Venomous and Mr. Zero guided Mr. Goldman gently to the plush settee inside the hotel suite. The reinforced armor plates hidden in the settee’s Egyptian upholstery were no accident. It was the safest place to attend to Mr. Goldman’s gunshot wound.
“I uh…am so sorry Lady Atherton (Venomiss). I am making shambles of your fine furniture…bleeding everywhere.”
“Save your strength, don’t try to speak,” said Venomiss as she fetched the First Aid kit tucked in the padded arm of the settee. She removed Mr. Goldman’s once white jacket with its gold buttons and snipped his shirt near its pocket to reveal the bullet wound. Gingerly, she inspected the wound. Mercifully, the bullet had gone clean through.
Venomiss applied pressure to Mr. Goldman’s shoulder and bandaged the bullet wound quickly.
All the while assisting Venomisss with the triage was former RAF Captain, Lance Equator (aka “Mr. Zero”).
With well-rehearsed precision, the five members of Mr. Zero’s hand-picked team hustled to their usual positions.
Six foot seven inch Rameses Gizufi (aka “Tiny”) former Egyptian Special Guard-Unit 777, positioned himself as point man in the narrow hallway outside the hotel suite.
Charles “Two Toes” Gantry former United States Army took the lead in the interior of the suite. He had lost two toes to a grenade in Kandahar.
Next to him to his right was his brother Homer “Aligator” Gantry, former CIA-Malta Section Chief, and Mr. Zero’s second-in-command.
Phill De Blanc (aka “Mr. Nowhere”), was the team’s overwatch sniper/lookout. His records had been expunged by “the powers that be,” according to Lady Cat. No one alive knew much about him.
And bringing up the rear, former French Special Operations, Mr. Pierre Patt d’ Collant (aka “The Cleaner”) was the team’s wheel-man and “fixer.”
Lady Cat spoke into Venomiss’ earpiece. Urgency radiated from her clipped words;
“I just had a report from my eyes in the hotel lobby. Seven women, not hotel guests entered the service elevator’s restricted key card access area, moments ago. Curiously, they avoided every camera angle to which I have access. Sorry, I got nothing more for you.”
“Mr. Zero,” Venomiss urged, “We need to cover the roof…we are exposed from above…hurry.”
“On it!” Mr. Zero replied as he dispatched with one glance the mysterious Mr. Nowhere to the roof. On route to the roof, via the hotel suite’s storage closet roof access, Mr. Nowhere clutched his repelling rope and hugged his 338 sniper rifle—a rifle which he had affectionately named, Broom Hilda.
Turning on his team’s earpiece communication channels—Mr. Zero exhorted his troops:
“Everyone listen up please…set earpieces on channel four. Venomiss is on channel three. You have ears to hear both channels. Stay sharp! We have seven possible hostiles inbound.”
Suddenly, muzzled shots thumped and twanged from the hallway outside the hotel suite.
Tiny, the point man stationed in the hallway did not respond to the ensuing roll call Mr. Zero hastily actioned moments later.
In the next moment…the hotel suite’s Burj Khalifa-styled skyscraper windows shattered. Its glass wall of twelve massive panes fell like dominoes, crashing into thousands of tiny square chards on the Tunisian carpeted floor.
Debris spewed helter-skelter inside the hotel suite. Simultaneously, innumerable chards cascaded to the once quiet Malta street below, like a river of many waters sparkling amid falling stars in evenfall’s gloam.
Four unarmed dark figures masked and clad in armored bodysuits repelled into Venomiss’ hotel suite via the gaping hole that once was the windowed wall.
Mr. Zero and his team inside the hotel suite braced themselves for battle.
Venomiss grabbed Mr. Goldman’s arm and ushered him into the bathroom a few short steps from the settee. He spoke:
“What I have to say is for you only, Lady Atherton (Venomiss).” Mr. Goldman pointed to her communication ear implant.
Venomiss nodded. She tapped her ear to turn off her earpiece.
Mr. Goldman proceeded:
“I have uncovered proof that someone high up in the British aristocracy may be involved in the destruction that wreaked havoc in that Norwegian explosion earlier today.”
“You can’t possibly mean that a member of the British Peer was involved in that sordid business? I don’t believe it!”
Mr. Goldman reached in his shirt pocket and handed Venomiss a bloodstained thumb drive.
“It’s all there. I tried to send this information to my contact at Mossad following our encounter in the tunnels earlier. The transmission was cut off…and then minutes later as I left my office to come to see you..someone shot me. A sniper from across the street fired through the lobby window. There are no tall buildings around here for over one kilometer. Who can make a shot like that with pinpoint accuracy, Lady Atherton?”
“Who indeed, Mr. Goldman.”
“Mr. Goldman, I feel you are holding something terribly critical back…what is it?”
“Well, I don’t mean to offend, or to dredge up emotional pain for you, Lady Atherton.”
“Come, come, out with it…Who do you/Mossad suspect has been involved with these hoodlums?
“Mr. Goldman began fumbling with his bandage caressing his clearly painful wound.”
“Who, Mr. Goldman?”
“Your ex, Lady Atherton.”
Throughout their bathroom conversation, Venomiss heard the sounds of a frenzied fracas emanating from the other side of the bathroom door.
There was a loud crash followed by scrambling, in what sounded like bodies thrashing about, piled on top of one another. And then the sound of more shattering glass…she assumed that was the suite’s glass-topped mahogany coffee table. Mixed grunts and groans married the sounds that eloped to Venomiss’ keen ears.
Mr. Goldman’s mention of her ex-husband grated every fiber in her soul; fate’s hand had rubbed her, shredding every ounce of her ideals of romance into an empty bowl of steeled sorrow. It was now a too large cup from which to drink. She choked back tears she thought she had long since emptied into disappointment’s dregs, twenty years ago.
Without responding to Mr. Goldman’s revelation, Venomiss grabbed the bathroom door’s handle keen to leave Mr. Goldman in safety and to lend aid to Mr. Zero and his team. Sensing her discomfort, Mr. Goldman placed his hand on her right shoulder for a brief moment.
Then, reaching for his cellphone in his back pocket with a grimace, Mr. Goldman assured Venomiss:
“I can make my own arrangements to get out of here. My cover here has been blown, obviously. I must head back home to Haifa. But, Lady Atherton, I leave you with this…
“As you are no doubt aware, it appears that our enemies have been working very hard to make certain that we stay alive. In my experience in our line of work, when our enemies go to such lengths, Lady Atherton, it is so that they can frame us to take the fall for their sins…”
****To be continued Next Sunday****