Tom Clancy – Op Center 6 State Of Siege

“Son Of A Bitch Should Have Paid Closer Attention,” August Said As He Removed The Second Gun From His Pocket. The Barrel Of The Gleaming Beretta Was Still Smoking.

Rodgers Was Relieved, Though He Was Far From Happy As He Turned Toward The Steep Gallery. There Was Still A Third Terrorist, The One Who Apparently Was Holding Harleigh Hood Hostage. He Had Been Ominously Silent Throughout The Exchange. A Un Security Officer Was Crouched In The Doorway. Save For The Muted Hissing Of The Gas Canister Under The Drapery, The Chamber Was Quiet. And Then They Heard A Voice From The Aisle Of The Upper Gallery. “You Have Not Won,” Said Reynold Downer. “All You Have Done Is Gotten More Of The Ransom For Me.” New York, New York Sunday, 12:15 A.M.

“They’re Out!” A Young Man Yelled Into The Waiting Room. “The Kids Are Out, And They’re Safe!” The Parents Responded With Laughter And Tears, All Of Them Rising And Hugging One Another Before Making Their Way To The Door. Official Word Came As They Were Filing Into The Hallway. A Uniformed State Department Security Official Met Them. A Middle-Aged Woman With Short Brown Hair, Big Brown Eyes, And A Name Tag That Said Baroni Told Them That The Children Appeared To Be Well But Were Being Taken To The Nyu Medical Center As A Precaution, And That A Bus Would Be Along To Bring The Parents Downtown. The Parents Were All Grateful And Thanked The Woman As Though She Had Personally Been Responsible For The Rescue. The Dos Official Made Her Way Inside As She Directed The Parents Toward An Elevator At The End Of The Hall. She Appeared To Be Looking For Someone. When She Saw Sharon Hood, She Touched Her Forearm.

“Mrs. Hood, My Name Is Lisa Baroni,” She Said. “Can I Have A Few Words With You?” The Request Brought An Instant Welling Of Nausea. “What’s Wrong?” Sharon Asked.

Lisa Gently Maneuvered Sharon Away From The Last Of The Parents. The Two Women Stood Just Inside The Door, Beside One Of The Couches.

“What Is It?” Sharon Demanded.

“Mrs. Hood,” She Said, “I’m Afraid Your Daughter Is Still Inside.” The Words Sounded Ridiculous. A Moment Ago, Every-One Was Safe. She Was Happy. “What Do You Mean?” Sharon Asked.

“Your Daughter Is Still Inside The Security Council.” “No, They’re Out!” Sharon Said, Growing Angry. “That Man Just Said They’re Out!” “Most Of The Children Were Evacuated Through A Broken Window,” The Woman Said. “But Your Daughter Was Not With The Group.” “Why Not?” “Mrs. Hood, Why Don’t You Sit Down?” Lisa Said. She Urged Her Back Toward The Seat.

“I’m Going To Stay With You.” “Why Wasn’t My Daughter With Them?” Sharon Demanded. “What’s Happening In There? Is My Husband With Them?” “We Don’t Know Everything About The Situation,” Lisa Said Softly. “What We Do Know Is That There Are Now Three Swat Officers Inside The Security Council Chamber. Apparently, They Were Able To Get All But One Of The Terrorists-Was “And He Has Harleigh!” Sharon Screamed. She Clawed At Her Temples. “Oh My God, He Has My Baby!” The Woman Grabbed Sharon’s Wrists And Held Them Gently But Firmly. She Moved Her Fingers Into Sharon’s Tightly Curled Fingers And Squeezed Them. “Where’s My Husband!” Sharon Cried.

“Mrs. Hood, You’ve Got To Listen To Me,” Lisa Said.

“You Know They’re Going To Do Everything They Can To Protect Your Daughter, But It May Take A Little Time. You’re Going To Have To Be Strong.” “I Want My Husband!” Sharon Sobbed. “Where Did He Go?” The Woman Asked.

“I Don’t Know,” Sharon Said. “He Said He Had To Do Something About This. He Has A Cell Phone. I Have To Call Him!” “Why Don’t You Give Me The Number; I’ll Do It,” The Woman Said. Sharon Gave The Woman Paul’s Cell Phone Number.

“Okay,” Lisa Said. She Released Sharon’s Hands And Pointed To One Of The Tables. “I’m Just Going Over There To Make The Call. You Sit Here, And I’ll Be Right Back.” Sharon Nodded. Then She Started To Cry Again.

She Sat There Sobbing As Lisa Baroni Walked Over To The Table With The Telephones. She Tried The Number.

Hood Had Shut Off His Phone. Sharon Couldn’t Remember A Time When She’d Felt Such Anger And Despair. She Didn’t Need A State Department Official Holding Her Hand Right Now. She Needed Her Husband. She Needed To Talk To Him, Not To Feel So Utterly Alone. Whatever He Was Doing, Wherever He Was, At Least He Could Have Given Her That. Just That.

However This Ended, Sharon Knew One Thing For Certain.

She Could Never Forgive Paul For This., Never.

New York, New York Sunday, 12:16 A.M.

Paul Hood Was Running Through The Park When He Heard The Explosion And Saw The Flash Behind The Un.

Since He Didn’t See Or Hear Shards Of Glass, He Assumed That It Was Mike Rodgers Blowing The Window In. Hood Ran Ahead Hard, Watching As The Police Who Had Been Guarding The Lobby Entrance Hurried Around Back. By The Time Hood Arrived, Children And Delegates Were Already Running Out Through The Shattered Window.

They Did It, Hood Thought Proudly. He Hoped That Rodgers And August Were All Right.

Hood Was Out Of Breath By The Time He Reached The Courtyard. One Of The Police Officers Had Run Ahead Toward First Avenue. He Had Obviously Radioed Emt Personnel And Wanted To Show Them Where To Set Their Stations Up In The Parking Lot, Away From The Building. Meanwhile, The Other Officers Were Ushering The Young Women And Delegates Through The Courtyard Toward The Lot. Everyone Was Walking Under Their Own Power. They Appeared Relatively Unhurt. Hood Stopped And Watched As They Approached. He Didn’t See Harleigh Among Them, But He Recognized One Of Her Friends, Laura Sabia. He Went Over To Her.

“Laura!” He Cried.

One Of The Police Officers Moved To Intercept Him.

“Excuse Me, Sir, But You’ll Have To Wait For Your Daughter-Was “She Isn’t My Daughter, Officer.

I’m Paul Hood Of Op-Center In Washington.

We Organized This Rescue.” “Congratulations,” Said The Officer, “But I Still Need You To Get Out Of The Area And Let Us-Was “Mr. Hood!” Laura Said, Stepping Out Of The Line. Hood Slid Around The Police Officer.

He Ran Over And Took The Young Girl’s Hand. “Laura, Thank God. Are You All Right?” “I’m Okay,” She Said.

“What About Harleigh?” He Asked. “I Don’t See Her.” “She’s Still Inside.” Hood Felt Like He’d Been Punched Hard In The Gut. “In There?” He Asked. “In The Security Council?” Laura Nodded.

Hood Looked Into The Girl’s Bloodshot Eyes.

He Didn’t Like What He Saw. “Is She Hurt?” “No,” Laura Said As She Shook Her Head And Started To Cry. “But He Has Her.” “Who Does?” “The Man Who Shot Barbara.” “One Of The Terrorists?” Hood Asked. Laura Nodded. Hood Didn’t Wait To Hear Any More.

Releasing Laura’s Hand And Ignoring The Officer’s Shout To Stop, He Ran Toward The Terrace.

New York, New York Sunday, 12:18 A.M.

Harleigh’s Head Rose Above The Back Of The Seats And Stopped. Downer Was Below The Seats, Still Holding Her Hair Tightly. The Girl’s Face Was Pale And Upturned, Her Eyes Straining From The Sides. The Tip Of The Gun Barrel Was Pressed To The Back Of Her Head.

Mike Rodgers Was At The Foot Of The Gallery, In The Center. Because Of The Steep Slope Of The Rows And The Intervening Seats, The Only Target He Had Was The Hostage-Taker’s Left Hand. That Was Too Close To Harleigh’s Neck, And It Still Left His Right Hand Free, Holding The Gun. He Kept His Gun Trained On The Hand, Though He Knew That They Weren’t Going To Be Able To Let This Go On For Very Long. The Drape Would Only Contain The Poison Gas For Another Few Minutes.

Even If He Could Get To A Gas Mask, That Wouldn’t Help Harleigh. August Was Crawling Up The Stairs On The North Side Of The Chamber, To Rodgers’s Right.

Though Hobbled By The Gunshot Wounds To His Legs And Clearly In Pain, The Colonel Had No Intention Of Sitting This Out. Behind The Terrorist, The Un Security Agent Entered The Room Cautiously From The Back Door. That Had To Be Lieutenant Mailman, The One Who Briefed Chatterjee After The Failed Attack On The Security Council.

Suddenly, Rodgers Heard A Sound Behind Him. He Turned As Hood Appeared In The Frame Of The Shattered Window. Rodgers Motioned Him Back.

Hood Hesitated, But Only For A Moment. He Stepped Away, Into The Darkness Of The Terrace.

Rodgers Faced The Gallery And Turned His Gun Back To The Terrorist. “Hey, Hero!” The Terrorist Cried. “You See That I Have Her?” His Voice Was Loud, Challenging, Uncompromising. They Weren’t Going To Be Able To Bully This Man. But Rodgers Had Another Idea. “You See?” The Terrorist Asked Again.

“I See,” Rodgers Said. “And I’ll Kill The Bloody Girl If I Have To!” Downer Yelled.

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