The iCandidate: 16th Installment cover

The iCandidate: 16th Installment

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To begin with Installment 1, please click here.
The iCandidate is a unique interactive thriller about a political reality show to choose a potential President of the United States in which the reader has a key say in how the plot unfolds.
In The iCandidate, eight finalists from all walks of life face the kind of challenges they might have to deal with in the Oval Office:
• Will they use the nuclear button?
• What will they do about ISIS?
• How will they cope in a crisis?
At the end of each round the reader gets to cast an iVote to help determine who stays and who goes home. It is democracy in its purest form, free from party loyalties, donor obligations and antiquated electoral practices.
In the novel, serialized weekly on NoteStream, the eventual people’s champion goes on to challenge the political establishment in an iCampaign for the presidency climaxing in an explosive finale in Washington on November 8.
But The iCandidate has even greater aspirations to trigger a revolution in the way America selects the most powerful man or woman on the planet.
Change America one iVote at a time by choosing your iCandidate.
Join the NoteStream Book Club iCandidate: Looking For Heroes – Election 2016 and cast your in-app iVote to save your favorite iCandidates!
Watch out for the release of a second unique contemporary novel - DIVAS by Bill Wagner - this Spring.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars on 1 review




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The iCandidate: 16th Installment

Chapter 40– Nuclear Challenge

At 3:00 a.m. the phone rang next to Todd’s bed. He was already dressed in pants and shirt, sitting at his computer.

Gillian woke with a jolt, thinking the only reason anyone would call at that time would be because something had happened to her daughter.

Grace struggled out from a deep sleep to answer the call. She’d popped an Ambien the night before.

Tom was lying wide awake, as he often was in the quiet hours of morning when he argued most with his body.

Something Different

Something Different

None of them noticed in the darkness that the oversized, old-fashioned red phones had been put in their room overnight. Nor did they see the hidden cameras recording their every move.

New Pieces

What they could not help notice was the military officer, sitting straight-backed in a chair next to the phone. By his feet on the floor, attached by a thin metal chain to his wrist, was a black leather briefcase with a small antenna sticking out near the handle.

On the table next to the phone was what looked to be a credit card with the name of each candidate, and a number code, along with a small cellphone decorated with stars and stripes.

Todd answered the ringing red phone before he realized he wasn’t alone. There was no small talk from the other end of the line.

Target

“This is a nuclear emergency.

We have accurate Intel that North Korea has developed a nuclear weapon and is planning to deploy it in exactly two hours from now. The target is Washington.”

It was a man’s voice, dispassionate and devoid of any emotion. “In your room is a Marine with the nuclear football, a case including a computer enabling you to authorize a nuclear strike. He should also have the biscuit – a plastic card with your distinctive ID code on it – and an encrypted phone you can use as you see fit during the emergency.

If you choose to order a strike, you will need to be positively identified using the biscuit. From now on, the football and the biscuit should be with you at all times.”

Todd

“Okay so what’s first?” Todd was totally calm.

“The first choice is where do you want to operate from: the White House, Camp David, or do you want to get aboard Air Force One and head for the military bunker at a classified underground location?”

“I don’t want to be seen as running away when my country’s in trouble,” Todd said firmly. “I’ll stay at the White House.”

“Affirmative. Follow the Marine and he will take you there immediately.”

Todd put down the phone and turned to the Marine. “Can you give me a moment?”

“I’ll be right outside, sir,” he said.

Take A Seat

Todd wanted to look his best while saving the world. He put on a tie, and checked his reflection in the mirror as he followed the Marine down the corridor, half-running to keep up.

They took an elevator down two floors and the Marine opened an oak door to reveal a room decorated to look exactly like the Oval Office. The only obvious difference was that there was a giant TV monitor facing the presidential desk.

“Take a seat.” Kristoff’s face popped up on the screen. “You have some very important decisions to make.”

“Can I ask you a question first? What’s all this about footballs and biscuits? Is this for real?”

New Game

Smithsonian Institute (photographer Jamie Chung) - Smithsonian Institute Magazine

New Game

“Very real,” Kristoff explained. “The contents of the black briefcase, or the ‘football’ as it’s known in the White House, function as a mobile hub in the strategic defense system of the United States.

Clear

In other words, it enables you to press the button and launch a nuclear strike from anywhere at any time.

There are preset strike options in the computerized box that is linked directly to the National Military Command Center. The one thing you will need before ordering a launch is the code on the card, or ‘biscuit’, that you have been given. It is an ID number that confirms you as the Commander-in-Chief.

Although you and only you can order the strike, your Defense Secretary must confirm it. Is that clear?”

“Crystal!” Todd felt his adrenalin kicking into action.

Chapter 41 – Hard Choices

At first, Gillian was more shocked that the Marine managed to get into her room than about the impending nuclear strike.

I need to talk to the North Koreans, was her first thought.

“First you must choose your base of operations.”

“Can I stay here?” she asked, eager not to waste any time.

“The Oval Office is just down the hall,” said the blank voice.

“Then show me the way,” she threw a shirt over her sweats.

Once in the mock Oval Office, Kristoff appeared on screen to offer her four choices.

Four Choices

“You can contact your military chiefs, speak to your Cabinet, gauge the opinions of other world leaders, or speak directly to the North Korean leader who is threatening to attack America,” he said.

Gillian knew instinctively what she should do. “I want to speak to the North Koreans.

“Do you have any intention of ordering a US strike?” Kristoff asked.

“I certainly haven’t ruled it out. Can you hook this up?”

“We can indeed,” Kristoff answered. “Stand by.”

Chapter 42 – Air Force One

Chapter 42 – Air Force One

Grace was just happy she put a t-shirt on when she went to bed, otherwise she would have answered the phone naked.

She forced herself out of the Ambien-induced fog to hear a booming voice telling her she had to deal with a nuclear emergency. There was something nagging at her as she heard the choices; the Oval Office, Air Force One or Camp David.

Options

“Where will the plane take me?” she asked.

“We have a central command base underground at one of our air bases. I would rather not give exact details over the phone, even though this is supposed to be encrypted.”

“But I can make calls from Air Force One and decide what I am going to do from there?”

“Yes,” the voice said.

“Okay, that’s what I’ll do. I’m not going to be much good to anybody dead, am I? Close your eyes a second will you darling,” she told the Marine before whipping off her t-shirt and slipping on her underwear, and a blue skirt and matching jacket.

Evacuate

She washed her face, and then realized what had been bugging her.

Running back into the bedroom she picked the phone up: “We need to evacuate Washington. We’ve got to get the people out of here.”

“We’ll get right on it,” the voice replied.

Grace was led down an extra floor to the back of the hotel and taken across the parking lot to a plane fuselage painted to look like Air Force One. A stewardess greeted her at the top of some stairs and showed her into a spacious cabin set up with a big desk facing a giant TV screen.

Military Chiefs

“Please, make yourself comfortable,” the stewardess said as Kristoff greeted her from the monitor. She chose to speak first to the military chiefs. Three older men in military uniforms immediately appeared on the screen.

“I am your Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” the man in the center said. My two colleagues are in charge of U.S. operations in North Korea. How can we help you ma’am?”

“Yes, thank you,” Grace greeted them individually. “Firstly, can you tell me whether the evacuation is under way?”

“It is. Washington is in the process of being cleared, but obviously it is a huge process.”

Time

Time

“I understand. Would you please keep me appraised? Now, how real is this threat and how long do we have?”

“Time is of the essence, ma’am. We do believe they are serious.

Capable

North Korea has been enriching its own uranium for nuclear fuel for years and we know they have had help from both Russia and China in the technical area. They have the know-how, and we believe they are capable of launching the missile.”

“But is it capable of reaching Washington?”

“We believe the warhead is on a plane or a sea-bound vessel.”

“A boat?” Grace was surprised a nuclear-armed boat could get close enough. “Do we know where that might be?”

“We are checking coordinates right now and should know within the hour,” the four-star general to the chairman’s right answered. “It is our suggestion that we prepare to launch a retaliatory strike.”

How To Know?

“Against the boat, the plane, or Pyongyang?”

“The boat or the plane by conventional missile if we get the coordinates in time, a nuclear bomb on the North Korean capital if we don’t,” the general said.

“And what if they’re bluffing? How can we know?”

“There isn’t time to know for sure, but it’s your job, and our job, to protect the American public. That is the number one priority irrespective of foreign casualties,” the chairman pointed out.

“I want to speak to the North Korean leader,” Grace said. “And can you please put all possible FEMA and military resources into evacuating this city. Just get them as far away as possible.”