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.” While on the trail of Boyle, the team is ambushed by a group of parapsyches able to break through the Kathmandu silence. The team foiled the ambush, but at the end of “Dirty Hands,” they were facing the business ends of more firearms. The team is faced with Alexander Scott and Rebecca Kim in ” . . . I Would’ve Backed a Cake,” but an agreement is reached. That makes everyone happy, until all the prisoners—and Dyck—are cut down in a hail of gunfire.
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. Alex then goes to meet a contact in Burma in “The Russian.” Rudi the Russian agrees to supply both equipment and information for Alex’s forway into Nepal. Alex and Becca try to make contact with a prisoner in Kathmandu allegedly connected to Tangible Stream, but in “Target of Opportunity,” they find that someone is watching. That someone isn’t professional, and they capture him with ease. This doesn’t make them feel any better.
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. The Bedouin returns to old haunts in “From Delhi With Indifference,” only to be ambushed by hit teams led by a man with a Nepalese name but an American accent. Rudi the Russian gets sent to Kathmandu to kill the Bedouin, but Boyle and “Cascade” emerge to save Rudi from “the Cat’s Reward.”
Now, Mads finds himself in the middle of a very tense situation with lots of people and lots of guns.
Twelve: Switch of a Flick
Rudi had his Yarygin Grach pistol in hand. He stood to the left of a door in a rough and rickety building that perfectly fit his definition of decrepit. Cascade wore her earpiece–that technology the men who had ambushed Rudi had worn, which allowed Cascade to use her parapsych. Boyle had his suppressed Heckler & Koch HK53 short assault rifle at his shoulder, ready.
Inside that door, they expected to find at least two of the special operations team sent into Kathmandu to snatch Boyle. They also expected to find one traitor. Someone on that hunter team worked for the opposition, though Rudi wasn’t yet clear on who exactly the opposition were.
“Our overwatch in position?” Boyle asked Cascade, but he glanced pointedly at Rudi.
Cascade did the same. They didn’t mention Willow, the third member of their team. Rudi imagined she would be overwatch, but these two gave nothing away. Nothing for free.
“Everything’s a go.” Cascade had her silenced Beretta 96 with its extended magazine held loosely in her hand. Maybe she didn’t expect to do the shooting.
With that HK53, Boyle had more than enough rounds for anyone in that room.
“Remember, shoot to wound.” This time, Boyle spoke directly to Rudi, as though Rudi couldn’t remember simple orders. “Not everyone in the room is a bad guy.”
“What about me?” Rudi intended the question to sting. He got no response from Boyle.
Cascade’s eyes widened only slightly, her mouth tightened, her nostrils flared. Rudi’s stomach rolled. This couldn’t be good.
“He knows we’re here.” She spoke in a tight, tense whisper.
“Who?” Rudi’s tone mimicked hers.
Boyle stood at the door, poised for a dynamic entry. “Give me a picture.”
Suddenly, Rudi saw with more than his eyes. Overlaid on the wall was the room beyond it. This overlaid image had none of the sharpness and colour he saw with his eyes. Did he really see this? What, exactly, was he registering? He could feel the pressure, that slight but incessant push he felt whenever he got touched by an ESPer. Cascade had a light touch, but it was there.
The image of the room beyond the wall was strange, almost translucent, like some kind of faint neon x-ray. The furnishings of the room–which consisted of little more than a table, a few chairs, a couple of cots, a desk and some kind of couch–seemed even more ghostly than the figures of the people. One such figure reached into a drawer on the desk and drew out a weapon. The figure reclining on the couch sprang up, head turning to the door. The image washed out facial features, but Rudi could imagine the wide eyes with their questions and maybe a touch of fear.
Boyle stepped back and fired three, three-round bursts through the door. The figure by the desk shuddered as the rounds struck. The other figure seemed frozen, in a slight crouch, weapon half-way raised but not yet trained on the door.
Cascade’s firearm fell to her side, still held loose but no longer close to ready. “I have Sergeant Everson contained. He’s exceptional. Please physically restrain him.”
Boyle went through the door. Rudi followed. Boyle had let the HK53 drop to his chest, held by a tactical sling. A solidly built black man lay in an expanding pool of blood on the floor. An equally solid, sandy-blonde Caucasian crouched to the side, eyes watching but otherwise unmoving.
The man on the floor lay still. He didn’t breathe. So much for shoot to wound. Rudi, though, understood the necessity. For this man to have sensed them in the hall, he had access to something more than the five senses. He could be post-human, or something else.
Boyle drew out flex cuffs and pulled the Caucasian’s arms behind his back. “Sergeant Everson, I am disarming and restraining you for your own protection. There are things you don’t know about the man you knew as Flick.”
“Flick? You mean this guy was supposed to be Flick?” Rudi gestured to the body of the black man. “Flick’s Pakistani.”
“Yes,” said Boyle. “Someone somewhere heard he was coloured and didn’t do their due diligence.”
“Is that a bad joke?” Rudi checked for a pulse on the body. Nothing. “Who would be that stupid?”
Boyle stuck Everson’s Browning Hi-Power in his waistband. “Flick has a legend file that got accessed. His handlers let it fly. That gentleman ran around playing Flick for almost a year now while the real Flick was busy in the Hindu Kush. He almost got erased a couple of months back. This Flick has been very careful staying away from anyone in the know, but he was getting his face seen.”
Rudi stood and considered the desk–an open laptop, some notes, an AKM assault rifle. “Didn’t the CIA bring this team together?”
Cascade entered the room and closed the door. “Not the CIA. Their handler was delayed in Addis Ababa and replaced in situ.”
Everson slumped to the floor, apparently now free of Cascade’s control. Boyle helped him onto the couch.
“I’m sorry, sergeant, but you’ve been played.” Boyle pointed to the body on the floor. “That man isn’t Flick, he’s not British special forces, and he certainly wasn’t playing for your team.”
Everson gave a wry chuckle. “And I believe you because . . . ?”
The sergeant spoke the words, but they hid his real meaning. Rudi could hear the sentiment in his tone. The sergeant was on the way to being convinced already. “I imagine that your team already believed that the mission was not what it seemed, yes? You already knew someone was lying to you, but you had not deduced who.”
Cascade had gone to the body and began to search it. She didn’t seem squeamish in the least.
Boyle worked on the laptop. “Our little pretend Flick was in communication with the outside world.” He began examining the exterior of the computer. “Must be some kind of internal adjustment to the modem. Something like the headsets.”
As if on cue, Cascade held up a device similar to the one she wore. She tossed it to Boyle.
“We were sent to get you,” Everson said to Boyle.
“I’m well aware of why you are here.” Boyle turned to face Everson, leaning against the desk. “My people got their hands on Mr. Hitchens before he left the country. He has been most helpful.”
Everson’s face drew into a tight frown, if only slightly. “Your people?”
“Tangible Stream, Sergeant Everson.” Boyle offered a smile. “I believe you have heard of us.”
Everson nodded slowly. He took a long breath before speaking. He looked directly into Boyle’s eyes. “Now what? What about me?”
“You?” Boyle’s smile remained. “You are going to have the distasteful duty of dealing with this dead body. Of course, if there is nothing linking this room to you or your team, feel free to leave it here.”
While Cascade unplugged the laptop, stuffing it into her backpack, Boyle put the headset she had found on the table.
“You’ll want to share this with your people.” Boyle gently tapped the headset. “Someone has found a way to circumvent the Kathmandu silence. That someone isn’t being very friendly, and I have a feeling that Mr. Fake Flick may have caused you all some problems.”
Cascade stood at the door, staring at it. She turned to Boyle and nodded. Boyle unslung his HK53 and slid it into his canvas book bag. He gestured Rudi toward the door.
“I’m going to remove your cuffs, Sergeant Everson.” Boyle took out a knife and advanced on Everson. “I’m going to request that you not do anything heroic like attempt to detain me or my colleagues. I will leave your gun on the floor outside the door. Please feel free to retrieve it after a ten count. I don’t want to kill or incapacitate you, but I will do so if forced. Are we clear?”
“We’re clear,” Everson said. “You need to know that we’re still going to find you and we’re going to get our answers from you. Is that clear?”
Boyle slid the knife along the plastic cuffs, releasing Everson’s hands. “You are welcome to try, sergeant.”
Mundus Novit: Dark Horizons continues with “Thicker Than Water?”