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Authors: Adrian Magson

Red Station

BOOK: Red Station
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A Selection of Recent Titles by Adrian Magson
The Riley Gavin and Frank Palmer Series
NO PEACE FOR THE WICKED
NO HELP FOR THE DYING
NO SLEEP FOR THE DEAD
NO TEARS FOR THE LOST
NO KISS FOR THE DEVIL
RED STATION
Adrian Magson
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
  
This first world edition published 2010
in Great Britain and in the USA by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
Copyright © 2010 by Adrian Magson.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Magson, Adrian.
Red Station. – (A Harry Tate thriller)
1. Great Britain. MI5 – Fiction. 2. South Ossetia War,
2008 – Fiction. 3. Conspiracies – Fiction. 4. Suspense fiction.
I. Title II. Series
823.9'2-dc22
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-051-7   (ePub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-6939-5   (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-277-2   (trade paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
For Ann,
who always believed Harry would make it home.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Self-belief is one thing. But the support of the following friends has been enormous: Matt Hilton and Sheila Quigley, who know just what it's like; Mike Stotter and Ali Karim of
Shots Magazine
, who were so quick to welcome me into the crime/mystery community; Adrian Muller for spreading the buzz; Lizzie Hayes and Sue Lord for their absolute belief; James Nightingale, eagle-eyed editor; and last but certainly not least, super-agent David Headley, for his energy, friendship and absolute commitment to
Red Station
and beyond.
Thank you, all.
ONE
Autumn 2008
D
eath came in at three minutes to four on a sluggish morning tide, and changed Harry Tate's life forever.
It edged up a shrouded Essex inlet, a scrubby white fifty-foot motor launch with a fly bridge, its engine puttering softly against the slow current. The exhaust sounds were muffled by a heavy, early mist rolling along the banks, blanketing the dark marshland like cold candyfloss.
Three figures stood outlined by a flush of refracted light from the open cockpit. One was on the forward deck, a swirl of dreadlocks framing his head like a war helmet. He was holding a thick pole balanced on one shoulder. Number two, the helmsman, was a bulky shape up on the fly bridge, head turning constantly between the instrument panel and the banks on either side.
The third man stood on a swimming platform at the stern, inches above the murky wake. Skeletal, with long, straggly hair under a baseball cap, he had one hand down by his side, the other bracing himself on the rear rail.
‘It's Pirates of the frigging Caribbean!' The whisper drilled softly into Harry's earpiece, gently mocking, forcing a smile in spite of the tension in his chest. The voice belonged to Bill Maloney, his MI5 colleague, in cover fifty yards along the bank to his right.
A light breeze lifted off the water, brushing past Harry's position behind a hummock of coarse grass, fanning his face with the sour smell of mud and decay. The sickly tang of diesel oil seemed to ooze out of the ground everywhere, and something was seeping through his trousers. He tried not to think about the kinds of toxic waste festering beneath him from decades of commerce, skulduggery and neglect.
He toggled his radio. ‘Where the
hell
are you, Blue Team?' The query was strained with urgency. As Ground Controller, he'd been chasing the back-up police unit for fifteen minutes with no response.
Still nothing. Accident or a comms malfunction? Either way, they weren't here. He swore softly. Having been slashed at the last minute – economic demands, was the vague explanation – and now with the support van lost somewhere in the darkness, they were down to three men. With what was rumoured to be concealed in the boat's bilges, from bales of hash to ‘bricks' of heroin, each containing up to fifty individual pay-and-go bags, and enough methamphetamine crystals to send half the kids in London off their heads for a month, the prize was too valuable. They needed all the help they could get.
But it wasn't there.
He leaned to his right and peeled aside some strands of grass, eyeing the misty darkness where Blue Team should have been in position. Nothing. Instead, he heard a click in his ear, then a hiss of static.
‘That's a negative, Red One . . . repeat negative. We're up to our axles in mud, five hundred yards from your O.P. The fucking ground's like molasses. Blue Team out.'
Harry's gut turned to water, the urgency now the bitter pre-taste of panic.
With a narrow window the previous day to reconnoitre the area where the shipment was coming in, he and Maloney had ambled in on foot, posing as sometime fishermen on an idle day out. The inlet, bordered by a muddy track, was mostly used by working boats, weekend sailors and jet-skiers. The going, while reasonably solid underfoot, showed some evidence of a spongy sub-layer.
They'd spent an hour in the area, fishing, sipping beer and competitively skimming stones on the water, all the while scouting for cover in hollows, bushes and overturned or rotting boats. Other than a woman walking her dog and a couple of dinghies making laboured trips to boats further along, they had seen no-one who shouldn't be there.
As they were leaving, it had started to rain; hard, slashing drops like liquid gobstoppers, pounding the softer patches into mud holes and blanketing the harder ground with a layer of filthy water. They had highlighted these areas on a laminated map for special attention.
Blue Team clearly hadn't read the signs.
Harry closed his eyes against a rising nausea. Of all the luck. He could be at Jean's place right now, replete and warmed by her infectious humour, enjoying her company. Instead, he was stuffed with a growing disaster of Titanic proportions.
Except that he knew deep down that this was as much a drug for him as the narcotics on the boat were for others.
‘Stand by.' He toggled the switch to warn the other two men and watched the boat slide by thirty yards away. It was too late to abort, too risky to do nothing; within hours the stuff on board would be hitting the streets, flooding veins with its false promise and sending the weak and vulnerable to an early, hazy oblivion.
It was now or never.
He was clutching a handful of grass with his right hand. He forced himself to let go and slid his fingers into his jacket, to the reassuring touch of a semi-automatic.
‘Is it a go or not?' Parrish, the third man. A firearms officer on loan from the local force, he was to Harry's right, close by the water's edge, positioned to cut off the boat's retreat. A last-minute replacement for an MI5 officer off sick, he was nervy, impatient and looking to prove himself.
‘Wait!' Tate breathed, and hoped the idiot wasn't about to leap from cover and do a Rambo along the bank. As he spoke, the helmsman on the boat called a soft warning to his companions and cut the engine, steering the nose towards a short wooden jetty jutting out from the near bank.
‘Blue Team . . . you out yet?' It was a wasted call, but gave him a few more seconds before having to make a final, no-going-back decision.
‘Negative, Red One. We're not going anywhere. Sorry.'
‘You forgotten how to fucking
run
?' he blasted back, and instantly regretted it. Five hundred yards in full gear, stumbling through the dark; even with night-vision kit they'd be like a pack of elephants.
He decided to give it another two minutes, to allow the boat's crew to split up and come ashore. Divide and conquer. Maybe, he thought wryly, when they saw they were surrounded by just three men stranded on a muddy bank in the dark, they'd give up without a fight.
Then bad luck and timing chose that moment to join the party.
From Harry's left, the opposite end of the approach track from Blue Team's last position, the familiar harsh roar of a Land Rover engine pierced the night, and a dark, square shape burst into view. Its lights were on low, but were sufficient to burn through the mist and highlight the surrounding bank . . . and the white hull of the docking vessel.
TWO
‘
F
uck!
' Maloney's curse registered deep shock. ‘Where the hell did
he
spring from?' All approaches to the area were supposed to have been shut off one hour ago. Any sooner would have alerted the traffickers that their plans were blown.
‘What's happening?' Parrish again, and by the catch in his voice, Harry knew that the firearms officer was about to make a move.
‘Hold your position!' He turned to focus on the approaching car, gripping the hard outline of the gun and gathering his legs beneath him. Either someone had stuffed up the security cordon or the informant had lied about the smugglers' plans.
He used his radio. ‘Red Three, this is Red One. A vehicle just arrived. What the hell's going on out there?' Red Three was another MI5 officer – a floater – operating the outer cordon with the local police. He should have warned them about the car's approach.
‘Red Three?'
Silence.
‘
Shit!
' He pounded his fist into the soft ground. What else could go wrong?
The Land Rover slid to an untidy stop ten yards short of the jetty, throwing up a spray of ground water. Both doors opened and a man sprang from behind the wheel and ran round to the passenger side. He appeared to be urging the passenger – a young woman in a floaty dress – to stay inside, but she had already slid from the car's high seat, followed by the heavy beat of hip-hop music.
Christ, no,
Harry thought, hardly able to believe his eyes.
This is all we fucking need . . .
As the driver tried to turn the girl back inside the car, he glanced at the boat ghosting into the jetty, its crew of three illuminated by the car's lights, and lifted a hand towards them.
But the girl didn't seem to understand.
‘Hey, baby,' she cried plaintively, her voice slurred. ‘Whassup? What're you doing?' She ducked past him and peered at the incoming vessel. ‘Who're they?
As the boat brushed the jetty, the man with the dreadlocks moved forward on the deck, bouncing the pole up and down on his shoulder. Behind him, the figure on the rear platform got ready to jump ashore, a glint of something stubby and metallic in his free hand.
Harry Tate felt a kick of anguish deep in his gut.
‘
Don't . . .!
'
Afterwards, he never was sure what he'd intended to say – something more definite, for certain – and nothing like the single, useless utterance which came out of his mouth. He pushed himself to his feet, muscles cramped after too long in the same position, and brought up his gun. It was a long shot for a handgun but doable; he'd managed under worse conditions before now. His instincts told him Maloney was still somewhere to his right, also ready and willing to mix it if he had to.
BOOK: Red Station
5.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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