THE detailed section of Delta commandos herded the barbouzes into the cleft in the mountain top and halted, watching as the French intelligence agents crunched their way across the frontier, past the marker stone into France.
Once over the invisible borderline, Soller stopped and turned, looking back. His men turned with him. There was no sign of the commando section. They had melted back into the rocks and gullies as if they had never been.
Far below, at the hand-over point, two large Mercedes military trucks in sandy brown camouflage paint were making their way downhill into Spain along the narrow roadway, jerking and bumping on the potholes, leaving a fine veil of dust to seep down the slope on the prevailing breeze.
Soller's eyes were cold as they disappeared from sight. Gadda! he thought, Still alive! He has been effectively out of sight for years—but never out of mind. Lieutenant Michel Gadda, Parachutistes Coloniaux d57/28-32-3B, Croix de Guerre for his remarkable heroism on Cao Bang Ridge, leader of O.A.S. Delta Commando—sentenced to death in absentia for attempts on the life of the President of the Republic and the known killings of servants of the Republic—like Jim Alcheik and the Mission C group, he mused. Details known about the man came up in his mind like cards in a filing system. From the smell of garlic, he realised that the sneering Corsican was beside him. Looking around he raised an eyebrow in query. “Angelo?” The man's black eyes were heavy browed, his teeth stained with tobacco.
“That pied noir Colon—Gadda?”
The man patted the buckle of his belt. “We’ll have a new photograph of him on the Minolta.”
Soller actually smiled. “Bene. Get it processed as soon as we return to Satory. I don’t think that we have seen the last of that dog.”
The man moved nearer, bringing a cloud of garlic with him. “When the time comes....”
Soller shook his head. “No, Angelo, forget it. Michel Gadda is mine alone.” His eyes watched the last dust settle on the far road. “Mine alone,” he repeated. Turning briskly into France he patted a hand on Leduc’s sleeve.
“Good work in regaining the sidearms, Ferdi—it seems Reynal is going soft. Solitary confinement has weakened his brain.” Pausing, he looked around at the elite killers of his Action Service. “Which can mean, gentlemen, that he will honor the pledge and keep out of our hair. God knows we have problems enough without him starting up again.” He looked at his watch.
“Now let’s get to Toulouse by this evening and settle into a good hotel. I ache for a hot bath, and afterwards, perhaps some nursing friends of mine can provide us with a little divertissement.”
As one the blunt men began to walk deeper into their own stamping grounds.