Money Money Money

In the not-so-distant future, an employee of one of the world's leading electronics firms learns a terrible truth- and finds himself the subject of a terrifying manhunt.

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2. The Attempt

For years they'd been content to let Derek think they didn't know. But they did know.

At first they'd decided not to do anything. Derek had no proof, and even if he did, he didn't truly understand what it was he had seen. Now though, as time passed, and words like 'nanotechnology' entered the public conciousness, they feared Derek might make the connection. It was time to remove the last remaining threat to their plans.

*****

The man was unremarkable. His short black hair, black shirt and jacket and dark blue jeans didn't make him stand out in a crowd. His blue trainers were a little unusual but hardly unique. He was quite short, and no one afforded him a second glance. Which was perfect.

He had traveled by Tube to Whitechapel and walked down the streets toward a small but rather quaint series of semi-detached houses. He carried no map, but then, he didn't need one.

It was quite late in the evening and most of the houses had no lights on, but the house he now stood in front of did. With a small smile, he stepped to the door.

*****

"Who's ringing the doorbell this time of night?" Muttered Angela Barnaby. She was about to head up stairs and when tired was often cranky.

"No idea love." Replied Derek, his head buried in his newspaper. "If it's a Jehovah just close the door on his foot till he goes away."

"Smack 'im on the head more like." She replied, more to herself. She shuffled down the hallway, past the various pictures and the small side-table with her little address book on it, and opened the door.

Derek heard his wife gasp, then heard another sound, an unforgettable sound. The pop of a silenced pistol, followed by a thud as his wife's body hit the hallway floor.

The man moved over the body of the old woman, slightly regretting having to kill her, if only for the potential for greater questions. Still, the scene could easily be set for a burglary gone wrong... there was a rustling of paper and shuffling of feet from the living, through an open door on the left. The man smiled. He could complete his task and be home in time for a late dinner.

He stepped into the doorway, gun in front of him, ready to fire the instant he saw his target- so when an ornate china plate broke over his face as a powerful hand grabbed his arm and slung him around, he was caught more than a little off-guard. His assailant let go of him and his momentum carried him across the living room and crashing into a small glass coffee table, which splintered beneath him. He felt the shards of glass cut into his back and left arm, but before he could gather himself and get his gun raised again, a powerful right hook slammed into his teeth.

Stunned, he dropped the gun, and then gasped as another fierce right-hander connected with his jaw. Derek grabbed the name by his jacket and dragged him free of the broken table, then pushed his face down as he brought his knee up, this time knocking three of his teeth out. A left hook smashed into his ribcage, knocking the breath from his lungs, and yet another right hook caught him on the cheek, sending him tumbling to the floor.

The man was completely stunned. He felt dizzy, in pain from broken teeth and a bruised jaw, and felt blood dripping from his face. He could only watch as Derek stepped over to his gun, and flipped it around, as though inspecting it.

"A P226 Tactical. A good gun. Reliable." The old man's voice was trembling with barely controlled anger. He looked his attacker squarely in the eyes and the man had to use every bit of his self-control not to reveal his fear.

"You just murdered my wife." He aimed the pistol at the man's head. "You have thirty seconds to start talking. Who sent you?"

Not a word. His client could not be revealed. The damage that would do to his reputation would be... unpalatable.

The gun fired. The bullet just barely missed the man's left leg.

"I suspect you might wonder where I learned to fight. Your client- through ignorance or neglect- didn't tell you I'm former SAS. I also took up amateur boxing. I know exactly where to shoot you and where to hit you to cause maximum pain with the least serious damage, so trust me when I say I can make you suffer."

The old man was right. His employer had failed to mention the old man's skills. Oh, he could have been lying, but despite his age Derek's punches had been painfully accurate. He had moved with the skill and grace of a fighter. Suddenly the man felt afraid.

"Fifteen seconds. Which knee shall I shoot first?" Derek gestured with the gun.

The man was weighing up whether Derek would actually do it. Yes, he'd just killed Derek's wife, but a soldier never forgot his discipline... surely?

"Ten seconds. How many ribs do I have to break?" There was fire in the old man's eyes.

"Nine. Eight. Seven. Six..." The man resolved not to talk. His client would do far worse to him if he talked.

"Five. Four. Three. Two. One."

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