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. Madison and Heather, two agents from the Vault, joined their international spec ops team in Meet & Greet. That team was going after Boyle in Kathmandu.
In “Mission Unlikely,” we learn that Boyle and his team have gone missing. Becca meets Alex in Monrovia in order to get him to come with her to Kathmandu to find Boyle. Off the record and off the reservation.
In “The Bedouin,” Kyle and Meredith from the Prospero Group contract the intelligence broker known as the Bedouin to get them a lead on what is happening in Kathmandu.
Now, Alex is meeting with a contact in Burma, getting equipment and information for his foray into Nepal.
Six: The Russian
Coming from Monrovia, Alexander Scott wouldn’t call Mawlamyaing in Burma primitive. The buildings looked like buildings all throughout Southeast Asia—slightly colonial, often discoloured, very open. It reminded him, oddly, of lots of places in Africa. Besides the faces on the street and the food in his belly, not much divided the two cities in his mind.
He sipped at his tea, the only patron of a small café, open to the street, with thirty year-old furniture and twenty year-old décor. Though clean, the place looked run down. Dark patches stretched out from the corners of the white walls. Scratches and marks marred the sheen of the wood floor. Even the dingy white of his cup spoke volumes of age and use.
One of the shadows he had developed in Yangon watched him from the mouth of an alley. Alex pretended not to notice. It was hard, given that the man’s casual shirt, light jacket and slacks were far too new and unblemished for the area. The shadow watched the café over the top of his newspaper. He never turned the page.
The shadow reached into his pocket and fished out a cell phone. He spoke little, but listened attentively. Alex had to force himself not to stare. The man might lack craft, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t notice. Cell phone stowed, the man disappeared back into the alley.
Someone had called off the surveillance, at least momentarily.
The tall Russian had more beef on him and less muscle then when Alex had seen him last. His fair hair, still cut military short, had thinned somewhat, and one could no longer refer to his jaw as chiseled. Still, he carried himself with poise and assurance. Alex had no doubt that the Russian could still handle himself, and that he would be well-armed.
“Scott, I thought you were long dead.” The Russian’s English was immaculate, with only the hint of an accent.
Alex rose and took the proffered hand. “Rudi, what are you doing working for the Burmese?” He gestured and the Russian sat.
“What is different between the Burmese and the Americans?” Rudi the Russian smiled. “Elections? Buy power with money or with guns, it is no different.” He called out for a beer in Burmese. “Maybe you thought I’d still be working in Moscow? The money is not good there. The money here is better, and there are advantages.”
“Yeah, you’ve got quite a tan.” Alex sipped his tea when the beer arrived.
Rudi didn’t speak until the two were alone again. “Want do you want, Scott? I thought you were out.”
“I am, officially,” Alex said. “You could say this is personal.”
Alex shook his head. “Looking out for a friend.”
Rudi let out a low chuckle, almost a growl, and threw back a fair portion of his beer. “Friendship. It is not worth very much these days. It was once quite valuable.”
“Still is, to some people.” Alex put down his cup of tea. He left his hands on the table, visible. “I need three things from you. I’m going to be visiting Nepal and I’ll need weapons. I need a contact that I can trust, one that works for pay, but won’t stab me in the back for a bigger payday.”
“I can do these things.” Rudi fished out a pocket-size spiral notebook and wrote in it. “You said you needed three things.”
“I need to know what you know about Kathmandu.” Alex gaze fixed on Rudi’s eyes. “I know you still have the connections. I know you can get a better picture than even Langley.”
“Langley?” Rudi scoffed. “That is no compliment.” He wrote in the notebook, ripped out the page and passed it to Alex. “The weapons and the contact, this I do for free. As you said, some people still value friendship. For Kathmandu, this will take me time. It will be work. This is my price.”
The amount on the page was less than Alex had expected. “You still use the same account?”
Rudi smiled and nodded.
“You can expect your payment by the end of the day, as long as I can get a secure line.”
“I can call off the dogs,” Rudi said. “I can tell you this now, the Americans blame the Chinese, the Chinese blame the Americans, and the Russians blame both. None are involved. Do you know Tangible Stream?”
Alex didn’t allow any reaction to reach the surface. “I know it well enough.”
“They had one team in Nepal, at least,” Rudi said. “It was a wet job. The Russians believe the target was a gun smuggler. The job was about weapons. The Chinese sent a team to intercept the Stream based on intelligence that the operation was CIA and targeted Tibet.”
A weapon’s dealer? In Nepal? One that Boyle needed to eliminate? That didn’t make much sense. “Who was the Stream after?”
“I have no name for you yet.” Rudi glanced around quickly. “The Russian information is based on signals. The codename was Blackout.”
Rudi nodded. “It is strange, yes? I have three other names for you, for now: Untold, Willow, and Cascade. These are Stream.”
Alex released a slow, long breath through his nose. Untold. That would be Boyle. But who were Willow and Cascade? Why didn’t the CIA want them?
Rudi took the silence as a dismissal of sorts. He shoved his notebook and pencil across the table. “You will give me the information I will need to contact you, yes? It must also be secure.”
“Route it through your contact in Nepal.” Alex rose. “That’s my next stop. I’m on a bit of a tight schedule.”
“Yes, I saw your airline itinerary.” Rudi said it with no hint of shame. He also stood. “Tell me, Scott, who does Tangible Stream work for? Are they American?”
“I wish I knew, Rudi.” Alex shook the Russians hand, looking him in the eye when he spoke. “I really wish I knew.”
“When you are done with helping your friend, you should come back.” Rudi patted Alex’s bicep. “I could find you work here. It is not hard and it pays very well.”
That made Alex laugh. “I’m out, Rudi. I’m way out.”
Rudi winked. “Only officially.”
Mundus Novit: Dark Horizons will continue with “From Delhi With Indifference.”