MOSSAD SPECIAL UNIT, AKA "THE MADHOUSE"
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
Dayan stepped into Fritz Lavine's sixth-floor corner office, which overlooked the Mediterranean Sea, the U.S. embassy, and downtown Tel Aviv. Lavine was the director general of Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. He was a tall, rotund man with receding brown hair and big ruddy cheeks pockmarked with acne scars. Dressed in a white button-down shirt, sleeves rolled up, he stood behind his desk, inspecting a sheet of paper. Two men were seated in chairs in front of Lavine's desk: Cooperman, Mossad chief of staff; and Rolber, head of clandestine operations.
All three turned as Dayan entered, slamming the door behind him.
"What the fuck happened?" asked Dayan as he crossed the office, his voice deep, charred by decades' worth of cigarettes. "How many years did you three work with this son of a bitch traitor and you never suspected a goddamn thing?"
"There'll be plenty of time for blame, Menachem," said Lavine, icily. "Right now, we need to find this motherfucker and put a bullet in his head before he does any more damage and before he escapes."
"What is the damage?"
"It's extensive," said Cooperman. "So far, we can trace the exposure of at least sixteen MI6 and CIA operatives back to Dillman. As for Mossad, the number appears to be seven dead agents."
"Jesus Christ," Dayan whispered, looking in disbelief at Cooperman.
"TGI succeeded in rebuilding Dillman's digital biograph, correspondence, you name it," said Lavine angrily, throwing the paper down on his desk. "He gave the Chinese everything. Every Far East operation we conducted over the past decade was known ahead of time by Fao Bhang and the ministry. Their knowledge was so extensive that it appears they even tolerated certain activities inside China so as not to raise suspicion. Dillman passed on detailed aspects of anything Langley supplied to us. This includes nuclear infrastructure."
Dayan walked to the glass and looked for a few brief seconds toward the U.S. embassy.
"Have we notified Calibrisi?" asked Dayan, referring to the CIA director, Hector Calibrisi.
Lavine nodded. "Chalmers too," he added, referring to Derek Chalmers, head of MI6.
"And what was the reaction?" asked Dayan.
Lavine stared back at Dayan but remained silent. He didn't need to say anything. They all knew Dillman had set all three agencies back years, decades even, and that both London and Langley would be extremely angry.
Dayan shook his head. He sat down in one of the chairs in front of Lavine's desk.
"Where is he?" asked Dayan, calmer now, his hand rubbing the bridge of his nose, eyes closed.
"We don't know," said Rolber. "We're looking, carefully. If he suspects anything, he'll run."
"If he goes to China, we'll never see him again," said Dayan.
The phone on Lavine's desk chimed, then a voice came on the speaker.
"Director, they're waiting for you."
"Patch us in."
The phone clicked.
"Hector?" asked Lavine.
"Hey, Fritz," said Calibrisi on speaker. "You have me and Bill Polk here at Langley along with Piper Redgrave and Jim Bruckheimer at NSA."
"MI6 is on also," said Derek Chalmers, in a British accent. "Where are we on this?"
"We have nothing," said Lavine. "We're looking everywhere. Last contact with the agency was two days ago. General Redgrave, has NSA developed anything?"
"No," came the female voice of the head of the National Security Agency. "And to be honest, I'm not going to start using NSA assets on Dillman, or on anything else, until we make damn sure our systems and protocols haven't been contaminated by this mole. If the Chinese are inside NSA, we have bigger problems than Dillman."
"What's the plan if and when we do find him?" asked Calibrisi.
"We have three options," said Rolber. "One—we watch him, use him, plot an architecture of disinformation back into Beijing. Two—we bring him in, interrogate him, then let him rot. Three—termination."
"Why not two and three?" asked Calibrisi. "Grill him then kill him."
"If we bring him in, China will find out, Hector," said Cooperman. "There has to be some form of check-in and tip-off. If he misses that check-in, Fao Bhang will immediately try to exfiltrate him, or, more likely, just kill him."
"Then Bhang will move on Western assets before we have time to clean up inside the theater," said Chalmers. "Every MI6, CIA, Mossad agent in China will die, not to mention anyone else Dillman has exposed. It will be a bloody mess."
"It already is a bloody mess," said Dayan.
"So what about option one?" asked Calibrisi. "What would the design look like?"
"We locate him then hang back," answered Rolber, "carefully monitor his movements, and tightly control information flow to him. In the meantime, we put our assets in the Chinese theater on high alert and prepare for exfiltration. When Dillman is no longer useful to us, or he suspects something, we bring out our teams, then bring him in. We can shoot him later."
"Fuck that," yelled Dayan, hitting the desk with his hand. "We're not waiting. Dillman dies right now. Period, end of statement. If I have to do it myself in downtown Shanghai with a dull butter knife, this motherfucker dies."
"Dillman is just a symptom, General," said Calibrisi. "It's Fao Bhang who's behind it all."
"Then let's kill that son of a bitch too."
"Nothing would please me more, but we've never had a shot at him," said Calibrisi. "Bhang doesn't travel outside the People's Republic of China. He hasn't been seen in the West since 1998. Inside PRC, forget it. He's as well guarded as the premier."
"Let's cut our losses and kill Dillman," said Dayan. "I'm not a fan of fancy intelligence operations—double agents, disinformation, whatnot. They never work. We're seeing firsthand how they get all fucked up. It's time to clean up this mess and tie it off. As for Bhang, we're wasting our time. The man's a ghost. Let's focus on what we can do, namely kill what has to be the most important intelligence asset Bhang possesses in the West. That's at least something."
"I have an idea," said Chalmers.
"Go ahead, Derek," said Lavine, picking up an unlit cigar stub from his desk and sticking it in his mouth, then looking at Dayan.
"Even before this Dillman episode, Fao Bhang has done damage to all of us. Bhang and the ministry are a country unto themselves. He's the third-highest ranking member of the Chinese State Council, but he's the most powerful by far. Premier Li fears him, as does the country's military. His tentacles extend into China's economic affairs. He's been an instrumental part of the currency manipulation that has plagued Britain and, on a much more dramatic scale, the United States, for years. For all I know, his hackers are listening in right now."
"They're not," said Cooperman. "I assure you of this."
"Forgive me, but your assurances mean nothing."
"What's your point?" asked Lavine.
"Bhang is rising," said Chalmers. "His malevolence grows. This is simply another chapter in a very dark book."
There was silence in the room and over the intercom as Chalmers paused.
"My question is, when are we going to do something about it?" he asked.
"So what's your idea?" asked Calibrisi.
"We have to find Dillman," said Chalmers. "Obviously. Then, my suggestion is, we use him. But not in the way you're thinking, Hector. No, instead of using him for disinformation then killing him, we're going to switch the order around. Kill him, then use him. We're going to lure Fao Bhang out of his hole, and Dillman is going to be our bait."
"I'm not sure what you mean," said Rolber.
"Bhang won't care about the loss of one human being, even his most treasured asset in the West, but he will care if the loss of Dillman exposes him as weak, as not in control," said Chalmers. "If we can undermine him in the terribly cutthroat drama that is Chinese leadership, it will endanger him. It will, potentially, signal those who fear Bhang or who covet his power. It's time to destabilize Fao Bhang and let his enemies move against him. Otherwise, there will be no end to his reach and the damage he inflicts upon the West."
Cooperman suddenly reached for his chest pocket and pulled out a vibrating cell phone.
"What?" he whispered into the cell.
Cooperman listened, then signaled at the phone, indicating to Lavine to mute the conference call.
"We found him," whispered Cooperman, looking at Lavine, then Dayan and Rolber. "He's in Haifa."
Lavine pressed the mute button on the speakerphone.
"Haifa?" asked Lavine. "What do we have there?"
"I have a kill team in the city," said Rolber. "Boroshevsky, Malayim. They're good to go."
"No," said Dayan. "This is not Mossad's kill."
"You don't trust us now, General?" demanded Rolber.
"It has nothing to do with whether or not I trust you," said Dayan, his gravelly voice rising. "I gave my word to Andreas; it's Kohl Meir's kill. Get Meir up to Haifa, brief him en route, get him whatever weapons he wants. That's an order."
"In the meantime, Fritz and I will coordinate with MI6 and Langley. I'm not sure I understand what the hell Derek Chalmers is talking about, but I like it. These British always have brilliant ideas, even if their food does suck."
Copyright © 2013 by Ben Coes