This is the first in a trilogy called World Federation Novels. The overarching theme of On Deception Watch is sustainable energy through controlled nuclear fusion. The story begins by introducing several of the key characters. JAMES MARSHALL, the science reporter for the Washington Courier, visits the private nuclear research lab, AJC Fusion, in a backwater New Jersey industrial park. There he meets SYLVIA CARLYLE, administrative assistant to the company founder, ARTHUR J. CRANSHAW. Marshall is investigating the company's claim that they achieved fusion ignition of a hydrogen target pellet using a laser. No other lab anywhere in the world has achieved this.
The problem preventing the company from going to the next step toward commercialization is the limitation of the power of the laser used by AJC Fusion. They elect to approach the federal government rather than take the time to develop their own laser. The resulting meeting introduces several other key characters: the President of the United States, EMERSON DRUMMOND; MORGAN SLAIDER, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; FRANK MORRISON, the President’s Chief of Staff; ROGER TALBOT, CIA Director; AMANDA BROCK, FBI Director; and PAUL LATIMER, Vice President of the United States. They strategize about how to handle the upcoming meeting with SAMUEL BERMAN, Chief Financial Officer of AJC Fusion and old friend of Dr. Cranshaw.
The meeting with Berman, though complex, allows for moving forward with a proposed joint venture of an as yet undefined nature between the government and AJC Fusion. Realizing the implications for the fossil fuel industry, Frank Morrison worries about the President’s safety. Worldwide implications associated with its successful creation of energy using laser-fusion technology bring RANJIT LAL, Secretary-General of the United Nations, into the story.
Meanwhile, Talbot and Slaider meet clandestinely, concerned about the political, security, and strategic implications of using military laser technology to advance a private company.
Concern all around as the news breaks about the government sharing military secrets with a private company. General Slaider contacts an asset he uses for special missions, JEREMY LEACH. They arrange a meeting. Leach is instrumental in the death of Brazilian investors, also interested in working with Cranshaw. A jurisdictional dispute arises between the CIA and the FBI. Meanwhile, Drummond decides the laser-fusion breakthrough is too important to the world to be the exclusive property of the United States. He wants the technology turned over to the United Nations to distribute and administer. The President realizes this will be a tough sell to Congress and meets with Senator JEBEDIAH PAXTON, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Paxton is noncommittal. However, shortly after his meeting with Drummond, Paxton arranges an emergency meeting with representatives of the American Petroleum Institute, with whom he has close ties.
Supporters of the President’s decision to share the new laser-fusion technology with the world through the UN plan a huge rally in Washington. Five hundred thousand demonstrators converge on Washington. Leach eludes FBI agents following him and entering the crown, moving into the crush of people, kills several student organizers. This ignites angry reactions from the crowd, and Drummond is advised to declare martial law before things get too far out of control. Drummond addresses the crowd to calm them down and gets shot, but not killed. While protecting the President is the responsibility of the Secret Service, General Slaider has arrogated this role to the military and himself instead. Through various stalling and deceptive methods, General Slaider keeps the President incommunicado. He says he is under orders to remove the entire top level of government to hardened locations established in the event of a nuclear attack.
Arguing goes back and forth and we meet ALEXANDER LLEWELLYN, Secretary of State. Slaider has used military protocols, the Constitutional laws regarding declaring a President incompetent and succession laws to obfuscate and delay getting word directly from Drummond or his physician. Demonstrations protesting the shooting of the President break out in major cities along with arson. Chaos reigns, Congress dithers, Jeremy Leach attacks the northeast power grid, destroying power line towers with explosives he planted previously. As chaos spreads, Amanda Brock informs Paul Latimer of her discovery that General Slaider was behind the activities of Jeremy Leach and that Slaider was probably orchestrating everything that was happening to perpetrate a coup and take control of the federal government. Slowly but surely, Slaider is tightening military control of the country. Drummond gives a crucial message to the nation, approving of all the actions of General Slaider and asking for calm compliance with military forces. Ranjit Lal listens to the President’s address mid-flight, returning to the UN from India.
In the streets, across the country chaos, looting and arson spread. Slaider is behind all of this and has made it appear that Middle East interests are responsible. Military control of states spreads. Slaider’s agents continue rounding up all key government and judicial officials under the guise of protecting them. The top personnel of AJ C Fusion have gone into hiding. Paul Latimer escapes the dragnet and secretly flies to an ally in the Air Force. Slaider has sequestered President Drummond and alleging that he is speaking with the authority of the President, challenges Air Force general WARREN STONER to comply with the order to send the Vice President back to Washington where he will face a charge of treason. Latimer and Slaider separately inform all military commands that they alone are in charge. The decision on the constitutionality of Latimer’s attempt to declare himself acting President, in light of Drummond’s wounds, is postponed pending Congressional action.
Slider informs the people (falsely) that President Drummond has died. His address also includes a lengthy statement regarding succession and determination of competence pending a Congressional decision regarding the (trumped up) charges against the Vice President. Meanwhile, Slaider is whipping up a frenzy against the Muslim world and the United Nations as a haven for terrorists. Slaider arranges for a bombing at the Capital preventing Congress from meeting. They must find another location. Ladder begins a series of philosophical discussions with the sequestered President. Pending Congressional action, Slaider and the Secretary of State (Llewellyn) declare a national state of emergency and form an ad how governing committee, the Executive Council, headed by Llewellyn. Jeremy Leach escapes the country. International leaders are very concerned about the control of nuclear weapons on their territories. The army, loyal to Slaider, and the Air Force, loyal to Latimer, battle it out and the Air Force loses.
Latimer escapes to Germany. Amanda Brock enlists Special Agent TEDDY LONDON to locate the top officials of AJC Fusion, especially Sylvia Carlyle. However, Slaider got to her first. Military police bring Sylvia and her now-boyfriend, James Marshall, to Slaider’s temporary office in Manhattan. He explains his vision for the future of laser-fusion energy and the technology developed by AJC Fusion. He explains to Sylvia that the government will take over further development of laser-fusion technology largely using the personnel of AJC Fusion, that within the government, Dr. Cranshaw will head the group and she, because of her organizational skills, knowledge of the people and having their trust, could play a major role in getting to a commercial stage.
His plan is to use the carrot of virtually unlimited energy for a fraction of the cost using fossil fuels to induce nations to join a kind of super corporation. To gain membership, the various countries must change their governance practices to meet minimum standards of good governance rather than the exploitation of their people and treasure. He leaves the details dangling, attracting Sylvia to hear more. She sends James to wait for her later. Slaider has won control of all the military forces of the United States. A series of raids of embassies of Middle East countries, a serious breach of diplomatic privilege, reveals massive stores of arms. Public outrage is further fanned against the UN and its presence on US soil. Slaider has a long meeting with Lal and levels with him, explaining his role in all that has happened. He also impounds all the gold stored in the New York Federal Reserve Bank, containing the largest accumulation of gold on Earth. Slaider issues an ultimatum demanding that the UN relocate outside of US territory. He also withdraws from the UN, stating the traditional ambassadorial system can adequately serve the diplomatic needs of the country.
Representatives of “the oil patch” approach Sylvia, attempting to recruit her as an insider spy at AJC Fusion. She refuses and General Slaider lays out his organization vision for continuing the development of commercial laser-induced fusion as an energy source and as an incentive to level the governance policies worldwide so as to prevent disruption of world order. Sylvia buys in completely to Slaider’s vision of a new world order and the end of fossil fuel extraction and burning. Mysteriously, Slaider has a meeting in the People’s Republic of China.
It is also revealed that a key element of the fuel for laser-fusion energy is tritium, an isotope of hydrogen. Unfortunately, tritium is not naturally present on Earth. However, the moon has deposits of Helium-3, an isotope that can substitute for tritium in fusion reactions. The many advantages of mining Helium-3 on the moon are explained. Secretary of State Llewellyn takes over as the new President of the United States. He announces a joint venture with the People’s Republic of China to mine the moon for Helium-3. They also declare the moon off-limits to anyone but the US and China. They will enforce this militarily if necessary.
The World Federation, now headed by Ranjit Lal, takes sole governing control of the moon and all its resources. One by one countries abandon the UN, now located in Europe, until it no longer is viable and collapses. Slaider takes President Drummond for a sailing trip in Chesapeake Bay where the President accidentally dies, finally, while discussing with Slaider plans to disappear him without killing him. Teddy London is trailing Slaider. Meanwhile, SANDY CAMPBELL, a jack-of-all-trades asset for the American Petroleum Institute, including black ops, goes rogue and commits to killing Slaider. He follows Slaider to a remote retreat. After some brief cat and mouse, Slaider, wounded and cornered, looks done for. Just as Campbell is about to finish Slaider off, a policeman summoned earlier to retreat, sticking his head through a broken window, shoots and kills Campbell.
Medical emergency personnel take Slaider and London to the hospital and survive their wounds. Congress and the courts return to order from chaos, despite the loss of those assassinated during Slaider’s coup. The US partnership with The People’s Republic of China for mining Helium-3 on the moon takes hold. The World Federation is the sole surviving platform for world diplomacy and the sole controlling provider for laser-fusion energy technology. One by one, countries entering the corporation as franchisees do so by conforming to the good governance requirements for membership. All seems to support the assertion that the ends justify the means. Or do they?