Thanks for the interest man. Interest has died down a little again, so hopefully it'll pick up some more!
treat for ya Chapter Nine – The Hunt for Johnny Klebitz...
Bear was pleased with the Cigars. Armando had dropped Luis and his cigars off in The Meat Quarter. After ensuring they were secure – in a lock up the three men had used for the last few years to store drugs – Luis called the number the biker had given him. After the call, Luis had packed them into a Rancher – stolen or, as Luis thought of it, borrowed, from a nearby parking lot – and driven to the meeting place, which was under the Northwood Heights Bridge in Algonquin.
Armando and Henrique had been drafted in as backup. They took up hidden positions. Henrique, with a sniper rifle, had made his was up to the rail bridge and up position against a metal bridge support. Armando was sitting in his car in the car park north of the bridges.
Bear turned up with three other bikers, all riding in formation. They stopped in the car park, in between Armando’s car and the bridge. Luis didn’t think they saw Armando. Bear stepped off his bike and said something to his men. He walked toward the underpass where Luis stood.
“How it go?” Bear growled by way of a greeting.
“Cops were all over me, but I lost them bro. I got the cigars.”
Bear nodded. “I’m gonna call the boys over and load up, yeah?”
“Yeah, cool bro. They’re in the car.” He gestured over his shoulder with his thumb.
Bear turned and waved the men over. They approached and Luis opened the tailgate.
Bear’s eyes opened wide. “I’m impressed. There must be two, three month’s worth here.”
Luis shrugged. “What you wanted bro.”
“Yeah… where’s the rest?”
“You didn’t want the rest, man.”
Bear laughed – a laugh that started as a deep rumbling in his chest that turned into a hearty bellow. “Alright well we’ll take these.”
Bear nodded, breaking open a pack and taking a cigar out. He lit it. “I’ll help you. A few years ago some of us went on a ride – from here to Los Santos.” The man smiled, remembering fond memories. “It was a hell of a ride. Tiring. I was a kid myself, and I almost didn’t make it. Almost got swiped by a Linerunner, almost got hit by a train, and the nights in Los Santos… oh, they were enough to make your forget yourself. Some of us didn’t make it. No one died, but some had to get a lift back. That’s shameful, you know. Only the hardcore get these.” Bear rapped his knuckle on his jacket’s patch that read ‘I Rode Mine Los Santos 2004
’. “I became a man during that trip.” He waved at the yellow, black and white patches on his jacket, though Luis had no idea what in the hell they meant.
“Anyway, we stopped at several places - f*cking loads actually. Anyway I remember this chick – this crazy fun-loving bitch. She was seeing J-K a bit, and she was there on the final leg. She was out in... I dunno, Hicksville, or Bumf*ck, Nowhere or something. Visiting her uncle or something. Anyway we swung past near there and John-Boy rode out to pick her up. Proper puppy love.” Bear chuckled.
“Cool story, bro.” Luis said, watching the bikers load up the last of the cigars. “But how’s that help me?”
Bear laughed. “Sorry, I got a bit nostalgic. One night they both rode off. They didn’t come back till the next morning. Judging by the way those two were for the rest of the trip, I reckon he touched-down in her end-zone for the first time that night.”
Luis raised an eyebrow. “Really? He didn’t strike me as the sentimental sort.”
Bear shrugged. “Bikers have feelings too, you know.”
Luis shrugged. “Where was this?”
Bear shrugged. “It was a wild ride, I dunno. Find her and see.”
“What was her name?”
Luis nodded. “Where can I find her?”
“I dunno. Maybe she’s on a dating website.” The man snickered.
“This is serious bro. To be honest, all you’ve done is tell me the guy’s girl. I almost got my ass shot off, bro.”
“Yeah? Bite me.”
Luis glowered at the Bear.
Bear sighed. “Alright. Go find Ashley. If you need more help come back and see me. One more though – that’s it. And I aint seeing combat for you.”
“Fair enough.” Luis said, begrudginly. Both men turned to their respective vehicles. They did not shake hands.
Luis had used the internet café in north Holland – he didn’t want to have any part of this tied to his phone or home computer – to track Ashley down. It wasn’t hard and he’d headed over to Alderney to her apartment that same day.
Luis approached the door, double checking the address, and knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again. He looked around, wondering if the woman was at work or something. Was she employed?
He knocked again before shaking his head. He turned away then stopped. This was important wasn’t it?
“What the f*ck am I doing?” He asked himself. He stared at the Freeway parked on the road. He’d donned some dark fitted jeans, picked up a pair of grunge-styled boots from Didier Sachs, and draped a leather jacket – also from Didier Sach’s grunge-styled line – over a black pullover. He’d fished out a pair of fingerless weight-lifting gloves too. He thought he looked like a biker. Bear certainly didn’t pick up on it. Little did he know that the heavy-set biker saw him as just another rich-boy.
The door opened a crack and a woman’s face appeared in shadow.
“Yeah?” She said with a weak voice. Had she just woken up? “Who are you?”
“I’m looking for Johnny.”
“Johnny? Oh man, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a while. Who are you?”
“Right. And you’re looking for Johnny. Wh-What you want with Johnny?”
“Well, he’s in trouble. Him and his brother.”
Ashley exhaled and the door shut. Luis sighed but the door opened again after Ashley disengaged the chain “You better come in then.”
Luis followed Ashley in to the apartment – which was far too dark. Luis noticed the curtains were pulled closed; only a crack of light broke through, casting a line of white on the floor. As they walked in to the sitting room, the Dominican began regretting coming. This place is a sh*t hole
“Sit down if you want.”
“Nah, I’m cool.” Luis said, shaking his head. Ashley shrugged and collapsed on her sofa.
“So what you want with Johnny?”
“He not here?”
“Why the hell would he be here?” She said with an almost-laugh.
Luis shrugged. “I dunno, boyfriend?”
Ashley scoffed. “Boyfriend? No, I burnt that bridge a long time ago. We haven’t spoken for years.”sh*t
. “So any idea where he’d be?”
“You deaf?” Ashley shook her head. “Besides, even if I did, why would I tell you? What so you could go and kill him?”
“I aint trying to kill him. In fact it’s the opposite. I’m trying to help him.”
“Yeah, right. How gullible do I look?”
“I’m serious. Listen, my name’s Luis Lopez. I run Marionette Nine in Algonquin.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, tossing it to Ashley.
Ashley’s reactions were poor. She missed the catch and the phone landed on the sofa, just missing one of her breasts. For a second Luis thought about what was under there, but shook it off. Not the time or the place, L.
“Check me out.”
Ashley picked up the phone and tapped at it. She takes a few minutes, partly due to not being used to the phone.
Once done, she threw the phone back and Luis casually snatched it out the air.
“Alright, fine, so you’re not trying to kill him.” She sighed. “So… What?”
“Believe it or not, Johnny’s one of the good guys for once.” Luis assumed that the biker was, at least, a bit of a rebel. He felt sure that mister Klebitz was a criminal. After all, who wasn’t in this city? In this case, it paid off.
Ashley looked at something on the messy end-table, sighing.
“He was always good to me, you know.” She turned back from the end-table, looking at the strange man in her living room. “He always looked out for me. Even when he hated me he still came to my rescue. And I pushed him away. I f*cked up.”
Luis sighed, shaking his head, staring down at the floor. He didn’t want to hear some stranger’s sob-story. Who cares? Just tell me where Johnny is so I go back to picking up women at work…
“I just need to find him, I don’t need to hear your life’s story. Him and his brother are in danger, it’s important I find him. They’re the good guys, and right now the bad guys, whoever the f*ck they are, are trying to find them. I need to find him first.”
Ashley sighed, and stood. “Alright I’ll help but I haven’t seen him for two years. He just upped sticks and left town.
“It’s been a hard two years. I thought maybe I could get better and he’d come back but that aint happening.”
Luis stared through a frown. “Get better? You ill?”
“No. Well some people call it a disease. I don’t know.” She turned. “Drugs.”Ah!
Luis knew this story.
“Listen, I spoke to a man called Bear. Remember him?”
Ashley stared, her eyes unfocused. “No.” She said after a second.
“He rode to Los Santos with Johnny. Apparently that was a special trip for him.”
Ashley stood there for a moment, still. Then it hit her. She smiled and sat, tears welling up in her eyes.
“From what I’ve heard, Ash,” Luis began, “He cares about you. Maybe, if people are after him, and they’ve driven him out of his home, he’s got nothing and no one… maybe he’d go to one place that give him happy memories. One place away from everything.”
“The lake.” She said, a tear making a track down her cheek. Luis wasn’t sure if they were tears of happiness or sadness. “We spent the whole night there. We… you know, then watched the sun come up. It was beautiful. Just us…”
“Where is that?”
“Oh man I… I don’t remember. Johnny rode out, I was on the back. I…” She shook her head. “No, it’s gone. But he walked away from me. Why would he go back there? He didn’t want anything more to do with me.”
Luis shrugged. “It’s a start. I’m like a detective here, I need to find him and I’ll take any lead I can get.”
“I dunno.” She slammed back into the sofa. “We weren’t that far out from a biker bar place. There was a motel too. But…”
“Can to remember the town name?”
“No… Maybe your friend can?”
Luis snapped his fingers and pointed. “Yeah, maybe.”
“C- Can I come?” She asked a second later. “It’d be good to see him again.”
Luis pondered that for a minute. “You might wanna tidy yourself up a little.” He pointed out. “If we do find him... maybe you can work things out.”
She smiled at that. “Yeah.”
For the first time in… a long time, Luis had found a woman who didn’t take four hours to shower. After Luis called Bear, Ashley returned looking more human. She’d washed and had clean clothes on.
“I feel like a teenager again.” She said, looking into a dirty mirror, laughing – he laugh sounded so sad, too. “Nervous, like I’m going out on a date.”
Luis nodded, wishing she’d shut up. A couple of minutes later they were walking out of the door.
“You actually have a bike.” She said, getting on the Freeway behind Johnny. “I figured you were a rich boy, driving a sports car or something.”
Luis chuckled. “I’m just trying to find Johnny.”
“Yeah, so you keep saying.” Ashley put of a crash helmet as Luis started the engine. “What’s this all about anyway?”
“I can’t say!” Luis called back as the bike began moving. “Truth is I don’t really know. I don’t usually do this you know. I run a club, I’m not a secret agent.”
“This is some big sh*t then?”
“Yeah. It’s not good.”
“I feel like I owe him you know.”
“’cause the way I f*cked up. We had something good – no, great. I love him, Lewis.”
“Luis.” He corrected. She ignored it.
“I tried, I really did. After he left I hit rock bottom. I… I don’t know. I’ve no idea how long I spent high. I almost died. Truth is, I wanted to die. I almsot did. Then I meet this woman. I was wasted somewhere and she saw me, took me in and helped me. Turned out she was Jim’s wife.”
“Johnny’s best friend… He got killed.”
“Well she helped me, she was… there was this family, all alone, missing their dad, her husband. I don’t know, something clicked. Life’s too short you know?”
“So what you’re clean now?”
“Yeah… Kind of.”
“You’re either are or you’re not.”
“I am. Two months. The last two years have been hard. I’ve been in and out of rehab. Different rehabs. I don’t touch that stuff anymore. I want Johnny to come back and to take me, for us to ride off into the sunset together.”
“That sh*t only happens in films, y'know.”
“I know, but I can dream can’t i?”
They weren’t in till the afternoon, so Niko had slept in and had a late breakfast even managing to squeeze a jog in between the two. He arrived at the building on Columbus Avenue right on time, and caught Rami by the elevators.
“All good in Niko-land?” Rami asked.
“Yeah. You good?”
Rami nodded, concluding that conversation. Their relationship was more business than personal.
“More work on the Italians, gentlemen.” Their boss said as the men sat. He slid a manila envelope across the desk to them. “They’re being smart and keeping their operational information locked up.” He chuckled, “Not unlike a government agency actually – it’s being handled on a need to know basis. Who of you are familiar with the concept of insurance?”
Rami and Niko nodded.
“Well the mafia have been doing as such lately. Ever since the problem with that truck last year. The big bosses keep records, implicating others or protecting themselves.”
“Self protection and blackmail.”
“Something like that. Anyway there’s another shipment coming in for the Mafia. An LCPD undercover agent managed to get that information to his handler. We don’t know where or when the shipment’s coming in, but it’s a great opportunity to stir things up.”
“Alright.” Rami said, seeing he job – assignment – coming. “Hit us with it.”
The man nodded. “You’re to infiltrate the Mafia leader’s mansion and locate the information about the shipment.”
Niko spoke up. “Wouldn’t keeping information about the shipment implicate the mafia, not protect them?”
“Usually, yes, but its kept where no one can get it – legally at least. By the time a warrant’s marked up the information can be moved or altered – the latter almost certainly done anyway. The information and proof can be compiled and used appropriately.
“Either way gentlemen, this assignment has three levels to it. This is the mafia’s headquarters – in this city anyway. High security. Firstly, choose an entry point – there’s a map in the file. Secondly the grounds are split into three sections. The outer area – the gardens, pool et cetera – the mansion’s interior and the more protected parts of the mansion.
“The first rule here is to not be detected. Detection in the outer parameter, while preferably avoided, isn’t fatal. But if you do have contact, bear in mind that the Russians would likely take a lethal approach. Once in the mansion itself, avoiding detection is critical. If they know there’s an intruder, they may destroy the information. Worse, if they see you and realize you’re not Russians…
“Once you get to the more protected area – where the boss sleeps et cetera – then security may be even tighter, but detection in this area is absolutely, with no exceptions, a no-no.
“Remember, gentlemen, that you have no support once you leave this building. If you’re snatched by the cops, we’ve never heard of you. If the Italians grab you, we don’t exist. Capiche?
Rami smiled thinly at the ironic joke, then nodded his understanding.
“No satellite tracking or surveillance or backup teams.”
“What’s the legality of what we’re doing?”
“The governmental term would be black. The civilian term? Illegal. You guys aren’t soldiers remember – anymore anyway. You’re criminals and if you’re caught, it’s game over.”
Rami snorted. “Not much different to my life in Mossad then.”
Their boss stared for a second, and Rami suspected he wasn’t fully aware of how and why the Israeli’s intelligence career ended.
“We have got you some gear though.”
“Different to working for the mob.” Rami said again. Niko was looking at the map.
“Yes. Although you get not support, doesn’t mean we don’t prepare you properly. I’ve arranged an equipment drop at a safe-house. The equipment is government issue. Not bleeding edge, or ever cutting edge, but it is of recent generation.”
“That’s the thing about the mob and government. Government have the resources but they have restrictions. The mob has no restrictions though, but not the government restrictions.”
“Well we’re kind of the best of both worlds. A compromise.”
“Right here.” Niko said, tapping the map. “This is the way in.”
“Back garden.” Rami noted.
“Yeah. There’s a kind of garden here. A little pond, some flowers. Shrubs?” Niko pointed at an attached photo, taken from an obscure location – possibly through a scope – showing a slightly unclear patch of green at the back of a patio area.
“Good cover, survey the area. Best way in,” Rami agreed, “but we’ll be faced with a fifty yard expanse of open space.”
Niko tapped the photo again. “You can see here, deck chairs and parasols. How recent is this photo?” He asked their boss.
“Last three days.”
“Cover to reach the building here.” Niko tapped the map again.
“Security patrols?” Rami asked.
The boss offered a sideways nod. “Standard. A posting in the gardens, roaming patrols in the house. Possible to change. Survey the area first.”
“Ok.” Niko said. “Bypass the security… what’s this?” He pointed at the map.
“A shed?” Rami suggested, confirming it on the photo. “Yes, a shed.”
“Hmm.” Niko nodded.
“Backup entry point, Niko?”
Niko stared at the map, but Rami tapped it first. “Here, by the front, on the corner of the neighbor’s yard. Lots of greenery, cover to the garage, easy access to this.” He tapped the side of the house that had a door - and a chef smoking by it – and a wooden frame, holding up ivy.
“Ok fellers. Go retrieve the equipment. Here’s the address. You have until Five AM to complete this mission. Any later and the risk of exposure is too great. Dawn will prevent a stealthy exfiltration. The men nodded.
The safe house was exactly what they both expected. Nothing fancy. It was a low-rent apartment. The interior was lazily decorated – the walls mostly bare, the floor covered by a cheap carpet. Rami shut and locked the door as Niko walked in to the lounge – a room with two sofas, a TV and a small round dining table. A portable radio – sat on the lone window ledge, where light filtered in lazily.
Niko found the two cases, and set about opening them.
“sh*t.” He breathed. Rami, hearing the curse, approached the case.
“He weren’t joking.” The Israeli observed. He reached in and pull out, first, the military vest, then the fitted suit that went with it. It was kind of a jump suit, but made of a thick, but lightly stretchy, material. The apparel looked dull in the light, like matted rubber. He nodded for Niko to open the other box, and the Serbian did. Inside laid weapons. Two submachine guns, resembling a suppressed P90, two silenced pistols, and a few grenades.
“Flashbang, gas and smoke.” Rami noted.
“Silenced pistols.” Niko picked up a western recreation of the Soviet PSS Silent Pistol. All he saw was a gun with an unattached silencer.
“Suppressed, Niko.” Rami corrected. “No such thing as a silent gun or a silencer.”Whatever
“Anyway, two suits here, one’s for you I assume and – hello
Rami pulled out a protective casing and opened it. Almost in slow motion, he pulled out a set of night vision goggles.
“I suppose the American expression is we’re loaded for bear.”
“This is some serious equipment.”
“Yeah but don’t be assumptive of these.” Rami carefully handed Niko the goggles.
“Films and games portray these things incorrectly. You can put them on, then run around for ten hours. The battery is much less than that. We’re talking a few hours, with compact models like these.”
Niko put them on – for the first time in his life – and was amazed at how heavy they felt.
Rami shrugged. They weren’t that
heavy. One got used to them quickly, and one was not in danger of injury just from wearing them.
“These are compact?”
“Yeah. Light infantry will need lighter and less bulky models. Pilots and people who don’t have to worry about weight or bulk… they have bigger batteries.”
Niko shrugged. “Well let’s go and get changed then.”
The first thing Rami thought of when putting on his military jumpsuit was a wet suit. It had the same sort of fit and feel to it. But thicker.
“This takes me back.” Rami said.
Niko, sitting on the sofa, putting on his boots, looked up. “Back?”
“Yeah. Shin Bet. We had gear similar to this. Last time I used night vision though – in an official sense at least – we cut the power and assaulted the target. Not tonight though.”
“Would you ever go back?”
“Back? Israel?” Rami sighed. There was a belt in the case, that he was about to put on. The belt held a back-holster, and pouches for the grenades, toolkits and a first aid kit. He set it on the table. “I don’t know. There’s not much there for me now. We had an operation for wrong, and they turned their back on me. That’s why I crossed that line that separates us from them. The line between lawfulness and lawlessness. No, I don’t think I would go back. It’s strange, so many of us – more notably eastern bloc residents such as yourself – come to the land of the capitalist fascists. We look at their culture as corrupting. We see people – like your cousin – come here and get corrupted. But then the same happens to us, this land of … we get enchanted? We realize we’re not corrupted
but in a land of more opportunity. Is life better over here? I’d say so. Truth is I never planned for what to do after. Retirement? One thing about military service around the world. Every country looks after its own. You get a pension, and when your winter comes, you’re set.
But with this line of work? There is no pension.” Rami stood and grabbed the belt again. “Imagine a workers’ union for mercenaries, hit-men and assassins! Solders of fortune filing for wrongful dismission!”
Niko laughed too. “I wouldn’t be too surprised in this country. People sue for everything.”
“Yeah. ’Can I have a hot coffee?’ ‘Here you go sir.’ ‘Oh no, I spilt it on myself. It’s hot, I’m suing you!’ Pathetic.”
Niko laughed and picked up his weapons. One thing Rami had taught him was how to look after your weapons. Before every use they disassembled, checked, serviced and cleaned their weapons. Niko had struggled with this at first but now he could strip almost any weapon down easily enough. He began taking the pistol apart.
“What about you then, Niko?” Rami asked. “Would you go back?”
“I don’t know. I planned to find Darko, end it all, then take the money back home. After the war, things were bad. I planned to go back and run a farm. But with Roman now a family man… I don’t know. If I was living what my cousin would call an honest life, I’d bring my mother out here.” Niko sighed. “I don’t know.”
Rami finished putting his gear on and began checking and cleaning his gun. “Well you never know. Maybe you can still retire.”
They waited for nightfall before moving out. They put on light baggy jackets to hide their outfits, and had the weapons snug in a bag in the trunk. The car was an old, but reliable, Ruiner. Fast but inconspicuous.
They parked a block from the target’s mansion, in a dedicated parking lot. Then they donned their gear, headsets and all, and made their way to the back of the mansion unseen.
Niko went over the wall first – it being his idea – and scanned the area.
“Clear.” He whispered into the sensitive microphone. A noise gate took care of any loud noises. Rami climbed the wall.
“Contact.” Rami’s voice sounded through Niko’s earpiece, and from Rami’s mouth a foot away, in unbalanced stereo. “I see two men, at one o clock.”
“I got them. Can’t see anyone else.”
“Nope, just them.” Rami brought a small night vision monocular and zoomed in on the men. “Idiots, don’t they know smoking kills their night vision?”
“Obviously not.” Niko replied, seeing the tiny orange glow of a cigarette move across the guard’s silhouette. “Armed?”
Rami shook his head. “No visible weapons, but loose fitting coat, left undone.”
“They’ll be packing then.”
“Definitely. SMGs I bet.” Rami pocketed the night scope. “No access to the entry point.” Rami referred to a second floor balcony. The climb up was right next to where the smoking guards stood. “Check out secondary?”
“No.” Niko whispered.
“Hold up. I got movement. Level two, right side. At entry point.”
“Another smoker.” Niko observed.
“We’ll wait.” The man had his smoke before disappearing back in to the building. “No alarm on that door?”
“Our friends still in place. Check out secondary entry point?”
“No; I’ve got an idea. Take cover behind the lounge chairs.”
“Copy.” Rami began to move, cautiously slowly, his pistol in his hand, one eye watching the guards, another watching the ground in front of him.
“In position.” Rami’s voice sounded in Niko’s ear.
“Copy. Hold.” Niko replied, moving to the shed on his left.
He pulled out his toolkit – a Swiss army pliers knife – and unscrewed the lock from the door. He allowed the hinge to hang from the shed itself, with the screws still in place, and made sure to file out the screw holes slightly. After checking the screws went into the now oversized holes with no struggle, he opened the door and pushed it open. It naturally closed again and Niko used his glove hand to prevent a slam.Perfect
Niko pushed the door open then scurried away, moving to the shade of the garden at their entry point. He reached a bush, which he ducked behind, just as the shed door slammed. There was a second, metallic, noise as some tools fell over.
“Movement.” Rami warned, seeing the guards turn toward the noise. They said something – in Italian, or with an Italian accent – and began moving. “Weapon sighted. Looks like an MP5. Suppressed.”
“En route.” Came Niko’s reply.
Through his night vision goggles, Rami watched Niko approach. Niko reached him as the guards reached the shed.
“Move out.” Rami said, covering Niko with his pistol. Niko moved to the truss-like frame that held up some deliberately placed ivy. Niko moved up, quickly, hearing the creaking of the wood as it protested his weight. Twice he felt sections give and crack, but he reached the balcony. Rami was up next and climbed with more agility. He broke more though – one section actually falling off. Niko helped the Israeli onto solid ground, and looked out at the guards. He could see, with his scope, one of the men inspect the ‘broken’ lock. They didn’t look worried – they had holstered their weapons and moved with no urgency. One of them got on the radio as another tried to push the screws in with his fingers. The door just opened again.
“We’re clear.” Niko said.
“Good plan.” Rami replied, turning to the door, and setting out picking the lock.
Within half a minute the door was open. Rami scanned the entire door frame – and the door – for evidence of alarms. “No alarms.” He said, confident in that statement.
“Ok. Let’s move.”
Rami had point – Niko had conceded that honor in light of Rami’s experience. The Israeli led his partner into a hallway. Their goggles were down, and active, their guns up. Niko matched Rami’s pace, hanging back enough to cover him. Rami moved slowly down the hallway until they reached the first doorway. Rami’s hand came up in a fist. Stop
Niko moved to cover the hallway as Rami pressed himself up against the wall by the door. He hooked his head round and scanned the room before moving in, following a quick hand signal to Niko. Niko moved toward the doorway, watching the hallway but ready to move into the room if contact was made.
Rami moved his gun around, keeping it pointed in the direction he was looking at all times. This was a small bedroom – a guest room probably – with an en suite bathroom. Both were devoid of inhabitants, so Rami gave Niko the thumbs up and turned back to the doorway.
Niko now had point, until he’d cleared the next room, where Rami continued the rolling lead system.
Niko ducked into the room as Rami was checking it.
“Incoming.” He warned.
“Copy.” Rami’s reply was calm. Routine.
Niko took cover behind the door as Rami rushed the check of the room.
Niko checked his gun as the footsteps approached. They stopped and, by Niko judgment, the owner was right outside the door.
“Hold position.” Rami’s voice sounded in the Serbian’s ear. The Israeli was whispering as softly as he could, the microphones just about picking it up. Niko was quietly impressed at the tech.
Rami watched the man stare in to the room. He’s sensing something
. Rami wondered how things would go if they were captured. They’d likely get killed, he knew, but he wondered. Would his previous affiliation with Liberty City’s mob help him, or condemn him?
This was him in his element though. Life and death on the line, separated by a 5.7 mm bullet. Rami knew this gun well. It was used across the world, even with the US Secret Service. Rami was deadly with most weapons, and this gun felt comfortable and natural in his hand.
The man turned and walked off. Amateurs would breathe a sigh of relief, but Rami merely noted the event.
“Contact lost.” He informed Niko. “Room’s clear. Move out.”
Niko ensured that Rami was in range before checking the hallway. The guard disappeared round a corner and Niko waved Rami to follow him.
They cleared the next room until they reached a lobby. A large staircase stood leading to the ground floor, and a large hallway. Walkways flanked the lower floor, held up by Romanesque columns. Niko moved to one of the walkways which was in shadow, and hid – the suit allowing him to blend in to the darkness. Rami moved and took cover across the stairs from Niko.
Both men began watching the lobby area. The reason? Voices were coming from downstairs. Several voices.
“Cover me.” Rami ordered before slipping over the railing and dropping silently down to the floor below. Niko was impressed with the man’s agility and flexibility – impressive at least for his age. It was only through the goggles that Niko could see Rami as he moved through the shadows to take cover by a roman column. Niko kept scanning the area – both on his level and Rami’s, and after confirming Rami’s observation that all was clear, saw the former Israeli special ops soldier and ‘spy’ move across the lobby.
“I got several bodies. Guards. Security center by the looks of it, or recreation room.” Rami heard the click-clack of pool balls being struck, then a voice. “Yeah, recreational room. Rookies.”
“Anything else down there?”
“I see what looks like a bar next to it, and two hallways. Two closed doors, main entrance. No immediate threats down here.”
“Move on. Coming back.”
The next stage of the operation was the risky bit. Outside they could get away with being seen – run away then come back via the secondary entry point. It’d seem like a foiled robbery. Inside things go a lot more dicey. Detection would raise the alarm and the question of why anyone was breaking in would also be raised. With paranoia factoring in to the mix, that was too risky, though not fatal. Any intruders would be treated as assassins – and an attempt to attack the mafia boss would have to be made, even if for show. Both men had wondered if that’d aid their overall mission.
The next area, however, was the mafia boss’s personal area. In military facilities this would be the high security wing. In this place though, it’d mean more guards – likely more alert and experienced guards – and maybe security systems such as cameras and alarms – Rami was surprised they hadn’t seen any of them yet.
Rami backtracked to the side of the stairs then executed what Parkour and Freerunning athletes called a Tic-Tac, before grasping the rail and pulling himself up to his original position.
“In position. Regroup.”
The two men moved on, toward what would be the high security wing. Surprisingly the only thing that separated the two was a locked door which Rami opened in just under a minute.
Niko moved in, his gun up, and scanned the immediate area – just another lobby/hallway. He saw no one.
“Clear.” He whispered as Rami caught up. The Israeli cast his mind back to the blueprints he’d memorized, not even bothering how their boss had obtained them.
“I’m on point.” He informed Niko, moving to his right and toward another door. They had to use their goggles now; the lights were all off.
According to the map they had one more hallway to enter. One more door –
The door opened on its own accord. Immediately Rami waved for Niko to take cover. Rami was already moving.
Two men entered the hall, their voices speaking rapidly – but not urgently.
“…god damned lights in this place.”
“Been here long enough to know where the door is Marco. What’s the big deal?”
“We should at least have one little light in here.”
“We have ‘one little light’. You get the lights from the hallway.”
“Yeah one tiny little light.”
“You blind or something? It’s enough to not walk in to a door.”
“Yeah well I still don’t like it.” The two men walked into another hallway, heading in to a weak orangey glow of light coming from within. Rami moved to observe them, noting their fading voices as they turned a corner out of sight.
“You don’t have to……. Money we’re on….. and then some.”
The voices faded out and Rami waved for Niko to follow. Again Rami led with his gun, down the hallway where the guards had come from. They switched roles at the corner of the hallway, with Rami covering as Niko set to lead round the corner.
“Contact.” Rami warned. Niko froze in his tracks. “Three men. Two by the door, another patrolling.”
Niko found a secure position and risked a peek. “No access.”
Niko shook his head, keeping an eye on the men. “No conjoining rooms?”
Rami blinked at that and turned to a nearby doorway. He tested the door, finding it open. He moved in, gun up and clearing the room.
“Area clear.” Rami noted. Niko moved in as Rami approached a window. He checked for alarms and found none.
“After you.” Niko gestured to the window. Rami climbed out and lowered himself to the ledge that stood outside. With his gun holstered on his back and his arms held out, palms stroking the decades-old brickwork, Rami inched sideways. It took almost a minute – contrary to films and games – to reach the next window. Niko followed suit, taking fifteen seconds longer than the Israeli. Still, neither slipped or fell, and the ledge connected to a balcony. The men climbed on to the balcony and Rami checked and opened the door.
Rami pointed at a wooden filing cabinet in the corner of the room. Niko headed in that direction as Rami sat at the computer. He was no hacker, but he knew a few tricks. This mafia crew, he whispered into his mic, was a joke. No alarms, only basic computer security – even the antivirus was out of date. The only thing the mafia seemed to do right was lock the file cabinet – which Niko defeated in half a minute. He began flicking through the files.
Life was no film, Niko knew. You saw it all the time, top secret plans kept in a filing cabinet. Not tonight. They weren’t that lucky.
Rami, on the other hand, was well equipped. He’d brought a flash-drive – actually something he’d obtained from his late son. On it was a few simple tools that allowed one to circumnavigate basic account security. It didn’t take him long for him to load the Mafia desktop – the wallpaper was that of a very slim, yet busty, blonde, likely a porn star. Rami began looking through the folders and eventually came to the email client. Again his tools unlocked the account and he began looking at the emails. In the deleted folder he found what they wanted. Thankfully.
“Got something.” Rami copied the file to a second flash drive and, once verifying the contents were copied and contained what they wanted, he removed the device.
Niko was already standing by the desk. His search had come up empty but Rami’s had gotten – by the skin of their teeth – what they needed. He gave Niko the thumbs up sign and allowed the Serbian to take point.
Niko led Rami to the balcony and their extraction plan was simple. Drop down to the side of the building, and either backtrack through the back garden, or out through the front and to the street.
Niko was the one that had the climbing rope. He hooked it over the balcony’s balustrade, and climbed over, lowering himself down with the rope. He dropped the last few feet and darted to the building, his gun coming out to cover Rami.
On Niko’s command, Rami dropped down. He too drew his gun and surveyed the area. Niko moved to the rope and disengaged the clasp, retrieving the cable.
“Good to go.” He informed Rami, who led Niko back to the garden. The two guards were walking around now. Niko held his hand up and through his night vision Rami saw the Serbian gesture to the fence. Rami nodded and followed Niko over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. From there they made their way back to their car.Click Here to read the next chapter - On The Trail