Assassins: Assignment: Jerusalem, Target: Antichrist
did not embrace until they were alone in Mac’s office.
    “There’s someone I want you to meet,” Mac said, calling Annie from her office. She knocked and entered, breaking into a smile.
    “You must be the infamous Abdullah Smith,” she said. “You have a custom mark reserved for Jordanians.”
    Abdullah gave Mac a puzzled look, then stared at Annie’s forehead. “I cannot see mine,” he said. “Is it not like yours?”
    “I’m teasing you,” she said. “Yours merely works better with your coloring.”
    “I see,” he said, as if he really did.
    “Go easy on the American humor,” Mac said.
    “Canadian humor,” Annie said. She spread her arms to hug Abdullah, which seemed to embarrass him. He thrust out his hand, and she shook it. “Welcome to the family,” she said.
    Again Abdullah looked questioningly at Mac.
    “Actually, she’s the newest member of the family,” Mac said. “She’s just welcoming you to this chapter of the Tribulation Force.”
    Abdullah left some of his stuff in his small office behind Mac’s, then two laborers from Operations helped take the rest to his new quarters. As he and Abdullah followed the men, Mac said, “Once you get unpacked you can get your feet wet by plotting our course to Botswana Friday. We’ll leave here at 0800, and they’re an hour earlier, so―”
    “Johannesburg, I assume,” Abdullah said.
    “No, north of there. We’re seeing Mwangati Ngumo in Gaborone on the old border of Botswana and South Af―”
    “Oh, pardon me, Captain, but you must not have been there recently. Only helicopters can get in and out of Gaborone. The airport was destroyed in the great earthquake.”
    “But surely the old military base―”
    “The same,” Abdullah said.
    “Carpathia’s reconstruction program has not reached Botswana?”
    “No, but with the . . . the, pardon me, regional potentate of the United States of Africa residing in Johannesburg in a palace not much smaller than this one, the new airport there is spectacular.”
    Mac thanked the helpers and unlocked Abdullah’s apartment. The Jordanian’s eyes widened as he surveyed the rooms. “All of this for me?” he said.
    “You’ll grow to hate it,” Mac said.
    With the door shut, Abdullah looked at the bare walls and whispered, “Can we talk here?”
    “David assures me we can.”
    “I look forward to meeting him. Oh, Captain, I nearly referred to the African potentate as the king! I must be so careful.”
    “Well, we know he’s one of the kings, but those two wouldn’t have had a clue. I thought Potentate Rehoboth―what’s his first name―?”
    “Right―was going to move his capital more central, like back up to his homeland. Chad, was it?”
    “Sudan. That was what he had said, but apparently he found Johannesburg preferable. He lives in such opulence, you could not believe it.”
    “All the kings do.”
    “What do you make of that, Captain?” Abdullah was whispering. “Has Carpathia bought their cooperation?”
    Mac shrugged and shook his head. “Wasn’t there some sort of controversy between Rehoboth and Ngumo?”
    “Oh, yes! When Ngumo was secretary-general of the U.N., Rehoboth put tremendous pressure on him to get favors for Africa, particularly Sudan. And when Ngumo was replaced by Carpathia, Rehoboth publicly praised the change.”
    “And now he’s his neighbor.”
    “And Rehoboth is his king,” Abdullah said.

    Late Thursday night in Illinois, Rayford finally found himself alone in the kitchen with Leah Rose. She sat at the table with a cup of coffee. He poured himself one.
    “Settling in?” he said.
    She cocked her head. “I never know what you’re implying.”
    He pointed to a chair. “May I?”
    He sat. “What would I be implying?”
    “That I shouldn’t get too comfortable.”
    “We voted you in! It was unanimous. Even the chair voted, and I didn’t have to.”
    “Had it been a tie otherwise, how would the chair have

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