Adana, Turkey, 2013
“Crap on a stick! Why the heck did the weather have to pick tonight to unload on us?”
Alina Bosch glanced at her watch again before turning her attention back to the industrial buildings across the street from the small fourth-floor apartment they’d turned into a tactical operations center for the mission. She and her team were in the Yüreğir district, one of the low-income sections of Adana, where streetlamps were few and far between. That, combined with the cold rain that was coming down in buckets, made it nearly impossible to see what the hell was going on over there.
But she didn’t need to see much in the way of details to know it was time to move on their target. Two vehicles, one an expensive four-door sedan and the other a midsize moving van, had pulled up in front of the buildings ten minutes ago. The van had pulled straight through a roll-up door into a maintenance garage area while two men in dark clothes had left the sedan and run straight for the main door of the building. People making a delivery in the rain wouldn’t be unusual, but it was two in the morning, which made it damn suspicious.
Alina and the other four agents of her CIA team were in Adana to stop members of al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction of the growing Syrian rebel movement, from obtaining the necessary chemicals to make sarin nerve gas. Analysts within both the CIA and NSA had good intel suggesting the group was close to a deal with a local supplier in Turkey for the two most critical ingredients to produce sarin—methylphosphonyl difluoride and isopropylamine.
The really scary part was that the rebel group didn’t intend to use the sarin against the Syrian government but instead planned to gas a few thousand innocent civilians—people they were supposedly trying to protect—hoping it would provoke the United States and other western powers into launching a full-scale war against the current Syrian regime.
Alina supposed that if you couldn’t take your enemy out by yourself, then you needed to get someone bigger to do it for you—even if it meant your own people had to pay the price.
As she watched the garage door roll down behind the moving van, Alina got a twitchy feeling in her stomach. The deal was going down right now; she was sure of it. If she and her team didn’t go in soon, they were going to miss their chance completely. If that happened, there was a good chance that a lot of people were going to die.
Unfortunately, moving on their target at exactly that moment was a problem, because her team was presently one person short.
“Jodi,” she whispered softly over her shoulder to the petite, dark-haired woman leaning back against the kitchen counter, cell phone in hand. “Anything on Wade yet? He was supposed to be here thirty minutes ago.”
Jodi Patterson, the youngest and newest member of the team shook her head, her curls bouncing. “I’ve been alternating between calling and texting him for the past twenty minutes. No luck. He’s probably shacked up with some local girl, if he’s not sleeping it off in a ditch somewhere. Then again, it’s always possible he lost his cell phone in a damn poker game.”
Alina cursed. They didn’t have time for this. Next to her, Wade Sullivan was the most senior and experienced field operative on the team. Unfortunately, he was also the least reliable. Worse than that, he was the one guy on the team she flat-out didn’t trust. Crap like this was exactly why.
While the senior leadership back in Langley loved the guy, to Alina, he’d never been more than a problem waiting to happen. The man drank too much, got off on winging his way through every mission, and didn’t give a damn about the job he did or the people he did it with. It was a given that no one on the team trusted him to cover their backs. However, their bosses in the States seemed not to care about that since she and her team always got the job done—even if they did that in spite of Wade instead of because of him.
Alina left the window and walked over to the kitchen table to gaze at the floor plans of the industrial building spread out there. Looking at all the red marks and arrows drawn here and there, she groaned as she realized the worst part of Wade AWOL’s status. He was the intel lead on this mission. He’d not only come up with the tip that had led them here and had slipped in the previous night to scout out the building and bugged the room where the Syrian rebels and the local supplier were meeting, but he’d also scoped out all the entrances and blind spots. Even though all his intel notes were sketched out, she’d still rather have Wade here to go over everything one more time. Instead, he was off somewhere getting laid—or drunk.
“What do you have on the wire?” she asked Jodi.
Jodi pressed her fingers to the wireless earpiece she wore and closed her eyes. Pressing the earbud didn’t do anything, but Alina supposed it helped her focus on what the people in the room Wade had bugged were saying.
“I have four, maybe five male voices,” Jodi said. “Two are speaking fluent Turkish. The others are using a combination of Turkish and Arabic. They’re mostly making polite conversation right now, but they’ve said the words anlaştik mi several times. That’s Turkish for deal. A few moments ago, one of the Arab men asked how many drums would be involved.”
“We going to do this or what?” Fred Stewart’s gravelly voice rumbled through Alina’s earbud over the encrypted channel. “If they’re already talking about deals and how many drums, there’s no way this meeting is going to last more than another ten or fifteen minutes. If we don’t go soon, we’re going to blow our chance.”
“I know,” Alina told her other teammate. “But Wade is still MIA, and our original plan was based on four of us going in. It’s going to be tough trying to pull this off with just you, me, and Rodney.”
“Not like we have much of a choice,” Rodney Miller said in his Southern drawl. “If they drive out of here with those chemicals, we’re never going to find them again. And when the Syrian people get attacked by some extremists using nerve gas, we’re going to know it was our fault. You ready to let that happen?”
Alina didn’t answer. Pushing the image his words had painted out of her head, she continued to scan the floor plans and maps on the table in front of her, trying to see a way three people could pull this off. But she couldn’t. There were too many doors, hallways, and rooms to cover.