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Hunted

Hunted

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Hunted

Longueur:
217 pages
3 heures
Sortie:
Mar 4, 2019
ISBN:
9781386123477
Format:
Livre

Description

Martin Quil is a killer; he hunts men down, but sometimes the tables get turned. When Quil is sent to Germany by his controller at MI6 to find the man responsible for the death of a British agent, he uncovers a Chechnyan plot to assassinate the Russian president, and as he gets closer to the killer, he is kidnapped and taken to Russia where an almost certain and painful death awaits him. No longer is Quil the hunter, but now he is the hunted as he flees through the forest high up in the Arctic Circle. Enjoy this high octane, pulp fiction thriller as the dogs and wolves bear down on Quil in a tense chase that ends in bloody death.

Sortie:
Mar 4, 2019
ISBN:
9781386123477
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Michael Parker is responsible for Intel’s FPGA division digital signal processing (DSP) product planning. This includes Variable Precision FPGA silicon architecture for DSP applications, DSP tool development, floating point tools, IP and video IP. He joined Altera (now Intel) in January 2007, and has over 20 years of previous DSP engineering design experience with companies such as Alvarion, Soma Networks, Avalcom, TCSI, Stanford Telecom and several startup companies. He holds an MSEE from Santa Clara University, and BSEE from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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Hunted - Michael Parker

Hunted

By

Michael Parker

The right of Michael Parker to be identified as the Author of this Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998.

Copyright © Michael Parker 2019

All characters in this publication are fictitious and resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. Any person who does so may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

For my sister Joyce

Table of contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

CHAPTER ONE

The fog started rolling back from the air above Düsseldorf airport as the Gulfstream jet began its final approach to the barely visible strip of runway. On board the pilot kept his hands hovering over the controls as the automatic pilot kept the jet on the glide path. Touchdown was announced by a brief squeal from the tyres as they touched the concrete. The pilot selected reverse thrust immediately but for not more than about five seconds. The aircraft slowed but continued rolling until it reached a truck at the end of the runway displaying a Follow me sign, its yellow glow clear enough through the disappearing fog.

The pilot knew they would be taken to a remote corner of the airfield because of the nature of the cargo they were carrying, not that he had any idea what it consisted of other than it was non-volatile, non-explosive and worth a considerable amount of money.

The marshall’s truck took them to a strip of apron close to one of the airfield crash gates. Visibility was still poor, but for the pilot he had only to keep the nose of the aircraft a safe distance behind the truck. He glanced at the instruments, seeing that the outside air temperature was as low as two degrees — almost freezing, but it wasn’t his problem; once he delivered the cargo and passengers, he would be refuelling and heading back to England.

The names on the passenger manifest were Alistair Collins and William Jennings. Neither of the men knew each other; they were perfect strangers. They had been introduced briefly at the start of their journey, but beyond that very little was said. Collins had a briefcase manacled to his wrist by a short chain. There was no real weight to the briefcase, but its contents could have been said to be worth their weight in gold. Jennings on the other hand, was carrying a gun: a Sig Sauer P224 automatic concealed in a leather holster beneath his coat. Collins was unaware that his travelling companion was armed, and if he had been asked, he would have said he saw no reason for an armed escort considering the low-grade nature of their journey.

The Gulfstream came to a halt, its twin engines winding down. The interior cabin lights flickered momentarily. The co-pilot came through from the flight desk and released the cabin door, pushing it out so that it opened out into a short stairway. The cold air immediately rushed into the cabin. It felt damp. Collins gave an involuntary shiver. Jennings ignored the chill and got up from his seat. He asked Collins to wait and went ahead as they stepped down on to the tarmac.

In the pool of light spread by the overhead lamps, Collins could see two police escorts sitting astride their motor-cycles. Although he felt that unnecessary too, he was strangely comforted by it. Jennings simply looked around, seeing very little beyond the yellow arc of the lights. He expected nothing out of the ordinary. He spoke to one of the police escorts, then went across to the panel van and spoke to the driver. The driver handed him something which Collins could see him reading. He thought it looked like an identity card.

A uniformed customs officer approached Collins and held out a clipboard which Collins took from him and signed. The cargo, including the briefcase, was listed as part of the British Embassy’s diplomatic bag, so no inspection was required. Once that formality was over, the customs officer turned away and signalled to the waiting van. It came forward and stopped behind the aircraft. Two men who so far Collins hadn’t noticed appeared and manhandled a crate from the aircraft. They carried it to the back of the van and pushed it in through the rear doors.

The cold was beginning to penetrate Collins’ inadequate clothing, and he was anxious to get into the van and to get on with the journey. He said as much to Jennings but received a monosyllabic reply. Collins wondered what kind of man his escort was as he clambered into the van and into a seat behind the driver. Jennings sat in the passenger seat. He waited until the driver was in before turning to Collins.

‘Ready?’

When he saw Collins nod, he motioned to the driver to move on. It was warm in the van and surprisingly comfortable, but Jennings gave little thought to comfort because he was focussed on the job in hand. Once he had delivered his charge, he would be free to return to England and some down-time.

They drove out through the crash gates, turning on to the airport ring road which, despite the poor visibility, was showing signs of increasing traffic. This proved no problem to the small convoy as the blue flashing lights of the police escorts cleared a path on to the road. The van driver muttered something, laughed quietly to himself and moved into place behind the police bikes.

It didn’t take long before the two bikes led the van out of the airport conurbation and on to a minor road which took them into a less populated area. Collins peered over the driver’s shoulder, hoping to see something of the area through which they were driving, but the fog was still hanging around in patches, so he gave up; it was too much of an effort.

The main road became a side road, and the towering street lamps were soon lost and replaced by tall trees, almost invisible in the gloom. The police motor cyclists increased speed as the traffic thinned considerably and the procession settled into a steady pace, untroubled by outside influences.

Twenty minutes after leaving the airport they crossed a small bridge, dropping down an incline towards some large gates set back off the road. The escorts turned into the gates which were already open for them. The van followed the bikes in and continued along a gravelled driveway. The lights from the van and the police bikes picked the driveway out like a ribbon in the gradually clearing half-light. It looked ethereal, like something out of a dark novel.

Beyond the reach of the headlights but clear enough through the thinning fog and bathed in sodium light was the house. Collins had been told it belonged to Josef Eckmüller, a man he had never met. The van slowed as the driver spun the wheel to bring the it round in an arc to stop outside the huge front door. The two police escorts remained on their motorbikes, their engines running.

Jennings stepped out of the van and told Collins to wait. He walked across to the front entrance to the house, but before he could reach it, a fusillade of machine gunfire burst out from the trees at the side of the house. Jennings dropped to the ground and rolled away, drawing his Sig Sauer at the same time, but before he had chance to raise his arm and return fire, he was cut down.

Collins was about to step out of the van when he heard the incredible noise of the machine guns. He saw the two policemen fall from their bikes. In that moment he also saw Jennings drop and roll to one side then stop and lay motionless.

Collins started to run. He had no idea where he was going, but just blindly ran until he felt the stinging bite of the bullets as they ripped into him. He fell forward, his arm dragged out by the weight of the briefcase and collapsed. He was dead before he hit the ground.

The firing stopped. There was silence save the soft noise of one of the motor cycle engines still running, which stuttered briefly and stopped. A figure ran out from the trees carrying a pair of bolt cutters. He came up to Collins’ prone body and tugged at the sleeve of the manacled arm. He pushed the bolt cutters down hard on to the handcuff chain links, and cut the chain. In his haste he managed to snag Collins’ wrist, spilling blood all over the jaws of the bolt croppers and the briefcase.

Ignoring the blood, he snatched the briefcase up as a car came from the shadows and stopped beside him, its passenger door swinging open. He dived into the rear seats and pulled the door shut as the car accelerated away.

Suddenly it was quiet and the pungent smell of cordite hung motionless in the still air as the noise of the car faded. And all that could be heard was the sound of a police Martin-horn sounding somewhere in the distance.

Düsseldorf was beginning to wake and rub the sleep from its eyes.

CHAPTER TWO

The pebble curled lazily through the air and splashed into the river with a faintly discernible plop above the hissing rush of the tumbling water. A second pebble hit the water faster and lower, caught a small ripple, flipped and then disappeared into the swirling torrent.

Martin Quil sucked heavily on his cigarette and thought about the times as a young boy he had hurled stones into rivers and lakes, laughing at the skimming stones, and challenging his young friends to beat him at the childish game. Then he looked at the burning end of his cigarette and frowned; he was supposed to be giving up. The prospect of throwing more stones into the river left his mind as he took another drag on the cigarette and flicked the butt into the water. He picked up his Angling Times magazine and began thumbing through the pages. There was no fishing rod this trip and no creel; it was too late in the year for the salmon that haunted the River Dee, but their absence never stopped him coming.

For Quil, this was a time for thoughtful reflection and little else. His career with Group Seven was stressful, dangerous and always ended up leading him to consider whether he should stop, and it was moments like these, moments beside the tranquillity of the river, where he could come to terms with life and find a rationale for doing what he was extremely good at: killing people.

By his side lay an old backpack with the flap open. On the flap the barely legible words To hell and back, 51-53 had been embroidered into the well-worn canvas. Beneath the words a faded Union Jack had been sewn in. The backpack had belonged to his grandfather, and the dates were the Korean War. His grandfather never spoke about it; just smiled and tousled his hair each time Quil asked him as a young boy to tell him what it was like. Now Quil knew, but it wasn’t Korea. Not that it mattered because war was the same wherever it was fought it was shit.

He sighed deeply, put the magazine down on to the grass and pushed his hand into the open flap of the backpack. His fingers touched the cold glass of a half bottle of gin. London Gin it said on the label. Quil didn’t give a toss what gin it was, so long as it distilled the painful memories until they melted away. He lifted the bottle out and unscrewed the cap, then he lifted the bottle to his lips. That was when he saw the figure of a man approaching from the high ground that breasted the scree strewn slope. He stopped and put the cap back on the bottle, then pushed it back into the backpack and kept his hand there.

Quil could see the man was fairly young, probably late twenties. He was quite tall, athletic looking with a good head of ginger hair. He stopped.

‘Martin Quil?’

Quil didn’t respond immediately but kept his hand on the butt of the Beretta he kept in his backpack and watched for any unusual movement from the young man.

‘Who wants to know?’

‘Lieutenant James Beale, sir. You want some ID?’ He pulled a wallet from his rear pocket and handed an identity card to him. ‘Military intelligence, sir.’

Quil relaxed and took the card with his free hand, read it and handed it back. ‘So, Lieutenant Beale, what can I do for you?’

The officer put the id card back into his wallet. ‘London sent me, sir. Something’s come up. You’re needed back there.’

Quil sighed; he could have done with more free time, a little more drink and even more reflection.

‘How did you find me?’ he asked.

‘I was told you normally stay at the Emperor Inn when you’re up in Scotland. I asked there. It would have been easier if you’d kept your mobile with you of course.’

Quil ignored the mild admonishment. ‘I don’t always stay there, Beale.’ He didn’t bother to mention Beale’s rank. ‘So I guess you were lucky.’

‘I know sir, but I’m not the only one looking for you.’ He laughed softly. ‘I think we have most of England covered.’

‘Not Northern Ireland?’

‘I believe you’re not welcome there sir.’

Quil nodded and let go of the Beretta. He picked up the copy of his Angling Times magazine and pushed it into the backpack. Then he closed the flap and hoisted the pack over his shoulder. ‘But how did you know I would be here?’ he asked the young officer.

‘The landlord said you usually like to come up to the five-mile marker.’ He pointed back over his shoulder. ‘Nearly missed it.’

Quil held his hand forward towards the top of the slope. ‘Lead the way Beale.’

The two men scrambled up to the bank and covered the short walk to the roadside at a slow pace. Quil made sure he kept a few feet away from the young officer: a precautionary measure learned with lots of experience.

They reached the road and Beale’s Vauxhall Insignia which was parked with two wheels up on the edge of the bank. He opened the driver’s door and a puzzled look came over his face.

‘It’s five miles from the inn, sir. Where’s your car?’

Quil shook his head and allowed a broad smile for the young officer’s benefit.

‘I walked.’

*

When they arrived at the inn, Quil suggested that Beale got a drink from the bar, a coffee or something, while he went to his room and got his possessions together. He came down about ten minutes later and settled his bill with the landlord. Beale was sitting by a window gazing out over the River Dee, his coffee in his hand. He stirred when he saw Quil, drained his cup and stood up.

‘Got your phone?’

Quil came over, put his hand on Beale’s shoulder and pressed it gently. ‘Why don’t you sit down a moment longer and tell me what this is all about.’

Beale shrugged. ‘It’s like I told you in the car, I know very little. Really. Something big has gone down and Control is spitting mad about it. They wouldn’t tell me anything, but it looks like you could be heading out to Germany.’ He shrugged. ‘That’s all I can say.’

Quil stared at the young man, wondering if he was telling the truth, but he reasoned that they wouldn’t tell a young officer too much. The civil service would have said it was beyond the man’s pay grade. And perhaps they didn’t want Quil to know too much until they had him back in London: less chance to skip

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