Read Nemesis Online

Authors: Tim Stevens

Tags: #Fiction & Literature, #Action Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Espionage, #Thrillers, #CIA, #Crime, #spy thriller, #espionage thriller, #action thriller, #action adventure, #Terrorism, #Military, #conspiracy thriller, #stories with twists


BOOK: Nemesis
8.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Tim Stevens

Copyright 2015, Tim Stevens


Licence Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you would like to share it with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.


Cover by Jane Dixon-Smith at
JD Smith Design

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page
































BOOKS BY TIM STEVENS | John Purkiss series

Martin Calvary series

Joe Venn series

Shorter stories and novellas



tepan Vodovos gazed at the hill that rose through the mist in the distance like a hump-backed prehistoric behemoth with its dense bristling spines of pine trees, and thought:
this could be home

Ahead of him, the path narrowed as it curved leftwards. Once, the path had been coated with a neat layer of gravel, but the years and the grinding impact of feet and hooves and wheels and weather had ground it into just another rough dirt track.

Ten yards in front, the vanguard spread out, four men alongside each other. They were hard men, every one of them, though they weren’t in military dress. Their bulky duffel coats expanded their silhouettes almost grotesquely. Underneath the coats, Vodovos knew, they wore slim-fitting para-aramid textile vests augmented with titanium plates, designed to withstand the impact of any handgun projectile and those delivered by most rifles.

Each man was armed with a GSh-18 pistol and a Kizlyar fighting knife. Both weapons were standard issue for the armed services of the Russian Federation, the knife a particular favourite of the
, the special forces.

Each man was a trained killer.

Behind Vodovos was the vanguard. It consisted of six more men, all of them similarly steeped in the art of death. In addition to the small arms borne by the men in front, they carried AK-12 semi-automatic rifles.

Vodovos walked with two other men abreast.

On his far left was Sergei Malykhin, a fellow officer of the
Federal'naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii.
The Russian security service.

Technically, Malykhin was of the same rank as Vodovos in the FSB. But Vodovos knew that the man had a status which went beyond his title. Malykhin was the equivalent of the NKVD officers who’d accompanied the troops to the front lines during the Great Patriotic War. He was a political commissar, there to ensure that the correct procedure was observed at all times.

He was there to keep an eye on Vodovos.

Vodovos knew of the man’s role, and had known of it since before they’d left Moscow. He understood it was standard procedure during an operation of this magnitude. Even somebody with a proven track record like Vodovos’s couldn’t escape the scrutiny of the FSB’s legendary internal monitoring apparatus.

All the same, he resented it. Resented the intrusion, and resented Malykhin himself. The commissar was small and bland and humourless, with a short man’s pomposity. He made a point of hovering near Vodovos at all times, like a jailer. At the airfield outside St Petersburg, while they were waiting for the plane, Vodovos had deliberately gone to the bathroom more often than he needed, just to annoy Malykhin. Each time, he’d found the little man loitering outside the bathroom door afterwards, as if he’d been eavesdropping.

The cloud cover across the distant hills parted momentarily as the wind came up, and the crescent moon showed itself, a sharp sickle in the sky.

This could be home, Vodovos thought, because of the cold and the crisp smell of pine and the sporadic cries of owls and other denizens of the night in the surrounding forest. He’d grown up in the countryside north of Moscow, and for the first twelve years of his life the vastness of wild woodland had seemed normal to him, with cities a bizarre anomaly.

Between Vodovos and Malykhin, the prisoner walked with a steady stride, matching the rhythm of the feet behind him and in front of him as they crackled on the ice-slicked, pine-strewn track.

Vodovos knew the identity of the prisoner, but he didn’t understand his significance. All he was aware of was that he must be of high value. Because he was being exchanged for a man whose value to the Russian state was immeasurable.

The moon emerged once more, and with it came the shock of awareness that Vodovos had first experienced a few minutes earlier, when they’d disembarked from the plane.

He was part of an armed Russian force, and he was walking on British soil.

The implications were colossal, almost ineffable, like trying to peer into the soul of God. The operation was precisely timed, with no room for error. If it went wrong, if the slightest detail wasn’t observed correctly, the consequences would be catastrophic.

And, as the skein of cloud obscured the moon again, so Vodovos pushed his fear and awe into a deep, hidden, contained place within him.

The man in charge of the vanguard slowed, the others following suit. He raised a hand silently.

Fifty yards ahead, the track broadened as the trees thinned, becoming more of a clearing. Against the sky, Vodovos saw the silhouettes of human heads.

Torches blazed all at once, like silent gunfire.

The vanguard of Vodovos’s party turned on their own flashlights.

The head of the vanguard called out the code phrase.

After a heart-stopping pause, which probably lasted no longer than three or four seconds, the counter-phrase sounded, low and clear.

Contact had been established, and the mission moved into its next phase.


odovos stepped forward. They’d closed the gap and were now standing in the clearing, five yards from the other group.

The British had sent a larger contingent. Vodovos counted fourteen men. Ten of them were clearly military, and carried carbines, though like his own men they weren’t in uniform.

Three of the men were civilians. MI6, no doubt.

The fourth man stood in the centre of the group, an armed man on either side. He was of medium height, and stocky. He wore some kind of prison garb, dull grey or blue - it was impossible to tell in the scanty light.

His wrists were manacled together, and the chain connecting the shackles on his feet was just long enough to allow him to walk at a shuffling pace.

His head and face were covered with a canvas hood.

One of the civilians, a man whose natural pallor was accentuated by the play of the torchlight that threw the hollows of his face into sharp relief, stepped forward at the same time as Vodovos and extended his hand.

‘Singer,’ he said.


They shook.

The man glanced at the prisoner, behind Vodovos and to his left. He looked back at Vodovos.

In fluent if slightly accented Russian he said: ‘Any obstacles on the way?’

‘No.’ Vodovos and his party had flown first to the airfield outside Petersburg and then caught a light aircraft across the North Sea to the even smaller airfield just inland from the coast. There was no sign of habitation for miles around. Vodovos knew the airfield was several miles from the mouth of the Moray Firth, but otherwise he was unfamiliar with the geography of the area. He’d visited London before, many times, but the remoteness of the Scottish Highlands made them feel like another world.

Vodovos looked past Singer at the shackled, hooded man. He stood quite still, his weight balanced evenly on each foot, as though he was experienced at waiting for long periods.

Behind Vodovos, the commissar, Malykhin, edged nearer. Vodovos felt a flare of irritation.

To Singer, he said: ‘Take off his hood, please.’

Singer made a motion with his hand, without turning round. One of the armed men angled his torch so that the light shone on the hooded head. Another reached over and pulled at the drawstring beneath the captive’s chin. Then, in a smooth movement, he removed the hood.

Vodovos made a conscious effort to breathe, so that he didn’t embarrass himself by gasping. His adrenal glands released their product, and it was like a sudden intravenous bolus of a narcotic.

He gazed at the exposed face, keeping his own expression neutral, as his training and his experience had taught him.

Yes. This was the man.

Vodovos struggled to ignore the elation that rampaged inside him like a madman in a cage.

He, Stepan Stepanovich Vodovos, was the first among his countrymen to come face to face with the man whom the Motherland wanted more than anybody else in the world.

The eyes gazed back at him, indifferently. Their colour wasn’t distinct in the semi-darkness, but Vodovos could see they were pale. The head was close-cropped, the stubble grey as steel.

He watched the man for a full six seconds. Then his eyes returned to Singer’s and he gave a curt nod.

Singer said briskly: ‘On the count of three, each man starts walking forwards and doesn’t stop.’

He took a step back, and Vodovos did the same, as if they were conducting some weird, ritualistic dance.

He took the prisoner gently by the arm. He was elderly, in his early seventies, and although he was spry and thus far had displayed a dignified courage, it was possible he would falter at this late stage.

With a gesture of his other hand, Vodovos signalled the prisoner to begin walking.

He watched the shackled man take his first step forward, the chain binding his feet clanking softly on the scrabble of the clearing’s floor.

Subtly, on his side and theirs, Vodovos noticed the armed men tensing, their grips on their weapons tightening.

They were united, Vodovos and his counterparts and the military men on each side, by their shared experience of this performance. They were privy to an event very few other human beings would ever hear about.

And, united as they were, they reacted to the approaching sound as a single entity, each one of them turning his head at the same time.

The sound resembled repeated strikes on a bass drum, except the noise of each beat was choppier and ended more abruptly. Vodovos felt the pulse of the sonic assault in his chest.

He stared at the ridge of the hill to his right. Saw the beginnings of light seeping over the edge, like a rapidly approaching dawn.

The monster rose, insect-like, over the ridge, black and transfixing and terribly close, looming over them, its eyes glaring down, blazing.

Vodovos felt pinned by that glare, like a butterfly collector with the tables turned.

He tore his eyes from the hovering apparition to look at the Briton, Singer, and his entourage. He thought he’d see triumph, there, or at least no expression at all.

But Singer himself was staring wide-eyed at the helicopter. The men around him swung their guns to bear.

The prisoner, the old man, blinked up at the chopper in confusion, reaching for the glasses on his nose as if not trusting his eyes.

Only the other man, the shackled one, appeared unsurprised.

The firing began an instant later, a yellow burst of flame exploding from the helicopter and the ground around Vodovos erupting as the invisible projectiles smashed into it. At almost the same moment, the guns on either side of him opened up, the noise somehow more shocking because of its closeness.

Vodovos leaped for the prisoner and collided into his back and knocked him prone, feeling the stiff and sinewy frame hit the frozen ground hard. He raised his head and saw the shackled man backing away at an unhurried pace.

‘Stop him,’ he yelled.

His cry must have gone unheard, lost in the cacophony of gunfire, but one of the men on the British side ran to the shackled man and grabbed him by the back of the neck and hurled him to the ground, crouching over him and swinging his rifle back round to train it on the helicopter.

The impact of the stream of high-velocity bullets lifted the soldier almost into a standing position once more, throwing him off the man he was covering and sending him sprawling on the hard earth.

A blow to Vodovos’s back startled him, in a detached way. His first thoughts were:
I’m shot. I’m numb. Let the end come now, before the pain hits.
He felt relentless, though not uncomfortable, pressure across his body, driving him downward against the prisoner’s own prone form.

BOOK: Nemesis
8.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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