Diamonds Aren't Forever
A legendary Kremlin assassin slaughters an American defector before he can be repatriated. Not about to let the murder go unpunished, Mack Bolan sets out to even the score.
His first target is a Russian businessman with ties to organized crime, a man who was unexpectedly released from a Siberian prison. Bolan tracks him to the World Diamond Council meeting in New York City, where the Russians reveal their deadly endgame. Only one man can stop their scheme to crash the Western economy and kill hundreds of innocent peoplethe Executioner.
About the Author
Phil Elmore is a freelance journalist, author, and technical writer who lives and works in Western New York State. He has contributed extensively to various trade magazines in the "tactical" gear and self-defense fields. He is also the senior editor of an IP development company based in Florida and the author of multiple commercially published scifi and action novels.
Read an Excerpt
Detention Center 6 Krasnoyarsk, Siberia
Alexander Grodovich sat on his bunk and watched as the four men squirmed on the bed next to the door. The others huddled in a semicircle. Two of the burlier ones held the new prisoner facedown on the bed, the man's pants bunched around his ankles, his buttocks exposed. Oleg, the chief tattoo artist of Krasnoyarsk, flashed a gap-toothed grin at Grodovich as he dipped the makeshift needle into the cup of ink and bent over the prone man. Oleg pinched the soft, flabby skin between his forefinger and thumb and began the quick piercing that would imbue the ink onto the man's buttocks. The picture of a huge, open eye and partial nostril seemed to stare back at Grodovich.
He felt no pity for the restrained prisoner, who was being labeled as a provider of sexual gratification. After all, the man was a child molester.
The prisoner squealed as the pointed metal pricked his skin. Oleg laughed and gave the soft flesh a quick slap.
"Be still," he said. "Or we'll turn you into a eunuch, as well."
The others laughed, too. One of them turned toward Grodovich with a knowing cackle, but the leering grin quickly faded as Mikhal stood up from his bunk.
Grodovich glanced at his hulking protector and smiled. Upon his unexpected transfer from Ariyskhe, Grodovich had immediately put his monetary resources to work, first bribing the guards to be kept in isolation, while scouring the prison for a suitable protector.
"You want Mikhal Markovich," the head guard whispered to him through the cell door. "He's serving a life sentence for murdering ten people, but he has a mother in Novosibirsk who comes to see him every month. She scrubs floors in the railway stations for a pittance and still brings us rubles each month so we'll give him extra rations." The guard grunted. "When you see him, you'll know why she is concerned. He is a giant."
And so he was. Huge in body but simple in the head, as the guard had explained. But this lack of guile, this simplicity, made him among the most feared inmates in Krasnoyarsk. He was oblivious to pain and completely without compassion or fear. And he was serving a life sentence. Bother him and you could be assured he would strike back without concern for punishment or retaliation. Mikhal had already killed three men inside the walls. These deaths were the result of the secret prisoner fights the guards held periodically. With a few payments to the guards and a series of monetary gifts to Mikhal's mother, that giant quickly assumed the role of Grodovich's protector. Fiercely loyal, he made sure that the only tattoos Grodovich received were the eight-pointed stars on his chest and knees that assured he would not be bothered inside the walls of Krasnoyarsk.
The new prisoner squealed again, begging for them to stop, which elicited more laughter from the group.
"Soon you'll be getting all the attention you can handle," one of them said.
A whistle sounded from the hall and an electric current shot through the dormitory room.
The guards were approaching.
Oleg quickly stepped back and shoved the cup of ink and the "needle" under the mattress of an adjacent bunk. The two men holding the child molester released him and motioned for him to pull up his pants.
The door burst open as the prisoner was buckling his trousers. All the men stood at attention as the three uniformed guards, armed with heavy black batons, entered the room and looked around. The lead guard's gaze settled on Grodovich.
"You," the guard said. "Come with us."
Mikhal turned his huge head toward the man, and the guard's face registered a bit of alarm.
"What is this about?" Grodovich asked.
"You have a visitor," the guard said. "An official one."
Grodovich considered this. He wasn't expecting anyone. His lawyer came once a month to attend to his needs, and deliver the bribes to his keepers, but he'd been here less than a week ago. Still, a visitor was always a welcome diversion. He stood and grabbed his cap from the post on his bed. Mikhal picked up his cap, as well.
"Not him," the guard said, pointing at the giant. "Just you."
Grodovich smiled and placed a hand on Mikhal's massive shoulder.
"Wherever I go," he said, "he goes."
The guards looked at each other. One of them glanced at the urine stain on the bed, then to the impassive faces of the line of prisoners.
"Not this time," the chief guard said. "Orders. Just you. The front office. Let's go. Now."
Grodovich felt the muscles of the giant's arm tensing. Still, a confrontation with the guards would put him in solitary confinement. Grodovich smiled and patted Mikhal's arm gently.
"It is all right, my friend," he said. "I will see you when I return."
Grodovich squared his hat on his head as they headed for the door. The three guards followed, ushering him down a long corridor flanked by dormitory rooms on the right and windows covered with heavy metal screening on the left. The light that managed to filter through the encrusted filth on the panes dappled the mustard yellow walls. A myriad of dust motes floated in the speckles of sunshine. They came to the end of the corridor and moved down the stairwell toward the third floor. At the second landing, the ranking guard told everyone to halt. He turned and looked at Grodovich, who noticed that the man's face was now damp.
The hairs on the back of Grodovich's neck rose. He thought about calling out for Mikhal but doubted the giant could get there fast enough.
"What is going on?" Grodovich asked. "Didn't you receive your monthly payment?"
The ranking guard said nothing. He pursed his lips and motioned toward the stairway.
"Go wait for us down there," the guard said, pointing to the dimly lighted first-floor landing. "We have to attend to something on the second floor."
"Attend to what?"
"An emergency," the guard said. "Now go." He and the others immediately opened the door and ran into the hallway.
Grodovich stood there, listening to the fading sound of their boots on the tiled floor.
Someone was waiting for him down there. Had he been marked for death, and if so, by whom? He began to creep back up the stairway, careful not to make too much noise. From the floor above he heard a low whisper and then a laugh. A swarthy face appeared around the corner, a gap-toothed smile stretched across it. Grodovich recognized the man as a fellow inmate, a Chechen.
The man held up his left hand and waggled his fingers, making a come-hither gesture. He stepped fully into the landing and Grodovich saw the man's right hand held a long, metallic blade, probably fashioned from one of the soup cups.
Grodovich turned and ran down the stairs toward the second-floor landing. Should he try to summon the guards?
No, they had set him up. They would do nothing to help him now.
He rounded the corner and continued his descent toward the first floor. Suddenly three more Chechens appeared, blocking his path. Each one held a crude blade. Each one smiled.
Grodovich froze. He stooped and reached for his own shank, a thin strip of metal that he'd managed to liberate from the sole of a worn shoe, but he was inept at using it. Still, he would not go down without a fight. He backed into the corner of the landing as the four men approached from both above and below.
"What is this?" Grodovich asked. "I have done nothing to offend you."
"We have our orders," one of the Chechens said as he continued creeping up from the first floor. "It is nothing of a personal"
A sudden gurgling interrupted everything. Grodovich glanced up in time to see a huge hand encircling the throat of the Chechen who'd been coming down from the third floor. He attempted to stab the big hand, but another large hand closed over that one. The man struggled like a puppet as his feet dangled and swung in open air, then all movement stopped. Mikhal's enormous form became visible behind him. The giant picked up the strangled marionette and held him at chest level while he strode down the stairs. When Mikhal reached the second-floor landing he flung the dead man toward the other three.
One of them was knocked off his feet, another staggered back. The third one, the closest, made a lunging stab with his blade.
Mikhal stepped back with the agility of an acrobat and seized the Chechen's wrist. Seconds later the man howled in pain. Mikhal forced the Chechen's knife back into his throat and let him drop to the floor, lumbering toward the two others. They both scrambled down the stairway with Mikhal in pursuit. Grodovich glanced around, then called to him.
"Wait," he said. "Don't chase them. It could be a trap."
The giant halted, his face flushed with exertion, his breathing hard.
"I felt I should follow you," Mikhal said. He seldom spoke, and when he did his voice sounded almost childlike. "I looked down the hall and saw that Chechen bastard sneaking around."
"I'm glad you did, my friend. Once again, you have saved my life." Grodovich heard the thudding of boots coming from the second-floor hallway. He motioned upward and told Mikhal to run. "If the guards see you here, they will use it as an excuse to place you in the solitary ward. Go."
The giant hesitated for a split second, then strode up the stairs, taking them three at a time. Grodovich tossed his own blade and pressed himself into the corner of the landing. The door burst open and three different guards emerged.
"What is going on here?" the ranking guard yelled, his eyes widening as he surveyed the scene.
"A disagreement between two inmates," Grodovich said. "They fought and killed each other. It was terrible to behold."
The guard's mouth worked, but no words came out. He licked his lips, pulled out his radio and spoke into it with clear precise tones, ordering more men to come to his position. He scrutinized Grodovich, who held up his hands to show there were no traces of blood.
"Some of your compatriots were taking me to see an official visitor when they had to leave," he said with a smile. "I hope their emergency has run its course without incident."
Judo Training Center Arlington, Virginia
Mack Bolan, the Executioner, sat on the edge of the mat and watched as the judo master demonstrated the last few techniques, throwing his much younger partner around with ease. The gi felt heavy on Bolan's shoulders. He preferred to train in his regular clothes, wearing his standard gear, but the owner of the dojo had insisted that all attendees had to wear the traditional judo garb. It was a small price to pay for being able to see a master such as Kioshi Watinabi at work.
Jack Grimaldi, who was seated next to Bolan, leaned over and whispered, "Ah, it looks like the one guy's faking it."
Bolan shook his head and brought his index finger to his lips.
"Whatever," Grimaldi said sotto voce. He leaned back and sighed.
Bolan watched as the master executed the final move, Hiza Guruma, the wheeling knee throw. As the opponent stepped forward, the master stepped back and smacked the sole of his left foot against the other man's knee. Twisting the opponent's upper body in a circular motion, the master sent the other man over with a quick flip.
Grimaldi snorted. "Like I said, all fake."
Bolan shot him another quieting look, but it was obvious the judo master, an Asian man in his fifties, had already cast a glance their way. His eyebrows lifted slightly as he stared at Grimaldi. Then the master and his opponent bowed to each other, turned and bowed again to the audience.
Grimaldi stretched and yawned. "Ready to blow this pop stand?"
Before Bolan could answer the master held up his hands and waggled his fingers for the rest of the class to move forward, saying something in Japanese.
"The master wishes you to pair up for individual instruction," the young assistant said.
The group of spectators got up and shuffled to the center mat. Bolan and Grimaldi paired off and gripped the thick lapels of each other's gis. The master called out commands for each technique. The first was O Goshi, the major hip throw. The second was Harai Goshi, sweeping hip throw.
"You want to go first?" Bolan asked.
Grimaldi shook his head. "Nah. I want to prove to you that this stuff doesn't work. It's just like professional wrestling."
"Okay," Bolan said and pivoted, pulling Grimaldi off balance and stepping inside his guard. Bolan slipped his right hip against Grimaldi's abdomen as he stepped back with his left foot and twisted, throwing Grimaldi over with a quick flip.
Grimaldi slammed onto the mat, managing to break his fall with a slapping motion of his left arm.
"You all right?" Bolan asked.
Grimaldi grunted. "I know how to fall."
Master Watinabi strode over to them, speaking in Japanese and motioning for Grimaldi to get to his feet. As he did the master continued to give instructions to Bolan along with numerous gestures. The young assistant began translating.
"Master Watinabi says your technique is very good," he said to Bolan. "But he suggests bending lower if the opponent resists." He turned to Grimaldi and said, "Stiffen your arms."
Grimaldi grinned and locked his arms, which were much longer than Watinabi's. The two men stepped back and forth and suddenly Watinabi thrust his right foot into Grimaldi's stomach and fell backward. Grimaldi flipped over and landed on his back with a thud. As he got up, Watinabi grabbed him once more, slipped into a modified hip throw and swept Grimaldi's legs out from under him, flipping him over on his back again. Grimaldi got up a bit slower this time and Watinabi grabbed him once more and thrust his hip into Grimaldi's stomach.
The master paused and the assistant said, "Grab his belt and attempt to lift him backward."
Grimaldi smiled and reared back, lifting the smaller man completely off the mat, but Watinabi lifted both of his legs to his chest then thrust them downward, at the same time grasping Grimaldi around the neck. As soon as Watinabi's feet struck the mat Grimaldi was launched over the master's right hip, his body flying pell-mell before slamming once again onto the mat.
He lay there trying to get his breath.
"That is a useful technique against a taller opponent," the assistant said.
Watinabi grinned at Grimaldi as Bolan reached to help him up.
"Good thing you know how to fall," Bolan said.
Before Grimaldi could respond with one of his standard wisecracks, a cell phone rang.
The Executioner glanced to the edge of the mat where his and Grimaldi's clothes and shoes had been stacked.
"Oh," Grimaldi said. "Saved by the bell. Is it yours or mine?"
"It must be yours. I turned mine off." Grimaldi grinned as he lay back. "In that case I'm really saved by the bell."
"Don't be too sure," Bolan said. "It's probably Hal."