Monday, 29th May 2023 - 15:58:36 pm

There was a trace of light on the eastern horizon when Ahmed pointed out the police compound. Nothing about it looked right to Kincaid. It was too peaceful. A guard was dozing outside by the heavy wooden gate. It was the first wood Kincaid could remember seeing since coming to Iran.

The gate was doubled. It looked like it opened out. It also looked strong. The rest of the compound was surrounded by a high masonry wall topped by barbed wire. Kincaid knew it wouldn't be electrified. They barely had enough electricity to burn the lights which were place at a ten meter interval on top of the wall. The lights dimmed and brightened to no set pattern as the two men watched. There were areas of darkness between the lights even when they were at their brightest.

"If you hear a shot from inside," Kincaid said, "blow the gate away. If I'm not out soon after that, I won't be coming out so don't wait too long. You got that?"

"But surely?" Ahmed started.

"Don't worry," Kincaid told him with a glint of icy eyes, "I"ll get out. One way or another, I"ll get out."

Ahmed nodded. "Good luck," he said.

"See you in a little while," Kincaid said, "most likely."

Ahmed shrugged.

Kincaid turned and started circling toward the dozing guard to flank him. He gained the side of the wall in a darkened section, thirty feet from the lax sentry. Rather than risk having the man wake and cry out, Kincaid fired the dart gun from there. The little dart hit just below the guard's ear. The sentry raised one hand to swat at whatever had bit him, then let it drop without completing the movement. He would be out for hours.

The night fighter, his face and hands still blackened, turned and went around the corner of the wall, looking for a soft spot. He heard a man talking quietly inside the enclosure, Kincaid grinned mirthlessly. Someone was awake. It wouldn't all be that easy.

He found the spot he was looking for halfway down the side wall. A metal bar that held the barbed wire jutted over the top of the wall. It was halfway between two of the dim lights. To make it better, the building inside was close to the wall at that point, less than two meters away.

Kincaid flexed his wounded hand. It ached dully. He hoped it could lift his weight.

He flipped the weighted end of his nylon cord over the bar on the first try. With both ends of the cord in his hand, he tested the strength of the bar. It held. He tested the strength of his hand. It would have to do.

He walked up the wall as if it were level ground. Grabbing the bar on top, he had his first look at a portion of the courtyard. The corner of the building blocked most of it from his view. There was no one in sight. Still no sign of a trap. He could still hear the voice coming from in front of the building.

Somewhere in the sleeping town a man raised his voice in a singsong Muslim prayer. Not far away a rooster started crowing.

The building and the wall formed an alleyway almost to the back wall. There was a strong odor of urine coming up at him. Kincaid stepped over the barbed wire on top of the wall. He reversed the nylon cord and walked down the inside wall. Then he pulled the cord down and let it lay where it fell.

Kincaid pulled out the Beretta and transferred it to his left hand. The TranGun he carried in his right hand. He glided quietly forward to the corner of the building. From there he could see the entire front courtyard.

Two men in gray uniforms were talking in the middle of the yard. Both were carrying what looked like Garrand M-1 rifles. Both had pistols in hip holsters. They were sideways to Kincaid. One was talking while the other listened sleepily. There were several Jeeps parked in the courtyard. The Jeeps were painted white and had black Arabic markings on them.

The two men were too far away to risk a shot with the TranGun. If he tried to get closer, they couldn't help seeing him the way they were standing. One had his back to the other corner of the building. Kincaid thought about going around the building and taking them from the other side. He decided against it. He would wait them out.

Kincaid held his position, occasionally checking the alley behind him as he watched the men in the courtyard.

Somewhere in the early morning, another man started the half-song, half-chant, Muslim prayer. It sounded like it came from a rooftop. The town would be waking soon.

The policeman in the courtyard who was doing all the talking grew more animated. He started poking the sleepy one in the chest with a forefinger. The sleepy one slapped his hand and walked away, coming toward Kincaid. The talker made a motion of disgust at his back and walked slowly toward the front gate.

The sleepy one was only looking for a place to lean. He found it against the building about six meters from Kincaid's corner. Kincaid shot the little dart in the side of the man's neck. Moving quickly, he partially broke the policeman's fall. He caught the rifle before it clattered to the ground.

The talker was at the gate saying something through it, his back to the courtyard. Kincaid ran lightly across the ground. The talker was so engrossed in what he was saying that Kincaid could have stuck the dart in him by hand. He shot him at point blank range and caught him as he sagged. Kincaid pulled the now silent talker to the foot of the wall, well away from the gate. He checked the alleyway on the other side of the building. It was clear.

A vehicle drove by on the street outside without stopping. Roosters were waking up all over town. The eastern horizon had brightened. The sun would soon be up.

All the windows of the police building had bars on them. The only door was made of metal. Kincaid tried it. It was locked. It was only a one story building but he didn't think it would do him any good to get on the roof. There wasn't time to look for an easy way in.

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