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A Shot in the Dark: Michelle Reagan, #5

A Shot in the Dark: Michelle Reagan, #5

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A Shot in the Dark: Michelle Reagan, #5

Length:
413 pages
6 hours
Released:
Mar 31, 2022
ISBN:
9781622537082
Format:
Book

Description

With a single pull of the rifle's trigger, CIA covert action operator Michelle Reagan—code name Eden—ignites a bloody war between Peruvian drug cartels.

While pursued by both cartels, Eden discovers Christina, an undercover CIA officer long believed to be dead. Her plan to exfiltrate the undercover officer back to the US escalates the blood feud raging between the cartels.

Wanted by both cartels, Eden must determine Christina's true motivation: is it to return home to the US, or is she a double-agent for the cartel run by her lover? When cornered by a cartel's soldiers, Eden must make the tough choice: attempt a high-risk rescue of Christina, or flee alone to save her own life.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a non-stop thrill ride with action galore, insights into covert action tradecraft, and descriptions of exotic locales around the globe so detailed you can smell them. 'A Shot in the Dark' is perfect for fans of Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Dean Koontz, Brad Meltzer, and Len Deighton. [DRM-Free]

BOOKS BY SCOTT SHINBERG:

  • Michelle Reagan – Book 1: "Confessions of Eden"
  • Michelle Reagan – Book 2: "Directive One"
  • Michelle Reagan – Book 3: "Fly by Night"
  • Michelle Reagan – Book 4: "Sargon the Third"
  • Michelle Reagan – Book 5: "A Shot in the Dark"

MORE GREAT THRILLERS FROM EVOLVED PUBLISHING:

  • "The Pisa Affair" by Kent Swarts
  • "The Syndicate-Born Trilogy" Series by K.M. Hodge
  • The "A Point Thriller" Series by Jeff Altabef
  • "The Oz Files" Series by Barry Metcalf
  • The "PI Kowalski" Series by Chris Krupa

 

Released:
Mar 31, 2022
ISBN:
9781622537082
Format:
Book

About the author

Scott Shinberg has served in leadership positions across the US Government and industry for over twenty-five years. He has worked in and with the US Air Force, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and most “Three-Letter Agencies.” While in government service, he served as an Air Force Intelligence Operations Officer and a Special Agent with the FBI. He lives in Virginia with his wife and sons.


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A Shot in the Dark - Scott Shinberg

Chapter 1

Lima, Peru

Michelle Reagan—CIA codename Eden—squinted into her sniper rifle’s night-vision scope. With a trained eye, she surveyed the two small crowds gathered on the pier across the harbor. The two groups of eight men each kept to themselves and stayed fifty feet apart with no apparent interest in mingling. Some of the men leaned against their cars smoking, while others spaced themselves apart in case a member of the other group gave them even half a reason to draw a weapon.

Men from both groups alternatingly looked at their watches and then at the five-hundred-foot-long Lebanese-flagged containerized cargo ship docked a few hundred feet away at the end of the pier. The Callao Port Terminal, sandwiched between the city of Lima to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, serves as Peru’s primary maritime hub and the capital city’s commercial gateway to the world.

Eden lay prone atop a T-shaped tower crane one hundred fifty feet above the concrete pier. Her stomach lurched every time the steel giant swayed in the wind. If not for the gloves covering her hands, she would have been able to see the white knuckles of her left hand with which she firmly gripped the cold metal jib—the long, horizontal T-shaped lattice that carried whatever load of cargo the crane was lifting at the moment. As she steadied herself, her rifle rose away from the group she watched and pointed into the night sky above the darkened pier.

The voice in her right ear repeated the same question through the encrypted satellite phone that it had asked two minutes earlier. In his faded West Texas drawl, her team lead asked, What happened? Any change?

No, Michael, Eden replied. No change. It was just another gust of wind up here on top of this big scary crane where I’m trying my best not to fall to my death. She recentered the rifle’s scope, which transmitted its electronic picture back to Virginia through the phone’s data link. In her best sarcastic voice, she added, "I know you told me it’s not the fall that would kill me, rather it’s the sudden stop at the end. But... you know? That’s still not very reassuring. Okay, see for yourselves. They’re all still waiting on the pier like patient little drug cartel soldiers and Hezbollah terrorists. I’ll let you know when the hostage arrives."

Please keep the scope pointed at them so we can see it all, too, he instructed for what Eden was sure was the two-hundredth time that night. The facial-recognition system is complaining that we’re only getting one or two usable images every few seconds over this slow data link. We need to let the computer get a good look at the target before you can shoot, so we need images from a steady platform.

In her left ear, Eden’s partner’s voice came through their tactical radio in digital clarity. Alex Ramirez said, What a backseat driver. We should’a left him in Virginia.

"We did leave him back home, Eden grumbled, and yet he still finds a way to hock my cheynik from over three thousand miles away."

"Hock your what?" Alex asked.

Nothing, Eden mumbled. It’s just something my boyfriend’s mother says to me when I do something that annoys her. Which turns out to be just about every time we visit.

Eden paused and slowly angled her rifle’s scope to the right.

Headlights from an approaching SUV spilled across her field of vision. The vehicle, two-thirds of a mile away across the harbor, turned toward the pier and the two groups of men waiting anxiously.

Incoming SUV, Eden reported. Stand by.

The Lincoln SUV drove up to the first group of men and slowed to a stop. Through the night-vision scope atop her TrackingPoint sniper rifle, Eden watched bright arcs stream into the night as men from both groups tossed lit cigarettes into the distance. Both groups gathered closer as they prepared to consummate the transaction that was the reason for their late-night outing.

From each awaiting group, two men eased forward and approached the Lincoln. They stopped halfway between their respective group and the SUV. Everyone on the pier stood still for a full minute, hands at their sides but ready to draw handguns from beneath their jackets at a moment’s notice.

In Eden’s right ear, her boss asked, Is something wrong with the scope?

No, Eden confirmed. They’re just not moving. Not sure why, but you’re not missing any of the action.

The Boston accent of the team’s intelligence analyst, Wilson Henry, came through the satellite phone clearly. From the seat next to Michael’s in the conference room of the team’s Tyson’s Corner office just a few miles west of CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia, he verbalized what everyone else was thinking, "Ah wonder what they’uh waiting for."

To lighten the mood, Eden hummed the Final Jeopardy! jingle made famous by Merv Griffin’s popular game show.

Through the earpiece in her left ear, only audible to her, Alex snickered. You know that’s going to piss him off, right?

Eden grinned silently and watched the front passenger door of the SUV open. The passenger compartment of the Lincoln glowed through her scope from the faint illumination of the vehicle’s interior dome light. A man in a suit exited the vehicle, opened the passenger door behind his and held out his hand. A woman gripped his hand for support, stepped down from the SUV and walked around the rear of the vehicle. She stopped at the rear door on the driver’s side and gestured to one pair of men who’d been waiting patiently nearby. They immediately fast-stepped to her side.

From across the pier, Eden watched the two men who’d approached from the other group shift anxiously on their feet. One rubbed his hands together while the other glanced back to the rest of his group as if to make sure his backup was still there, should he need them.

As the woman reached for the SUV’s door handle, a breeze blew across the pier billowing the skirt of her dress and rippling her long, wavy hair behind her. She pulled open the luxury SUV’s door, stepped back and gestured to the large man next to her. The suited man reached into the SUV and yanked a hooded man from the rear seat. He guided the hostage to a point next to the woman and stepped to the other side of the hooded figure.

Now we’re getting somewhere, Michael said through the satphone signal relayed over a commercial Intelsat satellite in geostationary orbit twenty-three-thousand miles above the Pacific Ocean.

The woman in Eden’s scope removed the hood from the man centered in the rifle’s viewfinder.

There you go, boss, Eden announced from atop the crane. You’ve got a clear view of his face now. What does the computer say?

I’ll let you know as soon as we do, Wilson Henry answered for their boss. "Ah just fed the picture you’re sending into the computer. It’ll take just a little bit here for it to run the face-matching app against the database."

Inside her TrackingPoint rifle’s space-age scope, Eden placed the red aiming dot over the face of the now un-hooded man and squeezed the trigger of her thirty-thousand-dollar rifle halfway. She released the trigger, and the red dot remained locked on its target. The electronics inside the night-vision scope automatically tracked the designated target, keeping the rifle’s aimpoint perfectly centered on the hostage’s head.

With her rifle’s aimpoint set, she inhaled deeply and let the air out of her lungs slowly. Not getting as quick a response from the two men in Virginia as she wanted, Eden again hummed the Jeopardy! jingle. That elicited a hearty laugh through the tactical radio from her partner on the ground below her. Through the scope, she watched men from the awaiting group open the trunk of one of their cars and labor to withdraw two heavy suitcases. They placed the wheeled carry-on-sized bags on the ground and slammed the trunk closed.

Eden imagined she could hear the metallic thunk of the trunk latching shut across more than a half-mile of water between them, but knew it was just her imagination. Any noise from that far away was lost in the night’s onshore breeze.

"It’s ah match!" Wilson reported energetically.

Eden, Michal said, you have a green light. Take the shot.

Good copy, she replied softly.

Eden gently squeezed the trigger, this time all the way. The rifle sat silently in her hands as the scope’s electronic brain calculated the windage, elevation and rotation of the Earth for the precise trajectory the .338 Lapua Magnum bullet loaded in its chamber needed to hit its target.

At what the rifle’s scope—with its inhuman accuracy of a half-inch at a thousand yards—calculated to be the ideal instant, it made the final decision to shoot, and the sound-suppressed rifle bucked against Eden’s shoulder.

In a fraction of a second, the bullet sped across the harbor and shattered her target’s skull. His body fell in slow motion, and everyone on the pier froze momentarily in confusion.

A second later, Eden watched through the rifle’s scope as the woman across the harbor raised and shook her hands angrily. The woman’s mouth opened wide, and, for the briefest of moments, Eden imagined she could feel her blood curdle from the incensed woman’s silent scream.

Good job, Eden, Michael’s voice reported from a continent away. Time for both of you to come home. He terminated the phone call while Eden watched pandemonium break out across the harbor.

The flashes of gunshots registered in her rifle’s scope as men from both groups retaliated against what they were sure was an attack by the other.

The man in the suit practically tackled the screaming woman and threw her into the rear of the SUV and immediately climbed in behind her. The vehicle’s rear end fishtailed as the driver accelerated away from the site of impending carnage.

Eden carefully disassembled her expensive rifle, feeling calm and satisfied with another mission completed successfully. Seeing how the two groups of men were focused on shooting each other, she felt confident neither group was likely to pursue her or Alex. She packed her satphone and the rest of her equipment into her backpack and headed to the crane’s ladder for the long climb down to her partner.

Two minutes into her decent, the satphone in her backpack buzzed. "You’ve got to be kidding me, she mumbled to herself. I’m a hundred feet in the air, and you expect me to stop and answer the phone?" She looked around for a safe place to pause her descent so she could retrieve the phone from her backpack. Not seeing an obvious way, she decided to continue her climb and call her boss back from the car later while Alex drove them away from the harbor.

Thirty seconds later, the phone in her backpack buzzed again. "Seriously? she asked the steel rung of the ladder in front of her eyes. Again? She continued her climb down, and, in her best answering-machine voice, said to herself, I’m sorry, the covert-action operator you called is not available. She’s doing her best to flee the scene of the crime while not getting caught by cartel gunmen, Middle Eastern terrorists, or... oh yeah... those pesky policemen who don’t like foreigners spoiling their drug trafficker’s deals in late-night ambushes. At the beep, please leave another voicemail, and I’ll ignore your message in the order it was received."

She huffed in frustration and hurried the rest of the way down the ladder. At the bottom, Alex Ramirez started to congratulate her when the phone in Eden’s backpack buzzed again.

Alex tilted his head to the side, and asked, Is that what I think it is?

Persistent bugger, isn’t he? Eden said, and sloughed the backpack off her shoulders. She retrieved the satphone from its padded case inside her pack, answered the call, and flatly said, "Hang on a sec, Michael. We’re doing this escaping thing you taught me to do way back when. Remember that? I’m pretty sure you said it’s important." She pointed to Alex to pick up her backpack and headed for their car. In the passenger seat, she put the call on the phone’s speaker and settled in as Alex eased the car out of the alley.

Okay, we’re in the car now, Eden reported.

Michael’s voice crackled through the phone’s plastic grill. Did you see the woman standing next to your target? Did you get a good look at her?

"Yeah. Sort of. Maybe. Well... not really, Eden admitted. She had long hair which fluttered in the wind. After the shot, I did see her scream bloody murder when she realized I’d just killed the man standing next to her who, by the way, she was trying to sell to Hezbollah for a shitload of money. Of course, I couldn’t actually hear her shrieking from that far away, but it looked exactly like one of those old silent movies, you know? Is that the woman you’re talking about?"

Michael ignored her snarky reply. "What happened to her? After the shooting."

I don’t know. She got thrown into the back of the SUV by the big guy in the suit who arrived with her. Then they drove off in a hurry. I can’t blame them, you know? As it happens, Alex and I are doing our own version of getting the hell out of Dodge. Making pretty good time of it, too.

No, Eden. You can’t leave yet, Michael said.

From the driver’s seat, Alex squinted at Eden with his Why the hell not? face.

She screwed up her lip as she looked at the satphone in her hand. "All right, Michael, I’ll bite. Why can’t we come home yet?"

Because that woman... she’s one of us. Or at least she was.

"One of us? You mean Company?" he asked, using a common euphemism for the CIA.

"Not just Company, Michael confirmed, but she’s one of us. She’s on our team."

Eden stared blankly at the expensive phone and chewed her lip. After a moment, she asked, What are you talking about, Michael? There’s no one else on this team, and you know it. Seriously, what gives?

Well, he said, "what I mean is that she used to be on this team."

Okay, boss, I’ll bite. Until when? Eden asked, not quite sure what to make of Michael’s cryptic hints.

Michael’s voice sounded strained through the long-distance connection. Until she died.

Chapter 2

Lima, Peru

"Sure, Eden replied sarcastically. Why not? That’s how it works, Michael, right? Alex and I agreed to work for you until death do us part, eh? So, it all makes sense now. She looked at her partner, then back at the phone, and rolled her eyes. Just sayin’...."

Alex accelerated the car onto the highway, shook his head and did his best imitation of a Cuban accent. "Miguel, you got some splainin’ to dooooo."

Eden nodded in agreement, and then clarified for their team lead. "What Alex means is that if you’ve started to recruit vampires to replace us as operators, then Alex and I are going to be out of jobs pretty soon unless he and I are only going to be working the dayshift from now on. At least I’d get to start sleeping through the night, you know? So, that’s something. But, in all seriousness, Michael, it was too hard for me to get a good sense of her skin tone through my night-vision scope. But I’d say she walked pretty quickly and looked quite healthy for a dead woman."

Technically, Michael clarified, "she was only presumed dead. The Agency kept her on the books as Missing in Action for two years after she disappeared in Peru in 1973."

Yikes, Eden quipped. That’s going back a-ways.

I’m going to have to do some digging through the team’s old records tonight, Michael said. If they still exist. That was years before I joined the team.

Wilson’s voice contrasted Michael’s over the phone. Don’t look at me, Mike. That’s well before I ever knew this team even existed.

As Alex changed lanes and pointed the car down the highway’s offramp, he asked, Hey, so, Mike... If this is all from so long ago, how did you even recognize her?

That, Wilson said, was me. Or, more specifically, it was the computer. The facial-recognition system analyzed all the images sent back from Eden’s rifle scope. Because of the age difference between the old file photos and how she looks now, it took longer for the computers to make a match, but they did.

Eden thought for a moment and asked the question she felt was the elephant in the room. Michael, how accurate is the computer, anyway? What’s the chance this is a false alarm.

Wilson answered for their team lead. Can’t rule that out, Eden. It’s certainly a possibility, but unlikely. Maybe one in twenty. We got a couple of good images from your scope, so the computer says it’s a high-probability match. No guarantees though.

So, Eden continued, "what do we do now? If it is her, and she doesn’t want to be found, we don’t want to blow her cover. Or ours! And you saw it for yourselves... she’s working for a drug cartel. If the Puerto cartel gets so much as a whiff of this, she really will turn up dead. And even if we do confirm her identity, what makes you think she’d want to come home anyway?"

All good questions, Michael said, "and I don’t have any answers for you at this point. Maybe our best play is to simply do nothing. I don’t know yet. I do know that Wilson and I are going to be poring through old personnel files until I find some of those answers."

Hey, boss, Alex said, pulling into the parking lot of the low-budget tourist hotel he and Eden occupied, "are our photos in the system, too?"

Yes, their team lead replied, but there are lots of layers of technical security and program clearances required for anyone to get access to them. I got notified about the match on this woman’s face because I run our team, what the Special Activities Center calls the Palace Sentinel program. Her photo is tagged to this program, and there are probably only five people in the SAC who can see it. Wilson and I are two of them. Even you guys are not on that list.

After the car came to a stop, Eden removed her seatbelt. I didn’t realize the team’s history went back that far.

A chuckle floated through the satphone’s plastic grille. Eden, governments around the world have had these kinds of programs for thousands of years. CIA’s involvement traces its roots to World War Two and the Office of Strategic Services—Wild Bill Donovan’s OSS. During the war, they ran dozens or maybe hundreds of targeted operations to kill senior Nazi officers in occupied Europe almost from Day One. Those teams were called the Jedburghs. Their motto was ‘surprise, kill, and vanish.’ Sound familiar? There’s lots of open literature on it going back to when the British Special Operations Executive helped America set up our program to parallel their own.

Cool, Alex said, and tossed the car keys up and down in his hands. Then, he asked the question also on Eden’s mind. So, what’s this mystery woman’s name?

Christina Mendez, Michael answered. Or at least that was her name when she worked for us. I have no idea what cover identity she might have created for herself to live under in Peru. Wilson’s going to work with the SIGINT analysts at NSA to trace the cell phones of everyone who was at the port tonight. We already know who each of the groups works for, but I want to know everyone’s name, where they live and to see if we can locate Christina.

So, Alex asked, "if you can find her, what would you or we do about it?"

That’s a good question, Alex. I don’t know, yet. For now, just get a good night’s sleep, Michael advised, and I’ll call you in the morning. This time, Eden, please answer the phone.

Eden stuck her tongue out at the satphone, and said, Yes, sir, three bags full.

Chapter 3

Punta Hermosa, Peru

Christina Mendez lathered shampoo into her hair for the third time that night and rubbed her scalp vigorously. She gathered her long, wavy, brown hair together over her right shoulder and ran her fingers through it thoroughly. She spread the lavender-scented foam along the shiny length of her hair to be sure she washed out the last of the blood and sharp bits of skull. The skull which, until an hour and a half earlier, had belonged to the man who had been her captive and the biggest score of her decades-long career working for the largest of Peru’s drug cartels. She cursed loudly as the bathroom door flew open.

Angel Lamadrid, the head of Peru’s Puerto cartel, screamed as he burst into the bathroom. Christina, what the hell happened at the port tonight?

"¡Ay Dios mío! Christina yelped, and slapped her hand over her racing heart. I’m in the shower, Angel."

"I don’t have time to you join you, Christina. What the hell happened to my African?"

"That was not an invitation, and I don’t know. Can you give me five minutes to finish in here? I—"

"I don’t have time for this, my darling! I’ve got the Lebanese calling every two minutes threatening me. I had Gabriel put all of our security teams on red alert in case Joaquin Huayna or any of his bastards from the Norte cartel try anything else tonight. That pendejo cost me dearly tonight when he killed my African!"

Christina lifted herself up onto her tiptoes to try to look over the frosted-glass walls separating the walk-in shower from the rest of the bathroom she’d spent two-hundred-thousand dollars renovating four years earlier. Not able to see her short lover over the bricks of the opaque privacy glass, she walked halfway out of the shower and poked her head around the corner. "You do know it sounds really terrible when you call him ‘your’ African, right? Please don’t do that."

Angel cursed, lifted himself up and sat on the marble countertop of Christina’s white bathroom vanity. He leaned back and then thought better of it when the mirror made an unsettling warbling sound.

Christina finished rinsing out her hair under the rainfall showerhead mounted to the ceiling and shut off the water. She looked around the edge of the privacy wall separating the curtain-less shower from the rest of the bathroom, and said, I keep telling you, Angel, that countertop is marble. It’s not strong enough for you to sit on. And if you’re not going to give me some privacy, then the least you can do is to hand me a towel.

Angel scooted off the vanity and retrieved a pink bath sheet from the hook on the wall. He unfurled it and held it open for his mistress to step into.

Christina walked forward into the warmth and comfort of the Egyptian cotton towel and let Angel wrap it around her. He held it snugly around his lover and pulled her toward him. She leaned into him and lowered her head a bit to kiss the man who stood an inch shorter than her own five-foot-four-inch stature. After finishing the reassuring embrace, she leaned against Angel and laid her head against his shoulder.

Your hair is wet, Angel complained.

"You interrupted me in the shower," she replied, and tried to free a hand to move her wet hair off his custom-fitted dress shirt. She had both arms bound firmly under the bath sheet and Angel’s arms wrapped around her—one hand between her shoulder blades holding the towel closed, and the other cupping her left buttock. Even at more than seventy years of age, Lamadrid’s strong embrace reassured her of his vitality. After a moment, she stopped resisting and leaned into his hug. She wanted to lean against him as long as he would hold her, and it warmed her heart that Angel Lamadrid showed no intention of letting go anytime soon. She enjoyed the private time they spent together, although the Puerto cartel’s leader’s possessiveness had driven her to drink more than she should have on several occasions in recent memory.

In a soft voice, Christina asked, "How do you even know it was Norte? I didn’t hear anything about any such plan from my sources before the meet at the port. If I had, I certainly would not have gone there myself. I was standing right next to that man when his head just—" She shivered and couldn’t complete the sentence.

Did you hear anything at all? Angel asked softly.

No, she answered equally quietly. "None of my good sources in Norte gave me any hints that they even knew anything about the meet. I certainly didn’t tip them off. I was standing right there. It could have been me who got killed!"

"Gracias a Dios it wasn’t you, my love."

Thank you. You’re my angel, Christina said, and snuggled her head farther into Lamadrid’s shoulder. And you can take your hand off my ass anytime you want. At my age, that just reminds me how much more it sags than I’d prefer.

Angel slid his left hand off her backside and up to her lower back. He moved it slowly from side to side, pressing it gently against her sides and hips as if helping her dry off.

Christina cooed softly and enjoyed the warm embrace of the diminutive cartel leader. Her work for her lover and his family consisted of a combination of running intelligence sources in law enforcement and rival cartels as well as the occasional special project. The decapitated evidence of her failure in that evening’s project now lay dead on the pier of the port Angel controlled through the local stevedore union. Christina hoped the ruined hostage sale—which Angel had intended to use to curry favor with Lebanese Hezbollah who he desperately wanted to turn into drug trafficking partners—would not come down on her head. She concealed her nervousness as she asked, "How do you know it was Norte? Did you hear something that I didn’t?"

"I needed that deal with the Arabs to secure a beachhead in the Middle East closer to our future customers there. If we don’t diversify our business beyond just selling cocoa leaves to the Colombians, then just like the leaves in winter, we’ll wither and die on the vine. This was my best way to broaden our base of business and set up a large-scale methamphetamine lab in Lebanon. Joaquin and Norte benefit the most from thwarting my plans. It had to be them."

Christina remained silent and enjoyed Angel’s embrace. She knew it was no use telling him for the millionth time that Hezbollah was simply using him to establish the chemical processing center his cousin’s two sons had learned to build while studying Chemical Engineering at the Beijing University of Technology. She was certain the Arabs would let him set it up and prove its value, and then take it over for their own use. When they finally cut Puerto out of the operation, she wasn’t sure if it would be a bloodless coup or something far more permanent. She knew Angel disagreed with her at a most fundamental level. He was banking his future on it. Christina had long since stopped trying to save him the heartache she knew in her soul would befall him when it inevitably happened.

For Angel’s few shortcomings, Christina loved him and enjoyed their decades-long affair. One of the two things she admired most about Angel was his visionary ability to plan a decade in advance, even convincing his extended family to participate in the cartel’s long-range expansion plans that required the separation of parents and sons across the Pacific Ocean during the years they spent in college and graduate school. The second reason—and no less important to her—was his being able to put the natural gifts God gave the short man to such good use in bed.

Chapter 4

Lima, Peru

Shortly before lunchtime the following day, Eden and Alex sat in their car listening to Wilson Henry’s tired voice through the speaker of their encrypted satellite phone. He provided an overview of the preliminary information the CIA and NSA analysts found during the past twelve hours of signals intelligence collection.

It’s been a long night, but a relatively productive one, Wilson reported. Although nearly ten million people live in Lima, Peru, only eighty-nine cell phones were within one thousand meters of your position at the time of last night’s incident. Although intimately involved in the planning of the team’s killings, the career intelligence analyst frequently distanced himself emotionally from what the operators on the team did in the field, such as by calling Eden’s rifle shot the previous night an ‘incident.’ Most of those were likely port employees, so I focused the NSA analysts to work just on the cluster of people you were watching. We got some good results from that. Almost half of those phones stayed in place or very close to it. Those may have been either people who were wounded or killed in the firefight that broke out, or people who stayed on the cargo ship overnight, such as the crew. Ignoring one who went to a local hotel and was probably Hezbollah, the other five cell phones dispersed pretty widely to the south.

How far south? Alex asked.

Thirty to fifty miles, Wilson answered. Two went directly to a residential neighborhood and stayed there the rest of the night. A small cluster of three phones traveled together—

Those’re the ones we want, Eden interjected.

I agree, Michael added.

Eden sat up straighter. "The woman, Christina—or whatever name she’s using now—was practically tackled into the SUV by a man in a suit. Whoever was in the driver’s seat then drove them away in a hurry. They had at least four people in

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