Day 1, 1643HRS
Somewhere in Virginia

Blip blip. My computer interrupted my meditative exercises to announce the arrival of a fresh email. As a new agent in the field, I didn’t know what to expect when I opened my inbox. The message was from an anonymous party. It contained only one sentence, but it said a lot.



A trace program fails to find the source, but manages to intercept a signature, a code-name of the sender, ‘Obsidian’. Whoever this mysterious Obsidian is, and whatever his motives, he’s got my attention. I am Agent Michael Thorton, master spy.




An unparalleled student of the martial arts.


A ghost capable of evading any detection.

The best spy can do his job with the minimum of incident, without the enemy even knowing he was there. He doesn’t need to kill when he can subdue, through impeccable use of non-lethal tools and takedowns. Obsidian has laid down the challenge, and Michael Thorton accepts. And I’ve found just the perfect playground to test my abilities.


Saudi Arabia. I'm on the next flight to Riyadh.

Day 2, 1809HRS
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The safe house here is packed to the rafters with a sleek assortment of killing implements: incendiary grenades, fragmentation mines, phosphorous rounds and shotguns, machine guns and rifles aplenty, none of which appeal to a real spy. Neither does the heavy, cumbersome tactical armour, laden with magazine pouches and Kevlar plates. Civvies will draw less attention.


My handler tells me the location of my first mission, an airport used by a Jihadist cell. I move after sunset.

Day 2, 2230HRS
Somewhere in the desert

The area is teeming with terrorists, twitchy-fingered and heavily armed menaces to freedom. They might as well not be there, I’ve got a mission to do and I need to see about doing it. I sold all my lethal pistol ammunition back at the base, which leaves me with my silenced tranquilizer gun and the most potent weapons in my arsenal: my bare hands. Oh, and an assault rifle which HQ insisted I take. I mean, honestly.


I make short work of the perimeter guards, and slink my way into the assortment of flat-topped buildings.


Debilitating holds and sub-sonic knockout darts punctuate my progress. I press against cover, wait for the guards to turn away, aim at the next convenient waist-high pile of bricks and launch myself silently to them. Eventually, I get within range to score a critical hit on the tangos with my pistol or render them unconscious with a flurry of hand movements. Inconspicuous noisemakers distract the soldiers, allowing me to slip by unnoticed.


My target is getting close: I’m to plant a bug in the control tower and melt back into the night. Before that, I need to pass a checkpoint, a narrow alley that I can’t avoid. It’s patrolled by three guards, the first of whom I tranquilize from an adjacent elevated walkway.


Sliding down a zip-line noiselessly, I pad between cover points, moving ever closer. There’s one guard walking a circular path near the exit, another providing overwatch from a tower. I move into position in front of the tower and the watching sentry. All I need is a second. A momentary lapse of concentration on his part, a quick glance in another direction, and I’m upon him.


Man, he must have really been knocking back the coffee, ha ha. No matter, I can outwait him.

"..."

"......."

"...........!"

Okay, maybe I can’t outwait him. I’ll need to improvise. Fortunately, I have an uncanny ability to escape detection for two seconds, even when vulnerably in plain sight of my prey. Plenty of time to get off a headshot. I swerve out from behind my cover, and the clock starts. Wait, the sights aren’t closing. He’s out of range. I can’t hit him! Duck back! Did he see me?


JESUS NELLY BELLS


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