CHAPTER FIVE

Face tossed the papers down in disgust. If he looked at one more communiqué, one more aerial photo, he was going to scream. The information he needed, absolutely. What he didn't need was sifting through the various sources' documents trying to reconcile the conflicting information. Everything that didn't match up had to be double-checked in the field, which took time and risk. But if it wasn't done, he could end up watching a group of shepherds instead taking aim on his target. Or worse. The problem being, of course, that his targets were paranoid and tended to move quickly and frequently. But a pattern was emerging. The same few places showing up. The same names. Even a few behavioral patterns, which was excellent. Damn the paperwork. He was ready for action.

Pushing away from the desk, Face moved to the small kitchenette and poured yet more coffee. It was nearly three in the morning and he had planned another good 3-4 hours work. Then a run through the training course, a few hours sleep, and then tanning. He smiled at that. He never thought sunbathing would be part of his job requirements. But he needed to fit in here and for more than just a few hours at a time. Makeup just wouldn't cut it. He glanced in the small mirror over the dresser. He still couldn't get used to dark hair and brown eyes and his new beard was really itching. He was getting used to wearing the contacs. But in a couple of days, you wouldn't give him a second look in a crowded marketplace.

He glanced around the small apartment. Bedroom, living room, kitchen all in one room, small bathroom with a tiny shower. Panoramic view of a back alley. Second floor, easy access to escape. The only person who came here was a courier - never the same one, never the same time of day or night. He looked at the floor, out the window, or stayed in the bathroom each time they came in, so they never saw his face. He saw no one else. If he needed something, he called a number from a phone booth. A different booth each time. They would call him back. And give him a new number for the next call. They didn't know who he was or what his mission was, precisely. They only knew if he asked for something, they got it for him. He was a ghost.

His wired mind shifted back to Langley. He knew the men there had thought something was amiss. Nothing serious, just something off about Face. He was almost never there, for one thing. And he had been cool, almost formal, when he was. Had to be. Several times The Colonel had come close to forcing a "little talk" with him, but he'd wiggled out of it. Things had settled down when he announced he was taking a new girlfriend on a trip for his 'vacation'. That had answered their questions adequately enough - his mind was occupied with the 'latest', that's all. What had they thought when he didn't show up at the compound? What had Stockwell told them? Okay, didn't matter. Close that book. He had to concentrate on the Job. That's all. Nothing he could do about Langley here. None of that was under his control any more.

Sighing, he headed back toward the table, filled with papers, photos, and his notes. Stockwell and his cronies wanted him to move in soon but he had conflicting evidence as to where Aadil was staying. It was infuriating - he had two possible locations and they were within a few miles of each other. He had people working on it, but he couldn't do anything until he knew. He sighed again. His change in appearance was almost completed; it would make it so much easier when he could do his own footwork. It didn't matter if he had information five minutes old from his contacts - he'd do his own recon in the final stages. That could not be left to others.

Stockwell considered Aadil to be the most important of the three. Take him out and it might be enough damage to destroy any thoughts of a coalition. Might. No taking any chances. Stockwell wanted them all taken care of, just to be sure. Aadil was the most paranoid. He'd moved at least three times in the last ten days. According to reports. Face gritted his teeth. He needed to know the layout of the land, where he could hide, where his backdoor would be, who would be around the target, how fast they'd react...so much he had to know, just for a job of two minutes.

His phone rang. He stopped dead, listening. Two rings. A third. Then silence. After about 30 seconds, two more rings. Face threw on a gutrah, loosely tossing the end of the scarf over his face. He paused a moment before opening the door, and then was out and hurrying down the staircase. Three blocks from the apartment he entered a phone booth and made the call.

Aadil had been found. The game was on...