Chapter 8: Blacklisted: Part 3
Blake punched in a series of commands on the holographic display while Mira Porter looked on. She was apprehensive about the moment. She’d been curious about the mysterious organization that had taken over her new post aboard this orbital station. Now the floodgates were open. Blake was going to show her everything behind the curtain.
“February 19th, XXXX Earth Time. After six and a half years of intense mediating and collaborating, the collective organizations of Earth agreed on a global charter to form The United Terran Alliance, a precursor to what would become The Sol System Alliance 57 years later.”
“I know this, Sir.” Mira responded.
“What you didn’t know..” Blake continued, “..is that buried in this charter was a tiny, carefully-worded sub-policy.. more like a loophole that gave the Terran World Military, the precursor to what would become The Sol System Garrison, the initiative to use excessive operational mandates to deal with threats deemed too dangerous for conventional means.”
He navigated through the holographic records, while Mira watched on intently. “Early on, this mandate was enacted very rarely.” he pulled up a historical outline. “The Soviet Resistance, the Near-collapse of The Global Infrastructure, The Mexican Territorial Succession… all of these tragedies would’ve been considerably worse if that policy wasn’t on the books.
“Fast forward a few decades. After reuniting with the dozens of the outer-lining colonies that had ventured out to explore the galaxy, we set out to reintegrate them back into the Terran Alliance. When The Sol System Alliance was created, ‘The Policy’ was augmented, giving the operation more structure, head-count and funding to expand preventative operations off-world.”
Mira interrupted. “No disrespect, Sir. But this sounds.. highly suspect. How could there be the existence of an off-the-books operations so prominent, but unknown to all our intelligence networks?”
Blake smiled. “Who do you think runs the Intelligence programs?”
Mira was perplexed. This was more than a clandestine organization. This sounded like a cancer infecting her civilization.. a handful of shadowy individuals shaping the direction of the human race.
She shook her head. “This is wrong.” she stood. “What you’re telling me is… it’s wrong, Sir. This.. Blacklist is old world tactics. Organizations like this were part of the reason it took Earth so long to unite under a single banner.”
“Yes.” Blake agreed.
Mira ranted on. “We’re suppose to be above all this. The Sol System Alliance is suppose to have total transparency…”
“Yes.” He said again. “Everything you’re saying is true. We should be above shadow organizations and covert manipulations. But we’re not. It’s simple as that.”
Blake could see the bewildered look on Mira’s face. This is where she needed her to be. All potential candidates needed to be torn apart. They needed to be stripped of their social comfort. It was the fork in the road where the candidate would stagnate and have to go through a few months of reconditioning to forget this meeting… or they would accept the true status quo and move forward as a part of the organization.
He rubbed his frowning face, as if to project an aura of frustrated contemplation. This was an act, of course. A small form of theater which conveys a sense of painful necessity.
“I understand how this sounds, General. A day doesn’t go by without me questioning what we’re doing out here. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are needed. People like us.. we hide inside the comfort of military rules and orders. But outside of us, the rest of the galaxy waits in the shadows.
Blake brought up another 3D display. This time it was a small grid of text documents.. analysis other worlds.
“After the The Battle of Ganamede, the other civilizations seemed to put their differences aside out of fear and mutual protection. But don’t be fooled. We have The Mass Protectorate on one side watching our unruly System Alliance sitting right next to their pristine Oligarchy. And on the otherside, The Faith’s vast fleets of floating Cathedrals waiting to indoctrinate more humans in their glory.”
He shut the display off so that he could lock eyes with her. He knew that when the call went out, Mira always responded. She was a true hero, one that knew of high stakes and sacrifices. She just needed one more push. She was almost there.
“It’s too much.” She replied. “This is too much power for such a small amount of people to have. How can you stop people from abusing so much power?”
Blake leaned in with a grin. “By enlisting people like you.”
She said nothing.
He continued. “You’re right. The amount of power we possess is dangerous. That’s why there’s very little rank structure in our organization. We operate as a small collective and we pride ourselves for policing our own actions.”
“So what you’re saying is there is no abuse of power?” She asked.
“No. I’m saying when one of us abuses that power, it’s the rest of us who shut it down.”
Blake changed the display once again. This time, a series of animated organizational charts appeared. Mira gasped. She recognized one other figure on the charts besides Blake.
“What the hell?” She stood and got a closer look at the display. “Captain Vigo Haulker?”
Blake nodded. “Yes. I recruited him 18 years ago when he was promoted to Commander.” His demeanor softened. “One of my proudest moments.”
Mira remembered Captain Haulker and his swift fall from grace in the military. The secrets uncovered. The lives lost. The the backlash from neighboring star systems.
“Proudest moments?!?” She couldn’t contain her anger anymore. “Proudest moments?! That man and his crew went on a murder spree in open space! That man destroyed seven civilian ships! He murdered over 90,000 civilians! How and you praise something so horrible?!”
Blake leaned forward to add information to the display. “Rule #1, General: Don’t believe everything you read.”
Alongside the org charts, a stream on video and scrolling text appeared.
“Vigo didn’t kill 90,000 civilians. They were already dead.”
“Blacklist had been aware of a growing movement called The Krat, a doomsday cult that believed death was the real life and were were all trapped in our current form as tortured. They hatched a plot to infect the population of multiple worlds with a degenerative disease that literally rots organic matter at an alarming rate. They infected vacationers at a star port near Lalande 21185.
“By the time Blacklist got wind of the plot, all cruise liners had been infected and all occupants had were already dead. We successfully eliminate The Krat ‘s 26 operational cells, but not before the plan was enacted.
“Captain Vigo Haulker knew what needed to be done. His was the only Gunship close enough to stop those seven ships from reaching populated planets. With no hesitation, he and his crew preceded to track down and destroy those death machines, knowing the consequences of their actions.”
“Consequences?” Mira asked, who’s anger was replaced with bewilderment.
“There was no way to call out and explain what he was going to do the aligning star systems without raising a lot of questions.. questions that would’ve lead back to Blacklist. So relayed his plan back to us. And we concluded it was the best course of action, as tragic as it was going to be.”
“What was that plan, Sir?” She asked.
“We were put forth an order to the Sol Garrison that Captain Haulker and his crew had gone rogue and systematically slaughtered civilian ships. We would issue an order to destroy on sight, which the aligning systems would see as the Sol Garrison cleaning up their mess. Captain Haulker made his coordinate known and we relayed they information to the intelligence organizations in multiple systems. We needed what would happen next to be a spectacle. We held off the Captain Haulker’s execution until we had witnesses from multiple worlds.”
Mira was in shock. “Oh God. You staged his death?”
Blake shook his head. “No, General. Captain Haulker knew there could be no mistakes in this moment. The diplomatic relations between our worlds were fragile at best. We couldn’t risk and type of disillusionary tactics. When everyone inspected the wreckage in the aftermath, it needed to be authentic.”
“At the designated moment, Captain Haulker dropped his shield and four Gunships secretly under Blacklist control fired upon and destroy the Gunship Pegasus. All 213 souls aboard gave their lives to protect the fragile peace.”
Blake deactivated the holographic screen, leaving Mira staring blankly back at him.
“Captain Vigo Haulker was a patriot, General.” Blake continued. “It may seem like a waste to you, but he knew the stakes in that moment. And as outrageous as the situation sounds, he put the protection of the galaxy above himself and his crew. And because of that, a cancer in this system was eliminated and countless worlds were spared an agonizing death. That’s what it means to be Blacklist, General. We stand above rules and regulation. We may serve human interests, but we do what we can to protect everyone and everything.. at any costs.”
“That’s madness!” She surprised herself with the outburst. “There are dozens of other scenarios Captain Haulker could have taken with the same outcome.. without the loss of life!”
“Well..” Blake responded standing up and grabbing his coat. “Everyone isn’t as tactically savvy as you General. We work the problem as best we can and if it requires sacrifice in the heat of the moment…”
“Madness.” She muttered to herself, still in shock.
Blake slowly buttoned his dress coat, allowing his dozens of shiny metal to violently reflect the bright like of Deck 8.
“Vigo Haulker was a top officer in the organization. He oversaw the operations in multiple system, including this one. 56 top secret bases with close to 1000 covert officers at his command. His death has left a leadership vacuum in that position for years while we worked to find a replacement.”
Blake straighened his uniform and walked to stand next to Mira who was still processing this meeting
He put his hand on her shoulder and continued. “I’ve seen your intellect, your courage and your compassion. You have skills and assets that Vigo never had. I would trust you in this position more than anyone else, Mira. This isn’t an indoctrination.”
“Then what is it, Blake?” The asked.
“Honestly? This is me offering you a super-weapon to help keep us all safe. That’s all. Again this is not a structured organization. You are accountable to no one because you’re the boss. And barring any high profile rogue operations that the other members aren’t aware of, you’d be pretty much left alone to do what you do best.”
She looked up and made eye contact with Blake for what seemed like hours. Her mind races through situational scenarios– the pros and cons of joining a Black Ops organization. And her greatest fears was coming to pass.
Even with natural predication of suspicion and that nagging feeling of impending doom, she couldn’t come up with enough reasons to say no.
She realized she was holding her breath too long.
She exhaled. “With all due respect, Sir. You’ve told me a lot of… questionable information. It feels like I’m in a bad situation if I decide to decline your offer.”
He smiled. “I’ll make this easy.”
He reactivated the holographic screen. “Anticipating you agreeing to the post, I already authorized your access to your system. In front of you is the complete history of Blacklist operations. You are free to sit here as long as you like and study us. Judge for yourself if this organization is worth of you and your skills. When you reach a decision, simply exit this room. Kathy will be waiting at the turbo lift for your answer.”
“And if I decide to decline?”
“We’ll erase this day from your memory. You won’t remember anything about The Blacklist and we’ll even get you re-assigned Earth-side so you can retire properly as you intended to do.”
He started to walk away into the bright light, becoming more a disembodied voice. “If you accept the post, you don’t have to do anything. Welcome to The Blacklist, Colonel Mira Porter.
Kathy Bates stood near the entrance of the turbo lift on Deck 3, staring out into deep space through the giant floor windows, as she usually does when she gets a few moments to herself.
A little over 2 hours before, Major General Blake had came to find her and relay that Colonel Porter was thinking about accepting the position.
“She’ll take it.” He told her. “It may take her a little bit of time to work out the logistics in her head, but she’ll find a way to justify it.”
He had leaned in to Kathy, putting his lips close to her ear. “And when she does accept, your new focus will be to make sure she does what we want her to do. The Colonel has a fabulous intellect, but she’s also very strong-willed.. which can be a bit of a problem with people in our positions.”
With that, he gave Lt. Bates a friendly pat on the shoulder and then walk off without another word.
It took Kathy a few moments to realize she wasn’t breathing in his presence. When his visage disappeared around the curved corridor, she exhaled deeply. Bracing herself on the wall. She was proud of The Blacklist and what they did. But she wasn’t so naive not to know how dangerous they could be.
Major General Blake Allen Aetós was a dedicated, driven and sometimes frightening man. He wielded the power to raze entire civilizations with a few words. He was not a man to be crossed or failed. So when he said the word ‘focus’, he meant the Colonel’s indoctrination would take precedence over everything else.
Kathy was brought out of her thoughts by a signal from her communicator. She was to receive the message with Colonel Porter had left the white room on Deck 8.
She gathered herself, straightened her uniform and stepped into the turbo lift.
“Deck 8.” She called out, start starting the elevator’s descent.
When it reached its destination and the doors slide open, it revealed Colonel Porter arriving at the lift right on time. She was surprised to see Kathy in the lift as it opened.
Kathy nodded to The Colonel. “You all set, Ma’am?”
Mira walked into to the lift alongside her as the door closed. “Damn right, I am. Deck 4.”
As the turbo lift started to move, Kathy gave it another command.
“Construye los muros que nos protegen.“
The lift stopped and the lighting changed from a fluorescent white to a dim blue tinge.
“What the hell?” The Colonel said.
“It’s a directive command, shutting down all usage of this lift and erecting a dampening field blocking any communication, scanning or recording. We’ll be able to talk freely, Ma’am.”
“Neat.” Mira replied. “I’m guessing you have words that need to be said?”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Kathy took a deep breath and put on her best face of intensity. She was going to have to establish herself as the seasoned veteran of the organization and let Mira know that their dynamic would be.. different. Even though their ranks were defined within the Sol Garrison, their Blacklist relationship would be slightly different.
“Before we proceed further, Ma’am.. we need to set some rules in…”
“Well, you can stop right there, Lieutenant.” But Mira beat her to the punch. Even though there wasn’t much room between them in the turbo lift, Mira took a small, commanding step into Kathy’s space, causing the Lieutenant to give ground. Mira knew what Kathy’s play was going to be. She was going to cement her position as an equal, or superior with the secret organization. But like Blake said, Mira Porter was an excellent strategics. She sized up the small Lieutenant’s position within 5 minutes of their first meeting.
“Before you give me your speech this speech on ‘how things are going to be’ let’s get one thing straight. I’ve been wearing my big lady pants longer than you’ve been alive. So there are no rules no rules you need to straighten with me. Are we clear?”
Kathy lowered her gazed. “Yes Ma’am.”
“Good. Now, here are my rules. The only thing you’re going to for me is, whatever the hell I tell you to do. Blake put me in charge, both above and under the table. So the way I see it, I’m God here.”
Mira leaned in close Kathy, until her lips were inches from her nose. “And if you ever with-old anything from me concerning this station, or it’s operation, God with smite Thee.”
This time, Kathy just nodded in agreement.
“Good.” Mira stood up straight. “Deck 4.”
The lighting changed to it’s original luminesce as the lift continue to move downward.
“Actually Ma’am..” Kathy added. “You’re need be on Deck 1. The anomaly we discovered outside of Calisto? It’s a lot more… interesting than first reported.
KATHY SAYS FIRST PROBLEM IS ALEX CREW AND TELLS OF WHAT HAPPENED. THEY GO TO GET INFO.