End game, p.45
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       End Game, p.45

         Part #5 of Will Robie series by David Baldacci

  one left alive.

  Randall threw himself behind a cabinet and shouted, “I’m going to kill you fuckers dead!”

  Reel cast an amused glance at Robie. “And how are you going to manage that, Scotty?” she said.

  She followed this up by placing a round right through the cabinet. Randall screamed and sprawled on the floor in plain sight.

  Reel pointed her rifle at his head.

  He had a pistol in his hand.

  “Go ahead, Scotty. Kill me dead.”

  “You’ll shoot me before I can.”

  “Boy, aren’t you the smart one.”

  He let go of the pistol, pushed it away with his elbow, slowly stood, and raised his hands. In a sneering voice he said, “You think you’ve got me? You’ve got shit.”

  “A little remorse goes a long way,” said Reel.

  “Remorse for what? I’ve done nothing wrong.”

  “You call drug trafficking and murder right?” said Robie.

  “I’ve got nothing to do with the drugs.”

  “So you’re just doing this out of the goodness of your heart?”

  “I get paid a fee for professional services.”

  “And the killing of innocent people?”

  “They’re nobodies. Who cares? It’s not like I’m killing people who matter.”

  Reel glanced at Robie. “You know, just when you think someone couldn’t go any lower.”

  Robie said to Randall, “You’re going down for all of this. I don’t care how much you have in your bank account.”

  The man shook his head. “None of this is my fault. I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s everybody else’s problem. Go after them.” He pointed a finger at them. “Listen up, I’m somebody. I have incredible value to the world.”

  “What you have is a classic narcissistic personality,” said Reel. “On top of being an asshole.”

  Randall’s sneer deepened. “You know what else I’ve got? The best lawyers money can buy. They’ll make mincemeat out of you. He said, she said. I won’t spend one day in jail, guaranteed.”

  “You think so?” said Reel.

  “I know so, bitch.”

  “You know what, I think you may be right. I mean whoever heard of a millionaire on death row, right? It’s all about the high-priced lawyers. You buy justice in this country. Right?”

  “Got that right, sweet cheeks. Maybe you got a brain after all.”

  “But that only happens if there’s a trial.”

  “Everybody’s entitled to a trial.”

  “Not everybody.”

  Randall looked incredulous. “It’s in the Constitution, you dumbass. And you call yourself a Fed. Jesus.”

  “Yeah, but you have to be alive, right? No dead guys go on trial. I mean, what would be the point?”

  Randall looked puzzled. “What the hell are you…” Then realization spread over him.

  “Exactly,” said Reel, right before she pulled the trigger.

  As he fell dead to the floor with a hole in his face, Reel looked over at Robie. “You have a problem with that?”

  “Problem with what?” replied Robie evenly.

  “Some ways it’s good not to be a cop. All that ‘you have the right to remain silent’ bullshit.”

  Robie looked down at Randall. “Well, he’s definitely silent now.”

  She lowered the rifle. “Just saving the public the expense of a trial. The government doesn’t have a lot of spare cash.”

  “Works for me. But we have to get Blue Man out of here fast, or he’s not going to make it.”

  They both looked at the door through which Randall and the others had charged.

  Reel said, “What do you think? Patti’s still out there. And our fake Nazi friend.”

  “Actually, I’m right here.”

  Robie and Reel whirled to look behind them.

  Patti Bender was standing there with a gun held to the temple of Blue Man.

  He said weakly. “There was another way down there, apparently. It wasn’t on the original plans.”

  “That’s because we put it in ourselves,” said Patti.

  “Where’s Malloy?” said Robie.

  Patti studied him. “You liked her, didn’t you?”

  “Is she dead?”

  “Not yet.”

  “What does that mean?”

  “It doesn’t really matter.” She pushed the gun muzzle tighter into Blue Man’s skin.

  “He needs a doctor,” said Reel.

  “No he doesn’t,” replied Patti. “He doesn’t need anything.”

  “You can’t kill all of us,” said Reel, her grip tightening on her gun. “You drop him, you’re dead.”

  “It’s my preferred way,” she said calmly.

  “So you’re suicidal?” said Robie. “Is that your way out?”

  “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

  “Sure I do. I know exactly what you’re going through, actually. Daddy issues.”

  Patti shook her head. “If you think all this is about my ‘father’ here, you’re about as wrong as you can possibly be. I don’t care one way or another. I had a dad growing up until he got killed. He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t bad either. If Walton hadn’t started digging into what was going on around here, I’d have no problem with him.”

  “Then you just like killing people?” said Reel.

  Patti looked at her. “Don’t you?”

  “It’s my job.”

  “Well, it’s part of my business, so I guess we’re more alike than not.”

  “And the drugs?” said Robie. “Hooking up with Fitzsimmons?”

  Patti shrugged. “I grew up with nothing in the middle of nowhere. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder, and the years only made it grow bigger. My mom started making money later in life but it’s not mine. I didn’t earn it. I wasn’t going to piggyback on what she did. And a legal pot business? Anybody can do that. I wanted to do something that was far more challenging.”

  “So it is just about the money,” said Robie. “Your island in the Caribbean?”

  “I can’t say it sucks, because it doesn’t. I had wanted to move there permanently, someday. But I guess that’s not going to happen now.”

  “Patti, please don’t do this,” said Blue Man.

  “I am going to do this and there’s nothing you can do about it. Father or not.”

  “I’m asking you for the last time,” said Blue Man.

  “And I’m telling you to shut up and die like a man. I’ll be right behind you. Who knows, if I get lucky I might take one of your friends with me.”

  Blue Man jerked his arm and there was a thudding sound.

  Patti looked down to see the makeshift knife that Blue Man had fashioned earlier sticking out of the center of her chest.

  For one long second father and daughter stared at each other. Then the blood started to ooze from Patti’s mouth and she fell forward. Despite his injury Blue Man grabbed his daughter and gently laid her down on the floor.

  He knelt beside her and held her hand as her breaths starting coming faster and her chest began to heave.

  “I’m sorry,” said Blue Man. “I’m sorry I didn’t know. Things might have been different if I had.”

  Patti gazed at him for a moment longer. She started to say something but then her eyes glazed over and her body went limp as she died.

  Blue Man reached over and closed her eyes.

  Reel and Robie stepped forward, as one, and each put a hand on Blue Man’s shoulder.

  “I’m so sorry, sir,” said Reel.

  Blue Man slowly rose with their assistance.

  When his gaze fell on Robie he said shakily, “I now know how your father felt. And I…” His voice trailed off and he could only slowly shake his head.

  “Yes sir,” said Robie.

  The next second, the explosion rocked the room, pitching them head over heels.



  DIRT, DUST, OMINOUS creaks of
support beams.

  Then part of the roof caved in, making a thunderous noise and filling the room with more smoke, dust, and debris.

  Robie opened one eye and looked around at a world that seemed turned upside down. Something heavy was on top of him. When he struggled to turn on his side the weight lessened and then fell away altogether.

  He was looking at the body of Patti Bender. The explosion must have thrown them together, with her body landing on top of him.

  Robie slowly regained his footing and looked around at the devastated space.

  The bomb must have been in the room somewhere.

  As his reason returned he became panicked.


  Blue Man?

  He heard a moan and raced toward it.

  Under a desk and a metal file cabinet he found Reel, bruised and bloody but alive.

  “Blue Man?” she said as she got to her feet with his assistance.

  “Don’t know.”

  They frantically searched the room until they found him.

  He was alive, but the gray tinge on his features told him that it would not be for long.

  And then they heard another sound and looked up.

  Fresh cracks were appearing in the ceiling. In other spots where the ceiling had already given in, they could see rock behind it.

  “The whole thing’s starting to cave in,” said Reel. “When they said they were moving their operation, I didn’t take it to mean they were going to bury what was here.”

  Robie helped Blue Man to his feet.

  “Take him out of here, quick as you can.”

  “Me? Where are you going?”

  “Malloy,” he said, before turning away and hurtling over debris toward the door they had come through.

  “Robie!” cried out Reel, but he had already passed through the door.

  Reel turned, and with Blue Man leaning on her made her way to the exit door.

  Robie double-timed it down several flights of stairs even as the facility shuddered and creaked around him. Breathing hard, he burst into the room where they had left Malloy.

  It didn’t take him long to find her. She was lying on the floor behind the pile of metal Reel had used as a shield. She was bound hand and foot with a cloth over her nose and mouth.

  Robie knelt down next to her and took off the cloth. He saw blood on her neck. When he examined it more closely he saw the cut there. He instantly knew what Patti had done.

  She’s nicked the carotid. Slow death.

  Malloy was not conscious. Robie lifted her off the floor and carried her up the stairs. As soon as he cleared them, the space gave a long shudder and a section of the stairs fell away.

  He redoubled his efforts, racing up the next two flights of stairs and down the long hall until he reentered the space where the drugs had been manufactured.

  He carried Malloy over to the door.


  He looked down. Malloy was awake now and staring up at him.

  “Just stay quiet. We’re getting out of here.”

  Her face was deathly pale.

  Robie had used the cloth to wrap the wound, but she needed medical attention or she was going to die.

  And even if they got out of here it was a long way to a hospital.

  Blue Man and Malloy were probably going to expire before they could get help. And there was nothing he could do about it.

  But he was still going to try.

  He edged open the door and slipped through.

  “Get on!”

  It was Reel. She had loaded Blue Man onto the golf cart.

  Robie ran forward and sat down in the rear-facing seat while still holding Malloy.

  “I told you to get out of here,” Robie snapped.

  “And I decided on a different course,” she snapped right back. “How’s Malloy?”

  “Not good. Patti cut into her carotid.”


  Reel punched the accelerator and they rocketed forward.

  The tunnel fortunately did not collapse on them. At the other end they got off and hustled as fast as they could to the exit door. From the inside it only required the turning of a crank.

  After hurrying down the passage they were out in the open air.

  “They said they got rid of the vehicles,” called out Reel, who was supporting Robie. “Can we find some way to call for help?”

  “What the hell is that?” said Robie.

  They heard the whump-whump, and then felt the prop wash as the large chopper descended.

  They backed away to allow the skids to hit the dirt. The door to the aircraft opened.

  “Agent Sanders?” cried out Reel.

  It was indeed FBI Special Agent Dwight Sanders. He was dressed in cammies with a bulletproof vest.

  He grinned at them, but that grin quickly faded when he saw Blue Man and Malloy.

  “They need medical attention, fast!” screamed Robie.

  Sanders and two other men jumped out and raced over. They carried Blue Man into the chopper while Robie hustled over to it, still carrying Malloy.

  “Got room for all of us in this bird?” shouted Reel over the roar of the chopper’s blades.

  “You bet we do,” Sanders shouted back.

  They loaded everyone into the chopper.

  Sanders called out to the pilot, “We got two badly wounded. Hit it fast to the hospital. I’ll call ahead. We can land right on the roof.”

  They lifted off and the chopper turned around and hurtled across the dark sky.

  “Wait a minute,” barked Robie. “Hit that with your light.” He pointed down at a vehicle that was moving fast around the far lip of the quarry and had nearly reached the road leading down.

  One of the crewmen activated a spotlight and shined it on the vehicle
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