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back.
Despite the pain, Daoud kicked out at Halloran, toppling him as he tried to
rise.
They came up together, but tears blurred the Arab's vision. Halloran's
stiffened fingers jabbed at the front of Daoud's neck, striking for the
thyroid cartilage. If his balance had allowed a greater force to the blow, the
Arab would have been killed instantly; as it was, Daoud crouched over his
knees, choking and gasping. Halloran half-rose, turning as he did so, ready to
launch himself at the Arab's companions.
Cora had sunk down against the altar, blood from the open body above spilling
over the edge to stain the shoulders of her white robe. Kline was stumbling
around the stone slab, one hand against it for support, the other stretched
out, fingers spread, as though reaching for the relic lying in the wetness of
the floor some distance away. Khayed's gaze was fixed on his choking lover.
Rage burned when it shifted to
Halloran. Khayed lifted the long and broad chopping knife.
But others had entered the chamber.
Janusz Palusinski, whom Kline had ordered to investigate the earlier sound of
gunfire, had returned. A
man in a rain-drenched anorak gripped the Pole's collar from behind; in his
free hand was a revolver pointing at Palusinski's head.
Danny Shay was dismayed by what confronted him in the gloomy, candle-lit room.
Dismayed, then fiercely angry. There were robed figures below him, one
wielding a long, bloodstained knife, another in black wearing a hideous mask
of some kind. There was a girl resting against a stone slab, her legs exposed,
blood soaking her clothing. And the stone resembled an altar, and on that
altar oh dear God in Heaven ! there was a mutilated body, blood pumping from
it like red springwater. There were moving shadows, dark alcoves that might
have hidden others involved in this atrocity. Shay thumbed back the hammer of
the .38.
And then his eyes came to rest on the man he had been seeking.
'Halloran!' he yelled.
The operative looked up towards the top of the stairway, as did the others in
the chamber. Khayed became still, while Kline leaned heavily against the
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stone, a wildness in his eyes. Cora barely reacted, for the moment too
disorientated to care.
The man with the gun shoved Palusinski away from him, and the Pole staggered
down a few steps before cowering against the wall, folding himself up so that
he was small, a poor attempt to make himself
invisible. The weapon came around to point at Halloran.
'You've given the Organisation a lot of grief, man,' Shay said.
Halloran straightened slightly, his body remaining tensed. The man above him
had spoken with a thick, southern-Irish accent and a hint of the truth began
to dawn in Halloran's mind.
'You killed three good men, Halloran. Valuable men to the Cause, they were.
Shot 'em before they had a chance. You should have known we'd find you, you
must have realised the IRA would never stand for that!' Halloran was stunned.
So it was he who had been the target all along. This bastard had tortured
Dieter Stuhr to find him...
The man on the stairway felt uneasy with the strange smile that had appeared
on Halloran's face.
Shay spoke to cover his own inexplicable fear. 'There'll be three Provos, good
an' true, smiling in
Heaven this night,' he said, raising the .38 so that it was aimed directly at
Halloran.
'There's no such place for killers,' the man below said, and his voice was
mild, the lilt of Irish there as if he'd not been gone too long from the ould
country.
'That you'd be knowing yourself,' Shay replied. 'God only knows what Divil's
worship you're involved in here. Ask His forgiveness, if you've a mind to, an'
do it now.' Thunder rumbled as his finger curled against the revolver's
trigger.
'Liam!' Cora screamed, and just for an instant the gunman was distracted.
That was all the time that Halloran needed to make a grab for the collapsed
Arab.
The gun roared deafeningly in the confines of the underground room, but
Halloran had already hoisted up the Arab to use as a shield. Daoud shuddered
as the bullet struck his forehead and lodged inside. The operative fought to
control the twitching body, his hands beneath the dead man's shoulders,
holding him upright. The second bullet entered Daoud's stomach, and the third
went through his side. Halloran felt this last one nick his hip as it emerged
and, although most of its force was spent, the shock was enough to make him
drop his cover.
More screams filled the air, but these were from Khayed who had witnessed the
slaying of his lover. He ran towards the stairs, the long blade raised high, a
continuous screech now rising from deep inside his throat.
Shay was obliged to turn to meet the attack, and he was hardly aware of the
person who had led him to this ungodly place brushing past. Palusinski was too [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]