I had no idea what the local cops would make of the mess we had left at the downtown park. It was however unavoidable. I would never have started the shooting that close to downtown, not if I felt that I had a choice. It seemed as though the chinks didn’t have a problem with it at all.
There was no way any of my crew would fire on a cop, but the chink crew would have had a firefight with the devil himself. They just had no regard for life at all. Since the chink we kidnapped was evidently high up in the gang, it looked as though our search for a lead to the Chinese Tong was coming to an end.
“Maxine, we need to talk,” The obvious leader of the Swamp Thing contingency demanded.
“Okay, what should we talk about?” I asked.
“The prisoner, he isn’t just a member of a criminal enterprise, he also holds information that would be valuable to a lots of agencies. He knows who is leaking information that keeps these clowns out of jail. Not to mention the names of the people helping them with their business.” he said.
“And this means the Admiral wants to trade him for something of value to him no doubt,” I suggested.
“Yes,” he said simply.
“I’m sorry, he belongs to me first. You get what is left.” I said it looking him hard in the eyes.
“We can’t live with that,” he said.
“You are going to have to,” I stated flatly.
“We need a compromise here,” he said. “When you interrogate these men, they are inches from death at the end of it. We have professionals with medical training and supervision. We can do what you do in a couple of days, and give you the information you need.”
“In two days the Harvard Chink will have moved again. Five or six hours is all the time I have. The information is useless after that.” I said.
“Well I hate to say it, but if you don’t play it my way, we will take him,” the intel officer said.
“If you take him, you are going to have to kill me. Then you are going to have to kill Earl because he will have filmed it. Lucas too, since he will know. That makes three friendlies, but then you guys have been known to lose track of your friendlies.” I said to make it plain that the Admiral could not afford any more bad press, especially not for operating in the USA.
“Okay then, no physical torture or we roll to the the local cops,” he said.
“Not your best plan, since it would get us all jailed.” I said. “But I will give standard interrogation a try. I have enough groundwork laid, so that he might be moved.”
“Alright, at least you will saved me a few bucks on my power bill,” I said it even though it was not something I was happy about. We got the one they called Woo into my living room with the
blue plastic tarp covering the floor. I thought I might have a chance to talk sense to him, since hadn’t been one of the shooters.
I threw the pictures of all three people I had tortured onto the table. I didn’t say a word, I just move to the kitchen portion of the room to reheat coffee. I allowed him to get a good look at the images which even I found disturbing.
His eyes danced in terror, when I returned to sit down across from him. I began with, “Is it Mr. Woo, or is there a better way to address you?” I asked the man we had nicknamed Fang, since he would’t speak to anyone.
“Mr. Woo, I get that you are a bad ass Chinese thug. One who would kill me with no remorse, yeah I get all that. I get that you would die rather than betray your family and the Tong. What I don’t know is what you would do if it were one or the other. I doubt that you even know that.” While speaking I had made myself comfortable in the seat across from Fang. “So here is the deal Mr. Woo, You can tell me where to find the bosses tonight, and they will be dead by morning. Not in jail, but dead. It is the only way that your family and my friends will be safe, I have no choice but to kill them all. Neither do you, if your family is to survive. I had a conversation on a phone, which I’m sure has been hacked by your technological men. In that conversation I told the DEA that the information, for the drug raid at the downtown park, came from you. I also thanked them for being sure that you lived. So now I just kill you and the tong kills all your family in China as a warning, Simple and elegant wouldn’t you say?”
It was the only thing I could come up with on such short notice. It did sound believable to me, I let him stew a bit, while he looked at the photos. “Would you want more information?” he asked.
“Not me, when the guys who are trying to kill me are dead, I am through with it. You will be in the hands of Swamp Thing. I have no way to control what they do.” I admitted.
“You do tell the truth about that, so I think you do about the other as well. I will tell you. When I tell you about Ling Po, we are through.” he said.
“Understand this, I need to kill them all to free myself and my friends from the threat. In doing so, I will also free your family. It is the only way.” I had to admit that it put him in a bad place, but long ago he chose the road on which he tread.
“Ling Po had the plan for years. He knew that one day the operation would be compromised. There are fall back levels. Level one is where we all went first. We just moved everything from the warehouse to an old deserted factory building. Ling ordered shipments stopped for one week. So far no one has bothered the airport operation, so he will start the shipments again.”
“Tell me about this factory?” I demanded. I was afraid that Ling had gotten one of the old textile plants that were cavernous inside. I would need a thousand men to do it right. It would be easy for Ling to spring a dozen ambushes and then just fade away regardless of what I did. The whole thing could turn into a bloodbath. Even when I knew for sure where they were, I still needed more real time intel. I was becoming obsessed with killing them all at one time.
“The address is 9000 Maple Street,” Fang said with his eyes averted. He was ashamed of what I had forced him to do.
“So describe the building to me.” I demanded. I knew that Lucas would be double checking everything, at the very least. Even so I wanted fang tied as close to the operation as possible.
“The building is brick and large. It has high ceilings and lots of dirty windows. There is a high fence all around it. Ling uses the loading dock gate only. The drugs come in through the loading dock. From there he takes them deeper into the plant for repackaging. We are still getting it all set up. The loss of the warehouse at the airport was a major inconvenience for Ling. He is not a happy man at the moment.”
“That makes me happy,” I said. “So how many of his workers are Tong and how many are locals?” I asked.
“His cadre consists of ten men, well it is down to seven now that number includes one lieutenant and himself,” Fang informed me. “There are other armed men, but they are local thugs as you call them.”
“Not up to the company standards, I am sure,” I replied.
“They can stop a bullet as well as a real Tong,” he replied.
“And throw a lot of lead downrange as well,” I admitted. “So whats your guess as to how many guards there will be at the factory?”
“After this afternoon, I would say at least fifteen maybe as many as twice that,” he replied.
“Yeah, that does sound about right.” I agreed. I had a lot on my mind, when I left the room. One of the Swamp Thing guys came in to watch over Fang. I poured a cup of coffee, then walked out into chilly, but not yet cold, night air.
I tried to assess the situation. Most likely if they had twenty men total they would all be in the factory for a while. Twenty men in the empty factory, if they were well armed in that kind of space, they would have lots of chances to set up floating ambushes as they withdrew. They could make hamburger of a hundred men. I could not get Swat, FBI or DEA involved, because I needed all the bad guys dead. Maybe not all of them since revenge wasn’t something worth the killings. Protecting one’s freedom sure, but if there were only a couple of people in management there, they would be the only ones with a direct interest in popping me and Lucas.
So, if I took care of Ling Po and his lieutenant, who I temporarily named Wang, then I should be good to go on with my life. Well it sounded good on paper. I could try to negotiate with anyone higher up, if necessary.
If I called in the DEA or ATF to assault the place good people were going to die. There would also be questions asked. Like who killed Ling Po and why. I knew the facts, but I couldn’t for the life of me come up with a plan.
It was two hours later when the Escalade from Swamp thing pulled in to drop off a load of equipment and to pick up Fang. “We should have met under different circumstances, I am sure we could have been friends.” I said.
“Friendship is highly over rated,” he said. It was obvious that he believed what he was saying. I thought about that while he was driven away. If you didn’t believe in friendship, then you had no loyalties. If you had no loyalties, then you had no one whom you could trust completely. So that must mean, you were at least a little paranoid. Every friend was a potential traitor. How could I make that work for me. The answer was always, I had no idea, which left me with only one choice, to gather more intelligence.
I got on the phone with Lucas in the room. “Mike, this is Max, I need you and Lucas to put your heads together. I need mobile eyes and ears in an old factory. I need them now, not a month from now.” I demanded of them both.
I cut the call and left them to it, while I walked and worried. As I walked by one time I heard Lucas say, “Of course rat cam, I should have thought of that.” They said a lot more I didn’t hear or understand. All I knew was that they were developing a plan, which was more than I could do.
While I had breakfast the next morning the surveillance teams worked out a new plan as well. I still had a couple of them following me and a couple guarding the apartments. I didn’t feel the need to be followed, but it wasn’t just my decision to make. The TV people and the team from Swamp Thing all felt they had a voice in it. They could follow without my permission, so I just went along to get along.
As I walked through the mall I wondered, what would happen if their game got turned against them. We were doing some of that at the moment, but what if we hijacked every shipment from the airport and every shipment going out. It might get them out of the building in sufficient numbers to allow me inside to do my thing.