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Project Watergate (Part 1)
My knuckles lazily tapped on the door leading to the highest office in the land. I was tired from the night before; I had been expecting a full night's sleep before we got into this whole mess. We knew it was going to happen someday. We just weren't sure when.
These memories are foggy, you see. So you'll forgive me if I leave out a few details. But I'll get to all that in a moment.
I was told that our project was on hold "until further notice." All of our hard work and dedication was being thrown out of the window because of something that was completely out of our control.
While I wasn't the leader of our small team, I was one of the most intelligent. So that meant that when the head scientists were gone, I had to run the show. They usually left before the night was over, meaning the younger scientists and I had to stay in that wretched lab room until the next morning. There were also times when the older scientists stayed overnight, of course. But there was never much that got done when we came back in the morning. We weren't allowed to tell our family what we were doing either, and that definitely took a hit on some of the people there. It wasn't worth the pay raise, I'll tell you that much.
"Come in," said a muffled voice from inside the room. I pushed the door open to see the President staring out at the South Lawn. I don't know what he was looking for in the dark, but he certainly appeared as though he was looking for something. He was holding his hands behind his back and it was obvious that he knew what I was here for. When I was first brought on to the job, he told me to never request a meeting with him unless it had happened. It happened.
I scurried toward the Resolute Desk, put the folder on it and spread the papers all around. I brought with me everything the President needed to know in order to make a decision. In his eyes, however, there was only one option in this situation. It was an option he was fully prepared to make.
"Tell me everything you know, Dr. Bradley. I've turned off the tapes." He never referred to me by my first name. Although, I could count with my thumbs the amount of times we met in person. I don't admire my name all that much anyway. Albert sounds too geeky to me. As if what I had been doing all my life wasn't geeky.
"Mr. President, it happened roughly 45 minutes ago. There were five of them. Our guys took the Russians in and they are being held in Location Charlie. They are being questioned as we speak. Any information will be relayed to you as soon as it is available." My voice was shaky and my palms were moist with sweat. What happened in this room would decide the fate of Nixon's presidency. As well as that of the country.
The president breathed in deep and then let it out. He knew what he had to do, but he didn't want to do it. It would be a hard decision for anyone to make. He knew what was at stake if he didn't, though. He finally turned around to face me. I could tell by looking into his eyes that he was ready to start the clean-up procedures that he had laid out with us years ago.
He paused for a brief moment before speaking, then he said, "Call in Foxtrot, Charlie, Echo, Oscar, and India. They have all accepted this responsibility. Tell-"
"Mr. President," I began before correcting him, "Echo is in Moscow. He is working on another mission at the moment."
"Okay, in that case we will have to make do with four men."
"Sir, how will we explain to the police what happened to the fifth member? I know this is your hand-picked group of specialists, but you can't just make one of them disappear. You need to replace Echo with someone else."
He stared intently at me. Surely he was shocked that I had questioned his decision. He continued, "Very well then. Put Lima on the roster. Tell our guys to bring the Russians to Location Delta where we will make the swap. You will return to the lab to finish up work on Project Watergate."
There was always more work to be done. I replied, "Yes, sir. What will you do next?" I had a general idea of what he was doing next, but I was curious as to how he was going to do it.
"I am going to make it seem as if I was behind it all. I will fake a cover-up and stage conversations in this room to make it appear that I was behind the break-in. I expect to resign within two or three years." His gaze sank to the floor and he stopped speaking. I was surprised that he told me all of that, when speaking to me it was completely out of character for him to say more than one breath allowed him.
I could tell that last statement was hard for him to say. He did not want to leave without completing all that he had planned to complete. It would be hard for me to say as well if I had unfinished work.
He turned toward the window once more, staring out into the night. I could tell that there was sadness inside of him, but he did not want to show it. I figured that I should leave him alone to collect himself.
"A good course of action, Mr. President. Good luck."
As I gathered up my papers I took one last glance at him. He was standing tall, although anyone could see through that mask. Then I began to walk towards the door, to leave and never return.
"Good luck to you as well, Dr. Bradley," he replied before I could get out the door. I paused for a moment and turned. He was still gazing out the window. At what, I do not know. I shut the door behind me, and made my way back to my car.
That was the last time I saw President Nixon in person. That was the last time I saw many people in person. I spent the majority of the next sixty years of my life working underneath the Watergate Hotel on the top-secret project that would give the U.S. the advantage in the Cold War. If it had been discovered by those Russian spies, they would have certainly launched a pre-emptive strike knowing that we had a weapon that could win us the war.
The year is now 2022 and a new threat has emerged. It is much different than the Soviet Union that threatened us when I was younger. It is not a war fought against a clear enemy. It has never even been declared a real war by the U.S. government. We are now fighting the enemy known simply as "terrorism." We have been fighting this unofficial war for over 20 years, and it shows no signs of stopping.
Today I am going to the lab for what I hope is the last time I will ever see it. It has brought me countless troubles which have all been in vain, as the project that was supposed to keep our country safe has never shown signs of doing so. It has never been shown to the public, nor even turned on for that matter. It's effectiveness has been decreased drastically as well. The hardware is all from years ago, not to mention the software. Even outdated it's still years ahead of anything our enemies can manufacture, however. That is, essentially, the only reason we've been instructed to let it out of its cage. That, and the fact that there hasn't been a positive news story in awhile.
Today, all of that changes. I have instructed the other 3 people on the project to arrive at the lab two hours earlier than they normally do to prepare for the day. I will unleash this "Project Watergate" onto the world and the U.S. will be safe. Everything I have ever loved has been taken away from me by this project, and only by letting it serve its purpose will my losses be justified.
I stepped out of my car and walked towards the doors of the Watergate Hotel. I was greeted by the same woman at the door every day. She has known me for many years now, but she has never questioned my coming and going. I stepped into the elevator and inserted my card into the slot. I then spoke the code into the hidden microphone which would grant me access to a secret floor. It was not a choice for what floor to go to, but it was there.
I pushed the button for the 7th floor and rode it up. My finger became stiff and when I grasped it, my wrist began to hurt. At 76 years of age, menial tasks such as pushing a button take a certain amount of strength that they didn't before. I was getting far too old for this work, and I would be glad when the day was over.
Upon reaching the 6th floor, the elevator began to decelerate until it finally came to a halt before reaching the 7th floor. The roof of the elevator that I was riding opened up, and the floor of the elevator lifted me above the roof. I was now standing atop the elevator, grasping the cables attached to the part of that roof that didn't open up. On the wall there was an inconspicuous light. Although hardly visible, on top of the light was a spot to place my finger. The device read my fingerprint and the wall slid open, revealing a long white hallway.
I stepped into the empty hallway and proceeded down it. There was an armed soldier there, Private Jordan, I believe. His duty was to make sure nobody entered that wasn't welcome. One time when the doors to the lab were jammed I had a conversation with him in which he spoke about his past. His father was a veteran of the Vietnam War, so it was expected of him to join the military. Well, he did, but the outcome wasn't what his father had wanted. Instead of "fightin' on the front lines and protectin' the country, I got stuck with se-keritee duties up here," is how he put it, if I remember correctly.
I arrived at the lab door and once again completed a fingerprint scan along with a speech test. I entered the room when the door slid open and saw my team reviewing the procedures for the day.
They hadn't run into any problems yet, and we were all hoping it would stay that way. If we messed up the smallest calibration with this thing, the supposed protector of America might end up being its destruction.
The room was freezing because of all the technology we had in there. If any of it overheated, enormous amounts of data could be lost. Project Watergate was equipped with tubes that regulated its temperature to ensure that the climate never got the better of it.
The entire machine was made out of carbon fiber wrapped in Kevlar materials. In tests, the machine's exterior was able to withstand punishing amounts of fire from various automatic weapons. It was certainly not invulnerable, but we got it damn close. There were tubes sticking out of it to provide the necessary temperature changes depending on the climate that it is in. The joints all had hydraulic systems that allowed for massive amounts of force for movement, combat, or whatever else was deemed necessary by its processor.
The "brain," if you will, had a huge amount of memory. It was thought to be able to contain a virtually unlimited amount of memories. This meant that it could remember mission briefings, people, locations, how to use certain objects, and various other details. There were certain things that we put into its "brain." We implanted only very basic things like how to use weapons systems and how to control movement. It was learned early on that it could more efficiently learn information with hands-on experience, so we decided that it would be beneficial to let it out to learn. Upon filling up its memory, Project Watergate would delete information based on how vital it is to the mission. The "eyes" are better described as optical sensors. The machine didn't necessarily see things, it merely recognized a situation and decided the best course of action based on its surroundings.
Every limb of it was restrained with 3 inches of steel that would only be released by the main computer. Project Watergate was patriotically colored with red, white, and blue along with an American flag across its chest. Those little touches were the only things that were aesthetically appealing about the machine. The majority of it was purely for functional purposes.
The weapons were one of the few things that were up to date. And since they were new and barely out of the prototype stage, they had been tested extensively before being put on the machine to ensure quality. On both anterior forearms the machine had grenade launchers that were capable of firing three on each hand before being out of ammunition. On both posterior forearms, there were guns capable of firing fifty thousand rounds per minute with very little heat buildup. There were approximately one hundred thousand rounds available to the machine. The ammunition capacity was decided early on as well. It was determined that the project would be in combat situations for extended periods of time without assistance, so we decided that an enormous amount of ammunition was necessary. Everywhere we could fit bullets, we did. To complete its combat capabilities, as said before, the hydraulic system was capable of producing massive amounts of force which could be used for close quarters combat.
The whole machine stood at approximately 7 feet 4 inches. The lead scientists back in the late 1960s decided that if it were too short, it would not be strong enough. If it were too tall, it would not be able to maneuver as efficiently.
It was yet to be seen if all of our efforts were useful in making this thing a success or not. I certainly had hoped so.
I took my jacket off and hung it up on the wall. I grabbed my white lab coat and put it on over my collared shirt. I got to work on checking everything that my team had prepared this morning. Nothing could be even the slightest bit off.
"Are you all ready?" I asked my team after 45 minutes of further preparation. They all were staring at me, they had apparently been doing so for the better part of the time I spent checking the preparations.
Dr. Cooper, a newcomer to the team yet possibly the brightest one here replied, "Yes, Dr. Bradley. We reviewed the procedure while waiting for you to arrive."
I knew the procedure inside and out, no further review was necessary for me. "Very well, Dr. Cooper. Let us begin then."
I went over to the main computer in the lab and began to enter the proper password to unlock the controls to Project Watergate. Once the controls were unlocked, all of the people in the room had to put their keycards into the slot in the computer and then verify their identity with a speech test. One by one, the two men and one woman in the room completed the verification process. I was the last one to complete it, and when I was finished, we were ready to unleash our project.
I looked at each person on the team, all of them ready to see what their hard work had done. I was the oldest one in the room, and I had dedicated my life to this project. If anyone had high expectations for the project, it was I.
I pushed the button on the computer to start the main generator. It would provide enough energy to start up Project Watergate, but only when I allowed the energy to flow into the machine would it turn on.
The generator began to softly hum. The humming became increasingly loud until the lights on the metal restraints lit up. The next step would be to turn on the machine itself. I entered the appropriate code and pushed the button to turn it on.
The optical sensors emitted a white light. Every limb had white lights like these, which was good. If they were not lit up that would mean that they were not working correctly.
In a monotone voice with words that sounded broken up, Project Watergate proclaimed, "Date of activation: November 26, 2022 at 17 hours, 7 minutes, and 34 seconds. Greetings, Dr. Bradley. How is your wife?"
"We got divorced about 20 years ago." He had a male voice so I suppose it is correct to refer to him as such. I told him to recite the alphabet and the numbers from zero to ten in various languages so I could make sure he didn't have a problem with all of that. I then told him, "Your name is Project Watergate, do you understand me?"
"Yes, Dr. Bradley. Project Watergate has been programmed to inquire about his mission."
"Your mission is to find and eliminate terrorist threats to the United States of America. Your mission will be complete when myself or my successor tells you so. Your weapons systems have been tested and are ready for you to use. They aren't completely unlocked, but if you show us potential, we may consider it. This may be the last time we speak, so realize that your development has cost me everything in my life. I have lost too much for you to fail." He was not programmed to feel emotion or be compelled to do something to a higher quality because I told him so, but I just wanted to get that off of my chest.
"Of course, Dr. Bradley. Project Watergate understands and will do everything he can to ensure the completion of his mission. He wonders when his mission will begin."
"Your mission begins when you leave this room. A plane will pick you up inside of a supply crate and you will be dropped into a warzone to the east of here."
"He understands, Dr. Bradley. He is ready to leave."
"I am ready for you to leave as well."
With that, I pushed a button which forced him into a position that would enable him to fit inside of a crate. He was then sent up to the roof of the building through an elevator that had been prepared specifically for him. Before being picked up, he was stuffed into a supply crate. A helicopter picked up the crate and dropped it off at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and then flown to the Middle East.
I remained in the lab room alone to speak with the president. He would certainly like to know that the project had successfully been turned on and deployed.