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CRASH COURSE

DEREK FEE

MIST MEDIA

Copyright © 2021 by DEREK FEE

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 written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

Created with Vellum

For my family

Prologue

Gulf of Morbihan.

Less than a nautical mile separated the two boats as they raced across the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Morbihan off the coast of north-west France. Both drivers were pushing their engines to the limit and the second boat, which bore the unmistakable markings of the French Navy, had been gaining steadily on the smaller craft during the hour-long chase across the Atlantic towards the coast.

The driver of the smaller craft kept the throttle fully open as he pushed his speedboat closer to the rocky coast which represented his only chance of evading his pursuer.

It would be touch and go, the speedboat driver thought. The bastards were beginning to upgrade their pursuit craft. A year ago, his boat would have left anything in the French Navy for dead but the vessel which trailed him was state-of-the-art and fresh out of the boatyard. Somebody was beginning to care. The driver had already made four runs off the French coast and nobody had even come close. This time it was different. If he managed to get away, he’d have to pass on the message that it was time to move the site of their operations. He swung his craft towards the coast and looked over his shoulder in time to see the helmsman of the navy vessel replicate his manoeuvre. This was what it was all about. He could feel the adrenaline rush and the familiar tingle of excitement pass along his backbone. The French had the better boat and the helmsman was a cut above those who had pitted their wits against him on previous occasions. It was time he showed them why he was one of Europe‘s top powerboat racers and why his employers had hired him.

“They’re gaining.” The second man in the speedboat looked anxiously over his shoulder at the pursuing craft. The bow of the navy vessel was high in the water and he could pick out individual uniformed sailors on the deck. “Maybe it’s time to heave the stuff overboard.” He glanced at the ten packages wrapped in waterproof covers which lay in the bottom of their boat.

“That won’t happen,” the driver growled and turned the boat towards the coast again. The packages at the bottom of the boat represented over ten million pounds sterling to their employers and fifty thousand pounds to him personally. There was no way they would be heaved overboard. Seawater and cocaine didn’t mix. The coast was only a mile away and he could see the billowing sails of yachts as they exited the marinas which dotted the gulf. He needed an edge and getting in among the small craft might give it to him. The pursuit boat’s captain was competent when it came to a chase in open water but he wondered how the navy helmsman would perform when he was dragged in among the yachts and pleasure vessels. That would be the real test of the French boat and its helmsman. He brought the bow around and headed for the nearest group of yachts at full throttle.

Lieutenant Jean-Paul Brondel stood on the bridge of the patrol boat Allouette and let his binoculars drop around his neck. He had been observing the two black-clad figures in the speedboat. The Allouette was close enough that he could see their faces. In the three years he had been patrolling the coast of Brittany, this was the closest they had come to catching their prey. Brondel looked around the gleaming bridge of his new boat. This time they would get the scum who used the many inlets of the coast of Brittany to smuggle their cargoes of drugs. They had picked up the speedboat’s trace as soon as it entered French territorial waters. Then the chase had been on. But unlike the other chases, the Allouette’s twin eight-hundred-horsepower engines were more than a match for the speedboat. The helmsman of the Allouette turned the wheel and followed the speedboat towards the coast.

Brondel raised his glasses and looked in the direction of his quarry. Twenty or thirty yachts were already making their way out to sea, their colourful sails filling in the wind. Further inshore, he could see the brightly coloured windsurfers skidding parallel to the shore. He was startled when he realised that the speedboat was heading directly for a group of yachts. “Attention, Luc,” he said to his helmsman without taking the glasses from his eyes. “Il commence d’aller très proche à la cote.” Surely not, he said to himself. They couldn’t.

The black-clad figure at the wheel of the speedboat turned sharply across the bow of the first yacht in the flotilla, throwing a sheet of water in its direction. He smiled as he saw the consternation on the faces of the crew as they tried to tack away from him. Turning the wheel again, he cut between two of the other yachts. The crew members of the boats screamed and shook their fists at him. “Now we’ll see what our naval friends are made of,” he shouted at his companion.

The second man in the speedboat looked astern and saw that their manoeuvre had caused panic among the small flotilla of yachts. The French patrol boat was still behind them but while the

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