The two chemical weapons, along with a cache of guns went on a plane from Benghazi, Libya to Antakya, Turkey while Bill, Deckard, and The Operator got on another plane back to Mauritius. Bill needed to get his high-side access on the Pirate Net in his office before continuing on to whatever their final objective was in Syria.
Once plugged into his secure commo system, Bill got the rest of the Operations Order from their client and called a team pow wow in his bungalow. Nadeesha had been playing with Deckard in the shower when they got the call. Getting dressed, they walked over to Bill’s place in intervals. Nadi still didn’t want anyone to know even though Deckard was pretty sure that everyone noticed when she looked at him with those bedroom eyes.
Once they had gathered around, Bill gave them the low down. Rick sat on the couch, hung over from the party the previous night. Nadeesha sat on a chair in the corner of the room with her back to the wall. Paul sat down on a stool next to the billiard table next to Ramon. The Operator stood towards the back with his arms crossed.
“We will link up with Yezza’s people in Turkey and take possession of the device. Because of the amount of road blocks and choke points that both the rebels and the Syrian military have established, we are going to have to parachute in behind enemy lines and link up with the locals. We are going to handle the dispersal of the mustard gas, but these clowns will be acting as bullet traps for us on the way into the target area.”
“Who are these guys?” Ramon asked. “The Free Syrian Army?”
“It gets better,” Bill insisted. “Al-Nusra.”
“Fuck me,” Ramon snorted.
“Who else is crazy enough to launch a chemical attack on this target?”
“Wait, what’s the fucking target?”
“I just got it from the client. The target is the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.”
“Holy shit,” Deckard whispered.
“What the fuck is that?” Rick said.
“Yeah, what’s the big fucking deal with some mosque? These people blow their own holy sites up all the time,” Paul said.
“Not like this,” Deckard said. “Shia Muslims consider this mosque to be maybe the fourth most holy site in the world. It is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. If it goes up in a cloud of poison gas that gets blamed on the Sunni Al-Nusra extremists, it will cause a sectarian shit storm that will engulf the entire region.”
“What he said,” Bill confirmed. “It seems the client feels it is time the United States gets decisively involved in this Syrian Civil War deal. Hezbollah is calling a lot of the shots for the Assad regime at this point, not to mention that they are providing security around the target itself and in some Shia neighborhoods in the capital. Back in D.C., the President has said that the use of chemical weapons in this war would be a red line. Detonating the package in Damascus guarantees that the President will get off his ass and push Syria’s shit in.”
“And strike a fatal blow to Hezbollah,” The Operator spoke to everyone’s surprise. They turned around to look at the new Liquid Sky member. “Once Hezbollah is defeated, we move on to Iran.”
“Well, since you guys put it that way…” Rick said absently.
Deckard was grinding his teeth without realizing it. Gassing innocent civilians in the middle of Syria’s capital city. Whoever the client was, they had some fucking balls. Pat had better have Samruk International in position somewhere near if not inside Syria by the time he got there. One way or the other, this would be Liquid Sky’s last mission, it was just a question of whether or not Deckard went down with the ship.
They were going to launch a chemical attack in order to provoke what could very well become World War Three.
That can’t happen.
“From Turkey we will fly nap of the earth during the night and pop up at altitude, dropping in to a drop zone Al-Nusra has secured for our arrival just outside of Homs. We’ll HALO in from 18,000 feet with the package in secured bundles, along with an arms cache to help grease the skids with Nusra. From there, we’ll stage out of Homs-”
Bill’s words were cut off as rustling sounded on the back deck where the work out equipment was set up. Looking through the sliding screen doors, Deckard saw the private security team that kept watch on Liquid Sky’s bungalows manhandling someone onto the deck.
The head guard was Alan, a former Royal Marine, and the other three were local off-duty policemen. The man they had captured was handcuffed and his feet duct taped together. The Operator opened the screen door as the prisoner was dragged inside.
Deckard’s heart sank.
Because things can always get just a little bit worse.
“We found him poking around behind Deckard’s place,” the former British Marine hissed.
The guards deposited their prisoner on the floor where he landed with a hollow thud.
With his mouth duct-taped shut, the prisoner looked up at Deckard.
It was Aghassi.
Liquid Sky took turns slapping Aghassi around. Within minutes his face was bloodied and bruised. Rick picked him up and tied him to a chair. The former ISA operator’s head hung down as blood dripped from his mouth. There was little Deckard could do for him without breaking cover. He would only intervene if they were going to kill him. On the other hand, they might put Aghassi under so much duress that he might blow Deckard’s cover anyway. They weren’t to that point yet, but Deckard knew that no one could hold out forever.
Pushing Rick aside, Deckard decided to get some face time in.
He backhanded Aghassi, sending a spray of blood across one of Bill’s billiard tables.
Bill had told them that they were leaving for Turkey today. If Frank and Sergeant Major Korgan were ready to go, Deckard could call them in to rescue Aghassi just as they were flying out. He just had to keep Aghassi alive until then.
Deckard grabbed him by the shirt and out of the chair, right up to his face.
“Where are they?” he whispered.
Aghassi looked at him through the black and blue bruises around his eyes.
“Call. Under your sink.”
Deckard released him and the chair clanked on the floor.
“We need to keep him alive,” Deckard said just as Paul was about to step in for his turn. “You guys said you had another team shadowing you in Pakistan. We can’t take it for granted that this guy was just here to break in and steal our flatscreens or something.”
“You’re right,” Bill said as he stomped down into the living room from the staircase. “I informed the client and they are sending a couple specialists from Serbia. They will be on a plane heading here in a matter of hours. Our contracted security people can keep this guy detained here until they arrive. We have work to do.
“We’re compromised,” Ramon complained.
“Mauritius is compromised for us, but not our mission. We stick to the timeline. Pack what you need and we will be out of here tonight. Don’t plan on coming back, because the client may shut down our entire Mauritius operation. Whatever you leave will be destroyed or mailed to you by a freight forwarding company. Let’s get moving, we’re wheels-up in three hours.”
Paul grunted as he unclenched his fists.
Aghassi was motionless with his head down. It was on Deckard to come through for him now, even if there was a larger objective at hand.
He left Bill’s place and walked across the beach to his bungalow. Nadeesha came running up behind him.
“I hope they torture that fuck like a couple kids burning ants with a magnifying glass,” she said.
“I’m sure they will. Serbs are good at that.”
“Hey,” Nadi reached out and grabbed him by the arm as they walked. “Want to get another quickie in before we leave?”
She had an impossible sex drive. Finding an infiltrator in their midst didn’t put her off much.
“I’ve got to take care of a few things before we leave. Maybe we can join the mile-high club on the way over there?” Deckard offered as a compromise.
Nadi now had a wide smile.
“You got it mister.”
She spun around, her black hair blowing in the sea wind as she walked off.
Climbing the back steps to his bungalow, Deckard went inside. Aghassi’s words made it sound like he had left a cache behind for him.
Sure enough, when he opened the cupboard under his kitchen sink and felt around, there was a phone taped up underneath the porcelain. It was an Apple iPhone inside a Thuraya Sat-Sleeve, which enabled the smartphone to make calls by satellite from pretty much anywhere in the world. There was one phone number saved in the address book.
Deckard took one more look around to make sure he was alone before dialing.
Holding the iPhone to his ear, Deckard listened as it began to ring on the other end.
Deckard recoiled from the loud voice.
No wonder, it was the hacker he had hired during Samruk International’s last mission down in Mexico. He was a genius behind a keyboard but had a bit of an abrasive personality.
“I just picked up this phone. Did the guys set you up as a gateway between me and the two field teams?”
“Correct. I am to facilitate any and all calls you have between the Madagascar team and the Syria team.”
“Patch me through to the Madagascar team.”
The line began to ring again.
“Hey Frank, it’s me. Don’t have much time. How far out are you guys?”
“About an hour. We’re just off the coast in a fishing vessel waiting for the word.”
“Push off in another hour and hit the targets here on the coast. Bill’s place needs to be your priority target.”
“You all right?”
“I’m fine, but they got Aghassi. He is alive for now, but they are flying in a couple interrogators from Serbia.”
“Exactly. We’re about to take off for Turkey so you can hit the targets along the shore as soon as we leave. Any updates from Pat’s team?”
“They bought off some folks in Egypt and have secured some transportation by ship.”
“Less than ideal,” Deckard’s guts turned in knots. The stress was getting to him. “Cody?”
“I’m here,” the computer hacker answered.
“Get in touch with Pat and tell them to initiate movement for Syria. I will probably be in Homs within 48 hours and will re-establish comms with Pat to guide him and the boys into a position where they can ambush Liquid Sky.”
Looking at his watch, Deckard quickly read on Cody and Frank to the mission brief he had just received on their plan of action in Syria.
“The balls on these guys,” Frank said in response.
“Yeah,” Deckard said. “This one is for all the marbles.”