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A Knife In The Back
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Below are the 5 most recent journal entries recorded in A Knife In The Back's LiveJournal:

Sunday, June 12th, 2005
11:20 am
Another thread
Meanwhile, in a small, nondescript transport plane somewhere over the Alps, Nietzsche Gordon was trying extremely hard to avoid a bloody and untimely death. One masked gunman he could have dealt with, but handling two while also keeping a modicum of control over the elderly and temperamental aircraft was proving challenging. The gunmen were currently just outside the cockpit, backs pressed against the wall, guns loaded and dangerous, as the shallow wound in Nietzsche's arm and the air-hissing holes in front of him testified.

“What precisely are you guys after?” he shouted back through the open door, straining his voice to combat the rushing air.

“You know,” a voice came back to him, muffled.

“No, I don't,” he screamed back, risking a quick exposure of his hand to squeeze off another warning shot.

“Mr. Rafferty doesn't like thieves.” Three shots thudded into the back of the pilot's chair. Nietzsche offered a silent prayer to whatever deity had given him the foresight to reinforce it with a thick titanium plate.

“Oh, come on,” Nietzsche barked. “You seriously expect me to believe that Rafferty would go to all the trouble of smuggling you guys onto my plane just to get me back for a puffed expenses claim? This is about the plans, isn't it? I told Rafferty I don't have them.”

“Mr. Rafferty doesn't believe you.” Two more impacts, one crackling on the instrument panel. Not too much time, but don't blow this. Keep them talking. Lull them into a pattern.

“I passed them over in Paris, to the guys who won the auction. Not my fault Rafferty is a skinflint and couldn't come up with a winning bid.”

“You must have co...". The voice cut off into a sputtering gurgle as a bullet from Nietzsche's pistol burst through the speaker's throat. Nietzsche burrowed down in his seat and waited until the wild retributive shots from the remaining gunman trailed off. Something fizzled in the depths of the control console. He felt light headed. This was not how Wednesday morning was supposed to go.

“Just you and me now,” he shouted to the remaining gunman.

No reply.

“Perhaps we can come to some kind of arrangement.”

Still no answer.

Nietzsche glanced back. A bullet whizzed past his ear. He returned fire, breathing hard. The plane was losing height. He needed to deal with the second gunman. Fast.
Tuesday, May 31st, 2005
3:04 pm
A drink in the pub
He had flirted gently with the girl, but knew better than to take it any further with the daughter of a guy like Rafferty. He'd always believed in the dictum that no piece of tail was worth risking your own ass for. Even one as lovely as her's. So, during his time at the villa he'd slept alone, and never contacted her after that job.
The fact that the murderers even knew of his connection to her suggested one thing, he mused, taking a long drag on his cigarette, that in all probability Gerry Bates and his gang were involved. The degree of investigation smacked of an old timer like him, he reasoned, which would mean that it was the recommencing of the gemini killings rather than a copycat attack, but he'd thought that all along anyway: "Kids these days, no style," he remarked to Ellie, as she set down another cup of his life elixir. She smiled in agreement, knowing nothing more was required from her, and silently withdrew, realising he was smack in the middle of something big again.
If it was the gemini's, there would be another victim, and sooner rather than later, he thought. Casually he walked over to the bar, and scanned the darkened pub. He needed to make a call and wanted to make sure the bar was clear. Suitably reassured he pushed open the swing door down to the toilets. As his hand touched it, he picked up a splinter from the cracked edge, a quick jabbing pain, which led him to swear lightly. He closed the door firmly and picked up the phone, dropping a few coins in from the leather pouch he always kept with him.
"Josie Jones speaking".
"Josie, hi," he kept his voice deliberately light. "Listen I want you to change my sandwich order. Can you pick up a ham and tomato for me this lunchtime." He caught the sigh of his long-term secretary over the phone. "I know it's short notice, but if you could get it from the usual place I'd be grateful". Looking around once again, he picked up his change and walked back into the bar. He trusted Josie and knew that she'd manage to set him up with the man he needed to see. In his game you needed a long-established code and they had that.
Thursday, May 19th, 2005
9:29 pm
Even on the sunniest of days, which this most decidedly wasn't, the inside of The White Boar was as dark as a crypt. Light fell in dim pools around the bar and a handful of isolated booths, highlighting the smoke that hung in the air. He took a seat at a corner table and shortly after Ellie, the wife of the landlord, placed a cup of his favourite sludgy brown liquid in front of him.

“You’re looking well, love,” she said, turning back to the bar.

The White Boar had served Balthazar well over the years. He knew he could carry on with his work here without being subject to prying eyes and curious glances. Neither did it hurt to have a place where certain kinds of people looking for him could track him down. There were some people, however, who he preferred not to be tracked down by at all.

The office he had just left behind was held in the name of a former client, one Berthold Rafferty. He’d solved a little problem for Rafferty a few years back and had heard nothing further from him. His intermittent use of the office required no communication between them and besides, a small place in an undesirable area of the city would hardly merit a second thought from a man of Rafferty’s means. However, the afternoon’s unexpected discovery brought him to consider his connections to the man and stirred up memories of the last contact they had had.

He had been spending a few days at Rafferty’s mansion in Monaco, finalising the details of the job. Although the trip was strictly business there was no reason not to take advantage of the facilities and it was returning from his morning swim that he had seen her.

She was clad in a straightforward green bikini, enjoying the first of the sun’s rays, her face shadowed by a slim, leather-bound book. Her only movement was the occasional turning of a page. She wasn’t Balthazar’s type, but then some girls transcended any notion of type. Elegant tanned limbs, red hair tumbling around her shoulders, a perfect cherubic face, not a freckle out of place. Above all this there was a great poise, even in her supine form, which was at odds with the youth evident in her features.

When he mentioned her briefly during his final breakfast meeting with Rafferty he was rewarded with a telling softening of the businessman’s expression.

“My daughter,” Rafferty replied. “Beautiful isn’t she? Be losing her next month when she goes to study in England. Cambridge, can you believe it? Things won’t be quite the same around here without her.”
Monday, May 16th, 2005
3:08 pm
Balthazar looked at the note for a full ten seconds before returning it to its original position. He turned first to the north-east corner of the room, then again to each of the others without at any time moving his feet from the square-foot of carpet they occupied, almost as if he were performing the death rites of an obscure Eastern sect. But Balthazar was not a religious man. He took a sheet of paper from his desk and wrote quickly and decisively in neat block capitals. Picking it up, he paused for a moment before turning suddenly to face an unobtrusive section of the wall. The observers read:


Balthazar sighed, and resignedly packed every identifying document and file into a leather case, with the manner of a man who has done so once too often but knows this will not be the last time. He picked up his hat, left the office carrying the case and put in an anonymous call to the police from the box a couple of streets away. He wanted the insurance of knowing the call could be traced back to him without making his involvement too obvious – preserving the anonymity of his address was essential, but he had used that box to make that call a half-dozen times before.

He needed time to think – or rather to think again, as he had been confident that the Gemini killings were over. Like any private detective worth his retainer, Balthazar knew that the best place to think was at the bottom of a cup of murky coffee laced with bourbon. There was only one joint in the city that knowledge could take him to.
Friday, May 13th, 2005
9:46 am
The conspirators watching the monitors had good reason to expect more of a reaction from Balthazar Merkin when he opened the door of his office and discovered the severed head facing him from the note spike on his desk. One watcher in particular was irritated that Merkin's visible reaction was limited to a slight paling and a momentary widening of his eyes. All the efforts made by the observers the previous night to secrete the camera in the office and provide the desk with its grotesque ornament had not provided quite the reaction they had been hoping for.

Closing and locking the door behind him, Balthazar crossed his office as casually as he could manage and reached round the lowered blinds to open the window a crack. Facing away from his desk, he took a packet of clove cigarettes from his pocket and lit one with a match torn from a hotel matchbook. After a deep drag, he turned around.

The head was that of a woman. Her eyes were blue and open and staring, her face slightly reddened with sunburn. The tips of her long red hair trailing in the gummy, clotting blood which had flowed from her neck to drip down onto the green office carpet and wreak havoc on the lowest tiers of the stacks of paper carefully arrayed across the surface of the desk. Carefully balanced on top of one of these piles, placed fastidiously away from the crimson flow, was a pyramid of pale blue folded paper.

The less patient among the watchers fidgeted as Balthazar walked over to the desk and tapped fragments ash from his cigarette into the cut glass ashtray, before unhurriedly unfolding the square of paper and reading the note they'd been instructed to write on it.
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