The trust of the people, p.1
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       The Trust Of The People, p.1

           Christopher Read
The Trust Of The People



  Christopher Read



  Copyright © 2015 by Christopher Read

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

  This book is a work of fiction. All the names, characters, other entities, places and incidents portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, real-life entities, past or present, or actual incidents, is entirely coincidental.


  The South China Sea

  Map illustrating the various territorial claims, courtesy of


  Prologue – Monday, October 17th

  Chapter 1 – Friday, October 21st

  Chapter 2 – Saturday, October 22nd

  Chapter 3 – Sunday, October 23rd

  Chapter 4 – Monday, October 24th

  Chapter 5 – Tuesday, October 25th

  Chapter 6 – Wednesday, October 26th

  Chapter 7 – Thursday, October 27th

  Chapter 8 – Friday, October 28th

  Chapter 9 – Saturday, October 29th

  Chapter 10 – Sunday, October 30th

  Chapter 11 – Monday, October 31st

  Chapter 12 – Tuesday, November 1st

  Chapter 13 – Wednesday, November 2nd

  Chapter 14 – Thursday, November 3rd

  Chapter 15 – Friday, November 4th

  Chapter 16 – Saturday, November 5th

  Chapter 17 – Sunday, November 6th

  Chapter 18 – Monday, November 7th

  Chapter 19 – Tuesday, November 8th

  Chapter 20 – Wednesday, November 9th

  Chapter 21 – Thursday, November 10th

  Map of the South China Sea

  Prologue – Monday, October 17th

  Moscow – 10:14 Local Time; 07:14 UTC

  Apartment block, bookstore, prison and secret police headquarters: the infamous Lubyanka had been all of those things, the parquet floors trodden by future presidents and condemned traitors, the fate of thousands of Russia’s citizens determined within its walls. Its offices and dark corners were a haven for the suspicious and the intrusive, the building’s sole purpose that of searching out secrets. Despite the various changes as to its parent agency, that one goal hadn’t altered in over a hundred years and the Lubyanka still remained the key to Russia’s internal security.

  The Moscow headquarters of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) wasn’t in fact a single structure, and over the years the two original buildings had been joined together and then extended. Yet, despite its impressive yellow-brick façade and the best efforts of half-a-dozen architects, to many in Moscow the Lubyanka still managed to exude an air of despondency, the walls somehow tainted by the tears of its many victims.

  The Lubyanka had been Georgiy Alekseyev’s second home for some eleven years, it watching impassively as he had literally worked his way up from the ground floor. Now the building would be a silent witness to his final act, a moment of madness that could well be the most selfless thing he’d ever done or potentially the most desperate. Either way, Alekseyev knew he couldn’t back down – the alternatives were simply unacceptable. His daughter would never be likely to understand, but he prayed that one day she might find it in her heart to forgive him.

  Alekseyev was a man burdened by regret and ashamed at the selfishness he had shown his family over so many years. Twenty-four years he had been married, his wife asking for little but giving so much, Alekseyev only realising how much he relied on her once she had gone. Perhaps it would have been easier if her death had been someone’s fault, but it had all come out of nowhere, his wife collapsing while out walking. Alekseyev had arrived at the hospital to be told his wife had slipped into a coma; two days later she was dead, a brain haemorrhage the diagnosis, the doctors keen to explain that there was nothing anyone could have done to save her.

  Outwardly, Alekseyev looked to have coped well; inside, the depression that had gripped him during those first months had seemed never-ending, and he had turned to gambling as a way to dull the misery. Then, after ten months of self-pity, his daughter had announced she was pregnant. The joy in her eyes after three years of trying for a baby was the jolt Alekseyev had needed to bring him to his senses, a final opportunity to make up for past mistakes. Baby Yelena’s christening three weeks ago had brought family and friends together in an emotional celebration, Alekseyev not the only one struggling to hold back the tears.

  He smiled again at the memory of that day, focusing for a moment on how his wife and daughter had once combined to describe him: ‘steady and dependable, easy-going but not someone who found it easy to forgive’. Alekseyev certainly couldn’t disagree with their analysis, although he sensed the dependable part really meant predictable and boring. Well, now he would prove the lie to such judgements.

  A couple of minutes, no longer, and the two people he loved the most in the world would be protected, his debt paid in full. No point in regret or self-admonishment; little enough time to recall more than just a handful of cherished memories. Would the final act produce a moment of unspeakable agony, or just nothing? Dare he even hope for some wondrous light to beckon him into a better world?

  Alekseyev shook the thought aside, forcing himself to concentrate on his allotted task. A deep breath to steady his nerves; then he moved towards the closed office door. Colonel Trukhin first – he’d always hated the arrogant prick…

  Trukhin sat staring at his computer screen, brow furrowed in concentration, the early morning light from the office window bathing the room in a warm golden glow. Trukhin glanced up as Alekseyev entered, eyes darkening with irritation.

  “What is it Alekseyev, I’m busy? If it’s important…” Trukhin froze as he saw the gun in Alekseyev’s hand. His body seemed to arch back slightly, as though trying to prepare himself for the first bullet; then abruptly he relaxed, common-sense overriding his initial shock. “What the fuck, Alekseyev! Get that fucking gun out of my face now!”

  Despite his fears Alekseyev took time to savour the moment. “You’ve always been an asshole Trukhin; this is no more than you deserve.”

  Some angry protest started to form on Trukhin’s lips, the words forever stilled as Alekseyev shot him once through the heart, the crack of the gunshot echoing loudly around the room.

  Alekseyev pivoted quickly, turning left out of the office and striding towards his true target. Two young aides stood talking together further along the corridor, their expressions a mix of concern and puzzlement, one of them shouting out a warning as he noticed the gun. Alekseyev fired twice more, not aiming at them exactly, but uncaring as to whether they might be hit.

  Standing orders meant that neither man was armed and they instantly retreated, the nearest door a quick route to safety. Alekseyev took a deep breath and then barged through into the General’s outer office. Sofia, his assistant, was already on her feet, backing away towards the left-hand wall, hands held out in front of her in silent pleading. Suddenly, the strident howl of the security alarm cut through the background hum of the building, a signal to Alekseyev that his time was limited.

  Alekseyev had always had a soft spot for Sofia, almost jealous that she was at the General’s beck and call. Not that General Grebeshkov would ever take advantage – he was far too honourable and focused on his work to risk i
t all on an extra-marital affair. A hero the people called him, Grebeshkov seen by many in Moscow as the man who had led the fight-back against the terrorists of August 14 and so saved Russia. Alekseyev even half-believed it himself. In the seventeen months since Russia’s coup d’état, the new government had managed to gain a certain legitimacy despite its origins. A good part of that was down to Grebeshkov, his judgement, honesty and diplomatic skills impressing even the most cynical of Russia’s neighbours.

  Alekseyev forced his genuine admiration for the General to one side, determined not to bail out now he had come so far. He raised the gun, arm wavering as Sofia closed her eyes. Abruptly, he changed aim and shot her once in the shoulder, angry with everyone – however innocent – for what he was being forced to do. It was hardly rational, but Alekseyev’s mind was already a swirling fog of guilt and self-contempt.

  Sofia stumbled backwards, a half-scream of pain and shock dragged from her lips. The inner office door was unlocked and Alekseyev thrust it open, part of his brain separating out the far-off sound of voices from the insistent call of the alarm. He had thirty seconds, no more.

  General Grebeshkov sat at his desk, managing to look composed and somehow defiant. No attempt to defend himself; no angry words, not even a frown of confusion. Alekseyev stood uncertain: he’d done as much as he dared to try and forewarn Grebeshkov, and in imagining this moment, he had always assumed it would simply end in a burst of gunfire, the final outcome unpredictable. Now it was to be in cold-blood, every action having to be deliberate rather than an instinctive fight for survival, Grebeshkov a far more emotive proposition than Colonel Trukhin.

  A belated sense of duty forced Alekseyev to offer some explanation, a feeble justification for the murder of his superior. “I’m sorry, General; they left me with no choice.”

  “There’s always a choice, Georgiy,” Grebeshkov said calmly, maintaining his air of composure. “We can talk this through and come up with a solution; think of your family.”

  “I am, General; I truly am.” It was far too late for second thoughts and Alekseyev fired twice, watching with sad eyes as the elder man was knocked backwards, his head slowly slumping down onto his chest.

  Alekseyev stepped forward, right arm reaching stiffly out to fire a single bullet into the General’s brain. Although there was some element of shock and terror at what he had done, there was also relief that he’d actually had the guts to carry it through. Over the years, the lofty ambitions of his youth had slowly been replaced by false starts and dashed hopes, but that was primarily down to his own failings, and there were many in the Lubyanka who would have considered him a friend. That might well have included Grebeshkov, a man who had deserved infinitely more loyalty than Alekseyev had been able to give.

  Almost in slow motion Alekseyev brought the gun up to the side of his head. Without warning, tears began to stream down his face, Alekseyev ashamed for what he was about to put his daughter through, wishing to could have at least told her why – but that too was not part of the bargain he had struck.

  As his finger tightened on the trigger, his last thoughts were of his granddaughter, a wordless prayer asking her forgiveness...
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