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Agent in Place (The Gray Man #7)
Author:Mark Greaney

Agent in Place (The Gray Man #7)

Mark Greaney



Experience, that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

   —C. S. LEWIS



You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.

   —LEON TROTSKY






CHARACTERS


AHMED AL-AZZAM: President of Syria

Jamal al-Azzam: Late father of Ahmed al-Azzam, former president of Syria Shakira al-Azzam: First lady of Syria

Bianca Medina: Spanish fashion model, mistress of Ahmed al-Azzam Dr. Tarek Halaby: Cardiac surgeon, co-director of the Free Syria Exile Union, husband of Rima Halaby Dr. Rima Halaby: Cardiac surgeon, co-director of the Free Syria Exile Union, wife of Tarek Halaby Vincent Voland: Former intelligence officer, DGSE, Directorate-General for External Security (French Foreign Intelligence Service), and DGSI, Directorate-General for Internal Security (French Domestic Intelligence Service) Sebastian Drexler: (Code name: Eric) Swiss intelligence officer, employee of Meier Privatbank Henri Sauvage: Captain, Police Judiciaire, French National Police Foss: Lieutenant Intern, Police Judiciaire, French National Police Allard: Lieutenant, Police Judiciaire, French National Police Clement: Lieutenant, Police Judiciaire, French National Police Malik: Foreign intelligence operative of GIS, General Intelligence Service, Syrian External Security Division Lars Klossner: Owner of Klossner Welt Ausbildungs GMBH, security and private military contractor Van Wyk: KWA, private military contractor/team leader Saunders: KWA, private military contractor

Broz: KWA, private military contractor

Walid: Major in Desert Hawks Brigade (pro-regime Syrian militia) Paul Boyer: Former French Foreign Legionnaire, private security officer Robert “Robby” Anderson: Captain, U.S. Army 10th Special Forces Group Stefan Meier: Vice president, Meier Privatbank

Jamal Medina: Infant son of Bianca Medina

Yasmin Samara: Nanny to Jamal Medina

Dr. Shawkat Saddiqi: Trauma surgeon, Syrian resistance sympathizer Abdul Basset Rahal: Syrian resistance fighter with the Free Syrian Army Matthew Hanley: Director, National Clandestine Service, Central Intelligence Agency





PROLOGUE


The prisoners were slaughtered one by one, with efficiency as true as a ticking clock. Two dozen dead now, and the executioner was just hitting his stride.

The scene of the massacre was one of abject horror: the stench of fresh blood, the cloying smell of bodies floating in the brown lake, the viscous brain matter splattered and thickening on the sun-blanched pier.

Above the slaughter the rocky hillside sparkled in the midday heat, the reflection of broken glass and twisted metal jutting out of the wreckage of a battle fought months ago. Many had died, and the few vanquished who survived had run for their lives and left the ruined land to the victors.

The black flags of ISIS hung in the town square now, and they waved from the rooftops of the wrecked buildings and whipped in the back of most every pickup truck that rolled through the broken streets: certainly every vehicle that was filled to capacity with young bearded men wearing cheap tactical gear and brandishing weapons, eyes wild with the fervency of their sickening death cult.

Here by the lake, between the broken hillside and the water, ran a narrow shoreline of salt flat and brown brush. Forty-three condemned men in orange jumpsuits knelt, the remainder of the sixty-seven who had been trucked here just twenty minutes earlier.

The captives were surrounded by masked fighters holding rifles at the ready; the prisoners’ wrists were tied with rough cord in front of their bodies, and they were all lashed together by a long rope. This removed the chance that any one of them would get up and leg it, though it hardly mattered. Nobody was going to run. It was nearly a hundred kilometers across the dead ground of war-torn Syria to the Turkish border, so what chance would they have if they ran?

No one entwined and kneeling here would resist the fate that awaited him. There was no use to it, and virtually all these men understood that their last few moments left on this foul Earth would be better spent praying.

The executioner wore a pair of daggers in his belt, but these were just for show. The real tool of choice for the slaughter wasn’t the blades; it was the Avtomat Kalashnikova, model 74U, held in the arms of the hooded executioner standing at the end of the pier.

As had been the routine for the past twenty minutes, two guards shoved a prisoner to his knees next to the executioner, the masked man pointed the muzzle of his weapon behind the condemned man’s right ear, and then, without a pause or a comment or a moment’s hesitation, he pulled the trigger.

Sanguine spray erupted from the captive’s head, and the body snapped forward, the mangled face leading the way down to the water. It crashed into the surface of the lake, just like so many before it, and just like so many more, waiting on the shore for their turn to die.

And a videographer on the shoreline recorded it all for posterity.

The shrinking row of prisoners remained passive, kneeling on the lakeside, over a dozen armed men at the ready standing on all sides of them. Some flinched with the rifle’s report; others flinched with the sound of the splash, knowing their ruined dead bodies would follow suit in moments; and soon two armed ISIS fighters walked down the fifteen-meter-long wooden pier, stepped onto the rocky shoreline, and took the closest man in orange by his shoulders. Two more captors had just cut him from the rope tied around his waist, so the walking crew hefted the condemned from his knees to his feet and guided him back down the pier, shoving him onward if he slowed for an instant. The doomed man prayed softly in Arabic as he walked with his hands secured in front of him, his eyes on the wooden planks at his feet, not on the water, not on the dozens of bodies floating just off the end of the pier . . . not on his dead friends and comrades.

The walk was thirty seconds in duration, and then the prisoner’s sandaled feet stopped in the pool of blood at the end of the wooden planks. Here the lead executioner waited, his Kalashnikov hanging low from the sling around his neck.

The executioner said nothing. The prisoner in orange knelt; he showed no emotion but only continued to pray, his eyes closed now.

The two men who had delivered him here took a step back; their own boots and pants and even the ammunition racks on their chests were covered in blood splatter, and they kept their weapons raised, barrels just behind their prisoner’s ears, but they did not fire. They looked on while the executioner raised his Kalashnikov, glanced towards the cameraman back at the edge of the pier to make certain he was getting all this, and then shot the young man in his right temple.

Half of the man’s head exploded, spewing outwards three meters above the water; the body spun and tipped forward and dropped into the bloodred lake face-first with a splash that was identical to the twenty-five other splashes that preceded it.

The escort team had already turned away to take the next man in the rapidly shrinking row of prisoners.

Forty-two now.