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Monroe!” Mr. Nine barked
like a Rottweiler. “You’re going nowhere near Garrett Khan! I don’t
want to risk you going too far or inflicting so much pain that he
dies from shock. Get up top and get back on that chopper. While
you’re in flight, I’m going to see if there’s any way we can trace
the transmissions of that thing in Khan’s head. We’ll try both
approaches to the problem simultaneously and see who hits first.
Go!”

 

***

 

The two lieutenants, Leary
and Stuart, flew back to Paris with Monroe. Upon landing, they were
picked up by one of Arnaud Lafleur’s DGSE agents and driven to
rendezvous with Lafleur a block away from the apartment building
run by Jean-Louis Moret. Monroe, Leary, and Stuart crammed into
Lafleur’s van for a quick briefing by the French spy
commander.


We believe,” Lafleur said,
“based on what our man on the rooftop across the street from that
building has observed, that at least three of Garrett Khan’s men
remain inside on the seventh floor. The other floors that Khan
rented are now empty. Richard, you have my full support in this
matter now that our two nations are again cooperating on the
business of Khan. You can have as many men as you want, but knowing
your methods I would assume you wish to do this somewhat
quietly?”


I do,” Monroe said. “These
two men I have with me will go in as my backup, but I would like to
ask for some equipment.”


Anything you
need.”


It’s not much, just guns
for the lieutenants—I’ll be using my own—and some Kevlar for the
three of us, just in case they put up a fight.”


Give me ten minutes,”
Lafleur said.


Are you men all right with
this?” Monroe asked Leary and Stuart.


Yes, sir!” they agreed, in
that annoying unison speech again.

 

***

 

If you cut the head off a
scorpion, the claws and stinger soon lose the ability to act in any
way threatening or deadly. The assault on the seventh floor of the
building was easy. Jean-Louis Moret, recalling Monroe’s promise of
a fat wad of cash, happily agreed to have the elevators
malfunction. Monroe, Leary, and Stuart, dressed in the
DGSE-provided equivalent of SWAT gear, ascended the stairs and
burst onto the indicated floor, surprising three men.

There was little resistance.
Leary and Stuart brandished automatic weapons and Monroe had his
usual Glock. Without the confidence instilled by having Garrett
Khan nearby, the lower-ranked criminals crumbled in the face of
those guns and reached for the ceiling.

Of the three, two—Monroe
immediately decided—were idiots, just mindless thugs used to
handing out bruises and spending their dirty earnings on booze and
women of questionable character. The third man was the one Monroe
wanted to talk to in private: a slim, mustached Italian of about
forty, dressed in an expensive suit and wearing cologne that
certainly was not cheap either, he was clearly a man of taste and
intelligence. Monroe signaled for the two lieutenants to keep their
eyes and weapons focused on the two thugs while he had his private
chat with Mr. Italy.


You speak English, I
assume?” Monroe said.


Of course,” the Italian
said with only half the accent Monroe expected.


Good,” Monroe waved the
Glock, “get into the bathroom now. I
will
shoot you if you
try anything.”

The Italian tried nothing.
Monroe shut the bathroom door behind them.


Get in the tub and lay
down.” The Glock signaled again with Monroe’s words.

Monroe stood and looked down
at his prisoner. The tub was an old method Monroe had used before;
laying there, on his back on a hard surface with the tub walls on
his sides made it difficult to stand quickly and impossible to try
a kick while supine. Short of tying a man up, it was the quickest
way of turning him into far less of an immediate threat.


I truly doubt,” Monroe
said, “that Garrett Khan spent enough money to equip
you
with an implant like the one he has, which means I have no reason
to not kill you, while you have every reason to tell me what I want
to know.”


Fuck you,” the Italian
said.

Monroe, the Glock still in
one hand, reached up with the other, tore the shower rod down in
one pull, shook the curtain onto the floor, and swept down hard
with the naked rod, slamming it across the Italian’s chest. The
Italian cried out.


He’ll kill me if I tell you
anything!”


Do you think I won’t?”
Monroe said, and he brought the curtain rod down again, harder this
time. “First question: what city is the bomb in?”


I…I don’t know…”

The rod came down a third
time, breaking skin now; red began to show through the expensive
white shirt.


What city?”


I swear I don’t
know!”


Fine,” Monroe said,
scowling, “second question…and if you don’t give me something this
time you’re a dead man! Where are the men who receive the
transmissions and can detonate the bomb?”

The Italian hesitated.
Monroe lifted the rod again, but the man in the tub spoke before it
came down.


London! They’re in
London!”


Where in London? I want an
address!”


I do not know the
address…”

Monroe stared at him, no
need to wave the rod this time. The Italian broke.


It’s in Khan’s computer…in
the next room…all his addresses are listed in a file…I know the
password! But I want protection…please…he’ll have me
killed…”


We’ll talk about that
later,” Monroe spat. “Get up and open that file!”

Monroe marched the Italian
back into the other room where the two naval officers still had the
thugs at gunpoint. Lafleur was signaled, sent several DGSE men up
to the seventh floor to collect the goons, and Monroe, Leary, and
Stuart were soon alone with the Italian, huddled around the laptop
that Garrett Khan had left behind.

The file opened and Monroe
gasped. It was a goldmine of names, addresses, and contact
information for Garrett Khan’s criminal operations and cover
businesses in cities across the globe. There was enough dirt on
that little screen to squash Khan’s empire and grind it into dust.
But that was all icing, Monroe reminded himself. At that moment,
what mattered most was the core of the cake, the specific place in
London from where the bomb could be activated.


Show me the one I want!”
Monroe barked at the Italian, squeezing his shoulder hard for
emphasis.


Here,” the prisoner said,
his voice quivering. “It is this one.”

Monroe leaned in closer to
the laptop, read the address silently six times, the number of
readings it took him to ensure that he had it carved in the stone
of his memory. He turned to Lieutenant Leary.


How fast can that chopper
of yours get us to London?”


Under an hour, sir,” Leary
answered.


Good,” Monroe said, turning
to Stuart. “Lieutenant, contact the fleet and have another
helicopter sent here. When it arrives, escort this prisoner and
this computer back to the Lincoln. If he gives you any trouble,
beat him as hard as you want, but keep him alive. And be careful
with that laptop!”


Yes, sir,” Stuart
said.


Let’s go, Leary,” Monroe
called out as he moved for the door.

 

***

 

Even a great city like
London has its ugly sections. In great contrast to the expensive
part of Paris where Garrett Khan had been living in luxury, Monroe
and Leary found that the address obtained from the computer file
was in a nasty slum. Khan, Monroe thought, was clearly trying to
hide the vital organs of his empire in the unlikeliest places.
Since Paris and London had been mostly wiped clean of Khan’s bigger
activities, suspicion toward his doings was less in those cities.
Monroe could have had more help sent to the area—the British secret
service would have been happy to help as well as the CIA’s men in
London—but he had chosen to take the quieter route, just he and
Leary, armed and stealthy.

The address turned out to be
a storefront, a small DVD rental shop, reminiscent, Monroe thought,
of Arnaud Lafleur’s record store cover in Paris. Monroe and Leary
were in civilian clothes now, Kevlar underneath their casual
leather jackets. Monroe’s Glock was shoulder-holstered and Leary
had now switched to a smaller gun which he had adequately
concealed.


Go in the front door and
browse,” Monroe said. “Act like an American tourist. I’m going to
see what the back door looks like.”

Monroe hurried down the
alley on the side of the building, reached the rear of the shop
without interference. Behind the store was a back entrance with
garbage cans beside it and a bucket of sand where employees stuck
their cigarette butts during smoke breaks. Monroe paused outside
the door for a moment, listening.


Morning,” Leary said inside
the shop and Monroe could hear a male voice grunt an
acknowledgement, followed by a “Looking for something
particular?”


Just browsing,” Leary
said.

At that, Monroe tried the
back door, found it unlocked, slipped inside. He entered a small
stock and storage area, glanced around to make sure nobody else was
around, decided there was probably only that single clerk working,
and continued through the back area and out into the front of the
store.

He came out behind the
counter, moved fast, hit the clerk hard and slammed him up against
the counter. Leary, in front of the action, drew his
weapon.


What the fuck…” the clerk
cried out, now pinned down to the counter with an arm twisted
behind his back by Monroe.


Let’s make this quick,”
Monroe said, turning the man around to face him. The clerk was
about thirty-five, scruffy, eyes bloodshot from either lack of
sleep or a hangover. “Do you run this place?”


Yeah, it’s all mine, and I
don’t have a lot of money on hand so take the register and piss
off!”


I don’t want your money,”
Monroe said. “I know you work for Garrett Khan and I want your
computer. I need you to enter a few commands for me. Leary, find it
while I keep our friend here in his proper place.”

Leary walked behind the
counter, began his search. It took less than a minute for him to
come up with a laptop concealed behind a case of pornographic
DVDs.


It’s the same model as the
one we took in Paris,” Monroe observed. “It must be the Khan
standard. Turn it on, Leary.”

When the machine had booted
up, Monroe forced the clerk in front of it.


Bring up the function
connected to Khan’s implant and that bomb. Yes, we know all about
it and we will not hesitate to kill you if you try to stall us or
trick us in any way. Open it!”

The clerk entered a few
commands and the screen lit up with not only a display showing the
vital signs of Garrett Khan, but a second window showing the status
of a small glowing circle in the center of a map of Brussels,
Belgium.


Brussels,” Monroe said. “Is
that where the bomb is?”

The clerk nodded.


And this green around it
means it’s inactive?”

Another nod.


Will it stay that way
unless you alter its status? Answer honestly, because if you lie to
me I’ll make you wish I’d
just
killed you.”


I have complete control
over it,” the clerk said.


Good,” Monroe said with the
tone of man praising a puppy, “that’s all I needed to know.” He
used the cursor to zoom in on the Brussels image, narrowing the
field to show a precise location. “Leary, write this address
down.”

Leary produced a pen and
scribbled for a moment on a scrap of receipt from the countertop,
then stuck the paper in his pocket.

Monroe, seeing that Leary
was finished, spun the clerk around, punched him hard in the gut,
and let him drop to the floor. As he knelt there clutching his
stomach, he looked up at Monroe and spat out a single
word.


Tsunami.”


What?” Monroe was confused
for a second, but then he heard it: a strange humming sound coming
from under the floor of the shop. He knew what it was; he had heard
such a sound once before and almost died for not recognizing
it.


Leary, run!” Monroe called
out, grabbing the laptop, leaving the fallen clerk.

They both took the front
door, made it almost to the street when the little shop exploded in
a ball of fire and brick.

Voice-activated
detonator
was Richard Monroe’s last conscious thought before
the heat and the pain slammed into him.

 

Chapter 16:
Dinner for One

 


Genevieve?” Monroe mumbled
as he slipped out of dreamland and back into reality. His eyes
opened and she was gone. He saw the ceiling lights first and then
the glow was blocked out by a face leaning over him. It was a
gray-haired man, shoulders coming into view next with khaki fabric
and general’s stars on the collar. Mr. Nine stared down.

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
12.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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