Read Tom Clancy Under Fire Online

Authors: Grant Blackwood

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #War, #United States, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Military, #Suspense, #Thrillers

Tom Clancy Under Fire (29 page)

BOOK: Tom Clancy Under Fire
7.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Could it really be that easy?
Jack wondered. The simple answer was no, of course not, but the world had already seen the power of the Internet in places like Tunisia, Iran, Egypt, and Ukraine, where the governments had initially discounted social media only to find themselves playing catch-up as hundreds of thousands of citizens marched through the streets.

In and of itself this wasn’t a new phenomenon, but leaders who might otherwise ignore, arrest, or brutalize peaceful protesters suddenly find their actions and words scrutinized by the whole world. Club a ten-year-old girl in Cairo and seven minutes later a million people are seeing it on YouTube, a
Boycott Egyptian Pistachios
blog is up and running with twenty thousand subscribers, and White Hat hackers have turned the official government website into a flashing orange mess of pop-up ads for mortgage refinancing and miracle face cream.

And Seth and Spellman were taking it even further. Not only would Makhachkala’s streets be thronged with pro-democracy protesters, but they would have a camera-ready champion waiting just offstage. Their plan was solid, Jack thought, but none of it would be happening in a vacuum. Wellesley and Pechkin were no doubt preparing their own counter-measures, much of them based on the SIS man’s knowledge of Seth’s playbook.

Jack asked Spellman, “Are you running the whole thing from here?”

“Nah, we’ve got another place, a secure command center in the MOI building,” Spellman replied. “Say, let’s not push Seth on this Wellesley business. He’s already figured it out. He’s kicking himself better than we ever could.”

“Yes, but is he dealing with it?” asked Ysabel. “Seth can get a little . . . obsessive.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed. The answer is yeah, he’s okay. He’s also a tad passive-aggressive and—”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” Ysabel shot back with a smile.

“—and Wellesley’s mind games are telling him, ‘You can’t pull it off.’ Seth’s response is, ‘Fuck you, watch me.’”

“That’s the Seth I know. Matt, there’s something else we need to talk to you about.”


Jack gave him the whole story about Khasavyurt, from their meeting with Dobromir to their being released by Major Umarov. He finished with the telephone trap he and Gavin had set for Wellesley and Pechkin. “We know Wellesley was Dobromir’s contact, and as soon as Gavin hears back from the number Osin had, we could have Pechkin, too.”

Spellman stared at the table, shaking his head. Jack guessed what he was feeling: An op like this was a juggling act writ large, with balls that were often invisible, and just as often on fire. And covered in thumbtacks.

“Hey, here’s an idea,” Spellman said. “How about the three of us get on a plane, head to Tahiti, and start a surf shop?”

Jack and Ysabel laughed.

“Seriously, though, you’re sure it was just us in the truck that knew about your trip?”

Jack nodded. “We’ve decided it wasn’t you—”

“Finally a little love for good ol’ Matt.”

“—and it wasn’t Seth. As for Medzhid, I can’t imagine it’s him, but who knows how many agendas he’s got.”

“So that leaves Anton and Vasim.”

“And Medzhid’s fiercely loyal to them,” Ysabel said. “We’ll need solid proof before he’ll doubt them.”

“You got that right. Just think about this: Two guys with guns who are never more than ten feet from Medzhid on the eve of a coup . . . We need to figure this out sooner rather than later.”


to keep an eye on things at the Tortoreto, Jack took off at six-thirty, swung past the now empty street outside the Ministry building, then drove the three miles to where Dom was staking out the Chirpoy Road apartment.

As Jack pulled to the curb, the sun was beginning to drop behind the Tarki-Tau hills west of the city. Already he could feel the air cooling.

“Go get some food and sleep,” Jack said, walking up to Dom’s window. Over the top of his car and through some trees Jack could see the apartment’s gated entrance.

“Sleep I can use,” Dom replied. “As for food, unless they’ve got a Jimmy John’s stashed away around here, I’ll pass for now. By the way, Ysabel’s very pretty. Are you guys—”

“Shut up, Dom,” Jack replied with a smile. “How’s it look?”

“Eighteen rooms, each with a rear barred window and key-card locks on the doors. Whether they’re opened by the gate key card, I don’t know. Second-floor access is through a partially covered stairwell on the north end.

“Around the wall I’ve counted ten surveillance cameras hidden in the trees, one about every twelve feet, but we can assume the whole thing is ringed. One of the ground-floor apartments, number 102 at the far end, is occupied by some serious-looking dudes wearing jackets that hang like they’re carrying bazookas in their armpits.”

“Any of them look familiar from my lunch with Wellesley?”


“I asked Medzhid about this place. He doesn’t know anything about it, so the guards aren’t MOI
. Maybe they’re from the city’s public safety office.”

“Maybe, but I doubt it,” replied Dom. “I had a cop car drive by about an hour ago. I ducked down and he kept going. Proactivity isn’t on the police academy curriculum here.

“I’ve only seen two cars go in or out of the gate, but neither of them were Wellesley or Pechkin. The gate must trip some kind of alarm, because every time a car enters, the goon apartment door opens and one of them pokes his head out. The drivers flash some kind of permit and the guard waves, then goes back inside. Whatever that place is, Jack, it’s sure as hell not making money as a commercial property.”

“I’ve got Gavin looking into it.”

“Okay, see you in four hours,” Dom said, and pulled away from the curb.

Jack got back in his car and started his shift.

•   •   •

rows of amber spotlights at the base of the apartment’s wall came on, casting cones of light up the brick face.

At eight-fifteen a car pulled into the driveway. An arm emerged from the driver’s window and swiped a key card, and the gate rose. The car pulled through, then into one of the parking spots. A woman got out, entered one of the ground-level apartments, then emerged a few minutes later. As she exited the gate, Jack zoomed in on the license plate and memorized it.

Shortly before nine, his phone rang.

“Jack, where are you?” Spellman asked.

“Sitting on an apartment. Why?”

“The men Medzhid has sitting on Koikov’s house aren’t answering. Can you get there?”


Spellman gave him the address, then said, “I’ll steer you, just give me your cross streets.”

“Wait one.” Jack put Spellman on mute, switched apps, then texted Dom:

Dom answered immediately:

Jack started the Opel’s engine and pulled away from the curb, then drove two blocks until he came to a cross street. He switched back to Spellman. “I’m coming up on Vaygach and Tuva. Headed east.”

“Okay, hold on. You’re three miles away. Head right on Vaygach.”

For the next ten minutes, with Jack calling out streets or landmarks and Spellman responding with turns, he headed northward to Makhachkala’s city limits.

“Okay, you’re coming up on Kirovskiy district. Turn right at the next intersection.”

Jack did so and found himself on a run-down residential street. At the end of it he took a left onto a dirt road bordered on one side by a barbed wire–enclosed pasture.

“I don’t see any signs,” Jack said. “There’s a mile marker, though, with a twelve on it.”

“Take the next right. It should be a driveway.”

“Okay, I’m on it. I see a house directly ahead of me.”

“Koikov’s cabin is just west of it, maybe a quarter-mile. You should be coming up on another road, a small one, barely on the map.”

“I see it.”

Jack slowed, doused the Opel’s headlights, then made the turn. To his left across the pasture he saw yellow lights filtering through a thicket of scrub trees.

Another hundred yards brought him to a T intersection. He turned left toward Koikov’s cabin and slowly the trees thinned out until he could see a U-shaped clearing ahead. He let up on the accelerator and slowed the Opel to a walking pace. He rolled down the passenger window and listened. Save the buzzing of insects, all was quiet.

“Jack, you there?” asked Spellman.

“Call one of Medzhid’s men.”

Jack braked to a stop and shut off the engine.

Moments later he heard the ringing of a cell phone. After five rings, it went silent. Jack said, “Matt, hang on.” He dialed Dom, looped him into the call, and then made quick introductions. “I need backup,” he told Dom. “Matt’s got my location.”

•   •   •

on the lighted windows of the cabin, he crept down the road until the fence to his right formed a corner, which he followed, using the thicket to screen his approach to the cabin, now to his left front. He stopped, listened, then kept going until he was within ten paces of the front door, where he crouched. To his left in the driveway was a dark-colored SUV, thankfully not a Suburban, he saw. He had enough complications to deal with.

He heard a muffled male voice say something in Russian from inside the cabin, followed by a response. The tone sounded casual, but the exchange was too clipped, Jack thought, to be a friendly one. A silhouette moved past the curtained window, then out of view. The door opened and a man emerged. He walked a few steps to his right, then lit a cigarette.

Jack drew the Ruger from its holster and affixed the noise suppressor.

Jack’s phone vibrated. He cupped his hand around the screen and read the text from Dom.

A voice in the darkness called out in Russian. Jack caught on two words: “car” and “there.” They’d spotted his car.

The man who’d spoken walked up and joined his smoking partner, and they started talking quietly.

Suddenly from inside the cabin came a bang, then a shout and the slap of flesh against flesh. A shadowed figure crashed into the curtains, then was jerked away.

The smoking man said something and his partner laughed.

Gotta do something, Jack. Can’t just sit here.

He rose from his crouch and started forward, placing each foot flat on the ground and getting it settled before taking the next step. The men to his right kept chatting. After ten paces and two minutes Jack drew even with the cabin’s front door. He slipped left through the thicket, then followed the side wall around to the back, then down the opposite side until he reached the cabin’s front corner. He poked his head out.

The two men were six feet away.

With the Ruger raised before him, he stepped out.

“Ruki vverh,”
he whispered.

Neither did as ordered. The smoking man spun left, his hand already reaching inside his coat, while his partner sprinted for the cabin door. Jack shot the first man twice in the chest, then shifted the Ruger and fired at the fleeing man. He missed. Before he could get off another shot the man was through the cabin door, shouting as he went.

Jack retreated to the corner, then adjusted aim and put a round into each of the SUV’s passenger-side tires. There was no pop, no explosive rush of air. Self-sealing tires. That said something.

The barrel of an assault rifle poked through the cabin door and swung toward Jack. He pulled back. The rifle began chattering, bullets tearing chunks from the wood and punching through the wall. He backpedaled, trying to get ahead of the piercing rounds as they kept pace with him. He turned left, shoved himself through some waist-high scrub, and then kept going, trying to put some distance between himself and the cabin.

After twenty feet he reached a woodpile. He ducked around it, peeked over the top. The SUV’s front and rear doors were swinging shut.

The engine roared to life and the SUV accelerated out of the driveway and sped down the road.

Jack got out his phone and called Dom. “Where are you?”

“Passing mile marker twelve.”

“Stop there and find a place to hide. In about sixty seconds a black SUV’s going to be rounding the corner. Follow it.”

•   •   •

Dom sat down on his motel room’s bed and tossed the keys onto the nightstand. He rubbed his hands through his hair. “Shit.”

“We’ll find them,” said Spellman.

Jack made the introductions. They shook hands.

“Oh, yeah, the guy on the phone,” Dom said. “You’re CIA?”

“For however long that’ll last,” Spellman said, smiling. “By the time this is over I’ll probably be working the tool counter at Home Depot. Did you get a license plate number?”

“There were none.”

Ysabel went into the bathroom, filled a glass with water, then came back and handed it to Dom, who downed it. “Thanks.”

“So,” Jack said. “Tell us.”

“I followed them for almost two hours, north up the coast, then lost them in this little village . . . Bakh-something?”

“Bakhtemir?” said Spellman.

“That’s it. Just a speck of a place, but the streets were a mess and they seemed to know where they were going. Anyway, I backtracked south and sat on the road for a bit. They didn’t come back my way.”

“They didn’t see you?” asked Spellman.

“No chance.”

“Matt, what’s up that way?” asked Jack.

“A whole lot of nothing. Mostly lowlands and a lot of open space. It’s been drought conditions up there for a couple years, so it’s probably desertlike by now. Bakhtemir’s probably the largest settlement up there and it’s only got a few hundred people in it.”

BOOK: Tom Clancy Under Fire
7.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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