Memorial Day, p.36Part #7 of Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn
Despite all the news coverage and the blanket thrown down by local law enforcement, they had come up with nothing. Not a single break since yesterday evening. McMahon was standing by the eyewitness accounts of the two people who had seen the cab and the truck, but Rapp had his doubts. Eitherthey were mistaken or the police were. McMahon had relayed the fact that the local sheriff thought these guys were probably holed up in the woods somewhere.
Again, Rapp had his doubts, and he was growing more nervous with each passing tick of the clock. The president had laid down a noon deadline. If they hadn't found the weapon by then, he would implement Operation Ark to ensure full continuity of government and operations. Once that happened, the cat would be out of the bag. It was simply impossible to ask that many people to keep a secret.
Rapp was sitting in the conference room off to the side of CT Watch with his feet up on the table. The shower he had taken only an hour ago down in the locker room, and the change of clothes, helped revive him a bit. He'd ditched his suit and was wearing a pair of khaki cargo pants, a dark blue T-shirt, and a tactical vest stuffed with two mobile phones, spare batteries, a headset, and other important items. He was used to going without sleep, but he was starting to get a little jumpy. He was drinking a cup of coffee an hour on average and the gut rot was beginning to set in.
He ignored the jumpiness and told himself that either way this thing would be over in three to six hours. He scratched the thick black stubble on his face and looked at a fresh sheaf of documents in his other hand. Dr. Akram had just faxed him the transcripts from the session he'd had with al-Adel. Apparently, the man was cooperating. Akram had him hooked up to a polygraph while interrogating him and had so far only caught him lying once. The good doctor stopped the interrogation and told al-Adel that unless he wanted Mr. Rapp to take over with the questioning, he should refrain from any more lies. From that point forward Mr. al-Adel had chosen to tell the truth.
Rapp was in the midst of a section detailing how the attack in New York was to be carried out when McMahon and Stealey appeared in the doorway. They were an awkward-looking pair, McMahon in his short-sleeve white button-down shirt and dull tie that stopped a full inch above his belt buckle, and Stealey in her shimmering robin's-egg blue evening gown. She had tried to go home earlier to change, but Rapp had said no. CT Watch was under lockdown. He'd already taken her mobile phone, and he wasn't about to let her out of his sight. He'd finally relented an hour ago to send someone else to gather some things for her.
"We've got a problem," McMahon said.
Rapp laid the transcript on the table and asked, "What's up?"
"Tony Jackson," said Stealey, as she folded her arms across her chest, causing her breasts to swell. "Mr. al-Adel's attorney is raising quite a stink."
Rapp couldn't help but notice that this lawyer liked to show off her cleavage. "Right now I'm a little more concerned about finding a nuclear bomb. Mr. Jackson is not a problem."
"Yes he is," said Stealey in a combative tone. "I've already assured him three times since last night that his client is safe and unharmed. He is unharmed, isn't he?"
Rapp shrugged. "He's missing a few fingers, but other than that he's fine."
Stealey's eyes opened wide. "You're not serious?"
"No, I'm not. He's fine. Not a mark on him."
She tapped her foot on the ground, and glared at Rapp. "The attorney general's office is getting bombarded by calls asking where al-Adel is, and why we're not allowing Tony Jackson to see his client."
"Peggy, let me be real clear about this. I don't give a shit." There was an edge of irritation in Rapp's voice. "Tell this attorney to go fuck himself. I've got more important things to deal with."
Stealey glared right back at Rapp. "You can go ahead and tell him yourself, Mr. Big Shot. I told him you're the man in charge. Go ahead," she pointed at the phone, "he's holding on line three."
Rapp hesitated for only a second and then grabbed the phone and pressed the red blinking light. "Mr. Jackson, this is Mitch Rapp."
Stealey's stern face turned into a grin of anticipation. She could already tell that Jackson was unloading on Rapp. She watched eagerly, wanting to see how the notorious Mitch Rapp handled one of the best trial lawyers in the country.
"Mr. Jackson, if you shut your mouth for a second I'll explain. Are you recording this call?" Rapp listened to the lawyer's reply. "Good. Here's the deal. Your client is guilty. Come Tuesday morning certain information will be made public, and when that happens I can promise you that you will wish you'd never met Ahmed al-Adel." Rapp listened for a few seconds and then laughed. "No, Mr. Jackson, that wasn't a threat. If I thought you were a real problem, I wouldn't waste my time threatening you you'd just simply disappear."
Rapp hung up the phone and looked up at Stealey. "There, are you happy?"
As Stealey looked back at Rapp she decided right then and there that she wanted to sleep with him. She had never seen anyone so confident and sure of himself, and at the same time so utterly reckless. There was a laserlike focus about him. He simply didn't care what anyone else thought. The fact that he was married didn't bother her in the slightest. In certain ways it made the proposition even more exciting, more dangerous. Before she had the chance to come up with a good line, one of McMahon's agents came running up.
The young female agent announced, "The New Kent County Sheriff's Department just called. They think they've located the cab and the truck."
* * *
The NEST helicopter came in over the garage, hovered for approximately ten seconds, and then departed. A deputy stood in the driveway with his slicker on watching the entire thing. About a minute later a second deputy arrived and then a third, and then they just kept coming. Within ten minutes the long driveway was lined with police cruisers, government sedans, and SUVs.
Debbie Hanousek and her Search Response Team were already on their way when they got the call from the tech onboard the helicopter that the site had come up positive. They arrived in two Suburbans and barged their way past the vehicles that nearly blocked the driveway. When they got near the house they drove right across the lawn to the garage.
Hanousek had her door open before the truck came to a full stop. She grabbed her Baltimore Orioles cap from the dash and hit the soggy ground running. She found her way through the throng of law enforcement officers and saw the trailer. She turned to the group and said, "I need everybody to back up at least a hundred feet."
None of the men had any idea who she was and instead of moving, they just stared at her.
"Guys, I'm a federal agent, and we have reason to believe that trailer contains toxic material. If any of you are still thinking about fathering children, you're going to want to back up right now."
That did the trick. All of the men backed up except one. She surmised that he was probably the owner since he was in shorts. "Sir, are you the owner?"
"My parents are."
"Well, I'm going to need you to back up." One of her techs came running over wearing a backpack that contained a sensitive gamma neutron detector. Hanousek pointed at the trailer and said, "Get right to it."
The man still hadn't budged. "I want to know what's going on right now."
"I can't tell you because I'm not sure, myself, but for your own health you need to back up right now."
"I show up here this morning with my family. My mom and dad aren't here but their car is, and I've got a cab and a truck sitting in their garage and that trailer over there." He came closer. "I have three little kids inside who want to know where their grandparents are, and all of these cops are scaring them to death."
Hanousek could see this guy wasn't going to simply walk away. She grabbed him by the elbow and walked him over to the first man she saw wearing an FBI windbreaker. Hanousek pointed at the agent and looked at the guy in shorts. "Tell this agent everything you just told me and answer his questions." She then looked back at the agent. "I want you to
Hanousek marched back to the trailer and hooked up her earpiece and mike for her secure mobile phone. She hit the speed dial for her boss and a second later he was on the line asking her in his typical SEAL talk for a "sit rep," which to the nonmilitary types was short for situation report.
"It appears to be the trailer. We're running a quick check with the gamma neutron detector right now."
The tech finished his sweep and said, "Gamma five, neutron three."
Hanousek repeated the reading to Reimer.
"That's a little lower than I expected."
"Well, they might have shielded it," replied Hanousek.
All of the sudden a voice Hanousek didn't recognize came on the line. "Paul, what's going on?"
"Debbie, we've got Mitch Rapp from the CIA, and Skip McMahon on the line."
"This is the trailer we've been looking for and it's hot just not as hot as we expected it to be."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Rapp asked.
"They've either shielded it, or the device is no longer in the trailer and we're seeing contamination."
"Debbie," said Reimer. "Get an HPG count and skip the X-ray. Have the FBI drill a hole in the side of the trailer. Do it nice and high. You know the routine."
Hanousek relayed the order to one of her techs who grabbed a black case and ran over to the trailer. Another man pulled out a cordless drill and Hanousek pointed to a spot on the top third of the trailer. It took little effort for the drill to pierce the thin metal skin. A small fiber optic camera with an infrared light on the end was fed through the fresh hole like a snake.
Hanousek cupped the small video screen in her hands, shielding it from the rain with the brim of her hat. She strained to make sense of the grainy black-and-white image. After a second she closed her eyes and said, "The trailer is empty."
* * *
Rapp and McMahon had both been hovering over the speaker phone, one on each side of the conference table. Neither man asked Hanousek to repeat herself. They'd heard the disappointment in her voice as well as her words. They both stood there in deafening silence, too caught up in trying to calculate the implications of what they'd just learned to respond. The bomb could be anywhere.
McMahon finally straightened up. He placed his hands on his hips and let out a sigh of frustration. "Do you want to call the president, or do you want me to do it?"
Rapp didn't answer right away. He hovered over the speaker phone, palms flat on the table, arms locked, brow furrowed. There was no way these men had simply vanished. Rapp looked up at McMahon. "They didn't just walk out of there. They had some mode of transportation."
Hanousek's voice came out of the speaker. "I don't think so. The son of the owner just told me his parents' car is still here."
"Where are the parents?" asked Rapp.
"No one knows."
"What's their car look like?"
"It's one of those big four-door Cadillacs. Brand-new."
"That doesn't make any sense. Why wouldn't they just take the car and drive out of there?"
"Maybe they met someone there?" McMahon guessed.
Rapp shook his head. "Not likely. They were on the run."
"What about the neighbors?" asked Reimer. "Has anyone checked with the neighbors?"
"That's a good idea," replied McMahon. "I'll make sure the Sheriff's Department gets on it right away."
Rapp finally stood. He turned around and looked at a map on the wall. They were missing something. He'd been on the run before in a foreign country, and none of this made any sense. The Cadillac was a golden opportunity to change vehicles and get away. "Are we sure they only had one vehicle?"
There was a moment of hesitation and then Hanousek said, "I never thought of asking. Hold on a minute."
About five seconds later Rapp could hear Hanousek repeat the question, and then he heard a man say, "No. They only had the one car."
Rapp was still staring at the map trying to get an idea of the lay of the land. He only had a general idea of the house's location. "Debbie, describe for me what the setting is like there. How big is the lot, how close are the neighbors anything that might be useful?"
"It's a nice place big. Probably around ten acres or more. You can't see the neighbors. The road in is real private. You cut through the woods and down a sloping drive to the house and then beyond that there's the river."
Rapp froze for a second, and then returned to hovering over the phone. Something she had just said struck a note of familiarity. "Did you sayriver?"
"I don't know."
"Ask the son?" Rapp turned back to the map.
"The York River."
Rapp found it on the map and traced it with his finger. He turned quickly and picked up the transcript of al-Adel's interrogation that he had been reading when McMahon and Stealey had come in the room just ten minutes ago. He flipped through the pages searching for the passage that he couldn't quite remember. Rapp ignored both Hanousek and McMahon who tried to ask him what he was doing.
He found the passage and skimmed it. "Debbie," Rapp said earnestly, "ask the son if his dad has a boat."
Her reply came two seconds later. "Yes, he does."
Rapp pinched the bridge of his nose. "Has anyone bothered to check and see if it's there?"
Rapp could hear Hanousek ask the question, but he could barely make out the man's answer. He was saying something about his father never leaving his car parked outside, and that was why he noticed the cab and the truck in the garage right away and he'd heard about it on the news so he called the police right away, and no he hadn't had time to check on the boat.
"The boat!" yelled Rapp. "Go see if it's there."
Rapp grabbed his secure mobile phone and punched in Dr. Akram's number. Someone else answered and told Rapp Akram was busy. "I don't care what he's doing, put him on the phone right now."
Less than five seconds later Akram was on the line. "Mitch."
"Are you with al-Adel?"
"Ask him why they planned on attacking New York by boat." Rapp turned around and looked at the map again, shaking his head and silently cursing himself for not seeing it sooner. It made no sense. Why would a man who couldn't swim decide to get on a boat, when he could simply drive the bomb into the city? The answer was obvious. Because he feared detection.
Akram came back on the line. "He said something about sensors at all the bridges and tunnels leading onto the island."
"Just like D.C." Rapp looked back up at the map.
"What sensors?" asked Akram.
"Never mind, I'll tell you later." Rapp ended the call and a second later Hanousek was back on the speaker phone. He already knew what she was going to say.
"The boat is gone."
* * *
They were only twenty miles from their destination. The wind had picked up a bit, so it was difficult to tell if the rain had diminished or not, but it looked as if it was clearing to the east. Al-Yamani had been worrying about the weather all morning. His greatest fear was that the entire event would be canceled. Losing the weapon that was to destroy New York was enough of a setback, he did not need another. He had journeyed all this way, and he desperately wanted the president and the other American leaders to suffer Islam's fiery vengeance. The rain would reduce the number of people who were predicted to show up for the event, but al-Yamani would gladly spare thousands of those people their lives if it meant he could kill the president.
Today would mark the beginning of a true global jihad. Al-Yamani would show his fellow Muslims that America was not so mighty after all. He would show them that with great sacrifice even America could be brought to her knees. Al-Yamani knew that America would strike back. He doubted they would have the courage to retaliat
Muslims from around the world would resent them for the godless people that they were. The destruction of the American capital and its leaders would have disastrous economic effects mostly here in America, but in today's global economy everyone would be affected. The master plan, with a strike in Washington and then a follow-up attack in New York, would have undoubtedly shattered the American economy and sent the rest of the world into a global depression. But even so, a nuclear attack in Washington was no small feat. At a bare minimum, it still had the potential to create great economic hardship.
Muslims were used to hardship. They would flourish in a global recession, whereas the fat, lazy Americans would not. They would be seen for who they were in the face of such hardship, and resentment for them would continue to grow. Al-Yamani took great solace in knowing that he was about to ignite a revolution. It was the one thing that helped him ignore the pain that had spread to every single inch of his body.
They were now approaching what looked to be a large bend in the river. Hasan, who was driving the boat, pointed to the left. "I think that is what they call Mount Vernon."
"What is it?" asked al-Yamani who was sitting next to him.
"It is where George Washington lived. The man they named the city after. And up ahead is Sheridan Point. Once we clear it I think we will be able to see the city."
Al-Yamani smiled. "Where is Khaled?"
Hasan yelled for his friend and a moment later he was at al-Yamani's side. "Get the scientist and have him arm the weapon."
Khaled lowered his voice to a whisper and asked, "When he's done, can I kill him?"
Al-Yamani would have liked to do it himself, but he doubted he had the strength to dispatch even someone as weak as Zubair. "Yes, you may."
Memorial Day by Vince Flynn / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes