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Authors: Nick Carter

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BOOK: Temple of Fear
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Terence broke his Scot's taciturnity long enough to growl. "Yes, mon. That's exactly what we do want."
Aubrey paid no attention to his subordinate. He sat down again and lit a cigarette with fingers that, Hawk noted with some small surprise, were trembling slightly. He was puzzled. It took a lot to unnerve Aubrey. It was then that Hawk first distinctly heard the clicking of wheels within wheels — for which he had been listening.
Aubrey pointed the cigarette like a smoky wand. "For our ears, David. In this room and for our six ears only — yes, I want Richard Philston killed."
Something moved in the back of Hawk's brain. Something that clung to shadow and would not be hauled into light. A long ago whisper? Rumor? Press story? Men's room joke? What in hell? He could not summon it. So he pushed it back to be fallow in his subconscious. It would emerge when it was ready.
Meantime he put into words what was so obvious. "
You
want him dead, Cecil. But your government, the Powers, they don't? They want him alive. They want him caught and taken back to England to stand trial and be hanged in the proper manner. Isn't that it, Cecil?"
Aubrey met Hawk's glance squarely. "Yes, David. That's it. The PM — it's gone that high — agrees that Philston should be taken if possible and brought to England to stand trial. This was decided on quite some time ago. I was put in charge. Until now, with Philston safe in Russia, there has been nothing to-be in charge of. But now, by God, he's coming out, or we think he is, and I want him. God, David, how I want him!"
"Dead?"
"Yes. Dead. The PM, Parliament, even some of my superiors, aren't professionals the way we are, David. They think it's a simple thing to catch a man as slippery as Philston and get him back to England. I don't. There will be too many complications, too many chances for slip-ups, too many opportunities for him to escape again. He isn't alone, you know. The Russians won't just stand by and let us arrest him and take him back to England. They'll kill him first! He knows too much about them, he'll try to make a deal, and they know that. No, David. It's got to be a straight kill job and you're the only one I can turn to."
Hawk said it more to clear the air, to have it said, than because he cared. He ran AXE. And why wouldn't that elusive thought, that shadow skulking in his brain, come into the light? Had it been so scandalous that it had to bury itself?
He said, "If I agree to this, Cecil, it certainly must remain between the three of us. One hint that I'm using AXE to do someone else's dirty work and Congress will be yelling for my head on a platter. They would get it, too, if they could prove it."
"You'll do it, David?"
Hawk stared at his old Friend. "I really don't know yet. What is going to be in it for me? For AXE? Our fees for this sort of thing come high, Cecil. There will be a very high quid pro quo — a very big tit for tat. You realize that?"
Aubrey looked miserable again. Miserable but resolute. "I realize that. I expected it, David. I'm not an amateur, man. I expect to pay."
Hawk took a fresh cigar from the box on his desk. He did not look at Aubrey for the moment. He found himself hoping most devoutly, that the debugging crew — they made a thorough sweep of AXE headquarters every two days — had done their job well, Because if Aubrey would meet his terms, Hawk had decided to take on the job. To do MI6's dirty work for them. It would be a kill mission and probably not as difficult to execute as Aubrey imagined. Not for Nick Carter. But Aubrey would have to pay his price.
"Cecil," Hawk said mildly, "I think that maybe we can do a deal. But I'll want the name of that man you've got in the Kremlin. I promise that I won't try to contact him, but I'll have to know his name. And I want an equal, full share of everything he sends out. In other words, Cecil, your man in the Kremlin will also be my man in the Kremlin! Do you agree to that?"
In his corner Terence made a strangled sound. He seemed to have swallowed his cutty pipe.
It was quiet in the little office. The Western Union clock ticked with a tiger sound. Hawk waited. He knew what Cecil Aubrey was going through.
A top agent, an unsuspected man in Kremlin high circles, was worth more than all the gold and jewels in the world. All the platinum. All the uranium. To make such a contact, to keep it fruitful and unsuspected, took years of arduous work and all the luck there was. It was, on the face of it. impossible. Yet it had been done once. Penkovskiy. Until at last he had slipped and they shot him. Now Aubrey was saying — and Hawk believed him — the MI6 had another Penkovskiy in the Kremlin. Hawk happened to know that the United States did not. The CIA had been trying for years and had never made it. Hawk waited patiently. It was quite a plum. He could not quite believe that Aubrey would go along.'
Aubrey nearly choked but he got the words out. "All right, David. It's a deal. You drive a hard bargain, man."
Terence was regarding Hawk with something very akin to awe, and most certainly respect. Terence was a Scot who knew another Scot, at least by inclination if not blood, when he saw him.
"You understand," said Aubrey, "that I'll have to have some absolute proof that Richard Philston is dead."
Hawk's smile was dry. "I think that can be arranged, Cecil. Though I can hardly have him killed in Times Square, even if we could get him there. How about sending his ears, neatly done up, to your office in London?"
"Seriously, David."
Hawk nodded. "Photographs do?"
"If they're good. I would prefer, if possible, a finger for prints. It will be absolute that way."
Hawk nodded again. It would not be the first time Nick Carter had brought home a souvenir.
Cecil Aubrey motioned to the quiet man in the corner. "All right, Terence. You can take over now. Explain just what we've got so far and why we think Philston is coming out."
To Hawk he said, "Terence is MI5, as I said, and he is handling the superficial aspects of this Peking-Kremlin thing. I say superficial because we think it is a front, a cover, for something bigger. Terence..."
The Scot took the foul pipe from between large brown teeth. "It's as Mr. Aubrey says, sir. The wee bit of information we've got so far, but this we're sure of, is that the Russians are sending Philston to help the Chicoms organize a giant sabotage campaign all through Japan. Especially in Tokyo. There they plan to stage a massive blackout, the same as you had yersels not too long back in New York. The Chicoms plan to play almighty hob, you see, and either stop or burn everything in Japan. Most of it, anyway. One story we've had is that Peking insists on Philston running the 'job or no deal. That's why he has to come out of Russia and..."
Cecil Aubrey broke in. "There's also another story — that
Moscow
insists that Philston be in charge of the sabotage, so it won't be botched. They don't much trust the Chinese for efficiency. That is still another reason why Philston would have to risk his neck and come out."
Hawk looked from one man to the other. "Something tells me that you don't buy either story."
"No," Aubrey said. "We don't. At least I don't. The job just isn't big enough for Philston! Sabotage, yes. Burning down Tokyo, all that, will have a hell of an impact and be a coup for the Chicoms. I agree. But it really isn't Philston's line of work. And not only isn't it big enough, important enough, to entice him out of Russia — I know something about Richard Philston that very few people know. I knew him, remember, worked with him in MI6 when he was riding high. I was just a sub then, but I haven't forgotten a thing about that bloody damned bastard. He was an assassination man! An expert."
"I'll be damned," Hawk said. "Live and learn. I didn't know that. I always thought of Philston as a sort of tea-and-crumpets sort of spy. Efficient as hell, deadly, but the striped-pants kind."
"Not at all," said Aubrey grimly. "He planned a lot of murders. Planned them well, too. That's why I'm certain that if he is coming out of Russia at last it is for something more important than sabotage. Even big-time sabotage. I've got the feeling, David, and you should know what that means. You've been in this business longer than I have."
Cecil Aubrey went to his chair and sank into it. "Carry on, Terence. Your ball. I'll keep my big mouth shut for a time."
Terence had reloaded his pipe. To Hawk's relief he did" not light it. Terence said: "The fact is that the Chicoms haven't been doing all their own dirty work, sir. Not very much of it, in fact. They do the planning, but they force the Eta to do the really dirty and bloody jobs. They use terror, of course."
Hawk must have looked puzzled, for Terence halted a moment, frowned, then went on. "You know about the Eta, sir? Some call them the Burakumin. They're the very lowest cast in Japan, the untouchables. Pariahs. There are more than two million of them and very few people, even Japanese, know that they even exist. The Jap government keeps them in ghettos and out of the sight of tourists. The fact is that the government, up to now, has tried to ignore the problem. The official policy is
fure-noi —
don't touch. Even though a majority of the Eta are on public relief. It's quite a problem, and naturally the Chicoms are exploiting it lo the utmost. A discontented minority like the Eta — they would be fools not to."
It all had a familiar ring to Hawk. Ghettos had been very much in the news of late. And the Commies, of one stripe or another, had been doing a little exploiting of minorities in the States.
"It's a beautiful setup for the Chicoms," he admitted. "The sabotage, especially, carried out under the guise of riots. It's a classic technique — the Commies plan it and let the, this Eta group, carry it out. The Etas get all the blame. But aren't the Eta Japanese? Like all the rest of the country? I mean if there is no color problem, such as we have here and..."
Cecil Aubrey could not keep his big mouth shut after all. He interrupted.
"They
are
Japanese. One hundred percent. It's really a matter of traditional caste prejudice, David, and we haven't time for anthropological tangents. But the fact that the Eta are Japanese, and look and talk just like anyone else, helps the Chicoms enormously. The Eta can go anywhere and do anything. No problem there. A lot of them 'pass,' as you say here in the States. The fact is that a very few Chicoms, well organized, can control a huge number of Eta and use them for their own purposes. Sabotage and murder, mostly. Now, with this big..."
Hawk broke in. "You say the Chicoms control the Eta by terror?"
"Yes. They use, among other things, a machine. A sort of device, an improved version of the old Death of a Thousand Cuts. Its called the Bloody Buddha. Any Eta man who disobeys them or betrays them is put into the machine and..."
But for once Hawk was not paying too close attention. It had just come to him. Out of the mists of years. Richard Philston was, had been, one hell of a ladies' man. Hawk remembered it now. It had been well hushed up at the time.
Philston had taken Cecil Aubrey's young wife away from him and then deserted her. A few weeks later she 'committed suicide.
His old friend, Cecil Aubrey, was using Hawk, and AXE, to settle a private vendetta!
Chapter 3
It was a few minutes after eight in the morning. Nick Carter had left Murial Milholland's apartment an hour before, ignoring the curious glances of a milkman and newsboy, and cabbed back to his own suite in the Mayflower Hotel. He was, for him, a little beat. He and Murial had switched to brandy and, between lovemaking — they had eventually adjourned to the bedroom — he had put away a lot of the grape. Nick never got drunk and he had the capacity of a Falstaff; he never had hangovers. Yet, on this particular morning, he was feeling just a tiny bit fuzzy.
Thinking back, later, he was also to blame it on the fact that he was more than a little bemused by Dr. Murial Milholland. Plain Jane, with the sumptuous body, who had been such a demon in bed. He had left her snoring very softly, still attractive in the morning light, and as he left the apartment he knew he was coming back. Nick couldn't understand it. She just wasn't his type! And yet... and yet...
He was shaving slowly, pensively, wondering with half his mind what it would be like to be married to an intelligent, mature woman who also happened to be an expert in sex, off the lectern as well as on it, when the door buzzer rasped. Nick was wearing only a dressing gown.
He did glance at the big bed as he went through the bedroom to answer the door. He did think of the Luger, Wilhelmina, and of Hugo, the stiletto, concealed in a zipper opening in the mattress. They were resting for the moment. Nick did not like to walk around Washington loaded for bear. Nor did Hawk approve of it. At times Nick did carry a little Beretta Cougar, a .380 that packed wallop enough at close range. For the past two days, because the shoulder clip was being repaired, he had not carried even that.
The door buzzer went again. Insistent. Nick hesitated, glanced at the bed where the Luger was snuggled away, then thought to hell with it. At eight in the morning on an ordinary Tuesday? Anyway he could take care of himself, there was a safety chain and he knew how to approach a door. It was probably only Hawk sending a mass of briefing material by special messenger. The old man did that occasionally.
Buzzzzz

buzzzzzz

buzzzz
Nick approached the door from the side, close to the wall. Anyone firing through the door would miss him.
Buzzzzz

buzzzzzz

buzzzz zz

buz
"All right," he called in sudden irritation. "All right 1 Leave the buzzer on the wall. Who is it?"
Silence.
Then: "Is Kyoto Girl Scouts. You buy cookies, prease?"
"Who?" His hearing had always been acute. Yet he could have sworn...
"Is Girl Scouts from Japan, prease. Here for Cherry Festival. Sell cookies. You buy, prease?"
BOOK: Temple of Fear
6.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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