The Templar Legacy (Page 8)


RAYMOND DE ROQUEFORT STOOD OUTSIDE THE CATHEDRAL, BEYOND the circle of onlookers, and watched the unfolding drama. He and his two associates had dissolved into the web of shadows cast by the thick trees that rose across from the cathedral plaza. He'd managed to slip out a side door and retreat just as the police stormed the main entrance. No one seemed to notice him. The authorities would, for the moment, be focused on Stephanie Nelle and Cotton Malone. It would be awhile before witnesses described other men with guns. He was familiar with these kinds of situations and knew how calm heads always prevailed. So he told himself to relax. His men must know that he was in control.

The front of the brick cathedral was awash with strobing red and white light. More police arrived, and he marveled how a town of Roskilde's size possessed so much law enforcement. People were flooding over from the nearby main plaza. The whole scene was quickly turning chaotic. Which was perfect. He'd always found tremendous freedom of movement within chaos, provided he controlled the chaos.

He faced the two who'd been with him inside the church. "Are you injured?" he asked the one who'd been shot.

The man peeled back his jacket and showed him how the body armor had done its job. "Just sore."

From the crowd he saw his remaining two acolytes emerge--the ones he'd sent to the auction. They'd reported through their radios that Stephanie Nelle had not prevailed in the bidding. So he'd ordered them to send her his way. He'd thought perhaps she could be intimidated, but the effort had failed. Worse, he'd drawn a great deal of attention to his activities. But that was thanks to Cotton Malone. His men had spotted Malone at the auction, so he'd instructed them to detain him while he spoke with Stephanie Nelle. Apparently, that effort had failed, too.

The two approached and one of them said, "We lost Malone."

"I found him."

"He's resourceful. With nerve."

He knew that to be true. He'd checked out Cotton Malone after learning Stephanie Nelle would be traveling to Denmark to visit with him. Since Malone could have well been a part of whatever she was planning, he'd made a point to learn all he could.

His given name was Harold Earl Malone. He was forty-six years old, born in the American state of Georgia. His mother was a native Georgian, his father a career military man, an Annapolis graduate, who rose to the rank of navy commander before his submarine sank when Malone was ten years old.

The son followed in the father's footsteps, attending the Naval Academy and graduating in the top third of his class. He was admitted to flight school, eventually earning high enough marks to choose fighter pilot training. Then, interestingly, midway through, he abruptly sought reassignment and was admitted to Georgetown University Law School, earning his law degree while stationed at the Pentagon. After graduation he was transferred to the Judge Advocate General's corps, where he spent nine years as a staff lawyer. Thirteen years ago he was reassigned to the Justice Department and Stephanie Nelle's newly formed Magellan Billet. He remained there until last year, retiring out early as a full commander.

On the personal side, Malone was divorced and his fourteen-year-old son lived with his ex-wife in Georgia. Immediately upon retiring, Malone had left America and moved to Copenhagen. He was a confirmed bibliophile and born Catholic, but not noted as overly religious. He was reasonably fluent in several languages, possessed of no known addictions or phobias, and prone to extreme self-motivation and obsessive dedication. He also possessed an eidetic memory. All in all, just the kind of man de Roquefort would rather have in his employ than working against him.

And the past few minutes had proven that.

Three-to-one odds had not seemed to bother Malone, especially when he thought Stephanie Nelle was in jeopardy.

Earlier, de Roquefort's young associate had demonstrated loyalty and courage, too, though the man had acted in haste stealing Stephanie Nelle's bag. He should have waited until after her visit with Cotton Malone, when she was on the way back to her hotel, alone and vulnerable. Perhaps he'd been trying to please, knowing the importance of their mission. Maybe it was simply impatience. But when cornered at the Round Tower, the young man had correctly chosen death over capture. A shame, but the learning process was like that. Those with brains and ability rose. Everyone else was eliminated.

He turned to one of his associates who'd been inside the auction hall and asked, "Did you learn who was the high bidder for the book?"

The young man nodded. "It cost a thousand kroner to bribe the attendant."

He wasn't interested in the price of weakness. "The name?"

"Henrik Thorvaldsen."

The phone in his pocket vibrated. His second in command knew he was occupied, so the call had to be important. He flipped the unit open.

"The time is close," the voice said in his ear.

"How close?"

"Within the next few hours."

An unexpected bonus.

"I have a task for you," he said into the phone. "There's a man. Henrik Thorvaldsen. A wealthy Dane, lives north of Copenhagen. I know some, but I need complete information on him within the hour. Call me back when you have it."

Then he clicked off the phone and turned to his subordinates.

"We must return home. But first there are two more tasks we have to complete before dawn."