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Mara Roberts knew the Agency would try to kill her father the day he got out of prison, she just didn’t expect they’d ask her be the one to do it.
Before she received the assignment, she would have bet even money he would survive whatever welcome party the CIA had planned for him. Too bad his odds had migrated down to zero now that the job was hers.
She sat in her rented Range Rover, waves of Oklahoma heat shimmering off the parking lot blacktop, bending the prison chain link fence into wavering lines. Coils of concertina wire topped the walls, razor blade edges glistening in the sun, each loop perfectly spaced. Just like inside the walls of the Cimarron Correctional Facility — orderly but lethal.
Behind the security gate was a low-slung building with a copper overhang at the entrance. More like a school administration office than a prison. The schematics she’d studied revealed the facility extended back into eight separate cell blocks. Each one housed more dangerous criminals than the previous one. She hoped they’d put her dad in the worst of the lot.
The car idled, both for the AC and in case she needed to adjust her plans and leave in a hurry. The few guards she saw moved slow and had dark sweat pits spreading under their arms and on their backs. She pegged them as complacent. Washed up. Bored. Just like she wanted. As she analyzed the prison’s weaknesses, she couldn’t help but wonder whether her dad had changed much since she’d seen him last.
Sure, he was past fifty now and, according to the photos in the briefing, finally starting to show his age. Wrinkles at his eyes. A close scalp shave, the kind favored by men fighting a losing battle with their hairline. He was still in shape, though. Surveillance camera footage showed a recent fist fight he’d had on the yard, started by some con paid off by the Agency. Obviously a new guy. Anyone who’d been there longer than knew not to mess with the quiet guy with the broad shoulders.
The video showed her dad could still throw a punch, but the couple of jabs he took to his face also showed he’d lost a step or two. Yet, the old man still had skills. And she wasn’t about to underestimate her target. Hell, four years on the run and the last two months in prison might have even toughened the bastard up. If that was even possible. She wasn’t sure it was.
A routine face recognition search through the US prison system by a junior analyst had turned him up. As she read the report, it made her laugh that assets all over the world were searching for him, and there he was serving time under an alias for manslaughter. Seems he took exception to a group of five young men roughing up a prostitute. Four of them ended up with broken bones and long hospital stays. The fifth wasn’t going to harass anyone ever again. It was just like her dad to risk blowing his cover to save someone. Typical Boy Scout bullshit.
She’d been raised on stories about him. Even in her macho world of counter-intelligence they seemed outlandish. Insanely risky missions. Many of them unsanctioned. Succeeding against insurmountable odds. Like stuff out of bad action movies, and yet people swore to her the stories were true, that they’d seen him do these things with their own eyes.
But they always whispered about him, as if just talking about the man and his exploits might suck them into the same darkness into which he disappeared.
Still, even with what had happened, she always heard a grudging admiration as they told her about the exploits of the great Scott Francis Roberts, the father she barely knew. The man she was about to kill.
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