guys go ahead, Ernesto. I’ll be over there.” He pointed to another bar
across the street next to a massage parlor. He could hear a thumping
beat which sounded like country rock, and its neon sign promised
There was nothing on its marquis about girls or sex. He turned and
started across the street, threading his way through the traffic before
the others could stop him. “Get me when you’re ready to go, okay?”
“Right, man, if that’s what you want.” He checked his watch. “Shouldn’t
be more’n a couple of hours, okay?”
“Fine.” He turned and started walking away, resisting the urge to run
as he dodged cars, taxis, and speeding tuk-tuks.
He didn’t look back.
2325 hours, 17 January
Major Lin Thuribhopal took the stairs silently, two at a time. He held
in his hand a Type 67 automatic pistol, a Chinese design with a built-in
silencer which gave it a heavy-barreled, clumsy look. Slung across his
shoulder was more substantive firepower, an Israeli Uzi, also silenced.
Lin had heard that Hsiao had acquired the weapon from a drug lord in the
Nothing Hsiao did could surprise Lin now. The man who claimed to be a
high-ranking member of the Chinese intelligence service had an
organization which extended into three countries at least, and reached
into the highest levels of the governments of both Rangoon and Bangkok.
But now, Lin took a special pride knowing that tonight, at this moment,
the entire plan known as Sheng li rested upon him.
He reached the floor directly beneath the control tower booth, a
windowless area partitioned into small offices Where flight plans and
weather advisories were filed. A bored-looking air force sergeant sat
at the reception desk, feet up, a paperback novel in his hands. He saw
that he had a visitor and started to rise. “Yes, Major? What can I-”
The Type 67 in Lin’s hand gave one loud, harsh chuff, then another, the
weapon bucking in his hand. The sergeant’s eyes widened as twin stains
of blood appeared high on the front of his uniform shirt, spread, and
merged. He groped for the revolver strapped to his hip and Lin fired a
third time, this time tearing away part of the man’s throat and knocking
him back against his chair.
Lin was appalled at the sound. He’d thought the silencer would
eliminate the pistol’s noise, the way they did in the movies, but the
shots had been as loud as someone smashing the desktop with a baseball
“Sergeant Pho?” someone called from the next office. “What’s going on
Lin’s hands were shaking now, but he was ready when the duty officer
walked out of his office. He fired again before the air force
lieutenant had even seen him. The officer staggered back against the
door frame, hands clenched across his stomach, eyes bugging out in shock
and pain and surprise.
The next shot caught him high in the forehead, shattering his skull and
spraying the wall with bits of scalp, hair, bone, and splatters of
The assassin waited for a long moment, listening for any further
movement. The guard on the floor below was already dead, his throat
slit when Lin came up on him from behind. The only people left in the
building should be the duty traffic controlman and one or two assistants
manning the tower, consoles on the floor upstairs. Had they heard? Lin
held his breath, waiting for some response.
Moving quickly now, Lin dragged the two bodies back into the
lieutenant’s office and closed the door on them. There was no time now
to mop the streaks of blood on the wall or the linoleum floor, but with
luck, no one else would be coming up those stairs until it was too late.
Since he didn’t know for sure how many people there were in the tower
gallery, Li tucked the pistol into his waistband and unslung the Uzi,
yanking back the charging handle to chamber the first round. Quietly,
he walked to the door to the stairs going up, opened it, and went
The stairwell was kept closed off at both ends and darkened to keep
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