Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(20) by Connie Suttle
"I can be there in no time—I'm in Dallas, now, waiting on a flight."
"I'll make a call and have my pilots warm up the jet," Winkler said.
"Sounds good. I'll see about getting my bags off the plane."
* * *
"Kid, we'll place compulsion and send these to the nearest hospital. That's all we can do."
Ashe stare at the bloody cuts on two women—both huddled against a wall inside the house. Addison and Kline were dead, their ash scattered across the floor where Gavin and Tony had surprised them and taken them down.
"They meant to kill them. After." Ashe's mouth was set.
"Yeah. Don't think about it. We found them in time."
"Addison and Kline did this before. Those other women didn't live."
"Yeah. We figured that out." Tony kept the sarcasm from his words.
"Do the compulsion thing. I'll get them to the hospital," Ashe muttered, hunching his shoulders.
"Come back immediately, young one," Gavin said gently. Ashe's head jerked up as Tony knelt before the two women.
"You will not recall the events of this night. You were attacked by an animal. Say that to the hospital employees. You did not get a good look at the animal, only that it was dark and you were walking down the street. You will not recall how you arrived at the hospital either. You will tell the hospital employees that a kind driver dropped you off."
The women nodded their compliance. Ashe skipped them to the nearest hospital, located three miles away.
* * *
"The Grand Master and Matthew Michaels will come. William Winkler thinks to take our bait," Wildrif giggled.
Zeke Tanner frowned at Wildrif. Was it his imagination, or did the seer seem crazier than when he'd seen him last? It didn't matter. Zeke had fifteen trackers, all poised to follow Peyton straight to Winkler's beach house. If he were lucky, he could take out the Grand Master and Matt Michaels, too. Curtis would certainly be happy with that news—Matt Michaels was a straight shooter and often got under Curtis Roberts' skin.
"Glad you told me that Peyton was ready to run," Zeke said, causing Wildrif to stop his wild chuckling. "At least he never found out what really happened to his parents."
"It won't matter what happened to anyone. Not anymore." Wildrif's wild chuckling began again as he brushed past the stuffed white buffalo in Zeke's study. Zeke's eyebrows lifted in alarm.
* * *
"I need a word with the President." Curtis settled into a comfortable, plush chair inside Congressman Arthur Vaine's office.
"Are you sure?" Arthur Vaine, Head of the Special Committee on National Security, steepled his fingers and studied Curtis Roberts. "Keeping you out of the President's line of sight has worked pretty well, so far." Arthur looked the part of senior statesman; he was tall and handsome, with carefully styled thick, dark hair sprinkled with gray at the temples.
"But I never got information like this, before." Curtis tossed a folder onto Arthur's desk. "I have it on good authority that the President and that wanna-be Matt Michaels knew all about this, and the intel wasn't shared."
"What is this?" Arthur opened the folder. The first image was that of a boy—perhaps fifteen or sixteen, standing with Matt Michaels and two other men he didn't recognize, behind a barrier of crime scene tape. Six special agents were nearby, seemingly waiting for Matt Michaels' orders. The British Embassy was in the background—Arthur recognized that, easily enough.
"Well, Arthur, tell me why a boy needed to be at the scene—this photograph was taken with a high-power Telephoto lens from a long way off on the day the British Embassy was overtaken by terrorists. You see the time and date stamp there at the bottom?" Curtis, whose sharp blue eyes studied Arthur's reaction, smoothed back thinning brown hair as he waited for Arthur's response.
"There's no reason for a boy to be there," Arthur lifted the photograph for a better look. "The media and everybody else was held back from that location by security. How did he slip past the police?"
"What if I told you that Matt Michaels brought the boy in? That's William Winkler, of Winkler Security, there with them. You know how many government contracts we have with him. What if I told you that the boy is one of Winkler's employees? I have tax records to prove it. What if I told you that Winkler is paying the boy a hundred grand a year, for undisclosed services?"
"Undisclosed services?" Arthur lifted his gaze to stare at Curtis.
"Yeah. And what if I told you that the second photograph was taken only a couple of seconds later? Take a look and tell me what's missing."
Arthur set the first photograph down and lifted the second. Just as Curtis said, the time and date stamp indicated that only two seconds had passed. His eyes widened in surprise—the boy, the tallest man and the six agents had disappeared. Even if they'd walked away from the scene, they would still be in the photograph somewhere. That wasn't the case.
"Explain this." Arthur flipped the photograph around, then held up the first one.
"I can't. Think hard—you know what happened shortly after the time stated on that photograph—hostages were rescued from the British Embassy, just before it conveniently blew up. I don't know how that was accomplished because frankly, the times don't sync with the official report. I know somebody who might be able to explain it, though. I'd prefer to put the President on the hot seat."
"And I'd prefer to keep the President out of the loop. For obvious reasons."
"Then I'll get the information from one of my informants. He said he might be willing, for the right price."
"One of my informants." Curtis wasn't willing to release any names—Arthur wasn't aware of everyone on his payroll and he wanted to keep it that way.
"Some of your informants could ruin us," Arthur placed both photographs in the folder and slapped it shut. "It's damn difficult to keep attributing those expenses to other—let's say legitimate—sources."
"You think they'd say anything? We can ruin them, remember? I can find them, remember? These relationships are based on mutual trust."
"We're not married to them. I hope you remember that," Arthur muttered dryly.
"But we've gotten good intel from them. All of them think they're the only ones on my payroll, and when it's advantageous, they pass information on their rivals straight to me."
Arthur sighed. Curtis was becoming a liability, in his opinion. The U.S. Intelligence and Foreign Relations Division was supposed to be actively hunting and arresting criminals, not paying them and keeping them in power. During his tenure, Curtis had managed to arrest many lower and a few midlevel criminals, but the bosses—the ones who kept the criminal activities going across the globe—were not only still in power, but growing fatter from secret payments funneled through Curtis' department.
"Nothing like job security," Arthur mumbled.
"What's that?" Curtis asked.
"Good work. Investigate this further with your source and let me know what you find." Arthur dismissed Curtis with a nod.
"Sure." Curtis took the folder and slipped it inside his briefcase. "I'll keep you posted."
* * *
"It's a Friday night and my target manages a restaurant," the voice complained over the phone. "That means she won't be home until after midnight at the earliest. There is another person who is with her most of the time. He may be there as well."
"Then get them both. Make it look good, like you need help or something. Those darts you have will kill quickly, according to my source. Four others will appear to kill the boy when he arrives, and he will arrive. I'll bet money on it."
"What am I supposed to do, then?" The question was almost a wail.
"Get the hell away. Turn and run. I don't give a damn what you do."
"Are we done if I do this?"
"Sure. We're done after you do this," Zeke Tanner laughed and hung up.
* * *
"I'll call when everything is in place," Wildrif assured Friesianna. "Once the original target has been hit by our agent, the boy will arrive. Yours can come then and take him."
"We don't intend to take him. We intend to kill him."
"I know that," Wildrif snapped.
"I remind you that you speak to royalty, Dark Seer."
"Of course, my Bright Queen." Wildrif's voice sounded contrite.
"Do not forget it."
"I will not."
* * *
Ashe sighed as he stared at the tall pyramid in San Francisco. He wanted to see it during the day. At least the fog was light and only obscured the city skyline a little.
"Young one, we cannot sightsee," Gavin pulled Ashe away.
"Yeah. How good are you guys with bullets?"
"Bullets?" Tony's one-word question held worry.
"He's waiting for us. Ellis Kline was supposed to check in. Kieran Ormonde knows he's dead. Thinks the Council is coming for him, now. He's right. He's also ready. Has two humans with him. Thinks machine guns will slow you down enough so he can get away."
"We need your misting ability, then. Is it possible to carry us behind the humans—we can dispatch them easily and then go after Ormonde." Gavin sounded grim.
"I can do that." Ashe nodded. "Ormonde is in the basement of an old store near the wharf. The humans with guns are positioned at the bottom of the stairs. Ormonde is waiting in the back near a high window. If he hears anything, he's gone and we'll have to chase after him. My worry is he'll head for the most crowded place he can find, and at this time of night, that's a bar."
"Not good," Tony muttered.
"We do not need that many witnesses," Gavin agreed. "Compulsion is difficult to place on so many."
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