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«Blood Testament», Don Pendleton

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No real friendship is ever made without an initial clashing, which discloses the metal of each to each.

David Grayson

Between friends there is no need for justice.


Justice matters, sure. But this time out it's one for friendship's sake.

Mack Bolan


The public park was deserted at this hour, and still the tall man's eyes kept roving, following the occasional passing car intently until it disappeared from sight. Uncertain that he and his companion couldn't be seen where they stood in the shadow of a huge oak, his gaze continued to probe the darkened areas of the park for possible signs of unwanted human presence.

Although his vigilance was a trait born of years of conditioning, he berated himself for this sudden case of nerves. After all, it was he who had chosen the site for the midnight rendezvous.

The tall man's nervousness did not seem to faze the stocky figure standing before him. Nick, his companion had asked to be called during the phone conversation. The tall man wondered briefly if Nick was enjoying his discomfiture, and that, coupled with the apparent lack of concern over what they were about to do, made the tall man angry.

"It's set," Nick said, the first to speak.

"Are you sure?"

"Of course, I'm sure."

The cockiness in Nick's voice grated on the tall man's overwrought nerves and it would have pleased him to reach out and lock his fingers around that greasy throat, cut off the bastard's breath, but he couldn't afford to do that. Yet.

"You better get it right."

"Hey! Cam, wasn't it? Don't threaten me, see? Or you can fucking well do the job yourself."

Anger intensified inside the tall man until he stifled it with sheer force of will. "Okay, okay, don't get uptight, Nick."

"That's better. We'll handle our end just fine. Trust me."

Trust me, Cam mimicked in his mind. "I really shouldn't be involved in this at all."

"You've been involved from the beginning, hotshot, and don't forget it." The other's voice was insolent, before it turned to stone. "We godown, you're coming with us, you and all your buddies.''

Angry silence hung between them for a moment, stretching paper-thin before Nick's voice sliced through it, softer now, and filled with counterfeit concern. "You're worried someone's going to make you on this thing, huh?"

"It's possible."

"What kind of ship you running over there, Cam? I thought you guys keep it strictly need-to-know.''

"There's no such thing as absolute security."

"You better hope there is. One slip on this, we all go up in smoke."

Cam had been acutely conscious of the risks from the beginning, which was not to say that he had been presented with a choice. It was a question of survival, plain and simple, with the choices narrowed down to do or die. He had been forced to take a stand, and once committed, there could be no turning back.

"I'm holding up my end."

"I know you are. We're counting on you, Cam." The phony confidence and camaraderie were sickening. "How are you handling the disposal?"

His companion tried for a smile, and in the gloom it resembled a grimace that reminded him of hungry crocodiles.

"We've got our ways. They worked before."

"You've never bagged this kind of game before."

The tall man felt the old familiar tightness in his stomach, acid fingers worming upward through his chest to lock around his heart. The ulcers had been gnawing at him for a month, but he would have to live with it until the job had been carried through to its conclusion, one way or the other. He stopped himself. It had to be only one way if he intended to survive the coming storm. They would succeed, or they would die. The world would not be large enough to hide them if they failed.

"Let me worry about that," Nick said. Then, in a twinkling, the voice was dripping ice. "But you better not be fucking me."

"You're not my type."

"I'll tell you what type I am, in case your memory's been fogging over lately. Let's say that someone was to try and jerk me on a deal that I've been working on for better than a year. Let's say someone didn't hold his end up in a crunch."

"Let's say."

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