Previous Story: The Diamond Heist 2
Rosh continued to read Hosh's story:
M6 took Luttu’s bike and gear, and started after Patel towards the Summit.
Another shot rang out. Then there was silence.
Up on the Summit, Patel fell on the ground with a thud. There was no blood, no fuss and no drama.
The rider laughed, drew out his pack of Dunhill cigarettes from his jacket, lit one, and exhaled thin grey smoke while gazing at the clear blue sky.
In a little while, another rider appeared on the foothills below him, headed towards the Summit. Startled, he dropped the slowly burning cigarette and rode off immediately.
At the Castle, bulldozers and dump trucks were beginning to clear up the wreckage from areas where the detectives were finished. Sir Zubin arrived at the site in his Limousine, soon after they had started to clear up the wreckage.
He asked around for M6, but no one seemed to know his whereabouts. He left messages with the detectives for M6 to report to him immediately in his Castle office, as soon as he returned.
He was getting really impatient. Since his debriefing yesterday, he had heard nothing further from either M6 or Khan about their investigations.
Ominously though, Khan had rung through a few minutes earlier and requested a personal meeting. Khan had only told him that he wanted to discuss, what he thought could be breakthrough information about the case.
‘Luttu has sung,’ he’d said cautiously over the phone. So, Sir Zubin had agreed to come straightaway to meet up with him at his Castle office, as soon as Khan could come.
Back in his office now despite the late hour and waiting for the two men, Sir Zubin paced around, as restless as a caged tiger. The Castle office was almost empty, but lights still showed from a few cubicles.
Khan arrived late, and walked straight through to Sir Zubin’s sound-proofed room. No usual secretaries were there tonight to impede his approach or to make him wait.
Sir Zubin turned around from the window, as Khan entered after a polite knock on the door. M6 arrived a few seconds later, before the closeted men had had a chance to whisper their secrets in each other’s ears.
Khan looked at Sir Zubin - a silent question in his eyes. Sir Zubin didn’t look surprised at all. It appeared he had summoned him too, to the briefing. M6 strode into the sound-proofed office without knocking, and took an unoccupied seat beside Sir Zubin.
He began speaking immediately. Khan and Sir Zubin listened attentively. After a while, Khan leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, pondering, as he listened to M6’s monologue.
“So, where’s my diamond?” Sir Zubin demanded finally in a quiet but sharp voice, when M6 had finished. He glared at M6, leaning forward in his chair.
M6 lowered his head and slightly shrugged his shoulders. His lips tightened. Sir Zubin fell back into his chair and threw his hands in the air, frustrated.
“What’s the bloody point of having a Special Crime Brigade!” he exclaimed. "When a diamond gets stolen from right under their noses. Despite the crème-de-la-crème of their resources protecting it."
Technology had certainly come a long way, he thought, since the time his father had first shown him how easy it was to spot a fake. It was there and readily available, if one knew how and where to look.
“It all makes sense now though,” Khan spoke up finally. His eyes twinkled at Sir Zubin.
“Go on,” sighed Sir Zubin. “Enlighten us mortals!”
“Just looking at the facts and connecting some dots,” replied Khan. “Two deaths - Luttu and Patel. Luttu, my faithful, honest, long-serving guard. Patel - a Sherlock mind with impeccable credentials."
"It’s clear that it is an inside job. Has to be, because the heist couldn’t have been pulled off without up-to-the minute knowledge of all security processes and personnel. So M6, what would you do if you were the thief and encountered somebody who had discovered too much?”
“Let’s pretend you stole the diamond,” continued Khan and paused again.
“Ok,” said M6, playing along but unsure where this was going. “Then?”
“Someone discovers you. Stumbles upon you. Surprises you. They could blurt out sensitive information about you. What would you do?”
“Get rid of them of course.”
“By killing them?”
“I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes right now, M6," Khan continued. "Have you been interrogated or searched yet?”
“Who would interrogate the interrogator?" M6 reddened. "Searched me? No, no one has dared yet. Am I the accused now?”
Khan just sat there and stared at M6. Sir Zubin was staring straight through him, as if interested only in the wall behind him. Words were not required when looks could kill. M6 was silent now, his years of service and experience sensing great danger.
“I have already told you Khan," M6 made a conciliatory last effort. "I had access to all the needed information, but then, so did you. So did Sir Zubin. Yes, I shot Luttu, but I didn’t kill him. He was still alive when I left. And Patel was dead before I reached the Summit.”
“So you say," Khan said ominously. "Highly coincidental, isn’t it, chief detective? I sent Patel on a mission here. I suspected my own guards after some recent events. Patel was shot dead first day on his job. Noor was stolen. A great part of the Castle destroyed."
"Who knew completely about all the systems other than myself, Sir Zubin and you? None of my guards had full technical knowledge of your security measures. No one in your team had full knowledge of ours."
"That leaves me, you and Sir Zubin," Khan accused. "So, our mystery thief is right here among us now. The question is, which one of us is he?”
“The thought has crossed my mind too, Khan," M6 spoke in very measured tones now, his eyes darting around from one man to the other. "Convenient alibis you two have got. What would you have done if you were in my situation?”
Khan smiled, but did not answer. He was alert, watching M6 intently, as his hand shielded under the table from their view, inched laboriously towards his holster.
“How did you know that Luttu was dead, Khan?" M6 continued. "That's not exactly common knowledge yet. I only told you he had been shot at. By the way, have you been interrogated or searched yet?”
“I inspected his dead body just before coming here today," Khan hissed. "He was killed at point blank range from a service revolver.”
“Enough!” pleaded Sir Zubin, visibly shaking now. “Stop these treacherous speculations! We are on the same team for crying out loud.”
“Are we?" M6 asked him politely, but he wasn't looking at him. He was measuring Khan. "You haven’t been interrogated properly or searched either, Sir Zubin. Have you?”
The three men looked at each other now, wary yet ready. Danger danced around their heads. Hands inched closer towards their weapons, unseen by others. Tension mounted with the knowledge that the office complex was almost deserted by now, and the room they sat in was sound-proofed.
Sir Zubin coughed and made a final effort to break the impasse, “Gentlemen, why would an old man need to steal his own diamond? And murder people in the process. I couldn't, even if I had the strength, inclination or resources to do so.”
His plea seemed to fall on deaf ears. The meeting was over. He started to rise slowly out of his chair.
Three shots rang out simultaneously. Two men plummeted to the floor. The third pocketed his revolver back into its holster. Then he carefully removed the hidden microphone-camera-geo-locator chips that the two murdered men had been unwittingly carrying for him in their clothes.
He patted his other pocket to ensure that Noor was still safe in its hiding place. He had been surprised with the speed of events so far, and just hadn't had the time or opportunity to put it away safe. He took a final look around the room and walked out to Pringle who stood guard in the shadows outside.
“Get this mess cleaned up,” he barked, as he walked past him and out into the dark grounds. He got inside his car, and rang the Insurance agent’s office to leave instructions.
Then he sat quietly and went over everything again in his mind, searching for loose ends. Cool breeze blew through his open windows steadying his nerves. As he waited for Pringle to arrive, he pulled out his Dunhill and lit a smoke.
Pringle joined him shortly, taking the driver’s seat. “Where to?” he asked.
“All done?” the man wanted to know.
“Yeah. Clean as a whistle!” Pringle responded.
“Zubin Hall,” said the man and relaxed back in his limousine.
Next Story: Casting The First Stone