Imprint Pt. II
Chapter 2: The Powers That Be
"But, what if they aren't vengeful, terrible, awful beings?"
"What do you mean?" he seemed perplexed, "If they aren't awful beings, the narrative doesn't work."
General Marx began shuffling on the cement floor impatiently. His perfectly shined shoes scraped against the pavement, like nails on a chalkboard, while cigar smoke spiraled from his nostrils, like an angry bull.
"I get that, but aren't there other implications if the narrative is inaccurate? I mean, we might convince people we can get more by saying we are working with them, rather than against. Isn't that possible?"
"Inaccurate? Jesus Briggs, what the hell do you think we're doing here? The whole point is to to contain and retain the power structure. We can't do that without the FEAR. If they know there is nothing to be afraid of, or worse that they can develop the ability to communicate without us, we will LOSE all the power. Don't you get that? It doesn't matter if it's right, it matters that we retain control, by any means necessary!" Marx seemed exasperated as Briggs shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
" I mean, we aren't really sure what their capabilities are, right? If they are peaceful, and we inspire everyone to want to attack them, aren't we just asking for problems that we might not be able to control?" He knew he was making sense, but he could also tell the General was furious.
"Just get the fuck out of here, and do as you were ordered, Briggs. You're thinking way too deeply about this whole thing. We need to control the narrative. GO. NOW."
Briggs slumped out of the chair and slipped out the door. His embarrassment was only rivaled by his insecurity about what he had to do. He finally reached his office and dug through his book to find Chelsea's number. He reluctantly dialed hoping that she wouldn't answer.
It rang, two, three, four times...please don't....
An exasperated voice responded at the other end, "Chelsea Parks, Post." she spit out while taking in a deep breath of air.
"Chelsea, it's Briggs."
"Briggs," she replied suspiciously, "what have you got for me today," she asked before beginning her typical diatribe of insulting questions.
"Are they able to camouflage? Or shrink down? Do they shrink down and like to eat carrots? Have any of them asked, 'What's up doc,?' in the past few hours, because you might be dealing with Bugs Bunny, Briggs. Have you given that any consideration? I don't want you to overlook anything."
"Funny Chelsea, look, just because you're skeptical of what I have to share doesn't mean it isn't true."
"Ah, right Briggs, and just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the world isn't out to get you. But it might be, let's face it."
"Do you want the latest or not? Believe me I don't like making these calls any more than you like getting them," he opined, while simultaneously smirking at her witty remark.
"Aw, that's hurtful Briggs, and here I thought you enjoyed our little chats."
"If you don't want an exclusive, I can find someone else to share it with."
"No, lay it on me. What is it now," Chelsea said reluctantly, giving in.
"Well, we have reason to believe there's an offensive being planned by certain extraterrestrial forces, " he stated, trying to sound confident in the assertion.
"Really," she said, sounding unconvinced, "and where did this very important information come from?"
"It was gathered from a being that we shot down three nights ago, using persuasive mind control techniques," Briggs replied, reading from his notes and trying to make a convincing argument.
"And just when and where will this offensive be taking place?"
" That's just it, Chelsea, "that thing died before we were able to get all the relevant info, so now we're trying to turn the tables and plan for our own offensive before something terrible happens. We've got to make our own move. All this "kumbaya" shit is really getting to everyone. We can't wait any longer."
" I see, and no one's worried how they might respond?"
"What do you mean?"
"You're going to attack an alien race that has already infiltrated our systems with no real knowledge of their capabilities and hope it all works out in your favor? That doesn't sound particularly well-thought out, now does it Briggs."
Chelsea's reporter instincts kicked in she sensed she was being played, but continued,
"Also, how are you going to get them 'unlinked' from the portals? If you could have done that, wouldn't it have happened already? Have you figured out that one yet, or are we just going to tell the walking zen-bots to 'keep calm and carry on'?"
It was a good question, actually, it was an excellent question. He wished he had used it in the meeting to get his point across. No one would believe our side of the story if we didn't also figure out the complexities of their supposed "hacking" to "unlink" them. The creatures can't just disappear. It has to be "unlinked" so that everyone thinks we've gone back to "normal".
"Um, I believe there are others working on that," Briggs said hesitantly, "I'll have to get more details. When do you need this by?"
"Yesterday, " she replied coyly.
"Ok, I'll get back with you, just give me a little bit."
"Time's ticking, Briggs. I know you don't mind sounding like a bumbling idiot, but I like to have nicely written coherent stories to share." she said, poking at him.
He ignored her usual sass and replied, "I got it Chelsea, I just need a few."
He hung up and sprinted back down the hall. Typed in the security code on the meeting door and burst in. The five military officers were not amused.
Slightly out of breath, he recounted his discussion with Parks.
"So if we don't make it look like both have been dealt with no one is going to buy it. Doesn't that make my original suggestion that we pretend to have negotiated with them more plausible?"
General Marx stared at him sternly, "Not particularly, Briggs, but the question she poses is valid. Matthews, what's the latest with the Breakers team?"
"Not much, sir," he replied coldly. "They still haven't made much progress with what they have, so we just keep encouraging them to see if they can break in. That way we'll know just how secure the system is. But they have been directed to let us know if any possible breaches are found so that we can coordinate, assess, and control the necessary response."
"Ok, so let's set it up." Marx ordered.
"Set what up, sir," Matthews countered. Up until now, Matthews had been using the Breakers more like the tech officers from a bank, having them constantly attempt to hack their system to find out if there are any actual weaknesses.
"Give them a relatively simple way into the system, but not so obvious they question why its there. They'll think they missed it somehow, call us when they find it, and we can move in. Then we'll tell everyone else that the link has been broken, the Breakers who discovered it are in hiding, and keep it hooked in through another backchannel. We'll eliminate that bunch, everyone else will stop working on it, and then we can move forward with the original 'offensive' plan."
He did an about face, turning towards Briggs, "Got that?"
"Um, well, I understand the plan but I don't really know what you want me to tell her." Briggs answered sheepishly, referring to Chelsea.
Following a belabored sigh, Marx continued, "Tell her we've got people working on it, which we do, just for a different reason, then follow up with her once the second half of our plan is implemented to ensure she spins the narrative that the link was broken, and we are going forward with our initial insurgence. We need to move before Green and his loonies figure anything else out."
"Ok, I see, " Briggs mumbled. He reluctantly headed back down the hall, and finished spinning his narrative with Chelsea. As the conversation wrapped up, Chelsea suddenly asked,
"Hey Briggs, are you doing alright? You sound a little like the last kid picked in gym class."
Trying to reposition himself, he brushed it off, "I'm fine. Just tired, long day, Parks."
"Alright, keep your eyes peeled for my exclusive tomorrow," she spouted, and hung up.
The truth was, this whole operation had been eating at him all along. It just didn't seem, well, American; controlling everyone and blaming it on a race of beings we barely had any understanding of just to keep everyone under control.
Maybe they were going to attack, but considering how long they have been visiting without attacking, even with provocation from our military, it just didn't seem likely. Briggs eyelids began to droop. He flicked the light off and headed to his car.
Wondering what happens next? Once each short chapter has at least 10 views, I'll write and publish the next so if you enjoyed this story, please keep on reading or check out some of my other stories . Thank you for your support.
Read Imprint: Chapter 3, now