The Mason Pierce blog contains brief episodes from Agent Mason Pierce's career as a US Air Force Special Forces operative before he joins the CIA and his early years with the Central Intelligence Agency. These precede the as of yet unpublished book Mason Pierce: Assassination.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chapter 12 Excerpt

Mason slowly made his way back out, but picked up his pace when he heard a boat motor which sounded disturbingly close. Ever since the attempt on his life by the water taxi driver, he had been extremely alert and on edge. He burst out of the Basilica to see screaming pedestrians leaping from the elevated walkway and splashing into the water as a motorboat crashed into the square from the seaway. Two men stood in the back holding Uzis. Another man spotted Mason and pointed at him, shouting something in Italian.
For a moment, Mason’s world stopped. He never would have anticipated something like this. The incident in the water taxi had been a bold move, but this was on an entirely new level. Never in his career with the CIA had he ever been attacked in such a manner. A bullet flying past his head, embedding itself in the stone wall behind him, brought him back to reality.
Almost as bad as the fact that two men had just opened fire on him with semi-automatic guns, was that this was not helping him stay covert. Mason pulled his hat down to shield his face from view.
Mason ran from the doorway of the Basilica to the walkway along the Doge’s palace. He ducked and weaved behind the pillars to avoid the short Uzi blasts. Tiny fragments of stone were blasted into the air as the bullets pocketed the centuries-old pillars. Once and awhile, a bullet would get past the pillars and hit the wall of the Palace not far from Mason. A piece of shrapnel hit him near the mouth. He tasted blood. 
He kept running, adrenaline propelling him at what felt like an inhuman speed. His destination was the gondolas. They were close, but seemed very far away. Finally he made it to the end of the columns, but now he had to make a dash in the open. The world around him began to slow down again as he took his first step from the relative safety of the corridor. Luckily, the boat had been travelling the other way, so it was now on the far length of the palace near the entrance to the Basilica San Marco and was too far away to shoot accurately. The shots missed him by meters, especially when the boat made a turn, the centripetal force pushing the men in the boat outwards. They barely managed to stay in the boat, much less hit a far-off, moving target. Mason heard a loud crunching noise as the speedboat scraped against the stone ground of the plaza. He tore across the flooded walkway from the Doge’s Palace to the seaway, spraying seawater everywhere. As the boat finished its turn, he leaped, soaking wet, onto a gondola.
The gondolas outside San Marco are each tied to wooden poles which reach to the bottom of the seaway. They are tied with loops so that they can rise and fall with the tide. At this point, they were all suspended about a foot above the square. 
Mason pulled his ultra-sharp knife from his leg strap and quickly cut the front and back bindings on the gondola. He timed it perfectly so that he cut the last binding as the tide rocked back. When the elegant boat was released, the water surged forwards, and so did the gondola. Mason, in the gondola was heading straight for the motorboat, whose driver grimaced, and gave it an extra push with the pole used for propelling the gondola. There was nowhere to go at this point, so there was no way the driver could avoid the incoming gondola short of crashing the boat. The men on the boat braced for impact with the small but sturdy gondola.
At the last second, Mason grabbed the pole and struck the stone floor of the plaza a foot or two underwater. He felt himself lifted out of the air ten feet and soared over the heads of the four men on the boat. They raised their Uzis to fire, but at that instant, the boat and gondola collided with a horrible crunching sound and they were launched forwards a couple of feet by their momentum, the driver hit his head on the windshield and began to fade in and out of consciousness, blood pouring from a large but otherwise superficial wound on his head. Mason came down above them and kicked out to the side with both of his feet to knock out the two gunners. One fell out of the boat and the other simply slumped over and dropped his gun into the Adriatic. Meanwhile, Mason’s hands came down with his combat knife and he drove the butt of it into the fourth man’s skull, sending him into unconsciousness and giving him a bad concussion. Mason lurched to the front of the boat and pulled down on the throttle—which, thankfully, was not being covered by the unconscious driver—to stop the engine. Right before the boat ran into the gondolas, Mason rolled off the back of the boat and into the water of the plaza.
His attacker had been successfully dispatched, but he knew he was not safe. A clean-up man would no doubt be sent along to ensure the fact that Mason was dead. It was a classic ploy—if the target thwarts the first attack, let him think that he is safe, and then kill him when he least suspects it. Mason had almost lost his life to this once, and he was not about to take such chances a second time.
Mason ran out of Saint Mark’s Square. The nearby pedestrians were no doubt bewildered by this sudden turn events—that a man who had just exhibited a heroic feet of courage would suddenly flee the scene. But Mason would let them assume what they wanted—whatever they decided upon, it would shed no light on his true identity.
As Mason trudged through the flooded streets, sopping wet, he began to think rapidly. He looked around him, searching for where the clean-up man might come from. He needed to find him before he himself was found. Mason was standing on the Calle Larga San Marco. To his right was a small bridge, to his left a long, shadowed street, and all around were various alleyways leading in and out. His attacker could come from anywhere. Then it dawned on him—he did not need to find the clean-up man, but rather just wait for the man to come to him.
His current location would not do, however, as even on a day such as this; the Calle Larga was filled with people. Mason casually walked into a nearby alleyway and into a secluded area created by a building whose walls ducked inwards. Mason positioned himself against one of the side walls so that his attacker would be able to sneak up on him around the corner without his noticing. Mason bent over, hands on his knees, as if he was catching his breath.
Mason lay in wait. He diverted all his attention to his hearing, closing his eyes to focus on the sound of footsteps. The alley was deserted, but sound from Calle Larga carried over to his position, and he needed to strain himself to pick out the footsteps of the clean-up man over the meandering pedestrians. At first it was impossible to differentiate one set of footfalls from another, but finally one particular staccato of feet rose over the rest, growing ever so slightly louder as it approached.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Mason tensed himself. The steps grew louder. His pursuer quickened his pace.
Antonio Ruiz took a deep breath as he prepared to round the corner. Without hesitation, he reached the corner and wheeled on his right heel to face the target, drawing his gun in the process. The target already had his gun out. Ruiz raised his and tightened his trigger finger, feeling the cold metal of the gun. He heard a quick pop.
Mason unscrewed the silencer from his gun and dragged the clean-up man into the alcove. In a way, he was thankful for this seemingly unfortunate occurrence. It provided what he thought of as a nice wrap-up to the events that had just transpired. Seeing as the crowds at Saint Mark’s had fled upon the entrance of the boat, nobody would be able to attest to Mason’s appearance with any degree of certainty, so when this man was found dead in an alleyway, it could be assumed that he was the one who had been in Saint Mark’s and had then been killed by another hitman. Mason smirked as he walked off, dialing Larson’s number as he went.

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