Authors: James P. Sumner
D.E.A.D. TILL I DIE
BOOK 1 IN THE GLOBATECH SERIES
JAMES P. SUMNER
D.E.A.D. TILL I DIE
First published in Great Britain in 2015.
Copyright © James P. Sumner 2015
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
D.E.A.D. TILL I DIE
On a military base that didn’t exist, in a part of the world typically overlooked, four people sat in a conference room around a large table. They had tablets in front of them, propped up on stands formed by folding the protective cover into a small triangle. Two were sitting side by side at one end of the table, with one to the left of them, and one to the right.
A fifth person stood at the opposite end of the table, facing the room. He was a very tall man, a shade over six-five. He had a thick, muscular frame, toned from years of military service. He was a powerful individual, genetically very strong, but had never spent a minute of his life in a gym. He was wearing a plain black T-shirt, stretched tight over his torso.
Jericho Stone stood confidently in front of the group he’d commanded for the last seven years. Behind him was a digital wallboard, which was wirelessly synched to the tablet he was holding in his left hand. It displayed to the room what he was looking at on his own screen. He tapped the device, bringing up a satellite image of an apartment building in the Upper West Side district of Manhattan. When he spoke, his voice was deep and authoritative.
“A little over two hours ago,” he began, “a meeting between the director of the CIA and a high-value asset was interrupted by a man recently added to the Terrorist Watch List. There was an exchange of gunfire, and the assailant escaped with a laptop he stole from the asset.”
“Do we know who this guy is?” asked Damian Baker, sitting at the far end of the table. He was six feet tall, or six-three if you included the bright red Mohawk running along the center of his otherwise shaven head. He had a long, thick beard that flowed down to his chest, and tattoos running up the sides of his neck and down over his shoulders and pectorals.
Jericho shook his head. “Not exactly... Intel is sketchy at the moment, but we believe he’s a contract killer, known to the world’s criminal fraternity as Adrian Hell. He’s suspected of being involved with an organization we believe may be planning an attack on the United States. I’ve sent a profile to each of your tablets. Study it closely. This guy has a reputation as being a highly-coveted professional hitman—extremely lethal, and exceptionally capable.”
“What’s so special about the laptop?” he asked.
“It contains classified information that would be deadly in the wrong hands. It’s imperative we retrieve it at all costs.”
“What do we know about this organization?” asked Charlotte LaSharde, who was sitting on Baker’s left. She was only five-seven, with a slim build, but she was incredibly toned and physically strong. Her dark skin glowed under any light and, in another life, she wouldn’t have looked out of place on a catwalk. But behind her dark eyes lay the heart and soul of a fierce warrior, deadly and intelligent.
“Not much,” replied Jericho. “It’s a terror cell that’s been actively recruiting for the last twelve months. We don’t know who’s running it, or what they’re planning, but we
know they’ve approached our target in the last couple of days.”
“So how do we know they’re planning to attack us?” she asked.
“Our analysts have seen an increase in chatter over the last few weeks. The same keywords are repeatedly being flagged, and, right now, that’s the educated guess by the people who sign our paychecks.”
He looked around the room, inviting any further questions, but none were forthcoming. He continued with his briefing.
“I wouldn’t normally accept a mission with so little to go on, so believe me when I say, I share your concerns. But the urgency with which this operation has been put together speaks volumes. Time is a factor here, people. We’re to intercept this man and retrieve the laptop he stole.”
The man sitting to Baker’s right, on the side of the table, raised his hand slightly. Rick Santiago was the computer and explosives specialist of the unit.
Jericho gestured to him. “Rick?”
“What do we do with him once we get the laptop back?” he asked.
Jericho stared blankly for a moment as he considered the question, clenching his jaw muscles as he chose his response carefully.
“The mission parameters state the retrieval of the laptop is top priority. Bringing the target in for questioning isn’t.”
Santiago nodded, reading between the lines. Across from him, sitting on Jericho’s right, was the remaining member of the unit, Chris Black. He was a tall man, a little over six-two, and a career soldier. He was Jericho’s second-in-command. He had dark stubble on his chiseled face, and brown eyes that always saw more than he acknowledged. He was another smart, capable individual, and was recommended by Jericho himself to be recruited to the unit.
“So, how do we get him?” he asked.
Jericho tapped the screen on his tablet, updating the board behind him for the room to see. He stepped to one side and gestured to the display.
“We have intel that puts our target on a private plane by the end of the day. We need to move fast with this.” He looked over at Santiago. “Rick, I need you to find out the flight details—exactly when and where that plane is due to take off, and who’s expecting it when it lands. Once we know that,” he turned to Black, “
going to get on board and hide out in the cockpit. Once in mid-air, you’re to re-direct the flight… here.” He tapped the screen of his tablet again, displaying a satellite image of an abandoned airstrip. “We’ll be waiting for you.”
“What if the pilot resists?” asked Black.
“The pilot and co-pilot are expendable. We’re to leave no evidence we were ever involved here.”
The group nodded and murmured their understanding.
“We need to be ready to roll in thirty minutes,” said Jericho as he eyed each member of unit individually. “Suit up.”
The unit’s base of operations was disguised as an abandoned compound on the outskirts of Grenada, a city on the coast of Lake Nicaragua. The base was once used, primarily, to accommodate U.S. soldiers during the sixties and seventies, but hadn’t seen action since then. A barrier blocked the entrance, which was operated remotely from inside.
Many of the buildings inside the compound were ruins—old, crumbling brick held together by the stubbornness of time. Toward the back, however, three buildings had been subtly renovated to strengthen the exterior, while keeping the appearance of a dilapidated structure.
The two-story building to the left was where the team stayed when active. Missions were few and far between in recent months, but in the days building up to an operation, the team moved in and worked out of the base, before returning to the cover story that was their everyday lives.
The building in the middle was the armory. Converted into a garage, it housed the team’s Humvee and two Jeeps, as well as an array of advanced technology and weaponry. Behind it, hidden from view by the building, and concealed on all other sides by forestry, was a helipad.
The building on the right was their command center, which was a large, low building that occupied most of the right hand side of the compound. Despite its outward appearance, inside was a state-of-the-art facility. The central console room was on the left as you entered, and had a large screen that ran the full width of the main wall, and was primarily used for surveillance and communication. Santiago spent most of his time in there when he was on base, coordinating their missions and gathering intel.
Farther down the corridor, on the opposite side, was the meeting room where the members of the D.E.A.D. unit were now walking out of. Baker and Black came out first, side by side, with Santiago following and LaSharde behind him. They had their orders, and knew what they needed to do.
Once they were clear of the meeting room, where Jericho had stayed to finalize the mission parameters, Santiago peeled off and entered the console room, sitting down at the main computer and setting to work on getting the target’s flight details. LaSharde caught up with the others.
“This mission is bullshit,” she said, her words sounding more confrontational than they were meant, because of her thick, Bronx accent. “We got no idea why we’re doing any of this.”
“Relax,” said Black, glancing over his shoulder at her. “We’re not here to ask questions, we’re here to aim at whatever we’re told to aim at and pull the goddamn trigger.”
“Jericho wouldn’t send us anywhere he wasn’t happy with,” Baker added. “He said himself, we don’t have much to go on, but timing’s crucial. Trust him, if nothing else.”
“Whatever,” LaSharde replied, pushing past the two men and storming out of the building.
Black and Baker stepped out into the courtyard. Ahead of them, their hot-tempered colleague was pacing angrily toward the barracks.
“You go and gear up,” Black said, pointing to the armory. “I’ll see if I can’t cool her down a little.”
Baker smiled. “Good luck, amigo,” he said, patting Black lightly on his shoulder with his fist before walking off.
Black broke into a light jog and quickly caught up with LaSharde, just as she walked through the doors leading to their quarters. As the doors swung shut behind them, Black grabbed hold of her arm and spun her round to face him. As he did, she snaked her arm around his neck and pulled him down close to her. He grabbed her waist with both arms as they kissed passionately, with the urgency of two forbidden lovers stealing valuable seconds together. They parted after a few moments, short of breath. They looked into each other’s eyes with a lustful hunger.
“I love it when you act in charge,” she said to him, smiling mischievously.
He laughed and lifted her up in both arms with ease. She wrapped her legs around his waist and they kissed again. Locked in their torrid embrace, Black walked them into his living quarters, which was the first door on the left of the dimly-lit corridor they were in. Once inside, he threw her down on the bed and peeled his T-shirt off, revealing his toned, muscular, scarred body. LaSharde did the same, and they fell together, making love quickly and ferociously.
Jericho entered the console room and stood behind Santiago, patting him on the shoulder with one of his large hands.
“What have you got for me?” he asked.
“The target’s due to fly from JFK just after nine tonight,” replied Santiago. “It’s a private jet, registered to GlobaTech Industries.”
Jericho frowned. He knew GlobaTech were a military contractor, so what would they be doing helping out a known terrorist? He dismissed the concern a moment later. His orders were clear, and the
wasn’t relevant—simply the
“That gives us just over seven hours,” he said, checking his watch. “I want a chopper here in twenty minutes to take Black to the nearest airstrip. Get him airborne within the hour.”
“Copy that,” acknowledged Santiago, tapping away on the console in front of him.
Jericho left the room and headed outside, walking over the armory just as Black and LaSharde appeared from inside the barracks. They all met in the middle and Jericho quickly brought them both up to speed. As LaSharde walked on to gear up for the mission, Jericho tapped Black on the arm and gestured for him to hang back.
“Chris,” he started, “the target is deemed high value until you land. We don’t know his background, but we know who he is, so exercise caution. He’s obviously had training, if he was able to infiltrate a meeting between the CIA director and an agency asset—that place would’ve been swarming with agents.”
“No problem, sir,” replied Black. “Anything else?”
“Just get ready,” said Jericho, shaking his head. “Your ride will be here in ten minutes.”
He watched Black walk off to the armory to join the others. Jericho held the man in high regard. He’d always known of his aspirations to one day run the unit, but he’s unquestioningly loyal, and a formidable soldier. He smiled to himself for a moment, amused as he thought how Black was likely under the impression his sexual relationship with LaSharde was a secret. He shook his head and walked toward the armory.
Baker, LaSharde and Black were standing in a line, wearing black, unmarked Kevlar armor, and holding assault rifles. Jericho moved past them toward a rack of weaponry attached to the back wall. He selected a FAMAS-G2, which was an assault rifle manufactured in France. It fired in three-round bursts, and was incredibly accurate. He took some spare magazines, loading one into the rifle and sliding the others into the pockets sewn into the legs of his pants. He then moved over to the next rack and rested his weapon against it as he picked his own Kevlar vest from a hangar, putting it on expertly and strapping it in place. Picking up his rifle again, he walked back over to his team, standing in front of them. Santiago had joined them, having finished his work in the console room.
“Alright, listen up,” Jericho began. “The mission is officially underway as of now.” He looked at Black. “Chris, your chopper’s en route—ETA: five minutes. It’s going to fly you to the Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport, where you’ll board a cargo plane that’ll take you stateside. You need to be in place on the target’s private plane by 20:30 hours local time.” He looked at Baker, LaSharde and Santiago in turn. “The rest of you are with me. We’re heading to the airfield in Colombia, where we’ll sit tight and wait for the target to arrive. Questions?”