WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE,
DAYTON, OHIO, USA.
Ira C. McCoy (Major General, USAF, Office of Special Investigations) sat down and looked at the nervous second lieutenant before him.
"Alright, lieutenant. Let's cut to the chase."
The younger man jumped as the general pounded the white enamel-painted desk top with his right fist.
"WHOSE ASININE IDEA WAS IT TO SEND THAT THING VIA THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE, INSTEAD OF USING ONE OF OUR REGULAR VETTED COURIERS?!"
"Well, sir, it was--ahem!--it was the SOTAF's office.* "
"At the end of last year's fiscal period, sir, an interdepartmental memo came down from the Assistant Sec-Def ICO Finance, via the Comptroller of the SOTAF's office. A memo listing several cost-cutting measures that were to be implemented (and I quote) 'effective immediately. If not sooner!' End quote. And, one of those measures made it mandatory to send _all_ personal correspondence through the regular mail."
The general's voice softened to a harsh, rather sarcastic whisper.
"Did that same measure _require_ classifying ultra-top secret material as regular mail?"
"Uh, no sir. Not eactly."
"THEN, _WHY_ EXACTLY DID YOU DO SO?"
"B-B-Because I was ordered to, sir!"
"Ordered by whom?"
"Capt. Errol Blaine, sir. My immediate CO."
"And, you didn't find that puzzling in the least?"
"Yes, sir, I confess I did. But, when I voiced my concerns aloud, the captain said he was merely following his own orders."
"Orders from whom?"
"From what he called an unquestionable source in the Pentagon, sir."
"Let me get this straight. This 'unquestionable source' ordered your commanding officer to send ultra-top secret material...disguised as parcel post???"
"Yes, sir. That's what I was told."
"I see. And, where is Capt. Blaine, at present?"
"He was recalled to Washington, just before your arrival, sir. Although, he told me that he wasn't at liberty to divulge the precise destination!"
The general sighed, and massaged his face with the palms of both his hands, before resuming.
"Very well, lieutenant. You're dismissed. But, remember: you are _not_ to repeat this discussion, outside this room, to anyone. NO EXCEPTIONS!"
"Sir! Yes, sir!"
The lieutenant saluted the general, and vice-versa, before leaving the sound-proof conference room. Whereupon, the older officer looked at the slightly younger man, in the midnight-black business suit, standing against the left-hand wall of the room.
"What do you think, Steve?"
Special Agent Steven Hughes (Defense Intelligence Agency) removed his sunglasses and put them in his left lapel pocket. Revealing blue eyes that complemented his wavy black hair.
"Permission to speak freely, general?"
"I think this is what the late George Carlin would've described as a royal Mongolian cluster-frig! Because of one ill-advised precaution, and one hung-over mail man, what was supposed to go to the Pentagon via Major Ed Lyon in Dover, Delaware, is now in the hands of a _majorette line_ in Dover, Ohio! I can only imagine how nonplussed the Joint Chiefs must have been to get a box full of hula hoop-mounted batons fringed with tinsel."
"Heh!" the general ruefully chuckled: "They looked like they'd each been proctologized with an icicle! You've got to get that thing back, Steve. It's the most priceless piece of UFO tech we've ever salvaged."
Agent Hughes smiled: "In the lieutenant's immortal words; 'Sir! Yes, sir!' "
Sec-Def: Secretary of Defense.
ICO: In Charge Of.
CO: commanding officer.