Well, didn’t this just turn out to be a clusterfuck.
“They’re gaining on us,” John ‘Rocket’ Hardin called from the rear of the van.
“I’m pushing this baby as hard as it will go,” Matt ‘Viper’ Roman ground out.
The tension inside the van was so thick they could almost see it. Disaster was always waiting for them around the corner, but Scott ‘Blaze’ Hamilton knew if anyone could get them to the exfil point, it was Viper. No one could outdrive him.
“Damn it,” Blaze swore under his breath.
A previous rescue attempt by another group had failed and put the hostages in jeopardy. That was always when Galaxy was called. When Blaze had done his research, he’d learned that the only reason the hostages were still alive was because the kidnappers needed them to make sure the ransom was paid. At first, it had sounded like a by-the-book rescue. Jim and Nita Rosen, one of America’s one-percenter couples with money to burn, had been kidnapped for ransom. Their daughter, Angela, afraid her parents would be killed if she called in the FBI, had paid it, but the jerkoffs had come back and asked for more.
When the first people she’d hired had botched the job, that was when she’d turned to Galaxy.
For the four highly trained former SEALs, this should have been a simple retrieval. Tapping into every source, they were unhappy to learn that the kidnappers were less than sophisticated. They were offshoots of a cartel whose leader was barely second tier and had big ideas about establishing himself. Kidnapping was his prime source of income while he built up enough of a bank to take on the big cartel chiefs. These people were the most dangerous kind, since they had oversized egos and small brains. The crew who worked for him came from the dregs, which meant things could easily go wrong.
Reaching out to all their contacts, they’d gotten the location where the Rosens were being held—an old warehouse just outside the little town of San Felipe. Only two guards were on duty at any one time, an indication of the kidnappers’ stupidity and arrogance. The one good thing was that the so-called brains behind this kidnapping only showed up once a day, about midday, to check on their victims. It certainly sounded like amateur hour to Galaxy, but sometimes those were the ones that went sideways.
After a drive-by to scope the place out and take pictures, the team planned the operation. They would breach the building, grab the Rosens and get the hell out of there in their borrowed van before the leader and the rest of the bad guys showed up for their daily visit.
‘Saint’ Francis, their official pilot, would be waiting for them at an extraction point with the helicopter.
Easy peasy, right?
As they’d learned in the military, if something can go wrong it will.
Fucked up beyond all repair.
Especially with kidnappers like these, who were not very smart.
At first, it was smooth sailing. Only one vehicle, an old car, was parked by the warehouse. They knew from their source that this was the one driven by the two men left to guard the Rosens, so they were good to go. Using an infrared scanner, they were able to determine the location inside of the guards—away from the captives, sitting near the entrance to the warehouse. Breaching the door was kindergarten work for them, as was disposing of the guards before the two knew what was happening. They grabbed the Rosens and hustled them out to their waiting van.
Just as ‘Viper’, their designated wheelman, cranked the engine, a car drove up to the warehouse. Three well-armed and unpleasant-looking men tumbled out, even before the vehicle had come to a stop. One looked to be in charge, pointing at the Galaxy van, and at once the others began shooting at them. They pulled out onto the road before the doors were even fully shut, but the other vehicle was after them at once. Blaze thought there must be a hell of a motor in that thing, because they barely got out to the road before the other vehicle was practically on their tail.
Now they were racing down the two-lane road to the extraction spot with shots from the vehicle behind them peppering the van they were using. It pissed Blaze off that a cheap-ass operation like this one had managed to grab two high-value targets and get away with it. But even more, that best-of-the-best Galaxy was barely escaping a deadly showdown.
“Fuck it all,” Viper cursed.
“It’s true, you know,” Blaze reminded his partners. “The only easy day was yesterday.”
“And today will be our last,” Rocket snapped at him, “if we let ourselves get beaten by these pieces of shit.”
“Never fear. The Viper is here.”
Viper was swerving back and forth to avoid the bullets as they sped down the road at a speed that would dry the spit in the mouth of most people.
“Yeah?” Blaze shifted in his seat. “Well, get us the fuck out of here, then.”
The Rosens, thankfully following orders without question, were huddled down between the front and middle seats as directed. In the far back seat, John ‘Rocket’ Hardin and Vic ‘Eagle’ Bodine had knocked out the glass in the windows and were firing their Glocks at the pursuing vehicle.
“We need more firepower,” Blaze said. “They’re coming hot and fast.”
He lifted his LaRue Tactical AR15 PredatAR rifle and turned so he was kneeling facing the rear. With great care, he balanced the barrel of the rifle on the back of the seat. The Aimpoint red dot optic allowed him to focus more accurately on his target, and he sighted carefully.
He zeroed in on the man in the passenger seat. From the brief glimpse when they’d emptied out at the warehouse, he’d pegged him as the leader.
Take out the man at the top and the rest will fall apart.
The vehicle was so close to them he knew that if he hit the driver, the car could jump out of control and rocket into them.
“Heads down,” he shouted.
Rocket and Eagle obediently bent forward, allowing Blaze a clear line to his target.
The car behind them swerved crazily. It was still close enough that Blaze could see the splintered windshield as well as the blood splatter on the glass. But it still kept coming. Are they crazy?
Yes, he answered himself. Or they would never have done this.
He figured the tires were bulletproof, but a well-aimed bullet from his PredatAR could penetrate the special composition of the rubber.
Now the car swerved sharply to the right and Blaze saw the flattened rubber. But the damn fucking thing kept on coming. Shit! The piece of crap wouldn’t die.
Then they were at the rendezvous, the helicopter waiting two hundred yards away with its rotors already turning.
“Get the Rosens to the chopper,” Blaze yelled as they rocketed to a stop.
He slid out and shouldered his rifle. Two men piled out of the car behind them, guns drawn, one of the men covered in blood splatters from the dead man. Blaze had thought for sure the idiot thugs would back off, but apparently they were too stupid to know that would be the smart thing to do. As Viper and Rocket hustled the Rosens toward the helo, Blaze took precise aim and fired, taking down another of the kidnappers. The last one stood frozen for a moment. Blaze was already moving toward the chopper, Eagle with his own weapon moving beside him. Then the man lifted his weapon to fire it.
“I got it,” Eagle told him. With one well-placed shot, he disposed of the last of the thugs.
Before anyone could arrive to investigate the gunshots, the two men jumped into the chopper and in seconds Saint had them in the air. They were a good fifteen minutes away from San Felipe before either of the Rosens spoke.
“Thank you.” Jim Rosen was holding his wife’s hand. “I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but thanks is such a small word for what you did.”
“Yes.” Nita Rosen gave a brief nod in agreement. “What Jim said.”
Blaze had his first chance to look them over carefully. They seemed to be fairly ordinary people dressed in disheveled but obviously expensive clothing. They also appeared to have somehow kept their shit together during their ordeal, which Blaze knew could destroy a lot of people.
“I’m glad you two are doing okay.”
“Okay?” Jim’s laugh was anything but humorous. “Trust me. We are far from okay. But we’ve been through a lot of tough times to get where we are. You learn that keeping it together is the only way to survive.”
“The kidnappers weren’t very smart,” Blaze told them. “And those can be the most dangerous kind.”
“Well, thank you again. We owe you a lot.”
“We’re just glad you’re safe now.”
Blaze leaned back in his seat, pulled out his cell and texted Angela Rosen that the team had her parents and was on the way back to the hangar. He was more than ready to deliver them to her, get showered, get out on the town and get laid in spades. He’d learned long ago that high-octane sex was a much better mood relaxer than any alcohol on the market. Thank god he knew plenty of women whose drug of choice was no-strings sex.
His cell dinged and he read the message, then sifted to look at the Rosens.
“I texted your daughter, Angela, earlier to let her know you were okay. She just texted back to let me know she’s waiting at the hangar.”
“Oh.” Nina Rosen took a deep breath. “Oh, thank you.”
“Yes.” Jim nodded. “More thanks. I—” He paused, swallowed. “We are more grateful than you can imagine. And happy that we can come home to our daughter.”
Neither of the Rosens said much after that. Blaze was pretty sure the aftereffects of their harrowing experience were finally taking over their bodies and minds. They wouldn’t be forgetting this for a long time, if ever. He buckled into the seat next to Saint, his location of choice. Watching the world slip by beneath them helped settle him after one of their missions.
He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, thinking about the night ahead. He’d call Fran as soon as they landed, ready for a night of hot, unrestrained sex. Just as when he’d been an active SEAL, the work came first. When he was on a mission, he was totally focused on it. No distractions. But when the job was done and there was down time, he played as hard as he worked.