Madam President Deville

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  1. Sonya Deville knew why she had been selected to be the designated survivor during the State of the Union address. She was the youngest and least important cabinet member in the administration, meaning that her presence wouldn't be missed. No one would be looking for the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Outside of the government, hardly anyone would have even heard of her.
  3. A secure room at a secret government installation would be Sonya's location for the night. The reason behind having a designated survivor was to ensure continuity of government in the unlikely and unthinkable situation of the President and everyone else in the line of succession being killed in some kind of attack or accident. It was a piece of administrative nonsense, Deville thought, and tonight the short straw was hers.
  5. "Here you are, ma'am," Ronda Rousey, Deville's Secret Service agent said as she opened a heavy wooden door and stood aside to allow Sonya to enter the room. Despite repeated instruction, Rousey steadfastly refused to stop addressing her in the formal manner.
  7. Sonya entered the room. There was a long wooden table in the centre with chairs all around it. There were a couple of couches for more comfortable seating, and there were two large televisions on the far wall. One was already turned on, showing the State of the Union. President Bischoff was already speaking. Most importantly for Sonya, there was a bottle of red wine and two glasses on the table. "Now this I approve of," she said, walking over to pick up the bottle, wanting to read the label.
  9. "Compliments of the President, ma'am," Rousey said before stepping back out of the room to give her principal some privacy.
  11. Picking up the bottle, Deville smiled. It was a kind gesture from Bischoff. He knew the designated survivor duty was going to be boring, and that Sonya would rather have been at the Capitol Building to hear the address in person.
  13. Still, it could be worse, Sonya thought as she sat down. She looked towards the door as her wife entered the room. Amanda Deville, a former dancer, model, and actress, had no interest in the State of the Union, or much of an interest in politics. What she did have an interest in was spending time with her wife. Until a few days ago, she had been away filming the latest movie she had been cast in. They both hoped this one would be her first success in film, although realistically it was doubtful, given its low budget and lack of an established star in the cast.
  15. "I hope we didn't miss your line," Amanda said, referring to Bischoff's speech.
  17. A year into her role as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, all of Sonya's many hours of hard work were worth one line in the speech. One line about a potential future policy idea to allow people living in social housing to purchase their homes from the state at a discounted price. Still, it was better than nothing, Deville thought. "We won't have missed it, Mandy," she said warmly. "He's only just started, and the line is closer to the end than the start."
  19. "Well, I say we have a glass of wine while we wait." Knowing there would be no objection, Amanda poured for them both.
  21. "Thanks," Sonya said. Accepting the glass, she tried the wine. "Mmm, lovely," she opined.
  23. Amanda sipped from her own glass and nodded her agreement. "So, I was thinking Barbados." It was a resumption of an earlier conversation about an upcoming vacation. They had been interrupted earlier back at home by Rousey's insistence that it was time to leave. Sometimes the Secret Service were the ones who gave the orders.
  25. "Sun, sand, my wife. There's not much else I need," Sonya smiled, half listening to the ongoing speech on the TV while they talked. "If you'd like to go to Barbados, we'll do it. I could use the week off, that's for sure."
  27. Deville's phone started ringing in her pocket.
  29. "Maybe we can go without that thing," Amanda said, knowing the request would be in vain. As a cabinet member, even a junior one, Sonya was always busy. Even at this time of night, the call would no doubt be about work.
  31. "It's Alexa," Sonya said. Alexa Bliss was her trusted personal assistant. They had worked together for several years, and Deville couldn't imagine trying to do her job without Alexa at this point. She answered the call as Amanda just about managed not to look sour at the interruption.
  33. "Lexi, hi."
  35. "Hey," Alexa said in greeting. "I'm going over your appointments for next week. There are a couple of changes I think we should make."
  37. They spent a couple of minutes talking through the proposed alterations, with Sonya agreeing to them. Alexa was a much better administrator than her.
  39. "So what's it like where they took you?" Alexa asked when the business was concluded.
  41. "It's alright. The President sent wine, so how bad can it be?" As she finished the sentence, Sonya saw the screen showing Bischoff's speech go black. After a moment, the TV network's logo appeared, then the coverage bounced back to a studio with a male and female presenter sitting at a desk.
  43. "Fail," Amanda chuckled as the male presenter informed the audience that the signal from the Capitol Building had been lost. At the same moment, Sonya heard a dull, very distant rumble.
  45. "Lexi, I'll call you back," Deville said, ending the call and looking at her wife.
  47. Amanda had heard the sound too. Her eyes narrowed as she wondered if she had been mistaken.
  49. Then things started happening very quickly. The door flew open and Rousey charged into the room, flanked by two male Secret Service agents. All three of them wore the most serious of expressions.
  51. "We need to go, ma'am, now!" Rousey ordered, practically grabbing Deville by the arm to force her to get up.
  53. "What the hell?" Amanda shrieked, frightened.
  55. "What's going on?" Sonya demanded of Rousey, only marginally calmer.
  57. "We need to go!" Rousey repeated.
  59. In the pit of Sonya's stomach, she knew something was very wrong. Ronda had never spoken to her like this before, and one of the two men was shepherding Amanda towards the door, ignoring her objections.
  61. Deville was able to shrug her arm out of Rousey's grasp. She hurried over to a door at the far end of the room, knowing that opening it would give her a view outside, in the direction of the Capitol Building.
  63. Yanking the door open, Sonya's mouth dropped open. Her eyes widened and it felt like her heart stopped beating. Where the Capitol Building was supposed to be, there was a fireball glowing brightly in the night sky, with a mushroom cloud rising above it.
  65. Behind Sonya, Amanda could also see out of the open door. She screamed hysterically at the apocalyptic sight.
  67. "Get away from the door!" Rousey yelled at Deville, grabbing her around the waist and hauling her out of the way of any potential danger.
  69. Legs feeling like rubber, Sonya couldn't process what was happening. How had there been such a huge explosion at the Capitol Building? How would that possibly happen? Had anyone been killed? Surely there had to be casualties. Where was she being taken?
  71. "Sonya! What's happening?" Mandy screamed from up ahead, absolute terror in her voice.
  73. Before Sonya could formulate a response, they had both been bundled into the back of the car they had arrived in. One of the men jumped into the driver's seat and Rousey got in the front passenger's seat. The car was speeding off before her door was closed.
  75. Gasping for breath in her panic, some instinctive part of Sonya told her to get control of herself. She needed information. "Ronda, what's going on?" she asked, her voice trembling.
  77. "Explosion at the Capitol Building," Rousey said. It was stating the obvious, but she apparently didn't know anything more.
  79. "Where are we going?" Sonya cried.
  81. No answer came. Instead, Rousey put a hand to her ear, listening to her ear piece.
  83. Beside Sonya, Amanda was hyperventilating. Sonya put a hand on her knee to try and calm her down.
  85. "Sonya. Oh my God," Amanda gasped, grabbing her hand for dear life.
  87. "Fighter is in transit," Rousey was saying in the front, speaking into a microphone at her wrist. Fighter was the code name the Secret Service had given Sonya, thanks to the two MMA fights she'd had before pursuing politics as a career. The Secret Service agent visibly stiffened, and Sonya heard her take in a sharp breath.
  89. "Understood," Rousey said in a sombre tone. "Eagle is gone."
  91. "What does that mean?" Amanda demanded, freaking out again.
  93. Sonya knew exactly what it mean. Her blood ran cold and tears filled her eyes. President Bischoff was dead.
  95. "Understood," Rousey said again, before turning in her seat to face Deville.
  97. "President Bischoff is dead?" Sonya asked, needing the horrendous confirmation even though she already knew.
  99. "Everyone is dead," Rousey said in a heavy voice. The Capitol Building is gone. There can be no survivors. Ma'am, you are now the President of the United States."
  101. "What?" Amanda shrieked as Sonya felt the world swimming around her.
  103. Tyres squealing, the car made a right turn at an intersection, abruptly changing course from whatever the previous destination had been to a new one.
  105. Sonya felt like she was going to throw up, and it had nothing to do with travel sickness. Everyone in the Capitol Building was dead. Her President; her cabinet colleagues; her friends. If she had been there, she would have been dead too. It was all too dreadful to comprehend.
  107. In what seemed like moments but was actually minutes, Sonya and Amanda were entering the White House. They said nothing to each other, as they were too shocked to find words. Sonya sensed that her wife was hoping none of this was real, that she was going to wake up at any moment. It wasn't going to happen.
  109. "This way, ma'am," a man in a suit said to Sonya, setting off along a hallway at a brisk pace. She had never seen him before, and had no idea who he was. Amanda walked on one side of Sonya, with Rousey on the other.
  111. As they walked, Sonya realised they were heading towards the West Wing, where the offices of the President were situated. She wanted to scream at everyone to stop for a minute. She needed time to try and let her brain catch up with what was happening. She felt sick and disorientated. How did people expect her to be able to cope with this?
  113. The party stopped in front of another man in a suit, this one older and grey haired. Again, he was a stranger to Sonya. Before she knew what was happening, the man had thrust a bible into Amanda's hands. "Hold the bible please, ma'am," he said, then addressed Sonya. "Please place your hand on the bible."
  115. Sonya reached out and placed her hand on top of the thick book. It occurred to her that she was about to be sworn in as President wearing a t-shirt with 'Put your hair up and square up' written on it, and a pair of jeans. There had been no need to dress formally for the designated survivor duty, so she had put on one of her favourite shirts that she usually wore to the gym. To these people, she had to look completely ridiculous. How were they supposed to consider her their President? How was she supposed to consider herself the President?
  117. "Repeat after me," the man said. "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
  119. Sonya repeated the words back to him in a monotone, acting more on autopilot than out of conviction. "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
  121. Sonya looked at Amanda, whose face was pale, eyes wet with tears and mouth open in shock.
  123. "Mandy," Sonya said, unsure what she was hoping her wife would say or do.
  125. "My god," Amanda breathed. "Sonya, you're the President of the United States."
  127. Chapter 2
  128. Chapter Text
  129. President Sonya Deville's first moments were spent on her knees on a bathroom floor, spewing up into a toilet. After being sworn into the most powerful job in the world, a wave of nausea that she had been unable to suppress had hit her, sending her running for the bathroom.
  131. "Christ almighty," Sonya groaned after emptying the contents of her stomach into the bowl. She wiped her mouth with toilet paper, then pushed the button to flush.
  133. "You got that right," a voice said from the next cubicle, startling Sonya. She had rushed into the bathroom so quickly that she hadn't noticed the cubicle was occupied. "No survivors, they're saying," the voice went on. "I can't believe it. Who could have done it? I can't see how it's possible."
  135. Standing up, Sonya opened her door and stepped out at the same moment as the other person did the same. "I don't know, but we're damned sure going to find out," Sonya said. She recognised the other, much shorter woman as Zelina Vega, the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs. She was one of the people who reported to the Secretary of State, who was now dead, along with every other senior member of the administration.
  137. Emerging out of her cubicle, Vega saw who she had been speaking to. Recognising Sonya as a cabinet member, she quickly processed the situation. "You were the designated survivor?"
  139. "I was," Deville confirmed with a grimace.
  141. "But that means… excuse me, Madam President," Vega said deferentially.
  143. Sonya felt the room spinning around her again. Madam President. It was the first time she had been addressed as such. It was something she was going to have to get used to, and fast. "I never thought I'd hear someone call me that," she admitted.
  145. "No, ma'am. Anything I can do to help you, I'm at your service."
  147. Nodding her appreciation, Sonya moved over to the basins to wash her face and swill out her mouth. The reflection in the mirror didn't look much like a President to her. It looked like a scared thirty five year old woman who was way out of her depth in every way, including experience.
  149. Leaving Vega behind at the basins, Deville dried her hands and walked out into the hallway. The same man who had met her and Amanda when they arrived was standing waiting. "This way, ma'am," he said as soon as he saw her.
  151. "No, stop," Sonya said before he could take off. "Who are you?"
  153. The man turned, looking annoyed with himself for failing to introduce himself. It was perfectly understandable in such a chaotic situation, Sonya thought.
  155. "Seth Rollins, ma'am. I am, was, I guess, Assistant to the Chief of Staff. I need to get you to the Presidential Command Centre ASAP."
  157. "For right now, you're my Acting Chief of Staff," Sonya decided on the spot. She knew that no matter how out of her depth she was, it was crucial for her to project authority to the people around her. A time of crisis was a time for leadership, whether she felt like a leader or not. What she also needed was people around her who knew what they were doing. Rollins would fit that bill.
  159. "Thank you, ma'am," Rollins said, obviously eager to set off walking.
  161. Sonya, though, had a question for Ronda Rousey, who was standing next to Rollins. "Where's my wife?"
  163. "With a doctor, ma'am. She was having what looked like a panic attack to me. The doctor will make sure she's okay, and she'll be taken to the residence."
  165. Instinctively, Sonya wanted to go to Mandy, but she knew it wasn't going to go like that. The President's duty was to the country first and foremost, and there was an unprecedented act of terrorism to address. "I want updates, Ronda. I want to know Amanda's okay."
  167. "Yes, ma'am," Rousey said. "She did say one thing: 'Tell Sonya she knows how to lead.'"
  169. For a second, Sonya took that in. Even in a moment of absolute panic, Amanda had wanted to say something to help her, and it really did help. Sonya loved her wife so much, possibly more than ever in that moment. And Mandy was right, she thought. She did know how to lead. As a cabinet member, she'd had a staff working under her. She had to try and set the incredible shock and anger at what had happened aside and lead again, albeit on a much, much more important level. It was what her country needed.
  171. "Madam President, we have to go," Rollins said urgently.
  173. "Lead the way," Sonya instructed him.
  175. Rollins surprised her by entering the first room along the hallway. She knew for a fact that it was no Presidential Command Centre. Entering the office behind him, she saw why she was there, and her blood ran cold.
  177. A man in a military uniform replete with honours on the right breast stood beside a table. On the table was a large black case, opened up in a similar fashion to a laptop computer. On the display was a map of the world, with white dots marked on it.
  179. "Madam President, this is Major Brisco," Rollins said. "And this is the nuclear football."
  181. "Madam President," Brisco said, standing to attention. After a moment, he turned to face the device to show her how it worked. Sonya wasn't sure she wanted to know. But no, especially in the current situation, it was information she needed. Further attacks might come at any moment from whoever had carried out the bombing at the Capitol Building.
  183. Brisco explained how the nuclear football worked, and what the procedure would be if she ever needed to use it. He advised her that he and the football would always be close by, whether she was at the White House or traveling. It was a truly sombre moment for Sonya. With an order and a confirmation of a verification code, she could order the annihilation of literally millions of people. How could a person, any person, have that kind of thing at their fingertips and not feel numbed by it?
  185. "These white dots signify all of our missile locations, on land and at sea," Brisco was saying.
  187. Sonya saw many locations in America and some Europe, and a couple in the Atlantic Ocean. There was one off all by itself in the Indian Ocean. "What's that one there?" she asked, pointing at it.
  189. "That's the USS Iowa, ma'am. She's the..."
  191. "I know what the Iowa is," she cut in politely, picturing the US Navy's biggest and newest missile submarine, launched only a matter of months earlier.
  193. With Brisco's explanation complete, Rollins led Deville back out of the office. It was time to head to the Presidential Command Centre, a room in the White House that she had never heard of before. But then, she reasoned, she had never had a need to know about it before. She knew that was going to be the case with a lot of things in the coming days.
  195. A minute later, they turned into a short hallway. At the end was a door with a man in a military uniform standing guard outside it. Upon seeing Sonya approaching, he saluted. She wasn't sure if she was supposed to return the gesture, so she didn't. There were much bigger problems right now than observing formalities.
  197. Entering the Command Centre, Sonya saw a large rectangular table set in front of a huge wall display which was currently displaying satellite images. All of the seats around the table were occupied, a couple by people Sonya recognised by name. In the seats closest to the empty place at the head of the table were Bob Orton, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Kurt Angle, Director of the CIA. Everyone at the table seemed to be loudly talking at once, creating such a cacophony that it would be a miracle if anyone could actually have a conversation. Such was the level of chaos, no one noticing Deville enter the room.
  199. Approaching the table, she didn't feel comfortable shouting down all of these high-ranking people; men and women who had much more knowledge and experience than her, and likely would have no respect for her, save that dictated by the office of the President.
  201. "Excuse me," Sonya said, sounding a lot more timid than she would have liked. It mattered not, since no one heard her or noticed her arrival. She heard Amanda's voice in her head, telling her that she knew how to lead. It made her suck up her nerves as best she could and address the group as if they were the staff she was used to having working under her. "Quiet!" she shouted loudly.
  203. Silence came immediately, and lasted a couple of seconds as everyone turned towards her and took a moment to process their first sight of the new President. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, she was hardly a formidable sight, she felt sure. Out of respect, they all stood up.
  205. "Madam President," Orton said, the first to find his voice. "I'm General Bob Orton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs."
  207. Deville chose not to advise him that she already knew that. "What do we know, General? Who did this to us?"
  209. "Too early to say ma'am," Angle said, taking it upon himself to answer the second of her questions. "Kurt Angle, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I can tell you we are getting a lot of chatter out of Iran, plus another disturbing development that's unfolding as we speak."
  211. "What development?" Deville asked.
  213. General Orton gestured towards the satellite images on the display at the far end of the table. "These images are fifteen minutes old. They show Iranian ships starting to form a blockade in the Gulf of Oman."
  215. "It's something they've been wanting to do for years, Madam President," a male analyst said from further down the table. "They're making a play to cut off oil supplies to the west."
  217. "They've never had the balls before," Sonya said thoughtfully. The blockade itself did not mean that Iran were the ones behind the attack though, she thought. "They're trying to capitalise on what's happened," she said. "They know we're shocked and weak by what's happened, and they see advantage in it for them. We need to project strength and show them that now is not a time to get into a pissing contest with us."
  219. Around the table, she saw positive reactions to her firmness of tone and political stance. She imagined they had doubted a woman, particularly a relatively young one, would have the strength of character she had just shown. They would quickly learn the opposite. Sonya Deville was no shrinking violet.
  221. "Yes, ma'am," Orton said, a note of approval in his voice.
  223. "What are our options?" Sonya asked the group as a whole.
  225. "First of all, ma'am, diplomacy," a woman who Sonya vaguely recognised as a foreign policy advisor said. "I suggest meeting with the Iranian ambassador and telling him we want those ships gone."
  227. Sonya pointed to the speaker to indicate her acceptance of the idea. She turned to Rollins to give her first Presidential order. "Get onto the ambassador and tell him I want him over here, and I mean now."
  229. Rollins nodded. "Yes, Madam President." He headed out of the Command Centre to carry out the order.
  231. Again, Sonya looked around the group. "I want to know how blew up our capital and killed our people. And I want plans as to what we're going to do about it when we find out."
  233. Orton said, "The FBI will have a large team conducting a thorough investigation as soon as the site is made safe for them to work. The fires are still being dealt with at the moment, then there will be a search for survivors."
  235. "I was told there wouldn't be any survivors," Sonya said in a grim voice, thinking of all the people who had been murdered.
  237. "It's likely there won't, but there will be a search anyway."
  239. Deville's attention returned to who might have perpetrated the attack. "Do we actually think Iran did this to us?" she asked. "Or are we looking at Middle Eastern terror groups?"
  241. "Impossible to say as yet, ma'am," Angle said. "But the amount of chatter we're picking up from them is a serious concern. It's reminiscent of what we got from Bin Laden's group after 9/11. We have to seriously consider the possibility that Iran has committed an act of war on us."
  243. Nausea took over Sonya again. Even if it wasn't Iran who had carried out the attack, she was going to have to respond by taking her country to war with someone, and that meant ordering American men and women to put their lives on the line. Thinking about that prospect made her hands start shaking, so she stuffed them in her jeans pockets to prevent anyone noticing.
  245. She realised that right now, there wasn't much else she could do. She had to allow her people time to work, and time for the situation to continue unfolding. Her next job was to meet with the Iranian ambassador and demand the removal of the ship blockade they were putting in place in the Gulf of Oman. How that meeting went would tell her a lot about their potential enemy's intentions. Diplomatic discussion at such a high level would be something she was totally new to, and she needed advice. Luckily, Rollins walked back into the room at just the right time.
  247. "The Iranian ambassador is on the way now, Madam President," he reported.
  249. "Thank you, Seth," Sonya said. "When he gets here, how forceful do I get with him?"
  251. "There's a significant chance Iran are behind the attack. Even if they're not, we cannot let them blockage oil supplies. I say be as forceful as you're comfortable with being."
  253. Sonya looked at him with a hard expression on her face. She had picked up something in his tone that said he didn't think much of her ability to hand the ambassador. "I think you'll be surprised by how forceful I'm comfortable with being, Mr Rollins," she said firmly. "I'm a straight talker, and I have a feeling that will be new to a lot of people I have to deal with."
  255. Chapter 3
  256. Chapter Text
  257. For obvious reasons, the President couldn't hold an official meeting in the Oval Office dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. Luckily, with many White House staff members required to work unpredictable hours on a regular basis, it hadn't been a problem for one of the staff to find Sonya an outfit she could borrow for the rest of the night. For a finishing touch, Seth Rollins had lent her a United States flag pin to fix to the lapel.
  259. "It'll do," Sonya decided, quickly giving herself a once over in a mirror. She imagined someone was handling fetching possessions for her and Mandy from their home. Thinking of her wife, she wished she could go to the residence to see her, but there was no time for that now. The Iranian Ambassador would be arriving at any moment.
  261. While changing outfit, Sonya had thought through again what she wanted to say in the upcoming meeting. The ambassador, and his country, would be looking for weakness in the new American President. She was determined that they would find the exact opposite.
  263. Feeling as mentally prepared as she was going to get, Sonya walked out into the hallway, finding Rollins waiting for her.
  265. "The ambassador is in the building, Madam President," he reported. "Please follow me to the Oval Office, and I'll show him in when you're ready."
  267. Sonya nodded, realising how important Rollins' composure and professionalism had been to her in her first hour as President. She would never have gotten through it without him, and that wouldn't be something she would forget.
  269. Rollins opened a door, and Sonya followed him into the Oval. It wasn't the first time she had been in the room, but it was a lot more daunting now than it had been then. Now it was her office. From this room, she would act as the most powerful person on the planet. Every decision she made in this room, behind that famous desk, would affect millions of people's lives. It took her breath away for a moment as the enormity of it dawned on her.
  271. "Do you need a minute, ma'am?" Rollins asked delicately.
  273. Taking a deep breath, Deville found her estimation of him increasing even further. He understood the pressure she was under and how much was being thrown at her in such a short space of time, and he wanted to do his best to ease that pressure in every way he could. "No, thank you," she said after a second. "Show the ambassador in when you're ready."
  275. As Deville walked over to stand near the two couches that were used for Presidential meetings with staff or visitors, Rollins made his way to the door on the opposite side of the room to the one that he and the President had just entered through.
  277. A moment after Rollins stepped outside, he reappeared and formally announced the guest. "The ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Madam President."
  279. A short man wearing a suit a slightly darker shade of grey than his hair walked into the office. He had a smile on his face that had a bit too much smarm in it for Sonya's liking. As expected, he was coming in expecting an easy ride with an inexperienced woman, only an hour into her role as President.
  281. "Mr Ambassador," Sonya greeted him in a business-like tone, offering a handshake and professional smile. She noticed Rollins close the door, remaining in the Oval Office. That wasn't usual protocol, but she knew why he was doing it. He wanted to be there in case she got out of her depth. While she didn't anticipate needing him, she decided not to dismiss him.
  283. "Madam President," the ambassador replied. Accepting the handshake, he put more force into it than was required. Again, it was something Sonya had expected.
  285. "Please," Sonya said, gesturing to the visitor's couch to invite him to sit.
  287. "Thank you."
  289. Taking her seat opposite him, Sonya made sure to keep eye contact, projecting herself as strong in any way she could.
  291. "The Islamic Republic of Iran would like to offer you, Madam President, and all of the people of the United States of America our most sincere condolences," the ambassador said. "If we can assist you in any way at this difficult time, please do not hesitate to ask."
  293. "You could start by moving your ships out of the Gulf of Oman," Sonya said bluntly, wanting to see how that went for an opening shot. She saw the man opposite her blink and try to hide his surprise at being addressed in such a forward manner. His poker face wasn't as good as he would have undoubtedly liked to believe.
  295. "I'm sorry, Madam President, I don't know what ships you're referring to."
  297. Sonya raised an eyebrow in irritation at the lie. She knew this was how the diplomatic game was usually played, but she had no time for it, on this night or any other. "Mr Ambassador, you currently have enough ships in the Gulf that I could walk from Oman to Iran without getting my feet wet, so shall we dispense with the bullshit?"
  299. "Well, Madam President..."
  301. Someone has attacked the United States of America tonight," Sonya pressed on. "And when we find out who it was, we will be retaliating, and all options will be on the table." Including nuclear, she didn't need to add. She could tell by the look on the man's face that he fully understood what she was saying.
  303. "Uh, there may have been developments that I haven't been briefed on," the ambassador said carefully, referring back to the ship blockade.
  305. "Then I suggest you go and get yourself briefed, and tell your President to remove those ships. Make it clear to him that if they're still there in four hours, I'll remove them for him. This is not a time you want to anger the United States of America."
  307. "I'll pass that on," he said, doing a better job of keeping his emotions hidden than he initially had.
  309. "I appreciate it. Thanks for coming in," Sonya said, rising and offering her hand.
  311. "Madam President," the ambassador said as they shook hands again. With that, he headed for the door, which Rollins opened for him. Sonya had noticed that the smarmy smile had disappeared.
  313. When they were alone, Rollins shut the door and turned around, eyes wide, plainly surprised by what had just taken place. "Ma'am, that was... forceful," he said after a moment.
  315. "That's how it needed to be," Deville said with absolutely no regret.
  317. "Perhaps not that forceful," Rollins said, treading carefully around how he spoke to her.
  319. "You're my Acting Chief of Staff, Seth. You can speak freely," Sonya told him.
  321. "Very well. You just threatened to declare war on Iran, and you also effectively mentioned the use of nuclear weapons. That's a serious escalation."
  323. The tension of the night was largely to blame for the way his choice of words triggered Sonya's temper. She pointed in the direction of the Capitol Building and snapped at him, "President Bischoff, the entire government, along with congress and the senate were just blown up in our nation's capital. If there's even a chance that son of a bitch's country had anything to do with it, he damned well better know what the price is that they're going to pay for it. And if those ships haven't moved in four hours, we will be sinking them."
  325. "I don't think it will come to that," Rollins said, keeping his composure in the face of her anger.
  327. Sonya took a moment to get herself back under control. "Neither do I. I think I just saw to that. As I said to you before, Seth, my way of doing things might be different to what people are used to around here. I call things how I see them."
  329. "That may not be a good thing in politics, ma'am," Rollins said evenly.
  331. "I see why you would say that. But personally? I think it's what's been missing for a long time, and I think it's what the people want from their government. As for right now, I think it's time we got back to the Command Centre and informed everyone of how that exchange with the ambassador went."
  333. "Yes, Madam President," Rollins said.
  335. As they walked out of the Oval Office, Sonya had the impression that the discussion about her straight-talking manner was not over, it had merely been left for another time. She knew that her opinion would not change, discussion or no. One of the things she had always received positive comments on during her time in public office was the fact that she didn't talk to people in the crafty, slimy, evasive way most politicians did. Even people who didn't agree with her stance on certain issues were known to respect the way she would debate frankly and honestly.
  337. Walking back into the Command Centre, Sonya was this time given silence without needing to demand it, as everyone started getting up to honour her entrance.
  339. "Stay seated," she said, finding the stuffy formality unnecessary. She reached the head of the table and took the Commander in Chief's seat. At least she was dressed more like one this time. "What's the latest, General?" she asked Orton.
  341. "Iranian ships have formed their blockage, Madam President," he explained, motioning to the satellite images on the display at the far end of the table, where she could see the proof for herself.
  343. "Not for long," she replied. "I gave the ambassador four hours to get them moved before we start putting them on the bottom. Where are we on preparations for that, if it comes to it?"
  345. "We have two Virginia-class submarines in the Indian Ocean, the Colorado and the South Dakota, both of which will be on station within that time frame. We also have the Los Angeles-class submarine Hartford en-route as quickly as possible. The Iowa is within missile range of the blockade. In addition to her nuclear arsenal, she carries four of our newly-deployed anti-ship missiles. Between them, those subs have more than enough firepower to sink every ship in that blockade."
  347. "Let's hope we don't have to use it," Sonya said. Although she had spoken strongly to the ambassador, the last thing she wanted to actually do was go to war with Iran over a naval blockade that was possibly no more than an attempt by them to test her mettle. If that was the case, she imagined the Iranians would right now be considering the results of the test and not liking them very much.
  349. "What's the latest at the Capitol Building?" Deville asked next.
  351. Whoever was in control of the display changed it to show a live feed of the site of the attack. Where one of the nation's most recognisable buildings had once stood, there was now nothing more than a smouldering pile of rubble. The level of destruction struck Sonya as remarkable. "How did a bomb or a bunch of bombs big enough to do this get into the building?" she demanded.
  353. "We don't know yet, Madam President," a man in a suit said. Sonya recognised Jerry Lawler, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "I'm Jerry..."
  355. "I know who you are," Sonya cut in abruptly. "Mr Lawler, how long is going to be before people stop telling me what we don't know and start telling me what we do know? Because there's a reckoning coming to someone out there for this, and I want to know who it is."
  357. "Ma'am, we'll be starting a thorough investigation as soon as we possibly can," Lawler said, seeming a little flustered at being spoken to in such a manner by a woman much younger than him. "It's important to establish all of the facts. We need retribution, but we need to be certain it's against the right people."
  359. Good comeback, and good point, Sonya thought, acknowledging him with a nod and reminding herself that these people were the heads of their fields. They were due respect, even if the lack of available knowledge was incredibly frustrating.
  361. "An interesting point to note, Madam President," Kurt Angle ventured from her right. "No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, even indirectly. After 9/11 it took months for Bin Laden to claim responsibility publically, but we knew through intelligence the same day it was him. Tonight, nothing. So far, at least."
  363. "What are you telling me, Mr Angle?"
  365. "Given that fact and the other events of the night, I'm focusing my people on Iran right now, ma'am."
  367. Sonya took in a long breath. A potential war with Iran was not a prospect she liked to think about. There was even a hint of a grey area over whether the Iranians possessed weapons of mass destruction, and that was a chilling thought indeed.
  369. "If this is them," she said, "Setting aside the how for the moment, why? Why carry out this atrocity and risk annihilation?"
  371. "The nuclear deal we basically forced them to make? They want to go to war with Israel? Two possible reasons. It could be one of them, or both, or neither. Or they may have done nothing more than put some ships into the gulf."
  373. The conversation continued for fifteen more minutes, before Sonya came to the conclusion that there was little more she could do other than wait and see what Iran's next move was.
  375. "I want to know the moment those ships start moving, or I want to be told in three hours if they're still there," she instructed Orton.
  377. "Yes, Madam President," he replied.
  379. Sonya got up and gestured with her head for Rollins to follow her out of the room. Once they were out in the hallway, she had a simple order for him. "Show me how to get to the residence. It's time I checked on my wife."
  381. Chapter 4
  382. Chapter Text
  383. Walking quickly, Seth Rollins had accompanied the new President through the White House and up the stairs to the residence. Sonya had so much on her mind that she barely took in any of her surroundings as they walked. She had never been into the residence before, but now all of a sudden it was going to be her and Mandy's home for the next three years. That was another item on the huge list of things that she was failing to come to terms with.
  385. Entering the residence's huge centre hall, Sonya saw a couple of Secret Service agents who she didn't recognise standing near a doorway on the left side of the hall, at the far end. One of them stepped forward upon seeing her. He was an absolute mountain of a man. Ronda Rousey, Sonya's principal agent, walked swiftly up from behind the President to make the introduction.
  387. "Madam President, this is agent Roman Reigns. He is now the First Lady's principal agent."
  389. "Madam President," Reigns said respectfully, standing to attention before her.
  391. "Mr Reigns," Sonya nodded. "Where is my wife?"
  393. "Mrs Deville is in the living room, ma'am," Reigns said, pointing to the doorway that he and the other agent had been standing outside of. "The White House doctor is with her."
  395. As he said it, the doctor he was referring to walked out of the living room, apparently having heard the conversation. The doctor was a woman who looked to be in her early forties. She had bleached blonde hair and was wearing glasses. When she spoke, Sonya was surprised to hear a strong Canadian accent.
  397. "Madam President. I'm Trish Stratus. I'm currently assigned as Physician to the President."
  399. "The White House doctor," Sonya said, preferring the simpler, unofficial title.
  401. "Yes, ma'am," Stratus said. "I've given Mrs Deville something to calm her. She was brought up to the residence by agent Reigns, while having a strong panic attack. You can sit with her, but she'll be pretty out of it for a while. I want to assure you that she will be fine, though. It's understandable to panic after…" Her voice trailed off as she herself pictured the devastation at the Capitol Building and all of the people who had lost their lives.
  403. "Thank you, doctor, I understand. I'll go through and see her now," Sonya said. She turned to Rollins. "Give me some privacy, but fetch me the moment anything develops."
  405. "Yes, Madam President," Rollins said. Of course the truth of the situation was that he would have interrupted her the moment something required her attention whether she had requested him to do so or not. The President was never off duty.
  407. Approaching the living room, Sonya could hear the TV on in there, volume turned up quite loud. It was her name being spoken that caught her attention. The talking heads on a news network were discussing the appointment of the designated survivor as President. Before entering the room, she lingered in the doorway for a moment to get a first impression as to what the media made of her.
  409. "…is as we know, now the first female President, and at thirty-five years old, the youngest President as well," a male interviewee was in the middle of saying.
  411. "What can you tell us about Sonya Deville?" a male anchor asked. "I'm sure most of our viewers will never have heard of her, yet tonight, after the unprecedented attack that has been perpetrated on our country, she is now our Commander in Chief."
  413. "Yes she is, Michael," the interviewee said. "Socially, as I'm sure can imagine given that she is a married gay woman, Deville is socially on the left of the Republican party. She's a supporter of gay rights, and she's not known to have strong feelings on abortion or gun laws. Economically, however, she is considered far to the right. She is known to support the idea of tax cuts, particularly a lower top rate, which would of course favour the rich and big business. Deville is also on record pushing for tax reform, wanting less taxation on earnings, replaced by higher tax on purchases."
  415. "So tax as you spend rather than tax as you earn?" a female anchor asked.
  417. That's it exactly, Sonya thought. She couldn't see how wanting people to keep more of the money the earned could possibly be viewed as a bad thing. Who didn't like to see money in their bank accounts? And if people only spent money on things they could afford, then the increase in sales tax should not be an issue as far as she was concerned. What did seem strange was that her economic vision was the topic of conversation so soon after the attack.
  419. As the talking heads continued waffling away, Sonya walked into the living room. She found Amanda curled up on the couch, looking at the TV with a blank expression on her face. Whatever the doctor had given her must have been strong stuff.
  421. "Sonya," Mandy said quietly, turning her head and seeing her wife walk in.
  423. "Mandy, are you okay, honey?" Sonya asked. Reaching the couch, she leaned down and kissed Mandy on the forehead.
  425. "I totally lost it downstairs after we got here," Mandy said slowly. "I couldn't believe… I can't take all of this in. How can you be the President? How did this all happen? Who did this to us?"
  427. Sonya sat down on the couch and put a comforting arm around Mandy. "It'll be okay, honey. We'll make it work, like we always do. We're working on finding out who did this, but I can't talk to you about it in any more detail than that."
  429. "Security," Mandy mumbled.
  431. "Yes, for national security reasons I can't tell you," Sonya confirmed unhappily. "But we will find out who it was, and we will make them pay for what they have done."
  433. "You're in charge of the whole country," Mandy said. In her spaced out state, her thoughts didn't seem to be following along with the conversation.
  435. Sonya felt her own head start to spin again. It was true, she was in charge of the whole country. The United States, in fact the world, would now by directly impacted by things that Sonya Deville said and did. Further, when she spoke, she did so as the leader of her great nation. Hers would be the most powerful voice in the world.
  437. "Yeah, honey, I am," Sonya said, squeezing Mandy. "But the main thing is you and I are both okay, and we're still together. We're going to be fine. Okay?"
  439. Mandy looked at her, and although she was drugged up, there was love in her eyes. "We're still together. I love you. I'm the First Lady now."
  441. "Yeah, babe, you are. And what a First Lady you're going to make," Sonya said, smiling. Getting to spend just these few minutes with her wife had really helped her to get her emotions under control. The situation was horrific and overwhelming, but Sonya knew that she was a very strong person, and that she would have the best possible staff around her. She could do it, she could be an effective President. It was what the people needed from her. It was what the country needed from her.
  443. "Madam President?" Seth Rollins said as he entered the room.
  445. Sonya closed her eyes for a second. She had hoped for more than five minutes with Mandy. "I'll be back when I can, honey," she said, giving Mandy a peck on the cheek.
  447. Getting up off the couch, Sonya put her business face back on as she looked at Rollins. "Yes?"
  449. "A visitor for you, ma'am."
  451. Walking towards the door, Sonya looked at him with a puzzled expression. A visitor? Could he have been any more cryptic?
  453. Stepping out into the centre hall, Sonya nearly had to do a double take. Standing there wearing a suit that looked like it had been hurriedly put on, and her hair in a simple ponytail was Deonna Purrazzo, a Democrat congresswoman who represented New Jersey. Until that moment, Sonya had thought all of the members of congress were dead. Like everyone else in the country, Purrazzo had deep-lying shock in her eyes. How could she not, after what had happened.
  455. "Madam President," she said stiffly, looking uncomfortable speaking to the new Commander in Chief. "I'm Deonna…"
  457. "I know who you are," Sonya informed her, speaking in a tone intended to put the other woman at ease. "I thought… Well, I thought everyone was at the State of the Union."
  459. "We have a designated survivor too, ma'am," Purrazzo said, meaning the Democrats.
  461. "Of course," Sonya said, realising that made perfect sense. She actually felt somewhat relieved. Even if it was someone who would traditionally have been a political opponent, at least there was someone else left to help with the process of getting the government, and the country back on its feet.
  463. "I suggest we take this though to the sitting hall, ma'am," Rollins suggested, gesturing to a nearby doorway.
  465. Sonya nodded, granting permission for Rollins to lead the way. She and Deonna followed him through to the sitting hall and the President motioned her visitor into a seat. She sat down herself, with Rollins next to her.
  467. "Madam President, I was thinking on my way here that although we represent different parties, it would be in the national interest for us to work closely together in the coming days and weeks. We're all that's left of the US government."
  469. Deville nodded. "I agree. We need to confirm who did this to us and co-ordinate a response, and we need to make a start work on the colossal task of re-forming the government. We'll need elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate. Seth will also play a key part in that. I have appointed him as my Acting Chief of Staff. As he was Chief of Staff to President Bischoff, his experience will be invaluable."
  471. Purrazzo nodded her agreement. "Madam President, I couldn't help noticing your use of the word confirm. You said confirm who did this to us. We have intel on who it might have been? Given the circumstances, I think I should be told the details."
  473. For confirmation, Sonya looked to Rollins. She honestly didn't know if it was appropriate or not to divulge what was going on with Iran. No one probably knew. This situation had been planned for as far as ensuring that there was a designated survivor, but after that there was no plan of action, in law or in practice.
  475. Rollins nodded, indicating that it would be best to pass on what little information there was available.
  477. "Currently, Iran have ships blockading the Gulf of Oman. They were moving into position shortly after the explosion at the Capitol Building, so they either acted very quickly, or they had advance knowledge of what was going to happen. I had their ambassador in the Oval Office earlier and I gave him four hours to move those ships before I have them moved them for him."
  479. "Jesus," Purrazzo breathed. "It's possible Iran did this? Why would they commit such a blatant act of war against us?"
  481. Rollins handled the answer. "My guess? If it was them, it would have a lot to do with President Bischoff tearing up the nuclear deal we had with them. They reacted very badly to it at the time. Their new Prime Minister isn't thought to be particularly stable."
  483. The look on Purrazzo's face showed what she herself thought of that decision of Bischoff's, but she was wise enough not to say anything. Now was not the time. Instead, she voiced a question. "And if we prove it was them?"
  485. "Then we go to war," Sonya said without needing to think it over. "They blew up our Capitol Building and killed almost our entire government. Whoever did this, whether it was Iran or someone else, will pay the heaviest price imaginable for it."
  487. "We can't be talking about the nuclear option," Purrazzo said with widened eyes.
  489. "This is the biggest crisis in our nation's history. All options will be on the table," President Deville said firmly. "For now, let's hope that Iran move their ships. That will buy us some time to conduct an investigation into the bombing. Someone got a bomb into that building. It's up to the FBI to find out who it was and how they did it, then it's my duty as Commander in Chief to take action against the guilty party, no matter who it is."
  491. A woman hurried into the room. She was short, with blonde hair perfectly put up in a business-like style, and she was wearing an immaculate black suit. "Oh, sorry, Madam President," she said when she saw that Sonya was sitting with a visitor.
  493. Sonya felt relief wash over her. Alexa Bliss, her personal assistant, was here. If Mandy was Sonya's rock in her personal life, Alexa took on the same role on the political side of things.
  495. "It's okay, Alexa, come in. This is Seth Rollins, my Acting Chief of Staff, and this is Deonna Purrazzo, a congresswoman for New Jersey."
  497. Alexa smiled politely. "I've met Mr Rollins before. I came as quickly as I could, Madam President, but the Secret Service wouldn't let me in until I managed to convince them to get Ronda to come down and confirm who I was."
  499. Sonya hated hearing Alexa address her in such a formal manner. She was a family friend as much as an employee. But with Purrazzo there, Madam President was the correct form of address to be used. "I'm just glad you're here, Lexi. Have a seat," she seat, motioning to the other half of the couch that Purrazzo was sitting on.
  501. As Alexa sat down, she put the stack of papers she had been carrying on her lap. "On my way up here, I was told that heads of state from around the word have been calling to offer their condolences and support."
  503. "I suppose I'd better return all of those calls," Sonya said. "How many have we had so far?"
  505. "Sixty eight," Alexa said, brandishing the sheets of paper she had brought with her. "And counting."
  507. Sonya puffed out her cheeks. Clearly, the President wasn't going to have time to return anything like that amount of phone calls. "Okay then, make a list of the most important people I need to speak to, and we'll get it done."
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