France becomes a battleground when the Executioner’s war goes international
While staking out Mafia activity at Dulles airport, the one-man army known as Mack Bolan gets caught in an ambush. He shoots his way past the first wave of mob guards, escaping onto the tarmac. As a cordon of police close in on the most wanted man in America, he is forced to fly or die. He chooses the former—hopping a ride on an airliner headed for France, where he will do battle with the most savage villains the Old World has to offer.
On the flight he encounters a celebrity who could be his double—and who is kidnapped by the Paris mob as soon as he steps off the plane. To rescue this unsuspecting innocent, Bolan will bring the Paris underworld to its knees. He may not speak French, but he is fluent in the universal language of the gun.
Continental Contract is the 5th book in the Executioner series, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
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The Executioner, Book Five
By Don Pendleton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1971 Pinnacle Books
All rights reserved.
The Dulles Trap
For one frozen heartbeat, Mack Bolan knew that he was a dead man. And then the moment ticked on, recording the confusion and hesitation and perhaps even awe in the eyes of the adversary, and Bolan lived on. Trained instincts of the jungle fighter responded one flashing synapse quicker; Bolan's reaction to the surprise encounter was a total one as mind and body exploded into the challenge for survival. His left chopped against the gun even as the yawning bore of the .45 thundered its greetings, his knee lifting high in the same reflex as he twisted into the attack. The shot went wild, the gun clattered to the ground, and the foe momentarily rode Bolan's knee, buckaroo style, then he was groaning groundward and rolling into a spasmodic knot.
Bolan scooped up the .45 in a continuation of the defensive reflex and was swinging into the lineup on the fallen opponent when his corner-vision warned him of activity on the flank. He whirled and rapidfired three rounds in the general direction of that threat. Answering fire immediately triangulated on him as shadowy shapes rapidly dispersed and went to ground some twenty yards distant. A thick voice yelled, "It's him awright—now waitaminnit, Bolan!"
Bolan was not waiting. He stepped around the writhing Mafioso and jogged quietly to the far corner of the building. A gun boomed from that quarter and a slug punched into the wall beside him. He jerked back and returned warily to his former position where he stared down at the suffering man, grimly assessing his possibilities of escape and quietly damning himself for walking into the setup.
The same thick voice from the darkness called out, "Wise up, Bolan. You're sewed in. Throw out the gun, then put your hands where we can see 'em and come talk to us."
Bolan knew how that conversation would go—with a six-figure bounty on his head. He also knew that this gun crew was not at Dulles International Airport to convoy a nickel-and-dime air freight hijack operation; Executioner Bolan had been suckered. What had begun as a soft surveillance of Mafia activity had quickly escalated into a full firefight, and Bolan could read nothing into the unhappy development except ambush. He gave them credit; they had played it cool. And now he was wondering just how long they had been onto his interest in the airfreight operation. Knowing this, he would know also how elaborately planned was the ambush. If it had been a hasty, last-minute set, then perhaps he stood a chance of busting out. But if they had come there in force, expecting Bolan to walk in ...
He knelt and placed the muzzle of the .45 against the fallen Mafioso's temple. "How many are out there?" he inquired quietly. "What's the set?"
The man was in a paralysis of torment, and obviously cared little whether he lived or died. He made a faint attempt to respond, partially uncurled himself, then quickly drew back into the knot and vomited. Bolan grimaced with sympathy and stood up, leaning against the building and breathing as softly as possible, ears straining to tell him what his eyes could not.
Frozen time moved sluggishly as he assessed the situation. He could hear them moving about out there in the darkness, closing, consolidating the jaws of the trap. A big jet was taking off from the far side of the airport, another was landing close by, its landing lights probing the darkness as it swept low past the warehouse area—though not close enough to affect Bolan's situation. He was in a section of the sprawling complex which normally saw little or no activity at this hour of the night, a pre-customs storage area. Perhaps even the gunplay had gone unnoticed in the other noises of the huge air terminal.
"What about it, Bolan?" asked the voice out there.
He snapped his .32 out of the sideleather and quickly inspected the load, then threw the appropriated .45 into the open. It clattered loudly as it slid along the concrete ramp, adding another grotesque note to the sounds about him.
Some one called out, "Watch it! He's probably got Joe's gun too!"
Bolan snapped a round toward the voice and was rewarded with a muffled yelp and a returning volley of fire. Meanwhile he had spun off as he fired, crouching and running along the shadows of the warehouse, his eyes alert to the sudden eruption of muzzle flashes. The fusillade tore into the area he had just vacated, and a gasping groan behind him told of the effect upon the writhing Mafioso who had been identified as "Joe."
A voice crowed, "He's hit!"
"Watch it, he's tricky!"
"Not that tricky."
"Well, you just waitaminnit, dammit."
Bolan had located the enemy forces, as revealed by the last volley. They were clumped into four groups of about three men each. Two groups were directly across from him, in the shadows of the opposite building; the other two were flanking him, covering from the warehouses to either side of Bolan's position. The leader was out front, as evidenced by the voice of authority; a sub-regime was off to the left flank, the cocky voice of impatience and disrespect for the Executioner's image.
The groups out front would have to cross a wide area of relative light in order to close on Bolan. Either flank, however, could move in with only a momentary exposure between the buildings. The tactical instincts of the professional soldier had instantly become aware of this truth, and Bolan was ready to exploit this single favorable factor.
"Bolan?" came the voice from out front.
The wounded Mafioso groaned again, feeble and pained, a convincing sound of approaching death. Bolan tensed and waited.
"I told you he's hit!" This from the left flank.
"Dammit you hold it!" From the center. "How you know that ain't Joe?"
"Aw shit, you know better! Joe didn't live a second, face to face with that guy! We can't wait around all night. Cops are gonna be ..."
Bolan was satisfied that the time had come. He was rolling slowly toward the edge of the shadow, silently putting as much distance as he dared between himself and the building and straining toward a midpoint position toward the left flank. They would be coming in any second now.
"Awright, check 'im out," came the grudging instructions from up front, verifying Bolan's prediction. "Bolan—if you're listening—you fire once, just once, and you're gonna get blasted to hamburger."
The prospective hamburger was lying prone with pistol extended toward the shaft of moonlight falling across his left flank. Cautiously moving feet scraped the concrete out there as a crouching figure leapt across the lighted zone. Bolan held his breath and his fire; another man hurtled over, and then another. The Executioner smiled grimly to himself over that fatal mistake; the entire left flank had moved in, leaving none to protect their own rear. He heard them moving cautiously into the trap as he moved also in a silent circling, and then they were between him and the building and he was sighting down from his prone position, rolling swiftly now and squeezing off a single shot for a calculated effect.
A grunted exclamation of alarm and a confused volley from his original position signalled the success of step two of the bold escape plan; reflexive fire came in from the front and the other flank and the trap closed fully with the Mafiosi firing into each other's positions in a contagion of over-reaction.
Bolan himself was on his feet and sprinting into the open flank, leaping across the thin shaft of moonlit area and disappearing into the shadows beyond.
An excited voice cried, "Hold it, we're shooting at each other! Th' bastard's behind us!"
Indeed, the Executioner was behind them. He could hear them shouting and damning one another for their fatal error, the groans and frightened cries of the wounded becoming a cacaphony which was now entirely too familiar and increasingly repugnant to Mack Bolan. But this was the world he had built for himself, Bolan kept remembering; it was the only one available to him now.
He reached the small van truck which only moments before had been receiving looted pharmaceutical supplies from a darkened warehouse, the object of Bolan's earlier surveillance and once hopefully the lever into the Family's Washington area operations. The lever had become a boomerang, and now Bolan had more of a bite into the Family than he'd anticipated.
The cab door of the truck stood open and the driver was gaping at him across the hood; two men who had been loading the van stood indecisively just inside the warehouse, uncertainly poised between fight and flight. With the ominous appearance of Bolan's .32, they opted for flight and moved hastily into the interior of the building. Bolan waved the pistol in a tight circle encompassing the driver and said, "You too, beat it."
Wordlessly, the driver went into the warehouse and closed the door behind him. Bolan swung in behind the steering wheel of the truck, meshed the gears, and spun about in a rapid acceleration just as the regrouped remnants of the gun crew pounded into the vehicle lane and again opened fire. He dropped low in the seat and swerved into their midst, scattering them and momentarily disrupting their attack, then he was grinding past and careening into a power turn at the corner of the warehouse and the van was taking hits like puncturing hail. He felt a wheel tremor, then vibrate into a wallowing rumble. The clumsy vehicle lunged out of control, scraped the side of the building, rebounded, and plowed into a raised loading ramp an instant after Bolan had leapt clear. The truck partially climbed the ramp then overturned and fell to its side in a screech of grinding metal.
Bolan's own vehicle was parked just beyond the next warehouse, spotted into an escape corridor, and this was his goal. He was running along in the shadows as the Mafia gun crew carefully explored the wreckage of the van, and as he cleared the corner he heard an excited command: "He's not here! Spread out! Al, you take the north side; Benny, the south. Rest o' you guys ..."
Bolan was in his MG and cranking away in a full power run when a fast moving figure darted out of a shadow and began futilely pumping away at him with a handgun. At the far end of the building another began unloading on him. He took no hits and was settling down with a sigh of relief as he hurtled into the Y leading from the freight area, then he noted the flare of headlamps as two vehicles swung onto the road to his right. Bolan took the left leg, powering into the turn that would take him toward the main air terminal. His first suspicion had proven correct; he had blundered into a massive mantrap, the end of which he had not yet seen. Another pair of vehicles were swinging in above him; there would be at least one more gauntlet to run.
Bolan was weary, and his belly was just about full of open warfare. For a split second he debated ending it here and now. It would be simple and relatively painless—a quiet matter of stopping the MG at the barricade ahead, the final shootout, then blissful oblivion. Already, however, he was there, the trap cars were seesawed across the narrow roadway, and Bolan's intellectual centers stood aside for survivalist instincts. He was powering into the barricade at full throttle. Men with startled faces were flinging themselves clear of the certain collision, and Bolan's hands and feet were quivering with the tension born of a necessity for hairbreadth control and precision timing. He hit brakes and steering and powershift simultaneously, arcing into a half-spin and ricocheting off the barricade into a shallow ditch at the side of the road, jouncing against the chainlink fencing enclosing the runway area—the wheels spinning, finding traction, then propelling him into a surging advance along the sloping walls of the ditch. An alarmed face was giving him the death look from just beyond the MG's hood as human reactions fell one pace behind charging machinery; he heard the whump and saw the body spinning away; a flailing hand thwacked against his door post; then he was climbing for asphalt and making it and the high-traction drive was finding hard surface once more and the scene was falling behind. Only then did the impotent and receding rattle of gunfire officially mark the roadblock a failure; it seemed that Bolan was home clean-the trap had developed lockjaw. His heart had just begun beating again when he saw the police beacons flashing along the perimeter highway. Of course—it was time for the cops to crash the party, and they were coming in force. Bolan counted six cruisers in a tailgate parade, and he knew that there would be no exit from Dulles International this night.
It was a time for decision. The Executioner had never challenged police authority; he had, in fact, studiously avoided any confrontation that would force him into a gunfight with cops. It seemed now, however, that the unavoidable moment had arrived. First they would seal all exits, then they would pour the place full of bluesuits, the inexorable magic of police methodology would have its way, and that final inevitable staredown with authority would occur; Bolan would not submit to arrest, he knew that. Better to die swiftly and with the dignity of a still-free man than to suffer that slow suffocation of jail cells and courtrooms. How strong, though, were his instincts for survival? In that final moment when he was staging his apeshit charge and inviting them to cut him down, would those combat reflexes assert themselves as they had so many times before, would his fire be going in for effect, and would he end up taking one or two good men with him? This was one of Bolan's most persistent nightmares; he had met a cop or two during the course of his Mafia war, had recognized them as soldiers doing a soldier's job and respected them for it. He did not wish to kill or maim any cops.
So now the mob was at his rear and the bluesuits were pushing in from the front. Bolan made a swift decision and pulled into the parking area of the passenger terminal. He took a briefcase and a small suitcase from the rear of the MG and left the battered vehicle snuggled into the sea of cars in a longterm parking space. As he reached the terminal, two police cruisers were flashing along the inner drive; from the other direction, a small caravan of private autos were hurrying up from the freight area.
Bolan sighed and went on in. He was caught in the pincers. Possibly, one escape route remained open. Straight up. It was fly or die—and, for Mack Bolan, the war-weary one man army, that initial decision was merely to fly now, die later, for he knew that death awaited him between every heartbeat.
This was to be a fateful decision for certain overseas arms of that cancerous crime syndicate known as the Mafia. Though he did not know it at that moment, Mack Bolan's private war was about to become an international one. The Executioner was moving toward a new front.CHAPTER 2
Movements at the Front
The tall man, lean and rangy in a dark suit and coordinated pastel shirt and tie, strode into the deserted flightline waiting room and dropped a small overnight bag and a briefcase carelessly to the floor. A shock of black hair spilled across the forehead, large tinted lenses in gold wire frames concealed the eyes, a heavy moustache trailed out to almost meet sideburns at the jawline. Just outside, the ramp dispatcher was standing in front of a big jet and passing hand signals to the cockpit crew; the engines of the huge airliner were whining into the warmup run.
The uniformed man at the ticket desk widened his eyes noticeably when the hundred dollar bill came into view. The tall man with the eyeshades told him, "I'll bet a hundred you can't get me on that Paris flight."
The ticket man grinned at Bolan and replied, "I'll take that bet, sir." He nudged the man beside him and commanded, "Run out there and tell Andy to hold the gangway, we have a late boarding VIP."
Moments later Bolan was ticketed and moving along the boarding ramp. A man in airline uniform stood impatiently at the aircraft door. He waved the tardy boarder inside and closed the door behind him. Bolan found his seat and was buckling himself in when the door again opened and another last-minute fare stepped inside and took the final remaining open seat, just across the aisle from Bolan. Immediately thereafter the aircraft began moving away from the loading zone.
Bolan was discreetly studying the man across the aisle; what he saw gave him neither comfort nor qualms. He was just a guy, about Bolan's age and size, modishly dressed, still breathing hard from his dash to the plane. A stewardess detached herself from the group at the crew station and came down to add their names to the passenger list. Bolan gave the name on his passport, Stefan Ruggi, and heard the other man identify himself as Gil Martin. This produced a sharp reaction from the stewardess, prompting the man to hastily add, "Look, don't make a fuss, eh? I'll keep the secret if you will."
Excerpted from Continental Contract by Don Pendleton. Copyright © 1971 Pinnacle Books. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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