”

Anna felt the blood drain to her feet and she swallowed hard.
Work for them!
She couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“For how long, sir? I’m sorry, Colonel Jackson, I don’t understand what’s going on here.”

“You will be there until they no longer need you. Apparently you’re on to something they’
ve been tasked with
and Captain O’Malley feels that you can help them. Can you tell me a little about this incident?”

Anna hesitated a moment. Captain O’Malley had asked her not to discuss the incident. But, she reasoned, since he’d come and talked with Colonel Jackson, she thought it would be okay to tell him. At least what she considered public information from the work she’d done with the others on the base.

“Yes, sir. There was a virus that seems to be released and contained on Randolph. I worked on twelve computers Friday. All were directorate- or headquarter-level computers. I worked on Captain O’Malley’s on Saturday. I’ve checked the logs for our other branches and none of the other bases reported any incidents like what we experienced. So, I started digging around and found some pretty odd occurrences the night before on our e-mail and internet servers. While working on the first five computers, I figured it was more of an annoyance. It affects the networking and mail services.”

“Go on,” Colonel Jackson said, encouraging her.

“When I got to the seventh computer, I figured out a backdoor was opened to the network, so I shut it. I went back to the previous computers and found they had been compromised so I shut down the file that was causing the vulnerability. I worked on the remaining five. Late in the afternoon, I went back to the office and got this message out. I figured headquarters should be notified. That’s our policy, sir. Have I done something wrong?” Anna asked.

“I don’t think you did anything wrong. In fact it sounds as if you did everything right. How late did you stay on Friday?”

“I stayed until about eight, sir. I wanted to make sure I had shut down every possible vulnerability I could think of. I hope I’ve got them all. I was planning on spending the day reading through the security logs for any unusual activity.”

“Well, go report in with Captain O’Malley and then, if he lets you, do what you can to make sure this thing is contained and not allowing unauthorized access,” Jackson said.

“Sir, my access from the systems will be removed. It’s standard protocol when someone leaves the area.”

“I don’t think we want to do that, Anna. I want you to make sure this thing is shut down for good. Inform Captain O’Malley of our protocol and let him make that decision. That’s all, Anna,” Jackson said, rising from his chair.

“Yes, sir,” Anna said, taking the hint.

Anna rose and dismissed herself. She was troubled as she drove back to Randolph.
What are those guys doing here?
Anna was back at Randolph before she knew it. She entered the hangar with an uneasy feeling and slowly made her way to Captain O’Malley’s office. She opened the glass door and was greeted by his admin who was in uniform as well. Anna wondered if this group even had civilians.

“May I help you, ma’am?” the admin asked politely but firmly, looking her directly in the eye.

He’s just as arrogant as his boss. Do they all have an attitude?
Anna just knew she wouldn’t like it here. All these men were so…macho. Was the entire Navy like this? There was way too much testosterone in this office for Anna’s comfort level.

“Yes. I was told to report to Captain O’Malley,” Anna answered quietly.

“Ms. Santiago? Yes, ma’am, the captain is expecting you,” the young man said, getting up from his seat

Gales of laughter erupted from the captain’s office. Anna just knew the laughter involved her. The admin limped into Captain O’Malley’s office. He returned shortly with Mac following close behind.

“Hello, Anna. We’ve been expecting you all morning,” Mac said warmly as he held his hand out, waving her into the office.

“Master Chief,” she said, walking toward him.

Mac stepped in front of her.

“You don’t get to pass until you promise you’ll call me Mac.” Anna smiled in spite of her doubts. She really liked Mac because he had a way of putting her at ease.

“Okay, Mac.”

Captain O’Malley was coming from around his desk as Anna and Mac entered his office.

“Anna, welcome aboard. Have a seat,” Captain O’Malley said, motioning to the chairs in front of his desk.

“Thank you, sir,” Anna said quietly

“Have you been to see Colonel Jackson?” Captain O’Malley asked.

Anna simply nodded.

“He’s explained to you why you’re here?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I believe you can help us,” Captain O’Malley said, coming quickly to the point. The captain assumed a relaxed position as he sat on the edge of his desk. Even relaxed he was intimidating. Anna’s instinctual dislike for him increased. “You will be working directly for Mac and myself. Your office will be right next to Mac’s. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to find one of us.”

“If I may, sir. I understand I’m being placed here for an unspecified amount of time?” Anna asked more impatiently than she’d intended.

Captain O’Malley made her so uncomfortable. Anna felt as if a panic attack would seize her at any moment. It was becoming increasingly difficult for her to breathe.

“That’s correct,” Captain O’Malley said, and she noticed a slight smile played around the corners of his mouth. The bastard was laughing at her. Now, Anna was really getting irritated.

“That being the case, sir, can you please tell me what my duties are?”

“I want you to work on that virus you’re so familiar with.”

“Specifically, sir. What does that mean?” Anna asked sharply.

Mac turned and looked at her in surprise as her tone registered with both him and the captain.

“I want you to find this thing and take it apart. I want to know everything about it,” Captain O’Malley said, slightly narrowing his eyes.

“Sir, with all due respect, you have the wrong person. I’m not a programmer. Viruses are computer programs. I don’t know how to do what you’re asking,” Anna snapped.

“Then you’d better figure it out,” the captain snapped back.

Captain O’Malley stood and it was clear that he was no longer amused. Anna started to shrink back into her chair. She realized she may have been disrespectful and gone too far with him. Mac cleared his throat.

“Anna, we realize you don’t know everything. We have people who can assist you on this project. Just tell us what you need.” Mac paused as Captain O’Malley relaxed a bit and resumed his casual seat on the edge of his desk. “Anna, you seem to be the only one who knows how to deal with this. And by the way, this happened at another base,” Mac added.

BOOK: Dominant Deception [Black Ops Brotherhood 3] (Siren Publishing Classic)
12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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