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Three generations of Malone’s farmed the land of Aberdeen until a rich billionaire used money and influence to grab land he needed to build a golf resort.
When Ian Malone is called home from Africa to bury his father and grandmother, he discovers the true cause of their sudden deaths.
He will find those responsible or die trying.
The cloud cover over Aberdeen International Airport was minimal as the 727 began its initial landing approach, making a slow turn over the North Sea and the hundreds of natural sand dunes along the shore line.
The lone occupant could see the farm animals dotting the countryside, running with gay abandon as the sun began to rise. A few tractors were moving slowly across the fields as the local farmers were beginning another day’s routine. April was the beginning of the warm season with rainfall only averaging about 30% in a given week.
Most farmers supplemented their incomes with salmon fishing in small two-man boats. They too were now being launched as the private jet touched down and taxied silently to a waiting hangar. A small groundcrew made the necessary preparations and moved a portable stair into position. Normally when the MacLeod jet arrived anywhere in the world, a group of local dignitaries were waiting to lavish the warmest of greetings. Today would be different.
Donald MacLeod was flying under the radar, so to speak. This visit was strictly business and meant to be known to only a few key people…. the mayor, the police chief and the lead contractor that would be running the many crews involved in the project. Next week Donald’s oldest son Steven would fly in from Manhattan to attend the official ribbon-cutting and meet with the press. Donald and his attorneys anticipated a loud and vocal response from the environmentalists and Steven had a much better grasp on his emotions than his volatile father. Their dream of building the greatest golf course the world had ever seen was about to become a reality.
Donald’s team estimated the final cost to complete this massive project would exceed 1 billion pounds. This included paying off various layers of government and recruiting the police to provide security. By the time the locals got wind of what was happening it would be too late. He would secure what he couldn’t purchase via “Compulsory Purchase Orders”, a form of Eminent Domain that Donald had used successfully in the States. He was constantly amazed how people of great wealth can bend the rules.
* * *
Molly Malone had spent every day of her 92 years on the family farm. Her only son, Michael, had an adjacent farm and continued the family tradition of living off the land. His son Ian (Molly’s only grandchild) marched to a different drummer, earning a degree in Zoology at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen before joining The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Royal Highlanders had a distinguished record of service going back to 1881.
Ian earned distinction as a marksman, leading to sniper training which he put to lethal use in “C” Company, 5th Battalion. There was no official record of the number of kills he achieved in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the NATO forces, but there were many who witnessed his gallantry on June 24, 2009 during Operation Panther’s Claw.
After a number of engagements with Taliban insurgents, the soldiers of the battalion secured three main crossing points over the Nahr-e-Burgha canal. This operation established a firm foothold in what was the last remaining Taliban area controlled in the southern Helmand Province. Ian Malone saved countless lives by killing enemies blocking the path of the advancing NATO forces. Upon his return home, he pledged to never take another life, human or animal, for country or sport.
During down time in Afghanistan, Ian saw numbers of snow leopard skins hanging in many of the stalls in the Kabul market area. This cat is the last of the large predators still living in this mountainous region and seeing them destroyed broke his heart. This led him to develop a keen interest in big cats and conservation efforts to protect the most endangered species.
Upon his discharge and return home, Ian made a sincere effort to adapt to the life of a farmer and fisherman. His father had every reason to expect his son to assume management and eventually, ownership of both his and Molly’s farm. After six months, it was clear to Ian and his father that he was looking for more than a rural existence could provide.
He decided to use his education, both formal and practical, to become a hunting guide and conservationist and sought his future in South Africa. His mission was to document and deter poaching and film the majestic cats for use in educating children around the world. Robert Gordon University provided him with a research grant and he was on his way.
* * *
As promised, the week after Donald MacLeod’s initial visit to Aberdeen, his son arrived to a greeting fit for the prominent dignitary that he believed he was. A motorcade sped from the airport to the luxurious Marcliffe Hotel and Spa, a stone’s throw from the campus of Robert Gordon University. This 40-room estate, considered the finest hotel in all of Aberdeen, offered a degree of elegance similar to what the MacLeod’s offered in their own hotels.
A welcoming dinner was arranged in the ballroom which was soon filled with prominent members of government and industry. In this neck of the woods, a 1-billion-pound investment was something to talk about. The local press hoped to have an opportunity to ask questions of the celebrated guest, but all such requests were declined, with assurances that a press conference would follow the ribbon cutting ceremony the following day.
The following morning Molly Malone made her usual rounds of the chicken coops in search of eggs to be consumed for breakfast. Once her basket was filled, she grabbed a hose to fill the water troughs. She turned the faucet handle, but nothing came out. Strange, she thought, but before calling her son she went back to the house to see if she could get water at the sink. The house had no water either. No water for the toilets and none to wash dishes or bathe in. Time to call Michael.
“Michael, I have no water,” she said as her son tried to wake up. “Does your water work?” she continued.
“Hold on Ma…let me check,” he answered before putting the phone down and walking to the bathroom sink. He had no water either.
“No water here either, Ma. Let me get dressed and drive to the well. Must be a broken pipe.” He dressed quickly and jumped into his old pickup truck for the short drive to the well location at the northern edge of his farm. During the past week a procession of heavy equipment began to arrive and a major construction project was clearly in the works although no one knew the details.
The dirt road leading to the well was rarely used but this particular morning there were numerous trucks stationed near the well location and two local police cars were idling nearby. When the lead constable recognized Michael, he walked up and blocked his path to the well pump. “Morning Michael. What’s on your mind this morning?”
“Morning”, Michael replied. “Seems we have no water and I need to take a look and see if a pipe may have been broken by all this equipment digging around my property.” The constable stood his ground.
“This might not be a good time to get in the middle of this. I’ll have the construction supervisor take a look and give you a call.”
“It’s my fucking land and my fucking well so please step aside so I can inspect the damage and get it fixed. Can’t run a farm without water for the stock.” Michael began to push aside the constable, a classic mistake we often make with the police. He was greeted by the business end of a billy club and went down in a heap.