A Starfall Chronicles
Chris P. O’Connell
The Starfall Chronicles Book 1: Blue Shift
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This work is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This work may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.
Copyright © 2015 Christopher P. O’Connell. All rights reserved. Including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the author.
Cover illustration by Debby Wijaya.
[Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: 14
The Interrogation 14
CHAPTER 2: 38
The Space Chase 38
CHAPTER 3: 54
Larry’s Coffee Shop 54
CHAPTER 4: 79
Showdown at the Crystal Match Factory 79
CHAPTER 5: 104
It is a clear sunny morning in the District of Columbia. A mysterious, broad-shouldered, African-American man with a thick beard strode into the Oval Office escorted by a pale, skinny, young White House aide. He sports a long black coat and a dark blue fedora.
“The President should be with you shortly, Mr. McGrath. Please wait here and have a seat,” the young aide says politely to the powerfully built black man and gestures to one of the bright beige couches in the center of the office. Mr. McGrath nonchalantly walks over toward the seating area and surveys a bowl of fruit on a small oak table near the center of the room. He leans down and grabs an apple from the top of the bowl, polishes it with his sleeve, and then takes a big crisp bite. The aide, being fairly new to the White House and not yet sure who is and isn’t allowed to take the fruit, gets a bit nervous. McGrath, who only appears to be in his early thirties, glares at the young aide with the intense piercing eyes of an unimpressed older man who’s seen much more.
“Thank you. You can go now,” McGrath says to the aide in an ominous tone.
“Um. Alright,” the aide responds nervously. “If you need anything while you wait, there’s someone just outside this door.”
The aide backs away and leaves. McGrath takes another crunchy bite of the apple and walks around the office, taking in the current decor.
The Oval Office in the west wing of The White House in Washington D. C. is the official working office of the President of the United States of America. It is intricately designed with inspiration majestically drawn from baroque and neoclassical artistic traditions and is typically redecorated to suit the tastes of each sitting President while retaining some mementos of past ones. It is a room that serves as a prestigious symbol of near-absolute political power to Americans, as well as to many other people around the planet. However, in spite of all this, Mr. McGrath is not remotely impressed. This is far from his first visit to the Oval Office, and as the current U.S. President will soon find out, McGrath does not have the same perspectives as most people when it comes to the role of political leaders in this world.
After making McGrath wait for twenty minutes, a door opens. The President ‘s voice can barely be heard in the hallway as he ordered three secret service agents to “wait out here by the door, and I will call you if I need you.” The President then clears his throat, composes himself and then walks into his office.
“Hello, Mr. McGrath,” the President says, walking briskly toward the man in black. McGrath does not respond, but slowly approaches the President. Smiling, the President extends his hand.
‘Here we go.’ McGrath cynically thinks to himself.
The two men shake hands.
The President gestures toward one of the beige couches much like his timid young aide did.
“Please, have a seat,” McGrath looks at the beige couch for a couple of seconds and then sits. The President sits down on the opposite couch facing him. The two men look at each other over the fruit bowl on the small wooden table. McGrath has a stone face and doesn’t say a word; He just looks at the President with a piercing glare. The President being the seasoned politician he is, maintains a polite smile and doesn’t let McGrath’s tough demeanor get to him… yet.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting,” the President says to McGrath halfheartedly, “I understand we have quite an unusual situation on our hands.”
He pauses and McGrath responds by raising an eyebrow and smirking, as if to say, ‘are you kidding me?’
The President continues, “I understand that your people work very hard to protect the public from certain things they don’t need to know about, but it isn’t every day that a clandestine organization like yours feels the need take a national security agent into custody, let alone involve me personally in the matter. I’m sure you agree, going forward, we’ll have to handle this so-called ‘Ong-Kai matter’ very delicately.”
Deciding he’s had enough, McGrath raises his open hand and says, “No.”
“Excuse me?” the President asks.
“I said no,” McGrath replies. “We aren’t going to do anything,” he continues, “As far as you’re concerned, I am going to handle this mess and, as per agreements that have been in place since before you were born, your office is going to assist me in any way I see fit.”
The President tilts his head in disbelief that he is being spoken to in this manner by someone other than the First Lady. Before he can interject, McGrath continues,
“Let’s drop all the pleasantries and be frank,” McGrath says sharply, “I know everything you know about the situation and more. Your people broke some very important rules, rules that keep this whole world safe, and your guys got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Now, you’re going to take responsibility and make good on helping my people fix this matter.”
The President quickly raises his own hand and says,
“Now, just hold on one minute,” You can’t just come into this office and start barking at the President of the United States like that.”
“Mr. President, let’s be clear,” McGrath says, resisting the temptation to mock the President for referring to himself in the third person, “You represent only one fairly corrupt government, that rules over just a portion of a single continent on this planet, and just like every other greedy human leader on this world, you either think you’re ready to step out into the larger universe, or you’re naive enough to think you can exploit forces you don’t understand. Well, sir, I’m here to tell you that you are not.”
“Now see here!” the President shoots back, now losing his cool, “I don’t know who you think you are, but I have a responsibility to ensure the security and prosperity of this country!”
“Well sir, you’re not going to accomplish that by getting conned by an over-glorified gangster!” McGrath responds condescendingly.
“What do you mean by that?” the President asks, taken off-guard.
“When my people took your NSA agent into custody last night, he wasn’t meeting with a representative of any legitimate party brokering advanced alien technology to the United States,” McGrath answers coldly, “Ong-Kai is a sneaky would-be warlord, and all he was offering you was a few trinkets that the top minds in this country are probably about five to ten years away from inventing already.”
The President tries to maintain some composure. After a very brief pause he defensively says, “Well regardless, this country has to claim any advantage it can, given the world’s current social climate.”
“You don’t get it, do you, sir?” McGrath shoots back, “The reason I’m meeting with you instead of some federal bureaucrat or intelligence director is because by allowing your people to get involved in these kinds of matters, you jeopardize the safety and very existence of the entire human race, not just the United States of America!”
The President is at a brief loss for words. Even the most seasoned politician needs to think for a second before rationalizing against the accusation of risking billions of lives. McGrath capitalizes on the President ’s hesitation and pulls a brown file folder out of his jacket.
“Here,” he says, calmly handing the folder to the President.
“What’s this?” the President asks with a slightly indignant tone.
“As per treaties that have been in place for many years now, by allowing agents of your government to break certain rules, your government now owes my organization some favors,” McGrath answers, as the President opens the folder and begins to look at the documents and photos inside. “You can keep that file, by the way; but you’re going to want to put it somewhere secure and classify it above Top Secret.”
Intrigued, the President looks through the documents in the folder.
“As you know, during the Ong-Kai incident that occurred last night, in addition to a national security agent, my people also took four other individuals into custody,” McGrath explains, “Two of these individuals are prominent members of an international organized crime family, that have since been interrogated and released to FBI custody. The other two, well, they’re a bit more extraordinary and I’m going to require somewhere extra special to hold them for a little while longer.”
While examining documents in the brown file folder, the President comes across two photographs paper-clipped to a very particular document. Both of the photos and the document stand out among the contents of the folder. The photos are images of a pair of unconscious human-like beings in tight black clothes being restrained by men in black business suits. The two strange beings are lean and hairless, with smooth yellow skin, abnormally large heads and tiny ears, noses and mouths. One clearly appears to be female, and the other, while rather androgynous, looks more muscular and male by comparison. In spite of spending several years mentally conditioning himself to deny legendary matters like the Roswell UFO incident of 1947, the President still can’t help but be stunned at the sight of these strange, very alien beings. After examining the photos, the President then starts to read the document to which the they are attached.
“What a minute!” the President exclaims in surprise, “This document is about a Department of Defense black site!”
“That’s right, sir,” McGrath acknowledges, “My people will be utilizing that location. I’ve already made arrangements to transport the two alien prisoners there.” The President is momentarily speechless, as McGrath continues, “They will be held in the most secure section of that facility until my people need to move them,” The President ‘s expression grows even more incredulous, but McGrath continues, “The Under Secretary of United States Intelligence has already been well apprised of the situation, and he seems to understand the importance of working cooperatively with my people.”
The president interrupts McGrath, while holding the documents in the air and frantically pointing at them, “How do you even know about this place, let alone arrange for this kind of prisoner transfer in less than one day?”
“Let me get this straight, Mr. President. I have the resources to get a meeting with you, the President of the United States of America, in your home, on extremely short notice. During this meeting, I hand you information about two extraterrestrial fugitives that I’ve taken into custody, and the part you have a hard time coming to grips with is that someone like me has the means to know about Uncle Sam’s hiding spots and how to get into them?”
“I am at a loss here, Mr. McGrath,” the President says, shaking his head, “This is completely unacceptable! I can’t just let you commandeer a highly classified DOD facility.”
“You don’t have a choice, sir!” McGrath snaps back, “You should know all too well, according to treaties we’re both obligated to uphold, the circumstances of unsanctioned contact between extraterrestrial life forms and agencies of any government in the United Nations are to be rectified by the assistance of representatives of said agency and their higher government.”
The President is speechless and visibly nervous as he looks again at the documents in his now-cold hands. Realizing his current level of powerlessness is a very unusual, although not unknown, feeling for the leader of the free world. McGrath sighs and stands up. He adjusts and buttons his jacket as if he’s getting ready to leave.
“Look Mr. President, your people tried to play a dangerous game and got caught. Now you have an opportunity to help make things right,” McGrath says authoritatively. The President looks up and McGrath continues with a piercing glare, “As I said, there are agreements in place that predate you, and honoring these agreements help people like us protect the entire world from a huge variety of horrific scenarios… Horrific scenarios that my people have been spending generations preventing,” McGrath pauses for a second, then turns and points at the President ‘s desk before continuing, “Now, I understand that political power makes a man feel very important, and every once in a while, a man sits in this office and gets it in his head that he don’t have to play entirely by the rules,” he turns and locks eyes with the President, “but I’d seriously recommend that you stay away from that kind of thinking.”
“Are you threatening me, Mr. McGrath?” the President asks. McGrath shakes his head with an expression of frustration similar to that of a primary school teacher nearing the end of a rough day. His intense dark eyes become even more piercing and his facial expression becomes more fierce.
“Mr. President, all I’m going to say is, think about your predecessors,” McGrath says, with a low voice while adjusting his hat. “President Clinton figured out when to back off, but Nixon and Kennedy weren’t so smart in their dealings with me,” McGrath then simply turns and walks to the nearest exit without saying another word. The President ‘s imagination goes wild with the conspiratorial implications of that statement before he realizes something else about this intense, mysterious man who is now leaving the Oval Office. In all his years in Washington politics, on the rare occasions the President had previously seen Mr. McGrath, in real life or in photos, McGrath had always looked like a man in his thirties. With a mindset of combined fear and confusion the President wonders in vain, “How long have you been doing this?”
The next morning, Mr. McGrath along with two other men wearing black suits in his employ, enter the Department of Defense black site that McGrath recently informed the U.S. President he will now be utilizing. A “black site” is a secret location where a highly classified defense or military operation is conducted without public knowledge. The term “black site” has been around for a long time in the military intelligence community, but the term gained unpopular public notoriety in recent decades, during the rise of the American “War on Terror” in the context of describing secret prisons operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sometimes outside of legal U.S. jurisdiction. From the outside, this particular black site looks like a two-story office building in a Virginia industrial park. However, after entering past the well-armed security guards, wearing rent-a-cop uniforms that conceal Special Forces tattoos, McGrath, and his two agents are escorted to an elevator that goes down through seven sub-basement levels.
“Did we stick them in Hell?” One of McGrath’s agents jokes, commenting on the long and slow elevator ride down. McGrath and the other agent chuckle.
Once at the bottom, McGrath and his men exit the elevator to a long, well-lit, white hallway that smells of house paint and stale filtered air. They are met by two additional, very well-armed, security personnel, a balding middle-aged white man in a white lab coat and another middle-aged white man in a well decorated United States Air Force officer’s uniform. McGrath smiles, as he recognizes the Air Force officer on sight.
“Colonel Jones, what are you doing here?” McGrath says a little surprised.
“Hello, Mac,” Colonel Jones responds and then gestures toward the balding man in the lab coat, “This is Professor Peter Smith, a top civilian researcher with the ARL. He understands the highly classified nature of this situation and your presence. I’m just here to assist as an inter-agency liaison.”
“Professor,” McGrath says with a nod, acknowledging Professor Smith. The professor nods back. McGrath, Colonel Jones, and Professor Smith start to walk down the hallway while McGrath’s agents and the two security personnel wait by the elevator.
Mr. McGrath and Colonel Jones have been acquaintances since 1997. Back then, the U.S. Air Force had shot down an alien spacecraft over the state of Colorado. Initially, the Air Force simply thought the craft was an unidentified jet fighter flying dangerously and illegally in American airspace. Colonel Jones was a captain back then and he first met McGrath when the Air Force sent him to investigate the wreckage of what would turn out to be a spaceship belonging to alien poachers who had come to Earth to steal humans and various other animals, to sell on an alien black market in a far off solar system. Then-Captain Jones handled the situation with much more composure and professionalism than most humans tend to demonstrate when they become privy to the knowledge that space aliens are real. Ever since the incident in Colorado, Peter Jones has become one of the United States Air Force’s best secret go-to big-shots for dealing with extraterrestrial matters, even though his actual experience on such matters is inconsequential compared to someone like McGrath or his top agents.
“So, I catch the NSA pulling a fast one, and now the Department of Defense has me working with the U.S. Army and the Air Force to help clean up the mess?” McGrath says with a sarcastic tone. Colonel Jones smirks and rolls his eyes as McGrath continues, “I don’t suppose the Navy and the Marines are around here too? How about the FBI and the CIA?”
“Oh, come on, Mac,” Colonel Jones says with a sigh and then stops walking.
“Or how about the girl scouts, cuz I could really go for some cookies about now!” McGrath continues before taking a few more steps. He stops as well, to turn and glare at the Colonel. An independent covert organization seizing a United States Department of Defense Facility to hold prisoners is a bizarre enough situation as it is, but a high ranking Air Force officer with an Army scientist in tow doesn’t fit into the equation at all.
“I’d like to reiterate that I’m not actually in the Army. I’m a civilian researcher,” Professor Smith awkwardly and nervously interjects. The Colonel sighs as McGrath turns his annoyed glare toward poor Professor Smith.
“You! Shut the Hell up!” Mcgrath says indignantly to Professor Smith. McGrath turns back toward Colonel Jones and says, “And you can please tell me what the Hell a colonel is doing supposedly playing liaison in this situation.”
“Alright, Mac. I’ll level with you,” the Colonel says, raising his hands in sort of a surrender pose, “This so-called Ong-Kai incident, along with your recent meeting with POTUS, has got a lot of very important people very anxious.”
“Yeah, and as usual, they have no idea exactly how anxious they should be,” McGrath responds, “But why are you here?”
“That’s simple,” Colonel Jones responds with a calm smile, “The Joint Chiefs of Staff know that you and I have a history, and I’m one of the few military people you play nice with.”
“Really?” McGrath says suspiciously with a raised eyebrow.
“Well,” the Colonel responds, “that, and the fact that I owe big favors to a certain DOD deputy director.”
McGrath is stone-faced and there’s an awkward silence for a few seconds. McGrath then suddenly starts to chuckle.
“Alright, fair enough,” McGrath says with a smile, “They’re right. Ever since we handled that crashed alien ship in the nineties, I don’t mind working with you at all.”
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Commander Shen is a formidable elite alien warrior, but also something of a short-sighted hot-head. When tasked with the mission of recapturing a hijacked deep space prison transport, Shen's impulsive cowboy-like actions give multiple alien convicts the chance they need to escape to a little blue planet called Earth. Now, these very dangerous extraterrestrial fugitives are running around on Earth, doing God knows what to whoever they please, and no one can stop them, other than Shen, his android partner Seesix and a mysterious man in black known only as Mr. McGrath. However, things only get more complicated in this space opera when a young and eccentric UFO enthusiast named Catherine wanders into the alien crossfire. Blue Shift cover art by Debby Wijaya