Authors: Don Pendleton
Tags: #Action & Adventure, #Fiction, #det_action, #Kidnapping, #Organized Crime, #Men's Adventure, #Chicago (Ill.), #Bolan; Mack (Fictitious character)
Someone is stealing America's children, and the disappearances are shattering the structure of U.S. Society, leaving families in total despair.
With the police and federal agencies handcuffed by laws and procedures, the situation is critical.
Mack Bolan fears for these innocent lives at the hands of human predators. The Executioner searches high and low for targets in Chicago — and finds them: from a high-profile politician to a Mafia kingpin.
A black Corvette cruised through the freezing November night, the twin funnels of light created by its halogens sweeping the neighborhood as the car turned off a secondary residential street on the north side of Chicago.
A big man sat behind the wheel of the sportster, and the glow from the dashboard cluster only served to further etch the features of an already grim visage like sculpted granite. His steely gaze probed the darkness ahead of the lighted area carved by the car's twin beams.
Mack Bolan guided the sleek vehicle into a parking lot almost filled with similarly sporty cars.
He braked the Vette, then backed into a parking space as close as he could to the canopied main entrance of a sprawling, single-level structure.
He cut the sportster's engine and headlights and paused for a moment.
No one knew it yet, but Death had come to the New Age Center.
Mack Bolan watched a couple in their twenties leave the center through double glass doors, one of which was held open for them by a hulking doorman.
The couple did not notice the man behind the Vette's steering wheel. They passed Bolan hurriedly, moving toward their own vehicle somewhere across the lot, chattering happily. In the high-intensity illumination of the parking area, he quietly observed the puffs of frosted breath escaping like smoke signals in the frigid air.
Bolan shifted his attention from the pair as they disappeared beyond a line of cars.
Through the Vette's windshield he eyeballed the doorman at his post just inside those double glass doors.
The guy reminded Bolan of a cartoon character who sold cleaning solvent on tv commercials: T-shirted; thick, corded arms folded across a massive chest; head shaved bald, a single gold hoop earring dangling from the lobe of his left ear. The giant, stuffed into tight-fitting Levi's, was as tall as Bolan, plus thirty pounds.
The doorman did not seem to mind the icy blast each time the door was opened; he gazed out into the crisp night with no undue attention directed toward the recently arrived Corvette.
Bolan heard a vehicle gun to life close behind him. He remained motionless.
He figured it was the couple he had just seen.
The headlights of their car sliced through the Corvette's interior for an instant before the car turned onto the street and drove away.
Bolan, who was known as the Executioner, made a quick, final weapons-check.
He drew the Beretta 93-R from beneath his jacket, checked the action, then, satisfied, reholstered the pistol in the speed rig beneath his right arm.
He had been carrying the 93-R into combat for some time now and it had not let him down yet.
The Beretta would give him no trouble this night.
An advanced self-loading pistol, the 93-R can be triggered in either single or three-shot modes, which means a rate of fire of 110 rounds per minute with the detachable box magazine of twenty rounds. This Beretta had been modified to Bolan's personal specifications with sound suppressor.
Bolan would not need the detachable magazine or silencer on this very hard hit, now only seconds away.
The Beretta was ready and so was the .44 AutoMag, which resided in a specially constructed fast-draw holster beneath his left arm. Bolan quickly withdrew the .44 from its rig.
The six-and-a-half-inch barrel on the stainless-steel automatic handgun glinted in the lamplight spilling through in the Vette's window.
The AutoMag, weighing in at close to four pounds, is as close to a rifle as any handgun can be. A recoil-operated pistol with a rotating bolt head controlled by cam tracks in the pistol frame, the Series C AutoMag fires "wildcat" slugs...
.44 revolver bullets with cut-down 7.62 mm NATO rifle cartridge casings...
capable of tearing through the solid metal of an automobile engine block. The gun requires a bolt with six locking lugs to contain explosive internal gas pressures. The weapon also requires a powerful grasp.
An easy match for this big man, who now slid the hand howitzer back into its holster.
He unlatched his car door and left the Vette, heading directly, briskly, toward the front entrance of the New Age Center. His steady footfalls crunched ice and hard-packed snow.
The doorman spotted the tall dude striding toward the building.
The muscle-bound baldy did not take his narrowed, scrutinizing eyes from the figure in dark slacks and jacket coming his way, even as he held open the glass doors for another arm-in-arm, laughing couple who floated out of the health club and down stone steps past Bolan.
Bolan pushed inside, knocking the door handle out of the guy's grip.
The doorman was actually a bouncer, and he took exception to the way this new arrival, whom he did not recognize, tried to get past him.
He snarled something and started forward toward Bolan, huge fists clenching.
"You're not a member..." he began.
Bolan reached out and grabbed the collar of the man's T-shirt and the belt at the back of his slacks. He twisted slightly, using the bouncer's forward momentum to sail the giant out through the door.
The glass shattered and thousands of razor-sharp shards tinkled to the ground as the doorman hurtled headfirst down the stone steps. He uttered a howl of pain, and trickles of blood spiderwebbed across his bald pate as he landed in the snow and lay unmoving beneath the entranceway.
Bolan continued on into the subdued illumination and tasteful decor of the health spa's lobby.
Chic onlookers, dangling Adidas gym bags, watched him with a mixture of fascination and horror.
The lobby of the New Age Center reminded Bolan of a blend between a singles' bar and a top-line country club. Indirect lighting played discreetly on expensive mahogany and leather.
Bolan ignored the twenty or so people staring at him. They were doing exactly what he expected in a situation like this.
For all the macho posturing of the men, there was something almost interchangeable about them and the female patrons of this health club. Their well-tuned physiques suggested decadence instead of strength. And Bolan could bet that if any of them were put into a survivalist camp, they'd come apart in six hours. Over Scotch and sodas it was easy for someone to convince himself that an hour a day on a Nautilus machine made him a tough guy, but the Executioner had doubts about tough guys who spent more on a haircut than a Marine did on a month's worth of beer. The media called them Yuppies.
Bolan did not like doctors, lawyers, advertising people and others who patronized health clubs run by mafioso, however trendy the establishment.
He paused in the middle of the lobby, reached into his pocket and withdrew something that looked like a hand grenade.
Pandemonium broke out in the lobby as the "beautiful people" lost all interest in the formidable-looking man who had pitched a bouncer through a glass door.
Everyone started scrambling for the nearest exit.
Bolan pulled the pin of the "grenade" and tossed it into a nearby corner. Before it landed, he turned toward the front desk of the club where a young female receptionist appeared frozen and terrified.
He reached her just as the smoke bomb detonated with a pounding blast and began filling the lobby with rising swirls of smoke.
The young woman opened her mouth but no words came out.
Bolan touched her arm, not forcefully, but to bring some reason to this innocent bystander whom he wanted out of this firezone as quickly as possible. That was the reason for the smoke bomb.
"Parelli," he said quietly. "Where's his office?"
The lobby was now devoid of bystanders.
The receptionist heard the question and turned frightened eyes in the direction of a doorway behind her desk.
"He... he left several... minutes ago. W-what's going on?"
Bolan stifled a curse.
He released the frightened woman with a nudge toward the demolished glass entrance.
"All hell has come to town," he told her. "Get away fast and don't come back."
"Th-thanks, mister," she said, but did not move. She seemed incapable of pulling her gaze, now more curious than frightened, from the imposing figure of the big intruder who was already turning from her.
Bolan unleathered Big Thunder. He stepped over to a fire alarm encased in a glass box on the wall behind the reception desk. He smashed the glass with one swift blow from the .44's butt.
An alarm suddenly began ringing, piercing through the billowing smoke.
The door behind the desk burst open and two guys rushed into the lobby. They had hood written all over them and the .45 automatics they toted confirmed their pedigree.
The Executioner tracked Big Thunder around on them in a two-handed target acquisition stance before either hardman could bring his own weapon around.
The AutoMag roared twice and a couple of deafening thunderclaps filled the lobby above the wail of the persistent alarm.
The two hoods were kicked backward off their feet and through the doorway amid a haloing spray of their own blood.
Bolan turned around to see the young receptionist transfixed in the haze from the smoke bomb.
"Beat it," he snarled harshly at the woman.
She beat it.
Bolan turned and stalked on through the doorway and down the hallway he found there.
He was hunting David Parelli, the man he had come to Chicago to terminate.
Bolan had been known as the Executioner even before he first set out to declare his "crazy" one-man war of attrition against organized crime in America.
"Crazy" to some, yes. But not to a man who had returned home from the Vietnam war on an emergency leave to bury his family, victims of Mafia violence.
Bolan quickly discovered that those responsible for the deaths of his loved ones were in no danger of being dealt with by law enforcement agencies. The judicial tangle, he found, freely allowed the murderers of Bolan's family to laugh at him and his aching grief.
To soldier Bolan, the only option open to him had been to take justice into his own hands.
Bolan's combat skills, taught him by Uncle Sam and honed to a fine edge in the Asian hellgrounds, were brought home with a vengeance when he first took on the local Mafia family directly responsible for the deaths of his people.
As he became increasingly aware of the magnitude of his enemy...
one congressman having labeled the Mafia as America's invisible government...
this warrior continued to launch one successful campaign after another at the criminal organization that grew like a cancer on a great nation's guts.
They were bloody campaigns that had tested Bolan's spirit and sense of duty all the way.
During the course of these unsanctioned activities, the Executioner had murdered...
so the media termed it...
close to two thousand men since his return from Vietnam.
"I am not their judge or jury," Bolan had said. "I am their judgment."
The Mafia had an open contract of one million dollars, offered to anyone who could deliver Bolan's head.
The Executioner had brought that evil, widespread organization close to the brink of disaster, but hydra-like, another kill-hold was always in the process of being set up.
Like this one.
Tonight, in Chicago.
Bolan had brought his everlasting war to the Windy City to stop a young boss savage called David Parelli, who thought he had a future pipeline into the White House.
And Parelli could be right.
Vague, ominous rumbles had reached Bolan that it was about to go down in Chicago.
Another power play in this sprawling metropolis that had been an organized crime stronghold since the days of Capone and before.
This was not the Executioner's first thrust into this nest of thieves by any means, but the Mob had managed to regroup since the last time and one name, Parelli, had surfaced. That cannibal was clawing and killing his way up through the ranks to try for a grab at the real reins of power.
Bolan was going to make sure it did not happen.
No more so than a gang of two-bit scum in north-side mansions and limos and four-hundred-dollar silk suits who had parlayed their way to control a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry.
The nation's cities were rife with these savages who peddled heroin and degraded women through prostitution. The Mob was involved in countless so-called legitimate operations like infiltration of unions and on and on, all made possible through fear, intimidation and murder that went unpunished.
Bolan had allies in this crazy war of his, too.
Others who were fed up with scum going free because the courts had revolving doors and were full of slick legal experts who laughed at the laws while they twisted and used them.
Bolan counted among his allies some high-level government people; the same government that officially listed the Executioner at the top of every Most Wanted list extant, as well as on the Terminate On Sight lists of the FBI, the CIA, the whole alphabet soup of government law and spy agencies.
The health club appeared empty except for the man with the AutoMag.
Swirling tentacles of smoke followed Bolan down the hallway.
The New Age Center was only the beginning of this hit on Chicago.
Bolan passed a swimming pool behind one glass wall of the hallway and signs pointing to downstairs racquetball courts and a jogging area.
Opposite the pool there were doorways that led to an aerobic exercise room, sauna, whirlpool, steam room and taekwondo room.
He stepped into one doorway that led to a dimly lighted bar room. He hugged the wall inside the doorway and flicked on the light switches he found there, activating harsh fluorescent overheads that flooded a bar and dance floor.
Half-finished drinks sat everywhere on tables and the bar top, but everyone in there had fled.
He killed the lights with the barrel of the AutoMag on his way out.
Three more hoods tumbled into the far end of the corridor from the direction of the lobby. These goons were heavily armed; two carried pump shotguns, the third toted a deadly 9 mm Uzi submachine gun.
They were coughing from the billowing smoke in the lobby and saw the corpses of the two dead just inside the archway.
Then they saw Bolan.
The hoods tried to peel away from each other and bring their weapons to bear on the man with the AutoMag midway down the corridor, but they only got in each other's way and then it was too late.
Orange flame spurted from the AutoMag in Bolan's fist, and heavy projectiles took off the top of one hood's head, the man with the Uzi.
The sudden impact slammed the corpse backward to the floor.
Another goon thwacked against the wall alongside the archway when a bullet blew away his life, dead knees buckling as he slid into a sitting position in the corner.
The third punk forgot about trying to kill the intruder and started to turn and make a run for it.
The Executioner triggered a round that dropped this guy in midflight.