include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for The Prince of Blades by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

This page may contain adult content. If you are under age 18, or you arrived by accident, please do not read further.


The Prince

Of

Blades



F.W. Irvin





















© 2018 F.W. Irvin. All rights reserved.



No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or

transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.


Published by Smashwords 05/13/2018


ISBN: 978-0-463-93393-0 (e)











Author note: This story is fiction and expressed for the sole purpose of entertainment. It contains adult situations and language not suited for all readers. All similarity in names and events are coincidental. All rights reserved.


Nothing is for certain. Events are rarely seen, nor predicted. A single life can change in the blink of an eye, the shot of a gun, or the cut of a blade.

—Unknown


Pain, head spinning, nausea. Too much at once for my mind to process! I forced my eyelids open. The piercing cold of raindrops was the next sensation I felt. I was in an alley propped against the large metal garbage container, my attire torn and blood-soaked, wet with the falling rain. What happened? Where am I? Who am I?



I.


A Walk in the Park

It was early in the night, just dark enough to go unnoticed, yet not late enough to arouse suspicion. Julian Donavan strolled down the pathway of Hyde Park, down Serpentine Road, to its southeastern corner. London’s early autumn breeze gave him a brief chill as it passed through the expanse. The statue of Achilles came into view, and unknown to what little occupation remained in the immediate area, there lurked a figure in the shadows partially hidden by the depiction of the mythical hero. Donavan approached the silhouette without concern.

“What brings you to the foot of the nearly invincible Greek?” asked a raspy voice that sounded more American than one of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (UK).

“Mother-in-law is visiting, had to get out of the home for a spell,” stated Donavan, his British accent apparent.

Warren Blake stepped into Donavan’s ill-lit view as if to confirm his identity. His tall, husky physique ensured he was seen. Blake was just entering middle age but still held his health in high regard and his full head of hair in regulation.

Donavan withdrew a silvery cigarette case from the breast pocket of his coat. He, on the other hand, was older than his counterpart. Donavan was several inches shorter with a more rounded shape. Though not completely bald, the summit of his head was beginning to show through his thinning hair. He opened the container and held it up, motioning for his company to partake of the habit.

“Sorry, tryin’ to quit, but allow me. I still keep this thing as a token of the good ole days,” stated Blake. He withdrew his treasured lighter from the pocket-watch pocket of his jeans and handed it to Donavan.

“Cheers,” responded the Englishman with gratitude. “I knew you were in the service, but I always pegged you for a Marine, not an Air Force desk jockey.” Donavan had lit the tip of his cigarette quickly while studying the rectangular device that displayed the United States Air Force (USAF) emblem.

“Trust me, I’ve done my fair share of shooting and low crawling during my time in,” explained Blake. “I wasn’t on the corporate end.”

Donavan extracted a small item from the inside of the cigarette case and handed it to Blake. Blake studied the object for a moment. The Englishman then deposited the cigarette case snugly into its previous dwelling as he took a deep drag of his cigarette, brightening the cherry.

“Be careful what that comes into contact with; once it infects something, it’s virtually impossible to stop. Our best people have looked it over and still can’t make heads or tails of it, let alone what neutralizes the rubbish.”

“I’ll have the lab rats at Langley take a look,” Blake said. “I’m just glad your boy was able to obtain a sample without getting killed.”

“He’s not technically our boy. He runs ops for the powers that be because, like you and I, he actually recognizes the importance of keeping this crazy little world in one piece.”

“He have anything more on the situation?”

“Haven’t heard from the bloke since the dead drop, but I’m sure he’ll be in contact in the near future. He’s nothing if not persistent. Enjoy your night, mate; it’s back to hell I go.”

“Don’t let the bitch get to you. I’d think I was being set up if Lisa’s mother didn’t find some way to piss me off! I’ll let you know if the boys find something across the pond.”

“Very good.”

“Take it easy, Charlie.”


To the Bodega and Back

(Dante)

Everyone has his or her vices, even a lowly fella like me. A pack of smokes and my usual assortment of lottery tickets at the corner mart get me outta the house, at least for a little while. Okay, I admit, it isn’t as short a trek as one may believe, but it’s not like I’m on foot or that my feet actually work. Being confined to an automated wheelchair does make things convenient in this particular case, mainly because there is no way in hell I’d push my fat ass over several blocks.

I could definitely feel the change in temperature. It would be All Hallows’ Eve soon, and Turkey Day wouldn’t be too far behind. It’s a damn arm and a leg for a decent carton, or pack, of cigarettes, especially in New York. Better get back before the kid worries. I’m sure she’s preoccupied with her studies. The girl is such a sponge when it comes to knowledge.

The estate where I live serves its purpose well. It provides adequate space and privacy. The twelve-foot wall also provides a degree of security, seeing as though it is three feet thick and cost a pretty penny despite the deal I got. However, I do own the patents to quite a few items, so it doesn’t make too much of a significant dent in my pocket. I couldn’t stay in Florida, especially after what happened. It had been some time, but too many memories, and too much grief, remained.


Upon a Stormy Night

(???)

The rain was annoyingly constant. I took refuge under a doorway out of sight. As for my awareness, other than the immediate situation, I still had no recollection of who I was or how I had come to be in this particular predicament. It appeared I was worked over a bit for whatever reason, given the torn clothing and small amounts of dried blood partially washed away by the precipitation. I had no identification or currency in my possession, which gave off the obvious appearance of a mugging. The urban setting that surrounded me was as foreign as my recollection. As the rain began to let up, I gathered what little strength I had mustered by resting and attempted to stand, a motion that did not exhibit a successful response. First came the spinning, then the blurred vision, and finally the blackness.


“What the hell do you mean he’s gonna destroy the gulf?” exclaimed one man. “The whole fuckin’ thing?”

“No, Two-Shot, just the coast of Alabama … yes, the whole fucking thing!” shouted another sarcastically. “This just turned into a WOUNDED TITAN situation!”

“How did Lennox get his hands on an AMAT device?”

“He’s built a bomb with roughly the same yield as the Little Boy and Fat Man bombs.”

“What about the element?”

“That’s the kicker. I think the bomb uses the antimatter in the reactor and projects the matter-antimatter reaction. Not only will it take out the immediate surrounding areas, but it’s also designed to dispense radioactive material. This looks like a uranium casing around the outside.”

“Why the dust? AMAT reactions are meant to be clean.”

“I have no idea! The entire area will be desolated. Marine life, trade, travel, everything would be gravely impacted.”


I awoke again to a female shriek and glanced over to see the blurred images of three figures within shouting distance. It was as though they had mistaken me for a common bum taking shelter from the weather. Hell, maybe they were right in their assumptions. It wasn’t as though I exactly knew where I had come from, aside from the last few hours. In fact, I could tell you exactly how many meters I had traveled since awakening, which streets I had traveled to get here, and exactly how to get back there if need be … odd.

Anyway, I focused my vision and observed two men handling a female rather roughly a few meters from the wall that held me up. One was subduing the girl from behind, and the other was holding what appeared to be a knife as if he was threatening her. Without thinking, I immediately stood up, which got their attention. I could see bewilderment, as should be expected when a perceived drunk, or an addict, suddenly comes to life. There was also a hint of disgust about there being a possible, cognizant witness to their actions.

The normal warnings came, and the one possessing the knife lunged at me. He didn’t even notice what transpired. In fact, he did not feel anything because his own knife was lodged in his bregma. The other man disengaged his hold on the girl and ran. I’m sure it had to do with seeing his friend with a knife wedged between the plates of his skull’s summit. Even the female looked a bit shocked but also relieved she wasn’t going to become someone’s blow-up doll for the evening. The familiar lack of equilibrium began to return. Not again!



II.


Langley, Virginia

It was uncommon for the brass to venture into the field. However, with the degree of importance this particular case presented, it would have been completely prudent for the President of the United States (POTUS) to start running field operations (ops) out of the Pyongyang office. The sample Donavan turned over was being analyzed by the Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T), under the close supervision of Warren Blake, Deputy Director of Operations at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

As with Julian Donavan, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), who needed such an analysis conducted with the utmost urgency, Blake’s best people, both the Directorate of Operations (DO) and DS&T, had studied the sample to no avail. A small amount was also shipped to the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). Their only determination was it was not naturally occurring, but dreamed up in a lab rather than an evolutionary petri dish.

“Is there anything that can counteract it?” inquired Blake.

“We haven’t found anything yet,” answered the head technician, Darius Wade. “Logically speaking, however, production of something so dangerous would be foolish if there wasn’t a way to negate it once its job was done.”

“Unless you were hell-bent on chaos.”

“Given the right circumstances, you could threaten countless lives. I’m going to conduct more tests; I want to see what happens when this comes into direct contact with different types of organic material.”

“Keep me informed about what’s going on; this is a big deal if you haven’t noticed already. I’m going to figure more out about the origins of this thing and if a fail-safe was created.”

“Will do, boss!”

Blake knew the odds were not in their favor. Out there, for sure, were at least two other specimens. One Donavan and SIS possessed, and the original sample was wherever it was acquired.


At the Scene

The rain had subsided as dawn fast approached. After all initial reports and notifications were made; a cordon was established by the uniformed patrols who had initially responded to the reports of a dead body. Homicide detectives Benjamin Chapman and Ryan Lovett arrived on the scene to see the cadaver where it rested. A uniformed sergeant approached the two.

“What do we have, Sarge?” asked Lovett.

“Vic’s name is Randall George. Got a few priors for mostly thefts, did a twenty-four-month stint at Riker’s as the result of a plea deal for armed robbery. COD is most likely the knife imbedded in the victim’s skull. No money in the wallet, no other weapons on his person, only the knife.”

It was obvious to anyone on the scene that Chapman was the senior detective of the duo. Turning down a detective sergeant’s badge several times to stay strictly on the beat, Chapman’s mannerisms, etiquette, and seasoning showed his dedication to his career. His disheveled attire, salt-and-pepper hair, and chubby physique from convenient store sustenance reflected his quarter century of devotion.

“Ouch,” stated Chapman.

“Actually, given the obvious size of the blade and the depth it was plunged into the victim’s skull, he probably didn’t feel anything,” corrected Lovett.

“Techs haven’t found any evidence on account of the lovely weather last night,” continued the sergeant. “You’ll probably know more once the body is thoroughly examined.”

“What do you think, Ben?” asked Lovett.

“Could be the obvious, robbery or hit gone wrong,” Chapman replied.

“Yeah, but you don’t normally see stab wounds to the head, maybe to the neck or base of the skull, but almost never to the actual head itself.”

“Weirdo serial killer on the loose?”

“If we’re lucky.”


A Samaritan’s Wit

(???)

“Eldorado, enigma, request permission to come in. Op complete.”

“Status of target?”

“Target has been neutralized. Secure by two, Oscar.”

“Good copy, stand by.”

“Wilco!”


“You did not tell them?”

“The lab was destroyed along with all its research. That’s all they need to know.”

“What will you do now?”

“I know about Irina not being able to conceive. Perhaps it’s time you became parents before you get too old. You have the connections to produce the appropriate paperwork and make it legitimate.”

“I do not think it is such a good idea.”

“You’re a good man, rough because of what we do, but you believe in doing the right thing regardless of the big picture ending. If the world had more people like you, my friend, they wouldn’t need me.”

“Thank you.”


The uncomfortable sensation suddenly came rushing back to me. I fought yet again to raise my eyelids and take in the current setting. I was lying on my side in a soft bed, facing a wall. I rolled over to inspect the room only to discover its emptiness, aside from myself, of course. From the glimmer of bright light pushing through the curtains, I ascertained it was early afternoon.

I looked down at my body to find I was only wearing a pair of boxer briefs and a loose A-shirt. I lifted the shirt to observe no visible wounds on my torso. My body was clean of any blood or filth. How long have I been here? The dizziness I previously experienced had left me, so I took the opportunity to sit up, free of brace, and stood after several minutes of internal encouragement.

Near the bed was a common wooden dresser complete with an attached vanity mirror. As I studied my face, the reflection that stared back at me in the mirror was one I did not recognize. Atop the dresser were folded clothes—a pair of light jeans, a polo-type shirt, a pair of sneakers, and socks. Whoever had been tending to me had obviously intended I wear this casual attire.

After I dressed, I cautiously approached the door, turned the knob, and opened the door inward.

It was apparent I was in a medium-sized apartment, given the size of the living room, kitchen, and the second bedroom across the space, in addition to the bathroom to my right. If I had to guess, there was another bathroom attached to the bedroom opposite mine. In the center of the living room was an L-shaped sectional couch across from a holographic projector (holojector) against the adjacent wall. In the center of the expanse were the silver wire-framed eyeglasses, sweatshirt, and skimpy cotton shorts housing a petite and, frankly, beautiful female reading a book. A commercial played at low volume on the television.

“The Æthelwulf Miraj combines aesthetic with performance,” an Eastern European narrator advertised. “The Miraj’s powerful V-6, fuel cell engine, and advanced suspension provide power and a smooth ride. Its comfort and technology ensure its occupants enjoy an accommodating drive …”

The girl didn’t notice my entry into the living room for a few minutes. It was not until a wayward glance caught my silhouette in the doorway that her attention was drawn. The expected gasp and mild bewilderment followed.

“You’re awake!” she blurted out.

“Yeah, how long was I out?” I replied.

“Two days. You were pretty banged up. Your clothes were torn and had bits of dried blood all over them. Everything seemed to be intact though. That wasn’t anyone else’s blood on your clothes, was it?”

I recognized her voice now. It was the girl I rescued from the two muggers, who could have doubled as rapists. I had not gotten a good look at her because of my unsteadiness and the foul weather that had plagued me the entire evening. I quickly recalled what had transpired, or more precisely, the justifiable homicide I had committed in defense of myself, as well as the girl. There was also the fact the second perpetrator had cowardly run off after seeing his companion so brutally, yet swiftly and precisely, dispatched.

The girl was no more than five and a half feet tall and around one hundred pounds. Her glowing auburn hair was up in a ponytail, keeping it away from her fact-focused eyes. The girl’s skin was not pale or completely browned; it was more of a golden color that was free of any hint of a blemish. The most captivating features that drew my attention were the beckoning eyes hidden behind her spectacles, confusing because I could tell not whether they were a luminous blue or green, or bluish green.

“I don’t know. I don’t think it was. All I remember from before is when I woke up in an alley.”

“After you collapsed, I had to drag you out of there. Luckily, you were in and out of consciousness, so I was able to human-crutch carry you the rest of the way here, which was about a block or so. I’m glad you’re not two hundred and fifty pounds.”

“Thanks, I was pretty out of it.”

“It was the least I could do. You did save my life, after all. Who knows what those two creeps would have done if you hadn’t been there. Besides, I’m in school to be a nurse, so you could call it practice.”

“I noticed the infectious disease textbook you were reading.”

“I have a quiz next class on bacterial infections. I was reading the historical account of the Black Death in Europe.”

“Yersinia pestis, a gram-negative bacterium of the Enterobacteriaceae family, which can cause septicemic plague infecting the blood, pneumonic plague infecting the respiratory system, or the more common bubonic plague, which is an infection of the lymphatic system that causes the dark patches, or buboes, that were a common characteristic of victims.” I took a deep breath.

“What are you, a doctor or something?”

“Maybe.”

“My name is Carly, by the way. What’s yours?”

“You know what? I’ve been asking myself the same question.”


YHWH Went Down to Georgia

Curses in Russian rang out inside the cab of Leonid Malenko’s Æthelwulf Prevoz 4x4 as he raced through the hilly expanse of the Tusheti region of Georgia toward the village of Shenako. His extreme frustration stemmed from his tardiness. Those who waited would not be pleased, especially if the meeting were delayed on his account. He pushed the SUV as fast as it would go, given its construction and the terrain. Luckily, the full moon provided ample illumination to light his unpaved path.

Once at Shenako, Malenko headed for the hilltop Shenako Semeba Church. The fact there was not an adequate road, even in contemporary times, irritated him because of the uneven stretch on which he traveled. At the ancient structure, Malenko exited his vehicle; the hint of cool night air brushed the back of his neck, causing a momentary shiver.

Impatiently waiting inside were Cedrik Arkov, a Russian; Malkazi Nozadze, a Georgian; and Sabah Zudam, a man of unknown origin. At the head of the room was a large holojection screen. The screen was black with white lettering that read, “No Connection Detected.”

Malenko suddenly burst through the rear entrance, frantic in form. The unfriendly glances produced by the room’s occupants further deepened his mood. Nozadze opened his mouth in an attempt to protest Malenko’s lack of punctuality. Before the Georgian could utter a word, Zudam turned his head and directed an icy stare toward him. Sensing the growing tension arising, Arkov aimed his glance at the holojector. The status changed from its original message to “Searching for Transmission.” The silhouette of a person’s head and shoulders appeared on the screen, but it was too dark on the other end to discern any prominent and/or identifiable features.

Technology had come a long way in such a short time. Communication was integrated so media, long-distance communication, the Internet, and commercial enterprise were easily accessible without the physical bulk of hardware. Now, with small projectors and sensors housed in a single unit, light fields were manipulated to display three-dimensional (3D) constructs capable of creating accurate representations of objects, showing real-time images, and allowing for tactile interface simply by touching the projections.

“Good evening, gentlemen!” the figure spoke in an electronically disguised tone.

“Good evening,” Zudam replied.

“What do you have to report?”

“Besides the breach at our facility in Rason, everything is going according to schedule.”

“What of the incident in North Korea?”

“Somehow the compound was infiltrated and a sample from Section Eight Hundred was stolen,” Arkov interrupted. “We were unable to apprehend those responsible. There has not been chatter regarding the occurrence thus far. I am confident Trinity does not officially know.”

“Was anything taken from Section Seventy?” the figure inquired.

“No, just the one.”

“How are we on distribution, Malenko?” asked the unknown character in Russian.

“Once we deploy, it is estimated sixty-five percent of the population will be initially touched,” answered the Russian in his native tongue. “Targets are major, relevant cities first.”

“I have been ensuring nothing leaks in the media. Anonymity is the key in any successful strategy,” interrupted Nozadze, also speaking Russian.

“Very good, proceed as planned,” the benefactor instructed, now in English. “Arkov, see about finding any information on the intruder in our facility. Regardless, nothing can prevent success once we enact our plan. Keep me apprised of any new developments, Sabah.”

“Understood,” Zudam acknowledged.

The screen went blank, and the projection reverted to its original message. Zudam stared blankly at it for several minutes. The rest of the room’s tenancy observed him with a hint of anxiety, wondering what he was dwelling on in his mind. It was obvious to all who had contact with the obscurely dark-featured male his linguistic skills left no traceable hint of identity, and his actions and reactions bordered on clairvoyance.

“The convention in Geneva is approaching,” Zudam finally spoke in Russian. “Malenko, ensure the delivery method is flawless.”

“It will be done, comrade,” responded Malenko.

“Make certain Seventy formulates its end.” Zudam motioned to Arkov. “It is imperative we exhibit and maintain complete control.”

“They are perfecting it as we speak. The only possible problem is the volatile state, which must be taken into account,” informed Arkov.

“Fortunately, no one, not even the North Koreans, have knowledge of what really goes on in Facility Three, let alone any of the major NATO countries,” reassured Nozadze. “Keeping a low profile has been paramount to the success of this operation. I will use my contacts in the media to ensure there is ample cover until the summit. I do believe it was Harry Houdini who preached about the mind believing what is heard and seen.”

“Keep in contact with me if anything outside the design should arise. Properly execute this, and a world shall arise with you as its pinnacle,” Zudam concluded.



III.


Identity Crisis

(???)

“I need you to infiltrate an installation, gather whatever intel you can, and dispose of the whole building,” spoke an unknown figure.

“Look, your position does not give you any authority over me, or allow you to give me commands,” I reminded the voice. “I warned you before about leaving me to my affairs in peace.”

“I’m not commanding you to do anything. I’m asking for your help. It’s very hard in this day and age to find people able to get the job done, and who believe enough in that cause to overcome extreme odds. You have the advantage because everyone thinks you’re dead. We both know it would take more than an antimatter reactor to kill you, mate.”

“Then you also know I’m trying to remain incognito. Let everyone live their lives without me interfering in them. I don’t need to be participating in ops, letting the world know I am still out there.”

“Whatever happened to that whole ‘if you have the ability and capability, you have the responsibility’ mentality?”

“You’ve obviously been reading far too many comic books! Where’s this installation?”

“It’s on the island of Sicily.”

“What’s so dangerous about it?”

“They are experimenting with the human genome to alter human physiology and psychology to their liking. Intel has shown they are not using human subjects but rather growing their own from developed DNA.”

“What happens if I encounter any of these science experiments?”

“We can’t take the chance of letting any of them loose out of fear of what might occur, no matter how sympathetic we feel toward the situation.”

“Send me all the op info. I’ll let you know who and what I’ll need.”

“Very good, Jack.”


“Jack! My name’s Jack!”

“Wha … who?” Carly exclaimed, groggily returning from her slumber.

“Nothing, just a really odd dream. Someone referred to me as Jack in it.”

“What was the dream about?”

“It made no sense. I don’t wanna worry you with something I’m not even sure is true.”

“Well, I guess we’re one step closer to figuring out who you are. Now we know your name and that you really like ramen noodles to the point that you’ve killed my entire college stash.”

“Sorry.”

“No, it’s fine, just odd that that’s all you like to eat. I mean I don’t cook much because I’m in college, but I always keep the pantry stocked.”

“Dunno, just really like noodles for some reason,” I reasoned as I drifted back to sleep.


The ringing of the landline continued for a few seconds until the party on the other line answered. Opposite Chapman was Medical Examiner Jason Luciano. The interruption of the ringtone, and caller ID, startled Jason, nearly causing him to create a bigger incision than was intended.

“Answer!” he stated, mildly aggravated.

“Jase! I know it’s pretty soon, but have you found anything on the cadaver?” asked Chapman via the holojection projected from the console on the wall.

“Cause of death was obviously the stab wound,” called out Luciano from across the room. “The knife passed through the cerebral cortex, frontal lobe, corpus callosum, thalamus, and hippocampus. Needless to say, this guy wasn’t getting back up.”

“Any evidence that you could find?”

“I just started, but I did recover an auburn hair from the vic’s clothing. I sent digital maps on everything to your inbox. Forensics has the hair and the murder weapon.”

“Okay, let me know if you find anything else. Thanks, Jase.”

“Anytime, Benny.”

The next stop for Detective Chapman was the precinct’s forensic laboratory on the third floor. Once in the lab, he traveled the expanse of the area to find Forensic Technician Davis Montgomery in his cubbyhole. Chapman spotted the knife in a plastic bag labeled with the case number.

“Jase said he sent you those items; anything come back?” asked Chapman.

“I ran it through the DNA sequencer and it came back negative in all of the databases. It’s obviously female, but anyone could have suspected the probability of that from its length. I’ll send it to evidence and forward you everything for your report.”

“Anything on the murder weapon?”

“Sort of. The rain washed away any chance for intact fingerprints. However, there were trace amounts of epithelial tissue from what would have been the vic’s fingerprints. It’s an old-school Ka-Bar knife, probably stolen. Sending that your way as well.”

“Seems as though the knife belonged to the vic and not the suspect. Not likely for the vic to grip the knife after a kill shot like that, and there are no other defensive wounds. I’m also thinking the suspect was wearing gloves or something.”

“Could be. That’s all I got. If Luciano sends me anything else, I’ll run it through and send it your way.”

“Thanks, Monte.”

“You’re welcome, Ben.”

(Jack)

“It looks as though I’m going to be your handler for this one,” said a man with a British accent as he handed a folded piece of paper to his audience.

“If you want to get technical, Julian, I don’t work for SIS. I’m simply doing this because it needs to be done,” I replied.

“I’ve been talking to my contact in the U.S., and we have minimal intel on the precise location of the actual facility. I’m ninety-nine percent sure it’s mostly underground, so it’s hard to get any good SIGINT. For all we know, the facility could be the size of the entire city.”

“Let me guess, no one has been successful getting an operative close or in, and HUMINT from the local area has been slim to none.”

“It’s like you’re psychic or something, mate!”

“Or something …”


“Jack! Wake up, sleepyhead!” I faintly heard Carly say as the visions of my slumber began to fade slowly, returning me to the present reality.

“Hey, you,” I said softly to the loveliness slowly coming into view.

“You were talking in your sleep.”

“What was I saying?”

“I was able to catch the name Julian and SIS. What’s SIS?”

“It sounds so familiar like I recognize it and know what it means, but I still can’t seem to grasp anything.”

“Are you sure that’s it? You don’t need to keep going if it’s making you feel uncomfortable.”

“No, it’s not that, dear.” I could see her eyes widen when I called her dear as if she was excited and welcomed the reference. “Julian is an older guy with a British accent, and I was in England, no wait, Glasgow, Scotland, when I was talking with him.”

I could sense her curiosity as well as the need for me to open up to her. The fact she held me closer at this revelation was also a solid indicator. I could feel her external temperature rise a degree or two, and a vaguely familiar potency came to my attention. Her aqua eyes looked deep into mine as though she could see into me, the real me, an identity I could not recall.

“Can you remember what the conversation was about?” she asked.

“Not exactly. I know what was said but not the meaning or details.”

She pouted momentarily. “Aw, that’s too bad. I’m sure it will come back in time, sweetie.”

“From what I gathered, I was supposed to go somewhere and do something, but I have no knowledge of exactly where this place was, its size, or how to get into it, and especially what business was to be conducted once inside. I also keep seeing some type of lines or symbols in the back of my mind, which I know have significance but are unfamiliar to me,” I relayed to her while grabbing a pen from a side table and etching the lines burned into my psyche on her left forearm.

라선

“Are you sure you’re not just recalling a movie you saw, or a book you read, or something? This sounds an awful lot like one of those spy thrillers by that one dead author they made a bunch of movies out of.”

“I dunno, you usually don’t view a movie from a first-person point of view, nor can you imagine events depicted in a book in such vivid detail.”

“So you’re really just a secret agent who somehow lost his memory? That was also a book and movie series from way back in the day.”

“At this point, I don’t know what to believe. This is definitely making my head spin, trying to get it around the situation.”

I couldn’t finish what I was saying. Carly cut me off by grabbing the back of my head with both her hands and gripping a small handful of hair in the process. She pulled me even closer, eagerly placing her lips on mine. I could feel the pulse of her lips moving ever so slightly, gentle, soft, smooth, with the hint of cherry flavor from her lip-gloss. At the same moment, our tongues intertwined, first mildly and then passionately.

Her grip on my locks became tighter. I wrapped my arms underneath hers and around her back, pulling her as near to me as physically possible. A relaxed moan revealed her increasing pleasure from a mere deep kiss. I noticed a potency flare; she was ready. My right hand released its hold and moved to her waistband, pushing through the mild resistance of elastic on her shorts and her panties. I caressed her as she shuddered and moaned louder at my touch.

She was already saturated. Her warm wetness increased as I circled her bulb with my fingers, and even more so when my digits moved inside, curling to meet her spot. After a few moments of shaking from my keen contact, she broke our kiss and once again gave me a dazzling stare from her hypnotizing bluish-green eyes. I couldn’t help myself as I mouthed the words I want you! I locked lips with her again as I lifted her up, her hands now using my neck for support. We moved to her bedroom, and I playfully tossed her on the bed, removing her shorts and panties in one swift motion and exposing her tiny linear mane of reddish-brown brilliance paving the way to her womanhood.

Our stares met yet again, and time stood still, followed by another zealous union of our lips. Small pecks from my lips moved across hers and turned into soft nibbles on her ear, then back to kisses down her neck. Her shirt vanished in the same manner as her lower garments, revealing her firm and delicious breasts. My lips continued their exploration, first settling on her left areola. I gripped it with my teeth while lightly flicking my tongue over the nipple. I repeated the same motion with her right before the light kissing moved farther south. It was then I found her.

I tasted her for the first time, a sensation that was delightfully unimaginable. The sensation was mutual as she grabbed the back of my head and drove my face deeper into her loins. At the same time, she grinded her pelvis in a feeble attempt to bring my tongue closer to its target. Finally, Carly let loose an uncontrollable shaking and an equally noticeable shriek before settling. I realized it wasn’t over when she lifted my head once again, looked me in the eyes sternly, yet ardently, as she spoke, “I need you inside me.”


Chapman brainstormed his theory of how the scene went down as he made his way back to his desk. It was a possible robbery or rape at knifepoint by Randall, and he bit off more than he could chew. When he got to his desk, Lovett was sitting at his own across from it.

“Patrolmen canvassed the area and pulled all the business cam footage, and I just got sent all the traffic cam footage by the city,” said Lovett. “No drones were in the area at the time. I was about to take a look.”

Chapman maneuvered around to Lovett’s desk to view his computer’s holojection screen. He opened the traffic cam folder first and viewed the diagram, explaining which camera numbers corresponded to their respective units. Lovett pulled up the camera at the nearest traffic light and fast-forwarded until they saw two figures: one was female and the other male. The female appeared to be helping the male, who seemed incapacitated. The color of the female’s hair was auburn, just like the hair recovered on Randall George. However, the view was too far away to make any discernable identification of either subject.

“Is there a closer cam with that view?” asked Chapman.

“This is one of the shops on the street that had a dome camera outside the front door,” answered Lovett.

The footage showed both the male and female subjects, the female supporting the male with her shoulder. Lovett’s computer automatically ran its biometric identification program, scanning both faces. The male’s face yielded no identification. Conversely, the program produced a match for the female based on DMV information and her registration at Columbia University’s School of Nursing.

“And we have a winner!” boasted Lovett. “Carly Renee Peterson, twenty-one, works at Taffer’s on the Barge, Manhattan address, and look, her apartment is a couple blocks away from the scene! What a coinkydink!”

Chapman took another glance at the paused video. The enhanced view of the male’s face sent a sudden shiver down his spine. It can’t be, he died in Magnus! How the hell is he involved in this? Chapman had met Jack as a detective with the Magnus Police Department prior to his transfer to the NYPD years later. Jack was assumed dead after he entered the antimatter reactor of the city’s power plant to disarm a weapon of mass destruction, an assumption that made Chapman feel like an ass.

“It’s getting late, Ryan. We can pick up the girl tomorrow and hopefully the guy too,” said Chapman. “The evidence from the body, and what we know of the vic, are all pointing toward an attempted robbery/rape gone wrong and a self-defense case. Besides, I’m sure your husband would appreciate you getting home at a decent hour.”

“Yeah, you’re right, Ben,” Lovett stated, shutting down his computer and gathering his effects.

As soon as Lovett departed, Chapman made his way to the parking garage. Once in the confines of his vehicle, he scrolled through the contacts of his phone and located a familiar yet distant phone number labeled Two-Shot.


A Matter of National Intelligence

The nights were growing colder, cold enough for Blake to finally sport his overcoat. He called another cloak-and-dagger meeting between him and Donavan by way of encrypted email with a coded message. This time, the venue was Brooklyn’s Prospect Park at the same time as always. Blake walked efficiently along the lakeside until he saw the agreed-upon rustic shelter on the water. Although less light was present during the early night, he could make out a figure in the shelter facing the lake. The red ember of a lit tobacco-laden vessel confirmed the figure’s identity.

“Lovely night for a stroll,” spoke Donavan, allowing Blake the opportunity to pass one of the designated duress words as he approached.

“Soon I’ll have to wear thicker knickers,” Blake answered. He watched Donavan activate the electromagnetic (EM) jammer on his wristwatch and then followed suit.

“Funny, mate. Anything concerning the sample?”

“Nothing. The boys couldn’t figure it out either. The only thing they could determine, for sure, is it’s inorganic, even though it tries to mimic organic properties. It also breaks down molecular bonds and tries to merge with organic cells unsuccessfully.”

“Let me guess, you tried to destroy it with extreme temperature exposure, without success? Yeah, my chaps determined that early on, but like you, we didn’t get any further given technological restraints.”

“I provided a minute sample to IARPA to see if they could do anything with it. Do you still have that contact at CERN? Perhaps they can analyze it better subatomically.”

“Already done. I’m sure they can run a sample through the spark chamber to see what comes up. Of course, I had to send two of my best as escorts and provide strict hazmat restrictions. I’ve also been looking around the Internet, as well as the databases, and no one has come across, nor conducted research on, anything similar to this by any means.”

“What about the operative who recovered the sample?”

“Nothing. He pulled a disappearing act. I’m a bit worried to say the least. Usually he finds a way to keep in contact.”

“Who does this guy work for anyway?”

“Himself, the people, the human race—whichever equally noble cause is deemed valuable. He is who he is because he makes shit happen quickly, tactfully, and discreetly.”

“Going after freelancers at this point, are we, Charlie?”

“This guy isn’t your garden variety operator. Underestimating him for one second is a mistake …”


A Hole in One … SecInt

A fool is a man who keeps to a flawless routine. This thought was not the first immergence of the realization that complacency can be deadly, a lesson lived many times over in the life of Sabah Zudam. Several weeks of surveillance revealed the repetitive lifestyle of U.S. Secretary of Intelligence (SecInt) Paul Van Buren—his work schedule, his family life, and his Achilles’ heel, his compulsive need to partake in such a game of sheer boredom. Each week he would meet with his close friend, Titus Nunez, the incumbent U.S. Secretary of State, at Washington’s Capitol Course Fairway.

Zudam knew enough about the contest and despised how Van Buren eagerly boasted about and inflated his skill at the game. Nunez was usually the victor during their weekly meets. To Zudam, Van Buren was a pompous, arrogant, and snobbish aristocratic representative of American politics and overall Western culture. It gave Zudam great comfort and pleasure he was the one sent on this particular mission. He eagerly waited for both men to advance to the proper hole, one that overlooked the Potomac River. Finally, Van Buren and Nunez appeared in the reticle of Zudam’s PSO-1 telescopic sight. The stadiametric range finder indicated an approximate range of 650 meters, an acceptable distance to cover, even though he would have to compensate because the target was taller than five and a half feet.

The vessel’s flag indicated a half-value wind, approximately three to five miles per hour, to the southwest. The golf flag by the target indicated no windage. Zudam made the appropriate adjustments as he waited for his moment, concealed within the cabin of a boat. The influx of dozens of craft, taking advantage of the few semi-warm days left before the hardened winter, provided ample cover for the task. Van Buren would always pause just before his putt. The absence of movement would be an opportune moment.

A few seconds before his putt, the Intelligence Secretary’s back exploded from the exit wound. Nunez fell backward from his squat, holding the flag and watching Van Buren’s putt. The only sound heard was the round breaking the sound barrier because of the distance traveled, and the suppressed weapon utilized. Van Buren was dead before he hit the ground. His security detail, along with Nunez’s Diplomatic Security Service special agents, was oblivious to the origin of the round. By the time the Secretary of State was evacuated and immediate inquiry could commence, Zudam had long since fled.


The best calzone in D.C., thought Special Agent Rodrigo Thomas of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). With such a fast-paced detail as he had been on, he relished the opportunity to enjoy the little things in life, like a savory Italian turnover dipped in tangy marinara sauce. Nothing was better than sex, but this particular dish came in a close second. Several bites into the calzone, the sound of a familiar 1980s tune interrupted the gnawing and slurping of the famished federal employee. Surprised as well as annoyed, Thomas realized it was his assistant special agent in charge (ASAC).

“Afternoon, ma’am!” answered Thomas.

“Good afternoon, Rudy. Have I caught you at a bad time?” asked ASAC Laura Patel.

“I’m here for you, ma’am! What ya need?”

“Got a high-profile deceased down at the Capitol Course Fairway.”

“I’m guessing it wasn’t of natural causes.”

“Not unless torsos exploding from long-distance, precision gunshots qualify as natural.”

“Okay, I’m on it. Just let me grab a to-go box.”

“Rudy, play this one close to the chest. The Director asked for us specifically so he’s gonna be monitoring this personally, and so will the Attorney General.

“On it, boss!”

Thomas, a tall, athletic man of African descent, flagged his server, motioning in his direction. Thomas quickly donned his dark brown leather jacket, concealing his sidearm and spare magazines, as the attractive young waitress of the small street side establishment brought over a white polystyrene foam container. Leaving a sizable tip to acknowledge both her service and appearance, he winked an amber-colored eye at her and headed in the direction of his vehicle.

Thomas had been selected a few months earlier to be part of the FBI National Security Bureau’s special task force on high-profile national incidents. The events of Magnus, Florida, and his involvement in averting catastrophe had paved the way to his current position. He imagined the victim was someone of great caliber to warrant such a response, especially one from U.S. Department of Justice leadership. Once on the green, he understood why.

A combination of the golf course’s turf and the contents of the victim’s chest gave Thomas a personal foreshadowing of Christmas’s imminence. The round had penetrated the front and rear of his vest. It was obvious this was a calculated attack. The shooter could have easily seen one Secretary of Intelligence, and raised another Cabinet officer.

The Capitol police had already processed the scene for the arrival of federal investigators. The blood-soaked Secretary of State was seated on a golf cart talking to an officer; he appeared to be traumatized. The round was recovered on the green after it lost velocity from passing through the Secretary’s Kevlar-covered torso. It brought the term thick into a completely new light. Thomas recognized the size and shape as 7.62 mm.

The estimated trajectory was easy enough to determine. What was puzzling was the sniper would likely be exposed, given the distance between the victim and the water’s edge. If he or she was camouflaged well enough to go unnoticed, the weapon would have to be silent, and the shooter would eventually have to relocate, drawing further attention. The only likely position was out on the water, on a boat.

Luckily, terrorism was covered in the task force’s genre of cases. Given the scope and magnitude of this particular kill, government/political assassination was also included. However, out of professional courtesy, Thomas would keep the Counterterrorism Division apprised. That and he would need to utilize their resources in order to apprehend the perpetrator. One such resource was the hand-me-down, satellite-tracking technology the division was given control of by the National Security Agency for just this purpose.

It was in the team’s favor the scene and its surrounding areas were not obstructed by trees or structures. Reviewing the time frame of the incident revealed the obvious craft from which the shot originated. The boat nonchalantly pulled away and traveled down the Potomac into the Chesapeake Bay, and eventually the Atlantic. After over seventy miles, the vessel slowed to a complete stop. An explosion on the boat was visible as it sank into the Atlantic Ocean.

So much for recovering the boat and any evidence aboard. The depth of the water and the fact any subsurface currents could pull the wreckage miles from where it sank ran through his mind. Thomas rewound the footage to before the attack. The morning of the assassination, he witnessed two men and a woman board the small yacht. It appeared the second male had them at gunpoint. He wore a cap and never once looked up. The boat traveled to the location on the Potomac where it sat until the incident.

It was assumed the assassin had commandeered the boat from the couple, killed them, and let their bodies go down with their vessel, probably never to be found again. Never once were they seen after their initial boarding. The rifle used was likely left on the ship along with any other evidence. A text from ballistics confirmed a tungsten carbide-tipped 7.62x54mmR originally designed for the Mosin-Nagant rifle, but more commonly used in the PK machine gun and the Dragunov SVD sniper rifle and its common variants. What was even more interesting was the ballistics data matched the round to a Dragunov SVU, a bullpup version of the SVD, involved in other killings associated with the known terrorist group Middle Eastern Caliphate Coalition of Allah (M.E.C.C.A.).

Something puzzled Thomas. There were no other boats that met the assailant. Moving back to the yacht’s final resting place and zooming out, he waited to see if there was any other surface activity in the vicinity of the sunken boat. Nothing was viewed, even when he fast-forwarded to real time. Did this guy go down with the boat? If a high-ranking government official can be killed so easily, no one is safe. Thomas’s train of thought was interrupted by the audible tone of his phone.

“Hello!” answered Thomas

“Rodrigo! It’s Ben Chapman! You ain’t gonna believe this shit!”


Separation Anxiety

Donavan worried over his lack of contact with his operative. It had been over a week, and the last time the Chief had made contact with him was when he presented Donavan with the sample. As vague as the man liked to be, he was never unpunctual. As covert as the secret global games were, no contact meant something was wrong.

Once every few days, Donavan would make his trek to Bury Saint (St.) Edmunds in Suffolk County, England. On the inner wall of the Abbeygate, a simple, yet meaningful message would be left for Donavan in ultraviolet ink: a “1” for dead drop, an “X” for no information, and “#” for abort operation. Ensuring no one was watching, Donavan casually aimed his ultraviolet torch at the wall. The only traces of ink were the smudges from erased past messages, nothing new. Something was definitely wrong.

Acting outside protocol, Donavan decided to go to the dead-drop point, regardless of the fact there was no indication of a pickup. Maybe someone unknowingly erased the message. Perhaps someone became privy to our actions and decided to disrupt them, not knowing there was a second phase. The obvious was he somehow had been compromised.

A thorough heat run up the A134, through Thetford to Mundford, and back down the A1065, passing Brandon and RAF (Royal Air Force) Lakenheath, made certain no one had followed him. The Racehorse statue in Newmarket was the Chief’s next stop. The two had been using this spot to exchange information and instructions for the duration of the operation, even though it had been shorter than most. A hollowed cylindrical stake was used as a container, often filled with rolled-up documents, digital storage devices, microdots, and other forms of communication. The stake was painted to camouflage it in case the average onlooker happened to notice it. The lid was coated with the same ultraviolet paint used on the Abbeygate wall and could be detected if a person knew to search with the proper illumination.

Donavan searched the area around the statue first with the naked eye, and then with his black light torch, dusk aiding the visibility. He saw nothing in the grass-covered earth surrounding the statue. Something is definitely wrong. He would have found a way to contact me. Donavan feared the worst. Has he been discovered, captured, killed? An auditory tone alerted him to a text message. His audience was urgently requested at SIS headquarters. On the drive back, the normal news stations were tuned in, immediately alerting the Chief to the reason for such earnestness.


Well vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream. Damn, has it been a dead Monday! Several patrons were gathered at the bar as Carly dispensed drinks while coping with sheer boredom. In front of her were a few weirdos buying the cheapest drafts, a guy with a crush who was trying to impress her by drinking top-shelf Scotch, a middle-aged woman trying to get him to buy her drink and possibly take her home, and of course, the very lonely woman sipping her third White Russian. I’d die of sheer boredom if I couldn’t lose myself in thought!

The foreplay, the sex, was mind-blowing, the kinda stuff you read about in romance novels, you know, the epitome of soccer-mom porn. What was even worse to her was the fact he was adoring and romantic about it. It was as if he had been away on a long journey finally returning to his woman, which produced all the passionate lovemaking that followed—the way he embraced her, eagerly locking lips, and playfully kissing her all over the right parts. He knew how to treat a woman, not only openly but also behind closed doors. She dwelled on the thought he had brought her to so many climaxes, enough she had lost count. All this at once, and the true intimacy had not yet begun.

He took her on the bed, parting her legs as if they were the road to ecstasy. He entered her, plunging deep inside, burying to the hilt. The shock caused her to moan in utter pleasure, a sound that let him know not to stop. Instinctively, she gripped the hair on the back of his neck again, pulling his lips closer to hers for more sensual kissing. She then grabbed his hips, pulling him harder and deeper inside her. Her face was painted with pure enchantment as she compared this to heavenly delight. Each orgasm left her in tears from uncontrollable emotions. She did not want him to stop.

She grabbed his chest, motioning him to roll over. Once he was on his back, she mounted and rode him. The thrusting of her hips rocked the bed as she attempted to drive him farther inside. He gazed up at her with his captivating hazel eyes, the look of longing written across his fixated stare. This made her feel wanted, needed, desired, a goddess in his eyes.

Suddenly he sat up and placed his arms around her back, settling his right arm on the back of her head and closing in for another amazing kiss. Their frisky tongues intertwined powerfully. His hands moved to her hips aiding them as they grinded against him for further stimulation. Things began to move faster, intensify. She could tell he was breathing heavier. He was close, and so was she.

There was a surge inside her. A powerful yet blissful orgasm shot through her body. Her internal muscles gripped him tighter and more forcefully, a reaction that led to an inevitable response. There was an eruption inside her, an outburst she welcomed by pushing downward with her pelvis, getting as close to him as physically possible. She could feel a flood of warmth rush through her, making her feel pleased, as pleased as he appeared to have felt. This prompted him to lie back down as she collapsed on top of him.

They both caught their breath for a second as he gripped her in a tight embrace. To him, she looked radiant, her darkened auburn hair and body glistening in the sweat of their rigorous play. At the same time, she looked at him and gazed into his eyes as he did hers. Carly felt close to him, safe. This felt natural, right …


“Excuse me,” a customer interrupted her daze. “Could I please see what my tab is up to?”


Vauxhall Cross

Located at 85 Albert Embankment was Vauxhall Cross, the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) of His Majesty’s Government. To the immediate northwest was the Vauxhall Bridge. The complex was constructed in the early 1990s and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994. The structural design was said to be influenced by 1930s architecture, in addition to Mayan and Aztec temples. Its unique construction earned it the nicknames Legoland and Babylon-on-Thames.

The arrival of the incumbent Chief of SIS was expedited. The briefing room was packed with every applicable analyst and officer. Donavan expected a classic clusterfuck when something as high stakes as the U.S. Secretary of Intelligence being sniped on the putting green took place. Their liaison at the FBI had patched in all acquired intelligence regarding the joint investigation between the bureau and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Donavan knew the CIA would be in the background as well, considering their boss’s boss just took a round in the chest. More than likely, the entire Department of Intelligence (DIN) was involved.

The Chief also recognized the special agent leading the investigation of the SecInt’s assassination. Coincidently, a connection existed between Special Agent Thomas and another of Donavan’s affairs. To what purpose would someone wish to kill the sitting SecInt? There was nothing entirely special about this particular Secretary. Likewise puzzling was the instrument used: a turn-of-the-century sniper rifle and an armor-penetrating round. More advanced weapons could have been utilized. Was this a luckyhave-not” killing by a third -world group? Donavan found it ridiculous the lazy politician was appointed to the position in the first place. It was ironic such a dense, self-righteous cunt could be head of U.S. intelligence.

Anything at this point would be speculative, but the feelers would go out and usually came back with something. Donavan, however, would go straight to his contact, even though the murder was unrelated to their current operation. This was a bold move, and whoever had organized and executed such an assassination, hopefully, was aware of the repercussions of killing the top intelligence officer in the United States. It was also apparent that in the intelligence world, nothing is ever what it seems.


Apartment Fever

(Jack)

I couldn’t take this anymore! I cleaned the entire apartment, fixed the garbage disposal, did the laundry, and organized everything. I had to figure out who I was. This whole playing house thing wasn’t going to fly for much longer. On a side note, with lingerie like that, either Carly was hoping to give someone the night of his, or her, life and never got around to it, or she was a raging closet slut. I mean, nothing B&D or S&M, but if a girl were wearing that, it was likely a pornographic movie was being filmed, private or commercial.


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-31 show above.)