Chapter 13

August 7, 2011 at 7:38 pm (The Job)

“Parker, where the hell have you been?” Petrillo demanded.

“I had to get off the grid and get out of London.”

“You could have called me before this,” he said, trying to keep the hurt out of his voice.

“I know I should have, but I’ve been flying and didn’t want to risk anyone overhearing the conversation.”

“You’re somewhere secure now?”

“Yeah,” she replied, looking around at all of the students milling about on the university lawn. She was dressed like them, in jeans and a t-shirt, carrying a backpack that appeared to be stuffed with textbooks. “I’m as secure as I can get. I need to know what’s going on. That Wagner thing just seemed wrong.”

Petrillo nodded his head, though she couldn’t possibly see him. “It was way wrong, Parker. Word is, Wagner was on the board.”

Parker felt the colour drain from her face. If Wagner was on the board, she would be terminated unless she could prove it was a sanctioned hit. She had very little proof of that. Pictures and video of her accessing the website to receive her orders wouldn’t be conclusive. Her meet with Ingram back in North Carolina, which seemed so many months ago now, but was only two weeks, hadn’t been recorded, not that he’d divulged anything important anyway.

“They wanted Seth to take me out just after I took out Wagner,” Parker finally put the pieces together. If she’d gone in to the job as herself, she wouldn’t have made it out. It was only the quality of her disguise that had saved her ass.

“He’s still hunting you. He will keep hunting you until he finds you and finishes the job he was meant to do in London.”

“I don’t think he’s the only one who’s hunting me,” Parker admitted, filling Petrillo in on the details of the bald man.

“That description sounds familiar. I’ll dig through the files and see if I can find him.”

“Any luck finding Jacob?”

Petrillo didn’t answer for a moment. Parker could feel the despair radiating across the phone line. “He’s dead,” she said.

“I don’t have confirmation, but yeah, I’m fairly certain he is. His file has been completely expunged from the system as though he never existed. I’m sorry, Parker.”

“Thanks,” Parker whispered.

“You’ll have to be careful out there. Ingram is putting out the word that you’ve gone rogue. He’s not stating it officially, just whispering it in the halls, you know what I mean?”

“He’s trying to discredit me. If I come back with information about Wagner’s hit being legit, he’ll have done enough damage that people won’t believe me.”

“What are you going to do?” Petrillo asked.

“I’ll think of something,” she replied, before hanging up. Getting up, she brushed a few broken pieces of grass from her jeans and slung her backpack across her shoulders. Striking out across the campus lawn, Parker ran her next steps through her head. She really only had one next step, but it was a doozy.

Before any of the hitters dogging her trail could catch up with her, Parker had to find evidence to prove her innocence. She had absolutely no idea where to start searching.

***

Simon kept his distance this time. He’d had one hell of a time tracking her down, but he’d made the same assumption that she had. The easiest place for her to blend in would be with people near her own age. Even still, he’d damn near walked right in front of her before he’d spotted her sitting on the grass, talking into her cell phone. He’d stepped back, out of her line of sight and then turned and walked a good distance behind her.

Ingram wanted her dead and Simon had to decide, soon, if he was going to accommodate the man. The problem he was having was he hated taking orders from Ingram. The man was a glorified fucking Cleaner, for Christ’s sake. He’d overstepped his authority, though he did have Leland in his corner. That didn’t make the orders any easier to swallow.

Simon had been recruited by the agency when he’d still been in the Marines. Signing up on his eighteenth birthday, he’d served for twelve years, received his honourable discharge and then started with the agency after a month-long vacation. Having just passed his forty-third birthday, he realized that after twenty-five years, he was getting a little tired of taking orders from idiots who had never been in the field.

All of that aside, Simon found he was genuinely intrigued by Parker’s skill. He’d heard about the mess at Wagner’s lab and how she’d managed to escape death-by-mauling, had successfully stolen the prototype to a new weapon and ditched her tail all in one night. Since she hadn’t used the prototype weapon on Wagner, he knew she still had it on her and wondered what her plan for it was.

***

It was difficult for Mr. Chu to believe that the man standing across the street attempting to engage the attentions of a hooker, and failing, could work for an organization that was on par with the agency. The target, a short, thirty-something, balding man with a slight paunch was, according to Mr. Chu’s dossier, the second-in-command at The Wappel Group. TWG handled certain jobs that, until now, the agency had considered too uncivilized. According to Mr. Leland, the agency would soon be handling all types of jobs, no matter their level of civility.

The thought of a broader audience for his work made Mr. Chu’s hands tremble in excitement. He frowned at them, as though they were acting upon their own will. Once he’d gained control of his excitement, Mr. Chu returned his attention to his target. The man had finally gotten the hooker into his car when he’d flashed a large wad of cash. Pathetic, but then Mr. Chu didn’t believe in the needs of the body. He had never tasted a woman’s flesh. His parents had followed a radical cult that eschewed the sins of the flesh and, in an attempt to steer their children along the same righteous path, had advocated mutilation of the genitalia as a rite of passage.

His parents had made him a eunuch when he was five years old. Indoctrinated to the ways of the cult since birth, and sheltered from the ways of the rest of society, Mr. Chu had been seventeen before he’d learned that not everyone thought as he did. It had been a very difficult lesson for him to learn. His parents had sent him off to join the People’s army. Again, Mr. Chu had thought it was a subset of their cult’s teachings. He quickly learned that his parents hadn’t any choice in the matter. If the Chinese government pointed to your child and said they wanted him, you handed him over.

He had nearly died during the first communal shower. The beatings he’d taken, for being different, had left him with a dangerous swelling on his head, a broken collarbone and three cracked ribs. He’d spent the next two weeks in the infirmary before the doctors had decided he was fit enough to return to active duty. His arm still in a sling to secure the collarbone, Mr. Chu had returned to his dorm. He had taken beatings regularly for six months before he’d discovered that he was proficient with explosives. Creating a daisy-chain of fuses attached to small bricks of TNT and attaching each one to a glass canister of hydrochloric acid, Mr. Chu had strung each acid bomb up above his targets. Lighting the lead fuse and stepping outside his dorm, Mr. Chu had peered in the window to watch the results.

When the small amounts of TNT exploded, it was enough to shatter the glass without burning off the acid. The acid rained down on the occupants of the dorm, partially melting them to their beds. Mr. Chu had carefully measured out enough acid to maim, but not kill, except for a chosen few. To the boys who had harassed him the most, Mr. Chu had placed the canisters over their faces. To the rest of the boys, he had placed the canisters over their genitals. Of the forty boys who lived in his dorm, thirty-two would never urinate in the same way again, never mind make love to a woman. The other eight boys lived long enough to experience some of the most excruciating pain they’d ever felt, before succumbing to their wounds.

The Chinese military had been so impressed with Mr. Chu’s talents that they’d immediately pulled him from basic training and sent him away to some of their specialized courses. After four years of training, Mr. Chu had completed his final exam by blowing up a Taiwanese passenger ferry. All three hundred and forty passengers and crew died. His instructors were most pleased.

Four years ago, Mr. Chu had made a slight miscalculation in the timing of his bomb and, instead of killing the Japanese emissary to the emperor he had killed fifteen Chinese military officials, their wives and their children. In all, fifty-three people were dead and the shockwave had quickly swelled through the remaining ranks. Mr. Chu had a target on his back the size of mainland China. The death price on his head was the equivalent of ten million US dollars.

The CIA barely got him out of China alive. Mr. Chu had spent two weeks being interrogated by the CIA before he’d feigned a grave injury and succeeded in escaping from the medical facility they’d taken him to. He accepted a freelance position with the agency in exchange for protection from the CIA. The jobs, though interesting, were few and far between. Mr. Chu had too much idle time on his hands and he tended to get antsy when he wasn’t working. Twice, he’d blown up buildings for the fun of it, because he’d had nothing else to do. He had changed his signature and didn’t think the agency could tie those jobs to him. They had already threatened to send him on a one-way trip to China if he didn’t cooperate with their directives. Mostly, he’d managed to follow them.

He was glad for this reprieve from the endless boredom. Mr. Chu tailed the target’s car, keeping several cars in between them. Once he recognized the area and knew that they were headed for the target’s house, Mr. Chu backed off further. Everything was ready and it wouldn’t take more than ten minutes to get everything set up the way he wanted it. Parking his car one block away from the target’s house, Mr. Chu swung a large hockey bag over his shoulder and headed down the street. The residential neighbourhood was home to some of the wealthiest citizens in the greater-Chicago area.

Casing the place had been a small challenge. His target employed several bodyguards and security personnel who mostly remained onsite at all times. Those men tended to stay in their own section of the house during the evening. Twice now, Mr. Chu had watched as his target brought a woman home with him. He always paid for them. Once, Mr. Chu had stood in the target’s closet and watched as he’d screwed the woman. His penis wasn’t very large. The woman had looked bored, but her voice had been very enthusiastic.

Having learned the security code from one of the guards who didn’t believe in hiding his PIN, Mr. Chu coded himself into the house. The motion detectors were never engaged until the guards turned in for the night. It was a lackadaisical practice that would serve him well. With the layout of the house memorized, Mr. Chu moved carefully through the lower level, heading for the kitchen. At the back of the kitchen was a stairwell that led down to the basement. Taking those stairs, careful not to let the wood make any creaking noises, Mr. Chu placed his bag next to the furnace.

Mr. Chu was under no obligation to make the job look like an accident. In fact, the agency wanted it to look like a targeted hit. They didn’t want to announce their actions, but they wanted to put the other organizations on high alert. The tenseness would add to Mr. Chu’s pleasure as he went about his next few contracts. Unzipping his bag, Mr. Chu removed several large bricks of C4. From a separate pocket in the bag, he removed the blasting caps and the remote detonator. Humming quietly as he worked, Mr. Chu tucked the C4 behind the furnace. Sticking the blasting caps into the bricks and tying them into the detonator, Mr. Chu then keyed in his code and armed the device. The detonator was synced to a second device that would be placed a little closer to the target. Hefting the bag onto his shoulders, Mr. Chu left the basement and swiftly made his way up the stairs to the master bedroom.

Pausing at the door, Mr. Chu slipped a snake cam under the door. The target was distracted by his whore. Mr. Chu opened the door and stepped inside the room. Closing the door around, he crept over to the closet once again. Removing the package from his bag, Mr. Chu checked on the occupants of the room. The target had his head thrown back, his eyes squeezed shut in ecstasy. The woman was on her knees, working at his dick with her mouth and hands.

Creeping out of the closet, the prepped device in the palm of his hand, Mr. Chu walked over to the end of the bed and tucked it just under the bed skirt. Leaving his empty bag in the closet, Mr. Chu slipped back into the hallway and quietly left the house. Back at his car, Mr. Chu pressed the remote to activate the dual devices. With a one-minute countdown, he had just enough time to clear the area before the house blew.

The force of the blast disintegrated the house. The ensuing fireball roasted what little was left. Nothing could be found that could be used to identify the victims of the blast. None of the security cameras from the neighbour’s houses had been directed on the explosion. The police had little to go on.

By all accounts, the job had been perfect. Mr. Chu, however, was disappointed to learn that, even given the amount of explosives he’d planted, the blast was not large enough to take out any of the target’s neighbours. It was a dissatisfying result.

***

“We need to put the word out that Parker is persona non grata.” Leland took a small sip from his whiskey, wishing Ingram’s tastes didn’t lean towards fire water. He had a lovely twenty year Macallan back in his office.

“We can activate our watchers in the UK,” Ingram suggested. “They’re stationed at all of the major airports, train stations and bus depots. If she tries to leave the country, one of them will spot her.”

Leland pondered the idea for a moment. Parker had managed to completely fool all of them and get away with a major hit. He wouldn’t underestimate her again. “Activate Europe.”

“What, the whole European network?” Ingram asked, surprised.

“Yes. She has had several hours already since Wagner’s death and we don’t know what disguise she’s using. She could already have left the country.”

Ingram nodded. Leland had a good point. He never would have expected Parker to pull this off. That’s why he had suggested her. She had always stuck to the low level jobs. He’d obviously misjudged her capabilities. “I’ll have Petrillo send out the orders straight away.”

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