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Clandestine

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Balloons dropping, people erupting in applause, the hit "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac playing in the background. One would think that given the energy of the crowd in Little Rock, Arkansas, Governor Bill Clinton might have already clinched the 270 electoral votes needed to win the Presidency. But no. His campaign has barely begun. He had just finished his campaign kick-off speech in front of thousands of supporters gathered in the state capitol in Arkansas.

His kick-off rally initially didn't attract much attention from the national media, but it surely would change after this. Local press swarmed the event, and its success would certainly generate positive coverage, and in no time, Bill Clinton would certainly be seen as a major contender in the 1992 presidential race, alongside Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, Senator Hillary Rodham of New York and Governor Jerry Brown of California.

Bill waved and smiled in front of his adoring crowds while his family beamed proudly at him. His advisors, James Carville and George Stephanopoulos, were shaking each other's hands and were hugging following their candidate's successful kick-off. The rest of the Clinton campaign staff, huddled behind the stage, celebrated the night with pizza and beer.

Amidst the celebrations, there was one person who was not in a celebratory mood. Dennis O'Keefe, a CIA undercover who is working as a lawyer in a firm specializing in campaign laws, wasn't there to support the governor, but he was very happy for his former colleague and friend. O'Keefe had known way back then that running for president was Bill's dream, and it elated him to see it happen to fruition.

Once Bill got off the stage, O'Keefe quickly switched from celebratory mode, to work mode. His trained eyes quickly caught site of Bill's security. He quietly made his way to the holding tent where Bill and his inner circle huddled. It wasn't easy moving from where he was to the foot of the stage, as the people were still rejoicing. But once he was within distance of Bill's security, he flashed his CIA ID. Bill's security promptly questioned him about his intentions with the governor. He said he was there on government business. The young man who stood guard picked up his walkie talkie and alerted his superiors about O'Keefe's presence.

O'Keefe waited fifteen minutes before he got a response from the higher-ups. He had heard from the walkie talkie that it was Bill himself who had granted him access. O'Keefe thanked the young security guard and he was shown to the tent. When he entered, he found Bill being adored by his doting mother in the makeshift couch.

"I'm so proud of you, Billy. I've always known you'd get here. Oh the countless times I've seen you practice your speeches whenever you run for student council..." Virginia Clinton recalled fondly as she hugged her son.

"And I couldn't have done it without you, 'Ma," Bill said with a tenderness that O'Keefe had rarely seen in him. "You've been with me all the way, the ups and the downs..."

"And I'll always be here for my boy!"

O'Keefe felt a little comfortable watching this mother-and-son lovefest so he backed off a bit so he wouldn't be seen, but it had the opposite effect. Bill's eyes glanced to his corner, and the presidential candidate beamed at the sight of his dear friend.

"Dennis!" Bill roared in delight. "I wasn't expecting you to be here!" Bill stood up and hugged his friend. "I am so happy that you came."

"As am I, Buddy. As am I," Dennis said. "You were great back there. I look forward to prime inauguration tickets."

"Of course, man! You can hold the Bible if you want!" Bill joked.

"I am sure your Mom will be mad at me if you did that," said O'Keefe. He then turned to Virginia and extended his hand. "Dennis O'Keefe, Ma'am. Bill's only friend in DC," he winked.

"I have heard of you," Virginia shook O'Keefe's hand. "So glad that you're here to support Bill."

"Of course, Ma'am. Of course."

"What brings you here, man? Government business?"

"As a matter of fact, I am. I'm here to bring you the presidential daily brief. Might as well give it to him now because he's going to win," Dennis chuckled.

"You hear that, Ma?" said Bill with a mirth in his voice.

"I hear him. I hear him," Virginia replied.

"So, where can we have that briefing, eh?" Dennis said. Knowing him for years, Bill sensed that Dennis was serious in wanting to have a priivate conversation with him so he asked everyone to leave the tent, except for Carville and Stephanopoulos, who remained on Dennis's request. Once everybody left, the celebratory mood immediately turned serious.

"What's going on, Bill?" asked James as he sat across Bill and O'Keefe. George sat next to James

"Guys, this is Dennis O'Keefe. He's a buddy of mine from my CIA days. He still works for Clandestine Services," Bill introduced.

"As Bill's campaign managers, I suspect that you are aware of his involvement with the CIA. Otherwise, I would suggest that you fire your oppo resaearch firm," said Dennis.

"We are, yeah," replied George.

"Good, because I need you all for a mission."

"I was afraid you're gonna say that," said Bill.

"I'm sorry, Buddy, but what I am asking you is not easy, but I wouldn't have asked for your help it wasn't urgent or important."

"Well, if it's a matter of national security, we are prepared to help the government," said James.

Bill nodded appreciatively at his campaign strategist. The governor, being a former CIA operative, was keen to assist his former colleague. However, he wasn't sure if his top campaign advisors were on board. Thankfully, they were.

"Great," said Dennis. "And do not worry, we have already did background checks on you, and we have assessed that we can trust you with the information that I am about to share with you."

"Okay," James was listening intently.  

"As you know, the Cold War had just ended recently, culminating in the collapse of the USSR. However, the Russians are still trying to revive what was left of their old empire before it is too late. And one of their plans is to activate their asset here in the US to influence the US foreign policy."

"Typical," said Bill, unfazed by the intel. "I assume that you want us to be watchful of the people who will approach our campaign."

Dennis shook his head. "That won't work. Because based on our sources, it seems that Russia had been cultivating a candidate for years, and that candidate has declared their intention to run for president."

Dennis's pronouncement left the three other men in the room with their jaws dropped. They have never heard anything like this plot, even for Bill who was ex-CIA.

"This is like the Manchurian Candidate shit," said George.

"Are you serious? And how sure are we?" asked a befuddled James.

"We have corroboration. It's highly unlikely that this is a trap or a smokescreen. We are quite confident that this plot is real."

Bill wiped his face with his hand. "We have a Russian spy among Rodham, Tsongas and Brown. Do we know who it is?"

Dennis shook his head. "Unfortunately, we don't."

"Shit," exclaimed James.

"And that's where you come in," explained Dennis. "You'll be our front of our operation to identify and defeat the Russian candidate."

"But what if we are outed by the Russians?" asked Bill, concerned. "We will both be fucked if this comes out. The political shitstorm this may cause...it will destabilize our political system, not to mention the reputational damage to the CIA."

"We have thought long and hard about this, and we thought that the candidate should be defeated early on in the primaries, that's why we are approaching you."

"But why not seek the help of the Bush campaign?" asked George. "He is the President, after all."

"Don't think that we are not positioning our people there," replied Dennis pointedly. "The Bush campaign will be the last line of defense in case this candidate wins the primary."

"But what if Bill defeats the candidate? What will you do?" James asked.

"Then we will call it quits and withdraw. Our mission's done," said Dennis.

James and George look at each other before looking at their boss.

"If you decide to participate in this, then we can assure that the campaign will be ready to support you," said James.

Bill nodded at his senior advisors, appreciating their willingness to participate.

"Alright," said Bill, "I see no reason not to get involved with his. Even if I lose the election, at least our efforts are not for naught. I'd hate to see this country go down in the hands of our enemies."

Dennis smiled, and the mood suddenly brightened. "Spoken like a true patriot. You haven't changed a bit, Bill."

"Thanks."

"So when will we expect your people?" asked James.

"In a few weeks. I myself will get invovled. Maybe we can schedule fake interviews? You can interview me first and then I'll recommend several people for you to interview. Don't worry. They are competent people."

"That sounds great," said George, who is in-charge of hiring the senior staff. "Can I have your card?"George and Dennis excanged business cards for the fake interview.

In a span of fifteen minutes, Bill's aspirations for his campaign turned upside-down, but he was prepared for it. He was an ex-CIA after all. If the security of the country is at stake, he is prepared to put his ambitions aside.

Dennis bid them all goodbye shortly after the meeting. His body was exhausted, but his spirits were never higher, and his new mission only increased his resolve to win the presidency. If he wins the White House, he would make sure that Russia cannot threaten the security of the United States.

Meanwhile, one thousand two hundred thirty-three miles away, an undercover for the KGB just sent a wire back to Russia.

"Ready," the wire said.