The Fourth Horseman

The Fourth Horseman by David Hagberg Read Free Book Online

Book: The Fourth Horseman by David Hagberg Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Hagberg
trying to reach him so they can get him out to the airport.”
    “As soon as he’s airborne I want to talk to him. He was right in the middle of it, he should have picked up something. But what about the man the crowd called ‘Messiah’?”
    “We don’t have an ID, but one of our technical people is sure the voice was artificial.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “He thinks the man’s voice was computer enhanced. He’s trying to re-create the real voice.”
    “We can do that?” Kalley asked.
    “Otto Rencke’s on it.”
    It was the second piece of good news, and the president said so. “We’ll soon have an answer if he’s as good as everyone says he is.”
    “He is,” Page said. “But the bigger issue is why would he go through the trouble of disguising his voice in the first place? I’m told that his Punjabi was perfect.”
    “Excuse me, Madam President, but Mr. Page is correct,” the White House translator, still on the Situation Room screen, interjected. “The Punjabi the man was speaking was educated. He’s someone from an urban population center. I’d guess Lahore.”
    “That jibes with what my people are telling me,” Page said.
    “Have there been any hints about someone like that on the way up?” Miller asked. “He doesn’t sound like run-of-the-mill Taliban.”
    “There are always rumors, but nothing that we’ve been able to substantiate. I spoke with Ross a few minutes ago and he’s just as mystified as the rest of us. But we are working on it.”
    Kalley sat forward. “Was that an explosion we heard just before the signal was cut off?”
    “We think so. Our best guess is that the president’s personal security people blew the office door to get in.”
    “What about the Messiah?” Miller asked. “Do they have him?”
    “Our spy bird picked up the image of an Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter landing on the roof of the Presidential Palace. It’s just twenty-five feet above the balcony.”
    “Jesus, are the Russians somehow involved in this?”
    “It’s not likely. The angle was for the Jumbotron. We did some enhanced imagery and couldn’t come up with any markings. But we think the speaker may have made his way to the roof and boarded the helicopter, which took off toward the south, where we lost it.”
    “Goddamnit, don’t tell me what we can’t do, tell me how,” the president said in frustration.
    “I’m sorry, Madam President, but current economic policy has tied our hands in some critical areas. Like the launching of new reconnaissance satellites.”
    “What did we do before the age of satellites?” Miller shot back.
    “We had more personnel on the ground,” Page said, not backing down. His message was clear: You get what you pay for.
    “What resources do we have to send to help Ross?”
    “Rencke suggests that we ask McGarvey for a hand.”
    Miller personally had never liked or trusted maverick operators such as McGarvey. But when she’d gone to the White House just before Christmas, a couple of weeks before she was inaugurated, the outgoing president had briefed her on highly classified assets she could count on if nothing else was working. Kirk McGarvey, the legendary operator who for a brief period had actually been director of the CIA, was one of them.
    “He won’t want to work for you, but if he does, never ask him a question for which you think you already know the answer,” the president had told her. “The man has the bad habit of telling you the truth, no matter how much you don’t want to hear it.”
    She’d started to object, but the president held her off.
    “He’s likely to do things his own way, not yours, and he’s just as likely to ignore the law. Hell, I even had him arrested and put in jail. Lasted less than twenty-four hours before the shit hit the fan and I had to let him get at it. And through all of it, I had the impression he let himself be arrested just to make his point.”
    “Isn’t he getting too old to be running around

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