|Subject: Whispered Identities - Chapter 228
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Date Posted: Saturday, August 06, 09:05:50pm
In reply to:
's message, "Whispered Identities - Chapters 221 & forward" on Sunday, July 10, 08:59:36pm
Nikita sat next to Reilly in the van, scanning the profile on a laptop. He lowered his binoculars.
“Rice is coming out of the gallery...alone.”
Nikita adjusted her comm unit earpiece. “Rice....acknowledge. Is the meeting a go?”
Raymond Rice started walking quickly away from the gallery and headed down the street. “Yes....meeting is set...go in now....I’ll wait at the café Orlienne on Pessac.”
“Negative Rice,” stated Nikita. “Return to the van...now!”
“But....someone may see me!”
“I said return to the van...now!”
Rice darted behind a passing truck and bolted towards the van waiting across the street from the gallery. The door swung open and he jumped in.
“This is ridiculous....what kind of stupid move is this, having me return here!”
Nikita reached over and grabbed Rice by his collar. “We wouldn’t want you to disappear now, would we....and especially without paying you in full for your help! Now...we go in as the profile states....you, me and Reilly. Now, get your act together....we’re going in...together!”
“What’s the problem....don’t you trust me?”
“No! Now let’s go!”
Reilly pulled the van door open and shoved Rice into the street; Nikita followed. Adrian had contacted her about Rice’s reliability....but her contact with him had been seven years earlier - when he worked directly for her. His employment since then had been in question. But they required his introduction to Perignon and his knowledge of the whereabouts of the Briochette estate.
They entered the Gallerie de Paris and were greeted by a tall, thin woman dressed in a floor length black chemise.
“May I be of assistance,” she nodded.
Rice stepped forward. “Ahhh....we...these two people have an appointment with Monsieur Perignon.....I was just talking to him....I’m his chauffeur....”
The woman removed her glasses and smiled. “Of course I know you Raymond...what’s the problem?”
“Nothing! Is he...can he see them now?”
“What are your names?”
Nikita spoke up, smiling. “I’m Katherine Tanger and this is my associate, Paul Granger....we are opening a new gallery in London and hope to share artist openings with monsieur Perignon. I have been assured by Mr. Rice that we have an appointment.”
The woman consulted a book. “Well, Raymond here did mention some people from London wanting to meet with monsieur Perignon but the meeting was arranged for later today.”
Nikita glanced at Rice. “I’m sorry....there must be some confusion...is it possible to meet now?”
“Let me ring his office....I’m certain he will be pleased to meet within the hour.”
The woman spoke softly into her telephone and replaced the phone on the cradle. “Yes....you’re in luck...he can see you now. Just proceed to the end of the hall...first door on the right.”
“Thank you,” smiled Nikita.
They proceeded down the hallway and Reilly slowly opened the door to Perignon’s office. The room had a high ceiling and was paneled in dark wood. A large rectangular smoked-glass table and three leather chairs were the dominating features in the room. A smaller side board was stacked with art periodicals.
“Excuse me....monsieur Perignon....my name is Katherine Tanger....your receptionist said we could meet with you,” smiled Nikita.
A white haired man looked up, tipping his head downward in order to see over a pair of smudged half-moon glasses perched at the end of his long nose; a cigarette ash dropped onto his table. Rice hesitated in the doorway until Reilly shoved him into the room, his hand gripping his gun under his jacket, pressed in Rice’s back.
The man rose slowly from his table. “You don’t need to keep up the pretense....I know why you are here...you have some fake photos of me with a prostitute. And even though I do frequent the odd brothel....I’ve never been photographed....but my wife must not receive any bad publicity....so....just what is it you actually want?”
Nikita glanced at Reilly, surprised that Perignon was being for forthcoming. “The whereabouts of Ernesto Briochette’s villa....and you will come with us to insure you don’t inform him.”
“Are you going to kill me then....Rice here neglected to advise me who you are working for...only that it would be to both our advantages to co-operate.”
“He is correct. Now please come with us....you have a rear exit, I believe. But first, inform your receptionist you will be leaving and returning in two hours.”
“So you are letting me go....after I take you to the villa?”
“If you co-operate...yes....now...tell the receptionist.”
Nikita followed Perignon closely out the rear exit; Reilly and Rice followed. The van was parked at the end of the alleyway and upon spotting the team, raced up to them. Once inside the van, Nikita sat across from Perignon.
“Okay....here’s a map of Bordeaux....circle the location of the villa, then tell the driver how to get there.”
Perignon looked at Rice. “I understood we would also be compensated for our trouble.”
Reilly glared at both Rice and Perignon. “I’ll compensate you mate! A finger at a time!”
Nikita shook her head at Reilly. “Your compensation monsieur Perignon will be our discretion at not advising your wife and the media of your....extra curricular activities.”
“You have nothing on me....no photographs....I’m not threatened.”
Reilly stood leaning over Perignon, attempting to balance as the van weaved through traffic. “You better be threatened matey! I may be your biggest threat....let me deal with this slime bucket!”
“No Reilly! I’m sure monsieur Perignonwill be convinced.” Nikita quickly punched up the laptop and an image of the exterior of Perignon’s house appeared. “Please have a look at your front door....and the delivery man with an envelope containing photographs....I believe your wife is at home right now....correct.”
Perignon leaned over and squinted at the screen. Nikita tapped more keys on the computer. “Oh, wait....there’s more....this envelope is just about to be delivered to Le Monde....the newspaper should love those photographs.”
“Alright! Fine! Give me the damn map....tell your driver to take rue Merignac....and proceed east.” He pointed to a location on a map of Bordeaux. “The villa is six kilometers out...past the Parc de Messace! What the hell do you want with Briochette anyway....you going to blackmail him too!”
Nikita scanned the map and spoke on her comm unit to the driver. “You have the directions? Good...do one pass of the villa and find an appropriate drop off.”
Perignon glared at Rice. “You are fired you ass! What the hell have you got me into!”
Rice sat quietly, his head lowered.
The van pulled into the shadows of a large thicket after passing the gateway into the villa. Reilly and two agents slipped from the van and darted back towards the villa. After a few minutes, they returned.
“The villa has the best security I’ve seen,” stated Reilly. “We’ve got to re-think our approach.”
“You’ve got what you need from me now....let me go!” shouted Perignon.
Reilly looked at Nikita. “Do we need this annoyance anymore? Or can I just eliminate him.”
“What! You can’t just kill me for gawd sake!”
Nikita nodded as Reilly injected a tranq into Perignon’s arm. “There...that should keep you quiet for a few hours. What about you Rice....should I tranq you too or just shoot you now!”
“Enough Reilly! Mr. Rice will no doubt want to work with us....so far he’s been true to his word....we can trust you can’t we Rice?”
“What? Of course.....I didn’t want to work for this pig anymore anyway....I want to get back into the intelligence business...you can trust me!”
“Right...now....let me contact Michael and advise him of our predicament....then scan the images of the electronic security to him Reilly.”
“Check....I’ll just download the data.”
Nikita typed codes on the laptop and activated the satellite uplink. Michael’s image appeared on the monitor. Nikita fought back her excitement of seeing him and spoke softly. “We have a small problem with the electronic security Michael....Reilly is transferring the data now.”
“Why didn’t you contact me after apprehending Perignon Nikita? That was on the profile.”
“Sorry....we were kind of busy....Perignon was having second thoughts about co-operating. Are you receiving the data?”
“Yes, Mr. Bernikoff is processing it. Are you....is everything going okay?”
“Yes...but we must find a way to enter the villa compound other than the front entrance....he has a dozen men guarding from the outside.”
“I’m looking at the data now....the best way is to go over the wall in one location...take no more than four men....they can deal with the outside guards silently. Then you and Reilly go in the villa...locate Briochette....make sure he tells you where his PDA is...it is important to retrieve it....then have Reilly or another agent kill him....do you understand Nikita?”
Nikita looked over at Reilly. “I understand....do you have the intel ready about disarming the electronic security on the wall?”
“Yes....it’s coming to you now.”
“Right....okay....hummm, this should be interesting.”
“Nikita....take great care at doing this,” whispered Michael.
“I...we will....I’ll contact you once we return to the van.”
Nikita quicky logged off the satellite connection with Michael, fearful he would change the plan - she could see the concern on his face. She quickly pulled on a leather mission jacket and strapped her gun holster onto the waist of her leather pants. Grabbing her equipment, she motioned to Reilly and two other operatives.
“Let’s go....we will cross the wall in one location only, after I have disconnected the security...once in the compound, be sharp....use silencers and eliminate the guards. Any questions?”
The men nodded to the negative, Reilly giving a thumbs up.
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