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Shane did one final check.His watch and phone were on the dresser.  He checked his clothing in the mirror, making sure that as much of his body was covered and he wore nothing that might reflect light.

"Hmmm . . . Stylish, slimming.   You could start a new fashion trend, Donovan.  I can see it now.  Spy-ware, this fall's hottest fashion."

He felt along the pockets of his vest.  Lock picks in the right-hand pocket, camera in upper left pocket, pen in upper right.  As a final step, he put his watch back on and pulled on his black gloves, making sure they covered the metal of the watch band.

He slipped through the door and into the dark hallway.  For his cover, he made a note of security mistake number 34 for Nightwing's list.  Dark hallways made it easy for intruders to skulk around the palace if they got inside.

'As he reached the end of the corridor and began to turn toward the main staircase, he spotted the first guard.  The man was guarding the stairs to the second floor, blocking Shane's path.  However, the guard was facing the exterior doors, with his back to Shane.  It would be easy to take the guard out of commission, but a missing or unconscious guard would raise alarms.

No, the better option was a diversion.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out some marbles.  Taking the first, he threw it past the guard to the opposite end of the corridor.  The guard snapped his head at the sound.  A second marble followed, and the guard leaned forward, as he tried to look through the darkness to see the source of the sound.

Shane jerked back behind the corner, as the guard turned in his direction.  After a second, he took a chance at peeking out again.  Okay, that was good.  The guard had just turned to collect his torch.  He had turned back once again and was now heading away from Shane's hiding place.  Shane slid across the hall and sidled along the wall toward the stairs.  The guard kept walking away, but as a precaution, Shane tossed another marble, angling it so that it would bounce around a corner and draw the guard's attention even further away.  Hopefully, the guard would think it a mouse well-acquainted with the crumbling palace.

As the guard turned the corner, Shane moved swiftly to the stairs.  He took them two at a time, reaching the second floor long before the downstairs guard would find a single marble.  He scanned the darkened upstairs hallway, but saw no movement.

"'Security mistake no. 35," Shane muttered.  "'No redundancy.  Relying on single guard leaves interior defenses open.'"

Shane stole along the hallway, always ready to duck into a doorway or freeze, hidden in a shadow, but the dark and silence remained undisturbed by any guards.  His uneasiness returned.  Even with the guard change, this was proving too easy.  Shane had seen primary schools with more security than this.

Still, there was no turning back, so he kept moving forward.  He had memorized these corridors from the blueprints and quickly found himself outside the President's office.  He shook his head.  The White House had a phalanx of Marines standing at attention outside the oval office.  Costa Blanca had a Master Lock available for four quid at your local Home Depot.

A few deft moves with his lockpicks and the lock was history.  Shane slipped inside, pulling the door closed, silently, behind him.  He plunged into the dark room, instinct sending him to the first cover he could find, a sofa, he thought.  He waited, counting slowly to 10, long enough to detect any other movement in the room.  When he finally was convinced that he was alone, he stood up and risked the torch.  The window shades were down, but he kept the light low, minimizing the odds of detection from the outside, and began his search.

The file cabinets along one wall proved useless.  One drawer held bottles of 30-year-old Springbank, assorted tequilas, cigars and porn magazines.  Was he in a presidential palace or a high-end fraternity?  The next drawer leaned toward presidential palace, revealing an arms cache, three semiautomatic pistols and a small automatic rifle.  The other drawers were vacant or contained dusty, unused office supplies.

Turning to the desk, Shane spotted some manilla folders stacked neatly on the top, next to a set of shot glasses and another bottle of scotch, Ardbeg 1975, Douglas Laing bottling.  He had to give El Presidente points for good taste in whiskeys.  Shane scanned the file folders -- Carretera Nacional, Militar Presupuesto, Informe Semanal de las Guerrillas.  No, no, and no.


In the middle of the pile, he saw it, a folder labeled Operación Norteño.  He flipped it open and digested the contents.

"Bloody hell."

He couldn't believe it.  The file laid out a future roadmap for half the major drug distribution operations know to operate in the U.S.  All roads would go through Costa Blanca, where drugs from Chile and Colombia could be exchanged for cash and guns, with suitable payouts to local authorities.  Costa Blanca's port would then provide storage, at a suitable fee, for distributors to divvy up the goods to send by air, sea and land into the States.  The file listed names of higher-ups and contacts for most major drug cartels and organized crime syndicates.  It read like a who's who of the mob, names Shane had followed for decades.  Colombo.  Genovese.  DiMera.  De Vicenzo.  Good.  Exactly what he wanted, and then some.  Shane paused, though, wondering why he did not see Kiriakis.

Victor's name had to be in there.  You couldn't talk about U.S. drug rings without including Kiriakis, but the name was not in the file.  It didn't matter.  Shane had what he had come to Costa Blanca for, and if there was a God, he would let the ISA get people into this network.  Shane pulled the camera from his vest and began snapping photos of the file.

With a final click of the camera, Shane closed the file and returned it to its proper place in the stack.  Next, he flipped the camera over to the side with the control buttons and punched in a sequence.  Flash.  Indoors.  Red-eye.  Sports mode.  Telescoping.  At the last, a tiny, almost imperceptible red light began to flash.

To anyone else, the camera was an ordinary, albeit high-end, high-pixel, micro camera.  To Shane, it was also a transmitter capable of beaming images by satellite to ISA headquarters at five terabytes per second.  His work complete, he turned toward the door just as it crashed open and a half-dozen bright lights blinded him.

"No te muevas!" yelled a soldier.

Shane squinted, trying to see through the bright lights, then someone turned on the office lights.  He decided it had been better in the dark.  Now he could clearly see five soldiers aiming five AK-47s at him.  Calmly and slowly, he raised his arms in the air.  "No disparen."  A nice thing about ISA training was that he could say "Don't shoot" in a dozen languages.  He waited, unmoving, wondering if the guards were going to open fire or just stand around like the Tower guards.  After a few minutes passed without a volley of gunfire, Shane settled on the latter,

"Look, this is all a bit of a misunderstanding."  He tried to ferret out the leader of the group, settling on the one who had an epaulet on the shoulder of his uniform.  "This was a test -- and you passed it quite well, I must add.  Checking inner defenses, if you must know."  Out of the corner of his eye, he spied the camera, still in hand, the red light still blinking.  "Yes, our report is definitely going to give top marks to the interior guards.

"Cállate!" ordered the soldier.

Okay, that didn't work.  Shane decided not to mention that his arms were getting tired.  He remained where he was, as a commotion broke out on the other side of the door.

"Señor Presidente, no entre!"

"No," barked Vasquez, shoving past the soldiers and into the room .  "I must see the asesino for myself."

"Whoa, now wait a second.  Who said anything about an assassin?"  Shane started to step forward, but stopped when the soldiers did the same.  They had the automatic rifles.  "Okay, okay.  It's okay.  Mister President, sir, this is a huge misunderstanding.  I told you that we might be doing some more testing and, well. . . ."  He motioned around the room as much as could while still keeping his arms raised and as close to his body as possible.  "Um . . . this is part of our testing."

Vasquez came close, close enough for Shane to smell the liquor on his breath.  Drunk and stupid was a bad combination for a dictator.  "Do not lie to me.  Our secret police learned that an asesino would put a bomb in this office tonight.

"Bomb?  What bomb" protested Shane.  "I'm not carrying a bomb.  Wouldn't know the first thing about a bomb.  Check my pockets, look around, I don't have a bomb."  Out the corner of his eye, he could still see the tiny flashing red light, indicating the camera was still transmitting.

"Check him," Vasquez ordered.  Two soldiers grabbed Shane, spun him around, and forced him against the desk.  Their hands dug at his pockets.  "Hey now," he said, trying to make it sound like a joke.  "You're not supposed to do that before the third date at least."  That earned him a knee to the hamstring and he winced. Meanwhile, the soldiers pulled out his lockpicks and pen from the vest, and found the bugs he always kept in his belt.  One of the soldiers pulled off Shane's gloves and tore his watch from his wrist.  "Hey, be careful with that.  That's a classic."  He let out a resigned sigh.  His father had given him that watch when he graduated from Cambridge, and it had come through far too many missions to be lost in this tinpot dictatorship.  It was no use.  The soldiers ignored him and began inspecting his equipment.

That was when one of them spotted the camera still in Shane's hand.  He pried it free, turned to the soldier with the epaulets, and began whispering furiously that it must be the bomb.  Shane was almost afraid to look.  If they saw the blinking red light, it would confirm their suspicions.  But before anyone could inspect the device, Vasquez grabbed the camera from the soldier.  He motioned for the soldiers to pull Shane back up and turn him around.  When they were face-to-face, Vasquez raised the camera and demanded, "What is this?"

Shane eyed the blinking light.  It was facing him, so Vasquez could not see it.  He had to stall.  In a voice dripping with sarcasm, he growled, "What is that?  Are you serious?  What does it look like?  It's a bloody camera.  I'm investigating your security, so I'm going to take pictures."  The soldiers took offense at his tone, and one of them slammed his rifle into Shane's side.  He doubled over, but the soldiers' grip on his arms kept him from hitting the floor.  One grabbed his hair and yanked it back so he was once again facing Vasquez.  Again, the President shoved the camera in his face.  This time, Shane could no longer see the blinking light.  Transmission complete.

Momentarily relieved, Shane heaved a sigh.  "I swear it's just a camera.  Not a bomb.  And I am not an assassin.  My God, I'm not even armed."

In later years, Shane would describe that instant as the worst case of bad timing in his career.  For, at that very moment, the soldier inspecting Shane's pen clicked the button on the end.  The gunshot and the soldier's scream were virtually simultaneous.  A few seconds later, the soldier was on the floor, clutching a bleeding foot with one hand and the traitorous pen with the other.

Shane gave Vasquez an apologetic shrug.  "Um, yeah.  About that . . . I mean, that little thing? Come on, that doesn't count."