Spear Garden

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Chapter 21

The White House

14:11 (19:11 GMT)

June 20th

Director Slocum and Director Thomas both arrived at the White House. Their cars pulled up under the portico on the North side of the West Wing. They were meeting with President Rebecca Pennington and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Andrews on their findings at General Vasquez’s estate and to fill them in on anything new that had come up during their investigation on who might have the Metal Storm weapon.

Both Directors were escorted down to the Roosevelt room, just outside the Oval Office by the Secret Service. There they waited, had a coffee and reviewed their notes until the president was ready to see them.

Veronica wanted to make sure she had all the information necessary to give to the president. She didn’t like surprises and wanted to make sure she looked to be in total control, even when that wasn’t one hundred percent the case.

“Julian, you have the latest intel that we got from the intelligence call this morning, correct?”

“Of course.”

“And you haven’t heard of any further developments in the last hour?”

“No. If I did, I’d tell you.”

She sighed. “Very well. I just want to make sure we keep POTUS briefed. She can be a real vixen some times. You don’t want to get on her bad side. Let me answer the questions about what we know. You can answer any questions she has about our asset. That’s your show.”

Julian shrugged. “All right.”

She stared into Julian’s eyes and couldn’t see any deception. The tension in her shoulders slightly subsided.

After about ten minutes, the president’s secretary came in and told them that she and the Chairman were ready to see them. Picking up their briefcases, the followed the secretary to the Oval Office.

Upon entering the office, President Pennington and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs were sitting on the couches facing one another. They both stood and President Pennington approached them with her hand extended. “Veronica—Julian. Good morning.”

“Good Morning, Madam President,” Veronica said as she shook the president’s hand. She shifted her eyes toward the Chairman and gave a nod. “General.”

“Good morning, Director,” he replied.

Veronica watched as Director Thomas also exchanged pleasantries. She went through the main points of her brief one more time in her mind and prepared herself mentally for the meeting. When they were finished, the president sat in one of two chairs in front of the fireplace while both Directors sat on the same couch opposite General Thomas.

President Pennington started, “I read the security brief first thing this morning. What do we have on al Hamwi? Do we know what he’s up to?”

Veronica started, “Madam President, we’ve discovered that Zahmir al Hamwi has purchased a weapons system called Metal Storm. It is a very…”

“I know what it is, Veronica. Like I said, I’ve read the brief. So please, don’t give me a synopsis of what I already know. Tell me something I don’t know. Like, does he have it or what he’s going to do with it?”

Veronica felt the blood rush to her cheeks. Thirty seconds into her brief and it wasn’t going well. She cleared her throat. “We don’t know the answer to either of those questions Madam President.”

General Thomas abruptly said, “For Christ’s sake Director, what do you know?”

The blush on her cheeks could have been seen from across the room. She sat with her mouth agape when Julian swooped in for the rescue.

“Mike Brennan has flown down to Guantanamo to meet a team and then on to General Vasquez’s estate to see if the weapon is still there and to gather any additional intel our asset may have missed in his hurried exit. The Cuban’s are being surprisingly cooperative and giving us access. We’ve got the last known location of al Hamwi and his known associates. We’re dropping our asset in there to see if he can locate him and gather additional intel.”

Veronica’s embarrassment turned to anger. The benefit, she thought, was at least the blood went from her cheeks to the back of her head.

“When is the asset being dropped in?” asked the general.

“He is on his way to Qatar as we speak, general. He’ll be briefed of any additional intel we may get while he is en route,” Julian said.

“Okay. Go on. What’s the plan once he arrives in Qatar?” the president asked.

“At Oh two hundred, local Afghan time, our asset will HAHO into Afghanistan to meet up with another asset that will then take him to the last known location of al Hamwi. From there he’ll make an assessment and get back to us. Until them, I’m afraid it’s just a waiting game.”

The president tapped her fingers on the couch as if giving thought to her next reply. “Ok. I want an update every twelve hours, no matter how insignificant. Anything else that you find out that is more significant; I want to know about it immediately. Understood?”

“Yes Madam President,” Julian said.
“Have we found out how General Vasquez got his hands on this weapon to begin with?” she asked.

Veronica replied, “No, Madam President, but we’ve started looking into that too.”

“Fine, I want to know what you find out about that as well. The sooner the better.” President Pennington stood up and glanced back and forth at both directors. “Thank you for your time this morning.” They shook each other’s hands and left the oval office. The entire meeting lasted six minutes.

On their way out, Veronica turned to Julian. “Follow me.”

They walked down the hallway and back into the Roosevelt room. Veronica couldn’t wait to chew him out. As soon as the door was closed, she turned and pointed her finger at Julian’s chest. “Don’t ever butt into my conversation again unless I give you a nod. You made me look like a fucking ass in front of both of them.”

Julian’s eyes narrowed. He took a deep breath. “Seriously? Maybe you should…”

“Just don’t fucking do it again. Understand? Now, do we have any kind of lead to find out how he got these weapons in the first place?”

Veronica could sense the contempt in his voice. “No”, Julian said. “I’ll get someone to look into the manufacturer and see if there is anything there we can look at to get a clue.”

“That’s fine. Call me as soon as you have anything new.” Veronica left the room abruptly, pleased with herself on how she handled Julian. Veronica immediately stepped into her car and left the White House.

***

Julian stayed in the Roosevelt room alone to let his agitation subside. “What a Bitch,” he said out loud as he pulled out his phone and dialed Mike. As usual, Mike answered on the first ring.

“Mike. Julian. We may have a problem.”

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