Hacker, Grifter, Soldier, Spy OP
Aria walks into the dimly lit bar. It is a typical old school Irish bar with deep green walls and old oak. The air is filled with the scent of leather, tobacco and whiskey. From her vantage point at the door, she notices Vance and Mack off in a dark corner. From the location of the table, Aria knows that Vance is looking for a private conversation. He has chosen an out of the way bar and an out of the way table. Mack and Vance are taking precautions and are making an effort not to attract unwanted attention.
Aria takes her seat at the table across from her old friends. Vance already has a drink waiting for her arrival. Aria takes her seat and a sip of the offered drink as she settles in next to Mack. Vance gives Aria a smile before taking another sip of his drink. Mack links pinkies with Aria as she sits down. "So is this a social call or business, handsome?" Aria is curious about the summons from her boys. "A little of both." Vance hesitates for a moment before answering. Aria is reading her old friend's face for some sign as to what is bothering him. From the day she had at work, she has an inkling regarding the nature of Vance's current attitude.
"Hmm…Two of my favorite people on the planet… my favorite martini, this has the makings of a bribe my dear, Michael." Aria toasts Vance as she downs the rest of the drink, waving down the barmaid for another round. "So what's on your mind." Aria attempts to force Vance to meet her gaze. Vance stares at his glass like a crystal ball for a moment before looking up at the two of them. "Aria… we are tapped for a party in your old neighborhood… I have a bad feeling about this one." Aria already knows what Vance is talking about since there was already talk at Langley. "I had heard some whispers at the water cooler. Who is on the guest list for the party?"
"Bringing Shell… you know how he likes a good arms deal." Vance trails off lost in thought. "So what is bothering you about it?" Aria plays along trying to get Vance to reveal more of the details. "Actually, all of it is bothering me at the moment." Vance trails off yet again. From his demeanor, Aria knows something is different in his attitude toward this op. "I was wondering if you might be around."
Aria sees the wave of focus cross Vance's face. She exchanges knowing looks with Mack. "I'll make sure my social calendar is clear." Between them, there are hundreds of ops put to stern, Aria is unsettled by Vance's reaction to what seems to be a routine assignment. "I'm in. Looks like we are getting the band back together" Mack adds to Aria's answer. Vance gives them a smirk and taps his glass with theirs. "The mistakes that we just wouldn't trade." They each knock back their drink. "We've always got your six, you know that." Aria and Mack both reassure him.
Federal Building, Washington DC:
Aria is seated with a group of high ranking military and agency officials. They are gathered around a large conference table with the Secretary of Defense at the head. There is a very animated conversation going on regarding the capture of Col. Vance's team by an as of yet unknown entity during their operational deployment. Aria's superior, at the agency, Thomas Whittaker, is sitting next to her on one side. Vance's superior, General Brick Calhoun, from the Special Operations Command is on her other side. Whittaker leans down towards Aria in a whisper. "When he asks you direct questions give him direct answers. Tell him what you think."
Aria gives him a side long look. "Seriously, it's the Secretary of Defense and you pull out Hunt for Red October? You really need to work on your James Earl Jones ."
"Mind your manners, Aria but get this done. You know I need that team back." Vance's commanding officer adds to the hushed conversation.
"Now Brick, what in the hell happened to your little dance team?" The Secretary has grown tired of the rhetoric that has been filling the air at the table.
"Mister Secretary, Sir it appears that there is a breach that caused the exposure of the team." General Calhoun is obviously a little irritated at the appearance of failure.
"Well, have we plugged this leak yet?" The Secretary is starting a full court press on the attendants.
"Sir, the source has not yet been identified. We have pooled significant resources to investigate." Aria's boss now has the floor.
"Well, let's get this damn issue resolved, Tom. I can't have covert ops teams just falling off the radar. It's bad for business. What is your proposal?" The Secretary sits back in his chair awaiting a response.
"Well Sir, I'd like some latitude with this operation since we have not yet located the sources of contamination. I'd like to allow one of my senior operatives to use some unconventional resources to locate and retrieve the team and possibly locate the source of exposure." Aria's boss is leaning forward in his chair towards the Secretary.
"How much latitude… I can't have the CIA lollygagging around a hostile country all willy nilly." There is an air of callousness in the Secretary's voice.
"Just enough latitude to get it done." Aria's boss remains steadfast and even in his tone and delivery.
"From your gestures and her presence, am I to assume you are going to use Ms. Quinn for this?" The Secretary has now directed all of the attention in the room towards Aria. Aria does not appreciate the glare of the spotlight. The fewer people that know her name… The better.
"Yes sir. That is the plan." The Secretary stares Aria down from the length of the table. Aria obliges by returning the stare.
"Listen up Quinn, I know you by reputation. Please do not do anything stupid." The Secretary offers up with a smirk coupled with a dash of attitude.
Aria looks straight at the Secretary. "Mr. Secretary, Sir, I can assure you that I do things that are immoral, illegal, even incorrigible but never stupid." Aria's boss gives her a small kick under the table. Aria's delivery is about as on key as a Burns and Allen duet. The Secretary looks directly at Aria with a smirk. "Then go get our boys back, Quinn and let's try not to start a war in the process."
Hall of Federal Building after meeting:
"Damn it Quinn, I know I told you to be direct but… seriously… to the Secretary of Defense? Tom, Aria and the General are heading towards the exits. "That was for the lollygagging all willy nilly." Aria winks at her boss. The General stops them for a moment. "Aria, I'll have them send the intel over to you about Vance's op. I know your history with them… get them back." Aria nods at the General. The General had previously asked Tom to bring Aria on because she had been on and worked with Vance's teams in the past. He knows their history and that Aria would risk everything for Vance and Shelley and that is what he is counting on. The General shakes their hands as he departs them. After the General is out of sight, Tom again begins to speak in hushed tones.
"You have a plan?" Tom looks directly at her with the authority of his position over Aria and his responsibility for her pending actions. Aria retorts with her usual response. "No figured I'd wing this one." Aria rolls her eyes as she delivers her response. "Aria, latitude means exposure you know that… a lot of exposure. You will essentially be surrounded in hostile territory." He makes a failed attempt at authoritative intimidation.
"Well, I'm going to retrieve paratroopers… so I guess we are supposed to be surrounded." She smiles at Tom knowing he is a huge fan of the "Band of Brothers" and that he would appreciate the well timed movie quote. "Ba da bum… very funny. Get it done." From the intensity of the stare down she is receiving, Aria knows how severe the leak must be. Her spidey senses are tingling. She has a hunch as to who is behind all of this but doesn't want to believe it. It is time for a subject change. "Well, let me go run the op that I need to run the op." They resume normal tones and continue down the hallway. "You taking your usually crew for that one?"
"Yes… but I have some subcontractors and a fellow ABCer in mind for the main op." Tom knows just where Aria is going with this. She is going off book in case the damn is dripping close to home. "Tapping Mack?" Tom does not even have to ask but he has to ask. Mack and Aria have practically been a set like salt and pepper since they days in the Corps. There is no one she trusts more. "You know it… need my RIO for this one."
"Fine I'll do the paperwork." Tom winks at Aria. From the look of her, the hamsters are running at full tilt. Aria is making a plan. "Just don't …. Ah hell it's you… Just get it done." Tom tosses his hands dramatically in the air. He knows that there is no one better suited for this retrieval. Aria will bring them back or die trying. "Yes Sir." They shake hands as Aria departs with a tap to her forehead.
A group of operatives in assault gear are taking up positions in the hallways of an elaborate palace like building. "Arc angel there are 3 additional targets gaining entry" A voice comes over the comm of the lead operative. "Seriously?" (Over a comm) The voice is feminine and quiet. Aria halts the operatives that are following her.
"Affirmative." The male voice confirms over the comm. "Where are the targets?" Aria takes a moment to assess what is going on as the operatives line the hallway. "Where they are supposed to be. I don't know who the breaches are but they are stirring up the hornet's nest a couple of rooms down from your position." The same male voice repeats. "Damn it, Do the grab. I'll take care of this." Aria instructs the men with her as the main force of operatives proceeds down the hall. Two men remain with Aria as they proceed down the hall and turn a corner. Aria takes a look into the room where the breaches were seen on surveillance.
Parker, Hardison and Eliot are fighting with several bad guys in a dimly lit room. Aria motions to have the others hold at the door. She walks in her weapon drawn. Aria takes out the 5 bad guys with quick nearly silent shots delivered with the precision of an assassin. Parker freezes as she watches the guy she was fighting falling to the ground in front of her from a swiftly and well executed kill shot.
Hardison stops and stares at the hooded figure before them. The other 3 operatives come into the room with weapons drawn. Hardison and Parker put their hands above their heads and stay still as the bad guys drop around them. The operatives are all wearing hoods that cover everything but their eyes. The first hooded figure pulls down her hood and walks up to Eliot. Parker and Hardison get a look at their savior and are truly surprised by what they see before them.
Eliot has the remaining bad guy pinned to the wall… He is trying to hit him with his uninjured arm with limited success.. It becomes obvious that Eliot has a dislocated shoulder and broken ribs from his labored movements. Through the pain and commotion, Eliot does not hear the team come in. Aria takes off her weapon, handing it to the operative standing behind her.
Aria walks up behind Eliot whispering his name. Eliot hears the words but they do not register. He continues the fight. Aria avoids the sidekick and taps him on the shoulder. "Ah… Eliot…" Eliot is startled by the sound of his name taking another side swipe in the direction of Aria. Aria evades the kick with the skill of a ninja. Aria again taps Eliot on the shoulder. Aria pulls part of her hood down. Eliot finally gets a full on look at her face as she stops his arm. "Eliot… put down the bad guy."
Eliot is completely surprised literally dropping the guy to the floor. Eliot's face registers total shock for a moment as Aria pulls her hood back up and motions for them to be silent. One of the operatives walks up to the guy on the floor and shoots him.
"Arc Angel… you good?" Aria takes her weapon back as they prepare to exit the room and resume their mission. "No Threat." The other operatives follow behind Parker and Hardison as Aria leads Eliot. The operatives lead them down a hall to an isolated room. Aria motions for Eliot, Parker and Hardison to remain. Aria pulls her side arm handing it to Eliot. "Stay here or I will shoot you myself." Aria's tone is very business -like and direct.
The operatives disappear out of the room. There are the muffled sounds of a gun battle in the air. Parker mouths to Eliot. "What is going on." Eliot leans into the two of them with a barely audible whisper. "We just walked into a CIA Black Op." Hardison and Parkers eyes get wide with a mix of emotions.
About 15 mins later, the operatives appear back into view. One of the operatives motions for them to follow. Eliot, Parker and Hardison fall in between the operatives. They are taken to waiting helios. There is a rush of operatives to both trucks and helios on the grounds of the palace. Once in the heilo, Aria pulls down her hood. She looks at Eliot and motions for him to hand over the weapon with a gimmie hand signal that makes Eliot smile. Eliot sets the safety and hands it to Aria. Eliot continues to stare at her in disbelief that Aria is actually in front of him.
"Sorry but this is not an option." Aria instructs her men as they reach down and pull out hoods, placing them over the heads of Eliot, Parker and Hardison. Before the hoods come down over their eyes, Eliot nods at Parker and Hardison to indicate that it will be okay.
After about 20 minutes, the helios land and they are escorted into a building. Eliot cannot help himself. He counts the steps, he listens for every identifying sound. This behavior is ingrained in him. The hoods are removed to reveal a stark room. Aria walks into the room with her hood around her neck exposing her short red hair. Her face is dirty but it is obvious that she has pretty features. Parker and Hardison are surprised by how petite she actually is. She appeared much bigger when she was shooting bad guys. Her assault weapon is slung to her back. She walks with purpose directly up to Eliot.
"Damn it Aria. What did we walk into?" Eliot asks before she gets to him. "Eliot, it's me. What do you think you walked into? I need to know where Nate and Sophie are." Eliot attempts to speak into his comm. "How do you know who they are?" Eliot realized that he is not dealing with an amateur. Aria is a force of nature.
"Ah… Eliot… CIA… This is Parker, Hardison… now where are Nate and Sophie? You're comm won't work in here. I need to get to them now. Where are they?" Eliot understands that they are in danger from Aria's tone.
"The Laurent." Aria looks over her shoulder to 4 operatives standing behind her. "Go and make it clean." Aria heads towards the door but turns back towards them briefly. "I'll send in some water. Get comfortable. Be back in a while, I have some business to take care of." As Aria exits, the door is shut by the operatives standing guard on the outside. It is quite obvious that Aria is in charge.
"Eliot, what the hell did we walk into and who is that?" Hardison speaks as soon as the door is shut.
"We walked into a something we should not have walked into." Parker surmises.
"Gee, was your first clue Mercenary Barbie?" Hardison is appropriately nervous.
"Parker, she is a CIA operative... As in as black as black ops gets baby girl. We walked into some serious voodoo." Eliot tries to explain the situation. He is almost relieved that Aria is fetching Nate and Sophie. Apparently, Nate's intel was flawed.
"So are we under arrest or something?" Hardison's concern is showing and Eliot realizes that he needs to quell that for both Parker and Hardison to remain effective.
"No. Probably lucky to be alive…" Eliot paces the room trying to figure out what went wrong. "Parker, that was a 12 man wet team. 12 man team means that there was more than a couple of bad guys in the building. In black ops, a 12 man team is an army."
About an hour later, Sophie and Nate are brought into the room wearing hoods. Once inside, the hoods are removed by two of the operatives. Eliot and the others instantly come into view. The operatives leave the room and shut the door.
"What the hell happened at when you were getting the drives?" Nate is confused and a little pissed off.
"We walked into a 12 man CIA wet team at work." Eliot's voice is firm and his annoyance at Nate's flawed plan is clearly conveyed. Nate eyes get wide. "You are kidding."
"From our current situation, does it appear that I'm kidding?" Eliot has moved closer to Nate. "What is a wet team?" Sophie is cautiously concerned.
"Assassins, Sophie." Nate gathers the team so that they can speak without being heard by the guards.
"Why aren't you dead?" The tone of Sophie's voice is showing her growing more concerned.
"We weren't the target. And by some grace of fortune, it was an old friend's op." Eliot is pacing the room. "She saw us… I think that is the only reason that we are alive." Eliot's expressions reveal the truth in his statements.
"What were they doing?" Nate is wondering how the CIA had the same target.
"I am not exactly sure but the assault weapons had silencers so it wasn't anything they were advertising." Eliot is still trying to figure out what Aria was doing as he hears the door open. All of them turn their attention toward Aria. Aria walks back into the room. She motions to them as she approaches but stops short and surveys Sophie. "Well hello Duchess… or do you just go by Sophie now."
Aria allows for the shocked expressions on the group to fade before shecontinues to the center of the room. Everyone stares at Sophie for a moment. Sophie's surprised look is a giveaway. "You are CIA?" Sophie is stunned by Aria's presence.
"It's a small world. Have a seat." Aria hesitates for a moment. "I'm sure this question will not be a mystery. During the course of your business, you have wandered into my business. Though, we have been monitoring your activities, your appearance at the facility today was unexpected. So it becomes necessary to ask what you were doing there today?" Aria's tone is cold, clear and business-like. It is quite clear that her question requires an answer. Nate looks at Aria but does not answer. Eliot gets Nate's attention. "We need to answer her." It is obvious that Aria is growing annoyed at the silence from Nate. "Look, I totally respect the Robin Hood and his merry hi-jinx. I need to know if you were there by coincidence or by design. I need to know if there is another breach. Why did you need these?"
Aria reaches into her pocket and pulls out the drives that Nate was seeking. Parker looks at them since it was her job to get them… "How did you get those?"
"You are not the only ones who do the voodoo you do." Aria is still stern and business-like. "These are actually worthless; the only items of value at that facility were the weapons. Who asked you to get the drives?"
Aria stands directly in front of Nate. "Who?" Aria's voice grows forceful as Nate maintains his silence. "I don't have time for this." Aria drops the drives on the table and walks to the door. "Get in here." The room becomes flooded with men. "Separate them."
"Yes Ma'am." The men respond in unison as they begin to separate the merry band of misfits.
"Leave Spencer." Aria's voice is again clear as she can feel Eliot's stare bore a hole in the side of her skull. The operatives approach and politely ask for them accompany them. "Nate, it may have not been a good idea to tick off an assassin with an army." Sophie mumbles as she follows Nate out of the room. The room is now empty except for Aria and Eliot.
"Ma'am… Management… now that is still funny." Eliot sits leaning against the wall with a smirk at his old friend. Aria motions to a camera for it to be turned off. Aria walks over to the wall and sits next to Eliot. She pulls out a bandana from her pocket and tosses it at him. "Yeah… and it sucks…" She emphasizes the "sucks." "First things first, let's get that shoulder back in place." Eliot smiles at her. "Damn A." He shakes his head in amazement. "Where did you come from?"
"Guess we'd be the Calvary." Aria winks at Elliot. "I had this." Eliot is insistent. "Sure… go with that Sweetie." She taps him on the leg. "Come on let's fix you." She stands up and offers a hand for him to get to his feet. Eliot leans back on the wall while Aria pops his shoulder back into place.
"Aria, What is going on?" Eliot is as curious as he is concerned. Aria walks over and sits on the table. Eliot sits on the table next to her. "So if you know our con then why are did you separate everyone?" Aria shoots him a look. "Come on Aria. How long have I known you?"
"El, I was after the guns not so much the dealer and you were after the dealer but who sent you after this dealer?"
"You're stocking for an op?" Eliot looks at her trying to figure out where this is going.
"Yes, one you will be interested in and stop avoiding my question." From Aria's tone, Eliot knows she is serious. "Aria a guy named Grimaldi got in touch with Nate… but for some reason I think you already know that." Aria arranges her thoughts for a moment before she speaks. "I had a hunch. He has be on my radar for a while." He surveys Aria for a moment. "So then if this is not your primary op… what is?"
From the look in her eyes he get the feeling that he know what she is about to say. "Vance… something happened to Vance?" Eliot looks away from Aria as he says the name.
"Shelley and Vance and the rest of Vance's team…They were grabbed on an op two days ago… It was more like set up than an op. There is a breach , El. A serious breach. The Specials and the agency are giving me latitude due to extenuating circumstances."
"You don't know where the leak is….but your spidey senses are tingling over something…" Aria looks at Eliot the way she always did when she knew a hell storm was coming. "I have a hunch."
"I'm in Aria… you know that." Eliot's gaze is straight ahead as he answers.
"That is what I was hoping to hear. That is why I came looking for you." Aria taps him on the leg as she slides off the table.
"Aria, let me use my team." Eliot returns his gaze towards Aria. "I don't know about that Eliot, this is going to be dangerous, Eliot, really dangerous." Eliot also hops from the table to stand in front of Aria.
"Aria, I trust them with my life, same as I trust you, Mack, Shelley and Vance." Eliot grabs her arm to make his point. Aria absorbs Eliot's words. She thinks for a moment before she speaks. "If you trust them, then I trust them… but Eliot make sure they know… that they know what this can be like… If they are willing… they are welcome… I will make sure they are taken care of."
"I know you will… " Eliot releases his grip on Aria's arm. "Alright... game on then… guess you and your team need some time." Aria starts to head for the door.
"Hey." Eliot pauses for a moment. "Get over here." Eliot opens up his arms and motions for Aria to come back. Aria smiles as she walks up and embraces Eliot. Eliot kisses her on the cheek as he wraps himself around Aria. "It is good to see you, baby girl." Aria winks as she is released from Eliot's arms and walks to the door. "Oh by the way, an old friend wanted say … howdy." Aria opens the door to reveal Mack standing in the doorway.
"I'll leave you to your bromance. Mack make sure he gets to his team. I've got a cranky arms dealer to contend with." Aria walks out the door with a wink to Mack as well. Mack walks into the room. Eliot's face lights up at the sight of Mack. "Damn, it has been too long man." The two men hug and sit back on the table.
"Mack, man how the hell are you?" Eliot adjusts his shoulder. "I'm good El… Nice to see you have left the dark side, Anakin, not that it ever suited you anyway." Mack slides back on the table. "Yeah I'm running with a different crew now. You still with Aria?"
"From time to time, Aria is pretty high up now man…" Mack glances at the door. "I can see that… leading wet teams… Were you on this OP?"
"Nah… A thought I might be a giveaway so I stayed back and ran tech for her. She is getting pretty damn good at this spy crap." Mack laughs because it is true. Aria is to the tipping point of becoming a legend at the agency.
"So what happened with Vance?" Eliot tries to get info out of his old friend.
"Aria and I met with him before they left… he said he had a bad feeling about this one El." Mack looks over his shoulder to make sure they are still alone.
"He asked Aria to be ready if something went fubar on this one. Aria knew your team was hitting this dealer… she needed to arm for the retrieval and found out what your team was doing. She wanted to make sure you would make it out of this one alive… did you guys have any clue what you were walking into?"
"From what I am hearing… apparently not. She knew about my new team?" Eliot is genuinely surprised that Aria had been watching over him.
"El, It's Aria… you are never so lost that you cannot be found brother… like Belgravia…" Mack knows that they are never far from Aria's over watch.
"Yeah… she always had that whole guardian angel thing going on." Eliot actually appreciates the 6 degrees of Aria Quinn from time to time.
"That's our girl, man… come on… let's get you to the others." Mack begins to slide from the table.
"Mack, wait a second… can I ask you something?" Eliot stops him from walking towards the door.
"What I heard about Aria in Astan… is it true?" Mack stops dead. He runs his hand through his hair before turning around towards Eliot. "Yes… El… it's true. She hasn't opened up about it to any of us but, it happened and I think it's as bad as we imagine."
"Is she okay?" Eliot was hoping for a different answer. "It's Aria. If she isn't okay… she goes on… it's how she is wired... you know that."
Mack leads Eliot down the hall to another room. The room is surprisingly comfortable. It has couches and tables and a video screen wall. Once Eliot is in the room, Mack nods to a couple other operatives in the hall. The operatives bring in all of the items and electronics from the hotel. Nate immediately brings Eliot close for a conversation as to what is going on. Hardison is unpacking his computer and other devices. Parker and Sophie look over their bags but are drawn to the conversation between Eliot and Nate.
"What is going on? Who are these people Eliot?" They gather around the largest table. "The leader of the wet team is an old friend who I served with, her name is Aria Quinn. She is CIA now." Eliot settles into a seat realizing that he suddenly feels much much better than he did an hour ago.
"What are they doing here? Nate's mind is racing through the facts. "They want to know the same thing out us, Nate. We were set up. Who sent us there… who really sent us there set us up." Sophie watches Nate for a moment. "This is the Italian again, isn't it." The gravity is clearing manifested in Sophie's tone.
Nate shoots Sophie a knowing look. "We were asked to retrieve the drives. That was it. We had a particular set of skills that were needed for this job. I honestly don't know how the CIA became involved. What do you know about this from your CIA friend, Eliot?"
"Sometimes when the CIA needs to arms for an op… they will take down an arms dealer or the like for "dirty" weapons. That was why they were there but this op was timed to match our plans. We were sent into an ambush. The CIA basically bailed us out." Eliot points out the flaws in Nate's plan.
"Did she tell you why they were arming?" Sophie joins in. Eliot pulls them in closer for a more closed conversation. "Vance's team was grabbed on an op. Aria is arming for the retrieval. They think there is a breach in one of the agencies." Eliot's tone is very business-like but Sophie senses his concern for his friends.
"But they don't know what one… or who it is…" Nate surmises. "Exactly." Eliot is holding direct eye contact with Nate. "They are close to you and you want in on this op." Sophie is reading Eliot's expression. "Yes… I owe them… All of them." Hardison, Parker and Sophie exchange looks of affirmation. "Well, looks like we are going to steal some operatives."
Unnoticed by the group, Mack and Aria are standing in the doorway watching them. Nate eventually notices them in his peripheral vision and acknowledges them. They leave the doorway walk and towards the table to join in the conversation. "So what is the plan?" Nate questions them on their approach. Aria pulls out a chair and sits down. Mack stands behind Aria's chair.
"Currently we are working on the details of their location but we will need for you and Sophie to entertain Mario Grimaldi. I would prefer to make sure that gentleman is occupied while we make the grab." Sophie eyes Aria with curiosity. "It is not that I don't trust your "Italian" friend, but I don't trust your "Italian" friend." Aria is staring directly at Nate. "How do you know about the Italian?" Sophie adds. Aria offers a coy response. "Let's just say, she is a mutual acquaintance." Sophie realizes that given their line of work, Aria and the Italian have likely crossed paths. She is unclear as to Grimaldi's role or need to keep occupied but the CIA knows best.
"Nate, I understand how you do what you do, but this is not a con." Nate looks at Aria with a degree of kinship. "I understand." He offers in deference to what Aria needs to accomplish and that her motives are in service to her country and not for personal gain.
"The plan is going to have to be that there is no plan. So the question is… how good are you on the fly?" Aria smile at Nate. Nate is one who's plans have back up plans. This is going to be interesting
Sophie, Aria and Parker are alone in the main room. Sophie realizes this is a rare opportunity to gather some intel on the mysterious assassin from Eliot's past and possibly learn a thing or two about Eliot.
"How long have you and Eliot known each other." Sophie walks up and sits in the chair next to Aria who is working on a laptop at the table. "Longer than I care to admit." Aria glances up from her computer towards Sophie. She is aware that she is being profiled by Sophie during this conversation.
"You were a Marine and Eliot was in the Army. How did you end up working together?" Sophie gets up to get some more coffee. She motions to Aria with the pot to see if she would like her own cup topped off. Aria nods and thanks Sophie. Parker continues to listen from a distance. "We both worked with Vance until I went to the agency and Eliot… well he went other places." Aria takes a sip from her cup adjusting in her chair to give Sophie her undivided attention.
"How did you end up in the CIA?" Sophie inquires but Aria is not ready to give up that story to strangers. "Better dental plan than the FBI." She looks down at the screen and finishes typing an email.
"Aria, can I ask you a question?" Parker fiddles with an object from the table. Aria casts a quick look to Sophie to see where this conversation is going but Sophie isn't exactly sure either. "Sure… go ahead and ask." Aria has observed that Parker is a little unique but likes that quality about her.
"How do you do it… How do you live with yourself? You know being an assassin... killing people?" "Parker!" Sophie offers an instant reaction of offense to that line of questioning. Aria on the other hand, immediately begins to answer.
"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." Aria answers with one of her go to answers since that is actually a question that she has been asked many times before.
"Albert Einstein, Very fitting." Sophie likes the answer but she knows that answer won't suffice with Parker. Aria winks at Sophie for knowing that particular quote. It has always been one of Aria's favorites.
"No, really how do you just kill people? You're like a serial killer." Parker's body language offers to Aria that Parker may be odd but she is at least genuine.
"Parker!" No matter how long she has known Parker, she still manages to surprise Sophie from time to time. "It's ok Parker… First thing… I don't just kill people… it's not like that. It's not like that at all. Are you asking about me or asking me about Eliot?" Aria stops what she is doing and gives Parker her full attention. "Both…" Aria again assumes an open position indicating to Sophie that she is willing to engage on this line of questioning. "Is this about Damian?" Aria motions for Parker to sit down. "A little." Parker takes a seat across from Aria. Sophie is very intrigued by how Aria will answer this question. Aria had gleaned from Parker's actions that this was not actually about her at all.
"Parker, No one grows up and wants to do what we do. No one dreams this. I have done truly hideous things in the name and protection of my county… same as Eliot. With the choice to live this life…You end up selling off your soul a piece at a time. The only way to accept the reality you live with is to believe that it is all for the greater good." Aria offers what Sophie takes to be a very enlightened answer to that question.
"And Eliot?" Parker gets insistent. Aria is patient and searches for the right words. "Eliot made decisions. Believe me… I had a hard time with them. It felt like a betrayal… but I can tell you, the Eliot that was with Damian, that wasn't Eliot. The Eliot you know now. That is who he is and always was. Parker, I hated what Eliot did…actually it broke my heart. But listen to me, as I say this… there was never… (She taps the table in front of Parker's hand) never a moment that I would not have laid my life down for him. His past doesn't matter. Everyone gets a clean slate when it comes to their future. Savvy?"
Parker nods as Mack, Hardison, Eliot and Nate return to the room. "Aria, we need to finish up those transportation arrangements." Mack motions for Aria to follow him. Aria gets up from the table. "Eliot… you should probably come too… this will fall into your area of expertise." Mack gets his attention as he heads out after Aria. Hardison sits down at the table and boots up his laptop. Once he gets himself situated… Nate starts their usual pre-con recon.
"Hardison, show me what you have got our Ms. Quinn." Nate watches over Hardsion as he searches the data on Aria Quinn. "She was born in Boston MA, raised in Maine. Went to a toney boarding school, then on to Harvard. I have to say it… Freaking Harvard? Spent a year at Oxford… This chick went to Harvard…silver spooned… good grades… sorority girl…and then does a one eighty and decides to go into the Marines? Did she sustain a head injury or something? Hardison is astonished at the long twisted road that Aria took to get where she is now. Sophie picks up on the fact that something happened in that life to alter course because Hardison is right. You don't start out a debutante and walk into espionage. Sophie would know.
"Hardison back on point." Nate refocuses Hardison since they do not have much time before Aria gets back with Eliot.
She was tapped to become a Marine Sniper even as a woman. Brought up to the Force Recon Marines attached to special ops… then to the things that go bump in the night… The CIA… special operations division. She has been with the CIA for quite a while. The data goes dead when she hit the CIA. " Hardison admits that even he can't untangle the web of the CIA when it hits someone's life.
"She went from Harvard to Oxford?... was she a Rhodes Scholar or something?" Sophie is curious about her past given Aria's level of education and background. Hardison pulls up a list of Rhodes Scholars and Aria's name is listed. "Wow, Sophie you were right. She was a Rhodes Scholar. This chick has some serious brain power. How does someone like that become a CIA assassin?" Hardison responds to Sophie. "Honestly, Hardison, I don't know… that doesn't make sense. A Rhodes scholarship is like the ultimate con… it's a key that opens almost any door… any job she wanted … she could have had. Yet she left that at the height of her power and went into the Marine Corp?" Sophie is definitely intrigued by the back story on this one.
"Aria, Eliot, Vance, Shelley and Mack must have been one of those asymmetrical combat teams." Nate is pacing and thinking aloud.
"and that is likely why they would take these kinds of risks for each other." Sophie surveys the information on the screen. "We have met Vance and Shelley, give me some background on Mack." Nate is standing with this arms folded reading Aria's dossier.
"Well Mack is actually Conrad Dylan. Mack is a nickname. Mack was a career Marine, part of the two man sniper team with Aria. Both went Recon together and he followed her to the agency. Married… couple of kids." Hardison is surprised by the contrast between Mack and Aria. Mack's path makes sense. Aria's doesn't. The pair could not be more different if they tried.
Aria, Mack, and Eliot return to the room. Hardison is a bit slow on the trigger to take down the dossiers. Aria looks at Nate and Hardison. "You could have just asked." Aria winks as she reads the screens that Hardison restores. Eliot looks at Mack… "I didn't know she went to Harvard? Did you know she went to
Harvard?" Mack shakes his head. "But I didn't know until we were at the Agency." Mack keeps his tone hushed so Aria doesn't actually hear him. "There are accommodations for everyone. We will leave at 1830 so it would be best if everyone got some rest. Murphy and Marco will escort you." Mack motions towards two operatives in the background who enter the room.
The rooms are surprisingly comfortable. Within each room, there are clothes appropriate for each of their roles in the operation. Sophie and Nate are provided with designer clothes and jewels appropriate to the station that they need to portray. Sophie is thrilled with the gown. Parker eyes the jewels.
"Behave." Sophie scolds Parker. Hardison, Parker and Eliot are each provided with Kevlar vests, and operational clothes. Hardison is impressed with the, as he phrases it… "spy gear." Parker was provided with all the parts and pieces needed for a "Parker rig." The crew plays with their new toys for a bit before taking advice on the need for rest.
Later that afternoon:
Eliot sneaks into Aria's room. He is standing in the doorway watching her sleep. Aria suddenly starts to thrash in her sleep. She is mumbling and growing more restless. Eliot gets closer as she grows more violently restless. When she starts to scream, Eliot grabs her. Aria pulls out a locked and loaded .45mm and points it at Eliot's head.
"Damn it… A. How the hell do you do that so fast." He grabs the weapon from her hand and shakes her. "Aria!" When she does not respond, he slaps her. "Aria!" He hated to do it but there is a highly trained assassin holding a gun to his head at this moment.
"Ow… damn it." She sees Eliot next to her. "Eliot." She sits up rubbing her face where Eliot had slapped her. "Sorry, but you were pointing a .45 at my head." "But I didn't hit you with it." Aria rubs the sleep from her eyes as she faces Eliot as he sits on the bed. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I was worried about you. Why the hell are you sleeping with a .45mm?" Eliot's voice has the usual comic relief.
"Like I told Vance and Shelley and Mack, I'm okay. Apparently I must stutter or I'm suddenly speaking
Swahili. I am an assassin." Eliot lies down next to her and extends out his arm. "And you know I always sleep with a gun… obviously, in my line of work you never know who is going to show up. Eliot, I told you. I'm okay… I'll concede that I may be bent to all hell… but I'm not broken." Aria lies back on Eliot's arm. "Me too … now get some sleep." Eliot pulls Aria's torso in closer. "Funny this reminds me of Paris." Eliot adds.
"You shot me in Paris." Aria rolls over to look at him. "But it was still fun…" Eliot gives her an evil grin. She sighs. "I have missed you to El." Aria snuggles
into Eliot actually falling into a deep sleep. Eliot lies awake holding Aria so that she feels safe. "I have missed you too, A."
The nightmares are something all too familiar. Later, Mack sees Eliot leave Aria's room. Eliot walks down the hallway to his room to dress for the op. Mack steps into Aria's room. Aria is still fast asleep dressed in her op clothes. Mack smiles at the innocence of her interaction with Eliot in comparison to the last time. "So she actually sleeps." Mack whispers.
Mack kneels next to her bed. Normally, Aria would have drawn a weapon as soon as the door opened. Being quite familiar with waking an assassin, the first order of business is to hold down both of her arms since she usually finds a way to pull weapons out of thin air. Aria wakes as soon as Mack's weight hits her arms. "Hey you… time to boogie, baby girl." Mack taps Aria on the side of the face with a quick kiss to the cheek.
They all meet in the central room for a short briefing. Aria tosses Hardison a flash drive. Hardison lights up the screen as he displays the blueprints of the target building on the screen. They begin to discuss the security systems and details of the building. Hardison, Aria and Parker are having an intense conversation about the access issues as Eliot joins them followed by Mack. Eliot and Mack discuss the approach and the vehicles.
Finally, Hardison pulls up the information Aria gave him for Sophie and Nate. Sophie and Nate are scheduled to attend a party at an art gallery. It will be their job to keep Grimaldi busy while the others hit the facility where Vance's team is being held. Nate is suspicious about the need to occupy this arms dealer while the grab is taking place since there is not an obvious connection between the two he wonders what Aria knows that she is not sharing. An operative of the caliber of Aria does not reveal every detail, it would go against her instincts and her training. The key to a flawless op is not hold back.
Finally, Aria and Mack arm and present arms to Eliot, Parker and Hardison. Eliot grabs the gun out of Parker's hands. He looks at Aria. "You can give her a gun…. You can give her ammunition… but never… look at me, Aria…. Never a gun with ammunition, you understand me, Aria." Eliot shakes his head and mumbles about the crazy.
"Eliot… I won't shoot anyone." Parker whines back at Eliot trying to grab the gun. "Parker, you stabbed a mark with a fork." Aria spins around. "A fork?"
"A fork." Eliot stands firm. "What can she have?" Aria looks over the available armaments.
"Can I have a Taser? Please Eliot." Aria pulls out a Taser. She looks at Eliot before she tosses it towards Parker. "Fine. She can have a Taser." Eliot catches it in midair. He looks at it and then tosses it to Parker. Mack laughs since it reminds him of home and pretty much every other mission he has ever been on with Aria and Eliot.
The limousine arrives for Nate and Sophie. Nate and Aria share a quiet conversation before he gets into the car. Sophie notices the odd similarity and kinship that is obvious between Aria and Nate. They are very similar creatures. As the car pulls away, two trucks pull into the driveway of the facility. Both of the trucks are military style utility trucks. Aria, Mack and Eliot have a quick conversation and divide among the trucks. Aria and Mack take the first truck with Eliot, Parker and Hardison taking the second.
Their only advantage is the remoteness of the location where Vance's team is being held. They hide the trucks on their approach to the holding facility. The facility is a large warehouse with a number of guards on the outside.
"Parker, can you get in there and find out where they are?" Eliot surveys their entrance strategy. "Aria, Mack and I can take out the guards… there and there. Hardison… you in?"
"Yeah… there isn't a whole lot of electronic security… must be old school." Hardison offers as Eliot looks at Mack.
"Great… going old school means…" Mack locks and loads his weapon. "Guards with guns, lots of guards with guns."
"Aria, you going with Parker?" Eliot questions of Aria. Aria thinks for a moment before answering Eliot. "Yeah… you and Mack will be a bigger distraction." Mack looks at her with mock offense. Aria looks at him. "Honey, you are 6'4" and built like a freaking truck….Like you blend?" Mack smiles. "Good point."
Nate and Sophie are mingling at the gallery fete. They are watching Grimaldi closely. He is mixing and mingling with the usual crowd of society belles, beaus, nouveau rich and euro trash. There is nothing particularly suspicious going on until they are startled by Sterling's approach from behind. "Lovely party." Sterling circles around Sophie to also watch Grimaldi. "Sterling what on earth are you doing here?"
Nate employs his usual passive aggressive tone. "Aren't you two a bit far from home? Is this for business or pleasure?"
"Not that it is any of your business but this is a pleasure trip, Sterling." Sophie takes a sip of her champagne. "Oh yes… nothing unusual with an art thief in an art gallery purely for pleasure." Sterling smirks. "Well enjoy your evening." Sterling is off in the other direction as quickly as he approached.
"Wonder what on earth he is doing here?" Sophie whispers to Nate. "I am not sure but there is definitely some connection with Grimaldi. I just haven't figured out what it is yet." Nate watches Sterling disappear into the crowd.
As Eliot and Mack make a frontal assault on the building, Parker and Aria are working their way to the back of the building and roof access. Aria takes down a couple of guards to clear their access to the metal staircase running up the back of the building. Mack and Eliot are making their way to the front doors. Their assault is pulling guards from the rear of the building which eliminates a number of obstacles for Aria and Parker.
Aria and Parker make their way inside the building and set about finding where Vance's team is located. Parker heads into the air ducts which are located over the divided part of the building. Aria guards Parker's escape route.
The undivided part of the building is loaded with a substantial amount of what appear to be crated weapons. Eliot and Mack also notice the crates and several trucks that are housed on the interior of the building as they move to where Aria and Parker are located. Hardison is directing them toward each other from the truck.
Parker's voice suddenly rings through all of the comms. Parker thinks she has found the team. Hardison locates Parker and instructs the others where to go to join them. Mack, Aria and Eliot contend with guards as they come upon their position. Nate checks in with Hardison to check the progress of the grab.
Nate notices that several men have approached Grimaldi and are having an intense conversation with him. There is a noticeable change in his demeanor which Sophie immediately notes.
"From the look on his face he has just received some disturbing news." Sophie makes her thoughts known to Nate. "I agree but he is not leaving. Something is keeping him here." Nate knows the likely source of Grimaldi's sudden mood change is Aria and the others.
Parker appears out of nowhere behind the other three. Aria and Mack look at Eliot with surprise. "You get used to it." They move in. Eliot and Mack take out the guards while Parker calls up on Hardison to crack the electronic locks on the cell like structures. They notice that Vance and Shelley are not with the rest of the team.
One of the operatives looks up at Eliot. "Who are you guys?" Eliot cracks his usual smile and answers with his favorite line. "We'd be the Calvary." A couple of the operatives recognize Aria. Aria also recognizes them and questions them as to the location of Vance. "Ham… where's the Colonel?" "They separated the Captain and the Colonel when we got here. We haven't seen them since."
They can hear a growing commotion as guards are approaching. Aria looks at Eliot. Mack and Parker are freeing the operatives from restraints. Aria's tone is deadly serious. A tone that Eliot remembers well but has not heard from Aria's lips in a very long time. "Eliot, I got this… you are out of this game… and I am making damn sure that you stay out. This is what I do. Take Mack and get the others to safety… I need you. I need you to get them out of here… now. I'll get Vance and Shelley… We will be there… just be waiting…" Aria's words are delivered in the form of a command. Both Mack and Eliot are familiar with this tone from Aria.
"I'll be waiting… I'm not leaving without you. I promise." Eliot answers Aria. Aria looks at him with a nod and takes off down the hallway. Eliot knows that this is the business end of Aria, when the assassin comes out… Aria works alone. Mack hears the tail end of the conversation between Aria and Eliot. He also knows all too well that this is side of Aria that she does not allow others to see.
Eliot doubles back down to where Parker is as she finishes removing the handcuffs from Vance's team. Mack and Eliot take the lead. They hand extra weapons to the following operatives as they make their way back towards the trucks. Eliot tells Hardison to keep a close eye on where Aria is. Aria speaks to Hardison and tells him to have Nate and Sophie get to the waiting heilo and to get there quickly. Suddenly Aria's comm goes dead.
Hardison tells Eliot that he has lost contact with Aria. Mack exchanges looks with Eliot. Both know what it means when Aria is off the grid. The assassin is officially on duty. Eliot and Mack secure the operatives in the vehicles, get the trucks ready and wait.
Aria bursts into the area where Shelley and Vance are held. Both are handcuffed and from outward appearances have been beaten. They are locked in a cell-like room like the rest of the team. Aria subdues the guards that are directly in the room. In her journey down the hall, she "dealt" with the other guards.
Aria disengages the locks. She pulls the doors open and walks into the cell. Neither has woken from the commotion surrounding her entrance. She taps their faces… "Wakie, Wakie boys." Vance immediately opens his eyes and gives Aria a smirk but Shelley doesn't respond. Aria reaches into her pocket and pulls out a smelling salt. She holds it under Shelley's nose for a moment. He wakes with a start but is really happy to see that it is Aria. With both of them more focused, Aria grabs the keys to unlock the handcuffs.
"Let's get out of here boys." Vance gets a quick look at Aria as she releases the handcuffs; he realizes that Aria is covered in blood. Vance and Shelley head into the hallway as Aria hangs back for a moment. Aria reaches into one of her pockets pulling out a small card. She reaches down and places it on one of the guards before following Vance. They quickly make their way out of the building.
When they come into the view of the waiting trucks, Vance, Shelley and Aria are in a dead run toward them. Eliot is driving with Mack in the front seat of one , while a member of Vance's team is at the wheel of the other. Aria, Shelley, and Vance join Hardison and Parker in the first truck. The other contains the remainder of Vance's team. Once Aria, Vance and Shelley are inside, the trucks take off down the road.
Parker and Hardison get a good look at Aria. Aria is soaked with blood. She sits on the floor bracing herself against the seat. Parker gasps at what she sees. Aria looks at her. "Parker, for the last time, I am not a serial killer." Vance and Shelley watch her as they drive toward their safe house. Aria's facial expression is blank. She remains silent. Everyone is subdued as they rocket along the roads on their escape. After several hours they arrive at the safe house. Sophie and Nate are already at the villa.
The safe house is a villa on the coast. The trucks pull into the gates and stop on the circle of the driveway. As they exit the vehicles; the trucks are taken away by other operatives. The groups are escorted into the villa by still another group of operatives. Aria walks off with a number of the operatives towards a smaller building. Eliot and Mack get a quick look at her as she walks off and exchange the knowing looks as to what Aria had to do to get Shelley and Vance out of there.
Once inside, the soldiers are in juxtaposition to the elegantly decorated rooms with beautiful furnishings and objects. Vance, Eliot, Shelley and Mack get a moment to greet each other properly. Sophie takes notice of their interaction and just how deep their bond truly is. Parker and Hardison head toward the back of the room to join Nate and Sophie. Ironically, Nate and Sophie are the only two who look like they belong in the villa.
The group walks from the salons into the dining room. The dining room is filled with food and various libations for the team. The members of Vance's have been in rather desolate conditions for days as they enthusiastically descend on the provisions.
The entire back of villa has a balcony with stairs that leads to the sand and sea. Parker and Hardison walk out to get some fresh air and check the view. "Well this has been an interesting trip into Eliot's life." Hardison strikes up a conversation that they both have been meaning to have since they met Aria. "Very intriguing group." Sophie adds as she joins them at the door.
Aria enters the villa remaining very quiet. Everyone is staring at her as she enters the dining room. They are surveying her clothes, her face…everything… She is well aware of what she looks like to them. She looks quite like a monster. The looks that are a mix of fear respect and awe but mostly fear. Aria walks up to the bar to get a drink. At this point in the Aria needs a drink. Eliot walks up from behind eyeing Aria very closely. "Stop it El… none of it is mine." Aria knows that Eliot is looking for the cracks. Aria turns and walks away from Eliot without another word.
Aria takes her drink and walks towards the balcony. Mack follows her out. He finds her leaning on the balcony staring out towards the sea. Mack sits on the balcony facing her. "You okay, baby girl?" Mack sits so close that Aria cannot ignore his presence. She smiles as she glances sidelong in his direction.
"Yeah… just decompressing." Aria takes a sip of the drink as Mack leans in closer with a teasing tone. "Is that still A-speak for get out of my face and let me clear my head." Mack offers with a nudge to Aria's shoulder.
"Yes… yes, it is Connie." Aria only pulls out Mack's actual name when she is trying to make a point.
"Damn… you are getting more polite with age." Mack downs the rest of his drink. Aria reaches over and swats him has he gets up and kisses her on the head. "See you in a bit my dearest, Aria." Mack winks as he walks inside. Aria remains outside for a while longer before she leaves the balcony and walks down to the sand. Vance, Eliot and Shelley are standing together watching Aria through the open door as Mack returns.
"I have seen that look before, Eliot." Vance downs his drink. "On you." Vance pours some more scotch into his glass. "You had it after that op where Mack and Aria got shot up." Eliot turns to get a better look at Aria.
Aria walks down to the water's edge and wades in to the waves. She lets the water surround her soaking her clothes as the waves crash against her. Aria reaches down and cups some up in her hands to wash her face. She stares out to the horizon for a while before she wades back to shore. Aria sits down on the sand resting her head on her knees in meditation and absolution.
Vance, Shelley, Eliot and Mack are now out on the balcony watching Aria walk into the sea. "How can you tell she has had enough of this?" Shelley asks of Vance as they focus their attention on Aria. Eliot answers for Vance. "She can't wait to wash it away."
Shelley is the first to walk down to the sand. He sits back to back to with Aria on the sand. "Hey you." He says as he props his head against hers. Aria responds in kind. "Hey you." She can feel the warm of Shelley's body through her back and on her shoulder.
"Thanks for coming baby girl. I don't…." Aria interrupts him. "Always got your six, Baby Boy." Shelley reaches behind him to touch Aria's hand. Once he has her hand within his own, Shelley stands up and turns in a way to pull Aria to her feet. As they turn around they see Mack, Vance and Eliot standing just above them. Aria smiles walking up to them with Shelley. Vance and Mack offer their arms as they approach. Aria walks up in between them. Both close their arms around her back. "Come on baby girl… How often do we get band back together…. There is mayhem to be had." Vance adds with a smile down at Aria.
They stop for a moment on Aria's prompting… "Looks like I'm going to have to go and get the rest of the lollipop guild to deal with you freaking sequoias." They laugh noticing that Aria is about a foot shorter than both Vance and Mack. Sophie, Nate, Hardison and Parker are watching the 5 of them walk up from the shoreline together.
"What does that remind you of…?" Sophie notices something as the group approaches the villa. Parker responds with. "I see us. This was Eliot's us before we were us." Sophie smiles at Parker for her accurate summation. Sophie leans against Nate as Hardison pulls Parker towards him. This is a side of Eliot that they have never seen. They are witnessing a glimpse of the Eliot before Eliot the mercenary, before Damian before the journey to the dark side and back.
They turn and walk inside to find a number of men standing in the middle of the room. "This is certainly not a favorable development." Sophie whispers to Nate. A moment later, Eliot and the others follow suit and walk in from the balcony. Vance recognizes them as agents from Interpol. Two of the agents immediately close in on Aria. Eliot goes to make a move but Vance stops him. "Don't." His tone is authoritative enough to halt Eliot in his tracks.
"You know the drill, Quinn." The first agent motions towards Aria. She changes her stance, spreading her arms to the sides and spreading her legs. They start to take the weapons off of Aria, one by one. There is an almost comical number of weapons retrieved from her person. Finally, the operative pulls a Swiss army knife and duct tape from the last pocket. "Seriously?" The operatives look on as Aria just shrugs with a smile. Eliot smiles since he is the reason that she carries the Swiss army knife. She makes eye contact with Vance and Mack. "Get them home. Don't wait up for me."
"Lace them." Aria responds by lacing her fingers on top of her head. Sophie whispers to Nate. "What is going on?" Nate continues to survey for a moment. "Looks like someone wants to talk to Aria,… right now."
"It's not that I don't trust you but… I've known you longer than 10 seconds." The man takes Aria's hands and puts them in hand cuffs. Double handcuffs.
"Let's go." The small army of men take Aria from the room. Aria looks back at Mack with a wink as they exit.
"Who was that?" Vance goes to fill his drink as Sophie asks the question. "That was Interpol." Eliot answers for him.
"What does Interpol want with Aria?" Sophie approaches Vance. "Sophie, Aria just ran an op that violated about 25 international laws." Vance takes a drink. To lighten the mood, Mack starts to tell Vance the story of Aria getting permission for the retrieval. "Well Col, you will appreciate this, when our girl was tapped for this… the Secretary of Defense tells her to make sure she doesn't do anything stupid. Aria does not even miss a beat… (mocking Aria's voice) Mr. Secretary, Sir, I do things that are immoral, illegal even incorrigible… but never stupid. Guess baby girl knows how to pull a play from your handbook…" Vance laughs that the thought of Aria standing up to the Secretary of Defense.
Sophie surveys him and knows he is lying about something since the majority of the people in the room are wanted by Interpol yet they grab the CIA agent.
Shelley follows Vance and gets a drink. "You know what was weird." He pours the drink and turns around. "Aria never fired a shot. All those guns with silencers and she never fired a single shot." A flash of alarm crosses Eliot's face. "Our sniper used knives?" Eliot looks at Mack with concern wrapping around his features. Mack nods. Mack had figured it out from the way Aria had looked when she got into the truck. The patterns on her clothes were not from gunfire.
"Well that explains the water. She was destroying the evidence." Sophie interjects. "She is getting damn good at this spy crap." Eliot looks at Mack. "You know if she used knives…" Mack responds to Eliot's look.
"If Aria used knives over guns." Eliot is now very concerned as Mack offers into the conversation. "They weren't after you, you were the means to an end" Eliot offers in as Mack rubs his forehead with a troubled look on his face. Shelley realizes along with Vance that they weren't the actual target. "Someone was calling Aria out. They are after Aria and Aria knows who this is."
Inside the room that held Vance and Shelley:
Grimaldi (Moriarty) is standing in the room where Vance and Shelley were held. He leans over and notices the card placed on the downed guard. Moriarty says aloud as he picks up the Azrael card from the guard. "Well played Azrael, well played."
"Cut her loose." Aria has already undone the handcuffs and simply hands them to the operative. Sterling rolls his eyes at Aria. "Well that was a bit dramatic my dear James." She gets comfortable in the seat next to him. "Why are you soaking wet… oh wait never mind I do not want to know the answer to that…. So is it…?" Aria nods and answers before Sterling can finish. "We are gonna need a bigger boat."