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Authors: Preston Fleming

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Star Chamber Brotherhood

BOOK: Star Chamber Brotherhood
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Star Chamber Brotherhood

A Novel

Preston Fleming

PF Publishing, Boston

This eBook is a work of fiction. Names characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 by Preston Fleming

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form of by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

PF Publishing, Boston, MA

http://www.prestonfleming.com
 

ISBN-10: 0-982-95946-X

ISBN-13: 978-0-98295-946-6

Chapter 1

Day Zero: Saturday, May 11, 2029
Weston, Massachusetts

Hank Oshiro had not seen so many polished black Fords and Nissans in one place since 2012, nor as many gold Swiss watches, English bespoke suits, or handcrafted Italian loafers.

“So this is where all the money went,” he muttered.
 

Oshiro had come to loathe the people he served at parties like these. Over the past two decades they had inherited the earth but, as he knew from hard experience, they were anything but meek.
 

Oshiro pulled his white waiter’s jacket down around his hips while he stood in line at the bar, waiting for his tray. He had not worn one of these starched numbers since he was in college fifteen years earlier, and the mandarin collar was already chafing his throat. It was a simple enough job to serve straight-pour liquor to this group of middle-aged men and a few women, but he could not shake the uneasy feeling that, despite his long-ago experience and recent crash-course training, someone would expose him as an impostor.

He picked up his tray, already loaded with a rare pre-war fifth of barrel-reserve bourbon, a carafe of spring water, a clear acrylic ice bucket, ice tongs, and six double Old-Fashioned glasses, and made his way through the crowded service area back toward the reception tent and the receiving line.

Holding the tray with one hand, he reached casually into his trouser pocket to confirm that the slender two-way radio and laser pen were still in place. Then he continued along the rear of the reception tent toward the spot he had been shown on a hastily sketched map of the property the day before.
 

That spot, about ten or twelve meters from the reception tent, would give Oshiro an unobstructed view of each approaching car as it slowed to disgorge its passengers at the end of the red carpet. The only problem was that the marked location, being out of the way, was an unlikely position for a waiter.

No sooner did Oshiro arrive in position than he felt the two-way radio vibrate in three quick pulses, announcing that the target had turned off Church Street and was only three or four minutes away. A crowd was already assembled along both sides of the red carpet. Franz Meier, the catering company’s owner, was directing every waiter he could find to the area where the newly arrived guests had gathered.

Oshiro cast a glance across the fields toward the stone gates at the eastern edge of the property, and saw a dark sedan emerge onto the gravel road. He strained his eyes to discern its color in the gathering darkness.

Suddenly he noticed Meier coming his way with quick nervous steps and a scowl imprinted on his deeply lined face.

“You, Server, what is that on your tray?”

“Bourbon, Sir, 12-year-old barrel reserve.”

“Good, exactly. But why are you hiding it? Quickly, go to the carpet and stand ready for the Director. He is a whiskey man and he likes his neat.”

“The Director?”

“Go, please. He is arriving in a few moments and must be attended to.
Kapiert
?”


Jawohl
… Yes, Sir.”

As he started toward the receiving line, Oshiro cast a sidelong glance toward the stone gates and saw what now appeared to be a dark maroon Ford sedan approaching the fork where the driveway became circular. He walked slowly, glancing over his shoulder twice more before the sedan reached the fork. At that moment, he reached into his pocket and pressed the call button on the radio.

He quickened his step now, moving close to the outer fringe of the crowd forming along the red carpet. The host, dressed in a neatly tailored slate-gray pinstripe suit of a quality Oshiro had not seen for over twenty years, stopped him and poured a glass of bourbon for himself with a splash of spring water. The man conveyed an air of casual elegance that would have drawn baleful stares, had he dared to show himself outside of tightly patrolled enclaves around Boston, where the Unionist
nomenklatura
and their new class of parasitic contractors, consultants and lobbyists lived and worked.

Oshiro maneuvered through the crowd so that he had a clear line of sight to the approaching sedan. He strained his eyes to identify the license plate number. Yes, there was the S, and the tall twin 1s, the hyphen, and the 22 at the end. He reached into his pocket and pressed the call button again.

Oshiro scanned the crowd and spotted Franz Meier nearby. Meier returned his gaze with a stern look and a curt wave that spurred Oshiro to move even closer to the red carpet.
 

Now the heavy sedan pulled to a stop opposite the red carpet, while valets in forest green windbreakers rushed to open the passenger door.
 

Oshiro held his breath. Even after five years, he was certain that he would recognize Frederick Rocco without difficulty. But would Rocco recognize him? It seemed improbable—after all, Rocco had supervised thousands of prisoners in his career, three or four thousand in Kamas alone.
 

But, as every prisoner knew, veteran security professionals sometimes possessed an uncanny ability to detect those who had spent time in the camps. Rocco may have never laid eyes on Oshiro, but what might Rocco do if he happened to glance his way? Denounce him as an Enemy of the People and order his arrest? Was it possible that he might give himself away, perhaps through his eyes?

Oshiro took a step back from the crowd and slipped his hand into his trouser pocket for a third time. In a moment it would not matter whether he were spotted or not.

He watched the passenger step onto the gravel road. The guest was of middle height, narrow-shouldered but wide of girth, and wore a nondescript undertaker’s suit. His balding head displayed an obvious combover and the pencil-thin mustache on his lip made him resemble a homegrown Himmler. The man might well be a State Security official of some kind, but he was certainly not Fred Rocco.

Oshiro panicked. He had not yet pushed the button, but what if the shooter pulled the trigger without receiving his signal? Should he abort or wait? The plan did not anticipate a situation like this.

Without thinking, Oshiro turned his head and cast a glance back toward the woods near the stone gates. He saw a muzzle flash at the edge of the forest, and a moment later heard the crack of the bullet as it passed close by. Stunned, he watched the wrong man jerk backward as the rifle bullet tore through his chest, then half-turn and crumple onto the red carpet.

The others in the crowd reacted in a variety of ways. Those with military training hit the deck, while a handful of security men rushed forward to surround the victim and hustle him back into his car, dead or alive. Most of the other guests and wait staff remained in place with stunned expressions, incapable of coherent action. A few appeared unaware that anything at all had happened and continued to argue, joke, and drink without interruption.

But for Oshiro, time compressed. In less than a second he assessed the situation and decided what to do. Slowly he edged around the crowd as if returning to the serving tent, deposited his tray on an empty trolley, and removed his white jacket. Then he set off at a brisk pace, crossing the field toward the forest about forty meters away. Once he reached the woods, he hid behind a tree.

Two security men in green windbreakers were already halfway across the field. When they saw him stop, one of them pointed.
 

Oshiro’s mind raced; he knew what he had to do. He ran another twenty meters into the forest, turned left, pulled out the laser pen and used it as a flashlight to search for a place to bury the radio under a thick layer of pine needles. Then he ran back to join his original path and continued deeper into the woods, more slowly and quietly now, watching and listening for his pursuers.
 

At first he heard nothing. Evidently they knew something about man-tracking and small-unit tactics. He expected that the pair had split up and might attempt to outflank him. Perhaps they had radioed for backup. If they had, he thought, he would need to adjust his strategy as well.

No more than a minute or two later, Oshiro heard a broken twig behind him and froze. He reached into his pocket. The laser pen was still there.

From a different spot some ten or fifteen meters to his left, a calm and steady voice addressed him.

“Freeze! Put your hands up slowly. Now!”

In an instant Oshiro ducked behind a tree, pointed his laser toward the man and shined it at his eyes.

“Drop your weapon and lie face down or I’ll shoot,” he replied, every bit as calm as his pursuer.
 

And at that moment, the second security man fired his pistol three times, killing Oshiro before his darkened laser hit the ground.

****

Hector Alvarez drummed his fingers nervously on the gearshift lever of his silver Toyota sedan, while he strained to listen through the lowered window for approaching footsteps. Alvarez, a tall, lean man in his mid-forties with military-length, salt-and-pepper hair and a handsome face, glanced at his watch.

“Ten more seconds and we’re out of here,” he said to his passenger, whom he had picked up just minutes before at a spot nearby. “That’s the plan, and we’re sticking to it. Spotter has an alternate escape route if he misses his pickup. It’s all in the plan. He’ll be fine.”

“I still don’t like it,” the passenger replied, making sure his hunting rifle was out of sight. This was Greg Doherty, age 40. Of similar athletic build, his boyish face and straight blond hair gave him the appearance of an aging surfer. The men had not met before and did not know each other’s names. They only knew each other’s function: Spotter, Shooter, Driver and Chief.

“Wait here. I’ll find him,” Doherty announced.
 

Suddenly the car doors clicked shut.
 

“Unlock it,” Doherty demanded.

“No can do,” Alvarez answered firmly. “We all knew the risks before we signed on. We’re sticking to the plan.”

At that moment they heard three faint pops from deep within the woods.

“That’s it,” Alvarez declared, knowing the pistol shots spelled Spotter’s death. “We’re out of here.”
 

“But we can’t just leave him,” Doherty objected.
 

“It’s my call. I’m the driver. We’re following the plan.”

Doherty looked toward the woods and clenched his teeth. In the Army, even in the darkest days of the Manchurian War, he had never left a fallen comrade behind.

Hector Alvarez put the Toyota in gear and slowly pulled off the shoulder without switching on the headlights until he had turned onto Laurel Road and was certain that no one was following.
 

They continued on Concord Road toward downtown Weston. As they approached the strip of shops on the Boston Post Road, Doherty broke the silence.

“Right turn here. I’m getting out.”

Alvarez looked at him through narrowed eyes.

“You’re sure of this?”

“Let me out. Now,” Doherty insisted.

“Have it your way, boss,” Alvarez replied indifferently. “I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

“Yeah, it’s been real, dude,” Doherty replied and stepped out into the darkness.
 

Chapter 2

One Month Earlier

Wednesday, April 11, 2029
Somerset Club, Beacon Hill, Boston

Werner had felt unbalanced all day. The sensation was difficult to pin down. It was a disordered, befuddled feeling, but with an expectant, almost effervescent aspect, as if something momentous were about to happen. But with only fifteen minutes until closing time, Frank Werner could no longer see how anything out of the ordinary would materialize tonight.

BOOK: Star Chamber Brotherhood
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