Cerdic was relieved, as always, to be off the plane and on solid ground again. Even though the air was heavy and the heat stupefying, he would take that any day over the canned air he’d been breathing for the last twenty-four hours.
As he stood at the exit to the airport, his bags at his feet, a man hurried over to him.
“Masa el-kheir. Esmi—“
“I know who you are, and I’ve been told you speak English, undoubtedly better than I speak Arabic. I would suggest we get on our way. There is much we need to do, and only a few days to accomplish it.”
The man gave a small bow before beckoning to another man, pointing to Cerdic’s luggage. A few minutes later they were on their way from the airport to one of the larger hotels in the city. As they drove, Cerdic and the man discussed the troubles in the city and how to keep it edging towards full out chaos.
“We have the police and armed gangs attacking the dissidents,” the man told him, “which is forcing them to fight back. Their pages on some of the social sites have been blocked since they began using them to protest the death of a popular university professor at the hands of the police.”
Cerdic nodded, smiling slyly. “Now it the time to step up the activities. Do so.”
Six hours later he was seated in a hotel suite half way across the city from where he was officially staying. The man responsible for keeping the dissidents working towards their attempt to overthrow the government sat in another chair, sipping a glass of tea while he talked. As Cerdic listened to that man’s plans he occasionally interjected suggestions of his own. When the discussion was finished, Cerdic went into another room, returning to hand the man a small carry-on bag. The man opened it, his eyes widening when he saw that it was full of bills in the local currency. He thanked Cerdic profusely and then, at Cerdic’s command, left the suite after making certain no one was watching. Five minutes later Cerdic did the same.
The following afternoon, Cerdic was having a late lunch in a good restaurant in the heart of the city. He watched with interest through the large plate-glass window at the front of the restaurant as a squad of policemen in riot gear started to break up a large group of protestors. The protestors fought back and soon the street was a bloody battleground. He lifted his glass in a sardonic toast to the man sitting opposite him. The other Scriostóir, a recent newcomer to the ranks, returned the toast. And then they got back to the business of what the younger man would do to keep things at a fever pitch within the city and the outlaying countryside.
“With good planning,” Cerdic murmured when they were ready to leave, “there will be an all out civil war here by the end of the month.”
“You words to—“ The young Scriostóir chuckled. “I don’t know quite whose ears they should go to.”