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Ruby Gill is a rogue MI6 agent, the daughter of an Indian father and Palestinian mother. Her mission is to destroy a Palestinian-Israeli peace summit in New Delhi. Ruby's father, whom she has not seen since age three, is now head of India's antiterrorist police. When the two first meet, Ravinder Gill believes his long-lost daughter has come for a reunion . . . but as time goes by, he begins to suspect that she is the terrorist he's searching for.
Combining a fascinating mix of terrorist operational detail contrasted with the coming together of a father and daughter who once loved each other but are now on opposite sides of a deadly encounter, Mukul Deva's Weapon of Vengeance is a gripping thriller filled with explosive action and weighty characters.
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MUKUL DEVA served as an infantry officer in the Indian Army for sixteen years, and for over a decade, was involved in active combat and counterterrorism operations in India and abroad. He is a recognized expert on terrorism, especially the menace of Islamic fundamentalism. After retiring from the army, Deva established a security company that helps protect private organizations and individual in sixty Indian cities.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The woman with the Mediterranean complexion blinked as she emerged from the aircraft into the bright Sri Lankan sunlight. Though early in the day, the light was already harsh. As was the medley of thoughts clashing in her head.
Lowering her wraparound shades over large, almond-shaped eyes to cut out the glare, she paused at the top of the stairs and surveyed Colombo’s Bandaranaike Airport.
Stark brown fields with intermittent patches of green stretched away beyond the barbed-wire fence ringing the runways. Scattered along the fencing were security posts with tall, searchlight-mounted sentry towers. Grim reminders of the insurgency that had torn apart the island state.
Barring an odd airport vehicle and caterpillar-like luggage trolleys snaking around, the runway was devoid of life. An air of despondency hung all around. Not a good feeling. She gave a slight shiver, as though to shake it off.
As she descended toward the bus waiting to take passengers to the squat, yellow terminal in the distance, she watched a jetliner swoop down like a huge hawk, its blue and white Finnair logo sparkling in the sun. She heard a distant thud, followed by the smoky blistering of rubber as the jet’s wheels made contact with the tarmac. The roar of engines faded as it vanished down the runway.
It was a short walk to the bus, but she could feel sweat in her armpits. Arriving from the London chill, she was annoyed by the heat, which caused her to hurry into the air-conditioned comfort of the bus. It did not take long for the bus to fill up. Soon they were on their way. Almost everyone was switching on mobiles, several already in animated conversations. The young girl standing beside her had tuned out the world with her iPod and was swaying to some unheard beat.
Conditioned by her training, the woman did yet another rapid scan with practiced eyes. She had done this many times during the flight, but compelled by habit, did it again. Her danger antennae remained quiet. Nothing out of sync. Yet.
Those who did not know her would have assumed she was just another thirty-something masking her femininity; though the baggy, almost masculine clothing did little to conceal her breasts and voluptuous figure. Those who knew her would have noted she was in battle gear.
The baggy black jeans and equally loose, full-sleeved, blue cotton shirt were not just to keep her cool. They would also let her swing into action should the need arise. She never wore skirts or dresses on a job; neither were practical, nor were they a good idea in the man’s world she had occupied most of her working life. Also, skirts and dresses were not designed to carry the armory of an MI6 agent, which comprised a mobile, a BlackBerry, a weapon, spare magazines, and, very often, a secure digital radio. Nor could they conceal her backup, the .22 pistol in her ankle holster.
Today, of course, she was weaponless. Not good. She felt naked without them; the feeling intensified by her hyped-up state. Also missing was the protective, standard-issue Kevlar vest. Black, patent leather, rubber-soled, lace-up shoes completed her attire. The one-inch heels and rubber soles ensured she could move swiftly and soundlessly. Her black shoulder-length hair was neatly pinned back; ensuring no errant strands in her eyes. She wore virtually no makeup. On a job, she always dressed down.
As the bus swayed to a halt outside the terminal, she jumped out and headed for the immigration counters. She carried herself with the ease of a professional soldier. And she knew she looked good. Male heads turning as she passed confirmed that.
While waiting in line at the immigration counter, she ran through her operational checklist. She could not afford any mistakes. Time was short and there was a great deal to be done.
Nothing in her demeanor gave any inkling of the turmoil in her head. No one observing her could have imagined the immensity of the mission she was on. Not that she was dismayed by the obstacles that lay between her and her targets. Far from it. She wished she’d been able to run a detailed background check on her targets and her adversaries before leaving London, but there had been no time. Despite that, she felt ready and committed. She would pay any price to ensure she succeeded.
“Never forget your purpose in life.” Her mother, Rehana’s, words echoed in her head. “Never forget the blood your family has shed. Never forget what we have suffered … are continuing to suffer. No matter what, you must not let our sacrifice go to waste.”
For a moment, the memory of her mother made her falter. The sight of her shattered, decimated body ripped at the woman’s heart. But it was a fleeting lapse.
All these years, she had prayed for the day when she would finally raise her hand and strike down those who had inflicted so much misery on her people. And now the day of reckoning was almost at hand. Ten days more, and she would demolish the Israeli–Palestinian Peace Summit.
Ruby Gill strode forward. Eagerly. Completely focused. Nothing would stop her. She knew.
* * *
Ravinder Singh Gill, the tall, lean Inspector General of Police and head of the Indian Anti-Terrorist Task Force, was en route toward his third-floor office in Delhi Police HQ. Conscious he needed the exercise, Ravinder went past the elevators and took the stairs.
Though he was well past fifty, the years had been kind to him. With his neatly tied turban, flecks of gray spotting his mustache and beard, he cut a dashing figure in black pants, sky blue shirt, and patent leather shoes. A Montblanc pen peeped out from his breast pocket. Black cuff links embossed with the family’s double-headed lion crest completed his attire. The lion had one paw raised, ready to strike. It resonated with his mood.
His day had begun with the never-ending mother–daughter discussion about marriage. These had been their sole agenda ever since their daughter, Jasmine, celebrated her twenty-second birthday. It took only minutes for them to degenerate into an acrimonious harangue. Today had been no exception. Not a great way to start the day. Ravinder was in a sour mood when he had left the breakfast table and headed here.
He sensed the day was not going to get better when he came out and saw the driver changing a tire on his Scorpio SUV.
“Sorry, sir,” the man called out when he saw Ravinder emerge. “There must have been nails on the road near the Metro construction site. Both front tires are punctured.”
“How long will it take to sort it out?” Ravinder controlled his irritation.
“About half an hour, sir.”
“Damn! I am in a rush.”
“Why don’t you use our car?” his wife, Simran, called out from the door. “I will send the Scorpio when it is fixed.”
“I guess I will,” Ravinder replied, looking at the black BMW 750Li parked in the porch. Jagjit Singh, the family driver, in his bright red turban and pristine white uniform, complete with the family crest, was polishing it. Simran loved these royal-like trappings and ensured they were displayed wherever possible. Ravinder, though, preferred to downplay his wealth and royal background, not easy when being driven around in a spanking-new Bimmer. But he got into the car and they took off.
As he entered his office, Ravinder dragged his fingers back along his temples, trying to push away a budding headache. The phone rang. Ravinder reached for it, relieved to have something intrude on his dark mood.
“Mr. Gill?” The Indian Home Minister Raj Thakur’s nasal, raspy tone was unmistakable. It felt jarring, which, Ravinder thought wryly, went well with the man’s personality. Though new to this assignment, which had befallen him a few days back, when the previous ATTF chief’s heart had suddenly given up on him, Ravinder had already had some disturbing meetings with the minister.
No! Ravinder shook his head. Raj Thakur is not an easy man to like … or an easy boss.
Though clueless about security, Raj Thakur had a know-it-all’s self-confidence, which, coupled with his belligerence and eagerness to interfere in operational matters, could be dangerous. In their brief association, Thakur had already countermanded several orders given by Ravinder, generally without bothering to inform him. Consequently, Ravinder now felt he was walking around on eggshells, always peering back over his shoulders, wondering what would hit him next.
Still not fully settled in, and with his responsibility for the security of the Israeli–Palestinian Peace Summit and the Commonwealth Games that Delhi was hosting weighing on him, Ravinder so wished he had a more reasonable boss. And he was not the only one. Even the Prime Minister was said to be especially concerned. However, with Raj Thakur’s negligible, Maharashtra-centric party holding some vital seats, the PM had had no option but to give him the Home portfolio to keep his majority in Parliament intact.
So be it, Ravinder consoled himself. As a professional cop, what choice did he have, but to go with whatever the dice threw up? With only ten days left before the peace summit and the Commonwealth Games, he had more concrete issues to deal with.
“Good morning, sir.”
“I want you to come to my office, Gill. Immediately. I now have all the updates for the peace summit.”
“Right, sir.” Ravinder, with a mountain of urgent tasks to attend to, wanted to tell him to fuck off. Alas! “I will be there—” He checked his watch; it was a good one-hour drive to South Block, where the minster’s office was. “—by eleven.”
“Do that,” Thakur commanded brusquely. “Bring Mohite with you.” The minister rang off.
Ravinder was replacing the phone when, with a cursory knock, Deputy Inspector General of Police Govind Mohite walked in. Though not tall, Mohite had a well-muscled body. He was impeccably dressed in dark khaki trousers, a matching earth-colored cotton shirt, and brown suede shoes.
“You have a long life, Govind. I was about to call you. The Home Minister wants us right away.”
“I know, sir. He called me half an hour ago.” Mohite gave a wide grin.
“But I just got off the phone with him.” The words were out before Ravinder could rein them in. He felt like kicking himself.
“Oh, you know how Thakur sahib is.…” Mohite pronounced the “sahib” with an elongated double-a sound, the way Maharashtrians tend to. “He likes to sound me out about everything. You see, we became close when he was in the Maharashtra cabinet and I was in the Mumbai Special Crimes Unit.”
Ravinder heard him ramble on about what a great chap Thakur was; something Mohite was prone to doing. He wondered if Mohite knew what the meeting was about. Ravinder contemplated asking him, but shelved the thought. It would give the wrong signal. Ravinder was aware that Mohite was gunning for his job and he needed to watch his back, considering his chumminess with the minister. There had been rumors that the two had been in cahoots in several questionable killings of members of a particular crime mob. These had raised tons of media speculation, including insinuations that they had been carried out at the behest of another mob boss in Dubai and that large sums of money had exchanged hands, but nothing was proved. Ravinder shrugged. Whatever the bond, he knew it would be nasty. Since his predecessor had checked out without a formal and detailed handover, Ravinder also knew that he needed both his primary lieutenants, of which Mohite was one, till he had settled in properly.
“You are traveling in style today,” Mohite commented when he saw the Bimmer. “Might as well come with you.” Without waiting for a reply, he told his driver to follow and hopped into the rear seat.
“Why bring your car if you’re going in mine?” Ravinder asked. “Why not save some gas and do your bit for Planet Earth?”
“Oh, just in case we need to come back separately afterward.” Mohite gave an airy wave. “Thakur sahib might ask me to stay on. He likes to consult me on many things.”
“Right.” Ravinder kept the sarcasm out of his voice. Not that it mattered; Mohite was oblivious.
Tuning out Mohite’s nonstop banter, Ravinder’s thoughts returned to the meeting. The sudden summons had caught him unawares; he felt worried.
* * *
Her accomplice was waiting near the baggage carousel when Ruby emerged from immigration.
Over six feet tall, the oversized Mark Leahy occupied an unfair amount of space. Also wearing jeans and a cotton shirt, he had close-cropped, sand-colored hair and leathery skin, the hallmark of a man who spent most of his time outdoors. His Irish accent was so thick, one could cut it with a knife.
They had traveled on the same flight, but unlike Ruby, he looked rested and refreshed. Not surprising, since he was unaffected by her emotional turmoil.
Good! Ruby smiled. At least one of us is cool. She sure as hell was not.
“Feeling distraught is normal when one has been subjected to severe trauma,” the agency shrink had told her when she returned to London after Rehana’s funeral. Ruby’s erratic behavior had prompted her boss to send her for therapy posthaste. “There is not much you can do about it. Just be aware that your mind may wander and try to control it. Everyone has a different way of processing grief. Apparently, this is your way.”
Damn stupid way. Ruby frowned. But she’d had to cope. And live with it. Try to live with it. Especially since she had thrown away the medication as soon as she left the man’s office. Having her mind stuck on a Prozac-shelf was not for Ruby. She now hauled herself back and concentrated on Mark.
Looking at him made her feel better. She’d thought of him the minute she decided to take on this mission, which was as soon as Uncle Yusuf had come to know about the peace summit. So much had transpired since then. She smiled as she remembered her conversation with Mark only yesterday.
“Hey! How are you?” He’d sounded so pleased.
“I am very well, thank you. How are things with you?”
“Same old, same old. There doesn’t seem to be much happening. Certainly not the right kind of stuff … stuff that interests me and pays the rent. So I am catching up on life … tending to the garden and painting the fences … y’know…” He’d laughed.
Ruby knew Mark had quit the service a few months ago and was now freelancing.
“That can get kind of boring.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Well, I may have something for you.”
“You? Naah. The government doesn’t pay enough.” She’d expected that. “Besides, haven’t you heard, I quit working for them.”
“Mark, this one is personal. Nothing to do with the agency. And the money is better than good.” Ruby knew that, for the right money, Mark was the ideal man to watch her back—ruthless, resourceful, and ready to follow orders.
“Is it, now?” He’d made a humming sound. “Want to tell me more?”
Ruby knew he was on. “Not right now. You will have to trust me.”
“I do. You know I do. Implicitly.” Mark chuckled. “As much as you trust me. How many times have we watched each other’s backs?”
“Often enough. Why else would I call you, Mark?”
“And here I was thinking you called because of my lovely smile and beautiful body!” They’d both laughed. “When and where do you want me? And how long will we be gone?”
Ruby’s spirits had lightened when he said that. “We move out tomorrow. We should be back in two weeks.”
“That’s it, eh? Short assignment.”
“Yep. Short and sweet. And lucrative.”
“That’s my ...
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Book Description Forge Books, 2014. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0765337711
Book Description Forge, 2014. Hardcover. Condition: Brand New. 288 pages. 10.00x6.25x1.25 inches. In Stock. Seller Inventory # zk0765337711