CHAPTER 2: The Quick and the Dead
“What do you mean they’re all dead?”
Smythe raced through the main hall of the Russian Embassy, only stopping to glance at the murdered bodies of the embassy guards that lay mangled along the doorways. Each guard had a bullet hole in the center of their temple, hit with extraordinary accuracy. He had never seen so many headshots before, and it scared the hell out of him.
“Every last one of them, they’re dead,” Smythe repeated, talking into the microphone attached to his collar, “He killed them, and they’ve got the disk.”
“Who? Damn it Smythe calm down,” Truman pleaded, “who killed them?”
“I didn’t see his face.”
As Smythe ran full force towards the front door images of the man in the shadows and the man with the red eyes flashed in his memory. Just as everything began to make sense, everything seemed to fall apart again. Vladimir Petrov was a traitor to his country, and he paid the price for treason with his life. It was Petrov who obtained the stolen disk containing the launch data from an insider on the ocean-liner Aquarius, in exchange for tons of explosives and C4. But the Aquarius was now destroyed, and Petrov murdered. It seemed that everyone who came in contact with the disk ended up dead.
Smythe rushed through the main door of the embassy and the cold night air hit him like a punch in the face. Running down the marble steps he spotted a black luxury car followed by three black vans speeding down the street and away from the embassy.
‘Going so soon?’ he thought to himself, ‘The party’s just started.’
The moon pierced through the dark clouds, like an essence watching everything unfold before it. The city streets of Paris were deserted, except for the usual beggars, who wandered the side-streets searching for food and shelter. A few trees lined the street in front of the embassy while the rest of this part of the city revealed a more concrete and residential appearance. The night was cold and quiet, the calm before the storm of chaos.
As Smythe ran across the lawn towards the sidewalk a sleek silver sports car roared from across the street and pulled up beside him, it’s headlights shining on high-beams and blinding him. Smythe stopped in his tracks, his heart beating wildly, as the window rolled down revealing the silencer of a handgun aiming directly at him.
“Get in,” a voice echoed from inside the car. Smythe took in a deep breath and surveyed the area around him. Nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. His vision focused back on the gun, waiting, like a wild animal, to strike. With his hands up, Smythe circled around to the passenger side, opened the door and slid in.
“Agent Trove, I presume?” Smythe said coyly, eyeing the stunning woman behind the wheel. Her dark hair was tied back into a ponytail, which cascaded onto her broad shoulders. She glanced over at Smythe, her expression remaining emotionless. Her deep blue eyes contrasted her relatively pale complexion, she reminded Smythe of a ghost. She wore a skintight red dress, almost looking more like a princess than an Echelon agent. Although her expression didn’t change, her eyes conveyed a sense of innocence, untrusting and fear towards Smythe. He wondered what it must be like to be sitting in a car with him, a man who has killed so many without thought, served his country without question, and saved so many lives without receiving so much as a ‘thank-you’. Smythe shuddered at the idea of being a new agent assigned on a dangerous mission with him. Although Truman didn’t say it, he could sense that Agent Trove had never been in a real chase, never faced real danger, never put her life on the line for freedom. She was cold, inexperienced, and a perfect way to keep him on his toes. ‘Damn Truman,’ Smythe thought. Almost on cue, Trove turned to look Smythe directly in the eyes and cracked what looked like a smile.
“Please, call me Valeri. Looks like I arrived just in time. Need a ride, Agent Smythe?”
“Call me Jonathan,” Smythe snapped back effortlessly, fighting to hold back a smile. “Now that we’re on a first name basis, we’ve got business to attend to.” Smythe pulled out his gun and then turned to face Agent Trove, moonlight illuminating his face. “Truman was right. You look like a beauty, but can you drive like a beast?” Trove shifted the car into first gear as she slammed on the gas.
“Hold on tight,” she smirked as she glanced at Smythe, “this is gonna be one hell of a ride.” The engine of the sleek silver sports car roared as they sped away from the embassy, in pursuit of Petrov’s murderer. The streetlights flew by them as they sped down the street, Smythe could barely make out the convoy of black vans in the distance.
“We’ll never catch up with them this way,” Smythe yelled over the screaming engine, “You got any ideas?” He looked over at Trove, who was frantically calling up a digital map on the front console. She ran her finger along the lines representing the streets on the map, pausing to look ahead.
“I know a little shortcut,” she said under her breath, “the street cuts to the right three blocks down and heads back along the waterway down to our right. We can head them off.” Almost instantly she swerved to the right and cut through a side-street, slamming Smythe against the passenger side door. Garbage and debris flew past the windshield as the car streaked through the narrow road, which ended with a barricade up ahead. Only a few lamp-posts streaked by, darkening everything around them. The car’s high-beams showcased a ‘do not enter’ sign posted on the boarded up passage straight ahead of them. Trove increased their speed as they headed straight towards the dead end.
“What are you doing?” Smythe screamed, “Are you trying to get us killed?” They headed at full-speed for the boarded up alley way at the end of the side-street. Agent Trove glanced over at Smythe, furrowing her brow.
“Trust me,” she yelled as she shifted into high gear, jolting them forward, faster. Before he knew it they blasted through the wooden barricade like a silver bullet, shattered debris covering the front end of the car. Sparks flew as the metal sides of the car brushed against both sides of the brick wall, sandwiching them.
“Are you bloody sure we’re going to make it?!” Smythe yelled as sparks exploded from his side of the car.
“We’ll make it!” Trove shouted back, flooring it and igniting the car’s pre-installed turbo boost. Smythe looked up ahead and saw nothing but a blur of stars and night, everything was moving so quickly that if he blinked, he would miss it.
The car flew out of the alley way and into the air, for a moment it almost seemed to hover for a second or two. Then just as soon as they had gone airborne they swiftly landed on the street below, overlooking the waterway.
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