Modeen Rogue By Frank H Jordan
In the dead of night, on the roof of a shopping complex in the main street of Noosa Heads north of Brisbane, a dark figure sat leaning against the one metre high parapet wall. The air was heavy with the threat of an approaching storm, and loud music thumped from the adjacent Shadows nightclub, located on the ground floor of the modern two-storeyed centre. Ignoring the throb of doof-doof music below, Jo Modeen kept her eyes fixed on the remote camera feeds streaming to the mobile phone in her hand.
There was movement in the left frame on the screen as a bronze, late-model Mercedes Benz nosed into the undercover carpark at the rear of the complex. Two men emerged from the sedan. One was beefy, dressed in an ill-fitting suit, with crude tattoos covering the exposed skin of his wrists, neck and face. The other man she knew by name.
Tapping on his image to zoom in, she saw the Russian-born Australian tug down the jacket of his silver-grey pinstriped suit, gaudy rings glinting on his fingers and both wrists heavy with gold chains. When he raised a hand to brush a lock of greasy blonde hair off his face, Modeen gave a silent snort. His style of dress, classic boxer’s nose, and penchant for flamboyant jewellery made Debeljah appear every bit the racketeering thug she knew him to be.
The two men disappeared from her screen as they entered the building. A short time later they reappeared in the right-side frame, their images projected there by the second remote camera focused at the window of the office above the nightclub. Swiping the frame left so that it filled the entire screen, Modeen scrutinised the room.
A good seven metres long by five wide, it had only one window to the outside. She watched the man with Debeljah stop at the gleaming, well-stocked private bar situated part-way down the left wall and begin pouring himself a drink. Debeljah continued sauntering toward the walnut, double pedestal desk at the right of the room, behind which sat a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf. A thick carpet, in a shade Modeen thought of as slime-green, added plushness to the already lavish space.
Glimpsing a figure in a far corner, she zoomed in on a man sitting tied to a chair with a black hood secured over his bent head. He was flanked by two more of Debeljah’s goons, one of whom elbowed the man in the head when he raised it as if to speak. Placing the mobile at her feet, Modeen rose to her knees and focused the parabolic reflector of her listening device on the top rear section of the building. Thumbing the volume control forward, she cupped a hand over the canal phone in her ear and heard Debeljah’s guttural drawl.
‘What does he know?’
‘Not sure. We caught ’im stakin’ out the lab,’ the goon standing to the man’s right replied. ‘He was alone, boss.’ Stepping forward, he handed Debeljah a small black wallet. ‘Found this on ’im.’
Taking it, Debeljah seated himself behind the desk. He leaned back in the chair, opened the wallet and scanned its contents, and then closed it with a snap. ‘Well, well. You’ve put us in a tight spot, Detective Sergeant Murphy.’
‘It’s only a tight spot if you make it one.’ The muffled voice came from beneath the hood. ‘You could let me go, and then we all walk away from this. I haven’t seen any of your faces.’
‘Hmm,’ Debeljah drawled, ‘it’s a nice idea, but … I don’t think I’ll do that.’
‘Consider your next move carefully. You don’t want to kill a cop!’
Laughter erupted in the room, then subsided abruptly as Debeljah raised a hand.
‘I haven’t seen anything.’ Murphy’s voice took on a pleading note. ‘And I have no idea where I am. Let me go and I swear our paths won’t cross again.’
Debeljah caught the eye of the henchman leaning against the bar and lifted his chin. The man set down the half-full glass in his hand and hurried to the other side of the bar to mix a drink for his boss. Turning to the goon standing on Murphy’s right, Debeljah gave a slow nod, at which the man took out a nine millimetre Beretta PX4 pistol from inside his suit jacket and began screwing on a silencer.
On the rooftop Modeen dropped the listening device at her feet. Pulling down a black balaclava to cover her face she straightened to her full height, yanked a Walther PPQ from her shoulder holster, and sprang on top of the parapet wall. While pulling back and releasing the weapon’s slide she set off, leaping from the wall onto a section of curved corrugated iron awning. Sprinting toward the building’s upper level, she raised the pistol and aimed at the side window.
Inside, the goon with the Beretta thumbed off the safety. About to press the silencer to Murphy’s temple, he whipped his head around at the sound of fast-approaching feet outside the window. As a volley of bullets shattered the pane he gasped and cowered, as did all the room’s occupants. And when shards of glass exploded inwards, Debeljah and his goons flinched and threw up their arms.
Modeen followed the fragments inside. Diving through the shattered window, she completed a smooth forward roll on the floor. Rising swiftly to one knee, she let loose two quick rounds from her silenced pistol, blat blat! The goons on either side of Murphy slumped to the ground beside his chair, lifeless.
She was turning her attention to Debeljah when the remaining henchman grabbed her from behind in a bear hug, knocking the gun from her hand as he did so. While struggling to free herself, she glimpsed Debeljah frantically rifling through a desk drawer, hunting for a weapon.
No time to waste.
She stomped hard on her attacker’s leading leg, scraping the heel of her size nine combat boot down the front of his shin and digging it deep into his instep. He let out a howl and buckled forward. Feeling his grip loosen, she thrust her head back, cracking him under the chin.
His head flew back and he took a staggering step away, coughing and spitting broken teeth. When he screwed up his face and charged at her again, she took a wide stance, knees bent, preparing herself for the impact. The instant his heavy body collided with hers, she rolled her shoulders and used his momentum to launch him across the desk behind her. He slid over its polished surface, taking a laptop and lamp with him as he crashed into his boss, pinning him in the chair and against the bookshelf.
Debeljah had found his gun, but now his pistol arm was trapped beneath the dazed goon on his lap. Seeing him frantically shove the man aside to free his arm, Modeen dropped to the floor in front of the desk. Picking up her PPQ, she rolled onto her side and put a bullet in each of his knee caps. Debeljah gave a roar of pain and jerked back, his poised trigger finger contracting twice to fire stray rounds into the ceiling. All the violent movement was too much for the overloaded chair. It collapsed under their combined weight and he and the goon crashed to the floor.
The instant his head came into view, Modeen fired off another round.
Seeing Debeljah shudder and face-plant heavily into the carpet, a crimson stain seeping into the lush green pile around him, she sprang to her feet while the remaining goon scrabbled for the gun lying by his boss’s limp hand. Leaning forward, she levelled her weapon at his temple. An instant later the books on the shelf behind him were sprayed a meaty red as his body slumped on top of Debeljah’s.
And suddenly the thump of music from the nightclub was the only sound in the room.
Breathing hard, Modeen glanced over at Murphy, who’d clearly been straining against his bonds. The thick black wire ties securing his wrists had sliced into his swollen and in places lacerated flesh. His hood quivered as he whipped his head from side to side, trying desperately to comprehend what was happening around him.
She lifted the knife from the scabbard on her right calf and strode to his side. Feeling the eight inch blade slice through the ropes securing him to the chair, he flinched and sucked in a breath. Without speaking she pushed him off the chair and onto his knees, his wrists still bound behind his back.
‘Who are you?’ he blubbed. ‘What’s happening?’ When the only response was another shove in the back which sent him forward onto his stomach, he sobbed, ‘What’s going on? Tell me!’
Modeen stood over him while taking a moment to survey the room. She stepped behind the desk to collect Debeljah’s blood-spattered laptop from off the floor and the mobile phone from out of his jacket pocket, placing them on the ledge of the smashed window. Returning to Murphy, she knelt beside him and put a knee in the centre of his back. With a quick upward thrust of the blade, she cut his hands free while rising to her feet.
Finding himself released from his bonds he tried to stand, but she pushed him back down with one foot and held him there until he raised his hands as if in surrender. Once he was lying completely still she lifted her foot and then jogged to the window. Collecting the laptop and mobile, she sprang nimbly out and onto the roof, and was gone.
Murphy stayed frozen in place, uncertain whether or not to move.
Was this a trick? Was he being toyed with?
He strained his ears for any sound of movement. Hearing only the dull thump of the nightclub below, he gathered his nerve and slowly sat up, half expecting another shove in the back or punch in the head. When neither eventuated, he raised a tentative hand and pulled off the hood. Squinting in the sudden glare of the down-lights, he blinked and anxiously scanned his surroundings.
He was the only person left alive in the room.