"Nathan, you did what?" On the phone with Hannah, Nate had just told her about his encounter with Hajji. He expected her to feel some of the same excitement as he. How often do you get to help a spy? But Hannah had been unexpectedly subdued during the telling. And he had attributed her long silence afterward to awe. But now, without the benefit of seeing her face, he wasn't sure how to read her response. Because it sounded suspiciously like a reprimand would follow that last statement.
"Yeah, I know. Crazy, right?" Nate said.
"How could you? That's aiding and abetting a terrorist."
Here we go. "A falsely accused terrorist," Nate corrected.
"You don't know that! Maybe he lied to you."
"I believe him."
"Nathan, we need to contact the authority and tell them the man they're looking for is still here in North Carolina.
"What! No! We can't do that. They'll put him away then he'll never get his information to the people who need it."
"Nathan, if they capture him, and if his story is true, the people needing his information will just go to him and verify that he's a spy. He'll be release. No harm done."
"No Hannah, it won't work that way. He's been made to look like a homegrown terrorist living with the Taliban for three years. Only two other people know the truth and one of them is missing. The only other person who can help is this General at the Pentagon. But he's never actually met Hajji. The only proof Hajji has of being a U.S. operative is on that USB."
"Right, and you said he took the place of someone else who was supposed to be on that plane?"
"Yeah, see, he got the USB in the mail. His contact sent it with a note two days before they were supposed to meet. The note said his contact's cover was blown. It told Hajji the USB would expose an enemy agent high up in the government. But they don't know about Hajji. That's why the information was sent to him to deliver."
"But you said he needed to deliver it to the Pentagon, Nathan. He was on a plane to North Carolina. It doesn't make sense."
"No, you don't understand. Now he has to deliver it to the Pentagon. Before they stormed the plane he was trying to deliver it to MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. That's where the war is being run you know," Nate said like he hadn't just learned it two hours ago. "He was supposed to make a connecting flight from here."
"Okay, did he give you a name of someone who could verify his story?"
"Yeah, this General at the Pentagon, but the General can't verify who Hajji is until he sees what's on that USB. No one knows what he looks like, Hannah. That's the only reason they didn't catch him on the plane. They were looking for the guy whose place he took."
"Just give me the name of the General. I'll check it out."
"Yeah? And how will you do that?"
"General Towell owes my father a favor."
"The General Towell? Of Desert Storm? My dad served under him."
"Yes, so did mine. He said if we ever needed anything we should call. Tell me...