The Korean Intercept

The Korean Intercept by Stephen Mertz

Book: The Korean Intercept by Stephen Mertz Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stephen Mertz
His family in Beijing had purchased for him the best education the world could provide, thanks to considerable bribery and bureaucratic sleight of hand between Beijing, Hong Kong and the West. But after his return to China came enlistment in the military, the career expected of a young man of his class. He'd shown scant capacity for military discipline, yet it was wholly in his nature to command.
    He pounded his chest with the palm of his hand. "I am a renegade from the Chinese army. The North Koreans have had a reward on my head for years. The Chinese and North Koreans both call me brilliant… and insane, yes. But they have never come close to apprehending me. My men do as they wish along both sides of the border." He saw no reason to brag of his primary source of revenue. He personally oversaw the raising of poppy plants, the production of opium in the fields and the product's transportation and ultimate sale. This revenue subsidized food farms in the region, and the food farms sustained his men. Chai said abruptly, "Identify yourselves."
    "I am Kate Daniels, co-pilot of the space shuttle
Liberty
." The woman steadied the unconscious man, propping him in an upright, sitting position in the chair. "This is our commanding officer, Flight Commander Scott." She eyed Paxton, who stepped back a pace under Chai's glare. "And this frightened fool is Specialist Robert Paxton."
    Chai chose to address the woman directly, something he would hardly have done had an able-bodied man been present. But their commander was unconscious, and Paxton reminded him of a frightened toad. "And now that I know who you are," he said, "I wish to know precisely where your aircraft is. And you will tell me."
    She stood with her feet firmly planted, evidencing a backbone that could have been made of iron. "I don't think I want to tell you, unless you promise to help us."
    He sensed that she was gaining inner strength with every passing second. There was something about this foreign Western woman, who had so literally dropped into his world from the sky, that simultaneously provoked, infuriated and aroused him. Chai concealed his aggravation beneath a mien of indolence. "If I do not find your space shuttle, miss, the Chinese army or the North Korean army will. Would that be any better for the United States?"
    "That's hardly my decision to make." She indicated the unconscious man beside her. "Commander Scott needs medical attention. We need your assistance. Sir, in the name of the American government, will you help us?"
    Chai regarded her, his arms folded, the posture he favored before meting out punishment. Everyone present was holding their breath, waiting for him to lash out at this impudent female who dared display insolence toward Chai Bin. And yet the woman herself seemed oblivious to this. Infuriating, yes. He replied in a sensible tone. "If you were lucky enough to survive the shuttle's crash landing in these mountains, then there will be equipment aboard that also survived. Let us consider a trade, dear lady. Tell me what I want to know, and I will accommodate your every request during what time you are my guests here."
    Kate snorted.
    Chai continued. "Your commander will be properly cared for, as we have a staff of excellent medics here. And I will arrange for prompt communication with your government."
    This took her aback. She blinked in surprise. "You would do this?"
    "Why should I not? The equipment aboard that shuttle is of immeasurable worth to all concerned. I intend to give America the first bid, and if that bid is unsatisfactory, I will approach the North Koreans and the Chinese. I daresay they would outbid each other to pay dearly for the technology I would be offering them."
    Kate was about to respond angrily when something happened that surprised everyone.
    Scott raised his head. His chin had remained slumped against his chest since he'd been dragged in, and he looked as if the act of raising his line of vision to Chai Bin was

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