Arctic Wargame (Justin Hall Spy Thrillers, Book 1) by Ethan Jones
Release date: July 10, 2018
Subgenre: Spy thriller
About Arctic Wargame:
All they had left was . . . survival.
Mysterious icebreakers appear off the Arctic coast.
A treasonous plot is in the works.
CIS Spymaster Justin Hall has no time to put the pieces together.
Betrayed, disarmed, freezing, and left for dead, Justin must save himself and his entire country.
If you like Baldacci, Thor, or Flynn, you’ll love Arctic Wargame.
An adrenaline-drenched chilling spy thriller filled with action, suspense and betrayal.
Enjoy the book that started the Justin Hall best-selling espionage series.
Six months ago
Justin limped closer to the small barred window of his prison cell as the sand dunes sank into darkness. A curtain of clouds had dimmed the glow of the crescent moon. His bruised chest pressed against the rough surface of the bloodstained wall. He squinted and tried to stand on his toes for a better look. The rusty shackles clawed against the scarred skin of his ankles, and the heavy chain rattled on the concrete floor.
“Quiet. Quiet, you infidel,” a guard growled in Arabic from down the shadowy prison hallway.
Justin stood still and drew in a deep breath. The cold night air of the Sahara Desert filled his heaving lungs. The night went silent again. He lifted his head, wrapped his free hands around the iron bars, and clenched his teeth, ignoring the jolts of pain from his fingers. With his eyes about an inch over the windowsill, Justin scoped the landscape, searching for the long-awaited rescue team.
Abdul—Justin’s asset and connection within Libya’s Internal Security Agency, who lay in the cell next door—had confirmed their escape was to take place early that morning. The previous prison break attempt the day before had failed, despite the inside help of one of the jihadists. Justin hoped this time the plan would be executed with no glitches.
At first, he noticed nothing except the rugged outlines of the steep dunes and the whitewashed walls of the small sleepy town. Straining his eyes, he peered again. A small shadow slithered toward the prison wall. Justin blinked to clear his vision and stared at the approaching figure.
Bent at the waist, the shadow advanced at a rapid pace. It quickly disappeared from Justin’s sight, and he wondered whether the man had encountered a guard.
Justin’s heart pounded. He placed his ear to the wall and sensed a low grating noise. Someone—the shadow, he hoped—was scaling the wall.
The window was at least twelve feet above the ground. He wondered how long it would take the shadow to reach the window. A long minute dragged by, and Justin was still alone. He breathed faster and faster and urged the man on the freedom side of the wall to make good time.
Finally, a hushed voice whispered in Arabic, “Abdul, Abdul, it’s me, Bashir. Are you there?”
“You’re the Canadian agent. Where’s Abdul?”
“In the other cell, around the corner. That one has no windows.”
“When did they move him?”
“A few hours ago, after a good beating.”
“Can he walk?”
“I think so.”
Bashir went silent for a moment.
Justin looked up, but he could not see the man’s face through the window. He asked after a pause, “Bashir?”
He heard a scraping sound. Bashir was handing him a large metal key through the window bars. “That’s for the shackles, and this is for the guard.” He produced a black dagger.
Justin grabbed the handle and weighed the weapon in his weak hand. A ray of moonlight glinted off the ten-inch blade.
“Can you do this?” Bashir whispered.
“You have only one chance. I’ll wait for you and Abdul in two black Nissans by the main gate. We’ll drive across the border to Tunisia.”
Justin frowned. “What about the hostages? The two Canadian doctors?”
“They’re safe. We were able to free them.”
“Yes, your partner is with them and my men, with our vehicles.”
Justin breathed a sigh of relief. “Okay. I’ll make sure Abdul and I meet you by the gate.”
“You’ll have to be quiet. Twenty men are guarding the prison, and you can’t defeat them.”
“Abdul knows the way, but if you can’t free him, walk down the stairs and go left. The hall will take you to a small courtyard on the ground floor. There will be a guard or two by the gate. You need to cross into the next house.”
“Downstairs, then left, then to the house,” Justin said, finding it a bit difficult to concentrate on Bashir’s words.
“Yes. Get to the roof of the house and drop down along the side facing the mosque. Follow the road leading to the main gate. Is it clear?”
“Yes, it is.”
Bashir’s clothes rubbed against the wall, then silence returned to Justin’s cell. He stared at the key and the dagger in his right hand. Stepping back from the window, he was careful not to jerk the chain and alert the guard beyond the cell’s solid metal door. The key fit into the shackles’ padlock. He coughed loudly as he turned the key to cover the dull clunk of the padlock snapping open. Now almost free, he removed the metal loops from around his ankles.
Justin and Abdul were first imprisoned in Tripoli after their hostage rescue operation went sideways. They were tortured by the Algerian hostage-takers for two days before the failed escape attempt. The Algerians—with the help of the Libyan secret police—moved them to Ghadames, in their minds an isolated and less risky place.
Justin wasted no time. He took a deep breath, gripped the dagger tightly, and called out to the guard, “Hey, guard, guard. Come here.”
“Shut up,” the guard roared back.
“I need to talk to you.”
“No. Just shut up.”
Justin banged twice on the heavy door.
The guard’s voice grew louder as he drew nearer to the door. “What’s the matter with you? You want me to break your leg?”
Justin slammed his fist against the door.
“That’s it. You asked for it,” the guard shouted.
Keys clattered as he struggled to find the right one to unlock the door. Justin stepped to the side and lifted his dagger, waiting for the right moment.
His hand shook.
The weapon felt heavy, straining his muscles.
“I’m going to beat you so hard,” the guard barked.
As he shoved open the door, Justin thrust his hand toward the guard’s throat. The blade slashed deep under the man’s chin. The guard dropped dead into Justin’s stretched arms as blood sputtered from the man’s mangled neck.
Justin used the guard’s black robe and turban to wipe the bloodstains from his face and arms. He stripped the man of his keys, his side arm—an old Makarov pistol—his AK-74 rifle, and two magazines. Justin dragged the body to a corner of his cell and closed the door behind him.
He tiptoed to Abdul’s cell. On the second try, he found the right key. As he opened the door, the powerful stench of sweat and urine almost twisted his stomach inside out. Abdul was lying against a wall, asleep.
“Abdul, Abdul, wake up.” Justin shook him.
“Huh? What?” Abdul mumbled with a big yawn.
“Time to go.”
“Justin, how did you...” Abdul sat up slowly.
“Bashir gave me a key and a knife.”
“Bashir? When did he come?”
“Tell you later. Let’s go. Can you walk?”
“Yes, yes, I can.”
Justin unchained Abdul’s bruised legs and helped him up.
Abdul leaned against the wall before taking a few unsteady steps. “I’m good. I can do this.”
“Okay, follow me.”
“First, give me that.” Abdul pointed to the rifle.
“Bashir said we need to break out in silence. Too many fighters for us to kill them all.”
Abdul held the AK in his hands with difficulty and fumbled with the safety switch. He turned it to full automatic. “Just in case.”
Justin threw a glance down the hall and signaled for Abdul to follow him. They moved quickly to the end of the narrow hallway, their bare feet tapping lightly on the concrete floor, grains of sand grinding under their toes.
“We go to the first floor, then left,” Justin said as they came to a spiral staircase.
“Left through the hall and to the courtyard. After that, we go to the house next to the prison. Bashir will wait for us at the main gate.”
“What? That’s Bashir’s plan? There are always guards at the back.”
“He said there should be only one, two at the most, and we have to get rid of them quietly.”
“That’s impossible. They’ll see us when we get outside.”
“Maybe they’re dozing off.”
“If not, we kill them.”
“No. We’ll have the rest of the guards coming after us.”
Justin winced as his left foot landed on the coarse surface of the first stair. He took two more steps and turned his head.
Abdul nodded and followed behind him.
Holding the dagger ready in his hand, Justin continued down the stairs. He reached the bottom. The hall forked right and left. A light flickered from the right. Justin stepped back, gesturing for Abdul to stop.
“What’s that way?” Justin pointed toward the light.
“The kitchen and a dining area. Someone’s awake.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’re slipping out the other way.”
Justin glanced at the dim light, then at the opposite side, and began creeping down the hall. He saw a door about twenty steps ahead and figured it was the one opening into the courtyard. Pressing on, he quickened his pace.
Abdul’s feet shuffled loudly behind him.
“Quiet, quiet,” Justin whispered.
“That’s not me.”
Justin turned his head and looked over Abdul’s shoulders. He stared right into the eyes of a gunman standing five or six steps behind Abdul and pointing a pistol at them. The gunman was of a small, thin stature, clad in a white robe and a black headdress.
“Stop, or I’ll blow your head off,” he said in Arabic.
The gunman’s voice cracked abruptly. Its unexpected high pitch startled Justin. The pistol shook in the gunman’s hands.
“He’s just a kid,” Justin whispered to Abdul, who was preparing to turn his rifle toward the gunman.
“I’ll kill you,” the gunman squeaked, this time louder. “You, turn around with your hands in the air,” he ordered Abdul.
Abdul swung on his heels, firing a quick burst.
“No,” Justin shouted.
Amazon.com | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | Apple iTunes | Google Play | Smashwords
About Ethan Jones:
Ethan is an avid writer, lawyer by trade, Christian, a family man with a loving wife and son, owner of Schnitzel the schnauzer, researcher, traveler, and hiking enthusiast. When he is not in front of his computer, he is outdoors, going to an event, hanging out with family, or plotting his next book.