“Eve, do the people in DC know where the hostage is being held?” I asked.
“It appears they have him in the Mosque at Aazzam,” Eve replied. “There is a lot of activity around it for sure.”
“Why not just level it?” I asked.
“We want him back, preferably without losing his value to us.” Eve said.
“Sweetie, they better have been doing damage control since day one. My guess is he has told them things he didn’t even know that he knew.” I was being perfectly candid. “Syrians and all the rest of them have no problem with torture. Yes torture is crude, but it does work.”
“So you are telling me that this man is compromised,” Eve said. “So what now.”
“You should have killed them all on the first day that you knew where he was being held. That is still my advice.” I said.
“Even if it were true that the men in charge screwed up, we still need to know what he has told the rebels,” she said.
“Is that worth getting more people killed. I’m telling you now, that he told them everything.” I said. “If you can’t bring yourself to do it, call the admiral. If the price is right he will do it.”
“For some reason the people in charge refuse to use the Admiral for this,” she said to me.
“I wonder why that is, do you know?” I asked not really expecting an answer. “It was obvious the admiral would not risk men on a futile rescque that was already too late to accomplish anything but get a broken man home. It was hardly a worthwhile endeavor.
“I have no idea,” she said.
“So you guys are thinking, why not get Maxine to put together a team like the one she used to take down the druggie guy? You had to have asked yourself why the hell I would do that?” I suggested. “So what was the answer you gave yourselves.”
“For the money this time. Of course that is a moot point, since you are not physically able to do it.”
“You are right about that for sure. I am not up to it and I wouldn’t do it, even if I were,” I said in agreement.
“All of the others were leaders in their own rights, so who would you suggest? Make it someone you would be willing to help with the planning. if they needed it.”
“Bullshit, you don’t want them to know who they are working for. You want them to think I am arranging the job and doing all the planning and logistical work for it. That’s why they are bringing this to me.” I said angrily. “I am not going to become the next swamp thing.”
“It’s nothing like that. The man they grabbed is the son of a very important man. We have to get him back. The rebels don’t know who they have yet. If we go in full force and he has been moved, then they know their hostage is high value.”
“You have teams sitting in ready rooms all over the middle east. Just jam the communications to the area, then send one of those teams in quietly to kill everyone there. If the kid is gone, plant enough evidence to make it look like a different group of terrorist, or that it was their own government.”
“My guess is that the place is going to be hard to get to lots of desert everywhere. Sneaking up is going to be difficult.” I suggested.
“That is my guess. It’s probably why most battles are small scale or suicide bombers. It would be hard to move a hundred men around there without the other guys knowing,” Eve said as if she had experience. Which of course she didn’t.
“These guys are aligned with some other country, they always are, find out which. You can probably use that to your advantage.” I suggested.
“To be honest we had already thought about that. There are Russian advisors in the country,” Even said.
“You want to use Vlad and Anya?” I asked.
“Yes,” Eve said. “The boss wants you to arrange it.”
“You are talking about them never being able to go home again. I hope you know that.” I said.
“We are talking about a package of benefits that would keep them very happy right here,” Eve said. “They won’t trust us, so we need you. We need to do this right and do it right now.”
“I won’t do it until I work it all out in my mind. If that is a problem then fuck you.” I said angrily. I was agitated and my muscles were tense which caused me a hell of a lot of pain. I couldn’t think clearly and I refused to risk my friends on such a stupid job. Not unless I could bring the odds down some.
It was a hell of a way to start a Monday morning, in pain, and with a problem that was going to get people killed. It was just a matter of which people and how many. These guys could get papers and uniforms to designate Vlad and Anya as advisors, the trick would be to find an interpreter.
“They will need an interpreter and some foot soldiers,” I suggested. “Also, up to date intelligence hourly.”
“There is a tribe of nomads that will fight for money nothing else. They belong to no party and no alliances. We have used them before. Along with your Russians and our interpreter they will make up the force.”
Before she even said it, I knew who the interpreter would be. “I’m going to be leaving this afternoon,” Eve informed me. “Will you be alright here alone.”
“I’ll be just fine. Go do what you have to do and take care of my friends,” I suggested.
“Don’t worry I will. Are you ready to set this up for us?” she asked.
“Give me the deal,” I demanded
“We are willing to pay one million dollars US for the hostage alive. Half that for a body, if he is no longer alive when we arrive,” Eve informed me. Eve looked down when she added, “I would feel better if you were going.
“So would I. Now hand me the phone and I’ll see if I can find Vlad.”
Two weeks later, I was able to get out of bed without screaming. I could walk at the mall, I could drive a car, but it still hurt when I stood from a sitting position. It just wasn’t as bad as it had been, but I still knew that it hurt.
After one week Jennifer came by and took me to the doctor for my One week checkup and xray. I had two more weeks to go before my next exam. I really didn’t even want to go back but Jen was all hot for me to finish the course of treatment. It had to do with that claim against the preacher’s insurance company. I just went along since Jen was more or less taking care of my needs. She wasn’t babysitting me as Eve had done, that wasn’t in her genetic make up. She did do things that didn’t require her to hang around.
It was almost two weeks to the day when Eve rang my doorbell. “Hi there got room for a lost soul?” she asked.
“Ah sweetie come on in. There is always room for you,” I found to my surprise that I really meant it. Eve was like a big old adorable puppy, when she was on the program part of her personality. She was also quite a likable lady, when the creator was in control. Either way she was fascinating to be around.
“Thank you, I came to see how you had been,” she explained.
“I have been healing nicely to be honest. I have found very little which I can’t do with one hand,” I said with a small but evil laugh.
“Good for you,” she said.
I looked at her sitting at my kitchen table and decided just to do it. “It’s time we discuss the 500 pound elephant in the room.” I suggested.
“Then break out the peanuts,” she said with a smile.
“How are Vlad and Anya?” I asked.
“Both were injured but it was minor. They are recovering in Sicily. Actually, they will both be along soon. They have decided to retire here.” Eve was all smiles.
“You are kidding me right?” I asked.
“Not at all, it was Anya’s idea. Vladimir just agreed to the move. Moscow was very cold this year, he said.” With that Eve smiled.
“So what happened?” I asked.
“We met in a European style hotel in Damascus. One night there and we were off in a small military type vehicle. We were in the nomad tribe by nightfall. I interpreted for Vlad. Anya had to stay hidden under her robes.”
“Oh, I’m sure she loved that,” I said remembering her epic battles with Blevins.
“Actually she was very upset, but then you knew that.” I could tell that it was the controller in control.
“Yes I did,” I said.
“We traveled two days then attacked the mosque. We made short work of it. We found the hostage alive but not well. We rushed him back to Damascus and onto a waiting private jet.”
“So when was all this?” I asked.
“I have been at the farm being refreshed and had my circuit responses all downloaded for analysis.” she said.
“So how long have you been home?” I asked it a different way.
“A couple of days,” she said curiosity in her voice.
“And you didn’t think that I would want to know what happened.” If I had been talking to her program, I wouldn’t have bothered. Since I was talking to the controller, it might do some good.
“I suppose I didn’t think. I am sorry Maxine. I will try to do better,” she said.
“Thank you for that,” I said. I paused a few seconds then asked. “How minor were their injuries?”
“Anya sprained her ankle running through the courtyard. She step on a piece of rubble and twisted it. Vlad has a knife wound in his right arm. It will be weakened some, but he should make a full recovery.”
“Were many men killed?” I asked.
“A half dozen or so, will the bad guys be looking for our people?” I asked.
“Possibly, but I don’t think they have any idea you exist,” she said.
“That’s a good thing then.” I admitted.
“You know, I missed you out there. Vladimir was an excellent leader, but he didn’t think things though as thoroughly as you do. He stopped at the objective, which makes him an excellent field commander, but he could never be a general or an admiral,” she said.
“I’m not at all sure that I consider that a compliment for me. It might be for Vladimir though. Someone who says exactly what they mean every time should be respected.”
“Maybe, but I would rather have someone who sees what might happen after the objective. Just so that I can get home of course. Winning isn’t all that great, if you are dismantled or damaged.” Eve said. “Vladimir sees the prise and forgets to check it for IEDs.”
“Is that an expression, or was there something in particular?” I asked.
“His exit plan was no more than bug out for the coast. He had no real planning in it. When we were in South America. You had the boat waiting for us when we left shore.
This time when we finally got to an airport no one would sell us passage. It was a terrible mess to get out.”
“Why didn’t you go out with the hostage?” I asked.
“They refused to allow us on board, they said there was no room,” Eve informed me.
“I can not believe that Anya didn’t throw enough people off to make room,” Actually I could. Anya preferred to leave no witnesses. She would have had to kill them all, then who would fly the plane.