The Last Spymaster
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November 16, 1985
Glienicke Bridge, between West Berlin and East Germany
The darkness seemed colder, more bitter, at Glienicke Bridge when a spy exchange was about to begin. Jay Tice shoved his hands deep into his topcoat pockets in a futile attempt to warm them as he scanned the forested hills and the steel-and-iron bridge, black and forbidding in the first rays of dawn.
Dusted with snow, two stone centaurs flanked the long expanse, towering over Tice's armored sedan and the two battered U.S. Army trucks. On high alert, a dozen soldiers carrying M-16s and wearing pistols over their belted overcoats moved like shadows across the road and among the skeletal trees. The night's snowfall had been light; still, it muffled the sounds of distant traffic.
Tice missed nothing, not the tension in his people's faces, certainly not the Kalashnikov-toting East German soldiers on the far side of the bridge, who patrolled slowly, menacingly, in the gray light. They guarded Pavel Abendroth, the renowned dissident and Jewish refusenik, and his warden --- Stasi officer Raina Manhardt.
Tice moved his gaze away. He was a rumpled man of thirty-four, just shy of six feet tall. His nose was straight, his hair brown and of average length, his mouth wide and implacable. Depending on the light, his eyes were blue or brown. His one distinctive feature was the deep cleft that notched his chin, which was dramatic. Still, Tice had perfected the art of appearing almost bloodless, clearly boring. Seldom did anyone remember him or his cleft chin --- unless he wanted them to.
"Issa'a kaem?" the voice beside him demanded.
With a sharp movement of his head, Tice peered at his half of the predawn swap --- Faisal al-Hadi, a twenty-year-old Muslim militant caught in an arms deal Tice had busted. Standing motionless and straight as a knife, he was Tice's height but narrow, with a high-bridged nose and bony features, dressed in American jeans and a duffel coat. According to his dossier, he spoke English, but no one in the command had heard him use it. Oddly, al-Hadi had yet to look at the bridge. Those waiting to be traded tended to stare across it with raw hunger.
Tice checked his wristwatch. "Issa'a 5:12. Da'ayi' hidashar." The trade must begin in just eleven minutes so it would be finished by 5:42 a.m. --- sunrise.
This was Glienicker Brücke, "Bridge of Spies," witness to many of the Cold War's most crucial exchanges. It was a bridge leading nowhere, unused except for the infrequent official vehicle on a military mission between the Free West and the Communist East and the occasional vital spy swap. Some exchanges were notorious and covered by the press; others were secret, as was this one.
Before al-Hadi could respond, a car's motor pierced the silence. Tice spun. Rifles lashed around. The engine was a deep purr --- large and expensive, its timing impeccable. A Mercedes. As soon as Tice read the license plate, he waved an arm backward in a wide swing that those on both sides of the bridge could see, signaling everyone to stand down.
Wearing a camel-hair overcoat, Palmer Westwood stepped from the luxury car. His hair was thick and pepper gray, his features angular and grave. Fifty-two years old, Westwood was the CIA's new Associate Deputy Director of Operations, the ADDO, just in from Langley. He was late.
As Westwood hurried toward them, he pulled out his pocket watch. The fob was a small gold triangle --- flat, with two jagged edges. He checked the time, then glanced at the terrorist. "Any trouble?"
"Quiet so far," Tice told him. "We should go."
Westwood nodded, and Tice signaled. The soldiers closed in. They advanced as a group, passing the sign that warned ominously in four languages: You Are Leaving the American Sector. The old steel bridge was radiant, ablaze in arc lights, stretching ahead more than four hundred feet.
For the first time, al-Hadi looked across. Then he stared as if he could not tear his gaze away, his black eyes burning with fury he could no longer hide. As Tice followed his line of sight, he began to understand the terrorist's silence and apparent lack of interest.
"Come over here," Tice ordered as they stopped at the edge. "Stay on my left." The terrorist was right-handed.
Tice turned away so al-Hadi could not see as he unbuttoned his coat, pulled his pistol from the holster, and slid it into his waistband. He put another item into his left pocket. When he turned back, al-Hadi was in place. On either side, the dark forest was hushed, still, almost predatory.
Tice checked his watch again and gazed across just as Raina Manhardt peered up from hers. They nodded and stepped forward alone, two enemy intelligence officers doing their duty. Al-Hadi caught up with Tice, while Raina Manhardt slowed for Abendroth to join her. Jailed nine years in the gulag, the Jewish doctor had lost a third of his body weight from starvation rations and illness. Dressed in baggy clothes, he pressed his earmuffs close and smiled as he matched Manhardt's steps.
The walk had begun. As an icy wind gusted off the river, Tice moved close to al-Hadi and spoke in English: "You're damn lucky. If Dr. Abendroth weren't a cause célèbre, you wouldn't be going home."
Al-Hadi's eyes snapped. His molten gaze was locked on the small man in the distance. He said nothing.
"That's it, isn't it," Tice said softly. "A Jew is saving your life. Worse, a human-rights Jewish activist the West reveres."
"Mabahibish khanzeereen." Al-Hadi sneered. His right hand twitched.
Immediately, Tice used both hands to slap a handcuff on the wrist and squeeze it tight enough to inhibit circulation. "Keep walking. Now I've got a gun pointed at you under my coat, too. Dammit, don't pull away. You don't want anyone to see this. Ala tool. Ala ikobri."
"Kufr. Infidels! The Jews are the enemies of Islam. Jews are the source of all conflicts! They are liars. Murderers. If I am defending my home, no one can call me a terrorist. All infidels must die!"
"If you hadn't behaved yourself in lockup, I never would've been able to talk Langley into letting you go --- even for someone of Abendroth's stature. Up to now, you've been smart. But you'll never make it home alive if you don't drop whatever you're carrying in your right hand."
Al-Hadi's head jerked around. "What? How did you know?" His pinched face showed the pain caused by the handcuff.
For the past month, ever since his capture in the shoot-out in West Berlin, al-Hadi had tried to hide his intelligence behind a mask of indifference. But Tice had noted his watchful gaze, the small advantages he created for himself, and his ability to perceive routine in an apparently randomized interrogation schedule. His intelligence would argue against self-destruction.
"Experience. Keep walking." Tice tightened the handcuff. "Get rid of the weapon, or you'll never see Damascus again."
For the first time, doubt flickered in the young man's face.
"Drop it, son," Tice said. "You'd be insane not to want to go home, and this is the only chance you'll get. Drop it."
The fire that had burned so feverishly in al-Hadi's eyes died. His fingers opened, and a razored metal file fell silently into the snow, a weapon of close assassination. Al-Hadi peered away, but not before Tice saw his humiliation. He had failed.
Then al-Hadi's lips thinned. He seemed to gather himself. "Release me!" he ordered.
Tice considered then reached over and unlocked the handcuff.
Al-Hadi gave no acknowledgment. Instead, he lifted his chin defiantly. Neither spoke as they closed in on the bridge's center. A gust of bitter wind needled Tice's face. Following protocol, he stopped a yard from the four-inch-wide white line that marked the border between West and East. But his prisoner bolted toward it.
"Halt!" Tice made a show of grabbing for his arm.
"La'a!" Without a glance at Dr. Abendroth, al-Hadi hurtled past.
As clouds of brittle snow exploded from the youth's heels, Tice focused on Raina Manhardt. A half-head taller than the diminutive doctor, she wore a fur hat and a stern expression.
"I wish I could say it was a pleasure." He spoke in German.
The Stasi officer's eyes flashed. She responded in English with a perfect American accent: "So we meet again, Comrade Tice." She spun on her boot heel and followed her charge.
Tice stared after her a few seconds then greeted Dr. Abendroth. "It's an honor, sir."
"Spaseeba!" Abendroth was excited. He took two large steps into the West and pumped Tice's hand. "My knees ache, or I would fall down and kiss this old bridge."
They turned in unison and strode off. The cold seemed to settle into Tice's bones. He inhaled a deep breath.
"You were worried?" Dr. Abendroth asked curiously. He had the wrinkled skin of a seventy-year-old, although he was only in his forties.
"Of course. And you?"
"I gave that up long ago." The dissident's smile deepened. "I prefer to think of pleasant things."
The return trip seemed longer to Tice. Ahead, the dawn rose slowly, almost reluctantly, above the bleak hills. The waiting party of armed Americans resembled a still life from some military album. Only Palmer Westwood seemed real. In his camel-hair overcoat, he stalked back and forth, furiously smoking a cigarette.
As soon as they stepped onto land, Tice introduced the two men.
The small, shabby pediatrician took the hand of the tall, genteel CIA official. "You came just to welcome me, Mr. Westwood? You are so civilized. I have shaken no one's hand in friendship in years, other than another prisoner's. And now I have done it twice within minutes." He gestured toward the stately Mercedes, where the driver stood at the open rear door, waiting. "My chariot?"
Tice gazed at it. "Yes."
With a crisp nod, Dr. Abendroth marched off alone, his head turning as if he were memorizing the world. While Palmer Westwood followed, Tice paused and glanced over his shoulder. On the other end of the bridge, Raina Manhardt and al-Hadi were approaching their Zil limousine.
When Tice looked back, Westwood had stopped to grind out his cigarette beneath the toe of his wing tip. Tice shifted his focus to Abendroth, monitoring his approach to the open door of the sedan. It was time. Taking a small step backward, Tice squared his shoulders and gave an almost imperceptible nod.
The percussive noise of a single rifle shot splintered the quiet. Blood and bone fragments exploded into the air, and Pavel Abendroth pitched forward, the back of his skull shattered by the bullet. His right arm bounced off the doorframe and landed hard inside the sedan.
For an instant, the escort of American soldiers froze, their faces stunned. Then their rifles slashed up and moved violently, searching for a target. At the same time, Raina Manhardt shoved a grinning Faisal al-Hadi into the limo and dove in after him.
Tice ran to Abendroth, bellowing at his people to alert headquarters and find the sniper. With the stench of hot blood filling his nostrils, Tice crouched. The pediatrician lay crumpled on a patch of dirty snow. Tice picked up the hand that had fallen inside the car. Thick calluses and ragged scars covered the palm, showing the brutal labor and torture Abendroth had endured.
Tice found a faint pulse in the frail wrist, growing weaker. When it stopped, he closed the dead man's staring eyes and lifted his head to watch across the length of Glienicke Bridge. Tires spinning on the snow, the Communist limo shot off toward East Berlin.
I grew accustomed to walking on a knife's edge and could imagine no other life. For eighteen years, he was a U.S. mole code-named Tophat, until Soviet mole Robert Hanssen betrayed him.
soviet general dmitri polyakov
Chaux de Mont, Switzerland
All days should be like this. All moments. Gerhard Shoutens hurtled down an expert ski run that paralleled a razorback ridge, following his friend Kristoph Maas. Sunlight drenched the snow-mantled Alps, and the wide sky was a vault of sapphire blue.
Gerhard reveled in the soaring exhilaration of speeding through the crisp new powder. "Das ist Wahnsinn!" he shouted into the wind.
Kristoph whooped in agreement. "Super! Toll!"
They flashed through a hushed stand of pines and into an open area, their velocity increasing, their skis hissing as the trail took them along the winding rim of a couloir. On one side spread a slope of pristine snow. Gerhard glanced down the other --- a spectacular gorge so deep that house-size boulders at the bottom appeared to be mere pebbles. It was breathtaking.
"Sieh dir das mal an!" he yelled.
But before his friend could admire the view, his entire body seemed to recoil as if he had struck some obstacle hidden in the snow. He gave an outraged bellow, his skis lifted off the track, and he was airborne. Gerhard leaned low into his skis, frantically trying to reach him. But Kristoph shot off the edge and into the void.
Two days later
Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex
At 6:40 a.m., ten minutes past morning call at the crowded federal penitentiary in the Susquehanna Valley, a stranger in civilian clothes marched down a gray cellblock, staring straight ahead. A Bureau of Prisons lieutenant led; two guards followed. All looked uneasy.
The man paused at a cell. As soon as the door opened, he moved inside and glared down at the solitary cot. The blanket had been yanked aside to reveal blue prison trousers and shirt stuffed with crumpled newspapers and arranged to mimic a man lying on his side. There was also a fake wood arm covered with flesh-colored upholstery from the prison factory. With the pillow pounded high as if it covered a head, and the blanket on top exposing part of the arm, not even the obligatory flash of a guard's light during nighttime checks would reveal that no one slept there.
"Clever bastard." The stranger jerked a cell phone from his pocket. He punched in a number and kept his voice low: "He's gone all right. I'm in his cell now. I'll --- "
"Seal it off," the voice on the other end of the line ordered. "No one's to search it, understand? And for God's sake, make sure no one tells the press that Jay Tice has escaped!"
At 9:06 a.m. Laurence Litchfield, the CIA's Deputy Director of Operations --- the DDO --- hand-carried a sealed white envelope down from the seventh floor to the Staff Operations Center, the SOC, which was responsible for case-management support to colleagues in the field. In his mid-forties, Litchfield was lean, with a runner's wiry body and a lanky gait. His eyes were carved deep into his face. Above them, wide brows formed an ink-black line across his forehead.
The SOC chief looked up from her desk. "Good morning, Mr. Litchfield. We got some overnight requests from our people in Yemen and Qatar. I was going to memo you about our progress with the intelligence summit, but I can fill you in now."
"First I need to talk to one of your people --- Elaine Cunningham."
She noted the envelope in his hand. "Cunningham? You know she's sidelined."
"I know. Show me where she is."
She nodded and led him out the door and down two long corridors and into a room crammed with gray modular cubicles, which someone long ago had cynically dubbed the Parking Lot. Here a glacially changing landscape of some three dozen field officers waited like used cars collecting dust, futures uncertain. Their covers had been irrevocably blown, or they had proved inept, or they had run into Langley politics. For many, the next stop was the tedium of personnel or recruitment or curriculum --- or, worst case, dismissal.
The chief pointed out Cunningham's cubicle among the maze, and Litchfield thanked her. "Go up to my office. I'll meet you there."
She left, and he turned down the narrow aisle and found Elaine Cunningham in her cramped enclosure, marching back and forth beside her desk, arms crossed, her shoulder propping her phone against her ear as she talked quietly into it. She was a small woman, twenty-nine years old and blond, dressed in an unbuttoned black jacket, white T-shirt, and belted black pants.
As he leaned against the frame of her cubicle to study her, she glanced up and recognized him. She winked one large blue eye in greeting.
And continued talking into the phone: "So, your missing source is a broker in Brussels. He's a morose Dane, unmarried, follows soccer. He didn't show up for a blind date yesterday and missed the alternate meet this morning. Now you have word he's in the wind, and Copenhagen can't find him." She pursed her lips. Her pace quickened. "All Scandinavians tend to be stereotyped as morose, but there are real national differences. It's the Swedes who are mostly angst-ridden, while the Danes are more happy-go-lucky. So your morose Dane may actually be Swedish, and if he's driving home, he probably didn't stop in Copenhagen but took the Øresund Fixed Link across the sound into Malmö. When amateurs change identities, they usually create legends based on what they already know. If he's Swedish --- especially if he comes from the Malmö area --- it's possible he knows Copenhagen well enough to fake it as his hometown, and if he does, it's a good bet he speaks Danish like a native."
Cunningham paused, listening. "My pleasure. No, this is the end of the Langley road for me. Hey, it's been great working with you, too. You always give me interesting questions." As she hung up, she grabbed the single sheet of paper in her printer tray. "Morning, Mr. Litchfield. This is my lucky day. Who would've thought I'd get to resign to the DDO himself. Just to make it official, here's my letter."
Litchfield was unsurprised. "You'll make your psychologist happy." He took the letter, folded it into his pocket, and sat in the only side chair.
"That's what I'm all about --- making CIA clinicians happy." Her smile did not involve her eyes.
"I suspect you don't really want to quit. People who excel seldom do."
As Litchfield continued to watch, she blinked then sank into her desk chair. Dressed in her simple black and white clothes, her hair smoothed back into a ponytail at the nape of her neck, and wearing little makeup, she could pass as a cop or the leader of a gang of thieves. This flexibility of affect would be easier for her than for some, because she was neither beautiful nor ugly. Still, she was pretty enough that she could use her looks: Her face was slender, her cheekbones good, her classic features slightly irregular, and her golden hair shone. Litchfield had studied her file. Now he had seen her. So far, she was perfect.
"What you say has a certain truth to it," she acknowledged. "But I've also heard it said that a rut is just like a grave --- only longer. I'm in a rut. I'm not doing Langley any good, and I'm not doing myself any good. It's time to get on with my life, such as it is." She gazed at the white envelope in his hand then peered up at him curiously. "But I think you have something else in mind."
He inclined his head. "I have a job tailored to your talents . . . and to your limitations. To do it, you'll be in the field alone, which you seem to prefer anyway."
"Not necessarily. It's just that the bodies Langley kept sending to partner with me turned out to be less than stellar."
"You don't trust anyone, do you?"
"My mother. I'm fond of my mother. I trust her. Unfortunately, she lives far away, in California."
"You trusted your husband, too. But he's dead. Afghanistan, right?"
For a moment she appeared speechless. She seemed to shrink, grow calcified, as hard as a tombstone.
He pushed her again: "You've had a problem working with people since he died. Your psychologist has recommended Langley let you go."
Instead of exploding, she nodded. Her expression was grim.
"You were one of our best hunters," Litchfield said. "Right now, I need the best." As a hunter, her specialty was locating missing spies, assets gone to ground, "lost" foreign agents, anyone in the covert world of interest to Langley who had vanished --- and doing it in such a way that the public never knew.
He watched a reflective look cross her face. It was time to change the subject: "Why do you think you were so successful?"
"Probably because I simply have a knack for it," she said. "I steep myself in the psychology of my target until the physical evidence and clues take on new meaning. That's all there is to it."
For the first time, he smiled. "No, there's far more than that." She was modest, and she had not lost her temper. All things considered, she was clearly his best choice.
Eyeing him speculatively, she said, "When the DDO comes to call, I figure something important has happened. And when I'm on the verge of being fired and he still comes to call, I figure it could be crucial. So let me help you out --- if you think I can do the job, tell me what it is, and I'll tell you whether I can or want to take it on."
He looked around. "Not here. The assignment is with one of our special units. And it's M-classified." "M" indicated an extraordinarily sensitive covert operation. Among the highest the United States bestowed, single-letter security clearances meant the information was so secret it could be referred to only by initials.
Her blue eyes snapped with excitement. It had been a long time since she'd had such an opportunity. "Give me back my resignation letter. As long as I don't have to mommy fools, I'll deliver."
He handed it to her along with his envelope. "Here's the address and the name of your contact, plus my phone number. It's the usual protocol --- you hunt, our regular people capture. Read, memorize, then shred everything, including my number. Good luck."
The Catoctin Mountains, Maryland
Dense forests flowed dark and primeval down the ridged sides of the Maryland mountains to where a roadside stop had been built on a green basin of land off busy Highway 15. A cool breeze typical of the early hour at this time of year blew around the two-pump gas station and parking lot and café.
Jay Tice stood utterly still in shadows. His bloody clothes announced he should be considered dangerous, but there was something else about him that was perhaps even more sinister: It was in his aging face, where intelligence and violence warred just beneath the skin. His hair was short, the color of iron shavings. Two crevices curved down from either side of his nose to his mouth. His chin was as firm as ever, marked by the dramatic cleft.
He moved off through the trees. At the rear of the caf, he dropped to his haunches. There were four windows on the back wall --- one was opaque glass, two displayed customers eating, and the fourth, next to the doorway, showed a desk and file cabinets. That was the office, just where he remembered. The back door was open. From it drifted the greasy odors of fried sausage and bacon. Tice looked around, then sprinted to the doorway. He peered cautiously inside.
"Two eggs, easy!" A voice yelled from the end of the cluttered hall. "Half stack!"
Within seconds he slipped unnoticed into the office. He locked the door and activated the computer and, while it booted up, opened the window. From somewhere inside the café, a newscast described a terrorist bombing by a group thought to be connected to al-Qaeda. He sat down at the computer and created a new Yahoo! e-mail account from which he opened a blank e-mail, addressed it, and typed into the message window:
Dog's run away. Call home.
As soon as he hit send, he addressed another e-mail with a different message:
Unexpected storm forced evacuation. In touch soon.
Deleting all copies saved to the computer, he turned it off. He slid out the window, stifling a groan as his hip grazed the lip, furious that he was not as agile as he once was. He closed the window and seconds later was in the forest again, moving swiftly away.
Controlling her excitement, Elaine Cunningham drove her Jaguar S-Type Sport 3.0 --- red,
sleek, and sumptuous --- across the Potomac River and into the District. As the beat of Headshear's "Walking Tapestry" pounded from her speakers, she reveled in the Jag's power and balance, the seventeen-inch Herakles alloy wheels, the bird's-eye maple dashboard, and the softer-than-skin leather upholstery. She knew her love affair with this lump of luxury was shallow, and she did not care. It whispered when it cruised, and it growled when poked awake. Who could resist that?
Dupont Circle was just a mile northwest of the White House. As she drove around it, she maintained her usual second-stage alert, studying buildings, the mass of cars, the mobs of pedestrians. A towering water fountain sparkled in the center of the parklike circle, while beneath it people jogged, drank caffe lattes, and played chess. The world looked safe and innocent. But it was not, which was why she always carried a weapon since Rafe's death.
She turned the Jag up a hilly street, its gears sweetly adjusting, and found the address of the special unit --- an old two-story Victorian with a wide front porch. A brass plate proclaimed:
Institute of International Concerns
A Think Tank for the New Millennium
It was a busy neighborhood. People filled the sidewalks and cars lined the curbs. Dupont's parking was nearly impossible; only Georgetown's was worse. She rounded streets until she found a slot in which to wedge the Jag. Carrying her shoulder bag, she headed back, wondering again what was so vital that the DDO himself had personally interviewed her.
As she hurried up the Victorian's brick walk, the front door opened, and an old woman stepped out. She was slumped and lined. Silver hair wreathed her wrinkles. She wore a black dress, opaque support hose, and Hush Puppies.
"Welcome. We've been expecting you." The woman's voice carried easily, a tremor in it, convincing to anyone passing by.
"Thanks. Good to be here. I'm looking forward to working at the Institute."
Cunningham climbed the steps to the porch, noting the woman's hair was a wig and the cobweb of wrinkles only makeup, so finely done that only an expert would know. Passing the woman, she moved indoors and in a single, practiced sweep took in the needle-nose cameras embedded almost invisibly in the ceiling and the pinhead-size spots on the flocked wallpaper indicating motion detectors. As expected, the security was well cloaked and impressive. She felt herself relax, and yet her alertness increased.
She turned. "You're Hannah Barculo?" According to her assignment letter from Litchfield, her contact was Barculo, chief of unit. The unit was code-named Whippet.
"I am. This hornet's nest has been mine for five years." The woman closed the door. A series of firm clicks sounded, indicating electronic locks had snapped into place. "Our gatekeeper's on assignment. Sorry for the getup, but I've been working. Just got in. Let's go to my office."
As they strode through a long foyer decorated with fake antiques, Barculo's posture straightened, and her movements grew fluid and athletic. She was a good thirty years younger than she first appeared, probably in her mid-forties.
"Litchfield says you're good to go," Barculo said. "That right?"
Cunningham felt her chest tighten. Then she shook it off. "Absolutely."
"I'll be frank. I didn't want you." Barculo's expression was worried.
Cunningham had not expected to be greeted with open arms. "I'll be frank, too. We both know the hunters considered first-tier are on assignment overseas. But now there's some big emergency here. That means I'm the best choice of the lesser lot. If there were someone else without my checkered history, the DDO would've chosen him or her."
Barculo nodded. "Litchfield said we needed someone who could think without a book. In this case, that's you. It's also one of the qualities our quarry's known for."
They turned down a hall. All doors were shut, and no one was in sight. As their footsteps sounded on the hardwood floor, the old house creaked. Otherwise, it seemed eerily quiet, but safe headquarters were sometimes soundproofed completely.
Barculo opened an unmarked door. As she walked through, she sighed, peeled off her wig, and shook out her short walnut-brown hair. She sat behind a massive desk, where two steaming ceramic mugs waited. The rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the office. It was spacious, with an elegant cove ceiling arching above. There were chairs, side tables, shelves of books, and a TV. In another era, it had probably been a sitting room.
As Cunningham closed the door, Barculo said, "Grab some caffeine and a seat."
Cunningham took a mug and chose a weathered armchair. She dropped her shoulder bag. "Anytime you're ready, I'd like to know what's going on."
Barculo stirred her coffee, gazing into it. When she looked up, she appeared to have reconciled something in her mind. "Did you ever meet Charles Jay Tice?"
"I heard him talk, but I was never close enough to be introduced. Does this have to do with one of his old operations?"
"Maybe. What do you remember?"
"He was a Cold War icon, of course. A legend in the Company. Supposed to have been a genius at running individuals and teams."
"Right. One way or another, he had a hand in a lot of our most critical actions in Europe. You must've studied some of them at the Farm."
"We never knew which were his. But I was told he was so devious he could outwit even Markus Wolf." She asked curiously, "Is that true?"
"I have no direct knowledge, but I wouldn't be surprised."
"I also heard that one of the moles Moscow executed had intel that might've stopped 9/11, but because of Tice's betrayal, it died with him." The words alone appalled her.
Cunningham digested that. "I read about his million-dollar numbered account in Switzerland and the lie-detector tests he failed, but in my experience there's always more. How was he really uncovered?"
"After we got Rick Ames in '94, and the FBI arrested Bob Hanssen in '01, there was a feeling we were safe from traitors, because we'd put away our top two. But Langley wanted to be certain. So we invited the FBI to help us create a computerized master grid of known and suspected leaks and breaches dating back into the early eighties. The grid's deep black, by the way, its existence not to be repeated."
"And the program turned up Tice?" Cunningham drank coffee.
"Exactly. Some of the worst violations couldn't be attributed to either Ames or Hanssen or any of the 'lesser' traitors we'd uncovered. So we fed in the names of officers, assignments, and schedules. Tice's name came up red-flagged. Remember that blank between 1991 and 1999 when Russian intelligence had no record of Hanssen spying for them at all? By then, Tice was selling out the store."
Even after the Cold War and the intense ideological rivalry ended, the Kremlin's primary espionage target remained the United States. As she sipped coffee, she thought about Jay Tice. When he was arrested in 2002, he was DDO --- second in power only to the Director of Central Intelligence, the DCI. He had access to many of the nation's most closely held secrets. His arrest had exploded in a spy scandal of global proportions, blaring from headlines around the world for a year.
Adrenaline shot through her. "Wait a minute. You need a hunter. It's an emergency. For Tice?"
Barculo sighed worriedly and sat back. "He escaped from prison early today with an inmate named Frank Theosopholis. Because this is national security, the U.S. Marshals have no jurisdiction. The DCI cut a deal with the FBI so it still gets to conduct the prison investigation, but the CIA gets apprehension responsibility. The DCI handed it off to Laurence Litchfield, and Litchfield assigned it to us --- Whippet. We have a high success rate in under-the-table missions, plus we're so covert we're not even listed in
Langley's directories. We've got only two days --- that's it. If we fail, the FBI takes over. We must put Tice and Theosopholis back behind bars quickly and quietly."
"Only two days!"
"God knows what damage Tice can do now that he's out again. And Langley needs no more black eyes with the public or Congress."
"Agreed." Cunningham put confidence into her voice. "We'll have to meet the deadline. Sooner would be better. What have you done so far?"
"I've sent people to surveil the Russian embassy and Tice's old haunts. We're watching airports and train stations and car rental agencies. We've staked out the storage locker he rented for the things he kept after he sold his house, and we're monitoring his last remaining bank account. We're following the same protocols for Theosopholis."
"Theosopholis isn't a familiar name. Someone Tice turned overseas?"
"He's not in any of our active databases. I've sent a request for copies of the old discs. Theosopholis has been serving time for killing a DEA asset. As soon as we have a dossier on Theosopholis, you'll get a copy. Here's Jay Tice's." She slid a fat file folder across the desk.
"How did they escape from Allenwood?"
"We don't know yet. All we've got is that their prison cells were empty, and both were missing. They slipped past the guards, the security cameras, and the gates without tripping a single damn alarm."
The folder was two inches thick. Cunningham opened it. Inside were printouts, photos, and copies of clippings. There was also a CD with Tice's name on it. "Both of them would've had phone access. What about our Ferret and Rhyolite satellites? The Keyhole satellites?"
Orbiting several thousand miles above the planet, the football fieldsize antennae of the Ferret and Rhyolite satellites picked up talk flowing through ground lines all over the globe. Keyhole satellites could read a newspaper's headlines from outer space, as well as the thermal signatures of cars, tanks, buildings, and people. Some had imaging lasers and could produce three-dimensional replicas of what was on the ground, right down to a wristwatch --- or a flight ticket.
"We'll have those reports today," Barculo assured her.
"If one of the Keyholes had an orbit in the right position, we might have images of them bunking out of Allenwood."
"We can hope, but we can't wait. I've got a plane standing by at Andrews to fly you there."
"Good. Do you have ForeTell?" Based on PROMIS software created in the late 1970s, ForeTell was revolutionary --- the most sophisticated organizing and tracking and analytic program on the planet. Highly secret and possessed only by U.S. intelligence and the military, it could collate data at a speed beyond human capacity, eliminate superfluous lines of inquiry, then group it into patterns for analysis.
"I need to get some analysis started before I leave."
"No. Go to Allenwood first." Barculo frowned. "We've lost enough time."
Hunters were independents, a difficult concept for some who were accustomed to issuing orders. Controlling her irritation, Cunningham stood up and said calmly, "I understand, and thanks for the advice. Nevertheless, my first stop has to be data analysis."
Hannah Barculo remained behind her desk a full ten seconds. Then she slapped the flats of her hands onto the top and pushed herself erect. "All right. I'll take you."
The hallway was still deserted, and the house silent. Cunningham peered at the closed, unmarked doors. "Is the unit out looking for Tice and Theosopholis, or is the whole place soundproofed?"
"Both." Barculo indicated a wide staircase. "Your office is on the second floor. The last single-occupancy. I figured you'd want to be alone."
She ignored the remark. "Did you know Tice?"
The Whippet chief glanced at her, surprised. "As a matter of fact, I did. A long time ago --- in the mid-eighties in West Berlin. My first overseas assignment."
"What did you think of him?"
"He was a hard one. I never did meet anyone who felt like he truly knew him. Of course, many of our people admired him, really enjoyed him. He had a way about him that was pure charm. At the same time, there were those who hated him." She hesitated, then confided: "He could be unreasonably demanding. He always thought he knew best. I have no idea how his poor wife put up with him." She opened a door. "This is it."
The room was as large as Barculo's office. A continuous shelflike desk rimmed three walls. On it were phones and keyboards and flat-screen monitors. Only one person was at work, a man in his thirties, wearing wire-rimmed glasses and dressed in casual shirt and pants. He peeled off headphones and looked up with a friendly smile.
Barculo introduced them. "Elaine Cunningham, meet Mark Silliphant."
"You're the hunter?" he asked.
"Sure am. And I need your help. Can you access Jay Tice's personnel records?" She set her purse and the dossier on the desk beside him.
As he started to shake his head, Barculo said, "I'll authorize it." She leaned over his shoulder and whispered instructions.
Silliphant's fingers drummed the keyboard as Cunningham paced across the parquet floor, arms crossed, planning.
At last he said, "Okay. I'm in."
She smiled. "Good." On the screen were Jay Tice's name, photo, Social Security number, and Bureau of Prisons register number. "Extract every proper noun --- names, cities, countries, buildings, corporations, that sort of thing --- and their descriptors. Then cross-reference. Then organize by date and cross-reference. Organize by location and cross-reference again. I'm looking for connections. For instance, maybe Tice had a favorite caf in Rome that's known for a certain dish or spice, but that caf has moved to Richmond, Virginia, or he found a caf in Richmond with that dish or spice. Next, isolate people, living or dead. Wherever Tice was, I want to know who was nearby but not necessarily, or apparently, in touch --- and what they were doing, if possible. I especially want to know where they are now. And cross-reference again."
Silliphant did not look up. "I can sort for interactions they had on their own, too, away from Tice. If the information's available, that is."
"Please do. There should also be a list of the various government and public databases in which he or his missions appear. Integrate those." ForeTell could integrate innumerable databases without requiring reprogramming, no matter the code language used. She looked at Barculo. "Whatever you get on Theosopholis, I'd like Mark to run the same sort of questions about him." When Barculo nodded, she continued, "Do you have a wireless laptop I can borrow? That way, Mark can send me his results, and I can view the CD in Tice's file."
Barculo opened a closet and removed a notebook computer and a titanium case. She put the computer inside the case. "Anything else?"
"Thanks. That's it." Cunningham stowed the file folder on top and lowered the lid, keyed in a code, and locked it. "I wish I could stick around to work with Mark, but I agree with you --- I should get to Allenwood."
Barculo's grave eyes softened. "I'll lead you out." They returned to the hall.
Cunningham had not forgotten their earlier conversation. She picked it up again: "Why exactly did people dislike Tice?"
Barculo thought about it. "Something happened in '83 that'll give you an idea. That summer he was running an undercover team I was on. One of the new men got a tip that Johannes Weinrich was up to something. In case you don't remember, Weinrich was one of Carlos's top lieutenants, and in those days Carlos the Jackal was the world's most wanted terrorist. He was Europe's Osama bin Laden."
"So a bloodbath was likely."
"Exactly." Barculo opened what looked like an ordinary office door, but inside was a deep broom closet, with a vacuum cleaner and shelves loaded with cleaning supplies. "Follow me." At the far end, she opened a second door and walked out onto a stairwell landing lit by a single bulb. The air smelled of mold and dust.
"So what happened?" Cunningham prodded.
"Our new man slipped across into East Berlin to follow Weinrich. But Tice got wind of it and chased him down in some alley. Tice didn't believe him, and he threatened to fire him for leaving without permission. Then he took him back to West Berlin, which left no one to keep tabs on Weinrich. A day later Weinrich picked up Nitropenta explosives and passed them on to two other terrorists. They planted them in the Maison de France in West Berlin. The blast was devastating. It was a miracle only one person was killed. The final tragedy was that the damn terrorists got away clean --- they escaped back into East Berlin, where the Stasi protected them."
Cunningham stared. "Good God. How horrible."
"Yes. An outrageous attack on civilians. And the new man might've been able to stop it --- if it hadn't been for Jay Tice." Barculo descended wood stairs into a dank cellar lined with brick.
Cunningham followed. "Who was the new man?"
At the bottom, Barculo turned. Nothing showed on her lined face. "Larry Litchfield."
"Laurence Litchfield? Our DDO?" The official who had assigned her to hunt down Jay Tice.
"It was a long time ago." Barculo shrugged. "Larry was furious and shaken. But he was also a damn fine operative. Obviously, it didn't kill his career." She cracked open a door, and a line of sunlight seeped in. "This is our backup entrance. Use it whenever possible. I've programmed a code for you, and you'll have to press your left thumb on the hidden keypad, too. Also, you'll need my cell number. I have yours, of course." She related both numbers and explained how to use the security system.
Cunningham memorized everything then asked, "Why do you think Tice turned?"
"Vanity," Barculo answered instantly. She opened the door wider and leaned out. "Looks clear." She stepped aside.
Cunningham peered out at a cobbled alley rimmed by parked cars. The morning light bathed the vehicles and houses in a deceptively rosy glow.
"See you soon, Hannah."
There was the briefest of smiles. "I'd rather see Tice --- back in prison. Don't try anything fancy, Elaine. Remember, you hunt. We capture. You're not trained to the degree we are, and we don't want you to get hurt. Find him fast. Then phone me."
Gripping the handle of the computer's carrying case, her purse slung over her shoulder, Elaine Cunningham nodded and looked around carefully. Pulse racing, she slipped outdoors and nonchalantly walked away.
Excerpted from The Last Spymaster by Gayle Lynds. Copyright © 2006 by Gayle Lynds. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.