The planning group consisted of the same people who were in the briefing room earlier this afternoon. Everyone was sat except for Friar Francis when I arrived with Hammond, as before he stood by the screen. This time the screen had a high resolution image of the village displayed.. Once again I say to one side with Hammond close behind and we all listened as the Friar began talking.
“Before we start I have just heard that a deal has been reached with the Turkish forces. They will turn a blind eye for next few days in this area of operations. They’ve been told that there is a combined UK and US anti-terrorist operation. They’re not happy about not being involved, especially as it is on their soil, but in return there’ll only be minimal objections to some of their operations in northern Iraq. At least we won’t have to worry too much about the Turkish army turning up unannounced.”
A few relieved nods from the military looking personnel.
“Before we outline the plan, let’s quickly recap the two things we know for certain. Or at least as certain as we can be.”
More nods and a few wry smiles this time.
“The first is the where, we know that meeting will take place at the cafe. The second is when, we know that the meeting will take place at midday in two days time.”
“The objective of the mission is to take Lazarus down for good. We can’t achieve this through conventional means, so we need to get, hmm, let’s call him ‘Mr X’ for now ...” At this he points at me. ‘Mr X’, I like it, very mysterious. I think I’ll have it printed on my luggage. “We need to get ‘Mr X’ in close proximity to Lazarus.”
“How close?” Asks the military looking man sitting at the front of the room. He sounds German, or maybe Austrian or Swiss.
“As close as we are all right now. He will need to be within touching distance of Lazarus.”
Another nod, but not quite as happy this time.
“This farm is the current staging area, we are two miles away from the target zone. On the local roads that’s about fifteen minutes travel. As soon as we receive confirmation Lazarus is at the cafe, the snatch team will leave here and approach the target at speed. The village observation team will also move to block any vehicle escape from the village from the other access road. The team at the fort will do the same.”
I can see this isn’t a popular plan.
“So the target is going to hear us coming and may have several minutes to escape?” Asks the German sounding soldier.
“We will have all the access routes covered, if he tries to escape cross country the observation team will have him in view for at least five miles in all directions. Unless he heads north, in which case he will run into the team from the fort.”
“What are the chances that Lazarus will arrive on his own?” Another good question from our Germanic friend.
“We expect he’ll have at least a couple of bodyguards. They’ll be capable, but not the same level of threat that Lazarus himself poses. It’s likely that there will be a fire fight when we snatch him. We don’t need them alive and if Lazarus himself was that easy to kill then we wouldn’t have this problem. Which means we can go in hard. I want everyone to watch their targets, dead locals won’t go down well, but the target is the priority, no matter what the cost.”
“It’s far from ideal, I’d prefer that we staged closer so he little to no warning before we move in.”
“So why don’t we?” I ask.
“Lazarus has a gift that rivals yours ‘Mr X’, he will probe the area as he moves in, if he detects anything suspicious at all, then he won’t walk into the trap. We estimate that we need to be at least a mile away for our presence not to be detected. That estimate does take into account the brothers here capable of shielding.”
“Once we have Lazarus, we bring him back here and with your assistance, we finish the job.”
“I can hide us.” I say confidently. “If we stage the night before, nearer to the cafe. I can maintain the illusion and hide us. When the time comes we won’t have to drive for fifteen minutes to get in range.”
I see that there are doubting Thomas’ everywhere in the room.
“I can do this and even if he does get close and smells a rat we’ll be closer in to chase him.”
Another soldier speaks up, he definitely isn’t a believer. As he begins to protest I expand my awareness and make Hammond fade from sight. He doesn’t realise at first what I have done, when he does I can hear him mutter. It sounds French, maybe he is Swiss as well?
It puts a smile on the Friar’s and Hammond’s faces at any rate.
The Friar nods. “Ok. When Lazarus arrives we hit them hard, use stun grenades to buy us a few seconds then take down the guards. With Lazarus himself we use tazers and then dope him up to keep him quiet for the journey back.”
I raise my hand, playing the shy schoolboy. “Might I suggest pumping him full with some LSD or something similar as well, it might make things a bit easier for me when I have to go in.”
“I think we can arrange that.” He then nods at one of the other priests, who quickly leaves the room.
I contemplate for a moment, something is nagging me. One of Hammond’s memories surfaces from when I delved into his past, bringing with it an idea. “Is there a sniper with the observation team?”
“Yes, they’ll provide long distance cover and help block that access road.”
“Can they cover the village?”
“It’s well over a mile, they might be able to help with larger targets like vehicles, but close fire would be extremely difficult at that range.”
“Didn’t Officer Hammond here take a Taliban down at over a mile in Afghanistan? Record shot for a Royal Marine and all that?”
There’s some impressed looks from the other soldier boys in the room. Hammond nods casually as if this is an everyday occurrence.
“So put him with the observation team with one of those big bastard sniper rifles, you know the ones that will put a hole in an engine block at over a mile. Then as soon as Lazarus sits down, BOOM, headshot.”
The Friar isn’t convinced. “That won’t kill him.”
“I know it won’t, but it’ll give him the mother of a headache and I’m willing to bet that it will slow him down enough to zap him unconscious and then fill him with drugs.”
I can see him wavering. “It might work. One of the .50 calibres would also be good for stopping any vehicles trying to escape.” I know the other part that is worrying him, he’s relying on Hammond being my keeper, but he’ll have to do that himself. We need to take Lazarus down quickly to give us a chance of success.
The others in the team are siding with me on this, I can feel the mood lighten a little. With something resembling a working plan, they can see a feint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
“And to help finish him I suggest that we just keep pumping him with drugs all the way back. The more stressed his brain and body are, the easier he will be to deal with. And I do have some experience with delving into fucked up minds.”
Friar Francis finally relents. “Ok, we’ll do it your way. Tomorrow night the snatch team will drive into the village. We’ll need to find somewhere to park where people won’t accidently bump into the van. We sit and wait for Lazarus to show up for the meeting. As soon as his presence is confirmed we approach the cafe as Hammond shoots him. We then mop up any bodyguards, dose and taze him and put him in the van.”
“Just make sure you are ready to do your part. And remember I will be with you every step of the way.”
I’ll take that as a compliment. I’m feeling a buzz of excitement. I’ve never really planned things out like this before, it’s quite a novelty. And I think I am actually going to do this for them.
It’s the bit afterwards I need to think about now.