COG Chapter 3

CogCoverSquare

An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video, taken by his own security agency, forces President Arman “Our Man” Manfred into seclusion, deep within the depths of the UN SuperBunker. With the world on the brink of nuclear war and his office infiltrated by a traitor, the POTUS attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

 

 

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Chapter 3

“Good morning, Mr. President.” Nurse Baum clicked on the lights illuminating the president’s sprawling master suite. The president stirred awake under the silk sheets of his California king-sized bed, the posts of which rose nearly fifteen feet above the floor. Across the room, a muted and dimmed one-hundred-inch screen was set at an angle so it could be viewed comfortably from bed. It flashed pictures of various world leaders giving speeches. A ten-foot tall oil painting of FDR, cigarette holder between his teeth, swinging a cricket mallet while riding on a galloping horse adorned one wall and a ten-foot tall painting of Ronald Reagan losing his Stetson hat clinging to the reins of a bucking bronco adorned the other. Hab was fast asleep in an overstuffed chair next to a virtual fireplace.

Nurse Baum placed a blood pressure cuff on the president’s arm and pumped it up, then listened to the stethoscope as the air hissed out. “160 over 115.”

“That’s better than it was,” he remarked as she ripped the cuff loose and stowed it in her bag.

“Here, take your pills.” She presented a plastic container resembling a tray from a tackle box. He fished out twelve pills and swallowed them, three at a time, chasing them with the remains of a glass of scotch that was sitting on his nightstand. He finished and handed her the glass. As soon as she took it, he reached behind her and squeezed her on her ass.

“Really, Mr. President?” Nurse Baum turned and scowled at him.

“Oh, don’t get all worked up, honey. I just couldn’t help myself. You really are put together.”

“That’s totally inappropriate, Mr. President.”

“Not for the president.”

Nurse Baum passed Buckminster who just entered the room as she was leaving.

“And how are we feeling today, sir?”

“Splendid. I’m ready to get back to work.”

“Good to hear that. But we’re going to ease you back in.”

“Oh, please…”

“Doctor’s orders.”

“What’s on my agenda? Where’s Tibbles?”

“Fricke’s working on it. Here’s what I know: Tibbles is topside, but we can get him to a DOD[1] bunker within four hours of notice.”

“I don’t want Tibbles hiding out in some cave in Missouri, eating cheese and sleeping on a bunk bed. I need him down in here, with me.”

“I understand that. The issue is that the PIN ID he was issued was a duplicate of someone else’s, so he can’t enter this particular facility until that matter is resolved.”

“Well, issue him another.”

“It’s not so simple, sir. This is not a U.S. government-run facility. We don’t have carte blanche. The UN is the arbiter on these matters.”

“Bullshit! We paid for the god damn thing.”

“In truth, we paid for about forty percent of it, sir. Eighty percent of that was shadow budget.”

“So send Fricke to visit those UN twats and tell them there’s been a mistake.”

“He’s working those channels. The trouble is the process is very bureaucratic. It could take weeks to sort it all out.”

“Weeks? We’ll be in a nuclear war before that. Just make Tibbles a guest worker, then.”

“We tried that. The UN won’t approve a guest worker PIN for him. He’s too high level. The Russians and the Chinese blocked it.”

“Then have secret service sneak him in.”

“That’s very difficult to do. We could bribe the guards to let him through, but his mere presence will ping the security surveillance facial recognition system. It will be a diplomatic mess the instant he enters. They would probably invoke Protocol 4.”

“Bucky, this facility holds over a million people…”

“Yes sir. It’s huge, over three hundred miles of tunnels, sir.”

“You’re telling me we can’t hide one person in this giant worm hole?”

“We could prevent his arrest, but his detection would be virtually instantaneous.”

“For Christ’s sake…” The POTUS rubbed his chin stubble. “Okay, so there’s a million people down here…”

“At capacity, sir, with an additional 250,000 guest workers.”

“So, over a million people when filled, whatever… People are gonna die down here, Bucky. It’s just a mathematical reality given that many people. People die all the time. When somebody dies, just give Tibbles their ID.”

“It would have to be an American, sir, which narrows that list to 200,000, but even when that opportunity arises, and the Russians and Chinese approve, there are waiting lists for each of the PIN numbers of the deceased. The waiting lists are over a thousand deep.”

“Bucky, you are not understanding the gravity of the situation. Tibbles is a national security priority. He’s the halfback. He has the launch code password.”

“I fully understand the gravity of the situation, Mr. President. But the waiting lists have already been worked out. Billions of dollars have been invested by these people for their bunker access priority numbers. As nuclear war approaches, they are going to demand entry. And they aren’t going to give up their PIN to Tibbles.”

“God damn it, Bucky. I need a solution to this.”

“We’re working on it, sir. I think there is another angle.”

“What is it?”

“I had the UN provide a dossier on the person who was assigned Tibble’s ID.”

“And?”

“It’s in your email.”

The president reached for his cell and brought up the message from Buckminster. He scrolled through the text and images.

“Chung Wang?”

“Yes sir.”

“He’s a Chinese national?”

“That’s correct, sir.”

“He’s just a boy.”

“He’s thirteen years old, the son of the founder of Li Chung construction of Beijing. They built the $4 billion People’s Tower in Hong Kong and laid the fiber for their social credit spying network.”

“Is that the building with the sickle and hammer footprint?”

“No, you’re thinking of the Revolution Center. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s the two hundred story building topped with a five-hundred-foot tall, gilded statue of a peasant charging towards Japan with a bayonet.”

“Oh, right.”

“The Chung family has very close ties to the party, there.”

“He’s a goofy-looking little Chinaman…” the president remarked. Bucky glanced at Hab who cringed. “This seems like a slam dunk to me. We go to the UN and tell them there’s been a mix up. We tell them that this Wang Chung kid got issued an ID by mistake.”

“The Chinese won’t surrender him, sir. But…”

“But what?”

“If you’re okay with deporting a thirteen-year old, we think we can make that happen. Although it will require rendition.”

“Don’t get soft on me, Bucky. We’re talking about the survival of the U.S. government, here. Tibbles is critical to the continuity of government. Like I said, he’s the halfback.”

“The Chinese will be very upset.”

“They’re already upset. Just do what must be done.”

[1] DOD: Department of Defense


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