Continued from Twenty-two: Warm Welcome
Twenty-three: Me and Yu
Mads and Heather sat in the back of a beaten-up, patched-up, still functioning luxury sedan that had probably seen a hard three decades. In the driver’s seat, Willow—the athletic and direct sniper from Boyle’s team—worked something that looked like a kind of smartphone/palmtop. She had a second cellphone open on the seat beside her which she monitored through an earplug and mic.
They had parked on a relatively wide road. Without a sidewalk, shops and restaurants lined either side of the street, most closed, some still open—the glow of their neon signs the only street lighting. Few people moved along the road. A handful of clusters remained in those open bars and cafés. The buildings flanking the street were almost uniformly two stories, though there were a couple with a third floor. Those second and third stories would likely be apartments, relatively impressive by Kathmandu standards.
“He’s within thirty metres.” Willow spoke through the phone, but—of course—everyone in the vehicle heard her.
“That’s a lot of space.” Mads muttered. He should have kept it to himself. Willow craned her neck to face him. Heather reacted as well. “I’m just saying, there’s plenty of flops for him in that radius.”
Willow touched the mic before she spoke. “Best we can do, Madman. If we had full kit, maybe a dedicated signals team, I’d be happier. We don’t. Give this thing time. It’s got another trick we can use.” She touched the mic again. “Signal now reading stationary.”
A car, economy sized and doing better than their battered old sedan, had pulled up and parked about eighteen metres ahead of them. The interior brightened slightly as a person inside lit a cigarette. Mads wanted a close look, and checked through the binoculars. Asian, could be Chinese—definitely reminded him of the guys in the café . . . the guys who had all been killed. He lowered the binoculars.
“Could be him.” He didn’t speak to anyone in particular, more to anyone who would listen.
“We have a possible target,” Willow said. “Give the word.”
Likely in response to what was said on the the other end—Mads assumed that would be Boyle—Willow nodded. She did something with the palmtop. “We’re triggering the clock alarm on his phone. It should start ringing. Eyes open.”
Sure enough, the occupant of the vehicle reached down and picked up an object. Mads checked the binoculars again. Definitely a cellphone. The occupant looked perplexed. Cigarette clamped in his mouth, he opened it and stared, the light shining on his face. He hit something with his thumb, and then closed the phone.
“Unless that was the biggest coincidence in the history of surveillance, we have our target,” Willow said.
Lowering his binocs, Mads touched the SIG Sauer .40 P229 autoloader in its shoulder holster. “Are we going to take him in the car?”
Willow glanced back, muting the mic. “Unlikely. We want his room. We need intel. Besides, taking someone out on the street? Unless you just want to put him down, it’s no good. Too many variables. Too many routes.”
Realizing he was sitting a little too straight, a little too far forward in the seat, Mads relaxed and eased back. Heather still had her binocs pressed against her eyes, likely watching Yu. Movement on the street caught Mads’ attention. Yu exited the vehicle, looked around, then moved to a door between a couple of closed shops. He didn’t seem particularly wary or worried.
“Blue team will go first, once we have him stationary in the building,” Willow said. “We follow once they’re in position. We move fast and we keep our weapons out of sight.”
“Aren’t you just repeating what we discussed back at the safehouse?” Mads asked.
Willow offered him a smile. “Always good to go over a plan just before kick-off, right? When was the last time you were involved in a take-down?”
Mads responded with a bright smile of his own. “That would be never.”
“So then my repeating this is probably a good thing for everyone involved, right?” She looked down at the palmtop then triggered her mic. “He’s stationary. Can’t get a better fix with this thing, but the direction-finder should let you pinpoint.” She listened for a moment. “Roger. Standing by.” She looked up. “Get ready.”
Having left her longarm back at the safehouse, Willow had what looked like a pretty new MP5 submachine gun on the seat beside her. It had a suppressor affixed, as well as a flashlight, but no further goodies. Mads only had his SIG. Heather had obtained an MP5 as well, looking a little more worn, and lacking any gadgets save the removable suppressor.
Drawing out his SIG, keeping it low, Mads felt vaguely nauseous.
A battered brown van—one of an apparent fleet of crappy-looking but high-performing vehicles Boyle had collected—pulled up just in front of Yu’s car. Out of it poured blue team, Boyle’s team. Boyle, Becca and Walker moved quickly through the door. Boyle would have a palmtop similar to Willow’s, but his was set to direction finding, basically pointing in the direction of the cellphone signal.
Mads’ heart beat loudly in his chest. His breath came faster. He felt flush. He had a dim sense of needing to take a dump. It wasn’t insistent, wasn’t immediate, but something pushed on his bowels. He could just imagine losing his shit—literally—in the middle of a fight. Memorable.
“We’re on.” Willow lifted her weapon, cradling it close to her body as she left the vehicle.
Mads and Heather followed her across the road and into the building. They were faced almost immediately with stairs.
“Second floor.” Willow led them up.
Though not at a run, their speed didn’t lend itself to quiet. Feet pounded stairs. Would Yu figure it out, barricade himself or make a run for it? Mads envisioned the building in his head. A jump from the second floor wouldn’t be that bad. If his apartment faced the street, he could be in his vehicle and gone.
Blue team waited for them in the hall. Boyle pointed to the door. Back of the building. No escape to his car, I guess. With white team’s arrival, the group stacked at the door. Boyle had a flash-bang grenade in hand—dude came prepared—and Walker stood on the opposite side of the door, Becca behind him. Willow was ready behind Boyle, then Heather, then—last and most certainly least for close-quarters battle—Mads.
Slowly, silently, Walker tried the door. Unlocked. He gave it only the slightest of pushes. A sliver showed. No deadbolt or other bar. Boyle pulled the pin, made a quiet count. Walker opened the door for the grenade, then slammed it shut. The grenade went off, its explosion muffled by the door.
They went in.
Mads had expected shooting. He had, honestly, kind of expected to be shot. Instead, he entered a diorama, a frozen scene.
Yu leaned on a desk, crouched over, looking like he was ready to hurl. Every gun in the room—well, every gun except for Mads’ SIG—aimed at him. The room had little in it. Beyond the desk and its chair, the room had a couch, a table with folding chairs around it, a refrigerator and a gas range. The two suitcases sitting on the floor beside the couch might hold all of Yu’s possessions. On the desk was an open laptop and two cellphones. Mads didn’t recognize either as the one Yu had used earlier that night.
“Put your hands behind your head and lace your fingers together.” Becca took a tentative step toward Yu.
“Stay calm, stay cool, and you can walk out of this alive.” Walker had his MP5K submachine gun, stock extended, braced against his shoulder.
And Mads felt that odd pressure, like the air around him solidified. Yu had started to rise, hands behind his head, fingers interlaced, staying calm and staying cool. He had something in his right ear, something really small.
Before he even heard Boyle croak out the word “ESPer,” Mads launched himself at Yu.
Two strides and he leapt, intending to tackle. Yu’s face started to contort well before Mads left the ground, and as Mads made contact, Yu had already started to drop. They both smashed into the desk. Mads grunted as his shoulder impacted the wood.
“Mads, what the fuck?” Heather helped him stand.
“No, he did good.” Boyle reached down and took the device out of Yu’s ear. “I noticed it as soon as he shook off the flash-bang.”
Becca had Yu cuffed and hauled him to his feet. “Quick thinking, Sinclair.”
“Yeah, big win Sinclair.” Yu chuckled, a grim sounding grating that had no humour in it. “You guys haven’t got a fuckin’ clue.”
The pure dialect, absolutely even, absolutely flat, reminded Mads of the prisoners from the coffee shop, the prisoners who had all been killed in the alley. When Yu spoke, Mads heard the perfect English of a highly trained spook wearing a legend.
“Search the room, and grab everything that might be of use.” Boyle considered Yu. “Though once interrogation is done, I believe we’ll have everything we need to know.”
“You might as well be working for the CIA.” Yu rotated his shoulder on the side that Mads had hit him. Becca didn’t like that and jammed her suppressed Steyr TMP submachine gun into his ribs. Yu didn’t react. “You’re dancing to their tune, doing everything they want you to do.”
“Help us out, then,” Boyle said. “Tell us all about the CIA, and we’ll put them down for you.”
“I wish I had the time.” Those words came from Yu as a growl, real anger in them.
An explosion rocked the room. It came from outside, Mads thought from the front of the building, on the street.
“That will be the car,” Yu said. “You know, they said as soon as I went offline it would happen. I didn’t think it would be—”
Glass shattered. Yu’s forehead blew out. Everyone dove for cover, Becca dragging Mads with her behind the desk. Mads stared at what was left of Yu, what was left of his face.
And he had known it was coming.
Continued in Twenty four: For The Count