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Trailing his quarry through chaos and death, Bolan exposes a new and far grimmer scenario--a conspiracy involving local power brokers. The goal is an act of homegrown terror ...
Trailing his quarry through chaos and death, Bolan exposes a new and far grimmer scenario--a conspiracy involving local power brokers. The goal is an act of homegrown terror orchestrated by rogue sleeper cells of the Chinese government. There's a fine line between rough justice and cold-blooded murder--something the Executioner understands all too well.
The hollow-core wooden door cracked and fell inward as Mack Bolan kicked it off its hinges. He stepped over the shattered particleboard, the barrel of his Beretta 93-R machine pistol leading the way. He swept left and right, his support hand gripping a small but powerful combat light and tracking with the pistol. The white beam illuminated the debris within the ramshackle trailer. The place was a mess and smelled worse than it looked. It stank of decay and reeked heavily of ammonia. The Executioner's eyes watered as he stepped forward into the darkness.
The mobile home was a dump in more ways than one. The "lawn" outside was little more than mud dotted with weeds. Behind and on both sides of the moldy trailer, piles of garbage told the soldier exactly what he was about to find. Empty cans of paint thinner were stacked four and five high together with jugs of industrial chemicals, mostly hydrochloric and muriatic acid. There were other drums and barrels that he could not identify, and several broken wooden shipping pallets.
The refuse outside, piled ten feet high in some places, had smelled bad enough exposed to the open air; in the close quarters of the mobile home it was suffocating. A card table toppled as Bolan brushed past it. Dozens of empty cardboardboxes of generic dollarstore sinus and cold medicine fell to the floor.
Wading through the shin-high rubbish strewed on the floor—empty mason jars, spent bottles of camp-stove fuel, cigarette butts, fast-food wrappers and more bulging bags of rotting garbage—Bolan tore away one of the black plastic trash bags taped over the nearest window. The glass was filthy and cracked, but through it he could see waning twilight. The stars above the snow-covered field would have been pretty if seen anywhere else. Here, they were only a backdrop against which to contrast man's viciousness.
The dead man was dressed in filthy denims under a leather biker jacket. He was covered in blood. The top of his head was gone and Bolan could not determine through the gore how old he might have been. Toeing the corpse over with the edge of his combat boot, the soldier got a good look at the logo on the back of the jacket: CNY Purists. He hadn't heard of that one before. Slipping a tiny digital camera from a slit pocket of his blacksuit, Bolan snapped a couple of shots of the symbol, a stylized and fairly typical skull and snake surrounded by the letters of the gang's name. The team at Stony Man Farm would be able to turn up intel on the group.
In the debris, Bolan almost missed the gun. The Colt Python was sticky with congealing blood. He left it there. The owner wouldn't be needing it and evidence gathering was best left to the local police. Bolan was no cop, and he wasn't there to tag and bag the obvious.
The floor creaked as the man in black made his way down the narrow hallway joining the trailer's living room to what he presumed was once a bedroom. There was less garbage. The space was full of camp stoves, bottles of drain cleaner and a mess of tangled plastic tubing, metal drums and broken glass. The ammonia fumes were so intense that Bolan had to back out of the room. As he did so, the beam of his flashlight played across the bullet holes pocking the bare, water-damaged drywall.
There was a second bedroom at the end of the hall. It was a wreck like the rest of the trailer, but with more domestic debris. The litter was mostly dirty clothes and empty liquor bottles. A sawed-off pump shotgun, jacked open and empty, was lying on the floor amid a pile of fired plastic shells. Bolan's light showed buckshot peppering the walls and even the floor in the bedroom and hallway. There were several more bullet holes here, too, large enough to be .44 or .45 slugs.
Two more bodies were sprawled on the floor. One was a long-haired, shirtless male wearing leather pants and engineer's boots. The other was a half-naked woman. She was stretched out at the foot of a baby's crib.
Bolan's jaw tightened. The crib was missing slats from its railings and was covered in peeling paint. It was shoved against the wall under the room's single window, the only one in the trailer not covered with black plastic. One leg was broken; it was propped on a broken piece of cinder block. There were bloodstained blankets inside.
In the center of the railing, the wooden spokes had been blasted apart, leaving a larger hole lined in splintered and broken dowels. The wall beyond the crib, visible through the slats on the far side, was dotted with three more large bullet holes.
The woman on the floor in front of the crib clutched a .38 snubnose revolver in lifeless fingers. She was emaciated, with deep, dark circles under her eyes. From what Bolan could see, she was toothless. Her chest was covered in blood and she'd taken multiple shots. Bolan pried the .38 from her grasp, his gloved thumb pushing the cylinder release and snapping it open. There were no indentations on the primers. She'd never gotten off a shot.
Steeling himself, the soldier rose and stepped closer to the crib.
The baby had taken at least one slug, maybe two. Blue eyes hard with anger, Bolan stared down at the innocent life cut short by violence. He turned—
The window shattered. Something heavy and metallic bounced across the unmade and bloodstained bed before clattering to the floor.
The hand grenade rolled to a stop at Bolan's feet. His eyes widened. Without hesitation, the soldier threw himself out the already broken window, tumbling though the mud and slush and crashing through a stack of empty paint-thinner cans. Ignoring the noise of the falling containers, he ran as fast as he could pump his legs, doomsday numbers falling as he put most of a snow-covered and weed-chocked field between himself and the mobile home.
The muffled thump of the grenade—an incendiary, Bolan realized—was followed almost immediately by a series of deafening explosions. Waves of heat rolled over Bolan. The mobile home became an instant funeral pyre, its volatile contents consuming themselves and everything within the trailer as chemicals and cooking equipment went up in flames.
"He's there! He's there!"
Prone, Bolan whipped his head to the side as a shot rang out, digging a furrow not six inches from where his face had been. He rolled and got up, the Beretta still clutched in his fist. He'd lost his flashlight in the mad dash from the mobile home. Sighting on the muzzleflashes, he drilled a series of 3-round bursts into the night. One of his unseen opponents cried out.
"Benny! Benny, you okay?" demanded the voice. Whomever Benny might be, he was out of the action. Bolan was already moving, the noise of his steps drowned by the crackling fires eating the meth lab. There were at least three of them, plus the unfortunate Benny. They were fanning out, backlit by the dancing flames.
Bolan took careful aim and tapped out a single 3-round burst, tagging one of the moving figures in the head. The other two fired in his direction—one with a handgun, the other with a machine pistol of some kind. The stuttering of the full-auto zipper followed Bolan into the darkness. It was a 9 mm, most likely; probably a micro-Uzi or an Ingram. Bolan doubted a single round had come near him. The threat came from the aimed fire to his left, from the man who'd called out to Benny. The speaker's partner was the spray-and-pray type.
As the deepening night filled more space between Bolan and the burning drug lab, he circled, flanking his pursuers. The two men were stumbling blindly after him. It would be easy to take them both, but he needed answers. That meant trying to get one of them alive.
"Carver! I don't see him!" It was a different voice, the voice of the man with the machine pistol.
"Shut the fuck up, Stick," Carver barked. "Watch for movement and then—"
It was good advice and Bolan took it, emptying his Beretta into Carver. The man went down without a sound. Another wild burst of Parabellum rounds went wide of him as Stick reacted. Shoving the empty Beretta into his web belt, Bolan dropped to his left knee, drawing his .44 Magnum Desert Eagle from the tactical thigh holster on his right leg. The gas-fed hand cannon thundered as Bolan triggered two boattail rounds low and left. The first one missed, but the second took Stick in the abdomen. The thug's knees buckled and he dropped to the ground.
Fishing in a pouch of his web belt, Bolan produced a small LED backup light. He held the little aluminum cylinder between the fingers of his left hand as he advanced on Stick, Desert Eagle at the ready. Stick was moaning and rocking slightly, clutching at his guts with both arms wrapped tightly around his stomach as he knelt doubled over and sobbing. Not far away, steaming in the snow, was Stick's fallen MAC-10, the bolt closed.
"You son of a bitch," he blubbered.
Stick was a lanky man of thirty to forty years with greasy shoulder-length hair and a face like a rodent's. His chin was covered in a scraggly growth that made him look even more like a rat. In the blue-tinted glare of his pocket light, Bolan could see the logo on Stick's sleeveless denim shirt—CNY Purists.
"Talk," Bolan said simply.
Stick looked up accusingly. "What the fuck do you want?" he wheezed.
"I want to know what happened here."
"You should goddamned know well enough what you done here, you bastard," Stick sputtered. "You killed Chopper Mike! You killed his old lady! You killed their freaking kid, man. Why would you do that? Who are you?"
"Start from the beginning," Bolan commanded. The triangular nose of the Desert Eagle never wavered. Hugging himself, Stick squinted at the man in black and appeared to look him up and down.
"I ain't telling you nothing," he whimpered. His voice hardened. "I ain't telling nothing to no tall, darkhaired badass dressed like a commando who just hit our place on Route 173."
Bolan's eyes grew wide again. He pistoned a vicious straight kick into the biker, sending him sprawling. There was a lot of blood, but Stick wasn't wounded as badly as he'd let on. The wireless phone he'd been hiding—and into which he'd been speaking for someone's benefit—landed in the snow a few feet away.
Growling like an animal, Stick surged to his feet. The serrated blade of a folding knife flashed in the beam of Bolan's light. As the biker lunged, Bolan fired twice. Stick was dead before what was left of him settled wetly into the snow.
The Executioner retrieved the phone, a cheap and untraceable prepaid unit. The connection was still open. As his thumb went for the "status" button, the call was terminated from the other end. The local number Stick had dialed was the only one in the phone's call log. Looking at the dead man and then glancing back in Carver's direction, Bolan shook his head. For methrunning bikers, they were far from stupid. Still, he at least had a few clues to feed to the Farm.
As the meth lab continued to burn, Bolan heard the first of the sirens approaching.
Excerpted from Vigilante Run by Don Pendleton Copyright © 2007 by Don Pendleton. Excerpted by permission.
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