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netwars 2 - Down Time 6: Endgame

Contents

Previously on netwars 2 — Down Time

About the Book

About the Author

Title

Copyright

26

27

28

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30

Previously on netwars 2 — Down Time

The team at the NCCU managed to roll out the anti-virus code they had created to as many of the trading firms as they could reach, starting with the system at Desai Group. They still have no idea whether it will work, but it the best chance they have of averting a major economic disaster.

Meanwhile, using the last living member of The Water Boys as bait, Mitchell and Rebecca accompanied Knox and the tactical team to a small airfield, in an audacious attempt to lure Shylock out into the open. A long, dark night ensued, which saw Mitchell attacked by the killer.

As the early hours of the morning rolled around, the rest of the team at the NCCU saw The Salesman’s attack begin. MalComX was trying to take over each of the top high frequency trading firms on their list. Unbeknownst to The Salesman, Egan and the NCCU had installed their own special defense against the malware.

As the team at NCCU headquarters waited to see if their defense had worked, the hunt for Shylock came to an abrupt and gruesome end at the airfield, with the killer being gunned down by Knox’s team after he shot the last remaining member of The Water Boys.

About the Book

netwars 2 — Down Time 6: Endgame
Book 6 of 6

With Shylock dead, and the attack on the financial industry hopefully under control, Mitchell and Rebecca return to the NCCU in time to head out with the tactical team moving in on The Salesman’s center of operations.

Meanwhile, The Salesman learns of Shylock’s death and begins to suspect that the game is up. Is he too late to get away this time? Can he escape his lair before the NCCU turn up to seize everything?

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 Six — ENDGAME

26

Mitchell could hear Knox’s voice shouting above the others as he sprinted out of the main airport building and across the tarmac towards Bower and his guards. An ambulance siren wailed in the near distance, already on its way. Tactical officers ran from all directions, converging on the scene of the gunfight. Everybody was moving at pace and with purpose. Only Mitchell walked slowly, steadily making his way to the spot where Shylock lay dead. He felt as though he was standing outside reality, just for a moment; as though everything was happening around him and he was the only one not sure of what to do next. What had just happened? Shylock had shot Bower and, in turn, Knox’s men had unloaded their weapons into Shylock, killing him outright. Mitchell looked down at Shylock’s prone body lying on the tarmac, with his head bent awkwardly to the right and his arms stretched out behind him. He looked smaller now that the life had left him, as though he had deflated somehow.

Mitchell kneeled down to look at the uniform Shylock was wearing. It was a totally authentic, latest issue tactical kit. Of course Shylock had been able to move around undetected at the airfield; he had been one of them. Why hadn’t Phoenix considered that possibility? It was so clever: the perfect disguise. As just another member of the tactical unit, Shylock could have even spoken to a few of the genuine officers on duty and none of them would be any the wiser. The only thing missing from his uniform was the camera unit but, unless they were looking for it, it wasn’t something anyone would notice. Shylock had relied on the fact that anybody he encountered would just accept him at face value and it had worked too, almost.

Mitchell turned to look at the small group which had already gathered around Bower. The trader himself was still on the tarmac, but he was howling and writhing in pain. One of the tactical officers was trying to hold him still so that he could check him over, but Bower was fighting him off. If it hadn’t been for the armoured vest, Bower would certainly be dead. Given how close Shylock had got to him before he started shooting, they were just lucky that he hadn’t gone for a head-shot. Knox had offered him more protective gear, but Bower had agreed to wear just the vest, in an attempt to lure Shylock out at the last moment. He had wanted to look like he was unprotected apart from the security detail. The vest may have been enough to save Bower’s life, but the force of being shot at such close range would still hurt like hell and, at the very least, he would have a good set of bruises.

Mitchell watched as Knox reached the group and bent down beside Bower. He heard the big man reassure Bower that he was going to be okay, and saw him hold the stricken trader’s shoulders still in his big bear-like hands, talking quietly but urgently, calming Bower down. It worked. Bower was still in pain and shock, but he obviously recognised that he was safe now. Mitchell watched Knox and one of the tactical officers help him to his feet, and he saw the look of disgust pass across Bower’s face as he stared down at Shylock’s body. Knox gave him a moment to look, before guiding him away with an arm around his shoulder. Knox nodded to Mitchell as they passed, a quiet acknowledgement of the part he’d played.

“What the hell were you thinking?” Rebecca asked, sounding angry.

Mitchell turned to find her striding towards him.

“I didn’t think,” he replied. “I just reacted.”

“You weren’t even covered,” she said. “He could have killed you.”

“He wasn’t going to be aiming for me,” Mitchell said. It hadn’t crossed his mind that Shylock would turn the gun on him. Perhaps he still had a little of Strider’s arrogance kicking around inside him. He had acted on impulse — rushing out to stop Shylock as soon as he’d spotted him. He hadn’t trusted Knox’s men to do the job, but he hadn’t even thought about how he would do it either. He had just run straight into danger with no gun and no plan. He would have to work on controlling that instinct when all this was over. Rebecca stood beside him and looked down at Shylock’s body. She looked almost sad.

“So,” she said. “That’s what you really look like.”

She crouched down beside Shylock and peered at him a little closer. His face was a pale white; his blue eyes were glassy and unfocused. His stare was still cold but, without the intent, it was almost benign. Mitchell watched Rebecca reach forwards and close Shylock’s eyelids with the side of her little finger.

“Thank God he’s gone,” she said quietly.

She lingered on her haunches for just a moment and then stood up, turning brightly to face Mitchell.

“Come on, let’s call this in and get out of here.”

She pulled her phone out of her pocket as she strode past Mitchell, and he turned to follow her back to the airport building.

“Franklin? It’s Mac,” she said into the phone. “It’s over. Shylock’s dead.”

Mitchell fell in behind her, watching her stride back towards the airport building. It struck him again how quickly she had grown into her role as an agent, from the quiet security expert he had first met. It was as though she was born for it. He glanced back once over his shoulder. Behind them, the tactical team had already surrounded Shylock and were covering his body in a dark blanket. There would be no need for much in the way of forensics on this one.

“Okay,” he heard Rebecca say, grimly. “We’ll be there as soon as we can.”

She glanced over her shoulder at Mitchell without breaking stride.

“Franklin needs us back in the office,” she said. “Looks like Black Flag are already making their move with MalComX.”

*

Uli Hirsch stood beside Ellie Desai, looking out at the trading floor. The market had opened as usual at eight that morning, and the full workforce at Desai Group were at their desks, trading. It was like any ordinary day, apart from the fact that they knew they were running on their marginally slower, back-up trading engine platform, so that their main server could remain unimpeded for the MalComX strike-back. The success of their counterattack was dependent on everything appearing to run exactly as Black Flag had intended it to, but every single trading firm had agreed that the impact of all of them being offline for any length of time would be catastrophic, not just for them, but for the larger economy. The Desai Group’s main trading engine, like those of their other at-risk competitors, was being used to fool Black Flag that their MalComX attack had been successful. Uli wondered how long it would be before they realised that they had been tricked, and what they would try to do about it once they knew. It was ten minutes past eight now, and though he could already see that the stock market was faltering, it was nothing like as bad as Black Flag would have hoped to be seeing by now. Ten minutes in the world of trades was a lifetime in the real world, and they would be expecting to see a crash of epic proportions already underway.

They had installed the anti-virus code on the main servers of the six companies most at risk thanks to their connections with The Water Boys, and Uli was sure all of them were standing there right now, watching their trades flow, and feeling the same sense of dread and tension as he was. They could only hope that Franklin’s team were able to track the culprits before too much damage could be done. Uli was well aware that, despite being prepared for it and even facing it down, today’s attack could still have a devastating effect on both the UK and US stock exchanges. Of the six firms under attack, only one was based in New York and the rest were in London. They had sent the code over to the New York firm to give them the same protective cover, but the hope was that they would have shut Black Flag ...

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