The Doomsday Conspiracy

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.