First published in Great Britain in 2006 by Bantam Press a division of Transworld Publishers Corgi edition published 2007

Copyright © Andy McNab 2006

About the Author

Andy McNab joined the infantry as a boy soldier. In 1984 he was ‘badged’ as a member of 22 SAS Regiment and was involved in both covert and overt special operations worldwide.

During the Gulf War he commanded Bravo Two Zero, a patrol that, in the words of his commanding officer, ‘will remain in regimental history for ever’. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and the Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS in February 1993. He wrote about his experiences in two phenomenal bestsellers, Bravo Two Zero, which was filmed in 1998 starring Sean Bean, and Immediate Action.

His novels include Remote Control, Liberation Day, Dark Winter, Deep Black and Aggressor and are all bestsellers. He is also the author of four novels for children, Boy Soldier, Avenger, Payback and Meltdown as well as Quick Read novel, The Grey Man. His new novel, Crossfire, will be available from Bantam Press later in the year. Besides his writing work, he lectures to security and intelligence agencies in both the USA and the UK.

Also by Andy McNab













and published by Corgi Books


Zaire, Central Africa

2 October 1985

14:27 hours


Davy had offloaded his 175 Yamaha and gone ahead to recce the valley. He’d be back soon, unless the rebels had caught him. We’d been training Mobutu’s troops against these guys, and we knew that knitting baby bootees and collecting china thimbles wasn’t high on their list of favourite hobbies.

When you’re up against the kind of guys who routinely machete off an entire village’s lips because one of the locals has been overheard saying something not nice about the president, you know it’s time to check chamber.

Our four ancient, rusting Renault trucks were spread out and static just below the crest of the high ground. The drivers had killed their engines the moment we got here. It wasn’t something you’d normally do with old wagons like these, in case they refused to fire up again, but we didn’t have a whole lot of choice; the Zaireans had only been able to find us a couple of dozen jerry-cans of fuel at such short notice, and those engines drank like a Swede on a stag night.

The early-afternoon sun was relentless. So were the flies. The fuckers had found us within minutes and it took a never-ending Thai hand dance to keep them out of my face. I wiped sweat from my eyes with the corner of a red gingham tablecloth I’d ripped in half and draped over my head and shoulders. I’d put the other half to good use too: it covered the working parts of my GPMG.

I opened the top cover and let the belt of 7.62mm link drop out. I lifted the feed tray, peered into the empty chamber and smoothed away a few grains of sand with a finger. We’d been bouncing along dirt tracks all the way from Kinshasa, and even the high commissioner’s table linen couldn’t stop the stuff finding its way into every nook and cranny. It didn’t matter that my nose and eyes were full of grit, but it would if it got into the working parts and the gun jammed at just the moment I needed it to go bang.

Satisfied that the feed tray and chamber were shit-free, I cradled the link in my left hand as I threaded it back on to the feed tray. Then I slammed the top cover down again and thumped it with my fist for good measure; the belt was firmly in place. I gave the gun’s ancient wooden carry handle a jiggle to make sure the bipod was wedged firmly between the two sandbags lashed to the bonnet. We didn’t know how many rebels there were down in the valley, or how well they were armed, but when the shit hit the gingham I wanted to be giving as good as I got.

I winced as I sat down. The seat covers were baking hot; so was the bodywork, steering-wheel, you name it. The whole front of the vehicle was open to the sun. We’d only had an hour to get our shit together, but we’d managed to strip the Renaults to the bone to make their profile as low as possible. We’d ripped the canopies off the cabs, the rear frame and canvas. There were sandbags where the windscreen used to be to provide a gun platform and the illusion of protection against small arms.

‘Mad dogs and Englishmen . . .’ Sam muttered, behind the wheel. In his Glasgow growl, even ‘Good morning’ sounded like a death threat.

‘Mad Jocks, more like it,’ I said.

Sam and I were both wearing cheap market sunglasses, and old woolly gloves to protect our hands against the UVA. He also sported his trademark wide-brimmed and very sweat-stained bush hat; if I’d been a pale-faced, skirt-wearing oatmeal savage I’d have done the same. Sam was so fair-skinned he got burned by a fridge light.

He checked the watch that hung from his neck on a piece of para cord. ‘That’s an hour he’s been gone.’ He kept it inside his shirt so the sun didn’t glint off the glass and give our position away. Basic fieldcraft: shine was just one of the things that had to be concealed when moving tactically cross-country; shape was another – which was why we were below the crest of the hill and not on top of it.

I hoped Davy hadn’t broken down. The Yammy wasn’t exactly in showroom condition. We’d stolen it from outside a bar on the outskirts of the capital. With luck the poor fucker it belonged to didn’t depend on it for his livelihood.

Way in the distance, a few clouds dotted the sky. I wondered whether there was any chance of them teaming up and delivering a downpour. Anything to clear the heat haze bouncing off the scrubland in front of me.

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