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Breach of Power

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Breach of Power
Breach of Power
Chuck Barrett
Switchback Press
Contents
Reviews Of Chuck Barrett's Previous Books


T
he Savannah Project
signals the arrival of a new member to the thriller genre. Chuck Barrett. The tale contains all of the danger, treachery, and action a reader could wish for. The intrigue comes from all directions, slicing and stitching with precision. A worthy debut from an exciting talent.”

—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author


F
rom the tree
-lined streets of Savannah to the mossy stones of an ancient Irish castle, The Savannah Project weaves a fast moving tale of murder, mystery and suspense. Chuck Barrett has written a winner here. A must-read novel for thriller lovers.”

—William Rawlings, bestselling author of The Mile High Club

"
T
he Toymaker
is a fun
, fast moving thriller with plenty of gadgets and a lot of action."


Phillip Margolin
,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Capitol Murder


T
he Savannah Project
is a bona fide suspense thriller. Rife with abundant mystery and intrigue, author Chuck Barrett’s standout tale takes the reader on a tortuous path of all-engrossing action and adventure. A highly recommended instant classic.”

—Apex Reviews 


T
he Savannah Project
is an exciting thriller that will prove hard to put down.”

—The Midwest Book Review 

A
taut
, pulse-pounding thriller.”

—ForeWord Clarion Reviews


C
huck Barrett’s The Savannah Project
grabs your undivided attention from the very first sentence and does not let you truly exhale until the very last, chilling-to-the core line…”

—Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson/Reader Views

"
T
he Toymaker provides everything
a thriller reader would want. Characters that jump from the page, a deep plot that feels timely and current, and all the action you’ve come to expect from Mr. Barrett. I found the book a page-turner and as always, filled with tidbits and information that taught me things I did not know. Mr. Barrett’s exhausting research shows in every scene, and his pace and plot development held me enthralled from the first page to the last."


Richard Hale
, Author of Near Death and Frozen Past

"
H
aving
read and enjoyed
The Savannah Project
, Chuck Barrett's first novel, I was eager to read more.
The Toymaker
is great! I was captivated by the suspense, the characters, the fast pace, and the plot twists and surprises. I particularly marveled at Barrett's ability to explain and educate about real spy toys on the cutting edge of technology in a way that makes them understandable, without getting in the way of the driving story and thrilling tension."


Artie Lynnworth

author of
Slice the Salami: Tips For Life and Leadership

Also by Chuck Barrett

F
iction
:

The Savannah Project

The Toymaker

N
on-Fiction
:

P
ublishing
Unchained

B
REACH OF POWER
. Copyright ©2013 by Chuck Barrett. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher/copyright owner except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, please contact Switchback Press, [email protected]

B
reach of Power
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

C
over design
by Mary Fisher Design, LLC,
http://www.maryfisherdesign.com

F
IRST EDITION

ISBN: 978-0-9885061-0-7

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012953611

B
arrett
, Chuck.

Breach of Power / Chuck Barrett

FICTION: Thriller/Suspense/Mystery

Published by Switchback Press

w
ww.switchbackpress.com

ISBN: 978-0-9885061-1-4

F
or Debi
.

"
N
early all men
can stand adversity. But if you want

to test a man's character, give him power."


A
braham Lincoln

Prologue

Z
ugspitze
, Germany

February 1946

W
hen the Austrians
came for him, he knew what they wanted.

The journal.

He could never let them have it. That would be his death sentence.

He ran down the corridor, grabbed a coat from the resort's coat closet, tucked the journal inside an interior pocket, and buttoned it tight. He slipped on his gloves and ventured out into the storm.

Howling wind buffeted against his body. Ice crystals ripped at his exposed flesh like tiny shards of glass. Snow crunched beneath his boots. With each laborious step, the deeper drifts swallowed his legs to his knees. Without goggles his eyes stung and his eyelashes froze. Ice clung to his brows. He wiped it away with the back of his glove.

The 1917 Waterbury watch his father gave him, his only possession other than the clothes on his back, read 1:00. His father had carried it during World War I. Now it was his only heirloom. The last evidence that he had a past.

The blizzard, already raging for two days, was forecast to pound the area for another thirty-six hours. It had shut down the recently commandeered Schneefernerhaus Hotel and Resort atop Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain. The U. S. Army closed the resort hotel over 24 hours ago and all guests and non-essential personnel were sent down from the summit. Only a skeleton crew remained and were scattered throughout the resort. The only transportation from the mountaintop, a twenty-year-old cable car, was closed due to high winds, forcing him to escape on foot.

His first plan was to retreat across the sloping terrain of the Zugspitzplatt, a plateau below the summit of Zugspitze, and down through Reintal Valley to Garmisch. Ages ago, the Zugspitzplatt was carved by glaciers, which left in its wake a plateau with hundreds of limestone caves.

The Zugspitzplatt was a longer route, but its slopes offered a better alternative than the treacherous northeast face of Zugspitze. Even though he’d scaled that mountain face numerous times, it had been in warmer weather, and he'd never descended it. Under existing conditions, with gale force winds and icy rock faces, escape in that direction would be perilous, if not borderline suicidal.

In the howling snowstorm he trudged eastward through the crusty snowpack across the Zugspitzplatt when he spotted three Austrians fifty meters in front of him. Each man carried a rifle. He turned south, only to see more Austrians moving in his direction. He was trapped.

Like a loose cow on the prairie, he was being herded back to the hotel. Slowly. Deliberately.

He had two choices. Surrender, and surely die. Or take his chances descending the north face of Zugsptize in the raging blizzard, where he'd probably die anyway. He wouldn't give those bastards the satisfaction, he thought. There was a slim chance he could make it, and right now, that was better than no chance at all.

Most importantly, she wouldn't have the book.

He circumnavigated the hotel and fled for the summit.

He reached the vertex of Zugspitze exhausted, voices behind him barely audible over the wind whipping across the mountain's peak. He leaned into the wind and let the thought of keeping the journal from her drive his determination.

Descending the northeast face of Zugspitze offered no shelter from the squall. In fact, just the opposite, it kept him in the brunt of the storm's fury. The bitter cold wore on him with each passing minute. Each time he stopped to rest, he thought he heard voices above him mixed with the whirlpool of wind whipping and swirling through the jagged rocks. The threat forced him to keep moving, descending the treacherous decline toward the Höllentalferner glacier, where he knew he could make faster progress. But first, he still had to descend the
klettersteig
, or climbing path, a near vertical rock face outfitted with cables, ropes, stemples, and ladders. It was intended solely for climbing—not descending—and he knew it would be covered with ice.

When he reached the precipice, he looked down at the sheet of ice blanketing his path and knew the descent would be perilous.

And foolish.

He studied the path down the mountain and located each stemple, a wooden or iron peg wedged into the rock, and gauged how much ice had accumulated on the wall.

The next four hours were spent in a slow, meticulous descent. Grasping the frozen guide rope with one hand, he lowered himself to the next stemple, knocking it clear of ice with his boots before putting his full weight on it. His gloves, shredded against the jagged rocks, left little for protection and warmth. His fingers were numb. How he longed to return to the hot and humid South, where winters in his small hometown in northwestern South Carolina were mild in comparison to the brutal winters of Germany.

He'd long since forgotten about the men chasing him when it occurred to him that he hadn't heard their voices in over three hours. Maybe they gave up and turned back.

Fifty feet above the glacier he caught his first glimpse of the barren ice field through the raging snowstorm. Thirty more minutes, he thought, perhaps forty-five, to descend to the glacier. He stopped to catch his breath. His fingers throbbed from the cold so he cupped his hands and blew hot breath into them in a vain attempt to stimulate blood circulation to his fingertips.

Small rocks and ice pelted him from above, and he knew the woman and her Austrian thugs were still in pursuit. He tripled his efforts, traversing the steep decline faster, not taking the time to clean the ice from the stemples before each step.

Twenty feet above the glacier a wooden stemple broke. With one hand still clutching the guide rope, he swung away from the stemples and crashed against the icy rock face. A shot rang out and simultaneously a shock wave pounded his chest radiating upward through his shoulder and into his arm. Too painful for him to cling to the safety line, his hand slipped free and he plummeted toward the glacier, bouncing off a rock outcropping on the way down. A thick snowdrift next to the icy rock face cushioned his fall.

He grabbed at the searing pain. Underneath his heavy coat, he felt his warm blood spreading across his shirt.

He'd been shot.

He heard men yelling. He looked up and saw three faint silhouettes move across the snow-covered, icy crag. He pulled himself to his feet and sprinted across the glacial ice field. And away from his pursuers.

The man shouted again, then he heard the blast from a rifle. A patch of ice next to him exploded. He turned around to see where the shot came from but the snowstorm had swallowed the side of the mountain and the rock face was no longer visible.

Thank goodness he made it to the ice field. Although not level, it still allowed him to move much faster in the raging storm.

He was on the Höllentalferner glacier's accumulation zone, where each year's buildup of snow and ice fueled its downhill movement. The northeast facing notch in Zugspitze provided a perfect scoop to collect and add several feet of fresh snow and ice to the zone. The more the accumulation of snow, the easier it was to traverse the glacier's ice field. This blizzard alone would provide enough supply for several years' melt.

Without warning, the ice broke beneath his feet.

When he fell, his waist pounded against the lip on the opposite side of the crevasse, leaving his feet dangling in air. His fingers clawed at the snow and ice. He dug his fingernails in to keep from being swallowed by the mighty glacier. But he couldn’t find a hold and he felt his body slide deeper into the crevasse, as if something was pulling him from below.

His fingertips gripped at the icy ledge, temporarily stopping his fall. Suddenly his grip broke free, and he was once again falling. He bounced off the cavern wall and caught a quick glimpse of the hard ice floor thirty feet below rushing up to meet him. He extended his arm to break his fall and felt is snap on impact.

Pain raked through his body.

He lay on his back trying to push through the daze. He couldn't move. At the bottom of the crevasse, deep inside the bowels of the Höllentalferner glacier, his body raked with pain. His brain raced through a self-diagnostic, interpreting every signal his body sent. The bullet felt like a hot ember burning inside his torso. With every heartbeat, every pulse of blood, his body screamed.

Minutes passed and his mind slowly cleared. When it did, panic moved in.

The Austrians.

Painfully, he rolled over. His first thought was that he couldn't let the woman and her men find him. He pulled himself as far under a ledge as he could to hide from the opening above him. With his right arm, he pushed himself into a seated position against the icy wall of the cavern. His left arm throbbed. Glancing down he noticed his elbow was twisted in the wrong direction.

He caught his breath, unbuttoned the top of the coat, and looked at his wound. The side of his shirt was soaked in blood. Fresh blood oozed from the gunshot wound.

As the minutes passed, he wondered what had happened to his pursuers.

At least he was still alive.

Focus.

He surveyed the cavern, searching for any sign of escape but the blue-green walls of ice fully encompassed him. For the first time since he'd plummeted to the ice floor, he felt the bitter cold overtaking him. Next to him lay a 6-foot pile of snow and broken ice, all that remained of the hidden ice bridge that collapsed under his weight. Although the dark sky above was unleashing its fury, the cavern was tranquil, and he came to the realization that his only escape was straight up.

He thought he heard voices yelling through the howl of the blizzard. He tensed but then the sounds subsided and he relaxed. The men with their rifles had been high on the ridge above him when he fell. Surely, the gale force winds and blowing snow had erased his tracks by now. The glacier was so expansive that, in this blizzard, it would be a fluke if they located where he fell. He couldn't take any chances. He knew, when the weather cleared, she would send the Austrians to find him and retrieve the book.

He pulled out the journal. His blood had stained its leather binding. A hole perforated its center, cover to cover, where the bullet passed through it and into his torso. Perhaps the only reason he was still alive. He understood why someone would kill for it; he just didn’t think he would be the target.

He opened the journal and dug around for the pencil he kept tucked inside. Time for one final entry. Identify his killer and hide the book before his hunters found their quarry.

After several minutes he heard shouts followed by a rumble.

The glacier trembled. A sound he recognized.

The blizzard had dumped several feet of snow over the past two days and the vibrations from the rifle blast had loosened its grip on the mountain.

Now, gravity would do the rest.

No need to hide the book, he thought, the avalanche would soon do that for him. He tucked it back inside his coat, buttoned it up, closed his eyes, and waited.

At first it was only a trickle of snow and ice finding its way into the crevasse. Seconds later, a turbulent mass pounded on top of him like a hundred trucks had dumped their loads. The cavern filled with snow, packing it tighter around him. Instinctively he clutched his coat and felt for the book underneath.

His lover had betrayed him and his fate was sealed—all because of the journal.

He had one final thought.

At least she won't have it.

Major Don Adams smiled.

BOOK: Breach of Power
10.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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