He followed them closely, but staying out of sight.
Twice he blended into groups, the first being the third wheel on an eclectic couple of Spanish tourists waving washcloth sized Maple Leaf flags on paper sticks as they pranced forward to immigration. The second by pretending to be escorting his elderly grandmother from behind down the escalators.
What the two doctors did not see was him, when he reached the bottom, pushing the old broad aside because he couldn’t squeeze past her huge bottom while they were going down without turning the moving stairs into a comical game of human dominoes.
Thus attracting attention he did not want.
At least until he had the laptop.
His employer tried to access it remotely the night previous, but it appears the female doctor was one of those people who thought turning it off at night saved battery life and of course, cut off internet accessibility because it was not simply in ’sleep mode.’
He kept pace, quietly and confidently, knowing all he had to do was bide his time until they were alone.
He had almost lost them on board.
He was watching for a couple, never having seen the male in his assault and only having seen the woman through the green haze of his night vision goggles. That was only seconds before she almost fried his retinas with her flashlight which she aimed directly into the amplification lens and then leveling him with a kick that could have taken down an oak tree.
Luckily his employer had a doctor in South America to handle such things, like a cracked nose, bruised face and bullet torn ligaments, all quickly and more importantly, discretely.
He would be riding the codeine high for a bit, but not by much as it tended to cloud his focus. The pain allowed him a reminder of how dangerous she was.
How could he have known a bio-research specialist was also a highly trained martial arts master?
He would not underestimate her again.
As for the male, who would have the thought he would put himself in economy.
At first he assumed it was a tactic they employed to lose potential pursuits by splitting up and making themselves into single travelers thus to the trained eye, giving them a more dangerous edge, showing intimate covert knowledge of deception and thus, making them deadlier opponents.
He changed that assumption on board when the male, obviously regretting his cost cutting decision, got up, approached the stewardess and within minutes, charmed his way forward. By the big deal he made to get upgraded, clearly standing out in every way, he was either an amateur at being followed or he really had no idea.
He went with the latter.
But he had to admit, sitting downwind of the guy beside him at the time, smelling of old gym socks or someone who ate shit for a living, it would have had him quickly paying for First Class too.
Regrettably, he couldn’t follow them forward and be upgraded as well.
It was again, attention he did not want.
He had to remain in coach, inhaling each rotten stench filled breath.
He seriously considered after they landed, putting a bullet in the brain of the sweat smelling man, if for no other reason to save future travelers from him, including himself.
But this was not allowed within the mandate.
But then again, this rush job laughed in the face of professionalism.
Normal protocols of such an assignment included photos, a dossier and information on his targets.
But due to the urgency, all he got was a set of coordinates and a window of time. With the specific instructions to destroy the Indian art cave they discovered and steal any and all the technology on site belonging to Maximum Pharmaceuticals, specifically a laptop which his employer claimed was the only item he could not patch into to get the last of the data he sought.
And all with one serious handicap.
He was told, if one drop of blood was spilt by his actions, he would neither be paid and the next blood lost would be his own.
Some people couldn’t take the wet work required.
Considering all the money the old guy had spent, he could have easily had the two doctors killed, dropped inside their precious cave, dousing them with all the excess sulfuric acid he used to destroy the artwork, and finally burying them with the explosive debris for the next archeologist to find.
But no, instead he was down one laptop and up one broken nose, one chipped tooth and one hole in his calf.
His job was only fifty percent finished. He still needed to get the laptop or he was not getting paid.
He followed them past arrivals, through a crowd of wide-eyed onlookers at the gate, all waiting for missed friends and associates to give them a ride, and into the main hall.
They wandered along the brightly lit corridor of the airport, seeming to be arguing about something.
He couldn’t hear.
They finally reached the pre-arranged pickup area by the lower first floor front entrance. They had a limo waiting for them.
He was amused for a second when the male doctor seemed to wait for her to open the door for him.
She actually slammed it behind her, forcing him to enter from the other side as she locked it behind her.
They pulled away.
But his car was waiting for him as well, a black import, rented and brought up by a valet service to ensure no delays.
His employer was anything if not thorough.
He followed them out of the airport, along the Highway 401 until they exited onto Yonge Street, turning south, heading towards the city core.
After fifteen minutes, they reached a pretty posh hotel.
The name of the place meant nothing to him as he wasn’t planning to stay.
‘Just get in, get the laptop and get out’
He parked the car in a green labeled parking lot, prepaid with a disposable credit card provided by this employer and moved along the sidewalk until he was standing outside the property.
He pulled out his handheld tablet PC with encryption software. In seconds, he accessed the hotel’s mainframe. After a few minutes of sorting, he had their room numbers, adjacent to one another.
‘Obviously not a couple.’ He thought.
Penthouse suites, with two tier access, one for the guests and one for visiting staff.
He would use the staff entrance.
He donned a new pair of night vision goggles, this time it had flat lens and automatic shut off function when exposed to high energy light.
‘Once, shame on you. Twice, shame on me.’
He moved toward the rear alley.
Upon his arrival, after having parked, he carefully changed until he was again dressed in complete black. Sweater, gloves, pants and boots. As he skulked, he drew a black ski mask over his face and he pulled from his matching satchel a handheld stun gun.
This time, he would ensure the woman did not get the drop on him.
He slipped along the fence, running his fingers over the ringlets of wire until he was almost at the back employee entrance of the hotel. He waited until a casual smoker dressed in a tuxedo extinguished his cigarette and went back inside.
He moved forward, completely hidden by shadows, ready and able, until he felt a huge pair of arms reach around his neck and pull him back into the darkness of the alley wall.
Had there not been flesh on those forearms, he would have assumed they were tree trunks by how thick they were.
The man slammed the stun gun in the gigantic forearm of the attacker and pulled the trigger.
His attacker tensed up and released.
The man’s turtleneck had a rubber polymer inside the material, more to prevent rain or moisture, but it did well to prevent the stun gun’s effects from penetrating him.
The man spun around and found himself face to face with a muscle bound thug dressed in a black tracksuit, grey muscle shirt and runners.
The attacker was six foot one, at least two hundred and fifty pounds and all muscle. His hair was sparse, if any and his face was pock-marked by long scarred acne.
The huge attacker shook off the stun effects and smiled. “That tickles.”
The man was about to lunge again with a second blast when an equally large set of forearms grabbed him again from behind, this time squeezing so tight and so fast, the air burst from his lungs.
The stun gun dropped to the ground with a clatter as he held onto to what little oxygen he could, preventing himself from passing out.
He felt like he was inside a garbage compacter, pressing bags and recycling into smaller and easier to transport cubes. Blackness started filling his vision.
Then out of the blue, the second assailant released his firm grip and let him breathe.
The man turned his head and saw an exact duplicate for the first attacker he hit with his stun gun.
The one in front of him chuckled. “We were told to watch this hotel for any uninvited guests.”
The one behind laughed. “Guess we found one.”
The man, still gasping for air, replied. “I’m…”
The first attacker cut him off. “Dressed completely from head to toe in black with a ski mask because you were cold and looking for a good place to ski?”
The second assailant laughed so hard, the man’s whole body shook in his grip.
The first attacker reached forward and pulled the ski-mask off the man and chucked it to the ground. He tilted his head to check out his face. “You look like someone kicked the shit out of you.” He smiled. “Just as the boss described.”
The second assailant mocked. “We could be wrong. Maybe we should check his leg?”
The first attacker swung his massive leg back and snapped it forward, thundering into the man’s lower appendage.
The man nearly crumpled over due to the pain, but the huge arms held him up. No codeine in the world would hide the level of hurt that fired up and down his spine. Had his leg been a football, it would have been a field goal.
The second assailant nodded. “It’s our guy all right.”
The first one brought his face in close. “You destroyed something very valuable to our bosses. And you tried to steal from our two docs who found it.”
The second assailant tightened his grip. “We were told to ensure the message was made very clear, you would get no such opportunity to do it again.”
The man would have nodded, but his head was held tight.
The first attacker pondered for a minute and asked. “My first question is, who do you work for?”
The man was considering lying when the second one tightened his grip.
The second attacker snarled. “You can lie if you want, but then I’m gonna squeeze until you go unconscious. And then maybe, just maybe, you might wake up with something long and hard up your ass.”
The first attacker picked up a beer bottle off the ground and held it up to assailant number two, who nodded his agreement, as they both tried to imagine how to best force it somewhere.
The man could sense by the look in their twisted eyes, they would very much follow through on their threat.
“I’ve no idea who he is. Some old guy. All he gave me was an email address to confirm when the job was done and the money would be wired to my account in the Caymans.”
Both men seemed to accept that as truth.
Standard rules in operations such as this.
‘Don’t keep the help in the loop.’
“What’s the email?” The first attacker asked.
The man knowing there was no point in lying, provided it.
The second assailant asked. “Have you given him your account number yet?”
The man froze suspecting why he was asking. “I did. Standard protocol. You will not be able to give him yours.”
The second assailant shrugged, shaking the man with each amused convulsion. “Oh well.”
The first attacker was clenching and opening his fists. “So basically, you came up here to steal the laptop and kill our docs.”
“No.” He resigned himself with the truth. “I was paid specifically not to harm them. Simply get the laptop and destroy it.”
The first attacker grinned as he turned to the one holding the man. “That’s too bad.”
The man replied, suddenly fearful. “Why is that?”
The second assailant from behind replied. “We were not given such specific directives.” Then the second assailant wrapped both his giant forearms around the man’s neck and with one violent twist, followed by a crack not unlike ice breaking on a lake on a warming winter day, and with such force, had he been a beer bottle, the cap would have been wrenched right off.
The man, his mission, and his plans to steal the laptop ended instantly.
For a moment, there was complete silence.
Then the first attacker growled. “What the Hell did you do that for?” He offered a look of total incredulity. “It was my turn.”
The second assailant argued back. “You let him go.”
The first attacker retorted. “He hit me with that little electric pop stick of his.”
“And then what happened?”
The first attacker glared, his shoulders sagging as he sighed. “And I let him go.”
“That’s the rules; whoever holds him can kill him.” The second assailant offered a peace offering. “But I promise, you can have the next one.”
“That’s what you told me the last time.” The first attacker took a deep exasperated breath. Then he suddenly lunged forward and yanked the draping corpse off his brother and threw it over his left shoulder with a solid thump. “Then I get to feed him to my dogs.”
The second assailant chuffed. “Hey. It’s Fluffy’s turn.”
The first attacker mocked. “What just happened?”
The second assailant gave a dirty scowl. “I let him go.”
They both faced one another down for a good minute, eyes squinting and most of all, not relenting. It was then followed by a burst of double belly laughs.
“How about we each take half? We can use the band saw back at the farm.” The first attacker offered.
The second one shrugged non-committing. “Fine. Just don’t bruise the body too much. My dogs hate it when we soften up the meat.”
Both men laughed again, happier now.
The first attacker tossed the body into the back of his truck and covered it with a blue tarp. “Want to wait and see if anyone else shows up?”
“Sure. My dogs can get pretty hungry up in Milton.” The second assailant grinned. “But I pretty much think he’ll be the only one. The docs report was pretty specific.”
The first attacker offered a smile. “What’s the worst that can happen? We might accidently kill one wrong person or two?”
The second assailant shrugged. “I guess so. But then again, innocent and guilty people taste the same to my Fluffy.”
Both men laughed heartily as they slipped back into the shadows to wait until morning.