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Memorial day, p.9
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       Memorial Day, p.9

         Part #7 of Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn
 

  Al-Yamani's days were numbered. He too had been exposed to the lethal levels of radiation, but not to the extent of his brave mujahideen. He took pills that helped fight off the nausea and fever, but there was no cure. Mustafa al-Yamani was a dead man walking, but he had just enough life left in him to strike a glorious blow for Islam.

  America was a large country with more shoreline than it could ever realistically defend. It was the Great Satan's one glaring weakness, and al-Yamani was planning to exploit it in every phase of his operation. His importance was known to the Western intelligence agencies. A price of ten million dollars had been placed on his head. Several of his own people had been tempted by the bounty, and if not for moles inside both the Pakistani and Saudi intelligence services who had tipped him off, he would now be rotting inside a dungeon somewhere, never to see the light of day again. Instead he was about to unleash the ultimate terror weapon on the arrogant Americans.

  Al-Yamani consulted the GPS again and pulled back on the throttles, slipping the engines into neutral. The small bridge where he was to meet his contact was not far up ahead. In the faint glow of the moonlight he could just barely make it out. The retired KGB officer had told him that the canals of the refuge were sometimes only navigable during high tide. Based on the draft of the forty-four-foot Rivarama, he'd calculated that he had a one-hour window to wait for his contact. After that he'd have to leave or risk getting stuck.

  Deftly, he slipped the engines back into gear and goosed the sleek craft forward. A short while later he could clearly see the small bridge. With about fifty feet to go he pulled the throttles back and killed the engines. The boat slowly glided forward, while al-Yamani strained to hear the noise of an approaching car or anything suspicious. There was nothing other than the cacophony of nocturnal animals going about their business.

  The bow slid under a steel girder, and al-Yamani reached up to grab hold. The windscreen cleared the rusted support with barely a foot to spare. Al-Yamani stopped the slow forward progress of the boat and then set about turning it around in case he had to race back out to sea. When he had it pointed back in the direction he'd come from, he tied the boat up and looked for a spot to go ashore. There wasn't enough light to see anything with great detail, and al-Yamani couldn't shake the thought that somewhere in the reeds an alligator lay in wait. He stood near the back of the boat wracked by indecision. He could either blindly jump into the grass or he could grab a flashlight. While he stood gripped with the fear of the unknown, something moved in the tall grass, and that decided it for him.

  He ducked down below and grabbed a flashlight and can of soda from the fridge. Pointing the light down he turned it on and threw the can into the tall grass. Something moved quickly, and al-Yamani caught a glimpse of it with his light as it scurried into the water. It was a furry creature of some kind. Definitely not an alligator. He growled to himself and grabbed his bag. Whatever was out there, with the exception of the alligators, was likely more afraid of him than he of it. Standing atop the engine compartment he took one last look around and leaped for the shore.

  He landed on one leg and then stumbled for a second before catching himself. One of the chief reasons why al-Yamani couldn't simply disguise himself and enter the U.S. by plane was that he wore a prosthetic from the knee down on his right leg. At the age of sixteen the young Saudi had gone to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. After stepping on a land mine he returned home minus the lower half of his right leg. With the help of a prosthetic, there was little that al-Yamani couldn't do, but passing through a metal detector at an airport was not one of them. One of their moles inside Saudi intelligence had told him that the Americans knew all about him. Al-Yamani was on all their watch lists, and it wasn't that hard to pick out an Arab man missing part of his leg.

  After collecting himself he started up the bank in a low crouch. When he reached the top he stayed in the tall grass and peered down the road in both directions. As expected it was empty. The road was called Black Point Drive, part of a seven-mile loop used by tourists and nature lovers to get a closer look at the refuge's wildlife.

  He could see the glow of an approaching car but could not hear it yet. His heart quickened and his palms became moist. The car rounded the bend and headed straight for him. Al-Yamani laid flat on his stomach and kept his head down. The noise of the vehicle grew and then it came to a stop. Al-Yamani could hear the idling engine and then as per his instructions the headlights were extinguished and the car was turned off. If the car had remained running, al-Yamani would have taken it as a signal that the man thought he was being followed.

  He lifted himself up just enough to get a look through the tall grass. On the opposite side of the road he saw the silver Ford Taurus he'd expected. The driver's door opened, and a man stepped out and lit a cigarette. So far so good. Al-Yamani watched him for a little while and then stood grabbing his bag.

  The man did not see him at first as he stepped from the grass. Al-Yamani was half way across the road when he softly said, "Allahu Akbar."

  The man spun nervously, almost dropping his cigarette. With his eyes wide he repeated the phrase in a less than steady voice.

  Al-Yamani was pleased. If the young man was nervous, that meant he was taking this seriously. In Arabic he asked, "Are you sure no one has followed you?"

  "Yes. I have not been to my mosque in two months, just as you ordered."

  Al-Yamani nodded with satisfaction and embraced his colleague. For now he would let him live.

  * * *

  Fifteen

  WASHINGTON, D.C.

  Irene Kennedy had just spent the last two hours helping her son with his homework. It was late, she was tired, and they both needed to go to bed. Tommy was a first grader for three more days and immensely proud of the fact that he was about to move up in the pecking order of his grade school. Kennedy was just happy that he would no longer have Mrs. Johnson as a teacher. It was the last week before summer, and she was still handing out homework like it was college midterms.

  Kennedy sent her son into his bathroom to brush his teeth, and then headed down the hall to draw a bath for herself. By the time she got back, he was already under the covers. He had undoubtedly cut a few corners on brushing his teeth, but Kennedy was too tired to make an issue out of it. He was a good kid who was polite and respectful, got perfect grades, and stayed out of trouble. An occasional cavity wouldn't kill him.

  Begin the day on a positive note and end the day on a positive note. That was her motto, at least at home. The other stuff she couldn't control: the politicians on the Hill, the president and his advisors, the press, and even some of her own people at Langley. Kennedy listened to Tommy say his prayers and then kissed him on the forehead.

  "I love you, honey."

  He rolled away from her and said, "I love you too."

  She was losing him. It seemed like yesterday that she used to carry him to bed, and not too long ago he would look her in the eyes and tell her he loved her. Now he was entering that goofy stage where girls, including mothers, were weird. Kennedy rubbed his back and then got up and left.

  Her child taken care of, she could now turn her attention to herself. A nice long hot bath sounded like just the thing. She would lose herself in thoughts of nothing but the trivial for a good half hour. She entered her small walk-in closet and took off her clothes. She put her silk blouse in her dry cleaning bag and then made her way into the bathroom. The old-fashioned claw-foot tub was half full and steaming. Kennedy added some bath oil and then shut off the water. All she had to do was get through the next three days and they'd have a nice relaxing long weekend together. She and Tommy and her mother had plans to visit cousins at the shore. It would be a weekend of sun, surf, and fun. The perfect way to kick off the start of summer. At least she hoped it would be, even though she knew there was a good chance duty would call and her mother and Tommy would spend the weekend at the shore without her.

  She was just about to ease her foot into the water when the
serenity of the moment was shattered by a distinctive ringing noise. Kennedy, a normally unflappable person, turned and glared at the white phone and its blinking red light. Her secure telephone had no voice mail. If she didn't answer it, they would simply call the agent in charge of her security detail, and he would politely come upstairs and knock on her bedroom door.

  She snatched her robe from the hook on the door and walked over to her bedside table. Without her glasses she struggled to read the small display. She made out the first word and decided it was the CIA's Global Ops Center. Kennedy grabbed the handset and in a tired, but composed voice said, "DCI Kennedy."

  The voice on the other end sounded somewhat scratchy and far away. "Irene, it's Mitch."

  Kennedy looked at the bedside clock. It was nearing ten in the evening, which meant it was almost six in the morning where Rapp was. "Is everything all right?"

  "Yeah "

  "Where are you?"

  "We're on our way back across the border. Listen, I don't want to alarm you, but we found some serious intel in this village. I need you to get the Southwest Asia CTC people back into the office, and call the station chief in Kandahar and tell him to give me complete carte blanche on anything I ask for, especially translators."

  Kennedy's brow furrowed. "Just how time sensitive is this stuff?"

  "I'm not sure."

  "Then what's the big rush?" Kennedy didn't like going into action without a solid reason.

  "Just trust me when I tell you we have to move quickly on this stuff."

  Kennedy sensed something in his voice. "Mitch, you sound a little ruffled. What's going on?"

  Rapp didn't answer right away. "Listen, I don't want to alarm everyone until we have a chance to look at everything more closely, but we found a room under the target house."

  "What kind of room?" Kennedy was now standing.

  "It was filled with files. Most of it in Pashtu, but some of it in Arabic. There were also several computers and a few maps."

  "And?" asked Kennedy knowing there had to be more for Rapp to make this urgent call.

  There was a long pause and then Rapp said, "One of the maps was of D.C. and it showed the effects of a nuclear blast."

  "Jesus Christ." Kennedy sat back down, her thoughts turning to her worst fear.

  "Irene, do what you need to do to cover your ass, but give me a few hours to look into this before everyone flies off the handle and gets in my way."

  Kennedy's head was swimming with possibilities, none of them good. There were the financial movements of last Friday, the intercepts that something big was in the works, and now this. "I don't know if I can sit on this, Mitch, even for a minute."

  "All I'm asking for is a few hours." Rapp knew what was going through her mind. He had seen the plans for what they called continuity of government. It involved alerting thousands of people in the first hour alone. "Once this genie's out of the bottle there's no putting her back. Just give me some time to study our take, and find out if it's all a fantasy, or if they've actually got the goods."

  Kennedy had stopped listening, her mind stuck on the fact that the president, vice president, speaker of the House, pro tem of the Senate, secretary of state, and secretary of the treasury were all in town. Some people needed to be moved.

  "Irene, it's a Tuesday night. You know how these guys work. They want maximum exposure. If they do this, it'll be during broad daylight when downtown is filled with people."

  Kennedy pinched the bridge of her nose. "You might be right, but I can't take that chance." There were plans in place, protocol to be followed.

  "If they have a bomb, our number one priority should be to make sure they don't detonate it. To do that I need some time. Just hold off on doing anything crazy for a few hours. That's all I'm asking."

  His voice was less than clear, but she could still hear his pleading tone. Finally, she said, "You'll get everything you need, Mitch. Just work fast, and call me as soon as you learn more. I need to go."

  Kennedy held on to the handset and disconnected the call. Her mind was racing, trying to factor in everything she'd just heard with the information she already knew. She was reminded of a similar situation where very powerful people in Washington missed all of the signs that an attack was imminent. Tragically, their inaction led to the deaths of thousands. The director of the CIA reached her tipping point, and decided on a course of action. She was about to walk a very fine line, but given the circumstances she saw no other way.

  * * *

  Sixteen

  The president's private study was located on the second floor of the Executive Mansion. President Hayes had his shoes off, his feet up, a drink in one hand, and a book in the other. An early riser, he was looking forward to finishing his drink and heading off to bed.

  There was a firm knock on the door, but before Hayes could answer, it opened. Beth Jorgenson, the Secret Service agent in charge of the shift detail, walked in.

  "I'm sorry to interrupt, sir, but something has come up." Jorgenson strode purposefully across the room to the president's desk and picked up his secure phone. She handed Hayes the handset and said, "Director Kennedy needs to speak with you."

  Hayes was still holding on to his book and drink, and didn't move at first. Something out of the ordinary was happening, and he had the peculiar feeling that is was not good. He set the drink down slowly and took the phone. "Irene."

  "Mr. President, we have a situation that you need to be aware of." Kennedy relayed the intel Rapp had given her and repeated the information that she'd briefed the president on the morning before.

  When she was done, Hayes didn't answer right away. After some hesitation he stated the obvious, "This doesn't sound good."

  "No, it doesn't, sir." Kennedy paused. She knew the president would not like her next suggestion, but she had to make it. "As a precaution I would like you and the First Lady to spend the evening in the bunker."

  The president thought about the cement tomb underneath the Executive Mansion. He'd spent a dismal few days there once before and had no desire to set foot back in the place. "Slow down a minute, Irene. One map doesn't give us a whole lot to go on."

  "No it doesn't, sir, but it's more than just the map."

  Three more Secret Service agents entered the room and Hayes began to get the idea that something was already in the works. "Irene, before you get ahead of yourself, please tell me you haven't authorized any evacuations."

  "No, I have not, sir, even though I have the authority to do so without seeking your approval." Kennedy chose her words carefully. She had the power to implement a continuity of government plan that would evacuate certain key decision makers from the city. The implementation of such a plan was not to be undertaken lightly, for it was widely agreed that shortly after it went into effect, the press would be all over the story and nationwide panic might follow.

  "What are you saying, Irene?"

  "Sir, I'm saying that as of yet I am not prepared to implement Operation Ark, but I think it would be prudent for you and the First Lady to go downstairs and spend the night there."

  "Irene, I think you're moving too fast."

  Kennedy was not to be deterred. "Sir, we have a real problem. Both you and the vice president are in town, as well as the speaker of the House, the president pro tem of the Senate, and your entire cabinet with the exception of the secretary of the interior."

  "Oh I see." If a nuke took out DC, the secretary of the interior would become president, and although he was a decent enough fellow, he was not the type of man who would instill confidence in a time of national tragedy.

  "Sir, I agree that it might be premature to start pulling people out of restaurants and beds. Mitch tells me he'll know more in the next couple hours. Until then, I would feel much better if I knew you were less of a target." She intentionally chose the word target.

  After an uncomfortable silence Hayes responded in a tone that left no doubt that he was in charge, "I'm going to wander down to the Situation Roo
m and keep an eye on this."

  They'd been over this possibility on their threat assessments. The Situation Room was not a bunker, but it had enough reinforced concrete to withstand a truck bomb parked in front of the building. It was better than nothing. She knew she'd pushed it about as far as she could for now, and she couldn't very well stop him from doing his job.

  "What about the First Lady?"

  "Irene you know her well enough to understand, no one, not even yours truly is going to get her to go spend the night in that bunker."

  "Will you at least ask her, sir?"

  "I'll give it a shot, and I'll call you in fifteen for an update." Hayes hung up the phone and looked at his yet unfinished drink. He hated to waste good bourbon, but it might be a long night. He left it there on the small end table and went and told his wife he was going over to the Situation Room for a bit. Despite his promise to Kennedy he didn't waste any breath asking her to spend the night in the bunker.

  * * *

  Seventeen

  AFGHANISTAN

  Rapp had asked for more time to sift through the intelligence gold mine they'd found under the house while they were right there, but General Harley had denied his request. Disengaging from the enemy in foreign terrain was not an easy thing, and the general wanted it done right, and on schedule. Harley sent one of the ATVs into the village and Rapp, with the help of the Delta boys, filled the undersized trailer with the maps, files, and computers from the small room under the house.

  Talking to Kennedy had made several things clear. Rapp had to move fast, and that meant he would have to break some rules. He made his arrangements before they landed at the Kandahar Air Base. That was the way it had to be. The military had too many rules, and more than enough Good Samaritans, Bible thumpers, and people who in general thought their mission in life was to do everything by the book. The course that Rapp was about to set could not be done by the book. There could be no record of it.

 
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