Monday, May 13th, 2024. 08:00 AM - Just Outside Paris, France
There's nothing of any value left in the wreckage of the car after it crashed to a semi-truck. The hostile driving most likely died instantly.
Adam is fiddling with the phone that was lying on the passenger seat, but it's of no use. The bullet that pierced it destroyed whatever was on it.
The DGSI helicopter lands on the site, and Adam is greeted by agent Raymond Duprée. Raymond approaches Adam with a level of respect; he actually knows who Adam is. They've never interacted, but the experienced, blonde-haired agent's position as the head of field ops for DGSI lends itself to a degree of kinship that he feels for Adam. He doesn't know Adam, but knows his story.
"Find anything in the wreck?"
Adam is in a less friendly mood than Raymond, though.
"Damn it, I had this handled. There's nothing here."
Raymond agrees that DGSI probably should have gone along with Adam's plan, but orders are orders.
"I realize that. And the people on top probably should have listened to you."
Raymond extends his hand.
"Raymond Duprée, head of field ops, DGSI."
Adam doesn't shake it. He's far too old to be impressed by agency jargon and titles.
There's an awkward moment until Raymond finally puts away his hand.
"I appreciate what you did here, Black. Since you're involved now, I'm gonna have to ask you to come over to DGSI to give a statement."
The scene has been followed by Tyson Renault, Raymond's partner. Tyson is Raymond's opposite; while Raymond is level-headed and respectful, Tyson is someone who has let his high position in the agency get to his head. He's big, strong, athletic, and arrogant. Adam took a quick glance at him as he stepped out of the helicopter, and found it amusing that someone in his position apparently has time to style his hair.
He's one of those good-looking kids - and probably thinks that an overabundance in muscle mass is what makes him a good field agent.
Tyson doesn't like Adam's disrespectful attitude towards Raymond.
Adam moves back towards his car.
"Sure, but I'll drive there myself."
Raymond wants Adam to take the helicopter with them, instead.
"I'll ask you to come with us, instead."
"I'm not leaving my car here."
Tyson finally steps in and goes to stop Adam.
"I believe he said-"
Tyson grabs Adam by the shoulder, but before he can react, Adam has his arm twisted behind his back, pressing him against the door of his car. He's not in the mood for brash young punk getting in his face.
"You listen to me, kid."
Raymond takes out his gun.
But Adam doesn't react to that in any way, but instead continues to make a point to Tyson.
"I realize you probably consider yourself a hotshot. But if you'd like to continue using your right arm in the future, I'd suggest you never try anything like that again. Do you understand me?"
Adam lets go of Tyson who wants to retaliate, but Raymond calms them both down. It's Tyson's ego that is more bruised than anything.
"Both of you!"
Raymond pulls them apart, and then turns to Tyson.
"Let him drive there by himself."
"You're letting this guy give you orders?"
"Do you have any idea who this is? When he says he'll rip your arm off, he means it. And there's no need for this. He's going to give his statement, let's do it his way. He didn't need to help us, but he did anyway."
Adam understands some French after spending six months in the country, but he doesn't understand everything they're saying to each other. He picks up on enough to let him know that Raymond listened to him.
Adam and Tyson have one more brief staredown. Adam doesn't crack. To him, Tyson is a punk kid. There's nothing Tyson knows that Adam doesn't. Adam could kill him without blinking if he really wanted to. Tyson also thinks he could do that to Adam, but the difference is that he's wrong.
Tyson has too big of an ego to let Adam go without getting the last word - filled with arrogant foolishness.
"I'm letting you off with a warning this time, but if you ever try anything like that again, I swear."
Adam gets inside his car and starts it to head to the DGSI Headquarters.
Madeleine is driving herself and Clara to the UNESCO building to work. Clara has mostly focused on the upcoming day at work, but she's pleased to notice Adam calling her.
Though based on how their last call ended, she's not sure what to expect.
"Heey, Adam. What's up?"
"Hey. Look, I'm not happy with how ended our conversation last time. And I want to apologize."
"There's no need for you to-"
"Yes, there is. And I wanted to tell you something. When you said that you loved me."
Adam gets awkward as it's been such a long time he's had a conversation like this, using words such as that. Clara can feel her heart rate go up slightly as she waits for Adam to say what he has to say.
"You had never said that to me before, and I- I just wanted to say I've started to really care about you, too. My past is - complicated, and I promise you I'll tell you all about it. But you're the best thing that's happened to me in a very long time and don't think for a second that I'm going to throw that away - or that I don't appreciate it. I do."
It hasn't been like Adam to get sensitive like this. But Clara has always seen this side of him, even though Adam himself hasn't actively shown it. She's still taken aback by his words.
"I wasn't expecting you to say that, Adam."
"Well, I'm happy I did. I'm looking forward to seeing you more than anything, okay? Sorry about earlier."
"Apology accepted, mister."
"See you tonight, then."
"See you tonight."
The grin on Clara's face as the call ends tells Madeleine the whole story.
"So, I bet he had some nice things to say, huh?"
"He's the best."
"I don't know, Clara. I still say he's into drug-trafficking or something."
"Oh, stop that."
Élysée Palace (Residence of the President of France)
Since being elected as President for his first term in 2022, President Jean Levesque has made it his purpose to bring the Arab world to the peace negotiations table.
It hasn't been an easy road to get to today.
His right-wing leanings are such that the people who elected him were not expecting him to chase this sort of peace through political means.
He was supposed to end immigration to France, preserving the lifestyle of the original population.
And in his mind, that's what he's doing. He's just not doing it through violence and force, but instead wants to believe in peace.
Many of his former supporters have turned on him, but he has stood his ground.
This makes his political situation much like that of President Abbas'. Both men are also equally determined to make this peace treaty happen.
France's position as a nuclear superpower is something that easily slips off the radar since it's rarely discussed in public forums.
Discussions were taking place for France to join a military intervention in the Middle East in order to neutralize the country of Khamistan, which has shown particular hostility towards Israel - an ally nation to the West.
Presidents Levesque and Abbas, however, surprised everyone with their quest for peace.
Abbas is sincere. How much of Levesque's ambitions are for personal vanity is anyone's guess. He does enjoy the idea of being a history-making President, no doubt of that.
The aforementioned vanity is what has lured him in front of a mirror, admiring the suit his wife Lorraine picked for him.
Jean is not the only one admiring the President seen in the mirror, as Lorraine is also proud of her husband.
"You look presidential, dear."
"I have you to thank."
"I'm so proud of you. You're making history today."
"Let's not count our blessing just yet. We still need to get through the signing."
Lorraine steps in closer to adjust Jean's tie just a little bit.
"But I know you can do it."
"Your faith means everything to me, Lorraine."
The couple embraces each other with a kiss, interrupted by a phone call by Isaac Bernard at DGSI.
Jean takes the call.
"Sir, I'm calling you to confirm that the plane explosion earlier this morning was indeed a deliberate bombing. We don't yet know why. But we have reason to believe further attacks are possible. And they may have something to do with the peace treaty."
"Reason to believe? What kind of reason to believe?"
"An American retired federal agent was contacted by an information broker who had intel on the attack. The two had a past connection, and the broker wanted to contact the American personally, I suppose. I've contacted UNESCO and told them to raise their security levels. No one unauthorized is getting in today."
There's a look of worry in Jean's face. Of course, something like this was always a possibility, but it doesn't make it any less terrifying to see it become a reality.
"Well, good job. Were you able to follow up on the lead?"
"The informant was killed. The American followed the hostile, but he committed suicide before he could lead us anywhere."
"So there really is something going on."
"Yes, sir. It appears so."
"Keep me informed."
"Yes, sir. But there's something I think you should know."
"What is it?"
"The American agent. You may have heard the name. It's Adam Black, sir."
Jean has heard the name. He doesn't know the details, but he knows that the name brings with it a full bag of complicated history.
"Adam Black. Yes, I have heard that name."
"He's out of field work. Pardoned six months ago by President Reynolds due to his role in stopping a weaponized virus in California. I don't know what's brought him to Paris. He's on his way to give us a statement right now. What do you feel is the best way to deal with him?"
Jean is not comfortable with involving someone so politically complicated into the mix of things, but his desires to make his mark in history by having the treaty go down does make him more willing to make exceptions.
"The stories about that man are very polarized and controversial. Keep an eye on him. Keep him on a short leash. But if he can be of help, let him help."
Amal Hassan is driving through the streets with the young boy he left Daivari's hideout with. The boy is wearing an explosive vest. Nervous, but determined.
Amal is contacted by Daivari.
"Amal, it's me."
"Go ahead, Ali."
"Are you in position?"
"Soon. Is everything else on schedule?"
"Yes. The American woman is on her way to UNESCO. After that, we will have the circuit board. What about the boy?"
Amal takes a look at the boy sitting next to him. He is confident that, despite his nervousness, he is ready to do the right thing.
"He will do his part, Ali. No doubt about it. He knows this day is bigger than him. Or you, or me."
Adam, Raymond, and Tyson arrive at the DGSI HQ. Isaac is there to greet them, Adam in particular.
He makes the same mistake as Raymond earlier and extends his hand.
"Isaac Bernard, Director of DGSI."
Adam isn't interested.
"I'm not good with formalities. I'm here to give a statement, and I'm out of here."
"Okay, then. I'll have Diane show you the way to the interrogation room."
Even though Adam has never been to DGSI, all of these agencies look, feel, and smell the same. He gets a rush of nostalgia, but it's the type of nostalgia that makes him sick.
Jargon everywhere. Protocol this, situation that.
He really just wants to get out of there.
At least that's how he feels. He does his best to suppress the fact that underneath the nostalgia that is making him sick, exists a nostalgia that makes him feel like home.
Ironically, that may be the thing that actually is making him sick. He doesn't have the time, nor the desire, to analyze it through.
Diane leads the way, and Adam enters the interrogation room. He waits for a while until Isaac joins him. He wasn't expecting it to be Isaac himself that he'd give the statement to, but he's fine one way or the other.
"So. Mr. Black. Something of a legendary figure, I suppose."
"Legends rarely mean anything, Mr. Bernard. Anyone can make one up."
"Fair enough, I guess. You told us earlier that you were contacted by a Louis Dubois with information about the plane explosion that took place a few hours ago. Why don't you run through the details for me."
"Dubois came to me, stating that he knew something he wasn't supposed to know. He's an old acquaintance. We were in contact when I first got to Paris. He was a rat, but his intel was always good. He told me something big was going to go down at 10 AM tonight. He wanted safe passage to DGSI HQ because he feared for his life. Turns out, those fears were realized as we were ambushed, and later he was killed by the hostile, a Middle Eastern man, that I was pursuing - until your men got involved and ruined it."
Isaac registers the slight jab at him.
"I realize it may not have been the best way to go about things, but I urge to look at things from our perspective-"
"I'm not here to debate protocol with you. I'm saying if you want my advice, take heed of what Dubois told me. Something's going to happen at 10 AM. And if you want my opinion, I say it has to do with the peace treaty."
"The security level has already been raised to maximum at UNESCO. No one's getting in without proper authorization."
"Well, I hope you're right."
Mia and one of the terrorists arrive at the UNESCO building. Before Mia leaves, they go through some stuff one last time.
"Remember to stick to the plan. Don't do anything before 10 AM. I will deliver the circuit board to Ali. He needs time to calibrate it. He'll have it ready by 10, and you'll make your move."
Mia oozes with confidence, she knows what to do.
"Hey, I'm not like most white girls, okay? I can do stuff. I'm good. If you'd just give me a chance, I'd show you just-"
Dismissing her, the terrorist continues.
"And try to avoid people who might see through your disguise."
"I'm gonna keep a low profile, no need to tell me. I don't want anyone to see me dressed like this, I have a reputation to protect."
"Just do your job."
"Sure thing, babe."
Mia steps out of the car to step in line to get inside the building.
There's a crowd of people waiting in line. The security measures are extreme. Armed men everywhere. The lines themselves lead to several booths where people check IDs and other authorizations.
Mia takes a look at the picture of Clara and Madeleine who she's supposed to avoid as they would get suspicious noticing the resemblance between Mia's disguise and their co-worker who called in sick.
Mia doesn't see either one of them.
Clara and Madeleine are also standing in a line of their own. Clara does catch a glimpse of Mia and gets puzzled.
"Is that Iris?"
Madeleine has a look. They're too far away to really tell.
"Sure kind of looks like her. I don't know who else would dress like that, honestly. But didn't she call in sick?"
"Yeah, she did. How weird. I mean, it may not be her at all, but it sure does look like her. Maybe I'll give her a call."
Clara dials Iris' number, but gets no answer as the phone rings in Iris' apartment, next to Iris' dead body.
"Well, she's not picking up. I guess she's sleeping if she's sick. Hmh, I'll still have a closer look once we get inside."
Adam is done with his statement, and Isaac has what he needs. Adam almost makes it out of the building before his ears catch something.
Diane calls attention to a sighting of Amal Hassan, through one of the traffic cameras.
"We have a sighting on Amal Hassan!"
Adam recognizes the name. Instinctively, he walks to Diane to have a look at her computer screen.
Isaac notices this and wants to know more.
"Does that mean something to you, Adam?"
Adam stares at the laptop screen.
"Yeah. Amal Hassan. He's been on several watch lists for years."
Isaac was already of this, of course.
"Yeah, we looked it up."
"No, you don't understand. This man is one of the most dangerous men in the world. He wouldn't risk exposing himself in Paris of all places for anything else than something big. Whatever is taking place here today, it's huge."
Isaac calls for Raymond.
"Ray! I need a team to pick up Hassan."
"No, that's not the right play! Listen, Amal Hassan can't be broken. I know, I've tried. Interrogating him is only a waste of time. You need to let him lead you to wherever he's going. You already did things your way once. You want my advice? Follow him."
Isaac thinks for a second.
"Do you want to offer your help? I can instate you on a provisional basis."
The question hits Adam like a ton of bricks - straight to the face. It's putting him on the spot. If he gets involved now, it's his decision. It's the result of him saying yes. He can just as easily walk away.
He should walk away.
He's going to walk away.
It's the only thing that makes sense.
This is what he wanted to get away from.
This is what he's battled so hard to get away from. He allowed himself to be sucked back in once, but he can still undo that right here and now.
All he needs to do is just say "No". One word. Two letters.
"Agent Duprée, I'm coming with you. Isaac, give me a comm. Diane, get a satellite feed up."
He just can't help himself.
Adam and Raymond are driving towards Amal's location, as per Diane's instructions according to the satellite feed.
Adam is trying to decipher where they're going.
"Are there any high probability targets around that area?"
Raymond is the native, obviously.
"Well, you said this guy is a big shot. So, with that in mind, not really."
"Dubois talked about diversionary attacks. This could be one of them. Diane, look up any potential targets."
Raymond tries to make some small talk with Adam. It's to get them more comfortable working with each other.
"So, you quit doing field work?"
Adam really isn't one to share his personal life with anyone for no reason.
"Yeah. I quit doing field work."
"Just trying to make some conversation."
"It's okay. How long have you been in the field for?"
"13 years this fall."
"My wife and I are separated. My son lives with her. It's the job. I'm pretty sure you know what I mean."
"Yeah. I do know what you mean."
"So what sucked you back into this? You still miss the rush, huh?"
Raymond may be right, but Adam is telling a different story to himself.
"Someone I'm close to is working at UNESCO today. If this threat has anything to do with the peace treaty, I want to make sure it doesn't happen."
Raymond gets what's going on because he has similar traits, too.
"And you don't trust anyone else to do this, right?"
"Hmh. I guess not."
"I understand. So, how about you? Any family?"
"No. It's the job."
"That's why I'm not doing this anymore. I wanted a life. A real life."
"Is that working out for you?"
Adam thinks of Clara, and really thinks of just how much he actually does care for her, which is a lot. Surprisingly, it really is a lot. It's just taken Adam a while to really realize it.
"I'm getting there."
Diane contacts them both on comm.
"It looks like they're heading towards the Gare du Nord Métro Station. It seems like a high probability target."
Raymond takes a left and begins heading their way. Adam is skeptical.
"Amal Hassan isn't here to blow up a subway. It's not big enough. Diane, is anyone accompanying Hassan?"
"Yes, he's with someone else. A younger male, also Middle Eastern."
Raymond can tell Adam is onto something.
"What are you thinking, Adam?"
"I'm thinking Hassan is being a handler for someone else. Hassan himself wouldn't attack a damn subway. We need to stop the bomber, but we can't let Hassan see us. He's our top priority."
It's finally time for Mia to get her authorization checked. She acts casually and presents the authorities with Iris' press pass.
The guard looks at the press pass and back at Mia, looks at the press pass and back at Mia.
Mia does her best "normal person" impersonation in order to pass for Iris.
The guard runs Iris' data on his computer.
He takes one last look at Mia - and lets her pass.
"Je vous remercie!"
Mia walks into the building and finds a place with some privacy to give Daivari a call.
"Okay, I'm in."
"Good work. You know what to do."
"10 o'clock, baby."
Daivari disconnects the call as the grunt accompanying Mia earlier arrives at the hideout.
He is carrying the circuit board Mia obtained from the plane earlier.
"I have the circuit board."
Daivari takes the circuit board and holds it as if it's the Holy Grail.
"Excellent work. All I need to do now is calibrate this - and Europe will never be the same."
"If the American woman does her job."
"She will. I trust her."
Clara and Madeleine are also let in by the guards, and they enter the UNESCO building.
They still have some time to kill, so Clara is eyeing at the woman she saw earlier that looked like she could be Iris.
The building is so full of people, though, so she can't locate her anywhere.
"Damn, I can't see her."
"Who? Miss My-Taste-in-Clothing-is-as-Bad-as-Iris'?"
"Yeah. I just got curious. Eh, I guess I'll run into her. Maybe."
Clara is in heaven. There's no way she could ask for anything better, or for anything more.
She has the opportunity to cover a historic event like this, which is all she's ever wanted out of her career.
And on top of that, she feels like she's finally found the one in Adam.
Things couldn't possibly be going any better. And there's nothing that could possibly ruin this day for her.
Hôtel Regina Louvre
President Abba's family is getting ready for the peace treaty ceremony.
They have been married for years, but something about this day, in particular, makes Bashar realize just how beautiful his wife truly is.
And she is indeed a rarity.
Bashar places his hands around his wife's face.
"You truly are - quite beautiful."
Shaheena smiles and places her hands on Bashar's.
"And you are the world's most handsome President, Bashar."
"I realize I haven't always been worthy of your love. But I wish to be. And I am so happy that you are here, by my side, sharing this day with me."
Zafeer interrupts the lovers with a set of papers Bashar had asked him to deliver to him.
He also chimes in on what he just heard being talked about.
"I'm sure this day will be one neither of you will ever forget - for as long as you live."
Gare du Nord Métro Station
Adam and Raymond arrive at the subway station just in time to see Amal and his companion walk down the stairs to the station. Adam figures they need a plan.
"There they are. Amal is the handler, the other one is the bomber. We need to split: you keep an eye on Hassan, I'm going after the bomber."
"You got it."
Amal and the boy hug as the tram arrives at the station. The boy steps in, Amal stays outside.
Adam sprints down the stairs towards the tram and gets in.
The tram leaves the station as Adam tries to locate the bomber amongst the passengers.
Before he does so, he's approached by the ticket inspector.
"Votre billet, s'il vous plaît."
Adam whispers in his ear.
"I'm a federal agent, working on behalf of DGSI. There is a bomber on this train. Move along so he won't get suspicious."
The ticket inspector just stares at Adam. It's unclear how much of that he even understood because Adam said it in English.
So, the inspector just repeats himself.
"Votre billet, s'il vous plaît."
Adam pulls the inspector closer, shows him his gun, and makes a hand signal, telling him to move along.
The inspector is scared but moves along.
Adam holsters his weapon and moves towards the other end of the tram, looking for the bomber.
Finally, at the very end, he sees a young boy sitting. Adam can tell that he's the person who was with Amal, but only now he realizes just how young he is.
"Good lord, he's just a boy."
He moves in closer, right next to him, while trying not to look suspicious.
The boy takes something out of his pocket, and Adam recognizes it as a bomb remote.
Adam kicks the remote away from his hand, causing a collective gasp among the other passengers.
To the other passengers, it just looks like Adam is abusing a young kid - perhaps for racist reasons.
A couple of the male passengers then get to his face and grab him. This allows for the boy to crawl back to his remote.
Adam pulls out his gun which causes everybody to take a step back. He has his aim at the boy holding the remote.
Adam notices the nervousness and hesitation in him.
"Put down the remote! Put it down! You don't want to do this!"
The boy is just frozen in place, unsure of what to do. Adam tries to use this to his advantage.
"Please. Put it down. Don't do this. I've seen people willing to go through with this, and you're not one of them."
With tears in his eyes, the boy hits Adam with a comeback.
"Western pigs killed my mom and dad!"
Adam sympathizes. There's no hate in him for this boy. For men like Amal Hassan, there's hate. But not for this boy who can't be older than 18.
"I know what it's like to lose everything to forces beyond your control. Trust me, I do. But this isn't the way to fight that. Not by killing innocent people."
"Nobody is innocent!"
"Put the remote down. You can fix this. You can make a choice, starting now."
The boy is openly crying, conflicted and lost. It looks like he's about to put down the remote.
Adam takes a few steps further towards him.
But just before the boy places the remote to the floor, he stops and slaps the gun away from a for once unsuspecting Adam's hand.
He goes to trigger the bomb, and Adam instinctively uses the tram's handlebars for leverage to kick him through the back window out of the tram.
The boy explodes into a million pieces on the rails.
There's a stunned silence in the tram. The emergency brake is pressed, and Adam jumps out as the tram stops.
He runs on the rails towards the next stop.
Once he gets to the next station, he climbs up and just sits down. Not doing anything. Just sitting down.
Raymond contacts him on his comm.
"Adam, what's the situation?"
Adam struggles to say anything for a while.
"Adam, do you copy?"
"The hostile is dead. The passengers are safe."
"That's good n-"
"I can't do this."
"This job. I can't do this anymore."
Adam has seen a lot of things, and he has done a lot of things. But seeing a young boy blow himself up - after failing to save him, despite trying his best - was something else. Something about that just broke the camel's back.
"Like hell you can't, Adam!"
"No. I mean it. I don't know how to do this anymore. I can't."
Adam disconnects his comm. Covers his face. And cries.
A little nervous about that ending there. I went back and forth. But I really wanted to bring a twist to Adam's character - and the whole story. Despite everything, he's human, and I wanted to toy around with the notion of him possibly not being up to this - or being out of his game.
Also, about the languages.
When non-English-speaking characters talk with each other, they obviously use their native language. When Adam talks to them, they use English. I may include a line here or there in French and whatnot, but I only do it when I'm comfortable and when it's not too distracting. Just to add some color.
I used to be very good at French, but that was probably a good decade ago now.
Thanks for reading!
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