29

Washington, D.C.

Moldova was seven hours ahead of Washington, and Breanna was just pulling into the Pentagon lot on her way to work when Reid called.

“There are some other developments in Moldova,” he told her. “We should review them together as soon as we get a chance.”

“I can meet you after lunch,” she told him.

“Earlier, would be better. There’s been a shooting.”

“Were we involved?”

“We saw it. The person who was killed may have been connected to the Wolves. They’re still sorting things out.”

“Can you get over to the Pentagon this morning?” Breanna asked.

“Name a time.”

Breanna told him to come whenever he could and her secretary would get her.

A half hour later she made a graceful exit from a phone conference with a contractor in Rhode Island working on a project for the Navy.

“Could you get me some coffee, MaryClaire, please?” Breanna asked as Reid came in. “I’m having a caffeine fit.”

Her secretary smiled. MaryClaire Bennett was an old Pentagon hand. While their first few days had been a bit rocky, she’d relaxed considerably since. Breanna had learned to trust her people sense, which was based on many years of experience with the different personalities in the building. She’d seen many axes buried along the way — most, as the saying went, in people’s backs.

“Mr. Reid?”

“I’ve had my quota for today, thank you.”

Reid pulled a seat in front of Breanna’s desk.

“Busy day?” he asked.

“We have an aircraft demonstration coming up,” she told him. “And I’m going to have to be away from the office for a few days. So I have to get a lot of the day-to-day things out of the way. You know how it goes.”

“Yes. When are you leaving?”

“Sunday night. I’ll be at Dreamland.”

“How long?”

“Until Tuesday night.”

“Back in time for the NATO conference.”

“Yes.”

MaryClaire knocked on the door and came in with the coffee.

“General Magnus is looking for you,” the secretary said. “I told him you were tied up. He asks that you call him when you can — shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. It’s about the plane.”

“OK.” Breanna took a sip of the coffee, trying to get her brain to switch gears as MaryClaire left. “So, I saw the bulletin. The doctor was shot?”

“Yes. It was a sniper. Danny thinks the shot came from across the street, a roof, though he couldn’t find any shells.”

Reid gave her some background on the shooting. The local police were investigating. The local news services had almost nothing to report.

“The doctor was using the name of Nudstrumov. We’ve found, or at least think we’ve found, another alias. Rustam Gorgov. Gorgov owns property in northeastern Moldova, not all that far from the former training camp. And the cemetery where Mark Stoner was supposedly buried.”

He had an update on that as well — an overnight check of the DNA on the corpses showed no match.

“We have to wait for the full report and the entire testing suite, which is more extensive,” said Nuri. “But there were no matches. One of the dead men would have been about Stoner’s age and size, for what that’s worth.”

Breanna nodded.

“They must realize we’re after them,” said Reid. “The doctor visited a Russian spymaster. Maybe that was what got him killed.”

“Why?”

“Maybe he was a bad risk. Maybe they don’t work for the Russians.”

“If they don’t, we won’t have anything to worry about,” said Breanna.

A faint smile appeared at the corner of Reid’s mouth. It was an ironic smile, the sort that indicated he thought she was being naive.

“What about the property?” Breanna asked.

Reid opened his briefcase and took out a set of satellite photos, along with a satellite map. MY-PID was still analyzing different data related to the property and the surrounding area — everything from its ownership to electric bills.

No concrete ties to the Wolves had been found. But a review of commercial satellite images over the past four years showed flashes of light that appeared to be weapons.

“Could be a training ground,” said Reid. “Or just a farmer doing nighttime poaching. I’ve already applied for a Global Hawk assignment so we can get a closer look. But I’d suggest we have Whiplash check it out as well. Discreetly. And from a safe distance.”

“Agreed.”

“The question is what we do if we think they’re in there,” said Breanna.

“That’s always been the problem. It would be one thing to catch them in the act. Here…”

“Do you think it’s time to call the White House?” asked Breanna, putting down her coffee.

“I think so. If we take any direct action, outside of protecting the NATO ministers, we’ll need a finding. If the group is as accomplished as we believe they are, anything we do would be bound to…” He paused, trying to find the right phrase. “It is bound to be complicated,” he added finally.

“All right. And they’re going to need more people,” said Breanna. “We should have them ready.”

Reid nodded. Then he asked the question she’d been dreading since they were first handed the assignment:

“What do you want them to do if it’s Stoner?”

“I think, unfortunately, if he resists, they have to kill him,” said Breanna, ignoring the lump in her throat. “There’s really no other choice.”

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