Miami Spy Games
I’d like to thank our gracious host for letting me post on her blog. I’ll try to be nicer to her when she posts photos and tidbits about her cats, too… maybe.
Miami Spy Games: Russian Zombie Gun was a fun series to write, and I’m glad it has recently come out in one volume. All 12 episodes, all 90,000 words of it. All for only $3.99. I’d like to offer a sample chapter from the book, and I hope you enjoy it enough to want to read more! This is the introduction to the ACES team…
Jennifer Sanchez placed the folders neatly on the conference room table, making sure they were all set at perfect ninety degree angles to one another, as well as equidistant. She placed three pens to the right of each folder, each exactly two inches apart: red, blue and black pen, left to right.
“Good morning, ma’am,” Mike Martin said as he entered the room and sat down in his usual seat, arms folded across his chest. He never smiled, or if he did, Jennifer has never seen it. He was thirteen years her junior at twenty-eight, with a military crew cut, steely gray eyes and a chiseled body he usually hid under over-large shirts and baggy khaki pants. He was former CIA SAD and before that on The Delta Force, but that’s all Jennifer was allowed to know about him and his background. Even as office boss and team lead, there was only so much they knew about one another. For a reason.
“How are you doing today, Mike?” she asked, knowing his answer already: he would nod at her before settling back into staring at the wall in front of him, arms eternally crossed, until the rest of the team arrived and the meeting began.
The rest of the team only consisted of Mark Kostas, who was the polar opposite of Mike Martin. Kostas worked for the scientific directive of the CIA but made to many sexually charged remarks to too many females, but his talent had so far outweighed his personality. He was transferred to Jennifer’s team at its inception. The Powers That Be knew she could handle him.
He wore a tight teal Miami Dolphins T-shirt, tight blue jeans, and he smiled constantly. He placed a large coffee cup on the table, not noticing when some coffee dribbled down the side and onto the folder before him.
Jennifer cringed but remained calm. To all outward appearances she was relaxed. As cool as the other side of the pillow, she said to herself. Cool as a cucumber.
Kostas pulled his chair out and dropped into it like a teenager. He was twenty four but acted much more immature at times. He liked to play when he could, but Jennifer knew he would be all business as soon as she started the briefing. He was also the best tech guy she had ever worked with or studied. Kostas (he hated being called Mark, his last name worn like a badge of honor in the hacker community) was one of those guys who were book smart but not really street smart. He leaned back in his chair and grinned. “Guess what I just got? Two tickets to the Dolphins home opener. Fifty yard line. Third row. Two hundred a piece.”
Mike stared at him. “Let me see them.”
“No way, bro.”
“Because you always pee on my parade.”
“He does it to help you, and because you’re always doing something ridiculous,” Jennifer chimed in, aware the can of worms she was opening by falling into the conversation.
Kostas smiled, staring brazenly at Jennifer’s cleavage. “How are those babies doing today? Need some Kostas Time?”
“Up here or my thumbs will be the last thing your eyes see,” Jennifer said. “Es usted un idiota“, she mumbled under her breath.
“Kostas laughed but kept glancing at her chest. “Relax, baby. I know you have to play cool in front of Mikey here, but how about we hook up later tonight? You can show me around your“> Miami, if you know what I mean.” Kostas laughed and slapped the table. “Maybe I can see ” South Beach. Get it?”
“Let me see the tickets,” Mike said.
Kostas waved his hand at her and then pulled an envelope from his back pocket as he briefly stood. He threw it on the table in front of Mike, scattering the pens.
Jennifer nearly lunged to fix the items before closing her eyes.
“Are you really going to let me see them?” Mike asked with his arms still crossed.
“I trust you, bro,” Kostas said nervously. He smiled at Jennifer. “I have two tickets. I can take you, babe. After the game we’ll get a hotel nearby and the real game will begin. Get it?”
Jennifer ignored him.
Mike took his time opening the envelope and pulling the two large tickets out, his eyes on Kostas as he did so. He held them up to the fluorescent light and studied them.
“Well?” Kostas asked.
Mike glanced at him but said nothing as he turned them over and over in his hands. He finally put them neatly back in the envelope and pushed it back across the table.
“You’re killing me, bro.”
Mike looked at Jennifer. “They are fakes.”
“You lie,” Kostas said as he came out of his chair. Please tell me you are busting my balls.”
Mike shook his head. “They are decent but most people would be able to spot the fugazi seal.”
“Fugazi, meaning fake. Sorry, Kostas. You’ve been duped. And it looks like you’re out four hundred dollars.”
Kostas put his head down as he sat. “Damn, I paid four hundred a piece for them.”
“So you lied to me,” Mike said.
As amusing as this exchange was, they needed to get down to business. She hit the speed-dial on the central phone on the table and sat down.
“Miss Sanchez, is your team present?” a stern woman’s voice said immediately. Jennifer had only met their Langley boss once, and that was more than she wished she had. Kim L was a strong business woman from the defense private sector side of weapons manufacturing. Kim understood both business and military and how to keep everything in check between them. She’d never been military, seemed to dislike the ‘in crowd’ of military personnel, and was firmly behind the CIA’s directives, even though ACES (Asymmetrical Clandestine Elite Service) wasn’t even on the CIA or any other agency’s radar. Heck, few were aware of their existence, including Congress, the FBI, and most other counterterrorism agencies. Knowledge of this group’s existence would cause further dissention among these various agencies, already withholding intelligence from one another. Only the top twelve Super Users (top level people cleared to view all intel) were aware of this team’s existence.
“Yes. Agents Martin and Kostas are present. We can begin.”
“Excellent. Is the video monitor on?”
“Yes.” Jennifer dimmed the lights with a remote control as a fifty-inch TV screen lit up the far wall, showing a surveillance photo of two men carrying a crate between them. Several successive photos showed the men putting the crate into the back of a black van.
“These pictures were taken three days ago in the city of Valencia in the State of Carabobo, Venezuela. The crate itself measures approximately six foot long by three foot wide by two foot deep,” Kim L said from the speaker.
Jennifer clicked to the next picture, a close-up of the crate markings on the side.
“Russian,” Kostas said. “Coming from one of the one hundred twenty-five raions of Moscow.”
“The what?” Mike asked.
“Very good,” Kim said. “Yasenevo District is an administrative district, or raion, of South-Western Administrative Okrug in Moscow. We are pretty sure it emanates from there. The last two intercepts we’ve had are from that area, some of the most powerful weapons we’ve intercepted from the Russians.”
Jennifer went to the next slide, an aerial view of the Port of Miami. She pulled a red laser pointer from her pocket and lighted on a spot on the map. “We know the shipment arrives in the next twenty-four hours, and we know it is in this general location of the international docks that it will come in.”
“There’s been a slight change to that, however,” Kim L said. “We now know there is an inside man for the Russians, a security guard. He’ll be handing over the package to the Russians at Gate 7.”
Jennifer found it on the map and highlighted it with a red mark. “Here.”
Kim L continued. “You will need to intercept the Russians before they reach their destination, but not at the docks. We want to do this as quickly and quietly as possible and get the crate.”
“And the security guard?” Jennifer asked.
“Osvaldo Rivera. He doesn’t enter into this equation. Now that we know who he is, we can keep tabs on him. At this point, we have no idea how often he’s helped the Russians or what his stake is in this. He might be just a low middle man, or part of something larger. For now we put him on the watch list.”
Jennifer gave the thumbs up to Mike and Kostas. “We got this.”
The phone call disconnected without another word, making Jennifer smile. “Kim L was formal to the point of rude, parsing her words. There would be briefings where she would be silent for up to ten minutes before answering a question or after someone throwing in a ‘funny’ comment. She was all about ACES and nothing else. Jennifer didn’t know how she ultimately got the job to lead this and other teams around the country, and she didn’t care. So far, in the year Mike, Kostas and Jennifer had worked together in Miami, they’d completed every mission, gathered intelligence on dozens of Russian operatives working in and around Dade County, and done it all with complete anonymity.
“I’ll see you at the game. I’ll even buy the first round of hot dogs,” Mike said to Kostas as he left the room.
Kostas looked at Jennifer, confusion etched on his face. Then he grinned and picked up the set of tickets in the envelope on the table. Only there was just a single Miami Dolphins ticket. “He got me again.”
“It’s better than the tickets being fugazi,” Jennifer said.
“Not really. Have you ever been in a social setting with Mike Martin? He will literally sit in his seat for three hours, arms folded, taking in every player on the field. Every now and then he’ll observe something that is purely freakish, like how a linebacker is winded and is going to make a bad play, or if the offense uses a certain pass option it will be a touchdown. And when they use it and they score, he doesn’t move. Not even a smile for getting it right.”
“Sounds like he missed his calling. He should have been a football coach.”
“They’d all quit. He’d never say a word to anyone. Now that we’re alone…,” Kostas said before leaving the conference room when Jennifer turned her back to him.
Jennifer leaned against the table and stared out the window, overlooking the far runway for Miami International Airport. Her parents would be calling her any minute and she always looked forward to hearing about her hometown of Cartagena, her family members and all the excitement that came along with it. Like a typically loud Costena family.
Of course, Senor and Senora Sanchez thought their little girl (even at 41 she was always their little princesa) worked in the movie business.
The ACES offices were situated here at Magic Productions to look like another big player in the Miami movie business. With so many great tax cuts, more and more movies studios were setting up companies and testing the waters with TV shows, independent films, all in the hopes they could film a steady stream of blockbuster movies in Miami.
To the casual eye, the first two floors of Magic Productions were genuine. Crammed with cameras, lighting rigs, microphones and other high tech gear, a glimpse inside would show you a company about to create some footage. Several people worked in the ground floor offices, and they were technically in the movie business. They were lesser operatives for ACES that did the filming of dozens of Russian SVR Operatives, mob presence (which often worked together or collided on a seemingly daily basis), and anyone else they were assigned to follow, film and report on.
Jennifer turned back to the table and began writing the next assignment for those working below: Intel on the security guard Osvaldo Rivera.
If you have any questions about the Miami Spy Games series, I’d love to hear them: firstname.lastname@example.org
Miami Spy Games on Amazon Kindle only $3.99!