Maria Sanchez kept her siren off and parked out of sight of the station. She had already radioed her colleagues at the station to come and meet her on the road looking down on the entrance. It was 8:44 am.
Sergeant Villa and Constable Ortiz soon arrived, out of breath as it was an uphill walk.
“Have you seen anyone matching the description of the man we all seem to be hunting?” she asked.
The two men shook their heads.
“How about the people we expected to meet yesterday in A Coruna?”
“Yes,” said Ortiz, “a North African was walking along the platform looking through the windows and another boarded the train and took a seat in the middle carriage. I suggest we adopt a pincer movement on him.”
“It’s difficult to be sure,” said Villa, “but I think there’s one down there just inside the entrance facing towards the trains and another one at another set of exit doors down the side.”
“So perhaps four at the station,” said Sanchez. “That makes sense. Their leader is probably not here, but coordinating things from somewhere close by. We know one died in Santiago – the one stabbed in the neck, the other one killed that day only arrived via Algeciras five days ago – and the assassin killed another one out in the Islas Cies. That makes seven, which is the number supposed to be in the house in A Coruna. Let’s be careful. Villa, go down the side of the station and then check the outside of the train. Ortiz, come with me. We’ll search the train from opposite ends as you suggest, but before we do…”
Sanchez unlocked a box in the back of her vehicle and took out three handguns she’d requested for the operation in A Coruna the previous day. She handed out the weapons, having checked they were all loaded. Sanchez provided spare bullets. They concealed the weapons in the holsters in the small of their backs.
It was 8:48 am, ten minutes until departure. The police split up and walked calmly down to the station. Sanchez and Ortiz walked through the main entrance and Sanchez casually looked around as if searching for the list of scheduled departures.
There was a man where Villa had said, but she carried on to where the train to Santiago and beyond waited. She gestured to Ortiz to check behind her as she spoke to the platform inspector, requesting that the train not go anywhere until she’d given the all clear.
The inspector looked at her and nodded. He started to walk down to the front to tell the driver; he knew full well that radio communications could be intercepted.
Sanchez followed him, intending to search the train from the front. Ortiz hopped on at the back and started slowly meandering through the carriages, stepping aside to let people pass, and helping people with their luggage.
Villa kept a low profile, checking all the people on the outside of the train. He hoped no one started shooting as there were many potential victims on the platform. He moved around to the other side of the train and saw one of the North Africans he’d seen earlier boarding. Villa ran over and followed him onto the train. The potential for hostage taking was huge. He hoped no one thought of this other than himself.
Ortiz saw Sanchez approaching and realised he should stop. This was the carriage where the North African had sat down. He was not there now. It was also the carriage where the assassin had reserved a seat. Perhaps he was in the bathroom. Ortiz had not seen a man matching the description of the assassin from Santiago in the rest of the train. He looked at Sanchez and shook his head. She shook her head. No sign of the assassin. No sign of the North Africans.
The station clock read 8:53 am.
In the carriage, the door of the bathroom slid open.
A man stepped out and ran out of the carriage door. Ortiz and Sanchez gave chase but stopped when they came under fire from another platform. They hid behind a roof support. The bullets ricocheted off the concrete and bystanders screamed, dropping flat to the floor. Whoever was firing was using a silencer.
Some shots rang out and the running man fell to the floor. Sanchez looked and saw Villa scurrying towards the body. Ortiz watched the platform where the original shots had come from and saw a man’s raised arm holding a gun. Ortiz fired a full clip into the area at the other end of the arm and the gun fell to the ground. Sanchez and Ortiz emerged from behind the support with their guns raised. There were no more shots.
A hundred yards away, Ali and Arsalan wondered how Suleiman would take the news that two more of his people were dead, shot by the police this time. There were only three brothers left. Ali believed he’d killed the assassin of two of his friends in Santiago and Islas Cies.
He’d met the man staggering along a back street near Guixar station, wearing the clothes Ahmed had told him about the day before when he’d phoned during the pursuit of the man to the Islas Cies. The man was drunk on his success of the day before and had become overconfident. Suleiman had wanted to check his claim and would be back soon with an answer.
Washington, Jefferson, and Adams watched the people being escorted off the Santiago train. None of them looked a likely candidate for their British assassin. There’d been a Spanish version of the OK Corral in between the platforms and those Spanish police appeared to be fine shots, judging from the bodies being examined, but not quite in the assassin’s class, however. He’d tricked them again.
Was he going to Santiago on the slow train from Guixar or heading down to Portugal, again from Guixar? The Americans would have to split up to find the answers to those questions. They decided the odds were 2-1 on Porto, so Washington and Jefferson headed that way, whereas Adams went up to Santiago. Back in Madrid, Mike Alvarez made a few calls, asking for the authorities in Galicia and northern Portugal to help his men with their enquiries.