The Embassy

Gail kept a tight grip on her Glock as she looked out the glass doors of the embassy. Across the compound, gunfire filled the dusty street. The civil war had come to town, as the ambassador had been warning people for weeks.

Protocol said that, as head of security, Gail should evacuate the building if there was a credible bomb threat. Today protocol could go to hell. There was no way she was sending civilian staff out into that.

“I told them it wasn’t safe.” Williamson, the ambassador, had a mad glint in his eye that seemed half despair and half triumph. “People keep getting killed. They should have shut this place down years ago.”

There was no point replying. They both knew that oil would have ensured their presence no matter what.

“I’m getting back to work,” Williamson said. “You look for the bomb.”

Gail lowered the reinforced shutters behind the door, in case the violence spilled into the compound. Then she gathered her security team and set to work.

They roamed up and down the building, using sniffer dogs and electronic sensors to check every room from the bathrooms to the grandly decorated dining hall, looking everywhere short of the ambassador’s own office.


Gail knew her team and her dogs. She knew they were good. If Williamson hadn’t been so convinced of the credibility of the threat, she would have assumed it was fake. But something about the mad look in his eye told her he had good reason to believe.

Fine then. She would have to disturb his work.

Taking one of the dogs, a floppy eared mongrel with the best nose of the pack, she made her way to the top floor and knocked on the ambassador’s door.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said as she led the dog into the office. “I know we normally consider it impossible to sneak anything into here, but under the circumstances-“

A loud bang made her and Williamson rush to the window. Five floors below them, the gates of the compound lay mangled and broken, the ground around them charred by explosives. Armed men were approaching the embassy, guns raised. Others rushed around the building to cover the rear exit.

Now there would definitely be no ground evacuation. She needed to find the bomb fast and mount a defense while the ambassador called in help.

For the first time in her career, Gail truly feared for the safety of the people in her charge.

The dog tugged at its leash, dragging her toward Williamson’s desk. She crouched to look underneath.

A huge block of explosives was strapped to the underside, an antenna protruding from one side.

“Mister Ambassador,” she said, her throat tight with tension. “Did you not see-“

“Of course I did,” Williamson said.

She looked up. He was holding a detonator and grinning madly.

“I’m sorry, Gail,” he said. “I’d hoped to get you all out.”

Out of sight behind the desk, Gail drew her gun.

“What is this?” she asked.

“They won’t listen about how dangerous this place is,” Williamson said. “We keep losing people, and it will only get worse. I have to make them listen. To make them shut this place down before more people die.”

“So you’re going to kill us all?”

“To save others.”

His thumb hovered over the button.

Gail fired. The Glock punched a hole through the desk and then through the ambassador’s wrist. Blood sprayed and the detonator fell to the floor. For a second, Gail held her breath, fearing that it might trigger.

But she was still alive. And so was Williamson, pale and silent with shock as he tried to stem the flow of his own blood.

Gail snatched up the detonator, snapped wires off the back, and then called out for help.

Outside, gunfire cracked against the embassy walls.

She had a defense to mount.