Thursday, May 18, 2017

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(Book 3, The KNIGHT Brothers)

   2017 Rhonda Lee Carver
Copyright 2017 Rhonda Lee Carver
All rights reserved

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This work is fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue in this work are from the author’s imagination and creation. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, dead or alive, is completely coincidental.

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Seth Knight, also known as Dark Knight, stared through the rain scattered window of the Humvee. He attempted to block out the conversation in the backseat between Lieutenant Scarborough and Sargent Lafferty. They were bickering over which breed of dog was fiercer, Boxers or German Shepherds. Seth used his binoculars to watch the door of the dilapidated building where terrorist, Josef Torsev was huddled up in hiding. Drones operated by government surveillance agencies had tracked the Syrian guerilla to this location two days ago, and special ops were called in to capture the man who was on the top most-wanted list. The team had Torsev in their target and they waited patiently for the most favorable moment to move in. One impulsive act, one slip, and things could go downhill fast. The Syrian had slipped through the fingers of several special ops missions, but this was where his luck ended. Seth was certain.
The clock ticked.
His thoughts drifted. After this assignment, he planned to visit home, Landing Knight, his own hideaway in the Tennessee hills where he always found solace. When his father passed away, he left Seth two-hundred acres of secluded land set between two mountains. The property was scattered with a handful of cabins that the previous owner had let go and they needed renovated. He’d wanted to fix up the place and the buildings, turning it into a resort again, but when Theodore had died the plans for renovating stopped.
Seth had been on one mission after another for the last two years, and felt guilty that he hadn’t tried to see his father’s plans take shape.
He looked forward to seeing his siblings. Years had passed since they’d sat down and spent time catching up. Video chat just wasn’t the same as face-to-face. Hell, things probably wouldn’t be the same when he got back. His sister, Angelina, was recently diagnosed with cancer. He wasn’t an emotional man, but when it came to her and the fucking disease, he felt like a knife had been plunged into his chest. He was a man who could eradicate the enemy, but he couldn’t help his sister.
Some time with his family would do him good, yet he’d miss his Ranger brothers, ‘Scar’, ‘Laff’, and Hanson, who never talked much. He sat quietly in the driver’s seat thrumming his fingers on the steering wheel. His patience faded. Restless energy could be a bitch. The four of them had been together on so many covert missions that Seth had lost count. They’d saved each other’s back. Been there on the close calls. He owed his life to each of them.
The door of the ransacked building opened and Seth kept the binoculars on mark, watching for any movement. Two men stepped out, their heads were wrapped in keffiyeh headdress and they both wore traditional kaftans, but the red bands tied around their wrists exposed their identity as Torsev’s men. “Looks like we have movement, boys. We take them down and find our target, dead or alive. Got it?”
Responses were heard in unison from the three soldiers.
A tense silence fell over them as they waited for Seth’s command. Known for his level-headedness and skill at getting in and out without anyone being the wiser made him one of the most used and dangerous operatives in the Rangers. No soldier had to wonder if ‘Dark Knight’ would get them out alive. He never left a man behind. Ever.
He was calm and collected. There was always an adrenaline rush before they moved out, but he’d learned how to control his breathing, heart rate and thinking. Many people accused him of not having emotions because he’d gotten so good at not showing his thoughts or feelings.
Something unexpected happened…
A tall wiry man stepped from the open doorway, joining the others. The long, peppered hair hanging down from his headdress nearly reached his waist. This, along with his braided beard and the red bands were identifiers of Torsev.
“What the fuck?” Seth muttered.
“Problem, Lieutenant?”
“Slight change of plans, boys. It appears our target is on the move.”
“Shit!”  Scar muttered. “He knows we’re here. He has plans to scoot again.”
Seth knew the risks, but he stayed on point.
“We have a visual. We still take him down.” Seth dropped the binoculars. “Move out.”
They each had been briefed on their role in today’s mission. They were experienced and trained in capturing some of the most dangerous criminals in the world. Torsev was a danger to everyone in his path, including his own people. He’d killed thousands through his evil acts, but his time was quickly coming to an end. For months now his followers were in disarray and disorganized…fleeing or dead. For the last week, American troops pounded the surrounding Syrian cities, helping to bring peace.
If all went without a hitch, Seth would be on a plane back to the States by midnight.
They filed out of the Humvee, rifles in hand, taking their positions along an adjacent abandoned building close to their target’s location.
He motioned for Laff to take cover behind a partially broken wall, while pointing Hanson toward a spot behind a rusted-out vehicle. Seth crouched low, slowly moving closer to his target, undetected by the threesome who were leaning in, talking in rushed, excited words.
Using his binoculars, he focused on Torsev. Were the men arguing?
With his binoculars, he searched the man’s face. Something wasn’t right. Then it struck Seth that this man didn’t have the small triangle tattoo on his forehead.
Lifting a hand to signal for Hanson, Seth paused as the sun’s bright rays glinted off something from three buildings down. His full attention was on the rooftop. He tried to get a better look, but saw nothing. Yet, something pinged in his gut that he couldn’t shake. Lifting his M4 rifle, he set his sights on the spot where he’d seen the reflection and waited…his finger steady on the trigger.
And then he spotted the rifle aimed straight for Scar.
Seth pressed the button on his hand-held radio. “Enemy spotted. No go. I repeat, no go. Back the fuck up!”
He wanted to shift his body to watch his men, but he was taught to stay on track, no matter how serious the situation. He could only hope his unit had pulled back.
The shooter on the rooftop moved, but Seth didn’t have a clear shot. His breath seemed loud in his ears, the beating of his heart pounded his chest, reminding him of the dull thuds of explosions in the distance. He had to take the adversary out.
Known for his steady hand and sharp shooting skills, he slowed his breathing as he evaluated the variables of wind speed, wind direction, and temperature, that determined the accuracy of the shot. He had one chance.
Then he had the shot.
He pulled the assault weapon’s trigger and watched the vapor trail, a second later the rooftop sniper’s head split and blood splattered. He was dead on impact.
All hell broke loose…
Enemy fire buzzed over his head as he dropped to his stomach. He slowly shifted, finding the source of the shots and took out another shooter. He registered men yelling, but he didn’t have time to dissect where, or who, it was coming from.
He crawled on his elbows to get a better look around him. Smoke puffed up in thick clouds, making it hard for Seth to see anything beyond ten feet. Finally, the fog dissipated enough that he could get a visual, but the three men were gone.
The sounds of yelling echoed throughout the quiet streets of the abandoned city, and the target was getting away.
Seth scanned the crumbled buildings and shadowed corners, feeling his heart racing in his chest, then saw a silhouette in the distance coming toward the chaos. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. A woman wearing a long, white robe ambled up the street, a bundle of blankets in her arms. As she drew closer, he could see she carried what appeared to be a baby.
Seth gritted his teeth.
Hanson met Seth’s gaze in question across the crumbled concrete.
Torsev’s men rushed from the building, guns in hand, shooting a wave of bullets through the courtyard, including hitting the woman who was thrown onto her back. Seth could see the large patch of red puddling around her. The bundle slipped out of her arms and tumbled to the ground.
Rising to his feet, he raced to the baby, knowing his men had his back.
He wasn’t sure if he heard the explosion or saw material flying first, but that was the day that changed his life forever.

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