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Книга Army of Devils. Содержание - 10

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Neon gave life to a night without laughter or joy. Lyons cruised through East Los Angeles, surveying the dark, silent residential streets, the shops on the deserted boulevards.

Families did not brave the streets. No one sat at the tables of restaurants and cafes. A theater had turned off its marquee lights. Supermarkets had closed their doors.

Few cars moved on the streets, only cruising gang cars and infrequent police black-and-whites on patrol.

Groups of Chicano punks loitered on street corners. Latin disco rhythms and loud voices came from oversized portable stereos. Others stood near the open doors of their cars, their auto stereos blasting. The groups stared at the passing Ford, eyes on every street squinting to look inside the dark interior of the car.

As they approached the LAYAC address, Lyons knew that any one of the hundred gang punks could be a loco with a concealed walkie-talkie or a dime for a pay phone. Gang boys could be watching from the rooftops of the apartments.

Flor rode beside Lyons. In the back seat of the rented car, Towers worked a cassette player. The voices from the Parker Center interrogation room filled the interior of the car.

"The blacks and vatos are soldiers, right, for enforcing dope deals? So when they wanted the rifle, I traded it..."

"You mean the Colt Automatic Rifle," a police interrogator interrupted.

"Yeah. The little machine gun. They gave me a kilo of coke for it."

"A kilo? What're you talking about?"

"Yeah. A kilo. They ripped it off some rich lawyer in Beverly Hills."

"The punks didn't want it?"

"Nah, man, they said it was nothing..."

Towers punched the stop button. "You hear that? The punks didn't want the cocaine. Listen to this…"

The recorded voice of Ruiz continued. "They were high on something else."

"What? Heroin?"

"They didn't act stoned. They acted insane."

"That's one interesting part," Towers told them, clicking off the player again. "After he traded the rifle for the cocaine, he arranged a phony burglary of the warehouse to suggest that the punks stole the rifle. But that was set for tonight. The FBI traced the rifle too quick. And then someone in the Bureau leaked it to that crazy Communist television station. And the boss of LAYAC, this Silva guy, found out about it and went after our boy Ruiz."

Lyons thought for a moment. He glanced in the rearview mirror to see the lights of the car that Blancanales drove. As Lyons eased through a slow left-hand turn on the deserted avenue, he asked Towers, "Why did Ruiz have the rifle in the first place?"

"He said there was a 'heat wave,' " Towers answered. "Right after that problem with the gas, remember? If you know what I mean?"

"Flor was in on that," Lyons told him. "You can talk about it."

"Good. Trying to keep all that classified info and authorization and clearance jazz straight makes my head spin. Right after your people wiped out that gang, the Feds put LAYAC under the microscope."

"Then why didn't they..."

"Because they didn't get the chance! The investigation had only got started, they put in a day or two of questioning, then the Feds get calls from every politician in the country. All of them concerned about LAYAC's good name. But in those two days of 'heat,' they had an arms shipment come in before the politicians pulled the plug on the investigation. Ruiz was the only one that didn't have Federals parked outside his door. He picked up the rifles and stored them until Silva and that Shabaka could divide up the boxes."

"Who brought in the weapons?" Lyons asked.

"Some Mexican trucking company. One of LAYAC's companies."


"That's what LAYAC seems to be all about. But listen to this..."

The voices of the interrogators and Ruiz spoke again. "What was that?"

"The third phase."

" What does that mean ?"

"I don't know. I wasn't supposed to hear that. A weird spade called Shabaka said it to one of his assistants. Said the rifles could stay in the warehouse until the third phase."

"But the third phase of what?" The interrogator pressed.

"The gee-had. That's the word he used. Gee-had. Whatever that means."

Lyons knew the word too well. "Jihad. The Holy War. Hashish and Commie lies weren't enough, so they came up with a superdope."

"There, that place." Towers pointed at an apartment house decorated with spray-painted gang script. A group of young men in identical khaki pants and sleeveless white T-shirts lounged on the steps. Other knots of gang punks stood on the sidewalks and leaned against cars. They drank from bottles wrapped in brown paper bags.

"Public drinking and intoxication," Lyons commented. He glanced back to his ex-partner. "What do you say we just take them away?"

"No, thanks. I want to spend my pension."

"Two against twenty. We got them outnumbered."

"You do it. I want to see if the Feds taught you any special survival skills. Like how to reincarnate."

Laughing, Lyons coasted past the punks. He made a right turn, then he keyed his hand-radio. "That's the place. I see an alley back here. Garages."

"A whole lot of mean-looking dudes out front," Gadgets answered. "I don't know about getting in and out quiet. You want to rethink this?"

"Yeah, they got M-16s and grenades in there," Lyons said. "What happens when a hundred doped-up punks with automatic rifles go berserk?"

"That informer said the M-zipteens are upstairs?" Gadgets asked.

"That's where that organization has all the offices. Upstairs."

Lyons continued to the next block and parked in the darkness under a tree. In the rearview mirror, he watched the second rental car cruise past the alley.

Blancanales spoke through the radio, "The roof. We'll go up one of those other apartments, drop down into the office."

"Second the motion," said Gadgets's voice. "I don't want any firefights with that crowd on the street. I didn't pack that much ammunition."

Lyons turned to Flor and Towers. "My partners and I are going in. Bill, you stand by in one car. Flor, you drive the other one. We have a problem — things'll happen fast."

"This is for information only, yes?" Flor asked.

"We find those weapons, we'll call for the police."

"No heroes? Tell me, no heroes."

"Not me," Lyons assured her.

Two minutes later, Flor guided her car through the wide commercial alley. Lights illuminated rear entries and garages and parked cars. On the higher floors, balconies jutted from the back walls of the apartments.

The car rolled to a stop near a dumpster head-high with trash and garbage. The three men of Able Team slipped out into the alley's shadows.

The car eased away. At the end of the alley, it disappeared into the night. Surrounded by the trash and rotting filth, Able Team scanned the alley for movement. They carried no assault weapons. Their sports coats concealed their radios and shoulder-holstered autopistols. Gadgets carried a few hand tools and electronic devices in an airline bag.

Without a word, Lyons led them through the alley's darkness. He pointed to a derelict car sitting on four flat tires, then to the steel ladders and platforms of a fire escape above the alley.

The apartments' fire escapes doubled as balconies. Flowerpots and planter boxes covered the landings. Blancanales and Gadgets nodded. Lyons stepped up and onto the top of the derelict car. He tested the ladder, then went up quickly, his neoprene-soled shoes silent on the rungs.

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