“Members of the security services are already beginning to suspect your existence and the work of your organisation,” Wolsingham said. He gave a sneering laugh. “Mondial. But they are unaware of mine and I need it to stay that way.”
“It is my understanding that there is a specialised agency dedicated to bringing you down.”
“Not for much longer,” Wolsingham replied. “As no one else knows about them, their demise won’t even make page 11 of the Evening Standard.” Wolsingham finished his tea, dabbed his mouth with a serviette and got to his feet. “I need the writer taken care of. In return, my people will provide assistance when you need it. I hope you gleaned everything you needed to with this visit.”
“I did,” Hoyer smiled. “And Jason Rybak will be dead before his first book charting the exploits of your people hits the internet.”
I slammed my laptop shut and bowed over in my chair, trying to suppress the urge to vomit. Two of the most dangerous men in the world, never mind just the UK, and I was their next topic of discussion.
I took a deep breath and read on.
“Jason Rybak,” Wolsingham said. “The second people start taking the content of his work more seriously, we will both be in trouble.”
“I attempted to have him killed,” Hoyer replied. “As I know you did.”
“But he has help,” Hoyer continued. “I know nothing about this helper. None of my people have even seen his face. But their accounts suggest he belongs more to your world than mine.”
The man at the table gazed at Hoyer with contempt.
“I know you Gromas love to linger behind the scenes where no one can see you and revel in your genetic superiority,” Hoyer said calmly. “But it makes you lazy and sloppy. I would take a well-trained ordinary, but talented human being any day of the week. You should spend more time in the real world, Mister Wolsingham.”
“You would not be in your position without people like us. I would hate to see you lose everything you have built by starting a war with me.”
“I would like to see you try. So far, your people have been as much use as your bartender’s little parlour trick. Our secret weapon in our war against Ciprian’s criminal cooperative failed in spectacular fashion.” Hoyer leaned forward. His jaw clenched. “And worst of all, your deficiencies and our defeat are soon to be made public – by a writer.”
Six drove hard, sticking to quiet country roads, As it started to get light again, he skidded to a sudden halt. Without saying a word, he grabbed his phone and spent ten minutes tapping away at it with a frown on his face. Then he handed it to me, telling me to flick between a map and what looked like a live camera feed of the inside of a house. He drove on and a couple of hours later, parked in the garage of a cottage on the edge of a village close to London.
“What is this place?” I asked.
“Safehouse. Officially it’s a holiday home. No one will think it’s strange that we’re here. We’ll be safe for a couple of nights and we can plan our next move.”
I recognised the interior from the camera feeds I’d been watching.
“This belongs to your emplyers? Won’t they look for you here?”
“No. It’s mine. No one else knows about it.”
Six wouldn’t answer any more questions. He set about checking his many hidden security measures and reported that no one had been there. I knew we were safe – for the time being at least.
It was about twenty-seven hours later when I realised that someone had been in the house while I was asleep and left things for us. There was a laptop containing every note and every manuscript I’d left behind in our crashed car.
My eye was drawn to some material I didn’t recognise – titled “URGENT”
It showed what else ShadowAspect had been up to recently.
The first incident sent a chill up my spine.
I didn’t realise so much time had passed. I haven’t slept. I don’t remember drinking or eating anything, but the empty plates and coffee mugs around the place suggest I must have.
Sarasin Shade’s manuscripts lit a fire under me. I’ve read, reread, written and rewritten. I’ve never accomplished so much in such a short period. I can’t wait to get these stories out into the world.
It took me ages to notice ShadowAspect standing there. Maybe it says something for my state of mind that he brought me pizza and it doesn’t seem weird to me. After I write this, I’ll stop and eat before I keel over.
ShadowAspect placed a small pile of money on the desk. I remembered I hadn’t thought to mention payment at the time. Then he placed a note in front of me.
“You have two weeks.”