2200 Hrs GMT
August 24, 2011
The pickup passed the Iranian border checkpoint with no trouble and continued its journey. Inside, two Russian men chatted about the money they’d make on the transaction.
One turned to check the cargo in the back as they drove down the dusty main road to the meeting spot. They had to get back across the border before daylight, as they were expected back at the base in two days.
The driver checked his GPS unit. “Get ready. We’ll arrive in a few minutes.”
The passenger loaded a magazine into his AK-47 assault rifle, while the driver left the main road to a dirty road that didn’t deserve the name, road, looking for the marker that indicated the drop-off point.
The passenger shifted nervously in his seat. “Something doesn’t feel right about this drop-off point.”
“Hush. I see the marker.” He stopped the truck but left the lights on so the recipients of the package could find them, as well as giving his partner and him a slight advantage.
Both men got out of the truck. The driver went to the front, while the passenger stayed near the passenger door and kept his AK-47 ready. When the driver reached the front of the truck, he was bathed in bright light from several vehicles. The passenger raised his rifle, but the driver waved him off, barely able to see a dark shape walking toward him.
“You’re late.” He stopped thirty feet from the driver.
“There was a line at the border checkpoint.” The driver tried to guess how many men there were. Due to the bright lights, he wasn’t able to tell.
“I take it there were no problems?” The man lit a cigarette from a match struck away from his face.
“No. Your man at the border checkpoint received the documentation you sent.” He was still trying to make out the numbers. The documentation he referred to was the ten thousand dollars in hundred-dollar bills that he passed to the guard.
“Excellent. Do you mind if you and your companion retrieve the package for me?” He puffed on his cigarette.
“I’d rather have one of your associates help, so my friend can guard the truck, if you don’t mind?” His weapon was tucked into his belt against the small of his back.
The figure, halfway through his cigarette, smiled. He figured that would happen, so he waved to one of his men to help the driver recover the package from the back of the pickup truck. The associate appeared from the shadows, and, with the driver, went to the rear of the truck and helped carry the package to the front.
The driver opened it, and the man who helped carry it nodded to the figure standing a few feet away, who flicked the cigarette butt aside. He waved to another man, who brought a bag to the truck driver. He set it down and looked inside, smiling at the sight of the nonsequential US bills. He looked at the figure.
“It’s all there,” the man said.
The driver closed the bag and handed it to his passenger, who set it in the back of the pickup.
The driver faced the figure again. “A pleasure doing business with you, Comrade.” He tried to see the man’s face.
“Same to you, Sir.”
The driver walked back to the truck, got in, and started the engine. As the truck turned around and headed toward the main road, the figure pulled out a control device and pushed a button. The truck exploded in a bright flash, caught fire, and veered into the ditch.
He turned to his men. “Put out the fire and bury the bodies.”
One man shouted to his companions, two of whom rushed forward with fire extinguishers.
The figure turned to his second-in-command. “Make sure their general receives payment for his cooperation.”
“It’s already been taken care of.” He put away his cell phone.
“Excellent. Now get me to the airport. I have an urgent meeting in Dubai.”
The companion, nodding, opened the car door.
As the luxury vehicle drove back to the main road, the man pulled out a secured phone and sent a text message.
Six thousand miles away in Washington, DC, a phone on a bedside table vibrated with an incoming message. A hand grabbed the phone to read the surprisingly simple message.
Baby delivered. En route to meeting.
The man in the bed, smiling, set the phone back on the table.