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  • Land of Confusion

    The Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.

    Cornelius Pernell

    March 11th, 1961


    “The United States will be a bastion of peace and prosperity for the world if Project Broken Arrow receives the full support of the DOD and the President… How’s that sound?” Pernell glanced at Officer Paxton Ridge as he adjusted his tie. 


    “As good as it did the last few times you pitched it. I think you’ve got the right words, but the question is, will McNamara see the light?” Ridge offered a pat on Pernell’s back.


    Pernell grew nervous as the elevator’s lights ticked upward to the fifth floor of the building. “Let’s hope that third time’s the charm, right? New President, new Secretary of Defense, new foreign policy… a fresh start for the country, and for Broken Arrow.”


    Ridge glanced around the elevator, as if looking for something. Quietly, he said, “I still don’t get why you won’t ask the Order for help. I’m sure they could fast track this thing to the White House if you asked, especially after all that you’ve done for them.”


    Pernell was frustrated just thinking about the Illuminati and their meddling since the end of the war. “Because, frankly, I don’t think my own goals with Broken Arrow align so well with the Order’s. No… I’m doing this without outside help. We’re gonna do right by the people we’ve lost trying to put 115 in American hands.”


    The elevator opened to reveal a long hallway with many office workers passing in and out of doors. Ridge said, “If only McCain was here. I’m sure he’d be right by your side.”


    Paxton “Gunner” Ridge was one of the marines sent into Verrückt to rescue Peter McCain and recover vital undead research. He was the only survivor, just as the Illuminati planned it. Unfortunately, the research slipped through the cracks when Ridge encountered unexpected retaliation from Die Spinne . When Pernell first recruited Ridge into the Order, he thought of him as a friend, a confidant. After Verrückt , though, he realized Ridge had only agreed to join the Order for the power that they promised. He followed their every order, without question, without regrets, no matter who got hurt.


    Peter McCain knew right from wrong. He was a good man, a family man; Lost in his prime. Just one of Pernell’s many broken arrows… Now it’s up to him to make it all worth it.


    The duo approached a pair of metal detectors, following the attendant’s instructions and passing through one at a time according to procedure.


    The offices were filled with the clicking of typewriters and intermittent chatter between the DOD’s analysts and their peers.


    Passing between rows of desks, Pernell had finally arrived at the office of the new Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara. Pernell’s reflection could be seen in the brand new, spotless gold nameplate.


    “This is where we part ways, Cornelius. I’m grabbing lunch with Roebuck, and he’s not someone you stand up.” Ridge offered one last pat on the back in solidarity, leaving Pernell to, once again, try and make his dream come true. Once more unto the breach…


    Pernell knocked on the door, stepping back and taking one last large breath.


    From inside, McNamara called out, frustrated, “ One moment… “ After a brief pause, he opened the door, visibly disappointed to see Cornelius standing there.


    “Ah, Mr. Pernell. It’s an honor to finally meet you in person.” He offered his hand to Cornelius for a quick shake, before motioning towards a chair near his desk. “Please, come in.”


    Cornelius took a seat, ensuring his files he had brought along were in order, as McNamara shut the door and returned to his desk.


    McNamara spoke first, “I’ve heard great things about your management of the Groom Lake Facility from the Pentagon’s scientists. You’ve garnered quite a reputation for your… close involvement with the work we do here.”


    Pernell wrung his sweaty hands together, “Well, I am so glad to hear that, Mister Secretary. I have a keen interest in seeing that our supply of 115 is used effectively in the pursuit of progress. It’s only because I have seen it used differently during my time in the OSS studying Group 935.”


    “Yes… Group 935. So, Mr. Pernell, this meeting you’ve called is about this… Project Broken Arrow. Gates told me a bit about it before the office became mine, but I’m eager to hear about it from you myself.”


    “Thank you, Mister Secretary.” Pernell adjusted himself. “From everything I hear, the Pentagon’s scientists have made some great strides using Groom Lake’s Element 115 and scientists from Operation Stapler, there’s no doubt about that. But… well, I hate to say this, but the Russians have us beat, and it’s not even a contest. They’ve got Sputnik careening through space like they own the whole damn thing. They’ve already advanced into human teleportation while we’re still piddling around with primates. They’re just a few short steps away from reaching Griffin Station, the golden goose egg our German friends left us to find after the war. I’m sure you’re well aware of just what controlling Griffin Station would mean for the United States?”


    McNamara nodded his head, “The most advanced teleporter technology Group 935 ever achieved, countless weapons projects left behind at the base, an eye on the activities of every nation on the globe… “


    “So what do they have that we don’t? We’ve got the brains, our scientists. We’ve got the supply, Groom Lake’s 115 as well as what we recovered from Japan. But we don’t have an Ascension Group. You see, their scientists and the ones taken from Germany came together in the last decade in cooperation with the Soviet military to create a space program and 115 research group larger than even Group 935.”


    McNamara interrupted, “Don’t we have our own eyes and ears in their operation? The CIA’s inside man?”


    “Doctor Harvey Yena, one patriotic bastard. Left behind his life at home to infiltrate Group 935, then when the Russians came for him he remained on the inside, even helping form the Ascension Group. You are correct, Mister Secretary, in that we have a piece of the pie, so to speak. But we are missing out on a wealth of research that could be conducted right here at home. Yena can only give us so much. The Ascension Group is run by committee, split between three interior factions. There’s former members of Group 935 spearheaded by Yena and Doctor Gersh, a Russian scientist who joined 935 late in the war and who trusts Yena. There’s the Soviet military represented by General Nikita Dragovich. And there’s Germany’s ex- Wunderwaffe scientists, led by Doctor Friedrich Steiner, who had his personal qualms with Group 935. Suffice to say, that’s a whole two-thirds of the Ascension Group that we have no control over. There’s a whole lot being kept from Yena, and by extension, from us. And what we don’t know is dangerous to our way of life.”


    Pernell laid out documents detailing the power structure of the Ascension Group as the CIA understood it before McNamara, giving him a moment to look it over.


    After an interlude, McNamara spoke up, “I understand your concerns, but… I believe we are keeping a steady pace behind the Soviets, and by our projections, we should be able to surpass them by the end of the decade. I believe as long as we have Doctor Yena on the inside, we won’t be blindsided by the Ascension Group any time soon.”


    Pernell paced around the room for a moment, thinking things over, before returning to his prepared documents and laying down a few more. “1959. The Ural Mountains. Kholat Syakhl. Nine hikers from the local Institute go missing. When the bodies were found, it was determined that most of them had died of hypothermia. But some of them were found missing eyes and tongues, some of them with cracked skulls and blunt force trauma. Their tent was slashed open from the inside. Highly unusual for a team of experienced hikers. The official report was that they simply succumbed to the natural elements. In reality, there’s more to the story.”


    Pernell pointed to an overhead image of the Ural Mountains taken by a reconnaissance aircraft, “Not too far from the area, recon found what looks like some kind of outpost. This image was taken some time before the incident. Not long after, however… ” He pointed to a second image taken in 1960, where the outpost no longer appeared visible. “They made an effort to hide whatever they were working on after the incident.”


    “What makes you believe the two are related? There doesn’t seem to be any indication of Ascension Group, or any other scientific research here. What is it you insinuating, Mister Pernell?”


    “Have you ever heard of the Ural Pig-Beast, sir?”


    McNamara removed his glasses, appearing flustered, but intrigued, “I have not.”


    “It’s a local legend, you see. Sometime in the mid-50s people claimed to have been attacked by a four legged creature with a bulbous head, no eyes, sharp teeth, and pale skin that snorted like a pig. Stories would pop up occasionally, though no one took it seriously, of course. It’s just the ramblings of mountain-people. Except… these sightings halted after the incident with the hikers. Since then there hasn’t been a peep about this ‘pig-beast.’ I dug a little further, and found something that ties it all together.”


    Pernell laid before McNamara an autopsy image of a mutated creature experimented on at Group 935’s Kino Facility. It matched the description of the pig-beast exactly.


    “These abominations were created using an experimental gaseous substance known as Nova combined with Element 115, which mutated pigs into what you see before you. Doctor Yena has confirmed that Nova research is in the hands of the Ascension Group, but he was completely unaware of any more that were being created. One man on the inside isn’t going to be enough to keep pace with the Russians, Mister Secretary. We need our own Ascension Group. Our own Group 935. That is where Project Broken Arrow comes in.”


    Pernell shuffled the documents, placing them together into his folder and removing Broken Arrow’s mission plan.


    “We’ll take the expertise of scientists in the Pentagon’s 115 Division and combine it with the resources of Groom Lake. We’d have what we need to not only surpass the Russians but to become the supreme voice of the scientific world. We live in an era of confusion and uncertainty, in a constant tug of war with our enemies. But Broken Arrow could be a stepping stone to bringing them to our side of the table. The United States will be a bastion of peace and prosperity for the world if Project Broken Arrow receives the full support of the DOD and the President.”


    Cornelius took a deep breath, pausing as McNamara assessed the manifesto laid before him. He was a hard man to read, his expression offering little solace. All Pernell could do was await the verdict.


    “You have clearly given Broken Arrow a great deal of thought and passion… At another time, maybe this would be the way forward. But the President is seeking to keep the peace with the Soviet Union, against the CIA’s wishes. A project of this scale may only draw further ire. I’m sorry, Mister Pernell, but this administration cannot approve Broken Arrow.”


    Cornelius could barely muster any words in return, feeling heaviness in his chest and dryness in his throat. Broken Arrow would be Pernell’s way to make some real change in the world. His dreams would have to stay dreams.


    “Thank you for meeting with me, anyway, Mister Secretary. I respect the decision, but if you change your mind-”


    McNamara stood up from his chair, extending his hand and leading him to the door, “It’s a pleasure, Mister Pernell.” McNamara quickly shut the door behind Cornelius, leaving him with his thoughts in an ocean of noise from the surrounding office workers.


    Cowards. All they care about is not being the ones to start a war with the Soviets. They don’t have the ambition to do what America needs.


    Another Secretary of Defense, another bust for Project Broken Arrow.

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