Read No Mercy Online

Authors: John Gilstrap

Tags: #Action & Adventure, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction - Espionage, #American Mystery & Suspense Fiction, #Fiction, #Suspense Fiction, #Adventure fiction, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Crime & Thriller, #General, #Thriller

No Mercy (8 page)

"What makes you think that?"

"If you didn't want me to think that, you wouldn't have brought Lurch here to block the sun."

Jonathan smiled in spite of himself. Back in the Unit, a few people had tried to make the name Lurch stick for Boxers, but the big man didn't like it.
Really
didn't like it. "He's back there because you looked twitchy as hell inside, and because you ran. Think of him more as a roadblock than a menace. All we want is the truth."

Hawkins shrugged. "I used to be the commander of what used to be the Green Brigade. But it doesn't exist anymore. At least not as I knew it."

Jonathan cocked his head.

Hawkins patted his shirt and then his pants pockets before he stopped himself. "You gonna shoot me if I get a cigarette?"

"If the cigarette doesn't have a trigger, you'll be fine." As Jonathan spoke, a gentle press with his right elbow reconfirmed the presence of the .45 on his hip.

Hawkins told his story as he slid a Marlboro between his lips and lit it with a flourish from his Zippo. "When I joined the Green Bees, it stood for something. We were an environmentalist group. We talked trash, smoked a little weed, organized protests, and circulated petitions."

"What were your causes?"

"A lot of animal rights stuff. Habitat preservation, clean air legislation, that sort of thing. You know it's shameful how we treat the defenseless creatures of this planet." He caught Jonathan's telltale glance toward his clothing. "Yeah, okay, I know. The leather belt and shoes argument. I eat meat, too, but it's different. You don't want the whole stump speech, but let me tell you, the day will come when s even on the tattoo." Jonathan's shocked expression made Hawkins laugh. "That's some shit, ain't it?" He patted his left breast, over his heart. "Right here. To be a full member of the tribe, you had to get this ugly-ass coat of arms lookin' thing tattooed on your chest. Red, white, and blue, with 'brigadier for life' across the bottom. I mean, the thing is fuckin' huge."

Jonathan and Boxers shared a look. Unless Stephenson Hughes had a matching tattoo, it looked like Jonathan was wrong about him being the mutilated corpse from Sergeant Semen's jurisdiction. "Let's talk more about Fabian Conger," Jonathan said. "I get the impression that you two were friends."

"There were no friends in the Brigade. Only fellow brigadiers. But given that, I guess Fabe and I were about as close to friends as you can get. I haven't heard from him since the last time I was at the retreat."

"How did he and Ivan--Palmer--get along?"

Hawkins shook his head. "You're not getting it. You're assuming some kind of social motivation, and I'm telling you there was none of that. There used to be, back when I was in the leadership, but not after. There was the mission, and there was nothing else. No one 'got along' as you think of it. People followed orders and they drilled and they listened. Every now and then, they'd actually launch a mission, but more often than not, it was all about
preparing
for some unnamed apocalypse. If you haven't been there, I know it sounds stupid. Hell, it
was
stupid, but I'm telling you that's the way it was. As for Fabe and Palmer, I think the best way to put it is Fabe was an acolyte. A disciple. Palmer thought about saying 'jump' and Fabe was already out of his chair."

Jonathan turned what he'd learned over in his head, weighing what they knew coming in against what Hawkins was feeding them. It was time to go from the general to the specific. "Does the name Carlyle Industries mean anything to you?"

Hawkins jumped like he'd been zapped with electricity. He whipped his head around to see if anyone was listening. "Holy shit," he hissed. "Who told you about Carlyle Industries?"

Jonathan said nothing, made no move. His face remained pleasantly impassive.

Hawkins raised is hands in surrender and turned to walk back inside. "You guys are hell-bent on getting me killed. I'm outta here."

Boxers blocked his way, and Hawkins looked as if he might cry. "Come on, guys," he whined. "Please don't do this to me. People are gonna know where you got this shit, and they're gonna come after me. As it is, the Brigade is paranoid that I don't come around anymore. All I've got going for me is their trust that I won't screw them."

"Quit panicking, Andrew," Jonathan said.

"You don't know these assholes. Panic is all I got."

"Think about what you're saying," Jonathan coached, his voice the essence of calm. "They can't know that you told us about Carlyle because you
didn't
tell us about Carlyle. The first time the name came up is when we mentioned it to you."

Hawkins's expression turned to an odd miVehicles. Their Government Services Division made computer programs for project management tracking and fire protection systems for military installations throughout the world. Meanwhile, their Defense Systems Division was in charge of unnamed specialized munitions for delivery by "multiple interservice weapons platforms." Clear as paint. Nowhere in the annual report was there a mention of chemical or biological warfare agents.

She turned to the page that displayed the salaries of the key employees--$8 million a year for Bunting and Rooney, down to $320,000 for Charlie Warren, in all cases before benefits and bonuses. Further down the page, she found the list of key suppliers and contractors, and on that list she saw the name that made her heart jump.

Last year, Carlyle Industries paid $527,468.27 to Ivan Patrick Enterprises for "unspecified security services" performed for the Special Projects Division.

"Good Lord," she whispered aloud. Her heart racing and her brain screaming at her to shut down the search and contact Jonathan right away, she paused.

What is the Special Projects Division?
she asked herself. She navigated backward on the file to reread the entire description of the company, but there was not a word to be found.

"Hmm," she mumbled. Research became a thousand times more interesting when you had specific questions to answer.

She dug deeper and hit bedrock. The Carlyle files were all heavily encrypted. Venice smiled. This was going to be fun.

Walking into the lobby of the Frederick Palace Hotel was like passing through a portal to the past. Small by the standards of modern hotels, the Frederick Palace's soaring lobby and dark hardwoods gave a sense of charming warmth that even further endeared this little burg to Jonathan. At Andrew Hawkins's request, they chose a conversation group in a corner of the lobby farthest from the front doors, across from the empty lobby bar.

Back in the alley, he'd confessed that the reason he'd told so much so far, and the reason why he would answer the rest of Jonathan's questions was, as he put it, disgustingly mundane: by cooperating, there was a good chance that lives could be saved. Besides, he was sick of carrying these secrets around. He had no idea who the man calling himself Leon really was, but Hawkins sensed that he was on the opposite side of Palmer, and for the time being, that was enough.

Once seated, they dropped their voices to barely a whisper. "You know that Carlyle Industries is a weapons manufacturer," Hawkins said, easing back into the topic. When he got nods, he pressed on. "And you know that these are not just everyday weapons, right?"

"I've heard rumors," Jonathan said.

Hawkins seemed to understand the hedging and he acknowledged it with a nod. "Yeah, well I've heard rumors, too, and I happen to know that they're true. They're manufacturing biological weapons over there. We're talking the kinds of weapons that kill people thousands at a time--millions and millions over time. They've got some germ shit called GVX that is engineered to be incurable, because it constantly mutates as it passes from one person to another. Nobody can develop a vaccine, because by the time the vaccine is made, the germ is a whole new disease."

Jonathan kept a poker face. He'd heard of such weapons being researched, but he had no way of knowing if one had ever been produced. Privately, he'd always dismissed them as useless--a foolish venture that would be strategically counterproductive. "What's the point of a weaponized virus?" launching something on the bad guys that is ultimately going to kill the good guys, too?"

Hawkins scowled and made a huffing noise. "Hey, I'm just telling you what I know. I'm not sayin' I understand the strategy."

"You know this because Fabian Conger told you?" Jonathan asked.

Bingo. Hawkins settled himself. "Fabian's not a nutcase, okay? He's overly exuberant, and he's easily swayed, but he's a smart, smart man. He did the research. It's all out there. He looked at the revenues of the company, and he looked at their production, and he looked into the backgrounds of the corporate officers, and he worked with contacts he has in the government, and all this adds up. And I'll tell you something else that should make you shit your pants."

They waited for it.

"Carlyle's selling stuff to the enemy."

Jonathan cocked his head. "Which enemy?"

"Our enemies. The Arabs. The terrorists. I'm not talking about legitimate contracts. I'm talking about illegal shit that's under the table."

"Why would they do that?" Jonathan asked.

"Why do you think? If the enemy ever stopped shooting at us, Carlyle would start losing money. The longer the shooting keeps going, the fatter they get."

Jonathan wasn't buying. Neither was Boxers.

Hawkins caught their silent exchange. "Look, you don't have to believe none of this that I'm telling you, but you're fools if you don't. Nobody
wants
to believe any of this, but on September 10, 2001, nobody wanted to believe that there were thousands of terrorists out there who wanted us all dead. Wanting and not wanting don't mean dick."

Jonathan decided to try his diplomatic hat. He didn't want to push Hawkins away, but Jesus. "That's a huge accusation against a big company with a lot to lose if word leaked out. A little evidence would make this easier to swallow."

Hawkins's expression said,
duh
. "Well, that's the thing, isn't it? That was Fabe's obsession when I last saw him. He was pulling every string he could find to get somebody to pay attention to him, but it always ended up right where you said: 'Where's the evidence?' It's one thing to find evidence on paper, but it's something else when you try to get your hands on some of this stuff. Apparently, it's locked up tighter than a nun's...well, it's locked up tight."

You could always kidnap an executive's kid
, Jonathan thought. But that was a card he didn't want to show. "How was he going to show that they were selling weapons to the enemy?" he asked.

Hawkins shrugged. "I don't know how he was going to do any of this stuff. But if you prove that these weapons exist illegally and make it public, how difficult can it be to prove the rest? Once the news media get a hold of one really bad thing, they'll be happy to keep going till they find every bad thing they can. The hard part is that first step--getting people to pay any attention at all."

Boxers asked, "Do you think he was capable of violence to get what he wanted?"

Something clicked in Hawkins. "That's what all this is about, isn't it? Fabe went and hurt somebody, and you're trying to find out why."

Jonathan jumped in to control the spin. "We don't know that Fabian Conger did anything wrong. There's been some violence, yes, and his name floated onto our radar screen

Charles S. Warren

Director of Corporate Security

Carlyle Industries, Inc.

15000 Carlyle Boulevard

Muncie, IN 47302

765-555-8515

765-555-0915 (Fax)

From:
Ivan Patrick

Sent:
April 5 11:17 AM

To:
Charles S. Warren

Subject:
RE: RE: Your Problem

Don't be an idiot. I would not be making this contact if I did not have solid information. His plan is a good one and it will take you down. Trust me. It's already in motion, and he's already causing leaks that you don't even know about yet. WE NEED TO TALK! I have a plan that will make all of your problems go away PERMANENTLY and seal those leaks. Rock star trusts me. Not trusting me will be your biggest mistake. Call the ball.

Ivan

But Charlie Warren didn't call anything for two days. When he did, there was a certain air of panic in the subtext:

From:
Charles S. Warren

Sent:
April 7 5:17 PM

To:
Ivan Patrick

Subject:
RE: RE: RE: Your Problem

Ivan,

I'm convinced. Meet me at usual location @ 2200 tonight. Do I need to visit the bank first?

Charles S. Warren

Director of Corporate Security

Carlyle Industries, Inc.

15000 Carlyle Boulevard

Muncie, IN 47302

765-555-8515

765-555-0915 (Fax)

From:
Ivan Patrick

Sent:
April 7 8:18 PM

To:
Charles S. Warren

Subject:
RE: RE: RE: RE: Your Problem

Negative. New fee structure. See you tonight.

Ivan

Venice stared at her screen, toggling between the different entries. She knew just from the tone and the logical links that she'd landed on a pivotal exchange between the two men. But what did it mean?

She highlighted the entire string and pasted it into an e-mail to herself; and none too soon. Five seconds later, the screen went blank as all data disappeared.>

A thousand miles away, deep in the bowels of Carlyle Industries' corporate headquarters, computer technician Felix Harrison returned from an extended bathroom break to find an alert flashing on his terminal. Someone had hacked into secure corporate files. This was the second time in as many weeks. Unlike the first attempt, which was a clumsy one from inside the building, this one was both sophisticated and successful.

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