The Missile Strategy | Chapter 18
“Whatever is there is exactly in the center of Washington DC. That water pipeline probably services The White House, The Pentagon, possibly the Navy Yard, and look at that, The Ronald Regan Washington National Airport too,” Landon pointed out. He looked back to the laptop with the controls and read outs on the screen. “Do you think that is for controlling water flow?”
Caleb leaned in to study the display, reading off the dial and gauges. “This doesn’t look good. We have Drill speed and depth, Injector speed and depth, Payload capacity and temperature, Connection strength is strong, and…” Caleb paused. “Self-Destruct is ready and on standby.”
Everyone looked around at each other, then back to the screen.
“What is this?” Gwen asked aloud.
“I think we should get over there and check it out,” Landon said. He stood up straight and took a deep breath, ready to start commanding. Gwen stepped right in front of him.
“Can I talk to you for a second?” she insisted. They took a few steps away from the others. “Do you really want to go out there? This could be another trap. Literally the exact set up as New York is taking place right now.”
“I know. I don’t like it either. But the way I see it, this is our best lead. And I think we will can get an edge this time if we anticipate the trap and counter attack,” Landon replied.
“He has the controls to whatever is out there right here,” Gwen pointed to the laptop. “We don’t even need to go out there and take the risk. Let’s stay here, switch things up, throw them off. I’m tired of following their bread crumbs.”
“Well, that’s actually another reason why I want to get out there and get my hands on this thing. If anyone here is a double agent, they can easily take control from right here. I don’t want the next terrorist attack to launch from within the CIA.”
“Terrorist attack?” Gwen raised an eyebrow. “It’s crossed my mind a few times, but do you really think that’s what’s going on here?”
“That,” Landon pointed at the controls displayed on the laptop, “That right there is a weapon. Drill, Injector, Payload, all on a water supply line? That screams mass attack on civilians to me.”
“Ok, so what’s our objective then? Go out there and see if Caleb is telling the truth?”
“Go out there and disable whatever that is. If Tate and his friends want it, I want it destroyed.” Landon leaned in closer to Gwen. “This is our leg up, this is how we get the upper hand.”
Gwen nodded hesitantly. “I’m ready to have the upper hand for once.”
Landon strode back to the others. “Caleb, you stay here and keep us posted on the status of that laptop. Troy, do you feel up to running out there with us?”
Troy felt his bandaged head, assessing his personal ability. “I will stay here an help Caleb,” he replied.
“Okay, let’s go.” Landon and Gwen strode out of the tech labs and made their way to the front doors. Blocking the main entrance was Assistant Director McLane. Moonlight fell through the tall glass doors and outlined his cunning and commanding figure. His face was shadowed as he stood in the after-hours lobby. Landon faltered his march and slowed as he entered the room.
Normally, seeing McLane like this would inspire Landon. McLane was the second-in-command of a covert agency with the power to pull strings in virtually any country and remain invisible. But now, McLane was ominous and sinister, like a hunting panther watching its prey from the darkness. It’s you Landon thought. McLane fit the bill for the difficulty they had been served these last few days. Landon tensed up, expecting McLane to pull a gun on them, or more likely order someone else to pull the trigger.
“Where are you going?” McLane asked.
“The laptop is connected to a new device off the Potomac River,” Landon answered uneasily. McLane’s eyes narrowed.
“A new device?”
“Yes, it has the characteristics of a bio-weapon,” Landon added. McLane let out a heavy sigh. His shoulders drooped and he slouched where he stood as if a huge burdening backpack was just added to the collection he already carried. Suddenly, McLane’s menacing appearance vanished and was replaced by a weary and exhausted man. Landon instantly felt guilty for ever doubting his steadfast leader. He felt sorry too, for all the mayhem this investigation was stirring up. It created endless ripples of paperwork, explanations, and apologies that McLane had to deal with.
“We will take care of it,” Landon assured.
McLane let a thankful smile show. “I know you will,” he replied.
Landon and Gwen left the lobby and headed for the front doors.
“So, what’s the plan?” Gwen asked.
“First, I need to call in a favor,” Landon said as they descended the front steps to the parking lot. He looked to the hill again where the sniper once hid. It was a new habit that would probably never break. He drew his phone from his pocket. It was 5:00 A.M. He dialed Pete Bell.
“Do you have the safe house under wraps?”
“Almost done. Why?” Pete answered on the other end.
“I need some help creating a distraction along the Potomic.”
“A distraction? Interesting.”
“I can fill you in when you get there. I will text you the place.”
“Okay,” Pete said hesitantly.
“And bring plenty of ammunition.”
“Okay,” Pete repeated, even more skeptical. “Well hold on, if you want me to actually do some shooting, you’re supplying the bullets.”
“Fine,” Landon said quickly. He was annoyed at such a ridiculous condition.
Pete chuckled on the other end. “I actually don’t have any equipment with me.”
“Oh, right. Would you like an M4 Carbine or SR-25?” Landon asked.
“I will take one SR-25 combo meal please, and a large order of armor piercing rounds on the side.”
“Do I pay now or pay the delivery guy?” Pete continued.
“Okay, I actually have to go now.” Landon hung up shook his head and smiled. He spun around back towards the front doors.
“What now?” Gwen asked.
“We need to gear up before we go.”
“I was wondering what we were going to fight with.” She looked down at her knuckles. They were still bruised and marked from her battle with Brad Lockman on the quiet street the night this all began.
They took the elevator down a level and into the armory. Landon buzzed in with his ID card and pushed open the heavy reinforced door. A security guard nodded to them as they entered. Landon approached him.
“We need access to the long rifles, and compact submachine guns,” Landon told the guard. “And since we’re here, surveillance equipment and camouflage too,” he added.
“Anything for you guys,” the man replied cheerily. Landon recognized him as one of the security guards who responded when the CIA was attacked and Brad Lockman made his escape. This man could have easily stayed down here at his post and avoided the danger. Landon returned the smile.
The next door clicked opened and the three of them walked into the main weaponry room. It felt like a library, but all the bookshelves were made of steel and all the books were perfectly aligned rows of guns. Steel gates locked each aisle, and each gun cabinet was once again enclosed in steel bars.
The security guard unlocked the Long Rifles section for them.
“I will get Pete’s gun if you want to grab something light for us,” Landon told Gwen. She nodded and the security guard opened the Submachine guns area for her.
Landon strode down the aisle and picked out an SR-25. It was a balanced marksman rifle. It had a body that resembled an assault rifle, an extended barrel, and and large scope perched on top. Perfect for distance and accuracy like a sniper rifle, but shorter, lighter, and easier to handle. Fixed to the end of the barrel was a sleek suppressor, which Landon promptly removed. He needed Pete to make as much noise as possible. Next he grabbed handfuls of spare magazines and armor piercing bullets. He slung the gun over his shoulder and was leaving when something caught his eye.
Below another set of guns was a line of under-barrel grenade launchers. Landon pulled out one of the launchers and turned it over in his hands. Now this would make a distraction. He fitted the launcher under the barrel of the SR-25. Landon laughed to himself. Normally a marksman rifle would have a bipod or extra grips for stability, never a bulky grenade launcher.
Gwen came back with her selection of weapons and paused as she came down the aisle.
“What is that?” Gwen asked staring at the modified SR-25.
“A weapon of my own design, built for the perfect distraction,” Landon said looking affectionately at the rifle.
“Anyways, here is what I picked out. I got Two KRISS K-10s. These just came out.” Gwen smiled as she handed one to Landon. The K-10 was the next generation of the revolutionary Vector. It was compact and futuristic looking. Its internal components were designed to push the recoil downward instead of backwards, maximizing accuracy and stability. It fired .45 ACP bullets at an incredible rate of 1,200 per minute, 20 every second. The stock could telescope into the gun and the grip on the front was swung up against the short barrel. This made the submachine gun so minimal, it could fit in a desk drawer.
Landon had been trying to get his hands on one ever since they were announced. He reluctantly handed it back to Gwen and she swung it over her shoulder. They made their way to the camouflage gear and chose the muddiest and swampiest jackets. They stuffed them into a duffle bag along with two sets of binoculars from the surveillance department.
“Have a nice night,” Landon said as they left the armory. The two were loaded down with duffle bags and weapons, smiling like kids on Christmas morning.
“Good luck out there,” the security guard said back.
The struggled into the elevator and out to Gwen’s car. The sky was just beginning to grow lighter. They filled the whole trunk with their equipment. Landon glanced over to his beat up truck parked a few lane over. It would take thousands to repair the damage. New seats, windshield, sides, doors, windows, dash, and bumpers. He sighed and climbed into Gwen’s car. He punched in the directions and they began the drive to the water treatment plant.
After 15 minutes of driving, Landon’s phone buzzed. It was Pete. Landon felt his gut tighten. They were equipped and he had a plan, but there was so much still unknown. He answered.
“Landon, I’ve arrived at plant, but people are already here.” Pete’s tone was nervous. Landon was both satisfied yet uneasy. They were right in predicting that the enemy’s movement would always be one step ahead of them. However, the havoc in New York was way too intense, and that was about to happen again. These people didn’t play easy. Landon realized that he was so confident in predicting this ambush that forgot he was still going to have to deal with the ambush.
“Landon?” Pete called out, “Still there?”
“Yea.” Landon shook his head, trying to clear it a bit. “We will be there soon. Just stay back until we get there.”
“Okay. I’m on the shoulder where the main road meets the plant’s access road.”
“They got there before Pete, didn’t they?” Gwen asked as Landon pocketed his cell.
“Yea, Pete sounded spooked,” Landon said.
“These are the same people who burned down the safe house, he knows that right? The same people willing to provoke the CIA directly.”
“He has only seen the aftermath of their work, which makes them pretty notorious. Now that he is up against them… I can see where that is quite intimidating.” Landon clenched his own fists, fighting down his growing dread. He tried to tell himself this was no different to all the other encounters when they escaped in one piece. But the other voice kept piping up, reminding him that this time was different. They were on the offensive now, and for some reason that felt worse than being trapped. It felt like he was deep in a cave about to kick a sleeping bear on purpose.
“We are here,” Gwen announced, breaking up Landon’s thoughts.