Home > The Kite

The Kite
Author: N.R. Walker

 

BLURB

 

 

Ex-Australian Specialist Response Group leader, Tim “Harry” Harrigan, has been running covert ops for almost a decade. A lone wolf, he’s single-handedly taken down terrorists and national security threats, or so he thinks. He’s been in the game far too long, and when he sees a familiar threat, he knows his time is up.

Asher Garin is a dangerous man. A man without loyalty, a man without a nationality, without a country, without a home. He’s also a mercenary for hire to the highest bidder. His next job is a face he recognises, and after a tip-off, he learns he too is a marked man.

It’s a different game now, and Harry and Asher have a better chance at surviving if they stick together. But it’s not just the game or the rules that have changed. The stakes have too.

Because on their own, they had nothing to lose. Together, they do.

 

 

ONE

 

 

GHARDAÏA, ALGERIA


Harry looked through the scope of his rifle and exhaled. It was midday, the Saharan summer sun was scorching hot, the air still and stifling. The desert city had narrow streets with sand- and mud-packed walls; a clustered oasis in the middle of a sea of baking sand. Somewhere nearby, children laughed, a baby cried, a woman yelled, cursing.

He was so far from home.

It had been so long since he’d set foot on Australian soil, he’d almost forgotten what home felt like. He longed for a life that wasn’t his. Wasn’t this. At first the longing was fleeting, no more than a whisper, but it sang a little louder now. In the quiet darkness of night or the patient wait for a kill.

Like now.

Harry had waited in the darkened room, at this window, for two days. His patience never waning.

He never moved. Stock-still, measured breaths.

Dirty sweat ran down his spine. He ignored it.

His mark appeared at the front of the building in the street below.

Harry took another breath. Deep, controlled. Patient.

This was it.

Confirm the mark.

It was him. No doubt. His intel had been spot on. It always was.

Harry inhaled. He moved his finger to the trigger.

The target turned around, as if he knew his time was up. Harry never much cared for the whys of his job. He was simply sent the information, photos, video if they had it. And he did whatever needed doing. Why that person was marked for removal was none of his business.

Their removal was.

The target turned to speak to someone. A small child, a boy, laughing as he ran.

Harry considered waiting but he couldn’t miss this opportunity.

Another breath in, slow exhale.

He was going to lose his target at this rate.

Piss off, kid. You don’t want to see this.

Another bead of sweat rolled down Harry’s spine.

Somewhere off in the distance, a car horn sounded. Harry’s mind threw him back to his teenage days of endless summers with mates, driving old cars and drinking by the river. The smell of possibilities and optimism floated in the hazy afternoon sunlight, memories of a simpler life . . .

Movement on the street below snapped him back to the dark and dingy room, to the blistering heat, and to his purpose. The small child ran ahead, disappearing inside a house. The man began to follow, alone and exposed.

This was his one chance.

The mark’s head fixed in his crosshairs. The perfect shot.

Harry pulled the trigger.

 

 

MADRID, SPAIN


Harry pulled his coat collar up against the cold. He kept his head down, though he was aware of everything around him.

Always alert.

He’d needed to leave his apartment for bread and coffee and felt eyes on him the second he stepped foot onto the sidewalk.

Someone was watching.

Following.

He saw no one. Not even a shadow, but he felt them as if their breath was on his neck.

A class of young school children were on the sidewalk being ushered by teachers in lines of two. The children laughed and chatted despite the cold, and Harry considered keeping pace with them.

Using them as protection.

The people after you don’t care if the kids die, Harry.

Harry crossed the street. No one crossed after him, but whoever was after him was closer now.

He could feel it.

That cold stab of dread, sixth sense, gut feeling. Like icy fingers down his skin.

And if someone was after Harry, it wasn’t good. He was the hunter, never the hunted. If he was the mark . . .

Christ. He was the mark.

Harry ducked past two women, slipping through a narrow utility alley, and he ran. He was being chased now, silent and fast. At the end of the alley, he turned left and went through an open door, up a set of stairs to the roof, his heart hammering.

He ran along the roofline, exposed but faster than on the street. He heard footsteps chasing behind him but didn’t dare turn around, and as the muted whirr of a bullet pinged past his head, he jumped.

He knew the sound of that gun. It was a SIG Pro 9mm with a suppressor.

French special forces, standard issue.

He landed on a first-floor balcony, using his momentum to leap again, this time to the ground. Pain shot through his ankle but he kept moving, down another alley, and through an open door and into a darkened hall.

Hands grabbed him, spun him and pinned his back against the wall as the door closed behind him. In half a disorienting second, Harry pulled his gun to his assailant’s head at the same time he realised he had a pistol pressed against his.

Eyes flashed in the dark, familiar and close. A man’s body pressed him hard to the wall, their chests heaving. A hand covered his mouth.

“Shh.”

Harry didn’t dare breathe, his finger on the trigger, still aimed at the man’s head. The cold press of metal against Harry’s temple told him to wait.

The sound of feet outside came running. The crackle of a radio, a French voice just outside the door. “I’ve lost him.” The footsteps faded, and only after a long moment did the man move his hand from Harry’s mouth.

Harry could see then who it was.

Asher Garin.

Asher fucking Garin.

Adrenaline exploded through Harry’s veins and he started, pushing his pistol harder into Asher’s temple. Asher gnashed his teeth. Anger and defiance flashed in his eyes. “Keep quiet or you’ll kill us both,” Asher hissed, barely a whisper.

His words didn’t make sense.

Asher had saved him?

If there was anyone on the planet sent to kill Harry, it would be Asher. He was the only other man good enough. They were the top two government assassins in the world. Yet Asher had just saved him from the French?

Keep quiet or you’ll kill us both.

Both?

After an eternity, Asher released him, though he kept his pistol aimed at Harry’s head. “We need to get out of here,” he murmured.

Harry’s heart was thundering. His finger itched to pull the trigger. Itched. “The fuck?”

Asher held up his phone to show Harry the screen. “Sent to all agencies.” An assignment, just like any other. Just like any of the thousand he’d received in the last decade. Locations, dates, names, and photographs.

Two photographs.

Harry’s blood ran cold, and his eyes met Asher’s.

Asher nodded, his stare intense. “You and me; double hit. They want us dead. You’re a kite, and your government just cut you loose.”

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