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Memorial day, p.37
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       Memorial Day, p.37

         Part #7 of Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn
 

  "Thank you." Khaled turned and went below. A moment later he returned with the scientist.

  Zubair had one of the lead aprons on and was holding his laptop. Al-Yamani was about to tell him to take the apron off, but decided it wasn't worth it. They had seen only a handful of boats all morning, and right now they were the only boat in sight.

  "Do you need any help?" asked al-Yamani.

  "No. I only need to know when you would like the bomb to go off." Zubair checked his watch. "It is eight minutes past eleven right now."

  "Two hours from now."

  Zubair tilted his head in a questioning manner. "How much longer until we reach the dock?"

  "We should be there in an hour."

  "That will not leave us much time to get away."

  "It should be more than enough."

  Zubair was about to argue and then thought better of it. These other two soldiers of the jihad had been giving him dirty looks for two days, and he got the distinct impression they would like to hurt him. "Very well."

  Zubair walked to the stern, stepping out from under the canvas cover and into the falling rain. He had spent months designing the fire set so that he was the only person who could both arm and disarm the weapon. With the aid of his computer it would take only a few seconds to start the countdown. Zubair opened the cooler and briefly admired his work. No longer was the oxidized hunk of poison visible. It was concealed by an outer shell of plastique explosives and a complex maze of blasting caps and six separate firing circuits. If by chance anyone found the bomb, there was no way they would be able to defuse it in time. Each firing circuit was independent of the other, and each one used its own unique set of wiring with multiple false leads built in.

  The Pakistani scientist plugged a cable into the data port he'd placed near the top of the weapon and plugged the other end into his laptop. Holding the computer with one hand he pecked the keys with the other. He entered two separate sets of passwords to get to the proper screen and then punched in the countdown sequence. He wanted to be as far away as possible when this filthy weapon exploded. The numbers 02:00:00 appeared on all six detonator screens. Zubair smiled at the knowledge that only he could now stop this explosion from occurring. He entered one last password and then watched as all six screens began counting down in unison.

  Zubair closed his computer, unhooked the cable, and then shut the cooler. He turned around to get out of the rain and ran smack into the chest of the imposing Khaled.

  "Are you done?"

  "Yes," Zubair answered a bit nervously. He did not like the way these two men treated him.

  The scientist's spastic demeanor, the laptop, the lead apron, and the rain-slick surface of the deck, all contributed to what happened next. Khaled reached out and grabbed the Pakistani by his free arm. His other arm plunged up and out with the four-inch blade that had been at his side. Instead of piercing the Pakistani's chest like he'd planned, the blade hit the lead apron and stopped dead.

  The Pakistani screamed and tried to spin away. In the process, the laptop came up and hit Khaled in the chin, stunning him for a half second. He recovered quickly though and reached out to grab hold of the back of the Pakistani's shirt. This time he would not be thwarted by the apron. He swung his blade viciously and plunged it into the side of the man's neck. When he withdrew his blade the entire back of the boat as well as Khaled were sprayed with bright red blood.

  The geyser of blood hit Khaled in the eye, and he lost his balance for a second on the rain-soaked deck. At the same time the Pakistani jerked wildly and broke free of the larger man's grip. With blood spraying out between his clenched fingers, Zubair reeled, stumbled, and then fell over the side of the boat and into the river.

  The boat was traveling at twenty mph. Hasan turned to al-Yamani and asked, "What do you want me to do?"

  Al-Yamani looked through the rain at the body in the water. Zubair was already sinking, though his arms were slapping the surface, and he was struggling to stay alive. No one could lose that much blood and survive. He looked down at an embarrassed Khaled. He was covered in blood as was a good portion of the deck and the side of the boat, though the rain was already washing it away.

  Al-Yamani looked straight ahead and said, "Keep going. Even if they find his body they won't be able to stop us."

  * * *

  Eighty-Seven

  WASHINGTON, D.C.

  Rapp burst through the door and sprinted across the rain-soaked parking lot to the waiting helicopter. The wind had picked up a bit, and the sky was clearing to the east. The rain would not last much longer, and as soon as it stopped, people would start flocking to the river and the National Mall. Rapp opened the starboard door of the Bell 430 helicopter and jumped in. The door to the executive helicopter clicked shut sealing out the noise of the twin Allison turbine engines and the five spinning rotors.

  Four men were sitting in back dressed in plain clothes just as he had requested. One of them carried a long Special Purpose Rifle and the other three carried MP5 submachine guns. All four of the weapons had silencers affixed to the barrels. Rapp would talk to them in a minute when he was done briefing the pilots.

  Rapp handed the pilot the photo he'd pulled off the manufacturer's website and said, "This is the boat we're looking for. She's thirty-seven feet long and hasScandinavian Princess, York River, VA written in gold letters on the stern."

  The pilot handed the photo to the copilot and asked, "Where do you want to start?"

  "Let's hit the Key Bridge and work our way downriver from there."

  The pilot nodded and the fast executive helicopter lifted off the ground. It's landing gear retracted smoothly up into the belly of the craft and it began slicing eastward.

  When they discovered that the boat was missing, Rapp had asked to speak directly to the son. He got a full description of the boat and they pulled it up on the manufacturer's website. The guy's father had named it theScandinavian Princess after his wife. The son had asked Rapp if he thought his parents were all right. Rapp didn't have the heart, or the time, to tell the guy that his parents were most certainly dead, so he lied. Al-Yamani was on a quest to kill thousands, and Rapp doubted he would show compassion for two elderly people, no matter how kind they might be.

  When Rapp hung up with the son, he made three phone calls. The first was to General Flood at the Pentagon. Rapp told Flood precisely what he needed, and where he wanted the particular assets staged. Flood listened patiently. Having worked with Rapp many times, the four-star general had complete confidence in the younger man's analytical and tactical ability. He told Rapp the assets would be in place as quickly as possible. Rapp's second phone call was to the CIA. He wanted the helicopter and a four-man security team dressed in plain-clothes sent over to the Joint Counterterrorism Center ASAP. The third and final call was to Kennedy. He did not want to talk to the president. He was not going to try and explain what he wanted to do and then have to ask for permission. There was no time for that. Kennedy said she would pass everything on to the president and get back to him.

  Rapp looked up at the four men sitting in the back of the helicopter. All of them were reasonably fit and they had that ex-military look. If there was more time, Rapp would have called in a freelance team that he was used to working with, but time was something they were running short on. "Who's in charge?"

  Three of the men were sitting directly across from him facing the front and one was sitting next to him with his back to the pilots. The one sitting next to him put a finger in the air and said, "I am."

  Rapp stuck out his hand. "Mitch Rapp."

  "I know who you are, sir. John Brooks." The man who looked to be about Rapp's age shook his hand. "It's an honor to be working with you today."

  "You might not think so after I tell you what we're up to. Are you guys SOG or SWAT?"

  "SWAT."

  The CIA had a top-notch security force with its own SWAT team as well as a little-known paramilitary outfit called Special Operations Group. Both
were staffed predominantly by men and women with military experience. "What's your background?"

  "Two tours Green Berets. Stan and Gus here served with the Rangers and Sam was a sniper for the Corps."

  Rapp looked at the last man. "You ever killed anyone with that thing? And I need an honest answer." The guy looked to be in his early twenties.

  "Not this rifle in particular, sir, but I did a tour in both Afghanistan and Iraq. I've got recorded kills up to six hundred yards."

  "You ever shot anyone from over a hundred yards from a helicopter?" A long aerial shot from a moving, vibrating helicopter was one of the most difficult tasks in the business.

  "No, sir."

  "Have you ever practiced it?"

  "No, sir."

  This could be a problem. Before Rapp could ask any more questions his phone rang. It was Kennedy.

  He flipped it open and said, "Yeah."

  "Where are you?"

  "I'm airborne and headed toward the river."

  "The president wants to implement Operation Ark."

  This did not come as a great surprise, but it was irritating nonetheless. Attorney General Stokes had already snuck off to Mount Weather. "I thought we had until noon." He looked at his watch. It was 11:32.

  "All things considered, Mitch, I think it's the right move. It would be impossible for the media to get wind of this and go public with it before one o'clock."

  "I suppose you're right."

  "The bigger problem is that he's considering alerting all the embassies in Washington so they can evacuate their staffs."

  "Absolutely not," Rapp yelled.

  "I know I know. It's a bad idea. It started out with requests from the British prime minister and the Russian president and grew from there."

  "If you evacuate the foreign embassies the presswill find out for sure, and then all bets are off. Tell the president to honor his word and give me until noon."

  "I think I can do that, but there's something else you need to be aware of. Secretary McClellan and Attorney General Stokes are pushing to have the Coast Guard close the river down and block all traffic coming into the city."

  "Irene, you have to convince the president to wait. If we tip our hand, al-Yamani will just blow the damn thing. Tell him I'll be over the river in a few minutes, and I'll call you back."

  "All right, but I can't promise anything. You're going to have to move fast."

  Rapp ended the call and quickly dialed McMahon's number. When the agent answered he asked, "What's up?"

  "We're calling the marinas and getting the word out. The good news is boat traffic has been really light and they're fully staffed for the holiday weekend. The bad news is the weather is about to clear and things are starting to pick up."

  "What about the Park Police?"

  "Their helicopter should be up any minute and over the river about the same time you get there."

  "Have them start on the Anacostia just south of the Capitol and work their way down to the Potomac. They can focus on the east side of the river and we'll stick with the west, and don't forget to tell them, I want them flying over land, not over the river, and if they spot the boat, just call out the position and keep on flying. I don't want to do anything that will spook these guys."

  "I already told them. What do you want to do with the D.C. police? Should we have them hit the marinas?"

  "Not yet. We've got a little time to work with. What else do you have?"

  "The Harbor Police has a couple boats in the water and they've been alerted. Reimer has his people searching the city, and he says he should have a helicopter up with all of the sensing equipment soon. This rain has been a real blessing. The Coast Guard says boat traffic is really light on the river."

  Rapp looked out the window of the helicopter. "That's not going to last, unfortunately." Rapp had a house out on the Chesapeake Bay and he knew what happened on holiday weekends when the skies cleared. "As soon as the rain stops, they'll all head out at once. The river will be packed."

  "Yeah, I know. Homeland Security wants to shut down the river and close all roads coming into the city."

  "I heard. I swear they're going to screw this whole thing up." Rapp ran a hand through his thick black hair and shook his head. "What else do you have?"

  "I've got the Hostage Rescue Team on their way back from Richmond. They should be here in about thirty minutes, but in the meantime we've got the Washington Field Office's SWAT team on alert."

  "Skip, I don't want to argue with you over this, but unless this boat is beached somewhere, SEAL Team Six is going to handle the takedown. They train for this type of stuff more than anyone else. Vessel takedowns are their specialty."

  "You're going to have problem then, because Attorney General Stokes made it very clear to everyone before he left that he wants the Bureau to handle this situation. Not the military and definitely not the CIA, and according to my boss, the president agrees."

  "Well, the attorney general doesn't know his head from his ass."

  "Mitch, you'd better be real careful here," warned McMahon. "This isn't your jurisdiction, so don't go running off like some cowboy."

  "If you want these guys, you'd better find them before I do, because I'm not going to wait around for HRT to get their asses in position, and I sure as hell am not going to wait for a bunch of people sitting in a bunker sixty miles from ground zero to give me the green light."

  "Those people you are referring to were elected by the American people to make these decisions."

  "Skip, the last thing I fucking need right now is to be micromanaged by a bunch of fucking people who don't know the first thing about running a takedown, so do me a favor and keep them off my back. If HRT gets there first, they can have the honors, but if the SEALs are in position first, it's their show and I can guarantee you the president will agree with me."

  "Then you'd better get him to tell my bosses because they think this is all FBI."

  "I will. Call me if you learn anything. We're almost to the river."

  * * *

  Eighty-Eight

  POTOMAC RIVER

  Mustafa al-Yamani had tears in his eyes. It was exactly as he'd dreamt it would be night after night for nearly a year. They rounded a slight jog in the river, the clouds parted and beams of sun shown down brightly on the massive dome of the U.S. Capitol. The swordlike Washington Monument shot upward, marking the center of the National Mall, and the cap of the Jefferson Memorial lay in the foreground, partially concealed by a row of trees. He could not see the White House but he knew where it was, just beyond the Washington Monument. He had studied the maps over and over until each detail was seared into his memory, and now he would destroy it. Everything in sight would be leveled in a little more than an hour.

  The fathers of America had designed their capital city to form a crucifix. The Washington Monument marked the center, with the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial forming the longer center line while the Jefferson Memorial and the White House formed the shorter horizontal line. The Americans were modern-day crusaders trying to stamp out Islam. They'd even backed the Jews in retaking the Holy Land. It was time to begin a new crusade. Acrusade for the people of Islam.

  Al-Yamani smiled at the view in front of him. It was just as he had dreamt it would be; the sun shining down through the parting clouds, the green trees and blue water. For the sun to come out at the exact moment when he laid eyes on the city was further proof that Allah was guiding them.

  Al-Yamani placed a frail hand on Hasan's shoulder. "You have done well. There is nothing they can do to stop us now. Continue to the spot by the Tidal Basin and drop the anchor. I am going below to pray. You and Khaled may join me when you are ready."

  Al-Yamani called out for Khaled. The man came up the stairs to the bridge area and stood by al-Yamani.

  "I do not think I have the strength to walk. Would you please carry me below?"

  Khaled nodded, choking back tears. He bent over and cradled the bravest man he had ever known. L
ooking like a man clutching his decrepit and dying father, he walked him down the stairs and into the cabin where he gently set him on the floor. Al-Yamani kneeled on the floor, brought his palms together, and began reciting asura.

  * * *

  Eighty-Nine

  WASHINGTON, D.C

  The blue-and-white helicopter flew through the sky a mere 300 feet above the treetops of the lush Potomac River Valley. When they reached the tall Francis Scott Key Bridge, they slowed from 140 mph to 80 mph and dropped down another hundred feet. The boat would not be able to navigate the river any further upstream than this. The pilots cut around the east side of Roosevelt Island and took the Georgetown Channel. They passed a series of docks on the east bank where large tour boats where docked. So far theScandinavian Princess was nowhere in sight.

  Rapp continued looking out the port window and called General Flood on his phone. "General, we're coming up on the Roosevelt Bridge. Can you give me an idea what the picture looks like downriver?"

  "The AWACS is tracking twenty-six contacts within ten miles of the capital. That's up from eighteen just five minutes ago."

  "How many of those contacts are headed north?"

  "I don't know. Let me check."

  Rapp could hear the chairman of the joint chiefs talking to someone. He came back with an answer in short order.

  "Twenty-one of the twenty-six are headed upriver."

  "General I want the AWACS controller to vector us in on each contact. Find out what channel they want my pilot on." Flood came back with a quick answer. Rapp passed the information on to the pilot and then asked for the status on SEAL Team Six.

  "They're about twenty minutes away, but we've got a slight problem."

  Rapp noticed a note of hesitation in Flood's voice. "What's that?"

  "The president just informed me that Team Six is to be used only if the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team is not in position."

 
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