/ Day 7. Covert Action

The G650 landed hard in the buffeting wind and rain–its twin Rolls Royce engines roaring the plane to a stop. It was three AM in Montreal and his time was running out. He needed to secure the package before the Israelis did, and there was no underestimating the Mossad. For all he knew, he was already too late.

He could see out the plane’s large round windows that a car was waiting for him at the end of the runway. Good. They sped off the moment he shut the car door. The advantage to having diplomatic plates was that they didn’t need to respect the rules of the road. Even though it was pouring so hard the wipers could hardly keep up, the driver did manage to get him downtown in under twenty minutes. The guy must have been a former taxi driver. He’d have asked, but under the circumstances, neither of them spoke.

The car pulled up to the U.S. Consulate and within a minute he was inside and standing in front of Andy Talbot, Principal Officer in Charge of Public Affairs. Talbot was in fact a CIA Officer in charge of the agency’s Montreal operations. He developed and handled local assets through a network of intermediaries. The public affairs post was just a cover. The perfect cover. He was always meeting people, be it at social or diplomatic functions, at lunches and dinners, anywhere really. It was his job, and even if counter-intelligence suspected him, tracking all of his contacts would be difficult at best.

“I was beginning to think you weren’t going to make it. It’s coming down hard out there,” he said. “Here’s what you need to know.” Talbot handed him a manila envelope.

“How cold is this?”

“Fourteen hours. We think he’s planning to go public in the morning. He’s contacted a local CBC news office and asked to go in for a meet. He hasn’t told them what for, just that it’s a big announcement. They’ve agreed to humor him.”

He didn’t bother asking any more questions. The operation parameters would be spelled out in the envelope. With a nod of his head he left the office. He wouldn’t open the envelope until he was in the car–this time in the back seat.

“Where to?” the driver asked.

“Just drive, I need to read.” The contents of the envelope were characteristically sparse. It only contained what he needed to know to get the job done. There were few clues as to why this kid was his target, just that he’d invented something of extreme interest to the U.S. government. The fact that he was racing Mossad, and possibly other agencies, to this boy meant that it was definitely something important. “Twelve fifty-four Saint-Denis, quick as you can.”

“Yes, sir.” The driver dropped his foot on the gas pedal and the V8 roared despite its muffler. They were already in the general vicinity, so the trip was a short one. They pulled up to the building inside of three minutes.

“What’s your number?” He asked, just before getting out. A moment later he was out of the car and looking for the kid’s name on the building’s tenant buzzer board. He finally found it and pressed the button next to the kid’s name. It took a few tries to get a response, what with it being four in the morning. Each time he buzzed, he wondered if he was too late. Finally, a groggy voice came over the intercom, “who is it?”

“MUC Police, sir. We need to speak to you immediately. Please open the door,” he said in his best Quebecois.

The door buzzed open. This kid was too trusting. He made a bee-line for the stairwell–this would definitely not be the time to get stuck in an elevator. He quickly bounded up the three flights of stairs and slowly opened the door to the third floor. He had to be careful, he might not be the only one here. He slowly made his way to the kid’s door, his eyes alert for any movement other than his own. He quietly tapped on the door. A moment later he was standing in front of a spindly, sallow skinned kid with longish greasy hair and wearing a pair of glasses held together with a bit of electrical tape. “Yeah?”

“May I come in, sir?” he said, flashing a badge. Governments made the best forgeries.

“Sure, officer…”

“Martel,” he said making his way into the apartment. It wasn’t his real name. He’d have said Parizeau if it would have gotten him through the door. The place smelled of cigarettes with a hint of mildew. He walked over to the window, carefully peering out of the blinds. “Look, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a cop. I’m with a government and you’re in a grave and immediate danger.”

“What!? Why?”

“You’re talking to the CBC in a few hours, right?”

“Uhhh… yeah. But how did you–”

“You weren’t being careful. Things like this have a way of getting out. Look, we don’t have a lot of time. I got to you, which means others aren’t that far off. They may already be in the building,” he said, putting his hand on the gun in his jacket holster. The gesture was entirely for the benefit of the kid. He needed to drive home the gravity of the situation. “Look, it’s up to you, but I strongly suggest you come with me.” That the kid had a choice was lie. His orders were to bring him in, with or without the invention. Forcefully if he had to.

Suddenly, the buzzer rang.

“Oh, man. Oh, man! Who’s that?” The kid was visibly shaken now.

“Look, just do what I tell you and we might make it out of this in one piece. Where’s your invention?”

“Over there,” he said, pointing to an adjacent room.

“Good, go grab it. Leave everything else. Go, go!” He took out his phone and called the driver. A moment later the kid was back with a large box-shaped object. For a second it looked like he was hardly carrying it at all, when he should have been struggling with something that large. It didn’t matter. What mattered was completing the op. “Alright, follow me,” he said. They slowly exited the apartment and took the stairs down to the ground floor. He peered out the stairwell door, through the lobby at the front doors. He saw three men. One of them was on his back, another was rubbing his eyes, seemingly unable to see, the third, a larger man, seemed less affected, but still somewhat disoriented. “Come on, let’s move!” he said with urgency in his voice. He ran to the front door and pushed it open forcefully, knocking the large man to the ground. He turned to see the kid still by the stairwell. “Move!” He yelled. The kid ran and they both got into the waiting car.

“Who was that? What just happened?” The kid asked.

“Don’t know. Could’ve been Mossad. They usually work in small teams. Might have even been CSIS. Our driver shot’em with a tranq gun to temporarily incapacitate them.” That it had even worked was nothing short of a miracle. Things didn’t always go so smoothly. The kid could have been out. He could have been uncooperative, asking too many questions. The other team could have easily been there first. The driver could have missed. The list of things that could have gone wrong was long. It was moments like this, once an op had gone well, that a celebratory drink was in order. But not yet. They still had to get on that plane and stateside. For the moment, he just put his head back and let the driver do his job.


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