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The Mark of the Assassin

The Mark of the Assassin

Titel: The Mark of the Assassin
Autoren: Daniel Silva
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MARK OF THE Assassin
    by
    DANIEL SILVA
    Copyright 1998 by Daniel Silva All rights reserved under International
    and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
    Published in the United States by Villard Books, a division of Random
    House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of
    Canada Limited, Toronto.
    VILLARD BOOKS is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc.
    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Silva, Daniel.
    The mark of the assassin: a novel / by Daniel Silva.
    ISBN 0-679-45563-9 (paper)
    I. Title.
    PR6069.I362M37
    Random House website address: www. random house com
    Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper
    This is a work of fiction. The characters and dialogue are products of
    the author's imagination and do not portray actual persons or events.
    For Esther Newberg, my literary agent and friend.
    And, as always, for my wife, Jamie, who makes everything possible, and
    my children, Lily and Nicholas
    And ye shall know the truth, and the
    truth shall make you free.
    The creed of the Central Intelligence Agency, taken from the Book of
    John
    And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall piss you off.
    The staff version
    THE MARK OF THE Assassin
    The Czech-Austrian Border: August 1968
    THE SEARCHLIGHT PLAYED across the flat open field. They lay in a
    drainage ditch on the Czech side of the border: a man and woman and a
    teenage boy. Others had come this way on previous nights--dissidents,
    reformers, anarchists--hoping to escape the Russians who had invaded
    Czechoslovakia and crushed Alexander Dubcek's experiment with freedom
    already known as the "Prague Spring." A few had made it.
    Most had been arrested; Dubcek himself had been abducted and taken to
    the Soviet Union. According to the bristling rumor mill, some had been
    taken to a nearby potato patch and shot. The three people in the ditch
    were not worried about making it out. They had been ordered to come at
    that time and had been assured their passage to the West would go
    smoothly. They had no reason to doubt what they had been told, for all
    three were officers of the Soviet Committee for State Security, better
    known as the KGB. The man and the woman served in the First Chief
    Directorate of the KGB. Their orders were to infiltrate the dissident
    Czech and Russian communities in the West. The boy was assigned to
    Department V, the assassins.
    THE MAN CRAWLED on his belly to the top of the ditch and peered into the
    night. He put his face down in the cool damp grass as the light passed
    overhead. When darkness returned he rose again and watched. A half-moon
    hung low on the horizon, throwing off just enough light to see it all
    clearly: the guard tower, the silhouette of a border policeman, a second
    policeman walking along the gravel approach to the fence. The man
    checked the luminous dial of his watch. He turned around and whispered
    in Czech, "Stay here. I'll see if they're ready for us."
    He crawled over the top of the ditch and was gone. The woman looked at
    the boy. He was no more than sixteen years old, and she had been
    sleepless with sexual fantasies about him since they had come to
    Czechoslovakia three weeks earlier. He was too pretty for a boy: black
    hair, deep blue eyes, like a Siberian lake. His skin was pale, almost
    white. He had never been operational before tonight, yet he showed no
    signs of fear. He noticed she was looking at him. He stared back at her
    with an animal directness that made her shiver. The man returned five
    minutes later. "Hurry," he said. "Walk quickly and don't say a word."
    He reached down and pulled the woman out of the ditch. He offered a hand
    to the boy, who refused and climbed out himself. The border policeman
    met them at the fence. They walked fifty meters to the spot where the
    gash had been cut in the wire. The guard pulled back the flap, and one
    by one the three KGB agents crossed into Austria. The control officers
    at Moscow Center had written the script for them. They were to proceed
    on foot to the nearest village and find an Austrian police officer. From
    past experience, they knew they would be taken to a detention center for
    other refugees from the East. Inevitably, they would undergo vigorous
    questioning from Austrian security agents to make certain they were not
    spies. Their Czech identities had taken months to manufacture; they were
    airtight. Within weeks, if all went according to plan, they would be
    released into the West and begin

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