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. By the end of “Thicker Than Water,” it looked like Dyck might make it out alive, but that was by no means assured. It also certainly seems like Scott knows something about Mads and the reasons for putting him on the team.
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. Later, Gurung pays a visit to Digs, who is trying to pick up the pieces after a visit by Boyle and Rudi left Flick dead on the floor. As “There’s A Mole, and Then There’s A Mole” suggests, Gurung reveals he isn’t exactly above board, but another set of visitors disturbs the discussion.
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.” Boyle, “Cascade,” and Rudi make an unannounced visit on the special ops team sent to hunt down Boyle’s team in “Switch of a Flick.” The visit was not entirely cordial, and left one team member, whom Boyle asserts is a mole, dead.
Now, Becca tries to save Dyck, Heather tries to save her relationship with Mads, and Walker is just trying to save the remains of the team.
Fifteen: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner!
The safehouse turned out to be a studio on the top floor of a three storey walk-up. The walk-up in question was an exterior staircase that defied any attempt at stealth. Occupants of the flat would know when company came to call.
Comfort did not seem to be a strong consideration when furnishing the flat. Four folding cots sat unfolded against one wall. Two couches were against two other walls. A table was in the centre of the room and a chair that may once have been plush and comfortable, but was now threadbare and worn, was beside the door.
Heather watched Lt. Kim work. Dyck occupied one of the cots, and appeared stable. Somewhere between boarding and leaving the van, he had passed out. His eyes remained closed. The bleeding, at least, seemed under control.
“Should we have given him morphine after so much bleeding?” Mads stood beside her, leaning against the table, and he spoke quietly into her ear. “Doesn’t it lower the blood pressure or something?”
“Something, yeah.” Heather glanced up at Walker, sitting by the door, his MP5K in his hand. “But I’ve seen a lot worse than Dyck. I’d say he’s in good hands, and if Scott really can get a doctor, he’ll be fine.”
“Sounds like you don’t think Scott is coming back with a doc.” Mads had an annoying habit of reading Heather’s tone too well.
“Let’s just say I’m still not convinced it’s all peace and love, okay?” Heather tried to fix Mads with a gaze she would consider withering.
It didn’t work. Mads made a kind of half-grimace, half-sneer. “You think he’s got Walker fooled? That’d really surprise me.” He looked away and scratched the three day’s growth on his jaw. “Listen, what Scott and Becca were saying, about why I was put on the team: do you know anything about that?”
Heather held his eyes. She knew he would read the hesitation, and she knew he would understand it. She could answer his question. If anyone there should tell him, it likely should be her. “Your parapsychic profile turned up something.”
His brow furrowed. “My profile was clean. Totally clean. Exceptional resistance, but that’s it.”
“Here’s the thing, it was too clean.” She cleared her throat. She had known about this for two years now and had never told him. He had always trusted her, always accepted her statements as gospel. What would happen now? “Part of the testing is to have a parapsych root around in your brain. They’re supposed to be pretty discrete about it, but it’s uncovered more than one . . . issue. With you, they couldn’t. Not only were you completely closed, you shut the parapsych down. You project some kind of ESPer null zone.”
Mad’s mouth hung open. His furrowed brow had smoothed out as his eyes widened. He stared at Heather for a few silent heartbeats. He closed his mouth and swallowed loudly. “No one thought to mention this?”
“It was classified, compartmentalized.” The words sounded as hollow in Heather’s ears as they must have in Mads’. “No one really knew what it all meant. No one had ever seen anything like it. You were at a desk; no one ever thought you’d get into the field. It was still being studied.”
Did his eyes go watery, only a bit, before he looked away? “Shit, Heather, I thought you’d have my back if no one else did.”
“You know how this kind of stuff goes down.” She couldn’t think of anything better to say. He was right.
“Yeah, I know.” He pushed himself off the table and went over the empty couch, dropping into it, not meeting her eyes.
She didn’t intend it, but her gaze moved to Walker. Did she see some accusation there? Walker hadn’t known about Mads. Very few people did. So did she just imagine the look? He rose and approached her, taking the space Mads had recently occupied, his eyes fixed on the door, his MP5K held loose, but ready.
“You knew the whole time, eh?” He spoke quietly, almost too quiet for her to hear.
“Yeah, I knew.” She didn’t say what. Everyone in that alley had heard Scott. Everyone would have their own conclusions.
“And he’s pissed you didn’t tell him?”
“Yeah, he’s pissed.”
“You had your orders, right?”
“I had my orders.”
Walker drew out an exhalation, almost a sigh. “That’s the shit we live with. That’s how it goes down. It sucks, but there it is. He’s not used to it. He didn’t need to deal with it in the field, on mission. He’s still thinking of you as a friend on and off the clock. We don’t get to have friends on the clock. We have teammates, we have allegiances, but we don’t get to have friends.”
Heather allowed herself a wry chuckle, a way to emphasis and telegraph her reply. “Maybe you need to tell him.”
“No point,” said Walker. “It wouldn’t register. In a bit, when he’s over the sulk, maybe I will. Right now, it’s the guilt that’s got to go. You can’t regret doing the right thing. It isn’t about being a friend or watching someone’s six. You get an order, you follow it, or you hand in your resignation and take the consequences.”
“Are you my life coach?”
“If necessary. I don’t need you second guessing the right choices. Stay with your gut. There’s more shit coming down the pipe, I can feel it. I need you sharp. You make decisions fast, and you make good decisions. Right now it looks like I’m in command of whatever we have here, so I need you and I need you at peak.”
What could she say to that? It made sense, and it didn’t sound rote. She had known Walker for a few years now, ever since she left the military to take a position in the Vault. He was as trustworthy as an operator working in the black could be.
She checked her watch. “When is Scott due?”
“Five minutes ago.” He spoke at regular volume, for general consumption.
“He’ll be back, and he’ll have a doctor.” Lt. Kim rose and turned from the cot on which Dyck lay.
“Listen, I don’t have time to worry about hurt feelings, so here it is.” Walker paused and glanced at each of the three conscious occupants of the room in turn. “I knew Scott and I’ve worked with him, pretty recently in fact. Someone asks for a character reference, I’ll give it. Right now, this very moment, I’m not in a good frame of mind. Things are not adding up. Scott ain’t here with Drift.”
“He’s here with me.” Kim’s voice had steel and granite in it. No anger though, no aggression. “He’s here to get Boyle out.”
“Ah, Boyle.” Walker rubbed the bridge of his nose. “He’s still a problem. Thing is, we know that our CIA briefer was bogus, but we were all ordered to get Boyle anyway, so we know our target, regardless of anything else. That means that we seem to be working at cross-purposes. I don’t like opposition on my team. Scott comes back with the doc, we’ll get Dyck patched up. That’s cool. That done, you guys are either on board with the mission or you’re out. We’ll figure a way to medevac Dyck out of here, and that’s all the lead time I can get you.”
“We can’t join up if you plan to put the cuffs on Boyle,” Kim said. “Whatever the CIA is feeding you, it’s bullshit. He’s worked for them in the past, and they have a thing with covering their trail that leaves a lot of people unhealthy. Whatever you think you know, Boyle is a white hat if such a thing even exists.”
Walker nodded. “You’ve said your piece. That’s good. I appreciate the honesty. Here’s my piece; we have a mission. We have our orders. We are going to carry those orders out. We do not work for the CIA. The people I do work for have ordered me to grab him, so that’s what I’m going to do. I never said I would hand him over to the spooks.”
Mads shifted on the couch, putting his feet on a crate that acted as a coffee table. “But if ordered to, you will.”
“If ordered to, I will,” Walker said.
“Then I don’t see how we can work together.” Kim’s posture changed only slightly, as though she had dug in to face an oncoming storm.
“We work together until the situation forces us apart,” Walker said. “I’m not saying I’m showing you the door. Scott thinks you’re the real deal, and I’ll accept that until proved otherwise. We can still support each other until . . .”
Walker’s eyes went to the door. Heather registered the sound of someone ascending the staircase. Walker moved to the side, against the wall with the door in it. He had his MP5K ready. Mads took the cue, as did Kim. Heather drew her SIG Sauer P226. They all went to ready, weapons trained on the door.
Scott would have a code, a way of knocking, including pauses. Crude, but they had little time and no resources. Based on the sounds on the landing and stairs, Heather figured two people. Scott and the doctor, she hoped.
Someone tried the doorknob.
She noted Walker switch the selector on his MP5K to fully automatic.
Her safety came off.
Followed by Sixteen: A “Quiet” Chat