By the time the sun came up over New York the situation had changed dramatically. Dick Chandler, the Homeland security agent in charge of the city, surveyed the paperwork coming across his desk with dismay. In less than an hour, both the Palestinian and Israeli leaders would be on a flight to Washington DC and the cancellation of their speech at the UN would officially be announced.
The reason for the change of venue from the General Assembly Building to the White House would be blamed on conflicts in the various leader’s schedules but already the news people were casting their own theories on the matter. How they got their information Chandler didn’t know but every major media outlet seemed aware of the fact that the foreign leaders were vacating the city. Whatever the reasons were they were saying it had all been sudden and drastic. Thankfully for now they were citing the bomb that had detonated on the FDR as the major reason of concern. He feared what would happen if the truth came out.
Late last night Chandler had been woken by a phone call from the agents that were stationed aboard the Chinese freighter out in the harbor. A boat from the security firm commissioned with monitoring the docks had discovered something curious under the ship. Now, in light of this new evidence it seemed that the bomb on the FDR hadn’t been the end of their worries.
Shortly after that he’d received notification that Fane, the overly cautious head of security for the Israeli Prime Minister had uncovered some sort of infiltration in the sewers running beneath the UN. What’s more, they had captured one of the trespassers during some kind of a shoot out and had transferred him to the city police for medical treatment. This had all happened before members of Chandler’s own staff had time to intercept the man so news of the incident was already hitting the airwaves.
It was still too early for the reporters to fully comprehend what was happening but it was an embarrassment all the same. There were too many civilians involved in this to keep it secret for long and, when word got out that there was potentially a nuclear bomb loose somewhere in the catacombs beneath New York, the city would turn into a madhouse. Chandler needed to get before them and do damage control but first he had to find out how the investigation behind what went wrong at the UN was going.
Picking up the phone he punched in the number for the man leading the search, Jack Washington and waited three rings before hearing an answer. “Washington.” The man on the other end said dryly.
“Jack.” Chandler said clearing his throat. “How’s it going?”
“Oh it’s going.” Washington answered giving off a weary matter of fact tone in his reply. “We’ve got this guy pumped so full of drugs and painkillers he’s telling us everything.”
Washington was at the medical facility where the captured terrorist had been taken. The agency had quarantined the man there once they had been made aware of his transfer. He was isolated off in a vacant wing of the building while they conducted their interviews. No one had been allowed to see him since he’d been taken out of surgery except for a few select doctors and nurses as well as Chandler’s own staff.
“So you think it’s real.” The director said wiping his face with his hand. He was a slight man, balding with a thick bushy mustache and a pug nose. Sitting at his desk wearing a tie and suspenders he looked every bit the part of a lifetime beaurocrat which, in fact he was.
Campbell had come up through the lower level ranks of the military using family and political connections more than merit and achievement to ascend to his current position. It was beyond his capacity for dealing with a situation of this magnitude and he knew it. He paused hoping for Washington to give him some direction in the matter.
“I think we should send some guns and Geiger counters as deep into the sewer as we need to go in order to find this threat.” Washing said at last. “Not that I would assume to tell you how to do your job.” He added deprecatingly at the end.
Chandler looked at a notepad he’d been scribbling on all day. “Don’t we have men down there right now?” He said tapping a section of writing where he’d noted the presence of troops beneath the city. “I thought you told me that you had team investigating the ambush that occurred last night. Aren’t they trying to track down the people responsible?”
Washington sighed. “We’ve got a few forces down there but most of our men are busy securing all points of exit along the network. Keep in mind that we hadn’t assembled all the intelligence we have now when those contingents were dispatched. None of them know anything about locating or disarming a nuke nor do they have the equipment to do that task.”
“Well,” Chandler said nervously. “can we even do that?”
“If someone can locate where a bomb was stashed beneath a ship that our men were standing upon while they did it then we damned well should be able to tell the American people that we’re working to sniff out one that’s going to blow up this entire city in a few hours.” Washington shot back angrily. “I don’t see where we have a choice.”
“I don’t want to tell the American people anything about this.” Chandler snapped matching Washington’s tone. “I don’t want any of this getting out if we can help it by God!”
“Shit man!” Washington exclaimed. “I’m surprised everyone doesn’t already know by now. The foreigners got the New York Police involved in what went down at the UN and we dropped the ball on those two civilians at the docks. One of them was allowed to call his family and tell them he would be detained before our men realized what they were dealing with and put a lid on any personal communications from the two of them. You’re going to get the heat put on you, there’s too many people involved in this sloppy mess now to avoid that.”
Chandler reached up to scratch an imaginary itch on his head. “Well, do you have any ideas?”
Washington laughed bitterly. “Yeah, I’ve got ideas. I’ve even had some of the analyst pull paperwork on people that could help us.”
“Did you find anyone?” The director asked.
“Oh I found plenty.” The agent quipped. “This government’s got loads of people trained at identifying and dealing with nukes but most of them are either in Washington working a desk or overseas trying to keep them out of the hands of the bad guys.”
Chandler gave a humorless chuckle at that last part. “Well, we’ve got bad guys with nukes now, so who can help us?”
“Turns out there’s one right here in this hospital.” Washington said with some amusement. “He got into trouble with the NYPD for slamming his car into Steve Trapper’s office.”
“That Steve Trapper?” Chandler responded incredulously.
The director’s surprise wasn’t based on the wealthy insurance agent’s local celebrity from his obnoxious television and radio commercials but rather from the fact that Trapper’s ID had been used to reserve the hotel and rented van of the man who’d blown himself up on the FDR expressway the prior evening. His men had pulled Trapper out of his Connecticut mansion during the middle of the night and had been interrogating him ever since. Chandler had received word only an hour or so ago that they’d deduced that the man didn’t know anything and it’d been nothing more than a simple case of identity theft. The insurance agent was due to be released at any moment now.
“I know.” Washington said with a somewhat sinister kind of pleasure. “Mr. Trapper had himself a bad day yesterday.”
“Who’s the guy?” Chandler asked curious.
“Name’s Tom Dancer.” The agent answered a more formal tone creeping back into his voice. “He’s a real badass. Served in the Gulf and Afghanistan before being dishonorably discharged. Did a stint at the Pentagon before learning everything there was to know about most of the nuclear bomb assemblies that exist in the world.”
Chandler hesitated. “Can we trust him?”
“Oh yeah.” Washington cooed. “He’s a total head-case so if he fucks up you can blame it all on him.”