I thought I'd kick things up a notch in here and publish the first chapter of my next installment of my short story series, "Covert-World."
I know I've got some edits to do, commas in the wrong place, etc... A few wrong tense of verbs, but I'm looking for opinions on if you think it is interesting or not.
I'll set the scene. , A former Iranian nuclear guru, who has been off-the-grid for years, has suddenly reappeared. He is traveling back to Iran to take over and reactivate their nuclear weapons program. The scene opens in Vienna, Austria where an Israeli Mossad agent has been sent to eliminate her mark. I'll leave it at that and let you read from there.
01:19 (23:19 GMT)
The rain had stopped more than an hour ago, but Solomon could hear the water dripping down the gutters at a slowing pace just outside the open window. It was three in the morning. She was tired, and she’d been waiting for nearly twelve hours. She’d chosen a room on an abandoned floor in the Griechengasse, a small shopping area that catered mostly to tourists. It had small shops and restaurants; the kind that put out spinning postcard holders on the sidewalk and invited you in with the sound of traditional Bavarian music and the smell of fresh pretzels. The conditions weren’t ideal, but she’d definitely been in worse. From her vantage point, she could make out the entire front of the Hotel Austria across the street. The location her mark would arrive.
Her stomach growled. She spit out the last of her fingernails that she’d chewed off, a habit that she knew was bad but had no intention of breaking. She walked over to a wooden crate she’d been using as a table and opened up the Styrofoam container that had been sitting there for hours. Like rigor mortis on a corpse, staleness was setting in on the remnant of her sandwich. What was supposed to be hot was now cool and the cold fruit salad was now room temperature. Her stomach growled again and Solomon started devouring her left-overs.
Born in Tel-Aviv and raised in Jerusalem, Solomon was the youngest of three children. She was supposed to be a boy, at least according to the Dr. that read the ultrasound. He’d predicted correctly the first two times, so who was to second guess him when he predicted her sex early on during her mother’s pregnancy? Her father was the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time of her birth and went on to become the Minister of Defense in her early teenage years. Both her brothers served in the military beyond the mandatory three year stint and even though her oldest brother, 12 years her elder, was killed in Afghanistan, she had no desire for military service beyond what was required of her. It wasn’t until her younger brother was killed by a wayward missile attack by the Syrians six years later that she decided to dedicate herself to her country.
With a stature of five feet ten inches and an athletic build, Solomon made a name for herself as a tough and gritty soldier with a keen eye in marksmanship among the ranks of her colleagues. Her reputation preceded her and eventually she was asked to be trained as a sniper in the Nahal Infantry Brigade. After serving three years as a sniper she attended the National Security College and graduated at the head of her class. She then served five more years in the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps. After just six months, she was selected for a special battalion, The Nesher, which operated primarily on the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian border. This was an honor, as the soldiers selected for the special units are the best from the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps.
It was a combination of her service that made her an excellent candidate and eventual member of The Mossad, Israel’s institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, where she has been serving for the past six years.
The sound of water being pushed away by rolling tires got Solomon’s attention. She put down her fork as she finished eating the last of the warm fruit. She cringed after washing it down with cold coffee.
She stepped over to the window and picked up her M89SR Sniper rifle. Three vehicles: one black Maybach sedan flanked by two silver Range Rovers. This was it. The wait was over.
Two blocks down and around the corner sat a white Citroën panel van. It had been outfitted to look like a Deutsche Telekom utility truck. It had been decked out with ladders and other tools of the trade and they even laid out orange cones on the road to further disguise their true intent as they waited for their spotter to return. The door to the van slid opened and Marid Kanaan stepped inside-- slightly out of breath and soaking wet.
“They’re pulling up now.”
“How many,” asked Abir.
“I do not know, but there are three vehicles.”
Abir Mammeri was not a tall man, but what he lacked in stature he made up with passion and aggression toward the infidel invaders of the Middle East and anyone or anything that hindered their cause.
Abir backhanded Marid across the face. “You fool! How are we supposed to do this if we do not know what we’re up against?”
“I am sorry Abir, I can go back and...”
“No! It is too late for that. Allah is on our side and he will see to it that we are victorious.”
Abir was the nephew of the leader of the now infamous Ansar al-Sharia and was raised by him since he was just 3 years old. When intelligence reports surfaced that Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi had plans to assassinate American diplomats in Rome and Paris, President Reagan expelled all Libyan diplomats from the U.S. in May of 1981 and closed Libya's diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. Three months later, Reagan ordered U.S. Navy jets to shoot down Libyan fighters if they ventured inside what was known as the "line of death." The line was created by Qaddafi and claimed that Libya’s territorial waters extended nearly 100 miles off-shore. However, the U.S. and other maritime nations recognized Libyan territorial waters as extending only 12 miles from shore. As expected, the Libyan Air Force counter-attacked and Navy jets shot down two SU-22 warplanes about 60 miles off the Libyan coast. Abir’s father was one of those pilots.
Abir said a short prayer for the success of their mission and to protect the lives of his four man team. The four men pulled black masks over their heads and chambered rounds into their weapons. Abir tapped the driver on the shoulder. “Let’s go.”
Solomon brought the scope of her rifle up to her eye to get a fix on her target; Mohsen Fallahi. Fallahi had been Iran’s nuclear weapons expert and had often been compared to Robert Oppenheimer, who, in the 1940’s was the American Physicist that oversaw the building of the first atomic bomb. Mr. Fallahi had been a significant factor in pushing Iran into its nuclear age over the past two decades. However, according to intercepted emails and phone calls, Mr. Fallahi complained that his work and funding had been frozen by officials in Iran’s government. Iran had “officially” halted its attempts to build a nuclear weapon in 2003. In 2006 Mohsen Fallahi fell off the grid. It wasn’t until a Mossad intercepted a phone call last week; detailing Fallahi’s arrival back into Iran’s nuclear program, that anyone knew he was still alive.
The call indicated that Mr. Fallahi was opening a research facility in Tehran’s northern suburbs that would be involved in studies relevant to developing nuclear weapons. There was also information intercepted indicating that many of the same scientists and military staff that were involved in the previous research nearly a decade ago, would also be involved in the new research. After further investigation by U.S. and Israeli intelligence, it was discovered that many of Mr. Fallahi’s closet colleagues had risen up in the ranks of the Iranian government and now had influence over those that previously halted the development of nuclear weapons.
The re-emergence of Mr. Fallahi and the stall of diplomatic efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear program is what instigated Mossad to act. It was now no longer a secret that Mr. Fallahi had returned. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal spelled it all out. Now, it was up to Solomon to eliminate Mr. Fallahi before he could start.
Watching all three vehicles with her left eye, she kept a fix on the back of the Maybach with her right eye through her scope. Solomon placed her finger on the trigger. Four men exited each of the Range Rovers while the doors of the Maybach remained closed. Two of the eight men approached the passenger side rear door. The back door facing Solomon opened and another man that was not Fallahi exited and walked to the rear of the car and opened the trunk.
Solomon removed her finger from the trigger and looked out across the street. The trunk was now blocking some of her view and a slight wave of panic washed over her as she feared she wouldn’t be able to get a clean shot. The man removed a bag from the trunk and then closed it. Solomon settled down and looked back through her scope and placed her finger back on the trigger.
The rear passenger door opened and Mohsen Fallahi stepped out of the car. Solomon put her crosshairs in the dead center of Fallahi’s head. She took a deep breath, held it...
Machine gun fire shattered the quiet of the night and startled Solomon. Her body’s reaction caused her to jerk at the trigger. The ending result was a shot that went wide left and ripped through the chest of one of the bodyguards. Solomon looked on in disbelief as she watched a lone Citroën van squeal to a stop in front of the hotel. Two of Fallahi’s bodyguards surrounded him and pushed him inside the hotel to escape the mayhem. The remaining guards drew their own weapons and returned fire. The first guard sent a five-round burst up Marid’s chest with four of the bullets hitting him in the torso and the fifth through his head, blowing out the back of his skull.
Abir saw his friend fall and regretted slapping him earlier. “Mahala! Mahala!” Abir yelled to his driver, trying to get his attention. “They’ve taken him inside! Go and get him!”
Mahala got out of the passenger side of the van to avoid the barrage that was being sent their way from the body guards. Abir and Nazir, the fourth man, laid down covering fire so Mahala could get across the street. Mahala reached the sidewalk, just behind where the second Range Rover was parked. He fired his AK-47 and shot one of the guards in the knee and sent him to the pavement screaming in pain, while the 7.62 x 39mm bullets shred through the neck of the other guard. Adjacent to where Mahala was standing and out of his peripheral view was an unmarked door that was a staff exit from the hotel. The door opened and one of Fallahi’s bodyguards stepped out, pulled his .45 pistol and shot Mahala through the head. The bullet exited his skull, shattered the back passenger door window and splattered grey matter on the inside and outside of the vehicle.
Abir watched Mahala fall. “Nazir. Go around to the other side in front of the vehicles! I’ll cover you!”
Seeing the fear in his friend’s eyes, Abir tried to comfort him. “Al-Jannah.” Meaning the garden or paradise was all that it took to reignite Nazir’s courage. Nazir ran across the street and around the front of the small motorcade. Two of the guards, while ducked behind the other vehicles to avoid the suppressing fire laid down by Abir, could see Nazir’s feet coming towards the sidewalk from under the vehicles. They were expecting him. As soon as Nazir rounded the front of the Range Rover, he was showered with bullets from the two waiting guards and fell into a lump of dead flesh onto the sidewalk, the rainwater creating a small red river down the side of the curb as he bled out.
Seeing the last of his team fall, he stepped out from the van door that was providing him protection. He opened fire on the two guards that had just killed Nazir. Abir screamed and yelled in his native tongue as he emptied the clip in his weapon. He managed to kill only one of the two guards that were left outside. The second bodyguard raised his weapon and pulled the trigger. It was empty. He reached into his jacket and retrieved his sidearm. He walked out onto the street where Abir was standing. Abir, frozen in the moment, stood there and looked through his vest for another full clip, but found none. The bodyguard pulled up his pistol and aimed it at Abir’s head. A lone silent shot from across the street tore through the man’s chest and left a gaping hole the size of a grapefruit as it exited his back.
Abir, stunned, turned around and looked in the direction of where the shot emanated from, but saw nothing.
Solomon put down her weapon as she watched Abir run back into the van and speed away. Two more guards came back out from inside the hotel and fired their weapons harmlessly in Abir’s direction as he rounded the corner a block away. Siren’s filled the air as Solomon looked at the carnage that was now on the street three levels down. What in the hell just happened?