Chong found Lawrence outside the hotel and grabbed him. He almost screamed until he saw who it was who had him around the throat.  Chong pulled him off into an alleyway.
“Chong?  Is that you?”
The President had disguised himself with a stocking cap dark glasses and a new wardrobe, courtesy of Ford.
“Yes it’s me. Keep your voice down.” Chong motioned for Lawrence to be quiet.
“What happened to you?”
“I had a very interesting diversion but I’m not in trouble.  Well not in the trouble weall thought I was, and certainly not from the abduction.  I’ve been with Ford.”
“He’s brainwashed you!” Lawrence’s eyes grew wide.
Chong looked exasperated. “No no no.  Nothing of the sort. He let me in on a few secrets that I now understand he had to keep.  I’ll let you in on them too, as soon as we meet with Speaker Malinao. Here’s what I need you to do.”
Chong explained that he needed a meeting but he couldn’t risk being recognised. Lawrence knew how to take care of it. He was a master in how to get guards and waiters and a whole army of people in and out of important areas without being seen.
“You’ll need to lose that garb.  You may not look like the President of the Moon, but you sure don’t look unobtrusive.” Lawrence gave Chong some instructions and then left the alleyway alone and re-entered the hotel.
His mind was racing.  He only knew part of Chong’s plan at this point but he also knew Chong and that meant the rest of the plan would not be any saner. Chong was a very practical and levelheaded guy but he was also creative.  Adn that spelled danger for an aide trying to keep the wheels of government under control. He reached the President’s room, which had been kept reserved but unoccupied. He radioed down to the guards that he was ordering in a meal to the President’s room for the Speaker and himself to discuss some news on the President’s abduction out of Oakland.
Then he sent a message to Speaker Malinao requesting she meet him under the same pretext.  Finally he contacted the front desk and confirmed that a luncheon could be sent up. Then he sank down in a chair and caught his breath.  He hoped it all would work.  Chong had such confidence in him.  He hoped it was really well placed.
Within a half hour Speaker Malinao arrived, looking a bit skeptical.
“What’s this all about Lawrence? I thought we went over all the Oakland findings?”
“Something new has come up, please have a seat while I check on the luncheon.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d rather hear what all this is first.  I may have to miss the luncheon.  I have a meeting with the southern Omaha commanders council to discuss air security in the wake of Ford’s penetration of the hotel.”
Lawrence looked dismayed. “I assure the Speaker if she wait she won’t be disappointed.”  He didn’t know what he’d do if she bailed on him.
“Lawrence, I can plainly tell that something is bothering you, but what it is I can’t fathom. So please, stop playing these games and out with it.  It’s not like you.”
A knock came to the door.  Saved. Lawrence opened the door expecting to see someone else.  Instead it was a UMC guard.
“Sir, the luncheon will be late. There’s been a personnell change and we’re implementing knew security measures, so we’ll need to run a complete screen on the new waiter.  Our apologies, if you could give us about a half hour. Lawrence was devastated.
Malinao overheard and got up. “I’m sorry Lawrence but I can’t wait that long.  Whatever it is will have to be resumed later.” She made to move past him. And Lawrence slammed the door.
“Lawrence!” she protested but he held his ground.
“I need you to trust me Speaker. Do you trust me?”
“Normally I’d say yes, but today I’m starting to wonder–”
“Yes or no.”
Malinao sighed. “Yes.”
All right.  If you do what I suggest we will have a meeting you need to have.  You’ll just have to trust me on this.  Will you do what I suggest?”
“What is it?”
“Will you do it unquestioningly.  It’s not dangerous… just … odd.”
Malinao could see that Lawrence was sincere as well as troubled.  But he was not troubled by what he was doing but afraid of the fact that she might not cooperate.  She gave in.
“OK I’ll do it Lawrence.  It would take something extraordinary to make you act this way.  What is it?”
“Open the door and order the guard to send the luncheon up right away.”
“What?  that’s it?”
“Yes.  Tell him you can’t wait for the luncheon and that the new security protocols cna be excercised at another time.  To check ID and send the new waiter up immediately.”
The Speaker’s eyes twinkled. “Our meeting is with the waiter.  I see. How very old fashioned.  OK then.”
Malinao opened the door and instructed the guard to have the luncheon sent up right away.  LAwrence nodded his assent and the guard reluctantly complied.
Malinao had expected some special agent of the UMC, or a Minister but when the waiter entered the room her mouth gaped and she stood.  Chong could tell she was about to scream and cut her off.”
“Yes, it’s me.  Now be quiet please Madame Speaker.”
“Where?  What?  What’s going on?”
“Thank you Lawrence,” said Chong as he set the food out.
“It wasn’t easy Mr. President.”
“Speaker give you trouble?”
“She has a very important meeting.”
“I’m sure she does, so let’s get right to the point.” He finsihed laying out the food, sat down and turned to Malinao.
“I need your help.  I cannot come out of hiding not just yet.  But Ford is not the enemy and we have a plan to defeat the real enemy.”
Chong told them Ford’s whole story, then started in on his plan. Lawrence objected.
“I don;t think that can work–”
“It can.  It has to.” Chong cut him off.
Malinao smiled. “You know, I think it can.” She sized up Lawrence. “You’re just going to have to believe in this plan Mr. lawrence.  That’s all.  If you can get behind it, it will work.”
Lawrence looked dismayed.
Chong butted in. “The Speaker will bear the brunt of the scrutiny in this case. If she’s up for it, and as she says, you do your part, I think it can work.”
“We’ll have to move quickly though if we want it to have the effect we think it will have.”
“Yes, you’ll need to be at a press opp tomorrow.  I suggest you start in Caracas. That’s the first one I indicated in my speech.  Follow that order.”
Malinao frowned. “But everyone knows you’re here.  They’ll expect you to start here.”
“True, but the scrutiny would be a lot greater here and I’ll be expected to give a momentous speech, which I still intend to give.  The smokescreen of other news will dampen the questions of why I didn’t start here in Omaha.”
Malinao nodded.  “I’m in.  Lawrence?  Are you up for this?”
Lawrence sighed and looked form one to the other.
“I must be crazy.  I’ll probably get killed, but OK.  I’m in.”
“Fine,” said Chong getting up and clearing away the dishes. “I’ll just be on my way. Remember Lawrence, I’ll contact you using New Cav code.  got it?”
“Got it.” He stopped Chong. “Be careful.”
“You know I will.”
Malinao got up and saw Chong to the door. She held his arm as well before he opened the door.  A smirk crossed her face. “Goodbye darling.”
Chong froze. Al he could manage was a curt good-bye.
Malinao turned around and gave Lawrence  a studious look. “And hello darling.”
Lawrence groaned and sank into his chair.