Chapter 7

The Woman with All the Toys

The evil lair was actually quite lovely with silk green patterned throw pillows that were purchased on a recent shopping trip to Dubai. Built into the side of Mount Kumgang and overlooking a pristine lake, Ri Song Ae could not have been more pleased with her birthday present from her brother. The Mercedes had been pretty sweet, as well, but this--damn. She pressed the remote control that tinted the panoramic windows, settled behind the glass desk that had never know a fingerprint, and rested her gloved hands upon its surface. She smiled lovingly at her Miu Miu crystal-embellished satin slingback pumps visible below (the crystal having been customized with diamonds, obviously). Pressing the small, flesh-colored communicator in her right ear, she told her assistant to send in the scientists and spies. She could have just called out to them, but this was so much cooler.

The two men and one woman who walked in a moment later were not wearing expensive shoes, had not recently shopped in Dubai, and were frankly a bit ticked off that the windows were tinted crushing any chance of them catching a few minutes of actual outdoor scenery. Working deep inside a secret military base sucked. For the sake of their families and overarching love of Ri’s brother, the Supreme Leader Anointed By God Who Will Carry Them To Valortorious Explosions of Enemy Soul Crushing, they brushed wrinkles out of their white lab coats and kept their pissiness to themselves.

“Come in, come in. Make yourselves comfortable,” Ri Song Ae generously offered. The two men and one woman looked around at the sparsely decorated offices with only the one chair behind the desk, and currently occupied at that, and didn’t move.

“Good, good. Better, yes? Tell me of the latest. Can the little shit be helpful?” she asked, using the derogatory term for Web Stockbridge to cement with her colleagues that she was just one of the gang, all working together towards common goals. She sipped her champagne and waited.

The woman--42 years-old, tall, long hair in a pony tail--stepped forward and said, “I believe he can be manipulated to helping our plans. I spoke with him just a short time ago and he is willing to continue the conversation and to keep quiet about it.”

“Do you believe him,” Ri asked.

“Yes. None of our intelligence suggests any,” the woman said, holding back a smile.

“Uh huh. So, do you believe him?” Ri asked again.

Sighing, the woman nodded her head. Dr. Lee Yeon-mi had a Ph.d. in mathematics, spoke three languages, and held four patents related to nanomaterials, but apparently comic timing remained elusive.

Ri continued, “Good, good. So how do we use him? Can we embarrass his father in a very public way? My brother would like that very much.”

Now, the two men stepped forward even with Dr. Yeon adding two additional doctorates, four languages, six patents, and a love of Russian nesting dolls to the conversation.

“The first test was a success,” Dr. Yu Jin--56, military bearing and hair cut, threatening towards stocky, but not quite there yet--stated. “We were able to affect the path of the hurricane by over 100 miles. I am confident we can replicate the results under the right conditions to even greater effect.”

“Uh huh,” said Ri.

Sensing Dr, Jin had left out critical information, Dr. Jang Chang-ha--33, round face, round glasses, very thin, hair just a little too long, and yes, the nesting doll fan--cleared his throat and offered, “If the President were to be caught unexpectedly in the path of a storm, well, I think that would be pretty embarrassing.”

Ri stared down at her flawlessly lacquered fingernails tapping on the desk thoughtfully, as though pondering a great mystery. Looking up suddenly, she smiled and said, “Yes, that will do nicely. How soon can you can make it happen?”

Dr. Jin began cautiously, “there are no disturbances in the Atlantic basin at the moment, so it’s unclear how quickly . . .” he trailed off as the smile on Ri’s face vanished and threatened to evolve into a frown. A frown would not be a good thing. There were rumors of a trap door in this office. There were rumors on many things about this office that had little to do with designer throw pillows and scenic vistas.

Dr. Yeon came to the rescue. “I can begin immediately to work on the son. To guide him toward convincing his father to do as we wish. Then, when the storm comes, we will be able to act very quickly.”

Sensing the turning tide, Dr. Chang opined, “and it is a very active hurricane season, so I’m sure a disturbance will form soon.”

“That’s good,” said Ri. “I will let my brother know. Keep up the good work.”

The three doctors turned as quickly as protocol could allow and moved toward the door. Just before reached it, Ri called out. “And, destroy the economy, too. Don’t forget that part. ‘Kay, bye!”

********************

Can you talk now?

Sure, yeah. How’s it going?

Are you alone?

Definitely. Secret Service are outside my room, though.

I’ve spoken to my colleague and she feels very badly for your people hurt by the hurricane. I’m sure the President is very upset.

Totally. He’s pissed off at some scientists who screwed up. This friend of my dad’s who works for him is trying to figure out what happened.

Which friend is that, if you don’t mind my asking?

Her name’s Gayle. She works for some weather agency. She has a sweet plane.

I see. Well, my colleague, who is very smart and would very much like to help your father to demonstrate her friendship, had a suggestion.

Okay…

Perhaps if there is another hurricane, the President could visit a city near the expected path to demonstrate his bravery and confidence in his scientists. I think this would be a very good idea and be very newsworthy.

He doesn’t really like to go places. Or to talk to people. He says the President doesn't have to. It’s his favorite part of the job.

I didn’t know that. Do you think you could convince him. You seem very smart.

I don’t know. Maybe. Is there another storm?

There will be.

********************

“Wow,” said Kayla.

“I know, right” agreed Web.


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