Chapter Sixteen

The Hangar-DMS Central HQ

Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn

June 15, 12:49 a.m. EST

Mr. Church typed his personal code into his laptop and brought up the Rasouli files. He scanned the index and then began viewing the files one by one. His face was relaxed, composed, without expression, as data, charts, diagrams, lists, and photographs came and went, came and went on his laptop screen.

The room was still except for music playing softly. “Smokin’ At The Half Note” by Wynton Kelly Trio with Wes Montgomery. The current track was Tadd Dameron’s “If You Could See Me Now.” Mr. Church appreciated the simple intensity of Wes Montgomery’s guitar work on the track, and he let it play through before he did anything.

Mr. Church selected a vanilla wafer from a plate, tapped crumbs off of it, and took a small bite. He munched quietly for several seconds. He was a large man, broad-shouldered, strong and blocky. It was generally believed by those who knew him that he was north of sixty, but people agreed that age did not seem to touch him. The gray in his hair was the only real mark; and the scars on his face and hands suggested that his years, no matter how many they were, had not been idle.

His eyes were half-closed behind the tinted lenses of his glasses as he looked inward, assessing what Ledger had told him, working through the implications of the information on Rasouli’s flash drive. If anyone had been in the room they would have thought he was a man lost in the subtleties of a piece of classic jazz. There was no outward sign of agitation.

A slender cell phone sat on the desk blotter next to his laptop. The image on the laptop’s screen was the one Joe Ledger had sent via e-mail. When the song ended, Mr. Church picked up his cell and opened it, punched a number, entered a code that engaged a 128-bit scrambler, and waited for the other party to answer. After three rings, a man’s voice said, “Hello?”

Mr. Church said, “Mr. President, we have a situation.”