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Vanquish the xander king.., p.13

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2), page 13

 

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2)
 


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  “Exactly. So you would be able to keep him informed on exactly what Xander was up to, and who he was targeting.”

  “So that Manning could then relay it to Dragov,” Sarah said to no one.

  “That’s right, Sarah. And when word got back that Xander had found his parents’ killer, that’s when Dragov began to take action. Dragov was lucky that my intel wasn’t good.”

  “Your intel?” Sarah looked baffled.

  “Yes, I’m the one that told Sean that I thought Sanharib Khatib could be the guy. I told Sean to not let Xander know until we were sure, but Xander can be very persuasive. And now, because Director Manning kept the info from Xander that Dragov was actually the murderer, Sean is dead.”

  Sarah didn’t know what to do with all of that information. The only thing she wanted to do was get back on a plane and get to Moscow so she could try and help Xander. Now, here she was, taking a tongue lashing from this turncoat, wrinkly-ass, fat shit Manning because Marv told her it would be best to act like they knew nothing. Marv said Manning would ask questions, probe her, to see if Sarah was on to him.

  Sure enough...

  Manning grew tired of waiting for Sarah to pull out of her silent stupor. “You’d better tell me that Xander tried to turn you against me, but then you decided to do the right thing and come back here instead of listening to him!”

  And there it was. Marv was right. The only thing Manning cared about in that moment was if he was burnt. He would want to know if she’d contacted anyone. But she hadn’t. She would let Xander take care of Manning. Right now she just needed to get out of there so she could meet her new friend Marv at the airport so they could get their asses to Moscow!

  “That’s exactly what happened, Director Manning.” Sarah managed her most impressive pouty face. “Xander took advantage of me. The only reason he wanted so badly for me to be around was to find out what you were up to. I told him to go fuck himself when he said you were compromised.” Sarah was impressed at the way her own voice sounded. Convincing.

  Director Manning’s entire demeanor changed. As if the storm clouds of concern in his mind had lifted. “Good. Compromised...” He huffed, liking the sound of that.

  Sarah’s skin was crawling. She wanted to shoot that old fucker right in his blood-red wrinkly forehead. Time to make for certain once and for all whether Manning is truly working against Xander, and possibly for Dragov.

  Sarah probed, “I’ll grab a team and go take him down. He won’t see us coming at his villa in Tuscany.”

  Here it was. If Director Manning was on the up and up, he of course would want to put an end to Xander’s free reign. However, if he wanted otherwise, that meant he knew that Xander had already been captured. Sarah waited. The air in the room seemed thick enough to see.

  “You know what Sarah? Fuck Xander King. Let him try to go in there and take out Dragov. No matter what happens, we win.”

  And there it was. Sarah was disgusted. She couldn’t believe the uphill climb that Xander had unknowingly been up against. Sarah stood and told Manning that she would await further instruction. Manning told her to be ready in case he called.

  She sure as shit would be.

  An hour later, Sarah was sitting aboard a Gulfstream jet beside Marv, and across from the CIA’s Director of Espionage, Mary Hartsfield. It seemed that Jack Bronson and Mary Hartsfield “go way back” and Jack had made a phone call to her from Xander’s G650 as it was making its way to Moscow, letting her know that Xander and Sam were taken.

  Sarah was devastated. Once she caught her breath, she was shocked when Mary wasn’t all that surprised to hear about Director Manning’s corruption. The fact that it came from Jack probably helped, Mary’s eyes twinkled when she mentioned his name. They clearly had a romantic history. It also probably didn’t hurt that Mary would be at the top of the list to replace Manning as the head of the CIA. She had to be sick and tired of his shit by now.

  All she could do now was hope that Xander, though clearly in trouble, was at least not in any immediate danger.

  Pistols and Parachutes (not a good mix)

  The power of the wind against Xander’s back as he plummeted toward the earth below was strong enough to pin him against the Russian—AKA his parachute. Before he could deploy the parachute he would have to turn the man around so that they were face to face. Using his jujitsu grip, he slowly turned the man towards him. As he did so, Pavlovich and his four merry men arranged their bodies into aerodynamic dive positions, arms at hips, legs together straight out behind them. They were currently rocketing toward him. Gaining fast. Xander, because he had to hold this rhino of a man in order to use him as a parachute, didn’t have the luxury of a dive position.

  Xander finally managed to get the man turned around, and as the first of the Rocket Men approached, he managed to re-acquire a firm grip on the pistol. He had seven shots and maybe five-thousand feet to get himself out of this mess before he had to open the chute.

  “Help!” Xander shouted as the first Rocket Man fanned out his arms and matched the free fall pace of Xander and the bull-neck, now clearly dead, Russian parachute. “Help!” He screamed again. Trying to at least feign being out of control. And what were these guys, expert parachuting Russian mafia thugs?

  The first Rocket Man moved closer through the air and made an attempt to latch on. Xander smiled, put the gun to the man’s head and pulled the trigger. Blood and brains splattered upward in spectacular fashion, all over the face of Rocket Man Number Two who had moved in right behind Rocket Man One. As wind whipped around him at a deafening pace, Xander struggled against its upward push, managed to squeeze the trigger, and subsequently managed to make Rocket Man Number Two’s head explode in a similar fashion. Rocket Man Two never even saw the gun, or the bullet coming because the goggles over his eyes were still covered by Rocket Man Number One’s guts.

  “Did you see that!” Xander grabbed the head of his dead-man-parachute and gave it a shake. “Seriously man, you are missing out!”

  Xander couldn’t wait to tell Kyle about this. At least he would appreciate it.

  It was then that a look back over his shoulder at the unrelenting rise of the ground below brought him back to reality. Xander re-gripped the dead-man-parachute, squeezed his legs around him with all his might, and pulled the rip cord. Pavlovich and Rocket Man Three and Four went flying past him. Rocket Man Three and Four pulled their chutes but Pavlovich continued to dive toward the ground. The yank of the parachute deploying was almost enough to shake Xander loose, but his training paid off. The burn in his legs was fierce, but he held on. Rocket Man Three and Four began to pull on their lines and it slowed them enough to where they began to rise up to Xander’s level. Below them, Xander could see that Pavlovich had finally pulled his chute. He was smart. He knew his best chance at killing Xander would be to be there waiting for him on the ground. After he got rid of the oncoming Rocket Men, Xander would have to try and steer away, to at least give him a chance to land before Pavlovich came after him. The ground below Pavlovich was a plush green open valley, that ran into what looked like a small forest, that just so happened to be nestled right up to a vast mountain range. Xander figured it was most likely the Carpathian Mountains. Great, even if he did survive this battle, he was going to be stranded in the middle of a massive mountain range, in the middle of Ukraine.

  Sigh.

  Rocket Man Three floated slowly up to Xander. He let go of his lines and now had both hands on his semi-automatic weapon. Xander did his best to sink his limbs in behind the big Russian in order to shield himself from the spray of bullets. He heard a succession of crackles and heard bullets smack into the back of his dead-man-parachute. Xander reached over the shoulder of his human shield and just as he was about to pull the trigger on a clear shot, he heard a succession of crackles behind and a little below him. Rocket Man Four, in an attempt to cover his comrade, sprayed a line of bullets up toward Xander. Xander still managed to squeeze off a shot, but it was sent flying off
course because one of the stray bullets from behind him ripped clean through the right line on his parachute. The parachute began to fold in on itself, and Xander had a decision to make. He was in the middle of the sky, holding on to a sinking ship, two men shooting at his front and back. No time to consider the consequences. Shots rang out behind him through the deep blue sky and Rocket Man Three was now right in front with his gun trained on Xander, barking something in Russian. Xander squeezed with his legs, unclipped the parachute strap from the dead man’s right leg, then his left leg, and just as his hand hit where the clip snapped around his waist, Xander felt a bullet hit just above his leg, causing the automatic reaction of flailing, making him lose the grip that his legs held around the dead man, and all of a sudden he was hanging by his finger tips from the clip of a parachute. The iron grip of his hand being the only reason he wasn’t dropping his way toward death. He clung to the clasp like a vice, his hand burning with ache. Rocket Man Four was now at Xander’s level, and once again he was forced to act. He pulled himself up with one arm as he tucked the gun into his waistline. His half-parachute had begun to cause him to circle and the earth, blue sky mixed with clouds, swirled around him. Rocket Man Three had floated too far away by then, but Four sprayed bullets that zipped all around Xander and smacked into his human Russian shield several times. There was no time to think. Xander gripped the left shoulder strap of the parachute at the same time he unbuckled the last clip. The parachute shifted, pulling the dead man’s arm out of socket, but it stuck just long enough for him to get a grip on the second strap. The chute above him continued to swirl in the wind, and this time folded onto itself and Xander dropped quickly away from Rocket Man Four, plummeting to the ground that was maybe a thousand feet below him now. With both hands death gripping each strap, Xander spread them out away from each other as far as he could. With the wind whipping around him, his lungs on fire from the struggle, his arms and hands failing him from muscle fatigue, he summonsed just enough strength to bring his legs up and kick the dead Russian straight back. Finally, the parachute was free.

  It’s amazing what you can do when death is relentlessly rising toward you at near warp speed.

  Xander quickly pulled himself into the parachute, pulled the gun from his waist, used two of his last three bullets to cut free of the line that held the original parachute and yanked the chord on the reserve chute. It jerked him upward again as it plumed out into the deep blue above him like cloud of yellow smoke, and finally, the ground below began to come at him more slowly once again. The problem was, he hadn’t had time to steer in all of the madness, and now he was dropping straight for an armed and deadly, Nicoli Pavlovich.

  Shit.

  As his adrenaline finally took a moment off, it allowed the pain from a bullet in his leg to come screaming to the surface. It was a familiar pain, in a familiar place. It couldn’t have been too far from the bullet he had taken in the calf muscle out on the yacht in the Virgin Islands just a few days ago. This was getting ridiculous. He’d had more holes put in him in the last two weeks than a goth chick on a piercing binge. And his stomach was still sore from its recent healing itself.

  Putting the pain aside, he yanked down on the right line and he began to turn to his right. Below him, he could see Pavlovich running after him. He would be in shooting range in a matter of seconds. He yanked hard on both lines, trying to float along as much as he could. Pavlovich was running through the middle of an open meadow, through a carpet of purple saffron flowers. The serene landscape that surrounded him was in stark contrast to Pavlovich’s sinister intentions. There was a canopy of pines at the foot of a mountain just in front of him. If he could float it that far, that was Xander’s best chance. The air was much warmer than it had been fifteen thousand feet ago, much more abundant as well. Xander closed his eyes and took in a couple of in-through-the-nose, out-through-the-mouth breaths and steadied his heart rate. He was about three hundred yards from the trees, and about fifty from the ground. A rabid and relentless machine of a man was sprinting about a hundred yards behind him. With only one bullet left, and a leaking hole in his leg, it dawned on him that given all that he’d heard about the skills of Nicoli Pavlovich, even though Xander had been through many unbelievable battles over the years, he was about to be in for the fight of his life.

  Here Comes the Calvary

  Outside the window of the Gulfstream, a never ending light blue cradled the golden glow of the afternoon sun. Below, another never ending, though darker, blue ocean rolled out into the same great beyond like an infinite floor of carpet. The warmth coming through those windows served as what felt like a tranquilizer, melting Sarah into her seat. However, no matter how drowsy, she couldn’t relax enough to fall asleep. Not with the thought of Xander being taken, and not with the thought of her boss being a turncoat, Benedict Arnold, supersized, lying-ass-traitor-sonofabitch.

  “You all right, Sarah?”

  Sarah actually jumped when she heard Marv’s voice. Marv could tell by the look on her face that she absolutely was not all right, and he felt obligated to lend her an ear after all she’d been through. Sarah gave a fake smile and nodded her head.

  “I’m okay. It just seems like we’ve been on this plane forever, and it’s only been like three hours.”

  “I know. There is no reality worse than the unknown.”

  “So true. I mean, I know Xander is the very best at what he does, Marv, but if he’s been taken...” Sarah took a deep breath. Marv gave her hand a it’s gonna be okay pat. “I mean, you’ve known him longer than I have, do you think he’s okay?”

  “Well, to be honest, it doesn’t sound good. Though I’ve never known Xander to let emotions dictate his decisions, it seems that lately that is exactly what he’s doing. And with Manning turning on him and having two of the meanest men on the planet after him, it really doesn’t look good.”

  “So much for encouraging words.” Sarah slumped in her seat.

  “But...”

  Sarah perked back up immediately. Marv could see that Sarah didn’t really want the honest truth, just a pep talk. Marv was so terrible at this sort of thing. He didn’t get the how to comfort women gene. He didn’t even get the how to talk to women gene. Xander was always the one that handled this stuff when they were working together. Marv gave it the old college try anyway.

  “...But, if there is anyone on this planet that can get himself out of the most impossible situations, it’s Xander King. Or, X-Man as Sean used to call him. We all thought he was some sort of superhero.”

  “So, maybe he’s all right then?”

  Just tell her what she wants to hear, Marv. Damn it. For once in your life don’t screw it up with a gorgeous woman!

  “I think maybe he is.”

  Sarah leaned over and wrapped her arms around him. It worked! At first, Marv was like a deer in headlights, it took him a moment to hug her back. She smelled so good. Lavender and honey.

  “Thanks Marv. I needed—”

  Sarah’s phone chirped. A new e-mail. Mary roused from a deep sleep from the chair across from Sarah and immediately tuned in to the commotion. Sarah’s heart jumped into her throat when she saw it was a message from Xander. She clicked on the e-mail notification, her eyes serious, ready to take it all in. It didn’t take long.

  I’m sorry I doubted you.

  Melanie is a traitor.

  Sam is prisoner on way to Moscow.

  Don’t trust Manning.

  Call Marvin Cameron.

  I need a chopper ASAP.

  After that last sentence, she saw where Xander had dropped a pin to divulge his location. Sarah’s heart was still racing as she clicked on the pin and her phone loaded Xander’s exact location.

  I’m sorry I doubted you.

  Her and Xander were okay.

  “You okay?”

  Sarah jumped out of her zone when Marvin spoke. “Oh god, I’m sorry Marv, it’s Xander. He’s okay!”

  “He messaged you? That son of a bitch made i
t.”

  “I know, right? He dropped a pin and said he needs a helicopter. But, he’s in...hang on, it’s loading...Ukraine? How the hell can we get him a chopper in the Ukraine? I don’t know anyone there.”

  “Shit. I don’t either.” Marv rubbed his chin and pushed his black frame glasses back up his nose. “But, I spoke with Jack while you were in with Manning and he said they are with Zhanna. She’s ex-KGB. She might have a contact.”

  Mary leaned forward. “I spent some time in Ukraine years ago. I have a contact there. His nephew used to fly for their military...”

  “But?” Sarah asked. She could see hesitation in Mary’s eyes.

  “But, he got kicked out. Now he just lives off of his father’s money. I only met him once, he’s like a ten-year old. He’s out of his mind, always getting into trouble doing stupid shit that almost always gets him killed. One of those adrenaline junkies. He’s a total wildcard, but his daddy does have a helicopter.”

  Marv’s chin almost dropped to the floor. “You’re serious? Xander just so happens to somehow escape in Ukraine, needing a chopper, and you actually know someone there that has one? You can’t make this stuff up.”

  “Can you make a call?” Sarah asked. Her doe eyes doing their very best pleading.

  “I’m telling you, he might end up getting Xander killed. He’s fucking crazy.”

  “Sounds to me like they’re kindred spirits. Both of them having a death wish and all.” Marv mused.

  “What should I tell Xander?” Sarah asked.

  Mary let out a sigh. “I guess this is the best we’ve got. I’ll make a call.”

  Sarah jumped out of her seat, but her seatbelt was still latched and it yanked her back like a yo-yo. It barely even slowed her down though, she unlatched the belt and ran over, throwing her arms around Mary. Mary gave Sarah a pat on the back and over her shoulder gave Marv a double eyebrow raised wow face. Marv just smiled and winked.

 
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