Ten

When this day had begun, Thierry had expected an easy day at the office. His 10 o'clock appointment had canceled, giving him an unexpected two hours to catch up on his emails and send a few out of his own. The order to evacuate had come halfway through that golden time, during his daily call with the ambassador. Rather than running with the herd to the rooftop departure, he had done his duty. Greer had stayed behind to destroy classified equipment and burn secret documents.
Now, he found himself bound and gagged while a group of insurgents trashed the ambassador’s office, blindly ignoring those same relevant documents. They slashed it’s beautiful paneling, tossed the quietly elegant furniture and shoved it aside. Soon there was a standing crowd of a half dozen terrorists, all bearded, all dressed in the traditional long white tunic, the thawb. In the middle of the chaos, a man entered the room who was called Kahtani by one of his minions, and he now raised his hands for silence.
The man was short, perhaps just 5 foot 5, and wiry. He moved with a slow grace, carefully practiced to give the impression of pious wisdom to his followers. Thierry noticed his scrawny arms which bulged with sinuous veins. A prominent callous on his forehead came from touching his forehead to his prayer mat five times a day. He wore combat fatigues but accessorized with a gutra headdress. Achmed al-Kahtani seemed to be is in his mid-30s, and just a trace of a scraggly beard was visible on his face.
Thierry recognized the man. He’d read intelligence reports indicating he had possibly returned to his country, but most of his analysts had dismissed those rumors. Kahtani was known to the FBI after they thwarted his attempt to purchase surface-to-air missiles in New York City ten years ago. Somehow, the man had gotten away and gone to ground.
Twenty years ago, Kahtani was just another spoiled and directionless punk, of which there were many in the Kingdom. His uncle had whisked him out of the country after he’d been caught drinking banned alcohol and driving his Land Rover haphazardly with a roguish group. It would not do to embarrass his father, a prominent Imam in Jeddah. Young Achmed found himself in a boarding school in Switzerland, and applied himself to chasing blondes. Later, Achmed went to study political science at Oxford. His father had died when Kahtani was in his late 20s, leaving him a fantastic fortune. Faced with a moral crisis, he promptly used it to finance worldwide terror. His own first attempts at terrorism were amateurish and haphazard, but somehow, he’d survived to this day. His expertise was producing horrific propaganda.
Along with the man came a crew of two others, carrying laptops and a large video camera. One of them cleared the desk of the ambassador with a sweep of his arms and onto it placed the camera on a tripod. Thierry watched as a picture frame containing a smiling image of the ambassador’s wife smashed on the floor. The technician typed a few buttons into a laptop, turned to Khatani and nodded.
Thierry looked up and noticed that the newscaster was now broadcasting a live view of the ambassador’s office. There he looked up and saw a man, bound and gagged, blood streaming down his face, and suddenly realized that it was himself. Another time, another place and he probably wouldn’t have thought much about the impotent, humbled man on the screen. He’d seen enough of these videos to know how they ended.
What was his play now? He could try to convert, but he also seen someone try that before. It didn’t end well for him.
"My name is Achmed Al-Kahtani" the wiry man said in a perfect Oxford British accent, without a trace of an Arabic inflection. The rest of the men bowed low and murmured something that Thierry's panicked hearing couldn't quite catch. "The immorality of the ruling family has grown now to the point that they were to sell us out to the infidels in the CPC. Know this. We will never surrender our sovereignty to the godless Kuffar!" This last statement was met with a loud roar and cheer from the underlings, and Kahtani appeared to ride on the wave of this noise to stand in front of Thierry. He grabbed Thierry’s hair and shook it fiercely, forcing him to nod in agreement.
"Here, a representative of their government. And an object lesson in non-interference, if you will." Letting go of Thierry, Kahtani pulled a gold-plated .45 caliber M1911 pistol and pointed it at the terrified official. He squinted down the barrel, smiled and pushed the hammer back into place. He admired the weapon for a moment, then returned the pistol to his shoulder holster, snapping its flap shut sharply. Theirry let out an audible sigh of relief and the men around him smirked. The one closest to Kahtani reached down to his side and pulled from a scabbard the longest sharpest sword Thierry had ever seen.
Thierry recalled he most certainly had seen this sword before. Not two months ago, he’d stood in the office of Prince Shadi, minister of the interior, had seen this very golden sword. The Prince been a great friend of the American people, and Thierry and the ambassador had been thanking him for his help in years past. The Prince had noticed Thierry admiring the sword hanging above his desk. Shadi had explained he had personally picked out the emeralds at a market in Thailand and purchased the rubies from a gem dealer in India. He went on to describe the maker of the sword, an expert who catered exclusively to Middle Eastern royalty. Thierry had not dared to guess how much the sword cost.
The sunlight caught the golden hilt and reflected into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. He noted that there was a slight amount of dried blood on the weapon. It would seem Prince Shadi no longer had use of the sword.
His thoughts flashed to his girlfriend, at home in the United States, probably sleeping soundly in her silky underwear, unaware that Greer wouldn't be coming home. Thierry figured she wouldn't care that much. After all, they fought all the time, and she was looking for someone else, if she wasn’t already sleeping with a new man. He hadn’t yet had the inclination to confront her; after all, his Gallic good looks and je ne sais quoi had ensured that his time in Saudi Arabia had not been lonely. The ambassador’s secretary was most a Francophile or to be fair, had come to be one. He decided the thing Thierry Greer would miss the most was not the French food his grandmother prepared for him as he was a young child in Provence and that he had so carefully prepared for himself. It was women.
Kahtani swished the sword through the air a few times, experimenting with different grips, finally finding one that he liked. He stepped towards Thierry with an evil grin which remained frozen in place as the mahogany bookcase burst open.
At that moment, something bounced and rolled along the carpet, breaking the intense concentration of the gathered cabal. As they turned to the unexpected sound, a deafening blast and blinding flash stunned the unprepared jihadis.
Thru the smoke, Thierry saw the vast bulk of Gideon and the athletic body of Daniel appear as if they were his rescuing angels. Bullets sprayed from their automatic rifles, mowing down half a dozen of the insurgents in mere seconds.
Kahtani blinked twice to purge the smoke from his eyes, once too many for the situation. Daniel took careful aim and pulled the trigger as the wiry man tried in vain to jump to safety behind the ambassador's desk. The bullet ripped through his right eye, shattering the socket and sending shards of incomprehensible pain into Kahtani, tearing his eyeball from his skull. Like a rock trying to hold back a waterfall, he clutched his hand to his wound, letting out a piercing, blood-curdling scream.
Gideon ran to Thierry, ka-bar fighting knife in hand. Seeing the fear in their friend’s eyes, Gideon picked him up off the ground and slashed through his bindings.
“You all right, man?”
“I’ve been better.”
To cover the escape, Daniel fired a few more shots from his M4 rifle. The bullets sailed through the air, down the main entrance to the outer office where a few lower ranking terrorists stood guard. The guards took cover, and the trio used the opportunity to return to the secret exit, Thierry limping but making good speed.
As Gideon and Thierry stepped inside the tunnel, Daniel pulled the entrance closed behind them. As he did so, Daniel watched Achmed al-Kahtani writhe on the floor like a wounded snake. Surely the little man was nearly dead.
Daniel ran point. Small blue emergency lights illuminated the bottom of the walls, leading the way. Soon, the tunnel branched in two directions, one up and one down. They paused.
“If we get to the airport, there should be a State Department Lear jet on standby,” offered Thierry helpfully.
Daniel pointed downwards, knowing the helicopters were long gone. Their only hope remained in the motor pool that lay a few floors below.

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