Authors: Chris Ryan
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Spies & Politics, #Espionage, #Thrillers
Also by Chris Ryan
The One That Got Away
Chris Ryan’s SAS Fitness Book
Chris Ryan’s Ultimate Survival Guide
Fight to Win
Stand By, Stand By
The Kremlin Device
Tenth Man Down
Land of Fire
Who Dares Wins
The Kill Zone
Killing for the Company
Chris Ryan Extreme
In the Alpha Force Series
In the Code Red Series
In the Agent 21 Series
First published in Great Britain in 2015 by Coronet
imprint of Hodder & Stoughton
An Hachette UK company
Copyright © Chris Ryan 2015
The right of Chris Ryan to be identified as the Author of the
Work has been asserted by him in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be
otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that
in which it is published and without a similar condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance
to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
ISBN 978 1 444 78331 5
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
50 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0DZ
1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment (Special Forces Support Group)
anti-material sniper rifle
high-yield plastic explosive
Cabinet Office briefing room
estimated time of arrival
the fitness and navigation phase of special forces sel
Government Communications Headquarters
whole-body garment worn as protection against hazardous materials
military command centre
Heckler & Koch assault rifle firing 5.56x45mm NATO rounds
Heckler & Koch battle rifle firing 7.62x51mm NATO rounds
a variant of the SA80 assault rifle, standard issue to British armed forces
light anti-armour weapon
Secret Intelligence Service
Ministry of Defence
rigid-hulled inflatable boat
road traffic accident
returned to unit
military slang for an officer
Special Boat Service
member of the Royal Corps of Signals
SIG-Sauer P225 pistol firing 9x19mm rounds
aircraft identification device
very high frequency
white phosphorous grenade
‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.’
— Albert Einstein
The Iraq–Syria border. Sunset.
It was a featureless patch of desert, but surrounded at a distance by scenes of war.
Six kilometres to the north there was an Islamic State command and control centre, reduced to rubble by American air strikes. But local command and control really took place in a small Bedouin encampment that the infidel didn’t know about, and which they would never bomb, because it was a civilian target. They were weak about such matters.
Three kilometres to the west, a laser-guided Brimstone missile had blasted a crater in the sand thirty metres wide. Two hundred thousand dollars’ worth of ordnance had taken out a single Land Rover, unoccupied.
Ten kilometres to the south, there was a border town that had fallen to the brutal troops of the Islamic State. It had taken the mass execution of three hundred civilians to subdue the malcontents, but now it was overrun with insurgents, completely unopposed by the terrified locals.
Here, however, the undulating sand and rough, dusty scrub under a clear sky looked just as it had done for hundreds, even thousands, of years. And a lone vehicle containing two men trundled through the twilight. For one of these men, who had a crooked nose, lank, greasy hair and wispy stubble on his chin, this was the most exciting journey of his life.
The air was hot and dry. He was sweating and dirty. But he didn’t mind. Twenty-four hours ago he had been stuck in the grey drizzle of an early Peckham morning. Now he was watching a blood-red sun set over the dunes. For years he had longed to swap his old life for this.
His name was James Wilson. He hated it. It was so British. He couldn’t understand why his parents, who had moved to England from Pakistan when they were seventeen – just a year older than James was now – couldn’t have given him a better, Islamic, name. He was always trying to change it. On his unsuccessful YouTube music channel, where he chanted self-penned Jihadist lyrics of which he was very proud, he called himself Dubz-Manuva. And out here, on the fluid border between Iraq and Syria, he was Hassan. He much preferred that name. It sounded more noble, and he had enjoyed tearing up his British passport once he had cleared immigration at Hatay airport in southern Turkey. Out here, nobody would call him a dirty Paki bastard ever again.
Now he was looking forward to meeting with his comrades, learning how to become an ISIS fighter. He had spent many hours daydreaming about the heroic things he would do. And now those daydreams were becoming a reality.