The tarmac, laid across the concrete surface area of the dock, was empty. The walk from Sarda’s was short. It still took me awhile, though, as I was carrying an automatic pistol, and I wanted to be certain that I would not be interdicted. But there was no one. The gangplank rested at a steep angle. The harbor was not completely calm, diminished wave activity was making itself felt all the way in from the Bering Sea. A lower, shorter gangplank extended straight out from the portal everyone normally used to climb aboard the Zodiacs. Nobody stood guard at all, neither on shore, nor on ship. I wondered where Kessler was. It was too quiet. How long would that lull last?
I went to my cabin so I could shed the suppressor, the Krueggerrands, and the remainder of the gold nuggets. Gold was heavy. I realized that I could not have treaded water for more than five minutes without dumping the load. I placed the treasure trove atop my bunk. The weight was something to think about. It would surely limit my mobility. My agency training, along with most of my experience on missions, had never placed me in such a lonely position before. There was no ingress team, egress team, surveillance party, or operations assault platoon. There was just me.
I had imagined that the mission would be simple. I also had presumed that my Control Officer had thought the same thing. Now I had doubts. Most people thought CIA Agency training was entirely physical. A bit of it was. But the majority of the New Jersey School training was mental. Thinking. Observing. Recognizing. Confirming all those things. Believing in nothing, but taking in everything, as if it was fact. I was well trained and long experienced, but I was still way out of my element in Provideniya. Worse, I had not one soul with whom I could commiserate. I looked about the cabin and found a new micro-recorder inserted into the player’s small battery space. If someone had come for the old one, the one I’d tossed out the porthole, then why had they not simply taken the player back when they found the recorder missing? I shook my head in frustration. Then I pushed the button to see what the sixth song was, if there was one.