In the next few months, WHISTLER HOUSE PUBLISHING will be releasing Novel 2 in my TRILOGY OF TREASON. For my readers who have been waiting far too long to see this book, I am beginning a series of weekly excerpts to start you reading this story that is very close to my heart. Not only does it follow up to THE CONSUMMATE TRAITOR with a plot related to those original characters, it deals with a heartless drug scandal that has already affected too many lives, both military and civilian.
PROLOGUE FROM "COVERT DENIAL"
Kigali, Rwanda, January 7, 1994
Beside him, Jean-Pierre tensed. “What is the problem?”
“I thought only Tutsi spoke English.”
“University-educated speak English in Rwanda,” the Hutu officer corrected him.
“I like to practice English when I can.”
“Understood. What did you study?”
Pride twinkled in Jean-Pierre’s eyes. “I am an engineer. I plan roads.”
“Ah, an engineer.” Rhys ran the tip of his right forefinger along the AK-47’s length. “See. No serial number.”
The militia officer squinted and shrugged.
Rhys shifted the weapon from hand to hand. “This baby’s well-made. Easy to use, even for a child. Too good to be Russian. Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland make better models now, but it’s more likely these guns are made in China. If we know the serial number, we can trace the manufacturer.”
Jean-Pierre bent his head as he rubbed the scratches with his right thumb. “What does it matter? France supports our cause.”
“Are you saying the French are supplying you with weapons?”
Jean-Pierre spread his hands in protest. “I do not know who the supplier is.”
Rhys leveled a steely gaze on the militia officer, looking for a telltale flicker of untruth, but the Rwandan regarded him with a blank calm. “What else is packed under here?”
“More guns and a carton of ammunition, clips and grenades.”
“How many caches of arms like this in Kigali are there?”
Jean-Pierre shrugged. “Guns arrive from Egypt by the planeload. Machetes too.”
His resolute stance impressed Rhys. To betray your government without promise of compensation, or rescue, took a strong commitment. To what end, though, did concern Rhys.
Jean-Pierre had sent a message to the UN’s peace mission that extremist Hutus within Rwanda’s Presidential Guard intended to break the Arusha Accords, an internationally brokered negotiation to set up democratic reform in the Central African country. He claimed they planned to slaughter Tutsis and moderate Hutus who opposed them, and had stashed weapons in caches throughout Kigali and the countryside, some in officers’ homes like this one in the Gendarmerie general’s cellar. Rhys had been assigned to check out the validity of his accusations.
“How did you find out about these weapons?”
The black openings within Jean-Pierre’s eyes flickered and, for a fleeting moment, his gaze deflected to a far-off point. “I am the drill instructor for the Interahamwe. To train our new militia to kill a thousand Tutsis every ten minutes, I must know where the weapons are as soon as we get the order.”
Rhys sputtered in disbelief. “One thousand per ten minutes! Do you know that’s faster than the Nazis kill-rate of Jews?”
Jean-Pierre’s eyes shot back to Rhys. “Those are my orders.” Sweat beaded the militia officer’s wiry hairline and edged his upper lip. “When it is time, the Interahamwe will round up all the Inyenzi and exterminate them.”
“Inyenzi?” Rhys asked.
“Cockroaches. That is what Hutu call Tutsi.”
Rhys’ lips tightened as he suppressed bitter memories of racial bigotry while he was growing up. No one showed him such disrespect now.
Jean-Pierre looked down at his feet and cleared his throat. “I have trained our soldiers to make lists of the undesirables living here and in every village.”
Rhys frowned. “Extermination lists?”
Jean-Pierre nodded and raised his head. His jaw clenched. “If I am to obey these orders, I must put my mother on that list. She’s a Tutsi.” He squared his shoulders. “I cannot do this.”
“You are a good son.”
“There’s something else. They plan to trap ten UN soldiers – Belgians – and kill them.”
Icy chills slunk down Rhys’ spine. “Why Belgians?”
Bitterness coarsened Jean-Pierre’s voice. “They think picking up a black man and swinging him over a fire pit is sport. I have photographs. I tried to give them to a French reporter, but he said they were too blurred.”
“That’s not reason enough to risk retaliation,” Rhys said.
“What retaliation?” Jean-Pierre scoffed.
“The Belgians are the strongest contingent in the UN mission. And they’re white. You’re forcing the UN to respond.”
Jean-Pierre snorted. “It’s because the Belgians are white that they will pull out their support. . . when they take casualties. It then follows the remaining peacekeepers must leave our country and we shall run it without international interference.”
“What if the UN changes the mission’s rules of engagement, and the peacekeepers fight back?”
Jean-Pierre straightened and waved at the crates. “We are ready.” A sad smirk curled his lips. “But they will not fight us. We are Africans. No one cares what happens to us.”
It was Rhys’ turn to avert his eyes. The reason his private security agency sent him to Rwanda to check out Jean-Pierre’s claims was because the UN, particularly the Americans, French and Belgians, refused to provide passports and travel documents for the informant and his family to escape. Rhys’ employers, however, wanted Jean-Pierre’s testimony. Thus, to extract him, the assignment fell to Rhys, whose mix of heritages and command of multiple languages helped him blend in with local Rwandans. Their tribal features had blurred through two hundred years of intermarriage between Tutsis and Hutus.
Jean-Pierre tapped the wooden crate. “I have shown you what you wanted to see at grave personal risk. Will you help my family and me escape?”
Rhys nodded. “That’s why I’m here . . . to get all of you to a safe house in Uganda before the Gendarmerie discover your betrayal.”
Now that Rhys had seen the weapons’ cache in the Rwandan general’s home and heard Jean-Pierre’s evidence, he could not follow his orders to leave the man’s wife and children behind. Who knew what the butchers planning mass murder in Rwanda would do to them if they discovered Jean-Pierre’s treachery? First, however, he had to alert the UN force commander in Kigali to the Gendarmeries’ plan to slaughter Belgian peacekeepers.
The front door rattled. Both men stiffened. They heard men’s voices.
“It is the night patrol,” Jean-Pierre whispered. “The general and his family are on holiday in France, and the Colonel has assigned guards to check his house.”
“Do they know you?”
Jean-Pierre nodded. “I train them too.”
“Then the best defense is an offence,” Rhys reminded him. “Tell them you found this crate open on the bench. If anything is missing, you will have them shot.”
White teeth shone through Jean-Pierre’s wide smile. “And you? How do I explain you?”
“Tell them I am your arms dealer.”