19 August 2009

Unholy Crusade, part seventeen


Seth watched as his men took up position on the roof of the factory across from the target; in the café down the road and in vans parked in several key points down the road. When the time came, they would be able to block off the street quickly and take out anyone who tried to resist arrest.

Cartwright fidgeted in his seat. The younger man was poor company on a job like this. Seth's usual manner of working was to relax into an almost meditative state; clear of mind but alert enough to respond quickly when the time came. Cartwright's incessant fidgeting and impatience ruined all that.

'How long do you think we've got to wait?' Cartwright asked.

'Half an hour, maybe more,' Seth replied curtly.

'Time enough for a brew, then.' Cartwright unbuckled his seat belt. 'Want one?'

Seth sighed, squeezed the bridge of his nose. It had been a long day. Maybe a cup of tea was not a bad idea. 'Sure. Black, no sugar.'

As he waited for his tea, Seth settled into stakeout mode. He sat impassively, breathing slowly, watching the world go by. A cat walked along the high wall surrounding the factory. It reminded him of Tom; the cat he had had as a child. He put the memory aside for now, not wanting any distractions. A man walking a German shepherd passed him without a second glance. Seth watched the man in the rear view mirror as he walked his dog down the street, in case he was a lookout for the targets. The man turned a corner into a housing estate and disappeared. Probably just some guy out walking his dog, Seth decided. He gave him no more thought.

Cartwright climbed back into the car, a cardboard drinks carrier in one hand and a paper bag in the other. He passed a cup to Seth and proffered the bag. 'Doughnut?'

Seth took the cup but declined the food, as tempting as it looked. 'I'm coeliac.'

'Shit, sorry. I forgot.'

'It's okay. What did the guys in the café have to say.'

'They've seen nothing so far. They'll radio if anything comes up.'

Seth nodded. 'It's early yet.'

They sat in silence, sipping over-hot tea and waiting. Time lost its meaning as Seth slipped further into stakeout mode until suddenly a voice came over the radio.

'Black Mercedes approaching,' said Porter. 'Plates registered to a van reported stolen two months ago. Occupant matches description of Hans Allemand.'

Seth turned on the microphone on his lapel. 'Roger that. Hold position until my signal. Let's see what he does.'

The Mercedes rolled into view at a leisurely pace, keeping just under the speed limit. It passed the factor gates and headed on down the road. Seth waited. A drive-by inspection of the area before starting business was not unexpected under the circumstances.

Gretl's voice crackled over the radio. 'Baron, the target is here.'

'I know,' Seth replied. 'We just saw him go past.'

'No, I mean he's here. In the factory.'

That was quick, Seth thought.

'Do you think he suspects something?' asked Cartwright.

'It's unlikely,' said Gretl. 'It looks like he's finding somewhere to hide.'

'Come again?' asked Seth.

Gretl did not reply right away. When she did, her voice was distant, like the radio was a secondary concern and she was paying more attention to something else. 'There's more going on here than we thought. Stay where you are for now.'

'I don't think that's an option,' said Seth, readying his weapon. 'The bad guys are on their way in.'