Lim would take the luxury of his full three and a half minutes, he decided, because even a temporary escape was worth taking advantage of. He knew what his decision would be. There was no decision to be made at all. But he sensed he would never be the same Ronald Lim once his hand, the hand that had shaken countless other hands as he had advanced his Presidential campaign on the platform of world peace and international service, depressed that button.
"Phone call, sir." The page was meek and breathless and no sooner had Lim offered a weak nod than the page had retreated back to the hall. A red light flashed on the desk phone.
Only two minutes left. Lim composed himself and lifted the receiver. "Oval Office."
A strange metallic voice greeted him. "We are your allies. The attack must be stopped." Lim suspected the connection was faulty, as he didn't recognize the voice.
"I'm so sorry, but there's some kind of trouble with the line," Lim blustered, knowing he didn't have time for these formalities. "Who—"
"Accept our alliance," interrupted the voice.
"But I don't know—"
"Accept our alliance and the attack will be stopped."
"We do not need your help in deflecting this attack," Lim replied petulantly. "Who is this? And what are the terms of your—"
"The attack will be stopped and so will the war. You must accept our alliance."
Lim grew angry. "I do not have time for cryptic games," he spat.
"You do not. Forty seconds," the voice replied coolly, "to accept our alliance."