"Don't worry, sir. They won't get within a hundred feet of the President. Any indication that they are near, we evacuate the President," Dylan explained over his cell phone. "Yes, sir. I understand. Any means necessary."
Dylan hung up the phone and began meandering through the hallways of the hotel President Russ was staying at. No one else was staying at the hotel--Dylan had made sure of it and he was sure the Ptolemy Group would show up here to talk to the President. If they came, Dylan promised to destroy them.
"So how are we supposed to do this since Matt is now public enemy number one?" Brenda asked as they drove through New York City.
"We'll keep his face covered," Devon said.
"And we'll keep him protected. Don't worry, Brenda," Orr said. "This needs to end. There are more pressing matters to attend to."
"Have any more disappeared?" Landsman asked.
"15. Bringing the total to 197. Still just a small drop in the lake but something needs to be done," Orr said.
"Don't worry," Adolph said. "We'll get you help for that."
"The Last Stand"
Dylan sat alone in Room 305 looking at his laptop. The outside of the hotel had cameras at every angle and Dylan kept a vigilant watch on his computer screen.
He noticed a van pull into the parking lot and a large group of people get out. One of them he immediately recognized as Matthew Landsman.
Dylan shot up and went down the hall to where the President was staying. "We have a situation!" Dylan said, bursting into the room. "We need to evacuate!"
"What's going on?" a Secret Service agent ordered.
"We have a situation in the parking lot. Matthew Landsman is down there--with more of his terrorist buddies," Dylan said.
"Who are you?" the agent asked. Several more agents gathered around. "You mysteriously show up at the President's hangar and have suddenly become second-in-command. I've never even seen you before," the agents started eying Dylan.
Dylan maintained his composure and looked the agent in the eye. "So you know everybody who works in the government?" Dylan asked angrily.
"Of course not but I do know all of the New York agents and I've never seen you before."
Dylan was stymied. Suddenly the President came out. "What's going on?"
"Matthew Landsman is here Mr. President," Dylan quickly answered. "We need to evacuate but your agents don't feel the need to."
The agents acquiesced and gathered around President Russ and led him out of the room.
"Landsman and his men are heading in the front door so you should leave out the back," Dylan suggested.
The first agent angrily looked at Dylan and when they were around the corner he pulled out his phone and dialed. "Hello? This is Agent Copeland. I need all the information you have on a Dylan Freeman. He says he works in the New York office but check every office and every government branch. Thank you."
Landsman, Orr, Huxley and Grummett walked over into the hotel. No one was around, not even someone at the front desk.
"This is kind of creepy," Grummett whispered. "What floor would they be on?"
"I say we just take the stairs until we find someone," Orr said.
"Why the stairs and not the elevator?" Landsman asked.
"We'll get somewhat of an element of surprise if we take the stairs," Orr said.
The four of them began climbing the stairs up to the second floor. They slowly opened the door and peered into the hallway but saw nothing so they went up to the third floor where they saw Dylan sitting in a chair in the elevator foyer.
"Dylan?" Landsman blurted out as the four stepped into the foyer.
"Ah, Mr. Landsman," Dylan stood up. "So glad to see you once again. I was so sure you'd be killed in our Times Square attack."
"You were going to kill me in that attack?" Landsman was furious and stepped up towards him.
"Yeah but it's so hard to find good help these days," Dylan shrugged.
"Where's the President?" Orr demanded.
"He's been safely evacuated."
"Evacuated? Why?" Huxley questioned.
"Because you four are going to blow up the building," Dylan smiled.
"No, we're not," Grummett said.
Suddenly, Dylan pressed a button on a remote control just as Orr pushed all of them back into the stairwell. Explosions rocked the hotel and they could hear portions of it collapse. The four of them hurried down the stairs and cowered under the stairs on the first floor as the building came down around them.
Brenda watched in horror along with her kids as the hotel turned to rubble. "Matthew!" she screamed and began crying. Devon had to hold her back to her from running toward the hotel.
Dozens of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances arrived at the scene within minutes. President Russ looked in shock at the remains of the hotel.
"That agent was still in there," he said in a hushed voice. "Freeman or something."
"Dylan Freeman is not an agent. I'm pretty sure he's the one who blew up the hotel," Agent Copeland said. "I had Freeman's name run through every database we have and only came up with DMV papers."
"So what are you saying?" President Russ asked.
A group of rocks began moving and Orr pushed his way out. He helped Landsman out and both collapsed on the pile of rubble. Their clothes were tattered and their faces bloody but they were alive.
"It's Matthew Landsman!" one of the agents shouted. "Arrest him!"
"Wait!" President Russ said. "My sources say that Mr. Landsman is innocent of the charges brought against him."
"Sir? He organized a hijacking that flew a plane into Times Square and now blew up a hotel," another agent said.
"Agent Copeland, if you will," Russ invited.
"Matthew Landsman is innocent of all charges because he was spotted at Times Square at the time of the crash, and he clearly did not know what was going on. I called Washington to do a search on our friend Dylan Freeman and he doesn't work for us. We have reason to believe that Freeman initiated the attack and attempted to frame Landsman," Agent Copeland explained.
"That's true," Devon walked up. "Dylan Freeman is the leader of a super secret organization called the Empire Coalition. I am Devon Jalali, leader of the Ptolemy Group. Mr. Landsman was unfortunately dragged into this mess after a meeting he had with Senator Collyer and former White House Press Secretary Thomas Snow."
"This is like something out of a movie," President Russ said under his breath.
"Mr. President, if I and my colleagues could have a few minutes of your time, we can tell you what all of this is about," Devon said.
"Tomorrow. At our new hotel we'll now have to stay at," the President said. "Agent Copeland will give you the information."
Landsman and Brenda hugged. "I can't believe it's over!" she cried. "I thought I lost you."
"Me, too." Landsman coughed and turned to Orr. "Thank you, Mr. Orr. I couldn't have gotten out without you."
"No problem Mr. Landsman," a smile quickly came and went on Orr's face and the man headed toward Devon and Agent Copeland.
Vice President Richard M. Warrick sat in his office in the White House, the only light coming in from the drawn blinds and curtains. The silence of his office was pierced by the ringing of his phone.
"Hello?" Warrick answered. "Really? No register at all? That's too bad. He was a hell of a terrorist," he chuckled. "Yeah, I'll figure it out. Everything's on hold until I say so. Yes. Long live the Empire..."
The next day Devon, Orr and President Russ met in his hotel room, the Secret Service within range but out of the room. "So why do we have to tell anyone?" President Russ asked. "It's a lie that's not really hurting anyone. Besides, do you know what ramifications are possible if those people out there don't take this news well?"
Devon and Orr looked at each other. "We get what you are saying Mr. President," Devon sighed. "But I think you should give the human race credit. I think a majority of them will be overjoyed to hear their government telling them the truth on something like this."
President Russ shook his head. "No, I'm sorry. I think we should just let science take it's course and let the chips fall where they may. I have a country and a presidency to think about."
Devon understood. "There's one more thing, Mr. President," Orr spoke up.
"Yes, Mr. Orr?"
"Everyday more and more people are disappearing and no one knows what's happening to them. Something needs to be done," Orr began.
"I understand but no one has the resources to look for everybody in the world that has gone missing..."
"But these are not routine missing persons. These are people that vanish while on the way to work or while cooking dinner in their own house. These aren't runaways. These aren't kidnappings. These are disappearances," Orr explained.
"I'm not quite sure what you...?" President Russ but was interrupted.
"It was four months ago, my daughter, Linda, was spending the night at a friend's house. It was mid-afternoon and Linda was microwaving something. And she disappeared. Her friend saw no evidence of where she went and police saw no proof of an abduction and say what you will about my parenting but I am positive she didn't run away," Orr revealed.
"Well, I am sorry for your loss but..."
"And it's not just me. As of this morning 239 people have disappeared. And who knows how many more will today."
President Russ was silent. He then shrugged. "What do you want me to do?"
Two weeks later, Landsman woke up in his bed. The sun was shining brightly in through the windows. He got out of bed and put his robe on and went downstairs where he saw Elliott and Molly sitting at the kitchen table.
"Where's your Mom?" he asked.
"We don't know. We haven't seen her all morning," Elliott whined. "We're hungry!"
"Okay, I'll get you a bowl of cereal," Landsman said. "Where did Brenda go?" he asked himself quietly.
To be continued...