Mercenaries III


 CHAPTER I  

    Standing at Shada’s grave site made me reflect on my own life. Shada was a good comrade. She was highly valued by the “Company.” When she decided to disappear, there was a void left in our ranks. Although I was sorry to see her leave the “Company,” somehow, I had felt deep down that she was probably still alive.    

    It had been reported that she perished in an aviation accident. Like everyone else, I accepted the fact the she was gone.  Then one day, I was tasked with confirming her death by examining the wreckage of the aircraft. The aircraft had been spotted from the air in the Darien Gap. The Darien Gap is an impenetrable jungle south of Panama on the border with Colombia. The Pan American Highway on the north side ends at the Gap and does not continue until well into Colombia. Due to the denseness and the marshy composite of the soil, it made connecting the highway from north to the south impossible.  Shada’s aircraft had been down in the Gap for over two years before it was discovered.  Due to the condition of the aircraft from the air, it was believed that no one could have survived the accident.   

    When I inspected the aircraft, the flight deck was empty. On the floor in front of the second seat was a brochure advertising St. Kitts. That convinced me that Shada had faked her demise. I was very fond of Shada. 

   We were comrades and spent many hours together accomplishing missions. We had discussed retiring from the “Company” in the past. It has become common knowledge that one cannot retire from the “Company.” If you attempt a retirement, the “Company” will hunt you down and neutralize you. I was witness to that fact on several occasions.  

   I covered for Shada by producing phony photos of remains in a cockpit of a Cherokee aircraft. After presenting the photos to the Colonel, the CEO of the “Company,” he bought the fact that she was in fact dead. However, the client, a woman by the name of Nefertiabet was not convinced. She believed that Shada had murdered her father. Her father had sexually abused Shada while he had her as a prisoner in his house in Alexandria, Egypt. That convinced Nefertiabet that Shada had a motive.  

 

   I traveled to St. Kitts and met with Shada. Shada had developed a new life practicing medicine. She had also got married and had a child. I learned that Nefertiabet was intending to have an independent company return to the aircraft and take samples of the remains. Nefertiabet had samples of Shada’s DNA from a hair brush that she has once used for comparison. Shada could not allow that to happen. I assisted her to plan a mission to neutralize Nefertiabet. She returned to Panama to execute the plan. Shada was fatally shot during the course of the mission. I left her body for the authorities to find. I returned to St. Kitts and informed her husband of her death. I accompanied him back to Panama to claim her remains. Her body was returned to St. Kitts for burial.  

    Immediately after the funeral, I offered my condolences to her husband. Then I left for the airport. I did not want to stay in St. Kitts any longer than was necessary. I got on a flight to Aruba with a connecting flight to Miami. When I boarded the flight to Miami, I was seated in the business class. Within a few minutes of getting buckled up, a young woman sat down beside me. At first, I did not pay any attention to her. As the aircraft began to taxi to the runway, her presence had this magnetic pull on my physical. I looked over and what I saw had an electric shock vibrate through my body. She could pass as a double for a young woman that I had been involved with years ago. The woman was several years older than me.  I believed that we were hopelessly in love. I entered the military shortly after completing high school. I expected to eventually marry the woman in question. However, during my first deployment, I received a “Dear John” letter. I threw myself into my military career and became a “Ranger” in the Special Forces.   

    Almost an hour passed as I sat in my seat reminiscing the past of many years ago. I finally got up my nerve and asked her the big question. “Excuse me. I said. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you look so much like a young woman that I once knew. I wonder if you would mind answering a few questions for me.” She looked at me and smiled. She extended her hand and told me her name was “Helen Majors.” I introduced myself. I informed her that she could be a double for a young woman that I had been involved with years ago. “I had heard that she passed away recently.” I said. I asked her mother’s maiden name. When she told me the name, I knew that the resemblance was just a coincidence. I inquired if she was going to Miami for vacation. Miss Majors said that she was actually returning from a vacation. She said that she had recently completed nursing school. A nursing position was in the offing and she was to report to her new job on Monday. We continued to exchange niceties for a few minutes and then I went back to my thoughts.     

    My name is Ebi. I am a second generation American. My parents emigrated from Iran when I was two years old. My father was an engineer and had worked for an American company in Iran. When he was transferred to America, his family became eligible for citizenship. My father made a very good salary and sent me to the best schools. I was an only child. My parents gave me the best of everything. My mother taught me her native language as well as English in my formative years.     

    I became infatuated with the young woman that watched my sister and me when my parents were out for an evening. She was about five years older than I, but as I grew into to my later teens we became romantically involved. I lost my virginity to her.   

   When I graduated from high school, I decided to join the military. My father was very disappointed that I decided not to go to college. Francesca, my romantic interest, was disappointed as well. We agreed that when I was financially established that we would marry. I was deployed oversees and was gone for two years. One day, I received a letter from Francesca that she had married someone else. I was devastated. I threw myself into my career. After ten years in Special Forces, I was offered a lucrative job with the “Company.” That was ten years ago. My life became the “Company.” Recently, however, I have become distraught with what I am doing. I decided to continue for another year or two while I plan my retirement and escape.

    I continued my conversation with Ms. Majors. As we approached the Miami airport, I turned to Ms. Majors and said that I enjoyed our conversation. “I was wondering, I asked. Do you think we could meet and talk at another time?” She took a pen from her purse and wrote down her cell phone number. She handed me that paper. I in turn gave her my number. I said that I was planning to be back in Miami in a few weeks. I would like to take her to dinner and continue our conversation.