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netwars 2 - Down Time 5: Showdown

Contents

Previously on netwars 2 — Down Time

About the Book

About the Author

Title

Copyright

21

22

23

24

25

Next Episode

Previously on netwars 2 — Down Time

As Rebecca recovers from a near-fatal poisoning at the hands of Shylock, Mitchell uses the time spent by her bedside to dig deeper into the killer’s real identity. As soon as he knows she’s going to pull though, Mitchell heads back to his apartment. Once there, working as Phoenix, it takes him no time to pull together everything he has learned or seen about Shylock.

With Shylock revealed to the NCCU as former disgraced trader, Josh Gallagher, the team is able to figure out the identities of the final, missing members of The Water Boys. With their investigation slowly coming together, they realise the full enormity of the attack that could be planned. Each of The Water Boys was a top player at leading high-frequency trading firms in London and New York. Each of them had top-level clearance, and all of them had given the hackers access.

With the leads stacking up, and at least one of The Water Boys still alive and talking, Mitchell and Rebecca figure out who Shylock’s next victim could be. Unfortunately, by the time Agents Knox’s tactical team has scrambled, they are too late to save him, and they miss catching Shylock by a matter of seconds.

At least they have a better idea of what he’s planning, and how it ties in with MalComX and The Salesman’s bigger plan.

About the Book

netwars 2 — Down Time 5: Showdown
Book 5 of 6

As the team at the NCCU struggles to find a way to thwart the newest threat from MalComX, Mitchell and Rebecca embark on an audacious attempt to flush Shylock into the open.

Meanwhile, Agent Egan of the FBI joins forces with Uli Hirsch to create an anti-virus that they hope will defeat MalComX. In the full-force showdown with Shylock, will Mitchell be able to keep himself in check, and not reveal any more of his killer instinct to the already suspicious Rebecca?

About the Author

M. Sean Coleman launched his career as one of the original writers on Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Online. He has since written and produced original, award-winning shows for MSN, O2, Sony Pictures, Fox, the BBC, and Channel 4. He continues to write novels, graphic novels and tv scripts from his home in London.

NETWARS 2

Down Time

M. Sean Coleman

Episode Five — SHOWDOWN

21

Shylock was freaking out. He had just killed a policeman. It wasn’t right. He had got great pleasure out of killing each of The Water Boys, but this had been different. They had deserved to die, and killing them had been just revenge for the way they had treated him in the past. Tit for tat. But this guy had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. He hadn’t done anything to deserve his death apart from turn up to do his job. Shylock felt sick. Perhaps he wasn’t cut out for this after all.

He was shaking all over. He pressed his back into the wall of the alleyway, feeling the hard bricks digging into his shoulders. He was panicking and he needed to calm down because his legs were trembling too much to support him right now, and he needed to get out of there. But he couldn’t move. He just leaned into the wall, and wished it would suck him in and take him away from what he’d just done. How had they found him? How had they known where he would be? There had been no police near that building when he had arrived, he was sure of it. He had driven around the block once before parking to check whether there was security on any of the fire exits or rear doors, and all he’d seen was a handful of smokers gossiping. Yet by the time he came out, every door was covered. How had they known he would be there?

Scott Mitchell, that smug little bastard — he must have been the one to figure it out. But how? And how much did he know? The fact that they had got there so quickly was terrifying. Did it mean they knew who Shylock actually was and what he was doing? If they had arrived just a few minutes earlier, they would have found him in Michael Grohl’s office. Then what would he have done? He still had one more person on his original list to kill, but he didn’t know if he could do it now. What if they were there, watching him? It would be even more of a challenge than any of the others.

He felt a tinge of regret at not having used his time as Stacy to better deceive the NCCU. Because he had jumped at the opportunity to get inside their fortress and see what they knew, he hadn’t thought it through properly, and he hadn’t prepared as much as he should have. He could have done more to kill their investigation, or at least steer it properly off track until his work was done, but he’d been too worried about Marley’s code getting out there and destroying MalCom. He had acted rashly then, and he had acted rashly again now. This wouldn’t do. This wasn’t the way real villains acted.

He felt the panic rise again and he retched, but nothing came out, so he forced himself to regulate his breathing. He hadn’t felt this human — this exposed — since he had left his past life behind. The police would be looking for him and he needed to move. The last thing he wanted was to be found panting and sweating in an alleyway one block away from the scene of his crime. He felt bad for the dead copper, but he shouldn’t have got in the way. Shylock had burst out of the door and he’d been there waiting. Shylock had had no choice but to strike him down. It had been fight or flight. Yes, that was it. His instincts had simply kicked in to save his skin. It wasn’t his fault; it was the policeman’s fault for being there in the first place.

He felt the shaking begin to subside, although he still felt like his heart was in his throat. He looked up at the walls of the two buildings the alleyway separated. Both were at least ten storeys high, and neither had any kind of fire exit or handily placed ladder to allow him another way out. He would have to go back out onto the street. He should have chosen a better bolt-hole — one with a hidden exit — but it had never crossed his mind that anything would go wrong. How the hell had they figured it out?

He took a deep breath and peered out from behind the pair of plastic bins that had been hiding him from the street. He was half expecting to see a police officer waiting at the end of the alleyway, but there was no one there. He sidled out of his hiding place and, keeping his eyes on the road to his left, he lifted the lid of one of the bins and rooted around, deliberately wiping the blood off his hands on the black bags inside, until he found the small canvas rucksack he had left there in the early hours of the morning. He didn’t want to get any of the blood on the straps, but he realised that, apart from the clothes he was wearing, and the ones in the bag, he had no way of cleaning his hands. He got the worst off on the black plastic, where no one would notice it, and plucked the rucksack out gingerly between two fingers.

Preparation was everything, and he knew that better than most. He had estimated that there wouldn’t be enough time to go home and change between his final two kills, so he had left what he needed for the second one here. The evening was already drawing in, and in offices all around him lights were being turned on. Soon the hundreds of workers here would be starting to file towards the underground stations to begin their commute home. His original plan had been to slip in among them and make his way to his final destination. Of course, everything had changed now. If they knew about Michael Grohl, chances were that they knew about Charles Bower. So he wasn’t going to be able to make his final kill the way he’d planned. He was going to have to think on his toes. He didn’t like thinking on his toes.

He tried to calm himself by looking at the positives. Michael Grohl was dead, and he, Shylock, had escaped. Yes, he was lucky to have made it to the safety of the alleyway — his legs had been so wobbly. He had a clean change of clothes, which would switch his appearance entirely from the man they were looking for. He was still out ahead. But he was sure that there would be no way he could get close to his second intended victim today without being caught. He would have to regroup and find another way to get close. He wasn’t ready to give up on his plan, but neither was he prepared to get caught again.

He pulled the rucksack out of the bin and slid back to hide around the side, crouching down to make sure he was completely out of sight. He pulled out canvas shoes, jeans, and a hooded sweatshirt. He stripped quickly out of his trader’s suit, spitting on his hands and rubbing them together, before wiping them on the inside of the suit trousers. When he was satisfied that his hands were clean enough, he slid his discarded outfit back into the rucksack. He may need part of it later. He was hedging his bets.

He pulled a navy blue baseball cap onto his head, shoved a pair of distinctive, white earphones into his ears, and slung the bag over one shoulder. It was now or never. He walked slowly towards the entrance of the alleyway. He could feel his heart beating faster again and he forced himself to breathe deeply and slowly. One. Two. Three. Go.

He stepped out of the alleyway and turned left, walking away from the building he had just escaped from. He tried to keep his pace even and casual. It was the hardest thing he’d had to do in a long time — every fibre of his body was screaming at him to run. He made it to the first corner, and stuck close to the edge of the building as he turned left again. Up ahead, two police officers were marching towards him. He broke stride temporarily, fighting the urge to run. He had to brave it out. He fished around in his pocket for a phone, which his headphones were plugged into. Distraction, that was the trick.

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