In “The Stream,” Boyle and his team get jumped in Kathmandu by a crew who may work for the Chinese.
In “The Vault,” a special section of Canada’s Communications Security Establishment is monitoring Kathmandu, which has gone dark to all electronic and parapsychic traffic. Madison and Heather, two agents from the Vault, joined their international spec ops team in “Meet & Greet.” That team was going after Boyle in Kathmandu.
In “Mission Unlikely,” we learn that Boyle and his team have gone missing. Becca meets Alex in Monrovia in order to get him to come with her to Kathmandu to find Boyle. Off the record and off the reservation.
In “The Bedouin,” Kyle and Meredith from the Prospero Group contract the intelligence broker known as the Bedouin to get them a lead on what is happening in Kathmandu.
In “The Russian,” Alex meets with Rudi the Russian, a contact in Burma, who agrees to supply both equipment and information for Alex’s forway into Nepal.
Now the Bedouin has returned to his old haunts, seeking help from the Indian secret service. He has a meet in the Chandni Chowk market with an old contact. But as with all plans of mice and men, this one goes astray.
Six: From Delhi With Indifference
The Bedouin stood near a paratha stall on an alley within sight of the Chandni Chowk. The market was crowded, and pedestrians jostled him regularly. It didn’t bother him. He had once lived near here, in Delhi. He knew it well. This was a homecoming of sorts. But he wasn’t there to lose himself in nostalgia. He needed information. He figured his contacts in the Research and Analysis Wing might have something for him. Probably not much—nobody had much—but he could aggregate his many tidbits into a substantial meal.
His contact was already late. That made the Bedouin nervous. His people worshipped at punctuality’s altar. He leaned against the wall and swallowed his reservations along with a bite of paratha. He needed to find the connections, find something that lived close enough to the truth that he could navigate the rest of the way.
He did not know the man who moved toward him through the crowd, but he knew that man came for him. The Bedouin knew this. Asian featured, the man’s long coat likely hid weapons—guns, knives, or both. The Bedouin saw the man’s intention, he saw it clear.
This man had come to kill the Bedouin.
Curiosity made the Bedouin await the man, that same curiosity that made him do so many foolish things.
Their eyes met. The man—the Bedouin saw the name Tashi—paused. The Bedouin smiled. The man named Tashi glanced around. The first look, the Bedouin read as the search. The second look gave away his two back-ups. Two groups with four men each, one group on each side of Tashi, marked themselves with their subtle reactions.
Someone seriously wanted to kill the Bedouin. Not that this was unheard of.
The Bedouin waited, his back to the wall. The weight of the two Glock 18s in his shoulder rigs should have been reassuring, but they weren’t enough. Nine men had come to kill him, but at whose behest and for what reason? The Bedouin had been careful to create as few enemies as possible, covering his tracks, employing cutouts, sanitizing information before passing it on. Still, one cannot help but annoy powerful men when one passes on their secrets.
Tashi began to approach. Strange, a Nepalese name but not a Nepalese person. What does he think of all this?
Just when Tashi reached the mouth of the alley, a good three metres from the Bedouin, the Bedouin held up his hand. “That is most certainly far enough.” The Bedouin spoke in Mandarin, both because few here would speak that and because he liked to play his hunches.
Oh yes, he had a hunch.
“I thought you had resigned yourself to the inevitable.” Tashi also spoke Mandarin, but the Bedouin thought it sounded like Taiwanese Mandarin.
“Nothing is inevitable.” This time the Bedouin tried Taiwanese Minnan.
“Not exactly true.” Tashi’s Minnan was that of Fujian, not Taiwan. “Your death is absolutely inevitable. It can be quick, or it can be painful.”
Taiwanese Mandarin but Fujian Minnan? It didn’t make sense, unless both were second languages, learnt later in life. The Bedouin played another hunch and switched to English. “I’ve had some of the best in the business come after me. You and your friends are not quite so talented.”
“You’re playing games,”Tashi said in English.
It was tough, but the Bedouin would put money on California. It made him smile. That made Tashi eyes narrow and his brow furrow.
“You have a joke you want to share?” Tashi asked.
One group of Tashi’s confederates covered the mouth of the alley from across the street. If the Bedouin attempted to escape that way, too many innocents would get caught in the crossfire. And where was the other group? Likely trying to get behind the Bedouin, cut off his other escape.
These nine didn’t know Delhi. They didn’t know the market. They certainly did not know the Bedouin.
“Why a Nepalese name?” The Bedouin returned to Mandarin. “Did you think to fool me?”
“What are you talking about?” Tashi sneered and scoffed. “You don’t know my name.”
“Who calls you Tashi?” The Bedouin asked. “I would doubt it is your mother.”
That made Tashi take a step back, his hand went under his jacket. The Bedouin flattened himself against the wall, side to the road. He had a hand on one of his Glocks. Tashi didn’t draw.
“They didn’t tell me you were an ESPer.” Tashi said.
“They would have told you what they knew, and they know nothing of my talents,” the Bedouin said. “I, on the other hand, know much about you.”
Tashi’s hand slowly slid out of his jacket, empty. “The name is part of the job. That’s all.” He spoke English, apparently not caring who heard and could understand.
“I hope the plan is not to have me believe the Chinese sent you.” The Bedouin winnked. “That will not happen.”
“You have all the answers, do you?” Tashi spat off to the side. “Then you should know what’s about to happen to you.”
The Bedouin rubbed his nose with his right hand—his left still on one of his Glocks. “Before the event which you have described as inevitable takes place, tell me, why would you want me to believe the Chinese have sent you?”
“I’m not the one pretending anything,” Tashi said. “I’m not the Algerian pretending to be a Bedouin.”
“Ah, yes, the Algerian bit.” The Bedouin chuckled. “I take it you’ve read the Ahmed Zeghida file? The one important thing that the file does not tell you is that Ahmed Zeghida died before his first birthday. I am not Algerian.”
At first Tashi laughed. He shook his head. The laughter became strained. “Why tell me now when it’s been a secret so long?” Tashi coughed, then went rigid.
The Bedouin glanced around, noting that no person stood within earshot. “Because that particular file is worded very specifically and includes a semantic trigger formula.” He drew his Glock, keeping it under his coat. “I know there are no listening devices, nor eavesdropping. I know this.” He screwed the silencer onto the Glock. “And I know you won’t be telling anyone. I apologize. If I thought there were another way . . .”
Tashi blinked. The Bedouin put two rounds into his chest, then moved forward to ease the body down to a crouching slouch. Two men broke from the crowd at the mouth of the alley. The Bedouin fired four times. Both men went down. The crowd started to shriek and surge away from the falling bodies. Two other men drew sub-machine guns from under their coats. They went down to one knee. They took aim.
Four more rounds from the Bedouin’s Glock and they too lay on the ground. The Bedoin reloaded.
He rifled through Tashi’s pockets quickly. That second group of four was somewhere close by, probably trying to cut off any escape routes. They could return. He moved with deliberate speed. By touch, he noted the importance of some items. The transceiver had been handled by a woman who hid her true intentions. The pistol had been fired by a man who believed he knew the truth about Tashi’s employers.
The curious had begun to overcome their fear, and gawkers began to poke heads out from cover. The Bedouin had no more time. With a mere whisper, he traded faces with Tashi. Now to the onlookers, the Bedouin lay dead and Tashi began to scale a building using a drain pipe that looked far too flimsy for that purpose.
On the roof, the Bedouin paused to catch his breath. He had expended a lot of energy in a short time. He needed to regain his centre, regain his focus. He could hear the crowd now, returning to the streets and discussing in loud and excited voices what had happened. Everyone had an opinion on the identities of the actors and their presumed purposes. None of them were correct.
The Bedouin put on the transceiver’s rig, which fit snuggly over his ear.
“Alpha, respond. Beta, respond.” The man on the other end spoke Russian.
Russian? That made little sense. But then again, nothing so far that day made sense.
“Clear the comm, he’s on.” The man speaking Russian did not seem perturbed or fazed. He spoke with quiet assurance. “Are you listening, Ahmed?” This time, the man spoke French. “You know there is one more group, one last gauntlet to pass. They will not offer such easy targets. But if you do live, and I doubt this greatly, you can find me in Kathmandu. I will be waiting for you. We will finish it there if you are not finished now.”
The Bedouin felt the slight heat on the back of his neck, an all but imperceptible dot of heat. The dot moved, rising to the back of his head.
He jerked to the side, all but throwing himself from the roof. Behind him, he heard a sharp crack. A mist of dust and chunks of concrete rose from the roof. He could pinpoint the shooter on an adjacent rooftop. The shooter had some kind of marksman’s Armalite.
As he switched the Glock to automatic, the Bedouin saw the shooter’s eyes widen, only for a moment. The next second, the shooter would fire again. The Bedouin needed to take that second from him.
With a few quick bursts of automatic fire, the Bedouin emptied his magazine. He did not bother to reload. Jamming the Glock back into his shoulder rig as best he could with the silencer still attached, the Bedouin dodged around the antennas, satellite dishes, laundry and general chaos of the Delhi rooftops.
His opposition had sent four teams after him—Tashi, the four at the alley, the four circling around, and the shooter. He had only noted three. That led him to believe someone powerful had shielded the shooter. He had played into their hands. He had allowed himself to be distracted.
Bullets cracked past him, supersonic. There could be other shooters shielded from him. He had to get off the rooftops and get into the Delhi crowds. He needed to disappear once again. But he intended to find his opposition. He needed to remove that thorn. And if that meant a trip to Kathmandu, so be it.
First, though, he needed to get out of Delhi alive.
Mundus Novit: Dark Horizons will continue with “Dirty Hands.”