The moon was a mere sliver when it was visible at all. The clouds had been building for two days. It was darker than most nights in the western desert and darker than every night in the city. Richard Selling was sitting in the back seat of an armored black limousine. Under the big car's sumptuous body was an overland chassis and high traction system designed by his own engineers. The car was his mobile command post and was in constant highly encrypted communication with the lost satellite. Selling watched the news from around the world on the six screens mounted in the passenger compartment.
A silent black helicopter swooped in out of the east and landed near the car. It's engines shut down almost immediately. A few pinpoints of light were the only sign that a group of people had gone to meet those within. In a few moments a small swarm of lights organized themselves and moved toward the limousine. Selling's driver opened the door and two people climbed in with him.
"Mrs. Adams, Mr. President, it's an honor."
Secretary of State Rebecca McGuire had negotiated an uneasy truce with Attorney General Samuel B. Wilkins. They had their ad hoc cabinet gathered in the oval office. The Joint Chiefs were on board as well as the FBI, CIA, and NSI directors. Three civilians had been pressed into service, but had come along quite willingly. These were Will Purdue, Ralph Hormel, and Freddie MacDonald, all heirs to and CEOs of massive meat producing conglomerates. Their predecessors would have been beaming if they could have seen the high level of officials they had been invited to advise.
McGuire was the presumptive leader and final arbiter, but Wilkins was supported by a significant minority of those present. Wilkins was speaking: "The Selling TEs continue to be bootlegged across the country. Broadcasts are being beamed to them through an encrypted signal from a source that we have been unable to identify. It must be coming from his ranch. It's time for a direct frontal assault."
Hormel was corpulent and pale. He had strikingly thick dark red lips. He spoke with a New England accent so thick that he was sometimes difficult to understand. "Ah heah that Adams is with Selling."
Wilkins snapped back, "That's just a damn rumor! He was assassinated. We have the video for crying out loud."
The three meat boys were puffed up mightily by their new roles and all of them felt a need to offer their advice. Purdue said, "I've heard that rumor too." And MacDonald added, "I advise caution."
McGuire stood up from behind the Presidential desk and looked around the room. The CIA chief and the Joint Chiefs were unsurprised by her announcement. "Gentleman, we can only assume that terrorists are at the heart of the present crisis and it is possible that they are operating out of the Selling stronghold. I have ordered the Joint Chiefs to mount a surgical strike including elements of all the military branches. We should have answers within the next 48 hours."
Wilkins recognized his weakened position and jumped squarely on the wagon. His supporters were right behind. "Excellent, excellent, Madam Secretary."