Scorpion's Vengeance. Book 3 of the series
From the author
Before we start, I discovered something amazing tonight, and it'll possibly change the way I work here at HP, I can write Hubs using my phone!!
Yep, that's right, I'm sat here in a Saturday night, tapping away not at a computer screen, but at the screen on my phone, and I'm as happy as can be! I can write away to my heart's content and develop hubs as I go!!
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago we finished book 2 in my series, and to be honest I've struggled a bit getting motivated to start anything new, not that I haven't got ideas, I have, too many of them, but getting them down onto the screen? that was a different story!
I was thinking, or rather asking my 'muse' why that was, and today I think I got a reply. My muse basically said, "You need pressure, you do your best work when you're under pressure!"
Anyway, I've got part of the story written in the first draft, so it's time to 'pound the keys' and see what comes out, an adventure to be sure, and not one for the 'faint of heart' but then again, I'm not really known for taking the 'safe route' so here goes.
Time Tuesday 05.30 (local time)
There was a slight chill in the air as she stepped out of the apartment block, the trail from the moisture as she breathed out was noticeable, indicating the temperature was in single digits, and probably near to zero Celsius. Not surprising considering it was autumn, and getting closer to winter.
The first thing she noticed outside, (apart from the cold that is) was the traffic, it was pretty steady at this time in the morning, any later and it would be its usual diabolical situation, kind of made her glad that the ‘tube’ (as Londoners affectionately call the London underground rail network) got her to within a few minutes walk of where she worked.
It also meant that instead of having a horrible commute of at least an hour by car, all she had to do was walk to the local ‘tube station’ at the ‘Elephant and Castle’ jump on the Northern line and ten minutes later she’d be right outside the Bank of England in one of the world's greatest financial hubs.
But the really great part about the place was, just a short jog from home was some of London’s best attractions. Walk out of the apartment, take a right on Brook-street, and you’re right outside the Imperial war museum, with the massive fourteen-inch guns from the front turret of HMS Warspite, one of Britain’s last Battleships to be decommissioned after the second world war on full display.
Turn right onto Kennington road and a first left onto Horse-ferry road and Lambeth Palace is right there, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a medieval palace in its own right. Head across the bridge there, and you’re right there, in the seat of power, Westminster Palace, better known as the House of Commons, and the House of Lords, Parliament, and all within a short jog of her place.
Elephant and Castle
There were a few cars about, but most of the traffic was commercial, trying to make their final deliveries before the six am deadline when delivery trucks need to be out of the urban centres, so as to give room for those crazy enough to try getting to work by car, not that there are many of them in London, the ‘congestion’ charges make sure of that, only those who live within the limits drive their cars around, and even then, it’s only when they absolutely have to, the tube is much easier, and safer.
She stopped for a moment, adjusting her beanie, checking the ponytail, no need to hide any keys, the apartment had one of the latest locks with a four-digit keypad system, unbreakable, then again the four-digit code she’d programmed would have been easy to break, it was her birthday, easy to remember and easy for anyone who knew Jane to break into the apartment, if they knew her date of birth that is!
As soon as everything was ready, everything checked and working, she was off, a morning jog, Hane would start gently, as there were a few main streets to cross, and the last couple of years the local council had been converting the pedestrian underpasses to cycleways, meaning at this time of the morning, she could be dealing with a few maniacal cyclists hell-bent on running anything in their path down,
As soon as the run was over she planned a shower, breakfast, and into work by 8 am, that was the plan, it was her plan every morning.
At the end of Hercules street she ‘hung a right’ and started picking up the pace, next stop would be Lambeth bridge, just alongside Lambeth Palace.
It always puzzled Jane, She worked in the financial world, and was used to opulence, or wealth, but wasn’t the church founded by a poor son of a carpenter? And didn’t he teach “The love of money is the root of all evil?” Yet here was a huge Palace, all for the use of one man! Just didn’t make sense to her really, in some ways’ she was a traditional ‘C of E’ but in other ways, she didn’t really have too many beliefs, apart from the need to be a basically ‘good’ person, yet the church seemed to ‘float’ its own rules, teaching poverty for its members, but wealth for its hierarchy!
Crossing the Lambeth bridge, she turned right, but not the hard right that would take her along the river, and started her run in earnest. Sycamore trees lined the right-hand side of the road, they’d lost about half their leaves so far, a street sweeper was slowly making its way down the opposite side of the street, clearing away the foliage before ‘the powers that be’ surfaced and took charge of the country for the morning, this was the time when only the lowly paid would be working.
In the shadow of "Big Ben"
About half a mile further up she took a right, the house of Lords on her left, the imposing tower where Big Ben rang out was on the other side of the building.
Most tourists think of Big Ben, the most iconic landmark in London as the big clock tower you see on just about every postcard from London, but Big Ben actually isn’t the tower, it’s the massive bell inside the tower, and at thirteen tons, it lives up to the name! The tower actually has another name, the Elizabeth Tower, named after the Queen, and in honour of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Reaching the Thames, she turned right again and was just hitting her stride when she saw something floating.
“What the?” was her first thought, “What is that?” she stopped to take a closer look, “Oh my God” she screamed as the thing turned over, slowly, seemingly reluctantly as if it didn’t want to reveal itself, but now there was no doubt as the gruesome thing started back through lifeless eyes.
Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Location Bay of Plenty off the coast of New Zealand
Time. Monday 0500 (local time) and 12 hours ahead of London.
“You are aware” Jacko shouted into the headset, “the mission is over, you are aware of that aren’t you?” he tapped Carol, the pilot on the shoulder as he spoke.
They were at fifty feet, touching two hundred miles an hour, and heading for the coastline. No navigation lights
“Sorry Captain” Carol almost laughed, “in case you didn't know, you're not supposed to be here, that means I've got to get you outta here with no one knowing you were ever here, get my drift?” she had a cheeky grin.
'Black ops’ or Covert Ops aren't just about getting in without your enemy knowing you're coming, they're just as much about getting out again without anyone knowing you've been there! Literally 'keep 'em guessing’ and that means the 'exfil’ can be just as hairy as the 'infil’ and Carol was loving every second of the flying, it's not often she got to push her 'cab’ to its limit (and we'll beyond what the manufacturer said it could do).
Jacko turned back, the rest of the team were busy, Mac, Smithy and Joey all had their weapons stripped, and were busy cleaning them, Sandy was poring over the laptop, checking files, from the look on her face, he wasn't even sure it'd registered that they were airborne.
He keyed his mike again. “How far to our destination?”
“Fifteen minutes until we're over land” Carol replied, “then about forty minutes”
“Bird off the Starboard” The co-pilot spoke the warning, the set of navigation lights seemed to be heading straight for them and coming in really fast. “Closing fast, break right, BREAK RIGHT” the second command was almost a shout as Carol yanked the controls hard right, all Jacko saw was sky as the aircraft went into the steep turn.
“What the” Mac's reaction was instinctive, he grabbed for the bulkhead, not really necessary as they were all strapped firmly in, “what the hell boss? I'm looking at the bloody ocean”
“Thank your lucky stars you can still see it, and aren't in the bloody stuff” Carol cut in, she glanced at the co-pilot, “thanks for that”
“Eagle one, this is eagles nest” they all heard the call, it couldn’t be a good thing, ‘Eagle’s nest’ was where ‘Mildred’ was, someone was changing things, and that was never good.
“One go ahead” Carol replied on the radio.
“Go to channel one”
Everyone was listening, they were still working through cleaning the weapons, but there was a sense of urgency, Carol had told them at the start that channel one was the scrambler channel, “You know, just in case” she’d said. Now, whoever it was wanted to speak to them without even the professional ‘snoops’ listening in, that was reserved for only the most important. It didn’t bode well for whatever they had to say.
The co-pilot reached out with his left hand, turning a dial on the central console they heard nothing at first, then a voice came on the line, they’d heard it once before, at the start of the op, but five of the seven recognised it straight away.
“Captain, I presume you can all hear me?” the voice asked, it was female, and from the sound, she was an older middle-aged woman, one used to being in charge.
“Yes ma’am” Jacko replied, “We’re all here”
“Good” the voice came back, “then I don’t have to waste my time repeating myself, sorry about this, but a formal debrief isn’t going to happen at this stage”
‘Shit’ no one said the word, but that’s exactly what everyone was thinking, whatever was going on meant that this op wasn’t over, but what the hell can be next?
"We gotta move on this"
“We’ve got so much information” the voice went on, “it’s going to take months to put everything together, but some of what we got we’ve got to get our arses into gear and move on it, and I mean now!”
“Figured that,” Joey thought he whispered it, but the ‘voice’ heard it and cut him off.
“Glad you’re with us Mr Metcalfe, how’s the wound?”
“The jacket took the bullets” Jacko silenced Joey with a glare and a finger over his lips, “Just a couple of bruises, that’s all, besides, where there’s no sense, there’s no feeling right Joey?” he joked, it brought smiles from the rest of them, even Joey enjoyed the joke.
“Glad to hear it” Mildred’s voice came back, “we’re going to need every one of you in this, and that includes the two police with you!” she didn’t refer to Sam and Hene by name, mainly because she might not have known their names.
Sam and Hene had been sat trying to comprehend what they’d just been through, Police training prepares you for a lot, but what they’d just done was way above anything that the police could prepare them for, yes they’d used firearms, and there’d been times when Sam had drawn hers in the line of duty, but this had been a full fledged firefight where they’d been shooting to kill with every shot, and the team had been absolutely ruthless, but what had thrown them was the fact that none of the team seemed too concerned they’d just been in a life or death firefight. The voice mentioning them snapped them back to reality.
"Get your arses into gear!"
“As I said” the voice went on, “we’ve got to get your arses into gear, otherwise we’ll lose the momentum, at the moment, we’ve got an enemy that’s wounded, but from what we can make out, they’re a long way from being finished, and if we don’t move fast, they’re likely to strike back and do it hard!”
“Roger that ma’am” Jacko cut back in, “what do you need from us?”
“I’m going to need you to deliver a message for me” the voice came back, the helicopter had turned nearly ninety degrees and was heading straight for the Coromandel Peninsula, it was going to be an interesting flight. “The two police, with you, Sam a Hene isn’t it?”
“Yes,” both of them asked, and confirmed.
“You’re still officially with the police” the voice replied, “but as of this moment, you work directly with me, a new task force that the Prime Minister will set up as soon as I’ve put the paper on their desk, and yes, they’ve already agreed to it, you’ll officially be working for me on the legal side of things here in New Zealand, at least that's what the papers are going to say, reality is, you'll be running 'backup' for the team"
Sam and Hene just looked at each other, Sam was a good cop, even got noticed by her bosses, but this was way beyond even her paygrade, whoever it was, clearly had some pull!
And that phrase "that's what the papers will say" kind of bothered her, made it sound like there was more to things than even Mildred was letting on.
“As for the rest of you” the voice went on, Jacko and Mac, a vehicle’s waiting on the tarmac for you, it’ll take you to a waiting C130 that’ll fly you back to Aussie as soon as you’re aboard, from there, you’ll board a flight to London, papers and passports will be given you when you get to Sydney, Should take you about twenty-four hours all told”
Silence, no one knew what to think, clearly, something was going on, “Might I ask why?” it was Mac asked the question, no one liked the sound of what was going on.
It took a few moments for the voice to reply, “We need to get the information to Sir Michael, but can’t use the normal channels”
"We've got a mole haven't we?"
“We’ve got a leak haven’t we?” it was Sandy who cut in, “Not just a mole, but one that could blow the whole thing, isn’t that right?”
“Whoever it was,” the voice came back, “fed your names and details to the ship, that means the whole organization knows who’s hunting them! And as far as I know, only three people knew whom you were, all three can be accounted for, and they didn’t pass the information, so it has to be someone working in the secure comms networks!”
“Holy crap” Joey let out a few more choice words as well, “that means every”
“Every signal we sent, every word we reported back, all got given to them, not only that, but every detail about us, they have, and they probably know that we know!”
“Hence the ‘old school’ face to face” the voice came back, “and that’s where you come in Captain”
The rest of the flight went off without a hitch, and better yet, no one needed a 'puke bag’ despite seemingly Carol's best efforts, she was quietly impressed at the way the team handled themselves.
They approached the coast with little let up from the pilot, there was a trust there, very few pilots could pull off the kind of flying she'd done on the 'intercept’, she'd got them there without the enemy having a clue.
Contrary to what the movies say, no helicopter has a 'stealth mode!’ Sure, some have noise suppression technology on the engines, but the 'dead giveaway’ is the 'thwack’ the rotor blades make as they move forward. The rotors, when they’re moving forward are actually travelling at twice the speed of the aircraft, that means two hundred miles an hour, the blades are doing four hundred. Anything going through the air at four hundred miles an hour makes a hell of a noise!
There are only two things can help reduce that noise, terrain and wind, sound carries 'on the wind’ so come in 'upwind’ of the location and they aren't going to hear you, throw in some terrain blocking the way, and they've got no chance of spotting you.
“Two minutes,” Carol turned and gave Jacko a smile. Everyone began re-assembling their weapons, Smithy was first to finish.
And that's all for now
Sorry folks, but that really is all for now, as I said, this is a 'rough' first draft of the story, so any input will be gratefully accepted.
But chiefly I hope you enjoy the story.
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