(Note: This is an Annie driven story and we only briefly see Eyal's actions and his inner thoughts when he is away from Annie in foot notes until the end and hopefully a happy ending.)
Early signs of spring overflowing every section of the nation's capital with sights and sounds of exhilaration. Joggers out in the freshness of seasonal revitalization as they run along well-traveled paths, passing under tiny green buds breaking they way out of gray barren tree branches. Yellow flowers of Forsythia and the pinks of Washington's famous cherry blossoms gave off a renewed welcome to the warmer weather. All the wonderful feels of springs went unnoticed by Annie, for her it was just another day to drag herself through. She was in a blue funk and didn't really care to change it. Things in her life were going all wrong and she had no power or desire to turn it around. Forcing a happy face when at work was getting routine like an actor night after night going on stage and instinctively giving a convincing and compelling performance. Annie had become good at her everyday deception.
She and Auggie had tried to make a go of their long running friendship and turn it into something romantic but it was strained. Maybe to soon after Simon or perchance his way of being controlling. It was acceptable in the context of handler/agent but didn't cut it in their personal life. Their final heart to heart conversation was both sympathetic and mature, parting as friends. She was hurt and still feeling miserable about the entire mess, something she should have never allowed to happen. Office gossip also hurt, Auggie has started to date and might have found another. Trying to maintain a friendship and work rapport with Auggie was hard and both were trying even though it had not returned to the level it once was.
Coffee and intel printout in hand, Anne was ready for another dull day at Langley when her desk phone rang. "Annie if you have a minute, I would like to see you in my office." Joan was calling.
"Sure thing Joan, I'm on my way."
"Close the door Annie." Joan was standing in front of her desk with Paul Zimmer, an intel tech sitting near an opened laptop on the edge of Joan's desk. He was an average man in his late twenties, top of his class at MIT and a newly PhD in something technical, Annie couldn't remember and didn't really much care. He was in the intelligence gathering and surveillance division with very little contact with DPD and she barely knew him.
Looking at Annie as she entered the office Paul nodded a greeting, "Hello Annie."
"Paul, been a while - how are you doing"
"Good. Thank you."
"Let us stand over here behind Paul as he fills us in on some raw intel that is beginning to drift in from North Africa." Joan was taking her place to one side of Paul as Annie also joined them.
Entering a few key strokes the laptop screen came to life with images of several men. Paul pointing to one man, "His name is Abdoul-Haziz Yusuf bin Khan Eman a known leader of the Moroccan Islamic Fighting Group or better known by the French name of Groupe Islamiquea splinter group of al-Qaeda and operating out of Casablanca or somewhere near there. The group may be small but highly structured, incredibly successful in their attracts and well funded."
Striking another key Paul change the screen to another man, "This is Melvin Scott a known illegal arms and ammunitions supplier including rocket launches and C4. Scott is based out of Port Elizabeth, South Africa." Pulling up another picture, "This meeting between Eman and Scott took place six days ago in Bern, Switzerland and again they met three days ago in Madrid. We believe Groupe Islamique is planning another terrorist attract but very little else is known."
Joan picking up a folder, "The CIA has an asset now in place in Morocco with eyes on Abdoul-Haziz Eman for the most part and British Intelligence (SIS better known as MI6) has Melvin Scott under surveillance. There is activity going on but we need to know more."
"Okay, you have a plan - right?" Annie being sure she was going to get involved.
"Oh yes indeed." Picking another folder, "You are heading to Morocco to make contact with our asset - code name, Lamorak. Here is your travel package." Handing Annie an envelope. "You cover is a French historical art researcher with the Louvre Museum in Paris and you name is Anna Marie Jaquelin Rousseau. Your cover is simple, you are in Morocco doing research on how the French influence the art work of today's Moroccan culture. Get packed, you leave this afternoon."
"Thanks Joan." Annie looking thru the intel folder, "Not much to go on is there."
"That is why you are on your way to Casablanca. Touch base with Auggie before you leave, he is your handler on this mission. Good luck." Joan with a smirk type smile walking behind her desk and watched Paul and Annie leave her office.
Annie with her head down studying the information knocked Arthur in the arm on her way down the corridor. "Sorry, I'm distracted with my new mission." Annie apologetically smiling at Arthur.
"That's alright Annie, good luck."
Entering Joan's office, Arthur closed the door, "Lunch sweetheart, I have a few hours."
"Sure and FYI, Annie just got the Moroccan mission."
"Does she know who she is contacting?" Arthur holding Joan's coat for her to slip on.
"Only by a code name." Joan answered with a mischievousness smile.
Chuckling, "Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall at that first meeting?"
Stopping by Auggie's office, Annie found him listening to some intel detail on his headset and not realizing Annie had entered.
"Hey Auggie, it's me."
"Annie, you have changed perfumes, wait let me see if I can guess." Auggie pulling off his headset and smiling in the direction of Annie's voice. "You got me on this one. Don't think I've come across this scent before."
"Tom Ford Black Orchid, catering to my mystical side, an air of secrets and mystery." Annie taking a chair near Auggie's desk.
"Works for me." Auggie now bringing up more information on Annie's mission to Morocco, "Once you reach Casablanca check into the Golden Tulip Farah Casablanca hotel using your French cover and wait for our asset to contact you. Leave your English at home, you are a French national and only speak French."
"Do you know anything about the asset?"
"Only by his code name but I hear chatter that he is one of the best in the Mediterranean area. His cover has been highly protected for years." Turning back to his keyboard and typing a few more words, "When he makes contact, you are to ask for directions to Ait-Ben-Haddou and if you receive the directions, it isn't your contact."
"What should his answer be."
"Let me show you Rick's Café Américain. It is from the famous movie 'Casablanca' with Humphrey Bogart." Auggie had finished giving all the information about her mission was ready to return to his intel research on a South American terrorist group. He readjusting his headset was a signal the conversation was over.
Annie looking back at the folder of information or lack of information smiles, "Who ever made that up must be a romantic. Is that it?"
"I have no idea if this will be a walk in the park mission or all hell turned loose but be careful. Depend on your gut feel, it is usually right. Good luck Annie and call me when you touch ground." Auggie reaching his hand out for Annie to take with a friendly squeeze goodbye.
The flight to Casablanca was eight hours long and by the time Annie arrived she was dead tired, wanting nothing more but a hot shower and a comfortable bed. The cab ride from the airport was long and she was sure that the driver had taken the longest route he could find, racking up the dirham on the meter. The hotel Golden Tulip Farah Casablanca was a sparkling modern establishment with a friendly night clerk on the desk, there were no messages waiting for her. It was after two o'clock in the morning Moroccan time and the lobby was empty. Finding her room rather pleasant with a kitchenette and coffee pot with a variety of choices of international coffee blends and Moroccan tea, a favorite.
After taking her shower - Annie mumbling to herself, "This mission is off to a good start and the bed, yeah the bed is so inviting, sweet dreams Annie girl."