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The Fox – an Excerpt

Most weapons do what you tell them. Most weapons you can control. But what if the most dangerous weapon in the world isn’t a smart missile or a stealth submarine or even an AI computer programme? What if it’s a 17-year-old boy with a blisteringly brilliant mind, who can run rings around the most sophisticated security services across the globe, who can manipulate that weaponry and turn it against the superpowers themselves?
Here is an excerpt from Frederick Forsyth’s new book, The Fox, a race-against-time thriller that goes across continents to find and capture, or protect and save, an asset with the means to change the balance of world power. Whatever happens he must not fall into the wrong hands. Because what follows after that is unthinkable…

No one saw them. No one heard them. They were not supposed to. The black-clad Special Forces soldiers slipped unseen through the pitch-dark night towards the target house.
In most town and city centres there is always a glimmer of light, even in deepest night, but this was the outer suburb of an English provincial town and all public lighting had ceased at one in the morning. This was the darkest hour, 2 a.m. A solitary fox watched them pass but instinct bade him not interfere with fellow hunters. No house lights broke the gloom.
They encountered two single humans, both on foot, both drunk after late-night partying with friends. The soldiers melted into gardens and shrubbery, disappearing black on black, until the wanderers had stumbled towards their homes.
They knew exactly where they were, having studied the streets and the target house in intimate detail for many hours. The pictures had been taken by cruising cars and overhead drones. Much enlarged and pinned to the wall of
the briefing room at Stirling Lines, the headquarters of the SAS outside Hereford, the images had been memorized to the last stone and kerb. The soft-booted men did not trip or stumble.
There were a dozen of them, and they included two Americans, inserted at the insistence of the US team that had installed itself in the embassy in London. And there were two from the British SRR, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, a unit even more clandestine than the SAS and the SBS, the Special Air Service and the Special Boat Service respectively. The authorities had elected to use the SAS, known simply as ‘the Regiment’.
One of the two from the SRR was a woman. The Americans presumed this was to establish gender equality. It was the reverse. Observation had revealed that one of the inhabitants of the target house was female and even the British hard squads try to observe a little gallantry. The point of the presence of the SRR, sometimes referred to in the club as ‘Her Majesty’s burglars’, was to practise one of their many skill sets – covert entry.
The mission was not only to enter and subdue the target house and its denizens but to ensure they were not seen by any watcher inside and that no one escaped. They approached from all angles, appeared simultaneously around the garden fence, front, back and sides, crossed the garden and ringed the house, still unseen and unheard by neighbour or inhabitant.
No one heard the slight squeak of the diamond-tipped glass cutter as it described a neat circle in a kitchen window, nor the low crack as the disc was removed with a suction pad. A gloved hand came through the hole and unlatched the window. A black figure climbed over the sill into the sink, jumped quietly to the floor and opened the back door. The team slipped in.
Though they had all studied the architect’s plan, filed with the registry when the house was built, they still used head- mounted night-vision goggles (NVGs) in case of owner-installed obstructions or even booby- traps. They began with the ground f loor, moving from room to room to confirm there were no sentries or sleeping figures, trip wires or silent alarms.
After ten minutes the team leader was satisfied and with a nod of his head led a single- file column of five up the narrow staircase of what was evidently a very ordinary detached four- bedroom
family home. The two Americans, increasingly bewildered, remained below. This was not the way they would have subdued a thoroughly dangerous nest of terrorists. Such a house invasion back home would have involved several magazines of ammunition by now. Clearly, the Limeys were pretty weird.
Those below heard startled exclamations from above. These quickly ceased. After ten more minutes of muttered instructions the team leader uttered his first report. He did not use internet or cellphone – interceptible – but old-fashioned encrypted radio. ‘Target subdued,’ he said softly. ‘Inhabitants four. Await sunrise.’ Those who listened to him knew what would happen next. It had all been pre-planned and rehearsed.

To find out what happens next, grab a copy of Frederick Forsyth’s The FoxFor more posts like this, follow Penguin India on Facebook!

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