Richard Ames and I were married, once upon a time. We were both young, and working for the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). We spent much of our brief marriage in disagreement over virtually every issue, and just as I came to realize that our union was a mistake, he disappeared from my life. A while later, I received the paperwork for divorce from his lawyer. There was a generous alimony offer involved, which I refused. Not only did I find the thought of owing him anything intolerable, I also wanted to prove that he was not the only one who could walk away without an explanation. The divorce was finalized without us ever meeting face-to-face, and we were legally strangers once again. In the five years since, I quit the DIA and became a freelance analyst. I had not seen Richard at all, nor even heard of his whereabouts. "How did you get in here?" I demanded.
After all, attempting to scale the wall or force the front door would immediately trigger the security system. But he refused to be ruffled. "If you're going to use a flimsy lock like that, may as well not bother. I'd recommend a more professional security setup." "Does the term 'breaking and entering' mean anything to you, Richard?" "You know law isn't my field of expertise," he replied nimbly and peered over my shoulder at the report on the computer display. "Radio isotope projectile separator... uranium-235 production feasibility for high- speed gas centrifuge... This must be about that Middle East nuke development. Looks like your career is going well. That's great." I pushed Richard aside and asked him flatly. "What do you want?" He took a step back and regarded me with a slightly mischievous smile. "What, you afraid I came back to give us another chance?" He let the silence linger as if to relish my reaction. Then, suddenly formal, he continued, "It's an official request from the DIA." He placed a folder on the desk.
"I'm asking for your cooperation as a member of NEST." NEST stands for Nuclear Emergency Search Team, a group that operates on the Department of Energy budget. It was established in 1974 to provide technological support to the FBI in areas of intelligence, investigation, site securement, damage containment and medical response during incidents involving criminal threats of nuclear weapon use. Call it a band of experts on nuclear terrorism, if you will. NEST consists of independently contracted scientists from federally funded research entities like Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore, and military specialists from groups dealing with nuclear arms issues. I happen to be one of the latter group. Richard was opening the file folder. "You've heard of Shadow Moses Island, I assume." I nodded assent. I had indeed heard of the remote place, north of Alaska's Fox Islands. Though it was hardly public knowledge, the island was home to a nuclear weapons disposal facility.
According to the terms of the START2 (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), the total number of tactical nuclear warheads owned by the U.S. and Russia were reduced to some- where between 3000 and 3500 in the later decades of the twentieth century. The outcome was a massive number of warheads in need of disposal when there was already a shortage of storage space for radioactive materials. As a result, warheads had to be kept somewhere before they could be dismantled and their radioactive elements extracted for long-term storage. The Shadow Moses facility was the answer. It was the crystallization of the forces of nuclear proliferation, political engineering that gives preference to delaying a solution rather than producing one and a hidden military agenda to preserve what it could of the old nuclear stockpile. Richard took out several photographs from the folder and handed them to me. They all appeared to be satellite captures of the nuclear weapons disposal plant on Shadow Moses Island, perhaps acquired from the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office).
There were multiple human figures around the building structures. Richard broke the silence. "The disposal plant was seized by terror- ists." I looked up sharply at the news, but his next words left me speechless. "And the ringleaders are FOXHOUND members." An "irregular" team of the best commandos the military has to offer, armed with cutting- edge technology. That was FOXHOUND. The best of the best, and completely unknown to the public they ostensibly serve. Their function was to intervene in the kind of low-intensity conflicts the U.S. could not officially touch. They were the shadow soldiers of numerous regional conflicts and civil wars, shaping history with sabotage, selective assassination and other covert acts of war. Richard had more to say. "It's not just FOXHOUND that's involved in this. FOXHOUND was conducting joint exercises with the next- generation special forces, and they're a part of the takeover as well."