Andy McNab: Exit wound

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  • Название:
    Exit wound
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Bantam Press
  • Жанр:
    Боевик / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2009
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    0-593-05952-2 / 978-0-593-05952-4
  • Рейтинг книги:
    5 / 5
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Exit wound: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Three tons of Saddam Hussein's gold in an unguarded warehouse in Dubai…For two of Nick Stone's closest ex-SAS comrades, it was to have been the perfect, victimless crime. But when they're double-crossed and the robbery goes devastatingly wrong, only Stone can identify his friends' killer and track him down…As one harrowing piece of the complex and sinister jigsaw slots into another, Stone's quest for vengeance becomes a journey to the heart of a chilling conspiracy, to which he and the beautiful Russian investigative journalist with whom he has become ensnared unwittingly hold the key. Ticking like a time-bomb, brimming with terror and threat, Andy McNab's latest Nick Stone adventure is a high-voltage story of corruption, cover-up and blistering suspense – the master thriller writer at his electrifying, unputdownable best.

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Andy McNab


Exit wound


(Nick Stone – 12)

PART ONE

1

November 1988

The twin props of the Dornier Do 28 Skyservant went into hyper-scream as we lifted from Tempelhof’s rain-lashed runway and climbed steeply through the West Berlin gloom. There was normally room for a dozen or so bodies in these things, but not in this one. The seats had been stripped out and the four of us had to sprawl on the cold steel floor.

The aircraft pitched and yawed like a dinghy in a gale. Gripping a rib of the bare fuselage, I pulled myself up to a window. Either Dex was trying to keep us below the cloud cover or failing to get above it. The West glowed and twinkled like a giant Christmas tree down there. A neon Mercedes sign seemed to throb on every other rooftop. The nightclub district was virtually a firework display. If we got back from this job in one piece, perhaps we’d go there and let off a few of our own.

The Luftwaffe had Do 28s coming out of their ears, and most of their flights out of Tempelhof, the Americans’ main military airfield here, were milk runs. They took off from the island of West Berlin several times a day and followed one of the three air corridors across the Soviet-occupied East to reach West Germany proper. Nobody gave them a first glance, let alone a second, and that was the way Dexter Khattri and his seven-month-old ponytail liked it. His aircraft was going to be making a slight detour.

I felt like I was being spirited into occupied France to help out the Resistance. Going by the creaks and rattles and the rush of cold air into the cabin from all the leaks in the airframe, SOE could have used this very plane – the noise was so loud I thought the door had slammed open. I’d noticed rain leaking round the jamb after it was closed, so it was obviously loose. Maybe it had finally blown off.

I folded another turn into the bottom of my beanie to give the back of my head some padding. Then I pulled up the zip of my black Puffa jacket the final centimetre and braced my back and feet against the floor, knees up, hands in pockets. If they’d made matching Puffa trousers, I’d have opted for three pairs.

The Dornier lurched again and my head rolled on the protective woolly band. Dex was swinging us left and right. This time I didn’t want to look out of the window in case I saw why.

It could be that we were weaving between the tower blocks. I pictured the local kids’ faces pressed against their bedroom windows, wondering what the fuck was going on. Red Ken said that was what had happened last time. Dex had stuck a torch under his chin, Hallowe’en style, and given them a wave. They were probably still having nightmares.

The Berlin Wall was intact, but only just. It still boasted mines, dogs, electric fences, machine-guns on fixed arcs, everything the Communist regime needed to stop its citizens leaking West, but nowadays even the guards wanted to jump ship. Everybody knew it would be over very soon, one way or another. Only a year ago, Ronnie Reagan had stood at the Brandenburg Gate and delivered his ‘If you seek peace, Mr Gorbachev, open this gate! Tear down this wall!’ speech. But for now they were still the bad guys – and Dex and the three of us under Red Ken’s command were about to cross into their airspace.

My headphones crackled as Dex quipped: ‘Not far now, chaps – home for tea and wads before first light, what?’

The aircraft plunged to rooftop height. He gave a little chuckle. ‘You can cross radar off your worry list – I think we bought that last week.’ The chuckle became a laugh. ‘If not, I hope you’re wearing sensible shoes. It’s a long walk home.’

As if the bone jokes weren’t bad enough, Dex treated us to the first few lines of his old school song. His cut-glass accent provided the icing on the whole SOE cake. ‘“Jo-lly boat-ing weather, /And a hay har-vest breeze, /Blade on the fea-ther,/ Shade off the trees…”’

He went up a couple of dozen decibels. ‘“Swing, swing to-ge-ther, /With your bodies be-tween your knees…”’

The Wall might still be intact, but Dexter Khattri wasn’t. The guy was as mad as a box of frogs. No wonder his girlfriends came and went as quickly as his thought patterns. Dex spoke like Prince Charles on speed, which sounded strange coming from an Indian. But then again, my arse had been stung by more vindaloos than his ever had. The closest he’d ever got to the land of his forefathers was driving past a Bollywood video shop on Southall Broadway.

Dex’s past-the-shoulder ponytail was his latest attempt at seeing how far he could push the envelope with the RAF head shed. This time he’d decided he was a Sikh. No wonder he was the only pilot I knew who’d remained a flight lieutenant for fourteen years.

Since we’d got back from helping out the mujahideen, Dex had been criss-crossing the Iron Curtain in Cessnas, Dorniers, helicopters, whatever it took. They said he’d flown more people out of the East than Aeroflot. He loved his life just the way it was, without responsibility. The only thing that pissed him off about the military was that he had a death wish and it hadn’t obliged. He was always too lucky. I hoped it stayed that way tonight.

We were crossing the Iron Curtain to the Communist prison camp that called itself the German Democratic Republic to make contact with a KGB agent. ‘Vladislav’ was going to give us the guidance system of a new generation of Soviet ballistic missiles. We were going to give him a big bag of cash.

2

We swooped between two tower blocks. I knew Dex wouldn’t be able to resist whipping out his torch again. He probably wasn’t going to get another chance.

With the Cold War in its death throes, the Warsaw Pact boys were holding the mother of all closing-down sales. Every KGB agent – like the one we were about to meet – had turned into Del Boy Trotsky. They were auctioning off apartment blocks they didn’t own in Moscow and St Petersburg. Generals were using entire infantry battalions to shift heavy plant for sale at their Western borders. Some army conscripts were even being rented out as slave labour by the high command. They still had a quarter of a million troops fighting in Afghanistan, but no matter what the Soviet PR machine claimed, they were getting their arses kicked big-time over there.

Red Ken, Tenny and I had spent most of ’86 running around the mountains with the men in beards. The Regiment dropped every bridge that came within reach so the Russian armoured convoys couldn’t move around the place. Then we built IEDs to blow them to pieces if they did. Dex was busy doing supply runs for the muj when he wasn’t ferrying us.

Even in those days, the level of Soviet corruption had been outrageous. Dex brought back shed-loads of brand-new Russian weapons and equipment that had been sold by their high command. Most of it ended up being used against their own twenty-year-old conscripts. These kids were dropping by the hundred every day.

Now the entire Soviet bloc was in meltdown, the East Germans were going for it big-time. They were flogging as many military secrets as they could get their hands on. Even the Stasi, the state secret police, were doing a roaring trade in secret documents. Anything to bring in a few dollars before the whole system went to rat shit. The West encouraged it. Once the Wall fell, a new world order would have to be fought over – and if we didn’t grab as much technology and intelligence aswe could while the going was good, there were plenty of other buyers in the queue. We had to know what kit was about to flood the market so we could build better stuff to defend against it.

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