Part 3

CJ, Sam and Josh walked together down the hall to the Oval. Dark halls marked it as night in the West Wing, but none of them doubted that even the full light of day would chase away the fear they faced.

Leo was seated in his usual spot. Toby paced behind him.

"Sam, what the hell happened to your hand?" A single dot of blood soaked the neatly wrapped bandage on his hand. Leo's voice was firm and did not betray the fatigue in his eyes.

"I hit it on something."

"You're OK?"

"Yes. I'll get the wall fixed."

Leo looked up at him carefully. "Thank you." Everyone in the room understood that there was more to the comment. He really meant 'thanks for just telling me you were pissed and put your hand through a wall, and that you're not hiding some battle with PTSD.'

Josh stood next to Sam and watched the interchange. The moment broke when Bartlet entered the room.

"Well, kids, it seems we have some problems to deal with. Toby, we'll start with the call you got last night."

Toby snapped his head up at the mention of his name and dropped into a chair.

"A friend of mine called me to give me the heads up about a potential security breach within the bioweapons section."

"This friend have a name, Toby?" Leo tapped his pen on the binder in front of him.

"I'm guessing that you have all that in the brief from the CIA that's right in front of you, Leo. But to answer the question you're really asking, let me say that he only gave me a heads up for potential disaster. It wasn't expected to go as far as it did."

Josh shook his head in confusion. "And why would your friend think you should be on the first need to know list about a bioweapons disaster. Do you have a secret life in intelligence that we don't know about?"

"No. He just remembers a discussion we had many years ago about a certain CIA director forced to fall on his sword to protect the President and allow plausible deniability of a stupid plan to overthrow the leader of this little place called Cuba. The President signed off on the current research plans and could be held ultimately responsible."

CJ joined the men shaking their heads. "How in all the ways the skies are blue can the President be held accountable for that?"

Leo answered her directly. "He is ultimately responsible for all the actions of the appointed agents and agencies of the government. There's no piece of paper that he signed directly, but that's the nature of the power chain."

"It's a pretty big stretch, but legally, there is some validity." Sam addressed them confidently. They listened when he spoke in this tone. He was the youngest politician, but the best of their legal minds. And the fact that he understood the ramifications was a big part of the reason there was a hole in the wall of his office.

Toby broke in again. "But it's a ridiculous stretch. Except for the fact that a few key members at the Agency and the Department of Defense hold a grudge against this White House. They see it as a chance to spin it to their advantage--"

CJ interrupted. "-- As the person whose gonna be in front while we spin our own plates on sticks, I need a little more information about what the hell actually is happening."

Leo motioned for Josh to explain.

"What we know so far is that a purposefully mutated strain of anthrax has been stolen from a lab at Fort Detrick. This is not an easy task. The virus is kept in a strict containment environment with high level security and controlled access. This was definitely an inside job. Before you ask, I don't know why we play with this stuff. It's supposedly to allow us to counter terrorism by other countries--"

"--It sounds stupid and dangerous." CJ interjected.

--our chief concerns are that the people who stole it plan to release it in an act of terrorism, and that they plan to release the news of its existence in an attempt to discredit the military and government research facilities and use it for political gain."

Toby stood and interrupted Josh again. "What we're really afraid of is that these monsters will release it in a populated area. By conservative estimates, it could kill millions, depending on the technical knowledge of the people who have it."

Sam joined Toby in his pacing. "What if they just want people to know that it can be stolen and that it poses a threat to national security to have this kind of research going on?"

Toby stood in front of Sam. "Are you engaging in wide speculation, or does this have something to do with the call you took from your 'friend' at the CIA. The call that that you took three minutes before you put your hand through the wall."

Sam held Toby's eyes. "Back off. You don't know what you're talking about."

The shocked quiet of the room broke with the President's quiet command. "Maybe you'd better tell us, Sam."


Part 4




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