Introduction: By Cameron Curtis
Breed is on vacation in Arles, France, when he sees a group of men open fire on a car. In the gun battle that ensues, a young girl escapes from the vehicle and runs for her life. Breed pulls her to safety. Her name is Julia, and she was abducted by the gang in the car. They forcibly addicted her to heroin and used her as a sex slave.
The slavers want to recapture Julia, and it soon becomes clear that the anonymous men who fired on the car want her dead. Breed is determined to keep Julia alive, but to do that, he’ll need to figure out who is after her and why.
On the run, outnumbered and outgunned, he calls for help from his friends: CIA Deputy Director Anya Stein, Delta Force veteran Ken Takigawa, and cowgirl sharpshooter Heth Crockett.
From Arles to Seville in Spain, Breed fights to keep Julia alive. The chase leads to a deadly showdown on the blood-soaked sand of La Maestranza, Seville’s great bullring.
Excerpt from Chapter 18
Hours pass. I change positions regularly, but my position is uncomfortable. I’m having a tougher time of it than Julia, because she’s sitting straight on the sofa. I’m twisted around sideways to look out the window, and my neck is getting stiff.
“Breed, this is silly.”
Two black Toyota Hilux pickups are approaching. They drive fast on the road Rincón used to go into town. These guys know exactly what they’re doing. They stop sixty feet from the camp, and four men get out.
Right away, I recognize The Basque. Armand Le Cagot dismounts the second Hilux and stands next to it while his hitters get ready. Two men from the first Hilux, and the driver of The Basque’s truck. They reach into their vehicles, haul out Z84 submachine guns and satchels of spare magazines.
My stomach tightens and I swallow. It’s the feeling I get before combat. Adrenaline courses through my system. I reach under the table and take two perfume bottles from the tin bucket. Stuff the BM into my hip pocket and hold one bottle in each hand.
Timing is everything. The Basque waits at his Hilux while his men approach the trailer. The three men go to the back, stand in a row at the foot of the ramp. The trailer gate is shut, but not locked.
The men on either side look at the man in the middle of the row. He nods, and they light up the trailer.
The Z84s crackle and the three men dump their mags into the trailer gate. Riddle it with fully automatic fire. Drop their empties, reload, and dump another mag each. Reload a second time.
The trailer gate looks like Swiss cheese. The men run up the ramp. One man opens the gate. The other two train their weapons on the interior as it is revealed. The three dash inside.
I open the door of Rincón’s caravan and run to the ramp. The three men are inside, staring at an empty trailer.
The perfume bottle is heavy in my right hand. I take a breath, stretch my arm back, and pitch it into the trailer. The men turn in time to see the lump of glass hurtle towards them. Watch me throw myself to the ground.
I don’t hear the explosion. The pressure wave boxes my ears and stuns my brain. A blast of hot air rushes over my head. The walls of the trailer vent the explosion out the back. There’s an algebraic formula for working out the safe distance at which to detonate explosives. It doesn’t work very well with homemade devices. I’ve probably sustained traumatic brain injury.
Get up, draw the BM. Rush into the trailer, ready to finish off the gunmen.
They’re all dead. The inside of the trailer is smoking from the blast. The remains of the men are plastered all over the walls. I mean—remains. There isn’t enough left of any of the three men to shoot.
I jump from the back of the trailer. Gravel crunches under my shoes and I turn to face the road. The Basque is standing next to his Hilux, trying to figure out what happened.
Shift the second IED to my right hand. The Basque is running around the front of his Hilux. He swings the driver’s door open so he can get behind the wheel. I hurl the glass bottle with all my strength. It sails high in the air, passes the top of its arc, and falls short. It plunges onto the hood of the first Hilux and explodes.
There’s another concussion. Not as bad as the first, which occurred in the confined space of the trailer. This blast radiates a spherical shock wave. A quarter of the wave goes straight up. A quarter shatters the windows of the second Hilux and sends The Basque reeling. A quarter of the wave knocks me flat on my ass.
The final quarter goes straight down and turns the driver and engine compartments of the Hilux into a canoe. The Japanese make strong vehicles. I’ll give them that. The chassis holds up. I don’t think the blast knocked the wheels out of alignment. But the cab and engine compartment are hollowed out and squashed. When the smoke clears, they’re empty recesses in a mass of twisted steel. Where’s the engine block? It’s the most solid, bullet and blast-resistant part of a vehicle. It’s been driven into the surface of the road.
Shaking his head to clear it, The Basque struggles to his feet and gets into the pickup. He slams the driver’s door and starts it up.
My ears are ringing. Sort of. They’re ringing inside my head, but I can’t hear any sounds from outside my skull. I draw the BM. Watch The Basque engage the transmission and roll the Hilux.
Is The Basque going to run? No. He floors the gas and sends the Hilux racing straight toward me. I hold the BM in an isosceles and fire at the charging pickup. The blast shattered its windshield, so I’m slinging rounds straight at Le Cagot’s head. That big face with the mad eyes, hiding behind a salt-and-pepper beard. He plants his left hand on the wheel at the twelve o’clock and ducks behind the dash.
I throw myself to one side as he roars past. He races twenty yards across the road and spins the wheel. The Hilux rocks on its suspension as The Basque turns around in a spray of gravel. Prone, I extend the BM in an isosceles as he floors the gas a second time and takes another run at me.
All this stuff about stopping a vehicle by firing at its engine block is crap. If you want to stop a car, you kill the fucking driver. Survivors of truck bombs at checkpoints in Iraq learned that the hard way. Again, I pound rounds straight through the frame of the shattered windshield. Again, Le Cagot holds the wheel steady with one hand and ducks his head.
The slide of the BM locks back. The Hilux races away toward town.
It was a silent movie. The gunshots, the engine sounds, the screech of tires and brakes—I heard none of it.
I get up, go back to the trailer, and look for the Z84s. They’re rugged weapons. As far as I can tell, they are still operational. I sling them across my chest and shoulder so they dangle at my right hip. I locate two of the dead men’s satchels of spare magazines and throw them over my left shoulder. The third satchel is gone. Probably in pieces. A number of loaded magazines are scattered among the debris and human remains.
The remains include three slabs of red meat and white bone that look like slaughterhouse carcasses. The most resilient component of the human skeleton is the spinal column. The rest of the bones are readily disarticulated. Meat is easily blown off or vaporized. The spine, with its hard dorsal and ventral wings, typically remains intact.
That’s how you count casualties after an artillery strike.
My duffel and the bags of spare clothing are shredded. Now I see why the devastation inside the trailer is so total. The blast from the glass bottle I threw served as a detonator. It set off the solid explosive packed in the plastic bag. The whole lot went up together.
The Basque is a blunt instrument. No polish, no class. Drives straight to the target and blazes away. The Gypsy King is crafty. Bolt cutters, knives. A devious son of a bitch.
I stride to Rincón’s caravan. There is one good thing—we now have three submachine guns, two pistols, and lots of ammo.
For next time.
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