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Rapp grabbed the hand of MI-6’s counterterrorism chief. “Good to see you, too.” Rapp turned to look at the woman who had remained seated. She was petite, just under five and a half feet tall and weighing no more than 120 pounds. Rapp had known her for nearly fifteen years. Her name was Catherine Cheval and she worked for France’s Directorate General for Security External, or DGSE. She gave Rapp a faint smile and offered her cheek. Rapp leaned over the desk and kissed her first on her right cheek and then the left. “Always good to see you, Catherine.”

“The feeling is mutual,” she said in perfect English. Cheval sat back and brushed a strand of her raven black hair behind her right ear. She looked a decade younger than her fifty years.

Rapp took one of the two seats across from them. Cheval leaned forward and gestured toward the coffee cup sitting in front of Rapp. “Please.” As Cheval poured Rapp a fresh cup, he apologized for being late.

Butler nodded and said, “Frankly, I’m surprised you could make it on such short notice.”

“Irene didn’t give me an option. She said it was important.”

Butler and Cheval shared a look and then nodded in unison. Cheval said, “We have discovered some information that you might find useful.”

“But before we begin,” Butler added cautiously, “we would like to revisit the ground rules.”

Rapp could have been offended by the comment, but wasn’t. In many ways, these two, and the people who worked for them, were better allies than the people in his own government. The fact that Butler had brought it up, though, told Rapp two things: first, that they had some good intel, and second, that they had come by it through means that the Department of Justice and U.S. Congress would not approve of. “If you need to modify the rules I completely understand, but remember when it comes to certain elements of my government, few have more motivation than I do to lie to them.”

“True,” Cheval said, “and we trust you. It is just that certain nosy people in your country will begin to walk the dog back. They will want to know how this information fell into your possession.”

“They might even make assumptions,” Butler added. “If they begin to stir the bleeding hearts in our own governments it could create a rather unhealthy environment for us.”

“Understood. As far as I’m concerned, none of what I hear today has to be shared.”

“That would be nice,” Cheval said, “but not realistic. What we have to tell you, you will most certainly want to share.”

Cheval reached under the table and grabbed a manila file. It was simple enough looking, and intentionally so. She placed it in the center of the table and hesitated for a long moment. Her light brown eyes slowly drifted away from the file and settled on Rapp. She looked as if she still hadn’t figured out precisely how she was going to handle the exchange of intel.

Rapp had seen the file before, and it had always carried information that was far more valuable than its worn, simple appearance would lead one to believe. Ingenious on Cheval’s part, Rapp had always thought. The files at Langley were made of sturdy, heavy stock. The important ones were red, although Rapp had known a few people over the years who had used Cheval’s method of misdirection. Typically, though, the really important stuff was in red files with letters strewn across the label. Some designations were easy enough to figure out, like Top Secret, but most were covered with phrases like Eyes Only and a string of letters that were nonsensical to the uninitiated. All of it was Compartmentalized Intel. Some had locks and most had twine clasps—the kind you had to twirl around a little disk to secure and unwind to open. The twine wasn’t there to defeat prying eyes. It was there to give a person pause, one more step to go through to get the thing open, and hence an extra few seconds to consider just what the hell you were doing.

The CIA was funny about that. They liked their people to keep their attention focused on their particular area of expertise. During Rapp’s tenure he’d seen two complete overhauls of the system and a bunch of little modifications. At the end of the day, one of the quickest ways to land yourself in serious trouble was to get caught opening a file that was none of your business. The French and the Brits operated with similar constraints, so Rapp had guessed long ago that Cheval’s worn file had likely never been carried through the security checkpoints at the DGSE headquarters in Paris.

Cheval asked, “Have your services made any headway on the identity of the men who carried out the attacks?”

“Very little.” Talking to two colleagues like this, Rapp was slightly embarrassed to admit that they had made zero progress. The race to find out what had happened had been going on for a week, and they were still wandering around the starting line looking for clues.

“Nothing?” Butler asked, looking surprised.

“As far as the six guys who raided the CTC are concerned . . . there isn’t really anything left to identify. The surveillance footage doesn’t give us anything useful. They were dressed in full SWAT gear, complete with balaclavas, goggles, helmets, gloves, heavy vests . . .” Rapp shrugged, “There’s nothing to see.”

“Physical evidence?” Cheval asked.

Rapp thought about the stew of body parts that had been created when all six suicide vests were detonated at the same time. They were still finding bits and pieces in the woods a couple of hundred yards away. The men had ended up at the base of the twenty-foot-wide parking ramp. The smooth, poured-concrete walls looked like an old subway car that had accumulated five years of graffiti, but instead of spray paint it was chunks of bone and flesh and lots of blood, and instead of a half decade, it had happened in the blink of an eye. “They’ve been able to identify six separate sets of DNA, but that’s about it.”

“Surely, there’s a fingertip or two to be found,” Butler said.

“I’ve seen a lot of nasty shit over the years, George, but this one was disgusting.” Rapp thought about it for a second and then corrected himself, saying, “I take that back. It wasn’t disgusting . . . it was bizarre. There was nothing left, except chunks of indistinguishable goo.”

“But you did manage to get six separate sets of DNA?” Cheval asked.

“That’s what I was told.”

She asked, “FBI?”


“We might,” Cheval said guardedly, “have a relative in our possession.”

“Can you get me a DNA sample?” Rapp asked.

Cheval and Butler glanced at each other.

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