by John Nation
One of the richest men in the world declares war on Sheriff Johnson and the Pack.
|Robinson spent the remainder of the morning brokering deals and making his huge fortune even larger. It was almost lunch time when he saw two detectives enter the outer office. He knew they were detectives because every year he sent large envelopes stuffed with money to each of their homes. They stopped and talked to Sandra for a moment. Soon Sandra pushed the button to activate the intercom. “Mr. Robinson, there are two detectives that say they must speak with you.”
“Send them in.”
Robinson stood and walked to greet them. He wanted to stay on the good side of the police as much as possible.
“Good day, Detectives. What can I do for you?”
“Mr. Robinson, I’m afraid we have some bad news.” The detectives looked back and forth at each other and then returned their gaze to Robinson.
“Out with it then. I receive bad news every week. By the time another week has gone by, I turn it into good news.”
“I’m afraid this news cannot be turned around, sir.” The lead detective took a deep breath and said, “Sir, your sons, Samuel Robinson Jr. and Frederick Robinson were killed yesterday while robbing a bank in Missoula, Montana.”
Robinson felt as he just received a body slam. For a moment, he could not speak. The detectives saw him turn pale.
“Mr. Robinson, do you need to sit down, sir? Let me help you to your seat.” He started to reach for his arm, but Robinson pulled it away.
“Get out,” he said.
“You heard me, get the hell out of my office.”
The detectives glanced at each other and hurriedly walked out.
When they were gone, Sandra knocked on his door. “Mr. Robinson, is everything alright?”
“No calls,” Robinson said. “I do not care if it is the Pope, the President, or the Queen of England, not a single call.”
“Yes, sir,” Sandra said. She was shutting the door when Robinson said, “Wait one moment, there is one call I will take. If Alex Whitingham should call, I will take it. No one else.”
“I understand, sir.” She hurried back to her desk.
Samuel Robinson Sr. fell into his chair. For several minutes he was motionless. All his work, all his efforts, everything he had ever done was for his sons. Now they were dead, killed in some stupid stunt to impress their father.
He came out of his daze and opened his computer. The detectives said the murders took place in Montana. It was the lead story in almost every paper in the state. He pulled up the Missoula paper and read the account. Before he finished, his face and neck were red with rage. “A hero?” he said. “THEY ARE CALLING THAT BASTARD SHERIFF WHO KILLED MY BOYS A HERO!” he shouted. He slammed his arm against his laptop, hurling it across the room.
It was ten minutes before he stopped shaking enough to use the phone. With trembling fingers he dialed a number he had not used in almost five years. When the answering machine came on he left his message. “This is Samuel Robinson. I have a job for you.”
He hung up and waited. Fifteen minutes later, Sandra called him on the intercom. “Mr. Robinson, Alex Whitingham is on line one.”
Robinson did not respond to her but picked up the receiver. “Alex,” he said.
“Good day, Mr. Robinson. I understand you wish to speak with me.”
“Yes. This is important. When can you be here?”
“I can be on a plane in less than an hour. I can be in Miami tonight, or if that is not a good time, see you in the morning.”
“Tonight will be good. I will be in my office waiting. The guards will know to let you in.”
“Then I will see you this evening.”
There was a click and the line disconnected.
Robinson sat at his desk, doing none of the things that typically made up his day. He watched as his employees left for home. The last one out as always was Sandra. She waved as she walked by, but he did not acknowledge her.
He watched the sun sink below the horizon. The stars came out and a few hours later, the moon rose.
The first time he moved was when one of the lights on his phone began to flash. “Yes?” he said into the receiver.
“Sir, Alex Whitingham is here. We are sending him up now.”
Robinson hung the phone up and moved to his door. Two minutes later his elevator opened and the man he summoned stepped out.
Alex Whitingham was six feet tall and muscular. At two hundred thirty pounds, he filled his suit out nicely. His hair was dark, but over his temples was beginning to turn grey.
They did not shake hands but went directly to the reason Whitingham was called.
“They are calling him a hero," Robinson said. "Do you believe that? He guns down my boys in the prime of their lives and he’s a hero.”
“Ghastly bit of news. I was shocked when I found out about it.”
“I just thank God their mom is not alive to see this.”
Whitingham made no comment to that observation. He had been the one that arranged the accident that ended their mother’s life at the direction of Samuel Robinson Sr.
“I want him dead, Alex. Not just dead, but mutilated. I want his body so torn apart that veteran law officers will faint at the sight of him. This time money does not matter. Hire whoever you want, but I want them to be the best there is. If he suffers, and I mean excruciating pain, pay them double the usual rate. The same goes for you. I will transfer the usual sum to your account before you leave the office. If his death is horrible, I will send that amount to you again. I already have an account for you with the money needed to get your people and any equipment they might need.”
He handed Whitingham a paper with the account number on it. “There is sixty million dollars in there. If more will be needed, let me know twenty-four hours in advance and it will be added. Am I clear on what I want?”
“I understand perfectly. You have left no room for doubt.”
“Then I say good day to you, sir.”
“And to you, Mr. Robinson. As always, it is a pleasure doing business with you.”
Whitingham left the building and moved to his car. While his driver took him to his hotel, Whitingham pulled out his cell phone and typed in his account number. He verified four million dollars had been wired to his account. He then dialed another number. His call was answered before the second ring.
“I have a job for you,” he said. He began giving instructions.
In Los Angeles, the traffic of the bustling city was winding down from the evening rush hour. Benjamin Zachery stood at his office window twenty-seven stories above the rushing cars and studied the moving vehicles, trying to understand the pattern of their movements.
Patterns were where Benjamin made his money. He understood traffic patterns, flight patterns, sales patterns, supply patterns, and much more. His specialty was new trend patterns. Over two dozen times he figured out what the next big trend would be before anyone else. Whether it was the next major toy, electronic game, new type of car, or even diet food, he had an uncanny knack of knowing it was the next must have product before anyone else, including the people producing the item. The people paying him for his insight made billions thanks to him and rewarded him well.
Such was his influence that many companies offered him millions of dollars to say they had what would be the next item everyone would want. His endorsement alone could raise the value of their stock fifty or more points on the New York Stock Exchange.
He had the integrity that he refused all their offerings. If he did not believe an item would be a major fad, he would not say it would be, no matter what incentive was offered him. Most companies simple scowled and went away. Some did not. They did not take no easily. That was the primary reason he was so heavily guarded.
There were two guards at the entrance to his elevator and two more seated at the entrance to his office. Electronic sensors started at the floor of his hallway and went to within fifteen inches of the ceiling. Anything as small as a cat would be detected before going a yard.
That was only his personal security. The building itself had its own security system. Every window was constructed of bullet resistant glass. The manufacturer stated it would take a dozen rounds from an M60 machinegun to bust one out. A half a dozen sentries were stationed at the main entrance and all the other points of entry had at least two. Another twelve guards patrolled the building. Benjamin Zachery himself had worked with them so that in their case, there was no pattern. No one could predict when one of the roaming patrolmen would arrive at a certain site.
Each of these guards was equipped with the latest in weapons and defensive armor. All of them were expert marksmen. If they aimed at something, they hit it. Only a few people on the planet were more secure than Benjamin Zachery was when at work. The President of the United States and Samuel Robinson Sr. were in that group.
The stars soon came out and the people leaving work had eaten their dinners, seen a movie, and had gone home. The guards moved through the building, ensuring no one was there not authorized to be there. They tested each door, making sure it was locked. They went into the restrooms and looked into each stall, verifying it was empty. Specially trained dogs trotted along, sniffing for the tell-tell trace of fresh human scent not belonging to the sentries and looking for explosive devices.
At twelve minutes after ten, one of the tiles in the ceiling in a restroom lifted half an inch. A set of eyes peered into the dark room, making certain no one was there. Satisfied the room was empty, the tile was pulled up. A figure stepped onto the top of a stall wall. The Assassin replaced the tile so if anyone came in, they would not see where he had hidden.
He was not dressed in black. Instead, his outfit matched the color of the walls. The only part of him visible was his eyes. His eyes brought tension and nervousness to anyone that looked at him as he watched them. He did not smile and he did not grin. He had not laughed since he was a four year old boy. The clan that trained him did not tolerate laughter from one of their pupils. The only thing they tolerated was killing. Extremely efficient killing.
The Assassin had proven how efficient he was. Believing his clan had grown too large, he had shrunk their numbers. Twelve years ago, their number had gone from forty to twenty-two. They had known they were being killed, but had no idea who was doing it. It did not take long before the Master of the clan figured out it had to be one of them, there was no one else on the planet that could do it. Once he figured that out, it took even less time to determine who was killing them. The only one capable of such a task was his best student.
The twenty-two remaining members of the clan met at their training camp, a site hidden in the jungles of Cambodia. They were not Cambodians, but Japanese. Japan had grown too populated, making training there difficult. Three decades ago they had moved their base camp.
The Master demanded that not only was The Assassin to stop killing fellow clan members, he was to take his own life as punishment. The Assassin refused. When he did, the Master called on the other members of the clan to remove his head.
As one, they attacked him, armed with Shuriken, nunchaku, fighting sticks and other weapons. The Assassin escaped the compound, killing five of the attackers in the process. During the night, the rest of the clan died, one by one as they hunted him. None of them heard The Assassin as he approached. His skill was so superior that he did not receive a single cut during the battle.
As the sun rose the next morning, The Assassin returned to the main training room. The only person left was the Master that had taught him from his first day. He stopped in front of the Master and opened a duffle bag. Sixteen heads rolled to the floor. The Master pulled his sword. Instead of attacking The Assassin, he turned it upon himself, plunging it into his heart. For the first time in over twenty-five years, The Assassin smiled.
In the intervening years The Assassin honed his skills to ever sharper degrees. The clan insisted only traditional weapons like the hand and fighting sticks be used. The Assassin used those to a large degree, but also modernized. He was now an expert on explosives. He had taken out a target with a tiny charge of C4. He was so precise that the target was killed, but his wife sitting next to him was unharmed. There was not a poison he could not use. Some killed the target at once, others were slow acting, administered over months, making it appear as if the target died of natural diseases.
He never took part in contests of skill, but he would attend martial art tournaments. Often times when the tournament was finished, he would meet in private with the victor. The next morning the tournament winner was found dead.
What gave him such an edge over everyone else was his unbelievable speed. Whether it was a quirk of genes or perhaps a leap in human evolution, he could bring his hand up from below his waist to capture a knife coming at his face faster than a ball thrown by a professional baseball pitcher. He was also silent. At one time the Master compared him to a falling snowflake, saying the snowflake sounded like the crash of a cymbal in comparison. It had taken all of his willpower not to smile.
Once he wondered into an area where a drug transaction was taking place. The five sellers and three buyers all reached to their waists and into their jackets to pull out pistols. Before the first gun could be aimed, he removed three wrists and crumpled the heads of the others. He stood there and made sure the ones that had their hands removed bled out.
He did not watch TV, go to movies, play games, go to sporting events, or spend time with women. The only thing he did from the time he woke in the morning to the time he went to bed was practice his art. Every day, day in, day out, he never stopped. He was a millionaire many times over. His price was six million to take out a target. He could retire and never work again, but he enjoyed what he did too much to stop.
He glided like a shadow to the restroom door. He did not open it at once, but waited. He heard the soft click of the dog’s toenails as they touched the floor. He waited until the dog and its handler was two feet past the door. In one smooth motion he had the door open. He rammed one fist into the back of the sentries head and the other onto the top of the dog’s. They both fell to the floor, dead before they reached it. He pulled them into the restroom and hurried on his way.
He moved as a ghost past a set of elevators. He knew the instant he pressed one of the buttons, alarms would go off all over the building. He moved to a set of stairs and waited. He was as motionless as a statue as he stood beside the door. Ten minutes later, his patience was rewarded. He heard a sentry on the other side of the door. Before he opened the door, the sentry called in to the main guard station. He gave a code word, his location, and stated he was opening the door.
A buzzer went off as the door was opened. Before the door could close, The Assassin was in it. He removed the throat of the guard and placed his body inside the stairwell. He took the walky-talky before starting up the steps. The buzzing stopped a few seconds later as the guards at the main station turned the alarm off. It took The Assassin less than three minutes to reach the twenty-seventh floor. His heart rate was barely faster than when he started his climb.
This time he waited twenty minutes before his next action was necessary. The walky-talky he held came on.
“Morgan, where are you? You’re late reporting in.”
For five seconds there was silence. Then not only did the walky-talky in his hand start again, he heard two more from sentries close to where he waited as they also came on.
“Morgan is not reporting in. His last call was from stairwell ST-4 on one. I’m sending a team to check on him from down here. I want one of you on twenty-seven to start down and see if you come across him. Call in the instant you locate him.”
“Acknowledged Base. This is Eagle Top Two. I am opening ST-4 on twenty-seven now.”
“I verify that ST-4 on twenty-seven is opening,” came the response. “Alarm will be disregarded and turned off.”
Two seconds later, the buzzer went off as the door opened. Eagle Top Two did not have the opportunity to call out. The Assassin had the knife through the bottom of his chin and all the way up into the brain. This time The Assassin did not take the time to pull the body into hiding. He knew time was growing short.
Eagle Top One hesitated half a second, deciding if he should reach for his pistol or call in that security was breached. The half second pause lost him any chance to do either. The Shuriken flew at almost a third the speed of a bullet as it slammed into his head. He was dead so quick that he did not bleed a great deal.
The buzzing at the stairwell stopped as the main desk turned it off.
There were two guards left between him and his target.
He realized at any moment the guards would know the building had been infiltrated. The time for silence and stealth were past. At full speed he ran around the corner, moving for the door between him and the target. The instant he entered the area covered by the electronic sensors, a number of alarms went off. Both guards leaped to their feet and drew their weapons in one smooth motion. The first had it halfway up when the throwing star went into his throat and severed his spinal cord before coming out the back. The second was actually pulling the trigger when he died. The shot went wild and slammed into the ceiling.
The Assassin was at the door. In less than four seconds he placed the explosive charge against the lock. He pressed the three second counter and leaped away. There was a flash of light, a small boom, and the door popped open.
The Assassin was through the door before the smoke cleared. He saw Benjamin Zachery walk out of his office to see what all the commotion was about. Before Benjamin could turn and flee back into his office, another Shuriken soared through the air. It smashed into Benjamin’s eye and reached the back of his skull before it stopped. The Assassin was out of the office and moving for the stairwell before the body was on the floor.
He passed two elevators and pressed the down button on each. More alarms joined the clatter. He pushed open ST-4 and ran by it also. He could hear the pounding of feet nearing the same corner he was approaching. He had his knife in hand and slit the guard’s throat as they met at the junction. The knife was slammed into the second guard’s stomach. He twisted and sliced upward, injuring there would be no chance of recovery. He pulled the next door open and ran into the stairwell. Each floor he ran down, he stopped long enough to open the door, setting off the alarm at each floor.
At the main station, one of the sentries saw what he was doing. “He’s opening each door as he heads down the stairs, hoping we will send men to check each one,” he said. “That way there will be fewer of us waiting for him at the bottom.”
He raced from the desk to join the dozen men with drawn guns waiting for the intruder to come out.
Five floors above them, The Assassin opened one last door. Then instead of continuing down the stairs, he ran back up a flight. When he went out the door, since the alarm was already sounding, no one knew it. At the desk, the light showing the door opened flashed for a couple of seconds and stopped when the door closed again. Because the person stationed there left to join the others, no one knew The Assassin doubled back.
He raced to the other side of the building. Again he opened a door. The new alarm was lost among the noise of all the other alarms. He took the stairs five at a time as he went down. There were three sentries close to where he came out. He lashed out with his hand and caved in the throat of the nearest. He threw a knife to kill the next. He ducked down as the last one shot at him.
The sentry was shocked that he missed. He had not missed a target in over seven years. His shock ended before he could squeeze off another round when The Assassin spun around and rammed his foot into his head. His skull caved in and his neck snapped.
The Assassin placed a one pound charge of C4 on the nearest window. He hit the ten second countdown timer and raced away. He made it around a corner before the explosion. He turned back at once and jumped thru the blown out window. There were dozens of sirens racing for him. He saw flashing lights less than a block away. He went the other direction and down a flight of steps, peeling off his outfit as he ran. Under the suit he had worn was a standard business suit. He went sixty yards before seeing groups of people staring at the building, wondering what was going on. He stopped running before any of the onlookers spotted him. He walked casually among them, staring at the building. He asked one of the people what happened. The person told him he had no idea. The Assassin faded further back. Once on the other side of the crowd, he kept his steady but none attention grabbing pace.
He held out his hand and whistled at a taxi. The car pulled over and he got in.