Abigail and Adam Berman was a strange couple. Like a dog and its owner, most couples after they are together for a number of years have a tendency to look similar; like river rocks, subject to the same currents and weather for centuries. This couple did not seem to match.
Adam Berman had been married before and had a 40-year old son. He (Adam) had been a college professor of English since he had emigrated to the U.S. as a young man and had completed college for an undergraduate and master's in Journalism. He was a bit of a shrimp as far as men go. He was bald across the top and had the usual Jewish nose (air is free.)
Abigail had resisted getting married until later in life. She had had some bitter experiences growing up, and had a hard time interacting with men close to her age. She had met Adam during a writing class which she had taken as a hobby and known him more as a writer.
She did not make a big deal about her work to most people. She had received a degree in programming and spent most of her time writing programs for several high profile companies for the fifteen years since she graduated. She was good with French, Spanish, German, Hebrew and Farsi.
She had made many trips to France, Germany and most of the Arab countries. She did not like going to the Arab countries because of the pressure to conform to Arab standards and being segregated into U.S. compounds.
She had married her husband thinking she could probably learn to love him eventually. She probably could not have been allowed to travel in the Arab countries if she was perceived to be single. With a husband, he could drive the car and escort her everywhere.
Abby did not realize that Adam's son, Ben, was in the Mussad. They had both been rather secretive about his background and work most of the time they had known each other.
Finally, she came home one day, and Ben, Adam and several other men in expensive suits were sitting in the living room. When she came in, the other men left, except for Ben and Adam. "Abigail, we need a favor from you." Ben said.
"What's going on?" she replied.
There is a man we are interested in who you know."
"Who's that?" she asked.
"We know that you had spent some time with Ahmad Ali when you were in school."
Abigail remembered the name vaguely. After thinking about it, she remembered that she had been a freshman. Ahmad had been a senior in Nuclear Engineering. They had spent most of a couple of semesters with some other students working on FORTRAN, COBOL, and C+
Ahmad had been a foreign student that could stay only until his education had been completed. His government was paying for everything so he had a huge apartment, nice clothes, nice car, and a comfortable lifestyle. His house was big enough that they all went there to study. It was convenient, because most of the students were dirt poor. On Sundays, the cafeteria at the dorm was closed for dinner, and the students had to go out to eat somewhere. That was where they decided to study, on Sunday night, because Ali was always eager to make friends. He always had enough money to order all kinds of food.
Ahmad had the idea that if he got married, he might be able to stay. He showed a keen interest in Abigail. She had been a late bloomer. In high school, she wore thick glasses; was long legged; knock-kneed, and fairly flat chested. She wore dowdy clothes and her long red hair and freckles were a bit of a turn-off compared to the girls who tanned more easily and had surgically enhanced front ends.
He thought she might be easy pickings; because she was relatively homely, introverted, and few other men showed an interest in her. Still, she was flattered, but women seem to have a strange inner sense of when they are being targeted. She had been able to walk that narrow tightrope of being polite, deceptively naive, and oblivious to his interest.
She had been young, but was aware of the underlying motives behind Ahmad's flirtatious affection for her. She had tried to stay polite and civil to him, because she needed him for help in her engineering classes. Unable to land a wife, he had been forced to go back to work for his government.
During her college years, she got some laser surgery to correct a wandering eye. Her years of running intervals in high school and college firmed up her muscles. She did not stumble when she walked anymore. She seemed to glide across the room. Her buttocks and legs just seemed to tighten and loosen. As she aged, her easily sunburned complexion seemed to tan more easily. The freckles were a faint pattern under her now bronzed complexion. She had started to put streaks of blond in her long red hair.
Ben said that Ahmad had become a leading figure in the nuclear movement of Iran. He was instrumental in developing their nuclear plants and they believed he was the lead engineer in refining plutonium into a weapons grade material. They felt it would be just a matter of time until they had nuclear bomb capability.
"Abigail, you already know him. We want you to see what you can find out about their weapons program, the sophistication of their plutonium refinement, and where all of their underground facilities are."
Abigail had no idea Ben was as involved as he was in the struggle between Israel and Iran. It made sense. With his father being a U.S. citizen and Ben being born in the U.S. it was unlikely that he would be suspected by the Iranians as a member of an Israeli investigation unit.
Abigail and never thought of doing anything like this. "What do I have to do?" she asked, trying to mask her reluctance.
"We are going to send you to Iran with a busload of tourists. We have scheduled the stops to the Museums to coincide with what we believe to be a schedule that will coincide with a conference he is attending.
"He has not married. He is not aware that you are married. You are to pretend you are single. We need to see if he will try to impress you with what he has done and show you around. If nothing else, maybe you can plant a tracking virus in one of his computers. We are hoping it will be able to travel from his laptop or a flash drive he might have into the nuclear reactors. If we can get a bug into his nuclear reactors, we can get up-to-date information from it. We might even be able to speed them up out of control and convince them they screwed up their own reactor."
Abigail was naive enough to not completely understand the danger she was in.
"How long will this take?" she asked.
"Hopefully everything can happen during a one week trip. Your husband can go along as another tourist. They have no idea you two know each other. We have made the passports so you have your maiden name. We have updated and revised your Facebook to show your life without being married. Any kind of sleuthing by the Iranians will show that you have been single. Ahmad already knows you, and there should not be any reason to suspect anything.
You have a good week to familiarize yourself with anything we have posted about you and your time since the two of you knew each other.
Abigail was on pins and needles for the next week; trying to make sure she knew everything about her new identity. She had been tutored with a series of programs they had given her on a flash drive. A number of them could be activated by different cell phones. They had bugged her and her husband's room and the one Ahmad was scheduled to use. The rooms had been carefully selected so Abby, Adam and Ben had a series of adjoining rooms. It had been done for her safety. They had also installed cameras.
When the plane left for Tehran, Abigail sat with a couple of older women near the front of the plane and Adam sat with a couple of older men near the back. When they arrived at the Tehran Marriott, Abby checked in, changed clothes and went into the hotel bar.
They had been advised to cover their hair and wear long dresses. Abby just wore jeans, boots, a men's dress shirt and a green silk Hijab. Unknown to her, Ben had selected a series of different wardrobes for her to wear during the trip and according to situations he may have anticipated while they were there. He had a different priority and point of view than Abigail and Adam might have envisioned.
His goal was only the destruction of the Iranian nuclear manufacturing plants. He did not care who lived or died. This viewpoint had not been shared with his father or step-mother.
Her cell phone had been programmed to receive and send messages and then automatically be deleted within minutes after being opened. They did not want any messages accidentally seen by somebody else.
After they had all checked into their rooms, Abby had gone downstairs to meet several other women on the tour in the hotel bar and grille. They had pulled a couple of tables together for the ten women, or so, to gather and celebrate the end of a long and grueling plain flight and successful ordeal of passing through security at the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran.
The men had gathered around a similar configuration at the other end of the restaurant, somewhat indignant about the women's' decision to segregate themselves from the men.
Abby had been given the phone number of Ahmad by Ben. She called him. "Ahmad; how are you. I don't know if you remember me. This is Abigail Hall. I was in some classes with you back in college. I had seen your name in the papers over the years. I am on a tour of Tehran with a group of people. We are going to see a number of museums and other places while we are here. I didn't want to call ahead. I didn't want to interrupt any of your plans. I just thought that if you were free, maybe we could get together at least once."
.... There is more of this story ...