David slipped the binoculars into his coat pocket on his way down the stairs. A person watching - had there been anyone to watch - might have wondered how they would fit, being as they were obviously too large, but somehow, without discernably altering in any way they went in easily and left no bulge in the smooth line.

    He held his breath as he reached the ground floor. Here, beside a chain door, the ground stank of piss and discarded syringes crunched under his boots. Reaching the outside he breathed again, instantly regretted this as a rash move, and headed quickly for the dark Mercedes S-Class parked nearby.

    The engine purred softly as he guided it around a couple of corners, stopping in the shadows of a building's overhang where he had a good view of the entrance to the industrial estate. He cut the engine and the lights and reached for one of five cell phones currently cluttering the interior of the car. He dialed from memory. He kept no numbers except in his own head. It was picked up at once, although the person at the other end did not speak.

    "H91 located," David said. "But there's a problem. Nothing I can't deal with, only it'll take longer. Should have more by tomorrow. I'll keep you informed." He cut the connection and considered for a moment the modified M24 he had stashed under the seat, but there were two of them, and David hadn't reached the age he had by taking unnecessary risks. Also, the situation had changed. Best to watch and learn for a while.

    H91, he thought, you've been a problem for so long a few more days aren't going to hurt. He wondered if there might be a way to contact the girl. Perhaps she could work for them, unknowingly or not. Classic honey-trap. Maybe H91 would confide in her. He'd been running a long time, and it was possible a sympathetic ear would be too much for him to resist. Could be there'd be no need for Alex's special skills; could be David could save some money and the time it would take to cover his own tracks. Could be...He smiled, lit another cigarette with a softly murmured word, and drove away.

    Had there been someone else in the car they would have watched now in disbelief as David altered. The gray leached itself from his hair, which grew slightly longer, brushing the collar of his shirt while simultaneously lightening to a dark blond. Wrinkles eased themselves from his skin, and his eyes went slowly from brown, through hazel, to a piercing green. Muscles under the skin rippled, subtly altering the shape of his face, and his jaw grew more defined.

    The man Alex Piotrowski knew as David Roche was gone.




    Alex was on foot and running, ducking from shadow to shadow with an easy, athletic lope. He headed for London Bridge, but veered off to the right without crossing the river, took the next two turns left and plunged down a fetid and stinking alley lined with large, overflowing metal bins. Beyond the bins was a door and he knocked on the pitted, badly-painted surface, grimacing.

    After a minute the door buzzed open and Alex dived into a fug of smoke that grew thicker as he took the stairs down, coming out into a large space so filled with smoke and so dimly lit it seemed to have no walls or ceiling, the edges of the room obscured in misty clouds. The decor was Moroccan, the carpets piled thickly, and there were raised platforms where figures lolled and draped themselves on cushions around low, square tables. Waiters in white shirts wandered between the platforms, carrying trays where tiny silver cups nestled around foil swans.

    Alex headed for the bar at the back. Those patrons who were awake enough to notice his passing drew away, they cast their eyes down or hastily took another drink. He ignored this, the cheerful grin never left his face, though his eyes narrowed a little and became watchful. He'd petitioned for a long while for membership, had only got on the list through a scheme he'd come up with to put Georgia in his debt. It was a very exclusive club. You only got to be a member if you were a little special, a little more than human. Alex fit neatly into this category, but there would always be some who were going to resent him, would be looking for any excuse to kick him out. He had to make sure that didn't happen. Information was his stock in trade, and The Harbor one of the best places to get it.






















The End

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