the civilians, take them hostage, or, even worse, go into kamikaze mode and detonate the device.

Alpha came back on the net.

'Hello, all call signs, all call signs cancel, cancel, cancel! I do not have control! Cancel!

Golf, acknowledge.'

At once I heard Kev's not-so-formal reply: 'What the fuck's going on? Tell me what's going on?'

'Wait .. . wait ...' Alpha sounded under pressure.

There were voices in the background.

'All stations, all stations, the police need another ID, they need to be sure.

Golf, acknowledge.'

What do they want, introductions?

'Hi, I'm Danny, bomber and murderer, I enjoy traveling and working with children.'

We were in danger of losing them if we didn't act soon.

Alpha came back: 'All stations, ATO is moving to check the vehicle. Delta, we need that confirmation.' The ATO is the ammunitions technical officer.

I acknowledged. There was obviously some sweating going on in the ops room. The boss was getting a hard time from the police; it sounded like a chimpanzees' tea party in there.

The terrorist team would be crossing the border within minutes. Once they were on the other side, they could detonate the bomb with immunity.

I was now on the other side of the road, and wanted at least to get parallel to them so I could see their faces again. I had to reconfirm the players, then stick with them.

More activity on the net. I could hear the tension in Alpha's voice now, telephone lines ringing, people milling about.

Kev cut in: 'Fuck the ops room, let's keep on top of them until someone somewhere makes a fucking decision. Lima and Zulu, can you get forward?'

Zulu came on the net for himself and Lima, very much out of breath: 'Zulu and Lima, we... we can do that.'

'Roger that, move up, tell me when you're there.'

Kev wanted them beyond the health center. They were running hard to get ahead of the targets; they didn't care who saw them as long as the players didn't. But we still hadn't got control.

Kev came back on the net: 'Alpha, this is Golf. You need to get your finger out now we're going to lose them. What do you want us to do?'

'Golf, wait, wait.. ' I could still hear noise in the background: lots of talking, more telephones ringing, people shouting instructions.

Everything went quiet.

'Wait... wait...'

All I could hear now was the background noise of Alpha on my radio, plus my pulse pounding in my head. Then, at last, the voice of Simmonds very clear, a voice you wouldn't argue with. I heard him say to Alpha, 'Tell the ground commander he can continue ' 'All call signs, this is Alpha. I have control. I have control.

Golf, acknowledge.'

Kev got on the net, and instead of acknowledging, said, 'Thank God for that. All call signs, if they get as far as the airport, we'll lift them there. If not on my word, on my word. Zulu and Lima, how's it going?'

They came back on the net.

'That's us static at the junction. We can take.' They were at the intersection of Main Street and Smith Dorrien Avenue, the main approach road to the crossing into Spain. The players were moving toward them.

I could lift off soon. I'd done the job I'd been brought here to do. I prepared myself for the han dover.

But then they stopped.


'Stop, stop, stop!' I said.

'That's Bravo One, Two and Echo One static.'

Everybody was closing in. Come on, let's lift them here and now.

Savage split from the other two and headed back the way they'd come, toward the town center. It was all going to rat shit. We had two groups to control now, and we didn't know who had the detonation device.

Kev arrived to back me. On the net, I could hear the other two players being followed toward the border by the rest of the team as I moved in to take Savage. He turned left down an alleyway.

I was just about to get on the net when I heard a police siren, followed by gunfire behind me.

At the same instant Euan came on the net: 'Contact!


Then more shots.

Kev and I looked at each other. What the fuck was going on? We ran around the corner. Savage had heard the shots, too, and turned back toward us. Even at this distance I could see his eyes, big as plates and jerking like he was having a seizure.

There was a female pedestrian between us. Kev shouted, 'Stop, security forces! Stop!'

With his left hand, he had to push the woman over to the side and bang her against the wall to keep her out of the way.

She was going down, blood pouring from her head. At least she wouldn't get up and become a target.

She began screaming. We had Kev hollering and screaming at Savage, and all the people in the area were starting to scream. It was turning into a gang fuck.

Kev flicked back the right side of his sport jacket to reach the pancake holster over his kidneys. We always put a bit of weight in a pocket a full magis good to help the jacket flick back out of the way.

But I wasn't really looking at Kev; I was looking at Savage. I could see his hand moving to the right side of his jacket. He wasn't some knuckle-dragging moron from the backstreets. The moment he saw us, he knew the score. It was decision time.

Kev drew his pistol, brought it up, and prepared to fire.


'Stoppage! Fuck, Nick, fuck, fuck!'

Trying to clear his weapon, he dropped on one knee to make himself a smaller target.

That was when everything seemed to go into slow motion.

Savage and I had eye-to-eye. He knew what I was going to do; he could have stopped, he could have put his hands up.

My bomber jacket was held together with Velcro, so at times like this I could just pull it apart and draw my pistol.

The only way a weapon can be drawn and used quickly is by breaking the whole movement into stages. Stage one, I kept looking at the target. With my left hand I grabbed a fistful of bomber jacket and pulled it as hard as I could toward my chest. The Velcro ripped apart.

At the same time I was sucking in my stomach and sticking out my chest to make the pistol grip easy to access. You get only one chance.

We still had eye contact. He started to shout, but I didn't hear. There was too much other shouting going on, from everyone on the street and the earpiece in my head.

Stage two, I pushed the web of my right hand down onto the pistol grip. If I got this wrong, I wouldn't be able to aim correctly: I would miss and die. As I felt my web push against the pistol grip, my lower three fingers gripped hard around it.

My index finger was outside the trigger guard, parallel with the barrel. I didn't want to pull the trigger early and kill my self. Savage was still looking, still shouting.

Savage's hand was nearly at his pocket.

Stage three, I drew my weapon, in the same movement taking the safety catch off with my thumb.

Our eyes were still locked. I saw that Savage knew he had lost. There was just a curling of the lips. He knew he was going to die.

As my pistol came out I flicked it parallel with the ground.

No time to extend my arms and get into a stable firing position.

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