Ren fidgeted nervously as she sat outside the Oval Office. She felt uncomfortable in her collared shirt and dress pants. While her aunt had insisted upon the semi-formal attire, she had scored a small victory with fitted dress pants and black boots.
“You’re going to pull the buttons off your sleeves if you keep pulling at them,” Kathy said.
“You’re not coming in there with me,” she replied. “I don’t want you in there when we talk about it.”
“What?” Kathy asked. “I am your legal guardian. I’m coming in there with you.”
“We’ll wait out here for you, Ren,” her uncle said gently, pulling his wife toward him. “You’re almost an adult now, and if you don’t want us in there, then we’ll wait out here.”
Kathy shot her husband a dark glance, which he ignored. Ren smiled at her uncle gratefully.
“You ready?” Venitia asked as she walked into view. According to Trey, she hadn’t slept at all the previous night, but still looked just as flawless. Ren made a mental note to ask her what her secret was.
Ren nodded and stood. “So is it just the president and his cabinet?” she asked.
“The prime minister of England, president of France, and a few others are here as well. They all flew in last night. You and Trey are the first from Birdsong that agreed to speak with them. They’re all excited, and not sure what to expect. People like you, whose organization has been disbanded and haven’t answered to any government in over a decade, are unprecedented. No one’s sure how to handle the two of you.”
“Then maybe they’ll be more likely to listen to us,” Trey said, walking up behind his sister. “You look nice, Ren,” he commented, observing her appearance.
“You, too,” she replied as she twirled her hair around her hand. Out of anxiety, she’d re-dyed parts of it the night before, so now her natural red faded into a dark purple, which faded into a white close to her waist.
The door opened and a secret service agent stepped out. “Mr. Mitchell, Miss Trivitt, they’re ready for you now.”
Trey nodded and followed Ren through the door. Venitia stayed outside. The inside of the office was filled with dignitaries from multiple countries. Each eye swiveled and stared at Ren and Trey as the door closed behind them.
The president stood from behind his desk and gestured toward a set of chairs in front of the room. “Please, have a seat. We’re very glad you decided to come speak with us.”
Ren smiled and grabbed Trey’s hand as he led her to her seat.
Whispers rose behind them.
Ren turned and faced the other men and women. “Yes,” she said evenly. “My eyesight is different from yours. I am completely blind in this bright light. If the lights were out, I would be able to see you as well as you now see me. Is there anything else you’d like to know before we get started?”
A man toward the back raised his hand.
“Have you ever thought about getting a pair of glasses like in the ‘Chronicles of Riddik?’” he asked with a slight southern accent.
Ren smiled. “I’d never thought about that before. I’ll have to look into it.”
Light laughter broke out in the crowd and Ren sat down. Trey gave her a reassuring smile.
“So I assume you’ve seen the footage, correct?” the American president asked.
“We have,” Trey replied, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair.
“And what is your opinion?” he asked.
“This isn’t an idle threat,” Ren began. “He means every word he says. I don’t suggest that you invade Korea, it didn’t turn out so well the first time,” she said with a wry smile. “We’d do better to prepare here and wait for them to attack us.”
“You would be like sitting ducks that way,” said the British prime minister. “It would be better to attack now. Surround the Koreans in a bloody blockade and start from there.”
“That’s not a good idea,” Trey counseled, propping one foot on the edge of the president’s desk.
“And we should listen to you children?” asked the French president.
“These ‘children’ have had training that even your most elite forces have not. Even the KGB and every other spy or police organization in the world can’t match them,” the American president said. “They have skills that are unrivaled.”
“I’ll believe that when I see it,” the Frenchman grumbled. His impending speech was cut short by a small knife suddenly sticking out of the wall next to his eye.
All secret service agents took one step forward and placed a hand on their guns.
Ren stood slowly and turned toward the French president. “Monssuire Mouyet, I can assure you, that this ‘child’ is capable of things that you can’t even imagine. The knife that is now a few centimeters from your eye? It’s made out of bulletproof glass. Not the strongest weapon there is, but very lethal, and impossible to detect on someone until it’s too late. I had that concealed in my bracelet the entire time,” she said with a smile as she waved her wrist and thick leather cuff in the air. “Not only did I get it past all security, I also aimed it directly to the left of your head, and there it rests in the wall. If I, a mere child, can do that in the midst of some of the most powerful men and women in the entire world, then what can a militaristic dictator of an enemy nation do?”
Silence ruled in the room.
“Are there any other questions, doubts about what we can do?” she asked, glancing at each dignitary in turn.
“Then I suggest that we all put aside our egos and begin to try and find a plan and solution, and if the people from Birdsong are to be called back, then how to find and convince the rest of them,” she finished.
The American president cleared his throat and began speaking again.
“Nice throw,” Trey whispered, patting Ren on the knee.
She smiled as the French president stared at her. “What do you mean? I missed.”
Trey raised an eyebrow.
“I wanted to shave off part of his hair, really scare him.”
He grinned and shook his head.