When his country calls, Axel is there...even if his girlfriend, Tori, isn't too happy about it. The two have agreed to live together for one year to see if they're compatible before they decide to get married. But it's hard to learn if they are marriage material when Axel is never home!
Axel's latest mission takes him to Iran to deal with issues involving biological weapons. But things grow more dangerous as he must also deal with the heroin trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the long-range missile capabilities of North Korea, and the weapons supply for the Mexican Cartel. Axel must use not only tactical skills in these assignments, but also his advanced knowledge in biology.
With Axel jetting off to every far-flung location in the world, Tori wonders if their relationship can survive. But Axel is wondering if he can survive! With everything on the line, there's only one way to find out...
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The Follower IIOur Indestructible Hero Continues His Pursuits for the U.S. Agency
By John Durbin Husher
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2009 John Durbin Husher
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIranian Biological Weapon
Axel was enjoying his sane life of teaching biology at the university and the comforts of an "almost" married relationship with Tori. Not so long ago, they had made a pact that they would live together for a year as man and wife and if things worked out, they would get married. The key was that they were to share their "what-ifs" with each other. Axel had been the first to test this agreement when the Agency requested his services and sent him on a rapid trip to Somalia to save two seamen being held hostage by a half dozen pirates. Tori had accepted this interruption of their one-year agreement just minutes after they had committed to it. This was followed by the two deciding that she would use her newly acquired degree in genetic biology to take a job in Silicon Valley, California, with a start-up company. Axel, with his doctorate in biology, taught at a university in Northern California. Tori's position allowed them to live together and enjoy the Northern California lifestyle. So, life and things were good.
Then the phone rang again, and Tori picked it up. She realized it was Dr. Edward Kim of the Agency wanting to talk to Axel. She handed himthe phone with a smile on her face, knowing that another "what-if" was on its way. She was right. When Axel hung up the phone, he told her that the Agency wanted him to fly out to Washington the next morning to discuss a problem the country faced with a potential biological weapon being developed by the Iranians. He reminded Tori she had to keep this information top secret. It didn't take them long to overcome this "what-if." She knew he had to go and do what he did best. He was her hero even if he was gone a good bit of the time on these eventful forays.
Before they even made the call to Axel, the Agency knew he would accept this assignment that was so important to the country and had provided his travel itinerary along with ticket reservations on a flight from Mineta San Jose International Airport to Dulles International Airport in Washington DC. Tori drove Axel to the airport and let him off. Before exiting the car, Axel leaned over, gave her a big kiss, promised to keep her up-to-date on where he was, and reminded her how much he adored her.
She got tears in her eyes and said, "I will miss the Axel I know and the other one that I haven't learned to accept yet ..." She was referring to the man Axel became when he signaled his internal computer to raise his energy level. "I guess I love both of you," she joked. "Make sure you take care of both of you."
Before long, Axel was on his flight. Sure that Axel would follow their request to help; Axel's twin brother, Adam, and Dr. Edward Kim were at the Washington DC airport to meet him. They engaged in small talk about the weather and the local sports teams while they were on their way to the Agency's office (the Agency meaning the United States Science Agency or USSA), but this changed once they were in Kim's office. Kim got right to the point and briefed Axel on a problem of which the Agency had been appraised.
He said, "Everyone knows that the U.S. has tried to talk the top Iranian government officials out of developing nuclear bomb capability but seems to be getting nowhere on this issue. We have tried to get the Russian government to take the West's side on this position, but Russia has stayed away from this issue. Israel remains quite concerned about the Iranian nuclear development, knowing that if Iran got a nuclear weapon, their first choice would be to try to destroy the government of Israel.
"However," reported Kim, "we now know the Iranians are working on a biological weapon as determined by our intelligence reports. Our understanding is that this is taking place in a laboratory in the Elburz Mountains just north of Tehran. In order for you to get a better feel for this, I believe we should review a map of Iran." Kim took out a map of the Middle East and laid it on the conference table. (See figure 1 below.)
He told him that they had received word that the Iranian bioweapons group had a modern lab that was unknown to most people. This lab was located in the Elburz Mountains just north of Tehran. It was about ten miles west of Mount Damavand, and for that reason, the laboratory was named Damavand Laboratory. He showed Axel where the lab was located. He described the place as being inland from the Caspian Sea.
"The land is fairly flat going from the Caspian Sea southward for about twenty miles and then begins to increase in height as one proceeds. The mountain range is only about thirty-six miles across just northeast of Tehran. However, there is a valley-like crossing that almost goes due south toward Tehran from the Caspian shores. It is possible to get to the lab via this water and land route. In this thirty-six-mile stretch, the land of the valley can be navigated through the mountains fairly easily except for a stretch of about two miles. This two-mile section is elevated but is not too high, and a road traverses this full distance. The laboratory is located on this elevated piece of the mountain range. We need to get to this laboratory and find out what is being developed or produced there, and the sooner the better.
"If you look at this map, Axel, you will see several possible routes that we could take to get to this lab. We could fly from Baghdad and drop someone there by parachute. It is only 430 miles to Tehran from Baghdad, and we could fly you there using one of our Stealth aircraft which is undetectable by radar if we fly low to that site. We could fly you from our northernmost base in Afghanistan also by Stealth. This base is almost the same distance. We could fly from Turkey or Azerbaijan by helicopter and drop you in the Caspian Sea about twenty miles from the northern shore of Iran, and you could swim your way to the shoreline where we would have one of our people pick you up and start you on your way to the laboratory. We know with your unusual swimming power, you are capable of swimming this distance in a little over an hour, and this way would be fairly safe and free from the Iranian military. When you look at Iran, it is naturally fairly well protected by a mountain range on the western side of the country and by the Elburz Mountains and the Caspian Sea on the northern boundary. All of these approaches are possible and may be probable. We have been making plans for you to go via one of these routes.
"However, we may have gotten a break yesterday. We got word from one of our internal sources that the Iranian laboratory is going to have a visitor from Russia. He is a biology expert they have contracted to work with them on possible methods of completing this biological weapon. He is to be flown this Saturday to Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. Our latest word is that he is stopping in Ashgabat to meet with an Iranian counterpart and pick up some additional information to carry into the Damavand Laboratory. Ashgabat is not far from our most northwestern air base in Afghanistan. With this latest information, we decided we would fly you to our air base in northern Afghanistan by fighter jet from Baghdad. We could fly you from this air base to within a few miles of Ashgabat and drop you by parachute in the desert area where you would have friendly allies meet you and get you into the town. Then would come the tricky part. We know what this man, Adrian Gomanski, looks like. We could have all the papers you would need to replace him at Ashgabat. We would need you to meet the car they will be driving from the airport to the meeting. You would take his place and attend the meeting. We don't believe the Iranian person he is meeting knows him, and therefore, they would be unaware of your identity. Your biology knowledge plus your ability to speak Russian and Iranian makes this the ideal choice. The fact that your internal computer can always keep you tied to our agency's lab allows us to communicate to you continuously on any technical problems you don't understand. We figure you can keep the internal computer in the activated condition, and we can hear everything that is going on. We would have our top scientists feeding you information on any technical issues that might come up. You would pick up some information at Ashgabat airport from the Russian you will replace and from the technical people he is to meet at Ashgabat. Then when you proceed to Tehran and eventually to their lab, we believe you will be picking up information along the way. We believe they will be asking you for your input. Usually, the questions they ask will give us some starting points on what they are working on. As soon as we hear any of these questions, our people will be working on possible scenarios and feed you answers or questions to ask them. Some input you can supply with your technical background. What you can't immediately answer, you will need to delay answering and we will feed you information via your internal computer. Thank goodness you are able to receive and send messages in complete silence with your internal computer tied to your thought patterns. They can't expect you to answer any technical questions immediately. You must remember, they have been working on this for years and you can't expect to answer some questions extemporaneously. You must find a way to delay answering anything foreign to you, and we will feed you information as we derive it. Sometimes you may have to say you will think about it, and this will allow you to delay an answer. What do you think about this approach?"
Axel looked over the map and thought about the input from Kim. "I think the plan to go through Ashgabat and take the place of the Russian there is a great approach. We will learn very rapidly whether they know the man they are meeting. If they see I am not the Russian, I will be able to handle any problems they give me. If not, then I will have a free ticket to Tehran and eventually to the Damavand Lab.
"Hopefully I can pick up some information at Tehran since they have to provide me all the information they have if they want a Russian biologist to help them complete their work. What's the Agency's plan to get me to Ashgabat?"
"We thought you might be interested in that approach," commented Kim. "We could fly you into Baghdad and have you there by Tuesday, day after tomorrow. They will formulize the steps to get you to Ashgabat by Friday and for you to make contact with the Russian on his arrival on Saturday. This means you need to be ready to leave by tomorrow morning. We will supply you with the paperwork showing you as Adrian Gomanski, Russian biologist. You will have a Russian driving license and other paperwork we think you will need. Gomanski will probably have his Russian ID tag attached to the outside of his coat. We know what the tags look like, and we will have one with your picture and the name Adrian Gomanski on it. You should pick up all the paperwork the Russians will be supplying the real Gomanski when you take his place. There could be some surprises in those. If his paperwork contains a picture of him, we will have to make some rapid changes to handle this. We would need to know as soon as you look the paperwork over. We have a guy in Ashgabat who can convert the paperwork. He would have to know immediately so he can make the changes in a few hours. You would have to delay arriving at the Ashgabat Central Agency till this can be accommodated. How you can delay arriving at their center has to be determined by you on the spot. We would need about a three-hour delay to have the pictures converted and deal with any other things that may come up. We will have your picture and software there for them to make any changes they have to make. When you parachute in, the team that will pick you up will include a man from Ashgabat who will serve as your driver once you commandeer their car and driver. These guys will overcome the driver who is to meet Adrian Gomanski so you will only have to take care of Gomanski. The key is to take Gomanski to the car, find out all you can, and then eliminate Gomanski. We have set this up by having your driver take you to a place where they will hold Gomanski captive till you have completed your mission at Damavand Lab. We don't mean to harm Gomanski and will release him unharmed when we get the word that the total mission is completed. This doesn't mean the mission is complete when you find out the secret of what they are working on; we need to know that we have taken care of the problem at home as well as over there. They may have already sent their biological threat to the U.S. for deployment. When you find out what it is and how to neutralize it, you must contact us so we can take actions. This has to work like clockwork from start to finish, but we believe you can handle most of this and that we will be set up to handle anything needed here in the States. You just have to keep us informed. You must remember to keep your nourishment up. We will provide you candy bars and other energy-type food that will keep you at top level. You will have to find additional nourishment at Tehran and the lab. It is a modern lab, so we would expect them to have anything you may need in the way of nourishment."
When Axel hit the bed that night, he knew that the next day would begin a number of rapid transient and sequential events. It surely wouldn't be boring. Axel decided to call Tori and let her know what was happening. Soon, he heard that sweet voice on the phone, and they talked for about a half hour. She then knew he would be flying to Iran in the next few days. It didn't make her feel any better, but at least she knew where he was going and that the Agency had done everything they could to ensure his safety. She also knew his physical characteristics and that he could handle most issues. After talking to Tori, Axel had a hard time falling asleep, as his mind began to formulate his own plans, but eventually, he fell asleep. He was awakened at 5:30 in the morning. From then on, the time flew as he flew, since he was flying east and the clock was moving rapidly as he went from one time zone to the next. Before long, he was on a military jet flying to Germany. He flew out of Germany by fighter plane to Baghdad, Iraq. In Baghdad, the plans were slightly changed. He would fly to the U.S. military base in northern Afghanistan, but he wouldn't be alone. He would be with another man. This man was from the area around Ashgabat. The Agency talked to Axel on his internal computer communication system and informed him that they felt it would be better for him to parachute into the Ashgabat area with someone who was familiar with the people he was to hook up with and with the area and flights coming into Ashgabat. He would also serve as the driver of the car they would use when picking up Adrian Gomanski at the airport and was familiar with the place that Gomanski would be taken as a prisoner. His name is Mirsea Baggad. Axel was happy about this change of events. There were so many things that were foreign to him on this venture, so as many things that could be cleared up would be a big help. Many of the things, up to when they took Gomanski, could be handled by Mirsea or by any information the Agency supplied to Axel. This was a big relief to Axel.
Meanwhile, they informed Axel that there was a jet awaiting him and Mirsea that was capable of carrying the two of them safely to the air base in northern Afghanistan. It was a rather short flight from Baghdad to the Afghanistan air base, taking about two hours. It would normally only take an hour on one of these fast jet fighters if they could fly directly from Baghdad to Afghanistan, but they couldn't fly over Iran and therefore, had to take the long way around. They landed and began to check out the weather and anything else they needed to know about parachuting just south of Ashgabat. The colonel heading up the base spent about an hour with them to provide them the proper chutes needed to carry them safely to the ground. He stated that he had been in constant contact with the group that was to meet them upon their arrival on the ground.
"There will be four men to meet you," he explained. "They will have a four-wheel-drive vehicle that will take you into Ashgabat. Two of the men will be dropped off about two miles outside of Ashgabat, assuming everything looks good at that point. This will leave two men and you two to travel to the airport. There will be two men at the airport who will have taken over the vehicle and the driver that was awaiting Gomanski, so you don't have to be there exactly on time." The colonel supplied them with the names and pictures of the two men who would be waiting for them at the airport with Gomanski. "Gomanski will be wondering what is going on if he has to wait very long, so you should be there about 11:00 am. This is about fifteen minutes after the plane is supposed to arrive. It will take about this amount of time for Gomanski to get his bags and clear customs. It will be easy to explain any delay by saying that you two are arriving to take over the driving of the vehicle and one of you is a doctor of biology who will debrief him of what is going on at the lab. Gomanski will probably be glad that someone of technical competence will be arriving to make his arrival easier. So when you two arrive and take over the vehicle, you just have to make sure the two guys in the vehicle are the ones you expect to be there and Gomanski is the one you expect to meet. Mirsea knows the two men who should be in charge of the vehicle, so that should prove to not be a problem. From there, it is your ball game to carry out. Any questions?"
Excerpted from The Follower II by John Durbin Husher Copyright © 2009 by John Durbin Husher. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Contents1 Iranian Biological Weapon....................1
2 Ashgabat and becoming the Russian....................10
3 Damavand Laboratories....................17
4 The LX material....................26
5 Testing the LX material on animals....................33
6 Testing LX on the goat....................43
7 The Destruction of the Damavand Laboratory....................51
8 An Assignment in Afghanistan....................66
9 The Follower in Afghanistan and the Opium Trade....................70
10 Axel's Findings on opium and its derivatives....................76
11 Becoming part of the Afghan drug gang....................79
12 The Poppy Fields....................85
13 The attack by the Al-Qaida on the poppy field....................92
14 Trucking the opium over the mountains to Pakistan....................99
15 Pakistan; morphine and heroin....................105
16 Axel making morphine in Pakistan....................110
17 From Pakistan back to Afghanistan....................128
18 From Afghanistan to the US....................138
19 Back to the US and home....................142
20 Back to the University and the stem cell lab....................150
21 North Korea and Missiles....................166
22 To Namp'o and the missile factories....................171
23 Axel as a captive....................189