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. 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.
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.
Now, elements from Task Force 12, including Heather and Mads, are looking for clues in the very café in which Boyle and crew were ambushed.
Eight: Dirty Hands
Heather touched the SIG Sauer P226 pistol on her hip for the fifth time since entering the café. Few patrons filled the fourteen tables in the dreary, ill-lit coffee shop. She counted ten faces. None of them were locals. They all looked past her, just as they looked past Walker.
“I hear Kathmandu’s on its way to becoming a real popular place,” Walker said.
He also wore a long jacket that hid his weapon. She had seen him kit up with a Heckler & Koch MP5K sub-machine gun, but she couldn’t believe he carried it. Maybe eyes better trained than hers would note it, but Walker was good at concealed carry.
The two of them stood at the counter. They had hoped to speak to the barista, or whatever they called the coffee hustler in those parts. So far, they hadn’t had any luck. They got their coffee, but other than that, the middle-aged man with thread-bare clothes and worn eyes always had something better to do than talk to them. That included wiping down the tables at which no one sat for the fifth time.
They had a picture of Boyle to flash the guy, and they hoped beyond hope he would have something solid to offer them.
“How sure are we of this intelligence?” Heather kept her voice low.
“Digs vouched for the guy, and I can vouch for Digs.” Walker put his back to the counter and leaned, watching the coffee guy wipe tables. “Here’s hoping he can get us the promised audience.”
Digs contact, an ex-Gurkha, ex-private military contractor, had stated that the local police held one of Boyle’s accomplices on murder charges. She had apparently shot some Chinese guy. No one had anything more, not even a name. How would Mr. ex-Gurkha know the woman was linked to Boyle? Digs couldn’t say, but he trusted the source. Some money had been exchanged once a meet with the woman in question had been offered.
Then the source had pointed them to a dingy little coffee shop in the middle of the Thamel.
Dyck sipped coffee at a small, round table out on the patio. It had a second chair across from Dyck, now occupied by his rucksack. Wearing his sunglasses, camera case on the table in easy reach, some vagrant’s travel guide open on the table, Dyck played at the happy wanderer. He didn’t quite pull off the care-free backpacker, but he also didn’t make himself too obtrusive.
Would anyone in the coffee shop even notice him? Had anyone noticed Boyle and his crew when they had visited? The source had mentioned an encounter with some Chinese agents. Heather noticed a table of four Asian men who could be Chinese. She was pretty certain they weren’t locals. She couldn’t pick out ethnicities as well as Mads could.
And where was he? It wasn’t like him to be late . . . at least not too late.
Heather swallowed some coffee and quickly decided she had found the reason for the coffee shop’s unpopularity. The number of visitors to Kathmandu had sky-rocketed more than two hundred percent since it went dark, but few if any of them had found their way to that café. They had been warned off, no doubt. “If we’re getting an audience, this is a waste of time.”
“You and I both know that nothing is a waste of time.” Walker glanced at his cup, still full and steaming. He hadn’t touched it and made no move to do so. “Beating the bush, my friend. Beating the bush.”
“You think someone here knows something?” Heather found that a little hard to accept.
“I figure we’ve probably garnered some interest already.” Walker gave her a lazy wink. “A curious party involved in all this sees us in here, asking questions, that party might have some questions of their own. Plans within plans.”
Heather scowled. “Were you going to apprise me of these other plans?”
Walker shrugged. “What can I say? I’m a fan of improv.”
While searching for a stinging retort, Heather noted one of the guys at the Asian table rose and approached the counter. Since they were near the cash, it didn’t really worry her. She did, however, once again surreptitiously touch her SIG.
The Asian guy stopped in front of Walker and smiled. “I probably should apologize for what will happen.”
Heather’s hand went to her pistol. She froze. Walker stood rigidly still. She could move her eyes but nothing more. She saw Dyck at his table, hand on his camera case, coffee cup trapped on the journey either to or from the table.
Everyone in the shop seemed paralysed
Except for the four Asian men. The other three rose from their table. All drew out autoloader pistols. Heather tagged them as Type 92s, Chinese 9mm service pistols.
“I am told that the mind reading process can be quite disturbing.” The Lead Guy still spoke to Walker. Walker, of course, did not respond. “Yes, mind-reading. I know what you are thinking–” The Lead Guy chuckled quietly. “Well, not quite yet, but I can imagine what you are thinking. There is no parapsyche in Kathmandu. No radios and no parapsyche. Well, we also have radios. . .”
The Lead Guy stepped back. One of the other three approached, reaching out for Walker, a sneer playing on his face.
“Yo, Dick, what’s wrong?” Madison walked off the street and up to Dyck.
And suddenly everyone was moving. Heather had her SIG in her hand. Walker dropped the approaching Mr. Sneer with a single punch to the nose. Dyck drew an MP7 personal defence weapon out of the camera case. The few other patrons either fled screaming or dove for the floor.
Lead Guy was just standing there, mouth hanging open, the pistol held loose and nonthreatening in his hand. The last two Asian men had fallen to the ground, hands on their heads, groaning.
Last to react, his eyes wide, Madison had his SIG Sauer .40 P229 autoloader in hand. “What the fuck, guys?”
Walker levelled his MP5K at Lead Guy. “Drop your weapon or I drop you. We’ve got enough live bodies to question without you.”
Lead Guy’s face went from flaccid to granite in a heart beat. He narrowed his eyes as he gripped his pistol. “You knew we were coming. You had your null ready to respond. Very nice. Question us all you want. We don’t have your answers.
“People freaking out means the clock is ticking,” said Dyck. “We need to book.”
“Last chance,” Walker said. “Drop your weapon. I won’t ask again.”
“This is like some action movie.” Lead Guy let out another quiet chuckle. “Then I guess my best response is fuck–”
His weapon started to raise. Walker put him down with a three round burst to the chest. Mr. Sneer, the one who had approached Walker, started to move, slowly. Heather noted something that looked like an ear piece transceiver on the floor. Before Mr. Sneer had done more than get to his hands and knees, Walker wrestled him back down to the ground and flex-cuffed him.
Heather picked up the ear piece. “Are those guys wearing these?”
Madison holstered his SIG. Dyck moved to cover him. Mads yanked an ear piece off one of the groaning guys. That guy stopped his groaning, but remained foetal. Madison didn’t have Walker’s moves, but he yanked No Groan Guy’s arms back hard, and cuffed him. Dyck took care of the third breathing guy quick and quiet. Walker hauled Mr. Sneer to his feet.
“Three prisoners, but how do we move them?” Dyck asked.
“Out back, we figure this en route.” Walker forced Mr. Sneer to look at Lead Guy’s body. “You cause us a problem, you end up like that. We got three. We only need one of you breathing.”
That seemed to register, and the three cuffed guys allowed themselves to be hustled out the back. Heather shouldered the shop keep out of her way. He had stood, staring, in front of the rear exit. Through the surprisingly clean and tidy small kitchen, Heather spotted a back door. SIG in hand, she went through, expecting to drop into a heap of opposition.
She faced only two. The solidly built Caucasian male with slightly greying, very short hair aimed a Browning Hi-Power autoloader at her. The scowling, physically imposing Asian female, on the other hand, covered Heather with a silenced Steyr TMP sub-machine gun.
Heather knew these people, at least she knew their faces. Walker came through the door behind her, Mr. Sneer being used as a shield.
“Well, well.” The Caucasian male smiled. “Hello, Walker.”
Mundus Novit: Dark Horizons will continue with “Target of Opportunity.”