Chapter Six - Assembling The Team
The four mercenaries sat around the table in the kitchen of Jamesâ safehouse. They had been preparing a list of weapons and equipment that they
would need for their mission.
âSo,â James said, âis this all we will need?â He scanned the list, and then looked at Nick and Sonja.
âAs far as Iâm concerned, that is all we will need,â Nick replied.
âAnd besides, we can always get more equipment from them if need be,â Sonja added.
âOk then. Iâll go and place our order.â He picked up a sheet of paper from the table. âAnd these are the bank details?â
âYes,â Sonja replied.
James got up and left the room, and Carl got up from the table and walked over to where the kettle was boiling. âYou guys want a coffee?â he
âMilk and sugar for me, mate,â said Nick.
âSame for me please,â said Sonja.
Carl made the coffees, and returned to the table. He passed the others a mug each, and sat down.
âSo, tell me about yourselves,â Nick said.
âWell, basically,â replied Sonja, âI used to work for the FSB. I had to leave due toâŚ internal politics, and I moved here and worked for
âRussian Mob?â Carl asked.
Sonja smiled. âAmong others.â
âWell bugger me!â Carl exclaimed. âIf I had met you a couple of years ago, chances are we would have been enemies! I used to be in the Security
Service with Jim.â He turned to Nick. âAnd what about you?â
Nickâs face grew dark, and he stared into his coffee, watching the liquid intently. âI used to be a Para, stationed near Liverpool. Two years ago,
I was called in to London to help suppress the riots,â he paused to draw a deep breath, before continuing. âI was stationed on the Embankment when
a protest was taking place. Everything was peacefulâŚ well as peaceful as can be expected anyway. Then some Corporate Militia arseholes show up, and
open fire on the crowd. I asked by commanding office if we should return fire on the Militiamen, but he told me not to.â
Nick looked up to see looks of disgust on the otherâs faces. âAnyway,â he continued,â It was a slaughter. I left the Army soon
âGood for you mate,â Carl said.
âEvil bastards!â said Sonja through gritted teeth. âI remember seeing that on the news!â
James came back into the room at that moment. âEverything is in place. Weâre picking up the gear at noon,â he announced.
Wizard walked down the alley, dodging the bins and rubbish that were scattered all over it. It was approaching eleven oâclock, and his eyes combed
the shadows for potential assailants. He didnât usually get called out this late, but receiving a call this late meant something was up. So he had
strapped on his rucksack, and had braved the tide of unpleasantness that seemed to wash over London on a nightly basis, and was now heading for
He came to the end of the alley. Across the street, he saw Hakanâs house. Outside it were a number of cars that belonged to other members of
Hakanâs group. Obviously, something very big was going on. Wizard walked quickly across the street and up to the door. He rang the doorbell.
Mo opened the door. âHi Wizard!â he said warmly.
âHi Mo,â Wizard replied. He stepped into the hallway, and Mo closed the door behind him. âWhatâs going on?â Wizard asked.
âI have no idea, mate,â Mo said. âAll I know is, I get a phone call from Daystar telling me to get over here. Nobodyâs been briefed yet.â
âRight,â Wizard said. âWell, I better go find out whatâs going on.â
They walked down the hall and into the kitchen. Daystar was standing in front of the table, lecturing Wasp and Alex. They were looking down at a
number of bottles on the table. Next to the bottles were some cloths, a can of oil, and a can of petrol.
âWhere the hell did you learn how to do this kind of stuff?â Alex asked.
âYouâll be surprised what you can find out if you know the right people. Now, make sure that the rag is wedged in tight, Ok?â Daystar turned to
see Wizard and Mo watching the lesson. âHi Wizard,â he said.
Wizard was about to extend his greetings, when he saw the gash on Daystarâs face. âWhat happened to you?â he asked.
âIâll tell you later,â Daystar replied. âRight now, though, we havenât the time. We have a job to do, but unfortunately, the briefing
canât start yet.â
âWhy?â Wizard asked, slipping off his rucksack and placing it delicately on the work surface.
âBecause Andy isnât answering his phone, and we need him here. So Iâm going round to his place to see if anythingâs wrong. Do you wanna come
Wizard looked at Wasp and Alex, who had started work on the Molotov cocktails. They already seemed bored. âI think Iâll come with you,â he
âRight! Mo help the guys out, will you? Weâll be back in a little while.â
âOk,â Mo replied.
âAnd when we get back, weâll make pipe bombs!â Daystar said, with exaggerated enthusiasm.
âYou are a psycho, I swear!â Wasp exclaimed.
âNot a psycho. A genius!â Daystar said. He turned and pushed past Mo and Wizard, and into the hall. He saw Mickey and Hakan standing at the door
to the study.
âHak,â he said as he approached. âAndy isnât answering his phone. Iâll take Wizard and go round to his yard.â
âAlright,â Hakan said. âTake Mickey with you as well. Just in case there are any problems.â
Daystar found it hard to disguise the sarcasm in his voice. âRightâŚâ He looked at Hillier, and was pleased to find Mickey looking somewhat
surprised. Obviously, he hadnât been expecting to have to do any work.
Hakan raised an eyebrow at this response, but said nothing.
London, England, May 21, 2024
It was approaching half past midnight by the time Daystar, Wizard and Mickey arrived at Andrewâs place. A light in one of the windows indicated that
someone was home, but when Wizard rang the doorbell, there was no answer.
âMaybe he just left the light on,â Mickey said impatiently.
Daystar ignored him and turned to Wizard. âHave a look through the letterbox,â he said.
Wizard knelt down and looked through the letterbox. He found himself looking through the hall into Andrewâs living room. Andrew was lying on the
floor, snoring loudly. A bottle lay on its side next to him.
âHeâs in there. But I think heâs drunk,â Wizard said, standing up.
âDrunk?â repeated Mickey.
Daystar looked up and down the street, then, satisfied that nobody was watching them, he pulled a small device from his pocket. âMind out Wizard,â
he said, stepping up to the door.
âWhatâs that?â Wizard asked, moving aside.
âItâs an old Cobra pick. Iâm going to open the door.â
âHow long is this going to take?â Mickey asked.
Wizard watched Daystar pause for a split second, and then continue with his task. Whatever it was he was going to say, he had obviously thought better
of it. âItâll only take a few seconds,â Wizard said.
Fifteen seconds later, Daystar opened the door, and they walked into the hallway. âWizard, look around and make sure everythingâs cool,
alright?â Daystar said. âMickey, come and help me get Andy off the floor.â
Wizard nodded, and disappeared into the kitchen, and Mickey followed Daystar into the living room. They were met with a war zone; bottles and cans
littered the floor, a smashed glass lay in a puddle by the armchair. The television was on, tuned into a news channel. For a brief moment, Mickey and
Daystar forgot their differences and looked at each other in bewilderment. âWhat the hellâŚ?â Mickey asked.
âIt looks like he went on a massive bender,â Daystar replied. âHelp me get him onto the sofa, Ok?â
Mickey grabbed one arm and Daystar the other, and they began hauling Andrew over to the sofa near the window. They laid him down on it, and placed a
cushion under his head. They turned away from Andrew to find Wizard surveying the mess. âEverything Ok?â Daystar asked him.
âWell, apart from the fact that the mirror in the bathroom looks like someone went mental at it, everythingâs fine,â came the reply.
âWell, no prizes for guessing who went mental at it,â Mickey said. He picked up Andrewâs hand. It had small cuts and bruising all over it.
âLets wake him up and find out whatâs going on,â Wizard suggested. âIâll grab a couple of flannels and some water.â
The cold water, although applied gently with a flannel, felt like a slap around the face. Andrew moaned, and struggled to open his eyes. He had been
asleep so long, his eyes took a while to focus. Three people were standing over him, and as he blinked, Andrew slowly began to recognise them.
âWhaddafakâŚ?â he mumbled.
Wizard knelt down next to him, bringing his face closer to Andrewâs. âAndy? Are you alright?â
Andrew closed his eyes, and didnât reply. His head hurt, and the very thought of speaking made it hurt even more.
âAndy!â Wizard repeated. âWake up mate!â
Andrew opened his eyes again, and squinted at Wizard. âWhat do you lot want?â he replied weakly.
âAre you Ok? What happened?â Wizard asked.
Andrew closed his eyes again, hoping to block the three intruders out, but he didnât find quiet behind his eyelids; a haunting face appeared in his
mindâs eye, and screamed at him. He opened his eyes wide, and looked up at Wizard. âCan I have some water?â he asked feebly.
Daystar disappeared from view, and reappeared with a glass of water twenty seconds later. âHere you go mate,â he said, passing Andrew the glass.
Andrew sat up, took the glass, drank the contents in one draught, then collapsed back onto the pillow.
âWhat happened?â Wizard asked persistently.
âI got a bit drunkâŚâ Andrew replied.
âYou donât say,â said Mickey sarcastically.
Daystar scowled at Mickey, but said nothing.
âWhy?â asked Wizard. âWhy get wrecked like this?â
Andrew felt his patience beginning to wear thin. His head hurt, and he was in no mood for the interrogation. âBecause I feel like a bastard, Ok?â
he replied, an edge appearing in his voice.
Wizard got up and looked at Daystar, a concerned look on his face. His expression was matched by Daystarâs. âWhy do you feel like that?â Wizard
continued, turning back to face Andrew.
âLook on the tableâŚâ Andrew replied.
Daystar turned away and walked to the coffee table. On it laid a newspaper dated May 19, 2024. Picking it up, Daystar scanned the front page. A young
girlâs face screamed back at him, burnt and bloodied.
âRead out the headline!â Andrew said.
Daystar tore his gaze away from the picture, looked at the headline below it, and then glanced up at Andrew. âAndyâŚâ he began.
âRead out the goddamn headline!â Andrew shouted.
âThree Hours After This Photo, She DiedâŚâ
âThatâs right! I killed her mother, and I killed her! And I killed other innocents too! And for what? Some Corporate arsehole who can be replaced
just like that!â Andrew said, clicking his fingers.
âJesusâŚ Andy, Iâm sorry mate,â Daystar said.
âSorry?â said Andrew. âYou tossers havenât got a bloody clue what being sorry is! But then,â he said looking at Wizard, âI have to remind
myself that half of my unit is made up of naĂŻve kids!â
Wizard turned immediately away from Andrew and left the room. Daystar caught a glimpse of his face as he went past, and saw that the attack had hurt.
Daystar let Wizard leave the room before he spoke again.
âThat,â he said, in a low growl, âwas bang out of order.â
âLike I give a flyingâŚâ
âYeah, well whatever!â Daystar interrupted, raising his voice. He turned to Mickey. âMickey, keep an eye on him, Ok? Iâm gonna make sure
Mickey nodded, and sat down in the armchair. Daystar left the room and walked into the kitchen, where Wizard was staring out of the window.
âAre you alright?â Daystar asked.
âIâm fine,â Wizard said, turning to face him. âI know he feels like crap, but I just didnât expect him to say something like that.â
âWell, he still shouldnât have said that, whether he feels like crap or not. It was uncalled for.â
âMaybe,â Wizard said. âBut think of the guilt he must be living with. Youâve killed before, Daystar, but how many civilians have you
âNone,â Daystar replied.
âAlright, fair point,â Daystar said, âbut anyway, I think itâs safe to say he wonât be available for the mission.â
âYeah, weâll need a replacement.â
âNo, Hakan will need her to be ready for potential casualties. She is nurse, first and foremost, not a trooper.â
Daystar stared at the floor thoughtfully for a second, and then looked up at Wizard. âAlright, I know who we can call. Iâll give him a ring on the
way back to Hakanâs. Weâll get Mickey to watch Andy.â
Daystar returned to the living room, and beckoned Mickey to follow him. âMickey,â he said when they were out in the hall, âwe need to get on
with this mission, but we need someone to look after Andy. Youâre the only guy we can spare, so can you look after him?â
Mickey looked at him as though they spoke a different language. âWhat?â he asked.
âThat is, unless you fancy going on this hit,â Daystar continued, playing on Mickeyâs self preservation instincts.
âNo, no, Iâll stay here and look after him,â Mickey said hurriedly.
âAlright, thanks. Donât let him get blasted again, Ok?â
Wizard came out of the kitchen. âGood to go?â Daystar asked him.
âYes, lets go.â
Wizard and Daystar walked out the front door, and down to the car. Daystar unlocked the car and they got in. Once inside, he pulled out his phone and
âHi Hak, itâs me. Andyâs in a real state, we canât use him.â
âWhatâs wrong?â Hakan asked, concerned.
âIâll explain when I get back,â Daystar said. âI will pick up a replacement on the way back.â
âVery well. Donât be too long though.â
âGoodbye.â The line went dead.
Daystar dialled another number, whilst starting up the car.
âHello?â said a voice at the other end of the line.
âHi mate, its Daystar.â
âHi mate! How can I help you?â the voice asked.
âGet your things together. Youâve been activated.â
âNow. Me and Wizard will be at your place in about fifteen minutes. So be quick, Shorty.â
Steve sat in his car, watching the entrance to the car park. He had to be careful on things like these. Even in todayâs police force, you could
still get in trouble for mixing with the wrong people, and now that he was a mercenary, Jim Carter qualified as the wrong people. The detective sighed
and turned on the radio.
âThe headlines at ten oâclock: Forces moved in against rebels today, and it is expected that the terrorists will be overwhelmed by the
Steve switched stations. He didnât need to listen to the news; he got enough bad news at work. He found a more acceptable station, and settled back
to listen to some rock.
A car pulled into the car park. James was here. Steve watched the car pull up, and James get out. The guy walked across to Steveâs car and got
âDetective Holloway!â James said smiling.â Fancy meeting you here!â
Steve smiled back. âHi Jim. Itâs been a while,â he said, starting up the car. He drove out of the car park, with Jamesâ friends following in
the other car.
âSo,â Steve said, âWhatâs going on, Jim?â
âI need you to put out the feelers for info on the Embassy.â
âWhoa! Hold on a second!â Steve exclaimed. âThat is a major investigation! Itâs political, man!â he looked across at James, who was smiling
at him. âWhat?â
âDonât worry about political, Steve. Just make sure that anyone with info comes directly to me. Thatâs all.â
âThatâs obstructing the investigation, Jim. Iâll get castrated if they know that I withheld information.â
James pulled an envelope from his pocket. âTen grand says youâll be fine. All you have to do is pass my number onto them, and get them to call me.
Iâll do the rest.â
Steve looked at James suspiciously. âWhat are you getting into, Jim?â
âJust doing a job, Steve. My client wants the terrorists more than the police do.â
âAlright,â Steve said, taking the envelope and stashing it in his pocket, âIâll ask a few people if they know anything. If I hear something,
Iâll send the person to you, Ok?â
âExcellent! Pull over here then, Ok?â
Steve pulled over, and James got out of the car. âBe careful, Jim,â said the detective. âMy instinct says that there are some nasty people
involved in this.â
âIâll be alright,â said James, looking into the car. âIâll see you later, Steve.â
âSee you later.â
James shut the door, and watched Steve drive off. Carl pulled up alongside him. âHow did it go?â he asked James, winding down the window.
James got in the car. âEverything is fine,â he said.