THE BLACK LOBSTER

Chapter One

Cairo Egypt

15 years ago.

Ah the arresting city of Cairo, the capital of Egypt, and the largest city in Africa and for that matter the entire Arab World. Due to its nearness to the Great Sphinx and the pyramids in Giza Cairo is associated with Ancient Egypt.

In 49 B.C., Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII—also her husband and, by the terms of their father’s will, her co-ruler—had driven his sister from the palace at Alexandria after Cleopatra attempted to make herself the sole sovereign. The queen, then in her early twenties, fled to Syria and returned with a mercenary army, setting up camp just outside the capital.

Cleopatra VII struggled with her teenage brother over the throne of Egypt was not going as well as had hoped. Meanwhile, pursuing a military rival who had fled to Egypt, the Roman general Julius Caesar arrived at Alexandria in the summer of 48 B.C., and found himself drawn into the Egyptian family feud.

For decades Egypt had been a subservient ally to Rome, and preserving the stability of the Nile Valley, with its great agricultural wealth, was in Rome’s economic interest. Caesar took up residence at Alexandria’s royal palace and summoned the warring siblings for a peace conference, which he planned to arbitrate.

But Ptolemy XIII’s forces barred the return of the king’s sister to Alexandria. Aware that Caesar’s diplomatic intervention could help her regain the throne, Cleopatra hatched a scheme to sneak herself into the palace for an audience with Caesar. She persuaded her servant to wrap her in a carpet which he then presented.

The image of young Cleopatra tumbling out of an unfurled carpet has been dramatized in nearly every film about her, but it was also a key scene in the real Cleopatra’s staging of her own life. “She was clearly using all her talents from the moment she arrived on the world stage before Caesar.

Thus clandestine operations have been going on since the beginning of time.

The Embassy of the United States of America is located in one of the most renowned downtown buildings. The venue witnessed many historically significant events over the last century, but it has also seen some of the worse malevolent acts in the supposed name of US security as well. Apparently this would be added to the list. Not that I’m making a political statement.

“Daniel McAllister: Agent 66 Department “J” of World Security Agency. Level 6 clearance with an International License to kill active.” Morey a craggily man with a big red nose read off from his brief.

Lt. Cocker a muscular military officer with a regulation crew-cut was not impressed. “I asked for Sanchez.”

I was a bit surprised by the hot tempered soldier’s reaction. Not that I took it personally but more along the lines that his reaction was simply out of place.

“Last minute change. The state department assigned him specifically. So they want him here. Besides we’ve worked together previously.”

“Sorry about Sanchez old boy, I know him well, but I have done this before.” I tried to lighten the mood absurd as that sounded. The truth was I hated assassinating anyone. It went against every moral fiber in my body. Still I signed up for this like a good soldier I carried out my orders.

And this was the worst kind of kill. It was a double blind. No previous information. A human marker would target the objective. Anything could go wrong and most often did. Whoever the target was someone wanted them dead in a real bad way.

That signaled a red flag in my photographic mind. And the thought did occur to me that someone in the State Department was leery of the whole thing. Leery enough to get me involved at the last minute. As I recall I was trained to recognize the smell of fowl fish.

“An agent provocateur.” Morey said with a shrug.

“Well… that’s what we got.” I assembled my weapon.

“Just make the shot that’s all..! No more talking.”

“Kill echelon?”

“Extreme prejudice.” Cocker barked.

“Still like a good soldier I would carry out my orders. Besides whoever it is probably deserved it.”

“Make it happen.” Cocker stomped off.

The weapon was a standard M90 upgrade semi-automatic sniper rifle. Not the best on the lot but an extremely accurate at this range. I noticed Lt. Cocker was staring at me and to say the least it made me nervous in a homophobic way. “Is there something you want to ask Lt.?”

“I don’t know you.”

“Well the feeling is mutual.”

“I know him.” Morey jumped in becoming annoyed. “As I’ve said we’ve worked together before.”

“That means nothing to me.” Cocker looked like he was ready to call the whole thing off. “Besides I asked for Sanchez?”

“Well you got me.” Out bursts like that were not normal coming from me. I guess he was beginning to annoy me too. That was a bad idea when I was holding a loaded rifle. Not that he seemed to care. Maybe he was bullet proof.

“What kind of weapon are you holding?” He asked.

“We don’t have time for this!” Morey said in thick British. It’s hard to sound forceful when you’re English.

“Well?” Cocker insisted.

“I believe the designation for this is an Enhanced Model 90. A gas operated sniper rifle. The rifle itself is based on the EM90SR first introduced as the M89SR by the Israel Defense Forces. That rifle is based on the American M14 rifle. The Enhanced 90 rifle is much shorter even with a sound suppressor attached, making it easy to conceal. It is also relatively light, and is more accurate than other sniper rifles.”

Cocker was satisfied but I wasn’t done.

“The CIA modified the design for its field agents. Only a small number were used, mostly in undercover units in the Middle East. It was successful in urban warfare and on the battlefield. They made some adjustments, such as adding a new carbon fiber stock, and it was renamed to differ from the EM90SR probably to avoid any litigations and keep from getting sued.”

“Okay, so you know your weapon McAllister.”

“As I’ve said, I have done this before.”

“Touché Mac.”