Agent 21: The Wire

Read Agent 21: The Wire for Free Online

Book: Read Agent 21: The Wire for Free Online
Authors: Chris Ryan
‘Nice shoes, blood.’
    Zak Darke looks at them. Nike. Loose laces. Fluorescent red stripes. Brand new. Then he looks up at the boy who has just complimented them. A head taller than Zak. Close-cropped hair with jagged razor marks on the right-hand side. Baggy, low-slung trousers and a loose jumper that could easily cover up anything bulky at his waist. A chunky gold bracelet on his wrist and a roll-up cigarette behind his left ear.
    ‘Are you Scott?’ Zak asks.
    ‘You want to sell ’em, blood?’ The boy removes a wad of cash from his back pocket.
    Twenty-pound notes. Perhaps fifty of them. Used. Untraceable. ‘I’ll give you fifty . . .’
    ‘Are you Scott?’ Zak repeats, a bit more forcefully.
    The boy inclines his head, shrugs and puts the money back in his pocket. ‘Depends who’s asking, blood,’ he says. ‘Depends whose asking.’
    *
    48 hours previously . . .
    ‘Scott Farrow,’ said Raf. ‘Age seventeen. He’s spent eighteen months in a young offenders’ institute. Worst place for him. That’s where he met up with Morton Henderson and Holden Palmer. They think of themselves as some sort of gang—’
    ‘They
are
some sort of gang, sweetie,’ Gabs interrupted.
    ‘Do you want to do this?’ Raf demanded.
    ‘Of course I don’t,’ Gabs said. She smiled endearingly. ‘Not when you’re doing such a good job.’
    They were often like this, Raf and Gabs. Gently bickering, like an old married couple.
    Zak called them his Guardian Angels. In fact they were a cross between his parents and his best friends. Ever since he’d been plucked from his boring, lonely life to become a part of this mysterious, unclassified government agency, and undergone the intense training that had turned him from ordinary Zak Darke into Agent 21, he’d spent more time with these twenty-something agents than with anybody else. He was now an active agent himself, sent on operations where a teenager was of more use than an adult. He was also well used to Raf’s serious face and brusque, surly nature, and to Gabs’s white-blonde hair and flippant comments. It wouldn’t do to underestimate them, though. Both Raf and Gabs were deadly weapons.
    And so too, when he thought about it, was Zak.
    ‘Notice the razor marks on the right-hand side of their scalps,’ Raf continued. He had laid out three colour photographs, taken with a telephoto lens, each showing a different young man. They all had a distinctive lightning-bolt shape shaved into the side of their head.
    ‘Nice,’ Zak said.
    ‘Not really,’ Raf replied. ‘A kid of fifteen tried to copy them. He shaved the same symbol into his hair. Scott and his crew took it as an insult. This is what they did to him.’
    A fourth photograph. It was impossible to say if it showed someone of fifteen or fifty. The boy’s face was beaten to a pulp. Thick, bloody lips. A clearly broken nose. Eyes so swollen and puffed up they couldn’t open.
    ‘They’re that sort of gang, sweetie,’ Gabs had said in a quiet voice. ‘Just so you know.’
    *
    ‘Depends who’s asking.’
    ‘My name’s Harry.’ The lie slips easily off Zak’s tongue.
    ‘Oh yeah?’ Scott says. ‘Prince Harry? Harry Potter?’
    ‘Harry Gold.’
    ‘Well, here’s an idea, Harry Gold. Why don’t you take your flash trainers off my turf, before I decide to help myself to them anyway?’
    Zak doesn’t move, and immediately he senses Scott tensing up. There is violence in the air.
    *
    ‘You’ll make contact outside the school gates of Redhill Secondary School in North Acton.’
    ‘Why?’ Zak asked. ‘I mean, I just get the feeling this Scott bloke isn’t the sort to turn up regularly for school.’
    ‘Not for lessons,’ Raf agreed. ‘But he and his crew have another reason for hanging around schools in the area.’
    ‘Haven’t you been watching the news, sweetie?’ Gabs asked.
    Zak shook his head. He was up at six every morning for physical training and lessons in tradecraft. By the time evening

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