Mahbas, Western Sahara
The man’s normally fawn-brown skin had permanently turned the color of burnt sienna after spending over a decade handling operations in Northern Africa and the Sahel.
He looked to be in his thirties, athletically built, and a couple of inches over six feet tall. He might have been a Sahraw—there were certainly plenty of them in Western Sahara, the disputed zone between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front controlled by the Sahrawi peoples. An AR-10 rifle lay by the man’s side. To help blend in with the sand, he wore khaki tactical pants with a matching shirt and light brown suede waterproof tactical boots.
The tall man shifted his weight against the sandbags piled on the floor of the third-floor apartment, taking his eyes from the scope of the Barrett M82 for a moment.
“Need a break, Messiah?” a voice asked from behind him.
He looked down at his watch, then back at the big man reclining easily on the dingy apartment’s bed. “Thirty minutes on the scope, Baron. Thirty minutes off. You know the drill. We switch in five.”
Below them, street noise drifted up through the open window along with the smell of coriander, garlic and cinnamon.
Damage Control Headquarters
“Give me some good news, y’all.” Damage Control director Dr. Jared Franklin sauntered into the operations center, his dark eyes sweeping across the workstations until his gaze fell upon a Black woman with a short, curly pixie cut. She wore a navy blue twill slim pant suit that hugged her well-toned frame.
“What’s the latest from Alpha Team, Alonso?”
Lili Alonso plugged the USB cable into the back of her workstation and glanced up at her boss.
“Jones checked in at sixteen hundred hours, local time. Everything’s still a go.”
Dr. Franklin moved to the bank of plasma screens filling one wall of the op-center. Screens filled with satellite photos, their timestamps indicating their sequence over the course of the two months of Operation DEEP SLEEP. “How long before the LK-7 closes within range?”
“An hour away,” Lili replied, referring to Damage Control’s spy satellite. “The Lock will be in orbit over the target area for exactly ninety minutes—we’ll have full-spectrum coverage, thermal imaging if necessary. That’s our window.”
A rare smile crossed the director’s face. “It’ll be good to have this over, bring the team back home.”
“Folks are talking, sir—did the whole team have to be men? After Jones, Unachukwu is our best hitter,” Alonso said.
“Are you one of those folks, Alonso?”
Lili smiled but didn’t answer.
“Remember, we don’t exist,” Dr. Franklin said. “The whole idea is to make this look like a local job. The world can never know there’s a group of Black men and women doing the kind of work we do to fight against global white supremacy and oppression.”
Lili nodded. “All this money spent, all this work, and no one, not even our people, will ever know.”
“Not in our lifetime,” Dr. Franklin said.
Kessler Jelks, aka Pär Öberg. Codename: VALHALLA—the founder and leader of the Order of Nine Angles operations in Europe. Truth be told, Damage Control didn’t know when or why the American-born Jelks had renounced his U.S. citizenship and expatriated to Sweden, just that he had formed the Order of Nine Angles and had used his considerable wealth and political connections to provide Morocco with weapons and resources in an attempt to tip the scales in their favor in the war for Western Sahara.
Pär Öberg was in his mid-forties, a genius, and made Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime look like an anorexic schoolgirl. Thick bearded, six feet nine inches tall and easily three hundred fifty pounds of muscle, it was no wonder many thought he was a god—probably even Pär Öberg himself. For five years, Damage Control had worked to bring him down, with nothing to show for it.
If Pär Öberg’s only daughter hadn’t started sleeping with a young Black professor from England—if Pär Öberg hadn’t then decided to kill his daughter…well, none of them would be there. He was now hiding out in Morocco, which made him much easier to get to.
Messiah Jones laid his binoculars aside, running a hand over his beard. Everything was in place.
A knock came at the apartment door and his hand inched toward the SIG Sauer P220 Legion .45 caliber pistol holstered at his side.
“Answer it, Baron,” he whispered, gesturing to his partner. “I’ve got your six.”
Baron Bailey was already on his feet, moving from the bedroom into the living room of the apartment. His suppressed Glock was clutched in two hands at a chest-ready position.
Baron moved with a grace born of training—he’d been a SEAL once, in a different life.
Messiah watched him in the cracked mirror as Baron advanced on the door, holding the gun at the ready as he opened the door a crack.
“Oh, it’s you” were the next words out of Baron’s mouth as the third member of the team entered the room. Messiah slipped the SIG’s safety back on and exited the bedroom.
“As-salaamu alaikum, Seydou,” he said with a smile, extending his hand.
The man at the door, Seydou Diatta, smiled at Baron, his beautiful white teeth seeming to glow in contrast to his blue-black skin. He clasped Messiah’s hand in both of his. “Wa-alaikum salaam, my brother.”
They’d worked together for so many years, dating back to the beginnings of Damage Control.
“Miss me?” Seydou asked.
“Hell nuh,” Baron replied. “Laayoune TV is di bomb.”
Seydou grinned. “Better than anything you can buy out there on the street.”
That sobered everyone up. They were in the heart of Mahbas, and pornographic videos were for sale everywhere—many of them from Morocco and “featuring” children. It might have seemed a strange place to be hunting the key player of a white supremacist terror network, but it was where he’d have his guard down.
Messiah cleared his throat. “You find anything actionable?”
“I met with Bundini Brown,” the Iraqi replied, referring to Damage Control’s informant. “We talked things over in one of the downtown bars. He says the meet is going down shortly after nineteen hundred local—says Pär Öberg is already in the building, staying under wraps until after the meeting.”
“Do you believe him?”
A pause, then Seydou nodded, an expression of distaste crossing his countenance. “He’d had too much alcohol to be lying.” A practicing Muslim himself, Seydou didn’t drink. It was the primary reason Messiah had chosen him to make the rendezvous.
Messiah gestured to the sniper rifle. “We’ve not been able to pick up much, just an occasional visual on the wife through the window. Thermal’s useless; can’t penetrate the thick walls. Long and short, we can’t independently confirm. Pär= Öberg could be inside. So could a couple dozen Moroccans.”
Seydou walked over to the window. “We have muscle near the door. Two guys, the big one has a pump—twelve gauge, but the small one’s the leader. You can tell by the way they interact. Little guy’s carrying a Beretta BU9 Nano.”
Messiah snickered. Amateurs. You could tell a lot about hired muscle by their hardware. If they chose their weapons based on their “cool” factor, well, then, they’d been watching too many Western action movies.
Time to make the call. Over a decade as a Damage Control paramilitary operations officer and making these decisions never got any easier. They’d waited two months for this night, for this opportunity. But without independent verification…they were flying blind.
“Let’s do this,” he announced finally, looking around at his team. “Baron, get Atlanta on the horn. It’s time we got the final go.”
There was no comment, but he could see it in their faces, his own thoughts reflected in their eyes. They had a bad feeling about this…
We hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Balogun's story. Don't miss this and more exciting tales from the upcoming Spyfunk! Anthology. Preorder your paperback today!