Chapter 3: Arriving in Krudia
Jason and Tasha walked towards the automatic doors of the Bulin International Airport, their bags in tow. Each experiencing jet lag caused by the long flight. “I’m so glad to finally be here. It seemed like that flight would never end” Jason said, barely finishing his sentence before he yawned.
“I know what you mean. In our line of work you have to be able to do two things well – catch the bad guys and endure extremely long flights” Tasha joked causing them each to softly laugh.
They weaved their way through the crowds of people around them, headed out the airport doors, and scanned the surrounding area looking for their rendezvous point with Tarek Matthins. Surrounding them Tasha and Jason could see the gleaming skyscrapers of the city and the beautiful historic buildings, centuries-old, that stood as a constant reminder of Krudia’s impressive past. They also saw countless shops and restaurants all selling either the latest fashions, technological innovations, or food delicacies. “Do you see the toy shop Headman talked about,” asked Jason, “because I don—”
“Wait!” Tasha interrupted. “It’s right there at the intersection of Vien and Ponce de Leon, across the street,” Tasha said pointing to a two-story red brick building.
“Thanks, I see it now.”
“Hurry the light’s about to change!” Tasha exclaimed. The two of them quickly ran across the crosswalk barely making it to the other side before the waiting cars sped through the intersection. Tasha and Jason made their way to the toy shop and waited for Tarek Matthins to arrive. About fifteen minutes had passed since their arranged meeting time with their contact and still, Matthins had not shown up. While Tasha was still as calm and relaxed as ever Jason was getting more impatient and anxious by the minute. Where is Matthins we’ve been here for like…forever. I guess members of terrorist cells don’t care much about punctuality. Tasha found herself watching and amused by Jason’s ever-changing expressions as he unsuccessfully tried to hide his growing impatience. “Jason I know what you’re thinking right now. I felt the same way on my first assignment. But don’t worry you’ll get your chance to act soon enough, believe me.” Tasha said understandingly.
“Yeah, I know you’re right. I was never good at waiting for anything. One Christmas when I was six I had a really hard time going to sleep and the morning seemed just too far away. So around 3 o’clock I sneaked downstairs to the tree and opened all my presents. Needless to say, my parents and siblings were quite shocked that morning when they discovered me playing with my toy trucks and action figures in a sea of wrapping paper” Jason laughed still seeing that wonderful memory clearly in his mind.
Tasha joined in the laughter. “Somehow that’s not too hard for me to imagine,” she said, still giggling as she tried to control her laughter. “I have an idea,” Tasha continued, “for a new game to help pass the time.”
“Well, I’m game. No pun intended.” Jason and Tasha chuckled.
“How about we choose a word, take out all its vowels, and have the other person try to guess what that word is with only the consonants” Tasha suggested.
“Sounds great! I’m ready. Do your worst.” Jason joked.
“Okay, but you don’t know what you’re asking for. I have a very extensive vocabulary” Tasha fired back.
“I’m sure I can handle it. Bring it on” Jason said, confidant in his abilities.
“All right. How about n-d-f-t-g-b-l” Tasha gave him a sly smile.
“What?!” Jason asked, a somewhat shocked expression on his face.
“You said you wanted a challenge so I gave you one.”
“Yeah but…can you give me a little hint.”
“I’m afraid not. You can always give up if you like” Tasha smiled.
Jason then chuckled and shook his head from side to side. “Ah no, you don’t. I’ll get it eventually. Just give me a sec.”
“Of course. Take all the time you need” Tasha said as she crossed her arms together, almost certain she had this one in the bag. For several minutes Jason kept repeating the letters over and over again, trying to come up with a word that would work. No, it can’t be that it’s missing an “L”, no too short, hmmm, Jason thought. Finally, after a few minutes, and numerous failed mental word attempts he called out, “I think I got it! Is it…indefatigable?”
“Yes. You are…correct” Tasha said hesitantly, a little disappointed that he had figured it out.
“Yes! I knew the vocabulary I learned from Mrs. Taylor’s 9th grade English class would come in handy someday.”
“I see I’ve met someone just as competitive as myself.”
“Let’s just say I don’t like to lose.”
“Well don’t get too confident I’m sure I can do much better than that.”
“Yeah, we’ll see. But now it’s my turn so—”
“Wait,” Tasha interrupted, “I think our dear Mr. Matthins is finally here,” she said, glancing toward a man approaching them who resembled the man they had seen in a picture within the files Donovan had given them. He was short and stocky, had dark brown hair with spots of gray near his temples, and amber-colored eyes with a scar that ran across his right eye.
The man soon reached them and spoke “Hello, are you Melinda Tylerson and Edward Delucas?”
“Yes, we are” Jason spoke up.
Tarek extended out his hand to Jason “Tarek Matthins. Code sign zeta delta gamma 7104. Welcome to Krudia.”
Jason shook his hand “Thank you. It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Matthins.”
“Yes, we’ve been looking forward to our meeting” Tasha spoke as she offered her hand to Tarek.
“Likewise,” Tarek said as he also shook her hand, released it, and continued speaking, “my car is waiting just in the next alley. I’ll drive you to where my boss is waiting. There you both can discuss the deal with him in detail.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Tasha responded. The three of them walked down the street and turned into a dark alleyway where a black Mercedes was parked. In the car two large muscular men were waiting, one in the driver’s seat and the other in the back of the car, two of Dalmar’s henchmen Tasha and Jason presumed. Jason and Tasha placed their luggage in the trunk and then climbed into the car with Tarek. After they were all seated the driver took off towards Dalmar’s meeting place with Tasha and Jason.