We talked for awhile longer, and I realized my stomach was rumbling. The Director looked at the clock and it was already 4.30.
"Mr. Takano, why don't we stop for now? I will have a team of my agents to guard you, and we can reconvene tomorrow."
"Sounds good, Sir." I smiled, "My stomach thinks my throat's been cut."
He laughed. A tall, dark haired Sabra walked in. "This is Shimon Ilan. He will be your head of detail."
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Eilan." I said, shaking his hand.
"Please, call me Shimon." He said.
"And I am Ken." I said.
"Good. I think this will be good."
"I just need to pick up my stuff at the Sheraton."
"Oh, no need." Said Shimon, "The Sheraton is safe enough."
I looked in askance to the Director, who smiled blandly. "The Sheraton is our territory, you might say. Very safe area."
I quirked an eyebrow. "OK, if you say so."
We got into a Grey BMW and headed back to the Hotel. I swear the drivers in Tel Aviv must all have been taught by people who learned to drive in New York City. Shimon just laughed.
"You must learn to relax more, Ken." He said.
"Ack" was my reply. "Getting killed by whacko terrorists is one thing. Getting killed in a stupid traffic accident is another."
We headed into the hotel, where I got my next surprise. "OK, I should have known." I said. He was sitting at the bar in tan cargo shorts and wearing an outlandish Hawaiian shirt and drinking with Harold and Dave.
"Hello, Mr Takano," said Nick Savage. "Let me introduce you to two of my new hires – Dave Marin and Harold Smith – they seem to be working out quite well, for their first month on the job."
I had to chuckle – what else could I do? "Yes, they are."
It turned out, that Dave and Harold had, indeed, told me the God's Honest Truth – they had just got out of the Army, and bought a Microbus, to sell in Israel.
"It's a good deal," said Savage. "A lot of GI's do exactly that. There are some folks who actually are making a living at it."
"Damn" I said.
"So," he said. "I have a few people doing it, just riding through the area and keeping tabs on stuff."
"The Director got in touch with us when he heard about your plane, and diverted us to Iraq." Said Harold.
"Closest assets I had" grimaced Savage. "Arif burned all my networks I had with the Baath"
"We had made contact with some remaining assets when we found out that you were on the run with Saddam" said Dave.
"There is some debate on that" said Savage. "We are not at all sure if Saddam was released early, released because his cousin wanted to get him out of there, or released because he was supposed to be "killed while fleeing capture".
I had a queasy feeling.
"He is a somewhat feared character in Iraq, as an overly ambitious and unprincipled bastard." Said Shimon.
"Well, he's a dead Bastard." I said. "At least he married his son's mother before he died, unlike his father, so Uday will at least HAVE an official father."
"Oh, wow, man, you meant this guy was a bastard in the legal sense, in like illegitimate birth, you weren't like just cussing at him?" said Dave.
"Naw, I said, he was illegitimate, in that his father, one "Abid al-Majid" got his mom pregnant, skipped town and disappeared."
"Bummer, Man" pronounced Harold, taking a drink of his beer.
I considered what new course Iraq might take without Saddam at the helm.
"Why don't we get some food?" suggested Shimon. "This place has an excellent all-you-can-eat buffet."
"That sounds fine." I enthused. "I am famished."
"They are going to lose money on us tonight" laughed Harold.
A little while later, Dave asked "what did you say this was called, man?"
" shawarma " laughed Shimon.
"Man, you can get them back home in LA, we call the taco árabe, "Arabian Tacos" – I guess I should have expected them here." Said Dave.
"Well, I never saw them in Portland, Oregon," said Harold. "Either swarmas or Arabian Tacos…heck it was hard enough to get Mexican food in Portland, let alone Middle eastern. Lots of Chinese food, though."
"Well," said Director Savage, "this job is certainly giving your taste buds an education."
"That's true enough, Sir." Said Harold. "I know my friends back home think I'm a nut for wandering around the world and living like a hippie vagabond."
He looked at Harold, sharply. "I hope you haven't told them why you're doing this."
"Oh, hell no, sir" said Harold, "Just keeping my cover as a flower child fool and weirded out GI. If I went home, I'd be on a fishing boat or working in a sawmill. I can always go back and do that later. Or go to college, I still have the GI bill. But – I'll only be young once. I just wish Mr. Takano had headed out through Kuwait. I would have like to have seen Babylon or the Tigris-Euphrates Area."
"Got a yen for archeology?" I quipped.
"Kind of," Harold replied.
"Well, maybe we can squeeze in a tour of the Holy Land this time." I said. "I know I'd like to." I looked at Shimon and Director Savage.
"I'll see what we can do." Said the Director. "An archeologist is a good cover, if you decide to stay in this line of work, Mr. Smith."
"Hey, maybe these guys have a tuition-aid program." I suggested. "you can do the Indiana Jones thing."
"Who?" said Harold. I got strange looks from everybody at the table.
*Shit!* I thought to myself. "Sorry," I said. "It was an old pulp-fiction hero of the thirties. I found a bunch of the stories in a used book store. He was an archeologist, and got into all sorts of adventures, fighting Nazis, and the Japanese, and all sorts of bad guys and pirates, and stuff like that."
"Oh" said the director. "I know the genre, if not the stories themselves."
"An archeologist would be fine." Said Harold. "Adventure isn't what it is cracked up to be."
"Hey, if Uncle Sugar pays your college costs, go for it, dude" I advised. "College ain't cheap."
"Point" said Harold.
"What's the quote?" I quipped. "Adventure is something nasty, dirty, and dangerous, happening to somebody else, thousands of miles away." I smiled, "and on that note, I need another beer – anybody else want one?"
"Really wasn't any adventure on this trip." Said Dave, when I came back. "I mean, we saw some cool sights, go some neat snap shots…went into some places the Agency wanted us to go, took some readings, took pictures, had the cops chase us out of places where the "stupid American hippies" had gotten lost…but no James-Bond-type adventures."
Shimon looked at me – "He had those."
"Eh." I made a face. "I reference my earlier comment. "Nasty, dirty, dangerous." – and if it was a "James-Bond-type" adventure, I want a "James-Bond-type" girl to go with it!" I drank some of my beer. "sheesh!"
They all laughed.
That was one good thing about my eight year old body. Kind of strange. It was young and strong. I had trained hard, so it was well muscled, so with my better than normal height of 5 foot four inches and my adult mannerisms, I just looked like a somewhat short young man.
But, I hadn't hit puberty yet, so that problem wasn't bad. I swear, sometimes, I think that part of the body pulls so much oxygenated blood away from the brain that it causes hypoxia and brain damage. It seems like it for me.
I was hoping that I could negotiate puberty better, this time around.
It wasn't a late night for me – I was still a bit worn from the Iraq trip, so with a full belly and two beers, I was back in the room by nine.
Shimon set himself up in the main room of the suite, watching the TV, and said there would be another agent to relieve him in a bit.
"I have a room here, so I will see you at 7.30 for breakfast, OK?"
"Sounds good" I said. "'Night"
I closed the door and hooked a chair under the knob just in case. Like I said, I am a paranoid SOB. But then again, is it really paranoia when there are people out to get you?
Nice comfortable bed and a second good nights sleep.
I was clean and ready at 0730 when Shimon showed up. Surprisingly, so were Harold and David. I looked in askance at them.
"We packed it early last night, too." Said Dave. "We're meeting the Boss for breakfast downstairs, and then head over to meet the rest of the Honcho's at Nine."
"Sounds good." I said.
When we got on the road, I was surprised when the driver took us in a different direction. I figured it was the old – "different routes" schtick, but we headed down Berkowitz street to the Japanese Embassy, where we picked up two familiar faces.
"Dad, Hiro-san!" I exclaimed.
"Boy, what did I tell you about being careful!" said Dad.
That, THAT sounded so familiar, I had some water in my eyes…"How's mom doing?" I said.
"OK." He replied. "She wanted to come, also, but that long a plane ride seemed like a bad idea."
"Yeah." I said. "I hope yours was better than mine."
He snorted. "I think JAL is being real paranoid about engine manifolds lately, for some reason."
I looked at Hiro. "Hirogama-san, how are you? What happened?"
He was a bit shamefaced. "They used drugs on me, Steven-san. They seemed to sense there was something odd about you, but – I can remember the questions they asked, but they seemed to make no sense."
"We'll talk more, later" I said quickly.
We were talking in Japanese, and the others were looking oddly at us, so I switched to English, and introduced everybody.
This time, we went to a basement conference room in the Mossad building.
I had a fairly prestigious audience of both Israeli Air Force Officers, as well as some Ground Force Officers and two of their Navy officers.
Lt Colonel Shimon was there – and he introduced me. "Mr Takano, we've been discussing this "Blue flag Concept" and this C3I concept you were telling myself and Major Marcus about. We've been discussing it since our return from Japan, but our leaders wanted to discuss it with you directly."
Hoo-boy! Talk about the hot seat!
A General stood up. I stared in wonder at his rank tabs. It was one of those mistakes you don't ever make twice. He had one gold oak leaf cluster – in the US, that is a Major – an O-4. In Israeli service – that is an Aluf – a Major General, an O-8, – or a two-star General, for those of not up on General Officer Ranks.
"Mr. Takanom," he said, " I am Aluf Ariel Sharon."
I gulped. Hey, what else do you do? This guy was already a big name in Israel, from the War of Indepence, and the Suez Crisis. He was an paratrooper, and the head of the Special forces School and their Armor School. This guy was like Francis Marion, Robert Rogers, William Darby, and George S Patton rolled into one package.
"I'm familiar with some of the innovations and the devices that we've gotten from the Ookami group, and I understand that you are a major part of this group."
"Yes sir." I said.
"I was expecting some one a bit…older than you appear to be." He said, narrowing his eyes. "I find it hard to reconcile the breadth of your supposed experience with your apparent youth."
I put my hands palms up, in the classic "SAC shrug" "Sir," I began.
Director Savage stood up. "Aluf Sharon. I think you know me." He said. "I do know a bit about Mr Takano, and his background. At this time, you and others in this room, are not cleared for the full disclosure of the ways and means by which he has obtained the information that he is about to tell you about. However," he said, holding up a hand to forestall comment "I can vouch for the content." He sat down.
"Aluf Sharon, and the rest of you gentlemen." I said, sweeping my gaze over the room, "what we will talk about is classified to at least the Top Secret Level – as would term it in the US. Dissemination of this information to uncleared parties WOULD have detrimental effects to the safety and security of your nation – Israel, that is. Do I make myself clear?"
I chuckled. "I would – possibly – be making myself some rather indignant enemies iin the US, if they knew I was telling you gentlemen about this." I looked at director Savage. "I do hope I can reference your presence here as prima facie evidence that I can talk to them about this, Sir?"
He smiled. "We'll discuss legalisms later – but yes, there is no current problem with discussing this material here…my recommendation is that the Israelis classify it with the equivalent of our "Top Secret – NO FORN" – and do not discuss it with the Americans or any other allies for some time."
Eli David looked thoughtful. "I think that is a wise precaution."
"OK," I said, "TOP Secret – NO FORN" it is. Is that clear? – any other questions before I begin?"
Dad and Hiro-san had brought all my slides and notes from the briefings and talks I had given in Japan. I wound up spending the next two weeks talking until I was hoarse.
Oh, it wasn't all bad. I got to do something I did not get a chance to do in my first life – go cruising over Israel in a Fouga Magister, checking out the borders, which was very cool.
The notion of an L3E Tabby in the Radar AEW was an eye opener to the Israelis. The EC-121 Warning Stars had been in USAF service since 1953, and the US Navy WV-2 Willy Victors had been around since 1954 – I had checked, it was the same as OTL. But these folks seemed to have not heard of the concept yet.
The advantages of an Airborne Battle Management System, however, was not lost on them. Especially if, we could get the sort of advances in electronic miniaturization I was hoping for, and get the data processing and encryption rates I was looking for.
Putting Japanese and Israeli scientists on the job, with some well placed hints, seemed like a good bet.
Doing it on the cheap, with an aircraft design that had originally flown in 1933 – tickled my fancy. Of course, it was also a good cover.
"Nobody will look for super-secret technology in what looks like an old, obsolete junk heap." Mused Major Marcus. "Sneaky. I like it."
The money details – I left to the money men. The corporate people who like such things were busily discussing such things.
Uzi Gal – the former Gotthard Glas was a very easy guy to talk to – and fascinated with the KRISS. So was Yisrael Galil. They also liked the Picatinny rails and the Patrol sling concept.
We spent some considerable time talking about their designs, and the KRISS. Myself, I'm strictly an amateur. I mean, sure, I'm an engineer, and I worked in a machine shop, making pistols for a couple of years, and my father in the OTL, was a registered gunsmith – but not on the level of these guys.
This was impressive.
The Israelis had not spent a lot of time and training on the concept of room clearing – you just did it.
The idea of scientifically doing – "racked, stacked and packed" – with sector assigned to each person and videotapes of the sessions – was a new idea.
At first – seemed stupid to them. But when I started training men in room clearing, and then putting my trained units up against men doing the old way – the casualty scores were impressive.
This was just the splatball shotguns. But – with real shotguns, or rifles, those men would be dead.
"Israel is a small country." I said. "You cannot afford to lose soldiers needlessly."
"Indeed" said Moshe Dayan – who was, at this point, a retired IDF General, and an out-of-office politician. I wasn't sure why exactly, Director David had invited him. Hell, I thought he was already the Israeli Defense Minister! – But I guess that was next year.
Anyway, he was here, and favorably impressed. A lot of these guys were still having trouble with – hah – the translation was "the Jap Punk" – but the trouble was, the techniques worked.
It was a fun time for me. I got to work in some good CQB techniques. I had always been fascinated with the Israeli Krav Mega fighting style and this gave me a chance to really work with the experts.
The Sayyaret – their Special Forces folks were not sure what to make of me – since I looked to young to be as good as I was, but we got in some good training.
The first of the Ghost Rider birds got into the Negev, on their long flight from Japan. Admittedly, they could only survive in an environment with no enemy air threat – but, given air superiority, they could chew up ground forces with ease.
"It is like an artillery that can shift from one end of the country to the other in only a hour or so – no small thing." Observer Ezer Weizman, the Air Force Chief of Staff.
"Well," I said, "Not heavy Artillery." I shrugged. "Now, if you had C-130s," and I told him of the USAF AC-130 Specter, with the 105mm howitzer in the left paratroop door.
"Good God" he said. "How does it fly, with 105 mm howitzer in the back of the plane? Are they crazy?"
I shrugged. "It works." I said. "If its crazy and it works"
"I know" he said, "It isn't crazy."
He looked thoughtful. "I wonder if we can get some of those Hercules Transports…"
By the middle of September, I was ready to head home. This time, our flight plan was keeping us away from Iraq, and, hopefully, it would be an uneventful trip.
Which it was, totally boring, which was fine by me.
Getting home and getting back to my studies was a good thing. I wanted those diplomas to be real in this world, to go with what I was claiming.
October flowed by, and then, on Halloween, mom went into labor. We were all kind of surprised, and a little worried, since the doc had said she was due on the middle of November.
But, right around sunset, on All-Hallows Eve, my little brother was born. They named him Michael, since I had told them that was what my little brother was named in the OTL.
Of course, as I looked at the dark haired little bundle, I wondered who this little guy was?
Was he the same Mike I knew OTL? Or had the butterflies of change shuffled the deck and given me somebody else?
I was going to have to wait and find out.
Comments always welcome
Author's Note - I think I'm going to close this thread here at Halloween '65 - and open another one in the series. It's already 97 pages at this point. 36,034 words seems like a good place to halt.