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Authors: Chet Williamson

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Siege of Stone (39 page)

BOOK: Siege of Stone
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"I
t's a go," Joseph called, looking up from the monitor. "It was him—right in the front passenger seat!"

"How many?" asked Tony, slipping on his jacket.

"At least four. Good luck," said Joseph, quickly hugging them both. Then they were out the door and climbing into the van with the canisters. In another minute, the van from the castle went by on the road, heading south. Tony and Laika waited until it had nearly vanished over the rise, then drove out the stone-covered lane and began to follow.

Joseph watched them go, and thought about giving a quick, soft prayer, but didn't know what to say. Instead, he went to the car and headed north toward MacLunie's land, where Molly Fraser and the strike force was waiting. At least the attack on the castle would keep his mind busy, and they didn't have a minute to spare.

"Mulcifer's out of the castle and heading south," Joseph said to Molly and Leech as he climbed out of the car. "Let's do it."

There were three dozen soldiers, and they already had on tactical gear, as did Molly. "We'll let the troops take care of getting the castle secured," she said, "but we'd better wear the gear just in case of a stray sniper." She helped Joseph slip on a bulletproof vest and a riot helmet, and handed him a British-made automatic rifle.

Then Molly, Joseph, Leech, and three taciturn types whom Joseph suspected were MI5 spooks of varying degrees of importance watched from the ridge as the soldiers climbed into four of the vehicles. They drove across the field until they turned onto the dirt drive of the castle, then sped toward it, coming to a halt ten yards from the inner gatehouse.

There they stormed out and ran through the rubble of the fallen outer wall and through the narrow passageway into the inner ward. Joseph heard the rattle of gunfire, and hoped that it wasn't Colin Mackay who was going down. The troops had been given the man's description, and had been told not to shoot any man similar in appearance. It was possible that Mackay might battle the intruders, but what was more likely was that he was now imprisoned somewhere by Mulcifer, guarded by his own former comrades.

The firing lasted less than a minute, then stopped. Leech's field phone twittered, and he opened it and listened, then said a few words Joseph couldn't hear and closed it again. "They've secured the place. There were only half a dozen men inside. They shot four, and captured two others who weren't armed." He nodded briskly. "Let's go in."

As they entered the inner ward, Joseph saw the soldiers standing about, some caring for their own wounded, and others for the wounded terrorists. Two of the terrorists, seemingly unharmed, had been handcuffed to a post. Other soldiers were running along the walkway of the inner curtain, looking into every alcove to make certain that there were no terrorists hidden there.

"We've got a dozen men going through the place, sir," the commander, who seemed as relaxed as if he'd taken a walk in the park, told Leech. "Got three men down, but none dead. We killed two of theirs, wounded two, captured two more. Unless the men turn up more, that's all they had in here."

One of the soldiers came up to the commander. "Sir, found several containers of VX stored in one of those rooms over there."

"Good heavens, it was them," Leech said, with a grudging nod to Molly Fraser. Then he turned to Joseph. "I hope your people stay on the ones who got out."

"Not half as much as I do, Mr. Leech," Joseph replied. "I don't see Colin Mackay here, though."

"Left with the van of gas?" Molly suggested.

"Not likely. He'd never stand for it. But I think I know where he may be."

Joseph led Molly and Leech, accompanied by several soldiers, to the trapdoor that led to the bottle dungeon. "If he's there, I want to go down and talk to him first," he said. "I know how badly you want to arrest him, Mr. Leech, but believe me, he's the only one who we can be sure might be able to end this. If we don't have his cooperation, we have nothing. I know how you feel about him, but I want him to be treated with dignity."

Joseph looked at two of the soldiers and gestured to the trapdoor. They lifted it, and immediately a voice came from below. "What's happened? I heard shots! What the hell's
happened
?"

At Joseph's silent direction, the soldiers lowered the ladder into the pit, and Joseph called down. "Mackay, it's me, Joseph Stein. I'm coming down." He handed his weapon to Molly, and climbed down the ladder.

At the bottom, he turned and faced Mackay. The man looked terrible, gaunt and unshaven, his eyes hollows filled with worry. "Familiar situation," Joseph said. "Only our roles are reversed."

"What was the shooting about? Did you get that bastard?"

"Mulcifer? No, he's gone off to wherever his next target is. But hopefully my colleagues will be able to stop him."

"He's off to Edinburgh," Mackay said, "and I hope to God they can. But he said he ordered you to kill yourself—and your colleagues. What happened?"

"He didn't realize that one of my colleagues is the fastest gun in the west. As for what happened up above, we brought in a strike team to take the castle. Two more of your men are dead."

Mackay's face balled up like the fists he clenched. He swung around and slammed them both against the wall. "Ah Christ, Christ, did you
have
to do that?"

"You know Mulcifer's power. He turned them into machines, ready to defend this place with their lives. And they did, unfortunately. Your cause is finished, Colin. The soldiers are inside the castle."

Mackay turned and looked at Joseph with eyes so tired, sad, and wise that Joseph thought he seemed every minute of his century-long life span. "My cause was finished," he said softly, "when I first began to search for that deil in human shape."

"That's true. And maybe more than just your cause. You gave him a focus, you gave him opportunity. And he took every advantage of it. There are hundreds of bodies already to prove that."

"What would you have me do?" Mackay said angrily. "I'd do anything, give my damned, worthless life to have what he's done expunged! But I don't know
how
!"

"We have an idea," said Joseph. "And we're ready to go through with it. But you're the keystone. It's nothing without you."

Mackay looked at him suspiciously. "Why?"

"Because you're the only person in this world who we
know
he can't control."

"That's shite. There must be millions of others."

"You may be right. But there's no way to try them out except in front of Mulcifer himself. And we're not going to get a second shot at this. But there's another reason, too. There's nobody living that Mulcifer hates more than you. He looks at you, he sees your father. He'd follow you anywhere to destroy you, even more so if he were to think that you screwed him the way your father and the other Templars did. He'd follow you into hell itself."

"And if that would put him there, I'd be willing to go. Now that you know that, let's cut this shite and go upstairs so you can introduce me to your English friends. And then you all can tell me what exactly it is you have in mind."

Chapter 49
 

"T
hat looks like a lovely place," Mulcifer said. "I'm sure you boys must be hungry." Gordon MacGregor looked at the small restaurant up ahead. It did double duty as a filling station, with pumps out front. The sign showed a picture of an old man sitting in a chair facing the viewer. The painted words read "AULD ANGUS."

As MacGregor pulled into the small parking lot and parked the van at the side of the building, he thought about his friend Angus and the others who had died. He had shot Danny Christie, his nephew, in cold blood, and then had turned his gun on John Caldwell, but the others had already shot him down. And the beast in the seat next to him was the man responsible, and there wasn't a damned thing that MacGregor could do about it.

He knew where they were headed, he knew what they were about to do, and he knew that he would die in the doing of it, and all he could do was whatever this Mulcifer wanted.

They got out of the van, and MacGregor knew that the others were in the same sinking boat. He suspected that Michael Brownlee still had a touch of his own will left, for he hadn't shot at either of the men back at the castle. Still, Michael was a follower, not a leader, and was apt to do what the majority did, even if it was crazed.

It was early afternoon, and there were a few people having lunch inside. MacGregor ordered a sausage meat-and-onionfilled hot roll. It was a humble last meal, but he was hungry for it. It no sooner came, however, than Mulcifer started his games with the patrons.

 

T
ony and Laika slowed when they saw the van pull into the restaurant. When it was out of sight behind the trees that lined the road, he waited long enough for whoever was inside it to get out and enter the restaurant, then resumed his normal speed and pulled into the parking lot.

The van was parked at the side of the building, and they were relieved to see that the driver had backed it in, so that the rear doors were facing the trees. Tony pulled into the open space next to it. The wall before them had only a few small, curtained windows. "Restrooms. We lucked out," said Laika.

"Let's hope our luck holds," said Tony, "and they didn't leave anybody in the van." Tony looked through the windows next to him and saw no one, but that didn't mean someone couldn't be in the back.

There was no one else in the parking lot, and Tony got out, walked to the front window of Mulcifer's van, and looked inside. No one was there, and nothing else was visible inside. What they were transporting was on the floor, hidden by the seats.

Tony thought it was stupid not to leave a guard, but it made sense from everything he had learned about Mulcifer. The sonofabitch was so arrogant that he couldn't dream of anything standing in his way that he couldn't put down. Well, the sonofabitch was wrong this time.

Laika stood watch from inside their van while Tony went around to the back of Mulcifer's with his picks. Car locks were the easiest things in the world. A feeler pick unlocked it in twenty seconds. Tony examined the door seam for alarms, found none, and opened the back.

He breathed a sigh of relief and whispered, "Thank you, God," when he saw the canisters. There were two of them, the same light green color, the same new sheen, despite their age, and the same stenciled ten-character line of letters and numbers ending in "-VX." The codes weren't exactly the same, but he doubted that Mulcifer or his companions would have been so anal as to memorize them. Four semi-automatic rifles also lay on the floor.

In another few seconds Tony had the back door of his own van open. "Two of them," he said to Laika. "Looks good." He effortlessly slid one of the replacement canisters out and carried it the few feet to Mulcifer's van. He slid out one of their canisters, glad to find that its weight was nearly similar to the one he would replace it with, slid the harmless one in, and took the VX to his van.

Then he repeated the process, but before he closed and relocked the back doors of Mulcifer's van, he spoke to Laika from the rear of the van. "There are other weapons in here. Should I unload them?"

Laika thought for only a few seconds. "No. They won't check the gas, but they may check their weapons beforehand. Finish up."

As he locked Mulcifer's van, Tony knew she was right. If they found the guns empty, they would know they had been made, and they couldn't take that risk. At least thousands wouldn't die from the gas. They needed all the time they could get back at the castle, and if a few more innocent people got shot, it was a price that had to be paid.

Tony got back into the van and pulled slowly out of the parking lot, remembering what one of his trainers had told him during his first year in the Company: "Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty if you want to clean things up." And that was what he had had to do just now. He wondered who those rifles might kill, and then tried to dismiss the thought.

"Nice job," Laika said, as they headed up the road the way they had come, northwest toward Gairloch. "From the time you opened your door to the time you got back in, two minutes flat."

In spite of himself, Tony smiled. There were, after all, small pleasures to be taken in one's skills. He smiled, too, at the thought of Mulcifer's reaction when he released the gas upon the city of Edinburgh.

But now they had more work to do, and he put more pressure on the accelerator. It would take another few hours for Mulcifer to get to Edinburgh and try to carry out his deadly plan, and probably another four to return to Castle Dirk. They would have to be ready to give him a warm welcome back.

BOOK: Siege of Stone
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