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Chapter Thirty-Two

As soon as the unmarked plane landed in Vegas, Mike pulled out his cell phone and turned it on. Not surprisingly, he had a half dozen messages.

"Gurum, it's the Kildar," Mike said, walking over to the waiting minivan. He nodded at the driver as he entered and just hoped the guy actually knew where he was supposed to be going.

"Kildar," Gurum said, in a relieved tone. "I have arranged a meeting with a Mr. Robert Thomas and his partner Mr. Colin Macnee for this evening. In about an hour and a half. Are you going to be able to attend?"

"Probably," Mike replied. "Driver? Time to the hotel?"

"About twenty minutes, sir," the driver said.

"Probably," Mike repeated. "If I'm there in an hour, the answer is yes. You checked out Thomas?"

"Oh, yes, sir," Gurum burbled happily. "He was one of the people on my short list of potential distributors. I've had three other companies express strong interest in the line, but Mr. Thomas's company specializes in placing high-end beers in specialty stores and bars. I think that he is likely to be the best bet we have for a really good income from the product line."

"Sounds good," Mike said. "I hope to see you in an hour and fifteen or so."

"Oh, and both Daria and Colonel Nielson have been attempting to contact you," Gurum added.

"I've got them on my cell to call back," Mike replied, sighing. "By the way, have you seen Chief Adams?"

"No, Kildar," the brewery manager replied, puzzled. "I had assumed he was with you."

"No." Mike frowned. "I haven't seen him since we landed. If you see him, tell him to give me a call, okay?"

"Yes, Kildar."

"See you in a bit."

He hit the disconnect and looked at the other calls. One was a number he didn't recognize, one was from Nielson, another was from D.C. and the last was from Adams's phone. Ah-hah! The chief had finally checked in from whatever he'd been doing. He called that one first.


"Why do you have the chief's phone?" Mike asked.

"I've been setting up our return flight," Daria replied. "I borrowed it from him while we were still on the plane. He seemed more than willing to give it up. Mr. Hardesty had to return for another charter and there was a hold-up on ground transportation in Georgia. I was calling, though, to tell you that Colonel Nielson wants to talk to you and that we got a call from a number in Washington that refused to leave a message. They stated that they were calling for Colonel Pierson, though and I took a number as well as giving them the number to your cell phone."

"Thanks," Mike said. "Do we have transportation? Wait; Hardesty had all our gear!"

"That has been handled," Daria said and he could practically hear the dimples. "I called OSOL and discreetly explained the problem. I suspect that the other call is about that."

"Thanks," Mike said, sighing. "I'm going to have to read Hardesty the riot act, though. I've got to call Nielson. If you see the chief, tell him to call me."

"I will, Kildar."

"Kildar Caravanserai, Obreckta speaking, how may I help you sir or ma'am?"

"Obreckta, this is the Kildar," Mike said, looking at his watch and doing the time in his head. "Is the colonel still up?"

"Yes, Kildar," Obreckta replied. "Please hold while I transfer you."


"Jenkins," Mike replied. "What's up?"

"I dunno, you wanna tell me?" the colonel replied testily. "I think we should go secure."

"Scrambled. Again, what's up?"

"I got a call from the U.S. embassy stating that we were going to be receiving some 'training cadre' from the U.S. Army. You know anything about that?"

"Damn that was quick," Mike replied wonderingly. "Expect three SF teams or so and some Rangers. Officially, they're going to be training the Keldara. Unofficially ... I'll talk about it when I get back."

"Okay," Nielson said, sighing. "I'll start working on bunking."

"The barracks is going to be cleared out," Mike said. "That's part of the 'unofficially.' "

"I need to hear this, don't I?" Nielson replied.

"Yep. But not over a phone. Even a secure phone. When I get back. Which will be on Tuesday or so."

"See you then."

He looked at the last number and dialed it as the minivan pulled into the reception area of the hotel.

"OSOL, Captain McGraffin speaking."


"Go scramble, please."

"Be aware that I'm in an unsecure area."

"Oh." The officer on the other end of the line paused for a moment. "Your materials are going to be sent to your home base via military transport. Clear enough?"

"Clear enough," Mike said.

"Your oh-so-efficient secretary informed us that she had already secured a charter aircraft to return your personnel. Do you need anything else?"

"Not at this time," Mike replied. "And I'm not sure about the wisdom of using mil craft for moving the materials. I'll discuss it at another time."

"Understood," McGraffin said. "Anything else?"

"Negative. Oh, one thing. I'm missing a man. My second in command, actually. Anyone heard from Adams on your end since we landed?"

"Uh." There was a pause as McGraffin clearly checked his paperwork. "Negative on that, Mr. Jenkins."

"Thanks," Mike replied, frowning. "Out here."

Mike hadn't even realized that he'd navigated his way to the elevator by instinct.

And he still wasn't sure who'd sent the driver.

Or where his second-in-command had got to.

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