‘I see, so she’s a CIA intern ‘ said Avery.
They sat at their apartment’s coffee table as Avery pored over the dossier compiled by Giles Creed. It was detailed, and extensive, but raised as many questions as it answered. Jean Wellings was recruited straight out of Whitney Young high school. Not unheard of, but uncommon enough to raise eyebrows.
Avery made a mental note to visit the school at the earliest opportunity.
Sciratio slouched in his chair popping MnM’s and reading the Washington Post. He was dressed in jeans and a Redskins hoodie. A rucksack lay at his feet, with a skateboard lashed unto its side. The student look. He was surely in his late twenties but looked young enough to pull it off.
Avery, himself wearing a more conservative blue shirt with a sports coat and black slacks, already had the beginnings of a plan hatching in his mind. They would focus on the present and work backwards. Whatever gaps Jean had in her routine would be exploited.
He was only mildly surprised to learn she lived directly above them. That made things easier. They strapped high-powered microphones to the ceiling of every room in their apartment. A temporary arrangement to catch whatever conversations they could before they gained access to her living space.
It paid off. They discovered Jean would be at the city library for most of the morning but made no effort to follow her as she left her apartment. They would split up for the day and meet up later to exchange information.
Avery’s head brimmed with questions. Why the CIA? Why her? Why so young?
And the most pressing question of all: Why the murders?
The dossier listed the dead agents in a four page addendum.
Li Xiou, 34. A Case Officer and liaison at West Point.
Terry Fan, 33. Protective Agent. Worldwide deployment.
Paul Chiao, 40. Special Agent and Internal Investigator. Stationed at Langley.
William Tsung, 36. Uniformed Federal Police Officer with the CIA’s Security Protective Service. Stationed with the DC Metropolitan Police.
All Chinese American, a starting point for his investigation. All proficient marksmen with considerable experience in the intelligence game. That aside, they had little in common.
‘What you thinking?’ asked Sciratio.
‘It seems there was an internal investigation’ mused Avery. A former CIA man himself, he understood the significance of Paul Chiao.
He felt a twinge in his chest as he stared at the four men. He was far too jaded to be sentimental, but there was something within him which stirred at the notion their careers had been cut short. According to the dossier; the official CIA statement noted all four men had been killed in a reprisal attack on US soil. A reprisal for what?
Avery scrolled a few pages back to an older picture of Jean. High school, senior year. Shortly before she was recruited by the agency.
It was a cropped shot of her at a park of some sort. She had her hand slung over someone’s shoulder; someone beyond the borders of the picture. She’d been an athlete of some sort; sporting an orange track suit with a gold medal hung around her neck. Avery wasn’t sure of its relevance; but it provided an avenue for finding out more about her.
She had good skin, he decided. An extremely light shade of brown; almost Caucasian; smooth and spotless. It compensated for her small mouth and angular nose; which gave her a pouting appearance; with the slightest of smiles playing on her lips. She looked content, mischievous even, as though enjoying some private joke.
Her eyes were another attractive feature. Large, and an unsettling shade of amber in her high school photo, a warm brown in college. The contrast was startling, somewhere along the way she started, or stopped using contacts.
He wondered briefly where Creed had gotten the picture then decided it wasn’t important for now.
He skimmed over other sections of the report, which he had already committed to memory. No criminal records or run ins with the law to speak of. No political leanings and certainly no extremist views. A model citizen, for all intents and purposes. So what went wrong?
Sciratio’s presence in DC that bothered him, His inclusion meant the Director expected a confrontation. If Jean’s life was required, Sciratio would provide the finishing blow. Late twenties, former Navy SEAL. Extremely lethal, with an impulsive nature that appeared to defy his training. Avery had learned to accept both sides of the man.
He scrolled to the picture again.
‘It doesn’t add up’ he said.
Avery nodded at the screen. ‘She seems harmless. Creed’s run a background check as far back as pre-school and he found nothing.’
Sciratio sat up in his chair. ‘Anyone ever told you that you think too much?’
Avery chose to ignore the comment and glanced at his watch.
‘It’s 10am. Get going’ he said.
‘You sound like Creed’ he said. He hopped to his feet and slung the rucksack over his shoulder.
Avery wiped his laptop screen and killed it’s power with three quick keystrokes. He noted Sciratio’s questioning look as he grabbed his car key from the coffee table.
‘What you gonna do?’ asked Sciratio.
‘I want to check a few things from the dossier’ replied Avery. ‘I won’t be long.’
‘Sweet. I don’t suppose you could give me a lift to the library?’
‘Not unless you want your cover blown before we even begin to gather information.’
‘Argh. You’re no fun’ muttered Sciratio.
Avery exited the apartment. The ex-SEAL tailed him all the way to the car park before speaking.
‘There are quicker ways to blow my cover’ said Sciratio as he jabbed his thumb towards a cluster of cars.
Avery caught a glimpse of scarlet in the midst of the parked cars and raised an eyebrow. Sciratio sauntered towards it. Avery followed, and stopped beside his shifty looking colleague as they stared down at-
‘This is your ride?’ said Avery, masking his irritation.
Sciratio patted the seat of the Honda VFR and grinned.
‘Yup, she’s a looker isn’t she?’ he drawled.
It was a monster of a bike, with angry black angular patterns adorning its scarlet hull. Avery looked up at Sciratio in mild bemusement. The lanky, aurburn haired man had gone misty-eyed.
Avery felt his left eye twitch in disbelief.
At this rate tailing Jean Wellings was going to be a nightmare.