Arkhangel by Stephen England

Arkhangel by Stephen England

Author:Stephen England [England, Stephen]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2019-07-12T04:00:00+00:00

Chapter 7

11:03 A.M., February 18th

The Republican Palace

Green Zone, Baghdad

“. . .will be liaising with M.I.-6 in their ongoing intelligence collection efforts against Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq as the British prepare to draw down their forces from Basra in the aftermath of SINBAD’s success.”

“Draw down?” Harry asked skeptically, glancing up from his position at one side of the conference table. He felt out of place here, the very feel of a clean shirt somehow alien after three weeks on a FOB.

Rebecca Petras cleared her throat, favoring him with a cold look. “It’s not public knowledge, not just yet—Blair will make the announcement in the next two or three days. Half of their forces will have left Iraq by the end of this year.”

Harry winced. The attrition of this long war, claiming another casualty. It would be the same with the US, if the American media had anything to say about it.

He had watched the reporting on the news the last time he’d been Stateside—found himself unable to keep the television on for more than ten minutes at a time. They wanted to leave now—just as victory itself seemed finally within reach. Leave, and abandon everything who had stood up for them. . .abandon them to be slaughtered. By al-Qaeda, by the Iranians—by the government in Baghdad, like as not. Because Tahir wasn’t wrong.

“I spoke with Sir Desmond last night,” Petras continued, referencing the head of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service—M.I.-6—Desmond Arliss, “and promised him our full cooperation. Any help we can provide to his people, over the next few months.”

That had to have gone over well. Harry knew Arliss only by reputation, but he was of the old school. And he doubted the Englishman would have enjoyed having to approach the Agency, hat in hand.

“So, how soon can I get out to Camp Cropper?” the small, dark-haired woman sitting toward the far end of the conference table asked, interjecting herself into the pause. Harry turned to look in her direction, still surprised to have found Iraida Harmon here, of all places.

It had been nearly seven months since their paths had last crossed, a dark, rain-drenched night, standing on the deck of a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship in the Mediterranean. The dead body of a young boy in his arms, a life extinguished—enough, he told himself, forcing away the memories with an effort. Complicated, as most of his memories of her. Memories of what could have been.

If they had been two different people.

“Soon,” Petras replied, giving Harmon an icy look. The two women liked each other about as well as they liked Harry. “Very soon—within the next couple days, in all likelihood. We’re still working things out with the military to give you access to the detainee. It’s the process.”

And that was the reason for her presence, he had gathered—a mid-ranking member of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq leadership structure with ties to Lebanon, swept up by the British in Basra a few days before as part of the closing act of SINBAD. A


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