It’s eight days until the presidential election and the candidates are beating the bushes for any fence-sitter votes. The race is very tight by the latest polls, but the junior Senator from Chicago has a slight lead over the senior Senator from New Mexico. Today, candidate Baligh Husan al Din is giving a speech at a Florida rally where they expect 65,000 supporters. The party chairman says they are busing thousands of college students, voters and even migrant workers into the stadium to fill more seats and create a big 100,000 audience display for the news media. It will cost millions of dollars for 850 buses, 47,000 box lunches and cash payments for non-English speaking migrant workers who don’t care where they go as long as they get paid and get a ride back. Baligh is unconcerned about the money. It’s the least of his worries. His campaign cash-well is full with more cash on the way, now that the polls have him leading his opponent by a slim margin.
As they discuss the protocol arrangements for his speech and security issues for the day, an senior staff member rushes into the room with the morning newspapers only just delivered to the hotel. The headline reads, “Explosion Rocks New Delhi Office Building”. Baligh reads the first and second paragraph of the story, looks up with a frown furrowing his brow, then drops the newspaper on the table. The plan is ahead of schedule, but this action was very premature and could awaken the wrong sort of attention. He hoped the media would go off on their usual tangents to lead investigators in the wrong directions looking for terrorists or something, at least for a couple of months until his Inauguration Day.
Jace in HQ Briefing
Arriving at C.I.A. Headquarters, Jace Marshall scans his security pass and the turnstile opens. One of the on-duty security guards recognizes Jace and steps forward towards him then stops in his path. “Sir, the director wishes to speak with you as soon as you arrive.”
“Thanks, Bob. Tell him I’m on the way up, will you?” Jace thought to himself, Geez, something big must be up. The director, .. here at 3:00 a.m.?
The elevator door opens and the night shift supervisor standing right in front of the door, hands Jace the report file on the New Delhi explosion. “Geez, Jace, you look like hell, but you’ll have to get your own coffee. We‘re pretty busy up here this morning.“
“Nice to see you too, Ray.“ Jace didn’t have time for coffee. He’d have to operate on guts today. Coffee time was a luxury he couldn’t afford. He opened the file as he walked briskly down the long hallway toward the director’s office. The photos seemed to indicate a well-placed, shaped explosive charge designed to blow-up everything only on the seventh and eighth floors. This was rather sophisticated and unusual for terrorists, who would rather just blow-up every damned thing.
He was about ready to knock on the director’s door when it opened in front of him. The director asked, “What took you so long?”
Jace half-grinned. He knew the director’s sense of humor very well after all these years.
“Have you seen the file on the New Delhi explosion?”
“Yessir. Ray handed it to me as I got off the elevator, but I haven’t yet read the report.”
“Jace, you’re the most experienced agent I have in this area and I want you to handle this personally. You are to report only to me and share your information with no one else. I can’t emphasize the importance of strict confidentiality. This is a very sensitive matter.”
“Isn’t everything around here?” The director knew Jace’s sense of humor too, but this wasn’t funny … not this time.
“Do you know anything about the businesses in that office building?”
“Not yet, sir.” Jace replied.
“The seventh floor of that particular office building houses an American-owned business named Elect-Co. They process credit card transactions over the internet. We’ve been watching it for sometime, but we don’t have any solid evidence yet. I need you to go over there and find-out what you can ASAP. The company jet is standing-by and you’ll find some clothes already on the plane. There's a car downstairs with the motor running. Have a good trip. … And Jace, be discrete in your investigations.”
Well at least he could finally get some coffee on the long plane ride and have some time to read the file reports. A bit of shut-eye would also be nice, too.