A Bai Hsu Mystery, 2
Conspiracy. Cartels. Chaos.
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After the events of Bai Tide, CIA case officer Bai Hsu is safely tucked away at Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Bored and frustrated, he’s starting to doubt he’ll ever return to the field until he’s given a difficult new assignment: Track and investigate the mysterious Ghost Cartel, who may or may not already have hooks in our government.
With secrecy of the utmost importance, Bai accepts the mission even though he knows he’ll be out in the cold. With no official cover, no backup, and no resources, Bai has no choice but to infiltrate a shadowy organization few know anything about.
Tangled in a conspiracy that will pit him against warring cartels in Mexico, this is Bai’s most impossible mission to date. It will test him, make him question himself and the organization he works for, and ultimately rip away everything that’s ever mattered to him.
“What I need is someone on the ground tracing this from A to B, all the way to Z. I want to put you on a freighter bound for Lázaro Cárdenas. The freighter is run by the same company that brought the crate in the picture into the country. I’m hoping there’s another shipment on board. Once you’re in country, shadow that shipment and report back on every set of hands it passes through.”
“Sounds simple enough.”
“It’s not. You’ll be NOC for this assignment, and there will be no official record of the operation. It’s the only way I see this working if there’s a leak on our side of the fence. You’ll communicate with me as often as you can, but the reality of this assignment is that your resources will be limited, maybe even nonexistent. You’ll be undercover as a deck hand on the freighter, with all the luxuries that entails, and tracking that shipment through Mexico is going to be dangerous as hell.” Faro leaned forward, his face grave. “This assignment is going to be difficult, and if it doesn’t go well you’re not coming home. Do you understand the risks?”
I considered my answer for a moment. A NOC (pronounced ‘knock’) mission, or Non-Official Cover for the uninitiated, meant I’d be operating without the official approval of my government. If I was caught, I’d be disavowed by the United States, tortured for information, and then executed. Even if I wasn’t caught, I’d be tracking a cartel-affiliated shipment along cartel-patrolled roads through the middle of Mexico. If I took this assignment, I’d be volunteering for weeks without sleep, quality time with a ship full of bored, unshowered men, and the potential for a messy and very painful death, all for the slight possibility that we might find out more about an organization we weren’t even sure existed.
Faro was right. This was going to be dangerous. It was going to be dangerous, unpleasant, and maybe not even worth it. It should tell you how tired I was of working at Headquarters that I couldn’t wait to get going on it.