* * *
Moving through the darkness in a combat crouch, Bolan counted off the limos as they cleared the gate. The first was through and running clear, the windows down. Automatic weapons were spitting jagged tongues of flame in all directions at the gunners who were bold or foolhardy enough to show themselves. Behind it, numbers two and three broke through in tandem, rattling right across the twisted remains of Seiji Kuwahara's decorative gates.
He waited until number four was nosing through, then he raised the XM-18. Sighting quickly down the stubby barrel he stroked off a high-explosive round and rode out the negligible recoil, watching as his can impacted on the Lincoln's nose. There was a flash, a crack of heavy-metal thunder ripping through the night, and the crew wagon lurched to an abrupt halt, shattered engine dying in an instant.
Doors were springing open down there, the surviving occupants unwilling to sit still and wait for flames or the incoming rounds to seek them out like sitting ducks.
The warrior left them to it, satisfied that he had plugged the only exit, moving on in search of other targets in the hellgrounds. All around him small-arms fire was rippling through the night, most of it concentrating on the three remaining Lincolns as they powered along the curving drive toward Kuwahara's mansion. The other drivers either had not missed their tail car, or else they had decided that the crewmen were expendable.
And Bolan tipped his hat to savage loyalty, knowing that the cannibals would turn upon their own to save themselves. It was a trait that had assisted him before in time of need, and might again. He paced the Lincolns, tracking them on foot and keeping to the far left of the driveway, letting those cars draw the full attention and the hostile fire of Kuwahara's soldiers. They were taking hits out there, but armored bodywork and bullet-proof glass would keep the gunners safe until they ventured out and into range.
The Executioner had no such shield around him, and he welcomed the diversion that Spinoza's spearhead was providing for him as he made his way across the darkened lawn.
Another fifty yards of grass and asphalt separated Bolan from the house when Frank Spinoza's hit team reached their destination. There was no way to continue with their strike except on foot.
Reluctantly they started bailing out of the protection offered by the limousines, lithe figures darting underneath the floodlights, laying down a furious covering fire, some of the more adventurous souls advancing on the house. Mack Bolan hit a crouch and swung his launcher up, not needing pinpoint accuracy now that he was this close to the target. He stroked the trigger once, already pivoting and firing off round two before his first can found its target and erupted into roiling flames.
In front of him another Continental reared up on its haunches, riding the crest of a firewave, and settled slowly back down to burning earth. The men who had been crouching behind it were sent scattering in panic. Several of them were sprawled out beneath the shock wave, slapping at the flames that blossomed in their hair and clothing.
Target number two was Seiji Kuwahara's house itself, and Bolan watched the high-explosive round as it impacted on the double doors in front, the hand-carved panels seeming to implode then disappear within a cloud of smoke and plaster dust. A strangled scream came from somewhere inside, and the responding automatic fire was momentarily silenced as surviving gunners scrambled to seek out new vantage points.
Along the fashionable drive, the lights were coming on in other houses as residents were roused from sleep or sluggish dinner-party conversation, forced to notice what was going on outside their own protective walls. The Devil was in Paradise, for damn sure, dwelling in the dragon's lair, and he was fighting for his life against a new St. George decked out in blackface and a suit of midnight fabric. It was mortal combat within easy access of the country club, and neither side would leave the field so long as life and strength remained.
It would be Hell in Paradise this night, a firestorm blowing through the placid streets, invading apathetic lives and spewing shrapnel through their curtains of complacency.
The Executioner was here and he was blitzing on.