The Last Man
Author:Vince Flynn

Chapter 54
RAPP pushed the car past 70 mph, popped in his earpiece, and called Coleman's cell. As it started to ring he rounded a corner and caught his first glimpse of the gray sedan. The sedan disappeared around the next corner faster than Rapp would have thought possible. They had to be going close to 100 mph.

"They're in a hurry," Hurley announced.

"You two have your seat belts on?" Rapp asked Hayek and Dumond. They both did. Rapp glanced over at Hurley and saw that he was not wearing his belt.

"Big deal," Hurley said in his angry voice.

"Yeah . . . I know, you're going to be dead in six months, but that's six months from now, so put on your damn seat belt."

"What's up?" Coleman's voice asked over Rapp's earpiece.

"We are in pursuit of a gray four-door Peugeot sedan. Headed your way. There's four guys inside . . . all late thirties or early forties. Looks like they're Afghanis or Pakistanis."

"They're Pakistanis," Hurley stated more forcefully. "I know my Pakis."

Rapp ignored him and focused on Coleman. "Are you at the inn?"

"Standing on the sidewalk in front."

"Get back to the car and get out to the other side of town where we were stopped earlier. The ditch on the south side has some good concealment. Put Wicker in there and have him shoot out the tires on the Peugeot when it clears the town." Rapp could hear Coleman shouting orders to his men.

"Scott," Rapp said, "they're coming fast. You guys need to really haul ass."

"We're on it. Already in the car and moving. Do you want me to stay on the line?"

"No, this road only goes to one place. Get in position and call me, and if you guys get in a shootout, don't kill all of them. We need to talk to a few of these guys."

"Copy. I'll ring you back."

Hurley pointed at the road. "You need to speed up."

"Scott's got things handled."

"What if he doesn't?"

"God, you're a pain in the ass sometimes." Rapp braked and turned the wheel, the tires skidding on the pavement. "You want me to end up in the ditch?"

"I just think you could go a little faster, that's all."

They were on a straightaway now and Rapp pushed the BMW north of 100 mph, only to have a car pull out of a driveway. Rapp swerved into the oncoming lane and slowed. Another tight turn was up ahead and there was no sign of the Peugeot. With each turn he expected to see the car smoking and wrapped around a tree. He didn't need to catch them, only stay close enough to drive them to Coleman.

Three hundred yards on the other side of town, right where the road began to curve north, Coleman pulled over and popped the trunk. Wicker jumped out and grabbed his shooting bag. As soon as the trunk was closed, the BMW took off and Wicker ran across the road, into the ditch, and up the other side. The mistake most people made with vehicle interdiction was that they set up too close to the road. Once you took the shot you then ended up with a five-ton vehicle careening toward you out of control. Wicker went to the edge of the trees, turned, checked out his spot, and dropped his bag.

The former SEAL sniper didn't bother with his camouflage netting, as the trees offered enough concealment. He set up his position against the base of a big pine tree, then marked two signs on the road and their approximate distance. As Wicker eased his eye into position behind the scope, he focused on his breathing.

Less than ten seconds later he heard the roar of an engine and popped his head up to see the gray sedan flying through the middle of town at an incredibly reckless speed. Wicker dropped his eye behind the scope and acquired the target. The guy was going too fast to allow Wicker to get off an accurate shot, but Wicker knew he would have to slow down or he'd never make the next turn. Almost on cue, the vehicle braked hard. Wicker sighted in on the front driver's side tire and squeezed off a suppressed round.

A split second later he heard a pop and then the sound of rubber shredding. The front left corner of the Peugeot dropped down and the back end began to swing around clockwise. Wicker grabbed his rifle and rolled behind the big pine. It was going to be close.

Kassar had been filled with a sense of dread for several days. The only reason he'd accepted the job to go to Zurich was that it would provide him with the opportunity to run if he finally made the decision. He no longer trusted Durrani. He'd seen him kill one too many people to tie up his so-called loose ends. Sooner or later Kassar was going to be one of those loose ends, and Durrani would replace him with one of his fanatical goons, like the three men he was working with today.

Kassar despised them. Durrani had found them in the tribal areas and trained them to carry out his radical plots. They were thoughtless militants who wavered between amazing acts of bravery and stupidity. There was not an ounce of finesse among the three of them. After the first pass of Obrecht's estate, the men unanimously wanted to wait until nightfall and storm the property. Kassar tried to explain to them that the odds of a successful outcome were close to zero, but they would not listen to him.

It was on the second pass that they found a big surprise. Kassar had learned that they liked to question his authority unless he invoked General Durrani, so he had told them upon leaving the embassy that Durrani had been very specific. If they saw Mitch Rapp they were supposed to abort the mission and get back to the Pakistani Embassy as soon as possible. When they made their second pass and he saw the BMW parked across the street, Kassar was curious. Then he saw Rapp behind the steering wheel. For once the men listened to him when he told them whom he had seen and that they needed to go as fast as possible.

For the first half mile it worked, and then Mansur, the self-appointed leader of the three, started talking about setting up an ambush. When Kassar told him no, Mansur wanted to argue and began asking for input from the other two imbeciles. That was when Kassar lost it and pulled out his phone. "I'm calling the general, you idiot. He gave us specific orders and now you want to argue with him." Kassar made a great show of hitting Send and then holding the phone to his ear.

Mansur tried to apologize, but Kassar was not interested. When Durrani finally got on the phone, Kassar filled him in on what was going on and then told him that the men he had sent were incompetent fools who should be reassigned to one of the suicide battalions that the Taliban were so proud of. When Durrani started asking too many questions, Kassar cut him off and told him he would call him back. He ended the call just as they raced into the small town, going so fast that they were out of it by the time Kassar could tell the driver to slow down.

He breathed a huge sigh of relief that they were back among the fields and trees. Kassar had just started to tell the driver to slow down when it happened. The car lurched, slowed suddenly, and then began to spin out of control. None of them were wearing their seat belts, and when the car came out of its first full spin it flipped, and Kassar found himself floating between the seat and the ceiling. Then the vehicle hit something incredibly hard and helicoptered upside down into the forest until it came violently to a stop between two trees.

Disoriented but conscious, Kassar began to feel his way out of the upside-down car. There was broken glass everywhere and he could already smell the petrol leaking and the burnt rubber of the tires. There were other movements inside the car. Unfortunately, the fool Mansur was still alive. The driver was motionless. The thought of Rapp in close pursuit drove Kassar to ignore the pain and move faster. He squirmed out of the vehicle, onto his back, and sat up. He immediately noticed his balance was off, but nothing appeared to be broken. Mansur and one of the other men got out of the car and wanted to know what to do. Kassar stood and looked down the road. To his left he noticed another car and some men with rifles. To his right he thought he glimpsed Rapp's BMW moving through the small town.

Mansur clutched his arm. "We should make a stand here."

Kassar shook his head and said, "I know what we need to do." He pointed into the woods, and when Mansur and the other man turned to see what he was pointing at, Kassar shot them both in the back of the head. He then dropped his gun, put his hands above his head, and walked back to the road.