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Hakim realized it was Ahmed, the lethargic Moroccan.

“Hurry, they are here,” he said in heavily accented English. “Grab your gun and get to your post.”

“Who is here?” Hakim asked, suddenly very alert.

“Two men with orange . . . like they put on their vehicles.”

Hakim was used to trying to translate the mangled sentences that the men often concocted, but this was a new one. “What are you trying to say?”

“Get up,” the Moroccan said with genuine panic. “Karim wants you now! Hurry!”



ADAMS couldn’t figure out where in the hell things had gone wrong. His plan had been perfect. He’d seen what happened to whistle-blowers. They ended up celebrated by one party and trashed by the other. Legal bills bankrupted the poor bastards while the slow workings of justice placed their life in a near-permanent state of limbo. No matter how just their accusations, they ended up pummeled. Politics in D.C. was a blood sport and whistle-blowers were cannon fodder. Adams had thought about it long and hard. It would have been like being the first guy off the very first landing barge at Omaha Beach on D-Day. They would have slaughtered him.

No, he was convinced he had plotted the right course. He knew with every fiber of his body that Rapp, and Nash and Kennedy and a bunch of others, were trampling all over the Constitution. He had been working feverishly behind the scenes to try to get the right people at Justice to stand up and take notice. Most of the deputy AGs wanted nothing to do with Rapp and Kennedy. There was a long list of people in Washington who had tried to tangle with them and so far they had proven themselves untouchable. More and more, people saw it as a career-ender. Adams thought he had finally found an ally in Senator Lonsdale. The senior senator from Missouri chaired the Judiciary Committee and shared Adams’s dislike of the CIA and its cowboy ways.

Then the bombs had shattered the civility of the capital and the mood changed yet again. Adams had gone to see Lonsdale only a few days ago, and the meeting had been a disaster. After months of working with each other, and finally finding an aggressive attorney at Justice who was brave enough to go after the criminals at Langley, she had now lost her nerve. She suggested Adams drop the issue and focus his energy on tracking down the millions in unaccounted funds the CIA had squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan. He desperately tried to get her to see that now was not the time to quit. They were so close. All Adams needed was the political clout and subpoena power of the Judiciary Committee and they could finally put Rapp and the rest of them behind bars.

Adams could not do it by himself. Despite their overall lack of brainpower, Rapp and the others were survivors and had gone to great lengths to cover their tracks. With Lonsdale abandoning him, and the rest of the Senate and the House too morally bankrupt to lift a finger, Adams saw no hope in dragging them out of the shadows and into the bright light of court. With no support from Justice or the Hill, and the whistle-blower option deemed suicidal, Adams had to find a third way. His source of inspiration was none other than Mark Felt, the now deceased assistant deputy FBI director who had brought down President Richard Nixon by selectively feeding information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

While Felt was the template, Adams was not going to be so foolish as to allow some reporter to make millions off his bravery while he retired on his meager federal pension. He would publish a scathing exposé of the CIA, its illegal programs, and the men who ran them. He had already picked out a title—A Quest for Justice. He would write it under the pen name Jefferson. No first name, just the last. Adams had told Kenny Urness that a CIA black ops agent had come to him and was asking for help. The fictional agent wanted to shop a tell-all manuscript that would expose the CIA and its myriad illegal programs. Urness would set up a blind trust to hold the millions the novel would make, and then when things finally settled down five or seven years from now, Adams would step forward as the brave man who had brought down the fascist wing of the American government.

There would be uproar for sure, but Adams knew how to hide his tracks. He’d already purchased, with cash, a used laptop that would be destroyed once the book was finished. He’d even found a software program that would allow him to change his prose to avoid identification by writing experts. Polygraphs would be administered far and wide, but he would pass them as he always did. The lie detectors were useless against someone with his IQ. He’d had it all figured out, but despite all of the careful planning, he’d missed something.

Adams fingered the empty glass sitting on the table and silently wished they would get him another drink. The vodka was starting to wear off and that was the last thing he needed right now. Staying calm was no easy thing when you knew a man like Mitch Rapp was loitering on the other side of a steel door, and you had no way of calling for help. Despite being caught off guard, Adams had already vowed that he would make Rapp pay. He would say what he needed to say to win his release, and then he would raise hell.

No sane person would ever kill him. At least that’s what he kept telling himself. He was the inspector general of the CIA, for God’s sake. The media would dig. The Hill would demand answers. It would simply be too difficult to cover up. That’s what his highly rational brain kept telling him, but there was another voice in his head. One that was far less confident. One that had been warning him with increasing seriousness that Mitch Rapp was a man capable of extreme violence.

Adams was again trying to reassure himself that all would be fine, despite his deep forebodings, when the door opened. He recognized the lined, worn face immediately, and notwithstanding the fact that he didn’t care much for the man, he felt a huge sense of relief that he was here. Regardless of their differences, Stan Hurley was an old family friend, a covert ops legend, and maybe the only man Rapp would listen to. Adams was confident he could get the old man to sympathize with him.

“Uncle Stan,” Adams said in a hope-filled voice, “thank God you’re here.” He stood and moved forward, his arms open, ready to embrace one of the meanest cusses he’d ever known, but before he could get close enough, something hard poked him in the stomach. He froze.

“Sit down,” Hurley ordered.

Adams looked down to see the rubber tip of a cane pressed into his belly. “What happened to you?”

“Nothing . . . sit.” Hurley nudged him back and pointed at the chair.

Adams slowly retreated and took his seat. “Uncle Stan, there’d better be a hell of a good explanation for this.”

“Really?” Hurley said with skepticism. “I was about to say the same thing.”

“This is crazy; I’m the inspector general of the CIA. I can’t be kidnapped in the middle of the night and interrogated like this.”

“The fact that you’re sitting here is proof that you’re wrong on both counts.”

Adams frowned and said, “This isn’t Prague circa 1968. Neither Mitch Rapp nor anyone at the CIA, for that matter, has any right to abduct me.”

“I suppose from a purely legal standpoint you are correct.” Hurley’s admission gave Adams a shot of confidence. “You’re damn right I am. Everyone makes mistakes, but this one is a whopper.”

“It sure is.”

“Well,” Adams studied the face of his father’s best friend in a vain attempt to gauge his true intention, “as a favor to you . . . I’d be willing to look the other way on most of this, but I’m going to need some reassurances.”

“Such as?”

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