13:21 (10:31 GMT)
The plane pulled up to the hangar and the stairs came down. Shoulders drooped, Blake trudged up; each step, a painful reminder that he would be getting further and further away from Adriana.
Chuck said, “Hi, Blake. Where’s the girl?”
Emotionless, Blake said, “She’s dead. I don’t want to talk about it. Take me home.” Randy and Chuck gave each other a concerning stare. He shuffled to the back of the cabin.
A second passed. “I’m sorry, Blake.” Chucks words followed him to the back.
“Me too,” Randy added.
After the plane took off, Blake came forward and thanked them and then poured himself a double Four Roses bourbon on the rocks then returned to his seat. Only Adriana was on his mind. The loss was overwhelming. The emotional pain was greater than his bumps and bruises. His body was sore but his heart was destroyed. He needed sleep and to plan his next move.
On the ride back home, he did nothing but sleep and think of the time that he’d spent with Adriana. He replayed in his mind their walk in Belarus. Her smile as she tried on the clothes, the night they made love over and over in front of the fire.
From his pack, he pulled out her passport that they had made in Ukraine. He opened it to reveal Mrs. Morgan. That was the only picture he had of her. All of the “What if’s” started playing back in his mind. What should he have done different was the one question that cut and sliced at his guilt.
To rid his thoughts of his pain, he forced himself to think about the betrayal he’d received by one of his own, but that only got his adrenaline pumping. He knew that when he returned, there would be a good chance that he would be arrested so he made a call to his buddy, Tim in the Secret Service. He told Tim of the information that he’d found out and his friend also confirmed that he was in fact to be arrested, all thanks in part to Veronica Slocum. She’d passed word to the president, and eventually, the information filtered through to him. Tim would arrange to have a team there ready to take care of the traitor.
“Do me a favor Tim and keep this confidential. I want to make sure that son-of-a-bitch doesn’t get wind of this.”
“Not a problem. I’ll be there when the plane lands. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
Blake managed to get a few more hours of sleep and was awakened when Randy came over the com system and said that they were approaching Andrews AFB. Blake readied the information that he gathered as proof that Mike was behind everything, so he thought. As he studied the information, a lone transfer in the history of the bank account caught his attention.
Quickly he booted up his laptop and started to trace the money. The transfer went to a corporation registered in the Netherlands. After combing through records, he finally had a name. He grabbed the last burn phone he had and made a desperate call.
After the plane turned off the runway, he noticed the five black SUV’s with dark tinted windows. Look who all came to welcome me home. Well, I’ve got a surprise of my own. As they got closer he could see “the Bitch” Director Slocum, Director Thomas and his boss, Mike Brennan, plus about fifteen Secret Service.
“Looks like you’ve got quite the welcoming party there, Blake,” Randy said.
Blake allowed himself a brief chuckle.
The plane pulled up to the hangar and stopped. While the engines were winding down, Randy stepped out of the cockpit. With a friendly smile, he said, “Blake, I want you to know that whatever happens down there, it’s been a real honor to serve with you. And I don’t hold any grudge to what you did when you forced us to go to Cuba. You did a brave thing, and because of it, a disaster was averted. I know that Chuck feels the same way.”
Blake put his hand on Randy’s shoulder and shifted his eyes between the two of them. “Thanks guys. But I suspect that you’ll be seeing me again real soon.”
Randy nodded then opened the door and deployed the stairs.
Blake slowly stepped down with eager anticipation of what was coming. When he reached the bottom, Veronica Slocum was the first to approach him. Her eyes were cold.
“Mr. MacKay, I am placing you under arrest for disobeying orders not just once, but three times in the course of this mission. Your days of trotting around the globe; doing whatever you see fit and ignoring the orders of your superiors are over.” She nodded to the Secret Service and they stepped in behind Blake and grabbed his arms.
“That’s Ok Director. At least I can sleep at night knowing that I did the right thing. How about you?”
She scoffed as she stared into his eyes. “I sleep just fine.”
“Would you sleep fine knowing that you arrested the wrong person for the wrong reasons?”
She got up in Blake’s face and asked arrogantly, “The wrong person? If I am so wrong, then please… do tell. Who should I be arresting?”
You stupid bitch. I’m about to rock your world. Blake pointed his eyes past Veronica and said, “Him.”
Veronica turned around and was looking at Mike Brennan. At that moment two Secret Service men, one of whom was Blake’s friend, Tim, came up from behind Mike and reached out to seize him.
A quick elbow to the face of the nearest agent gave Mike the separation that he needed. He lunged and wrapped an arm around Veronica’s neck and held her in front of him. The black steel of his weapon pressed firmly against her temple.
“Fuck you, all!”
Veronica’s eyes were wide and they darted back and forth at everyone watching; her mouth agape. “Somebody do something!”
Agents drew their weapons. Blake twisted out of his hold, slammed an open palm into the chest of the man behind him. He ripped the pistol from the agent’s hand, turned and fired. The bullet penetrated Mike’s skull, just above his left eye. His body made a thump as it hit the pavement. Blood oozed out of the back of his head and trickled into the concrete’s cracks.
Veronica stood in shock. She examined Mike’s body and then turned to Blake. She took two deep breathes, closed her eyes and placed her hand on her chest. She opened her eyes.
“You’re welcome.” Blake said as he turned and gave the pistol back to the agent.
“Mr. MacKay,” she said. “What in the fuck—just happened?”
Blake shifted on his feet and pointed to Mike’s corpse. “It was him.”
Director Thomas asked, “Do you have proof?”
“Other than how he just reacted? Oh, hell yeah I’ve got proof. How about a Swiss bank account with the Bank of Zurich with one hundred and twenty-five million dollars in it? How about a book that I pried from the dead prime minister’s body with Mike’s bank account information in it? I have pictures of him making a very large deposit into a bank in the Cayman Islands and then transferring it to the account in Switzerland.”
Veronica chimed in. “What led you to all of this?”
Blake took a look at the man he used to call a friend and let out a sigh. “When I saw the name Hedrick von Schumacher, I knew I’d heard that name before. When I finally saw Mike on video, the name came to me. It was an alias that he’d used in East Berlin, back during the cold war. It came out in a conversation that we were having one night when we were drinking heavily. I remembered that, apparently Mike didn’t. It was during his time in East Berlin that Mike met a young Oleg Shorets that was working for the KGB at the time. Apparently they developed a friendship that would last throughout the years. When Oleg presented the idea that if he were to become the President of Belarus, he would be in charge of granting licensing rights to western businesses. If you had the right connections, you could open up shop and reap the rewards of a monopoly.”
“That’s incredible,” Director Thomas said.
“I’m not done yet,” Blake said. “In exchange for getting them the metal storm weapon, Mike would hold the licensing rights for a wide variety of western businesses. He could lease the rights to companies like McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks; the list goes on. Hold the rights to enough businesses and it had the potential to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“Are you one hundred percent sure?” Veronica asked.
“Seriously? The man just tried to kill you and you’re still questioning me?”
She turned away and expelled a frustrated breath. Blake watched and waited for soke kind of pathetic response. She finally turned back. “I’m sorry, Blake. I just want—”
“Just shut up, Director. Since you still have doubts, just shut the fuck up and let me finish.”
Veronica stood wide eyed, again.
Director Thomas interjected. “Blake, I think what we need to do now is—”
“You shut up too.” Blake glanced over at Tim and nodded toward the director. Two men grabbed his arms.
“What the hell is this all about? I didn’t have anything to do with this.”
“Oh, really? Well, let’s just see.” Blake took two steps toward Director Thomas. “Does the company, Three L Consulting ring a bell?”
Director Thomas hesitated. “No!”
“Really? It should. You’re the owner and that’s the company Mike made a large transfer to.”
“I am not the owner of that company. You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about and you’re making a huge mistake!”
Blake smiled, stepped up and gave him two gentle pats on his cheek. “Well, maybe Julian Thomas isn’t the owner, but Oscar Van Wey is.”
Blake enjoyed the fear that rose in the director’s eyes after he heard the name. “You see Director; I know you contract out a lot of work; including document forgery.”
A bead of sweat ran down the director’s cheek.
“I had the pleasant opportunity to meet Vadim, in Kiev. You know Vadim. He’s the one that got Adriana and me our documents. I knew that you wouldn’t use an internal team to create your alias. That would be an insult to your intelligence to even think that. No… You’d use an outside source, and only the best. I made a quick call to Vadim before I landed and he confirmed my suspicions.”
Blake turned back at a shock faced Veronica before turning back and continuing.
“You and Oscar Van Wey are one and the same.” Blake leaned in to the director’s ear and whispered. “Who’s fucked now?” He gave a wry smile as he straightened up.
Blake turned and walked back to Veronica. “There’s more. Mike gave the order to eliminate General Vasquez, tying up any loose ends on his side. Shorets would kill al Hamwi to tie up loose ends on his side, while blaming al Hamwi for the assassination and terrorist attack in Belarus. All would be happy, fat and rich until Mike and Julian realized that I was requested personally by the president and assigned the job of eliminating Vasquez. They couldn’t overrule that request and assign a less capable agent.”
Blake stepped over to Mike’s body and focused on his well-placed shot. “That’s when Mike started using his connections to give anyone in my path information about my mission. Every step of the way, my mission was compromised. From the night that I tried to take out General Vasquez to the night I met my asset in Afghanistan; the raid on al Hamwi’s house, the police firing on me on the way to the airport, Prime Minister Shorets capturing me at his house. Each phase, someone was trying to stop me from completing this mission, and Mike was the one giving information to the enemy. Hell, he even knew I was in Zurich. How, I don’t know. But, he tipped off al Hamwi’s older brother, Osama.”
Blake turned back toward Julian and gave him a scornful look. “To be honest, I can’t believe I made it back here alive.”
Veronica then asked, “How long has this been going on?”
“I’m sure that after a full investigation you’ll find out that this isn’t their first time to the dance. Do you remember when the North Koreans stole that warhead last year?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Mike was the one that tipped them off about it and sold them the information. The money trail doesn’t lie.”
Veronica motioned to the Secret Service to place Director Thomas in the car and take him away.
Blake slowly stepped up to Director Thomas and looked him in the eye. The amount of contempt and hate that he held for this man was immeasurable.
“Blake. Careful.” Veronica warned.
He gave her a wave to calm down.
“You prick! I trusted you! Go to Hell!”
Julian put his head down, stared at his feet and kept quiet. Blake stood over him and stared right through him. That’s right. Squirm. You’re going to pay for what you’ve done. After a moment, Veronica had Director Thomas taken away.
Veronica stepped toward Blake and gently grasped his arm. Blake hadn’t seen this side of her before and wondered if she felt a whole new level of respect for him as well as gratitude for saving her life. He dismissed it. Who gives a shit, anymore.
She finally spoke.
“I’m sorry. I know what he meant to you.” Gesturing toward Mike. “This is a devastating blow to us all.”
Blake stood and listened. He really didn’t care for what she was saying and he didn’t need to be patronized. After she said a few more things that he didn’t hear, he turned to her and asked, “May I be excused?”
“After your debriefing, excuse yourself for a couple of weeks. That’s an order. Come back here after some time off and then we’ll figure out what to do. Okay?”
Blake nodded, reached down, grabbed his bag and got into one of the SUV’s for the ride back to Langley.
In the weeks following Julian Thomas’ arrest, things came out that stunned and shocked the community at Langley. How could two of their best, most respected peers be turned? How could someone betray others that they worked with for so long? How did they think they were going to get away with it? Veronica Slocum was ‘demoted’ to head the CIA and became Blake’s temporary new handler until it was decided what to do with Blake and the clandestine operations.
Julian was to go on trial early next month. The U.S. no longer executed traitors; they just locked them up for the rest of their lives. Julian faced a life sentence for each count that he was being charged with. He was looking at nearly nine life sentences to be served sequentially, plus they would typically add on another three hundred years or so, just to be sure he wouldn’t get out.
Julian sat at the desk at his home that was surrounded by guards. He’d been placed on house arrest as a professional courtesy. The next day his trial would begin. His wife had left him weeks ago. He poured himself a shot of scotch and was admiring a picture of his family that sat at the corner of his desk. Picking it up, he ran his fingers down the edge of the frame and placed it back on his desk. He took one last sip of his scotch before setting down the empty glass.
A half mile away, the sniper rested in his harness, hanging half way up a cell tower and concealed by a canopy. While testing the wind, he measured the humidity then doped in his scope. He focused on his target, looking at pictures and enjoying a drink. His heartbeat slowed to a steady rhythm. After a deep breath, he felt the thumping in his chest. In between beats, he squeezed the trigger.
One month later
The assassin stood on his stone balcony gazing out as the sun rose over the Aegean Sea when his phone rang. He pressed the button to answer it, but remained silent.
The voice on the other end of the line said, “Two successful kills. D.C. was good, but Minsk was most impressive.”
The voice paused waiting for a response. None was returned.
“The money has been transferred to your account. We’ll be in touch.”
He ended the call and slid the phone into the pocket of his robe. He turned to admire the naked woman asleep on his bed and walked inside.
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