Spear Garden

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Chapter 40

Port of Rijeka, Slovenia

01:20 (22:20 June 29th GMT)

June 30th

The Captain eyed the Port Authority supervisor cautiously as he came into the wheelhouse of the ship.

“I have completed the inspection of your cargo and you have been approved to dock and unload your containers. Most can be released immediately”

The captain raised his eyebrows. “Most? What do you mean, most?”

“Since the tobacco is organic, it is required to be quarantined in a special warehouse for three days. After it passes random sampling and is free of pests and illegal content, it will be authorized for delivery.”

“What if we have a deadline for final delivery? That will cost us.”

“I am sorry. That is the law. You should have known that prior to docking. I’ll have the harbor pilot dock you and then you can begin to unload. Welcome to Slovenia.”

The Captain peered angrily as the supervisor left and boarded his boat back to the docks. He turned to his first mate and said, “Wait here for the harbor pilot. I’ll be right back.”

***

Zahmir was in his cabin going over their route to Hieraniony when the knock on the door startled him.

“What is it?”

“We are here, but may have a problem.”

“What? What Problem?

“The tobacco that we have on board is an organic farm product. It has to be quarantined for three days and inspected. They won’t release the containers to us for three days.”

Zahmir thought for a moment. How foolish of me not to oversee which container they put the weapons in. “That is an unfortunate problem. What are we waiting on now?”

“The harbor pilot to dock the ship.”

“Have you seen Mustafa?”

“I passed him on my way down here. He should be on the bridge.”

An uneasy feeling came over Zahmir. What if they find those weapons that are in with the tobacco? He picked up the com, called the bridge and ordered Mustafa to his cabin.

Mustafa knocked twice before he entered. Zahmir was pacing and stopped when his friend entered.

“What container did you tell the men to put the weapons in?”

Mustafa raised his shoulders and held out his hands. “You mean the number? Where it is on the…”

Impatience grew. “No! What other cargo did you put with the weapons?”

“The tobacco. We had to, in order to throw off any dogs, sniffing for explosives.”

Zahmir closed his eyes. The deep breath failed to slow the anxiety as it swelled inside him. He felt it turn to anger and then panic.

His eyes snapped open and found the nearest thing not bolted down. He reached for the chair and threw it across his cabin. Lewanaya!

“Brother, what is it?” Mustafa asked.

His blood was boiling. “Did you not just come from the bridge? Did you not hear?”

Mustafa shook his head back and forth. “I was only just…”

“Shut up! It’s our cargo. Some of it is organic and needs to be held for inspection. It is the tobacco container. They want to hold it for three days! We do not have three…”

Mustafa stood silent. Zahmir thought for a second. “Show the crane operator which container to unload first; the one with the weapons. Afterwards, gather all the men in the mess hall. I know what we’ll do.

After all the men had gathered in the mess, Zahmir explained the situation then went into detail of what he needed them to do next. The Captain entered the mess hall.

“We have docked. We’re ready to unload.”

Zahmir stared out at his men with pride. “You know what we have to do. Let’s get started.”

He went back on top and watched as the crane operator unloaded the container that held the weapons, buried deep within pallets of cigars. It was loaded onto the back of a truck, which proceeded to the quarantine area.

Zahmir lifted the two way radio to his lips and gave the order to Mohammad.

***

Mohammad followed the truck on foot, careful to stay in the shadows. The truck went around a stack of containers and then to the left, out of sight of the ship. A hiss of the truck’s air brakes made Mohammad peer around the corner where he saw the driver get out of the truck and walk casually toward a reach stacker, the machines used to lift and move the massive containers.

He sprinted toward the opposite side of the truck, out of the man’s view. Another quick peek showed the driver walking to the back of the reach stacker. The large blade, sheathed in the small of his back, came out slowly as he quickly crept toward the stacker.

Shadows, cast from the columns of stacked containers, easily suppressed his movement. When the man turned his back to him, he thrust the blade deep into the man’s kidneys. He clamped his left hand over the man’s mouth from behind. He withdrew the blade from his victim’s back and slit his throat. After disposing the body in between two stacks of containers, he ran to the truck and radioed Zahmir.

“I have the truck.”

***

Zahmir chambered a round in his rifle and the two others followed his lead. “This is another reason why I chose this port. There is an ongoing strike for the dock workers. These men are a skeleton crew of replacements. Normally there would be nearly thirty men. But tonight… there are just five.”

Zahmir held out his hand. “Allahu Akbar.”

The others replied. “Allahu Akbar.”

Zahmir and the other two walked off the ship and into the office of the Port Authority.

They wore traditional thawbs, or tunics, and concealed their AK-47’s underneath them. Inside the office, the supervisor and harbor pilot lifted their gazes from their desks. “Gentlemen,” the supervisor said, “I’m in the process of entering your cargo into the system for inspection. We’ll send the pick-up notice to the bill of lading party as soon as it’s ready”

“I am sorry. That will not work for us,” Zahmir said. All three men withdrew their weapons and opened fire.

Footsteps running away caught Zahmir’s attention. He turned in time to see someone run out the back door.

“Both of you. Quick!”

The two men ran after the fleeing man. Zahmir bent down and grabbed a set of keys off of the dead supervisor. He felt through his pockets and took all of his cash. He did the same for the other man. After he stole what he could use, he went to the supervisor’s desk. His ship entry was still on the screen. He ripped out the hard drive and kept it to dispose of later.

***

The worker on the gantry crane noticed as his co-worker barreled out of the warehouse door. Two men from the ship chased him. One of the men stopped and brought his arms up.

Gunfire echoed down the docks. His jaw dropped as his co-worker stumbled, then fell, his shirt soaked dark from blood.

“Holy shit!” He cupped his hand over his mouth, pulled out his cell phone and dialed the police.

“State your emergency.”

“I’m a worker at the docks. Send someone now—terrorists, or something. They’ve killed someone. They’ve got machine guns and—Oh my God! I’ve got to get—just get here. Now!”

He panicked and leaped out of his chair and out of the operating booth. Once on the steel platform, gunfire came from below. A hot searing pain erupted from his leg up through his chest.

“Oh, God. No!” He stumbled, flipped over the safety rail and tumbled fifty feet to the dock below.

***

Five minutes later Zahmir heard sirens. “Come! Now! Mohammad. Rafala. Quickly!”

Both men ran up to their leader. Zahmir handed Mohammad the sets of keys that he took from the dead men in the office. “Go to the parking lot and find the cars these belong to. Bring them out here to the dock. Now!”

Mohammad and Rafala ran off to the parking lot. Zahmir called another man over and told him to drive the truck with the container on it. Zahmir put his radio to his mouth. “Captain.”

“Yes, brother.”

“We’re leaving within the minute. The police are on their way.”

“Understood.”

Mohammad and Rafala had brought two cars around and parked on the dock, adjacent to the ship.

“Everybody in.” He opened the driver’s door to the first car. “Rafala, out. I’ll drive. Go back to the truck and follow me. Mohammad, when you leave here, go in the opposite direction as me. We’ll meet at the airport we talked about earlier. Everybody turn your radios off.”

Two minutes after they left, the police arrived.

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