The question is, can you fly into Pashtostan?
The answer is no. Why? Because the Pashtuns do not want many foreigners coming into their country. So they haven't built any airports.
To get there, Harper had to fly into Nampatabad. He spent a day under the guns of the ancient brick fort, drinking and doing other Harper things. There he met the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, but he was on official business, so he left it.
He took the train down to Chitarrabad. It took twelve hours. It's a single line and the rolling stock is old and some train got held up further down the line. The train kept stopping to let people on board including merchants who would sell their wares and then get off at the next stop. If you want to buy a knock-off phone charger for a quarter silver dollar, that's the place to be. Harper bought fresh mango to keep himself cool. It worked. For a while he sat with the Yeomanry escort and talked with them about football.
So when he got to Chitarrabad, he was late. The Gorka Daffadar did not seem to mind. He had been waiting with the Land Rover for seven hours. At Chitarrabad they met up with Prefect Dellius (not likely his real name). The first thing Dellius said was: "We thought you would be taller."
"I'm not wearing heels right now," Harper replied. Dellius just smiled. He talked for a while in Urdu until Harper had to stop him. "You prefer speaking Urdu to English?"
"I have more experience in Urdu," Dellius smiled, again. It was a small smile. Harper had never met anyone from the Dumani secret intelligence before, to his knowledge. But Dellius was almost exactly as he expected. Harper admired his disguise - he looked like a Jesselton Dumani merchant on official business, not a spy. But maybe he was a Jesselton Dumani merchant in his spare time. Who knows with these people.
The Land Rover took six hours of driving in the mountain roads to reach Kunduz. At Kunduz the driver stopped for petrol and to get more instructions. The village was another three hours by mountain roads. When they got there, the Gorka got out and spoke with the village headman. They beckoned over Harper who showed them his badge.
THE DEFENDER OF THE FAITHS, SULTAN ABDULLAH AFIZ, PERSONALLY REQUESTS AND REQUIRES ALL ASSISTANCE TO BE RENDERED TO THIS PERSON, UNDER MY DUE PROTECTION. And then a royal stamp.
In about forty languages.
The Headman took Harper inside a building. And there he was. George Richard Gerald Hood. He looked just like the pictures, Harper thought.
"General," Harper began, with a salute. "I have here with me Sharfic passports for you and a select number of persons. I have some amount of gold and the details of a full bank account which you may access. And I have for you travel details which will take you safely inside Sharfland."
"And why would I go?" Hood said, unmoved. He must have been expecting this at some point, after all this time.
"Because if you don't, Abdullah will come here with a lot of combat power. And you know these Pashtuns won't kick you out, that's just their way. You're their guest. So a hell of a lot of them are going to die if you decide to stick it out here. And your business is not theirs."
"I don't have a lot of choice, then."
Harper left, and allowed Dellius to go and speak with him. He told the Gorka to go around the village, have a smoke, and get some curry. He came back an hour later with a big steaming pot of goat curry and a pile of chapattis. Dellius came back, and frowned.
"I don't eat curry."
"Too bad. I hope you eat chapattis."
Harper and the Gorka sat on the bonnet of the Land Rover gorging on goat curry, wrapping it up in chappati and stuffing it in their mouths. Dellius ate his chappati inside the vehicle.
When Harper got back to Nampatabad, he was congratulated on a job well done, informed that as of two hours ago, General Hood had crossed into the Sharfland under the careful watch of Dumani secret services, and was wired his danger pay. He went out and looked for the beautiful woman but could not find her, so he took the express train to Kohat. There he blew his danger pay in the drinking dens of that city and had a very good time.
Play up, play up, and play the game!
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