STORMBREAKER BOOK PDF

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STORMBREAKER. Table of Contents STORMBREAKER. FUNERAL . books. Bank stuff—that‟s what Ian said. Even so, Alex wanted to go up there now. The first book in the Alex Rider Series. Download PDF The Devil and His Boy THE ALEX RIDER ADVENTURES: Stormbreaker Point Blank. This is the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. It talk about a boy's uncle had died and he found himself in some kind of organisation called 'M16'. It contain.


Stormbreaker Book Pdf

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You can easily Download Stormbreaker Pdf, Stormbreaker Pdf of Alex If not at the third chapter, then surely somewhere else in the book!. Free Alex Rider Stormbreaker study unit worksheets for teachers to print. Alex Rider Stormbreaker book report form (PDF File) · Customize the Alex Rider. STORMBREAKER Alex Rider Book 1 Anthony Horowitz Table of Contents FUNERAL VOICES HEAVEN FOR CARS ROYAL & GENERAL “SO WHAT DO YOU.

There weretwo of them, both dressed in loose-fitting overalls. At the fu-neral. One of them was the driver, the man he hadseen with the gun. He was sure of it. Whoever they were, they were only a few pacesaway from the car, talking in low voices. Another fewsteps and they would be there. Without thinking, Alexthrew himself into the only hiding place available: in-side the car itself.

Using his foot, he hooked the doorand closed it. At the same time, he became aware thatthe machines had started again and he could nolonger hear the men.

Ashadow fell across the window as the two men passed. But then they were gone. He was safe. And then something hit the BMW with such forcethat Alex cried out, his whole body caught in a mas-sive shock wave that tore him away from the steeringwheel and threw him helplessly into the back.

One of the fingersgrazed the side of his head. Alex yelled as blood trickledover his eye. He tried to move, then was jerked backa second time as the car was yanked off the groundand tilted high up in the air. But his stom-ach lurched as the car swung in an arc, the metalgrinding and the light spinning.

The BMW had beenpicked up by the crane. It was going to be put insidethe crusher. With him inside. He tried to raise himself up, to wave through thewindows. But the claw of the crane had already flat-tened the roof, pinning his left leg, perhaps evenbreaking it. He could feel nothing. Even if the workmen werestaring at the BMW, they would never see anythingmoving inside. His short flight across the junkyard ended with abone-shattering crash as the crane deposited the caron the iron shelves of the crusher.

Alex tried to fightback his sickness and despair and think of what to do.

The machinewas a Lefort Shear, a slow-motion guillotine. At thepress of a button, the two wings would close on the carwith a joint pressure of five hundred tons. The car,with Alex inside it, would be crushed beyond recogni-tion. And the broken metal—and flesh—would thenbe chopped into sections. Nobody would ever knowwhat had happened. He tried with all his strength to free himself. Butthe roof was too low. His leg was trapped. Then hiswhole world tilted and he felt himself falling into dark-ness.

The shelves had lifted. The BMW slid to oneside and fell the few yards into the trough. Alex felt themetalwork collapsing all around him.

The back win-dow exploded and glass showered around his head,dust and diesel fumes punching into his nose andeyes. There was hardly any daylight now, but lookingout of the back, he could see the huge steel head ofthe piston that would push what was left of the carthrough the exit hole on the other side. The engine tone of the Lefort Shear changed asit prepared for the final act.

The metal wings shud-dered. It took him perhaps asecond—one precious second—to work out whathad happened.

When the car had fallen into thetrough, it had landed on its side. The roof had buck-led again just enough to free him. His hand scrabbledfor the door—but, of course, that was useless. Thedoors were too bent. They would never open. Theback window! With the glass gone, he could crawlthrough the frame, but only if he moved fast. The wings began to move. The BMW screamedas two walls of solid steel relentlessly crushed it.

Moreglass shattered. One of the wheel axles snappedwith the sound of a thunderbolt. Darkness began toclose in. Alex grabbed hold of what was left of the backseat.

Ahead of him he could see a single triangle of light,shrinking faster and faster. He could feel the weightof the two walls pressing down on him.

The car wasno longer a car but the fist of some hideous monstersnatching at the insect that Alex had become. With all his strength, he surged forward.

Hisshoulders passed through the triangle, out into thelight.

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Next came his legs, but at the last moment hisshoe caught on a piece of jagged metal. He jerked andthe shoe was pulled off, falling back into the car. Finally,clinging to the black, oily surface of the observationplatform at the back of the crusher, he dragged him-self clear and managed to stand up. He found himself face-to-face with a man so fatthat he could barely fit into the small cabin of thecrusher. A cig-arette dangled on his lower lip as his mouth fell openand his eyes stared. What he saw was a boy in the ragsof what had once been a school uniform.

A wholesleeve had been torn off and his arm, streaked withblood and oil, hung limply by his side. By the time theoperator had taken this all in, come to his senses, andturned the machine off, the boy had gone. Alex clambered down the side of the crusher, land-ing on the one foot that still had a shoe. He was awarenow of the pieces of jagged metal lying everywhere. His bicycle was where he had left it, leaning againstthe wall, and gingerly, half hopping, he made for it.

At thesame time a second man ran forward, stopping be-tween Alex and his bike. His face, twisted into ahostile frown, was curiously ugly: greasy hair, wateryeyes, pale, lifeless skin. His hand slidinto his jacket. Alex remembered the gun and, in-stantly, without even thinking, swung into action. He had started learning karate when he was sixyears old.

One afternoon, with no explanation, IanRider had taken him to a local club for his first les-son and he had been going there, once a week, eversince. Over the years he had passed through the var-ious Kyu—student grades. But it was only the yearbefore that he had become a first-grade Dan, a blackbelt.

When he had arrived at Brookland School, hisgentle looks and accent had quickly brought him tothe attention of the school bullies; three hulkingsixteen-year-olds.

They had cornered him once be-hind the bike shed. The encounter lasted less than aminute. The next day one of the bullies had leftBrookland, and the other two had never troubled any-one again.

Now Alex brought up one leg, twisted his bodyaround, and lashed out. The back kick—Ushirogeri—is said to be the most lethal in karate. His eyes bulgedand his mouth half opened in surprise. Then, with hishand still halfway into his jacket, he crumpled to theground. Alex jumped over him, snatched up his bike, andswung himself onto it. In the distance a third man wasrunning toward him.

Then there was a crack and a bul-let whipped past. Alex gripped the handlebars andpedaled as hard as he could. The bike shot forward,over the rubble and out through the gates.

He tookone look over his shoulder. Nobody had followed him. With one shoe on and one shoe off, his clothes inrags, and his body streaked with oil, Alex knew hemust look a strange sight. But then he thought backto his last seconds inside the crusher and sighed withrelief. He could be looking a lot worse. Do you remember me? Personnel manager at the Royal and General. We werewondering if you could come in. We need to talk to you.

She hadonly her own money to download food and pay for the run-ning of the house. Worse still, her visa was about toexpire. Jack had enough onher mind. Hefound the bank easily enough. There was a brass plaque with the name next to themain door and a security camera swiveling slowly overthe pavement.

Alex stopped in front of it. For a moment he won-dered if he was making a mistake, going in. But why would anyonefrom the bank want to kill him?

He went inside. And in an office on the seventeenth floor, the im-age on the television monitor flickered and changedas Street Camera 1 smoothly cut across to Recep-tion Cameras 2 and 3. Everything was dark andshadowy inside.

A man sitting behind a desk saw Alexcome in and pressed a button. She had a strange, potato-shaped head andher black hair looked as if it had been cut using a pairof blunt scissors and an upturned bowl. Her eyes werealmost as black as her hair. She was dressed in a se-vere gray suit and was sucking a peppermint. Alan Blunt nodded. Quite sure. Youknow what to do?

The driver was standing uncomfortably, slightlyhunched over. His face was a chalky white. He hadbeen like that ever since he had tried to stop Alex inthe auto junkyard. His eyes never left thescreen.

In the lobby, Alex had asked for John Crawley andwas sitting on a leather sofa, vaguely wondering whyso few people were going in or out. The reception areawas quiet and claustrophobic, with a brown marblefloor, three elevators to one side, and above the desk,a row of clocks showing the time in every major worldcity.

But it could have been the entrance to anywhere. A hospital. A concert hall. Even a cruise liner. Theplace had no identity of its own.

One of the elevators slid open and Crawley ap-peared in the same suit he had worn at the funeral butwith a different tie. He ges-tured. Nordid he see the thermal intensifier next to the camera. Inless than the time it took Alex to blink, the machinehad passed its information down to a computer thathad instantly evaluated and then sent its own signalback to the circuits that controlled the elevator.

Continue to the fifteenth floor. A series of doors werepunctuated by brightly colored abstract paintings. They had passed three doors when Alex stopped. Each door had a nameplate and this one he knew. White letters on black plastic. Crawley nodded sadly. This was where youruncle worked. Crawley seemed surprised. He used his hands likea magician, as if he were about to produce a fan ofcards. Just here. It was a large, square roomwith three windows looking out over the station.

There was a flutter of red and blue outside and Alexremembered the flag he had seen. The flagpole wasright next to the office. Inside there was a desk andchair, a couple of sofas, in the corner a fridge, on thewall a couple of prints. Perfect for a boring executive. He wentover to the fridge. Hespoke for a few moments, then hung up again. I have to go back down to the lobby.

Do you mind? Alex waited a few seconds. Then he poured thecola into a potted plant and stood up. He went overto the door and back into the corridor. At the far enda woman carrying a bunch of papers appeared anddisappeared through a door. There was no sign ofCrawley. Quickly, Alex moved back to the door of and tried the handle.

But Crawley had beentelling the truth. It was locked. Perhaps the of-fice next door might tell him why. What exactly was IanRider involved in? And was it the reason why he hadbeen killed? The flag fluttered again and, seeing it, Alex wentover to the window. The pole jutted out of the build-ing exactly halfway between rooms and Of course, he was fifteen floorsup. If he jumped and missed, there would be a coupleof hundred feet to fall. It was a stupid idea. Alex opened the window and climbed out.

It wasbetter not to think about it at all. He would just do it. It was onlythe sheer brick wall stretching down to the pavement,the cars and buses moving like toys so far below, andthe blast of the wind against his face that made it terri-fying.

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Do it. His hands were behind him, clutchingonto the windowsill. He took a deep breath. A camera in the office across the road caught Alexas he launched himself into space. Two floors above,Alan Blunt was still sitting in front of the screen. It was a humorless sound. He was hanging now with his feetin midair. Slowly, with huge effort, he pulled himselfup, his fingers hooking into the material. Somehowhe managed to climb back up onto the pole. He just hoped that no passersbylooked up.

It was easier after that. He had to be careful. Toofar to the left and he would crash into the side of thebuilding, but too far the other way and he would fall. In fact, he landed perfectly, grabbing hold of the ledgewith both hands and then pulling himself up until hewas level with the window. It was only now that hewondered if the window would be locked. Alex slid the window open and hoistedhimself into the second office, which was in many waysa carbon copy of the first.

Hewent over to the desk and sat down. The first thing hesaw was a photograph of himself, taken the summerbefore on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, wherehe had gone diving. There was a second picture tuckedinto the corner of the frame. Alex aged five or six. Hewas surprised and a little saddened by the photographs.

Ian Rider had been more sentimental than he had pre-tended. Alex glanced at his watch. About three minuteshad passed since Crawley had left the office and hehad said he would be back in five. If he was going tofind anything here, he had to find it quickly. He pulledopen a drawer in the desk.

It contained four or fivethick files. Alex took them and opened them. He sawat once that they had nothing to do with banking. Alex putit aside and looked at the second.

Growing ever more puzzled, hequickly flicked through the rest of the files, which cov-ered counterterrorism, the movement of uraniumacross Europe, and interrogation techniques. One of them wasCrawley. The other was the driver from the junkyard. Alex knew that there was no point trying to explainwhat he was doing.

He was sitting behind the deskwith the Stormbreaker file open in his hands. From the way they hadcome into the room, they had expected to find him. Wasmy uncle working for you? Did you kill him? He stood up behind the desk,holding the file as if to protect himself. The man fired. There was no explosion. The gunspat at Alex and he felt something slam into his heart. His hand opened and the file tumbled to the ground. Then his legs buckled, the room twisted, and he fellback into nothing.

So he was still alive! That was a nice surprise. He was lying on a bed in a large, comfortableroom. The bed was modern, but the room was oldwith beams running across the ceiling, a stone fire-place, and narrow windows in an ornate woodenframe.

He had seen rooms like this in books when hewas studying Shakespeare. He would have said thebuilding was Elizabethan. It had to be somewhere inthe country. There was no sound of traffic.

Outsidehe could see trees. Someone had undressed him. His school uniformwas gone. Instead he was wearing loose pajamas, silkfrom the feel of them. From the light outside he wouldhave guessed it was midmorning. He found his watchlying on the table beside the bed and he reached outfor it.

He had lost a whole nightand half a day. There was a bathroom leading off from the bed-room—bright white tiles and a huge shower behinda cylinder of glass and chrome. Alex stripped off thepajamas and stood for five minutes under a jet ofsteaming water. He felt better after that. He went back into the bedroom and opened thecloset.

Someone had been to his house in Chelsea. Allhis clothes were here, neatly hung up. He wonderedwhat Crawley had told Jack. He took out a pair of Gap combattrousers, Nike sweatshirt and sneakers, got dressed,then sat on the bed and waited.

About fifteen minutes later there was a knock andthe door opened. And dressed. How are youfeeling? Thatmeant he loved his country. But as far as Alex knew,Ian Rider had barely spent any time in it. Certainlyhe had never been one for waving the Union Jack. Helooked around, hoping to find Jack, but saw insteadthat Blunt was making his way toward him, steppingcarefully around the grave.

Up close, his skin was strangelyunreal. It could have been made of plastic. Hewas a good man. You must haveknown that. About things like seat belts. He tappedthe side of his face with a single gray finger. That was when it happened. As Blunt was gettinginto the Rolls-Royce, the driver leaned down to openthe back door and his jacket fell open, revealing astark white shirt underneath. The man was wearing a leather holster with an auto-matic pistol strapped inside.

Realizing what had hap-pened, the driver quickly straightened up and pulledthe jacket across. Blunt had seen it too. He turned. Something very closeto an emotion slithered over his face.

Then he got intothe car, the door closed, and he was gone. A gun at a funeral, Alex thought. Whyshould bank managers carry guns? They slipped away quietly and went home. The carthat had taken them to the funeral was still waiting,but they preferred the open air.

Stormbreaker

At the same moment, the van shot off, the wheelsskidding over the surface of the road. Alex said nothing as Jack unlocked the door andlet them in, but while she went into the kitchen tomake some tea, he quickly looked around the house. A letter that had been on the hall table now lay on thecarpet. A door that had been half open was now. Somebody had been in the house. He was almost sureof it. The door to the office, which had always, always beenlocked, was now unlocked.

Alex opened it and wentin. The room was empty. Ian Rider had gone and sohad everything else. The desk drawers, the closets, theshelves. The bike was a Condor Junior Roadracer, custombuilt for him on his twelfth birthday.

He spun past a de-livery van and passed through the school gates. Hewould be sorry when he grew out of the bike. For twoyears now it had almost been part of him. He double locked it in the shed and went into theyard. He could have goneto any of the exclusive private schools around Chelsea,but Ian Rider had decided to send him here. He hadsaid it would be more of a challenge. The first period of the day was algebra. When Alex. Donovan,was already chalking up a complicated equation onthe board.

It was hot in the room, the sun streamingin through the floor-to-ceiling windows, put in by ar-chitects who should have known better. As Alex tookhis place near the back, he wondered how he was go-ing to get through the lesson. How could he possiblythink about algebra when there were so many otherquestions churning through his mind? The gun at the funeral.

The way Blunt had lookedat him. The empty office. And the biggest mystery of all,the one detail that refused to go away. The seat belt. But of course he had. Ian Rider had never beenone to give lectures. He had always said Alex shouldmake up his own mind about things. The more Alex thought aboutit, the less he believed it.

A collision in the middle ofthe city. Suddenly he wished he could see the car. Atleast the wreckage would tell him that the accidenthad really happened, that Ian Rider had really diedthat way.

Donovan had just asked him some-thing. He quickly scanned the blackboard, taking in thefigures. But actually I was just asking you toopen the window. Miss Bedfordshire had always had a soft spot for Alex. She knew Alex had lost a relative, but not how. He thought back to the van he had seen out-side his house on the day of the funeral. Of course it might just be a coincidence, but itwas still somewhere to start. He closed the book. Maybe it was hiseyes.

Dark and serious, there was something danger-ous there. Then the telephone rang and she forgot himas she went back to work. Thearea was enclosed by a high brick wall topped withbroken glass and razor wire.

Two wooden gates hungopen, and from the other side of the road, Alex couldsee a shed with a security window and beyond it thetottering piles of dead and broken cars.

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Everythingof any value had been stripped away and only the rust-ing carcasses remained, heaped one on top of theother, waiting to be fed into the crusher. There was a guard sitting in the shed, reading anewspaper. In the distance a bulldozer coughed intolife, then roared down on a battered Ford Taurus, itsmetal claw smashing through the window to scoop upthe vehicle and carry it away. A telephone rang some-where in the shed and the guard turned around to an-swer it.

That was enough for Alex. Holding his bikeand wheeling it along beside him, he sprinted throughthe gates. He found himself surrounded by dirt and debris.

The smell of diesel was thick in the air and the roar ofthe engines was deafening.

Alex watched as a craneswooped down on one of the cars, seized it in a metal-lic grip, and dropped it into a crusher. For a moment. Then the shelveslifted up, toppling the car over and down into atrough.

The operator—sitting in a glass cabin at oneend of the crusher—pressed a button and there wasa great belch of black smoke. The shelves closed in onthe car like a monster insect folding in its wings.

There was a grinding sound as the car was crusheduntil it was no bigger than a rolled-up carpet. Thenthe operator threw a gear and the car was squeezedout, metallic toothpaste being chopped up by a hid-den blade. The slices tumbled to the ground. Leaving his bike propped against the wall, Alex ranfarther into the yard, crouching down behind thewrecks.

With the din from the machines, there was nochance that anyone would hear him, but he was stillafraid of being seen. He stopped to catch his breath,drawing a grimy hand across his face. His eyes werewatering from the diesel fumes. The air was as filthyas the ground beneath him. He was beginning to regret coming—but then hesaw it.

At first glance it lookedabsolutely fine, the metallic silver bodywork not evenscratched. Certainly there was no way that this carcould have been involved in a fatal collision with a. Alex recognized the license plate. He hur-ried closer and it was now that he saw that the car wasdamaged after all. Alexmade his way around to the other side. And froze.

What hadkilled him was plain to see—even to someone whohad never seen such a thing before. Alex ran his fingers over the holes. The metal feltcold against his flesh. He opened the door andlooked inside. The front seats, pale gray leather,were strewn with fragments of broken glass andstained with patches of dark brown.

He could see everything. But why? Why kill a bank manager? And why hadthe murder been covered up? It was the police whohad delivered the news that night, so they must be partof it. Had they lied deliberately? None of it madesense. Doit now. Quickly he looked acrossthe steering wheel and out the other side. There weretwo of them, both dressed in loose-fitting overalls. At the fu-neral. One of them was the driver, the man he hadseen with the gun.

He was sure of it. Whoever they were, they were only a few pacesaway from the car, talking in low voices. Another fewsteps and they would be there. Without thinking, Alexthrew himself into the only hiding place available: Using his foot, he hooked the doorand closed it. At the same time, he became aware thatthe machines had started again and he could nolonger hear the men. Ashadow fell across the window as the two men passed.

But then they were gone. He was safe. And then something hit the BMW with such forcethat Alex cried out, his whole body caught in a mas-sive shock wave that tore him away from the steeringwheel and threw him helplessly into the back.

Theroof buckled and three huge metal fingers tore. One of the fingersgrazed the side of his head. Alex yelled as blood trickledover his eye. He tried to move, then was jerked backa second time as the car was yanked off the groundand tilted high up in the air. But his stom-ach lurched as the car swung in an arc, the metalgrinding and the light spinning.

The BMW had beenpicked up by the crane. It was going to be put insidethe crusher. With him inside. He tried to raise himself up, to wave through thewindows. But the claw of the crane had already flat-tened the roof, pinning his left leg, perhaps evenbreaking it. He could feel nothing. Even if the workmen werestaring at the BMW, they would never see anythingmoving inside. His short flight across the junkyard ended with abone-shattering crash as the crane deposited the caron the iron shelves of the crusher.

Alex tried to fightback his sickness and despair and think of what to do. Any moment now the operator would send the car. The machinewas a Lefort Shear, a slow-motion guillotine.

At thepress of a button, the two wings would close on the carwith a joint pressure of five hundred tons. The car,with Alex inside it, would be crushed beyond recogni-tion. And the broken metal—and flesh—would thenbe chopped into sections. Nobody would ever knowwhat had happened.

He tried with all his strength to free himself. Butthe roof was too low. His leg was trapped. Then hiswhole world tilted and he felt himself falling into dark-ness. The shelves had lifted. The BMW slid to oneside and fell the few yards into the trough.

Alex felt themetalwork collapsing all around him. The back win-dow exploded and glass showered around his head,dust and diesel fumes punching into his nose andeyes. There was hardly any daylight now, but lookingout of the back, he could see the huge steel head ofthe piston that would push what was left of the carthrough the exit hole on the other side. The engine tone of the Lefort Shear changed asit prepared for the final act.

The metal wings shud-dered. Alex pulled with all his strength and was aston-. It took him perhaps asecond—one precious second—to work out whathad happened. When the car had fallen into thetrough, it had landed on its side.

Stormbreaker (Alex Rider)

The roof had buck-led again just enough to free him. His hand scrabbledfor the door—but, of course, that was useless. Thedoors were too bent. They would never open. Theback window! With the glass gone, he could crawlthrough the frame, but only if he moved fast. The wings began to move. The BMW screamedas two walls of solid steel relentlessly crushed it. Moreglass shattered. One of the wheel axles snappedwith the sound of a thunderbolt.

Darkness began toclose in. Alex grabbed hold of what was left of the backseat. Ahead of him he could see a single triangle of light,shrinking faster and faster. He could feel the weightof the two walls pressing down on him. The car wasno longer a car but the fist of some hideous monstersnatching at the insect that Alex had become.

With all his strength, he surged forward. Hisshoulders passed through the triangle, out into thelight. Next came his legs, but at the last moment hisshoe caught on a piece of jagged metal. He jerked andthe shoe was pulled off, falling back into the car. Finally,clinging to the black, oily surface of the observationplatform at the back of the crusher, he dragged him-self clear and managed to stand up. He found himself face-to-face with a man so fatthat he could barely fit into the small cabin of thecrusher.

A cig-arette dangled on his lower lip as his mouth fell openand his eyes stared. What he saw was a boy in the ragsof what had once been a school uniform. A wholesleeve had been torn off and his arm, streaked withblood and oil, hung limply by his side. By the time theoperator had taken this all in, come to his senses, andturned the machine off, the boy had gone. Alex clambered down the side of the crusher, land-ing on the one foot that still had a shoe.

He was awarenow of the pieces of jagged metal lying everywhere. His bicycle was where he had left it, leaning againstthe wall, and gingerly, half hopping, he made for it. At thesame time a second man ran forward, stopping be-tween Alex and his bike. It was the driver, the man. His face, twisted into ahostile frown, was curiously ugly: His hand slidinto his jacket. Alex remembered the gun and, in-stantly, without even thinking, swung into action. He had started learning karate when he was sixyears old.

One afternoon, with no explanation, IanRider had taken him to a local club for his first les-son and he had been going there, once a week, eversince. Over the years he had passed through the var-ious Kyu—student grades. But it was only the yearbefore that he had become a first-grade Dan, a blackbelt.

When he had arrived at Brookland School, hisgentle looks and accent had quickly brought him tothe attention of the school bullies; three hulkingsixteen-year-olds.

They had cornered him once be-hind the bike shed.

The encounter lasted less than aminute. The next day one of the bullies had leftBrookland, and the other two had never troubled any-one again. Now Alex brought up one leg, twisted his bodyaround, and lashed out. The back kick—Ushirogeri—is said to be the most lethal in karate. His eyes bulgedand his mouth half opened in surprise. Then, with hishand still halfway into his jacket, he crumpled to theground.

Alex jumped over him, snatched up his bike, andswung himself onto it. In the distance a third man wasrunning toward him. Then there was a crack and a bul-let whipped past. Alex gripped the handlebars andpedaled as hard as he could. The bike shot forward,over the rubble and out through the gates.

He tookone look over his shoulder. Nobody had followed him. With one shoe on and one shoe off, his clothes inrags, and his body streaked with oil, Alex knew hemust look a strange sight.

But then he thought backto his last seconds inside the crusher and sighed withrelief. He could be looking a lot worse. Do you remember me? Personnel manager at the Royal and General. We werewondering if you could come in. We need to talk to you. She was cooking breakfast for the two of them,. She hadonly her own money to download food and pay for the run-ning of the house. Worse still, her visa was about toexpire. Jack had enough onher mind.

Hefound the bank easily enough. There was a brass plaque with the name next to themain door and a security camera swiveling slowly overthe pavement. Alex stopped in front of it. For a moment he won-dered if he was making a mistake, going in. But why would anyonefrom the bank want to kill him? He went inside. And in an office on the seventeenth floor, the im-age on the television monitor flickered and changedas Street Camera 1 smoothly cut across to Recep-tion Cameras 2 and 3.

Everything was dark andshadowy inside. A man sitting behind a desk saw Alexcome in and pressed a button. She had a strange, potato-shaped head andher black hair looked as if it had been cut using a pairof blunt scissors and an upturned bowl.

Her eyes werealmost as black as her hair. She was dressed in a se-vere gray suit and was sucking a peppermint. Alan Blunt nodded. Quite sure. Youknow what to do? The driver was standing uncomfortably, slightlyhunched over.

His face was a chalky white. He hadbeen like that ever since he had tried to stop Alex inthe auto junkyard. His eyes never left thescreen. In the lobby, Alex had asked for John Crawley andwas sitting on a leather sofa, vaguely wondering whyso few people were going in or out.

The reception areawas quiet and claustrophobic, with a brown marblefloor, three elevators to one side, and above the desk,a row of clocks showing the time in every major worldcity. But it could have been the entrance to anywhere. A hospital. A concert hall.

Even a cruise liner. Theplace had no identity of its own. One of the elevators slid open and Crawley ap-peared in the same suit he had worn at the funeral butwith a different tie. He ges-tured.

Nordid he see the thermal intensifier next to the camera. But this second machine both looked at him and. Inless than the time it took Alex to blink, the machinehad passed its information down to a computer thathad instantly evaluated and then sent its own signalback to the circuits that controlled the elevator.

Continue to the fifteenth floor. A series of doors werepunctuated by brightly colored abstract paintings. They had passed three doors when Alex stopped. Each door had a nameplate and this one he knew. Ian Rider. White letters on black plastic.

Crawley nodded sadly. This was where youruncle worked. Crawley seemed surprised.A gun at a funeral, Alex thought. Perfect for a boring executive.

But he also knew from the tone of their voices. A lawyer who knew noth-ing about any will but seemed to have been chargedwith organizing the funeral.

The two of them had al-ways been close. White letters on black plastic.