Luke Landrick feels like he's in complete control of his life until he suffers through a humiliating experience with security at the Abu Dhabi International Airport in Luther5's latest story. Art manips by Amalaric.

Trouble in the UAE - Page 1
by Luther5
Art by Amalaric
Series: Trouble in the UAE

1-luke-ready-for-takeoffDrink in hand, seat reclined, Luke Landrick felt the afterglow of a successful day. Sitting comfortably in the air-conditioned splendor of the Gulfstream G650 as it waited for takeoff, the broiling tarmac of the Abu Dhabi International Airport was of little consequence. He was by far the youngest of the fourteen passengers in the twin-engine business jet. Still clad in his very expensive and well-tailored clothing that he had worn earlier that day for the conference, he looked around the cabin at his co-passengers with a sense of belonging. His meteoric rise with MGM Mirage had surprised no one back at corporate headquarters in Chicago, no one, that is, but himself. A series of successes here and there, his ability to connect with all sorts of personalities, his innate intelligence, combined with his boyish yet very masculine good looks, had all blended together perfectly in his ascent up the corporate ladder.

People liked Luke. He was a guy's guy. Played sports. Did his fair share of drinking with his buddies at any one of Chicago's ubiquitous sports bars. Had season tickets to both the Bulls and Bears home games. Sailed regularly on Lake Michigan. Luke enjoyed his youth and job and all that both had to offer. No doubt about that.

His position with MGM Mirage was a good fit. The company had recently signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Company to create a new subsidiary company in order to develop luxury non-gaming hotels and resorts globally, initially targeting locations in Abu Dhabi, Las Vegas, and elsewhere. Luke was in on the ground floor, attending the various conference meetings as Regional Coordinator of Prototype R & D. The title did not please his sense of clarity, but the salary, perks, and numerous trips around the world did. And his latest visit to the UAE did not disappoint. The talks had gone well. His boss would be pleased. He was pleased. Things were on track.

As Luke was casually reading the slick brochure the stewardess had given him explaining the marvels of the Gulfstream G650, its maximum speed of mach 0.925 fast cruise, the almost fourteen-hour non-strop flight to Chicago-O'Hare ORD would be spent eating, drinking, sleeping, and dreaming. Luke visualized the good life that was becoming more real and more vibrant with each day he spent on the Mirage team. His future was limited only by those parameters which he himself chose to accept. Soon the Gulfstream jet would be soaring into the crystal-blue Arabian sky, much like his life and career at the present moment, soaring at mach speed.

Luke’s reverie was disturbed, however, by the gentle touch of the stewardess's hand on his shoulder. He looked up at the young woman's pleasant face, wondering if she were going to offer him another drink.

"Mr. Landrick? Mr. Luke Landrick?'

He managed to reply in the affirmative, pleased that she knew his name. The personal touch, he thought. Always nice to know another person's name. So little of that in today's world. People more concerned with their smart phones than with the actual person next to them.

"Yes, I'm Luke Landrick. Is there something I can do for you?"

"Yes, sir, there is. If you wouldn't mind, the captain would like to speak with you for a few moments before takeoff. Would you follow me, please?"

Luke unfastened the seatbelt that he had buckled only moments before, rose from his seat, and followed the stewardess. Leaving his drink and brochure behind, he had little if any notion how his brief walk to the front of the plane would change the tenor of this day, a day he would never forget.

Landrick did not get as far as the cockpit. Rather, the pilot of G650 was waiting for him in the second galley of the plane. With him were three men, one in a dark suit, about 35 years of age or thereabouts, flanked on either side by what were obviously military men of some kind. Luke did not recognize the uniforms they were wearing or to what branch of military service they might belong, but they were definitely soldiers, both wearing service revolvers, both muscular and robot-like in their demeanor and movement. Their faces, while expressionless and focused, belied their acute awareness of time and place. Nothing escaped their intense scrutiny, or so it seemed to the twenty-five year old businessman Luke Landrick.

The pilot, while apologetic, clearly stated that the three men with him in the galley had specifically requested to see Landrick, that their business was of the utmost importance, and that while they were still in UAE jurisdiction, it was his decision as captain to allow the men to come aboard.

The man in the suit then spoke.

"Mr. Landrick, my sincere apologies for the interruption of your flight, but I must ask you at this time to accompany me to our TIH offices. We've taken the liberty to collect your belongings from the luggage hold, and my assistants will see to it that any carry-on items you have will be collected from the plane and brought to headquarters."

"Headquarters? TIH offices? What's this all about?"

"My apologies again, Mr. Landrick. All will become clear as we provide you with additional information during our visit with you today."

"Look, I don't know who you guys are, or why you're here, or what kind of 'visit' you have planned at your headquarters. All I know is I'm an American citizen, with a passport and a ticket home in my suit pocket. We'll just have to have our milk and cookies and our little visit some other time, ok?"

The pilot, as he witnessed the interaction between Luke and the others in the galley, was becoming visibly uncomfortable with the situation. He decided to intervene.

"Mr. Landrick, I completely understand your concern and reluctance to accompany these men. But let me assure you, they have credentials and are legitimate representatives of both UAE and United States interests. The Abu Dhabi International Airport, the UAE Civil Aviation Authority, the UAE Police Force, as well as the Immigration Authority, all work closely together in the interest of ensuring aviation security. At the same time, we do our best to make your flying journey as smooth and as pleasant as possible. You have nothing to fear in cooperating with the requests of these men. You will be in capable hands with them."

"Requests? Is that what I'm hearing? You request my cooperation? Not demand, but request?"

Addison decided to jump back into the conversation after the pilot's remarks.

"Yes, exactly, Mr. Landrick. Request. We strongly request."

"Just who are you, anyway. I don't believe I caught your name?"

"I don't believe I pitched it," the man answered tersely. "All will be explained in the van waiting for us on the tarmac. Mr. Landrick?"

Luke could see that further conversation would be fruitless and that he was outnumbered, outgunned, and outmuscled by the three other men in the galley. With a sense of uneasy resignation, he allowed himself to be ushered out of the plane into the breathless heat of Arabian desert air. Once down the gangway staircase, they proceeded across the tarmac to the tinted-glass van, black and shining in the intense sunlight. A third soldier materialized from the passenger side of the van, opening the rear side door for Luke as he approached. Luke now noticed that one of the soldiers who had been with him in the galley was carrying his shoulder bag and black leather portfolio case. He could also see the travel bag and suitcase containing his other personal property being loaded into the back of the van. A fourth soldier was behind the wheel. Luke sat uncomfortably in the middle section of the vehicle, while the two remaining soldiers sat in the back section with his luggage. Once the doors were closed, they carefully drove off the runway, past the airport terminal, snaking through various sections of the terminal as if they had specialized clearance to do so. Once they passed through several gated and fenced checkpoints, they exited onto what appeared to be a little-used service road, leaving the airport and runways behind them. There were on their way, wherever it was they were going to.

The man in the dark suit finally broke the uneasy silence.

"Mr. Landrick, first of all let me introduce myself formally. My name is Addison. Phillip Addison. I work for the newly organized TIH branch of the UAE/USA governments. TIH is our acronym for Tertiary Inspection Headquarters. We were jointly formed by both our governments approximately fourteen months ago. I am liaison for the United States division of the inspection process."

"Inspections? Inspections on whom? And for what purpose?"

Addison smiled benevolently at Luke's question.

"We conduct tertiary inspections on randomly selected travelers both entering and exiting the UAE, specifically those entering from and departing to the United States."

"Again, I ask for what purpose? Am I suspected of something illegal? Have I broken some unwritten protocol, some mystery speed limit known only to you?"

Addison did not react to Luke's obvious anger and resentment at being detained in this way. He continued on with a cool mind and even cooler words. He knew he was in complete control of the situation and that Luke Landrick, despite his expensive clothing and impressive appearance, was but an insignificant player in the game currently in action.

"You have every right, Mr. Landrick, to be curious. Let me explain."

And with that, Addison went into his well-rehearsed exposition of what TIH was all about. On the surface, it was about safety. Security. Government at work. Protecting citizens. But in reality, as Addison well knew, it was about power. Intimidation. Control. All with the added perk of having handsome young men such as Luke Landrick in the palm of his hand. Little did his superiors know how much Addison enjoyed his work, especially when it came to straight young men such as Landrick. Little did his superiors know how he carefully selected men such as Luke through secret surveillance cameras in the airport, how he would freeze-frame the video tape and say to his assistant, "This is our man. Find out who he is. Where he's going. And stop the plane he's on from taking off. TIH needs to have a chat with him."

And with a smile on his face, Addison experienced a deep-seeded sense of satisfaction that he had selected another airport traveler as his victim of the day, a victim who would have absolutely no say in what would happen to him in the next nine hours. It was the rush of power which sexually stimulated Addison as much as the thoughts regarding the hoops he had devised for the young men in his intricate web. Yes, it was indeed a web of devious construction, a web in which each step had been carefully choreographed during days and nights of meticulous planning. Luke Landrick was essentially his private possession for the next nine hours. The whole concept of what laid in wait for the young businessman filled Addison's mind to complete capacity. His temples throbbed with anticipation as he glanced sideways at his victim sitting beside him. In just an hour or less, Luke's journey into night would begin.

As the black van continued its journey, Phillip Addison quietly reflected on his position with the various assessment procedures involved with TIH. The word "musterung" kept coming into his consciousness. In fact, he was secretly obsessed with its whole history, beginning with the Germans during WWI and spreading to other countries such as Sweden, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Addison had made it a point to study the origins and implications of the entire concept. The musterung, in short, was the invasive and systematic examination of young males, usually in a military context, used by those in power to exert complete control over those being examined. The young men were forcibly ordered to strip nude for the examination and remain so for its entire duration. The exams continued in modern times, however, even though Europe was no longer at war. It was simply now a rite of passage for all eighteen-year old males to report, on their assigned day, for their musterung exams. And to add to the humiliation of the modern-day musterung, self-conscious teenage boys often were required to report to female doctors and nurses, some not that much older than themselves. Those few voices opposed to the musterung process went so far as to label it "medical rape." But all to no avail. Generation after generation of eighteen-year old males had to endure the embarrassment and humiliation of taking off all their clothes in front of strangers of both sexes, often for hours on end.

Addison had deliberately orchestrated the medical portion of the TIH assessment along these same lines. His superiors were surprised at his ingenuity concerning the various details of the invasive exams, but, in reality, he was mirroring only what his research had taught him. The subject being assessed by the TIH would be required to be completely naked, often in a way that would be uncomfortable and embarrassing. And such would be the fate of the exceedingly handsome Luke Landrick who, for the time being, sat quietly beside him in the black van, exquisitely dressed in his suit and tie. A faint smile made its appearance on Addison's lips as he thought of what lay ahead for the unfortunate Luke Landrick.

The van finally arrived at its destination, a bleak concrete one-story building. Nothing surrounded it except sand and desert. After passing through various checkpoints and guard stations, the van was allowed access inside. Windowless and intimidating, the building seemed more prison than headquarters. Luke was ushered out of the van into the blistering sunlight for the brief walk to the front entrance. One of the soldiers from the van pushed a plastic card into the key lock slot, waited for the electronic buzzer to sound, opening the door for Luke and Addison to enter the building. Luke heard the door close with a resounding click, suggesting that he was now hermetically sealed into his new surroundings.

All Luke could remember upon entering the building was that a lot of walking was required down hard terrazzo floor corridors, the heavy boots of the four soldiers accompanying him and Addison echoing off the cinder block walls, walls drab and formless, miles of walls, or so it seemed to him as he uneasily followed the others. Luke had never seen so many doors, lots of doors, doors with keypads, codes, and electronic buzzers. Various TIH staff passed them in the imposing structure, an equal divison of male and female personnel, some dressed like Addison in civilian clothing, others wearing uniforms of varying design and rank. Everything seemed quite crisp and businesslike and serious as they progressed on their complex walk.

Luke pondered his situation as he continued his journey through the building. Only a little over an hour ago he was enjoying his bourbon and ice, basking in the comfortable reverie of a very successful day in the high-stakes world of corporate affairs. Now, just a short time later, he was being taken into the custody of something called "Tertiary Inspection Headquarters" for an assessment. Luke was accustomed to success, control, to charting his own course. Now, however, he was in the hands of others, mysterious others. Soldiers. Not knowing what was next was the hardest part for Luke concerning his present circumstances.

After what seemed like an eternity of walking and opening and closing doors, Addison ushered Luke into a small office equipped with only a desk and two chairs. He offered Luke the chair directly in front of the desk, handing him several sheets of paper.

"To begin our assessment, Mr. Landrick, I ask you at this time to complete the questions on these three pages. Please be as precise as possible in your answers and responses. There are no right or wrong answers. What we're striving for here is accuracy and completeness. By the way, your luggage and other personal belongings have been taken to the assessment room. So no need to worry about their safety. As far as your trip back to Chicago, another G650 has been exclusively reserved for your use, departing the airport at 9:52 pm this evening. You will be driven to the airport well in advance before departure time. No need to be concerned about tickets or clearance. All has been arranged."

All has been arranged, thought Luke. That was actually what made him uneasy. Too much had been arranged. This was all too surgically precise. Too much for him to comprehend in a single dose. He wished he were back in Chicago at his desk at MGM Mirage. However, the reality was quite different. He presently found himself at a desk at TIH. Not where he wanted to be.

He filled out the forms much as he would when visiting a new doctor back in the states. Matter-of-fact questions such as name, address, age, health history, that sort of thing. Under "sexually active" he confidently checked "yes" thinking of his girlfriend of nearly two years. What would she think of all this once he got home and told her the whole story? They would certainly have something to discuss over drinks and dinner, no doubt about it.

Phillip Addison entered the small room just as Luke was completing the forms. Seeing that they were complete, he asked Luke to stand and follow him.

Only one soldier accompanied them as they proceeded down various passageways through the TIH complex. The final door through which they passed had the words, "Office of the Senior Director of Operations" on a small metal plate placed indiscreetly on the wall to the right of the door. Entering what looked like an outer office, complete with several secretaries at desks answering phones and monitoring up-to-date computer screens, Addison motioned for Luke to be seated in one of several available chairs, all of which were empty. The muscular soldier remained standing next to Luke's chair. Two of the three secretaries in the office, both rather young, momentarily looked up from their tasks to observe the handsome male specimen who had just entered their domain. They seemed to take particular notice of his expensive, custom fitted Egyptian cotton shirt and perfectly tailored trousers, obviously enjoying the view. Both, however, quickly returned to their work after exchanging momentary and rather furtive glances at the young executive.

Addison promptly returned to the waiting room, motioning for Luke to rise and follow him through the open door by which he was standing. Seated behind a massive and rather ornate wooden desk was Lars Philoessen, senior director for all that took place at TIH. The soldier, still close by Luke's side, also entered the office and took a position near the now closed door. Both Luke and Phillip Addison approached Philoessen who warmly extended his hand to welcome Luke to TIH.

After several perfunctory remarks, Philoessen began to explain the particulars surrounding the assessment soon to begin for their "guest" from the United States. He mentioned at length the dangers of the world in which they all now lived, particularly since the events of 9/11. He mentioned the persistent dangers of global germ warfare, of viruses on the rise in certain countries, viruses to which there were no known antibiotics. He mentioned the constant vigilance needed to address these concerns, thus the reason for the formation of TIH, of which he was in charge. Randomly selected men such as Luke would be examined to assess their resistance to the various threats now present in society, the data attained from such assessments providing valuable information for the protection of world-wide travelers everywhere, especially to the UAE. Luke was congratulated for his generous cooperation in assisting the mission and vision of TIH in their valuable work.

Several additional things in Philoessen's presentation made Luke even more uncomfortable than he already was. Number one on the list of "discomfort level" items was the fact that Luke's assessment would be filmed for training purposes of all TIH staff. Philoessen emphasized that Luke's identity would be protected at all costs and that access to the recorded videos would be for "staff eyes only." Also discomforting to Luke's mindset was the explanation that various medical students from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center, a teaching hospital for both male and female medical students, would be in the gallery observing the entire process of the assessment from beginning to end. The students, about twenty or so in number, would be invited to share their remarks at the conclusion of the assessment.

Philoessen concluded his remarks by mentioning that Dr. Ziad Elchamir, a seasoned instructor at the medical center just referred to, would be conducting the exam.

Glancing now at Addison who had remained standing next to his desk, Philoessen proceeded to take his smart phone from the pocket of his suitcoat, handing it to Addison.

3-luke-strips-philoessen-office-2"Please understand, Mr. Landrick, that we need to document all facets of the exam you are about to take today with us at TIH. If you would stand please, I would ask Mr. Addison, using my smart phone, to film you as you presently are dressed, perhaps standing next to the bookcase near the door. Mr Landrick?"

Luke stood as requested, noticing that the bookcase was immediately next to the soldier keeping watch over the entire proceeding. Walking to the elegantly appointed bookcase, he stopped just a few feet from the soldier.

"Thank you, Mr. Landrick. Mr. Addison will now film you from various angles, front, side, and rear. Please turn slowly so we can get a clear view of you from these different perspectives."

As Luke did as he was asked, he could hear Philoessen say, "Today is June 12, Tuesday. We are beginning the full assessment exam for Luke Landrick, corporate executive, Chicago, IL, USA. He is twenty-five years of age. He is dressed in the clothing which he was wearing upon arrival."

After this procedure had been completed, Philoessen continued.

"For various insurance and protective measures, TIH needs to make absolutely certain that you have no pre-existent physical conditions which might compromise the integrity of the upcoming exam. I ask you at this time to remove all your clothing, including underwear, to allow us to asses your body in the nude. Kindly hand all of your clothes, item by item, to the soldier next to you."


1 Comment

  1. adrk - July 7, 2016, 7:28 am

    very awesome story series !

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