Oops! by Keith Kitchen

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The Orion Seven in orbit around the moon was proof of that.

As always, the time he spent with the Boys Scouts, and all the people like the Boy Scouts, slipped by too quickly. Before he realized it, they were marching out the door. He sighed, knowing he had to deal with members of the Senate Appropriations Committee next, in fact, they were probably outside waiting right now.

"Mr. President?" It was his personal executive secretary, a middle-aged, matronly woman whom his wife had chosen for numerous reasons, including one that would have shocked his voters.

"Yes, Martha?"

"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is on one. He says it's ‘Critic' traffic."

The President's eyebrow rose. This was different. There were very few things that would raise a ‘Critic' flag and none of them were good. He picked up the phone. "This is the President, go ahead, General."

The President's principal Secret Service agent watched the man his service had given the code name "Gunner" to and watched his eyes go wide. "Something's up," he whispered into his mike, putting the White House Secret Service Detail immediately onto alert.

"Are you absolutely sure?" The President asked. "I see. You stepped out of your bounds, General, but you did the right thing. I'm confirming your order. Get the ball rolling. If it turns out to be unnecessary, then it's unnecessary." A pause. "Yes, I saw that movie, too." He hung up the phone and looked at his desk.

"Is there a problem, sir?" The Secret Service agent asked.

"Agent Anderson, the code word is ‘Firefox'. This is not a drill. Get the ball rolling right now." What amazed the President was that his voice never wavered. He was amazed because he had never been so scared in his life.

It took Anderson a short span of seconds that seemed to last far longer to realize what his principal had just told him. Then it struck him like a blow and he reacted, speaking into his lapel mike. "All stations, Gunner has declared Firefox. I repeat, Gunner has declared Firefox. Get Marine One, Air Force One and Kneecap moving. Grab Gunner's family and let's move!"

The President keyed his intercom. "Martha, get me the British Prime Minister, the Russian President, the French President, India's Prime Minister, Pakistan's President and China's Premier. You will likely have to have them channeled to me on either Marine One or Air Force One. Once you start the ball on that, grab your stuff because you're coming with me."


IV

The "Firefox" code shot through the command structure of the United States military like wildfire. Devised in the 1950's when so many people thought that invasion from outer space was not only likely, but probable had pushed the Eisenhower administration to make plans for the eventuality. While Ike had thought it unlikely that little men from Mars would land in Washington D.C., or anywhere else on Earth for that matter, he had been a five-star general in the U.S. Army before retiring and going into politics and knew that contingency plans were never a waste of time.

Other countries had different versions of the same code and their own contingency plans.

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