14:00 (19:00 GMT)
Mike Brennan and CIA Director, Julian Thomas, were in Mike’s office.
Julian took a sip of coffee and said, “Well, we got him. Not exactly the way we wanted, but at least we got him.”
“Damn straight we did,” Mike said.
“What do you think the fallout’s going to be now?” Julian asked.
“I don’t know,” Mike replied. “Every bit of intelligence we have points to the fact that the Cuban government knew about General Vasquez and his little operation all along. Besides, what can the Cubans say to us? There’s really not anyone down there who can point a finger at us.”
“That we know of,” Julian added.
Mike peered out through the window in his office door and saw the Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, Veronica Slocum approaching. He tensed up as he prepared internally for any verbal battle that may erupt. From the day they met, they didn’t get along. Nearly everything Mike proposed for different clandestine missions, she opposed and his ’the end justifies the means’ attitude didn’t cut it with her. Anytime one of Mike’s assets used violence to get the job done, she would threaten to bring criminal charges against them. He simply didn’t understand her. Nor did he care to.
In the Government’s hierarchy, she was considered Julian’s boss, and for some crazy reason, at National Intelligence, either her position or that of the Principal Deputy Director can be an active-duty commissioned officer. Only one of the two positions can be held by a military officer at one time.
Veronica graduated with degrees from Harvard and Yale and had never served a day in the military. Mike resented her for that and her mental lack of military procedures showed constantly when it came to putting together and approving military operations.
Mike was a former member of the tenth Special Forces Group headquartered out of Fort Carson, Colorado. He’d served in Europe during the cold war. Violence, death, torture; it was all part of how the game was played in the covert world of espionage and intelligence gathering.
Veronica, on the other hand, believed in handling things diplomatically. She thought that if you treated enemy combatants humanely and asked them nicely, they would give you whatever information you wanted.
Mike was thankful that Director Thomas and Blake both saw things his way. Mike referred to Veronica as The Liberal Bitch or The Red Headed Whack Job, among other things.
Mike frowned and mumbled, “The Bitch is here.”
Julian chuckled and shook his head.
Veronica opened the door and stepped in.
“Veronica,” Mike said, drawing out the name while he extended his hand. “Great to see you. How are things up on The Hill today?”
“Busy as hell,” she said, turning to the CIA Director, “Hello Julian.”
Julian had just taken another swig of coffee, so he raised his glass and tilted his head with a grin.
“Let’s get this over with as I’m sure I’ll be busy trying to clean up this shit storm you two created.”
Mike shook his head and sighed. “Shit storm? What are you talking about?”
“The one you created when this little mission of yours didn’t go quite as planned,” she replied. “It was supposed to be a silent job. In and out undetected, you said.” She snapped her fingers. “A piece of cake… I’ve already got word that the AP is reporting a story about several fishing charters seeing a dogfight between two helicopters off the Keys and then one of our jets blowing one out of the sky with air-to-air missiles. It’s already been tweeted by several of the people on the charter boats and one person even posted a damn video of the missile hitting the chopper to his Facebook page and YouTube. The damn things gone viral Mike, and by the end of the day, tens of thousands of people will have seen it. What the fuck, Mike? Seriously. What the fuck?”
“Calm down Veronica,” Julian said. “I’ll contact NAS Key West and have them post a statement to their website and issue a press release that it was an advanced tactical training program. They’ll issue the statement that it was a live round training and that the second bird was flown via remote control. The other bird was an inadvertent casualty when it had engine failure due to the concussion of the other one exploding so close to it.”
“Seriously Julian? Do you honestly think that will work?” she said sardonically. “The American people aren’t as stupid as you think. This thing will have gone viral over the whole world by the time you get that out.”
Julian smirked and replied, “Hell yeah, we do it all the time.” He paused and then added, “I’ll even have my people write it up for them.” Julian turned to Mike and asked, “When is Blake supposed to get here?”
“He just landed on the heliport. Give him five minutes, ten at most.”
“I’ll be back in a sec.” Julian took out his phone and left the office.
“Mike, I hope for your sake, this works,” Veronica said.
“It’ll work, don’t worry.”
Veronica shook her head and said “I dunno. I just think this could have been handled differently. Diplomatically, perhaps.”
“Director, with all due respect, we’ve had sanctions on them for—how many years now?
“They don’t give a rat’s ass about what we do diplomatically. Besides, they would have denied any and all of it anyhow. This was a private, illegal venture of the general’s: even if he was giving kickbacks to the Cuban Government to keep quiet.”
She sighed and said, “I’ll be interested to hear what MacKay has to say about it and to see if he dug up anything else that would be of use to us, like where he’s getting these weapons and who else is he selling them to?”
“We’ll find out soon enough,” Mike said.
On the ride over to Langley, Blake went over in his head the intel that he had reviewed on the plane. There were only a few things that he put in the back of his mind. Of significance was the sale of the deadly weapon called Metal Storm. The company’s website listed its technology and deadly capabilities.
The worst part about it was that it was sold to Zahmir al Hamwi, a known al Qaeda weapons dealer, who is on the top ten of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list.
Blake didn’t know if al Hamwi had already picked up the shipment or if it was still down at the estate? If he had picked it up, when? Where was he taking it and for what use? Also, how did General Vasquez get his hands on this weapon?
These were all very important questions that needed to be answered immediately. The last question was the one that ate up Blake the most and one he would keep to himself for the moment. How did General Vasquez find out that Blake was there to take him out? Who was the traitor that gave him up?