Every week or so I will be putting up an advance chapter or two of my newest International Thriller...
Murmansk! You can of course find the earlier chapters further down the page.The book should be
published around July of this year!
**Note this is first draft so be kind ;)
November 25, 2000
The woman with the icy eyes felt the trickle of sweat running down her nose before it dropped to the quickly-moving belt of the treadmill. Reaching up, she punched at the buttons on the console to raise the speed even more…driving herself…always driving herself.
As she ran her eyes stared ahead toward the large window. The window revealed the barren wasteland that she now found herself in, the frozen prison that the world had taken upon itself to relegate her to.
All because of one man!
Anger rolled in her trim belly before working its way up, welling threateningly in her chest. Her head now ached, her vision focused down to a pinpoint on the man now standing before her.
“Argh!” She shrieked, frustratingly punching again at the buttons for more speed, the fury threatening to boil over her being at any moment.
With the realization that she was already at the maximum speed of the machine, genetics took over.
A warrior yell escaped her lips as she reached for her weapon. Clasping the hilt of the blade in her fingers, she deftly wound her arm back and flung the blade without missing a step.
Even as she continued to run at full speed, her mind focused on the spinning knife as it left her hand. As if in slow motion, she watched in fascination as it tuned end over end toward the head of the man responsible for her plight.
When it finally hit the target however there was only a strange, muffled crackling sound.
Emotionally spent the woman slowed her step slightly, allowing the machine to eject her onto the floor behind.
Deftly landing on the carpeted area, Noon Byrk brought her hands to her hips and leaned forward slightly, working at capturing her breath before moving again.
Her eyes never left the target through all of this; her icy eyes focused forward, her long, dark hair now plastered to the pale alabaster skin of her face.
After a few seconds, she moved forward toward the window, staring at the hilt of the knife now protruding through it.
The man had only been in her mind.
Pulling at the knife, the laminated Plexiglas bent in with it before releasing the blade, the shattered window now a spider web caught between the UV-blocking laminate sheets.
She would have to get that fixed, the icy wind of the prison landscape already piercing the room.
Sheaving her blade, she turned and moved back into the room, shutting down the treadmill as she passed. Stopping in front of the mirror, she ran her fingers along the side of her face to brush back the nearly-white hair. Pulling it tight and tying it into a pony tail, she then stared at her reflection in the mirror.
The slant of her exotic Asian eyes always drew everyone’s attention first…even hers. They were her mother’s eyes, at least on the outside. The icy blue irises she could blame on her father and his Viking ancestors.
She smiled, knowing the combination usually elicited caution to those that didn’t know her.
And fear in most of those that did!
The scar entering her hairline got her attention next. Glowing white even against her pale skin, it was a constant memento of what the man had done to her…and now a reminder of the retribution now close at hand.
She sighed with the realization that she felt better!
Although she hadn’t yet killed the bastard responsible for her current circumstances, even the practice of doing so had lightened her heart.
Soon, She whispered to her refection, Soon you will know the real thing.
Turning from the mirror, she made her way to the desk across the room.
There was still much to do to prepare.
The trace of a smile was tugging at her lips as she walked, and the realization of that made her heart skip a beat. She liked the feeling.
November 25, 2000
“Gerald Aiken,” Abby read from the dossier when it arrived an hour later. “AKA Jerry Aiken, looks like he has spent most of his life working as an accountant for various large companies.”
Reading some more in silence, it was several moments before she continued.
“Looks like he quit his last job at a place called Jupiter Halifax in August of 1997…then he just dropped off the radar.”
“Is he in witness protection?” Preacher asked suspiciously.
Abby shook her head, “Doesn’t appear that way, and I would assume that Patrick would have added that if he had known.”
“Ok,” I started aloud. “What would prompt someone to quit a job with what I assume is a large company and then just disappear?”
“Maybe he stole something,” Preacher offered, “He’s an accountant, so he siphons off a small fortune and then disappears into the obscurity of rural
so he can spend it.”
“Maybe,” I nod, “It’s a good theory to start with, although that leaves the question as to just who stole the dog?”
“I’m thinking Jupiter Halifax,” Abby postulated aloud while concentrating on the folder, “They want their money back.”
“Why not just have him arrested then?” Preacher asked while spreading out his hands. “If it’s their money he stole, and if they now knew what happened to him, wouldn’t they just call in the authorities?”
We quietly digested the information before Abby once again piped up.
“I think that one of two scenarios could be in play here. One may be that there is a shadow area of Jupiter Halifax that isn’t public knowledge. Maybe they do something off the books to hide it from their investors or the government. If I worked for a company like that and wanted to skim some money off for myself, that’s where I would get it.”
“And since the money was off the books, you wouldn’t want to call in law enforcement in case they started poking around in your books,” I added with a nod. “But taking the dog? It seems rather…small. A company that large stealing a man’s pet to get their money back?”
Abby nodded with a grin. “That’s what I thought too. That’s why the second scenario is my favorite.”
“And what is that dear daughter?” I smiled.
“That some individual is aware of the theft, maybe someone Jerry worked with, and they want a piece of the take.”
I nod thoughtfully before responding.
“Those are both good theories Abby, but we haven’t even established that corporate theft is at the heart of all of this. Before we jump to conclusions, I think we’re going to have to do a little more research on Jupiter Halifax and see if anything jumps out at us.”
“And by us, I assume you mean me?”
Abby smiled tiredly as she said it. Although she was definitely the most computer savvy of all of us, and usually loved delving into the mysteries of the internet, I knew that she was chomping at the bit to get back out in the field. Unfortunately, that situation was also hampered by her new daughter’s appearance in our lives a few months ago.
“Sorry kid, I guess Preacher and I could give it a try…”
“Never mind!” she groaned while laying her head down on the table. “I’ll do it.”
Suddenly she raised her head again, her eyes set intensely on mine.
“But I get to be in on the takedown! Promise me that!”
I grinned. If that’s what it would take to keep my only daughter happy, who was I to deny her?
“It’s a deal!”
“Yesss!” she replied, pumping a fist in the air. “Kicking ass and taking names!”
I shook my head in wonder.
What had I released onto the world?
December 7, 2000
“Do not fret my little Juliana,” the giant of a man whispered as he hugged the girl, “I will join you in a week. Besides, your Aunt Margot is looking forward to taking you Christmas shopping!”
“But why can’t you come now Papa?” the ten-year old pleaded, “You are the boss, so you can take off whenever you want!”
“I explained that Munchkin,” the man replied patiently, “I have a lot of long days ahead of me this week…important negotiations…you would seldom see me even if you stayed.”
Sighing, Juliana finally released her arms from around her Papa’s neck.
“Ok,” she grumbled sadly.
Taking her hand in his, he gently pulled her toward a middle-aged woman in a brown coat. “Go with Magda now Munchkin, she will be with you the whole time…there is nothing to be afraid of.”
Planting another quick kiss on his daughter’s cheek, the man then turned and headed for the limousine.
“I’ll see you in a week!” he called back over his shoulder before entering the back of the car.
Juliana watched the car pull away before relenting to Magda’s gentle tugs toward the plane.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” she exclaimed with a smile, “I get the window seat!”
Although she was sad to leave her father, she really was looking forward to this trip. It would be her first time going anywhere without her father…her first big girl adventure!
If she knew what lay ahead however, she wouldn’t have been so excited.