Chapter 37 of The Holy Lance, a fantasy thriller

Rock, paper, scissors, and a blast out of nowhere. Comments are welcome.

Chapter 37

As they approach the construction site from the south, Druzhnikov kills the car’s headlights. Fifty meters from the site’s entrance he pulls off the road and brings the car to a stop on the gravel shoulder in the dark overhang of a row of mature hardwoods lining the west side of the highway. Beyond the well-lighted construction site entrance, the road is deserted and dark. The four sit silently for no more than a minute when Krazavitskaya speaks up.

“I don’t see why we can’t just find a hotel. Are we going to just sit here and wait until someone tries to kill us again?”

“Svetlana, as evenings with Gregori Druzhnikov go, believe me, this one is better than most. He usually tries to bore me to death.”

“Hand me the bag,” Druzhnikov orders.

Brinker passes the bag of equipment to him. Druzhnikov reaches into the bag, feels what he is looking for, and grabs it. He pulls out a small GPS transmitter.”

“Maybe we’ll get lucky.”

He reaches back into the bag and pulls out a third 9mm Gyurza, two 18 round clips, and a silencer.

“No need to wake up the neighborhood.”

He attaches the silencer to the pistol, inserts a clip, chambers the first round, and turns to Brinker.

“Chet, you’re with me.”

He hands Brinker the extra clip.

“Lead the way.”

The two men quietly get out of the car. Druzhnikov inspects the damage from the recent gun battle, shrugs, and leans back inside the open driver’s window.

“Any sign of trouble, get out of here. Don’t wait for us. Key’s in the ignition.”

Chebushova drops the half-empty clip from her Gyurza, slams a fully loaded, 18 round clip into place, and immediately chambers a round. She slides into the driver’s seat.

“We’ll be fine, but we’re not waiting forever.”

“Give us 30 minutes.”

Chebushova nods. Druzhnikov motions to Brinker to follow him. They crouch as they cross the deserted highway and walk quickly towards the construction site’s entrance marked by a guardhouse and an electric gate awash in floodlights. A pair of headlights approaching from the north sends the two men scrambling for the darkness of the brush beyond the shoulder. The car slows and turns right into the entrance, coming to a stop at the guardhouse. The driver, Sasha Krupsky, shows his identification to the gate guard. Brinker and Druzhinkov are close enough to hear their exchange.

“No more than 10 minutes,” Krupsky tells the guard.

The guard nods, and pushes a button in the guardhouse that opens the gate. Krupsky drives his car onto the construction site.

“We’ll wait until he’s out,” Druzhnikov whispers.

The two men, no more than 15 meters from the guardhouse, sit silently, constantly scanning the immediate area for movement, light, or any other indicator of a threat. They wait.

Not more than five minutes pass before Krupsky approaches the gate in his car from inside the construction site. The Guard waves and the gate opens. Krupsky drives out of the site and turns left, heading north.

Druzhnikov, from a crouch position, aims his pistol with its silencer and flash suppressor at the front left tire of Krupksy’s car. He pulls the trigger. His aim is perfect. The front right tire of Krupsky’s car blows out. Krupsky slams on the brakes. His car skids to a stop as he steers it to the shoulder just north of the construction site entrance. He gets out and inspects the flat tire. Suspecting nothing more than an ordinary flat, he goes to the trunk of the car, pops it opens, and pulls out a spare and a jack.

“Rock, paper, scissors,” Druzhnikov whispers.

“Are you out of your fucking mind?” Brinker replies.

Druzhnikov pulls the GPS transmitter out of his jacket pocket.

“Rock, paper, scissors,” he repeats.

Brinker gets it.

“One, two, three,” he whispers.

Brinker’s “paper” loses to Druzhnikov’s “scissors.”

Druzhnikov hands the transmitter to Brinker.

“I never lose,” he says as Brinker takes the transmitter from him.

Krupsky works on changing the tire while Brinker crosses back over to the east side of the road, pistol in one hand, transmitter in the other. He moves quickly north in the darkness until he is even with Krupsky’s disabled car. He crouches as low as he possibly can and makes a silent dash for the back right quarter of the vehicle. When he reaches the car, he stops for a moment, crouching low with the top of his head below the car’s windows. He hears Krupsky working to change the tire without interruption and is satisfied he has not been detected. He attaches the transmitter to the car’s undercarriage.

At that moment, an enormous explosion lights up the horizon. Krupsky stops changing the tire, looks towards the explosion deep from within the construction site, and smiles. Brinker scrambles back into the darkness on the far side of the road while Krupsky’s attention is fixed on the growing fireball to the west. The noise of the explosion and ensuing fire cover Brinker’s dash back to the rented car where Druzhnikov and the two women wait.

“I’m getting too old for this shit,” Brinker mutters as he climbs into the back seat.

“Did you get the transmitter attached?”

“Right before the whole fucking world blew up. We should be in business.”

“Okay. We’ve got to find a spot to monitor that GPS from.”

“There must be someone you can bribe,” Svetlana suggests.

Druzhnikov laughs as he starts the car.

“Spoken like a true Russian. You should think about a career in government! Let’s try the local police first. You have any dollars, my American friend?”

He executes a U-turn, and heads south back towards Echmiadzin, putting a safe distance between his team and Sasha Krupsky before turning the car’s headlights on.

“Dollars? How many you need?”

“Depends. Anywhere from one hundred to five hundred should do the trick. These local guys don’t make shit.”

“Says the richly compensated Inspector Druzhnikov,” Ludmilla adds sarcastically.

“Not a problem. I never leave home without them. False bottom in my flight bag. It’s practically a travelling bank.”