Michael’s grip tightened on his weapon as a cascade of gunfire rang out in the distance.
“Alpha, this is Command,” Captain Orson said into his radio. “Do you have eyes on the target? Over.”
Michael and Orson exchanged concerned looks as the silence stretched for about fifteen seconds.
“Command, this is Alpha-One,” a calm, yet authoritative voice carried back over the line. “Target is down and area is secure. Repeat. Target is down and area is secure. Over.”
“Roger,” Orson acknowledged.
“Command, there’s something you and Agent Reid need to see. Alpha-One out.”
“That doesn’t sound good,” Michael said as he stood. He waited until other members of the tactical unit arrived to assist Daniels, who had managed to sit up on her own. Then he followed Orson towards the house. His finger still on the trigger, he whispered, “Let’s hope there was only one sniper.”
A man in a black camouflage uniform, holding a Remington 700, met Michael and Orson at the top of the driveway. He led them to the back of the house, through the open rear door and into the basement.
“Fuck,” Orson mumbled.
“Better than what I was expecting.” Michael stared at Eric Wade, slumped against a metal pillar, his eyes glazed over and a bullet hole above his left eye. He turned to Orson. “But where’s the prime minister?”
“No one’s been in or out,” Orson said askance. “Not since we arrived and set up the perimeter.”
“I wasn’t throwing blame,” Michael said in a conciliatory tone. “But we missed something. Or this was all just a decoy. Christ!” He holstered his gun. “I need your team to process the scene. No one from the Agency enters this house. Is that understood?”
“Roger that.” Orson moved quickly to block Michael’s path. “I know that look. You’ve figured something out. You care to let me in on it?”
“You’re a good officer, Orson, and I appreciate what you and your team have done. There are already too many people in the line of fire. I won’t add you and your team to that.” Michael nodded at Eric’s stiffening corpse. “Process the scene, and if you find anything interesting, let me know. Superintendent Daniels knows how to reach me.” He spun and around and made his way outside.
“Michael…” Daniels cornered him at the bottom of the driveway. “The PM?”
“Not here,” Michael confirmed.
Daniels shook her head. “Now what?”
“Lauren Platt, the Agency’s interim director, will undoubtedly send a team over here.” Michael spoke quietly. “I’ve instructed Captain Orson not to let anyone from the Agency inside the house. His team is probably going to need some reinforcements.” He pointed to the officers standing outside the tactical unit’s mobile command centre. “You and those officers up for that?”
“Absolutely.” Daniels matched his movements. “Are you keeping more secrets?”
“Yes. And this one you have to let me run with. No questions asked.” He waited a moment, then strode into the middle of the street and made a call. “Josh, I need your help. Can you meet me in, say, forty minutes? Great. I’ll text you the location.” He hung up and immediately sent the coordinates of the meet. Then he dialled another number. “Brian, any progress?”
“No,” Brian said. “We’ve interviewed hundreds of people from the convention site. No one saw anything.”
“Okay. I may have something. But I need your help. And your discretion.”
“Anything,” Brain said with an air of willing submission.
“This stays between us,” Michael said firmly. “Understood? Good. You’re not going to like this…” It didn’t take him long to explain what he knew, or what he thought he knew. It was, at best, a guess, but given everything that had happened it made sense.
“Michael, that doesn’t make sense,” Brian countered.
“Do you have another explanation?” Michael snapped. “Look, Brian, we’re running out of time. I can’t do this without you. Well, I can try, but I’ll probably end up dead. And so will the prime minister.”
“I’ll be there,” Brian said. “Part of me hopes you’re wrong.”
“Me, too, but I don’t think I am.” Michael ended the call, then sought out Daniels. “I need one more favour.”
Daniels reached in her pocket and handed over her keys. “I’ve had that car less than a year. Try to bring it back in one piece.”
“I’ll try.” Michael winked before jogging to the police cruiser. He had flipped the engine before the driver’s side door had closed. Speeding through the city streets, his brief conversation with Brian had him wondering, Am I wrong? Could there be another explanation? If there were, it had to be even more unfathomable than the one he was currently turning over in his mind. But sometimes the truth was scary, even if unbelievable. Twenty-five minutes after leaving Glencairn Avenue, he pulled into the rendezvous spot with Josh. He checked the time. Three minutes to spare. He retrieved his Glock as he exited the vehicle, slowly spinning around to take in his surroundings. You better be there, he thought of Brian, whom he hoped had his back. His phone vibrated, and he pulled it out quickly to read the text from Brian: ‘I’m here. Got you in my sights.’ Something was finally going write, or so Michael hoped. The sound of gravel under foot made him pivot and raise his weapon.
Michael kept his gun aimed at Josh as he narrowed the gap between them. “Raise your hands and keep them where I can see them.”
“Can you tell me what the fuck is going on?” Josh barked.
“I need to know if you’re involved in this, too.”
Josh, his hands in the air, furled his eyebrows. “What are you talking about?”
“Do you know where the prime minister is?”
“How the hell would I know that?” Josh dropped his hands to his sides. “You sent me to Findlay’s mother, and before I left there the city was locked down. I made it here without being stopped by the police because of James’s help.”
“You told James…” Michael lowered the gun slightly, aiming it now at Josh’s heart. “Why would you do that?”
“Why wouldn’t I? For Christ’s sake, Michael, is there something going on that you’re not telling me?”
“Me, Brian, the police … we’ve been played from the beginning. Or almost.” Michael fingered the trigger. “All because James is working with Angelique Romeo.”
“That doesn’t make sense.” Josh placed his hands on his hips. “Do you hear yourself?”
“Are you working with James?”
“Swear to God, Michael, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I asked you once if you knew who James Coburg really was.” Michael again adjusted his aiming, making Josh’s forehead the target again. “Have you figured that out yet?”
“He’s the guy who gave me a second chance when no one else would,” Josh snapped.
There was no other reaction, just a confused look on Josh’s face. Michael lowered his weapon. “James is your uncle.”
Josh staggered backwards. “You’re joking, right? I thought he was Brian’s father. That would make us—”
“Cousins,” Brian broke in as he emerged from the wooded area, his own weapon still in his hand. “I didn’t believe it, either. Not at first. But…”
Michael looked at Josh. “Now you know that James is your uncle. You’ve been loyal to him because he did, as you said, give you a second chance when no one else would.” He paused, glancing at Brian, and then added, “Does that mean you’d protect him even if—”
“I joined the military to serve my country,” Josh interrupted. “I might not be on active duty, but that doesn’t change my commitment. If my country calls, I will answer. If it is true, and James is my uncle, that doesn’t make me beholden to him … especially when he never had the courage to tell me the truth.”
“I’m going to take you at your word,” Michael said.
“Michael…” Brian pointed to the police cruiser. “I need to talk to you.”
Michael slid his gun into his holster and joined Brian near the vehicle. “What?”
“You’re seriously going to trust him?”
“Yes,” Michael said through gritted teeth. “Josh seems genuinely shocked by the news that James is his uncle. And, right now, we don’t have a lot of other options. We need him.”
“Is that Michael the intelligence officer speaking or are you letting your personal feelings for Josh get in the way of your judgment?” Brian’s tone was unapologetic. “You make the wrong choice here and we both end up dead.”
Michael opened his mouth to speak but censored himself, then crossed back to Josh. “If you want to walk away, do it now. Otherwise—”
“How can I help?” Josh asked.
“We need a dozen or so men and women with skillsets similar to yours. Ideally, no one who works for Coburg.”
“I can make a few calls.” Josh pulled out his phone. “I wouldn’t dismiss Alex. You saved his nephew. He’ll help and we could use him.”
“Fine.” Michael gestured for Brian to join them. “We need to move quickly. I don’t think the PM has a lot of time left. This is what we’re going to do…” It took him seven minutes to explain, neither Brian nor Josh asking any questions. Then Michael’s phone rang. “I need to take this.” He took a couple steps back from the two men. “What?”
“We had a deal,” Sam spat.
“I know. Things are moving quickly.”
“What can you tell me about what happened on Glencairn Avenue?” Sam asked.
How the hell do you know about Glencairn Avenue? Michael hesitated but eventually said, “We found a body.”
“No. One of his bodyguards. Look, Sam, that’s all you get for now. I’ve got a lead to follow-up on.” Michael ended the call and returned to Josh and Brian. “Ready?”
Brian nodded. “Let’s do this.”
Michael watched as Josh and Brian retraced their earlier steps and disappeared. Getting back into the police cruiser, he was ready to end this. And deliver to Angelique Romero and her conspirators his own brand of justice.