Current day, 2:15 PM, The Roadhouse Bar, Outside of Mount Silver, Va.
Fitz followed Cole, Nick, and Aaron into Kevin’s filthy office. “Um, nice place you have here, Mr...erm...”
“Monroe, Kevin Monroe,” the bar’s owner said with a smile, extending a hand to the CIA agent across his cluttered desk. Kevin grimaced and quickly retrieved his hand to place it on his wound. “Ow, damn my side still really hurts even with the pain meds,” he said, producing a weak smile. “Sorry, Agent Fitz, didn’t mean to be rude. Let’s try this again...welcome to my humble establishment. My friends call me Kevin.”
“Alright, Kevin...” the man said coolly.
The Roadhouse’s owner raised an eyebrow. “Agent Fitz, who said you an’ me were any kind of friends?”
“Okay, Kev, that’s enough,” Cole said, staring angrily at his friend. “Where’s the Chinese officer?”
Kevin looked over at Fitz and then Cole. “Yeah, right. Sorry, ah’m just messin’ with you, fella. You shoulda seen your face!”
“Come on, bro! Where’s he at?” Cole interrupted.
As he descended the stairs into the basement of the Roadhouse, Cole paused. He leaned against the wall to take a breath.
“Are you alright?” Nick asked. “Is it your leg?”
“Yeah, but it’s more than that. It’s this basement. Kinda reminds me of another place I really wish I could forget,” the young man said examining the singular glowing incandescent bulb lightly swaying back and forth in the blackness.
Saint Nick nodded in understanding. “Take your time, I have my own dark rooms...you’re not alone there, Hitchens.”
Cole stood erect and summoned all of his energy, forcing himself down the stairs, ignoring the sounds of Mike screaming in his head. At the bottom, he could just make out the figure of a man sitting alone in the blackness.
The Chinese Red Army captain lifted his head as the men approached. “Americans, I will tell you everything, but I want asylum. I can tell you everything! It’s a setup, collusion if you will, between high-ranking officials in my government and yours! It’s not what you think...” The officer’s voice trailed off as the agents approached him and stood under the light. He looked at them in fear. “Oh, it’s you...and you!”
Kevin, Cole, and Aaron all turned to find Saint Nick holding a pistol, its barrel pointed at the captain’s head. “I outta kill you, you sick piece of shit!”
“Whoa! Hang on a sec, Nick!” Aaron shouted, placing himself in front of the Chinese officer.
Cole slowly approached the older agent with his hands open. “What’s goin’ on, Nick? Obviously, you know this guy and he knows you. What’s going on here?”
“The more perplexing question is why is he here?”
“Sorry, I’m confused,” Aaron said.
“He’s part of the human trafficking ring me and Delinda uncovered overseas a while back. In fact, he and the rest of his network just fell off the Earth right before we got tapped to help you guys...it freed up our calendar, you might say. None of us could explain it...now, I think I know why.”
“I’ll bite. Tell us what you’re thinking, Nick,” Aaron said.
“I would bet my life they were warned we were coming or they have at least been colluding with the CIA for some reason. Most likely the Director I would imagine,” Nick said as he peered at Cole through the dark.
“You’re saying they were fed intel and told to disappear? That’s sick,” Cole said.
“Maybe,” Nick said with a shrug. “Didn’t you say the guy that shot you in the church knew you from Afghanistan?”
“Yeah. Still can’t place him,” Cole replied.
“You told me you popped some white guy at Nuristani’s trying to kill Doc Cao? In Afghanistan, right? Could it have been him?”
“Hmmm, now that you mention it...yeah, maybe?”
“Look Cole, you don’t think it’s odd that so many things are tied between here and there? Just like your would-be assassin and this guy?” Nick asked pointing at the Chinese captain.
Cole scratched his head. ”If all of this is connected,” he said dismissively.
“C’mon boy, put on your thinking cap. It’s deeper than that, we both know it. Admit it.”
“I’m not following you either, Nick,” Aaron said. “That would be crazy.”
“You want crazy, boss. Hear me out. I don’t think this is even about me or you or any of our work,” Nick said pointing at Aaron. “It’s all about Hitchens. I am telling you, the Director has been pulling all of these strings, maneuvering Cole into just the right places for something big, like a puppet master. That’s why we are all here in his backyard. Don’t you see it?”
“But why?” Cole asked.
“Now, isn’t that the question, my boy?” Fitz asked.
Cole looked over at the agent curiously, detecting a hint of something odd in Fitz’s voice. “Why did you say it like that?”
“Fitz, when you were injured in Afghanistan, what exactly were you and the then Agent Annalisa Moore doing? And don’t give me the line of BS you told the Company about an op gone wrong,” Nick said swinging his pistol at him.
“Hey! What are you doing, Nick?” Aaron asked.
“Hold up, chief.” Nick lifted his left hand indicating Aaron should be patient. “Think about it Cole. You know I’m right.”
Aaron looked over at Nick and then Cole. “I don’t know...seems like a stretch. That would take a considerably large, coordinated effort to pull something like this off. I get Annalisa is smart and conniving, but this? This is unfathomable.”
“Shut it Kevin.”
“Sorry, bro...was just curious,” Kevin said lightly. “Ya’ll keep on. Act like I ain’t even here. I’m a ghost...”
Cole sighed and then returned his focus to the very serious discussion at hand.
Fitz looked at Kevin with a smirk. “Dumbass hillbilly...”
“You son of a bitch, I’m gonna...”
“Kev, c’mon. Let us handle this, alright?” Cole said putting a hand to Kevin’s chest. “He’s just trying to rile you up to start something.”
“Yeah, alright.” Kevin looked at Fitz with angry eyes and pointed at him. “But if’n you keeps running your mouth, ain’t nobody stoppin’ me.”
Fitz shook his head. “Look Cole, we’ve been playing you and your team of screw-ups since the beginning. There is little you have done that has not been either accounted for or dealt with...minus that moron over there in the corner. We weren’t expecting him to be as effective as he has been.”
Cole shot Kevin a look of warning.
Kevin sneered and backed into the darkness in surrender, deciding to permanently keep his mouth shut at this point. “Fine bro...”
“C’mon Cole. Basic Cold War spy stuff here. Put it together with me,” Nick said.
“Shit! I’m so friggin’ stupid,” Cole said, his eyes widening in realization. He glanced at Nick and then one oddly smiling Fitz. “The KGB would sometimes use two hundred or more agents just to get one spy.”
Fitz clapped his hands together to the amazement of the others in the basement with him. “Well done, well done. I knew you had a couple of brain cells to spark together, hillbilly. Regardless, you still have no clue as to what all of this is about, do you? Do any of you?”
“The Director embedded Mike in the militia to befriend me, raided the camp knowing I would save him, and then recruited and trained me, why? Nope, it appears I don’t have a flipping clue...so, why don’t you just stop with the cryptic bullshit, asshole!”
“We needed a scapegoat. Someone believable...someone with a story to tell,” Fitz replied. “And you fit the bill.”
“A scapegoat?” Cole asked.
“Well, initially it was just a simple case of pinning the destruction of Washington on you and making your homegrown, flag-waving, militia ass the most famous terrorist in the world. Even more famous than Bin Laden or Tim McVay. Unfortunately, that damn dog escaped and somehow ended up with your family. Look I’m no believer in God, but this makes me question my atheism a bit,” Fitz added.
Cole shook head. “And now, you have my family...and the dog. To think I was the one who reached out to you.”
“And that hothead Vick nearly screwed everything up.” Fitz shrugged. “Who knew that Doc Cao and my little battlefield wound would put everything back on track? So, yeah, I took one for the team...didn’t expect it to nearly kill me, though. Now, it seems it was all worth it. I mean, we had to make it look believable, Everything from planting that Chinese agent and his cellphone over there in Afghanistan to making sure you faced no interference when you went AWOL. I guess it all worked just like Annalisa said it would.”
The Chinese officer struggled against his restraints. “I told you did I not...see! If you don’t stop them, there will be war! That nano-bomb’s nuclear material is Chinese in origin and when that is discovered...”
“The Chinese will be blamed,” Aaron said, finishing the man’s sentence.
“Correct, and it was that lunatic, Dr. Lawrence Royal, he is the one, the mind that perfected the micronized delivery system...and there are many other embedded animals, aren’t there, Agent Hitchens? I imagine you saw them? Regardless, it is for this reason that we at the MSS needed those documents! How do you defend yourself against something you can’t see? Believe me, American, I never knew where all of this was heading until it was too late!!!”
“Then, you should have just stuck with our agreement, but you got selfish didn’t you, captain? Shootin’ Daniel to get the money!” Cole exclaimed and backhanded the Chinese officer. “What you did was for your own greed up until you got caught. Now, you want asylum for rolling over on your own countrymen...you make me sick! Coward!”
The officer lowered his bruised face and said nothing. Cole stepped off into the shadows for a moment to calm himself. He ran his fingers through his hair in exasperation.
Kevin, arms crossed and leaning against a wall, silently watched his friend pace about in the dim light. He shook his head.
Standing beneath the flickering single bulb, Aaron produced a confused expression accentuated by the dim luminance. “What about the sex trafficking? How does that tie in with all of this, Fitz?”
“The sex trafficking was a means to an end. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a way to pay for, facilitate, and muddle the exchange of technology and information between our likeminded MSS comrades and ourselves. Make things hard to trace back to everyone involved...you know. Like Iran-Contra?” Fitz replied and crossed his arms in smug assuredness.
Cole tensed, spun on his heels, and angrily stabbed his finger in the air at the Chinese Captain and then Fitz. “So, Fitz, you, Director Moore, and this jackass traded people’s lives like they were currency? Those are real human beings that are being abused...kids, women. Dammit, how depraved are you assholes?”
“Among other things. Some were nothing more than pack mules.” Fitz’s face lost all expression as he stared back at Cole. “This world cannot exist as it currently does. Overpopulation is choking resources, humanity is just a commodity now. The economy is tanking. Conventional war is the only answer to correct these problems. My Chinese friend tied to that chair knows it, just as Annalisa and President Taylor do. We are the new humanitarians, don’t you see, Cole? When this is over, our two nations will go to war and right all that is wrong with this world...”
“So, even the damn President is involved?” Cole asked.
“He’s the catalyst.”
Cole began pacing in anger once more.
“Is Dr. Cao?” Aaron asked fearfully.
Fitz shook his head. “No, however, she was a blessing in disguise as well as a curse. She just made the story an even easier sell to you imbeciles. Gave you something to do while we set everything up here in the States. We also figured if you did find her, which you surprisingly did, we would just have a contingency plan ready to make sure she never told her uncle.”
“You’ll never find her,” Aaron added.
Fitz shrugged. “It won’t matter now. By this time tomorrow, Washington D.C., as well as the Vice President will be lying in a smoldering pile of rubble....thanks to Cole Hitchens, homegrown terrorist.”
The low rhythmic sound of helicopter blades reverberated through the basement of the Roadhouse as if on cue, signaling the arrival of an assault force. Cole froze in place and then cut his eyes toward Fitz.
Fitz smiled and pointed skyward. “The Doomsday Clock is ticking again. You hear it, Hitchens?”
Cole glanced up as thumping footsteps and shouts erupted above. Bursts of automatic weapons sputtered, followed by reports of varying other weapons. Dirt fell from the creaking boards overhead and flickered in the dim light. “Give me your weapon, Nick!” the young man shouted.
Nick spun the pistol around and presented it to Cole handle first. “What are you going to do, Cole?”
“This.” Cole pulled the hammer back on the weapon and lifted it to his head.
“Wait! Whoa there, you dumbass! What are you doing!?!!” Fitz yelled.
“Ending all of this right now!”