Terror Comes to New York City
The F.B.I. and Homeland security dismissed Inspector Lonigan's
warnings about an Al-Qaeda safe house in Brooklyn, so he had made
the decision to ask the Marines for help. Colonel Hanson agreed
and made some notes in his computer about attacking a safe house
that would have defenders with automatic weapons and multiple
escape routes. He remembered the Iraqi insurgent's penchant for
getting away through interconnecting houses and called up an area
map of the neighborhood, as well as a close-up satellite photo of
Baltic street and Court street. He was just getting absorbed in
the problem of street control when his aide, Lieutenant Danowski,
knocked and entered. "Everyone is assembled, boss." "Thanks, Ski.
I'll be there in a minute." "Yes, sir." He waited until Danowski
closed the door, quickly reviewed his notes, then wiped them from
the hard drive. He reminded himself to stress the urgency to
everyone involved not to leave any kind of paper or electronic
trail that could provide evidence against them in the event of
discovery of what would be considered criminal actions. He smiled
to himself at the fantasy of being indicted at the International
Court in the Hague, because he had never been anywhere in Europe,
except for Germany, when staging to the mid-east.
When he entered the conference room, Gunnery Sergeant Le Beau
called: "Attention," and everyone stood, including Lonigan. "Be
seated. Before we go any further, anyone who wants out should
leave now." As expected, no one moved, so he continued. "Please
make sure that nothing about this operation is written down
anywhere, or on your computers. There is to be no record for
obvious reasons." Everyone nodded that they understood. "We have
identified the terrorist's safe house. It's in Brooklyn on Baltic
Street, off Court Street. I intend to hit it at 2000 hours. We
also know that two of the Al-Qaeda master planners are from the
Saudi Mission to the U.N., located on U.N. Plaza. According to
our informant, they leave the Mission together every day at the
same time, 1800 hours. If we can devise a functional plan, I'd
like to get them too." "Alive?" Lieutenant Jed Davis asked.
"They'd be a treasure trove of information," Hanson mused, "but
they'll be right across the street from the U.N., in full public
view. It may not even be feasible to hit them, let alone abduct
them. It's 1420. We'll start considering the target at U.N.
Plaza, followed by the safe house, then we'll review everything
else that must be done. Let's see what we can come up with."
Captain Alexandra Kent spoke first. "The options for the Mission
targets are limited. If it's a hit, it'll have to be done on
foot, up close, with a quick, unobtrusive departure to a waiting
vehicle. First Avenue will be much too crowded for a drive by
shooting and escape, so that's out. A snatch is complicated and
risky. We'd have to seize them and get them into a vehicle
without being noticed, and the avenue should still be busy at
that time. I conclude that a hit on foot is the only practical
option." "Other opinions or comments?" Hanson asked. "I think Al
summed it up pretty well," Jed offered. Danowski nodded
agreement. "What if I have some of my police officers arrest
them?" Lonigan offered. Hanson immediately ruled that out. "We
don't have any legal evidence against them and we don't dare
involve any outsiders, Mike. It would put us at great risk.
Anyone else?" No one responded, so Hanson continued. "I agree
with Al's assessment. If we go after them, it will have to be on
"I'll get Penn and Teller with Le Beau," Al said. "Why call them
Penn and Teller?" Lonigan asked. "They fit the description," Al
replied. Hanson reluctantly concluded that Al would be the best
choice, since she had the sense to properly evaluate the
situation and know whether to go ahead with the hit or not. "The
only problem is that Le Beau is too noticeable," Hanson said. "We
need someone else." Le Beau reluctantly nodded agreement. "How
about Sergeant Blakney?" Al asked. "She's capable and we can look
like tourists." "If she volunteers." They went over the details
until Hanson was satisfied that there was a good chance for
success. "Just keep in mind at all times, Al, that if you can't
do it and manage a clean getaway, you abort the mission. No pun
intended." This brought the tension relieving laugh. "Select
someone reliable for your driver who has a personal vehicle."
"I'll ask Sergeant Morales." "Good choice, Al, but let him know
it's strictly volunteer." "Aye, aye, sir." "One other thing.
Don't use your official sidearms. Draw pistols from Ski's
concealed stash. Perhaps he has silencers. Dispose of them safely
if you use them." "You're not supposed to know about them, boss,"
Danowski protested. "You'll learn that our commander is all-seeing," Al joked.
Hanson gave them a minute to relax. "Alright, Al. You're
authorized to try for the hit. I'll talk to you and Blakney, if
she volunteers. Now let's make the plan to take the safe house.
Unlike our previous experiences in Iraq, we have no legitimate
authority to do this. That means it's more important to get away
unidentified then to take out our objective. We'll go in wearing
civvies. Our target is a two story, unattached house, with an
attic and basement. They may have surveillance cameras and the
doors and windows might be booby-trapped. There'll be four to six
bad guys, maybe more and they'll have automatic weapons, possibly
heavier stuff. We don't want to take anyone alive, but we want
any documents and computers that we can find in a quick search.
They may have escape tunnels to next door houses in the basement,
so securing the basement quickly is a vital objective. When we're
through we'll blow the place. Questions? Comments?" "It sounds
like you're planning to go," Danowski said hesitantly. "Is that a
good idea?" "That's not open for discussion, Ski. Jed will lead
the assault. I'll tag along."
They were all silent for a minute, considering the problems. Jed
spoke first. "I'd like to use the assault unit. With you, me and
Le Beau that makes fifteen. That should be enough." "What about
me?" Danowski protested. "Sorry, Ski. You'll have to guard the
fort here and lead the reaction platoon, if we need them." "Aw,
boss. That's not fair." "It can't be helped. Go on, Jed." "We hit
the front and back doors with those old LAWS that aren't any good
for armor any more, followed by flash-bangs. You and I will go in
the front with four of our people. Le Beau will go in the back
with four. Two will go in on each side through a window, once
they hear us go in the front and back. The window entrants will
use flash-bangs. My team will go in the front first and hose
anything that moves. Le Beau's team comes in as soon as our small
arms fire slackens. The window entrants will take out anyone they
see. If for any reason they can't get in the windows, they should
go in the back door. We'll all be wearing night vision goggles,
but we need to take extra care not to shoot our own people."
Jed paused to let his first thoughts sink in, then continued at
Hanson's nod. "Once the ground floor is secure, my team will hit
the basement, Le Beau's team will take the second floor and the
attic, and the window people will hold the front and back door.
As soon as we're finished, we exit the back door and go to where
our vehicles will be waiting on Warren street. I think that
covers everything," he concluded with a straight face, which
brought chuckles from all of them. "A good plan," Hanson
commended. "They may have a reinforced basement door," Al
offered. "Good point. What do you think, Jed? C4, or another
LAWS?" "LAWS. It'll save time. We don't care whose brains we
scramble down there." "Alright. Let's look at the map .... One
last thought. Remember our Iraq motto?" "Move quick, shoot
straight and get ass out intact," Al and Jed recited in unison.
After careful study of the map they finalized any details that
Jed hadn't covered in his general briefing. Hanson asked Lonigan
to arrange for emergency services to arrive after they evacuated
the building. "If the Fire Marshal declares the fire suspicious,
we can keep everyone out long enough so we might be able to use
any information that we find before Al Qaeda knows what
happened." "Sure. Which group will I be with?" "You can't go in
with us, Mike. I'd like you to be in a support vehicle. If we run
into any unexpected glitches, especially with the police, you can
take care of it." "I'm a combat vet, Sam. I can be useful."
"You'll be more useful outside. If there's nothing else, Al,
recruit your volunteers and bring them back here." "There is one
thing, boss." "What, Ski?" "Doc Carver." Hanson thought fast. "If
it's alright with you, Mike, I'll have him go with you, so he can
treat any wounded immediately." "Sure." "I rely on you to make
certain he stays in the vehicle, with no heroics or other
foolishness from either of you." "Don't worry, Sam." "When have I
heard that before?
Hanson studied the map with Lonigan until Al came back with her
volunteers. He carefully assessed Sergeant Shiniqua Blakney,
another Iraqi veteran. She was a tall, dark-skinned black woman,
whose posture revealed her self-confidence. He remembered her
from the desert crossing as being one of the leadership types,
constantly helping her comrades. "Did Captain Kent explain the
mission to you?" "Yes, sir." "Do you understand what's involved?"
"Yes, sir." "You realize that you will be performing an
assassination?" "Yes, sir." "Does that bother you?" "Not if it's
Al Qaeda, sir. We should get all of them." "What about you,
Sergeant Morales?" "I wish I could pull the trigger, sir." He
nodded to them approvingly, then showed them a street map. "The
targets will be on the west side of First Avenue, going north.
Hit them right away then walk at an average pace to 47th street,
where Julio will be waiting, between First and Second Avenues.
Al. Alert me on your headset if there are any problems. Cell me
as soon as you get away safely. Do not. I repeat. Do not discuss
this operation with anyone. Ever. Understood?" "Yes, sir," they
responded. "Al. Take your team and finish your preparations. Let
me know when you're ready to leave." "Aye, aye, sir." "Good
luck." "Thank you, sir."
Jed came in with his troops and Hanson listened attentively while
Jed outlined the operation and pointed out the attack routes and
the backyard exit to Warren Street, where the escape vehicles
would be waiting. Jed was painstakingly thorough and turned to
Hanson when he finished. "Anything to add, sir?" "Good briefing,
Jed. Something I just learned. Doc Carver will be with us and he
will immediately treat any wounded. You will all oblige me by not
getting wounded." This brought a laugh. "In the event that
anything goes wrong and you get separated and cannot withdraw as
planned, go north on Court Street to Atlantic Avenue and call for
pick-up on your personal communicators. If that's not possible,
take a taxi or car service back to Manhattan. I'll have a detail
waiting at First Avenue and 23rd street, and they'll pay your
fare and bring you back here. Questions?" There were none, so
Hanson concluded: "Study the map and check your gear thoroughly.
Lieutenant Davis will alert you when it's time to move out."
The tempo of activity throughout the building had picked up
enough so that those not included knew that something was going
on. The rumor mill was working at top speed. As Hanson walked
back to the conference room everyone he passed looked at him
speculatively, but no one dared question him. Al and Blakney were
waiting for him, dressed in slacks and bright colored sweaters.
It was hard to believe that they were going out to commit murder.
He looked at Al and for a moment the mask that she always wore to
conceal her feelings slipped. He plainly saw what she had hidden
from him for years, that loved him. He tried desperately to
control his swirling thoughts that he was about to send the woman
closest to him to possible death. A look of serenity lit her face
and she said softly: "Don't worry, Sam. We'll be fine." "Is
everything ready?" he asked gruffly. "Yes, Sam." "Then shove off.
Cell me as soon as you're back in the car." "Yes, Sam." "Come
back to me, Al" "Aye, aye, sir." She turned to Blakney with a
jaunty air. "Let's move out, Shin." "Aye, aye, sir. I mean Ma'am
.... Aw, shit. I'm ready, Al." Al winked broadly at Hanson,
slipped her arm through Blakney's and said: "Then let's go see
He watched them leave with a combination of admiration and
apprehension. He couldn't help thinking about the excellent
service that women were performing in the military, at least in
the Marine Corps. For the first time he could easily imagine them
in a Roman legion, Napoleon's Imperial Guard, or leading a rifle
platoon in a Vietnam jungle. They were true warriors. Before he
could imagine other historical scenarios, Jed interrupted his
musing. "The troops are ready and we're just waiting for your
orders, sir." "You and I will go in one SUV with your team and
one window team. Le Beau, his team and the second window team
will go in the other SUV, along with Inspector Lonigan and Doc
Carver." "Carv and I can keep the motors running, so you don't
have to leave a driver," Lonigan offered. "Thanks, Mike. That'll
help." Hanson turned to Le Beau. "This may sound paranoid, Cajun,
but just in case anyone is observing us, we should leave
separately." Le Beau nodded that he understood. "Take local
streets and be sure no one is following you and rejoin us at
Canal street and The Bowery for the rest of the trip. Use the
encrypted cell phone if there are any problems. If there are no
questions, let's move out.
When Hanson got to the motor pool the vehicles were loaded. His
regular driver, Tico, was dressed in civvies, sitting in the
driver's seat of the SUV, elaborately studying the map and
refusing to meet Hanson's eyes. He briefly debated refusing to
let him go with them, then accepted that he would be useful. He
got into the vehicle and Tico instantly knew that he was included
in the operation. "Where to, sir?" "Canal Street and the Bowery.
Take side streets and make sure we're not being followed." "Aye,
aye, sir," he said happily. The rain was coming down harder and
Hanson welcomed it, because it would cut down visibility at the
target house. He looked at his watch and it was 1655 and he knew
that Al should just be getting to U.N. Plaza. Right on schedule,
she celled a few minutes later. "We're doing a slow drive-by to
check the route, then we'll circle around on Second Avenue and
get off and walk from 42nd street. If they don't show by 1830, do
we wait?" "No. You might be too conspicuous by then. How's
Blakney doing?" "She'll be fine, Sam." "Don't take any
unnecessary chances, Al. They're not worth it." "Yes, Sam."
The atmosphere in the SUV was tense with anticipation. Everyone
knew they might be killed, or wounded and were even risking
prison, but they were eager for the rare opportunity to actually
take down an Al Qaeda safe house. Tico had been constantly
monitoring the mirror and made several abrupt stops to see if
anyone behind them reacted. "I'm pretty sure we're not being
followed, sir, but I'd like to take a roundabout route, just to
be certain." "Good idea. We've got time." Traffic was
surprisingly light considering that rush hour was starting and
Hanson decided to advance the attack by one hour, to 1900. This
would narrow the time frame after Al hit the Mission targets, and
would give Al Qaeda much less time to figure out what happened,
let alone react. He celled Le Beau in the other SUV. "I've moved
the attack up an hour earlier, to 1900. Does this cause you any
problems?" "No, sir. We're ready." "Where are you now?" "Broadway
and 14th street, and we're not being followed." "Good. I'll see
you at the rendezvous."
Le Beau's SUV got to Canal street first and he pulled over to
wait. When Hanson got there he celled Le Beau. "We're going to
turn on the Bowery and circle around towards the Brooklyn Bridge.
Let me know if you spot a tail. After a few blocks you pass me
and I'll check if you're being followed." It turned out that no
one was following them, but the precaution helped everyone
prepare the mindset for the assault to come. They crossed the
bridge and stopped just off Cadman Plaza, on Tillary street, to
wait until it was time for the final approach to Baltic street.
Al celled him at 1745. "We're in position on the corner of 46th
street and we'll play tourist until Penn and Teller show up. How
are you doing, Sam?" "Good. We're in Brooklyn, about ten minutes
from Baltic street. I moved the attack up to 1900. Depending on
what happens with you, we might even go a little earlier." "I'll
cell you as soon as something happens. Don't get hurt, Sam."
Jed's troops were all Iraqi veterans and they settled down to
wait with typical behavior. Some of them dozed, others talked
quietly and a few moved into a space of their own, but they were
all getting ready. Tico was humming a tune and softly beating out
a rhythm on the steering wheel. Rather than finding it
irritating, for some strange reason Hanson was soothed by it. He
went over the plan in his mind and could find no apparent flaws,
though he knew that everything would change when they hit the
house. He resisted the impulse to look at his watch and sent
fervent esp messages that all would go well with Al. He felt a
lot better having Tico at the wheel, because Lonigan would now
stay with Carver, the only unpredictable participant. He
carefully checked his equipment, making sure the grenades were
securely attached to his vest, and checked the action of his
sidearm, verifying that a round was in the chamber and the safety
was off. He knew from experience that in the excitement of combat
mistakes happened, so painstaking preparation was an ally.
After waiting for what felt like hours, but was less than fifteen
minutes, Al celled excitedly. "We got 'em, Sam. We got 'em. Penn,
Teller and their bodyguard. It was easier than a practice run."
"Are you alright?" "Yes, Sam. No problems." "Report." "We're in
the car, just turning onto Second Avenue. This is how it went
down. We saw them about 1805. A big guy came out of the Mission
with a big umbrella, followed by Penn and Teller. They looked
exactly like the description we had. The bodyguard held the
umbrella over them and they started towards 47th street. People
were hurrying along to get out of the rain, but these guys
sauntered along as if they had forever .... Joke. We moved behind
them and I shot the bodyguard twice in the back of the head. Shin
shot Teller and as the bodyguard fell, Penn turned and I shot him
twice in the face. We were turning the corner before anyone
reacted to the bodies. Nobody followed us." "Well done. Go back
to headquarters." "Can we go with you?" "No way. In fact I think
we'll hit them now. I'll see you later."
He passed the word to Le Beau, nodded to Tico and they headed for
Baltic street. "From now on we use our headset communicators,"
Hanson ordered. Jed and Le Beau did a system check and everyone
responded properly. Traffic had become a little heavier around
Borough Hall, but in a few minutes they crossed Fulton street and
cut over to Court street. Le Beau turned onto Warren street and
Hanson waited until he saw him stop, then nodded to Tico, who
went to Baltic. "Saddle up," Jed ordered. "We go in fifteen
seconds." Tico pulled up in front of the house, the troops piled
out and they took out the front door with the LAWS. A few seconds
later Le Beau's team hit the back door with a LAWS. Jed's team
tossed in flash-bangs, then went in through a cloud of smoke and
sprayed the house with their M16s. Screams and the sounds of
falling bodies let them know they hit people. As soon as they
stopped firing, Le Beau's team entered through the back door,
while at the same time the window teams went in at each side of
the house. They killed everyone on the ground floor in a few
moments and Le Beau's team went upstairs, while Jed's team headed
for the basement.
Jed signaled for the LAWs and they blew in the basement door.
They charged through the smoke and debris, firing as they went
and for the first time took some return fire. Jed was hit in the
armpit, where the vest didn't cover a vulnerable spot, but he was
so pumped up that he kept moving and urging the troops on. They
killed everyone in the big room, then came to a small room in the
back. The door was open and Jed saw a man with a box trying to
escape into a tunnel. He rushed in, shot him in the head and when
the man fell with a thud, said with satisfaction: "No rats are
escaping into the sewers tonight." Then a wave of dizziness
overcame him and he slumped down on the floor. He had trouble
focusing and as he looked around the room everything seemed far
away. He saw a man who was gagged and tied to a chair, but he
couldn't comprehend what he was doing there and didn't have the
energy to ask.
Hanson came in a moment later and when he saw Jed, cried: "Oh,
no." He knelt down, checked him and saw that he was seriously
wounded and going into shock. "Jed. Jed. Look at me. I'll get you
to Doc Carver. Hang in there." Jed summoned his last reserves of
strength. "I'm hit bad, Sam. I'm not going to make it .... The
rat in the tunnel was trying to get away with a box .... It might
be important. I got to know what it is." "Sure. As soon as we
take care of your wound." "It's too late for Carver. I gotta
know. Please, Sam." Hanson realized that Jed was slipping away
and there was nothing he could do about it. He picked up the box
which was unusually heavy and brought it to him. "What are those
markings, Sam?" "Radioactive material symbols. They may have been
making a nuclear bomb." "And we stopped them, right?" "Yes, Jed.
You may have saved New York City." "Then it was worth it ...."
"Oh, Jed. I'm sorry." "Don't be. I'm going out with only one
regret." "What?" "Promise me ...." "What?" "Promise me you'll get
the rest of the Al-Qaeda rats." Hanson hesitated, then gave in to
the pleading look from his good friend. "I'll get them," he
whispered, then watched the last sparks of life flicker out.
He hadn't been aware that the troops had gathered around him and
with a tremendous effort snapped back to awareness of their
situation and the need to take charge. He tossed a cloth over the
box so no one would see what it was, then told some of them to
carry Jed and others to bring the box. Then he finally noticed
the man tied to the chair. He started to approach him cautiously,
then realized that the terrorists didn't have time to rig a booby
trap. He took off the gag and demanded: "Who are you?" "Water."
"Talk, or I'll shoot you and leave you with the others." "Am
Russian scientist, but am physics teacher, not nuclear expert.
Russian Mafia sell me to Al Qaeda for debt I owe. Deliver me to
arabs in Mexico. They smuggle me across border and bring me to
Brooklyn, U.S.A. Not believe when I tell can't make bomb. Beat
and torture me. You save. Take with. Please." The man looked like
they had really worked him over and if his story was true, he
could be a valuable source of information. There didn't seem to
be any risk, so he decided to take him. "Untie him and bring him
along," he ordered.
They had been in the building for almost two minutes and it was
time to get out of there. He called Le Beau on his communicator.
"Cajun. Sitrep." "We're on the ground floor. We swept the second
floor and attic and killed everyone. I have one wounded, but
she's mobile. We took a computer and a bunch of papers and I
collected their cellphones." "Good idea. Listen up. We found
something big. The situation's changed and all of us are going
out the front door. I'll have Lonigan drive around and stop
behind Tico. As soon as he's there, we go. I want everyone on
high alert. The neighbors will be coming out to see what
happened. There could be Al Qaeda among them. No one is to be
allowed to interfere with our departure. If necessary, fire
warning shots in the air. If that doesn't work, shoot to kill.
Your team will cover us and you'll follow as soon as we reach the
corner safely. Questions?" "Where's Jed?" "He bought the farm."
"Oh." "We're coming upstairs. Are you ready to go?" "Yes, sir."
Hanson celled Lonigan. "We changed the plan. Come around the
corner and stop behind Tico. As soon as you stop, we're coming
out. Be alert." "I'm moving. What happened?" "Later." Hanson
followed Jed's team up the stairs and he saw Le Beau's troops
staring at Jed's body, the box and the prisoner. Le Beau had sent
someone to the front door, who reported: "Lonigan's here with the
SUV." Le Beau looked at Hanson. "We're ready, sir." "Take Jed
with you. I'll take the box and the prisoner. Stay close together
and be alert for any kind of resistance. Let's move out." Hanson
led Jed's team out first. He saw people straggling out of their
houses, but they didn't appear to pose a threat. They piled into
the SUV and Hanson yelled: "Drive." Tico took off, scattering
some people on the street who were in the way. The neighbors were
more interested in the fire then the SUV speeding off.
When they reached the corner, someone in the back said: "Le
Beau's moving, sir." "Good. Tico. Don't wait for them. They'll
catch up to us. Get us home as quick as you can, without being
stopped." He celled Lonigan. "Keep an eye on us, Mike. If anyone
stops us, get us out fast." "Yes, Sam." Tico took Clinton street
to Atlantic Avenue, turned west to the Brooklyn-Queens
Expressway, which led to the Brooklyn Bridge. Le Beau was right
behind them and he had two of his troops watching for anyone
following them. "We seem to be clear, sir." he reported. Hanson
heard the troops quietly falling into the after-action easing of
tension, but the usual bragging and teasing was muted by Jed's
death. Hanson forced himself to compartmentalize the loss of his
friend so it wouldn't distract him from assessing the new
problem. He began to consider the implications of what might
actually be captured nuclear material and concluded that this was
now way beyond a basic anti-terrorist strike.
They crossed the bridge with no one following them and Hanson
began to think they may have gotten away without being
identified. The one thing he knew for sure was that the
parameters of the punitive raid had changed drastically. What had
been a relatively simple, well-executed assault mission had now
become a highly complex situation with far reaching consequences.
Though they could get rid of the prisoner without too much
trouble, there was no easy way to resolve how to deal with the
captured nuclear material. He wracked his brain but couldn't come
up with a practical solution, so it was time to consult higher
authority and he celled his commanding officer, General Griffin.
"Charlie. Something's come up and I need you here." "What is it?"
"I can't tell you even on this line, but it's big. Can you get on
a plane right away?" "If it's that urgent, I'll take a chopper to
the east side heliport." "Cell me when you're ten minutes out and
I'll have a humvee waiting." "I should be there in ninety
minutes." "Thanks, Charlie."
Hanson celled Danowski next. "We'll be there soon, Ski. We have a
prisoner and a box. Have a detail waiting for us to bring them to
my office. Post a guard at the door and no one in or out without
my say so." "Yes, sir." A few minutes later they reached the
guard post at the motor pool and pulled into the parking lot.
Danowski was waiting with a detail and they took the box and
prisoner inside. Hanson dismissed Jed's team after praising them
for their exceptional performance. Then he went to Le Beau's SUV.
"Well done. All of you. How's your patient, doc?" "It's just a
flesh wound. She'll be fine." "Good. Cajun. Bring Jed inside and
put him in an empty room, leave someone on guard, then dismiss
your team. You all did an outstanding job." "Thank you, sir,"
they answered. "Mike. Wait for me here, please."
Hanson turned to Lonigan. "Come with me, Mike." "It went pretty
well, didn't it?" "Yes. But there are some new developments." "I
saw you come out with a prisoner." "That's the smallest part of
it." "What happened?" "Wait 'til we get to my office." "Sure.
Thanks for taking me with you. I'm feeling a little better about
things now." "Thanks for all your help. We're going to need more
of it." "Just ask." Word had obviously spread among the troops
that Jed was dead, because everyone they passed nodded solemnly,
or expressed a few words of condolence. The loss of Jed was
finally sinking in and Hanson knew the future would be bleaker
without him. Another part of him was consoled because before Jed
died he took some of his enemies with him and may have saved his
country from a nuclear disaster.
The guard at his office door snapped to attention when he saw
Hanson. "Stand at ease, but remain here until relieved. Except
for General Griffin, no one in without orders." "Aye, aye, sir."
Lonigan was beginning to get the idea that whatever was going on
was really big and he followed Hanson into the office burning
with curiosity. Danowski called: "Attention," and everyone
snapped to. "As you were," Hanson said and looked at Blakney.
"Sergeant Blakney." "Yes, sir?" "You carried out your mission
with exemplary ability, as I expected, You are promoted to
Gunnery Sergeant. Congratulations." "Thank you, sir." "I don't
have time to take your report right now because something urgent
has come up. You are to remain in your quarters until we can
review everything in detail. If you have to go out to use the
head or mess hall, you are not to discuss anything with anyone
regarding this operation." "Aye, aye, sir." "You did a great job,
Shin. I'm sorry for the inconvenience." "Semper fi, sir."
Hanson waited until she left, then turned to Al. "I'll talk to
you privately as soon as I can." "Yes, sir. Where's Jed?" He
didn't answer right away, then said gently: "He didn't make it,
Al." She tried to conceal the stab of pain and struggled to
maintain control. "There aren't many of us left, Sam." "I know.
Hopefully, there'll be other good Marines to take our place."
Danowski had a faraway look. "He was a good guy and a great
Marine," he muttered. "I don't mean to sound harsh, but we don't
have time for mourning now," Hanson said. "We found what might be
radioactive material at the safe house. The prisoner is a Russian
scientist who was sold to Al Qaeda by the Russian mafia to help
construct some kind of nuclear device." Their stunned expressions
told him all he needed to know. He gave them a minute to digest
the bombshell, then added: "General Griffin is on his way and
should be here in about two hours, when we'll have a full
discussion of the problem. If you have any bright ideas, be ready
with them later."
Hanson began to question the prisoner. "What is your name?"
"Dmitry Goncharov." "Tell us what you know." "Yes, sir. Al Qaeda
got uranium 235 from Iran to make bomb. Want Russian scientist so
blame not go to Iran ...." "How do you know it was from Iran?" Al
asked. "Heard men speaking, lady soldier. I not tell them was in
Afghanistan during war and speak Arabic." "Go on," Hanson urged.
"When I tell that I high school physics teacher, not bomb maker,
arabs get angry, beat and torture me. Ask if I make bomb with
help from books. Get angry when tell I not know. Tell I of no use
if can't make bomb and threaten kill me. No want die, so tell
maybe can do if have books. They say get soon. Then you come kill
arabs. Save life. I help. You no kill?" "We won't kill you,
Dmitry, but you've got to tell us all you know," Hanson said.
"Will tell. Want help." "Good. Ski. Put Dmitry in one of the
Sergeant's rooms, get him something to eat and drink and place a
guard at the door. No one in or out without an order from me."
"Aye, aye, sir. Come along, Dmitry," Danowski said. "No hurt?"
Hanson sent everyone to get something to eat, then sat at his
desk, musing about Jed's death. Once he put his feelings in a
compartment until later, he was pleasantly surprised that
everything went off as planned, a rare experience. His thoughts
kept coming back to the nuclear material and he believed he did
the right thing in taking down the safe house, even if he would
go to prison for it. He knew that his actions had probably saved
New York City from a nuclear disaster. To him, that justified
everything he did. Then the terrifying thought sprang into his
mind: What if there was more nuclear material in the country?
This was a staggering idea and he accepted that it was up to the
American security services to discover and eliminate the threat.
He silently prayed that they could function well and save the
country from disaster.
by Gary Beck
... who is a professional writer, translator, playwright, and
poet. His recent fiction has appeared in 3AM
Magazine, EWG Presents, Nuvein
Magazine, Vincent Brothers Review,
The Journal, Short Stories
Dogwood Journal, Enigma, and
previously in this periodical. Excerpts from his recent novel
of the '60s, Dark Strains, have appeared in Nuvein
Magazine, Fullosia Press,
L'Intrigue Magazine, and Babel
Magazine. His poetry has appeared in dozens of literary
magazines. His chapbook The Conquest of Somalia will be
published by Cervena Barva Press. His plays and translations of
Molière, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced
Off-Broadway. He is a writer/director of award-winning
social issue video documentaries.