Operation Sandstorm -The Inside Story

By rankamateur

Scarecrow and Mrs. King belong to Warner Bros. and Shoot The Moon Enterprises Ltd.

"Double Agent" was written by Robert Bielak

Reference to "The First Time" by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming

What did Amanda do that was so wrong in Operation Sandstorm? I haven't been able to find the details, so--I made some up.


"Amanda," Dotty called to her daughter, "you're missing The Arlene Francis Show."

"OK, be right in," Amanda answered, as she was finishing up some morning instructions to Philip and Jamie who were heading off to school.

After a few minutes of watching the interview with Miss Francis' guest, author and former intelligence agent, Douglas Harriman, it was painfully obvious to Amanda that this was something she didn't *want* to watch and she *certainly* didn't want her mother watching it either.

Mr. Harriman was pushing his latest book, an expose of the intelligence community, particularly the one with which he was most familiar, the most secret of them all - The Agency.

He was droning on about *amateur civilian . . . a Washington suburb . . . everyday housewife . . . mother of two . . . *; who was not only *involved, but was the agent in charge . . . *; of a failed mission called Operation Sandstorm. A fiasco which, according to him, could have started WWIII, a large dose of hyperbole, in Amanda's opinion.

'It wasn't *that* serious. Boy, this guy will go to any lengths to sell his book!'

Nevertheless, she cringed as she thought back to that fateful morning a few months ago. It had started out innocently enough, with a telephone call . . . .


"Amanda," Dotty hollered, "you're wanted on the . . . "

"I'm right here, Mother."

"Oh, sorry, I didn't see you come in. I think it's a Miss Drummond from IFF."

Amanda took the phone from her mother's hand, "OK, thanks Mother. Hello."

"Amanda, Francine. Can you come in this morning? Billy wants to talk to you." There was an edge of annoyance in her voice.

"Sure, I can be there in, say half an hour."

"Fine. I'll tell him. Bye."

"Bye, Miss Drummond."

'It's funny,' she mused. 'Lee and Francine can go to an Embassy party and mix with high society and know just what to do and say . . . and they are two of the *rudest* people I've ever met in my life!'


Amanda tapped on the door to Billy's office. He looked up and motioned for her to come in.

"Good morning Amanda. I've got an assignment for you. It's just a delivery here in town. All of our regular couriers are busy."

"Yes sir. Sir, will I be working with Lee?"

"No, he's still away. Everybody's away. It's an awfully busy time around here. All of it is need to know and . . . "

"I don't need to know," she finished for him.

"Right. Anyway, I'd like you to deliver this." He held up a small book. "It contains some micro-dots which are encoded with very vital information on *Operation Sandstorm*. Now, you'll be meeting one of our operatives from the Middle East. He's flying into Dulles today at two o'clock. He'll meet you by that big bookstall in the International Arrivals area. You give him the book and he'll be on the next available flight back to the Mid-East. Here's his picture so you'll know him when you see him. His code name is Viper."

"Gosh, it all sounds very . . . urgent. Is it--dangerous, sir?"

"No, no. All very routine. It's just that we've got to get this to our people over there ASAP. You'll be fine Amanda. Now he'll be carrying one of the popular magazines. There are a couple of actor's pictures on the cover. I think her name is Kay Jackson and his name is Bruce Box . . . Box . . . something. Do you know who I mean?"

"Yes sir," Amanda smiled at Billy's lack of familiarity with the stars of hit TV shows. "I'm pretty sure I know who you mean."

"Good. Anyway, you will say to him *It's so crowded in here, you'd think they were giving the flights away for free* and he will answer *Well, I certainly had to pay for my ticket*. Then you hand him the book and that's it."

"All right. I'll be waiting for him--for Mr. Viper. I'll be at Dulles by one thirty, just in case."

"Very good, Amanda. Report back here to me after you've completed your mission."

'Wow--My Mission,' she thought. "Yes sir!"

As soon as Amanda went out the door, Billy almost changed his mind and called her back. Instead, he sat at his desk and sighed. He really *didn't* have anyone else, except for himself and he couldn't just leave the office. Besides, he trusted her and her instincts . . . But . . . but, this book with all the details of Operation Sandstorm - what America's response would be to any Russian military action in the Mid-East, the consideration being given to a pre-emptive strike . . . . This was something the KGB would give an arm and a leg to get their hands on and if they did get their hands on that information--well who knew what the consequences might be. And he had just given *all* that to Amanda King--a rookie--a civilian--a housewife! 'Oh boy!'

He reached in the drawer for the bottle of Tums and dumped out a whole handful. He popped all of them into his mouth and began to chew vigorously.


Fadi Bashar AKA *The Viper*, one of The Agency's top men in that part of the world designated as Sector Five, walked down the jetway towards the International Arrivals area. He didn't know who would be meeting him. He had been given a ticket and a magazine and told what the recognition sequence was. His contact would be waiting near *The Travelers One Stop And Shop Shoppe*. They would know him from his Agency ID photo, although he had to admit he'd put on a few pounds since that picture was taken, and they would approach him. After sailing through customs, he walked towards the large and very popular bookstall, which seemed to sell a little bit of everything. He noticed a very attractive brunette standing there, scanning the throng of travelers as though she was looking for someone. He also noticed that she had a small book tucked under her arm. If this was his contact, it could be a pleasant, albeit brief, encounter. He stopped and smiled at her. After just a moment, she smiled back and took the book from under her arm. He could just make out the title "Famous Floods of the Far East"--that was the book he had been sent to pick up.

"It's so crowded in here, you'd think they were giving the flights away for free," she said softly.

Just as Fadi opened his mouth to give the counter phrase--he spotted them. Two KGB agents. He had run into them on several missions and now here they were in Washington DC. He hadn't known that they had been promoted.

Amanda started to extend the hand in which she held the book when Fadi glared at her and said "Well, I sure as hell had to pay for MY ticket!" And with that he turned and walked away as rapidly as the crowd would permit. After a few minutes he took a quick look over his shoulder. Anatoly, one of the KGB men was following him. Apparently the other man was staying with his contact. She probably wouldn't know Sergei and so wouldn't be aware that she was being watched. He had to find some way to warn her.

Amanda stood there with her mouth slightly ajar. She was so sure that the dark-haired man who had just walked away from her after giving her that sarcastic response, which was not the *proper* response, was in fact her contact--the man who was supposed to take this vital, secret information from her. Now here she was with the book still in her possession and not a clue as to why the Viper had given her the cold shoulder.

'He must have seen something or, more likely, someone that made him act that way,' she thought. 'He couldn't take the book from me without being seen by . . . the KGB? Oh, great. Now a KGB agent may know what I look like and I have no idea what he or she or they look like. I should have told Francine I was busy today. Oh my gosh!'

Amanda's mind was in a whirl of confusing thoughts. 'OK,' she said to herself, sternly, 'calm down, relax and try and think this through. What would Lee do in a situation like this?'

Lee *had* been in a situation like this--well, not exactly the same. That was a railroad station and she was an intermediary between Lee and a contact he couldn't reach - not one who refused to cooperate. Even though she didn't get the package to the man in the red hat, things had worked out. Now, just whom could she give *her* package to? She couldn't simply hand it to some total stranger.

'Maybe to an airport security guard?' She looked around. There weren't any in sight.

'What about one of those little storage lockers - the kind you see in bus terminals?' There were none of those either.

'Oh boy, I've got to keep this book from falling into the wrong hands and I don't even know who the hands belong to!'

She looked at the faces around her. 'Nope, nobody is wearing a badge sayin'--Hi! I'm your friendly KGB agent. Great!'

Then she noticed off in a far corner of the terminal--Lost And Found. 'Aha.'

Stepping to the counter of the bookstall, she picked up a magazine. Fumbling in her purse for a moment, she came up with a few dollars, a piece of scratch paper and a pen.

"Will that be all?" the harried clerk asked.

"Yes," Amanda responded.

"Did you want that in a bag?"


"There you go."

"Thanks a lot."

After scribbling *A. King *--and her phone number on the piece of paper, she stuck it in the magazine and put the book in the bag. 'I can turn in this bag, ask for some sort of receipt and then call Mr. Melrose for instructions.'

Satisfied with her plan she started walking towards the Lost and Found desk. She was unaware of the several pairs of eyes, which had been watching her the entire time.


Lee had been standing in line for a good half an hour. 'Funny,' he thought, 'Customs is always more interested in it's own nationals than in what a foreign tourist--or terrorist--might bring into the country. Damn!'

He almost wished he could use his Agency ID and cut through the red tape but he knew he couldn't. He'd just have to stick with his IFF cover and wait in line like everybody else. He was back in DC much earlier than he or Billy had expected. The case in London had been wrapped up in short order. Working with his old friend Emily Farnsworth had made the whole operation quick and painless--bad guys identified, caught and now safely in custody. He wondered briefly what Amanda might be doing. Maybe he'd swing by her house tonight and . . . and . . . well, fill her in on the case. No need for secrecy anymore. Yeah, that's what he'd do.


Having finally finished with US Customs, Lee was walking through the terminal, garment bag flung over one shoulder, suitcase in hand, when he spotted a familiar face. 'What's Amanda doing here?' He stopped and began to look around a little more carefully. Suddenly the place seemed *filled* with familiar faces. There was Sergei Zorensky standing about twenty feet behind where Amanda was standing. Continuing to scrutinize his surroundings he saw towards the back of the large room, near the far wall, two more faces he knew: The Viper, 'what is his name? Fadi something--and what the hell is he doing in DC?'

And Anatoly Sabinski, standing not ten feet from the Viper.

Zorensky and Sabinski Lee always thought they sounded like two comics in a Russian vaudeville act--except there was nothing funny about them. They were dangerous and mean!

Sabinski seemed to be edging closer to the Viper's position and Lee couldn't tell if Fadi was aware of the KGB operative's movement.

Zorensky was moving towards Amanda, closing the gap between them, as she headed for Lost and Found.

Lee could help only one of them. Which one? Fadi was a professional, highly trained agent with years of experience. His great value to The Agency was unquestioned. Then there was Amanda. A civilian, part-time help, in whom The Agency had invested next to nothing in the way of training and her only experience had come from working with Lee; 'Mostly getting in the way.'

It was no contest. He went straight for Amanda.


Amanda *sensed* a presence behind her before she actually felt a hand on her arm.

"Just keep walking. We are going to head for the exit," a man's voice said.

She didn't recognize the voice but realized that it had an accent--probably European--probably eastern European--probably Russian. She tried to get a look at the man but was able to get only a glimpse of graying, short-cropped hair, wire rimmed glasses and a mean mouth. He deliberately poked her in the ribs with an object that he held in his right hand, concealed under his suit jacket. She was reasonably sure it was a gun.

Amanda swallowed hard. "What do you want?'

"I am sure that you know precisely what I want."

"No, I don't. Really."

"Very well, we will play your little game - I want the book."

"The book?"

"Yes, the *book*. The one you were just about to hand over to The Viper. Where is it?"

"Look, sir, I don't have *the book*. I don't have *any* book," she said, apprehension clearly evident in her voice. "Here, check my purse."

"The book it not in your purse, it's in the bag."

"What bag?"

"The bag you are holding in your left hand! Now stop playing these silly games. Give me the book--the bag--or I will shoot you right here!"

"I thought you wanted me to head for the exit."

"Yes, I do."

"So you can shoot me in the parking lot?"

"Yes - NO! Keep moving."


During this exchange between Amanda and Sergei, Lee had been moving steadily closer to Zorensky. He was trying to decide on the best method of attack --the one least likely to get Amanda hurt.


Meanwhile, The Viper became aware of Sabinski stealthily, slowly, moving in his direction. He was glad it was Anatoly who had come after him. They were about the same size and age and were out of shape to about the same degree. It would be a fair match. As soon as Anatoly was within striking distance, Fadi struck first. A quick kick to the mid-section and the Russian was on the floor, writhing in pain. Fadi leaned over and grabbed Anatoly by the lapel of his inexpensive Yugoslavian-made suit, and smashed his fist into Sabinski's face. Lights out. He then removed the gun from his fallen opponent's holster and the switchblade from the sleeve of his jacket.

A few passers-by watched the brief skirmish and then turned away. It seemed nobody wanted to get involved. They weren't about to waste their time being a witness and giving a statement to the authorities. Let the authorities take care of it. Where was Airport Security when you needed them?

Fadi then turned his attention to where he had last seen his contact. He hoped he would get the chance to find out her name. After a moment, he spotted her and - 'Oh no!'

Zorensky had her by the arm and was steering her towards the front door of the terminal. There was someone else very close to them. Fadi could just make out enough of the man's features to recognize . . .

'Scarecrow. Good. Stetson's in the right place at the right time and not for the first time! He may need a diversion. I've got to get around in front of Zorensky.'

With that thought, he began to move through the crowd as rapidly as he could, bumping, pushing, shoving, excusing himself, as he made his way at almost a dog-trot towards the doors.


"Look, sir, I'm just a civilian auxiliary, part-time. I'm really a housewife with two little boys . . . ," Amanda's voice trailed off. She didn't really think this hardened KGB agent would care about her or her sons, but she thought she had to try.

"Give me that bag," Sergei snarled, reaching around Amanda and grabbing it.

At that point Amanda did the only thing she could think of--'Boy, I'm glad I wore jeans today.'--she pretended to faint.

Sergei had a firm grip on Amanda's arm. All of a sudden he felt her go limp. He could do nothing except allow her dead weight to slip to the floor. He looked around. Nobody seemed to notice what had just happened--except for one person. The Viper was standing not five feet from him, smiling. Sergei moved his jacket aside just enough for Fadi to see the pistol pointed at the woman. Fadi opened his hands, demonstrating that they were empty and then folded his arms across his chest. He had no intention of provoking Sergei into harming the lovely brunette who lay there, unmoving.

Sergei rose, clutching the bag with the book in his left hand, while his right hand, holding the gun, remained partially obscured by his jacket. As he started to step away from her, Amanda suddenly rolled onto her side and reaching out, grabbed Sergei's ankle, yanking back with all her strength. At the same moment, she heard a familiar, very welcome voice call out . . .

"Amanda, stay put."

It was Lee. As Sergei lost his balance and started to pitch forward, Lee dove onto him, knocking the gun out of his hand and pinning him to the floor. Roughly pulling the Russian's arm up behind his back, Lee called out to Fadi, "Don't just stand there. Help me get the cuffs on this guy!"

Fadi Stepped forward to assist Lee in securing the downed KGB operative.

Lee moved quickly to where Amanda was just getting to her feet. He took her hands and pulled her up, almost into his arms. Then, remembering where they were, he simply held her hands. "Are you all right?"

"Yes . . . I'm . . . I'm OK . . . I'm fine, really." She smiled and looked down at their joined hands.

Lee immediately dropped her hands and took a step back. "What's this all about, Amanda? Why are you here with the Viper?"

Amanda leaned down and retrieved the bag from where it lay beside Sergei. Taking out the book, she looked at Fadi. "Do we have to go through the whole recognition sequence again?"

"No." Fadi laughed. "Amanda--is it? I think we have already established our bona fides."

Lee looked from one to the other. "OK, what *is* going on?"

Fadi held up the book. "Well, I'm here to pick up a little light reading and take it home." He pointed first to the book and then to Sergei and mouthed the word *Sandstorm*.

Lee nodded. He didn't know the details but he did know that Sandstorm was big - very big. 'And Billy gave it to Amanda to deliver?'

He would have to have a word with his Section Chief. Several choice words, in fact!

Amanda put the book back in the bag and handed it to Fadi. "You might as well take the magazine too. You seemed to have misplaced the one you were carrying."

"Thank you."

Just then several Airport Security personnel ran up to them. Lee pulled out his Agency ID and showed it to the officer who seemed to be in charge.

"All right, Mr. Stetson. What can we do to help?"

"Well, ah . . . Sergeant Morton," Lee said, reading the man's nametag, "could you keep this guy on ice for a while? I'll send an Agency car to pick him up later this afternoon."

"Sure, we've got a place to keep him secure." The sergeant motioned to his subordinates to pick up Sergei from the floor and take him away. He said to Fadi, who had been standing with his foot resting casually on Sergei's back, "Sir, could you move off the subject?"

"Sure," Fadi said, grinning. Checking his watch and looking at Amanda, he continued, "well, I've got just enough time to make my flight back. Amanda, I hope to see you again, under less, ahh, stressful conditions." Reaching for her hand, he raised it to his lips and kissed it lightly. "Lee, good to see you again, especially under the circumstances. Thank you for all your help." The two men shook hands.

As his men marched the still stunned Sergei away, the officer asked if there was anything else he could do.

"Yes," Fadi answered. "That man has an accomplice--somewhere. Could you provide me with an escort to my plane?"

"Of course, sir," Morton responded. I'll be happy to escort you myself."

The two men smiled at Lee and Amanda and turned and walked away.

"Amanda, why in the world did Billy send you out here on something this dangerous?"

"He didn't think it would be dangerous. It was just a simple courier assignment--give the book to The Viper and report back to The Agency. It's just that . . . . "

"It's just that a couple of the KGB's worst got in the way, almost got their hands on Operation Sandstorm, almost got you! Let's go. I *really* want to talk to Billy."

"Lee, it's fine, I'm fine, the book is in the right hands and on it's way to the right people. Everything worked out. Please, don't . . . be upset." She looked directly into his eyes and then smiled.

"OK," he said, picking up his luggage. He couldn't help returning her smile. Any more than he could help putting his hand on the small of her back, as they started towards the exit. "Let's go tell Billy that both of our missions were successful."



Marcia kept snatching little glances from her place in the steno pool, at the trio in Mr. Melrose's office. Mrs. King, Mr. Stetson and Mr. Melrose had been in there for the better part of an hour. From the bits and pieces she had been able to overhear, she knew she had to get a copy of this debriefing. She felt sure that nice Mr. Harriman would pay extra for this one.