This follows Seventeen: Foibles
Eighteen: Who’s Taking the High Road?
“How safe is this safehouse, yknow, exactly?” Digs had his Browning Hi-Power in hand, discrete but ready.
“As safe as possible.” Gurung led Digs up a rickety flight of stairs on the side of a three story structure that looked fabricated out of poured concrete. It was on a street block filled with more of the same. Windows and balconies revealed these to be tenements. Bikes were chained to railings or left for thieves desperate enough to want them. “Nowhere in this city is completely safe right now.”
Digs noted the quiet. Usually in a residential area, one heard life. People talked, or listened to the radio, maybe watched TV–but around here, nothing. It unnerved him. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
With neither reply nor recognition of Digs comment, Gurung stopped on the third storey, the top flight of the stairs. He listened at the door, but given the volume of their conversation, the precaution seemed odd. He drew his Browning, older and having seen more service than Digs’. “I think we’ve got a situation.”
Pulling the slide on his Browning back slightly, Digs verified he had a round chambered. “You heard something?”
“Nothing.” Gurung stared at the door, as though he could will himself to see through it. “That’s what worries me.”
If someone was in there, they would expect company. That staircase had creaked and groaned as it threatened to collapse. Digs and Gurung wouldn’t be getting the drop on anyone. No, they’d be walking into an ambush. As much as he would have liked to have just cut bait and run, Gurung’s people might be in there, maybe prisoners, maybe hostages.
And maybe everyone was out getting cake.
Gurung had his weapon ready, Digs tight behind him. Gurung gestured right, pointed at Digs with his chin, and then gestured left. Digs nodded.
Son of a bitch, we’re going to die.
Weapon up, Gurung quietly tried the doorknob.
It wasn’t locked.
Digs felt the adrenaline, felt the rush, the high. At that moment, the fear of death subsided. The thrill of action enveloped him. He coiled, ready to launch. His eyes became laser focused, his ears keyed to specific sounds, specific warnings.
The door swung open, and they moved–low, fast, sweep the room.
Target one–that was Walker.
That was Walker!
Walker stared down his sights, finger on the trigger. Digs raised his weapon over his head, stood straight, started to call to Walker just as Walker lowered the barrel of the MP5K. Digs still heard the shouts around the room.
“On the ground, on the ground!” Jeffries’s voice came firm but calm.
“Hold it! Stand down! He’s a friendly!” A woman’s voice demanded notice.
“Drop the weapon! Drop it!” Mads didn’t hide his anxiety well, though his words still rang with command.
Digs turned. Weapons all around the room remained fixed on Gurung, who held his Browning over his head, and slowly lowered himself to his knees.
“It’s good, it’s good,” Digs said. He didn’t get in the way of the pointed weapons, that would be stupid, but he waved his arms to get everyone’s attention. “He’s with me. It’s good.”
Slowly, weapons around the room lowered. An Asian woman had a silenced Steyr TMP on a tactical rig, hanging now. Digs recognized her from the briefing– Lt. Rebecca Park.
“Goddamnit, man.” Walker laughed. “I just about shit myself.”
Letting out a held breath, Gurung released a bit of laughter along with it. “I never wish to do that again.”
That was when Digs saw Dyck in the corner, on a cot, looking pale. He recognized the situation for what it was. Dyck had been shot.
Removing the suppressor from his weapon, he went over to Walker. “I’ve got shitty news.”
“There’s a mole,” Walker said. “I mean, other than your buddy over there.”
Digs glanced at Gurung, then back at Walker. “Yeah, besides my buddy. How’d you figure it?”
A low chuckle came from Walker. “We didn’t. Scott told us. Seems to know it all. Seeing as we’re only missing Flick, I’m guessing he was the one.”
“That’s what Boyle said, after he aired him out.”
Walker’s eyes narrowed. “You met Boyle?”
“Got jumped by, but yeah, met,” Digs said.
“We’re going to need to talk.”
“For certain, but two questions, man: how’s the Dick doing and what’s with Park?”
Leaning close, Walker spoke quietly “The Dick is fine, mostly thanks to Park. We hooked up with her and Scott after our little cafe reconnaissance turned into a clusterfuck.”
“Scott?” Digs glanced over at Park, who was speaking with Gurung. “You mean the guy working with Boyle?”
“Listen, none of that shit may be true,” Walker said. “Right now, Scott is getting us a doc for the Dick. After that, we’ll have some time to talk. And your friend?”
Digs had forgotten for the moment that no one else on the team had met Gurung. “Working with Boyle? Maybe. He’s working with someone.”
“Apparently including Park, and therefore Scott.” Walker scratched at the stubble on his chin. “Looks like everyone on the fucking board knows the game while we stumble around blind.”
“That’s pretty much business as usual, boss.” Digs figured Walker would have command, partially for rank and partially because no one else likely wanted it.
“Doesn’t make it suck any less.”
Gurung and Lt. Park approached the two. “Lt. Walker, my name’s Gurung.” He extended his hand. Walker took it. “I hesitate to say this, given the circumstances, but we must go. Park and Scott have a prisoner, and no one is watching him. Sergeant Dyck is stable and Scott should be here soon with a doctor. We need to secure the prisoner. And there is the question of your own guest. Perhaps we could secure him as well. We may have access to a rather efficient interrogator.”
“Wait a minute.” Jeffries had come up behind Gurung and Park. “The mysterious Lt. Park and Digs’ very questionable friend just walk out of here? With Scott not even back yet? And possibly taking our only source of information with them? I don’t think so.”
Walker offered a tight smile. “Listen, Heather, I trust Scott. He’ll be back.”
Jeffries’ face remained tight, her eyes hard. “I understand you have a history and trust the guy, but everyone’s been playing us like a piano since before we got here.”
“That much is true,” Walker said.
“And you don’t see that as a problem?” Jeffries asked.
“Gurung may have access to an interrogator.” Park spoke quiet and cool, like she knew she had what the team needed–no hard sell required. Probably the right tact, given that Jeffries didn’t seem willing to offer anyone a free pass. “He’s got someone who can get the job done quick and done right.”
“Is that a fact?” Jeffries’ crooked smile had little humour to it. “That’s convenient.”
“It is a fact, Ms. Jeffries.” Gurung met Jeffries’ gaze, but with no obvious hostility or challenge. “In truth, I am not certain I will be able to gain access to the interrogator, but if I am successful, we may have the answer to the Kathmandu silence.”
“Are we talking ‘enhanced techniques’?” Digs asked. “There’s no way I’m going to a party to that. No more CIA bush-league bullshit.”
That brought a slight quirk to Gurung’s mouth—almost a smile. “I am not part of the CIA, nor the NSA, nor any other Homeland Security organization.”
Mads walked up behind Lt. Park. “We need help. We need the information. How else can we get it? I’m guessing this guy has more contacts in the Kat than we do.”
“In the Kat?” Walker raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
Mads shrugged. “Thought it needed a spiffy moniker.”
“Potential monikers aside, Mr. Sinclair is correct,” Gurung said. “I have contacts. I can be of use to you.”
Mads eyes narrowed as he focued on Gurung. “Those contacts, they might include a certain Irish guy named Boyle, right?”
“That is correct.” Gurung met Mads’ gaze evenly. “I am Boyle’s fixer just as I am yours.”
“Didn’t help him all that much, now did it.” Digs mumbled this, almost under his breath.
“He’s still alive.” Gurung held out his open hands. “That was a trick, I assure you.”
“Let me get this straight.” Digs didn’t need Jeffries’ tone crossed arms to tell him she was about to get seriously contrary. “We’re talking about letting two ciphers walk away with our only source of information, in the hopes that the colleague of the man we are supposed to be bringing in will uncover that information and then relay it to us. Are you telling me that sounds like a good idea?”
“I’m telling you it makes sense,” Walker said. “We’re not going to get anything out of this guy, not immediately. There may be a very real and very ominous clock ticking.”
“Listen, Walker trusts Scott, and Scott trusts Becca.” Mads coloured slightly when he looked at Lt. Park. “I trust Becca too. And Becca trusts this guy. So what do we have here? It’s a great big circle of trust, people. Let’s let them into the circle of trust.” He paused for a couple of beats. “What, no one saw the movie?”
“This isn’t the time, Mads,” Jeffries said.
“It is exactly the time.” Mads looked her in the eyes, no levity on his face. “It’s not a joke, Heather. The way I see it, we’ve got a few choices. We can bail on the mission. We can continue to stick out our necks until we get our heads chopped off. Or we can put some trust on the table and get the big reward. Worst comes to worst, it might put us a step closer to Boyle.”
“That might not be a place you would enjoy standing,” said Gurung.
“What makes you so certain that Boyle and his crew will be able to crack these guys?” Jeffries asked. “Why should we even risk it.”
“They’ve got an ESPer.” Mads held Jeffries’ eyes. “Put it together: Gurung’s the fixer for Boyle’s team, so he’s got access to them, right? They’re Tangible Stream. You know they’ve got at least one ESPer with them, last count. You want enhanced interrogation? It doesn’t get much more enhanced than that shit.”
Continued in Nineteen: Getting In Your Head