Rebel Heart (Chapter Four, page 2 of 13)

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Lana waited until the others in the center left and stood before the titanium-reinforced glass in front of the keypads. She went through the multiple security procedures. At last, the glass slid open. Surrounded by keypads controlling the critical infrastructure nodes for the East Coast, the sensitive keys she needed to inventory were held within a small vault. It slid open, and she gazed at the keys that controlled sensitive military systems.

And the Horsemen. There were twenty keys in the set, code-named Horsemen, after the biblical Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The keys were located all over the world, except for four of them, which were based here in the command center. The Horsemen controlled and activated space weapons with the capability to destroy a country. She'd never spoken of them to anyone, not since being granted access to a file only a handful of people in the country had access to.

All four were there. Puzzled, she freed them one by one, studying them. It wasn't possible for four of them to be there while one was on its way up the mountain. Lana glanced towards the door and sat at a small table nearby. She set one keypad on her micro, waiting for it to read the serial. The results were even more baffling. She tested the second, third, and fourth.

None of them were the Horsemen! These were lesser keypads to other critical infrastructure functions that someone had swapped out. She rose and crossed to the keypad wall again.

She began testing them quickly with her micro. After a long hour, she found one of the remaining sixteen Horsemen. In the second hour, she found the other fifteen. All of the weapons controllers had been taken from their positions all over the world and placed here, disguised as lesser systems.

The reality of what someone had done made her feel sick. There were three people with access to the keypads, and one was sleeping in the barracks from too much drugs. This-combined with General Greene's encrypted messages-made her instincts stronger.

Even so, four of the Horsemen-the ones based here-were missing. Lana leaned her elbows on her knees, staring hard at the wall. Four keypads gone with one making its way back to the command center. Where were the other three?

She rubbed the back of her neck, mentally wired despite her fatigue. Four keys capable of destroying a continent-and winning a war-were taken under their noses. They may have been missing before she arrived; no one took accountability of something no one was supposed to have access to. One of those with access was declared unfit; did he have enough scruples left to steal and hide three more keypads?

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