FOREIGN EXCHANGE by Nick Hahn, due 2014

 

“What are our odds Bull?”

He answered without hesitation; “60/40 Owen. We have a 60% chance that all pieces fall into place, that human error is minimized, that weather cooperates, that enemy intel is accurate, that Alex cooperates.”

NickHahn_ForeignExchange200The air compressor outside my window snapped on, it was still hot and humid in Islamabad, I had never paid attention to it before, funny how senses intensify during times of stress.

My emotions on the surface I responded sharply:  “What do you mean if Alex cooperates?”

Bull Casey was not a diplomat, far from it, he was one tough son-of-a-bitch who tells it like it is without the varnish, he looked me in the eye as he spoke.

“Have you ever heard of the Stockholm Syndrome Owen?”

“Of course”, I snapped, “better known as the Patty Hearst defense.”

“Exactly” he emphasized.

“We have no way of knowing if Alex has been compromised, brain washed if you prefer, into believing these people have a legitimate beef against the West. In the case of Patty Hearst she claimed her captives conditioned her to believe in their political agenda and coerced her into doing their bidding during bank robberies. Look Owen, I’m not saying Alex has been turned just that we must be prepared for that possibility. Should Musa discover she is unable or unwilling to cooperate in her own rescue he’ll use chloroform. One way or the other if it’s humanly possible we’ll extract your daughter from her captors but you must understand that success, while probable, is not certain. Shit happens Owen.”

The compressor got louder, I considered what Casey had just said, I knew he was right and that we had to be prepared for anything. It was unimaginable to me that my Alex would sympathize with terrorists who’s sole mission in life was destruction of the West and our way of life.

I turned to Casey, hands clasped behind my back, stared at him and spoke slowly:

“Do it Master Chief, rescue my daughter, whatever it takes. My secure line is on voice scrambler no chance of a security breach, call me if you need me.”

He didn’t speak, just looked at me, nodded his assent and walked towards the door.