Army of Devils, стр. 6

"High-class weapon for a gang punk."

"Let me give you details. The CAR was an old one. Made in 1965. No bolt assist..."

"An XM-177E1? That's obsolete. A collector's item. Where'd they get that?"

"That's the question. Let me continue, Carl, please. The serial number had been ground off, but the FBI got a latent impression with X-ray macrophotography. We know where it came from. Vietnam. And you have to find out how the gang got it. Then we'll trace it back from there."

"What about Political and the Wizard?"

"They're packing now. They'll be on their way this afternoon."

"So they'll be here tonight, my time. And Flor Trujillo. Can she get in on this?"

"She out there? We called the DEA. They said she had the week off. If she wants the assignment, she can check the drug angle. But the source of that weapon is the number-one priority."

"What's her clearance? She told me we have some kind of interface arrangement in the works."

"That's the official term."

"But what's it mean?"

"Improvise. We never employed an 'interface' agent before. It's a gray area. But keep your personal relationship out of it, understand?"

"Don't know what you're talking about, Hal."

The Fed laughed. "Everybody else does."

"What does everyone else know? What's the gossip?"

"The details of your personal life go in your file. Along with your biography, your qualifications, your mission debriefings — it's our business to know everything about you. And about Miss Trujillo. And what we know about you two so far satisfies all our security criteria."

"So she's cleared?"

"You can talk with her."

"And what's her authorization?"

"There's the gray area. If she's working in liaison with your Team, she shares whatever authorization your Team has. If she's alone, she's subject to Drug Enforcement Agency procedures and regulations. Unless Stony Man has issued the mission directive. Then she has whatever authorization the mission carries."

"But she's with us on this one?"

"If she wants it. Looks like a straightforward PCP case to me."

"It isn't. I talked with a friend on the force. It's something new."

"It's a fact that Los Angeles gets all the new drugs first. But it isn't up to Stony Man to apprehend every garage chemist in the country."

"The police chemists and the university labs can't break the formula. And if they can't break it, how can some low-life doper make it?"

"Put Miss Trujillo to work. Perhaps she can answer that."

"So we've got official authorization now?"

"Highest. But be discreet, understand? We don't want to see you on the eleven o'clock news."

"Yes, sir. Not me, sir. Over and out, sir."

Crossing the sawdust-carpeted dining room, Lyons smiled at Flor. He saw that she had bought a stack of newspapers while he talked on the phone. She read an Extra printed in red ink on an international socialist publication. The nameplate at the top of the page bore a radiant red star flanked by the portraits of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin.

"Where'd you get that shit?"

"A newsstand."

"Only in America," Lyons commented as he pulled a stool to the wide linoleum-covered table.

"Listen to what they're writing." Flor read aloud from a front-page editorial. " 'Fascist Pig Junta Unleashed. In a mobilization and mass strike equaled only by the Nazi blitzkrieg of 1939, the self-described protectors of Los Angeles struck at defenseless black and brown families throughout Southern California. Elite SWAT teams and blue-uniformed storm troopers dragged innocent teenagers from their beds in coordinated predawn kidnappings… observers report torture… trucks crowded with chained and gagged teenagers departed for concentration camps...' "

"Stop!" Lyons hissed. "Stop talking that shit!"

Flor laughed. Lyons's anger faded as he watched her laugh, his eyes marveling at the smooth line of her throat, the perfect cafe-au-lait color of her flesh, the red-as-blood up gloss she wore. Her thin eyebrows, startling lines of black above her black eyes, feathered away without makeup or artificial shaping. She wore her hair tied back this morning, the smooth flow of her forehead and hair emphasizing the Andean blade of her nose. So beautiful, so deadly.

"Did your boss say he would accept this woman?" Flor touched the center of her cafe-au-lait chest. "Does he think I am qualified?"

Deadly. Lyons thought of Flor Trujillo as deadly. She stood five feet eight in her highest heels. At approximately one hundred twenty-five pounds, she appeared very slim despite her strength and conditioning. Naturally quick, training and self-discipline and ideological motivation made her a dangerous opponent to anyone on earth.

Deadly, his mind repeated. He had seen men twice her weight and inconceivably murderous reduced to smears of blood and bone fragments before they could raise a weapon in defense.

He had the urge to lie to her. To tell her Stony Man had rejected her. That her foreign birth made her an unacceptable security risk. And why not another lie? That he had resigned in protest. No more killing. No more blood and horror.

He wanted to walk away from her. Get in the rented car and floor it. Follow a compass bearing away from this terrorized city. A city defended by men and women who could not even expect the respect of the citizens. Who had to hide their careers from their neighbors. Why should he continue? Why should he risk this woman? Why should he risk his love in a nightmare world of high-velocity mutilation?

"Don't just make moon eyes at me," she whispered. "What did your Colonel Phoenix say?"

He told the truth. "We're in it."

5

A puzzle of human parts lay on the fiberglass slab. As morgue attendants and pathologists worked at other tables, Detective Towers identified the mixed limbs and organs to Lyons and Flor.

"That's two girls. Found them in the same bedroom. They and these others came from the sorority house…"

Lyons glanced at the hacked corpses, looked away. He had seen it all before. Flor had not. She stared, her face slack with incomprehension. She seemed transfixed by the horror.

Towers continued along the aisle, pointing to each table as he walked through the morgue. "This is the Valencia family. Punks got them on the freeway. There was a baby, too. But it's not here. What could be scraped off the freeway, the pathologists sent straight through to cremation. And down here's some punks. What kind of shotgun did you plan to demonstrate out at the range?"

" An Atchisson…"

"Here's a demonstration of a SPAS-12. What do you think?"

Five naked teenagers lay on tables. Old knife scars and jailhouse tattoos marked their bodies. Two had feet mangled by blasts of birdshot. Blasts to their chests had killed them. A third teenager showed a hideous wound to his ribs, which had also torn away his right biceps. A point-blank shot to the center of his chest had killed him. The other two had lost their heads.

"Very effective. But an Atchisson has a box magazine," Lyons said. "Whoever shot these shits ended up with an empty weapon. Count the hits. Eight shots. Maybe he had a round in the chamber. That would've been nine rounds. Against five punks. What if they'd been six?"

"You want the story on what happened?"

"That's why I'm here."

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