Epilogue

 

 Across the way from American University in Washington, DC was a campus of almost forty acres, occupied by more than thirty buildings.  The site was peaceful, with nothing to suggest anything out of the ordinary.  Temporary though it was only to be, the Department of Homeland Security had made a useful home out of the allocated space.  This day would be no different.

 The vehicles that would pull into the parking lot throughout the day attracted no attention, each one meekly finding a parking space before its passengers disembarked.  From there, the new arrivals made their way into the Nebraska Avenue Complex.  Gathering like this would swallow up more than a few hours; however, considering the nature of their get-together, the higher-ups found patience.

 Each guest wove through the cluster of buildings to one in particular, something that appeared to be only another one of many.  Once inside, they showed a badge to a man at the front, who would then point them to a set of stairs in the back.  At the bottom of those stairs were two marines, fully armed, who would ask for a different sort of identification before granting the attendees access.  Beyond the next door, each person was put through a metal detector and patted down thoroughly, forced to leave behind all cell phones, recording devices of any kind, and anything metal.  For good measure, they would step through an arch that would deliver a directed electromagnetic pulse to nullify anything the preceding guards may have missed.

 The meeting began routinely.  As the lights dimmed and the screen descended from the ceiling, a presenter stepped forward.  He informed the various individuals attending—politicians and scientists, military representatives and significant others from every corner of the country and its territories—that many in the room had had explained to them previously any and all information pertinent to that day’s briefing.  Additionally, the presenter went on, due to the nature of their meeting and the nondisclosure agreements signed beforehand by those in attendance, if anything that was to be said thereafter were to be leaked to the public, the person or persons responsible for such an indiscretion would be black-listed without question and executed as a traitor to the United State of America.

 “My name is Doctor Arthur Emmerich,” the presenter announced to the room.  With the preliminaries at last complete, Arthur straightened up, full of more life than before.  “I am the head director of this project.”

A picture snapped onto the screen: a cloudy sprawl of dark green foothills, a seemingly barren land.  The photo was replaced by a number of others, each depicting different places in the same locale, each one almost exactly as the last.

 “The Antipodes Islands,” Arthur announced as the slideshow continued.  “In 1942, during the war in the Pacific, a United States naval vessel was shipwrecked here, just south of New Zealand.  As you know, while there, members of the ship’s crew discovered a number of small buildings near the coast.”

 The images switched to three simple, concrete buildings.  Their architecture seemed familiar, yet something all its own at the same time.  Near the buildings, barely visible through the overgrown greenery around, was a slab of metal sprawled out over the ground; a toothy seam down the middle suggested this was a set of doors, meant to cover something underground.

 The presenter continued by showing images of the buildings’ interiors.  Inside one building appeared to be a number of oddly-designed computers, ones which hadn’t been touched for what could have been ages.  In another building was much the same.  The third building, however, housed a number of what initially looked like stripped-down helicopters.

 A few in attendance did a double-take, though most were not new to this information—as Arthur stated at the beginning, for many of those in attendance, this was merely a review.

 “Mind you,” Arthur continued, pointing to the images, “these photos were taken in 1943, just as the United States Navy began to survey the area.  After the discovery, each person involved was either sworn to secrecy or promptly imprisoned for fear of information getting out to the rest of the world.”

 The next image was a cutaway, a layout of a facility that reached dozens of stories underground—the space beneath the three small buildings.

 “We found facilities like these on only two other islands among the Antipodes,” Arthur explained.  “However, a number of other facilities have been discovered by the US Navy around the world, including a portion of Japan’s Okunoshima Island, taken by Allied Forces in 1945; and Palmyra Atoll, one thousand miles south of Hawaii, where American forces constructed an airstrip during World War II.  While each location was initially uncovered last century, the US has maintained a private presence at each facility ever since.”

 A slideshow of various devices and what looked like firearms began as the doctor went on.  Though for him this was nothing new, the excitement in his voice was unmistakable.

 “As you know, each facility yielded a myriad of technologies that have aided the United States in its military interests for decades now.  Various manufacturers have received ‘inspired’ minds throughout this time who have been assigned to give controlled leaks of these technologies, presenting them as fresh innovations.”

 A video replaced the pictures, one of a man clothed in a white body armor, wearing a clunky helmet with an opaque visor.  Raising a battle rifle, the soldier took aim and fired in bursts on a number of moving targets—spider-like drones manufactured by Teleios—strolling calmly through an otherwise empty aircraft hangar.

 “In the modern era, these technologies have gradually aided in American ‘super soldier’ programs, with more yet to be released.  We have only to wait for the rest of the world to keep up, at least somewhat, so as not to raise any questions.  However, there is much more we could release even now.”

 An orbiting model of the planet appeared, covered on its dark side by swathes of yellow lights in the more industrialized areas of the world.  A number of pale green dots appeared over the surface, one near New Zealand, another south of Hawaii, and yet another near Japan, joined by a handful of other locations where facilities had been discovered.

 “Each facility, despite being quite inert, emits a unique signal that can only be detected by specialized equipment found on these islands.  So far as we can tell, these emissions are sent on a level lower than even the sub-atomic—something traveling through the most fundamental building blocks of the universe, leaving only echoes in the upper layers of material reality.”

 Arthur knew much of this would go over the heads of most of his viewers, but he didn’t care.  This was too good to gloss over.  At least his fellow colleagues in the crowd would understand.

 One particular spot on the displayed globe was highlighted, the model expanding, using satellite images to display the majority of the New England area and a few other surrounding states.

 “This is why we’ve called you all together today.  We picked up a signal of the same variety, something that has remained until very recently either inactive or at least undetected.  As you may have guessed, however, it’s very difficult to pinpoint any definite location when you don’t already know the location of what you’re detecting; we were able to connect our discovered islands with their signals only after… well, discovering them.”

 “Are you saying some sort of technology may have activated in the northeastern United States?” asked one of the attendants, an agent of the NSA.

 Arthur looked back at the agent, not recognizing him—he must have been one of the new recruits.

 “That’s precisely what we’re saying.  Somewhere in the United States, someone is in possession of, and has activated a piece of currently unidentified alien technology—something akin to the very items we’ve been discovering since the 1940s.  Our mission, therefore, is to locate this technology and the party responsible for its activation.”

 “Once we’ve located the technology, are we to eliminate the party responsible for its activation?” asked a woman in a formal US Air Force uniform—another newbie.

  Frustrated by the lack of understanding in the room, Arthur stared back at the officer sternly.

“The President has called for whatever means are necessary to locate the technology, and—if at all possible—to bring back any responsible or involved parties alive.”  Scanning over the room, sensing just how many novices he had been given, Arthur delivered his final pleas.

“This technology is not only critical to our development as a civilization,” he said, “but it is also very dangerous.  It can’t be allowed to slip into the hands of any irresponsible person or persons.  Because of that, it is imperative that we retrieve whatever technology this may be.  We cannot damage it, and we would do well to bring back those involved alive so we can ascertain how they acquired and learned to operate the technology in question.  Please, everyone, failure may spell the end of this project altogether.  We must find them.”