The Helium-3 Conspiracy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - A significant Discovery

Submitted: September 29, 2016

Reads: 259

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Submitted: September 29, 2016

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Chapter One

A Significant Discovery
Monday, June 29, 2026
11:00 p.m.


Jeremy Gibson turned into the Gay Street entrance of the public parking garage. He quickly drove up to the second floor and found a parking spot. Furtively glancing around the floor area, he realized that his escape options were limited. The sudden screeching of tires on the ramp told him there was no time left?they were closing in.  
The nearest exit to the street was a stairwell on his left. Once outside, Jeremy could disappear into one of the many alleyways that serviced the adjacent buildings. 
The screaming of the tires stopped and car doors were slammed. His pursuers had arrived. Instinctively, Jeremy made his move toward the stairwell. 
Using the line of parked cars to shield him from the two men, he sprinted toward the stairs. Opening the door to the stairwell, he bounded down the steps, taking them three at a time, disappearing completely from their line of vision. 
The men sprinted forward, guns held in the two-handed grip technique.  By the time they followed Jeremy down the stairs to the ground floor, he was through the exit and had disappeared into the night. The men stood by the street light, waiting for their eyes to adjust. The taller of the two, a man with broad shoulders and long blonde hair, turned to his companion. 
“Not to worry, Greg?we’ll find him!”
They continued searching, looking in both directions, on both sides of the street, squinting into the darkness of each alley that separated the adjacent buildings, but Gibson was gone.
It was after 11:00 p.m. when Jeremy arrived at the ground floor office on East Lombard Street. The sign on the window partially lit by the streetlight several yards away was badly faded, but if you looked really hard you could still make it out. 

Jake Dobrowski Investigations LLC
Licensed Private Investigator
Tel: 1-800-555-2783

Jeremy had not been able to rest since he was discovered snooping around Senator Jackson’s home earlier that evening. The 8000 square-foot residence on East Madison Street in Mount Vernon, an upmarket area of Baltimore City, was a beautifully kept nineteenth-century home with seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms. 
For almost four years Jeremy had suspected Senator Jackson’s involvement in the suspicious death of Tony Underwood, a senior FBI agent conducting an investigation into the Senator’s use of public funds. Although Jackson had been acquitted of any wrongdoing, Jeremy had never forgotten and took every opportunity to target the Senator’s business. 
Every now and then it was his habit to look through Tony’s file to see if there might be a new angle on his mentor’s tragic death. Initially it had seemed insignificant that Tony’s badge had never been found, but Gibson, still convinced that Jackson had been involved in the murder, wondered if the lost badge might have been kept by the Senator, perhaps as a memento.
Jeremy was between assignments and found himself with time on his hands, so he decided to check out Jackson’s residence. It was early afternoon and with only Mrs. Jackson’s Lexus parked in the driveway he assumed that the Senator was out. This was a convenient situation as the alarm would not be armed and Mrs. Jackson would most likely be upstairs or in the TV room.
Jeremy found a sliding door at the rear of the house to be unlocked, gaining him an easy entrance and he quickly discovered the downstairs office that Jackson used as his refreshment hole.
Going through the desk drawers, he discovered two items that confirmed his suspicions; a brown folder and an old FBI badge. 
When Tony Underwood joined the Service, he had received a numbered badge—one of the original one thousand badges manufactured in 1935 by the Robbins Company in Massachusetts. This particular badge, numbered 998, had been re-issued five times since the original recipient in 1935. Tony had been very proud of it and had always worn it on a chain around his neck. 
Jeremy carefully extracted the badge and checked it for the number. A surge of adrenaline coursed through his heart as he recognized the familiar number—998. He extracted a small plastic bag from his pocket and carefully placed the badge inside.  However, before he could open the folder, he sensed a presence at the office door. Looking up he saw Senator Jackson standing there quietly observing him. The Senator had been working in the adjacent wine cellar when a noise from the office had caught his attention.
The two men stared at each other briefly. Instinctively Jeremy’s training kicked in and he moved with the speed of a lunging tiger, catching Jackson off guard. He swung his fist, catching the Senator on the side of the jaw, knocking him sideways, into the office door. Jackson was momentarily stunned but managed to stay on his feet and at the same time got a good look at Jeremy’s face.  Suddenly, two men stepped out of the wine cellar having heard the crash of Jackson’s body against the office door. They were just in time to see Jeremy slip out the sliding door into the back garden. The men, each pulling out a gun, immediately gave chase, but were too late to get off a decent shot at the fleeing figure.
Jeremy ran like the wind. He had a twenty-yard lead and raced toward the back of the property, finally leaping over the side wall and into the adjacent lane. He ran to his car, jumped in and pulled away with a  screech of tires. He turned onto East Madison Street, angry at himself for being caught red-handed. Such carelessness could get him killed and he chided himself for not doing a thorough check for occupants in the house.
Agents in the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI were often in danger of being caught in the act of spying; it just came with the territory. It was more dangerous with a man like Jackson, though— a man who wielded a lot of power and influence. An agent’s job often led him into the realm of the wealthy and it was no surprise to Jeremy to find himself in the home of a well-known politician.
The men gave chase in a black SUV and he immediately realized these were not ordinary security guards. By their dress and vehicle, he assumed they were possibly working for the CIA, and unless their business was directly linked to a foreign threat, they could be operating illegally. These were men in a field related to his own—trained professionals and killing machines.
Gibson knew what needed to be done, but time wasn’t on his side. He didn’t have a clue who he could trust. Powerful men were always well connected and Jackson’s influence was legendary; there was little doubt that it extended deeply into both the Agency and the Bureau. 
There was no telling how high up the ladder of either organization Jackson’s influence had climbed. Gibson had to find someone trustworthy, someone who could help carry the torch. There would be others involved in the search for him by now—of that he was sure. 
Jeremy Gibson was afraid. He knew from bitter experience how government agencies worked. The heads of divisions were frequently politically dominated by Congress and often had to do the bidding of highly ranked political figures, such as Arthur Jackson.  Once in the past Jeremy had decided to share his suspicions with his superior at the FBI, Special Agent in Charge, Rubin Klein.  
A few days before the meeting with Klein, Jeremy had taken some personal leave. He needed a good sleep, to catch up on his personal mail plus compile a file on his covert observations of Jackson, for Klein’s perusal. On the final day of his leave, he decided to tail Jackson for the day, to see what else he could discover.
Jeremy followed the Senator to Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., where Jackson had met with someone that Jeremy knew well. It was the FBI’s Divisional Chief of Counterterrorism. The inevitable question began to plague him: Was the head of his department involved with Jackson? He couldn’t be sure but it certainly raised the uncertainty. 
Despite some misgivings, Jeremy decided to meet with the Special Agent in Charge. He thought Klein was objective enough to be clear of the Bureau’s darker, political issues. He was scheduled to meet with Klein the following day, hoping to gain his superior’s confidence, but was doomed to disappointment. 
The Special Agent in Charge, a recent transfer from another branch, had not been very responsive and had declined any involvement. He said that it would not be worth his job to stir up a hornet’s nest with his immediate boss. Klein maintained that the Division Head had too much to lose by getting involved in something underhanded. Jackson, also, was a very powerful influence in Congress—besides, he felt that Jeremy was being paranoid. 
Reality suddenly hit hard. Jeremy realized there would be no support from the organization he worked for. Nobody in either of these two organizations, specifically set up to protect the United States from domestic and foreign threats, could be trusted—at least with respect to this particular issue.
He tossed his cell phone into a garbage dumpster so that neither of the two organizations could use it to track him. 
Instinct had led Jeremy to Jake Dobrowski’s office door. The private eye was his only remaining choice if he wanted to continue the investigation. 
Jake had been unjustly discredited some years before in a case involving this same Senator. He felt that Dobrowski, given the opportunity to vindicate himself, would jump at the opportunity to see justice done.
Jake Dobrowski had been a celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning, investigative journalist during his evolving career with the Baltimore Times. He had been investigating a scandal involving Senator Arthur Jackson; however, the unsupported evidence provided by his informant caused the collapse of his testimony.  Subsequently, Jackson was exonerated of any wrong doing.  Jake was accused of faking evidence and the story blew up in his face.   Jackson had offered to resign from Congress but ultimately the electorate believed him and he kept his seat in the Senate.
The Times had no option but to dismiss Jake. It was shortly after this that Tony Underwood, Jeremy’s mentor, had discovered something about the evidence Jake had put forward in the trial and confronted Jackson regarding it. Soon after, Underwood was found dead in his car. The cause was ruled to be death by suicide.
There had been little doubt in Underwood’s mind that Senator Jackson had played a huge role in bringing about Jake’s downfall and expulsion from the news industry. Jeremy, as Underwood’s trainee, had inherited that strong belief. 
Needing to support his family, Jake had turned his talents to private investigation, but the ghost of that journalistic blunder would haunt him for the rest of his life. He had lost the identity that defined him as one of the country’s top news professionals, an identity he had greatly cherished.
Jeremy found the lock to Dobrowski’s office door to be the least of his challenges. There was, of course, an alarm that would register in some distant security office but he had no intention of hanging around for the arrival of the response unit. He switched on the desk lamp and moved across the room to the shelving unit against the wall, his eyes adjusting quickly to the dim luminescence of the bulb. It took a few seconds to find a box of large brown envelopes on the top shelf. He retrieved an envelope and dropped the badge inside. 
A quick search for a writing implement produced an old ballpoint with which he hastily scribbled a short message on a piece of paper, torn from the desk calendar. After dropping the note into the envelope, alongside the badge, he then slipped the envelope beneath the unopened mail on the desk. All this took little more than a minute. With a feeling of relief, Jeremy turned off the desk lamp and tip-toed to the door. Opening it a crack, he looked out at the sidewalk and waited—there appeared to be no sign of his enemies.  He left, closing the door quietly behind him. 

*

The following morning it was reported in the Daily Mail that Jeremy Gibson had been found dead—shot once in the back of the head. His body had been dumped under a bush just off the footpath, near the boardwalk that circles part of the Patterson Park Boat Lake. Missing from his person were credentials, cell phone, gun and wallet. The pursuers had apparently caught up with their prey, leaving no clue as to their identity or mission. 
According to the news, it took a few hours, after the discovery of his body by an early morning walker, for the Metropolitan Police to identify Jeremy using fingerprints. The FBI was then contacted and given the bad news. The local press in Baltimore got wind of the story and approached an FBI spokesperson who denied that Gibson had been working on a case. They said he was off-duty at the time of the murder and was possibly the victim of a robbery—however, the case was still under investigation.
The funeral service would be arranged as soon as Gibson’s family had been informed. It would most likely be in his hometown, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but that would be for the next of kin to decide. The most recent official consensus was that Jeremy Gibson had not been killed in the line of duty.

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