Unidentified: A Science-Fiction Thriller

“Just to do the math,” I continued, “this rate of descent works out to twenty-three thousand miles an hour.”

I paused to let this sink in. “Well,” I continued, “as fun as it was for the military to watch the occasional UFO plunge to sea level on radar, it was finally time to get up close and personal. So two F-18 Super Hornets were dispatched to get a visual sighting of one of these craft, which was then just above the ocean. The four pilots in these two jets arrived at the radar coordinates provided by the Princeton, and they all clearly and unmistakably observed a tic-tac-shaped craft for five minutes.

“The pilots estimated the UFO was about forty to fifty feet in length, and ten to fifteen feet wide. With no apparent flight surfaces or means of propulsion. When one of the jets descended to get a closer look, the ship rose to meet it, and then darted off at such an impossible acceleration it basically vanished. It was picked up on radar a few seconds later.”

I paused for effect. “Sixty miles away!” I finished emphatically.

I then played a few minutes’ worth of snippets from the 60 Minutes interview of two of the pilots from 2021, so the audience could hear much of what I had just said in their own words, on a television program known for its seriousness.

“So how reliable were the reports of this encounter?” I asked, when the short clip had finished. “Well, suborbital radar from the ballistic missile defense radar systems on the Princeton caught the UFOs unmistakably in low Earth orbit. When they dropped below this altitude, they were observed using infrared video, other radar systems, and visually. And the submarine accompanying the strike group caught the craft on sonar, traveling underwater faster than any known object had ever traveled.”

I raised my eyebrows. “So did all of these various sensors malfunction at the same time?” I said with an incredulous tone. “Were all human observers drunk or hallucinating? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?”

Russell nodded thoughtfully. “What’s astonishing to me,” he said, “is that something this epic, this convincing, has been made public, and yet so many are unaware of it—even now. Or are aware but refuse to believe it could be true.”

“I’ve thought the same thing,” I said. “But I guess it’s a measure of our times. Humanity has never been faced with so many distractions. With so many outside agencies vying for our attention, like streaming services, social media, video games, and so on. And we’ve never been this cynical, this suspicious of anything we don’t see with our own eyes. I have to admit, often for good reason.”

The host considered my reply. “Perhaps your appearance will begin to change all that,” he said. “You’re about to make world-changing revelations on this program. Knowing the effort you put into your research, I can’t wait to see the evidence you’ll be bringing to bear. I have no doubt it will blow us all away.”

I managed a feeble, unconvincing smile, which wasn’t bad when you considered I literally felt like vomiting. That’s all I needed, to vomit on my keyboard live in front of millions of people.

I pulled my notes closer, took a long slug of water, and then several deep breaths, which I hoped weren’t obvious on camera. “Before I leave the Nimitz,” I began slowly, “let me read a few excerpts from a scholarly article from 2019. One entitled, Estimating Flight Characteristics of Anomalous Unidentified Aerial Vehicles in the 2004 Nimitz Encounter.”

I cleared my throat once again, grateful that my nausea had been temporary, and began.

“‘A number of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) encountered by military, commercial, and civilian aircraft have been reported to exhibit ‘impossible’ flight characteristics, such as traveling at extremely high speeds, changing direction or accelerating at extremely high rates, and hovering motionless for long periods of time. Furthermore, these craft appear to violate the laws of physics in that they do not have flight or control surfaces, any visible means of propulsion, and can operate in multiple media, such as space (low Earth orbit), air, and water without apparent hindrance, sonic booms, or heat dumps.

“‘We consider the 2004 UAP encounters with the Nimitz Carrier Group off the coast of California. We estimate the most probable acceleration of the craft to be over five thousand Gs, with a maximum speed of forty-six thousand miles per hour, with no observed air disturbance, no sonic booms, and no evidence of excessive heat commensurate with even the minimal estimated energies.’”

I looked up from my notes. “Just to put this in perspective,” I said into the camera, “even our most robust unmanned rockets can’t withstand a fraction of these kinds of G-forces.”

I paused. “The paper shows all the math the authors used to arrive at estimates of the G-forces involved,” I continued, showing several pages of calculations on the screen to underscore this point, “as well as estimates of the power that would be required to pull off these feats. Using conservative assumptions, the authors find that the craft would have needed more than a thousand gigawatts of power, enough to run many millions of homes.

“The absurdity of this kind of power level,” I continued, “is referenced in the paper’s conclusion, which states:

“‘The fact that these UAVs display no flight surfaces or apparent propulsion mechanisms, and do not produce sonic booms or excessive heat that . . . we expect should be involved, strongly suggests that these anomalous craft are taking advantage of technology, engineering, or physics that we are unfamiliar with. For example, the Tic-Tac UAV dropping from 28,000 feet to sea level in 0.78 seconds involved at least 430 billion Joules of energy—which is equivalent to about 100 tons of TNT—released in three quarters of a second. One would have expected a catastrophic effect on the surrounding environment.’”

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