Draekon AbductionBy: Lili Zander & Lee Savino
CIA Headquarters, Langley, Virginia.
When Roman Saint-Germain tells you to jump, there’s only one appropriate response. How high.
I’m outside my boss’s office fifteen minutes before my three-o'clock meeting. Smoothing my damp palms against my skirt, I inch up to his assistant. “Do you know what the summons is about?” Please let this be about Stone Mountain.
Laura Keys shakes her head. “You were on vacation, weren’t you?” she asks sympathetically. “Sorry, Liv.”
The door opens, and Roman stands in the doorway. I stiffen to attention as my boss’ slate-grey eyes run over me. I’ve worked at the agency for eight years, spending the last six of them in Roman’s department—Global Issues—and still my pulse speeds up when he nods in my direction. “Thanks for making it,” he says politely.
As if I had a choice in the matter. I follow him into his corner office and take a seat opposite him. For a few minutes, neither of us breaks the silence. Roman surveys me thoughtfully, and I fight the impulse to blurt out the first thing on my mind.
I lose. “This isn’t about Stone Mountain, is it?” I applied almost a month ago to work on the group’s marquee project, but I don’t need to use my agency-honed analytical skills to realize that Roman’s hardly going to call me back in the middle of my vacation for a routine assignment.
“Stone Mountain? No. I’m sending Johansen to Marrakesh.” He pushes a red folder across the desk. “This is something else.”
Ignoring the disappointment that floods through me, I scan the file, disbelief growing with each page I flip through. “Aliens? Are you joking?”
An eyebrow rises, and I wince inwardly. That was a stupid question. Roman never jokes. “Sorry, Sir. How do I fit in?”
“The aliens—they call themselves the Zorahn—are looking to barter. They’re offering a cure for leukemia, and in exchange, they want women.”
“Women? How many? Why?” Every bad 80s sci-fi movie flashes before my eyes. “To repopulate their world?”
“A hundred. According to the aliens, there’s a disease ravaging their people, and their scientists believe that human genetic material might offer a path to a cure.” He lifts his head from the desk and surveys me with cool eyes. “They want to take the women to their planet for six months. They promise everyone will be returned safe and unharmed.”
“And you believe this?”
“I don’t know what I believe.”
“We accepted the offer, I assume?”
He tilts his head to one side. “Why did you reach that conclusion?”
“It’s only logical. Thousands of people die every year from blood cancers. Compared to that, a hundred lives are a drop in the bucket.” I bite my lower lip and consider the wisdom of my next words. “There are rumors that the president’s daughter has sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic.”
“Indeed.” Roman doesn’t seem surprised that I know, neither does he seem perturbed. “The president was highly motivated to accept the Zorahn offer. This will go public in the next week. We’re looking for volunteers.”
Now it’s my turn to raise an eyebrow. “You think women are going to volunteer to travel to an alien planet from which they might or might not return?”
“They will.” His tone is implacable. “And so will you.”
My head snaps up. Of course. Why else would Roman call me in? “Me?”
“Of all the DNA samples we submitted, yours was the one they picked,” he says. “We think the Zorahn are picking women without family ties.” He leans back. “Pity. You wouldn’t have been my first choice for this assignment.”
My entire body goes cold. “I wouldn’t have been your first choice?” I try to keep my voice calm and steady. I succeed, but Roman’s grey eyes rake over me, seeing too much, like he always does.
“Olivia.” He steeples his fingers together. “You’re an excellent agent. Logical. Consistent. You’ll do well at the agency.”
“There’s a critical difference between a good agent and a great one. A great agent listens to her instincts.”