No answer. The phone just kept ringing. I gave it another twenty seconds before cancelling. That left only Ezra. I called the emergency number. Baby-G said 00:11. DC was six hours behind. Maybe he was still there, talking about trust to another of George’s suckers.

I got the answering-machine. I talked slowly and clearly. ‘It’s Nick, Nick Stone. I need to speak to George, urgently. Tell him I know what’s happening – tell him I will finish the job, but I must talk to him first. He must call me on the Thuraya. It’s life and death, Ezra – don’t think about it, just do it. Call him, go to him, whatever.’

Jerry had the Vitara in the trees, two long tracks gouged in the frozen grass behind it. The bonnet clicked open and Jerry climbed out. I went over to him as he bent over the engine. ‘You get him?’

I put the phone and G3 on the passenger seat, took off the mag and pushed down on the rounds. It was full, apart from the round in the chamber and the one I’d ejected. I put it back on the weapon and removed my parka, keeping an eye out for the ejected round in the back of the wagon. ‘Just a message.’

No luck with the round. I wrapped the parka sleeves round my waist. Jerry followed suit. ‘That was one fucking amazing meeting. What you make of him?’

‘Faith, my arse. He’s just as fucked up as any suicide bomber, bin Laden without a beard.’ There was a whole lot more I could have said, but it would have to wait. G3 in my left hand and the Thuraya in my right, I was ready to go.

I didn’t give a shit about what he’d done to Coke sales, fucking about with the West’s interest in dysfunctionality, or that he didn’t paint his toenails red, white and blue. I had my own reasons for wanting him dead.


Jerry double-knotted the parka’s sleeves round his waist. I put out a hand to stop him. ‘Nothing’s changed, mate, the offer still stands. You have a family, I’ve got fuck-all. Take the wagon, wait in the city. If I don’t come back inside two days, you go home and try your luck with George – tell him you managed to escape or something.’

He had stopped tying his parka, but there was no reply.

I lifted the G3 between us. ‘If George doesn’t call, I’m going to have to use this thing. No need for you to be there.’

He was still thinking. ‘Thanks, Nick, but no thanks. We both got the same job, for different reasons. I still gotta be there.’

‘We’d better get on with it, then, before he fucks off with Benzil to Shangri-La. We can’t go under the canopy until George calls. But we need to cover the road with the G3 to stop him leaving.’

I checked the Thuraya was still on, and we started jogging along the verge, using the grass to give us a little grip on the frost. I could soon hear him panting behind me. I must have sounded pretty much the same after so many months of cheese and Branston.

The parka flapped rhythmically against my legs. Sweat leaked down to the small of my back. My hands and feet were boiling.

We had done maybe four hundred when the phone vibrated in my hand.

George wasn’t one for small-talk. ‘You have Nuhanovic?’

‘Yes, but not for long.’ I took deep breaths, wanting to be understood on the first attempt. ‘Here’s the deal. I’ll mark the target with the sat phone. You get the fix, I’ll talk the ordnance in, we get out and everyone’s quits. No more fucking about with kids’ lives, George, please.’

‘Agreed. But you must personally identify the target.’

‘We are about four hours out of Sarajevo. He’s time critical. You got Predators?’

‘I know where you are, I have you. There are three UAVs getting airborne now. Wait for a call from the operators. You will confirm the kill. I want him dead, son, not just a pile of rubble. Keep that sat phone on, they’ll be calling.’ The phone went dead.

I turned to Jerry. ‘We got a deal.’

His knees nearly buckled with relief.

I turned and started legging it. It wasn’t just because I wanted to get on to the road junction quickly. I didn’t want to answer any questions about whether I thought George would keep the deal.

We made it to the track and moved off into the first line of trees. The grass was wet, not frozen. I put the weapon down while I shoved the Thuraya in my jeans so I could feel when it went off. I slid the parka back on as I explained what George had said, slowly and quietly, so he wouldn’t miss anything.

‘You can dump the keys and rotary arm here. This is our meeting-place if we get split, OK?’

Jerry nodded, and put them at the base of what was left of the nearest tree, then untied his sleeves and put his own parka back on.

‘OK, actions on contact, on the way to target. You make your way back here. Pick up the wagon stuff and get away to the city. Don’t waste time if it goes noisy. I’ll try and get to target and get on with it. You’ll be able to do fuck-all without a weapon.’

The Thuraya rumbled against my stomach. I got to my knees and pressed the green button. The cold soaked into me as I kept an eye on the darkness up the track, hoping not to see headlights.

‘Who do I have speaking?’ It was an American monotone, like a synthesized computer voice.

‘This is Nick. You got a fix on us yet?’

‘Say again, slowly, Nick – I can’t understand you.’

‘Do you have a fix on us yet?’

‘That’s an affirmative, Nick.’

I checked the display. There was no number. ‘What’s your number?’

‘That’s classified.’

‘For fuck’s sake, we’re trying to carry out a fire-control mission here on a poxy sat phone. I need a number. We’re not on target yet. You’re going to lose the fix soon. I need to be able to call you once on target.’

There was a pause, then, ‘Wait out.’

Jerry came up behind me, his face hidden in his hood. ‘What the fuck they doing, man?’

I put my hand up to stop him. The monotone was back. ‘I have a number.’

I tapped it straight into the Thuraya. It was another sat phone. ‘OK, listen in. The target is about two Ks from this fix. It’s a house complex in the forestry block. Roger so far?’

‘That’s affirmative.’

‘You will lose this fix as we move under the canopy. I will call you once on target. Roger so far?’

‘That’s affirmative.’

‘You on a ship?’

‘That’s classified.’

‘We on the same side here? Just tell me how long you have to target.’

There was another pause. ‘Time to target is one hour, thirty-four minutes. One hour, three-four minutes.’

‘Got it. Wait out.’

I closed down and turned to Jerry as I zipped up my parka. ‘One hour thirty-four.’

Those things travelled at about eighty m.p.h., so they would be on target too quickly to have started on a carrier in the Adriatic. Maybe they were from some remote airfield in Kosovo. The US had quite a large peacekeeping presence there.

He nodded somewhere inside the hood. I pulled it down. ‘Get those ears working. We’ll be seeing fuck-all soon. When we move, I want you to count the distance. I do about a hundred and sixteen paces for a hundred metres. You know your rate?’

‘Not a clue.’

‘OK, then, we’ve got two Ks in there before the track junction. You count my paces, and tell me when we get

Вы читаете Deep Black
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату