CHAPTER 2: The Quick and the Dead
The tunnel lights sped by as Smythe hurtled through the oncoming lane in pursuit of his prey. His heart raced as an oncoming car flew into view, blasting its horn and swerving out of the way of the black van Smythe had commandeered from his enemy. For a split second he could swear that he had seen the panic-stricken, ghost-white face of the innocent motorist as he sliced past him.
But no matter. Bigger things were at stake here. The safety of the world was at stake. That disk of Petrov’s, which he sold at the price of his life, contained information of unimaginable power—the launch codes and co-ordinates for every major city in the western world. Of course, the disk alone was worthless, but combined with the ‘Cancer’ warhead—warheads?—the ability to launch an undetectable nuclear strike from anywhere in the world, even just the threat of it, was very real. Did this man in the shadows, this murderer, somehow obtain one or more ‘Cancer’ warheads? Impossible!
Smythe glanced in the rearview mirror, and his own cold grey eyes stared right back at him. His hands tensely gripped the steering wheel, shifting nervously.
‘Nothing is impossible. Anything’s possible,’ he thought to himself. This isn’t a silly spy game anymore. This is for real. The world is at stake.
Smythe shifted gears and pressed down harder on the gas pedal as the black luxury car and its final escort drew slowly into view. As he glanced to his right, he spied Valeri Trove in the through lane keeping pace with him. For a moment, they locked eyes, and their focus temporarily shifted from the thrill of the chase to each other. Although they had only met just minutes ago, Smythe felt an instant connection to her. This was no rookie. She took risks and cut corners like the best of them… like him. But she also had a hardened look in her eyes—they looked cold… like his. What could have happened, he could only guess. But there was something definitely different about this one. She was unlike any woman he had ever met. She was strong.
‘That’s what it is,’ he thought. She was strong. She could hold her own. ‘I work alone,’ he thought to himself, silently.
He snapped back to reality as he noticed that Trove was signaling something to him. ‘Get a hold of yourself, damn you,’ he thought as he cracked a smile. She was signaling towards the black van, which was now less than twenty feet ahead of her. As the tunnel pillars flew by in-between them, Smythe realized her plan and quickly sped up to keep pace with her.
The driver of the black van began to panic as he watched the silver sports car steadily gain on him in the rearview mirror. His already sweaty face was nothing compared to his palms, which were drenched in perspiration. Suddenly, he made a decision—he took his attention off of the road, grabbed the handgun that was on the passenger seat beside him, and began shooting wildly behind him through the driver side window. Trove did not flinch as a few of the bullets ricocheted off of the bulletproof windshield.
The driver of the black van lurched forward as he was rammed from behind by the silver sports car chasing him. The smoking handgun lay again on the seat beside him—out of ammo—out of hope. He swerved to the left just in time to avoid a second rear-end attempt by the silver car. At this speed, a collision would tear the van, and himself, into pieces.
“Shit,” he muttered as he eyed his mirror—the car was going for the final blow. Suddenly he veered sharply to the left, avoiding the hit and flying into the oncoming lane. He never made it. At the last second, his attempt to swerve into the wrong lane was blocked by another black van on his left. Trapped on both sides by his pursuers, the driver’s eyes grew wide with fear as he opened his mouth to scream. But no sound came out—it didn’t have a chance to. His van blew into the center median pillar and exploded on impact.
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