Relentless (Gray Man #10) - Mark Greaney Page 0,1

others had taken the opportunity to close in, and they were on him before he could reload for his next punch. They came with fists, feet, and knees, and then small saps and more batons. The asset gave as good as he got, for a moment anyway, dropping a third man and momentarily stunning a fourth with an elbow to an eye socket, but a metal truncheon from nowhere took him in the back of the neck. The American fell to the ground, covered his head, rolled into the fetal position, and did all he could to weather the blows.

They had him, he knew it, and as far as he was concerned, he deserved to get his ass kicked for somehow fucking this up.

* * *

• • •

The American never lost consciousness—he was a tough bastard—but he did lose track of time. After the pounding he was hooded and thrown into the back of a car, dragged and frogmarched and all but carried into a building with steel doors that clanged shut with a sound that told him he wasn’t going anywhere for a while.

He was no longer an asset. Now he was a prisoner.

He was pushed into a room, another door shut behind him, and then his hood was removed. Four men forced him into a chair with iron cuffs built into the armrests, and they locked him down.

A tough-looking younger member of the roll-up crew grabbed a bottle of water from a shelf, opened it, and poured it over the top of the American’s head, washing away a little sweat and blood but annoying the prisoner just the same.

His ribs hurt, the back of his head was cut, and both his eyes had been blackened, but his thick, muscular body seemed to remain intact, and for this he was glad.

The prisoner just sat there while the water and blood ran off him, and then a grizzled older man stepped in front of him and knelt down.

In English the man said, “You don’t speak Spanish, do you?”

The asset shook his head.

“You have been detained by SEBIN. You will only insult me if you deny knowing who we are.”

The prisoner did know SEBIN, but he had no problem insulting this guy, so he denied it. “Never heard of you. I’m a tourist. Is this how you treat visitors down here?” He was playing cool, but it was an act. SEBIN was Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia de Nacional, the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, both the FBI and CIA of Venezuela, and if the American harbored any doubts about his predicament before, now he knew for certain he was fucked.

He spit blood on the floor and said, “Why don’t you tell me why you arrested me for walking down the street of your lovely country?” He was playing dumb, and it occurred to him he’d probably be playing dumb for a very long time.

But before anyone replied to his question, the door across the room opened and a man entered from a dark hallway. As he stepped into the light over the chair, the prisoner recognized the figure.

Clark Drummond. The target he’d been tailing through the market.

Drummond was fifty-five, a computer scientist and software engineer at the National Security Agency. Or he had been, anyway, before he disappeared one year earlier. A boating accident, or that was the quite reasonable assumption made when his twenty-six-foot Sea Ray power craft was found bobbing capsized in the Chesapeake Bay after a thunderstorm.

But here he was. Low-profile in Venezuela, obviously supported by the local intelligence service, and brazen enough to walk right in here among them like he was running this whole damn country.

Drummond sat down in a chair in front of the prisoner and flashed a smug smile across his face. “You must be incredibly confused right now.”

“You think?” the prisoner said. “Are you from the State Department? These assholes just came out of nowhere and started beating the shit out of—”

“Save it,” Drummond said with a little smile. “You know I’m not consular affairs. You know who I am and . . . unfortunately for you, I know who you are.”

The prisoner did not respond, but his mind was racing nonetheless. Never change your story. No matter what, never change your story.

“I also know who sent you,” Drummond continued. “The Agency somehow found out I’m still alive, and I had been hoping to avoid that.” He put his hands on his knees and sat upright. “They’ll send another asset down here. Hell, they’ll