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Authors: Chet Williamson

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BOOK: Siege of Stone
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"He won't remember you? Or us?"

The Prisoner smiled at the thought. "No." He went back to the police car and spoke to the officer, who drove away. "He won't remember his own name. Nothing. He's born again as of today." He looked at the car. "Shall we?"

Chapter 8
 

C
olin Mackay loathed the creature sitting next to him. He thought that he had never before been in the presence of any man who seemed so completely amoral. He had spoken of killing the copper so casually that it made Colin's skin crawl. He couldn't understand it. Life was a gift, and death was a tool that you could use to further your ends, to advance your cause, and under those conditions you had to be callous. But to kill for bloodlust alone, to kill because you could, was the act of a barbarian.

But somehow, he was going to have to talk this barbarian into killing for him.

"My name is Colin Mackay, though it's not a name I go by," he began. "And I know who you are because of the things my father told me. He is Sir Andrew Mackay, and I don't know whether he's alive or dead at this point. Frankly, I don't much care. But he told me who and what you were, and what you could do."

"And what did he tell you I was?"

"He said you were the Antichrist, and that he and the rest of the twelve surviving Knights Templar were supposed to try and keep the world from your ill effects while the church kept you prisoner."

"And did you believe him?"

Colin thought for a moment. "When you know your father has lived for eight centuries, you tend to be pretty accepting toward things other folk would call fantastic. I believe it all except for the Antichrist part. You're not the Antichrist. There's no such beastie."

"Yet you call me the devil—or the
Deil
."

"That's because we don't know what else to call you. You have a name, then?"

"I do. But I believe you would find it unpronounceable. I'd have trouble myself, with this . . ." He paused. "Well, I'd have trouble. But you should have some name for me. What about . . . Mulcifer?"

It was an ugly name, Colin thought. It sounded like a rotten fruit. "And where did that come from?" he asked.

"From Dr. Weyer's
Pseudo-monarchia Daemonum
, which was kindly given to me in 1590 by a thoughtful priest. He hoped that if I read the chronicle of all the devils in hell, it might assist in my conversion. Actually, it was very funny, and quite entertaining."

"So, uh, who's this Mulcifer?" Angus asked from the backseat.

"The architect of hell," said the person or being that Colin Mackay would now try to think of as Mulcifer. "So tell me what picking me up was all about, and also how you found me, if you don't mind."

Colin told Mulcifer how they had tracked him down, and then turned to the more delicate subject of their collaboration. "I know what your powers are, how you can affect people, turn them against each other. I also know that you like your dirty little tricks, and the bloodier, the better. But all alone, just moving about the country, you don't have much opportunity to tackle a big score, a real coup. For that you need . . ." He nearly choked on the word. ". . . Friends. Colleagues. Collaborators. You need a network of some sort to protect you and work with you. And that's what we can offer you. Your . . . expertise, to benefit our cause. We both profit."

"Your cause. What
is
your cause?"

"Scotland. We're Nationalists. We believe that Scotland should be fully independent of the English Crown. It is a separate country. England stole it centuries ago, and we want it back. Oh, aye, we've a devolved parliament now, but the United Kingdom's Parliament is still the supreme authority. We want
all
of Scotland's money to stay in Scotland, we want our oil and our fisheries and our electronics and other industries to benefit our own families and children alone. We—"

"Enough," Mulcifer said, looking out the window as though he were bored. "You could have answered me in one word, and it would have been enough."

Colin could have answered him in thousands, and there still would have been more to tell. He could have talked about the Nationalist upsurge of the late twenties, when he had first begun to learn of the injustices done against his country. He could have told of the voices he had heard over the decades—of Neil Gunn and Hugh Macdiarmid, of Maxton and Mackintosh, of all those who spoke in the hot tongue of home rule.

But London had ignored those voices, or tried to still them by doling out occasional sweets of political favor, the same way in which Edward I had satisfied the Scottish nobles nearly seven hundred years before. Some had said that the recent devolution and the resulting Scottish Parliament would be the next step on the road toward full autonomy, but England still controlled monetary policy and employment legislation, and would continue to do so. No, there could be no slow, gentle slide into independence. Freedom had to be taken from a government as grasping and imperialistic as England's. Ireland was proof enough of that.

"You want to make England bleed," Mulcifer said, "and you think that I'm the one to do the job."

"Aye, in a nutshell. We're all set up to harass and terrorize England. The better job of it we can do, the faster they'll be willing to grant total sovereignty. And you'll have all the English blood you can spill, so long as you restrict your actions to government targets—English military and police. We don't want civilian casualties. And we sure as hell don't want slaughtered families."

The creature turned and looked at Colin, and his grin made his dark and handsome face seem like a skull. "I'll try not to disappoint ye . . . brother." The voice was an exact rendition of the highland dialect, but even more, it rang in Colin Mackay's ears like the echo of his own voice, though neither Angus nor Rob nor James seemed to notice.

Colin tried to concentrate on the road ahead, and asked Mulcifer, "So where were you headed, going east like you were?"

"I was going to try and find another friend," he said. "But then you lads came along, and I think you'll prove to be far better friends than ever I had before."

 

A
nd I'll prove a far greater enemy than any you've ever known. I'll make your English foes look like little girls in lace. But first I'll twist your soul and make you wish you'd never even heard of me from your damned father . . .

This was ideal, Mulcifer thought, for that was how he would think of himself as well. The architect of hell, the one who would turn this earth into a slaughterhouse where souls were forgotten, where men and women and children were only meat, pure flesh to suffer and feed his hungry spirit.

The havoc would be wonderful, but equally grand would be his revenge upon Sir Andrew Mackay through the destruction of his son. The man would know all the torments of the damned and more, before Mulcifer finally struck him down.

 

A
s they were driving on the Pennsylvania turnpike late that evening, there was a call on the car's cell phone. Brian, back at the New York headquarters, had received a letter from an Inverness firm of solicitors. The letter had been shuttled through the usual channels before it had arrived at their Manhattan mail drop.

"Open it and read it to me," Colin told him.

The letter stated that as Mr. Francis Scobie's father, Alister Scobie, had not been heard from by the firm of Dingwall, McCord, Pollock and Herrie within the time period set forth by the elder Mr. Scobie, that all his accrued wealth and the ownership of Castle Dirk in County Ross and Cromarty settled upon the younger Mr. Scobie. The letter further requested Francis Scobie to report to the solicitors' office and take possession of the property.

"Thank you," Colin said, and ended the call. He took a deep breath. The news meant that his father, who had owned Castle Dirk for centuries, and for the past thirty years under the name of Alister Scobie, was dead. He was to contact the solicitors every six months, and were he to miss such a contact, Colin was to be alerted by the solicitors, and to assume that Sir Andrew was dead.

Colin had thought it likely his father had perished in the mass deaths in upstate New York. But since only eleven bodies had been found, he thought it possible that his father might have survived. If he had, he was gone now. It was possible that whoever had killed the other Templars might have done for Sir Andrew as well.

Colin was ambivalent about the news. He had no tears for his father. After almost a hundred years of life, he had no tears for anything. And how could one truly mourn the death of a man who had lived nearly a millennium? His father'd had his fill of life, Colin had seen that in his eyes the last time they had met, fifteen years earlier.

Although Colin didn't particularly believe in the god his father had defended since the reign of the Bruce, he saw some guiding hand here, some act of destiny that, within hours, provided him not only with a terrible new weapon, but also with a stronghold from which he might wield it. He had sworn to go back to Scotland only when he was ready to free it, and that time had come. What better center of operations than a castle?

"We're going back now," he said to the others. "And we have a place to go back to." He told them about Castle Dirk, but not about the death of his father. They knew his real name, but not his ancestry, and not the truth about his age. Angus had said many times, "Ye're wise beyond your years, Colin," but he didn't know that Colin Mackay's years numbered ninety-eight.

"It'll be grand to see the old land again," Angus said softly, or at least as softly as he could speak, with his growl of a voice.

"Aye," said Colin. "We'll take a few days to finish things up here and have the place prepared for our coming."

"Like Prince Charlie coming back over the water," Rob said, recalling the Jacobite dream. "But we'll have better fortune than poor Charlie."

Colin hoped so. Charlie might have had a better chance had
he
had a devil beside him, thirsty for English blood.

Chapter 9
 

S
everal days after Colin Mackay drove to New York City with the being known as Mulcifer, Laika Harris received an encrypted message in her e-mail. It instructed her, Joseph Stein, and Tony Luciano to come fully packed to the front door of their building at ten thirty that evening, where a white van labeled "Portobello Limo Service" would pick them up. That was all.

The van was there at the appointed time. Following standard operating procedure, they had transferred all the files on the desktop computers with which they had been supplied onto their laptops, then used a special Company program to completely destroy the hard drives of the desktops. Not that it mattered, since Laika knew that Company cleaners sent by Skye would come in to do a sweep of the place only minutes after the operatives had departed.

The van driver said nothing, nor did they speak to him. He took them to one of the private hangars at Philadelphia International Airport, where they took their luggage into a small waiting lounge with no windows. There, seated on a chair covered in gray cloth, was Richard Skye. He still looked like an underfed water rat, Laika thought, with his little brown mustache over his pursed lips. Those lips drew up in a purposefully insincere smile as he gestured to them to sit down.

"You're leaving the country for a time," he said without preamble in his tight, prissy voice. "Your recent activities in the wild west have gained you some notoriety among some of our . . . investigatory colleagues in the government." He paused, as though he expected one of them to say something, but they all only looked at him. "Do you know who Joshua Yazzie is?" Skye asked flatly.

Laika was glad to see that her colleagues' faces were unreadable masks. "Yes," she said. "He was a tribal policeman who assisted us in Arizona."

"He was Brian Foster," Skye said. "An FBI agent."

Laika made her eyes widen slightly. "Sonofabitch," she said softly.

"Mmm. He also seems to be missing. From a deep-cover FBI file that we intercepted, I learned the last anyone heard of him was when he was heading for Utah, apparently on your trail, Agent Harris."

"We were unaware of any such surveillance, sir."

For a moment, Skye looked at her as if he wanted to call her a liar. But instead he took a deep breath and looked up at the fissured ceiling panels. "At any rate, I've also learned that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is very anxious to confront you three. I don't really know whether your usefulness in this country is at an end, or if this is something the gray-suited shits will get over shortly. But I'm sending you abroad just the same, out of their jurisdiction.

BOOK: Siege of Stone
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