Chapter 1:

The Discovery

The Pentagon. December 7th, 2012

Erin Costello worked at the Pentagon for a living. Her work was nothing major, she was just a receptionist at the front desk. She was twenty-six and was about five and a half feet tall. Erin's hair color was light red and liked to keep it rather short. Today she was downloading the new Windows 8 operating system onto her computer. It was taking much longer than expected and she wasn't the patient type.

Erin sighed deeply and tapped the marble table. She glanced up from the floor to the monitor. The green loading bar was exactly where it had been for ten minutes.

Then an alert came up. 'download canceled, bandwidth not large enough' it read. That was it, Erin had had enough. The Pentagon's connection could not possibly be this slow.

Over towards the center of the lobby was Erin's boss talking to a smartly dressed man. "Mike," she called to her boss. "The connection is acting up, should I head down to the system hub?"

Mike shook his head and laughed. He was fifteen years older than Erin and his long years of work at the Pentagon showed on his face. "Nope, just be more patient with it," Mike said to her.

The other man walked over and leaned on the marble table, "You remind me of an old-" he paused and searched for the right word, "work-mate of mine. He jumped to too many conclusions and that eventually got him fired."

Erin swallowed. Was she being threatened by this man she didn't even know?

"My name is Jim Walter, I'm in charge of CIA operations in the Chicago-land area," Jim said and outstretched his hand towards Erin. Jim Walter was the type of guy that had a heavy presence in a conversation despite his light gray hair and overall thinness.

Erin shook his hand. "Pleasure to meet you," she said as she had been told to do so many times before.

Mike walked behind the table and looked at the screen. "What in the name of?" he said as he looked at the error message. "This isn't right, we should get down to the system hub."

Erin nodded and set up a sign that said 'next desk' in front of her area of the marble table. The three walked of towards the elevator and took it down to the basement of the Pentagon. They walked down a corridor and into a room that was protected by a man in a military uniform.

Mike sat down in a swiveling office chair in front of a large desktop computer. He started a program titled 'bandwidth activity' and a chart showing the information being relayed per minute. He enlarged the view of the chart to the entire month of November and December.

Ever since two weeks ago, much much more information was being relayed through the Pentagon's connection than before. All three drew their breaths in sharply. This activity was not right.

"Maybe it's just all the Windows 8 updates?" Erin proposed weakly.

Jim shook his head, "No, not that. Mike, bring up the data being downloaded and transmitted by each computer here in the Pentagon."

Mike nodded and brought it up in another window. "Now," started Jim, "add up the total amount of information by these computers and-"

"Compare it to the amount displayed on the original chart," finished Mike.

"If the total amount is more, then we have a ghost-virus," Jim said.

The two nodded as the computer added up the total amount of information being transmitted. The numbers were not the same. The Pentagon had a ghost virus.

/-\

Later at the White House...

"So what exactly is a ghost-virus?" asked President Barrack Obama.

Erin, Jim, Mike and none other than the President sat together in the Oval Office. Erin bit her lip as she sat on one of the two couches. She was a little mad at him for not knowing what it was when it was so serious.

"Well sir," Mike started flashing Erin a look of annoyance. "When a ghost-virus invades a computer system it steals a lot- and I mean a lot, of information and doesn't leave any trace."

Obama nodded, "Can we detect who stole the information and what it was?"

Jim shook his head. "Sorry sir, that would be impossible."

"No it isn't," Erin said quickly. "Why can't we just track the computer that originally sent the virus like a phone? I mean, I do it all the time to find out where my eight year old son is."

Obama reached for her file that was neatly placed in front of him and read it. "So you're twenty six and you have an eight year old son?" He asked raising an eye-brow.

"Um," Erin said feeling embarrassed, "I was a little wild back then."

"Really Mike?" Jim said. "Out of everyone in the world you hired her?"

Mike sat forward, "Don't you start with me-"

"Gentlemen," Obama interrupted, "as unqualified as she may seem, Miss Costello may be on to something."

Erin nodded, obviously pleased, "With the right software I could rule out the information that was stolen, then using public server outlets, I could pinpoint the direction of the information being sent. From there- well that's as far as I got and it's all theoretical."

"That might actually work," Jim said smiling.

/-\

Kewanee, my house. December 7th, 2012...

It was a Friday afternoon and it was one of those days that I really didn't want to do anything- except to watch the replay of the Brazil Grand Prix. I was wearing some old, dark and torn jeans, a white T-shirt and my green sweatshirt and my dark blonde hair needed a cut.

I was sitting leaning forward on the couch. The race was close. One lap to go, Vettel and Hamilton were fighting for the lead. As they rounded the third turn before the finish, Hamilton cut Vettel off on the outside but Vettel had the advantage as he came out of the curve.

"Go Hamilton!" I shouted with my fists clenched.

I'm not entirely sure how, but somehow Hamilton was accelerating at a faster pace than Vettel. But Hamilton wasn't quite fast enough. It still looked as if Vettel would win, but Hamilton was right behind Vettel and was drafting him!

"Yes man!" I said to the TV. "Draft him and pass him on the final turn!"

But Hamilton didn't follow my advice. They were on the second turn before the finish and Hamilton had figured he had enough speed. Hamilton broke away from Vettel and passed him on the inside but he had broken away to early. Now it looked like it could be anyone's race.

I squeezed the skin of the back of my neck out of apprehension as they shot down the final straightaway. But before they got to the finish line Oliver ran into the room and scooped up the remote and changed the channel to CNN.

"Seriously?" I said to him obviously annoyed.

Oliver was my younger brother and was 12 years old. His hair was dark brown but we both shared the same sturdy and strong build. Our interests were as different as a dog and cat and were too long to list. My youngest brother was 8, and he looked like a small and skinny version of me- he's not that important in the matters to come.

Oliver motioned for me to be quiet and pointed at the screen.

I shook my head and sighed. The screen showed an empty freight train hurtling down the tracks with gunmen all over it. Flying next to it was an all black military chopper with US Army markings on it.

This was puzzling to me. I got up and walked towards the screen with my mouth half open. The gunmen on the train were shooting at the helicopter as it tried to get in close to the train.

The banner on the lower half of the screen read 'breaking news! terrorists hijack empty freight train'. Oliver and I were both standing in front of the screen watching what would happen. The whir of the chopper from the helicopter filled the speakers as the military helicopter tried to get closer to the train.

"Are mom and dad watching this?" I asked Oliver.

He nodded and motioned with his hand towards the ceiling signaling that they were watching upstairs.

One of the men on the train shot a rocket off and it blew up underneath the helicopter! The pilot fought for control as two men on the open sides of the chopper fell out. There were two more explosions around the helicopter then the screen was filled with black smoke.

"Are they okay?" Oliver said taking a step forward.

I swallowed unsure of what to say. The picture switched from the smokey scene to a news reporter in the CNN studio.

"This just in," she said. "The government is now saying that the train is indeed not empty and is carrying highly important materials." Well that would explain the terrorists going after it. "However though, it has not been verified what the train is carrying."