Edge of Apocalypse: pages 241-246 (Chapter Forty-Two)
Hamad Katchi meets with Ceasar Demas. Question: Will Monsieur Demas find out if Katchi was doing a little side dealing with the Russians?
This chapter’s great, actually. It actually has some suspense and spy-thriller and Bondesque evil crime boss stuff in it. 😄
Somewhere in Hamad Katchi’s brain, all was not well. Even though all around him the azure blue seas of the Mediterranean were calm and sparkling and a gentle four-knot wind was blowing.
Katchi had been on the huge yacht of his partner, Caesar Demas, many times before (…)
The Pakistani-born arms dealer was afraid of boats. He made no pretense of that. It was the general unpredictability of the sea that gave him that unease. The undulating expanse constantly changing. He found the absence of the sight of land disconcerting. As well as the fact that it contained living, teaming creatures under the surface. Things you cannot see. But creatures that can eat you.
Great set-up 😄
So, Demas gets to the heart of the matter. He’d rather sell off (or probably auction off) the RTS-RGS documents to the highest bidder, or group of bidders:
“So,” Demas continued, “we are still of one mind, you and I, that when we are in possession of the RTS design, we should sell it to a group of willing nations. No exclusive rights to just one nation. Right? Didn’t we agree on that?”
They most certainly did. Maximize profit and all that. Demas decides to offer Katchi a gin & tonic. Settle the nerves, y’know. 😛 Katchi’d rather have water and he ain’t feeling so good. Demas has a little surprise in store:
“So,” Demas said, making a sudden right turn in the conversation, “how was your trip to Moscow?”
Katchi was stunned. He hadn’t told Caesar anything about the trip.
“Good,” was all he said in response.
Careful, Katchi. You might want to avoid future boat trips with this guy; you’re already regretting it, aren’t you?
Now Katchi was getting nervous. He felt as if he needed to give some explanation about the Moscow trip. If I don’t explain, Caesar might think I just didn’t consider it a big deal. Which would be good. On the other hand, my silence might make him think I’m hiding something. Which I am. Does Caesar know why I was there? Maybe he does and he’s just playing with me. That’d be just like Caesar. Why did I go on his yacht today? I could have come up with an easy excuse. Told him I was sick. That I don’t like boats.
Katchi decides to try and fob off Demas claiming his side trip to Moscow was a small-arms deal – miscellaneous AK-47s, stuff like that. But Demas, it turns out, wasn’t convinced. He has a couple sidekicks with him, the hired muscle any good crime boss always has for jobs like this:
“The Moscow trip was successful for you?” Demas asked.
“Oh, sure. Not a lot of money. But worth the trip I suppose.”
Demas made a quick, flitting gesture to the two men, quick, almost indecipherable.
The two men came up to stand on either side of Katchi.
Katchi’s dead, he just doesn’t know it yet. Demas has discovered that he changed the terms of the deal with the Russians. Double-cross discovered!
Something wasn’t clicking in Katchi’s brain. In his business of trading in weapons of destruction and death, he should have recognized what was happening. The survival instinct should have kicked in. Fight or flight.
He also noticed a life vest lying on the deck. But the life vest was not orange like all the others he had ever seen. It was blue. Like the ocean. Which was strange, because someone wearing it would not be noticed from the air.
He’s been told to get up out of the chair and stand on that mat. The hired muscle obliges Demas and shoots Katchi in the leg, and Demas begins his questions in earnest. Katchi still keeps insisting he just did a small deal, but Demas isn’t fooled. Katchi gets a dunking in the ocean, with a free life vest, of course.
Bobbing in the cold Mediterranean as the blood flowed out from the wounds in his legs, Katchi was still conscious. He could see Caesar Demas and the two muscle guys bending over the rails of the yacht.
Demas yelled out to him. “Just tell me yes or no. Did you agree to sell the RTS to Vlad Levko in Moscow? Agree to give Russia exclusive rights to the RTS? Just nod your head up and down if you can’t talk. If you tell the truth, we’ll pull you in. Fix up your legs.”
Katchi gives up and acknowledges the real version of the Moscow deal. He suddenly wonders about sharks when Demas seems to be very uninterested in hauling him back onto the boat. Unfortunately, he’s right. Cue the standard shark bait ending.
This chapter establishes Demas as someone not to be trifled with, and sets the stage for why he might not mind dealing with Atta Zimler, even if his sidekick Feditzch isn’t too happy about dealing with a loose cannon like that guy.
So! An actually decent-ish chapter because Parshall isn’t trying to push an agenda here. It’s kind of bad that only the villains* seem to come off believably in this book, and even that’s in doubt when it comes to the way Zimler acts. This makes the book uneven in its verisimilitude, and that’s unfortunate.
Anyway, next chapter we’ll meet back with Harry Smythe, Josh Jordan’s lawyer. See you then.
* As well as Deb and Cal Jordan, but authorial meddling will no doubt mess up their characterization at some point.