The Dark Tetrad
The two agents entered the room and walked around. This room was much larger than the others. It was cleaner, too, and fully furnished with an unmade king size bed, dresser, wardrobe, and two overstuffed chairs. The ceiling was peaked and there was a large dormer window that let in a diffused ray of moonlight.
“Look at the glass of water on the nightstand,” whispered Anya. “Somebody’s living in this one.”
“Oui!” came a deep voice behind them. “And that somebody is me.”
The agents wheeled around to see a dark figure in the doorway holding an automatic rifle. “Drop your weapons,” the figure said. “Very carefully.”
“Damn,” said Kori under her breath. How could this man have come in so quietly? She tossed her pistol on the bed and Anya did the same. Then the man flipped on a light switch and in the light of the room, the agents could see the man’s face, recognizing it immediately.
“Gustave Trémaux, I presume,” said Kori.
“Who wants to know?” said Trémaux.
“Pleasure to meet you, Gustave. Say, what’s that you got there? Looks like a Chinese Type 56.”
“A poor man’s AK-47,” added Anya.
“I’ll repeat the question,” said Trémaux. “Who wants to know?”
Kori moved ever so imperceptibly toward the wall to the left of the door where Trémaux stood. Anya moved ever so imperceptibly toward the wall to the right. Both were positioning themselves as far apart from each other as they could, dividing Trémaux’s attention and testing the limits of his peripheral vision.
“Nice place you have here,” said Kori. “But I’ll bet the taxes are killer. And then, of course, there’s the upkeep. Although I must say it doesn’t appear as though you waste a lot of money on any kind of cleaning service.”
“Perhaps Monsieur Trémaux is just frugal with his money,” offered Anya. “I, for one, appreciate practicality in a man.”
“Don’t take another step,” said Trémaux. “Neither of you.”
“Oh, by the way, your old anarchist buddy Léon Millet says hello,” said Kori, and Trémaux raised his eyebrows. “He says they miss you around the office. The place just isn’t the same without you. You know, the laughter and hijinks.”
“Yes,” smiled Anya. “In fact, they are thinking of closing down. Getting out of the anarchy business. They’re thinking it’s a dead end. They’ve been tossing around the idea of opening an art gallery instead.”
“Yes, they sent us to get your thoughts on the matter,” said Kori.
“They know you’re a lover of art. Take this piece here for instance,” Anya said, waving her hand toward an abstract oil painting on the wall behind her.
It was just enough to divert Trémaux’s gaze for the split second that Kori needed. She took a long, smooth stride toward Trémaux, planted her left foot, leapt, and did a reverse spin with her extended right leg, catching Trémaux squarely on the jaw with her right boot. Trémaux went flying backward, loosening his grip on the rifle. Anya swooped in and grabbed it out of his hands, pointing it at him as he lay prone of the floor.
“Where’s Carlisle?!” she demanded.
“I don’t know what you mean,” said Trémaux, pushing himself up to a sitting position against the wall.
“C’mon, you know,” said Kori. “About yea high, white hair, crooked nose, likes to kill lots of people for no reason?”
“Don’t make us search the rest of the house,” said Anya. “We’ll parade you in front of us, just in case one of your compatriots is a little trigger happy.”
“Search the house, I do not care,” said Trémaux, rubbing his jaw. “I do not know who this Carlisle person is you speak of. I have never heard this name.”
This time, the sole of Kori’s boot knocked hard against Trémaux’s forehead and snapped his head back into the wall. “Are you sure you don’t know him?” said Kori.
“Think real hard,” said Anya, then she lowered the barrel of the rifle, pointing it right below Trémaux’s belt. “You know, sometimes these Chinese knockoffs have a tendency to go off accidentally.”
“Okay, okay,” said Trémaux, now rubbing the back of his head. “I will tell you. Please stop pointing the gun.”
Anya lowered the rifle.
“He was here,” said Trémaux. “Now he’s gone. To where, I do not know.”
“Was he with Ivan Yanovich?” asked Kori.
“Don’t play stupid, Gustave. The Russian mad scientist.”
“I don’t know who you mean.”
Anya raised the gun up toward Trémaux’s crotch again.
“Yes, yes,” he said. “He was with Yanovich.”
“Just a couple of security people Carlisle hired.”
“And you expect us to believe they all just left?” said Anya.
“They knew you were coming.”
“That’s impossible,” said Kori. “No one knows where we are except my boss and we’ve only communicated through our just-upgraded server system. You guys might be smart, but you’re no match for a 512-bit-key, triple-encrypted, reverse-algorithmed phone.”
“We have eyes in the village.”
“What do you mean?”
“How could you possibly have gotten that sweet woman involved in this? I don’t believe it.”
“She’s not involved. As it happens, she is an old friend of the family. She knew my parents quite well. She has no idea of my work or what we were doing here. I merely asked her to keep an eye on strangers coming through and asking questions. She was happy to do an old friend a favor. And, to be certain, we gave her a little . . . gratuity for keeping us informed. She runs a profitable establishment, but who couldn’t use an extra 10,000 euros?”
“So where did Carlisle’s little gang go and why are you not with them?” Anya pressed.
“It was thought it best to leave one of us behind. To intercept you.” Trémaux looked sheepishly down at the floor. “I was supposed to capture you.”
“That didn’t work out so good, did it, scooter?” said Kori.
“Apparently not,” said Trémaux, still looking down at the floor.
“But if Carlisle knew we were here,” said Anya, “then why didn’t he just come and kill us?”
“Too much commotion would not be good. Carlisle became a little concerned about all of the attention with the death of the directorate of intelligence.”
“You mean the murder,” said Kori. “And who was responsible for that? Carlisle himself?”
“The fake director. I believe you met him. Upon Carlisle’s orders, of course. The point is, Carlisle felt things were getting too hot. Operations have been moved.”
“To where?” asked Anya.
“I do not know.”
Anya raised the rifle.
“It’s true,” said Trémaux. “I do not know. He was going to call me and let me know. I think he was undecided.”
“Carlisle’s never been undecided about anything in his life,” said Kori. She raised her boot above Trémaux’s head.
“I swear I do not know! You can kick me and beat me all you want and even shoot me, but I swear I do not know where they went. You must believe me!”
Kori lowered her foot to the ground. “Okay, Gustave. Then we just have one more question for you.”
“What is that?”
“Where do you keep your duct tape?”