Captain Ken Elliot hurried down one of the long hallways of the State, War, and Navy Building. The bright sunshine of a clear summer day in Washington, D.C., illuminated the patterned marble floors and deep mahogany walls lined with portraits of America’s most decorated war heroes. Elliott rarely interacted with General Speltzer. Formidable stories about Speltzer’s accomplishments had trickled down to him through his superiors and their superiors. But Elliott had no idea why he had received orders to meet the General in his office. Knocking lightly on the door, he was commanded by a strong voice to come in. Elliott stopped to salute General Speltzer immediately after entering.
“At ease, captain,” the general said. “Take a seat and have a look at this.” Elliot couldn’t resist a quick glance at the photographs on the wall as he sat down to read the letter handed to him. The pictures showed Speltzer shaking hands with General Pershing, standing beside General MacArthur, and in casual conversation with ex-president Woodrow Wilson. It demonstrated the importance of military intelligence, Elliot thought. And while his opinion in this regard was by no means unbiased, he knew from firsthand experience how crucial intelligence could be to military success.
Turning his attention to the letter, he found that it was brief and to the point. Dated June 12th, 1933, it read:
To: U.S. Department of War, Military Intelligence Division I have made an invention that will end all wars. Please come see me as soon as possible.
“What do you make of it?” the general asked when Elliot looked up at him.
“Well, sir, I’m not sure exactly what to think. It certainly sounds interesting,” Elliot replied. “But how reliable is Tesla? I had the impression he was thought of as a bit of an eccentric nowadays.”
“He’s always been considered an eccentric genius, and he seems to have gone a little cuckoo lately, according to my sources,” the general said. “But the high-ups in the White House demand that we keep an eye on him at all times, especially when he claims to have a new invention.” “I can certainly see why, sir, given the ingenuity he has demonstrated in the past. Do we know where he is living these days?”
“New York City.”
“Can he be reached?”
“Well, captain, he will be soon. You’re about to enjoy a trip to the city at the expense of the U.S. Government. I’m assigning you the job of visiting Tesla and finding out whether there’s anything to this latest invention of his. I personally think that this is an immense waste of time and taxpayer money, but as you know very well, orders are orders.”