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Prompt # 514 - First Line

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The King of Swords





"Where on earth did you find that?" Andy pulled a card out of the file. It was a Tarot card with an Arabic looking man's face and name. The card was the King of Swords. 


Gorman got a far away look in his eye. Andy knew that look. For just a moment he was somewhere else.


"It was in 2004 in the big sandbox. Do you remember Saddam's mutts on the playing cards?"


"I was in grade school but, yeah. I remember."


"Saddam was the ace of spades. Uday was the ace of clubs. It was all bullshit of course for the media- political targets. We had a different list that nobody else saw. People deemed too dangerous to walk away."


Andy handed him the card and asked, "So who was the King of Swords?"


"He was as evil a bastard as you would ever hope to meet. Before the Soviet Union fell, he was a GRU agent recruited from Kazakhstan. They used him as a liaison with their client states in the Persian Gulf. When the Soviet Union fell, he went to work for Saddam."


"I'm guessing he was important being a face card."


"You might say that. His relationship with Saddam went back to the Iran-Iraq War in the eighties. He managed to get the Soviets to give the Iraqi Army their then top of the line AT-8 and AT-11 anti-tank missiles. It was enough to stop the Iranians cold. A few years later when senior Soviet intelligence operatives were looking for work, Saddam jumped at the chance to hire him."


"So... what made this guy  so bad?"


"You remember how everybody used to wonder why Saddam seemed to be coup proof?"


"Yeah. That never did make sense. Everybody took a run at him at one time or another: the Iranians, the Syrians, the French, the Saudis..."


"And US. Well... Kozlov, also known as Mohammad Omari, was the reason no one got him. Back in 1994 just after the first Gulf War, a bunch of Iraqi Colonels planned to take Saddam out. They had a building in the suburbs of Baghdad where they were gathering their forces. Kozlov's intelligence team got wind of it. They watched the building and when all the key players were there, they threw grenades of VX Nerve Gas through the windows and chained the doors shut."




"Jesus didn't have anything to do with it. Kozlov was just that kind of guy. He didn't just take action. Every action was an unambiguous statement. There were dozens of stories about the guy. He killed more people that a lot of diseases."


"How did you get him?"


"It was well after they nabbed Saddam. Everybody was busy fighting the insurgency and it looked like we were done looking for high value targets. Kozlov/Omari wasn't on the cards we let everybody see. We did it to make some of the guys we really wanted think they were off the hook. One day he fucked up. He came out of his bunker, went to a sidewalk cafe and had breakfast. One of our spotters got a picture of him. We managed to follow him back to where he was hiding."


"To last that long after the fall, it must have been some hide."


"It was. He had a bunker with an access through an apartment buildings basement. We hit it at 3am with a full TAC team with Marine backup. It was one of the nastiest fire fights I ever saw. He wasn't alone in that hole. He had a dozen of his own in there with him. They all went down fighting. It was what we found afterwards that made me glad we killed the rotten fuck rather than the catch and release bullshit."


"What was down there boss?"


Gorman was quiet for a moment. "At some point over the course of his career, Kozlov crossed the line from killing for a purpose to killing for pleasure. He had a torture chamber. We found the bodies of a dozen teens and young adults that had disappeared from the city. They did stuff to those kids that would make a Billy goat puke. You asked me what we found down there Andy. We found evil."


Andy was quiet for a while and asked, "The rest of the list: did you get them?"


"Most of them but as far as we know, a few of them are still out there."



Edited by jamessavik
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