Page 64 of Beta (Alpha 2)

Cut shook his head. “I have no answers, boss. But I will find out.”

“HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” His voice was effortlessly powerful, echoing in the small room. His eyes were locked on the bullet-riddled, bloodied body of his daughter. “Who would dare?”

His eyes flicked briefly to Tobias’s body but returned immediately to Gina. He withdrew his hand from the hip pocket of his slacks, passed his trembling fingers through his thick, wavy black hair.

“Who did this, Cut?”

“I do not know.” Cut shook his head. “But whoever it was, they are dead men.”

“Death is too good. Too quick.” He spoke through clenched teeth, shaking with rage. “Their families. Their friends. Everyone they know and love. I will pull the world down around their ears, Cut. This is not just war, my friend. Oh, no. They have opened the gates of hell.” His voice was quiet now, clipped and precise, as thin and sharp as the edge of a razor.

He handed his suit coat to Cut, and then crouched beside the body of his daughter and picked her up, heedless of the mess. He carried her up to the ground floor. Cut radioed ahead for someone to have a wrapping sheet ready.

He laid Gina on the ground and lowered the white cotton over her face, then turned away, his shoulders shaking. He unbuttoned his soiled dress shirt and tossed it aside, standing now in a tank top and his slacks. He looked back at the house, the stack of bodies, the shattered glass.

Turning to one of the men, he spoke in a voice so calm it belied the fury sparking in his eyes. “Have you checked the footage?”

“Footage, sir?” The man straightened, wiped at his forehead with a wrist, looking puzzled.

A slow blink, as if in disbelief. “The security camera footage.” He said this with mocking precision, as if the man was dense, or deaf.

“No sir, I mean—not yet. I did not know I was supposed to—”

He held out his hand, and Cut placed a silver-plated pistol in it, diamonds spelling out a name across the barrel.


The body dropped, eyes wide and staring. A glance at Cut had the older man jogging across the grounds to the room containing the security tapes.

Cut accessed the previous day’s footage, rewinding through the hours of nothingness until bodies began unfolding themselves and jerking in reverse. The door opened, and the room was filled with a cold, deadly presence.

“Well?” His voice was low, expectant.

Cut didn’t answer, but continued rewinding.

“Stop!” The command snapped through the silence, and Cut paused the footage.

The playback screen showed a tall man dressed all in black, with blond hair, a thick blond beard, and pale blue eyes. The man on the screen was staring directly at the camera, as if he knew it was there, although the camera was only a tiny thing hidden in the corner of the ceiling, not much more than a pinprick in the plaster.

“Roth?” The name was spoken with disbelief. “Here? He is responsible for this?”

“It looks that way.” Cut knew Roth, too. Remembered the problems the man had caused in the ranks with his defection.

“Show me the room.” He didn’t have to be more specific.

Cut tapped a few keys, and the playback switched from the main room to views of each level, descending successively downward to the lowest level. In reverse, he saw a bald, battered, bleeding, limping girl wearing Tobias’s clothing emerging from the room, falling on the stairs, found and carried away by Roth. Before that, Gina, alive, walking into the room, accompanied by Tobias.

“Must have been one of Gina’s…experiments,” Cut suggested.

“No. This was…something else.”

There was no camera in the room itself, but the footage, rewound further, showed Tobias dragging a bloody, naked girl away, and then Gina and Tobias dragging a young girl into the room, and then hours of nothing, and then Tobias with a different woman, a beautiful blonde unconscious in his arms, one knee bloody. This was clearly the woman on the stair from earlier, before she had her head shaved. Tobias was followed by Gina, who moved past him and opened the door for him.

Cut paused the footage then, and leaned back in the chair. “Looks to me like Gina took some girl for her little games, only the girl belonged to Roth. This was the fallout.”

“There is more to it, I think. There were two girls, for one thing.”

“The second one was just a fear tactic,” Cut said. “Showing the first one what would happen to her.”

A nod. “And then somehow she overpowered Tobias, killed him, and then killed Gina.” A long pause. “The problem we had at the house on Oia, did you ask Gina about that?”

Cut nodded. “She said it was nothing to worry about, so I did not bother looking at the footage. She handled it, whatever it was.”

“Something tells me she was lying to you.” He passed a hand over his face. “I let her run a little too wild, I think. If Roth was here, there was more going on than just this one girl being tortured. Roth wouldn’t cross me like this unless he had no choice, especially for some random woman. This is not his style. This was not just one of Gina’s games.”

“We go to Oia, then?” Cut suggested.

He shook his head. “No. I bury my daughter first. Have someone bring me the tapes. Find out what really happened on Oia.”

* * *

He stood alone in front of a crypt. The cemetery was ancient, some of the crypts dating back several centuries, a few even older. Many of the names on the crypts, if you could read Greek, said Karahalios.

Cut stepped across the grass, careful not to walk over any buried headstones buried in the grass. He stopped beside his boss. “I am sorry for your loss. I helped raise that girl.”

“I know you did.” He turned away from the marble with the freshly engraved name and dates of birth and death. “What have you found?”

Cut let out a breath. “I did some digging. I looked at the tapes from Oia and followed the trail backward. My most educated guess is that Gina never really forgot Roth. She was always waiting for the right moment, I think. After he left, she acted like she had gotten over him. None of us ever really spoke of him again, least of all Gina. But then, a few weeks ago, there was a big mess in France. A car chase. Alec was killed. Shot in the head at close range. No one really knows exactly what happened, but my feeling is Alec was sent to clean up, you know? Only it didn’t go so well. And then another mess in Athens. Four of our guys were killed there. Whoever did them was a professional. Clean, quick, and accurate.”