In the heat of the moment, Capitol police officer Nuñez had seen no option but to help the Capitol Architect and Robert Langdon escape. Now, however, back in the basement police headquarters, Nuñez could see the storm clouds gathering fast.
Chief Trent Anderson was holding an ice pack to his head while another officer was tending to Satos bruises. Both of them were standing with the video surveillance team, reviewing digital playback files in an attempt to locate Langdon and Bellamy.
Check the playback on every hallway and exit, Sato demanded. I want to know where they went!
Nuñez felt ill as he looked on. He knew it would be only a matter of minutes before they found the right video clip and learned the truth. I helped them escape. Making matters worse was the arrival of a four-man CIA field team that was now staging nearby, prepping to go after Langdon and Bellamy. These guys looked nothing like the Capitol Police. These guys were dead-serious soldiers . . . black camouflage, night vision, futuristic-looking handguns.
Nuñez felt like he would throw up. Making up his mind, he motioned discreetly to Chief Anderson. A word, Chief?
What is it? Anderson followed Nuñez into the hall.
Chief, I made a bad mistake, Nuñez said, breaking a sweat. Im sorry, and Im resigning. Youll fire me in a few minutes anyway.
I beg your pardon?
Nuñez swallowed hard. Earlier, I saw Langdon and Architect Bellamy in the visitor center on their way out of the building.
What?! Anderson bellowed. Why didnt you say something?!
The Architect told me not to say a word.
You work for me, goddamm it! Andersons voice echoed down the corridor. Bellamy smashed my head into a wall, for Christs sake!
Nuñez handed Anderson the key that the Architect had given him.
What is this? Anderson demanded.
A key to the new tunnel under Independence Avenue. Architect Bellamy had it. Thats how they escaped.
Anderson stared down at the key, speechless.
Sato poked her head out into the hallway, eyes probing. Whats going on out here?
Nuñez felt himself go pale. Anderson was still holding the key, and Sato clearly had seen it. As the hideous little woman drew near, Nuñez improvised as best as he could, hoping to protect his chief. I found a key on the floor in the subbasement. I was just asking Chief Anderson if he knew what it might go to.
Sato arrived, eyeing the key. And does the chief know?
Nuñez glanced up at Anderson, who was clearly weighing all his options before speaking. Finally, the chief shook his head. Not offhand. Id have to check the
Dont bother, Sato said. This key unlocks a tunnel off the visitor center.
Really? Anderson said. How do you know that?
We just found the surveillance clip. Officer Nuñez here helped Langdon and Bellamy escape and then relocked that tunnel door behind them. Bellamy gave Nuñez that key.
Anderson turned to Nuñez with a flare of anger. Is this true?!
Nuñez nodded vigorously, doing his best to play along. Im sorry, sir. The Architect told me not to tell a soul!
I dont give a damn what the Architect told you! Anderson yelled. I expect
Shut up, Trent, Sato snapped. Youre both lousy liars. Save it for your CIA inquisition. She snatched the Architects tunnel key from Anderson. Youre done here.