Chapter 20 of The Holy Lance, a fantasy thriller

Chapter 20, a mole is revealed! As always, comments are welcome.

Chapter 20

Bill Johnson took over the Slavic section after the Kiev fiasco. At the request of the DCI he cut short what was a promising career in Special Operations Command to return to civilian life. His academic background in Eastern European area studies, and his brilliant linguistic capabilities – 41 years old and four Slavic languages to date – made the section an excellent fit. His leadership capabilities developed over more than a dozen years, first as a Ranger and then as a Green Beret, made his résumé stand out head and shoulders above the others. The competition for the job was more shadow than substance. The DCI had worked with Johnson when he was attached TDY to Langley from SOCOM HQ in Tampa, Florida. His flawless analysis of the ongoing insurrection in Chechnya impressed everyone, including Cheryl Zimmerman. After the personnel bloodbath in the Slavic section in the wake of Kiev, Johnson’s was the only name seriously considered for new leadership and a fresh start. After a month of recruiting and cajoling, Johnson made the move from Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army to the head of the CIA’s massive yet troubled Slavic section. Johnson’s personal habits of rigid physical and mental self-discipline and unquestioned loyalty instantly made him a role model throughout the Agency, setting a high bar for those above and below him.

What those near and around him remarkably do not understand is the scope of his ambition. While many in this world crave the sort of life achieved only through the accumulation of great wealth, Johnson, since his first days as a Green Beret team leader, has been intoxicated by power. So, when the call came from Langley he instantly recognized that a move to the center of the intelligence gathering efforts of the world’s most powerful nation could mean tremendous growth in his own influence over world affairs in a way no other position could. What was once theoretical is now on the brink of realization. A chance encounter at a Moscow conference on the world’s indigenous self-determination movements has slowly morphed into outright treason.  

The noise of the coffee shop provides Johnson with the cover he needs. To the men and women surfing the web on their laptops and tablets, or reading the day’s edition of the Washington Post, Johnson is just another guy on a cell phone. But this cell phone will be used for one call only and then destroyed; and the call is one that the NSA’s algorithms will likely ignore as outside of any profile of interest; and the next call will be made on a different phone from a different location, all because Johnson, a creature of habit, knows just how vulnerable some habits can render even the best of agents.

“That’s right, Tel Aviv. . . . I don’t know how much. So far, he’s just gotten lucky, but he’s smart. . . . Not from my office. . . . You have the manpower. . . . That’s your word, not mine. . . . What’s the news from the excavation? . . . Good. If he stays on this then we’re running out of time. . . . I’ll send his picture by encrypted text within the hour."

Johnson ends the call and puts the phone in his pocket. He takes a last bite of his roasted tomato and mozzarella panini, washes it down with what’s left of his bottle of mineral water, wipes his mouth, glances around him to see if anyone is paying too much attention to his innocuous presence, sets a generous tip on his table, and leaves.