Tom Clancy – Op Center 6 State Of Siege

So Was The Fdny’s Marine 1. The Fire Department Presence Was Required By Law In Situations Involving Hazardous Materials. Many Terrorist Groups Follow A Scorched-Earth Policy. If They Can’t Win, They’ll Make Sure That No One Does. Since One Of The Terrorists Had Vanished From The United Nations Infirmary, And The Nypd Didn’t Know If There Were Additional Accomplices, They Had To Be Prepared For Anything. Including A Final Act Of Spite.

Paul Hood And His Daughter Took A Long Moment To Embrace. Hood Was Crying Openly. Harleigh Was Shaking Violently. Her Head Was On His Chest And She Was Clutching His Arms. One Of The Medical Technicians Threw A Blanket Over Her Shoulders Before Leading Them Out To The Emsc Tents.

“We’ve Got To Get Word To Your Mother,” Hood Said Through His Tears.

Harleigh Nodded.

Mike Rodgers Was Standing Behind Them, Watching As Medics Carried Brett August Away. Rodgers Said He’d Take Care Of Bringing Sharon Over. He Also Told Hood That He Was Proud Of Him. Hood Thanked Him. But The Truth Was That When Rodgers Left The Security Council And Hood Snuck In, He Knew That Nothing-Not His Own Safety, Not National Or International Law Was Going To Keep Him From Trying To Save Harleigh.

Hood And His Daughter Headed Toward The Escalators Along With Delegates And Security Personnel. As They Started Downstairs, He Couldn’t Imagine What Was Going Through Harleigh’s Mind. She Was Still Holding Him Tightly And Staring Ahead With Glazed Eyes. Harleigh Wasn’t In Shock; She Hadn’t Suffered Any Of The Physical Injuries That Brought On Hypovolemic, Cardiogenic, Neurogenic, Septic, Or Anaphylactic Conditions. But The Young Girl Had Spent About Five Hours In That Room Watching People Being Shot, Including One Of Her Best Friends. She Had Nearly Been Executed Herself. The Post-Traumatic Stress Would Be Intense.

Hood Knew From Experience That What Had Happened Today Was Going To Be With His Daughter Every Moment Of Every Day For The Rest Of Her Life. Former Hostages Were Never Truly Free. They Were Haunted By A Sense Of Hopeless Isolation, The Humiliation Of Being Treated As A Thing And Not As A Human Being. Dignity Could Be Rebuilt, But In An Unintegrated, Patchwork Fashion. The Sum Of The Parts Would Never Equal The Shattered Whole.

What Life Puts Us Through, Hood Thought.

But His Daughter Was Safe In His Arms. As They Reached The Bottom Of The Second Elevator, Hood Saw Sharon Running Across The Lobby. If Anyone Had Tried To Keep Her Out, Obviously They’d Failed. A Woman From The State Department Was Behind Her, Desperately Trying To Keep Up.

“My Baby!” Sharon Was Screaming. “My Girl!” Harleigh Broke Away From Hood And Ran To Her Mother. They Clutched Each Other And Wept Convulsively, Sharon Threatening To Engulf The Girl With Her Arms. Hood Stood Back.

Rodgers Walked In, Accompanied By Bill Mohalley. Beyond Them, In The Courtyard, Secretary-General Chatterjee Was Talking To Reporters. She Was Gesturing Angrily.

“I Want To Shake Your Hand,” Deputy Chief Mohalley Said. He Offered Hood A Powerful Handclasp. “You Three Rewrote The Crisis Management Book Today. I’m Honored To Have Been Here To See It.” “Thanks,” Hood Said. “How’s Brett?” “He’ll Be Okay,” Rodgers Told Him. “The Bullets Missed The Femoral Artery. The Wounds Caused More Pain Than Damage.” Hood Nodded. He Was Still Looking At Chatterjee. There Were Spots Of The Terrorist’s Blood On Her Outfit, Hands, And Face. “She Doesn’t Seem Very Happy,” Hood Said.

Mohalley Shrugged. “We’re Going To Hear A Lot Of Shit About What You Did Here,” He Said. “But The Hostages Are Safe, Four Of The Terrorists Are Taking A Dirt Nap, And One Thing Is Certain.” “What’s That?” Rodgers Asked.

“It’ll Be A Blustery Day In Hell Before Anyone Tries Something Like This Again,” Mohalley Said.

New York, New York Sunday, 12:51 A.M.

Alexander Was Asleep When Hood Walked Into The Hotel Room. Sharon Had Gone To The Nyu Medical Center With Harleigh. In Addition To A Physical Checkup, It Was Important That She Talk To A Psychologist As Soon As Possible.

Harleigh Had To Understand That She Did Nothing To Bring This On Herself And Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Having Survived It. Before Any Of The Other Damage Could Be Attended To, She Had To Understand That. Hood Stood By The Side Of The King-Size Bed And Looked Down At His Son. The Boy’s Life Had Changed, His Sister’s Needs Would Be Different, And He Didn’t Even Know It. The Innocence Of Sleep. Hood Turned And Went Into The Bathroom.

He Filled The Sink And Washed His Face. His Life Had Changed, Too. He’d Killed A Man. And Whether The Man Deserved To Die Or Not, Hood Had Killed Him On International Territory. There Would Probably Be A Trial, And It Might Not Be In The United States. The Process Could Take Years, And It Might Very Well Compromise The Security Of Op-Center. How Did They Know Certain Things?

To What Extent Were The Cia And The State Department Involved? What Was The Connection Between The U.S, Government And The Missing Bulgarian Georgiev? The Government Agencies Had No Authority In Any Of These Areas.

The Irony Was That The United Nations Might Come Out Of This Looking Like The Wounded Party, The Victim Of A United States Conspiracy. From Withholding Dues To Bugging The Secretary-General, We’d Broken Many Of The Rules That States Members Of The United Nations Promised To Uphold. Nations That Sponsored Terrorism, Trafficked In Narcotics, And Crushed Human Rights Would Be Able To Wag Their Fingers Indignantly At The United States. And We Would Take It. We Would Take It Because The Media Would Be Watching. Hood Had Always Felt That Television And The United Nations Were Made For Each Other. In Their Eyes, Everyone Was The Same Size.

Hood Toweled Off And Looked At Himself In The Mirror. Sadly, He Didn’t Think The Most Difficult Fight Would Be With His Enemies. That Would Come When He And Sharon Tried To Talk. Not Just About His Behavior Tonight But About A Future That Suddenly Looked Very Different From What They’d Been Planning. “Enough,” He Said Quietly.

Hood Dropped The Towel On The Counter And Took A Drink Of Tap Water. He Walked Slowly Back To The Bedroom. The Night Was Starting To Catch Up With Him. His Legs Were Weak From All The Running, And He’d Strained His Lower Back When He’d Run Crouching Into The Security Council Chamber. He Eased Himself Down Beside Alexander. He Kissed The Boy Lightly Behind The Ear.

He Hadn’t Done That In Years And Was Surprised. He Could Still Smell The Remnants Of Little Boyhood There.

The Peace Of The Child Gave Comfort To The Man. And As He Slipped Into Sleep, Hood’s Last Thought Was How Strange It All Was. He Had Helped To Make These Two Children. Yet By Their Needs And By Their Love, The Reverse Was Also True. These Children Had Created A Father.

New York, New York Sunday, 7:00 A.M.

A Call From Bill Mohalley Startled Hood Awake At Seven A.M. The State Department Official Was Calling To Inform Hood That His Wife, Daughter, And The Other Families Were Being Brought To La Guardia Airport For A Flight To Washington.

Mohalley Said That His Wife Had Been Notified At The Hospital And That The Nypd Would Arrive At The Hotel In An Hour To Escort Him And His Son To The Airport.

“Why The Quick Evac?” Hood Asked. He Was Sore And Groggy, And The Bright, White Sunshine Was Like An Acid Bath In His Skull. “It’s Mostly For You,” Mohalley Said, “Though We Don’t Want It To Seem Like We’re Hustling You Out.” “I Don’t Follow,” Hood Said. “And Why Is The Nypd Handling This Instead Of The State Department?” “Because The Police Are Used To Protecting News Makers,” He Said. Dis”…And Like It Or Not, You Just Became One.” Hood’s Cell Phone Beeped. It Was Ann Farris. Hood Thanked Mohalley And Got Out Of Bed. He Walked Toward The Door Where He Wouldn’t Wake Alexander And It Was Mercifully Much Darker. “Good Morning,” Hood Said.

“Good Morning,” Ann Said. “How Are You?” “Surprisingly Well,” He Said.

“I Hope I Didn’t Wake You-Was “No,” Hood Said, “The State Department Did.” “Anything Important?” She Asked.

“Yeah,” He Said. “They Want Me Up And Out Of Here.” “I’m Glad,” She Said. “You’re Pretty Exposed Right Now.” “And Obviously Out Of The Loop,” He Said. “What The Hell’s Been Happening, Ann?” “It’s What We Press Professionals Call A Shitstorm,” She Said. “Since No One Has The Names Of What They’re Calling The Two “Swat Men’ Who Went In Before You, This Whole Thing Has Become The Paul Hood Show.” “Courtesy Of Mala Chatterjee,” Hood Said. “She’s Not Very Happy With You,” Ann Said. “She Says You Risked Your Daughter’s Life Needlessly For A Speedy And Criminal Resolution To The Crisis.” “Up Hers,” Hood Replied.

“Can I Quote You On That?” Ann Quipped.

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