Chapter Ninety-Eight

Private Villa Near Jamshidiyeh Park

Tehran, Iran

June 16, 3:44 a.m.

After the call to LaRoque was finished, Vox was so charged with energy that he had to run around the house for several minutes just to calm down. His whole body seemed to be cranking out more energy than a nuclear power plant. He ran up and down the stairs twenty times. Finally, breathing heavily and bathed in sweat, he came back to his office and made the second call.

“It’s the middle of the damn night, Hugo,” Rasouli answered in an angry mumble. “This had better be important, or so help me.”

“Shut up and listen,” said Vox in a deep growl. “We have problems. The thing about using the phony flash drive to get the DMS to take out the Red Order-that worked like a charm. Church and his crew are ready to swat that psychopath LaRoque. You’ll come out of it looking like a hero. Rah, rah, we can all celebrate the new president of Iran. But,” Vox said, leaning heavily on the word, “there’s a wrinkle and it’s a big goddamn wrinkle. Those nukes are real. No, don’t say anything. I know what I told you, but it turns out LaRoque is even crazier than I thought he was. He didn’t just buy cases for them; turns out he had no intention of just using the photos as blackmail. No, this sick fuck bought real nukes from some black-market thugs in Kazakhstan.”

“Beard of the prophet…”

“And there really is one under the Aghajari refinery.”

The noise Rasouli made sounded to Vox like someone was choking a turkey. He jammed his mouth into the crook of his elbow to stifle a laugh. Then he took a breath and said, “Here’s the kicker. That agent you met, Captain Ledger, he’s going after the nuke. Yes, the one at Aghajari. And he’s doing it with a full American Spec Ops team. Right now. Today or maybe tomorrow at the latest. If you’re going to do something, you had better do it right goddamn now.”

He hung up before Rasouli’s head could explode. And because he couldn’t hold back his own laughter a moment longer.