Directive rip, p.1
Directive RIP, p.1Stuart Parker
Copyright © 2014 by Stuart Parker
Cover art: Mark Shearman
‘All clear and stand by. Detonation countdown from ten, nine, eight –‘
Jock McClean was an explosives expert of twenty years experience and these derelict old brickworks were primed ready to be his next big moment. It was in a part of the city where he had been getting a lot of work lately. Ten years ago there wasn’t enough interest in the Docklands even to send cops against the squatters, but with easy money flooding into the city this was suddenly a prime location for something tall and glittering: a Singaporean holdings firm had made the investment and was now paying McClean’s A-Z Demolitions a small fortune to blow up what once had been.
Tall and strong, with immaculate silver hair resistant to the stiff, salty onshore breeze, McClean stood inside the barrier tape with the air of a fearless general. Concealed by dark sunglasses, he had one eye on his timer and the other on the condemned factory. The only creatures nearer to it than him were the sea-gulls nesting in the wide gaps in the cracked and decrepit brick walls: they were relaxed for the moment, but that was about to change.
McClean, himself, was already on edge: he had worked with much larger distances between buildings and as decrepit as these brickworks might have been, it would still require quite a force to knock down, and that made for a complex operation. Nonetheless, implosion was the name of the game and no chance had been taken. Check and recheck, and calculation and recalculation had been carried through to the minutest detail, and the couple of hundred excited onlookers were contained well back in designated viewing areas. For McClean the job, or at least the climactic detonation, was always personally satisfying: kicked out of college for dropping a pretentious architectural student over a barroom argument, he now dropped their buildings with equal efficiency, leaving the rubble for someone else to clean up.
‘-three, two, one-’
McClean glanced at his beloved 2006 MTI blue Porsche, parked on the otherwise deserted street alongside the brickworks in his trade mark demonstration of confidence.
Being a semi-professional pool player in his downtime, he knew the success-or-failure recognition that came from the very first instant of impact, but failure had become so rare and inexplicable in his demolitions that even with bricks starting to fly through his car windows he was refusing to register the bitter taste in his mouth. A whole section of the west wall was crashing down on his car and the road around it.
‘Oh, my Lord,’ came a single voice from amongst the crew behind him.
‘He’s the only one on our team that’s not accountable for this!’ snapped McClean.
‘The west wall didn’t blow out,’ came the pensive voice of Dime Richards, his operations manager, over the two-way. ‘What the hell happened?’
McClean unclenched his teeth only enough to reply: ‘Is it criminal negligence or just plain criminal? That’s the question.’
Detective Sergeant Helio Burres already knew the answer and his Heckler and Koch pistol was on his lap as he made the call. Breeze, as he was known by everyone bar the Office for Police Integrity, was the only son of Afro-French parents, and the only one in the family to wind up in Australia’s European chestnut: Melbourne. He spoke accentless English, though with the occasional local profanity.He had always suspected he made it into the Victorian Police Force on the back of a politically correct multi-culture drive, and he resented them for it, making it a distinct goal not to give them any political correctness in return. He wore gold bracelets and silk suits and looked too much like a movie cop, which was probably why he got on so well with the average low-life gangster.
A wave of dust from Jock McClean’s demolition site had reached as far as the rundown 2-A Dale Street warehouse, a good three blocks away. Breeze was sitting in his spacious black Ford SUV, his attention fixed on the warehouse’s mesh-glassed front door as his call was finally taken.
It was his partner, Furn, and his voice was alarmingly placid: it was generally only a serious case of hard living that produced that kind of affability.
‘I’ve tracked our boy down to a Dockland’s warehouse,’ said Breeze. ‘Something big is going down. How soon can you get here?’
‘Is he alone?’
‘No, there are at least three of his buddies as well.’
‘Well, that’s too many for us. Keep him under surveillance and let me know when the numbers even up.’
Breeze sighed and realised Furn was definitely juiced up on something.
‘It’s not a holding situation,’ he muttered. ‘They’ve appropriated explosives from a demolition site. We can’t let them go underground with them.’
There was a pause at the other end of the line. ‘That revelation has altered my ETA from never to half an hour or so.’
‘It’ll be all over by then,’ said Breeze, starting to get bored. ‘You’re supposed to be my partner. ‘
‘I’m with my partner right now. It’s easy to feel the difference. You want to talk to her?’
The line went dead and Breeze fired off some of those profanities that came up in unofficial naturalisation tests. He had to scroll a long way down in his cell phone’s address book to the next professional number.
‘This is Detective Sergeant Burres requesting back up at 2-A Dales Street, Docklands,’ he said as soon as the connection clicked open.
‘Who?’ asked the female Criminal Investigations Bureau dispatcher.
‘Oh.’ The voice became reticent. ‘Where’s Furn?’
‘Apparently screwing his girlfriend.’
‘With that woman? He’s the one requiring back up, right?’
Breeze chuckled, wishing he could place the voice. ‘Well, me first.’
‘I’ll see what’s out there but any assistance might be coming by sea-mail. Don’t you have your own unit to contact?’
Breeze realised she was being cute again, for his unit consisted of only one another person. ‘Riley has been called into Canberra for a meeting with the Prime Minister. He wasn’t expecting this. Our unit is intended to deal with dirt not emergencies.’
The voice became concerned at last. ‘What are you into?’
‘Crooks with explosives. Once the explosives are stabilised they’ll be gone.’
‘Unstabilised explosives - usually my officers would jump at an invitation like that,’ replied the dispatcher sarcastically.
Breeze chuckled again. ‘The backflow to this isn’t going to taste so good, that’s true. That’s why it’s my job.’
‘Care to elaborate?’
‘Just the usual: for every powerful figure there is a screw up of a child.’
‘Better not to tell you anymore. I’ll write down everything I know and put it in the glove box. If I go down, let Furn know. I’ll put it on top - he’s such a useless cop he probably wouldn’t find it otherwise.’
‘Ok. Good luck.’
Breeze ended the call quickly, before he lost his head and asked her out on a date. How many soldiers had got themselves married in a war only to find the problems really started once they had survived? No blind dates with police officers. That rule was hard and fast. He pulled out some paper from the glove box and rifled through his pockets for a pen - all he came up with was his 12 calibre Remington back up pistol - the only kind of backup he knew he could really count on. All the rigmarole of making calls and writing statements was only to ensure if things went bad that his life insurance was paid out properly. Insurance companies being the way they were would likely try to write a raid
With a final glance around him to confirm the streets were still clear, he left the Ford behind. The warehouse did not get any prettier on approach. Rusted galvanized steel roofing, splintering fibre glass wall panels and cobwebs for curtains, if the criminals had already departed through a rear door, the greatest dangers remaining would likely be asbestos and redback spiders. His gut feeling, however, told him they had not left. The smart play was to wait for backup, and he was sure Furn was moving faster than he had intimated on the phone - or, at least, trying to. But he reminded himself of the Mosquito Principle which stipulated that common crooks were at their most sluggish just after they had acquired their target. Weighed down, their desperado thirst suddenly quenched, they frequently developed fatal cases of lethargy and complacency.
In this case, one guy walking up to the front door with hands in pockets wouldn’t ring alarm bells, wouldn’t register as a police raid - that’s if they weren’t too preoccupied with their haul of explosives to even keep a look out. He reached the door unmolested. There was nothing to see through the opaque glass and no noises to be heard. Breeze tried the handle on the off chance the door wasn’t locked. There was no give, so he pulled out his Heckler and Koch and blew it open.
‘Police!” he cried as he entered, but the voices deep within the darkened corridors beyond the small foyer did a much better job at announcing his presence: ‘Raid! It’s the cops!’
Gun trained dead ahead, Breeze edged across the foyer, a glass case filled with model cars in the centre, and comfortable-looking blue cushioned chairs lined on either side; lush, drooping pot-plants lined the walls on bronze stands. A three quarters full glass of water lay on the reception desk. There was a surprising normality about it all, and, in case it wasn’t a facade, he would have to be more discerning about where he pointed his gun.
Through the left of two doorways there was all the scuffling of startled rats. The temptation to put a round through the wall was intense - to let them know he could do more than just open doors. He’d shoot high in case anyone was bound up. But not too high: the average villain could expect to lose a couple of inches off the top. The alternative, a blind turn in an exposed doorway, was less appealing. He edged that way, all the more cautious now that the scurrying had abruptly stopped.
Suddenly a silver canister flew through it, clanging across the floor.Then another and another. The doorway had proven even more dangerous than he had anticipated. One canister rolled right up to Breeze’s feet. What was being emitted from the nibs at the end of each tube? Pepper gas? Tear gas? Some kind of nerve agent? It would only be seconds before he found out the hard way: it would be in his eyes and air passages. The pain would surely be excruciating.
Breeze pulled out a plastic evidence bag from one of the more obscure pockets in his jacket and put it over his head. He used an accompanying elastic band to seal it at his neck.It was the kind of gas mask that would only be effective a few minutes. But gunfights were not like cancer. Either you lived or you died. There was no such thing as remission.
Breeze swung into the corridor, coming face to face with one of his marks. The man had been waiting, gas mask on, for a scream to initiate a charge into the foyer, to finish off the intruder with his Smith and Wesson revolver. His fatal error was not being prepared for another contingency. The only way Breeze could have missed the shot was if he was holding his gun around the wrong way. The bullet entered centre-forehead, sending a scarlet red splatter into the gas mask, not quite concealing the eyes as they went dead within. The Smith and Wesson had not even begun to aim.
Breeze kept moving forward, hoping to catch any other guns similarly off-guard. He ignored the smaller depositories to the sides, assuming the gang would not squeeze in there with their explosives - and besides, he was not counting to ten and the gang were not playing hide and seek. It was the Mosquito Principle through and through. The gang hampered by the weight of their score would be swatted mid-flight.
The passageway opened up to the extensive warehouse proper. Rows and rows of plastic wrapped jackets and blouses hung on long metal racks. It left little doubt the warehouse itself was legitimate. A gang could diversify in terms of prostitution and racketeering, but the pilfering of both ordinance and female apparel was too great a stretch.
At thirty three years of age, Breeze was still nimble enough to put into effect what he had picked up in the advanced small-arms combat class he did twice yearly down at the Academy. He lunged through the doorway in a forward roll, drawing his attention to the opposition firing positions with minimal risk of catching anything short of a shotgun spray. The firing here anyway was so misdirected that the shooters’ own toes were in danger.
Breeze used his free hand to stabilize a low firing position and put three rounds into the closest shooter’s chest. The man went flying back into a rack, the plastic wrap sparing the garments from the grotesque bloody smears. Breeze doubted there would be much left of the man’s heart let alone a pulse. It did occur to him, however, that there was someone in the midst of all this that he was supposed to be taking alive. He needed to stop shooting and start handcuffing. He ripped the evidence bag off his head.
‘Guns down!’ he shouted. ‘Guns down!’
A rear exit door frantically opened and closed. Breeze was happily able to ignore it, his eyes gripping onto a short pony-tailed man standing flat-footed, clinging onto a black duffel bag - it seemed he had his man and the explosives in the one convenient spot.
‘What are you doing, Babar?’ he asked. ‘Did Rufus Ray train you up as a human detonator? He’s got a good eye for talent.’
Another sharp probing glance around the warehouse for signs of stragglers or counter-attack and he extracted his handcuffs.
‘Never fear, your father will be able to afford your bail just as easily as he did your expensive education. Put that bag down and put your hands behind your head. And don’t try anything stupid - a body shot would be too risky with all those explosives.’
‘Risky?’ The pony-tailed man, known on the streets as Skunk on account of his fondness for all this garlic, grinned sourly, stretching out a ring of pimples around his mouth. ‘If a particularly important Free Trade Agreement won’t get signed unless a certain police officer is fucked for life, do you think your employers will hesitate? My education is completely wrapped up in money, that’s true.’ He issued a deranged chortle. ‘If you like, think of yourself as one of my tutors. A good one. I’ll pay you for today’s lesson and class is dismissed.’
Breeze wiped the sweat from his forehead. ‘You’re confusing your occupations. The guy you pay exorbitant fees to dodge a charge is your lawyer.’ He rushed forward and punched the mouth closed. ‘And that’ll be something to break the ice with.’
Directive RIP by Stuart Parker / Actions & Adventure / Thrillers & Crime have rating 2.3 out of 5 / Based on32 votes