The Everpresent Threat

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Maryland, My Maryland

Frank McKenna never trusted cities, not even little ones like Cumberland, Maryland.

He could take out any kind of animal in the woods with whatever kind of gun he had available at the time, but in the city you were never sure what was on the other end of a noise. And it was a loud noise that was bothering him now.

He could hear several outside his door making an awfully lot of noise. When he peaked through the curtain he saw that they were armed.

“Christ! Like I need this kind of shit right now!” he thought to himself as he reached for his .45 and nineteen inch Pathmaker Bush Blade.

“Are you sure that’s his truck? Examine the license once more and computer match it. I want to be sure.” He heard in the darkness.

His truck was outside there just behind these men. If he could bet to his truck he could probably escape. He climbed out the bathroom window, over the back landing, up onto the roof via a drainpipe, and crawled down the roof.

As it was dark, he leaped just before the truck rather than onto the truck as he would have preferred. He noticed the guy with the automatic directly in front of his Deezel Weezel.

He put the cold steel of his .45 against the guys back head. “Move, fucker, and your brains will be scrambled all over my truck. Tell your buddies to back off or you die first and they die after you.”

“Sgt. McKenna, this is Lieutenant Colonel Matt Gillen. Please put that gun back before it causes any harm. We’re here on special orders to intercept you before you reach your unit as was the original plan.”

“How do I know who you really are, Gillen?” McKenna continued to back into his truck.

“Frank, it’s me, Todd William’s. The Colonel has your orders. We’ve heard them on the way but you need to be briefed.”

“Christ, Colonel, did you ever hear of a phone?” he said as he released the agent he had seized. “You could have gotten some of us killed here, including me.”

“We thought of that, Sir. But everything is so compromised right now we can’t be sure that any line is secure. Seems the Jihadi’s who pulled this off have had help from some of our own people. The damage they’ve inflicted already has to be seen to be believed.”

“I don’t watch TV but I saw a bit of it on the news.” responded McKenna.

“Well...then you know of what I speak. What you have been chosen for is for a special operation to free the President. For obvious reasons, we believe if we can take back the White House we can begin to take back the rest. I won’t blow smoke up your ass by telling you it’s an honor to free the President. You know the odds. You’re likely to get killed and you know what they do to whomever they capture.”

“Let’s have the details.” Frank snapped.

“We have a plan that we think has a chance. And you will be critical in ensuring that certain aspects succeed. Besides all your skills, it turns out your father used to drive a trolley in the city. Is that correct?”

“Years ago, yeah.”

“We believe your father is familiar with a branch of that line that went under the White House. We ran a few lines on the computer reviewing your background check and this fact emerged."

"According to some architectural plans we maintain in the files, these old trolley lines were sealed off but because it was too expensive to back fill them when these lines were closed down the tunnels still exist. We plan to use those tunnels to penetrate the White House without having to attack above ground because we believe that it will lead you directly to where the President is being held.”

“We plan to insert you at DuPont Circle where you and your men will take the new underground mall to an opening we have identified that is half a mile from what we have identified as the point of entry to the bunker where we believe the president is being held.”

“Then again, we could be off. We’re hoping your father’s memory will provide the missing details on the location of the tunnel. He may know of points of insertion that do not show on the master plan. Because so much security has been compromised, you are only to share this information with your father, me, and these men from your unit. Understood.”

“Understood.”

“You also understand that any number of special ops units have volunteered for this mission. Our main problem is that any one of them would succeed but the president and those around him would be killed before we can reach them. We think they will hold them all hostage as long as they believe they have a chance of escaping with them as bargaining chips.”

“What we propose to do is to get you into the very bunker where he is being held with, if possible, no fatalities on our side. I know how difficult that will be, but we are hoping the strategic advantage of the trolley tunnel will overcome any initial strategic advantages they have gained with their initial success.”

“You know the chances of buying the farm on this one. We want this mission to be voluntary because that will clear my conscious if nothing else. There’s no disgrace in refusing this mission and we can certainly use you in plenty of other actions if you decide not to take this one”

Frank looked at the ground and then up at the thousands of stars that carpeted the sky. He thought of all his years sharpshooting, how even as a child when hunting with his father he could both see and cut down a rabbit with a .22 at ranges others considered impossible. Of his years of training for just such a mission. Of his wife, his children, and the orchard.

“Let’s do it.” Frank looked the Colonel square in the eye. The Colonel felt a chill in his spine with the intensity of the stare Frank gave that bore through him and into his very being. He had seen such a stare in a few men in Vietnam, and he knew by it that he had made the right choice.

Frank began to move to his room to pack. “Follow my truck back to the orchard. I now the roads and I know the people to trust.”

“Right, Sgt. McKenna. Thank you for taking on this mission. I have an order from the Vice President who is the acting President until the President is freed. I’m glad I didn’t have to use it.”

The Colonel looked at Frank McKenna’s men. They were good men, mountain born and raised in the ancient Alleghenies who had hardscrabble lives that taught them how to survive against terrible odds from birth.

They were self-motivated, self-driven, and knew from life experience how to overcome terrible odds just to survive. They were exactly the kind of men this mission required, and the Colonel felt good for the first time since the initial assault had occurred.

He knew these men could get the job done and not die trying, smart enough to live to fight another day. They were no Hollywood fake version of a hero. They were the real deal. He also knew that projections were that only a handful would survive.

Frank McKenna’s reputation was one of the primary reasons this unit was chosen, but there was also the belief far up the chain that he was the right person based on his work in Southeast Asia going in and out on MIA identification missions.

Once he had left a two star general who happened to smoke on the border between Thailand and Cambodia as he had proceeded to Laos for a two week mission and then left him behind because a good sniper see a cigarette from three thousand meters out and smell it from two thousand yards.

Although the Lieutenant Colonel had threatened to have him stripped of rank and thrown in Leavenworth, he was over ruled by a four star that called Frank and apologized for the Lieutenant Colonel’s behavior. That four star, General Gavin, was now receiving the news that Sgt. Frank McKenna had accepted the mission.

With that news, he bit off the end of a cigar, lit it up, pointed to the government sign that forbad the any smoking in this area, and said, “Reckon we’re gonna break a whole lotta rules in the next few days. And I’m glad we have the people in place who know how to break ’em right. God, I love this outfit.”

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