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The Russian Woman -- Alex Lukeman



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The Enemy
Book Twenty Three

Neuroscientist Jaleh Kezri has created a genetically modified protein that can be activated by remote transmission. Once inside the bloodstream, it can program the brain to fight disease. But for those with darker intentions it can be directed to cause pain and sickness...even death.

A small group of powerful men wants to establish a totalitarian world government. They plan to infect the world’s population with the protein. Then everyone will be forced to obey the new rulers or suffer terrible consequences.

The Project team begins a life and death struggle to stop the cabal. If they fail, millions will die. A new world order will arise, ending freedom everywhere.

The stakes for humanity have never been higher...



Chapter 1


The scorpion scuttled across the hard packed earth on top of the hill, looking for something to eat. An insect, a spider, or a centipede, anything would do, the scorpion wasn’t picky. It crawled around a square metal object rising out of the ground and continued on, past the man lying motionless a few feet away.

The scorpion was a “death stalker,” one of deadliest creatures on earth. If it decided to wander over and check him out, he might have to move. But if he moved, one of the satellites high up in the Iranian sky might see him. He watched it crawl out of sight and breathed a small sigh of relief.

Full dark was minutes away. He waited another hour, until the only light came from the vast spread of stars overhead. Without any pollution from nearby humans, the stars threw plenty of light to see by. He moved out from under his camouflage netting, rolled it up, and placed it to the side. Then he opened the pack lying next to him.

First he took out an object that looked like a child’s toy. It had an antenna, four rubber wheels, and an odd appendage that looked something like a miniature elephant’s trunk. He reached again into the pack and extracted the control unit. It had a screen, a tiny joystick, and several buttons. It was about the size of a smart phone, but it wasn’t a phone. The technology it contained went far beyond that.

He pushed a button. A tiny green light lit on the device with the wheels. The screen on the control unit came alive. He touched the joystick and the device rolled forward.

In a darkened room on the other side of the world, a technician in an Air Force uniform sat in front of a console and a large monitor. Two men in civilian clothes stood behind him. The monitor showed only a blinking red dot. Suddenly the screen lit with greenish light, illuminating a low, square object sticking out of the earth.

“Sir, GHOST is online.”

“About time,” one of the men said. “Took him long enough.”

“Now we’ll see what those bastards are up to,” the second man said.

They watched as the camera mounted on the mobile unit moved toward the object. They were looking at the top of a ventilation shaft. The picture changed, moving over the edge of the shaft, then looking down and in.

“He’s deployed the snake,” the technician said.

They watched as the image dropped down through the shaft. There was little to see. The camera mounted on the end of the snake moved through a dark tunnel of metal duct work. Then the image grew brighter.

“Something ahead, sir,” the technician said.

The camera came to a large vent in the side of the duct work and paused to look through the grid into the room beyond.

“It’s a laboratory,” the first man said.

“Yeah, but what kind?” his companion said.

“Look along that wall. Those are animal cages. It must be a bio lab.”

“Where are the animals? Wait a second. Why aren’t any of them moving? You see what I see?”

“Shit. They’re all dead.”

The camera moved.

“Oh, oh,” the second man said. “Not just the animals. The director isn’t going to like this.”

At that instant, the screen went dark. The red dot that represented GHOST disappeared.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know, sir. The connection is gone. So is the GPS locator on GHOST.”

“Shit,” the first man said again.

“Better hope they didn’t take him alive,” the second man said.


Chapter 2


Clarence Hood sat in Elizabeth Harker’s office, sipping coffee with the woman who was his friend and sometimes lover. Elizabeth ran the Harker Group, technically a consulting firm. Calling it a consulting firm was like calling the Roman legions a marching band.

In the past, her team had operated under the protection of the U.S. President, but that was no longer the case. In the relentless cycle of American politics, a new administration had entered the White House with different ideas about how the country should be run. The current occupant was a man who believed in personal and political agendas first and the country second.

One of his first actions was to proclaim a new era of transparency. He’d denounced U.S. involvement with covert operations. At the first available opportunity, he’d  withdrawn government support from Elizabeth and her team.

Elizabeth had taken the group private. Official or not, there was a lot of demand for the specialized skills her team could provide. She had powerful contacts scattered around the globe, and a reputation for getting results. She no longer had the blessing of the White House, but not much else had changed. 

Clarence Hood was a former director of the CIA. After the new president fired him, he established a strategic think tank, the Hood Foundation. There were few people Elizabeth respected for their intelligence and perception, but Clarence was one of them. She waited for him to tell her what was on his mind. From long experience, she knew the look on his face meant he was concerned about something.

“Come on, Clarence, out with it. What’s going on? You look like the end of the world is coming.”

He put his coffee cup down on her desk.

“That’s the problem,” he said. “It might be.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“I wish I could say no, but I’m worried, Elizabeth.”

She waited. Hood took a thumb drive from his pocket.

“Before I say anything more, I’d like you to watch this. No one is supposed to know about it. I’m not supposed to have it. If you watch it with me, you’ll be breaking every secrecy law on the books and probably some even I haven’t heard of.”

“And your point is…?”

Clarence laughed. “Okay, I just thought I’d give you a chance to back off before you’re involved.”

He handed her the drive. Elizabeth plugged it into her computer. They both turned to look at the monitor on the wall, where a greenish image filled the screen. A “play” message blinked at them.

“What am I looking at?” Elizabeth asked.

“That is the top of a ventilation shaft. What you’re about to see was taken a week ago. The location is way out in the boonies of southern Iran. There isn’t anything of any consequence within a hundred miles of this place.”

“Ah. Our old friends the Iranians.”

“The White House has decided to dismiss what’s on this recording. It seems like it’s always the same people making decisions when it comes to Iran. Either they don’t believe the mullahs are serious about WMDs and using them, or they simply don’t care because they’re making too much money looking the other way. What’s on here could create a real shit storm. It could screw up deals with the Iranians that are making some people rich.”

“You’re getting cynical, Clarence. Washington has been making deals with the mullahs for a long time.”

“Yes, but this is different. Go ahead and run the video. Then I’ll tell you the rest of it.”

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows and clicked on “play.” They watched as the camera entered the shaft, dropping down and around until it came to a screen where it could look out on the room below.

“Pause it there,” Clarence said.

Elizabeth studied the screen. “A laboratory,” she said. “Animal cages, but they’re all sleeping or…Oh. I see. They’re all dead.”

“Right. Let it play.”

The camera panned around the room. Two people in white coats lay on the floor, their bodies twisted and contorted. A dead man slumped backward in the chair at his desk, lips pulled away from his teeth in agony, the front of his shirt streaked with black vomit. Then the screen went dark.

“That’s it?”

“That’s all there is,” Clarence said. “It was sent in real time to Langley by satellite. The transmission was cut short. Since then there’s been no contact with the operative who took that video. He didn’t show up for his extraction and he hasn’t been heard from.” 

“I won’t ask how you got this.”

“I wouldn’t tell you. In this case, you don’t need to know that.”

“When are you going to realize I don’t need protection, Clarence?”

Hood smiled. “I figured that out a long time ago, Liz. But you still don’t need to know.”

“Mmm. You said you were going to tell me the rest of it after we watched the video.”

“What we just watched tells us Tehran has developed a bio weapon of some kind. A plague, a gas, something really nasty. There must have been an accident at that lab and it got loose. Our problem is we don’t know exactly what it is. The people who ought to be doing something about it have decided not to rock the boat.”

“Politicians never like an inconvenient truth, unless it’s to their advantage,” Elizabeth said.

“One of the reasons I started the Foundation was to try and make a case for stronger national security. This is a good example of why we need it. Those fools in the White House want to look the other way when it comes to Iran. However, there’s an opportunity to make them pay attention. That’s where you come in.”

“I’m listening.”

“A top scientist in the Iranian Ministry of Science wants to defect. There are two opposing factions at Langley. Likewise in the Pentagon and the White House. One faction wants to avoid provoking Iran at any cost. From their point of view, helping this person defect would be a major provocation. The other wants to get her out of there as quickly as possible.”


“Her name is Jahleh Kezri. She’s a genius, a major player in their weapons research program.”

“You’d think getting her out would be a top priority.”

“You and I would think that. But that doesn’t square with the new way of doing things at the White House.”

“Sometimes the stupidity of people who gain power in our country boggles my mind,” Elizabeth said.

She looked at Clarence.

“Where do I come in?”

“The Iranians have no intention of letting anyone know what was going on in that laboratory.”

“But you think Jahleh Kezri knows?”

“I’m certain she does.”

“And no one at Langley or the Pentagon or the White House wants to get her out?”

“I didn’t say that. What I said was the people in charge refuse to do anything. It doesn’t fit with their agenda.”

Elizabeth sighed.

“You want me to activate the team and extract her.”

“With the government stonewalling, there’s no one else who can do it,” Hood said.

“You’re asking me to go against the express wishes of the government. To do something that could be viewed as treason.”


“Jesus, Clarence.”

“I’m not alone in asking you to do this. I’ve had discussions with certain people who are worried about the political decisions currently coming out of the White House and the implications for our security. It’s clear something has to be done. All of us agree you are the best choice to pull this off. If you can get Kezri out of Iran, we can find out what’s going on.”

“Certain people?”

“You don’t need to know who they are, at least not yet.”

“Are they going to protect me and my team if something goes wrong?”

“I’d be lying if I gave you any guarantees.”

“So you’re appealing to my sense of patriotism over my common sense?”

“That’s about it.”

“I’ll do it on one condition.”

“Which is?”

“That everyone on the team knows what the stakes are and agrees.”

“I would expect nothing else,” Hood said.


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