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Memorial day, p.33
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       Memorial Day, p.33

         Part #7 of Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn

  "And you my " Mohammed never finished the sentence. Hasan had just plunged one of the long kitchen knives into the older man's back.

  Mohammed slid to the floor and died in precisely the same spot that the owner of the house had earlier in the day. Al-Yamani looked at the face of his old friend and shook his head. Even those who had once been brave and great could grow weak. Mohammed was further proof of America's ability to corrupt.

  "Go upstairs," al-Yamani said to Hasan, "and kill the woman. Then put the bodies on the boat with the old man. We'll dump them all in the river after we leave."

  * * *



  Peggy Stealey found herself seated at the singles table in the corner furthest from where the president and his esteemed guests of honor were seated. She was joined by her quasi-date, DNC Chairman Holmes, Chief of Staff Jones, Press Secretary Tim Webber, and four other people who she didn't know and didn't care to meet. These were the cheap seats, where they put the hired help and political devotees. She should have been happy for simply being invited to a state dinner, but she found herself a bit tanked and in a bit of a foul mood.

  She knew why she was tanked. It was once again the festival of Pat Holmes. He had everyone at the table laughing. He remembered everyone's name, engaged each person in conversation, and entertained all with his endless supply of witty stories. He'd even gone so far as to arrange for a tray of shooters to be brought to the table. Before dinner he'd ordered vodka and green apple schnapps, and asked all ten of them to drink to the Democratic Party as he hoisted his own glass of chilled vodka. No one dared disobey. Not in front of Valerie Jones. Not if they wanted to keep working for this administration.

  Stealey also knew why her mood had soured. It was the little five-foot-nothing brown-eyed mouse sitting at the head table next to the British prime minister of all people. Her boss and his wife were basking in the bright light of their lofty dinner companions. Stealey held her head up high and caught Stokes trying to get a glimpse of her. She would always have that hold over him. He desired her far more than he had or ever would desire his wife. If he became vice president, she would sleep with him, but only once. They'd have to do it on some overseas trip where she could really work him over. An all-nighter that would leave him exhausted.

  Then she'd cut him off and wait to see if he ever got the top job. That was the key to controlling Martin. She'd give him a little taste and then if he became president in four and half years, she'd give him another night to remember. What a rush it would be, to tie up the most important man in the world and dominate him.

  For tonight, though, she'd have to settle for Holmes. She'd make him forget little Libby Stokes. She didn't want to go to his place, though. That would give him too much control. Her place was also out of the question. She wanted to do the leaving, not wait around for him to slide out of bed in the morning and disappear. Then she would have to deal with the obligatory note or even worse, flowers sent later that day. No, she'd have him get a nice hotel room, and if he brought up Libby Stokes again she would make him pay. In fact she knew just the move. It would take a chiropractor a year to fix him after she was done with him.

  The ringing of her cell phone brought her back to the moment. Stealey opened her beaded clutch purse and extracted the phone. She was more than a little surprised to see who it was. For a moment she considered not answering, but then decided it too delicious of an opportunity to pass up. It would be oh so nice to tell the infamous defense attorney Tony Jackson that she was at the White House for a state dinner with the president of Russia and the prime minister of Great Britain.

  She pressed the green send button and put the phone to her ear. "Peggy Stealey here."

  The confident smirk on her face vanished almost immediately, as she listened to an absolutely apoplectic Tony Jackson explain to her in great detail, and with horrendous profanity, what he was going to do to her personally, and to the Justice Department in general.

  * * *


  Ahmed al-Adel had been sitting alone in his cell with the lights off for about an hour. No one had spoken to him in more than ten hours by his estimation. No reading, no radio, no TV, and no communication since he'd last talked to his lawyer after lunch. He had no watch, no way of telling time, but it seemed that they turned the lights off at 10:00 each night.

  He was in solitary confinement and so had no contact with any other prisoners, and only sparse contact with his guards. They dropped off and picked up his food three times a day. He assumed they watched him from the camera mounted on the wall opposite his cell. All of this was fine with him. He had no desire to talk to anyone. Even his lawyer was irritating him. Jackson was beginning to question his story.

  Worse, though, was that Jackson had already been proven wrong. The lawyer had told him that there was no way they would be able to hold him in jail over the long weekend unless they charged him formally. Instead of charging him, though, the feds had decided to hold him as a material witness. Jackson told him that the American Arab community in Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore, and New York had all been hit with a flurry of arrest warrants. This was not good news, but al-Adel didn't let Jackson know it bothered him. It was crucial that he feigned ignorance for another day. Whether he lived did not matter, just so long as his death came quickly and without pain. Al-Adel was ready to be martyred. They had promised him that his pivotal part in this operation would be properly recorded. All of Arabia would soon know of his greatness.

  The clanging noise of a heavy door opening and closing pulled him from his thoughts of greatness. He could hear footsteps coming down the hallway. He wasn't sure if it was more than two people, but it was definitely more than one. Two men suddenly appeared on the other side of his bars. Al-Adel couldn't see much more than their backlit silhouettes, but he could tell by the uniform that one of them was a guard.

  The guard unlocked the door to the cell and left without uttering a single word. The man who was left did not open the door right away. Instead he pulled a phone from his pocket and dialed a number.

  "Are you in?" the mysterious man asked. He listened for a second and then said, "Cut the video feeds and erase anything that shows us entering or leaving the building."

  The man put the phone away and began addressing al-Adel in flawless Arabic. Al-Adel sat up in his bed clutching his blanket, terror coursing through every vein. "I am an American," he said with what little courage he could muster. "I want to see my lawyer."

  The man on the other side of the bars did not answer him with words, but with laughter, laughter that showed no fear of anything that al-Adel could say or do, laughter tinged with a deep anger that spoke of unpleasant things to come.

  * * *


  The turning point came after the second call from Atlanta. The CDC Hazardous Material team found the truck, and it was really hot. As predicted, there was paperwork pertaining to the trip from Mexico to Atlanta. The truck's location was not far from the truck stop and upon arriving the Hazmat team quickly located the trailer. It was also contaminated but even more telling was the pile of discarded clothes, lead aprons, and radiation badges that they found behind a nearby construction trailer.

  Reimer had relayed all of this to McMahon and Rapp. The team identified the source of radiation as Pu-239, or plutonium, the primary isotope used in reactor fuel and weapon-grade nuclear material. On a more positive note, Reimer was saying that, as predicted, this device was extremely unstable and throwing off a ton of radiation, which would make it easy for the sensors around D.C. to pick up.

  It was after Reimer's call that McMahon had surprised Rapp. Rapp knew the veteran agent was capable of looking the other way, but what he had just proposed went way beyond looking the other way. This was breaking the law, something that Rapp was not in the slightest bit opposed to, but there would be no turning back if they decided to move forward. It would be a definite career ender for McMahon and maybe ev
en for Rapp himself. Knowing all that, Rapp still decided to go for it. Too much was at stake to not take the risk.

  Only one thing gave him pause. He could deal with accusations and deflect media scrutiny, but not if they had him on video tape. One phone call to Marcus Dumond, the CIA's resident computer hacker, allayed his concerns. A short while later Rapp and McMahon were flying Route 123 toward Fairfax.

  It was after 10:00 and the area around the federal courthouse and county jail was pretty quiet. McMahon drove his FBI sedan around to the rear of the building and honked his horn. One of the big garage doors opened and they entered the sally port where prisoners were transferred to vehicles. The port was empty with the exception of one man, and he did not look pleased to be there.

  McMahon and Rapp got out of the car and walked over to the man. McMahon stuck out his hand, "Joe, I appreciate this."

  The man shook his head. "I hope you know what you're doing."

  "If I'm wrong, which I'm not, I'll take all the heat." McMahon pointed to Rapp. "Joe, meet Mitch Rapp. Mitch, this is Joe Stewart, U.S. Marshal's office."

  The two men shook hands. "Thanks for sticking your neck out like this," Rapp said.

  "Yeah, well, I've known Skip for a long time and I know he wouldn't ask if it wasn't serious."

  "It is, trust me."

  "We'd better get going then." The Marshall led them over to a heavy steel door. After a second it buzzed and they were let in. A Fairfax County deputy was waiting for them. Stewart looked at the younger man and said, "We need Ahmed al-Adel. You've got him in solitary."

  "What for?" the deputy asked.

  Stewart was short, but imposing. He glared at the young deputy and said, "Don't worry yourself with what for. He's a federal prisoner. When I say go get him, you just go get him."

  The deputy backed down immediately. Rapp stepped forward. "I'll go with."

  The deputy shrugged. "Suit yourself."

  Another heavy door was buzzed and Rapp and the deputy entered. As they walked down the hallway, the deputy looked over his shoulder and said, "Hey, aren't you that Mitch Rapp fellow?"

  Rapp shook his head. "Nope. You're not the first person to say it though. I'm with the Justice Department." Rapp didn't actually think this would work as an alibi, it was just better than having to answer all the man's questions about what it was like to work for the CIA and kill bad guys.

  They went down a flight of stairs and through another locked door into a quiet and darkened cell block. At the very end of the passage the deputy unlocked a cell and before he opened the door Rapp said, "I can take it from here."

  The deputy hesitated. "I have to put cuffs on him. It's the rules."

  Rapp smiled confidently. "Don't worry about the cuffs. I can handle him."

  The deputy didn't move. "I could get in big trouble."

  Rapp shoed him away. "Don't worry about it. Go back upstairs. I can take it from here."

  The deputy studied the face of the man standing in front of him. He'd already noticed the bulge of the weapon slung under the guy's right arm and the thin scar on the side of his face. He was athletic and in his mid-thirties. This guy was Mitch Rapp, not some lawyer from the Justice Department.

  The deputy relented and left. He knew what to do. Brian Jones was twenty-two years old and had worked at the jail for not yet a year, but in that short time he'd learned to hate the hotshot Feds who came and went almost as much as the loudmouthed animals they housed behind the thick steel bars. Jones walked back upstairs and went into the security room where he monitored the prisoners via their new digital camera system. A short while later the man claiming he wasn't Rapp came upstairs with the prisoner. He had the man by the scruff of his orange jumpsuit. The prisoner looked scared, and if that was in fact Mitch Rapp, he was absolutely right to be scared.

  Jones watched on the monitors as al-Adel was put in the backseat of the sedan and Rapp got in with him. The big jerk, Deputy U.S. Marshal Joe Stewart, talked to the other man for a second and then they shook hands and the tall guy from the FBI got in the car and started backing up. Fairfax County Deputy Sheriff Brian Jones punched the button to raise the garage door and as soon as the sedan was clear he closed it. A second later his entire video surveillance system crashed and his monitors went black.

  Deputy Jones didn't move and didn't dare touch a thing. He just held his breath hoping the system would reboot itself. Five seconds passed, then ten, then twenty, and then finally the cameras started coming back online. Jones wiped the sweat from his brow and sighed in relief. The system had been installed around the time Jones had started, and it had never malfunctioned like that before. The timing of the crash made him a little suspicious, so he logged into the system and began checking the archives. Everything was stored digitally.

  Roughly five minutes of surveillance footage was gone. Erased from the server.Lawyer, my ass, he thought to himself.Just who in the hell did they think they were coming into his jail and pulling this shit? Jones grabbed his wallet and found the card. He had been planning to call the man anyway. The Mouth of the South was famous. He'd passed his cards around the detention center telling deputies that he was going to be looking to hire out a lot of off-duty security for the trial. Fifty bucks an hour for sitting around and reading paperback novels on his days off sounded pretty good.

  Jones bet the Mouth of the South had no idea his client had just gone for a ride with the CIA. He thought about how nice it would be to make fifty bucks an hour. If he let the Mouth know what was going on, he'd have the inside track on that off-duty job for sure. Jones was already counting the money he'd make as he dialed the number.

  * * *



  They left the jail, took U.S. 50 west and cut off on Highway 28 north. McMahon drove close to eighty mph the entire way. When they hit the Hirst Brault Expressway by Dulles they passed a State Trooper on the side of the road who started to pull out. McMahon hit his emergency lights that were concealed in the front grill and back window, and never slowed. The only thing Rapp had told him was that they were going to a place that didn't exist, that McMahon could never talk about to anyone.

  Dr. Akram had always told Rapp that the threat of torture was often more persuasive than actual torture itself, and based on what he'd seen so far with al-Adel that theory was likely to hold true. Rapp had consulted briefly with Akram on how to proceed and he had given Rapp a protocol to follow. Don't let al-Adel sense that you are desperate, was his first piece of advice. Make him believe that you are a patient, fair, and in control person who knows far more about him and his operation than he could possibly imagine. Let the threat of torture hang ominously in the back of his mind. Make him feel that he is insignificant.

  The only part of this plan that was difficult for Rapp was not laying a hand on him. McMahon had been right in his assessment that al-Adel had an infuriatingly smug air about him. In the twenty-some minutes that Rapp had been in the company of the Saudi-born immigrant, he had asked for his lawyer approximately once every minute. Each time the ludicrous request was made in the Saudi's arrogant tone, Rapp had been forced to resist the urge to break the man's nose. He knew that if they had to resort to torture, there were more subtle ways to hurt him, equally unpleasant, and even more important, fully deniable.

  No physical marks could be left. If things didn't work out, and this second bomb was nothing more than a paranoid delusion, they would need to hand al-Adel back over to the Justice Department, and if there were obvious signs of torture, there would be an investigation. Physical abuse was very hard to prove if there were no marks. It would be Rapp's word against an Islamic radical fundamentalist who was involved in a plot to detonate a nuclear warhead in Washington, D.C. The public would undoubtedly believe Rapp was capable of such brutality, but everybody with the exception of the press and a handful of lefties and activists would be more than willing to side with him against the terrorist. Even if they left marks on al-Adel, the majority of Americans wou
ld probably give Rapp a pass considering what they were up against, but for now Rapp was willing to heed Akram's advice.

  So Rapp sat in the backseat with the Saudi immigrant and spoke to him in his native tongue. He told him things that he knew would shock him. Rapp talked to him about his family, and even went so far as to say he had spoken to his father.

  Al-Adel was unable to conceal his surprise at this. "You are lying to me."

  Rapp shook his head. "I talked to him only an hour ago. Earlier in the day I placed a call to the crown prince and asked that your family be brought in for questioning. Even the women."

  The look on al-Adel's face was one of both shock and disbelief.

  Rapp said, "The crown prince and I have done a lot of business over the years."

  "What kind of business?" asked a skeptical al-Adel.

  "The business of eliminating threats, Ahmed. The crown prince profits from his business dealings with America. The eradication of people like you helps him ensure those dealings continue. He sees you Wahhabis for what you are a bunch of backward religious fruitcakes who are embarrassed to admit you're wrong. Zealots who want to live in the past."

  "I do not believe you. You do not know the crown prince."

  "Think about it, Ahmed. The crown prince and the Saudi royal family have billions of dollars invested in the American economy. If you and your little band of whack jobs succeed in setting off a nuclear weapon in Washington, D.C.," Rapp paused when he saw a glimmer of recognition in the man's eye. "Yes, Ahmed, I know there's another bomb, and part of me hopes your friends succeed."

  Al-Adel was caught off guard and showed it. "I do not know what you are talking about."

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