NOTES: Another quick reminder about grammar as we progress with the storyline. I know it's hard (for some of you it's REALLY hard) to ignore my grammar scuffs and typos, but that's part of this process. Remember, I am not reviewing what I'm writing. Doing so adds an hour or more to each day's process. This is stream of thought. I'm vomiting on the page. Lucky you! So, if you can't take the errors, you may want to wait for Chain of Command to be published. Don't worry, I won't be offended. Also, I don't want you to waste your time if I can't make your changes on the first draft. But, if you can ignore them for the ride, you'll get the chance to skewer my grammar as a Beta Reader. Hope that's cool because even if you submit changes, I am not going back to fix anything right now.
CHRISTMAS: The good news is that Christmas is two days away, or as my kids like to say, "One day and a wake up, Daddy!" With Christmas so close, this week will be interesting as far as writing goes. I'm still going to try to write, but I won't promise which days I will. If I don't talk to you before then, have a happy and safe Christmas.
Now, back to the show...
(CAUTION: The following contains unedited material that may be unsuitable for the grammatically inclined. Keep in mind that I don’t review what I write until after the first draft of the whole novel is done, so please keep your spelling and grammar fixes until the Beta Reader rounds.)
10:47pm, December 5th
The two men dressed as the building’s security guards were down the stairs and out the front door exactly three minutes and fifteen seconds before the FBI investigators descended. Warrants were waved and badges flashed as the on-site security team tried to figure out what the agents wanted.
“This federal warrant gives us immediate access to suite four-oh-nine,” stated the lead FBI agent, conveniently attired in a Bureau windbreakers over his winter coat.
“Sir, I’ll have to call the building manager first,” replied the forty-year-old night watchman. He’d been an employee at the same complex for almost six-years, ever since he’d taken an early retirement from the Navy. This was the first time he’d personally encountered the FBI. He’d heard stories, but none of them lived up to what was facing him now. The special agents just kept coming through the front doors, some with boxes, other with cameras, and still more with laptop bags slung over their shoulders. “I could get in a lot of trouble if —“
“You’ll be in federal prison if you don’t escort us up to suite four-oh-nine. Now, would you rather get stuffed in the back of one of our vans or show us the way?”
The security guard tried, but couldn’t match the FBI agent’s glare.
“Okay,” he replied, already making his way toward the bank of elevators.
The FBI agent snapped his fingers and was instantly followed by his entourage. Twelve of them squeezed into the elevator with the sweating guard. He kept his eyes on the doors, watching the intense reflections of his fellow passengers.
He’s already told them that no one was in the office. He’d even offered to give them the tenant’s contact information so that maybe they could come in themselves. But the FBI had its own plan. They wanted in now.
The doors slid open and the security guard was greeted by black clad troops with rifles. He almost pulled out his own weapon, but the large agent stepped around him and said, “They’re with us.”
How had they gained access without him knowing? His sweat turned to cold as he imagined the inevitable conversation he was going to have with his boss. He gulped once and fumbled in his pocket for the key card. After a quick swipe of the card, the door unlocked and he was pushed aside by the armed raid force.
He stepped back and watched as the FBI team swarmed in. No one paid any more attention to him and that was fine with him. He realized he had to go to the bathroom so he walked to the fourth floor restroom, passing the sign for Suite 409, with its Marine Corps emblazoned sign that read USMC F-35 Liaison and Procurement.
He’d met the Marine colonel who commanded the Marine and civilian staff in the office. The guy didn’t say much, but to a former squid, the Marine seemed wound pretty tight. That was saying something for a Marine.
The security guard wondered what the colonel was going to do when he came to work and found the FBI waiting. He didn’t really care. After taking a leak, it was just another night on an otherwise boring shift.
The Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces stifled another sneeze. He was coming down with something, probably from one of the grandkids. They been up to visit from Chesapeake the week before, and two of the three hadn’t stopped with their runny noses and incessant coughs.
Rep. Wade Yates (R-Virginia), blew his nose into another tissue and added it to the growing pile in the waste basket sitting next to him.
“Gentlemen and ladies, we’ve been at it for most of the night, and I’m sure you’d like to get home. May I suggest we adjourn until tomorrow?”
There were no disagreements from the other nineteen members of the subcommittee that provided oversight for Navy and Marine Corps procurement and research and development. Some yawned as they gathered their belonging and said farewell to their peers.
Congressman Yates couldn’t remember another December that had been so plagued by budget squabbles and deadlock. Despite President Zimmer’s attempts to bring the two sides together, it was the same old story in Washington. Left versus Right with no end in sight.
Yates shook his head as he stuffed the last file into his brief case. There was still much to discuss, but at least the bulk of what they were finalized was actually cemented in the budget. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program had been a particular bear, but they’d gotten through it. With cost increased and delays from the manufacturer, the U.S. government was increasingly in the hole on the expensive program.
Various news outlets had done their best to paint the program as another example of government waste, but Rep. Yates and his colleagues believed in the program. They didn’t disagree on revamping the process and holding the manufacturer accountable, but they were steadfast in their insistence that the F-35 was a must-have for the future of the American armed forces. He’d said as much two days before in an interview on 60-Minutes. They hadn’t aired it yet, but he was hoping they’d include the meat of what he’d described.
He was the last out the door when his cell phone rang. He debated not answering the call, but saw that it was one of his assistants. Yates answered the call.
“Shouldn’t you be asleep by now? We’ve got another long day tomorrow.”
“Sir, I’m sorry to bother you.”
The tone of his staffer’s voice wiped the grin off Yates’s face.
“It’s okay. I was just leaving the subcommittee meeting.” He wondered what could be so urgent at this hour. “What’s the matter?”
“Sir, I just got a call from the FBI.”
Yates stopped walking. “What did they want?” He scoured his mind for any ongoing investigation that maybe he should’ve remembered. His brain was foggy from the cold, or maybe it was the flu.
“They just raided the Marine’s F-35 liaison offices in Dulles, and they’ve taken Colonel Pearce into custody.”
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