A Hard Way to Heaven

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Chapter 2

London, England

Akir Macleod sat back in his wheel chair, staring unblinkingly across the table at Stuart Lamont. Known in the family as 'The Auditor'. The man was really just a servant to the Elders, and the first family. He was delegated for a specific duty, getting to the heart of operational failure. The man had to ask the hard questions, but to Akir, it felt more like an interrogation. No, an inquisition like the old days. Just bring out the torture machines, the pillwinks and see if he would flinch. He hated being under the microscope. He shouldn't have to explain any of his actions in any situation. He was a solider and had to make instantaneous decisions. Some of the operational planning never covered the bad that rained down on you because your enemy had their own agenda, their own rules of engagement. And even with all the information, all the recon, shit happens.

Shit happens.

Lamont’s voice cut the silence, his eyes boring into Akir's over the top of his half moon glasses, "How did you get into this situation?"

Akir took a deep breath, reining in his anger, gaining control, and gave back as good as he got. Lamont probably didn't understand half, a quarter of what was going on. The man probably sat behind a desk, and delegated without understanding the play ground or sandbox. He didn't know the playbook completely, subsumed by words on a page. He didn't live in the same reality as Akir. How did he talk to the man, when he didn’t speak the same language?

Akir flattened his palms on the desk, seeing the cuts, the bruises. The white bandage on his gun hand stark white against his tanned skin. The tip of his left pinky was crooked from having it dislocated several years ago. The digit had never healed right. The bandage around his temple rubbed with each movement. His body was one constant deep throb, and the pain killers were just enough to take the edge off of the gunshot wounds that had furrowed a nice line through his scalp, and plowed through the muscles of both thighs.

He leaned back into the fabric of the wheel chair and glad it wasn't permanent. How do you explain the agony he felt to take a bullet for those you love, and still lose them to your arch enemy? An enemy that now had murdered his entire family. What mind games did Lamont hope to play? He wished he could rise, kick the chair out of the way, and just leave. But the family would still want answers.

His eyes narrowed, looking the man straight into his blue eyes, and tried to fathom the breadth of his understanding of events. A thick folder sat before Lamont, that he knew contained the entire operational breakdown, and subsequent reports of the events that had transpired not ten days ago in Budapest. Hell, he shouldn't even be out of the hospital yet. But here he was because the leadership of the family wanted answers, and you answered. Jump more like it.

Lamont had every minute of the operation before him in black and white, and technicolor with a forty-eight font red embossed failure stamped across the top cover. Failure in more ways than one. Each letter of that word subscribed his life to a big old F-A-I-L-U-R-E.

He didn’t need reminding that he was responsible as much as the man across from him, and those that no doubt stood behind the two way mirror behind him. They weren't in charge on the ground, the point man, the leader, who had lost so many. They never played in the big leagues, or would willingly sacrifice their own lives for that of a brother in this war. No, they could leave this shit at the office, go home at night and sleep. Akir, on the other hand, had to deal with this crap for every second of his day. No they could go home at night and live, when Akir and his brethren stared down the barrel of a loaded gun, and prayed to survive.

The words he wanted to say were on his lips, and out of his mouth with an apathetic bark, "Fuck you."

Akir saw Lamont’s jaw clench irritated, unhappy with his reply. The accountant turned around, looked at the mirror for several beats, and then turned back to Akir's face. Akir cut him off before the man could speak. "What do ye want me to tell ye that you dinna already ken from that file of yours? The whole operation was one major FUBAR and," Akir leaned over the table, pointing a finger into the man's face, emphasizing his point, "comes down to ye and your department's incompetency. There is too much fucking bureaucracy for me and my team to operate effectively and efficiency. I ken what I did wrong and there is nothing ye can do, no punishment that will match my own conscious. But what about ye and those behind that wall, listening in. It is about fucking time ye took responsibility for your own failures."

Lamont cleared his throat, "How did you get into this situation?"

Persistent bastard. Akir sat back shaking his head, realizing that there was no way upper management was going to admit to their failures.


He would let them have it with both barrels. "You want to ken? Ye want to ken how we got into this mess?" Lamont just stared at him, no emotions, nothing. The man was an iceberg. So, Akir played his first card, "We hae a mole in our organization."

The man's left eye narrowed, and his head tilted a fraction to the right, revealing that the Lamont knew of such a possibility. “Jesus…” Akir hissed.

The man shifted in his seat, recovering, "And ye ken...e'eryone has been thoroughly feted that is directly involved with operations. IF there is any mole, it is within your group of men, your,” the word dripped from Lamont’s lips, clearly disgusted, “Bràithrean, your Leuchd-crois.”

Was he that naive? They were the soldiers that protected this family, that kept them all safe. Their origins running deep through the genealogy of the family. Yet, this failure was bitter taste in his mouth since he had lost his own kin. Akir chuckled, shaking his head, countering, "Dinna fool yourself mon. People can be fooled. Ye tout that my father's security was upper most in your minds and yet, e'en with his guards, he was snatched off the streets, along with my brother. No one knew his movements, and he didna communicate to any of you what his plans were and yet, what happens? And dinna just blame this on his guard, David fought to his own death to try to keep them from being taken. But that doesna mean he wasna in on it. That doesna explain how someone knew almost e'ery step we took to try to gie my father and brother back. Can you?"

Lamont didn't answer, and Akir knew he wouldn't. Never admit to his mistake. He wanted to stand, wanted to get in his face. "We hae a mole and from now on my men and I are going off grid."

He knew this would get a reaction. Lamont started reeling at him, blah, blah, blah, blah, about his leadership and competency, quoting from his personnel file, and all the shit that had happened on his watch. He ignored his blather. He wrapped his knuckles on the table three times, rolled back from the table, and wheeled around as the door opened. His bràthair Kenderick stood their holding open the door for him as the man continued to bleat on, "You canna do that."

Akir didn't answer, and let the door close on Lamont and his protests. He had been fighting this war his whole life. He was born into it, inheriting a millennium of hatred and death. It was time it ended, and if that meant he had to die to do it, he would.

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