General Trinh is delivering papers

  by: Walter Guest

It was more than fear that tied people to Rudmetkyn. In a land dominated by conspiracy and intrigue, the master of the art was the most valuable ally a man could have.

He had no lack of potential associates. Men he didn't know went out of their way to do him favors in the hope that he would remember and repay. He always remembered. He often repaid. But, more important, a line of communication was opened that could be used in the future.

It was inevitable the he would work closely with the current Russian leader no matter who he might be. The two would, of necessity, seek each other out.

Rudmetkyn needed to work with the president on some operations to legitimize all his operations and to put the president in his debt. The president had need of Rudmet's ability to get things dome quickly, efficiently and silently, and out of the normal channels of execution. They complimented each other perfectly.

For many years Rudmetkyn worked only in the Soviet Union and then the Russian Federation. The collapse of the Soviet Union was beneficial to his interests. It made it easier to expand his sphere of influence, until more and more of his principal concerns were beyond the Russian borders.

And so it came to pass that a certain piece of information reached Rudmetkyn twice in the space of a week. The first time it came from Moscow from an official high in the FSB (the successor of the KGB). The second time, a week later, it came to him from a FSB field agent in Los Angeles.

Both versions were virtually the same. A large drug ring in Southern California was offering the FSB two million dollars for the elimination of a man, provided that the man could be lured away and killed elsewhere and no connection made with them. To show they were serious men. They were willing to pay a half million now.

Of course the FSB had turned it down without a second thought. They were not gangsters. But it was the kind of information, true or not, in which Rudmetkyn was very interested. It could cost little to look into it further, but a great deal could be lost by ignoring it.

Rudmetkyn sent an appropriate gift to the high FSB official in Moscow. That man was a valuable source who had worked with him often. It was important to let him know that his efforts were appreciated and would always be rewarded.

The FSB field man in Los Angeles had to be handled differently. This man had never worked with Rudmetkyn before. The report had originated with him, and it was obvious from the timing that he had not passed it on to Rudmetkyn until after the FSB had declined to act on it.

That was fine with Rudmetkyn. In fact he approved. He was not in competition with the FSB and the agency should come first with the agents. But still, precious time may have been lost. A more discriminating agent would have seen immediately what was of interest to the FSB and what was of interest to Rudmetkyn.

The man was sent a gift in keeping with his station. He was living illegally in the United States and his work was not highly regarded by the FSB so his station was lowly. Also, the FSB was notorious for missing payrolls. To him any reward would be like a found treasure.

With the gift went instructions for the agent to find more general information and certain specific information on the matter. There was more that a hint of further reward if he performed well.

Rudmetkyn saw a great potential value in the agent. However there was a necessity to nurse him along and check his work. Orders were sent out to other contacts to verify certain points in the story and to gather more information.

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