Jake and Kathy made calls for the first half hour. Then they decided to go to a dealer. Jake found what he wanted at the first dealer. He told the sales rep he had one hour and cash, twenty-three minutes later he drove out in a 05 Ford Expidition. They drove to a down town parking structure. When they got there, they transferred the kit from his wine case and all their luggage to the new car. When that was done they had ten minutes until he was supposed to call Jack.
“So what do we now?” Kathy asked.
“Now we call a few friends.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t think the NSA is going to be of much help. That means we are going to need friends.”
“You mean your company?”
“Most of them are part of or were part of the OPS Corp. Yes, I will call a few of them. For the most part though, they are too close to me. Their phones may already be tapped. It really depends on what happens when I call back.”
Jake pulled out his cell, and dialed a number. The line was answered very quickly. “Good afternoon,” he said into the phone. “I need list of everyone currently available. I also need full support list. Stage one at Rogues. Let him know me plus one within 24. I also need a pager set for me and one when I get there.” He listened for a few seconds then said, “Thank you. Later.”
“Did you get what you wanted?”
“I will be able to get it off the net by the time we finish our call to Jack.”
Kathy checked her watch. “One minute until time.”
Jake leaned across the front seat and kissed Kathy. She grinned at him. He opened the center console and took out the box with the sat phone.
“How much cash do we have after you paid for this beast?” Kathy asked while Jake put the battery back in and started programming the phone.
“Oh, about 80 grand, I wired transferred the money. There is less paper work that way.” He finished and looked at her.
“I know stay quiet and listen.”
He smiled. Set the phone down and handed her a tablet and a pen form inside the console. “If you have something to add write it on here. You ready?” he asked. She reached over and squeezed his hand, and nodded. He could tell she was more nervous this time. He went through the same process as he had done earlier.
“Sir I am supposed to relay a message for you to call the secondary number, and to use the chip. Please respond. ”Came a female voice over the speaker.
“Copy secondary number use chip,” Jake said.
“Thank you, and have a nice day.” She responded before the line went dead.
“What was that about Jake?”
“They want me to call on a secure line using and encryption chip.” He dug in the box again pulling out a plastic box. He opened it and plugged a boxy black thing into the bottom of the phone. The phone beeped several times and Jake started pressing a series of numbers. The entire thing took him almost two minutes. Kathy didn’t say anything while he was working on it. “Ok here we go again.”
“Ok” she said.
He dialed the phone. This time there was no beeps just a female voice answered, “Good afternoon, this is a secure line. Please verify.”
Jake looked at the phone. He pointed to the green light on the black box and said, “All green this end.”
“Mr. Hammond I have been instructed to transfer your call. Mr. Short will verify secure before he can hear you. One second please?” They heard three tones then the female voice said, “Mr. Hammond for Mr. Short and Mr. Beans on secure line please verify your end secure?”
They heard the man say “All green this end. Please connect us.”
“All secure.” The lady said. “Thank you gentlemen this line is secure and all yours.” There was a single tone.
“Jack?” Jake asked.
“Jake I’m here. Let me introduce you to Assistant Director of operations James Short. Mr. Short this is Jake Hammond.”
“Hello Mr. Short, or would you rather I called you AD Short?”
“Mr. Short or Short or James if fine,” the refined male voice said.
“Jake, what the hell is going on?”
“You tell me Jack.”
“What I can tell you is there is an AD Murphy trying to get your file. He summoned me to his office to request I turn it over. He wasn’t very pleased when I told him you were involved in an active operation.”
“I have never heard of him Jack. That company AMA out of New York. Did you look into them Jack they have more retired politicians then fleas on a hound dog.”
“Yes we saw that,” said Jack.
“It may be political favors Jake. However, that doesn’t change the fact that an Assistant Director of the NSA is now looking into you.”
“No sir it doesn’t. What do you plan to do?”
“Mr. Short is going to give them a partial file on you. Things from you past that would not endanger currents ops,” said Jack
“When I do that I am going to pass along to my colleague that; ‘I would hate to have you mad at me. How people tend to have a bad day when that happens.’”
“Thank you sir.” Jake said and then went on, “You do not have to do that. I know the drill. Please don’t get yourself or Jack into any trouble over me. One question though sir, I plan to look into this AMA. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Jake I can’t tell you what to or what not to do. Thank you for letting Jack and me off the hook, but I think we will stay in the game for a while still. If that changes Jake,” there was a pause, and then he went on. “I will tell you before I hang you out to dry. What outcome are you after here? Do you want to get this behind you or …” Short trailed off.
Jake looked at Kathy asking what she wanted with his eyes. She wrote quickly on the paper. It read “I want to know who and why this happened.” Jake nodded.
“Sir I have been thinking about that. I want three things. First I want whoever called the hit, to call it off. Second I want to know why they called it in the first place. Last I want some insurance it won’t happen again.”
“That seems fair Jake. Knowing you I was pretty sure you were going to ask for blood.” Jack said
“Jake I need to know what you’re going to do if I can’t arrange that.” Short asked
“I don’t know sir. I know I want to get married to this wonderful woman, and we can’t do that if we have to keep looking over our shoulders.”
“I think when I talk to Murphy I will pass along your message. One second Jake.” Jake and Kathy could hear Mr. Short talking. It sounded like he was on another phone. “Yes sir that is correct. Sir, yes sir. Right away sir. I understand sir. I will get a team on it now sir. Yes and I will coordinate with AD Murphy. Yes sir. I will put all my assets on to finding Mr. Hammond immediately. Did you say it came from the President himself sir?”
Jake looked at Kathy her face was white as a ghost. Jake felt like he was just hit in the stomach.
They continued to listen to AD Short, “sir is the FBI involved? Just us then? Should we put out a Warrant for his arrest then sir? I see. Yes sir find and question in house only sir. Will do.” They heard Mr. Short put the other phone down. He spoke to them again, “Jake I just got off the phone with the Director of the NSA he says to bring you in. Do you understand?”
“No sir I do not understand.”
“Neither do I,” put in Jack.
“Jake are you willing to come in?”
“Come in?” Jake asked? “What exactly does that me sir? What reason did they give to bring me in, and where did the order come from?”
“I can’t say. Jake please come in. I am asking you to come in. I will arrange for you to be picked up wherever you are and brought here. Maybe then we can get to the bottom of this.”
“More likely sir I will get to the bottom of a grave.”
“Why on earth would you say that? I won’t let that happen.”
“Sir what exactly are you going to do when the President orders you to turn me over, or to eliminate me for reasons of national security?” there was total silence. Jake looked at the phone. “I see, sir I understand your situation. Sir if I don’t come in then we don’t have to find out the answer to that question. Ad Short it is time for me to go. Will you pass on the warning like you said you would?”
“Jake I will try to dig around and find out what is going on, you have my word on that. I think this is some terrible foul up. I can’t do anything to overtly help you.”
“I agree sir. Maybe it would be best for me to retire to a nice sunny beach while you do that. Until next time Jack. Mr. Short it was nice to talk to you. Please pass on a message to Mr. Murphy for me. I am out of the country in two hours. If the people pulling his strings come after me I will find and kill them one by one, no matter who they are.”
Jake hit the end button as he finished his sentence. He looked at Kathy, and then said, “This is a lot worse than I had imagined Kathy. I beg you to let me take you someplace safe until I get this all worked out.”
She started shaking her head before he even finished. “Jake these guys may kill you before this is over. I want to be with you thru it all. If something happens then it happens. At least we got that time together.”
“I can’t promise you that, but I will keep you as close as I can.”
“I won’t sit in some safe house Jake.”
“Agreed. We need to move.” He handed her the sat phone starting the big SUV. “Please unplug the black thing from the bottom. Then open up the back let me know when you have done that.” He started dialing his cell. He spoke quickly, “Jane this is Jake Hammond I need Stan as fast as humanly possible please.” He waited almost twenty seconds for Stan. “Stan do you remember the file we worked out in case of an emergency?”
“Of course I do Jake what is going on?”
“I can’t say. Not right now do what it says please. Kathy is with me so no addendum.”
“Consider it done Jake. This is pretty drastic though.”
“Please Stan I am asking you as a friend. I need it done now. Really I need it done yesterday. I can’t tell you how important this is.”
“You got it Jake I said I would do it. I am pulling the file out of my safe as we speak.”
“Thank you. I have to go I have other calls to make.”
“Good luck with whatever is happening Jake, and Godspeed.”
Jake ended the call then started dialing again, but stopped when Kathy said she was done. “Next inside there are two batteries; one is large. Pull it out, under it there is a smaller one. Unplug both. Then place everything in the box.” He motioned to the center console where the box was stored. He finished dialing as they pulled onto the freeway.
“Hello I have no time to talk please listen. Tell the board I called and said the unthinkable has happened Stan is on his way. I will try to contact them soon. Please repeat it back to me.” Jake listened as what Kathy was sure was the receptionist repeated back his message. “Ok goodbye.” He hung up and dialed yet again. Kathy thought she recognized the voce that answered as the young lady he had called earlier with OPS corp. “I need a taxi.”
“Where and when sir?” she asked all business.
“Oscar Three One as soon as possible,” Jake said.
“It will have to be charter sir. What speed?”
“Fast. Destination is BJC.”
“It will be a few minutes sir would you like me to call you back?”
“No I will call you back.” Jake disconnected the call.
Kathy had finished with the sat phone. She half turned in her seat looking at Jake. “What is going on Jake? Isn’t Stan your Lawyer?”
“After I created Active Data Solutions I envisioned a situation where I might have to vanish quickly for an undetermined amount of time. I sat with Stan and came up with a plan. The board divides my voting power and profits until I return or am declared dead. They cannot move to have me declared dead for seven years. Basically I wanted to make sure those people who depend on the company for their livelihood are taken care of. It also transfers enough money to cover payroll each month, if needed to be determined by Stan’s firm.”
“WOW,” Kathy said, “you seemed to have really thought this out? Why didn’t I know about this? I assume the rest of the board does?”
“They only know some of it. There is an addendum concerning you in the paperwork Stan has, but I think it is mute right now.”
“What is that addendum if I may ask?”
“Basically, it gave you my house and other stuff for safe keeping, and controlling vote over the board.” Kathy just looked at him.
“What was that about a taxi? You called for a plane right?”
“You are one smart lady my love. Yea, to pick us up in Healdsburg, heading for Denver. At least that is what the pilots are being told until we are air born. They won’t mind. They’ll be getting a good tip. Do you have the key to the escalade?”
“Yes right here.”
“Good.” He took the off ramp and pulled into a burger joint. “I want you to run them into the counter tell them you just found them in the lot.”
Kathy opened the door saying, “on my way.”
As she ran inside Jake turned off the SUV and went to the pay phone. He dialed Steve’s Number.
“Good afternoon how can I help you?” said Steve.
“Bad news mate left your Escalade at the parking lot downtown.”
“Oh man why?”
“I can’t say on the phone. Worse than that is you dropped the key to it at the burger barn on Stele lane at the freeway.”
“How in the hell did I do that? I must of lost my mind.”
“Have to run.”
“Wait,” Steve almost screamed into the phone. “Your little friends I found attached to your Explorer. They are very high end. Best there is on the market.”
Jake paused, “On the market? They are on the market though? You’re sure they aren’t government?”
“Yea come from a firm in New York. A retired spook or FBI guy I think.”
“Thanks man, you are the best sorry you dropped your keys send the bill to OPS. I really do have to go mate.”
“Stay frosty Jake.”
Jake hung the phone up and ran back to the SUV. Kathy was in the driver seat. “I’ll drive. That way you can make your phone calls.”
“Ok,” Jake said buckling his seat belt. He started to dial his phone then stopped and looked at her. “Kathy we have a huge problem.”
“What’s that Jake?”
“Your parents. These people will go after them. That will be one of their first moves when they relies they can’t find us.”
“Oh no Jake. What are we going to do?”
“We have two options. First I send some folks to watch them. That is bad because it invites trouble. Second and the one I like best is, we send them on vacation. If they have their passports a tour of Europe would be best. Private jet to Canada for some shopping then off to Europe they go with a few friends to watch over them. A personal chauffer and the likes. Think they will do that.”
“Jake you are talking about a lot of money. I don’t know if dad will let you.”
Jake cleared the number and started dialing Kathy’s parents. When her father answered he said, “Sir it’s Jake. Please listen to everything I have to say before you get upset. I was in special operations. A man who wants to kill me is after me and Kathy. I believe he will try to come after you and your wife to get to her. I would like to send you two on vacation until I get this sorted out. Do you two have your passports?”
“What? Yes we have them. Is Kathy ok?”
“I’m fine dad please do this for me.” Kathy shouted across the inside of the SUV.
“Ok, Jake I trust you. Where do we go?”
“Sir, pack a few things get your Passports and head to the nearest private airport. Do you have a cell phone?”
“Yes my wife does.”
“Write down this number.” Jake recited a phone number to him. “I will call and let them know you will be calling. Once you are on the road to the airport call them. Everything will be taken care of.” Jake listened for a few more seconds then he handed the phone to Kathy. After a few brief words and several I love you, she hung up and gave it back.
Kathy drove while Jake made his calls. In no time they had arrived at the airport. It took Kathy a few minutes to figure out how to get to the private aviation part. Then Jake had to find the right company. Once that was done everything went very smoothly, a valet loaded their luggage and parked their car for them. They were shortly airborne.