Sleeping Giants Page 27

—We were all aware of the risks when we agreed on this course of action.

—That’s a bit…That’s a pretty distorted way of looking at the situation, don’t you think?

—How so?

—We didn’t exactly agree on anything. You presented us with a fait accoupli. You told us what you were doing after the fact and you threatened…

—Accompli.

—What?

—The expression is: a fait accompli. It means done deed. Accoupli is not even a word. I never understood why people use words they do not understand.

I made my intentions abundantly clear when I asked for your assistance. You chose to help. You did not have to supply troops. You could have said no. You also had the means to stop me at any time. You could, at any point, have had me and every member of my team arrested, imprisoned, or even killed. Had you said nothing, it would have been the perfect example of a tacit agreement, but you went farther and you set out certain conditions, under which I would have “the full support of this administration.” I can understand your desire to distance yourself from this decision, given the current state of affairs, but you did make a choice. That choice will not cease to be yours because a lot of people might die as a result.

—What about you? You’re fine with that? The end justifies the means, is that it?

—You make it sound as if I were irrational. Yes. I do think this particular end justifies considerable means. I draw the line somewhere, like everyone else. I just draw it based on reason and not emotions.

—So you’d let a few hundred people die? Would you stop for a thousand? How many lives are you willing to sacrifice for this? A million?

—Certainly not. But a thousand seems like a reasonable figure.

—You’re an asshole, you know that? Isn’t that just a bit arbitrary?

—Of course it is. Most things are. Eight people died while we raced the Soviets to the moon. Another fourteen lost their lives in the Challenger and Columbia accidents, and yet the space program is still around. Space exploration is important enough to justify the death of twenty-two people. Had 22,000 people died, things might have been different.

We lost about three hundred soldiers liberating Kuwait. Most would think that was reasonable. Over four thousand Americans died in Iraq. Some might say it was too high a price to get rid of Saddam Hussein, some might not. Obviously, the Administration thought that it was worth it at the time.

Over twenty million soldiers died during World War II. Twenty million, in the military alone. There had to be a lot of people who believed that their particular end justified some unfathomable means.

I honestly believe that what we are doing is much more important than going to the moon, or getting our hands on a few barrels of oil. In my opinion, it more readily compares with inventing the wheel, or making fire. I realize that others might disagree. I wish I could tell you exactly how many lives this is worth losing, but I cannot. At some point we might decide that we could live with 1,151 dead, but not 1,152. It is, by definition, arbitrary.

What I can tell you is this: in an underground warehouse in Denver, there is definite proof that we are not alone in the universe, undeniable evidence that there are civilizations literally thousands of years ahead of us technologically, and we are drawing closer to being able to use some of that knowledge. This can be a leap of monumental proportions for all mankind, and not just from a technological standpoint. This will change the way we think of the world, the way we see ourselves. This will reshape this planet, and we have an opportunity to help steer that change. How many lives is that worth to you?

—Let’s just hope no one else has to die, shall we? We could use some good news, and soon. Speaking of which, did you get that little mutiny of yours under control?

—As a matter of fact, I did.

—Good. The president is growing tired of all this. He’s also heard about your little stunt at the hospital.

—Exactly what nefarious deed of mine are you referring to this time?

—You forced a doctor to put some crazy metal knees into the linguist. Did you think no one was going to find out?

—Well, he needed knees.

—That’s not how the president sees it. Up to this point, he’s been willing to overlook certain risks to the population and he’s given you a fair amount of leeway when it comes to international law, but you’ve just crossed a line that wasn’t meant to be crossed. You performed very risky—experimental is an understatement—body-altering surgery on an American citizen without his consent.

—I apologize. I did not know that this was frowned upon.

—This isn’t funny.

—It is somewhat funny. First of all, I did not perform anything, the doctor did. Second, Mr. Couture is not an American citizen. He is from Montreal. It is a large city, about the size of Boston, in that very large country just north of here. You may have heard of it. They play hockey.

—That was just an expression.

—“American citizen” is not an expression. Are you seriously telling me the president is unhappy because I did not let some doctor saw off our best chance of success? I can shoot Mr. Couture if need be, but he finds surgery morally reprehensible? It makes him uncomfortable? Ill at ease? Tell the president we gave him really good knees. Better yet, tell him to give Mr. Couture a medal. That will make him feel better.

If Mr. Couture survives, our chances of success will be significantly greater than they were before the surgery. May I also remind you that the alternative was to have a leg pilot without legs? There was a unique window of opportunity and I took it. I would do it again without hesitation.

—The next time you want to turn someone into the six million dollar man, you should get his permission first. As far as the president is concerned, what you did is tantamount to torturing the guy.

—I respectfully but vehemently disagree. You can tell the president whatever you want. He is your responsibility.

—…

—Robert?

—You know, that medal’s not a bad idea.

—I was being sarcastic. You cannot give…Never mind. Yes. Give him a medal.

FILE NO. 141

INTERVIEW WITH DR. ROSE FRANKLIN, PH.D.

Location: Underground Complex, Denver, CO

—Where’s Kara? She didn’t show up today.

—On assignment. I wish I could tell you more, but she will be back in a few days. I heard you went away as well.

—You don’t miss much, do you? Yes, I went to visit Ryan.

—I did not know he was allowed visitors.

—He’s not. But government psychiatrists are allowed, apparently.

—They did not check your credentials?

—The NSA never asked for my ID back. It says Doctor on it…

—I must say I am moderately surprised. This seems a bit out of character for you.

—I don’t know if I should be offended or flattered.

—You should feel neither. I was merely pointing out that your recent behavior is uncharacteristic of your personal disposition. You are extremely brave, but also very rational and methodical. This seems somewhat rash, impulsive. These are words that more easily come to mind when speaking of Ms. Resnik.

—She suggested it…She said you’d bail me out if I got into trouble.

—I would not count on it.

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