“Mission Unlikely” is the third episode of serial fiction set in Mundus Novit.
In “The Stream,” Boyle and his team get jumped in Kathmandu by a crew who may work for the Chinese. In “The Vault,” a special section of Canada’s Communications Security Establishment is monitoring Kathmandu, which has gone dark to all electronic and parapsychic traffic.
Something very bad is happening.
Three: Mission Unlikely
Alex sat with his back to a wall, a good view of the street, and a stand with a potted plant offering some small cover should the shit hit. The canopy over the few tables in front of the small café shielded him from the sun. Things moved slow along Randall Street that day in Monrovia. The locals knew him pretty well. They didn’t stare at the Caucasian sipping coffee. They stared at the woman he had agreed to meet as she made her way toward him.
She moved on the side of the paved street, waves of heat rising from it. People lounged in front of the shops and patios, the businesses and warehouses. She moved with confidence, at a deliberate pace. If she noted the eyes that followed her, she made no indication of it.
Sitting at a rickety metal table on an equally worn metal chair, Alex wore comfortable clothes and hiking boots. His loose shirt hid the Para-Ordnance LDA autoloader pistol at his back. Within easy reach, the open rucksack on a chair at his right held his silenced Heckler & Koch MP7 personal defence weapon. He watched the woman approach from behind sunglasses. She stopped at his table .
He had been told she was a Korean-American. She certainly looked Asian, but big–stocky. She had a thick neck for a woman and broad, strong shoulders. Though she wore a loose jacket, he marked the pistol in a shoulder holster. He guessed a nine millimetre, probably a Glock.
“You asked me to come here,” he said. “Here I am.”
She brushed a loose strand of her dark hair away from her face. “What’s happening in Kathmandu? Boyle told me if things went south, I should contact you.”
Alexander Scott had to laugh. “Boyle was in Kathmandu? You haven’t heard from him, then?”
She shook her head. Alex gestured to an empty chair across from him. She still stood.
“You called me,” Alex said. “Remember?”
“I know, and I used the number Boyle left.” She looked away for a moment.
She would have so obvious a tell, would she? Alex reminded himself she wasn’t a trained operator. Not that kind of operator. He removed his sunglasses. “Don’t feel bad that you don’t trust me. Boyle told me he used to call you Becca for short.”
Her eyes returned to him, but there wasn’t much in there looking like trust.
“When he wanted to piss you off, he’d call you Becks. He said you hated that.”
She hovered for a moment longer, but finally Rebecca Park took the offered chair.
Alex sipped at his coffee. “He was in Kathmandu when this happened?”
“As far as I know, yeah.” Becca didn’t look at Alex. She clasped her hands on the table.
Putting down his cup, Alex leaned back. “If you’re not comfortable sharing this, leave it. Boyle was in Kathmandu, now he’s gone, and everything’s a mess. I’ll see what I can do.”
“Listen, it’s not that I don’t trust you, but . . .” Becca waved her hand, as if trying to dismiss a thought.
Alex put on his friendly smile, the one he used to put interrogation subjects at ease. “Becca, you don’t trust me. That’s fine. I’m not in that world any longer. I know a lot about you. I seem to be the only person Boyle speaks to. I mean really speaks to.”
That got her attention. “What do you know about me?”
“You mean other than the mundane?” Alex counted out facts on his fingers. “You’re a lieutenant with a combined NATO special operations force. You met Boyle during an op in Sarajevo that went farther south than the pole. Boyle has brought you in on missions in Algeria and Turkey. You killed a top ESPer in Shanghai last year. That saved Boyle’s life.”
He started counting down the fingers he held up. “You had a physically abusive relationship with a commanding officer before deployment to NATO. You’ve been exposed to the Oberon virus. You are very worried what it’s going to do to you. You look up to Boyle as a kind of father figure and mentor. Boyle thinks you have potential.” He paused, still pointing to the last finger that went down. “That one’s not really about you, more about Boyle.”
Becca’s eyebrows rose a fraction. “He talks about me that much?”
“He talks shop that much.” Alex shrugged. “Well, with me at least. No family. Piss all for a social life. We talk shop. He talked a lot about you, especially since Shanghai. Even for an Oberon, you had potential.”
She frowned. “Oberon increased my potential. I’m faster and stronger than ever before.”
“Maybe in the body.” Alex went for the theatrical and tapped his temple. “I’m talking about the mind. I don’t know what it is, but Oberon seems to mess people up. Schizophrenia? Meglomania? I don’t know what it is, but every Oberon effected I’ve met either wants to save the world or control it. They just aren’t normal people any more. Maybe it’s the power. You know the saying.”
“Maybe so.” Becca let out a slow, contemplative breath. “Maybe so. But maybe it’s because after Oberon, we can make a difference.”
“The world doesn’t need the ubermensch to effect change. People have been making a difference long before Oberon.”
She gestured to Alex with her chin. “And what about you? Aren’t you Oberon?”
His sly smile replaced his sincere. “I was different since birth. Took me a while to notice it. Took others longer. Did Boyle tell you anything about me?”
“Only that he trusted you.” She paused. She stared into his eyes. Trying to gauge him? Judge him? “That you were something special. Something dangerous.”
“Not someone dangerous?” Alex weighed his coffee cup in his grip. “Yeah, that’s how he’d say it. So where does that leave us?”
“On the way to Kathmandu.” Becca slipped an envelope across the table. “First class, of course.”
Alex took the envelope–flight tickets from Monrovia’s Roberts International to London and London to Delhi. “Bus from Delhi?”
“The only option these days. But we’ll be going in clean.”
“Maybe you will.” Alex slid the envelope back to her. “If Boyle told you anything about me, you’d know getting in and out of places is a speciality of mine. We can meet in Kathmandu. I know a place.” Taking out his notebook from his rucksack, he wrote the name and address of the tourist hostel, ripped out the page and handed it to her. “You know this is all being filmed and photographed, right? You know they’ll be tracking you the whole way.”
She leaned in, over the table. “Who is? Who’s ‘they’?”
“They’re your people.” Alex zipped up his rucksack, leaving it open enough to reach in and get his weapon. “They’re CIA or DIA, I don’t know which. I’m guessing someone from your unit as well. I tagged at least three teams, so there might be another player I missed. You’re AWOL, right?”
At least she didn’t turn around, didn’t try to seek out the watchers. She knew that much. Still, her eyes seemed a little vacant, her confident poise deflated a touch. “I’m on leave.”
He rose, dropped money for the coffee on the table. “What’s the point? What’s their interest?”
“I heard a rumour that there’s a kill order out for Boyle. I heard that, and I knew I had to get to him. ”
“And you were going to tell me this when?” Alex slipped his rucksack over his arm. He felt the weight of the MP7. If it came down to it, he was fairly certain he could shoot his way out. From what Boyle had said, Becca could as well. “Forget I asked. They follow you all the way from Germany?”
“Must have.” She rubbed the bridge of her nose. “I figured they’d try to use me to find him,but I thought I’d lost them. Thought I’d dumped them in Conakry.”
“You came through Guinea? That’s a long haul. They must be pretty good.” Alex made a point to wave to each of the three teams he had tagged. He’d be really embarrassed if he missed one. “Right now they’re running me through the databases. And that should make them shit.”
“Because they won’t find anything.” Alex patted her shoulder as he left. “Don’t worry about it. Meet you in Kathmandu. Burn that note once you’ve memorized the information.”
Mundus Novit: Dark Horizons will continue with “The Bedouin.”