ONE
Washington DC, November 24, Assassins  

 

“I was born for a storm; calm does not suit me.”
—Andrew ‘Stonewall’ Jackson 

 

A crack of lightning shattered the air and forked its way across the sky. Brilliant blue and white plasma flashed through the thick bulletproof glass and into the office behind it. The morning sun broke through gaps in gray and black thunderheads that billowed high on the eastern horizon while silence moved a chill wind that blew frosted fall leaves across the White House lawn in a dazzle of colors.  

Griffin Dunn sat quiet at his imposing black walnut desk. The sweet aroma of his cigar and scent of new leather upholstery charged his office with a warm, yet business like atmosphere.  

A troubled look stressed Mr. Dunn’s eyes as he leaned back in his overstuffed leather chair. He looked out his top floor window at transient protesters in a public park the other side of the White House grounds. Other than the Secret Service, the only thing separating their misplaced rebellion from the reality of global politics gone wrong was the steel perimeter fence.  

Dunn’s distraction with them ended with a sharp rap on his door. He lowered his binoculars, turned his gaze from the window and took a puff of his cigar. Davis MacLand entered his office, shut the tall double doors behind him louder than necessary and walked straight toward the desk. “Good Morning, Mr. Secretary.”    

Griffin Dunn swiveled his chair back to the window and lifted the binoculars to his eyes. “Can’t you call before just dropping in like this? No one else has any difficulty with that.” He turned around; Heather had opened the door quietly and looked at Dunn with an apologetic expression. “And what did you do, blow right past Heather? What the hell’s your problem?”
     Davis MacLand, Director of National Intelligence now serves as intelligence advisor to the new President. MacLand didn’t answer and walked in a stiff stride to the credenza at the side of Dunn’s desk. He turned over two cut crystal tumblers and filled them with brandy from a decanter.
     MacLand took a chair in front of the seven-foot wide, forty-inch deep black walnut desk when another lightning bolt streaked across the sky and hit a towering Oak tree with enough violence to shake the building. Griffin Dunn almost dropped his binoculars. MacLand bolted out of his chair, spilled his brandy and went to the window. Both assessed what had happened and surveyed the damage.
     Several anarchists looked dead, lying at the base of the tree where they had loitered, smoked dope and harassed traffic. It blew that tree all to hell. Pieces of it exploded through the air, fell back toward the ground with its dry fall leaves and branches in flames, and caught nearby trees on fire. The frantic agitators, not so tough any longer, fled in every direction, stumbled, and fell over each other.    

Dunn watched for a minute, soon shrugged it off as no consequence and swiveled back around. “Serves those damned Commi bastards right. What is it Davis?”
     MacLand picked up his glass, refilled it and took his chair. “You had better brace yourself for this, Mr. Secretary.”
     Dunn looked at the decanter of brandy and full glass sitting on his desk. “Brandy at seven in the morning? The pressure getting to you, MacLand?”
     Davis MacLand took a healthy drink, forced his nerves to calm and looked into Griffin Dunn’s cold and penetrating gray blue eyes framed with a cropped buzz cut of silver hair. “Bill Konouski delivered an `Eyes Only’ memorandum to my office an hour ago. It’s from Jack Rollins.”
     “Yeah? What’s up?”
     MacLand took another drink, leaned back in his chair and looked at the names printed on the cover of the memorandum. “Mr. Secretary…” MacLand paused, let out a faint whistle. “We have Helmit Zellick, National Reconnaissance Office—” He paused again and took another slug of his brandy.
     Griffin Dunn, now impatient stared across his desk. “MacLand, get to the damned point and tell me what the hell you’re doing here!”
     MacLand leaned forward and dropped the memorandum on the desk with a dull thud. “The point, sir, we received valid Intel that a cabal of South American mercenaries, or what the hell ever, have targeted several key administration people for assassination. What I am talking about is an overthrow attempt of our restructured United States of America.”    

Dunn set the binoculars on the black walnut windowsill, swiveled his chair and looked hard into Davis MacLand’s eyes. “You had better be straight on this because I am not in the mood for any bullshit; not with scum across the street wrecking a beautiful, invigorating morning. I love weather like this, love it. The unstoppable power is, well—” He refocused on the fleeing demonstrators. “We should lock down that damned park so those communist punks make a nuisance of themselves somewhere out of my sight. It is sedition, treason; we ought to just shoot the fucks.”
     “This is serious, Mr. Secretary, I need your full attention.” MacLand nudged the memorandum folder across the polished desktop toward Griffin Dunn and opened it to section B-1. “Like I said, I got this from Jack Rollins not thirty minutes ago. Read it yourself.”    

Dunn sat still for a moment, measured MacLand’s deadpan face, took a slug of his brandy and glanced through the folder. The first page in the memorandum targeted Helmit Zellick. Griffin took a thoughtful puff on his cigar and let the smoke out in a slow stream as he read the sheet. “Zellick is NRO. What does this have to do with us? They have their own people.”    

“Turn to section A-1.”    

Griffin Dunn pushed his brandy aside and leafed through the memorandum. Section A-1 listed US President Alastair Scott, Griffin Dunn, Davis MacLand, Jack Rollins, Helmit Zellick and several political and military leaders for assassination. Section A-2 sketched reports of sizable troop and air movement in the Tri-Border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The National Reconnaissance Office, NRO satellite imagery had photographed convoys of trucks and cargo planes hopping to airfields in northern Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua and into central Mexico.    

The report concluded with an estimated movement of 10,000 troops, attendant trucks, aircraft and supplies with over 2,000 still staging in the Tri-Border area.   

Griffin Dunn closed the memorandum, swiveled his chair and just sat there. Davis MacLand just sat there. Neither said anything. They both stared at burning trees and flames still sending smoke and debris into the sky.  

 

>> continues…