Read The Delta Chain Online

Authors: Ian Edward

Tags: #thriller, #conspiracy, #conspiracy of silence, #unexplained, #drownings, #conspiracy thriller, #forensic, #thriller terror fear killer murder shadows serial killer hidden deadly blood murderer threat, #murder mysteries, #thriller fiction mystery suspense, #thriller adventure, #forensic science, #thriller suspense

The Delta Chain

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE DELTA CHAIN

 

The body of a young woman is washed ashore on
a secluded beach. She does not fit the description of anyone on
Missing Persons lists. Fingerprints, dental records and DNA provide
no leads.

Detective Adam Bennet discovers a pattern of
similar cases – unidentified bodies found along the coasts of
Australia and the United States, and he is determined to solve the
puzzle. These are six young men and women who seem to have never
existed.

When her brother meets a terrifying death in
the wilderness, Kate Kovacs employs her IT skills to help track the
killers. A baffling link is found between these two cases, leading
Adam and Kate on a labyrinth trail to a scientific research centre,
to a Washington power elite, and to a secret reaching back over
thirty years to a war-ravaged Vietnam.

 

“…
fast-paced thriller…hooks readers
into caring about the chase…”

-Publishers Weekly

 

 

 

 

THE
DELTA
CHAIN

 

IAN EDWARD

 

 

Published by Ian Edward at
Smashwords

 

 

Copyright 2011 Ian
Edward

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2011 Ian Edward

 

 

Cover image Copyright Eti
Swinford/Dreamstime.com

 

The right of Ian Edward to be identified as
the author of this work has been asserted by him under the
Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000

 

All rights reserved. No portion of this book
may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in
any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy,
recording, scanning, or other – except for brief quotations in
critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission
of the publisher

 

Apart from references to actual historical
figures and places, all other names, characters and places are the
product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

ISBN 978-0-9808493-2-5

 

Smashwords Edition, Licence Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this ebook with another
person, please purchse an additional copy for each recipient. If
you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not
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and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the work of
this author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Janne

 

 

 

 

Woe to those who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter.’

 

ISAIAH 5:20

 

 

CONTENTS

 

 

Prologue

Part One Origin Unknown

Part Two Powerful Forces

Part Three The Delta Chain

Epilogue

Final Despatches

 

 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

 

 

This was a place of raw, wet heat. It sucked
dryness from the mudflats and bred moisture as though every single
drop was part of a living swarm. It spread itself across the man’s
body like a second skin.

Kevin Farrow had been running for his life
for over two hours. His energy had been fuelled by his fear but now
sheer physical exhaustion was fighting that energy. The exhaustion
was winning.

‘You don’t go coming to The ‘Glades in the
summer,’ the woman who ran the boarding house had said the previous
week as he’d paid for his room. He’d pointed out he was not just
another Everglades tourist; he was an investigative
photo-journalist who’d camped and trekked through wildernesses both
hot and cold and he was currently on assignment. But he hadn’t
foreseen then that he’d face a danger like this one. This just
didn’t make sense.

Having shed his rifle and running
frantically, without his usual cautious watch on his surroundings,
Farrow knew he was open to attack from the alligators in this
remote corner. Strangely, the ‘gators themselves barely intruded
into his thoughts. It was the armed men bearing down on him that
fed his fears.

Normally he was calm and quiet, an invisible
man shifting with the seasons and the shadows; sensing a topical
story and slowly gathering it up. He loved open spaces, natural
landscapes, wildlife, and the honest, hardworking people of the
land. Anything that threatened them was his target. That was what
had brought him to Florida at the height of the hot/wet season to
find proof these hunters existed.

An inky stain in the air: mosquitoes.
Hundreds of them. Also out on the hunt, lusting for blood. He ran
blindly through the cloud, the buzzing a crescendo in his ears.
Kept running, barely able to manage a slap to his arms and neck to
disperse them. The bites were sharp; the swollen itching
immediate.

Another anxiety coursed through him as though
carried by the stings: he’d cast his backpack aside to run faster.
The insect repellent had been crammed into the pack along with the
other items he now reminded himself, were essential to longer term
survival out here. It had been a careless and desperate act to
throw it aside. His camera. His notes. But then fear has no logical
mental process…

 

It seems endless, this river of shallow water
spreading for miles through sawgrass and basins of mangrove swamp.
Farrow had nowhere to run. His eyes darted over lagoons and
brackish ponds and the criss-cross trails of fern and wild grass.
If he could not outrun his pursuers then all hope was lost. There
was nowhere to hide from these human predators. They didn’t seem to
tire and they had the hunting instincts of animals.

Why had they spent hours coming after him,
apparently obsessed?

Do they even know who I am
?

The sun was low on the horizon, the
occasional flock of waterbirds spinning a lazy arc across the sky,
the clouds swollen with the threat of another downpour.

Earlier, the rain had fallen in warm sheets.
Farrow had been exploring higher ground, beside deep water where
large boats could be navigated. It was steamier after a downpour
like that, the air heavier, water glistening in sunlight on the
oaks and cypresses. The powerful aroma of wild honeysuckle was
stronger, a pungent tropical cocktail to the senses. He’d felt
strong then, in control, at one with nature.

But all of that had changed in an
instant.

 

When the bullet came it tore into his left
leg and he toppled to the ground, screaming. Pain radiated from the
wound and sweat flowed into his eyes, blurring his vision. The
hunters surrounded him, beating him with the butts of their rifles
and kicking him until he was only half conscious, blood dripping
from his mouth.

Farrow thought it strange they didn’t raise
their guns again and fire.

This was an area beyond the Everglades Back
Country, far from the activity that surrounded Florida Bay and the
Buttonwood Canal. It was the end of Summer, the season of heavy
rainfall, higher water levels in the rivers and lakes, the water
surging coastward and into Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Extreme heat and mosquito plagues kept tourists away until Fall and
Winter. A quiet pervaded the remote areas, the perfect time for
these illicit hunters to roam the waterways.

They dragged him back across the marsh to
where the river current ran deep. Fringes of trees here, creating
islets of higher ground, dotting the landscape of river and swamp.
With rope they tied and bound him to overhanging vines as he
slipped in and out of consciousness.

One of the last things he saw was the ugly
reptilian head, its upper half protruding from the water, its
menacing eyes fixed on his. The realisation of his fate dawned on
him. Kevin Farrow tried to struggle but as he did the ropes cut
deeper into the flesh of his arms.

The cruel laughter of the hunters, somewhere
nearby, filled his ears.

 

Renshaw entered the office and saw Logan
Asquith at the far window, watching the approaching storm. Dark
clouds rolled in across the stately urban landscape. Strong winds
slammed against the glass.

On a day like this, fifteen years earlier,
Renshaw had begun working for Asquith, but it hadn’t been anything
like a first day in any regular job.

Asquith had taken him outside, and they’d
stood on Wisconsin Avenue, in Bethesda, Maryland, being hammered by
the powerful winds. Renshaw lost his footing on more than one
occasion and wondered what the hell kind of lunatic he’d come to
work for. Asquith had stood, silent and firm, against the gale.

After a while Asquith led him back into the
brownstone building, to the spacious office of sombre colours and
wood panels.

‘My father was a powerful and influential
man,’ Asquith told his new employee, ‘but he could certainly be one
son of a bitch. He had a farm in the Midwest where we sometimes
spent weekends. We were there once, when I was just a boy, and a
hurricane hit. My father made me stand out in the field with him,
in the wind, as we’ve just done. I was hurled to the ground a dozen
times.’ It was the only time Renshaw ever noticed a faraway look in
Asquith’s eyes.

‘Before the full force of the hurricane hit,’
Asquith had continued, ‘my father took me down into his storm
shelter, and I’ve never forgotten what he told me. The forces of
nature are like the affairs of men. If you want to wield true
power, he said to me, if you want to be in control, then you can
only do it from a place like this, a place of calm. The true place
of power is the centre of the storm.’

Asquith had gestured for Renshaw to sit.
‘That’s what this office represents. The eye of the hurricane. If
you can appreciate that, Renshaw, then you and I will get along
fine.’

And they had.

Strong winds and rain were common through the
spring and summer in the greater Maryland and Washington DC areas.
For the past fifteen years, Renshaw had re-lived the telling of
that story every time a storm hit.

It didn’t surprise him to see Asquith by that
window, admiring the natural forces beyond. Moulded by his father,
and conscious of his family’s generations of success, Asquith was a
driven man who regarded power as his natural right.

‘Brings back memories, Logan?’

Asquith ignored the comment and moved to the
large oak desk in the centre of the room. His prominent, silvery
eyebrows were arched together, an indication of controlled fury
that Renshaw knew well.

‘Florida?’ Asquith queried.

Renshaw handed across the folder containing
his assessment. Part of his role was to assemble all the facts and
draw up the worst possible outcome resulting from them.

His gaze wondered over the contours of the
desk as Asquith read the notes. The desk, Renshaw often thought,
was one of which Napoleon would have approved. It implied its owner
was a man of great importance.

In Renshaw’s eyes, Logan Asquith was every
inch that man.

‘I’ve recorded the broadcast to the
system…’

Asquith nodded. Maintaining his silence, he
reached for the remote and activated the plasma that was on the far
wall.

‘…
the reporter, who was the victim of a
ferocious alligator attack, had been missing for several days…State
police believe the journalist, Kevin Farrow, was investigating
reports that a gang of alligator poachers has been operating in the
area…’ The dramatic voice-over was accompanied by images of boats
and helicopters in the Everglades National Park.

‘The broadcasts have since been killed and
our contacts will make certain they don’t go national,’ Renshaw
said, ‘however, our concern is that if any one of those hunters is
found, and starts talking-’

‘Should never have got this far.’ Asquith
watched the few remaining minutes of the broadcast, then touched
the remote and the screen died. ‘And it’s less than a month since
the incident along the coast…’

‘Yes.’

‘I’ve spoken with the board and we’re
unanimous. I want you to get a full “relocation” underway
immediately.’

Renshaw nodded. In all his years working with
Asquith, this would be a “first”. It was an enormous undertaking
but he wasn’t surprised.

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