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Jacques Dumond lived on an estate on the outskirts of Monte Carlo. A stone security wall surrounded the property, obscuring the grounds from passersby.
Mack Bolan, aka the Executioner, was at the wheel of a black Jaguar sedan. He guided the vehicle past the front gate. Peering through the windshield, he studied a pair of men standing outside a wrought-iron gate that led into the estate.
Though he could see no weapons, Bolan assumed the grim-faced men were guards because they seemed more focused on their surroundings than interacting with each other. And the smaller of the two, a slim guy decked out in a black suit, was holding what appeared to be a two-way radio in his right hand. The other guydressed in jeans, a white shirt and an ill-fitting blue sport coat, his bald head glinting under the streetlightsfixed his gaze on Bolan's car as it glided past. The Jaguar was outfitted with blacktinted windows that prevented the big man from seeing anything other than his reflection as Bolan wheeled by.
Leo Turrin was in the front passenger's seat. He nodded at the man watching their car.
"The big guy is yours," Turrin said. "I'll take the little one."
Bolan drove three more blocks, making sure he was well out of the guards' sight before he turned right. He drove another two blocks before making another right and maneuvering around the rear of the estate.
Pulling the car up to a curb, the soldier's mind reeled through key facts about his target.
Before falling from grace, Dumond had been a high-level French soldier who specialized in counterterrorism operations. After a decade he'd moved to the dark side. His business card read "security expert," but in truth he worked as a mercenary and enforcer for some of the world's most vicious regimes. He'd led death squads in Sudan and Sierra Leone, trained antigovernment killers in Colombia and provided muscle for Mexican drug cartels. A scrape in that country had cost him his left eye. Apparently, once he moved into his mid-forties, he'd decided it was easier to sell guns than wield them. He began selling arms to some of the same criminal regimes he'd once worked for. The experts back in Washington disagreed on his exact body count, but knew it was significant, at least two-thirds of it being women and children murdered in the world's conflict zones.
So, yeah, Bolan was hunting a jackal this night. The bastard's blood-drenched résumé was more than enough to make him a legitimate target, but Dumond also had made the mistake of grabbing Jennifer Rodriguez, an American federal agent, which kicked him up a few more notches on the soldier's hit parade.
Bolan and Turrin had arrived there ready to take on the Frenchman and his crew of gunners. Beneath a light black windbreaker, Bolan carried a pair of Beretta 93-R pistols in a double shoulder harness. The pistols were able to fire either single rounds or in 3-round bursts of 9 mm Parabellum ammo. With a foregrip in front of the trigger guard, the pistol could to fire 1,100 rounds per minute.
The soldier also had procured another of his old stand-bys. The 44 Magnum Desert Eagle Mark VII rode on his left hip in a cross-draw position. Outfitted with the six-inch barrel, the hand cannon's magazine carried eight rounds.
Bolan's other tools of war were sealed in the trunk. There he had stashed a Heckler & Koch MP-5 fitted with a sound suppressor, and a small duffel bag loaded with additional magazines for the submachine gun as well as an assortment of fragmentation, flash-bang and smoke grenades.
Turrin, on the other hand, had opted for a Benelli M-4 Super 90 shotgun. Manufactured by Benelli Armi SPA, an Italian company, the shotgun could be loaded with one 12-gauge round in the chamber and seven more in the tube. Like Bolan, Turrin was carrying a Beretta 93-R. He wanted the weapon because of its sound suppressor and its ability to fire multiple rounds with a single trigger pull. But he also was armed with a .38-caliber Colt Cobra that was holstered in the small of his back. The short-barreled pistol's aluminumalloy frame made it light to carry and it was easily concealed.
Bolan eased the Jaguar to the curb, turned off the lights and killed the engine. He popped open the door and stepped into the warm night. Turrin had stepped out of the passenger's side and both men made their way to the trunk.
Bolan raised the lid, reached in, hefted the duffel bag and slid its strap over his shoulder. The bag's weight caused its strap to pull taut until he could feel it dig into the muscles of his left shoulder. Next he pulled out the MP-5 and checked its load. Turrin had pulled out the Benelli and was looping the strap over his right shoulder.
Reaching back into the compartment, Bolan pulled a rope with a grappling hook.
"You realize it'd be easier to go through the front gate," Turrin said.
"Sure," Bolan replied. "No one would notice two guys shooting two other guys and then busting through a wrought-iron fence."
"I'm just making a point."
"Rope climbing a little too strenuous for you, Leo?"
Grinning, Bolan turned and looked back at the wall surrounding the estate. Inside the wall, Dumond usually had anywhere between four and six gunners patrolling the grounds, especially when he was entertaining highend clients, most of whom also were prone to violence. And, according to his dossier, the arms dealer also sampled some of his own wares, carrying a pair of Detonics .45-caliber pistols beneath his well-tailored jackets and at least one combat blade.
Bolan keyed his throat mike.
"Striker to Base," he said.
"Go, Striker," a female voice replied. It was Barbara Price, the mission controller for Stony Man Farm. Bolan and Turrin were connected with the Farm's ultrasecret facility thanks to satellite links.
"We're EVA," he said, "and ready to hit the town."
"You're clear," Price told him.
"Did they crash the party?"
"They" was the Farm's cyber team, which had been working to hack into the computers that controlled Du-mond's lighting, security system and other critical infrastructure ever since Bolan and Turrin had left the United States.
"Party crashed. Once we saw you stop outside the target, we set the outside surveillance cameras on a loop. If anyone's monitoring the cameras, all they'll see is the same empty street they saw three minutes ago."
"Which is fine," Bolan said, "until they realize they've seen the same car or dog walker pass by eight times in the last couple of minutes."
"Guess you'll have to move faster than they can think," Price replied.
"Are you getting any good intel otherwise?"
"Satellites indicate four guys walking the grounds inside the wall," Price said. "Two smaller animals, probably dogs, moving separately from them. That's all in addition to the thugs at the gate. Looks like another moving around on the rooftop."
"Okay," Bolan replied.
He returned to the trunk and popped the lid again. Pulling aside a blanket, he revealed a rectangular box, covered in faux leather, which was about four inches thick.
He opened the box and from its interior removed a CO2-powered dart pistol. Breaking the weapon open, he slid a tranquilizer dart into the barrel and snapped it closed. He slipped a smaller box filled with extra darts into his jacket pocket."
"Still won't shoot dogs, huh?" Turrin asked.
Bolan turned toward him and shook his head. "The dogs don't know what they're doing," he said. "They just do as their told."
Turrin nodded his understanding. "You always did like your rules."
"It's what separates me from Dumond," Bolan said.
"Yeah, that and his massive bank account in the Cayman Islands."
Bolan allowed himself a grin. "There's that."
Shutting the trunk for a second time, the soldier slid the dart pistol into the duffel bag and moved toward the fence. If the cyber team had done its job, the motion detectors and other security devices should be disabled without actually registering on Dumond's IT systems.
They had considered shutting down the electricity remotely, but had decided against it.
Dumond had to expect someone would come for the missing federal agent, even if he'd done his best to move her around. If they shut down electric power to the estate, it would alert Dumond that something was about to happen. His security teams probably would retreat to the house and form an iron ring around Dumond and Rodriguez, making them harder to reach. Besides, it was a safe bet the facility was outfitted with backup generators that would fire to life shortly after the power went out.
Bolan figured it was better for them to take out as many of the exterior guards as quickly and quietly as possible. They still had surprise on their side, and the neighborhood around them had no idea of the mayhem about to erupt. The longer the Stony Man warriors could maintain their advantage, the better.
Bolan scaled the wall. The muscles of his arms, shoulders and thighs bunched and released, starting to burn as he reached the top ledge and pulled himself onto it. He lay across the top of the wall, MP-5 clutched in his right fist, ice-blue eyes scanning for threats, while he waited for Turrin to finish his ascent.
The little Fed reached the top of the wall, his breath coming in labored gasps, sweat pouring down his face.
"Jesus," he muttered.
Bolan held up a finger to silence him, then jerked his head slightly to the left. Two of Dumond's hardmen had fallen across his line of sight. The submachine-gun-wielding thugs were less than thirty yards from the Americans, walking a few yards apart from each other.
Bolan raised himself onto his elbows, like a cobra lifting its head from the ground. He lined up a shot on the closer hardman.
Turrin had filled his hand with his sound-suppressed Beretta and was maneuvering his body so he could put a shot into the second guard.
The Executioner caressed the MP-5's trigger. The weapon coughed out a burst. Bolan had tried to catch the guy in the chest. In the instant the soldier squeezed the trigger, the man turned. The bullets ripped into his right shoulder and lanced into his ribs, caused him to yelp in pain and shock. As he stumbled back, his partner spun toward the commotion and was searching for a target with the muzzle of his SMG. Before he could trigger his weapon, Turrin cut loose with a triburst. The Parabellum manglers ripped a ragged line across the guy's chest. He stumbled back a couple of steps before falling to the ground in a boneless heap.
Repositioning the grappling hook, Bolan dropped the rope down the wall. Letting the MP-5 fall loose on the strap, he gathered the rope in both hands and rappelled to the ground while Turrin covered him. When he touched down, the soldier dropped into a crouch and scanned the area for more attackers while Turrin made his way down the rope. Holding the MP-5 in his right hand, Bolan unzipped the duffel bag and withdrew the dart pistol. In the meantime, Turrin was kneeling next to one of the dead men. He plucked a bud from the dead man's ear and, reaching under the guy's coat, pulled the cord, tracing its length until he found the radio.
Bolan watched as Turrin slipped the bud into his own ear and listened for several seconds.
"They keep calling out names," he said, speaking in a whisper. "I assume it's these chuckleheads."
The soldier nodded and slowly rose into a crouch. As Turrin began to uncoil from the ground, Bolan looked just over his old friend's shoulder and spotted a shadow emerging from a copse.
Bolan's hand snaked out and he struck Turrin in the right biceps. The impact knocked the man sideways. At the same time Bolan was able to aim the pistol's barrel at the shape launching itself from the ground. He could see the German shepherd dog's black face, jaws open, saliva-soaked fangs bared and gleaming as it hurtled toward him. The soldier triggered dart gun. The missile buried into the muscle of the animal's shoulder. If the sting of the dart registered with the dog, it gave no outward signs. Bolan whipped to the side, the animal's body hurtling past him, striking the ground, rolling once before springing up from the earth and turning back toward the humans.
A growl escaping its throat, the animal raced toward the Stony Man warriors. It leaped at Bolan, who was closer. Its jaws snapped at empty air. The soldier shoved his forearm out, and the dog's jaws clamped down on it. Bolts of pain radiated from Bolan's forearm, but he ignored it. The force of the dog striking him hammered Bolan from his feet and knocked him onto his back. He felt the animal's jaws loosen and by the time he hit the ground, the soldier was able to push the dog away with a hard shove. It wheeled back in his direction. Mouth open, it stared at Bolan, but its stance had grown unsteady and it seemed to stare at Bolan without focusing on him. Whimpering, its legs grew rubbery and it dropped to the ground, panting.
Bolan turned away from the animal, certain it would be all right once the tranquilizer wore off. A quick scan of the sleeve of his windbreaker revealed torn fabric and punctured flesh, but nothing he couldn't tolerate.
Turrin gathered the dart pistol from the ground and handed it to the soldier. Bolan took the pistol, broke it open, slid another dart into the breech and snapped the weapon closed.
"Bullets," Turrin said. "Faster, more effective."
"No," Bolan replied.
"Figured as much."
The Executioner gestured in the direction of the house with his chin. "This way."
He brushed past Turrin and moved in a crouch toward the mansion. A long expanse of land, much of it covered by a well-manicured lawn, lay between them and the massive structure. Several large oak trees rose from the ground, each of which would provide decent cover in a firefight. A driveway wound in from the front gate and carved out a semicircle in front of the house. A large circular pool stood in front of the building. In the center of the pool stood a statue of a woman dressed in flowing robes, a pitcher gripped in both hands. Water spurted from a hole in the pitcher and arced into the pool.
After a few seconds Bolan spotted three more guards moving in a ragged line in his direction. He shot Turrin a look. With a nod the little Fed acknowledged that he saw them. One of the towering oak trees stood several yards away. Bolan gestured for Turrin to circle it and catch the guards from the side while Bolan moved head-on at them. He nodded once to signal his understanding and headed toward the trees.
Bolan had returned the dart pistol to his combat bag. A group of halogen outdoor lights bathed the yard in white light. The lights had caused the trees' canopies of leaves to cast fairly big shadows over the sprawling lawn, which provided them with additional cover.