Island of the Hunted

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Assassin of Fortunes Template Final

Pain, suffering and discreet assassinations. No government or rich businessmen can be seen to be involved in such illegal and immoral activities.
Rennold Walker and his men have no such concerns and have been successful in offering these services for the last ten years. So much so that their reputation warranted a personal request for their latest job.
Island of the Hunted sees Rennold Walker’s group lured to an island as a reward for a job completed. The island promises pleasures unmatched in the world and an array of specially created creatures to test the seasoned hunter. Walker’s men are abandoned while out on a hunt with only hunting knives to survive with. Can their skills save them from what the island has to offer? And can they wreak their revenge on the men responsible for their situation?

This story is 28000 words long.

Bonus Material:
Psychic Knights – The Beginning (SciFi/Action)
A short story created from the first three chapters of the book Psychic Knights – Reformation which is the first book in the Psychic Knights series. This story introduces the reader to the five characters that make up the Psychic Knights and follows them on the rescue attempt that culminates in a significant event in their fight against the dominating TechPsychers.

Chapter 1

This time of year in England the weather was unpredictable.  Come to think of it, any time of the year in England the weather was unpredictable.  But if you ever wanted to holiday there when it was going to be hot and sunny you’d have a better chance winning the lottery.  Fortunately, for Christina Ober this wasn’t going to be a problem.  She was going back home for the summer break.  She’ll spend most of it on her dad’s yacht cruising around.  Maybe head off to Europe; Monte Carlo,Cannes,Monaco; mix with the stars, do some shopping.  Yes, I need some new shoes and clothes she thought to herself.  I’m sure daddy won’t mind.

”Where’s that chauffeur?”  Christina was getting agitated now.  Twisting her long auburn hair around a skinny finger, she sat in her room away from the groups of students saying goodbye to each other.  She hadn’t made any friends during her time at the University.  She felt a bit of an outsider.  She hated it here; hated the students, hated the lecturers, hated the weather.  She couldn’t wait to get on her father’s private jet and escape this god forsaken place.

She saw another stretch limo come and go taking away more of the students.   The grounds were becoming quieter and quieter relieving Christina of the laughter and tears that precluded it.  Then a recognisable number plate came into view.

“At last!” she growled through gritted teeth.  Christina stormed up to the man getting out of the driver seat.

“Where the hell have you been?  I’ve been waiting over thirty minutes for you.  I’m almost the last one here.”

The man gave no response.  He was a well-built man with chiselled features; more akin to a bodyguard than a chauffeur.  He opened the door for Christina.

“You’re new aren’t you?” she asked forcibly.  “Well when my father hears how you kept me waiting you won’t be in a job for much longer.  Go and get my cases.  They’re in the third room on the right.”  With that she got in the car and slammed the door.

The man clenched his fists and gritted his teeth.  He walked away taking deep breaths.  His teeth were still clenched as he was putting the cases in the car.  Walking back round to the driver’s seat he scowled as he sat down.  Not long he thought.  You can be restrained for a little while longer.

The burly man swung the limo around the sharp corner.  Christina was playing her music so loudly it shook the car.  Fortunately the glass partition muffled most of the sound, but the hypnotic beat that sent vibrations through the car was beginning to annoy him.

“Damn music,” he mumbled in his American accent.  “The sooner this is over with, the better it will be for my stress levels.”

Christina had lit a joint and she opened the blacked out window to let the smoke out.  The passing fields held her gaze in a hypnotic trance.  She felt the car slow down and turn right onto a bumpy road.  Opening the window on her right she could see a small plane coming into land on a grassy airfield.

“This isn’t Heathrow,” she said to herself.  Banging on the glass partition she shouted, “Driver!  Driver!  Where are we going?”  There was no response.  She pressed the switch to lower the partition.  Nothing happened.  She started banging on the glass again.  “Driver, I demand you stop this car right now.”  Still no response.  “When my father hears about this your life won’t be worth living.”

The car pulled into a small hanger and came to a halt beside two men.  One of them opened the passenger door.

“Out, little missy.”

Christina scrambled to the other side of the car and opened the door.  She was going to make a run for it.  She didn’t know where she was going, but anywhere was going to be better than with those two.  As soon as she got out WHACK!  The back of a right hand came across her face drawing blood from her bottom lip.  She fell against the car holding her face.

“You stay there ya goddamn bitch.”  The driver had managed to get round the car before Christina got out.  This time she stayed put.  Scared and crying.  The other two men joined the driver.

“Now listen carefully and you won’t get hurt.  We’re going on a trip in that plane over there.”  The speaker motioned to the twin propeller plane.  “We’re going to take you to a little hideaway until your father gives us what we want.  If you do everything we say and your father co-operates, you’ll be home in no time.  If you cause us any trouble, my friend here, as you’ve already experienced, doesn’t mind hitting women.  Nod you’re head if you understand.”

Christina nodded, shivering with fear.  The man led her by the arm to the plane and they boarded.  When he was seated he pulled out his phone and pressed the speed dial button.

“We’ve got the girl and are making our way to the cabin.  I’ll ring you when we get there.”

* * *

The mansion stood atop a small hill giving it breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside; the lush grass covering the ground peppered occasionally with healthy trees of apples and olives.  All surrounded by the distant mountain range.

This was the home of James Ober.  The place he had worked his whole life for.  The reason he had laboured so hard, passed away not quite a year ago.  His dear wife.  She had succumbed to the cancer she had spent two years fighting.  It had ravaged her body and left her in agonising pain.  It had gotten so bad, in the end he was praying for the Lord to take her life.  He did.  On the sixteenth of October Alice Ober breathed her last breath to release her from her mortal pain.

Today he was welcoming back his one and only child from schooling abroad.  It was a hard decision to send her to another country for her education.  A discussion he had had withAliceon numerous occasions.  He knew deep down it was the best thing to do.  To give her the best chance in life.  But the thought of her being away from him for most of the year was very difficult for him to come to terms with.  In the end it was Alice who provided comfort and reassurance that allowed him to let go of the emotional tie.

About twenty miles away a white stretch limo was gliding along the road; moving purposefully in the direction of the mansion.  Inside sat a lonesome figure immaculately dressed in a white suite topped with a white Stetson; sunglasses resting on his nose.  One hand was clenched around the top of a cane.  The other was dialling a number into the car phone.

“Sir, there is a gentleman on the phone who wishes to speak with you.  He says he is a friend of your daughters.”  The butler had interrupted James during his morning massage.

“Tell him to phone back later.  I’m busy right now,” he replied sternly.

“I did say that to him, sir, but he was very insistent.”

After a short pause James got up, annoyed.  He took the mobile off of the butler.

“Yes, how can I help you?”  The tone in his voice couldn’t be masked.

“Good morning Mr Ober.  I will be arriving at your house in the next thirty minutes.  Please have your gates opened to allow my driver in.  We are in a white limousine,” came the voice.

“I beg your pardon.”  James’s tone changed immediately.

“I have some important information regarding your daughter and you would be advised to do as I say.”  The line went dead.

“Hello!  Hello!”  James put the phone down and a feeling of dread flooded his body.  He quickly dialled Christina’s mobile number and was directed straight to the answer phone.  “Get Kyle and Dempsey to meet me in the study in ten minutes.”  He stormed out of the room leaving the butler to carry out his instructions.  “And get the gates open, now!”

The mansion came into view of the limo as it passed silently through the open gates.  It drove slowly up to the front of the house.  James and his two men were waiting at the door.  The look on his face couldn’t disguise how he was feeling inside; the fear, the dread, the anger.  So many emotions at once brought on by that single phone call.

The driver opened the passenger door and out stepped the white suited man.

“Who are you?” James demanded.  “What’s happened to my daughter?”

“All in good time.  Shall we go inside?”  The white suited man motioned with his cane towards the front door.

“Not until you tell me what’s happening.”  James nodded to his guards who started towards the man.  Instantly the driver pulled out a handgun.  The guards stopped abruptly slowly raising their hands.

“It doesn’t have to be this way.  Now am I going to have to instruct my man to shoot or shall we go inside.”

James cursed himself in his mind for not arming his men.  “Follow me,” he said.  He turned and led everyone into the house.

Inside was a tribute to the lady of the house.  When she was alive,Aliceadorned the walls with the paintings of the greatest painters there ever was.  Monet, Constable, Rembrandt, Van Gough.  She collected and displayed sculptural masterpieces.  Vases and ornaments from as far back as the Ming dynasty.  She had an excellent eye for art and would, on occasions, create her own masterpieces.  Some of these were proudly displayed by James in the main entertaining room where all five men now stood.

The man in the white suit looked around admiringly.  He walked over to a small statue of a young girl.

“Now would this be Christina as a little girl?” he asked.

“Get to the point.  What have you done with my daughter?” James said ignoring the question and beginning to get a little frantic.

The white suited man slowly turned, still admiring the art on the walls.  He made his way to the nearest chair and with the aid of his cane, sat down.  He looked James in the eyes.  He saw a man in his fifties, slender build, and average height and still with a full head of black hair.  Dyed, no doubt, he thought.

James could only see a reflection of the light from the window on the white suited mans sunglasses.

“Your daughter is safely located quite a few miles from here,” the white suited man began.

“How much do you want?” James interrupted.

The white suited man sat bolt upright.  “Do I look like a man who needs money?” he responded angrily.

James took half a step back, startled.

Composing himself, the white suited man continued.  “As I was saying, your daughter is safe.  Money is not the reason she is being held.  I have something else I would like you to do for me.”  The driver gave James a briefcase.  “If you look inside you will find a dossier on a group of men.  It details everything about them.  From their childhood right up until the present.”

James opened it.  He thumbed through the pages.  He didn’t recognise any of them.  “Who are they?” he asked.

“That’s not your concern.  All you need to know is they provide armed services for people like you. They dispose of, shall we say, irritations to your business.  Blackmailers, rival drugs empires.”

“I don’t deal in drugs,” James responded angrily.

“Whatever it is you do, you can afford to hire these guys.”

“And why would I want to do that.  Apart from find my daughter and kill you.”

The white suited man smiled.  “I want you to hire them to track down and kill the terrorist group that have been causing trouble for you in your overseas businesses.  They are located close to a small village inChina.  They are believed to have been hired by one of your local rivals.”

“Who?” asked James.

“It was me actually, but the story you will give will indicate your rival.  In the side pocket of the briefcase you will find full details of the plot.  It describes how you found out about it and gives you all the proof you need.  They are very thorough in their background checks so I’ve included all the details you need.”

“You have been busy.  What about my daughter?”

The white suited man ignored the question.  “As well as paying for their services, you will offer some vacation time on a little island that you and I both frequent.”

James’s face changed.  He looked like a man who had been caught by his wife having an affair.  “What island is this?” he questioned meekly.

“Come now, James.  Do you think, having looked through the documents in the briefcase, I would not have done the same detailed homework on you.  I must say, your handiwork with a knife rivals my very own.”  A brief pause.  “Baring this in mind, do you not think it best to do exactly as I say.”

James’s heart began to pound.  The full realisation of the sort of danger his daughter was in hit him.  He never thought that his inhuman pleasures would ever cross into his family life.  The island was such a release for him; and a well hidden secret.  For the past eight years he had made time to release the devil inside himself on the island.  His dear wife never found out.  It would have destroyed her if she had.  There was only one person who knew.  The man who had introduced him to this playground for the rich.  A close friend and business partner for many years.

“Once you have got the men to the island you will be reunited with your daughter.  You will make your excuses to the men and leave.  You will never hear from me again.”  The white suited man got up and walked over to a painting on the wall and studied it for a while.  It was one he hadn’t noticed when he first came in.

“How do I contact these people?”

“All the information you need is in the briefcase.  I suggest you study it well.  I will contact you within the week to make sure everything is going to plan.”  He made his way to the door, the driver close behind.  “If you ever think of crossing me, remember how you leave your masterpieces on the island.  Your daughter can easily be left in the same way.”

The words resonated down James’s spine as the images of his handiwork flooded his mind.  He stood at the window and watched the car pull away.  Only when it had gone through the gate did he turn, pick up the briefcase and sit down to read.  “Pour me a drink,” he told one of his bodyguards.  “With ice.”

Chapter 2

Rennold Walker locked away his equipment.  The trip back was tiring and he just wanted to crash out for a few hours.  He was getting a little weary of catching sleep whenever and where ever he could.  Seems like time was catching up on him.  Though his looks and physique belied his 44 years of age, the constant demands he made on his body were starting to niggle at his joints and muscles.  He just started to notice the old bullet wound in his leg beginning to ache.  Always did after a gruelling mission.  He poured himself a glass of rum,Barbados’s finest, downed it in one and made his way to the bedroom.

The hut was sparsely furnished, as they all were in the camp.  A living area with a couple of chairs.  A small drinks cabinet, a small fridge next to it.  A toilet and shower room and a bedroom.  Not a place he would pick for his holidays, but it was enough for what he needed just after a mission and just before one.

As he lay down, he caught the sight of a spider crawling across the wooden ceiling, heading for its web in the corner of the room.  I must complain about the maid service, he thought wryly as what constituted as a smile formed on his face.  He closed his eyes and immediately images of maps, gun fire, men shouting during battle invaded his mind.  This was the residual effect of any mission.  It happened every time.  It was like the mind didn’t want him to forget.  Thankfully it only lasted for a few weeks.  Usually the rum would help cloud the images allowing him to eventually drift off to sleep.  It did its job as a gentle snoring emanated from his nose.

* * *

Distant gun shots gently wokeWalker.  He turned over and checked his clock.  Nine thirty.  A full eight hours sleep.  I haven’t done that in a while he thought.

More gun fire.  Someone’s out early this morning.  The sun shone through the cracks in the shutters leaving stripes on the bed.  The dust in the air glittered as it danced.

Walkerpulled back the covers and got out of bed scratching the back of his head.  As soon as he stepped down he felt a throb from his wound.  He walked to the fridge with a slight limp and got out a bottle of water.  There was more gun fire as he took a swig from the bottle.  Then, an explosion.  Jees!  Have they used enough explosives?  The sarcastic thought disappeared from his mind as soon as he heard the banging on his door.

“Walker!  Are you awake?” came the voice behind the door.

“If I wasn’t, I am now,” he replied as he opened the door.

“The Commander would like to see you for a de-briefing.”  Paul Womble was an average build, annoying arsehole of a man who nobody liked; least of allWalker.  From his stupid bald head to his highly polished boots, there was nothing to like about the man.  Even his pencil moustache made you want to grab him by the throat and strangle him.

“I’ll come and see him after I’ve eaten.”

“Make sure you do.”  And with that he marched off.

Walkermumbled, “Wanker,” and closed the door.

He’d been at this facility for nearly twenty years now; fifteen with the same team and he’d never met anyone as dislikeable as the Womble.  Even the people his team had been contracted to kill, some of them the lowest forms of humanity imaginable, couldn’t match up to him.

Walkerheaded for the shower room.  He caught himself in the mirror.  His short dark hair seemed to have a few more gray strands in it now.  The stubble on his chin didn’t look as dark as it used to.  Looking down at his body he noticed his six pack was losing its definition and were his biceps sagging a little?

I’ve been away from that gym too long he thought.  Or maybe times catching up on me.  Quickly dismissing the last thought he jumped in the shower.

The early sun shone brightly against the tall rocks casting long shadows over the huts.  The area seemed to be deserted, butWalkercould see that most of his men were already having breakfast.  He made the short walk to the mess hall taking in his favourite views.  The surrounding area reminded him of the westerns he used to watch as a kid; the fantastic scenery with the rocky mountains as a backdrop.

As he opened the door he was greeted with a short cheer.

“You finally got out of your stinking pit then,” Victor Davis said.

Walkersmiled and said, “I don’t know about you guys, but I sure needed that sleep.”  He grabbed a plate and began filling it up from the selection of food that had been laid out.  It was so nice to have proper food again.

“We saw that slimy Womble banging on your door.  What was he after?” asked Franklyn.

“Just letting me know the old man wants to see me about our little trip.  As if I didn’t know that already considering that’s what I do after every trip.”  He sat down and started eating.

“Me and the boys were just discussing what we’re gonna do with our four weeks break,” Darrell Ely began.  “I know some have got family they want to see, but we was thinking we should take a trip to Vegas for a week or so.  Do ya fancy it?”

“Want to throw away your money already, eh?” Walkerpaused.  “Yeah, why not,” he continued.  “I fancy a game of poker.”

“I was thinking more of the strip joints, but poker sounds good too.”  Ely gave a knowing smile.  “That’s settled then.  As soon as you’ve finished with the old man we’ll pack up and head for Vegas.  Franky and Larry won’t be coming so it’ll just be the five of us.  Vegas won’t know what’s hit it when we get there.”

“I dunno about you lot, but I just fancy dossing around the pool.” Lawrence Copley said.

“Well you can do that as well,” replied Ely.  “Come on thenWalker.  The sooner you eat up, the sooner you can see the old man and the sooner we can get out of this dump.”

“Give me a chance.  I’ve only just got here.  It’s the first bit of proper food I’ve had in three weeks and I want to make sure I enjoy it,”Walkercomplained.

“No, three of a kind beats two pair.”  Ely was trying to teach the basics of No Limit Hold Em poker to Jessie Huddleson.

“But you have more cards with two pairs,” Huds replied.

“That’s not the way it works.  It is statistically harder to get three of a kind than it is two pair so that’s why my hand beats yours.”  The seriousness and frustration on Darrell Ely’s face showed he had been trying to relay these rules for a little while now.  He sank back in his chair.  He was of a medium build and about six inches shorter than Huds’s tall frame.  His constantly tanned skin seemed to glow even when he had been in the jungle for weeks on end.  The long blond hair was held back with a hair band that revealed the scar running from the temple to his right ear.

The men had returned to their hut.  It was only the team leaders of each group who had a hut to themselves.  The rest of them had to share.  A few of the men were packing up their things.  They didn’t have much so it wasn’t going to take long.  When that was done they had to wait around untilWalkerhad been to see the old man.  Just in case there was another job on the horizon.  It had happened a couple of times before.  They had packed up ready to hit the beaches or head home for a break andWalkerhad come back with another mission for them.

“I think you should stick to Roulette.”  Ely had finally given up on trying to teach Huds.  “It’s like trying to teach Vicky proper table manners.  It ain’t gonna happen.”

“Oi ya cheeky git,” Victor Davis replied.

“Truth hurt does it?”

Victor was the shortest in the group.  “Big things always come in small packages,” he always said.  Being stocky in stature it gave him a powerful aura that made anyone think twice about tangling with him.  He had shaved his afro when he first joined the army, before joining Walkers team, and now kept a clean shaven head.  He vowed to keep it that way until he could grow back his afro.  He threw a smelly sock which hit Ely smack in the face.

“What a shot.  I think I might try my hand at basketball when I get to Vegas if I’m shooting that well.”

“The only thing you’re shooting well is dead animals because they can’t escape,” Ely retorted.

“Any more comments from you and you’ll be a dead animal,” quipped Vicky.  They both smiled enjoying the banter.

“He’s taking his time over there.  I bet there’s another job to do.  Just when I’m in the mood for a bit of a gamble.”  Ely was fidgeting now.  He’d planted a seed in his mind about another job and it caused him to shuffle his cards excessively.

“Calm down,” said Copley.  “He says he was going to refuse any more jobs until we’ve had a break.  If it’s in his control he won’t let us down.  Let’s have a game of poker while we’re waiting.”

Ely’s eyes lit up.  If there was one thing to keep his mind occupied it was poker.

“No Limit Hold Em, blinds are £1/£2,” he said excitedly.  “Anyone else?”  There were no takers.  “Looks like it’s you and me, Copley, heads up.  Think you can take the pressure?”

Copley sat down putting his money on the table.  “I can if you think you can take losing your money.”  The battle began.

Walkersupped on the whiskey the Commander, the old man, had poured for him.  It was a poor substitute for rum, but on occasions it did hit the spot.  This was such an occasion.

He had only been there two minutes and the drink was in his hand.  It had become a sort of tradition after every job.  A toast to the success.  This sort of welcome was not extended to everyone.  A sort of bond had developed between the two men over the years and they had become close.  The Commander always called him son.

“You’re looking well, son.  No injuries suffered this time I take it.  All of the men came through unscathed?”

“A few insect bites, that’s about it,” came the reply.

“How was the intelligence you received?”

“Better than I thought it would be.  Only a few minor adjustments to the plans were necessary.  I must say you came up trumps this time.”

“We did get a lot from their inside man so I can’t take all of the credit.”

The Commander was sitting at his desk.  He looked handsome in a Sean Connery kind of way.  Well groomed white hair covered his head and distinguished wrinkles lined his face.

The desk stretched the width of the hut and wrapped round him at one end.  Behind him, a row of filing cabinets leaned up against the wall.  On top of these were a dozen or so photos all lined up in a row.  Some of the photos were of his family.  The rest were army photos throughout his career.  There was even one taken with JFK.

“We’re all looking forward to a nice break now.  The boys are talking about spending some time in Vegas.”

The Commander’s head lowered a little.  “I’m afraid you’ll have to put that on hold for a bit.  We’ve had something come in.”

“Norman, come on now,”Walkerwas beginning to get a little annoyed.  “You know how long we’ve been out in the field over the last year.  We need a break.”

“Ordinarily, I would have passed this on to one of the other teams, but you’ve been asked for personally.” Normanopened up the folder on his desk.

“I don’t know whether to be proud or suspicious.  Why would someone ask for us personally?”

Walkerlooked a little confused.  “To be honest I’m surprised no one has asked for you sooner.  Your record is second to none and from what I hear your reputation in the relevant circles is highly regarded.  Son, this has been backed by my direct superiors in the government.  They are really pushing this one.  Apparently, the guy who has asked for you is a big, world player.  He has a lot of dealings with a lot of governments.”

Walkerturned to look out of the window.  He gazed at a bird flying across the camp.  “What’s the job?” he asked resignedly.

“Seems that this guy’s businesses are being threatened by terrorists.  He wants them taken out.”

A long silence followed whileWalkerthought about what was said.

“As a little bit of an incentive, he’s offered the use of an island he and a lot of his rich friends frequent once the jobs done,”Normanadded.  “All the usual checks have been done if that eases your mind any and he’s willing to pay double the usual amount.”

Walkerthought about it for a moment.  “Let me have a chat with the men,” he finally said.  “I have my reservations so I want to let them to be in on the decision.”

“Ok, but son, bear in mind who’s pushing this one.  They would owe you a very big favour which could come in very handy at some point in the future.  Here’s the details.  Go through them with your men and come back to me when you’ve decided.”

Walkertook the documents and headed for the door.  This was the first time he had needed to consult his men on a job.  They trusted him and he hadn’t let them down yet, but this one…  They needed to know that someone had asked for them by name.  He was very suspicious by nature and this didn’t feel quite right.  There’s a very good chance everything is ok.  After all the old man had said all of the checks had been done.  And he was surprised this hadn’t happened before.  Maybe he was being too cautious.  He’ll let the men decide.

Back at the hut Ely sat playing with his deck of cards.  He’d just lost all the money he had with him to a stupid pair of two’s that got lucky on the river card.  Copley was counting his winnings.

Walkerwalked in and put the papers on the table.  Everyone looked at him.  They knew what this meant.  The mood in the room dropped. Walkerexplained everything the old man had told him.

The discussion went on for a good thirty minutes.  Raised voices could be heard every now and then breaking the longer periods of silence. Walkeremerged from the hut with a serious expression adorning his face.

“One condition.”

The old man was disturbed from readingWalker’s mission report.  He jumped a little asWalkerburst through the door.

“We want to meet this guy before we decide.”

“I’m sure that can be arranged.  I’ll contact the relevant people and set it up as soon as possible,”Normanreplied.

“Somewhere neutral,”Walkeradded.

“Ok.  I’ll arrange it for tomorrow.  You and your men go through the documents I gave you and let me know if there’s anything you need.  I’ll get you the latest intelligence reports and satellite photos.” Normanpicked up the phone and started dialling.  Without a wordWalkerturned and walked out of the door.  He headed for the hut to begin his planning with the men.

Chapter 3

The next day a phone rang in James Ober’s mansion.  He was out in the garden admiring his flowers, occasionally picking out some weeds.  He loved the garden.  He had a gardener, but did quite a bit of work himself when he was home.  It relieved the stress and pressures of his work; the peace of the garden contrasting with the hectic environment of his working life.  Today was no exception.

He acknowledged his butler as he came into view.

“A phone call for you, sir.  The person on the line wouldn’t give a name, but said you would know who it was.”

James felt the pain in his heart for his daughter.  He walked to the house and picked up the phone.  “Yes,” he said.

“James,” came the voice.  “Is everything going to plan?  Have you made all the arrangements?”

James’s heart began to race as he prepared to give the white suited man the news.  He wasn’t sure how he was going to react as what he was about to say wasn’t something that was expected.  “Something’s come up.  The mercenaries want to meet me this afternoon at five.”

There was a pause.  James didn’t know what reaction to expect.  He was praying it was the one that would keep his daughter safe.  After all, the white suited man seemed very obsessive about getting these men to the island.  He must have foreseen something like this happening.

“You know what’s at stake?” the white suited man emphasised.  “It seems they are a little suspicious and want to look you over first, so you had better be convincing.  I’m sure it should be a doddle for you after the bare faced lies you must tell to have gotten where you are today.”

James became a little annoyed.  “You shouldn’t judge everyone by your own standards,” he said tersely.

“Don’t get brave on me now little man,” came the raised voice down the phone.  “Just do what you need to do to convince these people you are genuine.  You know what will happen if you don’t.  I will call again tomorrow.”  The phone went dead.

James slowly replaced the receiver cursing his outburst.  He knew exactly what would happen.  A tear welled in his eye.  He caught himself and wiped it away.  Pull yourself together he thought.  I can do this.  He looked at the clock on the wall.  Five hours to go.

* * *

The meeting place had been chosen byWalker.  He wanted somewhere neutral.  Any deception on the client’s part would be easier to spot than if it was on their own turf.  They had never had the need to make these arrangements before.  The old man’s checks had always been thorough.  However, they also had never been asked for before and something didn’t feel quite right.  Maybe the old man was right.  Perhaps their reputation had gotten round.

Five o’clock had arrived.  James Ober was already there.  He had turned up twenty minutes earlier to get comfortable with his surroundings.  This was something he always did before any high pressured meetings.  And you couldn’t get anymore high pressured than this.  He wore his black Armani suite with a white shirt and pink tie.

His three bodyguards stood close by.  All of them armed.  Although, how much use they would be against professional killers he didn’t know, but it made him feel more relaxed.

The meeting place was in the middle of nowhere.  No sign of civilisation for miles.  In fact it was a desert.  There were no landscape features to speak of, just a few trees and patches of scrubland.  Not a place for a vacation.

The unmarked helicopter that had brought him sat one hundred yards away; propellers still spinning with an American pilot sitting in the cockpit.

Now composed after his flight, James waited patiently. The sun hung low in the sky now and he kept it behind him so it didn’t affect his sight.  He could see the second helicopter coming into view.  Its sound became louder until it settled in front of him about fifty yards away.  Seven menacing looking men stepped onto the ground and made their way towards James.  His heart rate began to quicken.  His palms began to sweat.  He put his hands in his pocket.

“James Ober?”Walkersaid.

“Yes,” came the reply.

The six men behindWalkerfanned out on either side of him.  The formation was designed to intimidate and it didn’t fail, as witnessed when looking into the bodyguards eyes.

Huds’s six feet five inch frame of solid muscle took the far left position.  His dusky complexion, inherited from hisMiddle Eastancestry, added to his handsome, chiselled features.  His dark hair stopped at his shoulders and was held in place by a baseball cap.  He, like his companions, wore casual clothes that were going to be used on their Vegas trip; a dark t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

Frankie, next to him, stood four inches shorter than Huds.  He was bald, but unlike Vicky, his condition was due to an accident when he was a kid.  The constant stubble adorning his chin was seen by some to make up for the lack of hair on his head, which he vehemently denied when confronted about it.  He also wore jeans, but with a white t-shirt.

Next to him, Copley, the youngest out of the group, was the same height as Frankie.  He sported a few knife scars on his body from his many knife fights that he used to participate in for money.  His greying hair was kept short which accentuated his large ears.  A lot more casually dressed than the others, he wore a vest and shorts with flip flops.

To the far right was Ely.  Next to him was Larry who was a little shorter than Frankie.  Larry’s ancestral lineage was fromCamerounwhich gave him an almost ebony skin colour.  His athletic frame was covered in a pair of jeans and a blue long sleeved shirt.  Vicky completed the formation.

“So, why us?” Walkerwas straight to the point.  James had his story prepared in his mind.  He had gone over it many times since the meeting had been arranged.

“I’ve been following what’s been happening with your little outfit.  Not just your team, but also the other teams.  The missions you’ve been on.  A man in my position never knows when he might need these services.  Now I do, I want the best and someone who will show my enemies that I am not to be messed with.  The mission reports I’ve read of yours show me one thing above the fact that you are the best; a ruthless nature.  A cold hearted love of your job.  This is why I want you and your team.  I need my enemies to be fearful and show them I am not an easy target.”  James was totally relaxed by the end of his speech.

Walkerstudied his face and eyes during this.  Trying to pick that tell-tale sign that would satisfy the niggling doubt he had inside.  As James came to the end of his speechWalkercould see his facial expressions were more in tune with the words he was saying.  A sign he was more at ease with the story he was telling?  Maybe he was just a little nervous at the beginning?  Either way there was nothingWalkercould pick up on to suggest he was lying.  “Why are these terrorists targeting you?”

Immediately James replied.  “Rennold Walker, there are many jealous people around who want to see me fail.  I am a very successful man in many areas of the commercial world.  I guess they would rather hire people to destroy my businesses than work hard to grow their own.”

Walkerfelt some sincerity in his voice.  “Ok,” he said.  “I am very suspicious by nature, but it looks like you’ve convinced me.  We’ll take the job.  Just a friendly warning though,”Walkermoved a little closer to James and stared deep into his eyes as though he was trying to reach his soul.  “If this does turn out to be a setup and just one of us makes it out alive, there will be no one around who would be able to stop us from killing your family, friends, even your monkeys there,” Walker nodded to the bodyguards.  “Then it would be our life long mission to make your life hell.”

James took a nervous gulp.  With that Walker and his men turned and headed for the helicopter.  James watched them as they took off.  A great relief washed over his body as the helicopter disappeared over the horizon.

* * *

On theIslandthe white suited man sat playing with his cane.  His plans had been upset a little bit, but as long as James Ober kept his nerve everything should be fine.  If this did fail he had a long list of influential people he could blackmail.  Those with their dark secrets imprisoned on thisIsland.  James Ober, though, was the best hope of getting the mercenaries here.

Seven years in the planning.  It had to succeed.  All of that background work will not be a waste of time.  The white suited man began to tense up with these thoughts.  His cane struck the side of his leg.  The pain was fleeting.  He looked over at the girl tied up.  It was time to make the phone call.

* * *

Early the following day things were moving swiftly.

“Here are the latest satellite pictures.”  The Commander dropped a large envelope on the table in the main hut where Walker and his men were planning their mission.  “They were taken thirty minutes ago.”  Copley picked it up and spread the photos on the table.  While the men scanned the new pictures,Walkergave the old man a piece of paper.

“Here’s a list of equipment we’ll need.”

The Commander smiled as he quickly read through it.  “You’re cutting back I see.  Just the one page.  I’ll get it organised straight away.  When will you be ready to leave?”

“As soon as we check the equipment we’ll be ready.  We need to be in the air by fourteen hundred hours so we can make the jump under cover of darkness.”

“Well, we have a plane fuelled and ready for you on the runway.  I’ll go and sort out the equipment now.”  The Commander turned and left the hut.

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