End Game (Will Robie #5)

End Game (Will Robie #5)

David Baldacci



As Will Robie stared out the plane window, he knew the next twenty-four hours could possibly be his last ones on earth.

Yet that was simply another day on the job for him.

The undercarriage of multiple reinforced wheels touched down and grabbed the tarmac, and the thrust reversers engaged. The world’s largest commercial airliner taxied to a stop at the gate. The doors, both forward and aft, on the upper and lower cabins opened. The passengers trooped down the Jetways and into Terminal Five at Heathrow Airport.

The English skies were slicked with fat, darkened clouds and the rain was falling. It was weather familiar to any Brit.

Robie, wearing a navy blue two-piece tailored suit and fitted white collared shirt, was among hundreds of passengers deplaning the British Airways jumbo A380 just landed from Washington, DC.

The flight had become a little bumpy midway over the Atlantic. However, Robie hadn’t noticed. With his flat business-class seat, he’d slept pretty much the whole ride.

He cleared Customs, informing the border officer that he was there solely on business of an academic nature. He had carried on his single small bag and thus had no reason afterward to go to Baggage Claim. Everything he would need was already in London. And none of it was anything he could reasonably have carried on a plane.

It was seven thirty a.m. local time when he finally exited the airport.

Robie rode in a multicolored taxi into the city, which, with traffic and the rainy weather, took well over an hour. He was dropped off at an address near Marylebone Road. It wasn’t a hotel, but rather a nondescript private row house near the juncture of Marylebone and Baker Street. Robie punched in a code on the electronic box set next to the front door, and the fortified portal unlocked. He walked in, secured the door behind him, and headed upstairs.

He exchanged his two-piece suit and dress shirt for more casual wear. He popped open a wall safe in the closet and took out the flash drive. His Agency used cloud computing, but the leadership didn’t fully trust that it couldn’t be hacked, since clearly anything could be hacked. He pulled out his laptop and inserted the drive in the USB port. He tapped some keys and up on the screen appeared the only reason he had come to London.

It was a read-only document, and it was not remotely business of an academic nature.

He absorbed the information on the screen. It ended with a note from Robie’s superior, Blue Man. His real name was Roger Walton. The term Blue Man came from his exalted position at their Agency. The note, written more than a week earlier, was brief and to the point, just like Blue Man always was.

You can do this for one simple reason: You’re Will Robie. I’ll see you when we both get back. Onward.

Robie understood that in those few words was a volume’s worth of meaning.

I am Will Robie and I’ve been through hell and back. And I will survive this.


He next performed an NSA-level wipe of the flash drive, tantamount to smashing it flat with a brick then setting it afire. The ones and zeroes were permanently gone, now existing only in his memory.

He stretched out on the bed and stared up at the ceiling.

Mississippi seemed a long time ago.

His father seemed a long time ago.

Everything seemed a long time ago.

He was back in harness and glad for it, because all other elements of his life sucked.

Stop the bullshit. This is your life.

Like the NSA cleanse on the flash drive, he shed these thoughts and closed his eyes. Despite his rest on the plane, he needed sleep. He would not be getting any later tonight.

He rose in the early evening and checked the sky. Still cloudy, but no more rain. Since this was London, that could change at any moment.

He ate at a nearby pub and walked the pavements. His swift gait carried him past many buildings and hundreds of people walking along in what he knew was a blissful ignorance of another possible attack on London. Then again, full knowledge might have started a panic. And they couldn’t have that, could they? Londoners had endured several recent terrorist attacks. Evil driving in cars had smashed into innocent pedestrians on both Westminster and London Bridges. Yet with enviable courage and calm, the town’s citizenry were carrying on with their lives. But something else was up now and it had to be dealt with.

So they had sent Will Robie.

He returned to his row house, made some calls on a secure line that bounced off one particular bird in the sky, and was told that everything was a go for the moment. As with the weather, he knew that could always change.

It was like a false start in the hundred-meter dash. Cocked and locked and fired and then called off. It could be unsettling.

It was a wonder he wasn’t messed up from it.

Well, maybe he was.

Robie sat by the window for two hours, like a sentry on watch, missing nothing. This place was heavily—though discreetly—fortified and monitored 24/7 by eyes on another continent. Still, his stone-cold rule was to rely on himself and no one else. He was the one who would die if everything went to shit. The eyes on the other continent might simply get a memo on how to fix the mess in the future.

A little too late to do him any good.

Darkness had come as the globe spun on its axis, and another part of the world got to see the light.

He checked his phone. The solitary bird in the sky told him that his mission was still a go.

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