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"Since when is there an armory in the Beast?"

"We've always had a weapons stash—"

"Not anti-tank weapons."

"Better to sit on a javelin and not need it, than die for want of it, Mr. President."

"And you don't normally carry grenades, Mike," Asher noted.

"No, sir," Banning agreed, looking up at the buildings as though at any moment one might decide to fall on top of them.

Considering London, one—or several—of them just might. Helped along, no doubt, by high explosives.


"I had a feeling it might be one of those days, Sir."

One of those days.

Where it seemed the whole world would come crashing down.

Like the day he was traveling to a Christmas party/fundraising dinner for his reelection campaign.

Like the day after the first Fourth of July of his second term.

Like the day terrorists had ripped half of London apart killing visiting heads of state, and then ripped apart the other half trying to kill him.

And now it was one of those days again.

"What do we do?"

Because three things Asher had learned as President were: One, the Job was too big to know everything yourself so you had to trust others to know what you didn't. Two, there wasn't enough time to do it all yourself so you had to trust others to do the stuff you couldn't.

And Three, when everything fell apart and Hell decided to visit earth, you could trust Mike Banning to run, drive, shoot, knife, blow-up, ass-kick, and karate-chop his way out.

"No tactical nukes?" he asked, trying to inject some levity in a very un-funny situation.

"Not in the Beast, Sir. Not since Cerberus was activated," Mike said absently as he considered the buildings around them, consulting the various contingency plans and maps he had memorized and Asher dimly recalled being briefed on.

That was another thing Asher had learned as President. You weren't always briefed on stuff so you knew what was going on. You were briefed so that you knew that others knew what was going on. For all Asher could tell, Mike Banning was consulting the same multicolored oddly-shaped dice Asher had used to play with in college.

"I know a guy," Mike said finally.

"Like Jacqueline Marshall?"

"Jax is one of the good guys, Sir."

"Meaning this guy isn't."

Banning got that look. "Let me put it this way. The last time we spoke he said it was a good thing you lived halfway across the country because otherwise he might have to kill me to kill you."

Asher gave him a look of his own.

"Relax. He wants to kill you himself. Not let these assholes do the job for him."

"That's not a comfort."

"It wasn't meant to be."

"I just hope the locals know to stay inside and keep their heads down."

Mike's head did that thing, not quite a swivel, not quite a nod, where he was staying alert but also obviously considering something. "It's Detroit," he said finally.


"They either know to stay inside and keep their heads' down, or they are completely inured to it."