Chapter 25

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Borders woke up in a room covered in a faint shadow rather than darkness. He blinked a few times, then looked over at Hill's cot. It was empty, the blanket was unmoved. He hoped Hill's shortcoming had not shoved him into danger. He probably just lost track of time, it wouldn't be the first time. Borders knew he should stop worrying unless there were a reason. He sat on the edge of his bed for a few minutes, his feet touching the cold stone. The clock read 2 am. He lifted himself up and walked to the window. Parked cars lined the side street, cold blocks of metal with squares of glass. The street lamps were far apart, weak lights, giving small illuminated circles. Light radiated from the front street but only for a short distance. There were no street traffic or pedestrians.

Outside his room, he heard a shuffling of feet. Maybe a priest that couldn't sleep. Maybe they had special times for prayers. Suddenly he heard a pop. A gunshot, a distinctive sound, a familiar sound that clutched his stomach. He heard someone fall to the floor. He grabbed his weapon, cocked it, and then held it up above his shoulder, pointing at the ceiling. Slowly, he walked to the door, listening for other sounds. The marble floor remained quiet.

Ever so softly he opened the door, keeping his foot pressed against the bottom, in case someone gave it a shove. After it was open an inch without any reaction, he looked outside. Father Luke lay on the cold marble, his blood, from a hole in his head, flowing in an ever widening circle. He saw no one else in he hallway, not even shadows.

Opening his door wider, he followed his weapon outside. Bending down, he checked the priest, confirming what he already knew. A quiet 'uh', pierced his ear. Turning his head, he saw a man fall not six feet away from him. A man dressed in black, a throwing knife protruding from his back, blood soaking the black cloth. ' I could start a collection of throwing knives,' he thought. While he stared at the man, his peripheral vision caught sight of a shadow down the hall, a weapon levelling at him. He dropped to his right, falling beside the priest, firing his weapon at the same time. The sound seemed loud enough to wake the dead. The bullet found its mark, throwing the intruder back. He lay quiet.

Borders walked towards the body, watching for any movement. As his steps pulled him forward, his eyes searched down the hallway, looking for others, wondering if someone had him in their sights. He crept quietly, his weapon pointed down, held by both hands. Listening, he tried to differentiate between the sounds of the lamenting sobs of the priests and any other intruder that still lurked.

At the end of the hall, he turned towards the elevator, its ancient chain now quiet. The only window overlooked the street. Cool air and aromas from outside rushed in through the space left by the missing glass. On the floor lay another body, blood flowing from an artery that no longer functioned, the stain on the floor slowly increasing in size. Borders walked to the side of the window and stared at the steel pipes that made up the scaffold. It provided easy access for any with simple climbing ability. He wondered if there had been others. Carefully, he looked out the window. Except for parked cars that hugged each other, the street was bare.

He had tuned out the cries of the priests, concentrating on the problem at hand, but now they returned with a vengeance. Father Joseph hobbled towards him, his injured leg an obvious source of acute agony. His two arms raised to heaven. The head of the cleaning lady poked around a corner.

"Why? What happened? Who are you?" he cried out.

Borders had no answer for him, as he stood silent, his weapon hanging at his side.

Cautiously, Jeopardy made her way across the silent street while glancing up at the Mission window to make sure no one was watching. She slid between the parked cars, the cold metal sending a shiver up her spine, and crept back into the hostel. The front desk was cold and vacant as it had been on her exit. A small night lamp cast large shadows. The room took on an eerie tone, even with the absence of floor creaks. Marble floors had their benefits.

Lady Brenda still slept, her breathing almost silent, her dreams quiet. Jeopardy kept back in the shadow of the room while looking out at the vacant window. She saw Borders carefully look out the window, peering down at the street. He was still alive. She began to feel like his guardian angel. Without her intercession, he would have been long dead. He was safe for now, but that would soon end. He would die and by her hand.

She had killed two of the intruders and Borders had probably taken care of the other. She wondered if they had come from the 'Guild'. Did they back out on their agreement. Before she could push that line of thought any further, she saw Hill heading into the 'Mission.' He wavered in his walk. She wondered about his absence each time Borders was in crisis. Lady Brenda moaned a few incoherent words.

Hill stumbled from the elevator, seemingly unaware of what had taken place, barely aware of his surroundings. Before him, lay bodies on the floor and a priest, his arms raised in the air, lamenting in English and Hindi. He looked around with an empty stare, his mouth open, his mind a blank. He stared down at the lifeless forms, their blood solidifying like a halo around their heads. He saw Borders near the window and looked at him with questioning eyes.

"What happened,?" he slurred.

"We had visitors,?" answered Borders, his eyes the center of a frown.

"But who, why,?" his words stumbling.

"I don't think this house is what we refer to as a 'safe house'. I called the embassy, and they confirmed it. In fact, they never sent any driver for us. This misfortune was all a setup.

"What are we going to do with the bodies?" asked Hill.

"The embassy is sending over a cleanup team, they should be here any minute.

They advised against calling the Italian police. No use in getting them involved."

"How many intruders were here?" Hill inquired.

"Three," answered Borders.

"And you got all three?"

"No, I had some help... again."

"Really. I wonder who this person is, and what's their agenda?

Borders knitted his brow and didn't answer.

"You did what? What is the matter with you?" lamented Lady Brenda, who had woken up for no particular reason. "You could have been killed. You're going overboard with this vendetta. Why can't you let nature take its course," she said, her eyes angry, her eyebrows knitted.

Jeopardy looked back at her, her face contorted, hate shading her eyes, her lips twisted in a snarl.

"I have to," she spit out. "I promised Matthew."

Lady Brenda took a deep breath and turned her head. A faint light from a passing car gave her hair a slight glow. There was no further use talking to Jeopardy - her mind was made up. She lay back on the bed, knowing she would be unable to get any further sleep.

Jeopardy remained standing in the dark room, staring over a pout, at the Mission. Her eyes began to film over. She blinked as a tear moistened her cheek. She had to do it, she promised Matthew.

A large donation from the CSIS coffers brought silence from the priests, their wails and moans now minimized, as they prepared for the cremation of their friend. The mission always had bills to pay, and, of course, there were always the poor. The cleanup crew completed their job in four hours, even replacing the missing window. There was no conversation with them. They were just shadows that went about their work.

"I'm sorry I wasn't here," said Hill, his eyes attempting an apologetic stare.

"There's no way you could have known. There is no way any of us could have known," said Borders. "They seem to be more intent on killing me than you. You would have been an easy target. It's obvious I'm in their sights. We have to keep our eyes open."

"What about your guardian angel?" inquired Hill.

"I don't know who it could be," said Borders. "It appears someone has the same agenda as us. I'm going to bed, to get a couple hours of sleep, and then go to the Vatican."

As Borders drifted off, he wondered if Panama had arranged this attempt on his life.

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