Thailand for any trace of Kurtz. At least three expats had remembered the tall blonde-haired German but no one knew where he’d gone. Aleks pushed the empty glass away. “One more.” The Thai flashed him a toothless grin and sloshed in more vodka. Aleks sighed and let his broad shoulders drop before he tipped back the glass. “More?” the man asked. He shook his head. The alcohol took the edge off his stress but last thing he wanted was to get drunk. He already felt guilty about leaving the Critical Assault Team. Kruger was a capable leader but the CAT was his responsibility. Being intoxicated would just make that guilt worse. He needed to focus on finding Kurtz and getting him back to the team. The pair had often discussed where life would have taken them had it not been for PRIMAL. Kurtz had always said if he hadn't fallen in with the vigilante group he would have ended up in South East Asia rescuing young girls from sex slavery. He felt an arm snake around his waist and turned to face a moon-faced girl with long black hair. She winked at him. “Hey mister, you seem sad. I bet I could make you smile.” He reached into his pocket and took out a photo of Kurtz. “Have you seen this man?” She studied the photo and shook her head. “No, but if you want I can do a special deal for two.” “No, thank you.” He paid the bartender and walked out into the throng of tourists exploring the nightlife of Bangla road. He wasn't sure where to go now. He had visited most of the go-go bars and spoken to everyone involved in rescuing children. “Come on, big boy. I could make you so happy.” The girl from the bar had followed him out to the street. He stopped at a vendor selling coconuts and bought one. “You want?” he asked the girl. “No, I've got my own right here.” She pushed her breasts together to form a deep cleavage. He laughed and paid for two coconuts. The vendor hacked a triangle out of each green husk with a machete, popped in straws, and passed them over. Aleks gave one to the girl. “See, you like me.” She fluttered her eyelids. “No, you have it wrong. I think if you’re drinking coconut you’ll be quiet.” “You aren’t like the other Russians around here. Are you just searching for your friend?” “Yes.” “Have you tried where you last saw him?” She slurped coconut juice through the straw. Aleks sighed. “No, he won't go back there.” “What about his family. Has he gone home?” He’d already thought about that. It was his next port of call, a final lead that he had not wanted to use. Kurtz had left his parents’ address on file, as his next of kin and sole beneficiaries, but Aleks knew the German had not visited them during his time in PRIMAL. It would probably be a dead end and rub salt into wounds not yet healed. He pulled out his wallet and took out a hundred baht note. Pressing it into the girl’s hand, he turned and stepped onto the street to hail a cab. It was time to book tickets to Germany.
Kruger scanned the jungle through his dual-sensor fused night vision goggles. He had chosen to ditch his full-face helmet in favor of a lighter, and cooler, head harness. Despite being the early hours of the morning, the air was stifling and humid. The trees were alive with the screech of insects and god knows what else. The jungle was the South African’s least favorite operating environment. The six-foot-five former Recce sergeant was much happier in the African bush. At least there you had a chance to see the animal trying to kill you. “You boys got anything?” he whispered into his throat mike. “Negative,” replied Miklos. The Czech was patrolling to his left. Through the state-of-the-art night vision goggles he appeared in shades of red and orange against the monochrome backdrop of the jungle. “Nothing, comrade,” confirmed Pavel from the right where he trained a suppressed MK48 machine gun down a slope that ran