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Rachel’s mother had died three years ago, a devastating loss whose emotional scars still raked at Rachel’s heart. This was 14225 Leesburg Highway, one of the most secretive addresses in the country.Rachel’s only solace was knowing that the death, with ironic compassion, had liberated her mother from a deep despair over a miserable marriage to the senator. While the guard scanned her car for bugs, Rachel gazed out at the mammoth structure in the distance. The building’s facade was a bastion of one-way glass that reflected the army of satellite dishes, antennas, and radomes on the surrounding grounds, doubling their already awe-inspiring numbers.Rachel Sexton was still steaming as she drove her white Integra up Leesburg Highway.The bare maples of the Falls Church foothills rose stark against a crisp March sky, but the peaceful setting did little to calm her anger.The senator’s eyes were his gift—a gift Rachel suspected would probably carry him to the White House. It’s a fairly low-level position.” He paused and looked at Rachel. Sexton,” the reporter said quickly, “before you go, I was wondering if you could comment on the rumors that you called this breakfast meeting to discuss the possibility of leaving your current post to work for your father’s campaign? “Ralph, or whoever the hell you are, get this straight: I have no intention of abandoning my job to work for Senator Sexton, and if you print anything to the contrary, you’ll need a shoehorn to get that recorder out of your ass.” The reporter’s eyes widened. Their communication devices, transport, and weapons were all state-of-the-art. He was muscular and lithe with eyes as desolate as the topography on which he was stationed. Reflexively, Delta-One left his two partners and stepped outside into the darkness and pounding wind.
She felt the same sensation she always felt as she pushed through these doors...that she was entering the belly of a sleeping giant.Inside the vaulted lobby, Rachel sensed the faint echoes of hushed conversations all around her, as if the words were sifting down from the offices above.An enormous tiled mosaic proclaimed the NRO directive: The walls here were lined with massive photographs—rocket launches, submarine christenings, intercept installations—towering achievements that could be celebrated only within these walls.Now, as always, Rachel felt the problems of the outside world fading behind her. A world where the problems thundered in like freight trains, and the solutions were meted out with barely a whisper.