The First Epistle of John
درد دې څڅېږي له نظره وارخطا دې کړمه
په خوله دې ونه کړه خبره وارخطا دې کړمه
“The Picture” Rahmat Shah Sayel
The room was fetid hot, with a small ceramic heater providing the fetid, and the bodies, military, contractor, and civilian providing a boost that curdled the air into a swamp like concoction. There was the rank smell of bandages that needed to be change layered on top of a melange of sweat. Acrid, musk, fox-like, all competed. Most of the bodies were men, but a few were women, two from the local Air Force base, who had crowded near the front.
“So, how exactly did you get out? The fire fight was 150 clicks up-range, into the mountains and across scrub wood. With a limp and a lung shot?”
“The lung wound was very fresh. And the leg wound only a few hours older. We weren't combatants in the fire fight.”
“Yes, the other officer was still with me at that time.”
“But he's not now?”
OK they haven't gotten anything from state yet.
“So why don't you go back out to the fire fight, and tell me exactly how you got back 230 kilometers on the ground, a 6 hour drive on the roads, on foot, in a day.”
“It wasn't on foot.”
“How did it happen?”
He stopped and tried to game out the situation. He could dead end things here, and then hope that either Director Hampshire, or even the White House through Boo would know what was good for them, avow him, and cart him away. He'd be burned as a field agent, and would be back to Dilbertia, but State, or someone, would have the product, and could roll up Jack before turning the corner to the real Patron of the operation, however far that would go. Cooperation, small wins. However he, personally, would be better denying the Director, coming up with his own cover, and then go illegal, without official cover. Then if State, or the Executive disavowed him, it would be better. But if they said he was one of theirs, total blow up. On the other hand, if he kept quiet, and they disavowed him, then he'd be roughed up here by the local security officer – just to prove he was off the reservation – and then Hampshire could have him carted back, and have a great deal more leverage to make sure that he would be completely forthcoming.
Or to put it another way, if both sides in this little game jumped the same way, it was the best case scenario, but if one side played it straight, then, well. No good deed goes unpunished.
He sat, pretending to shake back and forth slowly, as if his injuries were bad. He let his eyes droop.
“Some one get him some water.”
He waited for the water, drank it in small gulps, and then started. What would Hampshire do? She'd betray, of course.
“I was flown back.”
“How? Did a plane just fall out of the sky?”
“No, it was the ultra-light that my target had flow in on.”
“And he just happened to have one.”
“He was an officer who had gone rogue. He was here to sell out.”
“So why are you telling me this.”
“I'm not here on Company business. I came because I knew that whatever score there was to be made was on the table.”
“So you were here to gray mail him for a slice of the action?”
“Where the proof?”
“I can give you the GPS of the cave where his body is.”
“Did you splash him?”
“I was doing him a favor, the Talib had already amputated his hand and his foot.”
“You sure he wasn't captured?”
“He was compromised.”
“When? How did you know?”
“A long time ago. I knew then, I think.”
“A long time ago. I knew then, I think.”
“So you knew him?”
“After a manner of speaking. In any event, why don't you get me a GPS to upload to, and you can check the proof.”
“What I don't understand is why an officer would just come out and decide that having his limbs hacked off and living as a double amputee in Kandahar was his best career move.”
“They had leverage.”
“Go check the proof. I can wait, I have nothing to do but heal.”
“You think you are going to get away with murder?”
“It wasn't murder, I was doing him, and you, a favor. He almost certainly had more to say.”
The tent was cleared, and he let himself be shuffled to the brig. They weren't going to do any high impact dental work until they knew where things were. He was also waiting for the diplo attache to arrive and tell them he was off the reservation.
But when they got the body, he'd be walking out, without problems. Because like any good spook, he'd blown the dead man, and told enough of the truth.
John the Baptist, had confessed. Sadly, he was not sure exactly to what, or to whom. But it was inevitable, before he even was John the Baptist, he had been made, compromised, and left on the shelf until needed.
It was 1987, they both had been very fresh faced an young. Neither even out of college. The place was Kabul, and he had been sent to do the simple task of getting an agent of an Afghan prison. Why him? Why then? He had excellent Russian, and could cram passable Pashto in time. He was totally expendable. John, even then, was not.