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Chapter Fifty

Current day, 10:45 PM,

The White House, Washington, D.C.

“What is the meaning of this!?!!” Vice President Cao said as the Cabinet Room door burst open without announcement. The Asian-American man with salt and pepper hair angrily stood from the large oval table surrounded by an assortment of alarmed cabinet members and other surprised personnel. The man pointed at the Secret Service agents entering through the open doorway followed by several armed bikers in leather vests and blue jeans. “You lot had better have a damn good reason for...”

“Uncle!” Sally shouted as she slipped between her large escorts and into the room.

“Oh my God, Sally! You’re alive, sweetheart!?!!” the man ran around the table and took his emotional niece into his open arms. “How!?!! When? Have you told your parents?”

Sally broke the embrace. “Listen uncle, we don’t have much time, we need to talk...” The doctor glanced around the room. “...um, in private. It’s super important!”

The Vice President narrowed his eyes at the large men eyeing him from the doorway. “Okay, Sally, let’s go.”

Sally nodded at the graying veterans. “He’s my uncle guys. At ease.”

They dipped their heads and backed away from the door.

Aaron, Mutt, and Nick all stood at attention as Arnold Cao emerged into the hall.

Arnold looked over at Sally and threw a thumb toward the trio of men. “What’s all of this about?”

“This is Field Commander Aaron Hinds with the CIA, Agent Nicholas Carol, CIA, and Retired Lieutenant Tony Fletcher, U.S. Army, the VFW Commander in Mount Silver, Virginia.”

The biker saluted and then stepped forward, jutting his hand toward the Vice President. “You can call me Mutt, sir! Honor to meet you!”

“Uncle, I need you to listen to what Agent Hinds is going to tell you and you need to believe what he says. It’s going to sound crazy, but trust me, it’s all real, and it’s happening right now!”

“What’s happening?”

Aaron cleared his throat. “Armageddon, sir, if we don’t stop it. But, first we need to talk about getting you out of here, sir. We have a helicopter waiting outside on the lawn...”

“Helicopter? Damn, Sally, none of this is making sense! One minute you are missing, everyone thinks you are dead, and then you’re here, thankfully alive, but wanting me to leave for some mysterious reason with people I have never met. I need more to go on before I do anything!” the man said in confused annoyance.

Nick produced several folded papers from a shooting vest pocket and presented them to Arnold. “Sir, these documents are related to a top secret project involving several officials in the United States government, including the President and the director of the CIA, Annalisa Moore. Right now, as we speak there is a nuclear device ticking away beneath the Capitol Building. We have a pair of radio-silent agents tracking down its location, but we believe it best to get you out of here just in case Agent Hitchens is not successful.”

“Wait a second, you guys.” Sally looked up at her uncle. “Uncle Cao, this man, Cole Hitchens, he saved me from a very dangerous killer in Afghanistan. He’s very brave, but he’s been wounded and needs your help. The CIA is looking for him and his partner and if you don’t help them, he might be killed and this bomb will go off, destroying Washington and starting World War III!”

Arnold stared at his niece with large, frightened eyes and then turned them down to the documents in his shaking hands. He nervously unfolded the papers and began flipping through the dog-eared pages. After a minute or so of quiet, thoughtful consideration, he re-folded the papers. Clearing his throat, he said, “Agent Hinds, I refuse to run. I’m staying right here with the American people. For now, I am placing you in charge of the Central Intelligence Agency effective immediately. Do what you need to do and if anyone questions your authority, tell them to contact the Whitehouse Communication Center, they’ll get me. I am about to go present this information to the cabinet and evoke Section Four of the Twenty-Fifith Amendment. Thank God they’re all here or this would be a hell of a lot more difficult!”

The Vice President turned to walk toward the door and then froze in his tracks. “I hope we are not too late,” he said over his shoulder.

The Pekingese paced around the metal crate in confusion. It did not know why it was back again, stuck in another cold metal cage, and this time everything was so much worse. The canine was now being tortured by an incessant high-pitched digital beeping echoing in its head. The animal desperately wished to find a way to escape the sound and had been unsuccessful in its attempts thus far. It scratched at its ears, at the cage door, and even tried turning in several circles before lying down to sleep, but the darkness did not come. The dog yawned.

Mr. Buttons stood on all fours and barked repeatedly, calling out in hopes they would find it...its humans. The dog wondered where the smallest one was...wondered why she left him. Why was there no water now? It was so thirsty. The little girl fed him and it was hungry, yet this time the child never came. It wanted the human to return and help it...to love it. To make the noise stop.

The dog whined sadly as it sat, staring out of the metallic cage door and into the empty dark room, waiting for his family to come...

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