THERE were four thugs, total gangsters, in front of the house with their rifles and their night-vision goggles. Four more in back. No telling how many more inside.
So figure a dozen hard guys at least, protecting one of the worst guys in the world.
Not one of them having a clue about how much trouble they were really in, how badly I had them outnumbered.
Hired guns, in any country, never worried me. The Bads? They were the real enemy, worse than any terrorists, even if I was one of the few people alive who knew they existed.
Even my boss, the president of the United States, didn’t know what we were really up against, how much he really needed me.
When he talked about our country fighting an “unseen” threat, he didn’t know how true that really was.
When my son, Zach, was little, I used to tell him these fantastic bedtime stories about the Bads, and he thought I was making them up. I wasn’t.
The snow was falling hard now, bringing night along with it. Not good. Definitely not good. I didn’t need a blizzard tonight, not if I wanted to get the plane in the air once I got back to the small terminal near the airport in Zagreb. Which was only going to happen if I could get past the guards, get inside, and then back out with the guy I’d come all this way for. It meant things going the way they were supposed to, which didn’t always happen in my line of work.
My official line of work? That would be special adviser to the president. A title that meant nothing on nights like this. On assignments like this. The real job description was fixing things, things that other people couldn’t, saving people who needed saving, capturing people who needed to be stopped. Dispensing my own brand of justice.
Sometimes I had help, people watching my back.
Not tonight. Tonight I was on my own. Not even the president knew I was here. Sometimes you have to play by your own rules.
On this remote hill in northern Bosnia, near where the concentration camps had been discovered a few years before, I had managed to finally locate a Serb war criminal and part-time terrorist named Vladimir Radovic. He was known to governments around the world and decent people everywhere as Vlad the Bad because of all the innocent people he’d slaughtered when he was in power, before he was on the run.
To me, he was known by a code name, which I thought fit him much better:
I was here to catch the Rat.
Me, Tom Harriman. About to blow past the guns and inside a cabin that had been turned into an armed fortress.
Almost time now. I didn’t just feel the darkness all around me, as if night had fallen out of the sky all at once. I could feel another darkness coming up inside me, the way it always did in moments like this, when something was about to happen. When I didn’t have to keep my own bad self under control. When I could be one of the good guys but not have to behave like one.
The me that still scares me.
Time to go in and tell the Rat his ride was here.