The Everpresent Threat

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His Terrible Swift Sword

Where the train track forked, Frank indicated that they all dive behind a divider wall that would give them protection. He was certain they had been seen by whoever was on the train. When it started to slow down he was certain.

His stomach tightened and his finger started to inch back the trigger with a control that only a master sniper could maintain.

“Sergeant McKenna! Hold your fire! Friendly! CIA! We have someone who has to give you a quick brief on Abdullah.”

Tommy Wosniac stepped off the second car holding his guns above his head to indicated he meant no harm.

“You don’t know me Sergeant McKenna but I’m considered an expert on Abdullah. I might be able to help you. He bites his nails constantly. My contact said to tell you that immediately because you would know what to do with it.”

Wosniac moved forward cautiously. Ground Hog One and Ground Hog Two kept their eyes on both directions in the tunnel to make sure that the pow wow was not surprised.

Frank smiled. “That’s good news, Brother! Your contact knows that when he bites his pinkie I can wax him. That gives me and the President of these United States a chance. Now walk along with me and be my personal professor on this dipshit I’m about to smoke.”

Wosniac looked at the man before him. He was bigger than he would have imagined. But he walked with an athlete’s grace. He had a physical presence that made him glide like a mountain lion as they began to walk together. He was also more handsome than he expected, with that chiseled American face that so many special ops guys seem to exhibit.

What most impressed Wosniac was Mckenna’s eyes. They were crystal blue. They were also eyes that penetrated to the very soul of the person upon whom he gazed and assessed. They were intelligent eyes and they were completely concentrated on Wosniac’s words.

“Abdullah’s a psychopathic killer. Many of these Jihadi’s are, but he’s the worst. He’s wasted children, cripples, women without flinching. Somebody else always gets the credit but these things have his fingerprints all over them.”

“There have been several in-air incidents where people have been sucked out of planes because of the way he has planted explosives on airplanes. We always consider it Abdullah’s when it happens. The guys good at getting others to do the final act so that it can only be traced to him indirectly.”

“I know we don’t have much time to I’ll just say to keep your eye on him. He must be very well armed in there and I know he’s not bluffing. He now has the ability to wax thousands, and if he plays the nuclear card, millions. And he’ll do it. His men have been groomed to be fanatically loyal to him personally and they will only follow his orders.”

“This is all Abdullah’s game. He’s the grant strategist, the theorists, the thinker and the one who wields the power. My advice is to terminate him with extreme prejudice if you are unable to do anything else. We’ll all be better off the sooner he’s dead. I know you’ll do what you can.”

Frank Mckenna took all this in with the heightened awareness of a man who learned and assimilated this information rapidly because he was about to meet the man being described and this information would be critical to his success. He processed the information for what was useful.

“Frank...one last thing. Abdullah likes torturing prisoners. Remember the Company guy that was abandoned to some Jihadi’s in Lebanon in 2009? His parts came back bit by bit with Abdullah’s initials carved into them over a period of three years. What I’m saying is, don’t let him get his hands on you. He’ll enjoy making every last minute of your life on earth pure hell.”

“I’d love for you to take him alive because his brain is the repository on every kind of terrorist activity going on worldwide and I’d like to have a crack at debriefing him. But I know that, realistically, you’ll have to waste him if we’re to get the President out. Christ, all the rules have changed, haven’t they?”

"Got that right, Bro!" McKenna stated.

“Recently I did a study of the physical layout of the White House Complex. There are a number of utility tunnels, water, electric, and sewage that can provide a way out if you get waylaid inside. The utility rooms in the East or West Wing or get to a manhole. Like Houdini knew, it is easier to get out of a secure location than in. Use that fact and you’ll be able to get out more easily. Good luck!”

“Thanks, Wosniac. You’ve been more than helpful. Let’s get together after all this and swap stories. I get out of this alive and I’ll buy you a few beers. And if that Colt they issued you is to do any good take the lock off now. Now...as Mad Mike O’Hara said is the first rule of every good warrior, ‘Pray God!’ God help me! Let’s go free the President Ground Hogs!”

With that Frank lined up with the three Ground Hogs, guys whose families he knew. Behind them were his other Special Ops units in full body armor and loaded with weapons. Then there was a company of Marines and a few CIA and assorted SWAT guys who had joined them along the way.

Things were in such chaos still that Franks’ unit had picked up several dozen men who could not get to their units or had been lost in the Capital when the fighting began but wanted to help fight the Jihadi’s and were heavily armed.

Frank was cautious at first until he remembered that both George Washington and Jeb Stuart had made good use of such men in their day. So the stragglers got to stay as long as they were American, armed, and willing to fight.

Another thousand feet and Frank turned to them. “Best I can tell, we’re here. I go alone for now. Wosniac told me about alternative ways out of the White House and I may have to use them depending on what develops inside the bunker. First, I’m going to plug Abdullah. Second, I’m going to kill his foot soldiers. Next, I’m going to cut the bindings and arm the President and whoever is with him in there."

"Finally, I want to come back out the way I went in unless the way the battle goes forces me out one of the exists Wosniac spoke about. Stay behind me while I’m in there. I’ll call for you if I need you. I want this to all happen in less than three minutes. I see that as about the time we have before they react to us killing Abdullah.”

“Answer any fire they throw your way but don’t get bogged down in fire fights when we leave. Keep in mind the only reason we are here is to get the President out. That’s it. Leave everything else alone. They’ll be more amenable to negotiation and surrender if we get the President out so keep that in mind. So...”

Frank checked his AK-47’s, Ruggers, medic kit with tourniquit, and knives one last time and moved his guns safety’s to “fire.”

“Let’s go!”

Just as Frank’s father had said, there was an entrance staring him right in the face exactly where he’d said it would be. Why it had never been sealed up was a question that now occurred to him. Maybe it was the government contractors who had built the metro who were cutting corners and had failed to block it in. Maybe they had intended to put another metro line through there and saw no reason to seal it in. Frank didn’t care for the reason. He was just happy that he now had a direct lifeline to the President of the United States.

He entered the old trolley line, now littered with the debris of a half century of neglect. Trash, broken concrete, and rats were in his way in equal measure. As he inched along he disturbed a family of rats, who began to scurry in every direction, including over him.

Frank had killed every rat he had ever encountered in his life, and it took all the discipline he could muster to not use his weapons, for he had no doubt that any shot here would be heard inside the bunker and tip off Abdullah.

Fortunately, as the first few rats had not attacked them, their herd instincts took over and the pack followed the leaders out of Frank’s way. The rats scurried away leaving only their droppings on his clothes.

As his eyes followed the rats down the tunnel, Frank suddenly noticed slits of light about a hundred feet straight ahead. He raced toward the light and heard voices, all speaking Arabic. He crept up to the hole and noticed it had a steel ladder, just as his father had said. As he thought of his father, it suddenly dawned on him how much he loved the man. He thought of his wife and each child and how much they needed him.

Then he thought of who he was about to confront and some of the questions his wife had thrown at him on the way out the door came back to him causing some doubt about what he was about to do. He prayed silently. “Lord, take me to that place in the Valley of Death. ‘Yeah, though I walk through the Valley of Death I fear no evil, for though art my strength and my life.’ Give me your strength, Lord, when you carried the Cross. Let me carry your old rugged Cross.”

With an ability that came from scrambling up ladders thousands of times to pick apples, peaches, plums and cherries, he was up the ladder and comfortably ensconced in a portal outlet. The size of it confirmed his belief that it had been placed there by the original builders as an alternative source of oxygen. He peered through the slatted vent and was relieved to find it was the old wooden type that had been painted over and not steel, which would have been more difficult to kick out.

He peered into the bunker to access the situation that minute. He saw the President across the room bound, gagged, and weary. Frank hoped he would have the mental strength to flee. From what he could see, there were another eight Americans in the bunker. As most had large blind folds over their faces it was hard to determine exactly who they were.

Frank saw Abdullah immediately to the left of the President. He was barking orders to five other Jihadi’s who were, no doubt, part of the high command or they wouldn’t be there. Frank decided they were worth getting after Abdullah. He also noticed Wosniac had been right. Every time Abdullah finished a tirade he would bite his fingernails.

He checked his watch and set the timer for three minutes. Although he would have wanted to assume the usual prone position to kill Abdullah, he knew that allowed too much time for his men to react. So he tensed up his body into a ball, drew his legs up before him, and lunged through the vent in one movement.

As he hit the ground he drew up both AK-47’s and demonstrated their precision at close range. “AMERICANS GET DOWN! AMERICANS GET DOWN!” screamed Frank in hopes they would do as they were told and decrease their chances of being accidentally hit.

Reacting to the first American voice they had heard recently, they fell to the ground. With the blindfolds on they were more attune to the command than Abdullah’s men, who even now appeared merely startled.

Frank opened up with a crisscross volley that left Abdullah and his men flying into the opposite walls like puppets smacked by sledges. The closest any came to being a threat was one on the edge who had managed to bring his gun off his back only to find himself blown away before he got a chance to use it.

Frank loaded an extra clip in his rifles and sprayed them again to make sure there were no miraculous recoveries as he fled out the air duct. He back up to the entrance to the bunker and its foot thick door as he did, banging it shut with his back and then securing the cylinder and bolt locks to give him the time he needed to gather up his rescues and flee. He saw from his watch he had already used up forty-five seconds.

He quickly cut the Presidents ropes, cut the ropes of the Chief of Staff, and handed him the knife to cut the rest. He grabbed a terrorist gun and handed it to the President. Each hostage who in turn was freed didn’t have to ask: they grabbed a gun too.

“Mr. President, Frank McKenna. I hope to get out as I came in and you, your family and staff need to go out first. I’ll be the last out. Some of my men are at the end of that tunnel and they will escort you to safety. Perhaps your assistant can provide you a step ladder.”

Frank and the President looked at the Chief of Staff who quickly knelt to form a step ladder. The President helped his wife, his children, and the his secretary to the air duct, then went out himself.

The Chief of Staff leapt up and Frank gave him a boost to get inside the hole. That was when Frank heard the explosion at the door. He leapt through the hole and scrambled and hoped he could outrun Abdullah’s men, who by now had figured out the ruse.

Frank scrambled down the ladder and looked at his watch. It hit three minutes and the timer went off. As it did, the explosives he had left behind under two of the Jihadi’s when he had first entered the bunker and timed for three minutes went off. The White House Bunker, the only way to get the President of the Free World, was now a cave in.

“Thank you, Lord! PRAISE YOU SWEET JESUS” Frank screamed, and ran to catch up with the President’s entourage.

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