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Vanquish the xander king.., p.15

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2), page 15

 

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2)
 


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  Xander hadn’t had a chance to see if Sarah e-mailed him back. He had no way of knowing if the e-mail he sent her even went through, or for that matter, if she even wanted to help. It was far more likely that Pavlovich got through to have a chopper sent here, so it seemed that things had just gone from bad, to worse. He had no idea if there would be more armed men waiting for him in the helicopter so he had to act now.

  Xander had seen on a number of occasions while in Iraq, instances where a man had dropped his AK-47 onto the ground, and because the trigger was so loose, bullets would scatter into the air. It certainly would make a good distraction now. With the thumping of helicopter rotors getting closer by the second, it was time for action, not reaction. Xander tossed his AK-47 as far as he could to the right of where Pavlovich was hiding. As the machine gun floated through the air, Xander sprinted around the left side of Pavlovich. Half way there, the AK-47 landed in a thud on the ground and sure enough, bullets sprayed up into the air like fire off a freshly lit sparkler. Pavlovich’s reflex was the one Xander was counting on. He turned immediately and began firing at the unmanned AK-47. Now, only about twenty-five yards in front of him, Pavlovich’s back was turned, his attention on the distraction. In just a few powerful strides, Xander was at full speed and only a few feet from Pavlovich, when Pavlovich pivoted around and extended two pistols out in front of him, a mixture of surprise and anger cloaked his normally hardened face. Xander planted his left foot and launched himself forward in a dive that ended in a collision with the much smaller Pavlovich, just before he was able to squeeze either of the triggers on his guns. They landed in a crash to the ground and Pavlovich managed to roll backwards, freeing himself from Xander, though losing hold of his weapons in the process as they went flying several feet from him. Xander rolled to his feet, Pavlovich rose to his. It was a sight of sharp contrast. Pavlovich stood with more the frame of the Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond. Xander stood more like Captain America. After the injection. Pavlovich was known all over the world for his skills as an assassin, but only because of his cunning and his skill with weapons. He was not known as a master assassin because of his hand-to-hand combat abilities. This wasn’t going to end well for him, and he knew it as he stared into Xander’s adrenaline sparked eyes. His only chance was to get a weapon in his hands. For a moment, they stood, locked in a battle stance, their chests heaving as they both steadied their heart rates.

  The helicopter was now hovering at the tree line’s edge. Waiting.

  “There is no way you can win.” Pavlovich sneered.

  “Did you kill my parents?” Xander asked, his voice cold and flat.

  Pavlovich’s eyes darted, only for a split second from Xander’s to one of his guns.

  No more questions.

  Simultaneously, they both launched themselves in the direction of the gun. However, Xander wasn’t going for the gun, he launched himself where Pavlovich was going to be, and it paid off. Just as Pavlovich got his hands on the gun, Xander had his hands on him. Xander straddled him and clasped his hands around Pavlovich’s grip on the gun and forced the bullets off course just as he squeezed the trigger. The bang of the gun clamored in Xander’s ears and a high pitched whistle stayed behind, stinging through his eardrums. Before Pavlovich could once again squeeze the trigger, Xander forced his arms over his head and banged them against the ground. On the third slam, Pavlovich released the gun but was able to roll Xander over because of his lack of balance. He was now straddling Xander in an immensely dominate position. The worst position you could be in if you are fighting a man. Flat on your back, pinned underneath him, with only your arms to protect yourself.

  A look of satisfaction grew over Pavlovich’s face, but it quickly turned to surprise. Not surprise because Xander had managed to grab the gun, and he wasn’t surprised because Xander had managed any other weapon either. He was surprised because when he looked down from his dominate position, ready to easily end this deadly encounter, he was shocked to find the look on Xander’s face. Not only did he see no fear, but Xander was smiling.

  “You smile?” Pavlovich grunted as rage washed over his face. He pulled his fist back and launched it at Xander’s face. Xander slapped it away like he would a child’s hand reaching for a hot pan. Pavlovich immediately drew back his other fist, launched it, and had it easily slapped away again.

  Xander was toying with him.

  “Nicoli Pavlovich, a world renowned assassin, hits like a little fucking girl.” Xander maintained his smile.

  Pavlovich reached back once again but Xander didn’t give him the chance to try again. Xander took Pavlovich’s dangling arm, pulled it down as he pushed up with his hips, then he swept him from his dominate position, turning the tables, and now Xander was on top. Xander quickly passed Pavlovich’s guard and straddled his rib cage.

  “Let me show you how this is done,” Xander’s smile was now nowhere to be found.

  But his elbows were.

  Those elbow rained down upon Pavlovich’s face like a superstorm of ominous clouds opening up and pouring down cinderblocks on his head. With each annihilating blow, hot purple-red blood spattered Xander and the ground around him. Pavlovich’s skin split like a block of firewood under a razor sharp axe. Each merciless thud resulted in a pain-filled whimper. Just before Xander thought he might kill him, he sat up on top of him, took Pavlovich’s face in his hands, forcing eye contact, and asked him one last time.

  “Did you kill my parents?” His voice cold enough to freeze boiling water.

  Pavlovich’s jaw was slack, clearly broken, yet he still managed to slur his final words. “Fuck your parents, and fuck you.”

  Xander let go of his face.

  Xander rose to his feet.

  Xander crushed what was left of Pavlovich’s skull with the bottom of his shoe.

  It took a moment for Xander’s whits to return. His heart raced and his entire body heaved with rage. He stalked back and forth beside Pavlovich’s dead body like an animal boasting over its kill. It wasn’t anything Xander thought or saw that broke his murderous trance, it was what he could no longer hear.

  The helicopter’s rotors had stopped.

  Kyle Hamilton Has Trust Issues

  Kyle, Jack, and Zhanna landed at a remote private airfield, not far, but far enough from where Zhanna knew her father would be. Sarah, Marv, and Mary were still a couple of hours out, and Kyle had no idea where Xander was. As Bob taxied the plane toward the hangar, Kyle was having a hard time fighting the panic rising from within. These were the moments he could look to his stoic friend, Xander, and his calm would become Kyle’s calm. He looked around the cabin of the airplane. While he was sure the beautiful Zhanna, ex-KGB, and the vastly experienced Jack Bronson were formidable allies, to Kyle they were still strangers. And though they seemed as eager as he was to see this thing through, their motives were their own. Zhanna didn’t really care about Xander. She just wanted to avenge her mother’s death and kill her father. Jack barely even knew Xander, so Xander really wasn’t his concern either. The only thing Jack cared about was clearing his conscious of putting Xander’s mom in the pretzel behind his friend—Xander’s dad’s—back. Kyle heard the phrase on many occasions, the enemy of an enemy is a friend, and while Kyle didn’t see these strangers as enemies, they were friends because they shared Dragov as a common enemy. But was that enough to truly band them together? Would they lay down their life for Xander? For Sam? For Kyle, himself? Would Kyle lay down his life for them?

  The questions and anxiety surrounding the horrible situation they were all in, swirled around his conscience.

  Bob chimed in over the intercom, “Kyle, can you come up here for a minute?”

  Kyle jumped when the pilot bonged in. It hit him then that Bob was more of an ally than the two seasoned veterans in front of him. Bob had held off the enemy and saved their ass back in Syria. He could have just left them in Syria and worried solely about himself, but he didn’t. It is proven that he is willing to risk his life for
Xander. For all of them. A dash of hope sparked somewhere inside of Kyle.

  As Kyle got up, Jack asked, “What’s this about? Any idea?”

  “Not sure. Be back in a sec.”

  Kyle walked to the cockpit. In the few short seconds it took to get there, the plane had stopped and Bob was turned around in his chair waiting for Kyle.

  “I don’t like this, Kyle.”

  “What’s wrong?” The look on Bob’s face killed what little spark of hope flashed in Kyle just a moment ago.

  “Something’s off. I’ve been doing this a long time, and something is not right here.”

  “You mean at this airport?”

  “Yeah, it’s too damn quiet.”

  “Didn’t we choose this place specifically for that reason?”

  “We did, but we weren’t going to an abandoned airfield, just a remote one. No working airport is this remote. And, I’ve communicated with thousands of air traffic controllers in my day, and I’m telling you, the guy that saw me in...I—he wasn’t an air traffic controller.” Bob’s eyes conveyed nothing but sureness.

  Kyle had to ask anyway, even though he could see the answer in Bob’s eyes. “You’re sure? He couldn’t just be new?”

  Bob just lowered his head, and gave it a shake. “No. I’m positive we’ve flown into an ambush. That’s why I stopped at the end of the runway instead of taxiing in.

  Just then the radio on the plane chirped. “N800XK, you are cleared to taxi in. Please proceed to hangar three. N800XK, I repeat, please proceed to hangar three.”

  Bob said, “What do you want me to do?”

  “What do you think? I’m out of my league here.”

  “Should we ask one of them?” Bob nodded his head toward the cabin. Zhanna and Jack looked on with focused curiosity.

  “Fuck. I was just having this argument with myself before you called me up here. I think we can trust them, but I hardly know them.”

  “Do you trust me?”

  Kyle looked dead into Bob’s eyes. “I remember Syria. I trust you with my life.”

  “Then sit down and buckle up. We’re getting the hell out of here.”

  Blood, Sweat, and Urine

  Xander’s ears were pricked, waiting to hear something—anything—from the direction of the helicopter. He waited to hear the voices of soldiers, the rustling of weapons, footfalls crashing on the ground toward him; still there was nothing. The air around him had begun to cool. The sun’s golden light turned to the orange beginning of its descent. The air smelled of blood and fuel. Before he moved forward toward the helicopter at the edge of the trees, he picked up the late Nicoli Pavlovich’s famous ones and twos. Pistols that had seen to the end of many an enemy. There were only a couple of bullets left in each clip, he could tell that by the weight. He quickly ran up another ten yards and behind another tree, his leg throbbing the entire way, inching his way closer to the helicopter. The helicopter that showed absolutely zero signs of life. Almost as if a ghost had flown it in. One more ten yard move forward and he would be able to get his eyes on it and really assess the situation. An eagle screamed overhead, followed by another bird of prey. Soon, Nicoli Pavlovich’s skin and muscle would be picked clean to the bone. A fitting end for a human vulture. Xander’s end may be coming soon, but it was not going to happen out here. Not before he could get to his friends. Not before Dragov’s cold dead eyes stared back up at him as he joined Pavlovich in the afterlife.

  Xander lunged forward and sidled up behind another tree. Through row after row of pine branches, he could see the tail rotor on the army green chopper. He couldn’t see anyone standing around it. Something was off. There is no way Pavlovich would have called for a chopper with no one in it. Maybe this helicopter was meant for him—

  Just as the thought crossed his mind, off in the distance that familiar thumping sound echoed across the sky and made its way through the trees to Xander. Another helicopter. So, did that mean the first was just a scout? Find our location then radio for the fully manned chopper? That didn’t seem logical, but he was stuck at the foot of a mountain range in Ukraine.

  Two weeks ago Xander would have laughed had you told him that would happen. He should be at home preparing his magnificent racehorse for one of the sport’s greatest glories; the Triple Crown. Instead, more murder. More pain. More of his friends in danger. Xander figured he was becoming more like a cancer than a friend. Everything around him was shrouded in his personal quest for vengeance. Though he felt like sulking, he knew he really didn’t have the time for that, or the time to further speculate on who this bird was meant for. It was either the good guys that flew in first or the bad guys. And only one way to find out.

  Xander maneuvered his way through the last hundred yards of trees, zigzagging as gracefully as a man with a bullet in his calf muscle could possibly zig and zag. After just a few moments he came to the edge of the trees, the helicopter only twenty yards in front of him. The second helicopter closing quickly from the sky. Xander saw zero movement inside the cockpit. Quickly, he turned to his left, then his right, then behind him. Even though he did a scan on his way to the tree line and saw no one, it made him paranoid when the pilot was nowhere to be found. He, or they, could very easily have gone off and hidden while Xander was stuffing his heel through Pavlovich’s forehead. But Xander had a certain feel for these things. At least he used to. His judgment in general lately, especially about people, had been at best a little suspect. He didn’t like the feeling of questioning himself. He wasn’t used to it, because it simply never happened.

  Xander turned back toward the helicopter, determined. He couldn’t wait any longer. If he was lucky enough to have an ally in this chopper, he knew he wouldn’t be that lucky twice as the now visible second helicopter was closing fast. Xander sprinted for the front of the chopper, his arms extended in front of him, pistols in hand. He made it to the chopper and put his back up against the exterior, looking right, toward the open air entrance on the side.

  “You’ve got five seconds to exit the helicopter, hands on your head, before I come in and kill you. FIVE.” Xander began his count.

  “FOUR!” He heard nothing.

  “THREE!” Nothing but the closing thump of sure death that was the second chopper.

  “TWO!” Still nothing, Xander readied himself for an entrance.

  “ONE—”

  “WAIT!” Xander heard as he turned the corner. His finger almost too heavy on the trigger to stop the shot. Inside the empty cabin of the unmarked military chopper, a scrawny, wild haired young man lay on the floor, his hands above his head, and the fear of god on his face. As soon as he saw Xander, the fear on his face went from scared to piss-your-pants terrified. “Aaaahhhh!” An ultra high-pitched, teenage girl scream leapt from the lungs of the man.

  Xander asked, “Who are you?”

  A pause, then: “Aaaaahhhh!” Another shrill scream as the eyes of the man went from Xander’s eyes, roamed over Xander’s body, and back up to his eyes.

  Xander looked down, he was absolutely covered in blood. From head to toe. He wiped his face with the top side of his forearm and even more blood must have been covering his face. Xander could only imagine the horror movie character he must have looked like.

  “Please! Please don’t kill Viktor! I should never have come here! I am good guy!”

  “Viktor? Viktor calm down, I’m Xander. Who sent you?”

  Viktor’s face changed in an instant. He went from fear to utter elation. “Xander? You are Xander! Haha! Yes, man! Viktor knew that! I am just playing with you, man!”

  Xander looked on, lowering his weapons, confusion on his face. He couldn’t tell if this guy was really playing with him, or just trying to cooly cover the fact that he was scared out of his mind.

  Viktor got to his feet. He was maybe a hundred-forty pounds soaking wet, tall and wiry. He wore a white wifebeater, baggy khaki cargo pants, a scraggly beard, Albert Einstein-wild dirty blond hair, and the goofiest fucking expression on his face t
hat Xander had ever seen.

  “I had you huh? You thought Viktor was really scared!”

  The closing in of the helicopter shortened Xander’s assessment of Viktor. “You gonna get me out of here or are you just going to stand there and try to convince me that the wet spot on your pants is from a drink you spilled earlier and not piss that leaked from you as you were screaming like a little girl?”

  Viktor’s head snapped down toward his crotch, then he looked back up with an embarrassed smile. “Oh, Xander King is funny man. I like funny man! Sure, let’s get out of here.” He motioned over his shoulder in the direction of the oncoming helicopter. “Viktor not so sure that next ride will have hero like Viktor waiting to save you.”

  Xander smiled internally as he pulled himself up into the helicopter. “Then we’d better get going.” He walked past Viktor and straight to the passenger seat in the cockpit.

  Viktor followed him to the front. “You did not really think Viktor was scared did you? Come on! I know you would not think that.”

  Xander didn’t say anything as he buckled up. Viktor took the seat beside him, a worried look on his face. “Seriously, I was not scared. I’ve killed hundreds of men. Nothing scares Viktor Panchak!”

  Xander’s eyes roamed over Viktor’s physique. Clearly not a man that had ever served in any sort of actual combat. “Whatever you say Viktor, just make sure you crack a window on the way up, I don’t wanna smell urine the entire flight to Moscow.”

  For the first time Viktor’s face sagged a bit. Then the smile popped right back on. “Oh, Viktor get it. You funny guy!”

  Xander looked up at the incoming helicopter and let out a sigh. Viktor fired up the chopper. If they made it off the ground, it was going to be one hell of a long flight.

 
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