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H&K: Path of Knowledge

Book 1 of the H&K Series: Chapter 14

By Shawn David KelleyPublished 2 years ago 25 min read
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Chapter 14

Katharine sat at the red light in the Honda SUV she had hotwired at a dance club. She had left Tess at the safe house with the housekeeper. Against Sarasin’s orders, she had snuck off in search of Samantha Craig. She had heard Sarasin speaking to someone about Samantha Craig being at an anti-human trafficking fundraiser tonight in Philadelphia at the Ritz Carlton. She was set on meeting this woman face to face.

Katharine had stopped by an old acquaintance’s office, knowing he would still be working. She knocked on the door at the end of the hall on the fifth floor. The security camera panned down at her from above the door. A second later, Katharine heard a click and the door opened slightly.

Katharine stepped inside the dimly lit room to see Jason Graff come around his desk. He smiled as he approached her.

“Well, Ms. O’Reilly, what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”

“I need a few items that I am pretty sure you may be able to assist me with.”

“Samantha Craig.”

“Yes,” Katharine said, knowing it better not to lie to Graff.

“What do you need?” Graff asked.

“Here’s a list. No one else can know anything about this. Especially Hank.”

“I understand. I owe you for that incident in South America anyway, so whatever you need. I’ll get it for you,” Graff swore.

“Can you deliver it to this location?” Katharine asked, handing the man a piece of paper with satellite coordinates on it. “It’s in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.”

“I know of the area. I’ll have it there in a few hours. I just have to wonder where you learned about these items or how to use them.” Graff said as he looked at the list.

“The internet. You would be surprised what Google and YouTube allow to show up on their sites.” Katharine responded.

“I’ll have to remember that. Before long, the internet will put me out of a job.”

“That’s doubtful. By the way, I know you’ve been talking to my cousin. I would ask that you dissuade her from joining the foundation or any of your pet projects. She has two young children to think about,” Katharine said.

“I will do what I can, but if she insists, there’s nothing I can do other than refrain from using her as an asset,” Graff said.

“Thank you,” Katharine said as she closed the door behind her. She glanced back at the small metal nameplate to the right of the door. “CIA Philadelphia Field Office,” it read.

As soon as Katharine closed the door, Graff called Tess. After several rings, she answered the phone.

“Katharine just left and has asked me to dissuade you from doing anything more than helping the foundation out. She is concerned about you and your children,” Graff explained.

“I understand my cousin’s concerns, but I will protect my family the best way I know how. Do you have any information on Liam’s killers?” Tess asked.

“Not as of yet. Another team is also working on it,” Graff told Tess.

“Okay, please let me know if you hear anything,” Tess said as she terminated the connection.

The Ritz Carlton was just a few blocks away. She had several clients who lived in the building so she would have no trouble gaining access to the building. Her purse rubbed against her right thigh. The hidden compartment held the Smith and Wesson .40-caliber pistol she had retrieved from the lockbox on Karen’s boat at the West End Marina. The black evening dress hung snuggly to her body, the plunging neckline accentuating her cleavage and buxom bosom. She smiled as she parked. She wore flats since she hated heels. This was going to be a night to remember.

Assistant DA Samantha Craig was just getting out of her Audi as Katharine walked up behind her. Katharine adjusted the ring on her middle finger so the flat portion faced down toward her palm. A small needle protruded from the flat part of the ring which had a powerful sedative ready to be injected at the first touch of the needle.

“Aren’t you District Attorney Samantha Craig?” Katharine called as she approached.

Smiling at the recognition, Samantha turned. “Why yes, I am.

And who might you be?” Samantha Craig greeted.

“I am a big fan of yours. I have followed how you have been trying to bring down that awful Office Roy and his wife for spreading all those lies about your husband.” Samantha beamed as Katharine spoke, drawing nearer to the assistant DA.

“My name is Katharine O’Reilly,” Katharine stated, holding her right hand out to Samantha Craig.

Samantha Craig shook Katharine’s hand. A moment later, she slumped to the ground unconscious. Katharine removed the ring from her middle finger, placing it in a small metal container in her purse before pulling a pair of rubber gloves from her purse and putting them on. Katharine opened the driver’s door and laid her purse down as she lifted Samantha Craig into the Audi, pushing her into the passenger seat. Katharine arranged Samantha as if Samantha was sleeping with her head propped against the door. Katharine buckled Samantha into the seat. She retrieved her purse before getting behind the steering wheel of the vehicle.

What luck it was to catch Samantha Craig before she entered the Ritz Carlton. Katharine smiled to herself as her plan was going off without a hitch.

*****

Hank parked the car several blocks away as to keep anyone from seeing them exit the vehicle.

“Uh, Hank?” Karen said softly just as Hank started to open the car door to get out, his head turned away from her.

“What’s wrong?” Hank asked, quickly turning in her direction.

“I thought you should get at least a peak at these,” Karen squealed with delight as Hank’s face went beet red.

Karen had Pulled her dress down and her bra up, releasing her ample bosom to the night air. Hank quickly turned his head away but the vision lingered in his mind for a long time after.

“What do you think?” Karen asked.

“I reserve the right to remain silent,” Hank said.

Hank and Karen walked toward the Ritz Carlton an arm’s length apart. Karen smiled as Hank had a slight tremor in his body as she moved closer to brush up against him.

“What’s wrong, darling?” Karen asked, placing her hand on his arm and squeezing.

“I hate these things,” Hank responded.

“Oh, and here I thought it was because you were with me.” Karen acted as if she were hurt.

“I…er…” Hank began but was saved by the appearance of another couple heading towards the front entrance of the hotel. Karen put her left hand on Hank’s right elbow, causing him to involuntarily bring his arm up to cradle her hand in the crook of his elbow. They preceded arm in arm into the Ritz Carlton’s front entrance and the lobby.

The entrance of the Ritz Carlton was magnificent in the extreme, a replica of the Pantheon in Italy. The building that the hotel was in had started as a bank but finally converted into the luxurious hotel it was now. Walking into the circular marble floor lobby, Hank was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the domed ceiling 140 feet above him. There was seating all around for the comfort of the hotel’s clientele and visitors, as well as the entrance to the restaurant Aqimero. Marble pillars rose all along the circular rotunda, and extra-large windows gave a breathtaking view of the city beyond. Open walkways overlooked the lobby from the third floor as clientele and visitors moved about.

Hank and Karen slowly made their way across the marble lobby and up the stairs toward the Grand Ballroom, once the vault of the Girard Bank. At the entrance to the Grand Ballroom stood a woman beside a wooden podium with a computer and scanner. She was dressed in a gorgeous pearl-white evening dress and looked like an Olympic goddess of old. Beside her stood two men in tuxedos, apparent security for the fundraiser.

“Welcome to the fundraiser for Global Centurion Foundation hosted by the Ritz Carlton of Philadelphia. May I see your names and invitations?” the woman asked.

“Mr. Michael and Doctor Karen Mitchell,” Hank announced as he handed both invitations to the woman.

“Being with you tonight is like our first date all over again, baby,” Karen teased as the security men looked about.

The woman scanned the invitations and looked at the computer screen. Hank had called Sarasin to have his picture switched with that of Michael Mitchell’s in the fundraiser’s database. The woman smiled at them as she handed the invitations back to them.

“Enjoy your evening, Mr. and Doctor Mitchell,” she said, gesturing to the Grand Ballroom that was packed with well-dressed men and women from the private and public sectors.

Hank took Karen’s left hand into the crook of his right elbow once again as they proceeded into the crowds of wealthy entrepreneurs, corporate businesspeople, famous personalities, and government officials. As soon as they entered the Grand Ballroom, a server approached them and offered them a glass of champagne.

Hank took one, handing it to Karen, and then took one for himself, thanking the server as they turned into the crowd of guests. A small orchestra was playing, and several couples were taking advantage of the dance space.

As they walked, Karen reached down to brush briefly across the front of Hank’s trousers, teasing him.

“Yup,” Karen stated, smiling even more.

“Yup, what?” Hank asked quietly.

“Katharine was definitely right about certain things.” Hank blushed at Karen’s comment.

How much had these two women discussed? But Hank was not to be outdone or teased so blatantly without giving something back.

“Well, between the two of us, you have nothing to worry about with your breasts either, except maybe the chill in the air. Your nipples could cut glass right now.” Hank said, smiling as he looked down at Karen’s chest.

Karen was caught off guard, quickly looked down and indeed her nipples were pushing through her bra and dress. She tried to chuckle but Hank’s reaction made her lose her breath for several seconds. Hank reached across her chest with his left arm as if to point at something and tweaked her right nipple before lowering his arm. She began to laugh once she caught her breath.

“And it’s nice to see that the drapes match the carpet,” Hank said as they continued. Smiling like the Cheshire Cat. “Remember, two can play this game.”

“Oh, the game is on, Mister. The game is on and I don’t like to lose.” Karen assured him.

“Neither do I.”

For an hour, they mingled amongst the rich and famous as they waited and watched. Hank continued to scan the assemblage for Senator Jason Ramsey but could not locate him. Hank was less than impressed with the guests of the fundraiser and even less impressed by the government officials in attendance. However, he had to admit no matter who they were, they were all dressed exceptionally elegantly from women in full-length ball gowns that boggled the mind on how they walked in high heels, to women in near sheer evening gowns, all by world-famous designers. The men, for the most part, wore tuxedos, some with and some without tails. Even the men who wore dress suits wore designer suits. Several guests were Arabic and were wearing traditional Arabic attire. However, most wore European or American-style attire. Every guest’s outfit somehow enhanced that guest’s personality: from the short but fit woman in the tight slinking sheer evening dress that highlighted her eyes and hair to the man in his dark-blue suit with the light-blue power tie. The women were adorned with all manner of jewelry from necklaces of pearls or gold chains with precious gems to rings of precious metal and gemstones. The men wore expensive designer watches and precious gem cufflinks and tie clips.

Karen seemed to be in her element as she chatted with one person than another or groups of individuals. She explained that her loving husband was not one for such gatherings and had only agreed to come if she would stop nagging him. Hank merely smiled at her comment. Several husbands nodded their agreement to Hank with a smile. It seemed others had been in that exact situation. Several men had asked Karen to dance, but each time, she had declined. Finally, Karen excused herself from a conversation that Hank had only half been paying attention to as he scanned for the senator. Hank found himself being pulled toward the dance floor.

“You have to save me from all the offers to dance,” Karen whispered into his ear as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Besides, you need to loosen up and stop looking as if you could bite someone’s head off at any moment.”

Hank looked at her as she grinned up at him. He smiled at her knowing that she was probably right. They were here looking for the senator and information on the human trafficking organization, but they had to look as if they belonged and were enjoying themselves. He found himself enjoying the dance as Karen pressed against him. It was several moments before either of them realized the music had stopped. A man had made his way to the head of the Grand Ballroom to the raised podium.

“Ladies and gentlemen, would you please take your seats. Our panel and the distinguished guest speaker will be arriving any time now,” the man announced.

Hank had spotted their assigned table as soon as they entered the Grand Ballroom earlier, so he directed Karen in that direction. Sitting down, they were joined by three other couples. One was an Arabic couple, another was an Israeli couple, and the last was the Philadelphia district attorney and his executive assistant. Hank made a mental note that the DA had not brought his wife for some reason. They all exchanged pleasantries. Hank saw suspicion flash in the DA’s eyes as Hank introduced himself as Michael Mitchell. There wasn’t much time for Hank to reflect on how the DA eyed him as the lights dimmed and the lights over the raised podium grew brighter.

Several key officials of the Global Centurion foundation spoke first, giving everyone a brief history of their foundation and its goal to eliminate human trafficking. They spoke of laws that were being passed nationally and internationally as well as by the United Nations. The last official to speak was the principal international liaison to South America. He outlined a new program the foundation was undertaking to curb the tide of child sex trafficking into and out of the United States. When he was finished, he introduced the keynote guest speaker.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and welcome Senator Jason Ramsey of Ohio, one of our greatest supporters in Washington. With his help, two new laws have been enacted to combat human trafficking, and extra funds are available in the pursuit of those individuals engaging in human trafficking.” The speaker stepped back as he began to clap.

The ballroom exploded in applause as the guests rose to welcome the senator to the podium. The DA watched Hank as they both clapped. Hank on his part watched the DA with his peripheral vision while watching the senator take his place behind the podium.

“Thank you for your hearty reception,” the senator said, motioning for everyone to sit. “Let me begin by acknowledging and thanking Global Centurion Foundation for all their efforts to combat the rising concern in human trafficking around the world. It has become one of my personal goals to see that the funds are made available to do just that.”

The senator droned on for half an hour patting himself on the back for his efforts in Congress to bring awareness to the public and criticizing other government officials and elected officials for the lack of their support. He pointed out the Philadelphia DA as one of his staunchest supporters as well as the mayor of Philadelphia who was unable to attend due to an urgent matter at city hall. Hank kept his face from showing his contempt, but his eyes smoldered. Several times Karen had to reach down and grip his leg to snap him out of his rage. Each time, he would turn and smile at Karen, seeing that the DA was all too observant of them. Hank knew that he would have Sarasin look into the DA as well as the mayor’s connection with the senator.

Once the senator had finished speaking, he left the podium to take his seat off to the left of the podium. Another speaker took his place. Dinner was served shortly after. Karen engaged the guests at the table in idle conversation. The DA leaned over and whispered to his assistant. A moment later, the young woman excused herself, stating she needed to make a phone call, walking away from the table in the direction behind Hank.

Hank continued to act as if he was listening to what Karen was talking about but watched as the young woman walked to the far side of the Grand Ballroom in the reflection of the silver water pitcher. He watched as she pulled out her cell. A moment later, the senator pulled his cell phone out. He glanced toward the table Hank and Karen were sitting at and finally nodded. Hank watched as the senator motioned for a man standing nearby to come to his table. The man was apparently on the senator’s security detail. The senator nodded toward their table as he spoke to the man. When dinner was finished, the orchestra resumed playing.

Couples went to the dance floor again. This time, Hank stood up, took Karen’s hand, and excused them from the table as he proceeded to walk her to the dance floor. Karen beamed as they began to dance.

“Don’t be alarmed, but I think the DA is connected to the senator somehow. His assistant made a call at the same time the senator received a call. After the call, the senator motioned for one of his security detail to come to his table,” Hank was whispering to Karen, whose face remained unchanged. “And mentioning the security guy, here he comes.”

As Hank and Karen walked amongst the rich, powerful, and political elite, the East Coast Anti-Terrorism Task Force teams were all positioning for their surgical strikes, and Katharine was crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge into New Jersey with her unconscious passenger.

Several men in dark suits approached Hank and Karen on the dance floor.

“Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, your presence is requested upstairs in the presidential suite,” one of the men stated.

“Who requested our presence?” Hank asked.

“There is a guest who would like to make your acquaintance on a less formal level. He has heard of your contributions to the anti-human trafficking foundation as well as other contributions. He would like to thank you personally,” the man said.

They were led from the dance floor to a private elevator. As the door opened, they stepped in. The men remained in the hall. Karen squeezed Hank’s arm, more out of fear this time.

A burly male met the two as the elevator doors opened, a broad smile on his face. It was the same man Hank had seen speaking with the senator at his table. He stepped aside to allow the two to enter the suite. Another man walked up to them with a towel over his head as he dried his hair, a thick robe pulled tight about him. Removing the towel from his face, Hank saw that it was the senator. Hank refrained from throttling the senator right then and there.

“Mr. Mitchell, it’s a pleasure to meet you finally,” he stated, shaking Hank’s hand. “And this must be the new Mrs. Mitchell I have been told so much about.” Michael had indeed remarried, Karen thought.

“This is my wife, Luanne,” Hank stated, knowing that Michael Mitchell had indeed remarried a much younger woman by the name of Luanne.

Karen glanced sideways at Hank as the Senator took her hand and kissed it.

“So, before we get started are you willing to spend the night to meet my associates in the morning? To prove your sincerity to our endeavor, of course? My associates won’t be arriving until the morning and there are those that would do anything to see our mission fails.” the senator asked.

“Your associates?” Hank asked.

“International associates to be exact. They are looking to stop human trafficking in their countries as much as we are in the U.S. There is a meeting in the morning in this suite for all those that are sincere. An Arabic sheik is coming in to lend his support to our cause as well, but his jet doesn’t arrive until the morning,” the senator responded.

“Of course, we had not planned on staying the whole night. We are due back home,” Hank replied.

“Nonsense. You must stay the night. My associates and the sheik would relish meeting you, I’m sure.”

“Well, can we know your name, if we are to be staying the night in the suite?” Hank asked.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you already knew. I’m State Senator Jason Ramsey of Ohio. Our gracious host will be joining us in the morning.”

“Host?” Hank was getting a bad feeling about the whole situation.

“The Sheik. He funds all our conferences and get-togethers. He has reserved the whole floor for his personal guests,” The Senator said.

“Very good then. I guess we’re staying.” Hank replied.

“Wonderful. Hector will show you to your room,” the Senator indicated to the man from the elevator that was standing back a few paces, awaiting instructions.

“Until the morning then,” Hank stated as he and Karen were led to a bedroom at the far end of the presidential suite.

“Oh, baby, I love you,” Karen said, throwing her arms around Hank’s neck, and began kissing him on the neck.

She kissed up his neck to his ear.

“Do you think this room is bugged?” she whispered in his ear.

“I love you more, sweetness.” Hank breathed as his eyes roamed about the room, nodding as he did to let her know the place was indeed under surveillance.

Karen pulled away from him and settled onto the bed as Hank paced about the room, looking out the window.

“Baby, if I had known we were going to be staying the night, I would have brought an overnight bag.” She grinned at him.

“Guess we’ll just have to make do,” Hank replied as he entered the room’s private bathroom.

“I guess it’s going to be naked time tonight then,” Karen called from the bedroom.

As Hank reentered the room, Karen kicked off her high heels and reached around to her back to unzip her dress. Hank tried to compose himself as Karen turned her back to him. The evening dress hit the floor a moment later. Hank nearly choked as Karen’s near bare ass, covered by the skimpy thong, faced him as she crawled onto the bed. She rolled onto her back in the center of the bed, putting herself on display for him.

“Gonna join me, baby? If you’re a good boy, you might get lucky,” Karen beckoned, eyeing him like a lioness watches her prey.

Hank began to get undressed as Karen eyed him intently. He dropped his tuxedo jacket on a nearby chair before taking his shirt off to place it over the jacket. He slipped out of his shoes, placing them by the edge of the bed. He turned off the overhead light, leaving only the lamp on the nightstand lit. He had left all his weapons in the car in case they were searched, making him feel naked without them. Hank walked to the bed and sat down with his back to Karen. He slipped off his trousers and socks, tossing them onto the chair, leaving only his briefs and t-shirt. He pulled the blanket back as he started to climb into the bed.

“Uh-huh, mmm,” Karen said, pulling the covers up to look down at Hank’s briefs, a sly smile crossing her face.

“Not tonight, honey,” Hank told Karen.

“Oh, but you were such a good boy. Wasn’t I a good girl?” Karen’s voice became sultry and sexy.

“You have not been a good girl,” Hank smiled.

“Does that mean I need a spanking?” Her voice dripped with lust and desire.

“You are definitely a bad girl,” Hank laughed.

Karen lifted the blankets to crawl in before snuggling up close to Hank. She drew his left arm under her so she could rest atop it. She moved even closer as she rested her head on his chest, her left hand resting on his stomach and her right hand alongside his hip. He rolled so that he could lay his right arm across her stomach, holding her, knowing she was scared. She moved his right arm farther up under her breasts, smiling to herself as she stared into his face. There was no blush on his face this time. Hank turned off the nightstand lamp, allowing the bedroom to be illuminated by the city lights. Hank’s eyes and ears were alert for the slightest danger though.

Karen reached up, drawing Hank’s face down to hers. Hank noticed the Saint Christopher’s medal on the chain around her neck for the first time that night. Hank took the medal into his right hand, holding it lightly with his fingers. They kissed, knowing their every move and word was being observed. What more would be expected of them before they met the architects of this whole scheme? And why had Michael Mitchell been invited up to the presidential suite to await a mysterious meeting the following morning?

When the kiss ended, Karen placed her head once again on his chest, listening to his heartbeat and ragged breathing. Hank’s muscles tensed and released over and over as his mind drifted back to his haunted past. His wound twitched and a spasm ran through his body.

“Oh, Katharine, you were so right,” Karen whispered, barely audible.

“What?” Hank asked.

“Oh, nothing sweetheart. I was just thinking about an old friend,” Karen said.

Karen didn’t realize the impact of her statement on Hank as his mind suddenly flashed to the past as his mind focused on another Saint Christopher’s Medal.

*****

Hank had been stationed in Berlin for seven months when he began to hear rumors of a possible military buildup in the Middle East. He requested a transfer to a combat unit that was due to be deployed to the region. The Berlin Brigade was known as expert MOUT fighters. MOUT stood for Military Operations in Urban Terrain. Therefore, instead of a combat unit, he was assigned to a training unit. The army brass knew that urban fighting would be an essential element in the coming offensive, but urban warfare had not been at that time part of training for the other units of the army.

Once in Iraq, Hank began volunteering for every patrol he could. It was on one of these patrols that his life took an unexpected turn that would lead him down a path he had never seen for himself. One day, Hank found himself walking point with his friends Sergeant Grimes and Corporal Copeland directly behind him and two new soldiers to his unit bringing up the rear. As they made their way across an open area, a sniper opened fire on them. He took several rounds before hitting the ground. Hank managed to bring his weapon up, as the two new team members joined the fray. The two had been behind Sergeant Grimes and Corporal Copeland, which made Hank briefly wonder where his friends were. The three soldiers emptied their weapons until there was silence from the rooftop.

Hank turned to his side and saw both Sergeant Grimes and Corporal Copeland on the ground, mere feet away. He tried to move, but he felt as if a heavy weight was upon his chest. One of the new soldiers crawled over toward him as the other went toward the sergeant and corporal. Hank waved the soldier away, pointing at his friends. The soldier nodded as he joined the other soldier at Copeland’s side. Hank tried to move but couldn’t catch his breath for a few moments. After a few moments, he forced himself to crawl over to Copeland. The other two soldiers were applying field pressure dressings and calling for a medevac. He saw Sergeant Grimes lying face down in a pool of blood. His helmet cocked to one side. Copeland grabbed his hand, pushing a Saint Christopher’s medal into his hand.

“Promise me you’ll give it to my mother,” he begged.

“Stay with me! Don’t you die on me!” Hank croaked out, not understanding why he could barely speak or breathe.

“Promise me!” Copeland pleaded.

“I promise, I’ll try.” With that, Copeland’s eye glazed over and his head went limp.

Hank tried to move, but the pressure in his chest kept him in place. Then one of the soldiers grabbed him and rolled him onto his back. Hank watched as the soldier seemed to be mouthing something, but Hank could no longer hear him. Hank felt his flak vest, blouse, and T-shirt pulled away from his chest. The soldier knelt over him, pulling a large wound bandage out of its wrappings. Several more soldiers arrived as Hank blacked out.

Hank was barely aware of being taken to the field hospital. He lapsed into a coma before being airlifted to a military hospital in Germany. Hank had sustained two bullet wounds to the chest. One had pierced his left lung. The other barely missed his vitals. Another bullet had hit him in the left shoulder.

Two weeks after the sniper ambush, Hank was awoken by several individuals in his hospital room. One was standing over him with a knife while another stood guard at the door with a pistol. Hank found himself fighting the one assailant when the second one joined his partner. He would have been killed if it hadn’t been for a military police captain who happened to be walking the halls of the hospital.

Captain D’Aras had heard the commotion from Hank’s room and rushed to see what it was all about. He had saved Hank’s life when he shot the two assailants dead. He became a frequent visitor after that. The two exchanged stories and family histories. They had a bond forged from the attempted assassination.

Hank healed quickly with hopes of returning to the combat theater. He received word two months later that he would be rotated stateside. He requested to remain in Germany until he could return to duty. His request was denied. Captain D’Aras had tried to persuade Command to allow Hank to fully heal and return to duty in the Middle East conflict, but even his request was denied. It was then that a certain beautiful femme fatale entered Hank’s life.

He felt like a coward when it came to facing Copeland’s family. He continued to put it off until it was too late. He felt combat would give him a reason to avoid seeing Copeland’s mother as long as he could. How could he face the family of his comrade who died yet he still lived?

That’s when he met Sarasin, who was offering him a way to honor his dead comrades. A whole new life had replaced the old. He spent many hours trying to put the deaths of Grimes and Copeland behind him. Then the betrayal by a teammate during the mission at the Italian villa left the majority of the team dead.

Only Hank, Sarasin, Sanchez, and Lowell were left alive, not to mention the traitor. More comrades had died yet he still lived for some unknown reason.

Shortly after the villa incident, Hank left Sarasin and the team behind to join Lowell’s new team in Liberia and then on to South America. Hank shook his head; so many comrades had paid the ultimate price for the freedom and security the citizens of the United States took for granted all the time. Again, Hank lost comrades. He had seen too much needless death. Friends and comrades outweighed the enemy dead. He still lived and led Karen into an ambush.

Sensing Hank’s anxiety, Karen raised her head to smile at him, with a twinkle in her eyes that belated the fear she felt deep down. She kissed him gently on the lips, then placed her lips close to his ear.

“It’ll be okay. I chose to come here with you tonight. I’m a big girl. I can handle whatever happens. But I think you’re right. I do seem to remember that the district attorney and Michael had some business dealings in the past or at least the corporation did,” Karen told him in a whisper.

“I am pretty sure you’re right. The DA knows I’m not Michael and that you are his ex-wife, just from the phone call his assistant made. We will see before the morning either way,” Hank whispered back to Karen.

“Then I think we should make the most of the time we have left. Don’t you?” Karen whispered before rolling on top of him.

*****

Officer Bob Roy stood at the front of the conference room in the Homeland Security complex building at the Philadelphia Ship Yard. Bob looked out at local, state, and federal anti-terrorism task force officers. Sarasin stood nearby. All along the wall, large monitors showed different images, maps, aerial surveillance of several sites, news feeds, and the main one behind him with the pictures and information of numerous individuals.

“Ladies and gentlemen, due to the assassinations of Director Thompson and Assistant Director Ames, the secretary of Homeland Security has named Officer Bob Roy here as acting director. Officer Roy has been working closely with Director Thompson and Assistant Director Ames for months on leads and sorting through intelligence reports. He alone is the most experienced and capable,” Agent Sarasin stated to those assembled. Numerous task force agents affirmed their agreement to Officer Roy’s appointment.

“Officers and agents,” Officer Roy addressed them, taking center stage, “we have an insurmountable issue before us. The assassinations of Director Thompson and Assistant Director Ames told us that the task force had specifically been targeted. From information gathered by several operatives, we have identified twenty known terrorist cells along the East Coast, six in our area from New York to DC. I believe this information is why the director and assistant director were killed. We have been ordered to keep this information confined to this task force and only this task force. We have been authorized to use whatever means necessary to facilitate the dismantling of these cells immediately. Let’s keep the collateral damage to a minimum, but don’t get me wrong, we are at war. We will strike all these cells at the same time. We have teams positioned and ready to go. Everyone here will break into six teams, as indicated by Special Agent Sarasin here. We have ten hours to get into position. If anything goes wrong, do not abort. Find a different avenue of approach. You are authorized to use any means necessary to obtain entry to these cell sites and deadly force on any hostile or other entity that tries to stand in your way. Watch each other’s backs and work as the team I know we are and we will prevail. Dismissed!”

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About the Creator

Shawn David Kelley

Prior Service, saw the Berlin Wall dismantled and the aftermath of the Gulf War/ Desert Storm/ Desert Shield. He has drawn upon his unique views of life and science fiction to bring together an alternate reality of excitement.

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