A cunning suspense novel, OPERATION RHOMBUS spans almost three decades and tells the story of a determined attempt to bring down the British establishment. Princess Diana is identified as the possible catalyst. OPERATION RHOMBUS focuses on the men who would dare risk such an attempt, their perceived transgressions and the men with the skills to carry it out. Interspersing characters real and imagined, mixing theory and fact, describing methods in authentic detail and blurring all lines of plausibility, just who is JD? And who are the men behind him?
I'm a former British soldier who is now trying to earn a living as an author. I have drawn on my personal experiences from soldiering around the world as a basis for my stories. OPERATION RHOMBUS is my first book and I have two more books in progress. They are all commercial fiction. There is no hero in OPERATION RHOMBUS although some characters are less evil than others.
This is my first completed novel though I'm working on two more at the moment. My books are drawn from the darker side of soldiering where none of the characters can truly be called heroes. I've chosen this chapter as an introduction for you purely because I always loved walking across the moors. I hope you enjoy reading it and if any of you fancy a chat please contact me on @johnduggan27
Ken ran hard, always had. At thirty six he still managed ten seven minute miles in trainers, slower in boots. He loved running across the moors, knew them like the back of his hand. Strangely, despite his training and years in 22 SAS as well as a brief spell as a mercenary it had never occurred to him to vary his training routine. It was stupid really. A man made enemies in that world, bloody ruthless enemies. It seemed not to have registered with him that his last job might have put him in real danger. He had actually stuck around to collect the second part of his fee and had laughed at those lads who had legged it fearing some kind of retribution. The mission had been well funded, well planned and well executed so his employers should not have been upset. There was no way anyone would be able to prove who the team had been so he should have been able to enjoy his ill gotten gains. Any investigation, due to the high profile of the target, was going to throw up so many conspiracy theories that there was virtually no chance of the truth being discovered.
Besides all of that, they had been assured that the mission was sanctioned by the British government. As far as he was concerned, the lads who had run were the only real danger. They might talk, out of fear or conscience, but Ken assumed his employer would consider that and maybe give Ken the job of silencing them. He would have no problem with that. In that regard Ken was unlike most special forces troops. The vast majority of them were not killers by nature. In fact very few were, as the selection process normally discovered them and they were dropped long before the training ended. They were usually fiercely loyal to the guys they worked with. Somehow Ken had slipped through the net. He had always been a friendly guy though, well liked in the unit and never struck anyone as cold blooded, just professional.
He stopped by the stream, as he always did before turning back, intending to half jog and half walk home to enjoy a hot bath. That was the plan anyway. Today though, as he stood catching his breath, half his head was blown off. He never saw it coming and probably never felt much either. Two hundred yards away four men rose and closed the gap quickly. No panic about it. They had been observing the whole area for three hours and knew there were no witnesses. Calmly they collected the body and let the demolished head lie in the stream to finish the bleeding out process, wrapping the torso while they waited and cleaned up the human debris they could find. They did a thorough job and then quickly jogged the body over to the prepared grave. It hadn’t taken long to dig and it was just as quick to fill in and camouflage. The body had been sprayed with ammonia before being pushed in and from six feet away the grave was virtually invisible. This area was not popular with dog walkers and there were no animals likely to dig the corpse up, job done. They had thrown a lot of stones in anyway though and had put more on top when it was filled in. Just to be on the safe side. The two snipers, only one had needed to fire, quickly broke their rifles down and packed them into their small rucksacks and the four of them set off towards their Land Rover parked up on the track six hundred yards to the east of them.
A clean hit, no witnesses and they would be untraceable. Maybe the body would be found one day but it really wasn’t likely. They had used bolt action rifles so there were no empty cartridge cases to find when they cleaned up and that kept the job quick. If anyone had reported Ken missing it would be assumed he had gone abroad on some contract or other. The security people might raise an eyebrow and wonder where he had gone and why he hadn’t told them but there really wasn’t much anyone could do to find out anyway. Such people disappeared from time to time and occasionally their disappearance was permanent. Few tears were shed. Mercenaries very rarely worked in their own countries and those that did never seemed to last long so it really wasn’t anything to worry about. It was someone else’s problem. Unless of course, they heard any rumours that might have linked him to that last job of his, the one he had been so blasé about. Then there would be people alerted all over the world but that was the reason he had to be killed anyway. Ken really hadn’t understood that part of it but his employers had, right from the planning stage.
The four man team drove off in a companionable silence, stopping at a prearranged point some ten miles away. A deserted building, legacy of a sheep farm that had failed, gave them enough cover to strip off their clothing, throw it into a pre-dug hole and burn it. The men changed into civilian clothes and enjoyed their flasks of coffee and some sandwiches. None of that should be taken to infer that they were psycho or weird in some way. It was just that they had all seen combat many times, were used to death though not in insensitive way, and they knew enough of Ken’s history to know that he had simply got what was coming to him. It was enough though to take away any undue pangs of conscience. Once they were sure the clothing had been at least mostly destroyed, they filled in the hole, and jumped into the hire car they had left there. Their overnight bags were already stowed and so they began their trip to Heathrow where one of them made a very quick phone call. He spoke only four words and listened to the reply, then hung up and the four of them walked on to catch a flight back to the States. The clean-up operation was going well so far, the 1997 team were being gradually closed down, discreetly and with no interference from anyone.
An hour after they had left the Land Rover, a man walked slowly across the fields towards the barn. He was punctual to the minute and was confident that the barn wasn’t under observation from anyone it shouldn’t be. He checked that the team had left their weapons inside it, as instructed, then took some registration plates from his own small rucksack, and began replacing the false ones he had installed when he had parked the Land Rover there a couple of days ago. Once satisfied he got in, started the engine and pointed the vehicle towards the road home. His place was only forty miles away and there was very little traffic. He wasn’t stopped by anyone en route and simply parked the car on his driveway. He carried the single small rucksack that now contained all the weapons and ammo that the team had been given and he carefully replaced it in the hiding place where it normally resided. There was very little chance of it ever being found, at least not before he was dead and buried and a man doesn’t need to worry much about earthly matters at that point.
He took a pressure washer and vacuum cleaner from his garage, along with a bucket of various cleaning materials and gave the Land Rover a forensic cleaning. For two reasons really, firstly, he had to make sure the American team had left no evidence, although he was fairly sure they were professional enough not to have done that. At least, they had given that impression while he had been watching them carry out their little task. Secondly, his cottage was immaculate so why the hell would he want a mud covered vehicle on the drive way? He had his standards after all.
He no longer took an active part in the mercenary world, he was getting a bit long in the tooth for that, but Steiner still kept in touch with him and used him for logistical support and so on. It was a good arrangement, and so he had been the natural contact when the colonel had been tasked with the hit on the moors. It enabled the American team to get in and out with very little fuss and with virtually no possibility of discovery.