CHAPTER 2: The Quick and the Dead
Smythe’s heart pounded as they flew out of the tunnel and the black luxury car raced into view ahead of him. His blood shot through his veins as he sped ahead of Trove and gained on the luxury car.
“This is what I live for,” he told himself.
The waterway continued to run parallel to the road, but the road itself now towered over it, with only a thin guardrail protecting motorists from a watery death. To the right, a high wall ran parallel to the road.
‘No where to run, no where to hide.’
Smythe suddenly felt very satisfied with himself, and his focus wavered. The disk would be recovered, siphoned to the techies back at the Echelon base in London, deciphered, decoded, and extracted, and then, perhaps, obliterated. Assuming that this was the only copy of the disk, the warhead would then be made useless to whomever was pulling the strings on this operation. Finding that out would not take long either, of course. First, he would disable all of the men in the luxury car, shooting the guns out of their hands and then placing bullets in each of their legs.
‘They will be writhing on the ground like worms,’ Smythe thought to himself, amused. He would gain particular satisfaction watching and listening as the man with the red eyes—a cold-blooded killer—begged for mercy and refuge. The Echelon clean-up crew would be called in, and the injured men would be taken away, in disgrace, to the local interrogation complex, where they would be tortured and the information extracted from them. This was no time for politics, diplomacy, or rights—these men were nuclear terrorists and they would pay for their sins, and deservedly so. And it would be he, Jonathan Smythe, who had taken them down. Yes, he was satisfied.
His awareness suddenly snapped back as his mind was awakened by a horn blasting at him from behind. As he checked his rearview mirror, he saw that Trove was flashing her lights at him, while swerving back and forth wildly. As his focus returned, he turned his attention back to the luxury car in front of him.
He froze. Suddenly, Smythe felt extremely nervous, and his stomach lurched. He couldn’t breathe. The trunk lid of the black luxury car was propped open, and pointing towards him was an artillery launcher loaded with a series of mini-rockets. Just as the realization of the situation dawned on him, a loud whine blasted from the trunk and three of the rockets launched backwards from the car. He swerved to the left, and sparks flew as his driver side mirror snapped off as he screeched against the guard-rail. He held his breath as the rockets flew by him, missing by inches.
For a moment, relief swept over him, but only for a moment. His relief soon turned to dread as he saw a flash of light in his rearview mirror. His heart stopped as Trove’s silver sports car flew into the air, twisted, and then crashed to the ground, upside-down, skidding along the road and then bursting through the guard-rail.
“No!” Smythe screamed, tears now streaming down his face, as he continued to keep pace with the luxury car in front of him. A feeling of conflict suddenly shot through him like an electric shock. His mind and his senses were screaming at him to keep going, to continue the chase, to capture the villains. Bigger things were at stake here. The world was at stake. But his heart and his soul, two things which he believed he had given up many years ago when he had killed his first victim in cold blood—shot in the heart, no less—were reminding him about Valeri. Valeri Trove. She was strong. She was still alive. But she wouldn’t be for long—not without him. There was something about this woman. ‘I work alone,’ his own words flashed in his head.
The decision was made. Like lightning, he reached into his utility belt and pulled out what looked like a mini-grappling gun. With his left hand, he reached out through the driver side window and fired a short blast right at the rear end of the luxury car. Then he pulled up on the hand brake, and slammed on the van’s brakes, causing it to spin in a circle. At the first opportunity, he jumped out of the van, rolled, and then got up and ran as many steps as he could away from the van before diving to the ground and covering his head with his hands. It took only a brief second for him to hear the familiar whine, and only a split second later for the van to explode into a ball of flame, lighting up the street, the wall, and the waterway below.
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