Authors: Michael James Gallagher
Tags: #Jewish, #Mystery, #Teen, #Spy, #Historical, #Conspiracy, #Thriller, #Politics, #Terrorism, #Assassination, #Young Adult, #Military, #Suspense
All rights reserved, without limiting the rights under
copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored
in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any
means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without
the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands,
media, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are
used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark
owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been
used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not
authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Copyright © 2013
Michael James Gallagher
All rights reserved.
Cover by Rajan Vivek
Careful final edit by
Mary Ann Hoskin
Format for Kindle and
Createspace by Lorena Wood
Ilona - The love of my life
endless encouragement and patience
Sidewinder snake tracks,
etched in the cool sand of the Sinai Desert, gave her a pause. It was not much
of a breather. Odd how death can be so close by, she thought as she packed the
last of her items. The day ahead ensured no time for reflection. All around her
was the bustle of military preparation for departure. They were Special Forces
troops. No one needed orders. Kefira, who was the sole politically appointed
Colonel in the Israeli Defence Forces before joining the Mossad, beamed as her
team broke camp. The highly trained group was performing tasks in silence.
One of the approaching Sikorsky-manufactured Black Hawks
droned in the distance. The second bird, affixed with highly secret noise
suppression baffles, breezed over the dunes. After the helicopters settled
down, fourteen commandos boarded the noisy one. Kefira and seven soldiers
clambered into the silent one. As soon as Kefira got into the co-pilot's seat,
the 'copter lifted off. The pilot wound their way above the same ancient flood
plain that Moses followed in around 1300 BC. It passed over Wadi Watir, a
narrow, meandering valley, and descended to the sea from the Sinai plateau.
Kefira's Black Hawk brought up the rear, five hundred meters
behind and to the right of the first chopper, heading towards Nuweiba on the
Red Sea. Tired but satisfied, she surveyed the territory in front of her.
Egyptian military air traffic control had approved their flight plan, even
though the Israeli group did not state their final destination.
How'd Yochana organize those flight plans into and out of
Egyptian territory? wondered Kefira, as they flew less than thirty feet over
the dunes and hard-packed surface of the Sinai.
The helicopters' approach to the Red Sea ordained a turn
south to avoid Nuweiba, a small tourist town, reputedly marking the exact place
where Moses led the Tribes of Israel out of Egypt. They veered right, over the
dunes towards the water, heading into international airspace on the way to
Late last evening, Kefira had ordered that all commandos be
dressed in civilian clothes for the way home. A strong gut feeling had
encouraged her to order that extra safeguard; it was just a gut reaction. The
team had packed their unmarked uniforms and now wore untagged civilian clothes.
After all, they carried no personal belongings, not even matches for cigarettes
in their pockets. Kefira's group was unique, made up of ultra-secret sleepers.
Mossad had not trained the Colonel's squad for combat. Not one of them had a
Kefira was drifting in and out of alertness, due to both
fatigue and relief because the exercise was over, when a communication from the
leading 'copter interrupted her thought process.
"Movement in the sand on that dune near the beach …
Christ, he's got an RPG! It's on us. I'm locked on him."
She could not believe her ears and eyes. Tracers were
blasting through the early morning light towards a man rising from a mound of
"Aim low," burst Kefira into her headset
microphone, disregarding the futility of precision battlefield commands, as her
Black Hawk responded to emergency measures initiated by the pilot and swerved
to get some distance from the lead 'copter as it was now spinning out of
When the force of the exploding rocket shuddered over the
second bird, the pilot managed to maintain equilibrium as the shockwave knocked
the technologically-silenced command helicopter to the right. A split second
later, the lead 'copter crashed and burst into flame. The strength of
detonating fuel thrust three burning soldiers out of the space that was the
side hatch where the RPG struck. They did not move after the explosion ejected
them. Presumably the rest of the team was still belted into seats. A 'Mayday'
message echoed twice before, ending abruptly when the Black Hawk struck the
"Set us down, Captain, close as your dare,"
ordered the Mossad agent, her voice leveling off despite the shock, training
As the pilot took two wide sweeps over the area, Kefira
surveyed both the smoldering wreckage of the first helicopter and the
surrounding dunes for movement. She turned to her new second in command.
"Shark. Until further notice, you are in charge of this
unit. Take three of your people and check the downed bird for survivors. It may
be a trap. Cover your backs," said the Mossad operative, purposefully
using a code name, not his rank. As a result, she imposed ultra-secret, sleeper
rules of engagement.
"Set us down on the dunes near the bloody stain in the
sand, close enough to get quick access, but far enough not to endanger the
"Ma'am, rules of engagement preclude staying on the
ground," replied the pilot, not using Kefira's rank because Mossad is a
civilian organization, not a military one.
"Then drop down low enough, Captain, so we can drop to
the sand and then return to circling. That bastard in the sand murdered my
They hovered after the pilot flew two circular sweeps over
"Ma'am, your team out," said the pilot as he
steadied the craft. Due to her out of the ordinary, politically mandated
training protocol, the leader of a top-secret, non-combat section of Mossad's
Metsada was about to see her first non-training-related action.
She launched herself out of the craft, rolled, and then
crouched. Her target, the bomber, was bleeding and half buried in the sand on
the side of a dune. Death's stench almost overwhelmed her. The smell of sixteen
burning bodies, mixed with equal parts of cordite, overheated metal and
high-octane fuel filled her nostrils. She forced the smells and her
accompanying involuntary reactions to them out of her mind. Kefira needed to be
sure she was concentrating enough to save her life if the man in the sand was
still alive and capable of assaulting her.
Kefira slid down from the top of a dune. She arrived just
above the bloody spot in the sand. Her movements had first covered the bomber
with sand and then uncovered him, as she got closer. Sand slowly drifted away
from the man's face, cascading down the dune in front of both of them. Kefira
took his head and neck in her hands.
Chance had resulted in the machine gun fire only injuring
his legs. The bomber moaned. His eyes opened and he looked at her. In Egyptian
accented Arabic, he mustered up most of his strength to mutter, "Allah be
praised, a wide-eyed maiden I find in the Garden." All the while an ethereal
smile relieved his otherwise pained expression. Noticing that he was fast
bleeding out, and grateful for all the language training she had suffered
through over the years, Kefira spoke softly.
"My hero, tell me, who has sent you to me?"
He paused, evaluating his answer. "MacAuley, the
unwashed," he replied, uttering his last three syllables as she snapped
his neck. He'd have bled out anyway.
Now that he was limp in her arms, Kefira took stock of the
suicide vest he was wearing. Her training governed her movements as a bead of
sweat formed on her right eyebrow. Never taking her eyes from the vest, she let
the salty brine sting her eye. She eased herself away from him. Kefira was
satisfied that she had done her duty, yet felt empty, because revenge had not
been cleansing. She took a deep breath, stood, surveyed the area, and moved
over the top of the dune, pistol extended in front of her with slightly relaxed
elbows. She used a hand signal to get the chopper. It circled and came down to
pick her and the others up on an adjacent dune, far enough away that any
explosion of the vest would not harm them.
"Over the water to Eilat and radio ahead our
situation," Kefira barked before the door had closed on her side of the
baffled 'copter. She put on her headset.
"Wait. His vest could be used as evidence. Circle
around and clean this up. No loose ends," she added.
Twice in one day I defied death. A snake had wound by my
sack in the night without biting me, and now a bomb in my hands that didn't
explode. This second piece of good luck had inadvertently rewarded her breaking
of the normal rules of engagement, perhaps risking the lives of her remaining
troops by trying to question a presumably dead bomber. Once again, though, her
gut reactions paid off. A self-satisfied grin formed on her face.
A name. I risked the other 'copter, but I got a name.
"Right away, Ma'am," retorted the pilot, raising
the eyebrow she couldn't see, thinking that this one had balls of steel. The
dune exploded after a short burst from the 7.62 calibre guns triggered the
bomber′s vest. The pilot looked at Kefira again. "I would've caught
it, Ma'am, if you'd been hurt down there."
Kefira squinted. "I'll cover for you in my report,
She shook her head and said, "He thought I was his
first virgin in Paradise. He even called me his wide-eyed maiden."
They're trained reactions, just like ours, Ma'am. It's all a
matter of perspective.″
Kefira clammed up and went into planning mode. Her mission
was more important than this event, even though this tragedy had truncated her
ability to continue the sleeper's mission that she and Yochana had so long
planned. Fourteen of them are gone, not including the pilot and co-pilot, she
thought, aghast by the reality.
All those years living in America for nothing. The bomber
had taken almost everything away in a flash. Her thoughts spun in a negative
and unproductive feedback loop. In shock, Kefira was unable to get her usual
cool grip on reality. She took out a pencil, pad of paper, and wrote a message
for the pilot.
By means of a rarely used code word written on top of the
pad, referring to the direct intervention of the Prime Minister, Kefira
overrode any of the pilot's previous orders. She knew that the regular army,
Shin Bet (Internal Security), or even Aman (Military Intelligence) must not
stop her for questioning.
She could not go with the remaining members of her team to
Eilat Airport. Internal security would question them and eventually release them
to their respective group leaders, Sam or Yochana, but the authorities must not
associate Kefira officially with the trainees, the unknown, undocumented
sleepers. If she stayed on the transport, the authorities would hold her in
Eilat and make her de-briefing in her unique chain of command impossible.
Seeing the rarely used code word, the Captain glared at the
agent. Politicos, he thought. But, he indicated his understanding. She nodded
back. Kefira's rank of Colonel in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) was a
political, not military attribution. She had never served in the armed forces,
only trained in a special ultra-secret unit.
"Head back to the shore just after Nuweiba and let me
off near one of the most secluded resorts," she ordered, tearing up the
message she had written, keeping it in her hand to let it flutter in the air
after she would get out of the ′copter. She knew she would take one of
the old Mercedes taxis that carried tourists the sixty-five kilometers up the
road to Taba. From Taba, she would make her way to Eilat as a tourist using the
Canadian passport she always carried in case of emergency.
From her side pocket, she unfolded a lightweight carry all
and went into the compartment behind her to look at what was left of her team.
She looked deeply into each of their eyes and noiselessly uttered, "We are
one." Tears clouded the eyes of two members, but determination girded
Kefira prepared to leave the sound-baffled,
technologically-enhanced Black Hawk for a second time, filling her
over-the-shoulder bag with clothes borrowed from her team's supplies to make
her clandestine arrival in Eilat more convincing.
From the beach drop off area, where the helicopter left
Kefira, it was a short walk to an isolated beach resort. In front of the hotel,
Kefira found her transport to Taba. A group of young Arab men, in clothes
resembling Saudi dress more than local garb, stood around smoking and talking.
There were two dated Mercedes parked between them. She approached, purposefully
showing exposed arms and legs, and asked in English if she could get a ride to
The drivers of the improvised taxis looked at each other,
passing comments about her uncovered arms and legs, but nodded agreement to her
at the same time. A short negotiation produced an open door in the back of the
newer looking car. One young man, all teeth, climbed into the front seat. She
was on her way to Taba, the Egyptian city near the border with Israel, near
The driver had pitched his cigarette out of respect, but now
his nostrils quivered as if he sensed some smell of high-octane fuel and death
by fire on her. She saw some faint memory of the odor of death gloss over his
eyes in the rear view mirror and covered herself by asking for a cigarette.
Appearing relieved, he forgot his concern, and was happy that he would be able
to smoke on the sixty-five kilometer drive. He made no attempt to converse with
her and occupied his time alternating between gold-toothed smiles and fiddling
with a radio that alternately played short bursts of either music or static.
Other than periodic stops to look at the radiator, smoke, and talk with
returning taxi drivers stopped on the route from Taba, the drive was
Kefira was growing more confident by the minute. In Taba,
she made her way to the casino after dinner in the Marriot Hotel. As she walked
in the front door, she saw what she was sure would be her lift into Israel,
sitting by the bar with a BMW keychain in front of him.