Sorry gang but I had to take yesterday to pause and reflect. My participation in the wars may be over, but it is never far from my mind. But you don’t want to hear about that! You’re aching for part 9 in Edmund’s tale. I should warn you however, there are only 12 parts and we are coming fast to the end. Buckle up and get ready for that wild ride to the finish. Read on, my friends. Read on.
A Matter of Life and Death IX
Haysbert Rolstein swirled the aged bourbon, closing his eyes to the sound of ice tinging against glass. Winter was settling over the city with alarming speed, as if in mockery of his plans. For a moment only he rethought the decision of moving his operation from Minneapolis to Toronto. The moment passed before it developed. Canadian restrictions on his work were far less debilitating than the United States.
He downed the rest of his drink, grimacing at the undue speed with which he’d all but wasted the rare whiskey. Still, needs must. Haysbert turned from the snow covered buildings to leisurely make his way out of his private quarters and to the elevators. Rich beyond measure, to a degree, he had the privilege of occupying the entire top floor of his office building.
He found Crispus awaiting him as the gilded doors slid open.
“Ah, Crispus. I trust all is going according to schedule?” he asked.
Darkness flickered in his assistant’s eyes. “I wish that were so. There are complications to the mission.”
Crispus exhaled his pent up breath. “One of the mercenaries has gone missing and the team is still a day away from the lotus grounds.”
Interesting. How does one go missing in the middle of the Canadian wilderness deep within the Arctic Circle? Or perhaps I should ask why?
“And Mr. Sorenson? Is he still on task?” Haysbert decided to pursue a different direction. One in which Crispus might answer accurately.
“As near as we can tell, yes sir. There appears to be complications between Sorenson and Cofield however. Their animosity might jeopardize your goal.”
Haysbert frowned. Hiring Cofield was problematic, but a risk he felt necessary. But if that man did anything to prevent Sorenson from returning with the lotus….
He waved off the growing sense of concern. “Keep faith, Crispus. All will continue according to schedule. Is the extraction vehicle on standby?”
“Yes, sir. The pilot is awaiting orders.”
Haysbert nodded. “Good. I want the lotus brought to me as quickly as possible.”
The elevator stopped several floors below ground. A pair of armed guards snapped to attention as Haysbert exited and marched down the pristine, hospital-quality hallway. The click-click of his Italian shoes echoed.
He halted in front of a large bay window, his hands instinctively clasping behind his back as he watched the handful of men and women in sterile suits work. Machines and equipment decorated the far wall and numerous tables in the chamber. Silver-blue petals of his initial lotus, those not being used, were placed individually in vacuum sealed tubes.
His eyes, slightly dulled from time, lit with the expectations of what tomorrow might bring. Decades of patience, suffering, and languishing were all coming to an end. Soon he would assume his rightful place in the pantheon of great men, an honor reserved for those who dared become more than they were ever meant to be.
Spotting him, the lead scientist grabbed a small vial of blue fluid and exited the chamber. He stopped before Haybert, removing his hood and mask, and offered the vial. “Mr. Rolstein, we have the first batch of product for you.”
“Is it safe for consumption?” Haysbert asked, his tone giddy as a school boy.
“As near as we can tell.”
“Meaning there is but one way to find out,” Haysbert concluded.
The scientist swallowed his apprehension and nodded.
Haysbert accepted the vial and slowly pulled out the stopper. Well, there’s nothing for it. I’ll either live or be dead in an instant. Haysbert Rolstein down the liquid and closed his eyes.
“Sir, Rolstein had taken the initial batch.”
Perfectly manicured fingernails drummed on the battered tin tabletop. Cigarette smoke puffed almost angrily around the small, dimly lit room.
“Is he still alive?”
Short moments stretched on.
“Yes, sir. Should I send in the teams now?”
“Not yet. We wait until his people return from the wilds. I want all tactical units on alert. Time is of the essence here, Agent Stewart. We cannot afford to give him a heads up by tipping our hand too early. The instant his people return I want that building isolated, Rolstein arrested, and the lotus in our possession. Am I clear?”
Another cloud of smoke drifted across the room.
“Good. Inform when we are ready to begin.”
Agent Stewart saluted and walked smartly away, leaving Senior Agent Alexander Reynolds alone with the host of issues and problems associated with command.