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HAVOC

For The Innocent: Book Five



by

Bret H. Lambert



Copyright © 2019 Bret H Lambert

Distributed by Smashwords

All rights reserved. Except as permitted by U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior permission of the author.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, establishments, or organizations, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously to give a sense of authenticity. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Havoc is intended for 18+ older, and for mature audiences only.

Cover Design By Joshua D. Lambert

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Other Titles

FOR THE INNOCENT

VINDICTA

REGINA MARIS

PRAESIDIUM



CONTENTS

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty



ONE

The city of Saarbrüken, with its population of more than one hundred fifty thousand citizens, was located in the Saarbrüken district in the Saarland state of West Germany, near the French border. Although the city itself was only eighty-one-years-old, having merged the towns of Saarbrüken, St. Johann, and Malstatt-Burbach in 1909, the area had been inhabited since the last centuries BC by the Mediomatrici, an ancient Celtic people of Gaul. It was a beautiful country of rolling hills and green fields. Fed from the Vosges Mountains, its mouth at the Moselle, the Saar flowed down and through the city.

The black 1989 Mercedes 420SEL sedan made its way through the early morning fog to the terminal at Flughafen Saarbrüken, a minor international airport. The few people who witnessed the mighty machine purring through the streets saw no one behind the darkly tinted windows, but someone was there. His name was Gaëtan Verhoeven. He was a twenty-eight-year-old Belgian with dark blond hair and hazel eyes. He stood five-feet-eight-inches tall and weighed in at one hundred and sixty-five pounds, shorter and lighter than the average Belgian male. Although Belgian, he did not necessarily stand out in this part of Germany. And being that he spoke fluent German he blended in with the population quite easily.

The sedan rolled to a stop at the front of the terminal. Traffic was light at that time of the morning. A young woman dressed in a crisply pressed gray uniform, a visored cap at a jaunty angle atop a beautiful head, emerged from behind the steering wheel. Her name was Anaïs Verhoeven. She, too, was a twenty-eight-years-old Belgian with dark blonde curls and hazel eyes. She stood just shy five-feet-five-inches tall and weighed in at around one hundred and thirty-five pounds, taller and lighter than the average Belgian female. She scanned the immediate area with alert hazel eyes before opening the rear passenger door.

The man who emerged from the rear of the Mercedes was dressed in a charcoal gray pinstripe three-piece double-breasted suit. He wore stylish black-frame glasses and sleek black leather gloves, and carried a high-end black leather attaché case. He spoke briefly in quiet tones to his chauffeur before walking confidently into the terminal building. He proceeded to the ticket counter where he spoke in perfect High German, with an attractive young woman. Nodding to her response, he put his attaché case down beside the counter and brought out his black leather wallet, from which he removed a number of crisp new Deutschmarks. The young woman did not bat an eye as he counted out the exact amount for his first-class ticket and handed the currency across the counter to her. Even though she had watched him count out the amount, she did the same, and then she handed him his ticket. He gave her an expansive smile, showing perfect white teeth, and bid her good day and left.

As he emerged from the terminal building he noticed that traffic had picked up considerably, and in fact, there were several impatient motorists who were honking rather abusively at his stoic driver. Unperturbed, she opened the rear passenger door for him, and he disappeared inside. Moments later the large black sedan pulled away from the curb and departed the area. Through the rear window, he watched as more and more people were let out at the curb to hurry within the terminal to get their tickets. It was quite a turnout for a Monday morning.

Ten minutes later, at the crowded ticket counter, the shrapnel-filled high-end black leather attaché case exploded, and the resulting blast ripped through the corpus of mortality.

“Havoc,” those inside the Mercedes said in unison, and smiled.

They took the A320 highway across the border into France, to the town of Freyming-Merlebach. It was there that they made their way to the D26 road which took them to Carling. There they parked the Mercedes on the Rue des Peupliers, changed into casual attire, climbed into a faded-blue 1974 Fiat 124 Sport Spider, and disappeared into the southern French countryside.

• • •

The man was of average height, swarthy, with dark hair and eyes. He wore a thick black beard which he kept neatly trimmed. He shaved off the mustache. His dark eyebrows formed a unibrow when he frowned. He was well dressed in sports coat and slacks. Around his neck was a Canon AE-1 single-lens reflex camera which he frequently brought up to photograph his surroundings, and on his shoulder was a large black camera bag. As he strolled through the souq in East Jerusalem’s Old City, enveloped within a forty-feet-high wall complete with ramparts and turrets, he recalled overhearing a tour guide explaining to a group of Western tourists that it had been built in 1538 by the Muslim conqueror, Suleiman the Magnificent. The streets were made of large yellow cobblestones which dated back as far as the fourth century and had been smoothed by centuries of foot and cart traffic.

He made his way through the narrow passageways and shadowy alleys of the ancient marketplace, taking in the scents and sounds that rose up to the roof. He listened, bemused, as the shopkeepers haggled with the clueless tourists over the price of everything from fresh fruits, vegetables, and any variety of spices, to cheap baubles, antiques, gold jewelry, and expensive rugs. In the background, he heard the melodic call to prayer of the Muezzins from nearby Mosques. He paused long enough to enjoy a cup of thick, bitter Arabian coffee before moving on through the throng. He passed two grizzled old Arabs slapping heavy chips on a shesh besh board and arguing agreeably over who won.

He came to a junction. To his left was El Wad Street, and to his right was Khan el-Zeit. Here, centuries before, vendors had crushed locally grown olives to make their olive oils for sale. From here he could walk through the Muslim, Christian, Armenian or Jewish Quarters. He knew that the souq spilled out into those more open-air marketplaces which offered much of the same as the Old City shops, except for the Jewish Quarter. There the shops tended to be more elaborately decorated to draw in the prospective buyer, and the prices were typically fixed. While at the junction he had to make another decision that would affect the lives of others.

He knew that in the Jewish Quarter there were many more Israeli Army patrols keeping the peace than in any of the other three. He glanced back in the direction from which he had come, the enclosed souq in the Old City. There it was shoulder-to-shoulder people moving through the narrow passageways and shadowy alleys. There would be the greater deaths and casualties. And while some of those may be fellow Muslims, he did not see them as being true to the faith, but rather he saw them as apostates. His decision made, he turned back the way he had come.

As he forced his way through the mass he began to feel as though he was not alone. He felt a tingling sensation at the nape of his neck. Suddenly he felt as if he were being watched. He glanced about in a casual manner at the multitude but saw no one in particular. He shrugged off the feeling, attributing it to pre-bombing jitters. He focused on where best to do the deed that would allow him to escape with the panicked masses. Perhaps near the al-Haram ash-Sharif and the Dome of the Rock entrance; it was always busy there, especially at this time of the day.

Baris Özkul patiently shouldered his way among Westerners and Easterners as he made his way to the chosen souq entrance. He was very polite, smiling and apologizing for treading on feet and elbowing ribs. He reached a small coffee vendor and purchased a small cup of the thick, bitter coffee that he rather enjoyed. As he chatted pleasantly with the bristly elderly man serving, he put down his heavy camera case out of the way of the foot traffic. They spoke of the weather and how mild it was that day, and how the mild weather brought out the crowds that eagerly spent money in the souq. He watched as the man repeatedly filled small cups on trays that were carted off by young boys, his grandsons the vendor had told him, who returned minutes later with handfuls of coins. It was a good business today, the vendor had said with a tobacco-stained toothy smile.

Özkul finished his coffee and returned the cup with a slight bow and prayer of prosperity for the old man and his family. He walked away, pushing through the oblivious crowd, taking random pictures, though never advancing the film. He was at the entrance when the explosion ripped through the congested souq. There was confused hesitation and then panic. He was pushed into the sunlight and toward al-Haram ash-Sharif, the Temple Mount.

“Havoc,” he said with a smile.

• • •

Zócalo, Plaza de la Constitución. It was here in 1813 that Mexico’s first constitution was proclaimed. One of the world’s largest squares, it is subordinated by the Palacio Nacional, the Catedral Metropolitana, and the Templo Mayor. Most tourists begin their exploration of Ciudad de México here. This day was beautiful, with blue skies and wispy clouds, and a light breeze that kept the smog at bay. Throngs of people mingled about the square, moving gradually in one direction and another.

A young man, perhaps eighteen years old, weaved through the groups waiting for his opportunity. He was an old pro at picking pockets unnoticed, having eight years of experience. He did not take pleasure in it, but rather did it to support his mother and four younger siblings. His father, an accomplished pick-pocket himself, was sitting in prison, having been caught in the process of burglarizing a wealthy American’s hotel room; burglary was not his forte. The boy was careful in choosing his targets, usually limiting himself to only one per day in order to reduce his chances of being caught, and would follow the foreigner for hours before striking. Today the picking would be well rewarded.

Juan Carlos Vasquez had chosen his intended victim at mid-morning outside the Palacio Nacional, and he had stealthily followed them for the better part of the day. They were an older couple with a young daughter or granddaughter. The woman was not tall and was very careful with her handbag; the man was taller and carried himself with a soldierly bearing. Normally the young man would not choose a couple, never mind a family, but there was just something about them that had caught his attention. Perhaps it was the challenge.

The man was sixty-five-years-old with salt-and-pepper hair. He was ruggedly good-looking, with quick hazel eyes and a squared jaw. “Curse it, Agnes,” grumbled the man unhappily, his arms filled with packages, “I’m bloody tired of shopping!”

“Grimsby Othniel Amaziah Twyverton!” declared sixty-year-old Agnes Celestine Twyverton, “we will have none of that language!”

He was a retired Royal Marine drill instructor, and at that moment was wishing he had not retired. Since retiring, he found himself taking orders rather than giving them. “Language or not,” he retorted, “it doesn’t change the fact!”

“Even so!” the retired school teacher shot back. “Especially not in front of our daughter!”

Evelyn Agnes Twyverton suppressed her smile. This back-and-forth was normal in their household. The fifteen-year-old possessed what her much older brother had termed a quiet beauty, with her mother’s dark hair and easy smile, and her father’s hazel eyes. She followed immediately behind, a bag of purchases in each hand, and watched them. She loved her parents. Occasionally she would glance about the impressive square, looking at the people who bustled here and there, and the pigeons that came and went in clouds. It was then that she was jostled roughly by a young woman in a simple yet colorful dress. The English teenager noticed the young woman carrying a beautifully hand-woven shoulder bag. The woman was perhaps her own height, with thick black hair and a broad nose with large nostrils. The woman returned the look, fleetingly, angrily, and hurried on.

The momentary locking of eyes gave Evelyn a curious start. There was something about the woman, something in her brown eyes, something quixotic about her arched eyebrows that caused Evelyn to hesitate in her stride. The young Englishwoman felt an unexpected chill course through her body. “How odd,” she murmured.

She watched the woman make her way through the crowds on her way to the Templo Mayor. She wondered, for a moment, if she should say something to her father, and then realized that he and her mother had moved some distance ahead of her during her distraction. As she increased her pace she noticed another person, a young man with wavy black hair and a handsome visage who seemed focused on her parents. Startled by this revelation, she began to run as best she could with the two bulky bags clasped tightly in her hands.

The explosion was sudden.

Almost immediately the Plaza de la Constitución was in turmoil as those who were able fled in every direction. The cries of the injured were carried on the light breeze. Sirens could be heard and the shrill blasts of police whistles pierced the air. Where there had been a large group of Japanese tourists on their way to the Templo Mayor was now blood and carnage. Nothing seemed real.

The blast was close enough to send Evelyn sprawling to the pavement. Her heart raced, and she felt the panic rise within her as her mind took her back five-and-a-half years to the Irish Republican Army bombing at Grand Hotel in Brighton, England, on October 12, 1984. She had been there, had been injured and terrified; she had never fully recovered. With a shriek, she scrambled to her feet and ran to where her parents stood.

Agnes Twyverton held her daughter close, speaking soothing words into her hair. She was oblivious of the young man who bumped into them and was then gone, taking her purse with him. Grimsby Othniel Amaziah Twyverton, upon ensuring his family was all right, hurried toward the human devastation to render assistance.

A young Mexican woman with thick black hair, brown eyes, arched eyebrows, and a broad nose with large nostrils walked unhurriedly past the two English women. Guadalupe Alarcón smiled slightly. “Havoc,” she murmured to herself.

• • •

The Moskva-reka meanders from west to east through the center of the Russian capital. It flows near the Russian Academy of Sciences and the ever-popular Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure. At the corner of Krimsky and Leninsky Avenues, there was a metro station to allow easy access for visitors. Planned by Konstantin Melnikov, the park was opened in 1928 with amusement attractions and an abundance of shashlik cafes. Although it had seen better days it was still a very popular destination for Muscovites. Though there was still a bite in the air as the throngs of people enjoyed the escape from reality offered by the park.

A dark-haired man of thirty-one walked along a paved path toward the Luna Park Carousel with an excited child pulling at each hand. He walked with an easy gait, a spring in his step, and an amused smile on his lips. He was six-foot tall and dressed in a comfortable sports jacket and trousers. Although a Russian, he knew that he was different from the other people who were there to enjoy what the park had to offer. What made him different was his military background; he was a former member of the Special Forces, the Spetsnaz GRU. His dark eyes stayed in constant motion taking in his surroundings. He missed very little, so when he saw someone he thought he knew carrying a large attaché case he took particular notice.

The person he was certain he recognized was a woman of slightly more than average height with dirty-blonde hair held back in a ponytail. She had an athletic build and moved with an easy grace among the revelers. She had high, wide cheekbones and pleasant grey eyes. She was, if memory served him correctly, two or three years his junior. She had been, briefly, a member of the Main Intelligence Directorate, the same Directorate under which he had been as a member of the Spetsnaz. He had served with her brother, he recalled. Ivanov; the name came to him. Vasilisa Ivanov, he thought to himself as he was dragged toward the carousel. A slight frown touched his brow; where was her brother, Vasily? Where there was one, he recollected, there was always the other nearby.

The hair on the nape of his neck stood on end. He just remembered something else; when both had left State employment for other than honorable reasons they had joined Tsitadel, the organized crime group based in Moscow. All his senses immediately awakened as he quickly searched the sea of faces for the brother. He slowed his pace as he scanned the area immediately around him; his nephews looked up at him, curious.

“What is it, dyadya?” asked the elder boy.

Stefan Petrov smiled down at them. They were his brother’s boys, Gregori, eleven, and Mikhail, nine, and he loved them as though they were his own. And they might have been his had Elizaveta chosen him rather than his brother Vladmir. But she had not wanted to be married to a soldier; she had wanted someone more stable, like a bank manager. So, he was Uncle Stefan. “It is nothing, Gregori,” he said with a smile. “I thought I saw an old friend, but I suppose not.”

“Can we go on the carousel now?” pleaded Mikhail, his brown eyes the size of saucers.

Petrov looked around again; she was gone. He wondered if he had been mistaken, after all, it had been a couple of years since he had seen either of them. The niggling voice at the back of his mind, however, was niggling very loudly. “Let us get an ice cream first!” he suggested with a wink.

The boys immediately turned him about and pulled him gleefully toward an ice cream vendor’s cart. As they excitedly placed their orders he continued to scan the crowd. He was not comfortable with the fact that he had not spotted Vasily Ivanov. Granted, she was the more lethal of the pair, but where there was one there should have been the other. With their treats in hand, the two boys wandered over to a nearby bench and sat. He walked in a circle around them like a wary beast protecting its young.

The explosion, which ripped the carousel apart, came with a suddenness that was the earmark of terror. The carousel was a smoking, tangled mess; the bomb had been a big one.

Petrov grabbed his nephews and shoved them, ice creams and all, under the bench. He leaped onto the bench to allow him a better view above the scrambling multitudes of screaming humanity. From beneath his sports coat, he produced his 9mm Stechkin selective-fire machine pistol. He held it against his leg to make it less obvious to the panicking masses. People were running in every direction, with most headed for the nearby Zelenaya shkola. His chest suddenly constricted as he saw what was coming. At the top of his lungs he screamed for those fleeing toward the safety of the Kids Center to stop. They did not hear him above the din.

As they crowded into the perceived safety of the structure there came a second explosion which was larger than the first. The ground shook and part of the Kids Center collapsed. Shock slammed into those who managed to survive the second bombing. The chaos escalated and the screams and shouts rose to impossible levels. Sirens could barely be heard over the clamor of the terrified citizens.

As Stefan Petrov gathered his nephews and made good their escape from Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure, two figures came together across Leninsky Avenue at the Kaluzhskaya Square.

Vasily and Vasilisa Ivanov smiled surreptitiously amongst the jabbering onlookers. “Havoc!” they said to one another, and then they vanished into the growing crowd.

• • •

She walked through the poorly lit streets of the urban wasteland beside the River Corrib that fed Galway Harbor with a confidence that would cause most people to pause. She wore black from head to toe: a hand-woven turtleneck shirt, loose-fitting trousers to allow her freedom of movement, and specifically designed handmade leather shoes. Her wavy black hair beneath the black beret bounced on her shoulders as she made her way to the rancid-looking public house affectionately referred to by the locals as The Local. The building stood alone with overgrown vacant lots on either side. The faded green paint was peeling, and the once-yellow trim around the door and windows had turned a baby-poop hue. The weathered sign that identified the gin joint hung, by a single length of rusted chain, at an ignominious angle. With her hands sheathed in high-end leather gloves, she opened the battered door, and her senses were immediately assailed by the stink of cigarette and marijuana smoke mixed with sweat and vomit. A frown briefly touched her flawless brow as her large brown eyes adjusted to the low-wattage indoor light.

The dump became very quiet as every head turned in her direction.

A huge man in a heavily stained muscle shirt pushed off the also-heavily-stained bar. She was not a short woman but he still towered a good foot over her. He hoisted his soiled trousers up under his considerable gut and grinned desirously. Others in the local booze joint began to talk amongst themselves in hushed tones, and, in several instances, money changed hands as bets were made. The giant started determinedly toward the woman; the woman stood at the entrance, door closed, watching him advance.

He stopped in front of her, definitely violating what would be anyone else’s comfort zone, but she did not appear to be uncomfortable. “I’m Jock,” he boomed in his thick Irish brogue.

There was no response.

There was, however, a fleeting expression of uncertainty across his flushed and stubbled face. “I think you’re in the wrong place, missy,” he continued.

There was still no response.

Jeers of encouragement began to come from the patrons. Jock squared his massive shoulders. “I think I need to teach you some manners!” he growled.

No one actually remembered seeing what happened next. All anyone had to say was that she had moved and Jock had gone down. Hard. His face was bloodied from a severely broken nose, and tears flowed freely from his bloodshot eyes. A hush fell over the stench-filled grogshop as the onlookers watched in awe as the woman stepped over the moaning man and approached a diminutive balding man with glasses. The man, seated at a mug-cluttered table, paled noticeably as she took the seat opposite him.

“You are Addergoole Lynch,” she said in a soft, pleasant voice. His head bobbed as he stared with watery-blue eyes. She smiled, but he was not convinced it was a friendly smile. “You will come with me.”

“I, ah . . .” he began to stutter.

She leaned forward slightly and said in a quieter tone, “It is not a request, Mister Lynch.”

He bobbed his head again, and his complexion went a shade paler, if that were at all possible. “Of course, Miss, er?”

“Tika,” she said shortly. “I have a job for you, Mister Lynch.”

It was at that moment that there came a disturbance from the direction of the door. The glowering bloodied hulk rose from the filthy wooden floor, a growl rumbled deep within his throat. He focused his bloodshot eyes on his intended target, and then a terrifying grin spread across his florid face. With a guttural roar, he launched himself in the direction of the attractive Eurasian woman. His massive arms were spread wide to encompass her; his intent was to crush the life out of her. The roar of support from his fellow grog mates encouraged him as he plowed his way through the tables.

Tika came out of the chair which she occupied with such style and finesse that the bar’s patrons could only speak appreciatively of it to the Garda afterward. The lithesome woman turned in mid-air and put the hard heel of her shoe against the temple of the giant. He dropped to his hands and knees, shaking his massive head. She came down lightly beside him, took his head in her gloved hands, and deftly broke his neck.

• • •

He was a man of indeterminate age. His complexion was Mediterranean. He was, perhaps, from Southern Europe, or Southeastern Europe. Or, perhaps, his ancestors came from Western Asia, or Central Asia. Perhaps they came from certain parts of South Asia, or even North Africa. No one really knew. And those who did either would not, or could not, discuss it. His black eyes were piercing, cold and terrifying. His black eyebrows were thick but not bushy. He was clean-shaven, with a straight aquiline nose. When all this was combined with his black hair, which had some grey at the temples, and which was neatly combed back from a high forehead, it gave his face a certain characteristic that could only be described as terminally intelligent. His attire was immaculate and expensive, and on his right ring finger, he wore a large emerald ring.

In the peaceful village of Barjols, set on a limestone cliff in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in southeastern France, the man strode confidently, with some minor help of an exquisite mahogany walking stick on which was mounted a golden wolf’s head, to a small café in a less touristy neighborhood. He took an outside table in a quiet corner under a cheerful multi-colored awning and ordered a liqueur coffee made with Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge. The sun was setting, and the afternoon was pleasantly cool. He acknowledged the waiter who brought his beverage with a curt nod, before taking up the cup and tasting its contents. It was passable.

He watched impassively as a man of average height, with mousey brown hair and a matching mustache, approached. Without a word spoken, the trim man took a seat from a nearby table and joined the man of indeterminate age. Phineas Fayrbothem eyed the man with his complacent brown eyes. A small smile touched his thick, pink lips. “Alexander Shaitan, I presume?” he asked in a brisk, British voice.

The terror leader of the Illuminatos Societate Libertas did not blink as his emotionless black eyes bored into the brain of the younger man. In a quiet voice that threatened the recipient with destruction, Shaitan said, “What.”

A chill went through Fayrbothem that he was not expecting. He had always perceived himself as a cool character, unflappable, but he had never met anyone like Shaitan. He suddenly wondered if he had made a possibly fatal mistake. Clearing his throat nervously, he said, “I was told that you were looking for someone to do a job.”

“Indeed?”

Fayrbothem swallowed hard. This was not going quite as he had planned. “Ewan Jones said . . .”

“He is dead.”

“Yes. Yes, that’s true,” agreed Fayrbothem apprehensively.

“What do you have to offer me?”

The Englishman blinked. “I, ah . . . What do you want done?”

“I want his killer.”

“And who is Jones’s killer?” inquired Fayrbothem.

“Grimsby Neteaze Alberic Twyverton.”

“Not a name easily forgotten, that one,” said Fayrbothem with a nervous laugh.

“It is one familiar to you, I understand.”

“Oh, aye, I know it indeed,” admitted Fayrbothem grimly. “We served ten years together in Her Royal Majesty’s Special Boat Service, he, my brother, and I. He gave evidence against my brother that got him thrown into prison.” He paused for a moment, and then continued, “My brother died in that prison; hung himself. So, aye, you could say he’s familiar to me. Mind you, I haven’t seen him in some good many years.”

“I want him dead.”

“That makes two us; what’s your excuse? Because he killed Jones?” asked the SBS veteran caustically.

“Because he is InterOps.”

“Ah, yes,” nodded Fayrbothem with a wry smile. “International Operations. Bit of a thorn in your side, are they?”

There was only silence.

“Quite frankly,” said Fayrbothem, “I don’t see why you don’t just unleash your entire organization and be done with them.”

“I prefer more subtle action.”

“I see.” Fayrbothem looked into the impassive face. What he did not see terrified him more than what little he did see. This man was evil incarnate. He felt his heart rate increase, and perspiration trickle down his slender face. To fail is terminable, he realized.

“He has family.”

“Yes, I seem to recall him mentioning parents and a sister,” agreed Fayrbothem. “They will be the key to getting at him.” He stood up, returning the chair to its original location at the nearby table. “I’ll take care of it,” he said, adding, “for a fee.”

“One million.”

The Englishman blinked. “Dollars?”

“Dollars, pounds, lira, or drachmas, it matters little to me.”

“Pounds, then.” A smile began to spread across the veteran’s face. “Consider it done, sir! And it will be a pleasure!”

“There will need to be proof in order for you to collect, of course,” murmured Shaitan.

“Of course!” grinned Fayrbothem. “A finger? An ear?”

“His head.”

The grin wavered then faded. After a moment, he said quietly, “I’ve never taken a head.” He hesitated briefly, and then said, “Very well, his head it is.”

“Good. You will find him in Mexico City,” said Shaitan with a small, sly smile.

“How do you know he’s there?” asked a wary Fayrbothem.

“I know because that is where his family is vacationing,” explained Shaitan.

“Right then,” agreed Fayrbothem. “I know some people there, sources; I’ll find him.”

“There is one other task I would ask of you,” added Shaitan.

The Englishman nervously looked at the seated man. “Yes?”

“I would be appreciative if you would collect a package for me while you are there. Once you have it, I will let you know where to bring it.”

“Sounds simple enough,” agreed Fayrbothem, relieved.

“You should know, Mister Fayrbothem,” said Shaitan in a terrifying tone, his cold eyes boring into the Englishman, “that I do not condone failure. One of you will be dead.”

Phineas Fayrbothem nodded hesitantly, and then he turned and walked away a little more quickly than he had intended. As he approached the first available corner, he glanced back from whence he had come. He watched as a giant materialized behind the terror leader. He felt his blood run cold as those two sets of eyes watched him. He knew, without a doubt, that he had made an egregious error. He hated Grimsby Neteaze Alberic Twyverton, and killing the man would be a pleasure, indeed. But now he would have to kill the man in order to remain among the living. He walked briskly around the corner, and then he broke into a full-out run to where his rented car was parked.

The faintest of smiles touched the humorless lips of Alexander Shaitan as he lifted his liqueur coffee. “It goes well, Oskar,” he murmured.

Oskar Kleinemann nodded in silence. Just shy of seven feet in height by an inch, and weighing in at three hundred and fifty pounds, the blond-haired blue-eyed German was a veritable mountain. The terrorist was a former member of Germany’s defunct Bewegung 2. Juni (2 June Movement) and the still-active Revolutionäre Zellen (Revolutionary Cells), though he was devoted to the leader of the Illuminatos Societate Libertas. He had an older brother, by two hours, who was an inch taller.

Shaitan allowed his black eyes to gaze out at nothing in particular. The multiple bombings around the world had caught governments completely off guard, including those that were expecting something to happen. The destruction and bloodshed, although not as grand in some instances as he had hoped, pleased him as he pondered his next move. That move would be orchestrated by someone who was, difficult to believe, even more ruthless than he. She was the only member of the Illuminatos Societate Libertas who troubled him, though he would never allow anyone to know; especially her.

He rose from his seat and took a moment to straighten his attire. The grey at his temples gave him a civilized, distinguished appearance. How easily he was often mistaken for a member of academia. Little did anyone realize that his was the mind behind the funding, and often planning, of worldwide terrorism. He remained safely behind the scenes while others did his bidding. His purpose now was to create havoc around the world, cause governments to sway, if not fall, and then to go in and re-establish his version of law-and-order. World dominance, an illusion sought by a few for thousands of years, but a reality in the mind of Alexander Shaitan.

“Yes, Oskar,” he murmured with a cold smile, “it goes very well!”


TWO

The mottled grey Boeing AC-14 gunship was the only one of its kind in existence. It came in from the east over the Anti-Lebanon Mountains at near-stall speed. The noise abatement systems, recently installed by the aircraft manufacturing giant, on the twin 2xGE CF6-50D turbofan engines made its approach barely a whisper in the infrequent cloudburst. The Shadow banked gracefully over the Beqaa Valley as it settled into its attack approach. The target was a hashish and opium operation which contributed funds and drugs to Alexander Shaitan’s Illuminatos Societate Libertas. On this night, the facility, under the guise of a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières, was teeming with a variety of sub-humans from the world’s underbelly.

The pilot and aircraft commander, a six-foot African American retired US Navy Lieutenant Commander, keyed his microphone. “All right, people,” Jerome Daniels said in his impressive baritone, “as soon as we get the signal from Tomar we’ll be going in. It shouldn’t be too much longer.” He had lost a younger brother in the terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 23, 1983.

In the seat beside him, Alberto Gigiliano, formerly an Italian Air Force Tornado GR4 IDS (interdiction/strike) fighter-bomber pilot, sipped his espresso with a sigh of satisfaction. “It is molto bene Erik allowed the caffè espresso on board, no?” His wife and son had been among the thirteen killed and seventy-five wounded on December 27, 1985, at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport, victims of the Abu Nidal Organization.

Daniels glanced over at the forty-something Italian and grinned. “You’re the only one who drinks it!” he laughed.

Non è così!” was the dramatic response. “It is not so! Gabi also drinks caffè espresso!”

Gabriela Alonso Santiago Ruiz de Pátzcuaro, better known as Gabi, was the newest member of the Shadow crew. She replaced Özgur Özkul, who had transferred to the International Operations’ Combat Team One. The twenty-seven-year-old was a former Mexican Air Force weapons system officer. Having lost her entire family to the Michoacán drug cartel La Familia Michoacana in the late 1980s, she had taken her fight to them single-handedly in a ‘borrowed’ Israeli-made twin-turboprop Mexican Air Force Arava gunship, after which she was quickly, and quietly, discharged. She disappeared into the netherworld of the drug cartels, traveling throughout Mexico exacting her revenge. InterOps spirited her out of a particularly desperate situation against the Barrio Azteca gang in Ciudad Juárez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, on Christmas Day. Grateful, she had accepted Erik Rächer’s proposal as Shadow’s alternate weapons system officer.

The green-eyed brunette, her hair cut in a blunt bob at chin level and with eyebrow-grazing bangs, was seated in the jump seat at the back of the flight deck, near the flight engineer and the navigator. “, it is true,” she admitted with a warm smile. “I do like Alberto’s caffè espresso.”

The six-feet-tall blue-eyed aircraft navigator, Richard Silby, unconsciously fingered his David Niven-style mustache as he listened to the back-and-forth banter. His parents had been among the twenty-nine victims of the December 17, 1973 attack at Rome airport; he had been nine years old at the time, and staying with his maternal grandparents. With his red hair and perpetually flushed complexion, the twenty-five-year-old Canadian always came across as a blushing youth.

The only crew member who had not been affected by any terror activity, until coming to work for InterOps, was Scott Merchant, the flight engineer. He had worked on the Boeing YC-14 from its inception as the company’s entrant into the Air Force’s Advanced Medium STOL Transport competition, which was meant to find a replacement for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules as the standard STOL tactical transport for the USAF. When the aircraft, given by a grateful President and nation to InterOps to replace the aircraft lost in his rescue, had been brought out of mothballs, Merchant had actively participated in its restoration and retrofitting as a very lethal gunship: the AC-14. Although not a military man, the five-foot-five-inch engineer had been accepted by the others for his knowledge and expertise of the Shadow. “That stuff will stunt your growth,” he warned her. “Look at me; I used to be six-foot-four!”

Gabi laughed musically. “You are all crazy! Son todos locos!”

Immediately behind the flight deck was the weapons system officer’s domain; here was the computer system that controlled the assortment of weaponry. A 30mm GAU-8 Avenger (from an A-10 Thunderbolt II) was mounted in the nose beneath the flight deck. Twin 20mm M-61 Vulcan rotary cannons protruded from both sides, and the same was true of the twin 7.62mm GAU-2/A miniguns. Two multi-rocket pods were mounted under the high wings for the unguided 70mm air-to-ground Hydra-70 rockets. And to finish off the arsenal, a pair of AIM-9L Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles were mounted at the end of each wing. And the man who controlled all of that was a blond-haired-blue-eyed former Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 IDS fighter-bomber weapons system officer by the name of Andrew Fitzsimmons. The twenty-seven-year-old had lost his older brother, a member of the Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons) cavalry regiment, on July 20, 1982, in the Hyde Park terror bombing at the hands of the Irish Republican Army. That same day, the IRA killed seven bandsmen of the Royal Green Jackets infantry regiment in Regent’s Park. He ignored the banter as he did a final system’s check to ensure that all was ready when the shooting began.

In one of the ten nearby plush first-class recliners, the Shadow’s loadmaster, Hans Grüber, dozed. The former German Luftwaffe airman knew that once the shooting started he would be busy shoveling empty brass casings out of the way of the various armaments. He also knew that Gabi would be right there with him, her own shovel in hand. On April 4, 1986, he had been at the La Belle discotheque in Berlin when an improvised explosive device left by Libyan agents exploded, killing three and injuring two hundred thirty-one others. The twenty-six-year-old had been one of those injured; he had been fortunate.

• • •

The Kurdish peshmerga fighter lay on his stomach, elbows propping up his torso so he could watch the activity through the Zeiss binoculars. The black balaclava hid his dark hair; his quiet blue eyes peered through the lenses. Tomar Erbilî, who had lost most of his father’s side of the family in an Iraqi chemical attack on Halabja on March 16, 1988, lowered the glasses, hesitated for a moment, and then handed them over to the prone figure beside him. “They are all inside now,” he whispered.

Pietro Battaglia accepted the binoculars with a quiet word and brought them up to his dark eyes. Eighty-five people had been killed, including his parents, and more than two hundred had been injured in the bombing of the Stazione Centrale di Bologna on August 2, 1980. The Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari had been blamed. After his enlistment in the Italian Army’s 9th Parachute Assault Regiment (a SAS-like force) had concluded, the twenty-eight-year-old had been recruited by InterOps. He happily put his training to use exterminating terrorists wherever he found them. “,” he murmured.

The third member of the combat team was a twenty-five-year-old Turk by the name of Özgur Özkul, Öz to his friends and comrades. A former loadmaster with the Turkish Air Force, he had been a loadmaster with Grüber on the Shadow until recently, when he had transferred to Combat Team One. On September 6, 1986, twenty-two people had died in an attack attributed to the Palestinian militant Abu Nidal at Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, Turkey. One of them had been his young Jewish bride of only six months. Even though he was a Muslim, Özkul had never supported the perceived Islamic religious or political causes that wreaked havoc around the world, and vehemently lashed out at those who did. One of those he had lashed out against had been his older brother, Baris. He now found himself on his first combat mission on the ground, and not in the air. He clasped the Heckler and Koch MP-5SD sub-machine gun in his gloved hands, watching the building with the Red Crescent painted on all its sides and roof. “For what are we waiting?” he hissed. “I am soaked!”

Erbilî smiled beneath his balaclava; he had been impatient once. “Now that everyone is present,” he said softly, his voice barely audible above the noise of the downpour, “I will call in the Shadow. Any survivors who come our way, as it is the only way out of the area, will be dealt with by us.”

,” murmured the Italian, smiling beneath his balaclava. He handed the Kurd the radio transmitter.

Erbilî spoke only a few words into the radio, not long enough to be traced by anyone who might be scanning for such a transmission. He tucked the device inside his charcoal grey tunic before bringing his Heckler and Koch G3SG/1 7.62mm sniper rifle with its Zeiss 1.5-6x variable power telescopic sight up to a shooting position. They were well within the five hundred fifty-yard effective range of the rifle. “Not long now,” he said.

• • •

“Here we go!” declared Jerome Daniels to the others. “Battle stations, y’all!”

Those on the flight deck tightened their restraints. Gabi hurried back to where Grüber was strapping himself into a harness that would allow free range of motion without being thrown too violently about the cabin. She quickly donned her own harness, a broad smile on her face.

The Shadow was brought down to five hundred feet. It was a black night. There was no light available from the stars or moon through the dense layer of clouds. The gunship was invisible, completely. The pilots increased the airspeed to one hundred miles per hour and brought it in line with its intended target. Wearing AN/PVS-7 night vision goggles, Daniels and Gigiliano guided the flying weapons platform through the downpour toward its target. Everyone was ready.

As the gunship came within the four-thousand-foot effective firing range, the seven-barrel 30mm Gatling-type autocannon in the nose erupted. At forty-two hundred rounds per minute, there was very little that could stand up to its destructive pounding. Minutes later, as the aircraft banked, the twin port side M61 Vulcan rotary cannons and the smaller twin GAU-2/A miniguns unleashed their withering firepower. The building crumbled in on itself, and several explosions illuminated the destruction. Dark figures could be seen in the flickering firelight scampering first one way and then another. Several made it to vehicles only to have those getaway cars and trucks shredded, occupants included. The gunship turned in a lazy circle, raining down hot lead on anything that moved. In less than five minutes from the time the first 30mm shell left the Avenger autocannon, the building that contained millions of dollars’ worth of drugs was leveled and fully engulfed in flames. Those who were going to distribute their illicit narcotics were dead.

On the nearby hill, three pairs of eyes watched the carnage in awe. The destructive power of the Shadow never failed to impress. One man among them, his sniper rifle pulled tightly into his shoulder, managed to pick off a few of the terrified terrorists and drug traffickers before silence returned.

Tanrim!” murmured Özkul. “My God!”

Battaglia pushed himself off the muddy ground and adjusted his rain slicker. “Sì. Mio Dio. But for them, it is L’inferno, eh?”

Erbilî wrapped his sniper rifle in its protective sleeve and started toward the three modified Kawasaki KLR650 motorcycles. “We must go,” he said. “We have an hour’s ride to the rendezvous, and I, for one, do not wish to be late.”


THREE

Mogadishu, Somalia.

It was midnight, straight up. The three dark figures moved through the streets like shadows as they made their way to Mogadishu International Airport. They were running out of time. They had four hours to hit their target and reach the airport for their extraction under cover of darkness. They were behind schedule.

J.D. Philiby was a former U.S. Army Special Forces Sergeant First Class who had assisted in the rescue of the President of the United States. Upon his honorable separation from the military, the tall African American, with close-cropped black hair and gentle brown eyes, had accepted an offer to join forces with InterOps. If one were to meet the twenty-nine-year-old on the street in Smalltown, USA, in civilian attire, one might think him to be a banker or a clergyman, certainly not a trained anti-terrorist. Heckler and Koch MP-5SD sub-machine gun in hand, he led his team from their insertion point on the outskirts of the sprawling city, accomplished the night before by parachute, to their current position. They had intended to have eliminated their target by this time, but there had been unforeseen delays.

He was followed by an attractive woman with quiet brown eyes and brown hair with natural highlights. At twenty-six years, and standing five-foot-six-inches, Maryam Hadad, whose family had been killed in an Iraqi chemical attack on her home city of Halabja on March 16, 1988, was often underestimated; and to underestimate this peshmerga fighter always proved fatal. The soft-spoken woman carried a holstered Beretta M-93R pistol on her hip and a Heckler and Koch MP-5SD sub-machine gun in her hands.

Following not far behind was a former member of the Royal Navy Special Boat Service. Grimsby Neteaze Alberic Twyverton, known by those closest to him as Gnat, was undoubtedly a handsome man. His black hair was always neatly styled, and he was always clean shaven. He had soft brown eyes and a square jaw. He coupled an infectious laugh with a disarming smile. He was rather rugged looking, and he exuded the distinctly British upper class. An IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England, on October 12, 1984, had injured his much younger sister; she never really recovered from the incident. In a holster on his right side he carried a Browning Hi-Power pistol, and in his arms he cradled his L1A1 self-loading rifle.

They had acquired a rather battered taxi not far from where they had hidden during the day near the intersection of Wadada Dharkenleey and Jaale Siyaad Road, but the fuel gauge had not been operational and within an hour they had found themselves on foot near the Suuqa Madiina. Their target was a brutal warlord by the name of Abdullah Ali Hassan, known, though not to his face, as Wiil Waal (Crazy Boy). Hassan had a walled compound on Jaale Siyaad Road near the intersection with Wadada Jaziira, not far from the airport. That was their destination, but they were frequently delayed by the armed patrols of President Siad Barre’s Somali National Army and those of Hassan, which often resulted in a running gun battle until one side or the other ran away.

“I say, old man,” murmured Twyverton as he peered back over his shoulder, “it’s all clear back here, so anytime you want to press on, what?”

Philiby nodded in the dark. “Let’s go!”

The African American darted across the street and vanished into the shadows between two houses. He was immediately followed by Maryam. She just made the safety of the darkness when a small, lightly armored Soviet-built GAZ BA-64 scout car turned the corner. The Englishman ducked back, but not quite in time. Standing in the small turret, his hands resting on the 7.62mm machine gun, the Army non-commissioned officer bleated an unintelligible command. The BA-64 came to a shuddering stop as the noncom swung the machine gun around to bear on Twyverton’s hiding place. There was a considerable amount of shouting by the man in the turret; Twyverton finally emerged from his hiding place, sans weaponry.

“What ho!” he called out jovially. “I say, what’s all the fuss, eh? Knickers in a twist, old man?”

The noncom, still bleating commands, climbed down from the forty-four-year-old vehicle, allowing his fellow crew member to assume the small turret. Twyverton kept moving about, ensuring the attentions of the two men were focused exclusively on him. The noncom was becoming increasingly agitated, waving his pistol about nervously. The Englishman slowly worked his way closer to the excitable man, and then, in the blink of an eye, disarmed him. With a terrified shriek, the noncom turned and ran for the scout car, screaming at the man in the turret. The man in the turret was desperately working the machine gun, trying to get it to fire.

Twyverton, with a shout of “Tally-ho!”, leaped up onto the scout car, which was immediately abandoned by its two-man crew. He gave the machine gun a quick examination and found that the safety was on. Making certain that the two previous ‘owners’ were well and truly gone, he called out softly to his own team members. “J.D.! Maryam! Come along, you two! I’ve secured us some transportation, eh?”

Out of the shadows emerged his companions as he clambered into the 1940-era vehicle. Maryam leaped gracefully onto the scout car and took her place in the small turret while Philiby stood on the left rear fender and hung onto the turret. Once everyone was aboard, Twyverton ground the vehicle into gear, with apologies, and started them down Jaale Siyaad Road toward their destination at twenty-five miles per hour.

Thirty minutes later, the GAZ BA-64 was abandoned in a dark alley just one block from Hassan’s compound. Ignoring the barking dogs that seemed to be inescapable throughout the city, the trio moved through the deep shadows until they were in a position that gave them an unfettered view of their destination.

Philiby pointed out the two guards lounging at the entry, followed by the gun towers at each corner. “We’ll need to see what the back looks like,” he whispered. “There’s too much light here.”

“Three hours,” murmured Maryam. “We must hurry.”

“What we need is a distraction,” suggested Twyverton. “I’ll give you two thirty minutes to make your way to the back, and then I’ll liven things up out here. That should permit you to gain access.”

Philiby nodded. “That’s fine, just don’t get yourself killed.”

“Heaven forbid!” declared the Englishman, flashing his disarming smile. “I have a holiday with my family coming due! Now, off with you two, and do try not to bullocks things up, eh?”

Philiby and Maryam slipped further into the shadows, making their way around the block to a point where they could access an unpaved alley at the rear of the compound. There they waited the few remaining minutes until the distraction was set to happen.

Twyverton pulled the stock of his L1A1 self-loading rifle into his shoulder and took careful aim at the guard on the left. He relaxed his breathing and then held his breath as he squeezed the trigger. The discharge erupted through the stillness of the night and the guard dropped in a crumpled heap. Before anyone had a chance to respond, he shifted his aim to the second guard and quickly eliminated him as well. Then he vanished.

In the gun towers, the Somali warlord’s men swung into action. Having not seen where the shooting had originated, they liberally sprayed everything outside the front of the compound. Vehicles parked on the street were pelted with bullets, and tracer rounds impacting the asphalt street beneath leaking fuel tanks caused sufficient sparks to ignite. Cars began to burn in several places up and down the street.

Twyverton made his way to another location and popped off a few more rounds in the general direction of the compound, taking out a gunner in one tower. Then he disappeared into the night to await his comrades-in-arms.

• • •

At the first rifle shot Philiby and Maryam prepared for their dash across the alley to a small service gate set in the back wall. After the second shot, by which time all attention was toward the front of the compound, the two sprinted across the short sandy distance and flattened themselves against the wall. Using the seven-and-a-half-inch blade of his military-issued survival knife, the former Special Forces soldier forced the locking mechanism on the service gate, and they were inside the compound. Maryam immediately shut the gate behind them. They hesitated for only a moment to take in their surroundings before moving rapidly toward the house itself. They were fully aware that everyone within the compound would be awake, fully alert, and responding to the attack. Philiby only hoped that Twyverton would stop the distraction, allowing things to settle down within the high walls.

Philiby and Maryam settled themselves into a sizeable cluster of shrubs, hidden from view, and waited for calm to return. They did not have long to wait. It was a nervous quiet that eventually returned. The two watched as loose patrols meandered about the grounds, the men smoking and chattering. It was shortly after two in the morning when the exterior lights were extinguished, and the guards returned to their blockhouse to eat and sleep.

The two InterOps operatives emerged from the shrubs and quickly crossed the final distance to the rear of the two-story house. Rather than enter through the backdoor, Philiby opted for access through a window at the furthest part house, where the shadows were deepest. Maryam watched for trouble as he deftly breeched the lock and opened the window. Less than a minute later they were both inside, and the window was shut. Now all they had to do was find their target, eliminate him, and escape.

Intelligence before their departure from Momanzia forty-eight hours earlier had put the warlord’s bedroom in the northeast corner of the second floor. This allowed him a view of the airport and the Indian Ocean beyond. The other rooms were occupied by family members and the occasional guest.

Philiby moved like a big cat, quickly and quietly, to the grand staircase that would take them upward. Maryam easily kept up with him as he took the steps two at a time. On the second-floor landing, they paused briefly to listen and orient themselves. She tapped him on his shoulder and pointed at a door at the far end of the hallway. He gave a curt nod and started in that direction. He stopped at the door and pressed his ear against the wood. He heard nothing. He glanced at her; she was standing off to the side, her back against the wall. With a small smile, Maryam gave him a slight nod. Philiby’s huge hand enveloped the doorknob and gently turned it. The door swung inward on well-oiled hinges, and he stepped into the room, knife in hand.

The lights came on, temporarily blinding him.

Standing in the room, surrounded by six heavily armed men in worn and dirty mix-and-match uniforms, was a grinning man of perhaps five feet with the whitest teeth. “So!” he declared in accented English. “You thought maybe I would be asleep?” Abdullah Ali Hassan’s laugh was cruel, frightening.

“I’d hoped,” admitted Philiby as he lowered his knife hand.

“I have not lived this long by being stupid.”

“Right.”

Hassan’s yellow eyes narrowed. “What should I do with you?”

“Tell me what a naughty boy I’ve been and send me home,” suggested Philiby as he assessed the room’s occupants.

“You would like that, I think!” scoffed Hassan. “No, I think I will have you shot.”

“That’s not very original.”

“Perhaps, but is it effective when dealing with the enemy,” conceded the warlord. “Before you die, tell me who sent you? That fool, Barre?”

“No one sends us,” said Philiby in an unnervingly quiet voice.

Hassan’s smile vanished as fear fleetingly crossed his face. “You are no match for me!”

It was Philiby’s turn to smile, and it was not a friendly smile. “How does it feel to know you’re going to die tonight?”

“Kill him!” shrieked Abdullah Ali Hassan as he scuttled behind the bodyguards who towered over him.

The six men came together in a solid wall before their leader and brought their AK-47 rifles to bear. At that moment, Philiby dropped to the floor and there came the muted stutter of an H&K MP5SD. The anti-terrorist rolled as he maneuvered his own weapon off his back and into his hands. As he brought his own sub-machine gun into play, he saw that half of the warlord’s men were already down without having fired a shot. The others were turning toward the door from where death had assailed them.

As Philiby had dropped, Maryam had stepped into the doorway and emptied all the 9mm rounds from her thirty-round magazine into the room. And then she was gone. She quickly ejected the empty magazine and slammed a full one into her weapon. She heard the heavy barking of the Russian-made assault rifles as the remaining bodyguards returned fire chaotically. She also heard the muted stutter of her comrade’s silenced sub-machine gun. At a pause in the shooting, she stepped back across the door’s threshold and emptied her second magazine into the bedroom, and then she was gone again.


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