Tripoli, Libya. Cassandra’s first major undercover operation just so happened to relocate her D.C. office desk to the frontlines of the worst civil war of the decade. Muammar Gadaffi had yet to be removed from political power, and the National Transitional Council (NTC) couldn’t fight a cause with strong financial backing forever.
NATO was still being as diplomatic ever, but the National Liberation Army was weeks if not days away from picking off Gadaffi themselves. First things first, take the capital and let the African Alan Greenspan worry about his own dirty laundry problems later. Especially when his personal trainer was everywhere he wanted to be in terms of expansive waist sizes and horizontal limbo rises.
Not that Cassie Kill was above freedom-fighting with her pants off in a polarized land. She just couldn’t stay awake during her final workout session with a major financier of the Libyan Armed Forces.
She blinked back all subconscious thought, as she returned to the well-endowed desert only leaders in a computer dating society could legally inherit. If there was a hidden camera in the room, there was probably also a wet sock resting overtop the uncapped lens. Cassie would never find out for sure, until she untied her hands from whatever was hanging above her head.
A pull bar. Some home gym sponsor lackey had bound her hands to a static weight trainer with moving parts. This included the homemade bomb that Cassandra noted when she turned around to inspect the weighted bars hanging behind her. The rest were stacked vertically underneath the tow line she continued to raise during her strained relationship with the ruling structure of The Middle East.
The gravity of “The Libya situation” was far too cumbersome for any American spy employer she knew to endure, which was why she had landed her first field assignment with the SOG that summer.
Her father had to be so proud. Not only did he already think she was okay with being treated as a whore at work, she actually got compensated for playing the part now.
Cass took solace in the twelve pounds she was able to shave off the metric-based scale at her current place of employment. Mainly, because of where that dead weight had originated from. The same place she looked to infiltrate with cold lead the second she found a spotter with bomb squad experience on an “oh shit” kind of timetable and clocked out for the weekend.
Before Cassie resigned in her head that she was already dead, she had started talking to herself. Her microscopic earpiece that had kept her in contact with D.C. had already been rendered useless by a civil engineer with no desire to stay in Tripoli a second longer than he had to.
Rebel forces would certainly make life miserable for all Gaddafi sympathizers within ear-splitting distance soon enough, because the warzone around “The Mermaid of the Mediterranean” would only intensify. Right after I came into the room and disarmed the bomb keeping C-Murder from achieving a resting heart rate during nonsexual bondage.
“There’s a bomb!”
I was actually unaware of this. Hopefully, Cass wasn’t expecting me to disarm such a thing, as she tried her best to stop hyperventilating while my microreceiver picked up her unsteady breaths loud and clear.
I didn’t see any sweat on her raised brows, probably because A/C in the North African desert wasn’t just a godsend; it was the sole reason for the uprising to begin with.
Okay, maybe not, but the bomb behind Cassie’s head definitely might’ve caused the Bu-Layla Tower to implode upon its detonation.
If not, the unreasonable energy bills already raining out of the “no return address” netherworld housed above the building’s top spire certainly didn’t warrant any immediate UN disaster relief.
Cassie’s newfound predicament did apparently. She had played her part as Your New Hot Personal Trainer From Snowy St. Petersburg well, but once she got burned and lost all her Russian girl swag the bureaucrats in Washington decided that America couldn’t afford to lose an undercover federal agent to a POW camp during this war.
I was already in Libya with the rest of my team, so I had volunteered to be a part of the rescue mission. After unsheathing the knife at my side, I cut both of Cassie’s hands free. Placing the blade directly between the missing gold bars behind the gym bench wouldn’t exactly stop the attached guillotine from lowering in place, but doing so certainly disarmed my very first weapon of muscle mass obstruction before my fifteen year anniversary with the agency.
After standing straight up behind the weight machine, I realized that Cassandra had already grabbed the gun at my waistline. She immediately started firing upon the first brave soul who entered the room. Since I obviously didn’t have time to troubleshoot the bomb situation with Dad or Glen over my invisible phone, I certainly had no time to prolong my latest stay at Merrill Lynch Mozambique Headquarters. In fact, I only had time to suggest that Cassie and I partner up for a good ol’-fashioned chicken fight, right before I snatched my gun back and shot out the window on the far side of the room.
After busting through the glistening threshold with Call Me Baby Not Special Agent Howe, C. on my heels, I felt Cass grabbing at them both in freefall. I was busy wrapping my arms around the repelling line before me, which soon kept us both afloat in the melting butter stick that was any direct contact with afternoon sunlight in North Africa.
I had coordinated the jump with my superiors in New York, long before I had entered the room initially. Countless number whizzes back home continued to turn a terrible plan into a mathematical certainty of “Well, maybe”, thanks to not only the latest design software updates on the international spy game market but also a fearless application of the human vector.
Instead of waiting for someone to reel both Cass and I up into the chopper already moving into a nonfatal dive above us, we both watched the pilot eject himself from his comfy cabin before retiring beside us on his own NTC-issued suicide noose on time delay. Then Vladimir Putin declared a new Independence Day for the only country surrounding the tenth largest oil reservoir in the world.
I knew that sound well, but what I was unable to take note of was the second ground-to-air missile that had taken flight behind the first. Brendon had let that one loose from a high rise ledge about ten blocks southeast of the only burning treehouse in Tripoli’s clear skies that day.
Before I sat down next to Cassie on the back porch for cheese and crackers, I resigned in my head that if we didn’t start to approach our intended landing zone within the next three seconds I was going to ask someone in New York to order me a used jet pack from Dubai. Make that expedited mail, or maybe I’ll just watch out for the palm trees as the powder cake inferno above my head neared its final cooking phase.
I would’ve gladly let Cassandra take five feet off my pending fall, but we actually ended landing next to each other on the grass field across the way from both the Bu-Layla Tower and the Alfateh Tower, the two tallest manmade structures in Tripoli.
Brendon had begun to redefine the city’s established skyline, right after locating the origin of the first GTSM. Half that rooftop was now blocking the entire street that had caved in on itself down below. The ex-marine corporal was soon nowhere to be found, just like any working components of the rescue chopper that had exploded fifty meters away from where Cass and I were now pulling ourselves back up to our feet. Wouldn’t you know it? A land transport was right around the corner and approaching at presidential parade speed.
Once we got nabbed up, Gaddafi’s son, Salf al-Islam, was already telling lies about who his daddy was really up against. Try a wireless enemy that would roam the ends of the earth until the end of tyranny itself.
Over the course of recorded modern time, dictators have claimed ownership over one reclaimable form of intellectual property or another. My team, however, would continue to pledge a dying allegiance to the rebel forces in and around Libya’s capital until every cloud in the sky resembled God’s open palms.
And now an invitation hymn, right after I take note of that “Can’t Hustle Me” war tank coming our way.