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Vanquish the xander king.., p.17

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2), page 17

 

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2)
 


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  Things were not good. Not good at all.

  And though it seemed things could only get better from here, Xander knew it could still get so much worse. So far, as far as he knew, everyone was still alive. A fact he knew wouldn’t last long.

  “We’ve reached landing point that CIA lady, Mary, said would be good to attack from. You think they have sandwich?”

  All was not lost, Xander did have good ol’ Viktor.

  “No Viktor, I don’t think the middle of the woods in the middle of nowhere will have sandwich. Sorry. Just drop me and get the hell out of here before you get shot down. We’re only about a mile from Dragov’s compound, he’s probably already watching. And, I doubt the window of clearance the CIA lady managed to get us to fly into Russian airspace has a very long shelf life.”

  “Shelf life? There is shelf? Then maybe there will be sandwich, no?”

  Jesus.

  Xander ignored the ridiculous question. “Sit this bird down as fast as you can, and as soon as I jump out, get the hell back to Ukraine, understand?”

  “Viktor like Xander King. I no leave. I stay and fight, then maybe Xander let Viktor come work for him in USA? Viktor bored in Ukraine. Plus, Viktor love American women.”

  “Viktor, I appreciate that, but this is serious. If I make it out alive, it will be a miracle.”

  “Viktor knows of this Dragov. One man can’t make it in compound. Xander need Viktor. Remember, Viktor is killer.”

  Viktor said this without a hint of sarcasm. Xander could see in his eyes that he had already made up his bat-shit-crazy mind. Call of Duty has made every gamer think they can survive, and even thrive in real combat.

  Ignorance is bliss.

  “Whatever you say, Viktor. Just make sure you stay behind me. If you wanna be a soldier, you’ve got to be able to follow orders.”

  Viktor flashed a snaggletooth grin and did a little shimmy in his seat, he was clearly excited to be coming along. On the ride in, Xander found a pile of military clothes in the back of the chopper and finally was able to shed his blood soaked pajamas. Now he at least felt like a soldier going into battle. Familiar army green cargo pants, black combat boots and a matching black v-neck tee. It wouldn’t much keep him warm, but he didn’t plan on standing still very long on this mission.

  As they approached their landing zone in the middle of the woods, only about a mile behind Dragov’s compound, his fresh clothing sparked the memory of the first time he met Samantha—Sam—Harrison, and subsequently, the reason she was still his loyal partner in crime to this day:

  Six years ago, Xander had just finished up a successful Black Op for the U.S. government in Paris. It had almost been spoiled by an overzealous MI6 agent who had come over from London. Wires had been crossed and they were pursuing the same target, an extremely dangerous terrorist faction that had been wreaking havoc in Europe for more than a decade. Taking down the leader of this group would certainly carry along with it a large notch on the belt of whoever had managed the successful eradication. Sometimes, that can get in the way of better judgment for agents, and Sam had nearly gotten herself killed when Xander was finishing the job. The problem for her was that the second in command of this terrorist faction never saw Xander when he successfully performed the assassination, but he did see Sam. So he held Sam responsible for the death of his leader, and took her.

  Xander had already vowed to himself that he would be having, at the very least, harsh words with whomever this, “Samantha Harrison” was that almost cost him the mission. That’s why he declined to help retrieve her when the call came in from his superiors in the U.S. government. He remembered having no desire to put himself in harm’s way because of her, again. But—and this is why only months later he left the military—when the man gives you orders, you have no choice but to follow them.

  So, Xander did what he does best, and with the help of U.S. intelligence, he found where they were holding Sam in London, infiltrated with ease, and it was what he found there, in that dark abandoned room, that forever changed his mind and heart about Samantha Harrison. He had just taken out the two armed guards at the door, opened it, and chained to the wall in front of him was a mostly naked woman, wearing only a pair of white, blood covered panties, that matched the rest of her blood covered body. Xander’s throat tightened and his heart sank. She was hanging by her arms that were chained above her head, both shoulders torn out of their sockets. At first he thought her dead, her head just hung limply, and her chin against her chest. Then she introduced herself in only the way a tough-ass-bitch like Sam could. Without looking up, she spoke to whom she clearly thought was her capture in her sharp British accent.

  “I told you, until you find me someone with a bigger cock to fuck me, I’ll not say a word.”

  Xander instantly loved her. How someone who had clearly been so brutally tortured, raped, and god only knew what else, could have such wit and toughness. He knew that Sam was his kind of woman. He walked toward her, distraught to the core by what he saw, but managed to play back.

  “Well, I definitely have the size you’re looking for, but I have no plans on giving you the pleasure.”

  The look on Sam’s face when she raised her head was one Xander would never forget. It brought tears to his eyes just remembering it. When she looked at him, the emotion in her eyes was so powerful that it nearly brought Xander to his knees. It was the look one would give when they awoke from a near death experience to find the face of a loved one, this woman had seen hell, and lived to tell about it. Sam didn’t say another word that night. Xander, with the care of a mother for her child, removed Sam’s chains and took her down from the wall. He took his black v-neck t-shirt off and put it on her, taking great care to not further damage the multitude of whip marks on her bloody back. He then took her over his shoulder, killed six more men on their way to safety, and together, they have been a force of nature ever since.

  “Xander King, I put chopper down right there.” Viktor broke Xander’s trance pointing to an opening in the trees. Xander jumped when he heard his voice and quickly wiped a tear that had streaked down his right cheek. He gave Viktor a nod and looked over the canopy of trees toward the lights of Dragov’s mansion. The same mansion that held captive his precious Sam.

  Xander had no idea how he would do it, but he would find a way to save her again. She was in there because of him. All of the people that were in danger on this night were there because of him, and he wasn’t for a second going to let them suffer for it.

  It was in that moment that everything changed for Xander. The switch had finally flipped, he had finally realized what was important in his life. No longer was his life going to be about the past. Xander had far too much to live for in the present. If he made it out of this night alive, all of his relationships intact, things from here on out were going to change.

  Things would be different.

  In the Pines

  The helicopter’s rotors finally came to a halt. A deafening silence filled in around them. The air was brisk, somewhere in the low forties. Xander knew without a doubt that their helicopter would draw the attention of Dragov and his men. Time was of the essence, so there unfortunately had been no other way in. Xander consolidated the two half empty clips in Pavlovich’s pistols into one full clip, and traded the empty pistol for one Viktor had brought along with him. With Rambo tucked under his right pant leg, Xander felt good about his weapons. It was Viktor doing something stupid with his shotgun while trailing Xander that made for a much larger concern. Xander didn’t like unknowns in combat, and a wildcard like Viktor scared the hell out of him.

  “You sure you know how to use that?” Xander whispered to Viktor as they stood outside the helicopter.

  Viktor smiled, “Viktor shoot plenty. Viktor also head of number three clan in all of Ukraine in Black Ops 3.”

  Great, more Call of Duty arrogance.

  “Please tell me you have done more than shoot in a video game.”

  Viktor shucked the
slide, loading a shell into the twelve-gauge shotgun’s chamber. “Let’s go cowboy.”

  Shit.

  “All right, just stay behind me. There is no doubt a few men are already on their way out here to us after seeing us fly in. And, Viktor?”

  “Yes, boss?”

  “Don’t fucking shoot me.”

  “You worry too much, boss.”

  Xander shook his head and turned toward the trees in front of him. The grass below their feet was about ankle high and as they entered, they were surrounded by endless rows of birch and aspen trees. There wasn’t much of a wind, therefore their footsteps sounded more like the symbol section of a marching band than a walk through the woods. It was much darker under the cover of the trees as well. The fingernail moon and scattered stars offered almost zero visibility. Xander’s senses were on high alert. Viktor kept rhythm with his footsteps and it helped Xander maintain a focus on what might lie ahead. He tried to stay as far as he could from the tree trunks, hoping to avoid snapping fallen branches, but it was a useless endeavor. About halfway in, only around a half a mile to go, Xander held out his hand behind him to slow Viktor. He figured if men were coming to see who had flown in on the chopper, they would be getting close.

  To his left he heard footsteps crashing toward him and before he had time to react someone had plowed into him, driving him into the ground. As soon as he hit the ground he heard a smatter of gunfire from the trees out in front of him. At the same moment, the person who tackled him was already returning fire, apparently hitting their mark because grunts of pain came back to them from the darkness. Viktor let out a squeal and dove to the ground with them. Xander’s instinct was to react, but he felt a light hand on his chest, and as he squinted up at the person leaning over him, he could see they were wearing night vision goggles. They fired their weapon a couple more times then turned toward Xander. If it was a man, he wasn’t very big. They were in all black and Xander still couldn’t make out any features. Then, Viktor flipped on a small flashlight and when they ripped off their goggles, long red hair fell down around their shoulders and a woman’s thick Russian accent hissed at Viktor to shut off the light.

  Zhanna.

  The light shut off, Xander bridged his hips throwing Zhanna off balance and swept her onto her back. He pressed an elbow down across her chest and leaned all of his weight on her as he whisper-shouted. “What the fuck? Why would you do that?”

  Zhanna squirmed beneath him, but it was no use, she couldn’t move. She whisper-shouted back, “We have no time for this, more men are coming.”

  “Why the hell should I trust you, you betrayed us in Tuscany! Give me one reason I shouldn’t kill you!”

  Zhanna looked to her left at the same time Xander heard footsteps coming their way. Viktor hit the flashlight. Zhanna’s pistol popped and echoed through the trees. The man running their way flew off of his feet and landed on his back.

  “Viktor think that is good reason to trust her, boss.”

  Xander looked down into Zhanna’s eyes and that spark of sincerity that he noticed in Tuscany remained.

  “Xander, we must move. I am not your enemy.”

  In the distance they could hear more men coming. Xander rose to his feet, paused for a moment as he stared at Zhanna. His mind was fraught with confusion. His instincts were jumbled, but there was that sincerity he saw, and, she had just saved his life. Guarded, he puffed out a hot breath of air in a cottony cloud, and then finally held out his hand. She grabbed it with force and as soon as she made it to her feet she turned toward Viktor. He thought she was helping him up, but before he could protest, she took his flashlight and cracked it over her knee, plunging them once again into the darkness.

  Viktor said, “Hey! That was Viktor’s torch!”

  Zhanna covered his mouth. “Who the fuck is this, Xander?”

  “He saved my life and he didn’t run when shit got a little tough.” They both knew he was referring to Tuscany when she disappeared.

  “I just saved your life, but now we must run, together. Now!” She whisper-shouted one last time as the footfalls drew closer around them. Leaves rustled and fallen branches cracked, Zhanna grabbed Xander by the hand and pulled him off to the right. As he and Viktor followed behind her, he couldn’t reconcile why she would save his life. Especially after bailing on them in Tuscany, and then it hit him, how was she here and Kyle wasn’t?

  Xander stopped running and yanked Zhanna back toward him. “Where’s Kyle?”

  “Xander, we do not have time for this. I will explain, but right now we must get to tunnel! These men may know nothing about tunnel, either way, it will be only way into mansion. We can still have element of surprise.”

  Xander wanted answers, but he knew she was right. He would have to wait, and for the moment, he would have to trust that she wasn’t leading him into a trap. Quite a few yards and several twists and turns later, Zhanna pulled Xander to the ground with her.

  “Help me.” She said as Xander heard rustling all around him.

  “Zhanna, I can’t see.”

  He then felt her grab his hand with her mostly freezing cold hand and she guided him down to a, what felt like, metal handle. “Just help me pull. It will be heavy.”

  Xander heard her grunt and he began to pull with her. Whatever it was they were yanking on, it was heavier than he expected and he readjusted his position to add more leverage. Behind them, the thudding of feet against earth was getting closer. Xander looked to his left and the flashlights were on now, and they were close.

  “We must hurry! If they see us get in here, they will know—father will know—where the tunnel leads and we will be trapped!” Urgency spiked in Zhanna’s plea. He could hear in her voice that she was not putting on. For whatever reason, Zhanna seemed to truly be trying to help.

  Xander wrapped his other hand around the metal handle, tightened every muscle in his body and heaved with everything he had. Finally, he felt something give and it slid a few inches toward them. The crack showed light coming from below. To their left, the flashlights drew closer, and closer.

  “Just little more, Xander. Pull!”

  From off in the distance, “This way!” They heard a man shout toward their direction.

  Dragov’s men were on top of them. They had only seconds before the oncoming flashlight beams made it to their position over this apparent secret tunnel. Xander clenched up one more time, closed his eyes, and pulled with as much force as he could muster. The veins in his arms jutted and the muscles under his skin filled up like a balloon. At the last second, he arched his back and the massive metal cover slid far enough back for them to fit through. Zhanna let go of the handle and practically stuffed Viktor down through the hole. Xander motioned for Zhanna to go next and as she slid down inside he took one last look over his shoulder. The flashlights couldn’t have been more than twenty yards away.

  They hadn’t moved the cover in time.

  There was just no way they could not see him.

  Hot Blooded, Cold Hearted

  Dragov sat behind his desk, the yellow illumination of the lamp beside him was the only light in the room. He loaded a nine millimeter clip of hollow point bullets as smoke floated toward the ceiling from his cigar that rested in a fancy golden ashtray. A crystal glass full of scotch whisky reflected a rainbow of colors from the lamp light and gave the liquor a sparkling caramel color. The award winning operatic baritone of Dmitri Hvorostovsky bellowed through the speakers in the corner of the room. A scene from The Godfather wouldn’t have been more cliché. Dragov laid down the now full clip, sat back in his seat, and took a white Styrofoam cup in his hand. He inhaled a deep, satisfying breath, letting the music sooth him into relaxation, along with the help of the whisky and tobacco. As the door to his office opened and two of his men walked in, he slobbered a massive wad of tobacco juice into his spit cup, then sat the cup back down on his desk.

  “This better be good news,” Dragov told them.

  The man in front winced an
d cleared his throat. He clearly did not want to say what he had to say. Dragov must have sensed that it wouldn’t be such great news and slid the clip into his nine millimeter pistol, pulled back the slide, and was now holding the gun in his lap, expectantly. The man in front of him gulped, then spoke with a shaky tone.

  “Boss. A helicopter landed on the grounds. We believe it was Xander King.” he stuttered.

  “How you not know for sure?” Dragov took a drag from his cigar and thickened the air with smoke.

  “Someone, we think, a woman, helped him...”

 
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