Disclaimer. This is a multiple crossover. Characters you recognize from other tv shows and films will belong to their respective creators. Any you don’t recognize are figments of my overactive imagination, and bear no resemblance to any person, living or dead. Places and events in history are as close as I can get to factuality.
The sequel to Next In Line.
‘What a difference a day makes’
Governments make war. The warlords, the people with the power and the money make war. The soldiers are the ones in the front line; the cannon fodder; the sacrificial lambs. In most cases the warlords go on, thrive, even in the aftermath. The cemeteries are filled with the memorials of soldiers who gave themselves for that victory; that ability to continue. They are the ones who pay the price of war. He who said, to the victor the spoils, was right. The trick came in making sure you were the victor. Every time.
Therein lay the problem. It didn’t matter how good they were. How right it was. Sooner or later someone was going to give them an order that ensured they wouldn’t be coming back. They weren’t indispensable. They were cannon fodder just like the rest of them.
They’d heard the whispers around the various camps they’d been in. The special ops and wet works they’d done kept them segregated from the regular soldiers. Naturally, this gave way to the rumours. Other soldiers started referring to them as the ‘Three Musketeers‘.
Yes, there were four of them, it was ironic, and fitting. They each chose a nickname, a codename. D’Artagnan, Porthos, Athos, and Aramis. But they weren’t serving some would be king. They were in it for themselves. They were the best of the best. They would, and could do the jobs no-one else would take. They were going to be the winners.
They laid their plans, they were getting out. ‘All for one, and one for all‘ became their motto.
Their plan took shape. Using leave time they prepared the ground. Put items and money into places only they could get to. Then, slowly, one by one, they met with carefully staged ‘accidents’; killed in action. The sort of accidents where there was nothing left. They disappeared. Four people went dark, …… laid low ……. waiting.
The MOD and their officers thought that they’d simply run out of luck. Everyone did, eventually. Their death certificates and papers were rubber stamped and filed. Compensation paid out where it was due.
The time came; they put out the feelers. Then the contracts started coming in…….
Friday April 22nd 2005
Berkshire country road. 06:00 hrs.
Normally, prisoner transfer procedures involved a private company with appropriate vehicles to carry them. But the nature of this prisoner, and the fact that Reliance occasionally ‘lost’ a prisoner, had prompted Ed Clewley to dispatch Constables Andy Jervis and Geoff Burroughs on the previous evening. The hit man was to be held at Belgravia for further questioning or at least to try and get something, anything out of him. They found it odd that he’d not said a word, not a name, nothing, even after being charged. A court appointed barrister hadn’t had any luck either. Chief Superintendent Millar was actually glad to see the back of him.
Unfortunately A large group of drunken football fans had started a fight in Reading and had been brought into the cells at the same time that they had arrived to collect the mystery hit man. Prisoner movement had been locked down and restricted to deal with the fans and they’d been told to return in the morning. Which they duly had. They’d both tried talking to the man, but got nothing from him, except a blank and passive look. Inwardly the man smiled. No-one got information from D’Artagnan, not that way.
The police Volvo cruised down the country road, en route to the motorway from Thames Valley holding cells. Geoff was sitting in the back cuffed to the prisoner. Andy was driving. He slowed the car slightly to negotiate a double bend. ………. That was when the hit man made his bid for freedom.
The car lay on its side in the ditch, steam and smoke coming from the engine bay. A man in a light blue shirt and dark trousers crawled up the bank. There was a bandage around his upper right arm, the remains of the cuffs on his left wrist and a police issue firearm in his hand. He crouched low to the ground at the top of the bank, scanning the area for possible witnesses or other vehicles. He needed wheels to get to a safe location.
A car came along the road from the same direction a minute later. It slowed to a stop when the driver saw the steam and smoke rising from the ditch. The driver got out on seeing the man sprawled half in, half out of the ditch. As he reached out to check for life signs the hit man launched himself at the driver, knocking him over. The surprise attack was brief and brutal. Within thirty seconds he had a wallet, keys and a mobile phone, and the body of the driver was rolled into the ditch alongside the car. As the hit man drove away there was a flash and a rumble as the police car burst into flames.
End of Prologue.