Requiem for an Assassin
had used him three times. On the first two occasions, Dox had performed superbly. The third had been a disaster, and was what the present operation was all about.
“Look at this,” the man sitting across from Hilger said, pointing at a photo taken through a 500mm lens. “We’ve seen him coming and going from his villa. It’s isolated. I think we could take him there.”
Hilger nodded. The man’s suggestion was sensible. His name was Demeere—a big, blond Belgian bastard and veteran of his country’s Détachement d’Agents de Sécurité. The DAS guys provided security at Belgian embassies. They were trained by Belgian special forces, comfortable in urban environments, and typically multilingual. Demeere had been one of their standouts. As adept in a particularly rigorous form of tai chi as he was with a knife, he had, over the years, assisted Hilger with four successful “renditions” of terror suspects, and Hilger knew his counsel was worth considering.
“I like the villa,” the man behind Demeere said. “Go with what you know, that’s what I say.”
It took some effort on Hilger’s part not to grimace. Demeere, whose back was to the speaker, evinced slightly less facial control.
Hilger looked up and observed the man for a moment. He was standing apart from the rest of them, leaning against the wall by the window while the others sat across from each other on the room’s twin beds. No one responded to his comment. Even pointing out its vapidity would have been more engagement than any of them seemed willing to grant him.
The man liked to refer to himself as Drano, and Hilger hadn’t liked that from the start. Nicknames bestowed by comrades were an honor. If you tried to invent one for yourself, it was a joke, a sign of narcissism and an underlying lack of confidence. Hilger had known better at the time, but he’d lost so many men in the last two years that he’d ignored the warning from his gut as he went about restaffing. Stupid. Never time to do it right, always time to do it over.
The guy had come highly recommended, true. Former Navy SEAL, combat duty in Afghanistan. But that kind of background was merely necessary, and not always sufficient, for what Hilger demanded of his men. Anyway, even among SEALs there was an occasional loser. Apparently, it had been Hilger’s bad luck to come across one of them.
The man to Demeere’s left rotated his bald head, breaking the silence by cracking the joints in his neck. “Better to wait,” he said, looking first at Demeere, then at Hilger, and ignoring Drano completely. “His villa would be convenient, sure, but it’s no coincidence he built the place in the middle of all those rice paddies. You know how long it’ll take us to slog all the way through to his house? If he’s got sensors deployed and sees us coming, he’ll turn us into fertilizer one at a time. And I don’t want to go in on that zigzagging little access road, either. He knows that’s the only approach, he’s got to have it rigged. And trying to set up there while he’s gone would be worse. I guarantee you he’s got layered systems that would warn him. Better to take him on unfamiliar ground. The downside is more potential witnesses and the other risks you get rendering someone in public, but overall our odds are better.”
The man’s name was Frank Garza, but he was known in Hilger’s organization as Pancho, the name given him by his Mexican mother. While Demeere had a deceptively placid exterior, Pancho tended to radiate a not-to-be-fucked-with aura that he had a hard time concealing. A former All-Marine boxing champion, he also had a fourth degree black belt in Kenpo. One night he and Demeere had gotten into a sparring match that had started out playful and then become serious. To Hilger, it had been like watching an irresistible force and an immovable object. If Hilger hadn’t stopped it, the two of them might have crippled each other and destroyed a hotel room in the process.
“The question is, how much time do we have,” the fifth man said, leafing through the photographs. “That town he lives in, Ubud, isn’t exactly huge, so sooner or later he’ll wind up where we want him. But if we need to move fast, we have to go where we know he’ll be. Right now that means the villa.”
The man’s name was Guthrie. His boyish good looks had made for excellent cover during his service as a Federal Air Marshal, and the training he’d received then, along with
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