Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA 28 July 2017 1208 Hours MDT I leaned my elbows on the picnic table and bit into my sandwich as I scanned the park. My picnic table was set away from the playground and most of the jogging paths that crisscrossed the park.
The one path that ran a few feet from my table had a low concrete retaining wall, and seemed less heavily trafficked than the more central paths.
We would be secluded enough for a reasonable level of privacy, but open enough that Michael and Frank could provide cover for me.
I was about ten minutes early for my meeting with George, and I was masquerading as an office worker from one of the nearby office buildings.
I was wearing a light blue blouse and tan slacks, and thanks to the ninety-five degree weather, no jacket.
Without a jacket, I hadn’t been able to conceal my Glock 19 on my hip like I normally did, and I make it a rule never to keep my gun in a purse.
Luckily, Frank had a Glock 43 stashed away somewhere.
It was much smaller and slimmer than my Glock 19 and I was able to conceal the compact pistol and three spare magazines in a bellyband that rode mostly under the waistband of my slacks.
The park was home to a number of homeless men, a fact that I had made note of during an earlier recon trip.
The homeless were quiet and kept to themselves, which meant that they were unlikely to interfere with a meeting.
In fact, I had witnessed a number of office workers eating lunches in the park and the homeless avoided them.
Michael had drifted into the park early this morning, dirty jeans and thrift shop hoodie and jacket allowing him to blend in with the other homeless men.
He was sitting against a tree about fifty yards behind me, a Bluetooth earpiece concealed beneath a knit watch cap, and his carbine concealed in an ancient duffel bag.
Frank had entered the woods around one o’clock this morning, carefully constructing a temporary sniper’s hide on a small wooded rise bordering the park.
He was one hundred and seventy-six yards away, and could easily cover all of the approaches to my park bench.
I saw George coming down the jogging path holding a brown paper bag in one hand, his shirt and tie transforming him into just another office worker on his lunch break.
Our meeting would look like two colleagues sharing a meal and enjoying the sun before returning to work. He sat next to me and started talking as he emptied his paper bag.
“It’s not good Claire. We are in deep, deep shit.”
I cocked my head at him, my sandwich halfway to my mouth. “How deep?” I took a bite.
George hefted his own sandwich, pausing before he could take a bite. “The Asset you met a couple weeks ago works for the Sinaloa Cartel. The cartel hired a company to ferret out our Asset.
We don’t know much about the company they hired, other than that they do both intelligence gathering and private security contracting work for some shady clients.
Apparently, this company has a source in our organization.”
I furrowed my brows. “The tactical teams at the hotel and the guys at the plaza were after me, not the Asset. So our mole knew about my meeting with him, but can’t ID the Asset.”
George nodded, chewing a bite of sandwich. “That’s our assessment as well. We think the tactical teams were at the hotel to abduct you and try to get the details of the meeting from you.
The plaza must’ve been a last ditch effort to catch you both.”
“But why send a team after me at the hotel if they knew about the plaza meeting?”
George considered this for a moment. “They must not have known about the plaza meeting yet. Maybe the mole didn’t have the information on the original meeting or the backup meeting location.
The mole must have gotten ahold of it after the teams failed to snatch you.” He nodded to himself. “We’ll have to take a long look at that.”
I extended my bag of chips towards him, as if offering him a chip. He noticed the drive sitting on top of the chips and took a handful of chips and the thumb drive.
He dropped the drive into his shirt pocket and munched on the chips. “We believe that the cartel is helping terrorists to get across the border into the states.
The Sinaloa cartel has a new and safer way of getting drugs into the country, and from what we could dig up,
the terrorists are paying out the nose to use the safer route instead of just hiking across the border.
The Asset doesn’t know exactly how it’s happening, but he’s our only highly placed source in the cartel, so we’re going to have to figure it out.”
I nodded slowly, letting the information sink in. “So what’s our role in this, going forward? Do we back off and stay out of it?”
George sighed and set his sandwich down. “Normally, yes. In this case, our mole is limiting our options.
Leadership doesn’t want to pass any information on the Asset to anyone until we catch the mole. So your team is going to take point on this.
You’re one of our best field operatives, and Michael and Frank are our best tactical team.
You’ll report to me directly, which will limit your exposure within the organization, but it will also limit your access to our resources. I have the data on a thumb drive here–“
He reached for his shirt pocket again. I was just putting a chip in my mouth when George huffed out a heavy breath and slapped his hand against his chest.
I looked over at him in surprise, and I saw the blood just as the report of a heavy caliber rifle rolled through the air. Everything went still and silent for what seemed a long moment.
Then I grabbed George’s shoulders and rolled backward off the bench.
Another rifle shot echoed as I released my grip on George’s shirt and continued rolling right over the concrete retaining wall and onto the jogging path. “Contact contact sniper!” I screamed.
I pressed my back against the wall and looked up the path towards where Michael had been positioned.
I didn’t see Michael, but I did see two hard looking men striding towards me about twenty-five yards away. Both of their right arms were across their chests, their hands under light jackets.
I scrambled to access my Glock, but I knew that I’d never be fast enough. Two suppressed pistols were already out in the open and aimed in my general direction.
My hand wrapped around the grip of my pistol just as both of them raised their guns to point directly at my face.
Blood erupted from their chests and they both pitched forward, revealing Michael behind them.
He was gliding forward, his upper body perfectly steady and his face locked in a blank mask of intense focus behind the red dot sight on his carbine.
He reached the jogging path and dropped low, rolling into the cover of the retaining wall.
He fired two rounds into the heads of the two downed shooters and called out to me even as his eyes scanned for more threats.
“Yeah! George is down. Where’s the damn shooter?”
Frank’s voice came over my earpiece, so eerily calm that he nearly sounded like he was bored with the entire situation.
“Think our shooter’s in one of the office buildings. Eight, maybe nine hundred yards out. Didn’t see the muzzle flash.”
I could hear sirens in the distance. “We gotta go!” Michael yelled.
“Wait!” I yelled back. I crouched, careful to keep my head below the level of the wall, and quickly bounded up, reaching toward George’s body.
My hand dipped into his shirt pocket and came away with a pair of flash drives. No shots rang out as I dropped back to my prone position. I low crawled towards Michael. “Let’s go!”
Hector Rivera finished taping up the cardboard box containing his Remington 700 PSS sniper rifle. He secured the box to a hand truck and set his clipboard with its fake work order atop the box.
Pulling the brim of his baseball hat lower to better shield his face, he crossed the rooftop and pulled open the door to the stairs.