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Authors: Tara Janzen

Loose Ends (38 page)

BOOK: Loose Ends
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“The same way you created LeedTech out of nothing?”

“No. No. That’s a CIA operation, LeedTech, not mine.”

Dylan referred to his papers again. “And yet, over the years, you’ve deposited funds in excess of ten million dollars straight out of LeedTech into your personal Swiss bank account. Tax free, too, and all those unreported assets you’ve got stashed in half a dozen shell corporations in the Caribbean, that’s going to bite you in the ass, Rook. You should have known better than that.”

“Y-you’re wrong, Dylan.” The old man wheezed and let out a cough, before he could continue. “The money is for black ops, a slush fund, duly authorized by the agency’s director. You’re digging your own grave here, not mine. You need to … to release me

Not very damn likely.

“No, Rook. That’s not the way it’s going to work tonight,” he said, watching Kid leave through the main door to go up and relieve Quinn. “Buck Grant is on his way, and if he doesn’t bury you, I will. But first I want Jane Linden and J. T. Chronoplous back. If you can help me, good. If you can’t, I’ve got no use for you.”

“Use for me?” The old man let out a short, strained laugh. “You’re insane, Hart. It’s why the team has to be
” He turned his head to face the lawyer and shouted again. “
, tell him. He can’t prove anything. Nothing, not … not

Dylan glanced at the lawyer, but Tyler Crutchfield wasn’t having any of it. If any man could have ever disappeared while taped to a chair, Crutchfield was going to be that guy. Lancaster was on his own.

“Actually, I can prove everything. The trail leading to you and Atlas Exports is starting to look like the Beltway at rush hour,” he said. “I only beat the Department of Justice to the LeedTech files by an hour, and I left them a copy, so you might want to be thinking about that.” He paused for a moment, but just a moment, before giving in to his darker side and pulling the small stainless steel case of syringes out of his pocket.

White Rook had been his friend, his savior, he’d thought, but now … now things had proven different.

Walking slowly forward, he opened the box. Four syringes left.

He stopped a couple of feet in front of where Lancaster hung from his ropes and chains, the open box in his hand.

“And you might want to start thinking about these,” he continued. “You know what they can do to you, old man. If you help me, they’ll stay in the box. You can start by telling me everything you know about Scott Church, MNK-1.”

Lancaster’s face was deathly pale. “MNK-1?” The question was a bare, harsh whisper of a lie. The bastard knew exactly who he was talking about.

“Your boy Monk is here, in Denver. He kidnapped my friend, and I want her back. I want her back badly enough to break you in ways from which you will never recover.”

“N-no-no, n-no no,” Lancaster murmured, his body starting to shake. “No. No.”

“He’s a long way from home,” Dylan said. “And somebody left King and Rock dead in an alley over on the west side. They were broken up bad, Rook, and somebody cannibalized King, took a bite right out of him.”

Trembling, Lancaster stared at him in silent terror, his mouth agape.

“Do you think J.T. could have done a thing like that?” He had to ask, it didn’t matter how tough the questions were, or how bad the answers might get.

“N-no,” the old man said. “Souk’s men … the soldiers he helped—”

“Helped?” Dylan should kill him for that alone.

“Enhanced,” Lancaster clarified. “Th-they were never like … like MNK-1. Patterson went too far … too fucking far. Monk shouldn’t exist.”

But he did, thanks to Lancaster’s greed.

“Can you call him off?” Dylan asked, his voice stone-cold serious. “Can you get my girl back?”

He wasn’t in the mood to ask twice, and when the seconds passed one after another without any answers coming from the old man, he took a red syringe out of the box.

He was done with the bastard.

A faint whimper escaped the man, and Dylan swore in disgust. He had no tolerance for traitors or cowards—and Lancaster was both.

Out of patience and out of time, he stepped forward and pushed Lancaster’s sleeve up. Buck wasn’t going to like it—getting here and finding a mumbling, babbling mess of a high-end State Department diplomat chained in the basement—but that wasn’t going to be enough to stop Dylan.

He thumbed the protective cap off the syringe, and Lancaster started to twist and struggle in his ropes.

” he cried out. “No. No. I can’t, can’t call him
off, but I can … I can get your girl back, this Jane. I know what Monk wants. D-don’t, don’t, Dylan, don’t stick me with that shit. I’ll tell you … tell you what he wants.”

The needle rested above a blue vein pulsing on the inside curve of the old man’s elbow.

“Now or never, Rook.” If he had something to say, he’d better say it, or Dylan was sliding the needle home. Proving the fact, he pressed it harder, letting the sharp tip bite into Lancaster’s skin.

” the old man finally said, his voice anguished, desperate. “Monk wants me.”

And Monk could have him.

Against his better judgment, Dylan put the syringe back in the box and reached up to key his mike. Before he could say a word, Zach’s voice came over the radio.

“Dylan. The building is compromised. We’ve got someone on the loose up here, someone capable of climbing up the outside of the building, hand over fricking hand. Best guess is that it’s MNK-1. We think he’s got Jane with him … and …” There was a long, dreadful pause. “And I can’t find Skeeter.”


Where in the hell am I?
Skeeter wondered, opening her eyes to pitch darkness.
And what is that smell?

Rank and metallic, it assaulted her senses.

Packed sideways into some kind of space with odd edges, her arms bound to her torso, she was wrapped up tighter than a miser’s money.

But she could breathe, and her head was clearing. It hurt like hell, though, and she knew she’d been cold-cocked, ambushed on her own freakin’ turf.

She swore under her breath and tried to wiggle out of whatever was binding her. The sonuvabitch who had done this to her was going down—just as soon as she got herself out of her current fix.

Take a breath
, she told herself,
ignore the smell
. It was gagging.

She wiggled again and the hard surface underneath her creaked and groaned, like metal straining under weight. It didn’t sound good. Twisting around, she tried to see above her and felt a breath of fresh air blow across her cheek. A drop of water fell on her face, then another, and another. Faintly, she could make out a lighter shade of darkness far above her, a ragged-edge square of the night sky. The wind gusted, and more rain blew into the space, cool and wet on her skin. Something fluttered across the opening from the outside, and
as Skeeter watched, she slowly realized what it was: a piece of striped webbing off her favorite cheap-ass lawn chair. There were only two such chairs at Steele Street, both of them bolted to the roof on the square of Astroturf called “the Beach.” Then she remembered. Someone had blown the Beach and the rooftop stairwell to hell. Whoever had snatched her had stuffed her into the wreckage.

She swore, and felt the remains of the stairwell creak and shudder around her.

She swore again, but more softly, much, much more softly.

Moving slowly and carefully, she turned her head to look down, hoping she was on a solid metal surface.

No such luck.

Peering through the jumbled, exploded remains of the stairwell, she could see her own damn living room.

Well, hell
, she thought. Nothing had improved down there since they’d checked it earlier when they’d cleared the building. The furniture was still wet and covered with debris, chunks of metal and pipe, and about half the rafters, and … 
oh, oh, oh, damn

While she’d been out cold, the guys had gone to DEFCON 4, the highest level of alert. The bright yellow M spray-painted on her living room wall above the elevator meant they’d cleared this floor again and missed her up here in the wreckage—and then they’d set up a little welcoming committee in the elevator for whoever had done this to her, a welcoming committee named “Claymore.” They’d mined the elevator shaft.

, she needed out of here.

She tried another careful wiggle, and then wished she hadn’t. With a yawning squeal of strained metal, another part of the wreckage broke away from underneath her and fell, and fell, and fell, until it crashed into her slate coffee table. The stone shattered under the impact,
she saw $999 of “on sale” go up in a spray of shards and splinters, and now her ass was really hanging out over the abyss.

If she rolled six inches either way, she was toast—impaled toast.


She had to get the hell—

O geezus!

A short, muffled cough came from out of nowhere and almost sent her over the edge.
. She wasn’t alone up here in this hole.

The cough came again, real close from behind her in the wreckage, a small, muffled sound of distress—and suddenly she knew.

“Jane?” she whispered. “Is that you?”

Tyler Crutchfield sat perfectly still in his poolside chair for only one reason: He had no choice.

These SDF assholes had the damn concession on duct tape, and they’d used plenty to keep him from being able to move in any direction. Hell, he’d been trapped for so long, he was probably paralyzed by now. Otherwise he would have risen up and beaten Lancaster to a pulp with his bare hands, just finished the bastard off. He had dried vomit down the front of his shirt and was sitting in a pool of his own urine, and it was all because of Randolph Lancaster.

Tyler’s last great hope, his
hope, had been the man bound to the pulley rig. Lancaster was slumped over, hanging limply from his restraints, having worn himself out trying to get free from the tangle of chains and cuffs and hardware tying him up. Or maybe he’d had a seizure and died.

. Tyler saw him twitch, the old bastard.

“We’re going to die in this damn basement,” Tyler muttered, then raised his voice a few decibels to make
sure Lancaster heard him. “We’re going to die here, you son of a bitch.”

Damn it all to hell!
Tyler Thomas Crutchfield was not supposed to die like a filth-wallowing rat in a cage. It was incomprehensible—and yet he felt the doom of death bearing down on him. He wasn’t a psychic, but it didn’t take a crystal ball to know what happened to people tied up in basements, especially ones who’d already had a gun held to their head.

An involuntary shudder wracked his body. Never in a million years would he have believed a trip to Denver would get him killed.

Lancaster ignored him, the same way the old bastard had been ignoring him since Peter “Kid Chaos” Chronopolous had dragged him down here and chained him to the pulley rig.

Not one word
. Tyler seethed with the thought. Lancaster had said nothing in Tyler’s defense, made not one plea to Hart for his release, knowing he was blameless for the LeedTech sales to Atlas Exports.

Tyler had never even heard of Atlas Exports until Hart had methodically outlined Lancaster’s acts of treason.

Acts his boss had not denied.


That’s all he’d ever gotten from Randolph Lancaster.

Tyler had been such a fool, but he wasn’t the only one. The extent of Lancaster’s treason shook the very foundations of the U.S. government, but no one would ever know. The crime would pass unnoted if he and Lancaster perished in this damn basement.

The bastard

A muffled groan from the far end of the pool deck brought Tyler’s head around. Sam Walls was reviving, for all the good that was going to do them. They were all going to die down here.

“Walls!” Tyler shouted at him. “Walls! Come on,
man, get up! Get up and get over here!” If Walls could get just one of Tyler’s arms free of this damn chair, maybe they could make a break for it.

Except for Lancaster.

That sonuvabitch was doomed, imprisoned in his tangle of chains and handcuffs.

Too fucking bad
, Tyler thought.
Let the treasonous bastard rot

“Walls!” Tyler called again. “Come on, man. Shake it off.”
And get your sorry ass over here

Walls groaned again and rolled over onto his back.
. The guy’s leg. It was a mess, and Tyler had to wonder what had been going on with all these Atlas Exports “supersoldiers” Lancaster surrounded himself with. Nothing good, that was for damn sure. No wonder Dylan Hart was playing this game for keeps.

But it shouldn’t include him. He didn’t belong here. He was blameless.

“I’ll give you fifty grand if you can get over here, Walls. Come on. Just crawl, man. Just
” He had to get out of here. He really did, or Hart was going to kill him. “Fifty grand, Walls! Can you hear me?”

Money was a great motivator. Not that Tyler had any damn intention of parting with fifty thousand of his hard-earned dollars, or a fifty-thousand-dollar chunk of his trust fund. Hell, no. But honest to God, Walls didn’t look like he was going to last long enough to give a damn.

He broke them up and cannibalized King, took a bite out of him
. Dylan Hart’s words slid through Tyler’s mind for about the hundred millionth time. He’d heard them, but he didn’t believe them, not for a minute. Hart was just trying to scare them all senseless.

. He’d succeeded. Lancaster had gone catatonic since Hart had raced out of there. It was that
Monk guy business, just like in Bangkok, when Randolph had gotten so buggy with the booze.

, as in

No fucking way. Tyler shook his head. No way. No one Tyler had ever known had been as brutish as the dynamic duo of King Banner and Rock Howe, and they’d never eaten anybody. If they had, he would have heard about it forty-eight times by now. Bragging about their badass exploits was those boys’ favorite pastime.

BOOK: Loose Ends
7.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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