Our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.
The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because of the enemy, if it was the enemy, simply because it didn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.
Now, it appears, his problems stem from another operation he participated in.
I had to wonder if Lallo had already called the number on the phone he had handed Jacobi, and then considered, if that was the case, there would be no need for Jacobi to call anyone. Or Lallo had got an answer, just not the answer he was expecting.
Jacobi looked at the phone, and I got the impression he was weighing his options. The first was how long Lallo would hold him in custody. That I think we could both assumed to be forever if necessary. There was, no doubt, a cell at a black site with his name on it already. The second, if he did call his contact, would that contact co-operate, though it was hard what it was Lallo was expecting Jacobi’s co-operation for.
But there was no doubt Lallo had a plan.
Jacobi took a moment to consider any further options I hadn’t thought of, and then made the call. We were only going to get one side of the call.
A raised eyebrow indicated Jacobi had an answer on the other end.
Why did everyone say it’s me when asked to identify themselves, or as in the case announce themselves?
“No. An unfortunate set of circumstances, and a gross breach of our agreement. I am supposed to have autonomy of operations at home. These bumbling idiots may have blown my cover.”
Somehow, the fact he was sitting in a small room told me his cover was more than likely a myth. If this was our supposed point man in the failed operation I’d been on, then I could see why it cost a lot of good men their lives.
He had been playing both sides of the fence and sold us out.
“You would have to ask them.”
A moment later he handed the phone to Lallo. “Prepare to die,” was all Jacobi said.
It didn’t move Lallo in the slightest,
He took the phone and asked, “Whom am I speaking to?”
The expression change told me that it was most likely none of his business.
“This man is responsible for the deaths of a good many men.” A minute’s silence, then, “I doubt that would be the case considering the number of phones and their credentials. He had been playing you, and perhaps many others.”
The silence was a lot longer, but the expressions changing by the minute told me that Lallo was not going to get what he wanted.
“No, that is not going to happen, not in the circumstances you describe. I will be sending him back, yes, but for another mission. I think it’s time you realized he’s been feeding you false intel for some time.” Silence again, then, “By the time you do, he will no longer be here, there. I’m sorry.”
He disconnected the call and put the phone back in the plastic evidence bag.
Then he sat, and gave Jacobi a long, hard stare.
“What is happening,” Jacobi finally asked.
“You’re going home.”
“Good. I expect once I get back there you will leave me alone.”
“On the contrary, Mr Jacobi, you will not be going back alone. In fact, I’m sending you back with my team, and we are going to extract the same people you were supposed to help us extract the last time.”
“I had nothing to do with that. It was simply your incompetence.”
“Be that as it may, you will do as I ask.”
“You are a fool. Why would I do anything for you, and especially since they are both probably dead now, or, if not, past the point of saving.”
“You will then want to hope that isn’t the case, simply because if they are, then three members of your family will be executed. You can say goodbye to them before you leave, or tell them you will see them again, it’s your choice.”
Lallo, it seems, was no fool, and had ensured he had the necessary leverage. There was no mistaking the shock on Jacobi’s face.
Lallo got up from his seat and knocked on the door. It opened and two men brought in a large screen connected to a computer on a trolley. They moved it to the vacant wall and left. Lallo pressed several keys and a picture came up on the screen. A woman and two small children, and judging from the expression on Jacobi’s face, exactly who he was hoping he would not see.
There were two hooded soldiers either side with guns loosely pointing in their direction.
“One word from me, and they will be shot. Considering the treachery you have perpetrated, it’s taking a great deal of restraint for me not to give the order to kill them.”
He took a few seconds to regain his composure. “This serves no purpose,” Jacobi said in a rising pitch, “your people are most likely dead. It has been a long time.”
“I don’t think so. We have word from a different source, a more reliable source, that they are still alive. Barely, but alive, serving a life sentence for treason. And helping the General with information. All you need to do is get a small team of mine in and assist them to effect an escape. They come home alive and, well, your family lives. They don’t come back alive, well, I don’t think that’s an option, is it?”
Jacobi was in an invidious position of being damned if he did help us, or damned if he didn’t. Either way, it didn’t guarantee his co-operation or assistance. Painted into a corner, sometimes people like Jacobi chose the easy road, sacrificing everything to stay alive. No doubt, until this predicament, he was well in favour with Bahti, and from what I’d heard, Bahti was not a man to cross. There was a graveyard in the prison that was full of the remains of his enemies. And people who were once his friends.
I knew firsthand what it was like to be between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and unfortunately, there was no upside. No doubt the team leader of this new folly would have orders to shoot Jacobi once his work was done. Lallo would not be able to leave a man in his position alive because of what he knew.
And from my perspective, I felt sorry for the team Lallo had selected to go on what could quite possibly be another suicide mission.
© Charles Heath 2019