"Don't think too much, Captain. When the shit hits the fan, you don't have time to think it all the way through. You think beforehand. It's in how you train your people, and assign responsibilities to them. You prepare your mind for action, but you never think you know what form the action is going to take. In any case, you did everything pretty well. You impressed this Hardesty guyand by the way, he is a fairly serious customer. That's how this happened," Broughton concluded.
"Excuse me, sir?"
"The Agency wants to talk to you," the M-2 announced. "They're doing a talent hunt, and your name came up."
"To do what, sir?"
"Didn't tell me that. They're looking for people who can work in the field. I don't think it's espionage. Probably the paramilitary side of the house. I'd guess that's the new counter-terror shop. I can't say I'm pleased to lose a promising young Marine. However, I have no say in the matter. You are free to decline the offer, but you do have to go up and talk to them beforehand."
"I see." He didn't, really.
"Maybe somebody reminded them of another ex-Marine who worked out fairly well up there..." Broughton half observed.
"Uncle Jack, you mean? Jesusexcuse me, sir, but I've been dodging that ever since I showed up at the Basic School. I'm just one more Marine O-3, sir. I'm not asking for anything else."
"Good," was all Broughton felt like saying. He saw before him a very promising young officer who'd read the Marine Corps Officer's Guide front to back, and hadn't forgotten any of the important parts. If anything he was a touch too earnest, but he'd been the same way once himself. "Well, you're due up there in two hours. Some guy named Pete Alexander, another ex-Special Forces guy. Helped run the Afghanistan operation for the Agency back in the 1980s. Not a bad guy, so I've heard, but he doesn't want to grow his own talent. Watch your wallet, Captain," he said in dismissal.
"Yes, sir," Caruso promised. He came to his feet, into a position of attention.
The M-2 graced his guest with a smile. "Semper Fi, son."
"Aye, aye, sir." Caruso made his way out of the office, nodded to the gunny, never said a word to the half-colonel, who hadn't bothered looking up, and headed downstairs , wondering what the hell he was getting into.
Hundreds of miles away, another man named Caruso was thinking the same thing.
The FBI had made its reputation as one of America's premier law-enforcement agencies by investigating interstate kidnappings, beginning soon after passage of the Lindbergh Law in the 1930s. Its success in closing such cases had largely put an end to kidnapping-for-moneyat least for smart criminals. The Bureau closed every single one of those cases, and professional criminals finally had caught on that this form of crime was a sucker's game. And so it had remained for years, until kidnappers with objectives other than money had decided to delve into it.
And those people were much harder to catch.
Penelope Davidson had vanished on her way to kindergarten that very morning. Her parents had called the local police within an hour after her disappearance, and soon thereafter the local sheriff's office had called the FBI. Procedure allowed the FBI to get involved as soon as it was possible for the victim to have been taken across a state line. Georgetown, Alabama, was just half an hour from the Mississippi state line, and so the Birmingham office of the FBI had immediately jumped on the case like a cat on a mouse. In FBI nomenclature, a kidnapping case is called a "7," and nearly every agent in the office got into his car and headed southwest for the small farming-market town. In the mind of each agent, however, was the dread of a fool's errand. There was a clock on kidnapping cases. Most victims were thought to be sexually exploited and killed within four to six hours. Only a miracle could get the child back alive that quickly, and miracles didn't happen often.
Reprinted from The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy by permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2003, Tom Clancy. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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