“Excuse me, excuse me, but with all due respect to my colleagues and the members of the Circle, I am concerned this policy was made in haste.” Bennet paused. He slid off the horn-rims and folded them in his lap. “There is so much that we do not understand. I know that we have lost assets in the course of these encounters. The abduction phenomenon alone is reason enough to warrant serious concern. But think about where we are with the recovered technology. We’ve had the experimental for sixty-plus years, and we still haven’t flown the damn thing more than a few miles. We don’t even have the right power cell, or any clue how to fabricate one.”
“What about Aurora? What about fiber optics? And the prototypes?” General Lanham said, leaning toward Colonel Bennet and throwing up his hands.
“Yes, yes, there have been significant adaptations,” Bennet said. He looked at the chairman and twitched. “But remember who we are dealing with. These guys aren’t from our neighborhood.”
Returning the gaze, the chairman said, “What are you suggesting,Colonel?”
“Well, we can debate endlessly about the fifth species and the defense profile, but there is another very urgent problem.”
The colonel’s next words came haltingly. To General Taylor, Bennet sounded either very cautious, or very poorly rehearsed.
“There is an assumption that, at a certain point, disclosure will occur. This assumes we have control of the situation. We talk about the potential instability or disintegration of society that may happen when disclosure occurs. So we have pursued efforts that will prepare society for that moment. In other words, disinformation has changed the way society views the prospect of life elsewhere in the universe. This is the payoff for carrying the burden of secrecy. The problem now, however, is that secrecy has become the singular driving force behind Saint Mary. We have committed unimaginable crimes. Everything from funding to security is built upon unlawful and illegal means. Distrust is our greatest enemy, not a mysterious fifth species. Gentlemen, our mission, the Saint Mary Project, is complete. All that remains is the truth. And this belongs to the people we serve.” Bennet reinstalled his glasses and then dropped his head.
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