Whilst Irwin stood in the middle of the living room soaking up details, Kay made a call. “There’s a SOCO on the way in civvies,” she announced when she hung up, “we should be able to buzz her in.” Irwin nodded. He pulled out his work phone and redialled the number from earlier. “The DI told me not to be surprised if you were carrying. It would be nice if he’d tell me these things before I find them out.”
Irwin tried to look apologetic, then dipped his head as the call was answered. “Yeah. They’re not here. It looks like a middling hard entrance- ripped the lock to shreds- and then they hustled the hostages out.”
“That’s not good. Did you go in heavy?”
“Light, but with firepower. I was going to improv the Jehovah routine if there’d been anyone here.”
“That would have been a show. Any clues?”
“Scene of crime are on their way. Maybe they can lift a print. How are things at your end?”
“We’ve still got three hours until the meet. They’re sitting on our guy and we’re in the room next door. We could just strong arm them, but that would probably get the hostages killed. We’re…. hold on a minute.” There was a rattle as the phone at the other end was put down, then a minute of quiet. “Just as I expected,” Jed the Jedi said when he picked the phone up again, “that was a check in call to next door. They’re making them at quarter past the hour. If the hostage takers don’t get a response they clear things up at their end and get gone. If they don’t make the call I guess the same thing happens here.”
“But you won’t let them.”
“Of course not. But the hard job is stopping it at your end.”
“So I’m grasping the shitty end of the stick again. Thanks for that.”
Irwin’s head snapped up, but he wasn’t really looking at the wall in front of him or the picture on it. As the conversation had strayed from mission specifics into what passed for banter under the circumstances a few pieces had fallen into place and his memory flagged something for his attention. “Before you hang up, one thing. Five years ago there was a rash of disappearances of people on my watch list and their families The official take was that even arms dealers retire eventually, and these guys were of the generation that supplied the sort of bush war that was going out of fashion. However, in amongst all the chatter about them there was a rumour of a crew who were turning over deals. Taking the money and stiffing the customer. If they didn’t kill the dealer then the customer probably did. Urban myths for gun runners we thought, so it was knocked on the head as an investigation. There’s a file on it somewhere, but it’s little more than a few dates and a bit of ‘He said, she said’.”
“You’re a damn fine database. I’ll call Legoland and see what they can drag up. You get out there and burn some shoe leather, or whatever the phrase is, and see if you can’t rescue the wife and son.”
“Will do.” Jed the Jedi hung up. Irwin turned to talk to Kay, but she wasn’t there.
Notes “Legoland” is the occupants’ name for MI6/SIS headquarters, according to this page.