CIA Headquarters

Langley, Virginia

August 1990

Saddam had been accusing the Kuwaitis of slant drilling Iraqi oil. The Iraqis owed the Kuwaitis a little over $14 billion; the Kuwaitis wouldn’t forgive the Iraqi debt. The week before, Saddam had received a message from United States ambassador April Glaspie. In part, the communiqué read, “We have no opinion on Arab–Arab conflicts such as your dispute with Kuwait.”
When Saddam asked what commitment the United States had to protect Kuwait, he received the following answer: none. That was all he needed—he took the response as a green light from the Americans. At sundown, Iraqi troops started moving toward the border of Kuwait, although in fact, thousands of them had been moving that way for days.

Iraq started their invasion at two o’clock in the morning on Wednesday. At four o’clock the next day, Thomas got a call from his boss, the director of Central Intelligence, Simmons: “Drop everything; we need to meet right away.”
In his early sixties, Thomas’s hair was grey. He had lived in the States ever since the war and had spent his entire career with the CIA, though retirement was coming up fast. He still spoke with a bit of a Scottish accent; he most always had a smile on his face.
“Sit down, and shut up—I’ll be doing the talking today,” Simmons barked.
Cautiously, Thomas sat down without saying a word.
“I’ve been totally inundated with this Iraq thing.” A tall, husky man with a good tan, Simmons wore a red power tie with a finely tailored suit, his shoes had a well-polished shine to them.
“So what’s this I hear about your guy Savage being arrested in Mexico?” Simmons growled. “Killing a man with his bare hands in a public place! I’ve got to hand it to you, Thomas—you sure as hell know how to pick ’em.” Simmons pulled out a handkerchief and coughed into it, wheezing a little. “We had barely promoted him, and now this. I have to tell you, if the press gets a hold of this, they’ll have a total field day.” Simmons hacked again; his days of chain-smoking were catching up to him.
Thomas studied his hands; the press already had the story, but he wasn’t about to say so. Luckily, they had bigger fish to fry at the moment, with the Persian Gulf on fire.
“By the way, tell Savage thanks. However, it didn’t come from me, it came directly from the president.” Simmons cleared his throat again. “When the president heard that one of his assistant deputy directors had killed a drug kingpin, barehanded and in a damn hotel lobby, he couldn’t believe it. But I didn’t call you in here for that!”
Thomas knew from experience to wait like a schoolboy until Simmons was through working himself up.
“There’s a situation in a little place called Kuwait—you might have heard about it,” said Simmons, who was a bit more animated than he normally was. “I have an honest-to-God princess that needs rescuing, she’s—in Kuwait.”
Simmons slid an operation-briefing envelope across his desk. The envelope floated on a cushion of air all the way into Thomas’s lap. “Here’s the thing—this rescue needed to happen like f’n’ yesterday—is that clear? Now, get your man what’s-his-name—killer—to go do it. Don’t sit there—get the hell out of my office, and get it done.”
Standing up, Thomas let out a clear, “Yes, sir.” He stood then spun around, heading for the door. He’d never been so happy to leave the director’s office.
Out in the hallway, Thomas used his cell phone to call Jake, who didn’t waste time grumbling when Thomas told him he’d need to activate his team for a mission.
Jake only said, “I’ll see you at midnight.” He felt lucky to be walking free and back in the good old USA. He knew that he would have to go back to Mexico and face the music at some point. However, Jake didn’t care much for that Latin beat.

Thomas swiveled to look. “It’s, uh-oh,” he grumbled.
“Hey, Thomas,” said Jake cautiously.
Thomas didn’t smile back; in fact, he looked as if he had licked the top of a nine-volt battery. “Have a seat—would you like a drink?” Thomas paused, then said, “Jake, I’m getting too old for this crap. I got my ass chewed out by the director, so don’t you even start.”
A hush hung over the office. Jake began to say something, but Thomas shut him down, wagging a finger at him. “No, don’t—while you were off on your little f’n’ holiday, I was getting my butt reamed by the director. Don’t ever go pulling a stunt like that again—in a damn hotel lobby! Is Scotch okay?”
Thomas reached for the bottle of J&B, then he poured two glasses. Jake had never seen Thomas quite like this before—well, maybe once or twice.
The fishing trip to Cabo San Lucas hadn’t turned out quite the way Jake had expected. Only the day before, Jake, had been sitting in a Mexican jail accused of killing drug lord Carlos Ochocha. Carlos had attacked Jake in the lobby of the Hotel Dolphin. Defending himself, Jake killed Carlos in the process.
There was silence while Thomas drained his glass, and once again refilled it. “We have a situation in Kuwait—we need this taken care of like yesterday.
“There is a princess by the name of Tatia who somehow got left behind.” Thomas explained that she was now holed up in a house in Kuwait City. Normally, Jake could pick his assignments, but not this time; this operation was one of those that needed to get done fast. The assignment was right down Jake’s alley, although in reality, he hated rush jobs like this one.
“We’re calling this one Operation Snake Charmer. I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a list of logistics for you.”
Jake knew he’d need extra men to pull this one off, but laughed, when he saw that the document was blank. There were no weapons available for this operation; Jake would somehow have to get all of the equipment on his own. His fleet of aircraft now included a Gulfstream G-4, the Lear 36, along with his C-130 Herky Bird. His first thought was that he’d be burning some jet fuel. His Herky Bird would have two extra crews. They would be flying more or less around the clock for the next two weeks, moving both men and necessary equipment to Saudi Arabia.

 

That same morning, without sleeping, Jake flew the G-4 to Cyprus, where he’d meet with Nikos, an arms merchant of sorts. Nikos was a small man physically, but he always had a big smile—one wouldn’t want to play cards with him. He’d clean a person out with that devious smile still on his face, a face that could’ve come right off one of the numerous marble statues that dotted the landscape.
In addition to weaponry, Jake wanted to purchase at least four or five helicopters from Nikos if he had them. Jake slept in the back of the jet for the ride to Cyprus. The meeting with Nikos would take place in the late afternoon at a seaside café Nikos owned in Limassol.
They were sitting outside, enjoying the view of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Nikos was wearing a white suit with a wide-brimmed white fedora with a black band.
“Savage, my old friend, what brings you here to Cyprus?” asked Nikos. “It’s certainly not my good looks. What is it—drugs, women, or arms? It must be arms, no?”
The waitress, who was maybe eighteen, set a bottle of Plomari ouzo along with two glasses on the table.
Jake smiled. “I see that you remembered,” he said, pointing at the bottle of ouzo.
The two of them had met for the first time at a small café in Athens, on a side street not far from the Acropolis. Jake had ordered Plomari ouzo, then he’d slid a small note of introduction from Yannis across the table. The note had broken the ice, allowing the two men to converse in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise done.
There was a soft, light breeze blowing in from the sea and the café had a great view. Looking out over the Mediterranean, the spot was great for people-watching as well. He was enjoying himself so much that he’d almost forgotten why he was there, though only for a moment.
“I am in need of a few helicopters along with some small arms. What do you think—can you help me out?”
“But of course—I am Nikos, no?” Nikos grinned like a Cheshire cat eyeing a fat mouse.
Nikos thought to himself, Now, this is going to be fun, as the waitress bent over to clear away a nearby table.
Swiveling slightly to see what Nikos was looking at, Jake couldn’t help but notice that she wore no underwear. “Man, where the hell did you find her?” he asked, nearly stammering.
“Uh-no, ha, she is from Budapest, she is only eighteen years old.” Without missing a beat, Nikos continued. “Now, I have six Mi-25s, Russian Hinds, which you can steal from me. They’re located in Khartoum, however—will this be a problem?” Nikos asked.
“So when can I see ’em?” asked Jake, now thinking to himself, Oh no, not Khartoum, as Jake hated the place—Khartoum was hot as hell, it was also dirty. The city itself smelled like a bag of dead rats that had been lying in the hot African sun.
“You haven’t even asked how much they are. I can show them to you tomorrow—will that work for you?” Nikos took another swallow of ouzo.
“When do we leave?” asked Nikos.
“First thing in the morning…work for you?” said Jake, who was running on pure adrenaline.
“Now, let’s have another drink,” said Nikos, who was obviously in no rush, as the night was still young. When the waitress came back, Nikos introduced her as Hope, from the Pest side of Budapest. “I taught her how to bus tables myself,” said Nikos, laughing. Incipiently the sun fell toward the horizon, and the waitress brought fresh grilled fish along with another bottle of Plomari to the table. After dinner, they smoked cheroots, and swapped stories while sitting there on the veranda.
The next morning, Jake met Nikos at the airport early enough that it was still dark. Two hours later, they landed in Khartoum, where the sun had begun to appear on the horizon. As soon as the sun rose, so did the temperatures. Khartoum had received a lot of rain recently; and along with the rain came the humidity, which made them uncomfortable. They drove across the tarmac to where the Hinds were sitting on the desert sand, just beyond the perimeter of the airport. When they got closer, Jake could see that the old helicopters were in far worse shape than he’d imagined. The old Hinds had been flown hard and put away wet a few too many times.
But as always, Nikos had one last trick up his sleeve. He had ten new Russian-built engines, all still in their crates, which he offered Jake as part of the deal. After negotiating throughout the morning, they settled and then loaded the first of the helicopters into the back of the Herky Bird. But the Hind barely fit, and they struggled to get it on board. Once they finished, they flew back to Cyprus to drop off Nikos.
“Next time, don’t wait so long to call.” Nikos walked away with the wind ruffling his grey hair, holding a briefcase full of cash.

 

Jake flew on to Geneva, where he hoped to charter three additional C-130s to augment his growing fleet. There he met with the president of Privat Swiss Air, a man with whom he’d had no prior dealings. Spiros Lapsis was a tall, thin man with dark hair and dark eyes. Jake guessed that he and Spiros were about the same age. Jake reached inside of his coat pocket, and produced a card, that he handed to Spiros, who examined it, then Spiros rolled the card over. Yannis, a restaurant owner in Amsterdam who was also a lifelong friend of Thomas’s, had given the card to Jake.
“Mr. Savage, my father would very much like to meet you, but I am afraid that he’s tied up in London at the moment,” Spiros said, without cracking a smile. “What can my company do for you?”
“Mr. Lapsis, I would like to charter three C-130s for a few weeks. Yannis said I should contact your father, and here I am.” There was a brief pause while Jake collected his thoughts.
“Excuse me—I’m sorry,” said Jake, handing Spiros his own business card.
Spiros laughed after he read it, assuming that Jake was another CIA bureaucrat.
“Yannis told me that he had known your father since before the war—World War II, I mean—and that you always do what you say you’ll do.”
“Yes, my father would like to meet you—he’ll be in Cyprus in two weeks. We’ll be in touch.” Spiros was smiling now, he stood and shook Jake’s hand. As Jake departed he re-read Spyridon Lapsis’ dossier as if it might give him some insight into the man he had met.
Making a flight to Germany, Jake purchased two cases of Heckler and Koch 33s along with six H&K 417s. He still wasn’t happy, and he flew to Austria where he purchased a case of Glock 40s along with ammo for the lot.
On the way back to the airport, Jake’s car drove past a circus. He instructed his driver to pull over. Pulling back the canvas, he found the ringmaster, then he inquired if they had any extra tents. The ringmaster stroked his beard as he listened to Jake.
The ringmaster was a shrewd businessman; he told Jake in crisp, clear English that they had recently retired three tents, and all three were there in Vienna. After negotiating for nearly two hours, Jake had himself a deal; he purchased all three tents with installation. A crew of circus members would deliver everything to the Vienna airport, and after that they would set them up at Camp Commando, along with the air-conditioning units. Jake would provide all transportation to Saudi Arabia for the work crew along with the three circus tents.
The next morning, his fleet of four C-130s was waiting at the airport in Vienna. Jake offered a further incentive in the form of cold hard cash. All four aircraft were loaded rapidly and they were airborne within two hours.
They flew to Camp Commando, where all three tents were set up before sundown. Once the tents were in place, Jake had a maintenance hangar, a new command post, and best of all a sleeping tent, not that anybody in camp commando slept. The next day, the operation to rescue the princess would begin. Finally, overtaken by exhaustion, Jake collapsed onto one of the cots; out cold in a mere second, he began to dream of Africa. Outside in the hot Saudi desert one of the Hinds was making a test flight in preparation for the upcoming rescue as men and supplies continued to roll in non-stop day and night. Buy this book @ LULU