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How close did you
get?”


The trigger was halfway
there,” Monroe said.


So you could have fired
then, acted as if you pulled before you understood the order to
stop?”


Yes, I could
have.”


Why didn’t you?”


Because at that moment it
was about more than me and more than Genevieve and more than the
probable collapse of Khan’s empire of crime if he died. Other lives
are at stake and the things Khan knows can possibly save those
lives, those American lives. That’s why I didn’t.”


How noble of you,” Winter
said, still sarcastic, but with a warmth and humor in the words now
too. “So what do we do now?”


I’m finishing off this
scotch,” Monroe answered, “and then I intend to sleep off a lousy
day. You can do whatever you want. I won’t keep you chained to me
any longer, Winter. I’ll give you some money, enough to stay in
Paris for a little while longer if you want to see more of the
city, or you can fly back to Boston at your leisure.”


So that’s it,” Winter said,
“you’re just throwing me away?”


A few days ago you called
yourself my prisoner…and now you’re acting like I’m insulting you
by letting you go?” Monroe shook his head.


Well can I stay with you
tonight?” Winter asked, reaching over to touch him.


I don’t see a single reason
why you shouldn’t,” Monroe answered, and he passed her the
bottle.

 

***

 

They ordered breakfast in
the room when morning came around. They were both groggy until the
coffee hit, for it had been an active night with Monroe letting out
his frustrations in sensual ways instead of violent. They had
finally managed a bit of sleep, but not nearly enough. Monroe was
on his third cup and Winter was looking out the window and munching
on a piece of toast with apricot preserves when the knock came at
the door.

A loud, “Mr. Monroe!”
followed the knocking. Monroe, wishing the peace could have lasted
just a bit longer, put down the coffee and headed for the door
while Winter, barely dressed, scrambled for the bathroom before he
opened it.

Monroe found two United
States Naval officers standing in the hallway, both lieutenants,
one junior grade, one full. “Morning, boys,” he said.


Good morning, sir,” the
full lieutenant said. “I’m Lt. Leary and this is Lt. Stuart. We’re
here to pick you up, sir. We have a chopper waiting.”


You have a chopper to
where?”


I’m afraid I can’t tell you
that here, sir,” Leary said. “No information is to be given until
we’re airborne and audio is secure.”


Not even a little hint?”
Monroe asked, teasing but also wondering if the appearance of the
lieutenant twins was on the level.


We were told you might be
difficult to get out of here, Mr. Monroe,” Lt. Stuart spoke for the
first time, “so we were instructed to mention that the food is very
good on Tuesdays.”


Okay,” Monroe nodded, “I’m
all yours. Give me ten minutes. I have to dress, shave, and say
goodbye to a lady.”


Yes, sir,” the lieutenant
twins said, disturbingly in unison, and closed the door
again.

Monroe turned to begin
getting ready to leave. He went straight to his suitcase and dug to
the bottom under his clothes. He took a wad of cash out and turned
away from the case just as Winter emerged from the bathroom in her
robe.


Who was it?” she
asked.


Uncle Sam wants me,” Monroe
said. “I have to go. I have to go
now
.”

Winter walked over to him.
“It’s been fun, Richard. Be careful.”

Monroe put the wad of money
in Winter’s hand. “This should buy you some fun in Paris for a few
days and a ticket home when you’re ready. I’ll call you when I get
back to Boston.”


Is that a
promise?”


No,” Monroe said. “I don’t
make many promises, but it’s a definite possibility.” And he kissed
her hard for a moment, then let her go and began to gather his
things.

 

Chapter 15:
Internal Affairs

 

 

A United States Navy
aircraft carrier does not travel alone. Rather, a carrier is the
heart of a fleet of vessels, the centerpiece of a floating
congregation of warships, support ships, and various other crafts,
all sailing the seas together as a huge multifaceted weapon as
powerful as any the world has ever known. By the time the
helicopter carrying Lt. Leary, Lt. Stuart, and Richard Monroe set
down on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, it had already
flown over a cruiser, several frigates, a supply ship, and a
logistics support vessel. The chopper touched down and the
occupants waited until the pilot had shut down the engine before
getting out.

Monroe was no stranger to
naval vessels. He had been a navy officer as a young man and
although he had never been officially assigned to seaborne service,
he had often, while working in naval intelligence, had reason to go
aboard vessels of various types. He found that he felt at home on
the deck of the immense carrier and he followed the two young
lieutenants as they led him past several saluting sailors and down
into the interior of the ship.

The officers who had
transported Monroe on the nearly two hour flight over the Atlantic
Ocean had told him little of the reason he had been flown to the
Lincoln. He assumed it had to do with the arrest of Garrett Khan.
Perhaps, he thought, Khan was even being held aboard the carrier,
as it was not unheard of in the espionage world for important
prisoners to be transported or even held for long periods of time
at military installations or seagoing vessels. Deeper into the
belly of the ship Monroe followed Leary and Stuart, until they
finally stopped in front of a closed door.


This is where we say
goodbye, sir,” Leary said, giving a salute even though Monroe no
longer held an active commission. The two officers turned and went
back the way they had come. Monroe waited at the door for a moment
and then decided to knock.


Come in, Monroe,” came from
inside and Monroe did as suggested. He opened the door
halfway—doors inside ships can be heavy as they are often equipped
to lock to seal out incoming water in emergency situations—and
slipped in, shutting it behind him. He smiled when he saw Mr. Nine
standing there waiting for him inside a beautifully carpeted and
furnished room, more like a rich writer’s study than the usually
more Spartan rooms on naval vessels.

Monroe’s chief was dressed
in the uniform of a Marine Corps brigadier general and wore a
nameplate that read, “Lorimer.” The old spymaster
chuckled.


Don’t get any ideas about
that being my real name, Monroe. General Lorimer is a fictional
character. I just inhabit the role when necessity brings me to
places like this fine ship.”


I was under the
impression,” Monroe said, “that we wouldn’t be meeting in person on
a regular basis, sir.”


Monroe,” Mr. Nine said
gravely, “there is nothing regular about this meeting. Sit
down.”

Monroe knew enough to sit
down, shut up, and let Mr. Nine fill in the details. He took a
comfortable chair beside a bookshelf filled with volumes on naval
warfare and history and let the gray-haired man in the general’s
uniform tell him what he needed to know.


While you were in your
hotel in Paris, Garrett Khan was handed over from the French agency
to a team of officers from naval intelligence and flown out here to
the fleet just like you were this morning, except that he was
bound, blindfolded, and gagged. Once here, we wasted no time
getting him into an interrogation room in the bowels of this very
ship. We wanted to know about his communications with certain
insurgency factions in the Middle East. We expected him to resist
and were prepared to use whatever means we needed to get him to
talk. But we ran into an obstacle. I want you to see this for
yourself.”

Mr. Nine picked up a remote
control and pressed a button. A television on the wall across from
Monroe turned on and showed the interior of the interrogation room.
Garret Khan, still in the tuxedo he had worn to the opera, was
sitting in a metal chair at a bolted down table. His face was
visible. Also present was a tall man in a black suit with his back
to the camera. CIA, Monroe guessed.


I’ve skipped the part where
our man initially tries to get some answers out of Khan,” Mr. Nine
explained. “I’ll let you see the important part first, the part
where the little scumbag tells us how he’s got us in a very
precarious position.”

Monroe watched and listened
as Garrett Khan laughed in the face of his interrogator and then
began to speak in his crisp, pompous English accent.


You stupid Americans, you
have no idea what you’ve done by bringing me here! You should have
left me alone. I don’t care what questions you ask me. You will get
nothing from me. Nothing! You will not torture me, you will not
beat me, and you will not detain me here in your little ship any
longer than I allow you to. Sit down, you stupid man, CIA or
whatever you are! Sit down and let me tell you the real situation
you’ve created by bringing me here against my will!


What do you know about
technology? Do you know about the GPS systems they put in cars? Do
you understand that they can put something similar inside a man?
Yes, my stupid friend, I have an object inside of me and it is
going to cost many, many lives. You see, inside my head, connected
to my brain, is a tiny little piece of machinery that monitors my
vital signs. If you don’t believe me, I will happily allow you to
scan my head when we’re through with this silly
conversation.


This device, this chip,
transmits a signal to somewhere else in the world, somewhere that I
will not name for you. The computers there receive the signal and
it lets my assistants know that I am alive. If you have your stupid
surgeons attempt to remove the chip, I will die. Do you know what
will happen if I die, either by the intervention of doctors or by
your hand or gun? If my men receive the signal that tells them I am
dead, they will do as I have instructed them to do in such a case:
a dirty bomb will be detonated in a major city somewhere in the
world. When that bomb detonates, it will instantly kill those
within close range of the blast and many more will die over time
from radiation sickness and cancers. The blood of innocent people
will be shed, many more people than just the one man you have in
your custody now. If I die here, the cost will be far greater than
my individual life.


And there is more, my
stupid American! The same men who will activate that bomb in the
event of my death have also been given instructions to detonate it
if I go out of communication with them for more than twenty-four
hours. You must let me speak to them! But simply letting me make a
call or send an email will not satisfy them, for I must include in
the message a certain code-phrase, and I will not utter that phrase
while I am your prisoner.


So you see, you truly are
powerless to question me, helpless to harm me, and impotent to keep
me here in this big tin floating can! In other words, you and your
allies will get nothing from me without paying a very, very high
price. Stupid Americans!”

Mr. Nine stopped the tape.
He put the remote down and sat across from Monroe.


And before you ask, yes,
we’ve done a full body scan of Khan. There is indeed a device
implanted in his head, connected to his brain. It’s disturbing what
you can find on the black tech market these days if you can afford
it.”


Sir,” Monroe said, “if I
had killed him in front of the opera…”


Don’t worry about that now,
Monroe,” Mr. Nine ordered. “What might have been doesn’t matter.
We’ve had Khan in our possession for nearly twelve hours and we’re
running out of time!”


What do you intend to do
about it, sir?”


We won’t set him free,” Mr.
Nine answered, “unless we absolutely have no choice. I won’t risk
any attempts to remove that implant and I doubt Khan would be
cooperative enough to just call up his friends and tell them not to
blow that bomb, wherever it is. I want my cake, and I’d like to eat
it too. In other words, I want the information Garrett Khan has
about the goings on in Afghanistan, but I also want to make sure no
civilians die in the process of obtaining that data.”

Monroe stood up, began to
pace. “Send me back to Paris, sir!”


Why?”


Because the men Khan had
with him there might know something, either about the location of
the bomb or the location of the computer that’s connected to the
transmitter in Khan’s head. If they’re still in Paris, maybe I can
get some information out of them.”


It’ll take you two hours to
get back there.”


Then contact Arnaud Lafleur
of the DGSE and have his men keep an eye on the apartments where
Khan was staying. If Khan’s minions try to flee, Arnaud can have
them arrested, but I’d much rather get in there and deal with them
myself. Unless, sir, you’d rather I stayed here and tried to get
the information out of Garrett Khan himself; I’m sure I could find
plenty of interesting ways to persuade him without killing
him.”

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
12.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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