Unknown Day, Unknown Time of Day, 2014 Somewhere in Afghanistan
Cole groaned and slowly opened his eyes. His head felt like it was in a vice.
“Mister? Are you okay?” inquired a familiar female voice.
“Yeah, are you?” Cole replied with a wince.
“I think so. I came to just a bit before you did,” the doctor replied.
Cole attempted to lift a hand to his head. It wouldn’t budge; both hands were evidently secured behind his back. He glanced around and noticed that he, the doctor, and Mike were all sitting in a shadowy, very dirty basement. The only light came from a single incandescent bulb flickering overhead.
“It’s no use Cole. They used some really heavy old shackles...” Mike said. “Even Super Cole can’t break ’em.”
“Kiss my ass, Mike!” Cole spat. “You better be glad these things ain’t coming off right now. ’Cause when they do...”
“What? Are you going to kill me? Your best friend? The guy who saved you from prison?” Mike asked, sarcastically.
“Yeah, you’ve done one helluva job, asshole,” Cole said and shook the chains attached to the metal cuffs on his wrists. The links clinked as they moved about. He glared over at Mike. “Why?”
“Why, what?” Mike asked in response.
“Why would you want to kill the doctor, here? What was your sister doing that would make you want to murder someone to keep it quiet?”
Sally coughed. “I can answer that...”
“Shut the hell up, bitch!” Mike barked.
“I swear to Christ, Mike I will end you if you speak to her in that way again!” Cole said angrily.
“I have a feeling you were gonna do that one way or the other, weren’t you?”
Cole sneered at Mike. “Go on, doc. Tell me.”
The doctor cut her eyes at the FBI agent. “Alright. So, I was working at a U.N. medical tent giving out immunization shots to kids at this little village when an injured CIA Agent named Fitz...”
Cole shook his head. “Nevermind.”
“Okay, so, Agent Fitz and this wounded soldier both came in like a whirlwind. I cleared a table to start patching them up...the soldier’s name was Nick or something, I believe. I really don’t remember...it’s all kind of a blur.”
Cole nodded in understanding. “I gotcha. Go on.”
“Sorry. Well, it seemed some op they were involved in must have gone wrong and they got injured.”
“What kind of op?”
“Not too sure. All I can tell you is that it went bad. Anyways, Fitz was hit in the shoulder and Nick, or whatever his name was, was shot in the leg. I called for help and then proceeded to work on the soldier, noting Fitz had passed out. I turned my attention to the agent, but then I overheard people shouting loudly in Mandarin outside the tent. Even with all of the countries operating there under the flag of the U.N., there wasn’t anyone on-site that I knew of that spoke Mandarin. Luckily, or maybe not so luckily, a handful of my surgical colleagues rushed into the tent and took over for me. That’s when I stepped over to the tent’s door and peeked out. I’m fluent in Mandarin, by the way...my parents made sure I learned to speak it. They did it just to keep my grandparents happy.” Sally shrugged. “Anyways, I saw Agent Moore arguing with some Chinese guy about trading women for stolen Chinese WMD technology. Apparently, she was running some kind of human trafficking ring and the guy she was talking to were trying to renegotiate a deal that went bad. I assumed something happened with the op and that messed up their plans.”
“How did they find out you were listening?”
“That soldier, Nick, I’m guessing. He must have been working with her. Agent Fitz was out cold.”
“...I guess the CIA must have been monitoring the UN’s communications, because when I went to make the call to my uncle in D.C. to warn him...I call him Uncle Sam, you know?” the woman said with a weak smile. “Anyways, the call died and the next thing you know, they were coming in the front of the tent with guns and I was going out the back...”
“Did they say anything about Virginia?”
“Virginia, the state?”
A look of surprise appeared on the doctor’s face. “Yeah, now that you mention it, it seems I heard them say something about Virginia...I thought maybe it was a woman’s name.”
“Do you remember where?” Cole asked.
“Buddy, you don’t want to go there...” Mike sang.
“Shut it, traitor!” Cole commanded.
“Traitor?” Mike retorted with a laugh. “You have no idea what you are dabbling in, you moron!”
Cole looked over at Mike with a confused expression. “Then why don’t you enlighten me?”
Silence swept over the room once more as Mike looked away.
“Where in Virginia did they say?” Cole asked again.
“I heard the word Thomas or Thomaston, maybe?”
“Yeah, that’s it!” Sally exclaimed. “How do you know all this?”
Cole looked over at FBI the agent. “Tell me, Mike, is that why you were embedded in the Militia with me? Were they involved with what you people were doing? Is that why your sister recruited me?” Cole’s mind was racing. “Why did y’all recruit me, bro!?!!”
“You’re both dead,” Mike said flatly. “You should have just walked the hell away, Cole, and played your part. Just left me and the doc alone in that alley...”
“Played my part?” Cole calmed himself and thought for a moment. “You know, Mike, it’s not too late. We can fix this, but you have to tell me what the hell is going on! C’mon buddy, it’s me, Cole...you know I would do practically anything to help you?”
Mike opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the opening of a heavy door. A tall Afghani man in silken robes entered the room; a man Cole recognized from photos as The Physician.
“You American activists must be mentally deranged to attempt to steal my property,” he said in English as he slid a finger over Sally’s smudged cheek. “Do you think you are filming a new Iron Eagle movie or something?”
Were it not for the seriousness of the situation, Cole would have found that little quip humorous. He also realized that this murderous lunatic thought Mike and he were human trafficking activists, not involved with the CIA or FBI. Cole narrowed his eyes and looked up at his captor. “Would you let us go if we were, Dr. Nuristani?”
“Crazy or filming a movie?” the man asked, returning Cole’s gaze.
“Whichever one will make you let us go without me havin’ to kill you.”
The homicidal Physician, Dr. Feda Nuristani, placed a hand on the back of his neck as if in contemplation and he looked down at the ground. He looked up, his stony face slowly lightening as a humorous expression swept over it. “Ha! Ah ha ha! You are hilarious American and since you have made me laugh, today, I have decided I will kill you last as a reward!”
“Your funeral,” Cole said under his breath.
“Take this one and bring him to my operating room!” Feda said in Pashto, pointing toward Mike.
Two men with AK-47′s slung over their shoulder stepped into the cell from behind the Physician and approached Mike.
Cole closed his eyes. Every fiber in his being screamed at him to offer to take Mike’s place, but he knew if he did, Sally would die and whatever the CIA Director was up to would continue unfettered.
“Cole! Hey, Cole! I’m sorry! Please, forgive me! I’m sorry...” Mike shouted as the men dragged him from the room.