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Home > The Doomsday Conspiracy(5)

The Doomsday Conspiracy(5)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

Ottawa, Canada, 2400 Hours

His code name was Janus. He was addressing the twelve men in the heavily guarded room of a military compound.

“As you have all been informed, Operation Doomsday has been activated. There are a number of witnesses who must be found as quickly and as quietly as possible. We are not able to attempt to track them down through regular security channels because of the danger of a leak.”

“Who are we using?” The Russian. Huge. Short-tempered.

“His name is Commander Robert Bellamy.”

“How was he selected?” The German. Aristocratic. Ruthless.

“The Commander was chosen after a thorough computer search of the files of the CIA, FBI, and a half dozen other security agencies.”

“Please, may I inquire what are his qualifications?” The Japanese. Polite. Sly.

“Commander Bellamy is an experienced field officer who speaks six languages fluently and has an exemplary record. Again and again he has proved himself to be very resourceful. He has no living relatives.”

“Is he aware of the urgency of this?” The Englishman. Snobbish. Dangerous.

“He is. We have every expectation that he will be able to locate all the witnesses very quickly.”

“Does he understand the purpose of his mission?” The Frenchman. Argumentative. Stubborn.

“No.”

“And when he has found the witnesses?” The Chinese. Clever. Patient.

“He will be suitably rewarded.”

Chapter Four

The headquarters of the Office of Naval Intelligence occupies the entire fifth floor of the sprawling Pentagon, an enclave in the middle of the largest office building in the world, with seventeen miles of corridors, and twenty-nine thousand military and civilian employees.

The interior of the Office of Naval Intelligence reflects its seagoing inheritance. The desks and file cabinets are either olive green, from the World War II era, or battleship grey, from the Vietnam era. The walls and ceilings are painted a buff or cream colour. In the beginning, Robert had been put off by the spartan decor, but he had long since grown accustomed to it.

Now, as he walked into the building and approached the reception desk, the familiar guard at the desk said, “Good morning, Commander. May I see your pass?”

Robert had been working here for seven years, but the ritual never changed. He dutifully displayed his pass.

“Thank you, Commander.”

On his way to his office, Robert thought about Captain Dougherty, waiting for him in the parking lot at the River Entrance. Waiting to escort him to the plane that would fly him to Switzerland to begin an impossible hunt.

When Robert reached his office, his secretary, Barbara, was already there.

“Good morning, Commander. The Acting Director would like to see you in his office.”

“He can wait. Get me Admiral Whittaker, please.”

“Yes, sir.”

A minute later Robert was speaking with the Admiral.

“I presume you have finished your meeting, Robert?”

“A few minutes ago.”

“How did it go?”

“It was … interesting. Are you free to join me for breakfast, Admiral?” He tried to keep his voice casual.

There was no hesitation. “Yes. Shall we meet there?”

“Fine. I’ll leave a visitor’s pass for you.”

“Very well. I’ll see you in an hour.”

Robert replaced the receiver and thought, It’s ironic that I have to leave a visitor’s pass for the Admiral. A few years ago he was the fair-haired boy here, in charge of Naval Intelligence. How must he feel?

Robert buzzed his secretary on the intercom.

“Yes, Commander?”

“I’m expecting Admiral Whittaker. Arrange a pass for him.”

“I’ll take care of it right away.”

It was time to report to the Acting Director. Dustin fucking Thornton.

Chapter Five

Dustin (Dusty) Thornton, Acting Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence, had won his fame as one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of Annapolis. Thornton owed his present exalted position to a football game. An Army-Navy game, to be precise. Thornton, a towering monolith of a man, had played fullback as a senior at Annapolis, in the Navy’s most important game of the year. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, with Army leading 13-0, two touchdowns and a conversion ahead, destiny stepped in and changed Dustin Thornton’s life. Thornton intercepted an Army pass, pivoted around and charged through the Army phalanx for a touchdown. Navy missed on the extra point but soon scored a field goal. After the ensuing kick-off Army failed to make a first down and punted into Navy territory. The score stood at Army 13, Navy 9, and the clock was running.

When play resumed, the ball was passed to Thornton, and he went down under a heap of Army uniforms. It took him a long time to get to his feet. A doctor came running out onto the field. Thornton angrily waved him away.

With seconds left to play, signals were called for a lateral pass. Thornton caught it on his own ten-yard line, and took off. He was unstoppable. He charged through the opposition like a tank, knocking down everyone unlucky enough to get in his way. With two seconds to go, Thornton crossed the goal line for the winning touchdown and Navy scored its first victory against Army in four years. That, in itself, would have had little effect on Thornton’s life. What made the event significant was that seated in a box reserved for VIPs were Willard Stone and his daughter, Eleanor. As the crowd rose to their feet, wildly cheering the Navy hero, Eleanor turned to her father and said quietly, “I want to meet him.”

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