Monday, 29th May 2023 - 15:13:53 pm
"So where is he?" Kincaid asked.
Whalen had pulled the Porsche off the San Diego freeway into a park and parked it near some isolated picnic tables under some trees. They settled at a table where the bird droppings were the least severe. The park was nearly deserted.
"So where is he?" Kincaid asked again.
Whalen blinked. "Where is who?"
"Are you losing it? Edward Camacho? Mohammed Parsee? The man you were talking about? The one they are holding in Iran?"
Whalen came back to the subject. "That's another problem. We don't know. Two days ago the Swiss say he was at Hamadan. That's about eighty miles west of Tehran. But they say he was going to be moved; where, they don't know, but they guess farther west because he never turned up in Tehran.
"We have people working on this but hard intelligence is difficult to come by and communications are terrible. The Swiss say he will be tried in four days and shot immediately after the trial. If we wait it might be all over before we find out where he is." General Whalen paused.
"You want me to go in and nose around?" Kincaid asked him.
"We have a better plan than that, Steve. If they moved him farther west, he will be in the Kurdish area of Iran."
Whalen fished a map out of an inside coat pocket. He laid it on the table, smoothing out the folds. The two men bent over it.
"A Kurdish tribal chieftain has agreed to cooperate, for a price. The Kurds are a tight knit people with no love for the Iranians. They have been fighting them off and of for centuries. If anyone can find where our man is, he's the one. His tribe is located here at Khaneh." The General pointed out a little village near the Iraqi border. "This place is ideal because it's on one of the main caravan routes. It's next to Iraqi Kurdestan. The border there is lightly guarded on the Iranian side there because the Kurds don't like too many Iranian troops in their area.
"There's a small airstrip here, on the Iraqi side. We can set up a base camp there with aircraft to cover whatever range we need to get you out. Air America will provide the aircraft and pilots."
Whalen seemed puzzled. "Would you rather have Air Force people?"
"You get the aircraft. I"ll provide the people."
"Then you"ll do it?"
"I haven't made up my mind yet. Let's hear the rest."
"When you land you"ll be met by an Iranian smuggler named Van. He's in contact with the Kurdish tribal chief." General Whalen paused. "He's done some work for the CIA," he said apologetically.
"You mean he's their agent."
Kincaid grinned tightly. "Well that's okay. If we eliminated all the local CIA people we'd be talking about a good portion of the population of the world."
"That's not all."
"We don't know how trustworthy he is. He works for money, so if he gets offered more, watch out."
"I"ll watch out," Kincaid said grimly.
"We've brought in someone else, someone you can trust." Whalen seemed evasive. He wouldn't meet Kincaid's eyes. "We've got you someone who speaks English and Farsi as well as Kurdish and Turkish. Someone who has proven out on other jobs. Someone..."
"What's the problem?" Kincaid interrupted.
"It's a woman," Whalen blurted out. "How do you feel about working with a woman?"
"I don't like it."
"We ran the whole thing through the computer. She's the only one who qualifies that is also trustworthy. How many Kurdish agents do you think there are?"
"She's CIA too, huh?"
"She was. They pensioned her off."
"What does that mean?"
"I've learned a lot in the last few weeks," Whalen said. "A pensioned agent is one who has outlived their usefulness for one reason or another. Usually it's because their cover was blown."
"So she's not CIA now?"
"Nope. She's free and clear. She's out agent now. Yours and mine, if you're in. So what do you say? What do I tell the President?"
Kincaid knew from the beginning that if the proposition was legitimate there was only one answer he could give. He hadn't heard anything that would lead him to believe that the offer wasn't straight forward. "I'm in," he said.
Whalen grinned and slapped him on the shoulder with the back of his hand. "We've got some planning to do. The President has freed a couple of surprises for our use."
The planning went on well into dark.