Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Thirty-Eight
17th August 1973
There were closed circuit television cameras on the exterior of the building that were cunningly concealed. They enabled Kat to see what was happening on the street out front and in the alleyway in the back. That was how she had known that the house had been watched for weeks, entirely because the watchers had been unaware of those cameras. Regardless, Kat understood that they wouldn’t have a plan as such. They would take her in a rush, using the weight of numbers to negate any advantages she might otherwise have had. It was exactly how she might have done it herself.
Tonight, Kat could see that they were through watching and that there were at least twenty of them massing outside, probably a dozen more acting as lookouts. That was far more than she could have handled when she had been at her best two or three decades earlier. She had always known that this was going to happen eventually, that the enemies she had made along the way would find someone willing to do this. The timing was fortunate though, her children and those under her care were all elsewhere.
Tatiana was off in Ireland, learning how to be someone else. As disappointing as Kat found her daughter’s career aspirations, Kat knew that Tatianna would always be her little girl and it had been her hope that one day they would be able to put their difficulties aside. Malcolm was in Bad Reichenhall in the Alpine Training Area. She had uncharacteristically pulled a lot of strings to get him into the Arctic Training Program. She understood that once it was offered to her son, he would be unable to turn it down. It was a dream come true for him. Marie, Sophie, and Angelica were all in the Spreewald. Far from danger and the practical consideration that the saferoom in the basement wasn’t going to be needed. Kat didn’t want any attention drawn to the vaults down there because that was where she kept the evidence of past actions and of her own culpability within them. It couldn’t be destroyed because that was her insurance against the factions of the Government that might move against her or her family. Even Douglas, who had put up with how difficult Kat could be at times for the last twenty-five years, was out on assignment in the far north photographing wildlife in Sweden’s Abisko National Park. He had wanted Kat to come with him, but she had too many pressing matters to attend too at home. A shame really, she would have missed out on tonight’s festivities.
“Darya?” Kat asked as she saw the girl walk past her office door. “A moment please.”
“Ma’am” Darya said entering the office. One of the choices that Kat had made that she would never regret was bringing Petia’s granddaughter into her household.
“If you could do me a favor and take Sprocket up to your room” Kat said, “And lock the door to the servant quarters behind you. Tell the others to stay put, no matter what happens.”
Darya looked at Kat with alarm, but after years of obeying Kat without question she swiftly took Sprocket and left the room. The dog, thinking it was a game tried to squirm out of her arms. Kat heard Darya running up the stairs. One less innocent in harm’s way, she thought to herself.
Pulling her attention away from the monitors that were normally hidden away in their cabinet. Kat went to the decanter that she kept for guests and poured herself a measure of the whiskey. She had not had a drink in decades, not since a perforated ulcer had nearly killed her. If these were her last minutes, then she figured that she should at least see what she was paying for. As the sip she took burned down her throat, she figured that it tasted the same to her as the cheap spirits she had dunk during the Soviet War. That was a disappointment.
Looking at the sub-machinegun and pistol by her desk, Kat knew that they would not be adequate for the task at hand, but this had to be her fight alone. If she involved others, then the blowback would land on them. Something that wouldn’t be right. When those gathering outside came into the house, Kat hoped that they would check to see if the doors were unlocked before they kicked them in. It would be a shame if they did any unnecessary damage.
“This has got to be a trap” Czcibor said as the front door of the house swung open and Tom stepped through.
“Shut up” Karlheinz growled as he pushed the Pole through the double front doors of the house. This was the domain of the Tigress, and their mission was simple, she was not supposed to see another sunrise. The Organization had been gathering forces for this hit for months and not one of them wasn’t a killer. Still there were those like Czcibor who allowed the reputation of Tigress to get the better of him. Karlheinz though, since he and Tom had been children coming up in the streets of postwar Berlin, he had never been scared of anything. That had made him and Tom an unstoppable team. Karlheinz as the muscle and Tom as the brains.
As Tom saw the crew that had come in through the back coming up the stairs, he felt the hairs raise on the back of his neck. There had been no opposition so far and this was starting to feel wrong. Czcibor had to be right, this had to be a trap.
“Tiger, tiger, burning bright, in the forest, in the night” Tom muttered to himself. “What immortal hand or eye, could frame thy fearful symmetry?”
“Enough of that” Karlheinz said sharply to Tom. “These assholes are about to piss themselves.”
While Tom knew that Karlheinz could barely understand two words of English, the tone of that poem was unmistakable.