Scorpion's Reach, (continuing), 'To Catch a Thug'
Where we left off
From the Author
First things first, I need to apologise, when we started this story earlier in the year I kind of broke it off half way through hoping that it would drive sales for the novel of the same title.
It did a bit, and I've been asked to enter the novel into a New Zealand crime-writers competition for next year, but it just didn't feel right leaving things where they were, so I've decided to come back to the story and finish off the 'serializing' through HP.
I'm also beginning to plan out the next installment in the series, but more about that in the future.
When we left off the team had been stood down after the mission in Iran, the British government were saying it was a total Disaster that nearly caused another war in the Middle East (not hard to do really) but M.I.6 (and those in the know) were hailing it as a total success as they got their man out alive, but there were repercussions expected, so the team had to be sent to a 'safe place'.
Jacko and Mac were sent to Australia, to help train the Australian SAS, Smithy was sent to the New Zealand Military base in New Zealand to teach at their Sniper school. Joey and Sandy were sent on Holiday, partly for him to recover from his wounds, and partly because the 'back blocks' of New Zealand are about as remote as anywhere on the planet, the only place more remote is Antarctica!
Joey and Sandy don't look for trouble, trouble seems to stick to them like superglue!
A freak accident happens, and a friend is killed, Joey and Sandy (along with Sandy's sister) are injured and they're right in the 'proverbial' up to their necks. and some things just aren't adding up!
Okay, there's the brief recap for the story, anyone who wants to the link to the beginning is just below, you can catch up and read what's happened so far.
Hope you enjoy the story.
- "Scorpion's Reach". Part one.
Recuperating from the operation in Iran, Joey and Sandy are forced to 'take a holiday' with Sandy's family when tragedy strikes. A freak accident takes a life, but is it really an accident?
Getting rid of evidence
As soon as the system was ‘up and running’ Sandy typed in a series of commands, then they waited. A few moments later the screen came alive with a picture of a conference room with two men sat at the conference table, just as the picture came on there was a tap on their door, Joey got up and went to it, a few seconds later he was back with a big pot of coffee, a plate of Croissants, butter and Jam.
“I can see you’ve got your priorities right then!” one of the men on the screen spoke, it was Sir Michael.
“Sorry” it was Sandy spoke up, “We’ve been on the go since four am this morning, this is the first chance for a ‘refuel’ we’ve had” she took a croissant, cut it in half, she wasn’t going to tell him about the little stop at the Bombays, that had been more of a ‘get things straight’ type of stop anyway, they could see the heat rising off the pastry, the aroma was wonderful, she spread a ‘noggin’ of butter on one half, then taking the Jam (it was Strawberry, her favourite) she put a big dollop onto the other half then put the two together. Coffee and croissants, it was heaven, but they were here for a reason. “We were kind of expecting them to bring this after the conference call sir.” She lied.
“You called for a conference Sir Michael; we’ve got quite a bit to report” Joey jumped in to carry on. “Here we are” he was pouring the coffee.
Sir Michael smiled a little, “So have we, I’ve called on Steve for some forensic accounting help looking into the car driver’s accounts.
“Good to see you two again” the ‘Steve’ was Steve Chambers, the guy they’d gone into Iran to rescue in the first mission. “Though you ARE supposed to be on holiday you know!” he wisecracked a little, he knew them both pretty well and knew they had the sense of humour that would appreciate it, “I guess someone forgot to tell you”
“Well, it was great, while it lasted.” Joey replied. “That is until the accident!” he carried on, “anyway, we’ve got a few things that might throw some light on things.”
“First of all” Sandy interrupted, “The car is going through it’s serious crash inspection as we speak” she saw Sir Michael begin to interrupt, she cut him off with a holding up of the hand, “They’re not going to find anything, other than a few smudges in the brake pipes, we got there first, then it’s on its way back to England, it should be leaving the country within a few days, all the paperwork has been filed.”
“What did you find then?” Sir Michael wasn’t known for ‘beating about the bush’.
“Take a look for yourself” Joey replied as he lifted the device onto the table, he plonked it right in front of the camera, “Can you see it clearly?”
“Looks like a Bomb of some sort?” it was more a question than anything, and it was Chambers asked the question.
“Yes, and no” Joey replied. “The first part wasn’t, that was this cylinder” he pointed to the one of the left, “filled with acid of some kind, probably Sulphuric, activated by a timer like so” he gave a demonstration. "This bit here," Joey pointed to a small valve on the end of the first cylinder, "is the control mechanism, open it and the acid pours out.”
“How long would it take to work?" Chambers asked the question.
"It was right above the brake master cylinder," Joey carried on. "Probably no more than a couple of minutes before the first holes, about ten minutes and you've got catastrophic failure!"
That explains the brakes." Sir Michael spoke up, but wasn't the car accelerating?"
"Yep, she was" Joey replied, he reached down and pulled what looked like a rectangular rubber tile out of the bag, "hope the McLaren boys and girls don't mind we kept this back" he placed it on the table, "it's the accelerator pedal, SUPERGLUED TO THE CARPET!!" She waited a moment for the statement to sink in. "Crude but works every time!"
“ I don’t want to know how you know that!” Sir Michael shot back, “Back to the original question, “How’d you get your hands on this, if it was supposed to be in the police compound?”
“Oh it is in the compound boss” Joey replied, “ and the cops still have one, that wasn’t part of the killer's plan, take a look here” he pointed to the second cylinder, “Filled with white phosphorus, that was timed to rupture a couple of hours ago, while the car was in the compound.”
“And don’t tell me” Sir Michael cut in, “above the brake cylinder, brake fluid is chiefly alcohol based which ignites, that starts to burn, which in turn reaches the fuel tank right?”
“And you have a very crude, but effective bomb levelling most of the station” Joey finished off. “Not to mention how many cops hurt in the blast, last thing they’ll be thinking about is what caused it! Least not for weeks.”
Another 'Vanishing act' but this time it's Drug money!
"The killer knew Cavell wouldn't be able to 'floor it's until he got to Thames, then he wouldn't be able to resist" Sandy broke in. "Thus he knew roughly where it was going to happen" she took another croissant, cut the pastry and spread a thin layer of butter then Jam on it and took another bite, she went on. “It was planned down to the last detail”
“So” Chambers spoke again, “We’re all pretty convinced that you weren’t the target, that sort of fits with what we’ve found out at this end.” He brought the meeting ‘back to the point’
"Hold on" Sandy spoke up, she tapped a few keys on the laptop, "I've just sent you an enlarged picture of what he's talking about." She nodded slightly in Joey's direction.
Joey continued running through the details of the device, but that didn’t answer the big questions. It was Sir Michael asked the obvious, he hadn’t spoken much to Chambers beforehand.
“But it doesn’t tell us why though?”
"I think I can help a bit with that," Steve spoke up, he pulled out a small keyboard from the desk he sat at, Joey and Sandy's second screen came alive, one half showing the two men, the other showing an 'employee identity badge from Barclays Bank. "Meet junior exec James Cavell" he went on. "Remember about three years ago Barclays got stung for a billion pounds in fines for screwing the mortgage rates?"
"I remember that" all three said it almost at the same time, it was Sir Michael continued. "Old Bob Diamond resigned over it, if I remember correctly"
"Yes sir he did," Chambers glanced over at Sir Michael, "we gave him an ultimatum 'resign' or face jail time!" He let that sink in, "anyway it wasn't the only shady dealings going on, we couldn't prove things, but there was a strong link with some unsavoury characters at the time and one name kept cropping up!"
“Don’t tell me he was involved there” Sir Michael didn’t like this, he was the one had pushed for letting Diamond walk away with just a resignation.
“Unfortunately that’s exactly what I was going to tell you sir” Chambers continued, he half turned to Sir Michael and carried on, “at the time there wasn’t enough evidence to bring it to anyone’s attention, let alone try and prosecute, just little rumours and suggestions at the time, mostly linking to the Yakuza and the Triads, but nothing concrete!”
“You folks really know how to ‘mix things up don’t you?” Joey almost forgot where he was and whom he was talking to, “I mean probably the two worst criminal elements there are, and you happen to ‘forget’ that he was in league with them! Jesus, what else?”
“As I said” Chambers shot back, “There was no evidence, and when he moved on a few months later they seemed to disappear, so we didn’t follow up!”
“And now it’s come back to bite us” Joey couldn’t resist the comment. “In the arse and big time!”
“There was no evidence, as I said” Chambers was starting to get impatient, ‘But the rumours we heard were disturbing enough that if anyone found out it was a powder keg waiting to explode, we’d told Barclays themselves so when they let Cavell move with a glowing reference we figured they’d checked them out.” He tapped his screen, the part with the ID photo changed to what looked like a statement. “Here’s what they found” they were a series of figures.
“They look like a series of bank transfers to me,” Sandy spoke up, as much to diffuse the situation as anything, she could feel Joey tensing up as if he was getting frustrated at not being told the whole picture, “Money between banks”
“You’re right there Sandy” Chambers replied, “but notice the discrepancy between the figures on the left and right, the one on the right” he highlighted the figures on the right, “is smaller by a significant amount, we estimate about five million American dollars”
“Could it be just that they didn’t use the money yet?” Sir Michael asked, he hadn’t seen this information before.
“No sir” Chambers replied, “This is the money that neither Barclays nor our own forensic accounts people can find! It simply seemed to vanish, though we’ve got a clue as to some of it’s path”
“Secret Swiss bank accounts? Or is it the Caymans?” Sandy asked.
“Right idea, wrong locations” Chambers replied with a slight smile, he was beginning to relax after the near confrontation with Joey, “Try the Channel Islands!”
"My own bloody doorstep?"
What?” Sir Michael had been taking a sip of a glass of water when that last statement came out, he nearly choked, “How the hell are they pulling this right under our bloody noses?” he was angry, the Channel Islands were a tax haven, but they were also part of the British Isles, anything involving them also involved Britain and he thought he knew everything about what went on there.
“The money coming in to the Barclays account often came from some of the Banks in the Channel Islands, we think they were using the Channel Islands to ‘clean the money’ from dubious sources abroad like Chinese and Russian Banks, but a small amount went back to the Channel Islands and that’s the amount we can’t find!” Chambers replied, “about five million dollars”
“And you think the Yakuza or Triads found out about it!” Joey was putting it together now, “Kind of makes sense”
“If we put it together then they could have too! We only started looking when the ‘body appeared’ they’ve been looking for two years or so!” Chamber’s logic was frustratingly right on the money.
“So, we’ve got Yakuza and Triads after this money,” Joey spoke silently but with a grim determination, they were ‘in the shit’ but there wasn’t time to feel sorry for it. “What do you want to do boss?” he looked directly at Sir Michael, he could feel Sandy doing the same, they’d killed a member of her extended family, and injured her sister who was one of her best friends, he knew she’d want blood, but at the same time they couldn’t go doing things ‘off their own bat’
“If this gets out” Sir Michael began, “just knowing that we were suspicious and did nothing could cause some serious trouble, hell there’ll be questions in parliament, not to mention a diplomatic row between Britain and New Zealand, something we really don’t need right now.” He shifted in his seat, then continued “We need to know where that money went! I want you to find where Cavell might have hidden the information and find that bloody money!”
“We’ve got his address both here in Auckland and on the Coromandel boss” Joey replied, “we’ll get right on it” and with that he leaned forward clicking the button that cancelled the connection, they both sat there stunned for a good couple of minutes, a ‘family holiday’ had gone from a great break to horrendous accident and was now transforming into a dangerous mission with little backup. “Oh well, nothing new” he thought as he disconnected the feed.
“Some holiday” was all Sandy said.
All for now
I'll be putting more of the story out next week, but that's all for now folks, don't forget to leave a comment below and let me know if you like the story.
By the way, there's a link below to both the first and second novels if you're interested