Commande-In-Chief by Greg Boxer

Oct 07 2012 Published by under The WiFiles

The West Wing bustled with frantic activity as President Kenneth Powers strode briskly through the halls, flanked on all sides by aides and advisors.  Powers was a towering man with a broad muscular build that set him apart from those around him.  His chief of staff, Frank Moss, kept pace at his side.

The President of the United States was not having the best of nights.  “When did we lose contact?”

“Twenty minutes ago, Mr. President,” responded Frank.

“And Ambassador Kinsey,” continued the president, “Any word from him yet?”

“I was just on the line with him when his call dropped,” said the chief of staff, “same time we lost everything else.”

This is going to be a tough week, thought the president as the group turned another corner on the way to the Oval Office.  Yesterday morning the civil unrest in Mexico over growing drug cartel violence erupted into mass protests in the capital, Mexico City.  By evening the situation turned violent.  At the time President Powers decided to put US military personnel on alert, but the events unfolding in Mexico were not considered an immediate threat by most government analysts.  All that changed in the early morning when the Mexican electric grid went dead and all broadcast signals coming from within the country ceased, including all contact with the Mexican government.

The president turned to his chief of staff, “Is everybody ready?”

“The Joint Chiefs are waiting now, Mr. President.”

Frank stepped ahead of the president and held open the door to the Oval Office.  The assembled group of military and political figures that filled the room ceased all conversation and stood as the president arrived.

“I’d sure love some good news right about now, ladies and gentlemen.  What’ve you got for me?” Powers intoned as he moved across the room.

A five-star general standing off to the side with a heavy metal briefcase stepped forward hesitantly.  “I’m afraid I have even more bad news, Mr. President.”  He hefted the case onto a table at the center of the room and flipped the lock to open.  The case contained a small computer that flickered to life.  An image of earth appeared with a series of dotted lines orbiting the planet in elliptical patterns.

“We’ve attempted to use our satellites to get a clear picture of what’s going on in Mexico City…”  The general clicked a button on a hand-held device and the dotted lines on the screen turned red.  “…only to discover that our entire satellite network has been encrypted with a type of code we haven’t seen before. In other words, sir, we’re blind.”

President Powers leaned back against his desk, brow furrowed.  “How is that even possible, general?  And don’t tell me some twelve-year-old computer genius in his garage is having some fun at our expense.”

Director Flynn of the CIA raised a hand, “Sir, if I may?  Our analysts have studied the encryption and its state-of-the-art.  There’s no way this is some lone hacker.  Our best guess is it’s either a rogue government or possibly a well-funded independent organization.”

“Any suspects?”

“Russia, China…maybe some of our allies in Western Europe,” added the Director.  “But it’s unlikely they could accomplish something this sophisticated without us knowing.”

“And when can we expect to have the satellite’s back?”

“We’ll need at least twenty-four hours, Mr. President.”

The president gave a long sigh.  “That’s not good enough, Director.  All across the country Americans are going to wake up this morning and learn what’s going on in Mexico, and when they do they’re going to demand more answers than you’re giving me right now.”

The five-star general met the president’s eyes.  “Sir, I recommend we put the military on full alert and begin preparations to insert forces into Mexico to secure the capital.  If we deploy troops and air support we might at least salvage the situation.  We are capable of –“

President Powers held up a hand to cut him off.  “Thank you general, but I want some non-military options first.”  The rebuffed general wished to continue arguing the point but instead moved back into his place among the gathered staff.

The room went quiet again before the vice president spoke up.  “Sir, I’m not sure we have many options that don’t somehow involve military action.  We’ve had no word from the Mexican government or their military, and diplomacy’s out until we regain contact with Ambassador Kinsey. We cannot stand by while a sovereign nation, one we share our southern border with, descends into chaos.  For all we know this is an elaborate coup attempt.  If we don’t act quickly the situation could deteriorate and spill over into our backyard.”

“I’m well aware of the stakes, Dave,” responded Powers, “but have you considered the consequences of sending the American military into Mexico, even to save it from falling?”

Powers met gazes with those in the room.  “And don’t forget the gaping holes in our intelligence reports.  There are too many unknowns.”

The president let his words sink in for a moment before adding, “Using the military option is no guarantee the situation will be resolved.  Doing so could potentially cost the lives of our men and women in uniform, not to mention civilians, and I’m not ready to make those sacrifices,” he said with finality.  “There has to be another way.”

Once again the vice president spoke up.  “There is one option we haven’t yet considered…” he said knowingly.  Everyone in the room looked to the president.  “A small squad of Titans could go a long way in–“

“Out of the question,” said the president, quickly cutting off the line of thought.  “The United States is a key signatory of the Titan Arms Treaty.  You all know as well as I that Titans are not to be used by any signing member for military purposes, and I’m not going to violate that agreement.”

The room fell silent for a long moment as everyone contemplated the president’s words.

“What about you, Mr. President?”

The question broke the silence and caused a stirring of emotion within the president.  Powers was, after all the first super human to be elected President of the United States.  Before that he served as one of the world’s most powerful and beloved Titans, and he knew too well the burden of responsibility that power carried.  He’d told himself before running for office he could, would, do this job without his more extraordinary abilities…but perhaps he had only been fooling himself.

“You’re retired, Mr. President,” continued the advisor, “which means you’re no longer a Titan and technically not bound by the terms of the treaty.”

Powers furrowed his brow again.  “I doubt the American people would react well to my gallivanting across international boarders to play ‘superman.’  I thought the idea was to play down my abilities, to assure everyone I wouldn’t do exactly what you’re now proposing.  And I’m not sure our international allies would feel the same about a technicality.”  He let the words hang in the air, knowing he could not rule out this alternative.

“Sir, if I may,” chimed in another advisor.  “When you ran for office we weren’t sure if the American electorate would accept a super human president, but your past heroics as Dr. Infinite gave you wide spread appeal across every major voting bloc.  The people have shown they are behind you, and they will understand the current situation warrants such unconventional action.”  The advisor took another step forward as he drove home his argument.

“We have been down-playing your powers from day one, and that worked to get you elected.  But let’s face it, sir.  We now face a very serious crisis.  We need to use every tool at our disposal.”

“Mr. President,” broke in the vice president, “Your approval ratings are through the roof.  It is feasible we could proceed and only take a moderate dip in the polls.”

President Powers looked to the man, his chief of staff, who had been standing quietly at his side since the meeting began.  “What do you think, Frank?”  Frank Moss was also a former Titan and a long time confidant of the president.  Their close friendship, coupled with Frank’s abilities and unique organizational and interpersonal skills made him ideal for the job as the president’s most trusted adviser.

“You already know what I think, Mr. President.”

Powers smiled inwardly.  Frank would, of course back any plan to help innocent civilians.  He wasn’t the type to make decisions based on polling numbers or political strategies.  Frank was a true public servant, always on the side of the people, which was just another reason he liked having the man as his chief of staff.

Powers turned again to his assembled staff, trying his best to keep the tension he felt over the difficult decision he was about to make out of his posture.  “This isn’t about politics or polls.  It’s about doing what’s right, and not just for our own citizens.  If we allow Mexico to fall into chaos we risk destabilizing the entire western hemisphere, and we cannot let that happen.”

“Very well, Mr. President,” said the vice president.  “If we hurry, we can have the marching orders on the floor of the House and Senate within the hour, and have the first wave of troops ready to assist–“

“That won’t be necessary,” interrupted President Powers.  “I have no intention of sending our troops into action…at least not yet.  Put every branch of the military on high alert and begin making plans to secure all of Mexico’s borders, but under no circumstance are any soldiers to step foot on Mexican soil until I say otherwise.  Is that understood?”

The Joint Chiefs gave the president a puzzled look.  “Sir,” said one general, “If you’re not sending in the army, what do you have in mind?”

 

One mile above Mexico City, the translucent, green-hued form of Frank Moss appeared from thin air with a brilliant flash.  Frank surveyed the surrounding skies to make sure there was no immediate danger and then used his finger to trace a rectangular box in the air.  Frank tapped the air and the box started glowing.  President Powers then stepped through the door, allowing Frank’s energy grip to wrap around his body and hold him aloft.  There had been a great deal of debate among the Joint Chiefs about the president going in alone, but in the end Powers decided he would work best not having to worry about the safety of teammates.  A single man team was also more likely to go unnoticed.

It had been Frank who devised the plan for getting the president into Mexico, pointing out an aerial insertion would give Powers both an element of surprise and a chance to survey the situation before dropping in.  The two now floated side-by-side high above the Mexican capital at early dawn taking in the city below.

“I’d feel better if you weren’t going in alone, sir.”

The chief of staff radiated a bright green and stood flat footed as if standing on solid ground instead of high above it, yet another reminder for Powers that Frank was not really standing next to him.  Frank’s body, in fact, rested comfortably in his West Wing office in Washington D.C. almost two thousand miles away.  “There’s still time to gather some of the old crew together to join you.”

“You know we can’t do that,” responded Powers.  “We’re walking a fine line as it is, and I’d rather not turn this into a full blown international scandal if it can be avoided.”

The two fell silent as they surveyed the city below.  The capital appeared anything but peaceful, with plumes of black smoke billowing up from near the city’s center.

“That looks like a good place to start my investigation,” said Powers after a long moment.

Frank turned to Powers with a nervous glance, “I hope you know what you’re doing, sir.”

President Powers gave a self assured smile.  “It’ll be just like the good ole’ days, my friend, only this time I have the United States military as backup.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, sir.”

Powers lifted his wrist to reveal an attached communication device.  “I’ll report in every half-hour.”  The president’s expression turned grim.  “Hopefully, whatever’s causing this black out will not block my signal.”

Powers secured his utility belt, pulled out of storage for the occasion, and checked the straps on his parachute before taking a few deep breaths to clear his mind.  He had been trained in hand-to-hand combat by some of the greatest Titans of generations past, and possessed more than his share of ability and experience.  Despite being retired from the Titan business, Powers was confident he was up to facing any threat he would discover in Mexico.

The thought that he might be walking into a trap briefly crossed his mind, but he quickly brushed the thought away with a single, deliberate exhale before giving Frank the signal.

“Good luck, Mr. President.”

The green glow holding the president aloft fluctuated, then fizzled away and Powers dropped into freefall high above Mexico City.  The wind clawed at his combat uniform as he entered a dive and shot downward.

10…9…8, went the president’s internal timer as he counted down the seconds until he would release the parachute.  He pulled the cord and felt the jerk as wind caught the parachute and slowed his descent.

As the cityscape came quickly into view, Powers cut the cords of his parachute and dropped free, ducking and rolling as he landed on a rooftop.  Without hesitation he was up and running, leaping once, then twice, as he danced across the city’s rooftops.

Brings back memories, he thought with a near smile as he cleared the expanse between two buildings.  He was closing in on the source of the smoke plumes.  Within moments he landed on a ledge overlooking the Reform Promenade roundabout and the Angel of Independence in downtown Mexico City.  The area had featured heavily in the previous day’s newscasts before all contact had been mysteriously terminated.  He had witnessed thousands of protestors gathering and stopping traffic all throughout this section of the capital.

Going into this mission, Powers had not really known what to expect, but he was confident he would find some answers once in country.  Looking down at the scene now, however, filled his mind with even more questions than answers.

Along the south end of the boulevard Powers could make out where city police had formed a barricade to keep the throng of protestors at bay.  The day before Powers watched along with millions of others around the world as the barricade went up and hundreds of police in riot gear moved in to secure the area.  But he could see now the barricade had been broken, its wooden beams scattered in pieces across the pavement.  Just beyond that he made out the burned husks of police vehicles still flickering with dying flames, no doubt the source of the smoke he observed from the sky.

The scene was punctuated by an eerie silence that had befallen the city.  Where the previous day protestors stood shouting their throats rasp, now not a living soul could be seen.  In some places it appeared as if people had dropped what they were doing and simply disappeared, leaving behind protests signs and even still-running cars.  Except for the steady hum of idling engines that filled the plaza, Mexico City was now a ghost town.

This is not right.  The thought was more instinct than fully realized recognition, but something chewed at the back of Powers’ mind.  One of the world’s largest cities did not simply disappear overnight, even with the social unrest.   During his years as a Titan, Powers had come to trust his instincts, knowing they were always on the look-out for surprises.  And the situation he found in the city below had surprise smeared all over it.

And then something unusual caught the president’s eye, something on the streets below that should not have been there.  Resting among the discarded protest signs and abandoned vehicles Powers saw a large gift-wrapped box with a pink bow and a tag dangling off to one side.

Powers hesitated, eyeing the box with suspicion before retrieving the grappling line from his utility belt and securing it along the building’s ledge.  He tested the line and dropped from the roof, repelling down the side of the building.  He landed out in the open and remained crouched, waiting for any indication his motion had drawn out signs of life from the city.  When nobody made an appearance, Powers crossed the boulevard to where the box rested next to a humming automobile.  A gasp escaped the president’s lips as he read the tag.

To Dr. Infinite, with love.

The president did another quick scan of the plaza and then turned back to the present, cautiously pulling the bow tie off and opening the box.  The box was empty save for a single slip of paper resting at the bottom.  The president’s face paled as his eyes scanned the message.

Let’s play a game.

The words filled the president with ice-cold dread and sent jolts of danger sense coursing through his body. During his years as Dr. Infinite, one villain delighted in nothing more than tormenting him with vicious games, each deadlier than the last.

“…Simon Says.”

Ten years back, Simon hijacked China’s military command net, intent on having a good laugh.  He was able to put their military on high alert and trigger an armed conflict with India before the Chinese regained control.  Delhi had insisted on extradition, but when Dr. Infinite captured Simon state-side he was instead forced to turn him over to China for prosecution.  He was tried, convicted and supposedly still being held under tight guard.

That appears to have changed, thought Powers.

Simon was dangerous on an unprecedented level.  He possessed a hive-mind ability that allowed him to subjugate the mind of any individual after prolonged contact, and the more minds Simon controlled the stronger his grip became.

Behind the president an idling engine sputtered and then stalled, followed by another.  Powers spun on his heels, watching as one by one the cars stalled in a cascade of silence.  He stood for a moment as the quiet crashed in around him, and that is when he saw her.  Just beyond the shattered barricade, standing in the shade of a tree a young woman watched the president, her face obscured by shadow.

President Powers crumbled the note in his hand, tossed it into the box and made his way towards the woman.

“Hola,” he called out in his best Spanish. “Necesita ayuda?”

Powers stopped short when a flash of movement drew his eyes off to the left, and then the right.  One by one, like cautious predators stalking prey they appeared from open shop doors and darkened alleys.  They spilled from the shadows in the tens and then the hundreds before Powers lost hope of keeping track.  There were thousands of them moving in to surround the president.

He eyed the incoming horde, calculating his next move and angling his body into a defensive position.

He surveyed the faces in the crowd.  They looked to come from all walks of life, men and women in business suits, street vendors, factory workers, police in riot gear, and even soldiers, but their eyes were all a vacant milky white.  A thick aura of anger and hate saturated the crowd, washing over Powers and nearly knocking him to the ground with its potency.  He recovered his composure instantly and readied himself for what was to come.

The crowd’s advance slowed as a hoarse cackle drifted in on the stale breeze, “Do you like what I’ve done with the place?”

The voice was not too distant and all too familiar.  “Simon.”

Laughter echoed off the surrounding buildings, distorting the sound and making it difficult for Powers to pinpoint a source.  “Oh, thank you a thousand times for remembering.  You have no idea how much that means to me, really.  I thought you may have forgotten how much fun we used to have.”

President Powers allowed himself an amused chuckle he didn’t really feel, “It’s been awhile.  Don’t tell me the Chinese government let you out early for good behavior.”

The plaza echoed with Simon’s snarling rage.  “Is that supposed to be a joke?  You’ll have to forgive me; prison doesn’t exactly do wonders for ones sense of humor.”

“Is that was this is about,” asked Powers, “You do a little time and now you want to take a few shots at the guy who put you there?  You nearly caused a war and got caught,” stated Powers, “What did you expect to happen?”

The city fell still and silent as Powers waited for Simon’s retort.  When none came he pressed forward.  “Let the hostages go, Simon.  We can settle this between us.  I’m the one you want.”

Once again laughter filled the president’s ears.  “Nice try, Mr. President.”  Coming from Simon’s mouth the honorific was dripping with disdain.  “I know how you settle things, so today we play by my rules.”

Powers heard Simon’s loud finger snap and the horde restarted its advance, each mind-controlled individual’s face twisted into an eager sneer.

The president turned to the incoming horde and sighed heavily.  “I hope you understand when I say that I intend none of you ill-will,” he said, his voice both sincere and troubled.  In fact, he had hoped to avoid involving civilians in the fight, but that was now out of the question.  Powers would have to immobilize countless innocent civilians without doing any serious or permanent damage.

The masses attacked all at once, moving more quickly than one would expect from people who looked as though they should be collapsing from exhaustion.  They came at Powers from all sides, threatening to swallow him in an avalanche of bodies, but he was already on the move.  Dodging a fury of blows, Powers concentrated on the abilities of his Titan alter-ego, Dr. Infinite.  The president’s form rippled and expanded as a dozen identical replicas exploded out from his body to join the fight.

Giving himself completely over to the battle, Powers and his duplicates simultaneously launched attacks on multiple fronts.  He threw a string of disabling punches and kicks while at the same time continuing to form autonomous duplicates with each passing second.  A dozen became a hundred, and then a thousand all defending and attacking at once.  The president and his duplicates pushed back against the horde, forcing them down the boulevard.  He called upon his experience with dispersing riots, striking at nerve clusters, disarming attackers and leaving only unconscious and incapacitated bodies in his wake.

The president leapt high and landed atop a car, hoping to give himself a moment to recalculate his attack, while his copies battled on below.  It became clear to Powers he was being toyed with.  In the distance he could see a seemingly infinite number of Mexican civilians continuing to pour into the battle ground.  In the past Powers had been able to stretch his replication abilities into the thousands, but this battle raging around him would be the ultimate test of his powers.

He bore down and focused his mind with every ounce of concentration and continued spitting out duplicates. But even this would not be enough against sheer overwhelming force.  The fringes of the president’s battle line buckled and the horde broke through like a spear tearing through flesh.  Powers rejoined the fray and called for the replica army to reform the line, but it was no good.  The Mexicans crashed in like waves against a cliff, washing away the replicas.

The battle continued and Powers could feel as each duplicate was bested and vanished.  A few thousand became a few hundred and then only a handful until the president battled alone.  A barrage of vicious strikes battered the president, turning hardened muscles tender and causing him to give more ground.  The next strike broke his lip open, sending blood trickling down his chin.  The next caused him to stumble and lose his footing.

Powers tried to regain his stance, to carry on the fight, but the mindless horde was already upon him with thousands of hands blotting out the sun.

The president struggled even as the hands wrapped around him like a vice.  They held firmly around his legs, arms and neck, forcing Powers onto his knees.  The crowd parted and Simon stepped into view for the first time.  Keeping out of reach, Simon watched the president with what Powers could only assume was glee, for he could not see Simon’s face.  He wore a long, tattered trench coat and concealed himself behind a mask bearing the caricatured face of President Kenneth Powers.

“I must admit,” Simon confessed, “It feels good to see you like this; exposed, vulnerable…pathetic.”  The two locked eyes, even now in a test of wills.

President Powers gritted his teeth, “Should’ve…kept this…between us,” he managed.

“Oh, I am,” said Simon, the folds of skin not covered by the mask flexed in what must have been a wide, sinister sneer.  He gestured between the two of them, “Here we are, just the two of us.  But I hope you understand, I thought it only prudent to level the playing field.  Revenge should be fair, after all,” he said with clear sarcasm.

Simon stepped back and gave Powers a toying look, “I was prepared to do this thing mono-a-mono, but somebody had to go and get himself elected President of the United States.  I mean, how am I supposed to compete with that?”

“So, as you can see, I thought it only fair to get a nation of my own.”  Simon gestured around at the surrounding city and mind controlled Mexicans.  “It’s a fixer-upper, but hey, what do you think?”

“You can’t still be angry about China,” said Powers, looking for any opening to take advantage.

Simon’s attention snapped forward, the vacant eye sockets of the mask burning holes through Powers.  The president had clearly touched a nerve.

“They…put me…in a HOLE!!” raged Simon, his form visibly twitching with anger and Powers felt the hands gripping him squeeze until he saw red.  “You ever go ten years without human contact?”

Simon’s shoulders relaxed and soft laughter escaped his lips as he shook an accusatory finger at Powers.  “Very good, Mr. President.  You always could push my buttons.  But not today.  Today it’s a whole new ball game.”

One of the horde members removed the president’s communication bracelet and handed it to Simon.  He then stood to regard Powers one final time before retrieving a hand held voice box from the pocket of his trench coat.

“I knew you’d never send your mighty military machine into Mexico, just like I knew you’d end up coming in yourself.  That’s just your style, but I’m sure those eager beavers aren’t too far off.  They’d never leave their precious president without backup.”  Simon held the voice box to his mouth and chuckled.  “This is where the real game begins.”

The president’s heart sank and flooded him with despair.  The voice coming through the box was not Simon’s but a dead-on imitation of Kenneth Powers, President of the United States.

Simon snapped his fingers and the hands wrapped around Powers squeezed him until his eyes bulged.  “By this time next week everything you hold dear will be mine.”

Simon paused and seemed to contemplate the helpless form before him.  “I hope you’ve realized by now you’re going to die.”  Simon offered his old foe a salute and then turned to leave.  “Which is too bad, I’m sure going to miss all the fun we used to have.”

“Bury him.”

President Powers felt nothing but excruciating pain as the hands pulled at him from nearly every angle, stretching ligaments, tendons and muscle to the tearing point.  To his credit, the president did not cry out as white hot anguish flooded every cell of his being.  He did not scream because his focus had retreated inward, gathering all his remaining energy and finding strength in every second he remained alive.  His thoughts turn to the American people, to the families and friendships that made the nation strong.  To give up now would be to abandon them to Simon’s madness and he could not – he would not – let that happen.

Powers let out a deafening shout as he unleashed his accumulated energy and felt the fluctuations ripple across his body as two replicas reached out and grabbed hold of the mind controlled Mexicans pinning Powers down.  The pressure lifted as he continued pouring out more duplicates.  They shot out, kicking, spinning and throwing punches at those keeping the president pressed to the ground.  By now Powers knew he stood no chance of defeating the horde, but with Simon still in sight he would not need to.

Powers leapt forward, clearing half the distance to Simon in a single leap while his replicas fought to push the horde back in the opposite direction.  They would only need to buy him a few moments.

“Simon!” he shouted as he drew near.

Simon turned in time for the president’s boot to land square in his chest, knocking him back a few feet.  The president’s communication bracelet and the voice box dropped from Simon’s hand as he struggled to regain his footing.

There were no more fancy fighting moves, dazzling displays of speed or even the taunting of two adversaries fighting a never ending battle.  Powers pressed forward, throwing punch after desperate punch.

Simon lifted his arms to block the incoming blows, making no attempt to take the offensive.  Instead he reached out and touched the president’s mind, probing for an opening to assert his influence and halt Powers’ frantic assault.  Powers felt the pressure pushing against his mind’s resolve, but the call was not yet strong enough to stay his hand.

Sensing his failure, Simon pulled a knife and took a few frenzied swipes at the president.  Powers side stepped, but not quickly enough as the blade cut deep across his abdomen.  He caught Simon’s blade hand on its way around to deliver another slash and squeezed hard.  Simon cried out in pain as the blade dropped to the ground.  Powers saw an opening and stepped inside Simon’s guard to deliver a cracking upper cut.  Simon lifted off the ground and went crashing into the pavement.

Powers rushed in to finish the job but stopped short, his eyes widening in shock.  Simon lay at Powers’ feet, the mask no longer hiding his face.  The age ravaged face looking up at Powers was marked with deep furrows, sagging jowls and topped with a head of frail white hair.  Prison had not done well by Simon.

“Yield, and release the hostages.” Powers ordered.

The old man, for he was clearly much older than previously believed, offered Powers a smile.  “Take ‘em.”  A wheezy laugh left his lips.  “I’ve already got the next round in the bag.”  The laugh became a cackle and Powers turned to the communication bracelet lying on the ground not far away.

“We have confirmation, Mr. President.  Ground and air support are inbound.”

President Powers watched from a nearby rooftop as helicopters swarmed the aftermath.  Some settled down to unload recovery teams while others lifted into the air, carrying the most severely injured to waiting hospitals for medical treatment.

“…NATO Command has issued a statement condoning your actions and offered military support to ensure Mexico’s stability.”  The president’s chief of staff floated casually next to Powers as they surveyed the scene.  “Russia is already demanding a full investigation into your actions by the Security Council and the Chinese Embassy is petitioning for Simon’s immediate return.”

Powers raised a brow at this and replied, “Perhaps they can first explain why he wasn’t still locked away in one of their prisons.”

Frank continued, “Theater Command also reports full troop extraction within forty-eight hours.  And on a positive note, I’m happy to report we now have full access to our satellite network.  We’re not sure yet how he did it, but Simon somehow used them to disable power and communications all across Central America.  Director Flynn is looking into it as we speak.”

Powers’ mood was not lifted by this small bit of good news.  “And Mexico,” he asked, changing the subject.  “How much damage has Simon done?”

“Including the damage we inflicted during the aborted first wave…easily within the hundreds of millions, sir, if not more.  I’ve already put together a request to the World Bank for emergency funds.”

Frank’s words trailed off as Powers’ attention drifted to the make-shift field hospital where those with non life-threatening injuries were being treated.

“You had no other choice, Mr. President,” said Frank as he knowingly followed the president’s stare.  “If you hadn’t acted we would be at war right now, or maybe worse.  Those people should be counting their blessings that it was you and not the army we sent in.”

Powers shook his head, allowing the exhaustion he felt to show on his face as he watched another helicopter lift off with more critically injured.  “The media’s going to eat us alive over this.”

“Not if we’re completely honest with them, sir,” added Frank.  “They can’t hang us if we give them no rope.”

Powers gave Frank an approving nod.

“I’ve already called a press conference, sir.  The reporters will be ready in a few moments.”

The president took another look out over the field hospital.  “When I was elected I never thought I’d be doing anything like this.  I ran on crime reduction and educational reform.”  He turned back to Frank.  “Never imagined I’d be invading Mexico.”

Frank smiled, “Well, technically, sir…”

Powers also allowed a smile.  “I guess it’s time we get back.  The reporters are probably chomping at the bit.”

Frank again drew his finger through the air and a door appeared next to the president.  “The grindstone calls, Mr. President.”

President Powers chuckled and jovially patted his old friend on the back as they walked through the door.

“At least it’s not an election year.”

 

Greg Boxer has been writing fiction since grade school. He enjoys telling stories that stretch reality and stimulate the imagination. Two of his stories are published in A Thousand Faces, the Quarterly Journal of Super Human fiction.  Greg currently lives in Iowa City and works at a local veterinary clinic answering phones and helping care for cats.  He spends his nights pounding away at the keyboard and playing board games with his wife.      

 

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