On 6 January 2011, in the bitterly cold morning air near Bluffdale, Utah, a local event was held at Camp Williams. Camp Williams is a Utah National Guard training site. On an unpaved runway of a little-used area on the training site, a groundbreaking ceremony was taking place. To ease the pain of the cold weather, a heated white tent protected the dignitaries, the guests and the press from the harshness of the morning.
Four dignitaries held gold-painted shovels and scooped pre-loosened sand. They paused several times for photographs; once with the shovels in the loosened sand, once with the dignitaries holding the shovels half-full of sand, and once with the sand leaving the shovels in an almost synchronized toss to the ground in front of them. They went through the motions twice more to be sure all the press got pictures. The ceremony took place in what appeared to be a large sandbox. The news media waited as the dignitaries stepped up to a podium with a single microphone attached.
As might be expected, one of the dignitaries, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, commented in part about the new project being “a great tribute to Utah” and followed with, “I can’t tell you a lot about what they’re going to be doing, because it’s highly classified.”
The press already figured that out just from the official name of the installation: The Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center. The press shortened that to simply ‘The Spy Center’.
The center will be connected to multiple major NSA installations around the country and the globe: The Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado; NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon, just outside of Augusta; NSA Texas at Lackland Air Force Base, just outside San Antonio; NSA Hawaii on Oahu; 10 to 20 Domestic Listening Posts; at least a dozen Overseas Listening Posts (via satellite); NSA Headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland; and the Multiprogram Research Facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee… this is the facility that Pete’s company, Chicago Binary Investigations (Chicago BI), connects through.
For now, Chicago BI routes through Oak Ridge to the Spy Center, which is why Pete and crew can only get U.S. information. As the project in Bluffdale completes each data hall (of four), it will be added and will go live. The Spy Center will eventually take on the responsibility for monitoring and sorting the data for the global surveillance network. It will to be completed in October of 2013. It is currently November of 2012.
Chicago BI bid for (and won) the contracts to provide data-mining services for the NSA a few years earlier at the NSA Texas facility and it went so well that the government selected Chicago BI to provide similar functions for the Spy Center. The fact that Chicago BI was able to sift through all the bids without detection so they could be the lowest bidder only proved that their proprietary algorithms were superior to all the other contenders. All the bidders had the same access that Chicago BI had, but the others sent electronic bids to the NSA. Knowing that the bids would be part of the trial data, Pete O’Brien, CEO of Chicago BI, intercepted them and used this information to make sure that his bid was the lowest. To prevent the other from monitoring his transmissions, he used a private jet to carry him to the Fort Mead headquarters, where he personally handed in his bid, both in paper and electronic format. As he often said, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone ain’t trying to get you.”
= = =
While Ron, Frieda and Rolf are enjoying their paid week off, Pete is busy down in the underground data-mining complex of Chicago Binary Investigations…
It’s noon on Wednesday and Pete is sorting out the data that Dave Taylor got from Albert Wesker before Wesker’s demise. The process is to feed the audio outputs from the audio and video downloads into the audio inputs of his voice-to-text converters. Then the resulting text is routed into one of his other computers: the Searcher. As the name implies, it searches to match the contents of Wesker’s memory download to the information that is constantly being gleaned from the Spy Center. All of these tasks are allowed so Chicago BI can monitor and verify the functioning of the NSA’s data-mining operation. What better way is there to monitor and verify than with an actual security test?
The search takes a while. As the data is mined, the results are routed back to the Searcher and stored for later retrieval. As the results are stored, they are tagged with all sort classifications in order of probability, to make any further sorting quicker and more accurate.
The video content from Wesker’s downloads are routed to another one of Pete’s computers: the Visualizer. It ‘reads’ through all the video files and still pictures to compare the images with those on file at the Spy Center. Right now, only the U.S. and Canada are up and running, but within a year, the rest of the world will be available as well.
Once both audio and video are submitted, a third computer, the Decider, will sort through all the responses from the Spy Center and better sync them, hopefully providing a concrete profile for O’Brien and his staff to investigate.
“It looks like I’ll get home on time today,” Pete says to himself. Before he leaves, he sets the Decider to alert him by text when it finishes.
Traveling on foot, Pete walked south a couple of blocks to Chicago Avenue and then east to Halsted Street, where he waited for the Number 8 Halsted bus. In less than five minutes, he was riding south to Madison Street, where he got off and walked over to the Ogilvie Transportation Center and his train home. Fifty minutes later, he was exiting the train and walking to his car in the train station parking lot. Ten minutes after that, he pulled into his driveway.
= = =
“Is anyone home?”
“Hey, Uncle Pete,” we said together.
“Hey, Tim. Hey, Mike. How was school today?”
“Better than a sharp stick in the eye,” Tim responded. I groaned.
“Hehe. Yeah, I’ve had days like that, too.”
“Don’t laugh, Uncle Pete… you’ll just encourage him,” I said.
“OK, Mike, hehe. What’s for supper tonight?”
Tim spoke up. “Tonight I’m making poached salmon with steamed rice and steamed mixed veggies.”
“I can see the rice and the vegetables on the stove, but where’s the salmon?”
“Well, we knew about when you’d be arriving, since you didn’t call to say you’d be late, so the salmon is still in the refrigerator. It only takes a few minutes to poach it. Overcooked fish kinda sucks, so I decided to wait for you to arrive before I started it. It should be ready in about fifteen minutes, so go ahead and clean up and it’ll be ready when you are.”
“Tim, you never cease to amaze me. I’ll be back in a few.”
As Uncle Pete left the kitchen, I got the brown ‘n’ serve rolls out and put them on a cookie sheet as Tim turned on the oven. Tim already had the water for the poached fish simmering, so he got the salmon out of the refrigerator and eased it into the water.
“Tim, Uncle Pete is right. You are one amazing dude.”
“Aw thanks, Mike, but you could do this too. It’s not brain surgery.”
“Maybe, but you just seem to really enjoy yourself so much when you do it. There’s no doubt who’s gonna be the chef in your family when you get married.”
“Hehe. Thanks… I think.”
= = =
Uncle Pete returned just as Tim was putting the salmon on the table. I had already put the rice and the vegetables out and
I was getting the rolls from the oven. We all sat down and ate as we told Uncle Pete about our day. Then, quite out of character, Uncle Pete told us about his, but he started out with a warning.
“Guys, you’ve been to my office and you know that I do corporate security investigations, but what I’m going to talk about now has to stay private and cannot be talked about with any of your friends. It has to do with the destruction of Raccoon City.” Then he paused and waited for us to respond. I looked over to Tim and he was looking at me.
“I understand, Uncle Pete,” Tim said.
“Me too, Uncle Pete, I understand,” I echoed.
“Good. First, let me give you the bottom line. Raccoon City was destroyed because of actions taken by Ozwell Spencer. If you guys remember, when you read the email that Gil Iverson sent to Terri, he used terms that referred to zombies.” We nodded. “Umbrella Corporation was experimenting with a virus that causes people to become zombies. I know that sounds outrageous, but that’s exactly what happened. When it was reported to Ozwell Spencer that the zombies were overrunning the underground ‘Hive’, Spencer knew that the only way to stop them would be with a nuclear bomb.”
“So it wasn’t the power plant melting down?” Tim asked.
“No, Tim. It appears that Spenser was able to procure an old Cold War USSR atomic bomb from the Russian Mafia. It cost a couple hundred million dollars, but that was nothing to Umbrella Corporation. Then they stole a B-52 from the Nebraska National Guard, loaded the bomb and then dropped it on Raccoon City. They had the B-52 back before anyone even knew it was missing.”
“That son of a bitch!” Tim screamed. “That bastard killed MY FAMILY!”
“That means he killed Mom, too!” I said.
“Yes, he killed Terri and all of Tim’s family. But now he’s dead. He was killed by a man named Albert Wesker.”
“Someone should pin a medal on that guy!” Again, Tim was responding.
“No, Tim. Albert Wesker was the creator of the T-Virus, the virus that created the zombies in the first place. He was no better than Spencer. But Wesker died last week. Fortunately, we were able to get years of raw data from him before he died.
“Umbrella Corporation is still working on a lot of dangerous experiments, but we don’t know if the T-Virus is one of them, or if it was eradicated in the bombing of Raccoon City. That’s one of the things my company will be working on this coming Monday, when Gil and the Berghoffs are back from vacation.”
“Why not start tomorrow, Uncle Pete?”
“Mike, I have several systems involved in sorting out the information. When it’s completed, it’ll send me a text. Then I have to go through the findings to determine the priorities of the data. Hopefully, I’ll have tasks for the team when they get back. Since I really don’t know what data will be there, I can’t form a plan yet. Gil, Rolf and Frieda will help with that when they get back. As a team, we’ll decide if we need all of us on an individual project, or if one or two people can handle it. As I did last weekend, I might have to call in outside help. We’ll know more soon. This happened only two months ago, so this is actually going a lot faster than Gil and I expected. We figured it would take six months to a year before we would get any leads.”
Tim and I were silent as we pondered what Uncle Pete just told us. Supper was delicious, but we hardly noticed. We were sinking our teeth into the new information. I asked the obvious question on my mind. “Uncle Pete, will this mean you’ll be trave
“It probably does, Mike, but I don’t think the trips will be more than a day or two at a time. We can use other surveillance methods to glean the information that we need, and then all we have to do is send people in to collect any physical information that we expect will be uncovered.”
I looked at Tim. He was thinking the same thing that I was, but he actually had the nerve to ask. “Uncle Pete, are you a spy?”
“Not in the conventional sense, Tim. I’m not a Double-Oh with a license to kill. I don’t really have to wonder if other people have guns. I’m more of a messenger than a spy, albeit a highly compensated messenger.”
“That’s another thing, Uncle Pete… your office had to cost a fortune! Do you make a lot of money?”
“Yes, Tim, I do. The company provides a needed service and Chicago BI pretty much has the market sewn up. I was able to get this going with interns doing all the groundwork. All I had to do was write the software. To me, programming a computer is a lot like one of you guys playing a video game. As you get better, greater problems arise for you guys. As I get better, greater opportunities arise for me. You guys use your experience to get through the games and I use my experience to solve real-life problems.
“It’s amazing what people will say in an email to a friend or post on a social networking site. They know that their employer told them that all online activities are monitored, but it doesn’t seem to sink in that email is an online activity. With the authorization of their employer, we can monitor a corporation’s global network. Just going to a cloud drive doesn’t provide the security that they need when we can monitor all their keystrokes from the second they turn on their computers.”
“Uncle Pete, do you monitor what Mike and I do online?”
“Occasionally. Why do you think I told you guys to be careful of what you send over the Internet? You should pass that on to the Kern twins, too. Seriously, Tim, once it’s out there you can never be sure that it won’t be used against you later.”
“Did you see… much?”
“Let’s put it this way, I saw a heck of a lot more than I wanted to see. Don’t worry, though, I cut away as soon as I saw the first zipper being pulled down. Of course, I saw it after the fact. I was on assignment when you did that.”
“Ummm… is the video file still there?”
“No, Tim. It’s been thoroughly deleted. But the Kern twins still might have a copy. Others might, as well.”
“Uncle Pete, are you mad at us?”
“Not a bit. If I had warned you before it happened, I’d be disappointed in you, but this was before I told you to be careful online. I have no one to blame but me for not telling you sooner. Since then you haven’t done anything, so I guess you guys are in the clear.”
“Do you monitor the sites that we go to?”
“You mean like Nifty and Gay Authors? I’m not worried about what you see or read on the Internet. I just don’t want to see you guys on the Internet again… unless you’re dressed. Hehe.”
= = =
The next morning we woke up and Tim the Bloodhound said he didn’t smell any coffee. When we got to the kitchen, we found a note on the fridge from Uncle Pete saying that the text came in and he went back to work.
At lunch, Tim and Jerry were planning another double date and Ed and I were doing the same with a couple of girls from the GSA. This was going to work out great for Ed as well as the girls. The girls were lesbians and wanted to get some time together and Ed’s dad didn’t understand why Ed wasn’t dating yet. We solved both problems by having a ‘date’ with them. Of course, once we got to the AMC on Saturday night, the girls sat with each other, and Ed sat with me.
When the movie was over, we took the girls home and one of the girls kissed Ed on the lips and cheek on her front porch. It left some lipstick for Ed’s dad to see. I did my part and kissed the other girl so her folks could see that she liked boys. It wasn’t gross or anything, it was more like kissing the sister I never had. Anyway, it was for a good cause. Hehe. We even made a date for a school dance next Saturday.
When I got home, Tim was suffering from blue balls again. (But I wasn’t. Hehe.) Naturally, Tim and I had our usual shower together. This was getting to be fun! I traded handjobs with Ed and blowjobs with Tim.
Not long after we got to bed, we heard Uncle Pete come in. We got up, dressed in our sweats, and went out to see how it went at work. Uncle Pete was sitting at the kitchen table having some pretzels with his beer as he watched CNN. When he saw us, he turned off the TV. Tim and I got a couple of Cokes and joined him.
We told him of our escapades (minus the handjobs and blowjobs) and asked how things were going with the data sorting. “It’s going quite well. There are at least three tasks that we can start working on when the rest of the crew gets back. I want to have a meeting with them Monday morning to ask them to peruse the data separately and then have each of them prioritize the data.”
“Why would you do that? Don’t you already know what you want to do, Uncle Pete?”
“Yes, Mike, but I want the others to tell me their thoughts. They might see something that I’ve missed.”
“Will you tell them your observations?”
“I will, Tim, but not until they tell me theirs. After I tell them my thoughts, we’ll get into a brainstorming session to not only determine what to do, but what to do first. Each member of the team could easily run the organization. With quality people like that, you have to listen to what everyone says. But my most important thing to do tomorrow is to watch the Bears play. Is the Bears game at noon or three?”
“It’s at three. Fox has them for the game of the week again,” I said.
“Nuts! That means the other NFC North games will be blacked out in Chicago.”
“I think New England is playing the Packers at noon in Green Bay, so that game should be on CBS at noon.”
“That’s great, Tim! The Patriots are always tough.”
“Uncle Pete, why does it matter?”
“Mike, when you’ve been in Chicago long enough, you’ll understand. Our two favorite football teams are the Chicago Bears… and whoever plays the Green Bay Packers.”
Aha! You want to be Canadiana!