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A Deal to Die For: The Alex Scott Files

A Deal to Die For: The Alex Scott Files

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A Deal to Die For: The Alex Scott Files

Länge:
343 Seiten
5 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
May 27, 2014
ISBN:
9781782342939
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

This intriguing thriller is sure to keep you turning the pages when after a long and bloody struggle, one of the most notorious International Crime organisations in recent history the Syndicate is thought to have been finally neutered by the United Nations secret agency 'Special Operations National and International Crime' known as SONIC. Yet the Syndicate's terrifying spectra unexpectedly returns when so incensed by the humility of defeat, the former leader Carl Peterson, who's true identity is still unknown to the authorities, returns nad mobilizes his enormous wealth and together with a selection of willing vassals aims to acquire the vital components necessary to manufacture one of man's most feared and deadly weapons the 'tactical nuclear bomb'. The next burning question for Peterson is how and where to launch this terrifying weapon so that it will satisfy his deep rooted passion for vengeance. SONIC's former agent Alex Scott is brought back from retirement, he has battled head to head with them in the past and his understanding of the leader's devious mind means that Alex is probably the only man who can intervene to halt the dreadful consequences of the plan. If Alex Scott were to fail it would not only be his own life at stake but the lives of thousands of innocent souls. So, can Alex once again stop the manic mind in time and at what price?
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
May 27, 2014
ISBN:
9781782342939
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Albert Able a retired hotelier lives with his family in Jersey.Six years ago he’d never typed a word in his life; then he was given a computer. Since then he has written four adventure thrillers but his latest book is Contemporary fiction, written using his own wide experience of the hospitality industry. Albert has also writes short stories some of which have been successfully published. This has lead into the development of an App for the Apple iPad ‘Travellers Friend Worldwide’.Initially designed as a fun way of combating ‘Travel Boredom’ it has evolved into a ‘Travellers’ social network as well as a library of other author’s novels, where enthusiastic writers have the opportunity to submit and sell their work.. Although Albert is still a sailing, powerboat enthusiast, the current passion is Clay Target Shooting. “It’s real challenge, in fact it’s almost addictive,” he claims. Formerly a private pilot he loved the joy and liberty of flying, but not the Spartan discipline associated with it. (Gets in the way of socialising) “Oh and he’s a dog lover too!”"


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A Deal to Die For - Albert Able

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***

A Deal To Die For

Born within six months of each other, the boys - both with Vietnamese mothers and unknown American fathers - had, along with hundreds of other war surplus children, been abandoned to be raised at an orphanage in the outskirts of Saigon.

Their initial education was minimal but as they grew-up, unlike the other waifs in their group, they chose not to play frivolous games all day. Instead, they invented mathematical conundrums and other mental challenges, constantly testing each other’s skills to the limit of their rapidly developing abilities.

Their harassed teacher did her best to offer some kind of education to her class, but with over one hundred unruly pupils in her care, it was almost impossible. It was to the teacher’s great credit, therefore, that she identified the unusual talents of these two different little boys and managed, though only after considerable bureaucratic difficulties, to have them placed in a special class where their unique abilities were soon to blossom.

They literally flew through the elementary and senior school and were to become two of the youngest students from Vietnam ever to qualify for an American University grant.

Once established in their new environment they easily graduated in computer sciences and were immediately offered development places with SKY-SEC; a major computer company in Silicon Valley run by the mysterious industrial tycoon Carl Peterson.

They - nor anyone else for that matter - could have known that Carl Peterson was the leader and sole survivor of the once powerful criminal organisation, known to the security authorities as the Syndicate.

In its hey-day the Syndicate had successfully traded in illegal arms, the smuggling of ‘conflict’ diamonds and gold bullion and had frequently provided funds to generate international terror, especially where and when it could be activated to the Syndicate’s financial advantage.

These illicit operations lasted for several years, allowing Carl Peterson and his partners to amass vast personal fortunes before their enterprise was finally destroyed; largely through the tenacity and cunning of British agent Alex Scott working for the now redundant United Nations organisation, SONIC.

Although Alex Scott had personally eliminated most of the Syndicate’s senior operatives, he had never been able to establish any clue as to the true identity of the leader. Neither could he have known that once this calculating, callous and elusive man had realised that the end of the Syndicate was inevitable, in order to preserve his own anonymity he had cold bloodedly murdered his sole surviving partner, ensuring that he, Carl Peterson, was able to continue his normal public life without any fear of recognition

Among the many legitimate businesses Carl Peterson controlled was a company situated in ‘Silicon Valley’ California and known as ‘SKY-SEC’. Their prime activity: to develop and install some of the most sophisticated security systems and equipment currently available to the lucrative international market; consequently, their clients were mostly government or military establishments.

The two Vietnamese Students, now of course fully fledged young men, were naturally thrilled with their positions at ‘SKY-SEC’ where they soon put their skills to work.

Charlie Sin-To rapidly developed his speciality with communication technology and David Mar-Shan with creating supposedly unbreakable codes. It was the combination of these two techniques that had singled them out to Carl Peterson, who had instantly recognised the special talents and potential of the two young Vietnamese.

Carl Peterson’s apparent generous and paternal attitude soon won their undying trust. So when the setting of several unique challenges blatantly crossed the boundaries of legitimacy, they were easily accepted by the dedicated young men as pure and essential research.

We need to understand the enemy don’t we, eh? Carl Peterson beamed comfortingly at his trusting wards.

***

When SKY-SEC won the contract to install its equipment in the new British GCHQ in Cheltenham, England, Carl Peterson seized the opportunity to access the world satellite networks for his own purposes. Naturally only Charlie and David were skilled and trustworthy enough to install the ‘special’ customised equipment they had specifically developed for the task.

The new circular designed billion pound electronic spy centre in Cheltenham, known as the Doughnut by the locals, is the home for the British Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, which houses some of the most powerful computer systems in the world; monitoring a network of satellites and ground stations that covers every part of the globe with its sophisticated visual eavesdropping ability. It is, among other things, a key weapon against international terrorism.

At the outset a host of complex, secure code-changing procedures had been designed to ensure maximum security to give absolute control of the facility to its authorised personnel only. None of the personnel could have known about the two insignificant little pieces of software carefully built into the initial circuits and programmed to accept the additional uniquely coded relays and security password checks specifically designed by Carl Peterson. These allowed for him, with certain limitations, to access the Doughnut’s computer system, and when required, to transmit any information via a short undetectable micro-transmission to a simple receiver and relay just outside the buildings perimeter - and from there, via the public mobile telephone network, to his personal computer system.

When Carl Peterson invited Charlie and David to be responsible for the on-site installation of the ‘Final Control’ stage of the security system, they were overwhelmed with the honour of such awesome trust.

Only you two gentlemen will know the final operating procedures, Carl Peterson smiled at his enthusiastic team, other than the official operators, of course, he added, reassuring them with a warm smile.

The painstaking work was scheduled to continue throughout the summer and so Charlie and David were housed in a smart comfortable two-bed roomed apartment conveniently located just a short walk from the Doughnut. They had little opportunity for any social activity, spending most of their time diligently working on the complicated installation.

One summer evening Carl Peterson held a small reception for some of the government officials at the site and invited Charlie and David to attend.

They were like ducks out of water at such a gathering, but Carl introduced them to two young ladies who, in spite of also being overawed by the occasion, managed to engage in mutual light hearted conversation. From there the friendships blossomed and before long they became regular items in the local restaurants and discos.

It was in fact the young men’s first ever love affairs.

***

Carl Peterson was naturally delighted when the work on the security system was finally tested and completed, especially as it was well within the contract period and even more importantly on budget. The generous bonus he therefore authorised for his star engineers included a special five-day stopover trip to New York, on their way back to California.

It is merely a modest reward for all your hard work, Carl Peterson smiled, handing over a bundle of first class airline tickets. ‘I also insist that you take your friends with you to New York and on to California too, if you want. You’ve earned it, gentlemen!" Carl Peterson, his arms around his two young stars, glowed with paternal pride.

The girls readily agreed with the proposal to visit New York, apparently eager to get away from what they described as ‘their dreary suburban lives and the fast approaching British winter.’

Soon after that they were all enjoying the luxury of one of New York’s best hotel suites and spent several days excitedly touring by day and night the vibrant city’s sites of special interest combined, of course, with some extravagant retail therapy.

It was on the last morning of their visit that the girls suggested the helicopter tour of Manhattan Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Great idea, the young men agreed. But when they arrived at the heliport the ladies had somehow lost their nerve.

Sorry but I’ve suddenly got the collywobbles about flying in a helicopter. Charlie’s girl whispered shyly.

It’s okay boys, you go; I’ll wait here with her. David’s girl sounded reluctant but quite clearly was not going to let her friend remain waiting all on her own at the dockside heliport.

Here, will you take one of the ‘Statue of Liberty’ for me, please? She passed her ‘easy snap’ camera to David. There’s only one left, so please make sure you get a good close shot? She smiled encouragement.

Okay Charlie? David queried.

Okay girls. We won’t be long anyway - we’ll make it up to you later! Charlie winked lecherously.

The helicopter rose a few feet from the ground before sweeping out across the bay heading for the tip of Manhattan Island and America’s symbol of liberty.

The small aircraft was unbelievably noisy and vibrated so much that conversation without the headphones and miniature microphone would have been impossible.

We are approaching the Statue of Liberty, symbol of American freedom. The pilot’s unconvincing voice droned in the headphones, emphasising the fact that it was his eighth trip that morning. From this position you can see the whole of Manhattan in one panoramic picture. He continued as the helicopter hovered facing the famous statue.

Charlie nudged David and shouted, Better take one with Liz’s camera?

Charlie shook his head. Thanks, I nearly forgot. That would have cost me a cuddle! He winked at David raised the camera focused on the giant statue and pressed the button.

Considering the small amount of explosive packed into the camera, the explosion was most impressive. Killing both passengers the crew and instantaneously igniting the fuel escaping from the ruptured fuel tank, the ancient helicopter was completely enveloped in an angry ball of fire as it tumbled in an ungainly spiral from the sky to splash into the sea close to the unmoved Statue of Liberty.

The girls had already walked some distance from the heliport and looking back watched without any emotion, as the tiny speck in the sky suddenly erupted in a silent, though spectacular orange burst of fire as the explosion spread across the clear blue sky.

Time to report. Liz looped arms with her sister and pressed the send button on her mobile telephone. A simple prepared ‘Text’ appeared. ‘Mission Complete.’ Liz pressed ‘send’. The message vanished from the little screen.

Shame, I wonder what they did to upset him? Karen asked indifferently.

‘I know what you mean, that Charlie was good in bed. But you know Daddy, he always has his reasons." Liz Peterson replied sardonically as she hailed a passing yellow cab.

***

Although he had always been the most dedicated and honourable servant, Alex Scott was forced to admit that he had felt mildly betrayed when his employers announced that the United Nations covert operation SONIC was to be disbanded.

The end of the Cold War, cost cutting, streamlining and improved efficiency was among the standard excuses unconvincingly offered as the reason. In reality a new breed of young establishment organisers who only had eyes for their own future careers were now in command and regarded ‘the old brigade’ as little more than promotion obstacles.

The redundancy settlement of course, will be very generous and not to be sniffed at, the Boss offered apologetically by way of an acceptable solution.

In fact ‘very generous’ proved to be five years full salary, tax-free, with a fully inflation-proof final salary retirement pension. None the less Alex still felt as though he was being put out to pasture long before his time. Conversely, his wife, Rosie, was delighted. She knew from her own bitter experience that Alex’s ‘work’ was dangerous in the extreme, and having spent so many days and hours waiting anxiously for his calls to know that he was safe, could now look forward with considerable relief to a more conventional domestic lifestyle.

Alex on the other hand was an action man, the son of several generations of fighting men and so understandably harboured other ideas. At the age of fifty he was still extremely fit and brimming with energy. The last thing on the mind of this six-foot ex Royal Navy Marine and Secret Agent was vegetating in some urban backwater.

Unfortunately Alex’s frequent encounters with the Syndicate had not only exposed him to their sadistic methods but had also made his family extremely vulnerable to potential retribution. Consequently, following Alex’s last hair-raising encounter, the Boss had arranged for Alex, Rosie and their baby son to live incognito in Alaska where they had been for the last three years, living quite happily under an assumed name. But now, with the threat of danger from the Syndicate finally eliminated, at least it would be possible for them all to return to their home in Jersey.

Alex, however, fearing that their sudden return from the dead would cause a flood of unwanted publicity in such a small community, persuaded Rosie to settle in Falmouth, Cornwall. He felt that there, by assuming a suitably low profile, they could once more enjoy a more natural lifestyle.

The other good thing about Alex’s enforced retirement was that he could accept the offer to join forces with his old friend Hans de Wolf in his fledgling security business in London.

Employing the extremely advanced transmitters and receivers already developed by Hans at his workshop in the centre of London, they proposed to offer specialised covert security and intelligence gathering services to a constantly growing number of security conscious establishments around the world.

***

Now also officially retired from active service with SONIC, it’s Director and former Colonel in the legendary SAS, Sir Adrian Jordan, still maintained an unofficial advisory roll to the various security services and since he could no longer use the offices at Horse Guards, he elected to meet his special friends at his Club.

It’s still behind closed doors and you have the benefit of a little refreshment at the same time, he would advise them by way of justification.

Alex Scott was thrilled to receive the invitation from his old boss to meet. The meeting place was - somewhat surprisingly, he mused - at the Chelsea Arts Club. In the old days it would have been a coded message to meet at one of a number of fusty and inconspicuous old London Inns.

Known to his closes friends and associates simply as The Boss, a term inherited from his SAS days, Sir Adrian Jordan had, as the last head of SONIC, been frequently required to send his small team into action, usually to rectify situations too sensitive for the public’s perception of democracy to explain. Then with the Cold War over, they had more frequently been called upon to remove an occasional upstart dictator or drug baron.

Their last and most dangerous commission had been the destruction of The Syndicate, the powerful international crime organisation led by five unscrupulous, disaffected industrial tycoons. The leader, a lawyer and disgraced diplomat; the second in command, a debarred lawyer; the other three, former industrial tycoons, each of whom had been caught with their fingers in the cookie jar of the public companies they were controlling.

The Boss, together with the skill and daring of his prime agent, Alex Scott, believed that they had finally eliminated them all.

Unknown to them, however, the leader had cunningly slipped through their fingers in the final encounter.

Alex arrived promptly at the appointed time, ten o’clock.

Mr Scott? questioned the smartly attired porter.

Correct, Alex confirmed with a smile.

Follow me please, Sir Adrian is expecting you.

Alex followed obediently. As they paced silently across the great reception hall, Alex was aware of numerous faces he presumed to be of old members, staring questioningly from the lifeless portraits adorning the ancient walls. As he stared back, he became increasingly aware of the artisan nature of the characters; several were outlandishly attired artists or bohemian sculptors, but perhaps even more surprisingly, mixed amongst them were a number of haughtily posing gentlemen, in a variety of military uniforms.

Thank you Henshaw.

Sir Adrian interrupted Alex’s thoughts as he entered a large panelled room.

Good morning Alex. Thank you for coming at such short notice.

He held out his hand.

Alex warmly accepted the gesture. Always a pleasure, Boss. His face creased in a cheeky smile: I just didn’t expect you to be as member of the Chelsea Arts Club?

Ah, I see you need to improve your impoverished education. The Boss looked despairingly at Alex. You see, this is one of the few London clubs where women are allowed membership! He gave an exaggerated wink. Then taking hold of Alex’s elbow, he steered him purposefully to a well-worn high backed leather-bound chair.

Now, look here. Are you genuinely telling me that you do not know the history of this distinguished establishment?

No, but I think you’re about to tell me? Alex settled into the comfortable chair.

Very well then - and only to improve your woefully inadequate knowledge of our great British military history.

The Boss looked away and waved his hand in a wide gesture: This club has and still exists as a gathering place for students from the Chelsea College of Art, who have always regarded it as ‘their club,’ as did numerous broader minded middle-aged citizens in the past. People of many different social and economic groups easily mix here, when they would almost certainly not be able to do so elsewhere.

The Boss looked towards Alex, his expression clearly recalling his pride in the Club’s distinguished history. But that is probably why it was in this very room that the ‘Artists Rifle’ regiment was formed during the First World War.

He pointed to a carefully polished plaque over the mantle place. It was undoubtedly their unconventional attitudes and open minds that ensured the success and survival of those scruffy undisciplined artists and why almost certainly they eventually evolved into the now legendry SAS. Sir Adrian sat back and raised a bushy eyebrow.

Alex shook his head in genuine wonder Honestly, I had no idea.

Now he also understood the presence of the uniformed portraits staring from the rather drab ancient walls.

Anyway history lesson over, I have a more urgent and worrying matters to discuss.

Sir Adrian sat back in his chair as Henshaw reappeared with two large crystal glasses, one of which clinked occasionally as the ice cubes and a slice of green lime moved around in the clear liquid.

Thank you. Sir Adrian muttered as Henshaw placed the glass on a coaster in front of him.

I understand freshly pressed orange juice for you, Sir?

That’s correct, thank you. Alex smiled gratefully as Henshaw positioned the glass on the table and then seemed to glide silently away, the door of the lofty old room closing noiselessly behind him.

Alex, I need to run some facts past you. The Boss carefully picked up his drink.

Now I know that SONIC no longer exists and you have your own successful enterprise now but - and here is the problem. I recently had that funny old feeling about some strange goings on and it smells exactly like Syndicate.

Alex had idly wondered what his old master could have wanted and had visualised that perhaps some piece of security equipment had failed or perhaps he needed a minor surveillance job. So when without any preamble the name ‘Syndicate’ was announced, his pulse quickened as that familiar old adrenalin flush pumped into his veins and his instincts were instantly alerted.

Syndicate, you think? Surely not? Alex repeated casually, trying to sound disinterested and took a measured taste of his orange juice.

The Boss was not fooled; he knew his man too well and raising his own glass he took a gusty draught, savoured the flavour for a moment and then deliberately replaced the glass on the coaster.

Yes, Syndicate - and I’ll tell you why. The Boss put his hands together in front of his face and tapped his index fingers together, remaining deep in thought for a brief moment, before looking up again at the attentive Alex. You know they’ve built this new GCHQ at Cheltenham. Spent untold millions on this futuristic ‘Mushroom’ as the locals call it. Well, now all MI5 and MI6’s communications, together with a few other bits and pieces, are housed under the one roof. All in the interests of efficiency I understand. The trouble is, that although the service is now manned by a bunch of well meaning people, each loaded down with draws full of flowery certificates and all sorts of degrees or diplomas for this that and the other; trouble is, there isn’t anyone there who understands what real action is.

The Boss wrinkled his forehead and shook his head in disbelief before rolling his dry lips. They don’t understand it because they dumped us all!

He growled, took a short sip of his drink and looked Alex in the face. Bit early for a Gordon’s and Tonic I know, but it helps me think!

The Boss put the glass down again.

At least the one little thing they got right, Alex. The Boss’s eyes twinkled thoughtfully as he picked up his glass again but did not drink. Although they closed us down formally, occasionally they still call on me for a bit of advice, informally of course. Usually minor things, so I didn’t consider it to be too important when I received a call from old Watkins. Do you remember him?

Alex nodded. The analyst chap, who used to live almost permanently in the basement at Horse Guards?

That’s him. Well, they kept him on, mostly as a sort of filing clerk just to let him work out his time so that he could claim maximum pension and all that. Anyway, he’s been working away in his little warren deep inside the Mushroom, almost unnoticed ever since they transferred him there. The Boss shook his head in wonder.

"Anyway, whilst he was filing some routine reports recently, he came across a couple of very strange items and his natural suspicious mind was further aroused when he also spotted an unusual duplication of the notes referring to two Vietnamese citizens both of whom were travelling first to the UK with one Commercial Visa and then to Norway with another Commercial Visa. Then they travelled on to China with yet another, but the Commercial applicants were different on each occasion.

Now there’s nothing really strange about that. Businesses conduct overseas contracts through a variety of different commercial, often offshore vehicles for a variety of legitimate reasons. The Boss paused. "However, had Watkins not read a short article in his morning paper, those simple facts would not have meant anything. But when he learned that two Vietnamese computer wizards on an incentive trip to New York had been killed in a mysterious helicopter explosion, his curiosity was naturally alerted and so he decided to research the case in greater depth.

Two days ago he called me here on my mobile telephone and explained it all to me. The Boss pulled the instrument from his pocket and placed it on the table. Not supposed to use them in the Club of course but in here, providing you’re alone nobody cares. Anyway, I asked him to report back as soon as possible with the result of his inquiries. I had been hoping that he could be here this morning to report to both of us in person. So now, here’s where I started to get that bad feeling. I have since learned that Watkins did not report for work yesterday and is not answering his home telephone. He lives alone, so someone from the department called at the house to check that he was okay but apparently he was not at home!

The Boss looked at Alex. I’m sorry but I suspect that he has been got at, had an accident or something!

Alex sat up. What kind of accident? Are you saying that he’s been murdered?

I don’t have the details yet, the Boss looked grave, but I felt that old tingle, he scratched the back of his neck, and it has never failed me before. He shook his head slightly. It feels far too much like a Syndicate-style situation to be ignored.

Alex looked up thoughtfully at the ancient oil painting above the fireplace as he absorbed the shocking possibility. But I thought that we’d cleaned them out.

He focused on the eyes of the soldier staring defiantly from the portrait. My God if you’re right.... He didn’t finish as the door opened and Henshaw coughed politely.

Most urgent call, Sir Adrian. He proffered the walkabout telephone.

Thank you, I’ll take it here. The Boss took the instrument and Henshaw left.

Hello, to whom am I speaking? The Boss said into the telephone innocently. Ah yes, do you have anything?

The Boss’s face was grave as he listened.

Oh dear, he said with feeling. Well, thank you for that. Keep me posted please.

Looking grim he put the telephone on the table.

Seems as though I still have a few reliable contacts, he pursed his lips, and then took a deep breath, exhaling slowly.

I’m afraid that poor old Watkins was found in some alleyway here in London, he was unconscious and apparently stoned out of his mind. They took him to Accident and Emergency at St Mary’s Paddington but he never regained consciousness.

The Boss stared at the wall. You asked if I was saying he has been murdered. Then yes, I am saying just that. What do you think?

Alex was silent for a moment he needed to think. The idea that the Syndicate may be raising its ugly head again was astonishing and yet the potential challenge gave him an almost painful thrill.

I think you had better let me see how good your contacts are. I’d like to have a little look at the facts and so I’d want to start at GCHQ Cheltenham, always assuming you can get me in there?

The Boss smiled, leaned across and slapped Alex’s knee accepting the challenge. Twenty four hours, my boy, just give me twenty four hours.

***

Hans de Wolf and Alex Scott had remained close friends ever since they served together in the Royal Navy as fresh young officers.

The relationship had taken on another meaning when the pair who had been posted, with their ship, to the Far East were relaxing ashore one evening, when the café they were sitting in was blown apart by a terrorist bomb. Alex, by sheer fluke escaped the worst of the blast and then ignoring the risk from the small arms fire being poured into the wrecked café by the attackers, managed to drag his unconscious colleague from the rubble to safety,

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