Read The Patrick Bowers Files - 05 - The Queen Online

Authors: Steven James

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The Patrick Bowers Files - 05 - The Queen

BOOK: The Patrick Bowers Files - 05 - The Queen
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© 2011 by Steven James

Published by Revell

a division of Baker Publishing Group

P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287

www.revellbooks.com

Ebook edition created 2011

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—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

ISBN 978-1-4412-3400-1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

The quote on p. 233 is taken from P. Kreeft,
Back to Virtue
(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 37.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Praise for
The Pawn

“Riveting . . . a gripping plot and brisk pacing will win James some fans eager for his next offering.” —
Publishers Weekly

“[An] exceptional psychological thriller. Steven James writes at a breakneck pace, effortlessly pulling the reader along on this incredible thrill ride. With this first installment of The Bowers Files, Steven James has left his mark as a writer to watch for.” —
Armchair Reviews

“A very interesting story. This is the first of a planned series, the second of which is
The Rook
. If that is as tightly drawn and paced as
The Pawn
already is, John Sandford might have to start looking over his shoulder.” —
Crimespree Magazine


The Pawn
is an intense,
CSI
-like thriller. This is not a story for the weak of stomach or faint of heart; the killers' histories and crime scene descriptions spare no detail. With his first novel, James steps into Christian fiction with a bang.” —
Christian Retailing

Praise for
The Rook

“Best story of the year—perfectly executed.”—
The Suspense Zone

“Fans of
CSI
and
Law & Order
will enjoy the police work and forensics, but this jacked-up read feels more like an explosive episode of
24
; it's a wild ride with a shocking conclusion.” —
Publishers Weekly
starred review

“Steven James writes short, snappy chapters, and his action-packed book is filled with many twists and turns.” —
ChristianBook Preview


The Rook
is suspense thriller writing at its highest level with complex storylines, unpredictable plot twists, and characters who engage the reader in many different ways.” —
TitleTrakk.com

Praise for
The Knight

“Top-notch suspense.” —
RT Book Reviews

“There's a nice balance to
The Knight
, from the intrigue of the cleverly devised plot to the thrill of the investigation, and from the tense courtroom drama to the loving relationship Bowers has with his stepdaughter. It's a smart, thoughtful, and satisfying novel.” —
Mysterious Reviews

“Page after page, the suspense never ends. This book is highly recommended.” —
Midwest Book Review


The Knight
is a fabulous, fast-paced thriller full of surprise and suspense—and I highly recommend it.” —
5 Minutes for Books

“If you haven't read any of the books in this series, what are you waiting for? I've never had a more enjoyable time reading a suspense novel, and I am dying until book 4 comes out. VERY HIGHLY recommended.” —
Books, Movies, and Chinese Food: Book Review

“I'm continually in awe of Steven James and his mastery of story. If you are looking for top-notch thriller writing laced with suspense, action, mystery, and emotion, then look no further. Steven James is your guy.” —
Fiction Addict

Praise for
The Bishop

“James writes smart, taut, high-octane thrillers. But be warned—his books are not for the timid. The endings blow me away every time.” —Mitch Galin, producer, Stephen King's
The Stand
and Frank Herbert's
Dune

“Move over, Alex Cross, there's a new FBI special agent in DC, Patrick Bowers. Steven James joins the ranks of James Patterson in his spine-tingling thriller
The Bishop
. Patterson fans are going to love Steven James.” —Kathleen Antrim, bestselling author,
Capital Offense

“Steven James's
The Bishop
should come with a warning: don't start reading unless you're prepared to finish this book in a single sitting. Riveting!” —Karen Dionne, International Thriller Writers website chair; managing editor,
The Big Thrill


The Bishop
—full of plot twists, nightmarish villains, and family conflicts—kept me turning pages on a red-eye all the way from New York City to Amsterdam. Steven James tells stories that grab you by the collar and don't let go.” —Norb Vonnegut, author,
Top Producer
; editor,
Acrimoney.com

“Steven James locks you in a thrill ride, with no brakes. He sets the new standard in suspense writing.” —
Suspense Magazine

“Incredible.” —Ann Tatlock, award-winning author

“Forget what you know. Steven James turns everything upside down in
The Bishop
. This is thriller writing at its absolute best.” —
TheChristianManifesto.com

“Breakneck speed doesn't even begin to describe the pace of
The Bishop
. Absolutely brilliant.” —Jeff Buick, bestselling author,
Bloodline

“As thrilling and unexpected as any five-star action movie. James delivers a new take on crime and the criminal mind that's both eye-opening and heart-pounding. A high-energy read that delivers a jolt to the senses again and again.” —John Tinker, Emmy-award-winning writer

On October 1, 2003, at 03:25 a.m., hackers broke into the Naval Ocean Systems Center in San Diego, California.

An unknown amount of data was stolen.

Since that day, there have been over six dozen confirmed instances of malware and logic bombs found in the Department of Defense's Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System (JWICS), the United States military's most secure, dedicated intranet for sending critical and top secret information to combat troops and first-strike weapons systems worldwide.

The United States government continues to deny that these events ever occurred.

Prologue

Present day

San Antonio, Texas

10:13 p.m.

Kirk Tyler turned the computer monitor to face his captive.

The video image showed a young woman leaving the Authorized Personnel Only entrance to Lone Star Mall. The mall had closed more than hour ago. No one else around.

Nighttime.

The girl was the man's daughter.

Dashiell Collet wrenched against his bonds, but the duct tape held him securely to the steel chair and he wasn't going anywhere. The empty warehouse loomed around him.

“This doesn't have to end badly for her,” Kirk said, enjoying the view of the seventeen-year-old cheerleader sashaying to her car. Erin was obviously unaware that she was being followed, that she was being recorded, that her life was balancing on such a razor-thin edge. “Just answer my question.”

Dashiell was silent.

“Well?” Kirk asked.

“If you touch her.” Dashiell's teeth were clenched. “I swear to God—”

“Let's leave God out of this.” Kirk stared at the screen. The video feed came from a camera hidden in the top button of the oxford of his associate, now twenty paces behind the girl. “I just want you to tell me the name of the person you've been in touch with at the Pentagon. That's it. Just your contact's name, and this will be all over.”

“I told you before, I don't know what you're talking about!”

“You worked at the facility for fourteen years.”

“What facility?”

“Dashiell, please. Enough. I want to know the name of the person in charge of the project.”

Dashiell shook his head adamantly. “You've made a mistake. I'm the wrong man.”

Considering Dashiell's situation, Kirk was surprised by the amount of resolve in the man's voice. Apparently his training was serving him well.

So, a little convincing.

Kirk's partner was wearing a hands-free Bluetooth earpiece, and Kirk spoke to him, said two words: “Take her.”

On the monitor he could see the distance between the camera and Erin shrinking as his associate moved swiftly, silently, toward her.

“No!” Dashiell cried.

Erin was fishing her car keys out of her purse.

“This will stop,” Kirk said, “when you want it to stop.”

Dashiell strained heroically to get free, but the way he was bound, his struggles only constricted the duct tape more tightly around his ankles and wrists.

“I don't know anyone at the Pentagon!” he yelled. “I'm telling you I'm an insurance adjuster! That's all!”

Erin reached the car.

Opened the driver's door.

The camera was a yard away from her back.

And then.

She must have noticed the person in her side-view mirror or heard the rustle of movement behind her because she turned abruptly and opened her mouth to scream, but Kirk's partner was on her before she could.

“I don't know anyone!” Dashiell hollered.

On the video feed, Kirk could see a hand clamped over the girl's mouth as she was shoved brusquely into the car. The images became quick, jerky.

“I swear!”

“I don't believe you, Dashiell.”

“Leave her out of this! Let her go!”

It was hard to tell what was happening in the vehicle. A struggle, yes, but for the moment everything was a blur of arms and colors and cries. Then, the screen showed the flash of a hand backhanding the girl and then, as she called out weakly for help, Kirk watched as her left arm was pressed down and punched with a hypodermic needle.

“Stop this!” Dashiell shouted. “Call him off!”

“Tell me.”

Erin's eyes rolled back. She drifted down in her seat.

“Okay, I will! Just tell him to stop!”

Kirk spoke into the phone. “Hang on.”

An arm positioned the girl's now limp body in the front passenger seat, strapping the seat belt across her waist and chest. The driver's door clicked shut, then the video image remained stationary, the camera staring patiently out the windshield at the stretch of vacant parking lot surrounding the car.

“All right,” Kirk said to Dashiell. “Talk to me.”

“If I tell you, you have to promise you won't hurt her.” Dashiell was unconsciously wetting his lips with his tongue, nervous. Desperate.

“I promise.”

“Swear to me that this man will let her go. That he won't touch her. You have to—”

“Listen to me, Dashiell, I swear that if you tell us the name, I'll let both you and Erin go. You have my word. I'll have my man leave her in the car, and she'll wake up in a couple hours with a headache, but other than that she'll be fine.” He sat at the table and faced Dashiell, carefully steepled his fingers, and leaned forward. “However, if you don't tell me what I came here to find out, he's going to bring her back here, and I'll make you watch as the two of us occupy ourselves with her for the rest of the night.”

Dashiell was breathing heavily, defiantly, but Kirk could see defeat in his eyes. “Rear Admiral Colberg.”

“Colberg.”

“Yes. Alan Colberg. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Works for the Department of Defense. You can look it up. Now, tell him to leave her in the car.”

“Just a minute.” Kirk tapped his laptop's keyboard, verified the name against the list of potentials his employer had sent him. Yes, the rear admiral had been an employee of the Pentagon's Project Sanguine, but based on Colberg's work schedule and job responsibilities, the computer told Kirk there was only a 61 percent likelihood of a match. Not enough to go on.

“I need more.” He held up the phone. “Prove it or—”

“All right, listen. Colberg helped design the extremely low frequency technology back in the eighties. He was on the original team. The first one to man the station.”

“That's not proof.”

“Check his background. He wrote a paper back in 1979 on 3 to 76 Hertz radio waves and the use of the ionosphere in transmission technology.”

It took Kirk a few minutes before he found anything online, but at last he was able to pull up a PDF of the symposium paper written by then Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Alan Colberg.

It wasn't 100 percent conclusive, but in this business, very little was. He would confirm everything when he met with the admiral.

Good.

The person who'd hired him for this job would be pleased.

Kirk spoke into the phone, to the man with Erin. “All right, bring her back and we'll get started.”

“What?” The blood drained from Dashiell's face. “You said you'd let her go!”

“Yes.” Kirk pocketed the phone. “I did.”

“I'm telling you”—Dashiell's voice was taut with fear, with the revelation of what was happening—“it's Colberg. You have to believe—”

“I do believe you.”

“But you swore you'd—”

“Mr. Collet,” Kirk interrupted. “Part of my job involves telling people whatever is necessary to convince them to give me what I want. It's nothing personal.” Kirk unholstered his Italian-made .45 ACP Tanfoglio Force Compact and pressed the end of the blue steel barrel against Dashiell's left thigh. “This is for wasting my time with your stalling.”

“No, you have to—”

Kirk squeezed the trigger, and Dashiell Collet screamed.

Then screamed even louder when Kirk fired another round into his other leg.

Judging by the position of the barrel, Kirk was pretty sure the second bullet had shattered Dashiell's femur. The bleeding from both wounds was steady, not gushing, and Kirk didn't think the femoral arteries had been torn. Untreated, he would eventually bleed out, but he should survive at least a couple hours. Long enough to watch.

Kirk set the gun on the table to his left. It took him only a moment to gag him. “You could have stopped all of this if you'd just told me right away what I wanted.”

Dashiell's eyes were bleary with pain from the gunshots. His head sagged, and Kirk feared that the blood loss was affecting him more quickly than he'd anticipated. He slapped his cheek. “Look at me!”

The man seemed to refocus.

“You need to know that Erin's death and everything that precedes it will have been your fault for inconveniencing me for the last three hours.”

Although obviously disoriented, Dashiell pulled against his bonds once again but then winced terribly as his leg tensed. He tried to cry out in pain, but the gag swallowed the sounds.

Kirk unlocked the side door so the building would be accessible to his partner. As he was returning to the table, he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Only one person had the call-in code for this number.

Valkyrie.

Precisely the person he needed to talk to.

Kirk tapped the phone's screen, but before he could speak, the electronically masked voice on the other end said, “I was watching the video feed. I saw your man take the girl.”

“He does good work,” Kirk said. “We got what we wanted. Dashiell's contact is Rear Admiral Colberg. At the Pentagon.” Kirk arranged the items he would be needing for his time with Erin. The tape. The ropes. The cuffs.

“You should have left the girl out of this.”

If there was one thing Kirk Tyler did not like, it was having to explain himself. “I wouldn't have done it unless I believed it was the most prudent course of action.” He decided not to mention his plans regarding the girl.

“The most prudent course of action.”

“Yes.”

“That's what you thought.”

A pause that made Kirk somewhat uneasy.

“You should have left the girl out of this,” Valkyrie repeated. But this time the words had a tighter edge to them. “This was sloppy.”

“It was efficient.”

“Efficiency means limiting collateral damage, decreasing exposure—”

“You weren't here.” He had never cut Valkyrie off midsentence before, but he wasn't in the mood for a lecture. “Don't question my decision.”

A longer pause this time. “In lieu of what I've seen tonight, I've decided to have someone else finish the job.”

Kirk felt his grip on the phone tighten. “That wouldn't be wise.”

“I told you when we started that there would be consequences if anything was mishandled. This situation with the girl—I consider it mishandled.”

A warning flared through Kirk's mind.

He's watching you.

Kirk drew his Tanfoglio again, scanned the shadows of the warehouse. “You do not want to do this.” He clicked through the possible places Valkyrie or one of his men might be hiding. Saw nothing. “You pull me from this and I'm coming for you.”

“Good-bye, Kirk.”

And before Kirk Tyler could respond, the cell phone he was holding beside his ear exploded, ripping off his forearm and most of his head, sending a frenzy of blood and brain and splintered skull across the table. As his body dropped clumsily to the ground, tiny globs of gray matter dribbled onto the concrete, and Dashiell watched in horror—thinking only of what would happen to Erin and to him when the dead man's associate arrived.

Alexei Chekov was halfway through the Grand Inquisitor scene in
The Brothers Karamazov
when he heard from Valkyrie asking him to come in and clean up a mess.

“You remember Kirk Tyler?” the voice said.

“I'm familiar with him, though we've never actually met.” Alexei's English was impeccable, as was his Russian, Arabic, and Italian. When Valkyrie had first contacted him, he'd noticed a sentence structure that suggested someone who'd either studied in or grown up in the States. Because of this Alexei had chosen American English for their conversations.

“I'm afraid you won't have the opportunity.”

“He disappointed you.”

“Yes.”

Alexei placed a bookmark and set down the novel.

Valkyrie.

In early Norse mythology, a Valkyrie was a goddess who flew over the battlefields deciding who would live and who would die—a job strikingly close to his own. The myths evolved over time and turned Valkyries into beautiful, angelic creatures who rewarded fallen heroes in paradise.

Death and rewards. Who lives and who dies—the ultimate decision.

Valkyrie filled Alexei in concerning Dashiell Collet and his daughter and all that had happened at the warehouse. “It's not far from where you are,” Valkyrie explained. “I want you to dress Dashiell's gunshot wounds, take care of Tyler's body, then call an ambulance for Mr. Collet. I want him alive in case we need to speak with him again.”

Valkyrie's comment about the warehouse being nearby told Alexei that his own location wasn't as secret as he'd thought it was, and he realized that he might have underestimated Valkyrie, a person he had never met, didn't even know the identity of.

“What about the girl?”

“She'll wake up in an hour or two. I'm afraid the man who tried to abduct her won't be so lucky.”

BOOK: The Patrick Bowers Files - 05 - The Queen
12.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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