The Last Man
Author:Vince Flynn

Chapter 57

AS Hurley had promised, the border crossing had been uneventful. The two dusty, dented late-model Toyota 4Runners made their way through the mountain pass and down the A1, through Peshawar, and into Islamabad in three hours and forty-seven minutes. Rapp drove the lead vehicle, with Kassar in the front passenger seat and Hurley and Dumond in back. Coleman and three of his men followed in the second vehicle. Everyone was dressed in local garb. They were traveling with several hundred thousand dollars in cash, and if they were stopped they weren't going to try to get cute and claim they were working for an international aid organization. They were weapons merchants and they had plenty of samples to show any border agents or Army personnel who were interested.

As it turned out, they burned through just ten thousand dollars in cash, using Hurley's contacts at the borders. After that, they moved unmolested with all of the trucks that were busy carrying supplies back and forth between Pakistan and Afghanistan. They arrived in the nation's capital shortly after one in the afternoon. They had worked on the plan while in flight from Germany to Jalalabad. Coleman and Hurley had gotten into a heated argument with Rapp over the plan, but Rapp had held his ground. Trying to get the entire team past the guards and into Bahria Town would raise too much attention. Kassar was adamant that this would not work. Hurley said that was bullshit, and Kassar spent the better part of a half hour trying to prove the unprovable.

Rapp, never known for his patience, finally put an end to it. The best chance for success was for him to be smuggled into the compound in the back of Kassar's Range Rover. The guards never searched his car. Wicker could take up a sniper position a half mile from the compound in the foothills just outside Bahria's fence line. Dumond could run aerial with one of the minidrones and the rest of the team would have to roll as a Quick Reaction Force.

When they picked up Kassar's truck in Humak, Hurley tried to state his case one more time. "Let me be the one who goes in."

"Why?" As soon as Rapp asked the question he knew what Hurley would say.

"I'm going to be dead in six months."

"Again with the six months? It won't work this time. I have a good handle on Kassar, and although you're no slouch I'm a little better at this stuff than you are."


"And besides, what happens if you have one of your coughing fits while he's talking to the guards? You'll probably need a smoke . . . that would blow the whole thing."

The old spook held up a pack of Nicorette gum. "Funny."

"Look at you. You're like a Boy Scout . . . prepared for everything." Rapp grabbed his gun bag and tactical vest and transferred them from the Toyota to the back of Kassar's truck.

"Why do you have to be so stubborn?" Hurley asked as a last effort.

"I think I got it from the dickhead who trained me." Rapp checked one of the pockets on his vest and then slid it on, saying, "Listen, we don't need to make this complicated. Irene has people watching Durrani. She's going to text us updates and you are going to give me radio updates," Rapp tapped his headset, "in case I'm in a spot where I can't look at my phone. There are two bodyguards at the compound when Durrani's not there. I can handle a couple of bodyguards who are bored out of their minds."

"But why not put another person in the backseat?"

"It's not worth the risk. They key is to get in without anyone knowing what's going on. Then it's easy." Rapp could tell, Hurley was still not buying his plan. "Just keep an eye on Durrani. If he comes back with more than the usual number of men, then you guys might have to bust your way through the secondary gate. Otherwise, I've got it handled." Rapp started to climb into the back of the Range Rover. "And remember, it's just like you said the other day. We're all dying." Rapp pulled up the tailgate and then reached up and started to close the back hatch.

Hurley put his hand up and stopped him. "What if Kassar turns on you?"

"I'll keep an eye on him." Hurley still wouldn't let go of the hatch. "Listen, I'm a big boy. I can handle myself."

The three-car convoy rolled out with Kassar in the lead. When they reached the spot in the foothills where Wicker should deploy, Kassar called Coleman and let him know. The Range Rover continued while the other two trucks pulled over. Wicker jumped out of the last vehicle covered in camouflage netting and disappeared into the underbrush. Dumond grabbed a case from the back of the truck and popped the clasps. The small drone was about the size of a crow. Dumond unfolded the wings, snapping them into place, and then started the prop. The gray device hummed to life, and Dumond let it fly, releasing it as if it were a paper airplane. The UAV dipped a few feet and then steadily began to gain altitude. It was on a preset program to climb to 5,000 feet and circle. Dumond stowed the gear and they all climbed back into the truck and moved out.

Rapp was on his side, curled up facing the back of the truck. He had already warned Kassar that, with all due respect, if anything went wrong at either the main gate or Durrani's private gate, Wicker would shoot him in the head. Rapp also showed him that the small drone would provide his phone with a bird's-eye view of what was going on. Rapp had his pistol in one hand and the phone in the other and watched as they pulled up to the main gate.

The black SUV slowed and came to brief stop before rolling on. Rapp breathed a sigh of relief as they made it past the first obstacle. It took another two minutes to make it to Durrani's private driveway. The guards waved Kassar through, making no attempt to search the vehicle.

"Show me the courtyard," Rapp whispered to himself. On cue, Dumond zoomed in on the common area between the main house, the garage, and the two guesthouses. A gardener was tending to some plants but other than that no one was about. As the vehicle pulled into the garage, Rapp slid the phone into his vest pocket, gripped his gun with both hands, and started his five-second count. That was how much time he had given Kassar from the time he parked the car to open the back hatch. There was a click and the hatch popped up. Light spilled through the two-inch gap between the rear cargo cover and the tailgate. Rapp could see Kassar and then he heard a voice.

Kassar began talking to someone Rapp couldn't see. After about ten seconds the conversation ended and Kassar lowered the tailgate. Rapp slid out of the vehicle but stayed in a crouch while Kassar closed things up. He then led him through the garage in the exact way he said he would. He opened a metal door at the other end and checked things out before continuing down a flight of stairs. Rapp was right behind him as Kassar punched a code into a door lock. Next they were in a long, well-lit tunnel and moving at a trot. They stopped at a second door and, after punching in a code, moved up a flight of stairs. Kassar had Rapp wait on the landing until he could get rid of the nurse.

Rapp radioed Hurley and told him he was in. A few seconds later he heard the nurse moving down the hallway and the front door closing. Rapp came up the last flight of stairs, where Kassar was waiting for him. He pointed down the hallway and with a nervous look said, "He has his dog with him."

"The big Rottweiler?"

Kassar nodded.

This wasn't Rapp's first time dealing with dogs. His M-4 rifle was slung around his neck and off to one side while he gripped his suppressed pistol with both hands. Rapp checked to make sure his radio was in transmit mode and said, "You stay out here. Let me know if anyone shows up."

Rapp started down the hallway, moving silently to the door at the far end. Kassar had described the layout of the room, but Rapp had no idea where the dog was. He should have asked Kassar, and thought about going back for a brief second, but was too eager to push on. He opened the door with his right hand and stepped into the room, sweeping his gun right to left and back again. He heard the dog growl and placed his front sight on the beast's massive head.

"That dog fucking moves and he's dead."

A pale hand grabbed the dog's collar.

Rapp looked at the pulped face, and if it weren't for the fact that he'd seen the interrogation video he would have never believed it was Rickman. "You okay, Rick?"

Rickman couldn't manage to speak for a full five seconds. Then he began to stutter.

"Yes . . . thank god you're here."

"Shut the fuck up, Rick."

"It's just that I can't believe you found me."

Rapp's eyes continued to dart around the room, making sure he didn't miss anything. "I bet you're shocked as hell, since you hired Louie Gould to kill me and you used your fucking dog as bait."

"Mitch, I swear to you, this is all General Durrani. He abducted me, tortured me, and made it look like I was dead so you guys would stop looking for me."

"And then he gave you your dog back to keep you company. You are so full of shit, Rick. And too smart for your own good." Rapp kept coming back to the dog. There was no away around it. He had nothing against the pooch, but he had to go. Efficient as always, Rapp squeezed the trigger and sent a single bullet into the Rottweiler's head. The dog didn't make a sound.

But Rickman did. He was absolutely beside himself. "What have you done? Ajax hasn't done a thing!" Rickman screamed as he wrestled with the dog's lifeless body. "You're a fucking animal. God dammit!"

"And you're one sick fuck," Rapp said calmly as he approached the bed. "Your four bodyguards are all dead . . . one of them by your own hand. Mick Reavers, twenty-one cops, and Hubbard, and you don't shed a tear, but someone kills your dog and you finally show some emotion."

Rickman couldn't respond. He was too devastated by the loss of his dog.

"Any final words?"

"Don't do this, Mitch. I can help you. I can still help Langley. You can debrief me. I know things . . . very important things."

Rapp guessed that he probably did, but there was this little trust thing. Rickman and his big brain would be a nightmare for interrogators. Add to it the fact that his betrayal had gotten some good men killed, and the decision was easy. "Fuck you, Rick." Rapp squeezed the trigger once.