- Author: James Samuel
Book online «Overthrow (A James Winchester Thriller Book 2) (James Winchester Series) James Samuel (reading tree TXT) 📖». Author James Samuel
A James Winchester Thriller Book Two
Copyright © James Samuel 2021
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Sihanoukville, Preah Sihanouk Province, Cambodia
Dark plots stalked the streets of Sihanoukville. The sleepy town of Sihanoukville on Cambodia’s south coast once welcomed Western backpackers looking to discover pristine beaches and a relaxed way of life. Sihanoukville had changed.
Glaring neon signs shined from Chinese casinos dominating the town. Enormous Edens of gambling, hotels, and restaurants stamped upon the dreams and ambitions of the local Khmer.
The streets swarmed with Chinese tourists and the Khmer soldiers protecting their interests. The Khmer, who had lived in Sihanoukville for generations, now worked for their overlords, living only to serve. Those who resisted the incursion ate not even the scraps from their banquet tables.
In the back room of the Lucky Dragon Casino, Shao Fen sat cross-legged on a silk cushion. He curled his toes as he straightened his back. Oolong tea was served by deferential Chinese waiters in a room hung with red silks. Shao bit into a piece of dried beef. The salty taste splashed across his tongue. He made no outward signs of pleasure.
“Mr. Howser,” said Shao in perfect English. “I appreciate your organisation’s help with this matter. Our work with the Central Committee can no longer be kept private. This has caused us grave problems with Prime Minister Hun Sen.”
Hun Sen ruled Cambodia with an iron fist. He had ruled the country for years and had always been a friend to China, until recently. The prime minister appeared determined to support the Cambodian nationalists in their anti-Chinese views. It had come as a great shock to his masters in Beijing.
American Dylan Howser sat awkwardly on another cushion opposite, with only the gongfu tea table separating them. “Thank you, Mr. Fen. But I came here to tell you that we have a problem. A big problem.”
Shao sipped at his tea, maintaining a vacant expression. He hated Westerners. Westerners only wanted to tell people about problems. Such negative people.
“Xiphos Security will continue to support you and your business interests in Cambodia, but the problem is Sen has called in Blackwind to protect him. It’s going to be tough to pull this off.”
“Are they a problem?” asked Shao.
“Sure, they’re a problem. Blackwind is one of our major competitors. If they’re working for the other side, that’s a big problem. Right now, I don’t know whether they’re protecting Sen or whether they’re planning to go on the offensive. The naval base here isn’t ready to start accepting Chinese battleships, is it?”
Shao popped a couple of nuts into his mouth and chewed on them thoughtfully. It was true that the Ream Naval Base near Sihanoukville hadn’t yet carried out the necessary work to accommodate Chinese warships into the region. The base would be vulnerable, but he didn’t believe for a second Sen would risk open conflict with Beijing by acting on its weaknesses.
“Mr. Howser, you worry too much. Our operations in Sihanoukville and the wider region are assured. Your only obligation is to protect the military and ensure the coup moves as planned.”
“But if Blackwind sends their field agents here, it could ruin everything. Plus, we have General Somnang to think about. We thought he was working for Sen, and our intelligence has proven that.”
Shao remained unmoved by the problems Dylan had outlined. He’d spent the last six months working out every possible kink in his plan. Sen would fall. It was only a matter of when.
“Mr. Howser, General Somnang is a Khmer nationalist and extremely loyal to Hun Sen. It is true he opposes the Chinese presence in Cambodia.”
“Then you understand, Mr. Fen? With Blackwind’s agents and some support from the Cambodian army, it might compromise our plan. General Somnang could stop the coup.”
“Not at all, Mr. Howser.”
The American looked taken aback. “Mr. Fen?”
Shao gestured to a waiter and commanded him in Chinese to bring in the special surprise. He’d already predicted that the Xiphos man would work himself into a flap.
“We need to update our plan, Mr. Fen.”
Shao paid no attention to Dylan as another door opened and two waiters entered. A bound and gagged General Somnang struggled between them. The general still wore his military uniform, but they’d stripped him of any indication of rank and his boots to humiliate him.
Shao motioned down with his palm and the waiters forced him to his knees at the side of the table. Bruises and welts covered Somnang’s head, neck, and arms. His eyes spoke of defeat, his spirit broken by his captivity over the past two weeks.
“The how is not important. All that matters is that Somnang will not be causing us any further problems. He is the last nationalist leader within the high command of the Cambodian army.”
“Well… that’s great. Saves us a lot of problems.”
Shao nodded and, once again, motioned to a waiter. The waiter nodded and returned with a sharpened blade. He saw the faces