From the Ashes: CATU Book 6 Ch. 20byJoeBarnosky©
The White House
BY THE TIME MIKE GRINES, DIRECTOR of CATU, entered the Oval Office, it was already a full house. Grines left two of his own agents just outside the White House doors and two more just outside the Oval office with the contingent of Secret Service agents already lining the hall.
Waiting with President McKinsey was as he already expected was the Vice President, Ulfr Hawke and FBI Director, Todd Nichols. He nods to both men as he enters but neglects to acknowledge either of the other two men present.
McKinsey stands and walks around his desk to meet him half way and as they shake hands McKinsey points to the two men and says, "I have invited Horacio Rodriquez, Director of the Secret Service and one of my aides Mr. Lazar Lapinsky here for our little meeting. I hope you don't mind."
Grines gives the President a broad smile. "No, not at all," he says sounding very convincing. In his mind, however, he knew things were only getting worse and he was regretting not bringing more agents with him. He only hopes Dupree and Stone make it back to headquarters to receive their forwarding instructions before anything gets out of hand here. "Shall we get started?"
McKinsey returns the smile. "Of course." He then gestures toward the couches where the other four men are already sitting.
"I imagine the reason I am here is because of the incident that took place in France," Grines says before either of them are fully sat on the couch.
McKinsey is about to speak when Todd Nichols steps in. "May I?" he ask looking straight at the President.
"That is just one of the reasons," Nichols says turning his attention to the CATU Director. "It's turning into quite the international incident which is going to be hard enough to deal with..."
"You mean cover up," Grines says interrupting using a straight face.
Nichols' face flashes a sign of irritation but he ignores the comment and continues. "But what we can't ignore is the fact that your agents have killed and several French officials."
"Now hold on just a damn minute," Grines says as calmly as he can. "You are not about to tell me your people haven't analyzed that video yet."
"As a matter of fact we have," Rodriquez says. "And the footage is remarkably real and unaltered. So if it has been faked or pieced together it was done remarkably well and with something technological wise that we don't have yet."
Grines is shocked. This is not what he expected to hear and as he was racking his mind for something to say Nichols continues.
"It's not just the video," he says. "We have witnesses at the both scenes plus satellite imaging."
"Witnesses?" Grines asks almost laughing. "I'm real sure that if you found some people in that crowd that actually stuck around they'd have different stories and different footage."
"We have something better," Nichols says with a smile. "We have Section 8."
At the mention of the organization Grines' eyes go wide, not with shock, but with another blow of unexpectedness. How had Section 8 stretched its reach this far?
"I'm surprised your Intel didn't turn up the fact your agents ran into Colonel Pierson," Nichols says mockingly knowing better. "Or are you losing grip of your own organization? If so then you always have the option of plausible deniability."
Grines' face instantly turns hard. "You're fucking kidding me right?"
Nichols clasps his hands in front of him and looks around to the other men in the room ending at the President. Grines follows the man's gaze to McKinsey and the room falls silent for what feels like eternity.
"It's an offer that I'm not comfortable with Mike, but you and CATU have done this country a lot of good over the years, but this incident is far too extensive to cover up," McKinsey explains. "If it were Roger Cornelius sitting right there I'd offer him the same deal."
"If it were Roger," Grines says, "we wouldn't be having this conversation."
"Perhaps not, but we have to face the facts. You've screwed up and I'm going to take the heat on this, as I should, and I will also have to clean it up."
"And what happens to my agents?"
"We hunt them down and bring them to justice unless you rather the French government do so," Nichols puts in.
The CATU director swings his heads around and glares hard at the man. "This sounds like another FBI witch hunt."
The man smiles. "It may seem that way Mike, but how long before the people expect to see justice and how long before your agents are tied to the New World Regime?"
Grines stands up and says, "I'm sorry gentlemen but this conversation is over and I'll be taking my leave."
Rodriquez and Nichols are on their feet at the same time. "Then I'm going to have to regret to say but because of a joint investigation between the FBI and the Secret Service I have to put you under arrest," Nichols says as Rodriquez pulls out a pair of handcuffs.
Grines smiles and says, "I had a feeling you were going to say that," as he pushes a button on his watch.
Two seconds later the door to the oval office bursts open and the two agents he placed there enter. Everyone in the room look toward the door expecting to see Secret Service agents enter instead they see them lying on the ground either dead or unconscious.
"Ah, we're all dead!" Lapinsky shouts as she climbs over the top of the couch.
McKinsey is on his feet rushing toward his desk while both Nichols and Rodriquez start to draw their guns. Grines defenseless prepares to make his move against the two men when suddenly the entire building rocks from an explosion.
ANGELA VERIS PRESSES A BOOTED FOOT on the female CATU agent's chest forcing her to cough blood up violently. Armed men dressed in tactical gear employed by the Sanguine Consortium rush past her into the White House. She looks over to Delgrious as he approaches, "It looks like we may have a little more of a challenge here than we expected."
He straightens his tie. "Not a problem we should be worried about."
"Who says I'm worried?" she asks turning back to the agent. She points her pistol at the agent and unloads three shots into her head, licking her lips as a smile crosses her face.
"If only all humans were like you we'd already have this world taken," Delgrious says leaving the human behind.
Angela shrugs and quickly runs to catch up. The two walk at a steady pace through the hallways passing bloody corpses, trashed furniture and spent ammunition without incident and listening to the chatter of the various teams over their headsets. The Sanguine Consortium's tactical team has been successful in clearing halls and so far Delgrious and Angela have only seen a handful of their own scattered here and there.
By the time they reach the hall leading to the oval office a five man team is in a firefight with small group of Secret Service agents. The walls are littered with bullet holes and smoke from a small fire that erupted before being extinguished and a large number of dead agents.
"What is the problem Commander?" Delgrious asks as he and Angela round the corner.
The squad leader drops back from the firefight to be heard over the gunfire. "Last stand before we can get to the President!"
"That's not what I asked," the demon says calmly, but the suggested anger shown behind his eyes.
The man visibly shudders and that brings a smile to Angela's face. "We've taken out several of them but they were able to settle in and now we're at a standstill and unless we can get around or another team can, we're not getting through."
"Where ever there exit is, none of the teams are going to be able to get there," Angela remarks as she scans over the blueprints of the White House on her PDA.
Delgrious just smiles and within seconds his clothes shred as he changes from his human form and into his real form. With Aurelia the world doesn't withstand a chance. He holds out his clawed hand. Rísa feigr sál eða þjóna ykkarr allvaldr.
Suddenly and to the dismay of each side, the fallen dead begin to rise up off the carpeted floor. The Secret Service agents momentarily cease firing as they are in sudden disbelief as to what is happening. Then the silence is broken once again by gunfire as the newly walking dead turn toward the agents with ferocity. In just a matter of seconds the remaining Secret Service agents are overrun.
The Greater Demon turns toward the commander. Now Commander, that wasn't too hard. You may proceed, but do keep the President alive, I do believe Miss Veris here would enjoy killing him herself.
The squad leader gives his acknowledgement and the team heads down the hall. Angela, heavily jubilant says, "You honor me Delgrious."
He gives her a grin that gives him a most evil appearance. The only thing that gives me greater pleasure than killing a human is watching one kill another and taking pleasure while doing it.
"Then I won't disappoint," she says.
The two turn toward the end of the hall just in time to see the door to the Oval Office blow open and the headless body of the commander of the five man squad being sent out into the hall.
"What the fuck?" Angela manages to say before Delgrious disappears.
FIVE MINUTES BEFORE...
Nichols has his pistol out faster than Grines expected him to and quickly chose to dive over the side of the sofa just as the FBI Director began unleashing a torrent of bullets at him. The bullets tear into the fabric shredding the material. Rodriquez is about to object but is forced to turn his attention to the two CATU agents barging into the room. "Get the presidents under cover, damn it!" he yells as he charges the two men.
"That won't be necessary," Vice President Hawke says pulling a pistol from his jacket.
"Ulfr, what are you doing?" McKinsey asks.
Hawke ignores the man and Lapinsky quickly rushes to the President's side. "You'd be best sir to just have a seat at your desk." McKinsey begins to protest, but Lapinsky forcefully grabs him and pushes him toward his desk shoving him into his chair. "I said it is best to sit the fuck down sir!"
Hawke levels the pistol with Rodriquez's head and fires. The bullet hits the back of his head slamming him forward unexpectedly. The unexpectedness flashes on the faces of the two CATU agents as well and as they adjust to the new threat, Hawke is already firing two more shots ending the lives of the two agents.
"Come out, come out Grines," Nichols taunts. "I promise not to shoot you right away."
Hawke turns around to regard the FBI Director. "Quite playing with him, the Sanguine will have the building secure within a matter of minutes."
"Yes sir," Nichols replies with a slight huff. He crosses over to the edge of the couch and as he reaches down for Grines, the CATU Director comes up with an attack of his own, but Nichols proves to be the faster of the two men.
He catches Grines' arm at the elbow easily blocking the punch meant for his face and brings his other hand down with the butt of his pistol down across his temple, sending Grines straight to the floor.
"Pick him up," Hawke orders Nichols as he walks past toward the President.
Nichols does as commanded and deposits a now groggy Grines into one of the two chairs placed in front of McKinsey's desk.
"What is the meaning of this?" McKinsey demands looking from back and forth between the FBI Director and the Vice President, not really certain which one is more of a threat at the moment.
"It's really quite simple," Hawke says. "I'm taking over the Presidency and in order to do that, the President of the United States has to be assassinated just like all the other attacks around the world."
"This is lunacy," McKinsey rants and as he tries to stand Lapinsky is there to forcibly shove him back down into his chair.
"No it is brilliance," Hawke continues. "The New World Regime will be blamed and CATU will be tried to them. All the evidence will be provided by Director Nichols here and the head of CATU will be brought to justice to answer for his crimes."
"Fat chance of that happening," Grines mumbles. "I've got agents on their way here and they know all about your little ploy."
Hawke turns to face him. "Ah yes, you mean your two little agents arriving this morning. I thought of setting them up to go to their death in a blaze but I've got other ideas for them." He looks over to Nichols sending him a questioning look.
Nichols already figuring what the question is doesn't hesitate with answering. "They will be picked up the moment they land and taken to the facility."
"Just who the fuck are you?" Grines asks as his mind begins to clear and he tries to by time to make a plan.
The answer comes in the form of breaking glass as the window behind the President is bashed open. A sword followed by a cloaked figure slips through driving the weapon into Lapinsky pinning him to McKinsey's desk. Lapinsky lets out a gasp as blood spurts from his mouth then he immediately slumps forward dead.
"A demon is who the fuck he is," the voice of a woman filters out from beneath the hood. "Oh, I'm sorry did I kill someone you needed?"
McKinsey whips his head around and his eyes widen. "It's you," he nearly stammers.
"I told you I would be back, but this time it's to save your ass," the woman says. She whips off the cloak revealing a slender woman. Her clothing is simple in design; flexible carborundum body armor covers a skin tight Kevlar bodysuit with a free flowing waist cape. The suit covers most of her body except for her head, shoulders and thighs more for design purposes than protective.
Grines laughs loudly. "Now isn't this some shit. Here we were trying to kill each other that all that long ago and here you are coming to save our asses."
"Everything comes full circle," the assassin says.
"And those circles aren't always infinite," the demon disguised as Vice President Hawke says. "Kill the bitch," he directs Nichols.
"With pleasure." Nichols raises his pistol and just as he is about to fire gunfire erupts in the hall outside distracting him momentarily. Grines uses the brief second's distraction and suddenly leaps up from the chair to tackle him.
Alexandra moves a split second after Grines bringing Muramasa shoulder level to strike out at Hawke as he moves to aid Director Nichols. The sword plunges into the Asura's shoulder bringing around his attention and a low, deep growl. He swings his body around, wrenching the sword from a surprised Alexandra's hands and slams his left fist into her stomach swinging her around, sending her into the far couch. Her body slams into the sofa cushions with so much force it forces the couch to collapse in on itself and her as her body passes through it.
Grines has Nichols' by the wrist holding his pistol off to the side while driving his fist into the FBI director's face repeatedly. "I knew there was a reason not to like you, you son of a bitch!" he yells.
Nichols grins between blows, showing a mouthful of bloody teeth. Then his hand shoots up to wrap around Grines' throat. The grip intensifies almost instantly cutting off Grines' air supply. The punches stop right away as Nichols lifts the man up into the air. Grines' eyes go wide as Nichols' hand and forearm changes from human to a grimy and scaly demonic one.
Hawke watches the spectacle and smiles before turning toward the assassin. He stands over her looking down at her grinning with his black blood steadily dripping from his arm onto the ground.
"Tsk, tsk," he says. "You should plan these things just a little better little human."
Alexandra's eyes spring open and she grins. "Oh I do just that." She rolls up from her back and dives between his legs. As she comes out the other side she kicks out catching the backs of his knees, knocking them out and dropping him to the ground. In an instant she is one her feet with her hands on the hilt of Muramasa. "That full circle thing is a bitch," she says as she slices downward severing through the bottom portion of Hawke's shoulder.
The demon howls and attempts to turn with a strike, but catches a booted foot in the face instead which sends him to the ground. Alexandra delivers a finishing strike just as the door to the oval office is slammed open and a group of animated corpses comes stumbling in.
"What the hell?" she mumbles to herself. She looks back toward the back of the office to see Grines grabbing the President by the arm urging him to move. Nichols is lying near the desk dead. "We need to get out of here!" she yells.
Both men look up at her and Grines says, "You think?"
Alexandra grunts and turns away. "Fucking men." Then she rushes the new group of attackers. Into the fray she goes with Muramasa leading the way in a violent fury leaving a path of severed limbs and body parts until only one corpse is left standing in front of the door. With one final swipe she sends it head flying from its body then a heel kick to its chest sends it back out the door and into the hallway. Once again she looks back to the two men. "Are you coming or what?"
"Tenacious," Grines mutters.
"Which is why I'm glad she's on our side this time," McKinsey fires back.
Grines' face hardens and the two men hustle to the door. Alexandra rushes them through. "We'll use the underground tunnels for our escape," she instructs them as they pass through the doorway. As she is about to follow a hand reaches out and grabs her wrenching her back.
The attack doesn't go unnoticed. Grines spins around ready to shoot using the pistol he acquired from Nichols, but Alexandra tells him to just go, she'll handle it.
Her attacker tosses her across the room and into the President's oak desk where her body shatters the wood. Any normal human being would be broken after such an attack, but the assassin now being a Vajra could brush it off.
She picks herself up and gathers up Muramasa just as Delgrious rushes her. His mass overshadows her, but being smaller and more agile gives her the upper hand and she easily avoids his clawed attack, countering with her own severing his hand at the wrist.
"Foolish bastard," she mocks. "I am far stronger than you and you dare fuck with me?"
Wordless, Delgrious balls up a fist with his remaining hand and swings it around with a back fist that the assassin easily ducks and turns into another strike, this time at his leg just below the knee, dropping him. He lands catching himself with his hand and looks up at the assassin with a snarl. Muramasa pricks his throat and draws a line of black blood, but she holds back, straight faced. "How does it feel?" she asks.
Delgrious opens his mouth to retaliate and Alexandra drives Muramasa into his throat and slashes ripping it open wide, spilling his black blood out in a massive flood. She turns without another word and exits the room.
PRESIDENT MCKINSEY BEING THE ONLY ONE knowing where the tunnels in the White House are at leads Grines to them. Unbeknownst to either man, however, Detective Angela Veris maintains a close presence behind them.
"Out of curiosity," Grines says between breaths. "Just where does this tunnel lead?"
McKinsey smiles to himself. "It goes north straight under Lafayette Park directly to Clark Mills' equestrian statue of President Andrew Jackson that was erected in 1853."
"Isn't that base made of solid stone?" Grines asks in disbelief.
"For the most part," the President replies. "The western face is actually less solid than the rest and serves as a door that can be opened the inside."
"That's convenient," Grines mocks.
McKinsey looks over his shoulder. "Tell me about it."
They travel along the semi-darkened corridor several more hundred feet until a brighter light begins to filter through at the end of the tunnel. Grines suddenly rushes up to the President to place a hand on his shoulder and shove him toward the wall. "I take it that that isn't supposed to be lit up like that," he says pointing toward the end of the tunnel.