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Contents

Cover

About the Book

Title Page

Part One

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

Part Two

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

Part Three

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

Epilogue

About the Author

Also by Andy McNab

Copyright

ABOUT THE BOOK

Ex-deniable operator Nick Stone has spent a lifetime in harm’s way – but when someone he cares for very deeply is murdered in cold blood, he can no longer just take the pain.

A high-level internecine conflict at the dark heart of the resurgent Russian Empire and an assassin’s bullet on an isolated Alpine pass propel him from an apparently run-of-the-mill close-protection task into his most brutal and challenging mission yet.

As the body count increases, Stone becomes one of Europe’s Most Wanted. He must evade the élite police forces of three nations in his pursuit of faceless men who trade in human misery, and a lone-wolf terrorist who threatens to unleash the western world’s worst nightmare.

Vengeance of the most explosive kind is top of Stone’s agenda. The fuse has been ignited – but who really holds the detonator?

PART ONE

1

‘Nick …’

Voices.

Nick …’

Women’s voices. One of them sounds … Russian …

You stupid little—

Not that one. That’s my mate Gaz’s mum. I’d know her anywhere. She’d caught us throwing condoms full of tomato sauce off the roof of his block of flats …

Fuck, my head hurts.

Gunfire.

I can hear gunfire.

And screaming.

Not human screams. The scream of twisted, tortured metal.

I’m hiding in a storm drain. Darker than a shit pit down here. And colder than the grave. I’ve tabbed across the desert for ever, under fire. If I curl up tight, maybe they won’t find me.

The steel plates above me creak and groan.

‘I need your help, Nick …’ A man’s voice, now. ‘I need your help …’

I hear breaking glass.

I’m moving. Shards of gleaming light. Blindingly bright.

I’m being dragged into the sun.

Wait a minute …

Glass breaking in a storm drain?

Where the fuck am I?

My eyelids flicker.

I’m right about the daylight, at least. But I can’t see a thing.

I try to open them wide. The left one seems to work. The other’s been glued shut. I wipe it with the back of my hand, smearing my knuckles with crimson.

My stomach clenches. Bile floods through my chest. I can feel it burning its way up to the back of my throat. I can’t stop myself gagging. Whatever I had for breakfast fills my mouth. I try to control it. And fail.

Breakfast …?

Lunch …?

Dinner …?

Whatever … It’s all over the fucking place now.

I blink. Twice, I think. Maybe more.

A face looks back at me through the haze. A man’s face. Fucked up. Blood leaking from a gash on his forehead. Spiky hair. Vomit clinging to the stubble around his lips.

I open my mouth to speak.

So does he.

A strand of yellowy green mucus stretches between his top and bottom teeth, like a bar on a cage.

I’m staring into a mirror. A rear-view mirror.

I glance down.

There’s a wheel in front of me. A steering-wheel. At its centre, a silver badge.

Letters.

A word.

Nissan.

I’m pretty sure I don’t drive a Nissan.

More creaks and groans. I lurch forward. A strap bites into my left shoulder.

Left shoulder …

What the fuck am I doing on this side of the wagon?

I grip the wheel hard. Both hands. Try to focus on the road ahead. But the windscreen is a starburst, a glass mosaic, impossible to see through.

I ram my foot down on the pedal. The middle one. The brake. It seems to make things worse, not better.

A digital display glows on a console to the right of the dashboard. An arrow at the bottom edge of a patch of green. Along the top, a thin orange line. Nothing else. Nothing to tell me where in the world I am. I scrabble at the knob on the right of the screen. Start to zoom out, maybe get some sense of my surroundings.

A crack. Then another. And another.

Not gunshots. Snapping wood.

Grinding. From below me, and each side.

I freeze.

Straighten my back, so slowly I can’t even see myself move.

Then silence. Except for the whisper of a fan.

I reach for the air-con button, a millimetre at a time, and switch it off. Air-con. Somewhere hot? Desert? Maybe just summer.

I turn towards the passenger seat, where I guess the first of the voices must have come from.

The seat starts to spin.

No. Not the seat. My head. It’s my head spinning.

I close my eyes. More vomit rushes up to invade my mouth. This time I manage to swallow it back.

When I open my eyes again I see there is no one there.

Which is fucking good news, because a very shiny black-and-white-striped steel rod has rammed itself through the windscreen and into the backrest.

Beneath it, where my passenger’s arse would have been, lies a cigarette pack. I pick it up. Examine it closely. Marlboro. With a picture of a pair of charred, weeping lungs, and some kind of warning I can’t read. Cyrillic, maybe. Whatever, the message is clear. These things aren’t good for you.

I run my tongue around the inside of my mouth, blow into my hand. I smell like a sewer. I can’t tell if I’m a smoker. I examine the index and middle fingers of my right hand. No nicotine stains. I don’t think the cigarettes belong to me. So whose are they?

I slide the pack into the left-hand pocket of my bomber jacket. There’s something in there already. Cold. Compact. A loaded mag for a pistol. Brass casing. Ten rounds. No. Thirteen?

     

 

2011 - 2015

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