Pre-publication sample of ROGUEPosted: August 6, 2013
If you clicked the book cover of Rogue on this blog and ended here, don’t fret. Rogue is almost finished and if you click follow by email you’ll be the first to know when it’s published in the Fall of 2013.
The pitch for Rogue:
Assassin Katla kills the wrong target and draws attention from combined intelligence communities…
Freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter Katla Sieltjes runs her business of disguising homicide below the radar of law enforcement, but when her latest target is a judas goat intended to draw her out into the open, the hunter becomes the hunted. Fooling local law enforcement can be difficult, but hiding from intelligence communities aiming to enlist her for their dirty work might prove impossible. With Homeland Security, DEA, and the German BKA bundling their forces with Dutch Intelligence in an effort to track down Loki Enterprises, not only Katla’s future is threatened, but also the lives of her lover and his friends.
Rogue is the third novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. With authentic details and fast-paced action, featuring an uncompromising heroine and a supporting cast of unusual characters, Rogue gives a rare glimpse in the local Dutch culture, information on the famous Dutch capital, International terrorism, computer hacking, forensic sciences, martial arts, foreign intelligence services, the art of social engineering, and the brutal effectiveness of disciplined violence.
TO THANK YOU FOR CLICKING THE LINK, BELOW IS A FIRST LOOK AT THE OPENING CHAPTER:
In the back seat of the Mercedes taxi, Katla Sieltjes sat with her eyes closed, her hands on the crossbar handle of the titanium cane between her knees and her ears tuned to the sounds of the tires whirring underneath. She was not often driven anywhere and this was a good occasion to find out how Bram experienced riding in a car. The blind man sat in the passenger seat, as was his preference, so she had the whole back seat to herself.
Even with the slight swaying, the most notable difference of riding blind seemed to be that the forward motion of the car disappeared. The only motion she perceived was sideways, when the car entered a curve in the road, or, when the car would go through a dip in the road, her body was carried upward like a buoy, which was not unpleasant.
A sickening lurch threw her forward unexpectedly and she slid sideways on the leather seat, crashing with her elbow against the back side of the front passenger seat. She opened her eyes and saw a Nissan Micra swerve to the right and merge back with the traffic in the other lane. The taxi driver glanced into the rear-view mirror and spoke apologetically, “Lane changer without indicating.”
Bram turned his head as if gazing over his shoulder with his ruined eyes. “Did that wake you up?”
“No, I wasn’t asleep. Not paying attention, that’s all.” She leaned forward and rested a gloved hand on the blind man’s shoulder. “I understand now why you always wear your seat belt.”
“Even when you have a good driver.” Bram briefly took his hand from the purple metallic flight case between his legs to touch her hand. “But when you can’t see, traveling by car is like sitting on a disagreeable magic carpet. That’s why I prefer riding pillion on your motorcycle. Don’t you have seat belts in the back seat?”
“Passengers don’t need to wear seat belts in taxis,” the taxi driver said. “The only ones who strap in are children.”
“I’ll brace myself next time.”
Katla leaned back and ran a hand through her short hair, brown to match her passport, then rested her elbows on the rear shelf, gazing at the flat country whizzing past. The titanium cane across her lap was a gift from Anouk from back when she’d been recuperating from getting shot in her leg. The leg was fine now, but she took the cane along to project vulnerability and make any clumsiness appear natural.
A distant rumbling overhead sounded like the coming of thunder, then became the roar of huge engines. A Boeing banked just overhead, the thunderous noise vibrating the air inside the car. Katla watched its landing lights as the airplane settled down on the shimmering tarmac in the distance and disappeared from sight.
Her stomach did flip‑flops, but she knew how to quell the queasiness, taking deep breaths and running the information from the email attachments on the inside of her closed eyelids. Her eidetic memory provided her with the snapshot picture of her target. Slavic features, dark eyes close together, hairs divided over his upper lip like an imitation of a moustache, his dark blond hair slicked back. The client had given the target’s name as Pavocelic, but that probably wasn’t his real name. In her mind she superimposed an imaginary cross over the target’s face, the horizontal line across his eyes, the vertical from his brow to his lower lip. The target could disguise the rest, but even spectacles or a beard would be unable to hide the cross.
They entered the Schiphol tunnel, the music on the radio fading out as the tunnel blocked the signal. Katla fingered the two passports in her inside pocket, Bram’s stiff and brand‑new, her own frayed from use. In her other pocket was the envelope with their travel tickets. Two return tickets Business Class Amsterdam-Tokyo. If you had to spent eleven hours and thirty minutes in a KLM Boeing, you might as well enjoy the comforts. From Schiphol to Narita was a non‑stop night flight and they’d arrive in the afternoon. She hoped to sleep through the flight, although she knew from experience she’d be lucky if she’d sleep four or five hours. Bram had his magnetic Go board in his carry-on luggage, but she was not yet proficient enough to enjoy getting beaten by him.
The radio came back to life in the middle of an announcement. Katla opened her eyes and watched the Aviodome glide by.
Would Bram have problems with jet lag? Her biorhythm would be thoroughly fucked up, taking her at least a day to function normally, but his blindness caused Bram to be awake at odd hours and sleep when he was bored or tired. Maybe he’d sleep straight through the flight.
She fingered the homemade dagger in her sleeve. Although the shape was different from the one she’d used on the biker a year ago, the material was the same, so it should pass without problem through the metal detectors.
The Mercedes left the motorway and made a series of turns that brought them to the main terminal’s first floor, where departing travellers checked in. The driver brought the taxi to a smooth stop at the kerb. He glanced at her in the rear‑view mirror and said, “You need help getting inside?”
Katla handed him five euro over the amount shown on the meter. “I’d be grateful if you could fetch us a luggage cart.”
The driver unbuckled his belt, popped the trunk and opened his door. A hot breeze entered the cool car, then the door slammed shut behind him and the driver stalked away. Katla stuck her head between the front seats and kissed the blind man’s cheek. “If everything goes well, we’ll be on our way to Japan in about an hour.”
“And if it doesn’t?” Bram replied softly.
Katla pretended she hadn’t heard him.
Getting out of the taxi the hot air wafting up from the asphalt stung her face. Katla swung her legs out of the car and pretended to lean heavily on her cane as she limped to the rear of the Mercedes. The limp and the cane would make her appear more vulnerable, but—apart from a scar that would be visible with mini skirts—her right leg was ninety-nine percent functional again. She opened the trunk as the driver returned with a cart.
Alerted by the sound the blind man stepped from the taxi, taking the tube with his cane from his inside pocket before buttoning his impeccable black Armani suit. Katla wished Bram would allow her to dress him more often as she watched him flick his wrist, the folded telescopic cane clicking out. With his scarred face and the white streaks in his long black hair he looked like a cruel aristocrat, although the soft smile under his aquiline nose spoiled the image somewhat.
Bram hoisted his saxophone flight case higher on his shoulder and waited patiently while the driver stacked their two suitcases and her weekend bag on the cart and closed the trunk. Katla affected a severe limp as she crossed from the taxi to the cart and rested her titanium cane on top of the luggage.
As the taxi pulled away, Katla leaned on the handle and pushed the cart to the terminal, Bram walking alongside with his left hand on the cart’s handle for guidance. Inside the main terminal the air was a lot cooler. After they checked their luggage at the KLM desk, Katla took Bram to passport control. Bram needed to show the contents of his flight case because his saxophone set off the detectors and Katla’s cane was studied by the security staff, but they were cleared to pass to the restricted area. As expected the dagger in her sleeve went unnoticed.
Katla guided Bram to the waiting area, where she sat him down and handed him her weekend bag. He put her bag with the flight case between his feet and folded his cane, then took her hand and tugged softly. She sat down in the chair beside him and held his hand, listening to a silky voice overhead announcing arrivals and departures of flights with corresponding gate numbers.
The blind man leaned close and whispered, “Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“I’m going along with your strategy, Bram. I’ll abort if I notice anything suspicious.”
“I hope you do, because I have a bad feeling about this one. I think you should stick with the others I lined up for you.”
“Don’t worry so much,” Katla said. “It will be all right.”
A grey‑haired black man sat down on Bram’s other side and eyed the flight case. “Are you a musician, son?”
“Depends on who you’re talking to. And the music you like.”
“You strike me as a journeyman.” He gave a barking laugh and coughed, then said, “Your case looks like it travelled rough roads.”
“Yeah,” Bram said. “It’s been with me a while.”
“I used to play the trumpet, but my lungs gave out. You like blues?”
“I’m more into jazz. I like hard bop. Mobley, Coltrane, Lee Morgan.”
“Morgan, yes. I liked The Sidewinder, although the stuff he made after that was like he was repeating himself. But the man was definitely gifted.”
Katla rose to her feet and said, “I’m going to stretch my leg a bit.”
“Don’t forget to pick me up later,” Bram said, then turned to the black man. “Why did your lungs give out?”
“I was in a fire. Didn’t get burns, but I inhaled so much smoke my lungs nearly collapsed. Like drowning on dry land, you know what I mean?”
She limped away from them and strolled around the tax free shops, the rubber tip of her titanium cane making squeaky noises on the stone floor. She located the lavatory, washed her hands and locked herself in a toilet stall. After thoroughly drying her hands with toilet paper she donned her TurtleSkin gloves.
Designed specifically for law enforcement, the warm weather gloves had a mesh knit backing that allowed air to circulate, while the leather palm and fingers protected against cuts and needles. Their most important feature was their ability to mask her fingerprints while still providing the extreme tactility needed to handle weapons.
She slipped the dagger from her sleeve. Based on the dart-like tri-edged dagger used by Delta Force commandos, the thin sliver was made from a compound of plastics that would let it pass through the metal detectors without a problem, but the material was both sharp and brittle like ceramics. She took a small ampule of Hibidil anti-septic fluid and liberally coated the dagger to remove fingerprints, then shook it dry and inserted it back into her sleeve.
Prepped and ready she left the lavatory. Past the entrance to the short C‑terminal she gazed up at a monitor and checked the list of incoming flights. The Qantas flight was still on schedule, due to arrive any moment at the D‑terminal, the longest Schiphol terminal, reserved for the larger airplanes.
She limped down the D-terminal alongside the rolling sidewalks.
In the distance, the red tail of the Qantas Boeing was already visible as the airplane taxied from the runway to the platforms. The terminal was getting busy and Katla scanned faces unobtrusively as she took up a strategic position at a break in the rolling sidewalks, gazing out on the platforms.
Katla took out her smartphone and transmitted the location to the pack she’d challenged to a flashmob. The challenge was to create a flashmob in a supposedly secure location. The pack was supposed to assemble in less than two minutes.
The Qantas taxied down to the terminal and came to a halt. Katla watched as maintenance vehicles swarmed out and surrounded the plane while a jet bridge telescoped out from the terminal and connected to the Boeing’s exit, right before the wing.
A shaggy-haired young man in a petrol windbreaker with a bouquet of flowers drifted closer to the gate. Probably waiting for his girlfriend, although he must’ve pulled some strings to wait for his girl beyond the customs area. After a couple of minutes the first passengers moved out onto the D-terminal and strolled to the rolling sidewalks.
Katla dug a small vitamin bottle from her pocket and took the marked capsule. With her tongue she stuffed the capsule in her cheek, hoping Bram was right about the time saliva would take to dissolve the capsule. She didn’t want the concoction activated prematurely.
Her target was in the second batch, wearing an anthracite double‑breasted suit, a grey trench coat over his left arm and carrying a briefcase in his right hand. Without looking around he stepped onto the rolling sidewalks to the main terminal, studying documents in his left hand.
Katla moved away from the window and limped to the break between the rolling sidewalks, then got on just in front of her target, taking an oblique stance to keep him in her peripheral view as they were carried to the terminal.
Like always there was a small crowd milling at the end of the rolling sidewalks despite the various signs directing arrivals to customs or the various accommodations the airport featured, but now the flashmob was also there with their banners. As they neared the end of the rolling sidewalk, the crowd erupted, waving banners with ‘Welcome to the Netherlands’ and ‘Enjoy Amsterdam’.
Making sure it looked natural, Katla stumbled and turned around to keep her balance as the fingers of her gloved hand slipped into her sleeve and drew her dagger. The target brushed against her but veered away at the last instant to avoid bumping into her. Katla dropped her titanium cane and grabbed his right arm so he couldn’t block her next move with his briefcase.
Without hesitation she plunged the dagger in his crotch, severing the femoral artery. The target dropped his briefcase, looked down and gasped, his left hand opening and spilling his papers on the floor. In one smooth motion, Katla ripped the dagger free, holding the tip down but away from her to keep from smearing blood on her skirt. The target raised his head and locked eyes with her, his face white with shock and disbelief.
Holding his dying gaze, Katla shifted her free hand to the crook of his elbow and pushed down, yanking him off‑balance. The mob pressed against her back as the target slipped and fell against her, his dark blond hair brushing against her jacket. Before his knees touched the floor, Katla moved her dagger hand under his chin, holding the sharp tip straight up in the air. Without effort the hard plastic sliver plunged vertically into the soft skin of his chin and penetrated the roof of his mouth and the nasal cavity. There was a slight resistance as the sharp tip punctured the thin bone protecting the brain before the thin dagger sliced through the soft tissue. The tip bumped against the inside of his cranium and Katla released the dagger. The target fell to his knees, wobbled like a drunken man and crashed down on his face.
Sinking to a knee, Katla picked up her titanium cane and obliquely studied the reactions of the crowd. A dark‑haired man hunkered down beside the prostrate Pavocelic and she did the same. Together they turned him over on his back and she made sure her right glove touched the dark patch of blood on the target’s crotch. Another man looked over the crouching man’s shoulder and gagged, spotting the dagger sticking out of the dead man’s throat.
Katla lifted the back of her left hand to her mouth as if disgusted by the sight and bit down on the capsule in her cheek. A bilious liquid flowed from the capsule into her throat and she didn’t need to pretend to be sick anymore.
Rising to her feet, Katla stumbled back against the wall of bodies behind her. A hand caught her shoulder and she glanced up gratefully, but the man who caught her looked at the body, his hand dropping away from her shoulder. She took another step back, allowing others to move in front of her. A woman standing next to her asked her what happened and she shook her head, not looking at her. The woman moved forward, craning her head to look over the crowd.
With the back of her hand against her mouth, Katla looked around and spotted a small sign to the lavatories. Bile was rising in her throat as she moved away from the crowd.
The shaggy-haired young man in the petrol windbreaker she’d seen earlier handed his bouquet to a girl, looked over Katla’s shoulder at the crowd gathered around the dead man. He nodded and stepped in front of her. Katla halted at the sight of the small semi-automatic pistol in his right hand and noticed his hair had obscured the wire running from his ear into his collar.
“Police.” His wary eyes remained on her face as he showed her a laminated card embossed with the Amsterdam arms. “Please don’t move.”
Katla silently thanked Bram, bent from the waist and vomited on the police officer’s grubby sneakers.
ROGUE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE FALL OF 2013