This is my first fanfic ... in fact, this is my first story writing of any kind. So, please be kind.

Thank you pinaycana and NCISLAlover24 for your encouragement to actually do this.




The Game's Afoot

The room at the Armani Hotel Dubai, in the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, was the epitome of warm Italian-style hospitality. Zebrawood panels reflected the morning light as the sun began to slowly rise in the east, casting a warm glow to the interior of the lavish suite as its lone occupant reclined in one of the plush leather chairs that faced the large windows that spanned the entire length of one wall.

The man was enjoying his second cup of morning coffee, a simple native blend with cream and probably a little too much sugar, that was always a part of his regular routine. He always enjoyed watching the sunrise, no matter what part of the world he was in. The view from the Burj Khalifa was simply breath-taking, with the colors of the brilliant sky and the expanse of the city that appeared laid out at his feet. He had moved the chair over to the windows for that particular effect and his bare toes almost touched the edge of the glass panes.

Despite his opulent surroundings, the room's sole occupant couldn't help feel a little out-of-place. He enjoyed the lavish comforts of the very expensive suite but he would have been just as content in a hostel in Costa Rica. He wasn't at one of the most expensive hotels in the world just because he could afford to, although he could. It was purely business and in his business and with the people he dealt with, money conveyed power and power kept you at the top of the food chain. Staying at the top of that chain was essential to his line of work, it kept you in demand and, probably more importantly, it kept you alive. An international hit-man always had to be at the top of his game, and he was. Always.

Taking another sip from his coffee, he laid his head back onto the back of the chair, enjoying the early morning stillness that he knew wouldn't last long. His last mission had gone off without a hitch and he was wondering where he would be heading next. He knew it wouldn't be long before he was sent on another operation; someone with his skills was never out of work for long periods of time. As he relaxed back into the cushions, he wondered where he would be going next. Somewhere a little more exotic would be nice. Maybe Tahiti…or Bermuda …Hawaii! Now that would be sweet. Maybe I could squeeze in a little surfing if there's a good beach nearby.

Realizing that the morning light was getting a little brighter, the man placed his coffee cup on the marble table beside his chair and slowly stood. He placed the .40 caliber pistol that had rested on his lap into one of the pockets of the soft bath-robe that clung to his muscled body. He stood up on his tiptoes and stretched every muscle he could, feeling a little euphoric at the power he felt in his body. Even though he was approaching middle-age, he could pass for someone a few years younger. His body did however bare the marks of someone in a very dangerous occupation. Several scares marked his chiseled body, some from blades, others from the bullets that had found their mark. But he had survived, due to either fast responding medical staff or by his own skill at repairing the wounds. He had broken more than a few bones too and some of those acted up when he had to work in extreme cold weather. His room though, was at the perfect temperature and for a few moments felt like he was on top of the world.

The tall man leaned forward until his forehead pressed against the glass. He looked down to the city below him and saw all the activity going on. He could see all the vehicles moving up and down the streets and even people as they walked to and fro. He put his hands in the robe's pockets and just rested there, looking down at the world.

A small buzzing interrupted his observations and he turned toward the sound. He knew it was his ipad, and it was signaling an incoming message. He walked over to the table where it was sitting, picked it up and quickly opened his message page. A frown formed when he saw it was an encrypted file, and that meant only one thing: another assignment. Crap…I was really enjoying this "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" gig…I'll probably end up in some back-water sludge pit next. Thought the man as he entered his decryption key and the file began to download.

The first page was the usual: Full payment would be made upon completion, blah, blah, blah. Target must be eliminated with proof of death, blah, blah, blah; all the normal information that needed for him either to confirm or deny the job. At the bottom of the first page was an icon that required an 'accept' or 'decline' response. The man touched the 'accept' with his finger and the page rolled over into the more detailed information about the operation and most importantly, the target. He scrolled through the page taking mental note of some of the outstanding aspects of the target: female … federal agent … former C.I.A. (now that's interesting, he thought) … speaks multiple languages … skilled in hand-to-hand … proficient marksman … considered dangerous … (well, at least it won't be boring).

He flipped to the next section of the data, deciding to study to rest of the information in-depth later on. The next section had more detail: city and state target was now located in, home addresses (wow, she's got several), and at the bottom of that page, there were several photos of the target. He selected one of the better photographs and then enlarged it.

In the photo, a rather small, petite woman with horn-rimmed glasses was seen. She had straight short cut brown hair that had a sprinkling of grey and she was wearing a very expensive business suit. She had a determined and serious look on her face as if her mind was constantly racing and searching for the answers to questions that may not have been asked yet.

A smile began to grow on the man's face that went all the way to his eyes as he took in the diminutive woman's picture. His target. The woman he had just been hired to kill.

He laid the ipad down on the table and picked up the phone sitting on the table. Slipping back into his cover of French banker Jacque Sennett, he pressed the zero and a pleasing female voice answered "Front desk, how may I help you?"

The man responded in perfect French, "Yes, this is room 424, I will be checking out today. Could you please send someone for my bags in say, one hour?"

"Yes, monsieur Sennett, I will make the arrangements myself," the courteous female responded. "I hope that you enjoyed your stay with us and will call on us again."

"Yes, I did and thank you very much for your gracious hospitality," and with that he disconnected the call, placing the phone back on its cradle. He glanced down at the photograph on the ipad, smiled once more before turning toward the suite's rather large bathroom.

"And the game's afoot", he said aloud to no one in particular as he headed across the room, grabbing his suitcase and tossing it on the bed before heading into the shower.

The ipad rested on the table, still open to the picture of the man's target. Down below the photograph, in official block letters was the woman's title, followed by her name:

Operations Manager, Naval Criminal Investigation Service, Los Angeles Division;

Office of Special Projects;

and her name … Lange, Henrietta M.





Reviews will let me know how you feel about the start of the story and if you want more. Semper Fi.