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H&K: Path of Knowledge

Book 1 of the H&K Series: Chapter 18

By Shawn David KelleyPublished 2 years ago 19 min read
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Chapter 18

Karen’s children were playing in the yard with baby Julia. Hank sat across the patio from Katharine and Karen as they chatted. He watched their body language and picked up part of their conversation from reading their lips. Hank gathered that Karen was relaying her experiences with Martin and how the task force under Sarasin had rescued her from a frightful encounter with the monster. He watched to make sure Karen didn’t mention him or his involvement. To Karen’s credit, she kept her word and didn’t tell Katharine anything about Hank or their adventures together. Hank felt more than a little apprehensive not to tell Katharine. He thought it was for her safety and wellbeing.

Then Hank caught what Katharine was telling Karen concerning Samantha Craig. Katharine first swore Karen to secrecy before telling Karen how Katharine hoped Samantha Craig would disappear. “I’m worried about Hank though,” Katharine confided in Karen.

“Why are you worried about Hank?” Karen asked.

“He knew we were in danger, but he chose work overcoming with us to protect me if nothing else. Instead, he left it up to Bob to do it. Then when he comes back, his clothes have strange smells on them, including perfume,” Katharine said, looking toward Hank who acted as if he was watching the children play in the yard.

“Are you saying you think he’s having an affair?” Karen asked. “I don’t know what I’m saying, but it’s not like him not to worry about my safety. This is the man who walks between me and traffic so I don’t get accidentally hit, and he insists on sleeping closest to the door so if there is an intruder, he can confront the intruder first. Haven’t you noticed that he has to sit where he can watch all the doors at a restaurant or even in the house? He has to sit at a table where he can be the first to get up if something happens.” Katharine began to choke up.

“Hank explained that he had to work. How could he explain taking time off? He’d lose his job, and besides, he trusts Officer Roy to look after your safety,” Karen countered.

“Maybe, but I get the feeling he’s hiding something. He’s on edge. I can feel it,” Katharine said.

“Who isn’t on edge?” Karen asked. “I’m on edge just sitting here after all that’s happened.”

“I understand that, but look at him,” Katharine said as the two women looked over at Hank sitting and relaxing. “He looks relaxed if it weren’t for the fact that his eyes are always looking around. His head doesn’t move, but his eyes are always looking around. Look how his body is tensed up. He looks as if he’s ready to leap out of the chair any moment,” Katharine observed.

Karen looked at Hank. She had already noticed his posture and the set of his jaw. She had seen everything Katharine had said and more. She saw the slight bulge of the HK45 in the shoulder holster which seemed to go unobserved by Katharine.

“You say you’re worried that Hank is having an affair because he went away for his job while all this was going on and now you are telling me how he’s on edge and watching everything? You’ve got to make up your mind. Do you think he’s having an affair or not?” Karen asked Katharine.

“Tell me this, why are you wearing the same perfume that I smelled on Hank’s suit earlier?” Katharine eyed Karen.

“Are you accusing me of having an affair with Hank, your husband while being attacked?” Karen asked aghast at her friend.

“I’m asking. I don’t know when Hank got back into town. All I know is that he knew exactly where your house was when he drove us here. He didn’t need directions or the GPS. Your kids seem to know him without having met him. Why is that?” Katharine began to raise her voice.

“Katharine, I am not, and I repeat, I am not having an affair with your husband. If my perfume smells the same as you smelled on Hank’s suit, then maybe you should remember I wear the same as you do. I asked you what your perfume was, and I’ve been wearing it ever since remember? We’re wearing the same perfume right now,” Karen shot back at Katharine.

“Oh my god, I didn’t think of that. I am so used to Hank dropping his clothes off at the cleaners that I jump to the conclusion that he was having an affair.” Katharine bowed her head, knowing that Karen was right about the perfume.

“Don’t you think that he wanted to get back to you as soon as he could and didn’t take the time to drop his clothes off at the dry cleaners? And as for my kids, you have talked about him so much that they probably know him better than anyone, and they did meet him a couple of times here at the company get-togethers. You probably don’t remember because you had to go to a client’s house and he showed up to surprise you. He didn’t want you to know. He said that he didn’t want you to feel bad about inviting him to the get-together and then not being here when he got here,” Karen said soothingly to Katharine.

“I didn’t know that,” Katharine said as tears ran down her face. “With everything that has happened, I’m jumping to conclusions and seeing conspiracies everywhere.”

“It’s okay, Kitty,” Karen said, patting her friend’s hand. “Besides, if I ever did decide to have an affair with Hank, I’d ask you first, or don’t you remember some of our drunken discussions? And how did you put it, tonguealented?”

Both women began to laugh at the personal joke between them. Little did Katharine know that Karen had slipped and revealed that joke to Hank.

Hank’s cell phone buzzed as a text came through. Package dropped off. Grant texted.

What took so long to make the drop? Hank texted back.

Once the transfer was made, I tried to contact you. I received no reply and none from bossy. Therefore, per protocol, I texted alternate.

Implement dead drop protocol. Hank referred to an arrangement he had made with Grant before the four went after Sal.

When? Why? Grant responded, her heart beginning to race.

Immediately. Location?

Just crossed over into Tennessee, Grant responded.

Get out. Go.

Grant was in the jet’s bathroom as she texted Hank. It was the only area in the plane that had been equipped with shielding so no other device could intercept any transmissions. Grant exited the bathroom to find Heath and Bennie half asleep in the seats.

Suddenly, the jet was rocked as the explosion blew the outer door off of the plane, and the sudden decompression sent the plane into an erratic flight pattern. The three occupants were tossed about the cabin like rag dolls.

“Fasten your seatbelts!” the pilot’s voice screamed from the cockpit but also came over the intercom.

The jet was rocked by a second explosion, this one from the right engine. Smoke and fire billowed from the engine as the pilot struggled to bring the plane under control. The jet’s altitude was dropping quickly toward the ground. Rivers, forests, and mountains loomed up as the aircraft continued its downward spiral.

Hank watched Katharine and Karen as he dialed Sarasin.

“We need to meet. I believe security has been compromised.” Hank told her as soon as she answered.

“When and where?”

“McCormick and Schmicks. Nine tonight,” Hank said as he hung up.

Hank quickly dialed Bob.

“Hey, do you have time for dinner? McCormick and Schmicks?” Hank asked.

“Sounds like a plan. But we don’t have a babysitter, and I’m just finishing up with the task force for the evening,” Bob told Hank.

“I’ll take care of the babysitter. Karen may be able to get her sister to watch all the kids. We need to have a night out after everything we’ve been through.”

“Okay, it’s six o’clock. Let’s say in two hours?” Bob asked.

“Perfect. Tess can drop the kids off. We will just make it by eight if Karen’s sister is willing to watch the kids,” Hank replied.

Hank called Tess. She was all for a night out. She told the kids to get ready to go as she terminated the connection.

“Karen, can you get your sister to babysit tonight? We’re getting together with Bob and Tess at Katharine’s favorite expensive restaurant McCormick and Schmicks.” Hank smiled at Katharine. Katharine’s smile matched the gleam in her eyes. Hank called McCormick and Schmicks and made reservations.

Karen called her sister, who agreed to watch her nieces and nephew as well as Bob and Tess’s kids. Tess arrived thirty minutes later with Tristan and Shannon. All the kids ran off to play in the backyard as Karen’s sister and brother-in-law pulled up in their vehicle. Karen thanked her sister and brother-in-law as she joined Hank, Katharine, and Tess in Katharine’s SUV. They drove to Philadelphia, arriving just in time to meet Bob at the door of McCormick and Schmicks at eight o’clock as dark thunderstorm clouds rolled overhead. They were seated as soon as they walked in.

“Unable to meet,” Sarasin texted Hank as he sat down.

*****

Outside the restaurant McCormick and Schmicks in Philadelphia, a man stood in the shadows watching the five at the table. He was a treacherous man, with murderous intentions. He was a stout-looking man in his late forties with shortcut brown hair with a receding hairline. He looked like a weightlifter in his Gold’s Gym warmup pants and Gold’s Gym hooded sweat jacket. He raised his right hand and with his index finger pointed at Hank, making the sign of a gun. He simulated firing his imaginary gun.

It started to rain as David Wright walked down the street to the Lincoln Towncar limousine parked out of sight of the bar. Two Arab men sat in the front seat while Sheik Ackmed al-Azmah and a woman of European descent sat in the back seat.

“He’s there,” Wright told the Sheik as he got into the back of the limousine, sitting across from the sheik and the woman.

“Half now, the rest when he and the rest of the infidels who killed my nephew are dead,” the sheik told Wright as he handed the briefcase across the back of the limousine to Wright.

Wright opened the briefcase to find a million dollars in cash inside. Wright smiled to himself. He relished being paid to do what he loved to do.

“It may take a while, but it’ll be done,” Wright told the sheik as he closed the briefcase.

Wright opened the car door and climbed out. As soon as Wright was clear of the limousine, it sped off. Wright walked back to the bar parking lot. He watched the four for half an hour longer before getting into the rented red Ford Mustang. Wright drove away as he planned his next move.

Hank and Bob sat at the table listening to the women as he marveled at their high spirits of late. Hank’s cell phone buzzed. Hank saw that it was a call from Sarasin as he picked it up.

“Hello,” Hank said, standing as he saw who was calling. Hank walked away from the table to the far end of the bar area where no one was.

“Homeland Security just received a report that Wright entered the US less than four hours ago on a private jet with Sheik Ackmed al-Azmah and Jennifer Tanner at the Philadelphia International Airport. The report came in too late for anyone to intercept him. Sheik Ackmed al-Azmah was with him,” Sarasin told Hank.

Hank’s mind wandered to the night the traitor had betrayed his team.

*****

Sarasin had received some crucial intelligence on a terrorist plot involving several high-ranking military officers and State Department personnel. Sarasin’s informant had leaked that there was to be a meeting at an Italian villa of an Air Force colonel. Little did they know that it was all false information planted to lure them into an ambush.

Once at the villa, Hank and the rest of the team stood ready. Each team member had their assigned post and field of view. All was going as planned. Then halfway through the operation, something went wrong. Hank was posing as a waiter when he heard a muffled grunt in his earbud. He called for all team members to report. Neither Holcomb nor Simmons had reported. Duncan had begun his transmission when his transmission was abruptly cut off, a grunt coming over the radios.

“It’s Wright!” Woods hissed over the earbud as gunfire erupted.

Sarasin, listening in, stood next to Byrd at the party. The band had played their first two sessions and was on break. Byrd was introducing Sarasin to his commanding officer Colonel Jack Williams as his fiancée. Lowell and Sanchez were together when Hank ordered the abort of the mission.

Hank made his way toward Sarasin to assist her departure when two men approached Sarasin. Hank grabbed one of the security detail that he had spotted earlier during the party. He pointed out the two men and the bulges under their dress uniform jackets, right arms held tight to their sides. The two men wore French army uniforms.

Before the two men could react, they were surrounded by the security detail and subdued. They were each carrying Uzi carbines and four grenades. It happened so swiftly, that few of the guests noticed the confrontation occur.

As Hank approached her, Sarasin shook her head. Hank remained in his position nearby throughout the night. After the party, Sarasin accompanied Byrd back to the hotel the band was staying. Hank stayed close by, keeping watch over Sarasin. Sarasin finally slipped out of the hotel room to meet Hank just after three in the morning.

“The team is screwed. Lowell and Sanchez are the only other two alive. You heard Woods before he was killed. He said it was Wright. Wright’s body has not been found. His locator device was disabled before the ambush. Lowell and Sanchez acquired video footage from the Paris airport of Wright boarding a private jet with Jennifer Tanner. The flight report filed shows the plane heading to Sudan. The worse news is that the jet belongs to Sheik Ackmed al-Azmah, uncle to Amar al-Azmah,” Hank told her.

“Have Lowell and Sanchez stand down and disperse. We’ll meet back in Berlin per protocol,” Sarasin ordered Hank.

Sarasin started to walk away when Hank took her by the arm. Hank turned Sarasin around and kissed her. Sarasin returned the kiss with heated passion. After several minutes, Sarasin pulled away from Hank.

“We can’t do this here,” Sarasin told Hank.

“Are you really going to marry that limp dick?” Hank asked, indicting Byrd with a jerk of his right thumb in the direction of the hotel room.

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Come to my apartment in Berlin in a week. I will tell you everything. I’ll make you dinner and you can stay the night if you would like,” Sarasin told him, kissed him again, and was gone.

Hank rendezvoused with Lowell and Sanchez five days later in Frankfurt, Germany, at a safe house not far from the Rhein Mein Air Force base.

“We’re going after Amar al-Azmah and his uncle Sheik Ackmed al-Azmah. Wright is on my list as well. I’ll cut his heart out when I get my hands on him,” Hank told the two men.

“Sorry, gentlemen, the team’s done. I’ve already requested a transfer to lead my own team,” Lowell told Hank and Sanchez.

“What about Sarasin?” Hank asked before Sanchez could. “She doesn’t matter anymore. It was her operation. She allowed it to get screwed up. If either of you decides a change of pace is needed, get word to me,” Lowell grabbed his bags and headed out the door.

“I’m not abandoning her,” Hank spoke to the closed door. “Neither am I,” Sanchez affirmed.

“Stay here. I’m heading to Berlin to see what Sarasin has in mind.” Hank told Sanchez.

“Is that the only reason?” Sanchez asked with a sly smile on his face.

“She’s made her decision. They were married yesterday. But the mission comes first and foremost. Besides, I want Wright’s heart in my hand,” Hank hissed.

*****

Hank snapped out of his reminisces as Sarasin continued her report.

“I have the rest of the team diverting back to Philadelphia. Lowell and Sanchez are at the safe house in Phoenixville,” Sarasin was saying.

“Hold off on that,” Hank told her. “If Wright is here, it means that someone is tipping them off. The team could be in danger all over again. Have you heard from Lowell directly?”

“Nothing. You think we have a mole?” Sarasin asked.

“Don’t you? I received a text from Grant that she had texted Lowell. Something didn’t seem right, so I had her implement the dead drop protocol we used in the past.”

“Dead drop protocol? Were they all apprised of the protocol?” Sarasin asked.

“Only Grant and she hasn’t reported back since. That’s what has me worried. Something has happened. I checked the jet’s flight path on the way to the restaurant. It’s not showing, and there’s an FAA report of a private jet going down over Tennessee,” Hank told Sarasin.

“I’m not sure. You’re probably right about the mole. You usually are. It’s better safe than sorry. I will check with the FAA and get more information on the downed jet. I’ll be in touch.”

“I guess it’s not over after all.”

“Keep that handsome head of yours down.”

“A trap needs bait. Let’s see if Wright will come for the bait and if the mole has any connection to Wright,” Hank replied.

“We may need to inform others outside the team.”

“Do you trust anyone in the agency?”

“Not at this time. What about your friend, Bob Roy? He’s still the director of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force,” Sarasin suggested.

“He would be the only one,” Hank told her. “Just keep your ass down and out of sight. He’s gunning for you as much as anyone else.”

“By the way, Roy received your fake military records from someone outside the task force. I am trying to find out who delivered it to him,” Sarasin told Hank.

“Thanks for the heads up.”

“Still like what you see?” Sarasin’s grin could almost be heard through the phone as she asked her teasing question and ended the call.

Hank dialed a number as he looked toward the table. A sleepy voice came on the line.

“Colonel D’Aras?” Hank asked.

“Yes? Who is this?” the colonel replied.

“Colonel, it’s Hank Logan.”

“Logan, it’s been a while since you were over. Ann was asking if I had heard from you. You haven’t been in for a haircut in a while. Still traveling for work?” the colonel replied.

“Yes, sir. Colonel, I called to warn you. That incident in Germany has resurfaced,” Hank told the colonel.

“What do you mean?” the colonel’s voice was full of concern. “If I may suggest an extended vacation, no travel plans, change things up when you get to where you are going. Use burner phones to speak to Marie or anyone else, and don’t stay on the line too long. Don’t try to contact Katharine or me. When it’s safe, I’ll let Marie know, and she can let you know,” Hank told the colonel.

“Thank you, Hank. We’ll leave tomorrow.”

Hank terminated the call. The four occupants at the table had stopped talking and were staring at Hank now, concern written across each of their faces. Not one spoke as Hank sat down and placed the cell phone face down on the table.

“Just shades from the past,” Hank told them.

The three women seemed bewildered as he took a drink of his Guinness. Only Karen’s face paled as she stared at Hank. Katharine and Tess both took notice of the change in Karen but noticed that Hank seemed as calm as ever. They wondered what was going on. Hank became very quiet as he looked around.

“What’s wrong?” Katharine asked.

“Nothing, but I think it’s time we get going and get to Karen’s,” Hank told the ladies.

Hank drove the three back to Karen’s home where Bob was going to meet them. Karen’s brother-in-law and sister were watching all five kids as the four pulled up to the house. Almost every light was on in the house. Hank followed a few paces behind the three women as they walked toward the front door. Karen was the first through the front door to the cheerful cries from all the children. Katharine hung back as Tess walked into the house.

“What’s wrong?” Katharine asked her husband a second time.

“Nothing. Just a bad feeling is all,” Hank told her.

“I don’t like your bad feelings. After the past few weeks and what’s happened to Tess and Karen, you have me more spooked than before.” Katharine eyed him.

Katharine stepped close to him, wrapped her arms around his chest, and started to kiss him. Katharine realized Hank was wearing a shoulder holster.

“What the hell is that?” Katharine asked, stepping back.

“I told you. I have a bad feeling.” Hank looked back over his shoulder.

“What’s with the gun? You never carry,” Katharine asked.

“You don’t think it’s warranted?” Hank asked. “Karen has been attacked. You, Tess, Bob, and the kids had to go into hiding until some Homeland Security agent uncovered the plot against Bob, Tess, and Karen. Now Bob is playing Homeland Security or something. Just give this to me, okay? Having my gun makes me feel a little better prepared to protect you,” Hank told her.

“Hank, it’s been years since you carried. When was the last time you even shot? Wasn’t it just before our second wedding anniversary?” Katharine asked.

“Just give this to me.”

“You have me worried. You have never acted like this before.” Katharine looked at him as he scanned the area around the house. “It’s like I don’t even know you. The look in your eyes, it’s almost scary.”

“No one is going to hurt you while I am around.” Hank turned toward Katharine and took her into his arms. He kissed her firmly but gently.

At that moment, Bob pulled up to the house in a black Ford Expedition, a perk of being a task force director it seemed. As Bob stepped from the SUV, Hank and Katharine noticed the look on his face.

“Hank, I need to talk to you,” Bob said.

“What’s up?” Hank asked, releasing Katharine. Katharine stepped back.

“We need to talk privately,” Bob said, eyeing Katharine.

“Fine, but I won’t settle for secrets much longer.” Katharine huffed off into the house.

Bob watched as Katharine walked away and slammed the door. Bob then turned and walked back toward the Expedition, motioning Hank to follow. Bob opened the driver’s door and retrieved a briefcase. Bob placed the briefcase on the hood of the Expedition. After Bob opened the briefcase, he pulled out a file with Hank’s name. Beside it, Bob slid a piece of paper that read, I am under surveillance.

“No beating around the bush,” Bob jumped right into the discussion. “You know I am in charge of an anti-terrorism task force now. Some information has come to my attention concerning you. Do you know a person named David Wright?”

“I was in a unit with a David Wright in the army,” Hank replied, feigning ignorance.

“What happened that would make this David Wright come after you?” Bob came straight to the point.

“You should know. You have my file,” Hank said, looking down at his doctored file that the Department of Defense had redacted.

“Come on, Hank, how long have we known each other? You took me to meet Agent Sarasin and told me a story about your time in the army. But this file doesn’t tell the same story you told me. I understand it’s probably just a cover file to keep your real activities secret, but what’s with this Wright guy? The CIA has him down as some type of gun runner,” Bob stated. Hank’s file showed that Wright had gone MIA during a patrol.

“There’s a lot that I don’t discuss concerning my past. Wright disappeared when we were on patrol one night. He was on point and vanished. We called it in. My battalion searched for several weeks. He was never found,” Hank said.

“Then why is Wright in the US looking for you? The intelligence community is abuzz with reports from Europe and the US. Several informants have named you as his primary target. Why? And why is it that the story you gave me earlier differs from your redacted file?” Bob asked.

“Bob, you have to understand we were in the same unit, battle buddies. He’s a traitor and vanished before our squad was ambushed. Only three of us made it out alive. I left the unit for personal reasons, but Wright was the catalyst. Those of us who survived got word that Wright was responsible. If he’s here looking for me, then he’s bound to be looking for the others as well,” Hank told Bob.

“Exactly, Wright is looking for the other two, but it seems he has a hard-on to find you. Reports are showing that he’s been working as a mercenary for some Middle Eastern terrorist organization with a lot of money to fund his search for you. It’s been rumored that before you joined Sarasin’s unit, your squad in Iraq killed a sniper who may have been related to Wright’s benefactor,” Bob said.

“What do you suggest then?” Hank asked.

“Sarasin believes that you need protective custody,” Bob told Hank.

“Protective custody?” Hank replied.

“Yes. It would draw Wright away from Katharine, Tess, and the kids,” Bob countered.

“What about Katharine, Tess, and the kids?”

“They will be under tight security. So far, all the reports say Wright is only looking for you and the other two of your squad,” Bob told him.

“Very well. When do I leave to be placed in this protective custody?”

“In the morning. A special ops team is en route to your house. We will meet them there.”

“Okay, then let’s tell the ladies.” Hank started toward the door. “They can’t know,” Bob stopped him. “We will tell them that you will be consulting on internet security for Homeland Security for a few weeks or so. You’ve done work for Homeland Security before, so it will be plausible.”

“You have already come up with a cover story, huh?”

“Actually, it was Sarasin who came up with the story before your file arrived. But the file isn’t going to hold water too long if anyone, including Katharine, starts checking dates and places. You’d best be ready to tell her everything. Until then, the file will keep things secret for a while anyway,” Bob divulged.

Hank already knew the cover story, but it was getting harder to remember what he had told Katharine and Karen earlier, what the file said, and what actually happened. Sarasin had planted the record long ago after Hank had left her unit. Bob had already received several leads that Wright was seeking information concerning Hank. What Bob didn’t know was the special ops team was Sarasin’s team, until now. The trap had been set. The only question was if Wright would go for it or if he would smell it out.

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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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