il y a
10 min
Sweat ran down his back in rivulets. Situations like this always made him sweat.
He chanced another glance behind him. No one in sight. He faced ahead again and tightened his grip on the gun. It had been a gift from the Captain upon his promotion last year. He knew it as well as his own hand. Cap had said to use it only for justice, and he was planning on it.
He moved forward, constantly looking for anything out of the ordinary. No movement except for his own.
He stopped.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. They had planned on rendezvousing with an entire SWAT hit team here and so far, he hadn’t seen or heard a soul.
A sound.
The faintest of sounds in the background.
A clicking.
Great, a bomb. Just what he needed without a team or a superior. Your not gonna make it through this one.
Move, man, move!
He shook off the feeling of doom and started forward, step by step.
Around the corner.
Down the hallway.
Stop. Breathe.
Keep moving, right, through the door.
Straight across the room.
Under an arch.
A gun shot!
He jumped back behind the doorway as another two slugs thudded into the opposite wall.
Great. Okay, keep calm.
Pause, Collect, Return.
He whirled into the open, fired off three rounds in the general direction of the shots and dove for the arch across the hall.
Just in time.
Three more bullets smacked into the wall.
I missed
I’ve gotta see who I’m fighting!
He reached into his inside breast pocket. He still had Rachel’s compact he had gotten from her condo. He took it out and unfolded it. Reaching very slowly, he stretched out his arm and looked around the corner. A figure, nothing but black. No identifiers, though definitely not NSA.
He slipped the compact back into his pocket, jumped out again and emptied his clip, at the same time seeing the figure throw something.
A knife.
Keep moving!
He ran through the archway, spun around, and smashed the emergency lock down switch. The door slid shut with a clang.
He felt the floor shake.
An explosion. It had been a grenade.
Oh man, that was too close.
I gotta get outa here, I can’t do this without backup.
Pause, Collect, Return.
No, not return, run!
Well, he wasn’t doing this without being a little prepared. He reloaded his gun from a spare clip on his belt.
Just in case.
Ok, there had to be another exit out of this place.
He walked slowly around the parameter of the semi-circular room. It looked like a command center, not the office they were looking for here. Maybe he could get some kind of map from one of the computer stations. But first, secure the area. Their was only one other entrance, on the opposite side of the room, another simple switch.
Now for the computers. He holstered his sidearm and sat down at the nearest station. Program: Nebuchudnezzar, Access Codes Required.
Oh boy. Lets see, I wish I had John here now, he’s a wizard at this kind of stuff.
He typed in Apple Pie.
My favorite dish.
Beep: Error.
Go figure. Something a little more serious this time. What would they use? Hmm...
Tenasian. Beep: Error.
Man! I don’t know how many tries I get but its probably not many more. Think, think. Maybe, but no...
Heel. Beep: Password Accepted.
Run program: Blue prints. Spec: Geonosis Center. It brought up a complex three storied map. Wait, three stories? The Center was only supposed to have... Oh yeah, they were in the secret third floor underground.
In the public eye the Geonosis building was a center for official government biological research. It was headed up by a privately funded scientist named Dr. James Fletcher. The higher ups had just learned of its real uses only recently, thats why he was here.
And still stuck.
Okay, Zoom in. Search: Air System. Searching... Gotcha.
A vent ran straight from the main unit to this room and then branched off onto other corridors and offices.
He logged out and wiped down the keyboard, force of habit.
He looked around, and saw a circular vent about a foot from the ceiling on the far end of the room. He jogged over to it and jumped. Too high.
I’ve got to get something to stand on.
He ran back over two the station and grabbed the chair. He rolled it across the room where it stopped under the vent. He stepped up.
Kinda wobbly.
Now that he was closer, he could see the cover was secured with four screws.
Junk! Oh, there I go again. Where in the world am I gonna get a screw driver? Wait.
He reached into his pocket and took out a Swiss army knife. A gift from his father before he disappeared. An inscription: To my son, from Dad.
He flipped out the phillips and snorted. Ironic.
It only took four quick turns each. He pocketed the screws and set the grate on the floor. No point in being unnecessarily loud. He didn’t know what Mr. Black was up to but whatever it was, it couldn’t be good.
He lifted himself up into the round vent. The chair kicked back toward the desk and he was left hanging there.
Come on boy, use those biceps you’ve worked so hard for.
He pulled himself up and in. Tight fit. Thought just enough room to crawl and draw if necessary.
Now, if the print was correct, the office would be up ahead on the right, and then a left.
He crawled on, trying to be as quiet as possible though sometimes scraping the metal with his holster. The farther he went, the darker it was, they didn’t design this for people to be crawling through. After a turn, their was a light up ahead.
The other grate. Gonna have to smash this one out. The time for subtlety is over.
Just then, he heard heavy footsteps.
He’s found me.
They stopped somewhere in the hallway beneath him. A gunshot blasted in his ears.
Blinding pain. My hand! I’m dead, gotta get out of here! Create a diversion.
Slowly, ever so slowly, he reached his bleeding hand into his pocket and brought out Rachel’s mirror. He threw it as hard as he could ahead of him through the shaft.
The footsteps took off running the other way.
Save your hand, save yourself.
He would have to wait for the hand, he could barely move in here.
Pause, Collect, Return.
Okay, Mr. Black had to know where he was trying to get. So do the unexpected.
Go to the main room.
The idea came unbidden to his mind but when he thought about it, it wasn’t that bad of a plan. He could hide there and figure out his next move.
He turned around and started inching himself forward, still trying to remain completely silent. Just as he rounded another corner, a klaxon sounded.
Oh no! What in the world is going on?
He felt a slight breeze on his back.
A breeze? The system shouldn’t be running right now.
But sure enough, there was a steady breeze coming through the vent. He found it harder to breathe.
He’s sucking all the air out of the vents. Hurry.
He started using his elbows to move himself forward in the confined space. His breath came in short gasps as he tried to ignore the searing pain that was running up his arm.
You can make it.
The light grew dimmer as he went on.
Something’s wrong with this end of the system. Its gone dark.
He had to find another way out. The klaxon warning sound was still wailing, up and down.
There. On the right. In the dim light, he could see another grate, this one smaller.
No screws, I gotta kick it in.
It was getting even harder to draw a breath.
He spun around the best he could, swiveling his torso so that his legs were positioned by the grate. He kicked with all his might. His feet smashed through and the grate fell with a soft thud.
He swivelled again and started to crawl through, as a wave of fresh air washed over him.
It had landed on a small pile of padding.
What luck.
The padding was on a cat walk that wrapped around the room containing the air system.
Must have been left overs from some kind of restoration or something.
He crawled over the pile, and stood up. Lightheadedness swept over him. He grabbed the railing.
Whoa, easy. Gotta take care of this hand.
No time.
I don’t know if blacky knows I’m here. That grate was awful loud when I hit it.
He wasn’t taking any chances. He steadied himself and reached for the gun. A fresh wave of pain washed over him. It had been dulled in the panic but now came back with a vengeance. He winced and had to suppress a cry.
What pain! I haven’t had so much since I got shot in ‘93.
Ok, forget that idea.
He stooped down, rolled up his right pant leg, and pulled out a buck knife. Also a gift, though this time from his team, not the Captain. It was lightweight, the handle made of a non-slip black rubber, fit to the hand.
He threw it up and caught it in the air.
Good balance. Just like always.
Now, the units controls should be around here some where so he’s not far away.
He crouched and started around the cat walk.
He saw a shadow.
Not to worry, its just a shadow.
It moved.
Shadows don’t move. He’s already in the room. Get down!
He dropped onto the grated metal as quietly as possible. The shadow froze right where it was. He tried to breathe shallow so he wouldn’t be heard. His lungs burned for air.
I cant take this. Its not like swimming. I need oxygen.
He sucked in blessed mouthfuls of air. The shadow moved again. Shots rang out, and sparks flew from the catwalk as it was hit.
You’ve got to get out of here, your gonna get shot again!
He jumped up and dove over the railing onto the unit in the center. His fingers found a ledge on top of the air inhalator.
He didn’t see me, please don’t let him have seen me.
He couldn’t hear anything besides the continuous clanging of the alarm, hanging there by one hand.
He had to move, his fingers were slowly slipping. He reached a leg around the corner and found another ledge, about knee high. In one move, he swung around the unit and used his motion to get closer to the other side.
That’s better, I can actually hang on to it.
He slowly shuffled his feet so he was turned around and facing the room.
Now, where’d he go. Gotta keep him in sight.
The black figure slowly walked into view, gun still trained on the catwalk above.
He’s still looking for me. Come on, keep your back to me.
The figure turned, ever so slightly, away, still looking.
He dropped through the air, knife extended. He landed on his assailants shoulders feeling the blade sink into his back, severing the spinal cord. He rode the man all the way down to the floor, then jumped back.
No movement. A clean kill.
I just killed a man.
No problem, you’ve killed people before.
Yes, but not like this. Never this personally, it was always through a scope not a cruel game of cat and mouse.
What was done, needed to be for the sake of justice, and is done.
Yes. It is done. Now, for that office...

I awoke to the rude sound of my alarm buzzing. 6:59 AM. Uhh. If I had known what lay ahead of me that day I would’ve rolled over and gone back to sleep. Instead I got up, reset the alarm, and headed downstairs. I lived in a two story house on Fourth Street, not the best in Lakeshore, but not the worst either. As I headed into the kitchen, I realized how cold my ceramic floor was. It was already early fall, I would have to fix the heater soon.
I turned on the coffee maker by the stove and picked up my recharged phone. Two missed calls, Mike, and Theresa. Hmm.
I hit the send button and waited while it rang.
“This is Ramber.”
“Mike, this is Titus.”
“Good morning, Sir”
“Is it? Anything happen last night?”
“Nothing worth mentioning. A couple had their house broken into on Brady Lane, but I don’t think it’s the guys were looking for.”
“Ten four. And thanks for pulling this shift, I couldn’t ask Laura to stay any longer after what happened yesterday.”
“Yes sir, no problem. I’ll see you at the office.”
“Yeah, Ill be there. Go get some sleep Mike.”
“Yes sir! Goodnight.”
I chuckled, “goodnight.”
I set down the phone and began to empty the dishwasher. I had been ignoring the small household jobs that needed to be done for the past few weeks. Just yesterday the unit had finally gotten a breakthrough on one of the cases and acted on the information from an insider. There was only one federal wound from the raid, and some very shaken up home-owners.

An hour and three cups of coffee later, I straightened my tie in the mirror by the front door. Uncomfortable as they were, it was important to maintain a look of professionalism in my line of work.
A little too long, but good enough. Now where’d I put my keys?
After searching through each of my jackets, I found them on the coffee table in the den. Figures.
I walked out and used the remote to unlock my Explorer. Again, not the classiest ride out there, but definitely not cheap. And it rode good for chasing down the bad guys. The news anchor was talking about what a dreary day it was looking to be, find things inside to do, a museum, or puzzle.
Great day to catch up on some much-needed paper work.
Little did I know I would be in no mood for paperwork by the end of the day.

“Late again.”
I smiled at my secretary as I unlocked my office door. “You should be used to it by now, Lynda; I’ve been late every other day this year.” It was very hard to keep her and Laura straight from each other, even though they’d both been there for years and looked nothing alike.
I was still getting used to the size of my office, but it came with the promotion and I wasn’t going anywhere, so Id better just learn to like it. I went in and opened the shades, inwardly groaning at the amount of memos on my computer screen. So much for a relaxing day.
“Titus! Call on line one!?”
“Whatever happened to using the intercom in this place? Didn’t it cost three thousand to put it?”
She just shrugged and pointed at the phone.
I sighed. Some people.
“This is Agent Blair, how can I help you.”
“Titus, its Mike. Before I got to bed, I thought I should tell you, nothing happened last night after you left. But I did notice that the analyst from Corporate never came back like she said she would.”
“Pam? Peggy,” I corrected myself, glancing at the card sitting on my desk.
“Yeah, Peggy, she never showed.”
“So what? You know those Fed types, they say one thing and do something else, she’ll be back today, don’t worry about it.”
“Righto, just thought you’d like to know.”
“Thanks for the heads up, now get some sleep”
I hung up and sat down in my chair. It was a nice one, black leather, with an adjustable head rest. One of the few comforts I allowed myself to splurge on with the budget. Speaking of...
I reached for a report in my tray that Lynda had placed there the previous day. The outcome for the branch was over a thousand dollars the allotted budget last month.
Well, that’s retarded.
I pressed the intercom button, “Lynda, could you come in here please?”
That woman had to learn to use her inside voice.
She walked in with some papers, and smirked.
“What?” I was irked that she could find something so comical this early in the morning. I was not a morning person.
“Nice tie.”
I looked down. I had picked out a conservative purple tie with diagonal stripes. I looked back up, “What’s wrong with it?”
She ignored me and handed another memo over.
“It’s from Jimmy, the basic rundown on their branch.”
“Thanks, hey, do you know why we were over so much last month?”
“Budget?” She laughed. “I keep telling people to save the paper and sharpen their pencils less, but do they listen to me? No.” She laughed again and walked out.
Wow, she was one strange cookie, especially today. But you wouldn’t want to get in a scrap with her; she had the top record for sighting at the academy. She could stop a charging bear at fifty yards and she wasn’t even in the field.
I grinned at the irony and started through the rundown. Mostly day-to-day stuff, goals, aims, budget, promotions, and that was it. Wait a minute, that was it? I had asked Jim, James to those who wanted to get on his nerves, for an eval on the sniper situation.
For the past several months, an unknown hit man had been taking out seemingly unrelated targets all up and down the east coast. The Ghost, one writer had dubbed him. A freak of nature that needed to die, in my opinion. It had little to do with my opinions however, we had an Admin board to decided that stuff. The case wasnt even our jurisdiction because he hadn’t hit close to here. Not yet, anyway.
I picked up the receiver and hit the speed dial labeled JB. James Brown. You couldn’t get any more American sounding than that besides maybe John Smith. It rang four times, then skipped to his voicemail. I hung up.

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