Walt Gunter stood at a window of his two-story apartment watching the morning sun as it climbed out of the depths of the Potomac River. He studied the ripples made by the river currents, and marveled at the rising sun as it washed the river with its orange radiance.
His breath formed a tiny circle of moisture on the cold windowpane. He pondered at the spot as it quickly faded into nothingness and thought how his career had evaporated much like that puff of moisture. Why had everything turned out the way it had, he asked himself? If he could only go back and change some minor things he knew his life would have been a lot different.
It was almost a lifetime ago when he had graduated from Georgetown University. Memories of how hard he had worked to graduate at the top of his class drifted among his thoughts. After he graduated, he did what he had always wanted to do. He immediately applied to the FBI Special Agent training school at Quantico, Virginia. Walt smiled as he remembered those days. Things were simpler and simple things, the common little things, meant something. There was God and Country; the bad guys and the good guys. Everything was either black or white—no shades of gray. Remorsefully, he thought of how rapidly the passion of his youth had died. Some said that it was his ambition and cunningness that had pushed him up the bureaucratic ranks of the FBI so quickly. Most of his years with the Bureau had been spent working in foreign counterintelligence operations. Inspecting security procedures at defense contractor's sites had given him a wealth of knowledge into the surreptitious domain of industrial espionage.
The cat and mouse games he had played with adversarial spies always seemed surrealistic. It never was as simple as the good guys against the bad guys. Rules? There were none. If you had to cross the line of right and wrong to win, so what? The only thing that mattered was staying alive and winning.
It was still hard to accept that after fifteen years of service, the Bureau fired him for assault and battery to a foreign diplomat. The memories were bitter and still stung every time he thought of the incident.
He shook his head when he recalled how it had started as just a routine operation. The incident started when a courier tried to transfer stolen research documents to the top ranking intelligence officer of the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. The documents were advance research papers stolen from IBM's biochip project in Falls Church, Virginia. His counterintelligence team had the courier under surveillance from the moment the Russian site operative had the documents. The courier handed the small valise of documents to the Russian intelligence officer at Dulles airport. The operation did not go as his FBI superiors had planned. Somehow, the Russian had gotten through the crowded airport and into his waiting limo. He remembers that his sole concern had been the retrieval of those documents. He knew they must...