James Gray had been tossing and turning in the bed for some time when his comm lit up. He grabbed his handheld from the bedside table and glanced at the incoming message request.
“Space,” he grumbled and switched it on. “Yeah,” he muttered.
“Jim, sorry to wake you, we need to talk.”
“Can it wait till tomorrow,” he started.
“No, I’m afraid not. The board has asked me to begin preparing for interdiction.”
Jim sat up. “Inter- what? The op has already been terminated. We grabbed the target and lost no assets. My men have traced the missing agent to the Shaft, we should have him in our custody in the next 24 hours.”
“Look Jim, I understand your perspective, but the board does not share your optimism. They are worried about how things went down at the hotel, your guys nearly burned the building to the ground. The regional counsel agreed to an extraction not a demolition. We can’t take a risk with things going as poorly with the authorities over in the Shaft. Also the target was some no name attorney who was as clean as a new ship. The general feeling is that your team made a few mistakes.”
The phone went silent, as the speaker mumbled to someone off mic.
“Look, here’s where things stand. They are asking for you to be placed on leave until things are sorted out.”
“Leave? Are you kidding me Bill? On what grounds?” Jim’s voice started to break up a bit, “You know nothing here adds up to suspension.” Jim felt like he was going into shock as he spoke.
“I voted against it, but trust me Jim, it’s only temporary. The board knows your a good man in the field.”
“Understood,” Jim croaked.
“Have your men stand down, we will pick up the trail and handle bringing Agent Suarez in ourselves. Please report to the regional office over on Sigma5 in two days for debriefing. Goodbye.”
The line went dead. Jim fell back onto his bed and dropped the comm onto the floor beside the table. This was not good. The Agency had a reputation for chewing through directors and so far Jim had outlasted the previous 5 in his division. He had no plans to become a career casualty.
After a few minutes of feeling sorry for himself, he decided to go ahead and start the day with a shower. His mind was working way too strongly to be able to finish the evening’s rest. He needed a backup plan and he needed it fast.
After he dressed himself, Jim began gathering up his belongings in the room where he had been holed up for the past few weeks. As he packed, his mind kept returning to the same two options: either he would roll over and allow the failures of the intel and operation branches to land on his record, or he would get to the bottom of what was really going on.
He had never liked the op from the beginning and felt like the whole thing was overwrought the entire time. One special agent suspected of indiscretion was hardly worth the effort put into bringing him in. Add to that the fact that the target he had been apparently meeting with appeared to have no real value. What could motivate an entire agency to hit a commercial building with the level of force they had brought to bear just to capture an attorney? He felt a few phone conversations could have been more effective.
Jim wanted answers. Now that the agent had escaped and the board had decided to perform military interdiction in the Shaft, he was wondering if he had been thrown into the operation just to hedge against failure. Jim had no interest in becoming someone else’s fall man.
Luckily Jim’s 25 years in the agency had allowed him to make lots of fiends and wrack up several favors with the other directors. The Contingency Division had a reputation for pulling other guys’ fat out of the fire. Over his career he had dismissed many off the books offers of renumeration with his signature line, “Just pick up the phone when its my turn to fry.”
His intuition and cynicism had served him well over the years, it was time to start calling in some of those favors.
Chapter 07 →