Copyright © 2016 by Quentin Eddington
All rights reserved. Published by Quentin Eddington
No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher. For information regarding permission, write to Quentin Eddington, 7413 Llano Avenue, Texas, TX 76116
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Cover illustration by Quentin Eddington
To everyone who has helped me along the way.
The could was going to kill – correction – murder Sam Gordon. Taking watch had been a bad idea. The wind blew through his clothes, and left him shivering. Still, at least it wasn’t raining.
“Jordan, Jin, tell me you guys are ready.” Sam’s teeth chattered.
“I told you. I told you not to sit on top of that roof.” Emma’ Moore’s British accent came through Sam’s ear.
“You told me it’d be cold, not that it was going to be Antartica on a building.” Sam said.
“Tough luck, buddy.” Jordan said over the radio.
“You ought to bring a heavier jacket next time.” Jin said.
“So are you two done stopping for donuts?” Sam was ready to get into the building he was on top of.
“Fine, fine, no need to be all mad.” Jordan said.
“You’re not sitting on top of an ice block.” Sam pressed his ear. An electronic monocular popped over his left eye. Just about everyone in the year 2068 had one, and replaced their phones with the hands-off gadget. Sam’s monocle, however, was a little different from the rest. There were various combat suites on his to keep him in fighting shape.
He looked at the building next to the one he was sitting on, and scanned through the walls with some of the specialized programs. There were heat signatures everywhere. Sam’s gaze drifted to below. Two figures were getting out of a van.
“Okay, we’re at the front.” Jin said, “I’ll set up a turret and some traps here. Jordan, go to the back. You can slip in while everyone’s busy with the front.”
One of the figures on the bottom put down some devices while the woman went to the back.
“Sam, as soon as the enemies come out you need to shoot yourself a line on the top.” Emma said.
“Because you haven’t told me this before.” Sam let the sarcasm seep through.
“I’m just trying to help. Thanks for making me feel stupid.” Emma said.
“You’re welcome.” Sam kept an eye on Jordan working on the back door. Jin, at the front, had knocked on the front and ran back to the van.
The door opened. The turret started spraying lead inside.
Sam pulled out a rifle and aimed it at the top of the building.
Pfft! A line shot to the other building. Sam grabbed onto the line, and jumped down.
Wind rushed into his face. Adrenaline coursed through his veins. He crashed into a wall, knowing where he’d have a few new bruises.
Sam climbed onto the roof, and pulled out his pistol. He’d been ambushed enough times to assume nowhere was safe.
Gunfire came from below, probably all aimed at Jin’s “gift” turret.
He moved like a mouse until he got inside the building.
Sam scanned for heat signatures again. Most were near the front. A few were on the second level. That had to be were the syndicate leader was at.
He turned a corner, and found a man with a machine gun, with his eyes locked onto Sam.
“Intruder!” The guy brought up his machine gun. Sam fired off a round and ducked behind the wall.
Bullets ate away at Sam’s cover.
When the bullets stopped, Sam rushed into the room, and fired into the guard’s kneecaps.
“Jordan, I might need your help.” Sam heard some footsteps coming his way.
“People don’t scream ‘intruder’ because they think it’s funny.” Jordan said.
“Some people might.” Sam said.
“Guys, some people are starting to ignore the turret.” Emma said.
“Nice job, Sam.” Jordan sighed, “That gunfire must have alerted them.”
“Not my fault that someone had to go to the bathroom at the exact moment – oh crap!” Sam spotted several guards coming up.
He fired wildly at them. The guards fell to the ground.
“Careful!” Jordan yelled from across the room.
“Next time, please yell.” Sam said.
“That would give my position away.” Jordan walked toward Sam.
“But you wouldn’t fall victim to friendly fire.”
“If I yell, I’ll be hit with enemy fire.” Jordan pushed hair away from her hazel skin.
“Can you guys get the the leader now?” Jin said over the radio, and successfully stopped a pointless argument.
“Race you,” Sam ran toward the stairs.
“To the hospital? Because running around is how you get shot. No thanks.” Jordan followed.
“Hey! They’re not entertained by the turret anymore!” Emma said.
“Jin, would you kindly be distracting?” Sam said.
“Got it,” Jin’s response was followed by an explosion.
“What are you doing!?” Jordan yelled.
“Distracting them.” Jin stayed calm, “With a grenade.”
“He’s going to get himself killed.” Sam felt his stomach do a backflip.
“You go get him, I’ll make sure nothing happens on this end.” Jordan said.
“Of course, make me do the dangerous stuff.” Sam went down the stairs with his gun ready.
He saw that the entrance was swarmed by guards.
Sam fired at all the hostiles he saw. When he was finished, all the bad guys were writhing around on the floor.
“Next time Jin,” Sam reloaded his pistol, “Don’t blow things up.”
“It worked, didn’t it?” Jin popped his head out of cover.
“Yeah. Well come on, Jordan’s making sure our target doesn’t go running away.” Sam started going back up the stairs with Jin right behind.
When they got to the top, they found Jordan holding a man on the ground.
“Get off!” He squirmed under her boot.
“You wanna eat the floor then?” Jordan shoved the syndicate leader’s face into the carpet.
“And there’s the squealing.” Sam broke out a smile.
“Turns out when you catch the big bad wolf he transforms into a baby.” Jordan slapped a pair of handcuffs on the guy.
They went back to the van, and dumped their bounty into the back.
“To the police station.” Emma’s brand new blue and pink hair could still be seen in the darkness of the vehicle.
“Yes, the police station, isn’t that obvious?” Jordan added.
They went to the police station, turned in their screaming, kicking bounty, and told them about the guards they’d left at the warehouse.
“Thank you for your help.” The officer had something meaner to say between the lines, however.
Vigilante justice and mercenary groups had only been legalized in 2051, leaving conservative police officers disgruntled about the whole thing for almost twenty years.
“As long as someone doesn’t try buying themselves a private jet.” Emma checked her glasses, “Ten thousand dollars awarded to the ultra amazing Hit Squad.”
“Does it actually say ‘ultra amazing’?” Sam said.
“No, it just says Hit Squad.” Emma said.
“Well, it’ll be nice to eat again anyways.” Sam said. The group had been low on cash for a while.
“Hey, I’m getting a transmission.” Emma started typing on her laptop.
“Stalker,” Sam joked.
“Says the one who has kept very precise tabs on targets” Emma brought up a window on the computer.
“–sure?” A guy said over the radio.
“Yeah.” The other voice was female, “It seems that some . . . sensitive technology has been stolen.”
Maybe the team already had a new contract waiting for them.
“Do you have any ideas on how to get it back?” The man said.
“Wait. Someone’s listening in on us.”
Emma’s fingers moved like lightning. The voices stopped. She shut her laptop.
“They could still trace that.” Jin said.
“Yeah, well, I think it’s time we go and not get arrested.” Emma started driving.
Emma parked the van in a strip mall. Well, the party van now. They had stopped by a liquor store before coming back, and were prepared for a night they wouldn’t remember.
“Now this is an wise use of money.” Sam chuckled.
“Who cares? We spent a month tracking that syndicate leader down.” Jordan got out of the van carrying a bottle of vodka.
They went into their store, a little place with a sign reading HIT SQUAD.
The team went inside and stripped their gear off. Their celebrating started soon after.
“So, nice job everyone.” Jordan picked up her shot glass.
“We all deserve to retire.” Sam got a decent chuckle out of everyone.
Once everyone had gotten a shot, they all started going around doing their thing. Jordan was reading, Emma was working on her computer, and Jin was making repairs to his turret. Sam was left with the TV. Not that there was anything on.
“Wow, uh, well, wow. Whoa.” Emma said.
“Did you accidentally make an AI?” Sam sounded like he was talking about diner.
“I’m hoping one day. But not an evil thing to kill the world.” Emma sung, “But no, we’ve got a new contract.”
“That fast?” Jin looked up from his turret.
“Yeah,” Emma said, “Guys, come see if this is anything you want to do.”
Everyone gathered around, and read the contract that had been sent to them.
“Stolen military grade weapons.” Sam nodded, “They pay handsomely, too.”
“It’s not like we couldn’t use extra money just because.” Jordan shrugged.
“And I could use a nice, big house.” Sam said. They accepted the contract.
Jordan and Jin went back to work.
“A nice, big house, huh?” Emma rolled her eyes.
“What? Something wrong with leaving and just . . . doing nothing?” Sam said.
“Leaving?” Emma frowned.
“Yeah, leaving the Hit Squad.” Sam had trouble getting the words out.
“Here’s why you won’t.” Emma pushed her glasses up on her nose, “First, you have no money. Second, you’d miss us.”
“Both good arguments, but you’re forgetting something big.”
“Um, I’m getting tired of it?” Sam wasn’t lying about that.
“I mean . . .” Emma pressed her eyebrows together, and her gears turned.
“You don’t have to worry about the squad.” Sam said, “They’re practically superheroes. If superheroes made mistakes.”
“A lot of mistakes. I mean, we make a lot of mistakes.” Emma chuckled, though her eyes showed the truth, “Please don’t go.”
“Bye, see ya.” Sam wondered off.
“Hey, I’m talking to you.” Emma hurried to his side.
“So what makes me the catalyst to Hit Squad?” Sam asked.
“Well you’re not but – hey, not fair with the trick questions.” Emma folded her arms across her chest.
“You just want me around?”
“You’re a good friend.” Emma said, “And the team will be weakened. We’ll be recruiting someone we have no clue about.”
“Okay, okay.” Sam held his hands up, “After this mission.”
“After this mission you’ll decide you care about us enough not to leave.” Emma concluded. Not that Sam was going to believe it.
“So what are we waiting for?” Sam said.
“Right. To finding stolen technology like hunters.” Emma said.
The next day, Jordan and Jin drove to the military base where the technology had been stolen. Guards wondered around the perimeter. Jordan was sure those guys were just window dressing. Cameras and turrets covered every centimeter of a military base. A fly couldn’t get in without someone noticing.
“They’re paranoid.” Jin shook his head.
They were stopped at a gate for ten minutes before being allowed to come in. Once inside, everything was explained to them.
The thieves had somehow found a loophole in the cameras and turrets, and initially snuck inside that way. Nobody knew how they got out with the advanced technology, though.
“Any clues to where they went?” Jin asked the private who had been giving them all the information.
“No,” The private responded.
“Have any ideas who?” Jordan said.
“Nothing.” The private said.
“The U.S. Military has a long list of enemies.” Jin said.
“Gee, that narrows things down.” Jordan chewed of her bottom lip.
“We’ll need to see the evidence and work our way from there.” Jin looked toward the private.
“Well,” The private shifted on his feet, “We, uh, we don’t have any evidence.”
Go figure. Jordan let out an annoyed sigh.
“We can try to get some evidence, right?” Jin said.
“Well, uh, hmm . . .” The private pressed his eyebrows together.
“I’ll take that as a ‘of course’. We don’t exactly have time to suck our thumbs.” Jordan said.
“Yeah, I guess.” The private said.
She and Jin were led to an empty hangar, presumably a treasure chest of goodies earlier. People were going around, taking photos and dusting around.
“No samples?” Jordan’s gaze soaked up the room.
“Yeah. No identifiable handprints, no tire marks, not even a skin flake.” The private said.
“There has to be something.” Jin pulled out his tablet, “There’s no such thing as no evidence.”
They went into the hangar and started hunting for clues. Then Jordan realized that she was just getting in everyone’s way and watched from the sidelines.
When Jin finally got out of the hangar, Jordan had finally got past level 45 in Fruit Smash Saga and realized the private was wearing camo pajama bottoms.
“So is there anything?” Jordan asked.
“Yeah. All the evidence was electronically bleached by the bad guys.” Jin said.
“That would be assumed.”
“But there are ways to trace a bleach job.” Jin poked at his tablet.
“That would have saved a lot of people a lot of time.” Jordan said.
“Yes, but military scanners don’t have anything compared to what we have.”
“Bragging about your own work, now?”
“It’s just the truth.”
“So you’ve tracked them down?” Jordan’s felt her spirits rising.
“No, but I’ve got the bleach signature.” Jin typed on his tablet again, “I’m trying to find what company makes bleach programs like this, but it’s no luck.”
“We’ll take it back to Emma.” Jordan said. If anyone was going to know something about electronics and programs, it was her.
They left the base, and started driving back to the shop.
“Have you sent the data to Emma?” Jordan asked.
“The files are way too big to be sent over the air.” Jin said.
“Didn’t you just, like, take a picture?”
“Nope. The analyzed stuff is huge.” Jin said, “And also hacked into everything the military knows about it.”
“Should’ve known.” Jordan pulled into the parking lot, “You’re always one step ahead. Or three.”
“That’s my job.” Jin said.
They went back into the shop.
“Welcome back.” Emma’s eyes were glued to her computer. Playing a game, probably.
Jin gave his monocle to Emma, and she hooked it up to the computer.
“Darn you, you fire-breathing dragon.” Emma rapidly pressed a key.
“Em? Shouldn’t you be worried about –”
“Okay, sorry Jordan.” Emma’s fingers moved across the keyboard like water, “Fifty matches.”
“That’s some rare tech.” Jin said.
“I’ll check locations.” Emma typed a bit more.
“So where’s Sam?” Jordan just noticed the resident joker wasn’t around.
“Off doing shenanigans.” Emma stopped typing, “Nailed you like a, uh . . . a nail.”
“So who’s our thieves?” Jin said.
“That’s a good question. All I know is that the ETB Corporation is likely to have provided the program.” Emma said.
“They’re legitimate, right? My word processor came from them.” Jin said.
“Mostly legitimate.” Emma pushed her glasses up on her nose, “They’ve done a little under the table. Like bleaches.”
“Can you figure out who bought it?” Jordan said. Emma typed some more. Her eyebrows pressed together.
“This security.” Emma leaned back in her seat.
“We can go visit the ETB if you want.” Jordan said.
“That would be nice.” Emma furiously typed, “I’ll see what I can do here, though.”
Jordan and Jin were back into the city.
“This place doesn’t look like it’d have a seedy side.” Jordan pulled into the parking lot for the ETB offices. The building was pure white, with large windows and a some of green shrubs surrounding it.
“Well the only people who design buildings to look evil just happen to be Dr. Supervillain.” Jin said.
They went to the front of the office, and were greeted by a receptionist.
“Hi, uh, we need to see your records.?” Jordan’s tongue failed her around corporations. They were too haughty, never paying attention to workers like her.
The receptionist looked like he was ready to bust out laughing.
“Ma’am, that sort of information isn’t available to the public.” The receptionist stayed pleasant.
“Can you get me an administrator?” Jin said.
The receptionist called someone, and Jordan and Jin were led into an elevator.
“So what do you expect from this administrator?” Jordan asked.
“A heavy amount of ‘we can’t do this for you’.” Jin said.
“Know any secrets around that?”
“We tell them what’s at stake for them.”
The doors opened, and the two were dragged to an office overlooking the pool the ETB had outside. The administrator was a woman with dark hair and a face tough as steel. The name on her desk read ELAINE LUCY JAMES.
“Hello,” The woman smiled, “Please, take a seat.”
“Hi, we would like to see who has purchased some things from the ETB.” Jordan took her seat.
“As you might be able to guess, we cannot give out client information.” Mrs. James’ pleasant demeanor evaporated.
“There’s a slight problem with your ideology.” Jin said, “Would you like to be tied to the theft of military technology?”
“What do you mean?” Mrs. James started typing on her computer.
“We found something that belongs to this company at a crime scene on a military base.” Jin said.
“In other words, you could be tied to this hurricane.” Jordan said.
“Aha, you’re the Hit Squad.” Mrs. James said.
“Aha, no.” Jordan said, “There are two other members and if anything suspicious happens to us, they’ll come down on you like a hammer.”
“Wasn’t planning on harming such a unique mercenary service.” Mrs. James looked up, “But you’re also not going to get any information.”
“Don’t you understand that your corporation is tied to this? Imagine the bad press.” Jin said.
“I do understand, but we’re not letting anybody, especially mercs, dig around in customer records.” Mrs. James said.
Jordan’s gut said that they were about to be kicked out in a bit.
“How will you solve such a problem then?” Jordan asked.
“Independently.” Mrs. James said, “Now, if this conversation is over, I need to get back to work.”
Before Jordan could protest, a security robot grabbed her.
“Hey! Not cool!” Jordan squirmed against the robot’s tight grip, but it was like punching a rock.
Jordan and Jin were shoved into the elevator, and sent back to the bottom.
“Have a pleasant day.” The receptionist told them as they passed. Jordan kind of wanted to punch the guy.
They went back the car.
“Well, how about that.” Jordan folded her arms.
“It’s not a total loss.” Jin said.
“What did your detective skills draw from that?”
“Oh, maybe a little program in their systems. Something of a back door.” Jin said. Jordan chuckled.
“I love working with you.” Jordan said, “I’m guessing Emma already knows.”
“Let’s get back to the shop and see what the ETB’s up to.” Jordan started the car.
They went back to the shop, to find Sam dealing with a customer at the front.
“Sir, if you want us to investigate a lost dog, it better have a nuclear bomb in it.” Sam looked bored out of his mind.
Jordan walked past him, and to where Emma was working.
“How’s the superbrain doing?” Jordan asked.
“Mining all the data.” Emma typed like a madwoman, “There is so many illegal sales, it’s taking a while to figure out who exactly bough the electronic bleach.”
“Haha, now.” The corner’s of Emma’s mouth moved up, “A man named Donovan Lambert had bought the bleach. He’s lives in the throwing range of the base, too.”
“Great. We can catch the bastard and squeeze some info out of him.” Jordan said.
“Huh, he’s worked with another guy, Richard Stroud.”
“What about him?”
“He recently gave the ETB a large sum of new combat technology.” Emma said.
Jordan had a feeling that ETB administrator had lied to her. She felt her blood boiling.
“We’re going to have to expose the ETB then.” Jordan said.
“Wait, Richard Stroud isn’t with the ETB.” Emma typed some more, “In fact, his recent donations are the only interaction he’s ever had with the ETB.”
“Okay, let’s figure out where he got those donations.” Jordan said.
Sam parked by Richard Stroud’s house. He examined the huge place. Green grass. Plenty of windows. Very beautiful.
“Wouldn’t be a bad place if it wasn’t for the electric bill.” Sam leaned back in his seat.
“Stroud and his wife both have well paying jobs.” Jin said.
“Ironic that our job of bringing him in will net us about his salary.” Sam got out of the car.
They went to the front and rang the doorbell.
A thin man with dark, balding hair stepped out.
“Um, yes?” Stroud’s hands were shaking like there was an earthquake.
“There’s something really important we’d like to talk to you about.” Sam looked inside the house. No sign of anybody else.
“What? What is it?” Stroud moved rapidly.
“About some, maybe illegal things.” Sam said, “Where did the tech you gave to the ETB come from?”
“It’s – what are you talking about?” Stroud took a few steps back inside his house.
“You can’t play stupid with us, we’re mind-readers.” Sam said, “Okay, we’re not. But we know about the military technology.”
“Just tell us where that tech came from.” Jin said.
Stroud turned around, and ran.
“Not cool!” Sam took off after him.
“Deb, stop them!” Stroud rounded a corner.
“Deb?” Jin looked around. Then was knocked to the floor by a feminine robot.
Sam got the same treatment.
“That’s Deb?” Sam picked himself up.
“Leave this residence. I am calling the police.” Deb said in a monotone voice.
“Great, now there’s this damned robot stopping me from doing my job.” Sam aimed his pistol at Deb.
Some robots were programmed to surrender at the first sight of a weapon. Maybe just the sight of a gun would scare Deb away.
The robot grabbed Sam’s arm, and slammed him into a wall. That was unexpected.
Jin delivered swift kicks to the robot. Whenever Deb tried to attack, Jin moved away like he was made of water.
Sam heard a car’s engines revving. He raised his pistol.
“Keep Deb busy, Stroud’s trying to leave the party!” Sam went out the front door to see a black SUV leaving the garage.
“Wait, I don’t want to fight this thing!” Jin yelled.
Sam ran to the car, and made the engine roar to life. He hated leaving Jin there, even if it was kind of funny.
Sam kept on Stroud like a missile. The man seemed to have taken defensive driving, though. Stroud swerved around traffic like a lunatic.
“Emma!” Sam called on his monocle.
“Uh-oh, did everything go sour?” She responded.
“Yes, and now I’m chasing an SUV on the highway, and I’m pretty sure the cops are going to come sooner rather than later.” Sam swerved around another car.
“Yeah, okay.” Emma said, “The police might be stalled.”
“What about Stroud? Can you screw up his car?” Sam said.
“That wouldn’t be very exciting now would it?”
“I’ll pay you.”
“Sorry, I actually can’t actually hack Stroud’s car from where I’m at. That’s what I meant.” Emma said. No help, that’s nice. Sam wished he hadn’t ditched Jin.
He kept his eyes on the swerving SUV, and followed the best he could. Sam felt like he was getting closer.
Stroud turned into a parking lot.
“It’s a trap.” Sam went into the parking lot anyways. The SUV came to a stop, and Stroud popped out.
Sam slammed to a stop.
He got out of the car, and made sure his pistol was ready for whatever Stroud had planned for him.
“Stop!” Sam went after his prey, “I am in no mood to run; I will shoot you!”
Stroud kept running. Sam pulled out his pistol, and made sure it was loaded with a paralyzing round.
Stroud did a very awkward face plant. Sam stopped at the body and made sure the man was still breathing.
“What did I say?” Sam struggled to drag the guy back to his car, “Now I have to get you into the van, and probably get way too many funny looks.”
Sam stuffed Stroud into the back of the van.
“Jin, enjoy your date with the robot?” Sam said over the monocle.
“Uh, no.” Jin said.
“Not even a little?”
“You’re coming back for me, right?”
“Yes, on my way.”
Sam drove back and picked Jin up. The poor guy’s face had been turned into one giant bruise.
“There’s our payday.” Jin climbed into the car with his eyes on Stroud.
“What about Deb?” Sam asked, “You rip the stupid thing to springs and gears?”
“No, I snuck away from it.” Jin said.
“Didn’t do so well, judging from your face.” Sam chuckled.
“Next time, you get to play with a psychopathic robot.” Jin said.
“That’s very kind, but I’ll leave that one to you.” Sam started driving back to the shop.
“So, what did you do to Stroud?” Jin said.
“Paralyzing round. He won’t be up for another three hours.” Sam said.
“Four, if you were using the ones I made.” Jin said.
“He won’t be up for another four hours.”
They parked in front of the shop, and hauled Stroud in.
“Hey, wanna hear our developments with the bleach buyer?” Emma said.
“Hit me, but not with your fist, please.” Sam threw Stroud into a chair.
“He’s dead! Game over’d!” Emma said.
“Wait, you killed him?” Jin’s eyes widened.
“No, because that’s stupid. Someone else did.” Emma said.
“Well we’ve got our guy here.” Sam said, “So will we turn him in before or after diner?”
“I vote before.” Emma said.
“Slow down.” Jordan held her hand out, “This guy probably has more info for us to chase down.”
“I wanted this story to be less than twenty-five pages though.” Sam frowned.
“Probably not happening.” Jordan said.
“It’s fun anyhow.” Sam said.
Emma gave him an I told you look. There wasn’t really a reason for it, though. Sam chuckled.
“What?” Emma said.
“That face.” Sam said.
“How about . . . we talk in private.” Emma’s face turned as red as a tomato.
They went to the very back of the shop, where cobwebs were the décor.
“So, what is it?” Sam said.
“Still thinking about leaving Hit Squad, are you?” Emma gave him a quizzical look.
“Well I did finish my resignation letter and everything.” Sam said.
“Seriously?” Emma shook her head, “What would this team do without you?”
“Continue to be awesome?” Sam said.
“No. Well, still really good but . . . broken.” Emma walked away, leaving the words lingering in the air.
How could it be broken? Jin was a great detective, Emma was a computer nerd and Jordan knew her way around any gun put into her hand. What made Sam Gordon so special?
Sam watched the TV, with questions floating through his head. Most of them were about his place within the Hit Squad. One of them was about diner. None of them were getting answers.
“He’s coming around.” Jordan poked at Stroud. The man groaned weakly. The paralyzing effects were still working on him.
“Time for a good interrogation.” Sam took a seat in front of Stroud.
“Huh?” Stroud was groggy.
“I told you I would shoot you.” Sam said, “And you didn’t listen. Now look where you’re at.”
“Oh.” Stroud’s gaze darted around like a pinball, “Has my monocle beeped?”
“Nope,” Sam said. Stroud looked like a weight had been lifted off him.
“Afraid your contractor’s gonna blow your head off?” Sam said.
“No, my family.” Stroud said, “Please, let me go. I won’t let anything happen to them.”
“I don’t buy it.” Jordan walked over.
“His kids and wife weren’t in the house.” Jin said.
“They . . . they haven’t been for a while.” Stroud looked down on the ground.
“Did you do something to them?” Sam asked, “Oh, and that means did you murder them. Just saying.”
“No, never.” Stroud said, “They’re . . . captives of . . . someone.”
“Gee, that narrows things down by so much.” Jordan said, “Is there anything useful you can say?”
“Like if the captor is part of the ETB.” Jin said.
“Well, yes, I think.” Stroud said, “The captor is making me give him technology.”
“Okay, so this guys works in the ETB and is getting stolen technology.” Sam said, “Anything else you’d like to add?”
“I . . . I don’t know much more about the person.” Stroud said.
“Heard that, Emma?” Jordan said.
“Yep, already on it.” Emma said, “A lot of matches for this.”
“Are we sure the ETB isn’t directly involved?” Jordan said.
“No. Accessing their documents.” Emma’s fingers flew across the keyboard, “And I’m blocked.”
“We have time, right Stroud?” Sam said.
“I’m not –” A ringing interrupted Stroud.
“My monocle.” Stroud said, “Please, give it to me.”
Sam threw the device to Stroud.
“Hello?” Stroud’s voice cracked. There was a deep, unintelligible, voice on the other end. Stroud and the other person talked until tears were rolling down Stroud’s face. The conversation went on for about five minutes before Stroud dropped his monocle.
“Okay, I traced that back to the ETB office.” Emma said.
“Quick, prepare!” Sam got up.
“Wait!” Stroud said, “They have my family with them.”
“Of course, no need to make things easy now, would it?” Sam said.
“We’re not sitting around, though.” Jordan grabbed a handgun, “We have to go in there.”
“Please, no.” Stroud said.
“If we don’t do it now, we’re all screwed. Get it?” Jordan said. The room filled with a tense silence.
“Okay, there’s a lot of people in that building.” Emma said.
“Even at night?” Sam wrinkled his nose.
“Remind me not to work there.” Sam said, “Bad hours, ugly logo, and maybe evil. Not the place I’d want to work for.”
“Okay, we get it.” Jordan said, “Now how do we figure out who is at it? Or if they’re all family kidnapping psychos?”
“I’m working on it, but don’t expect much.” Emma said.
“What’s going on?” Sam said.
“They’re figuring out the program we have in there.” Emma said, “And they just did.”
“We’re locked out of their system.” Jin said. It always amazed Sam that the guy could keep so calm.
“What does that mean?” Stroud said.
“It means I can’t hack anything anymore.” Emma threw her hands up in the air.
“We’ll go back and do everything again.” Sam said, “Fun, right?”
“Perfect. Let’s get going.” Jordan said.
They loaded into the van and went to the ETB office.
“Hey look, sentries outside.” Sam looked at several turrets stuck on the walls.
“They’ll be no problem after they’re hacked.” Emma said.
“But we’ll only have a small window, right?” Jin said.
“When you become an expert hacker, then you can critique my work.” Emma blew raspberries at him.
They drove up to the office, and a security robot came out to greet them.
“The ETB office is closed to visitors.” The robot said.
“Thank you for making this ten times harder.” Sam gave the machine a wide, sarcastic grin.
“Your welcome.” Despite all technological advances, robots still had trouble detecting sarcasm. Or was being sarcastic itself. Sam knew that was going to eat away at him for at least a week.
“I can disable it.” Emma said.
“Wouldn’t be the worst thing you’ve done.” Sam parked the van in a lot across from the ETB office.
Everyone grabbed what they needed, and started strapping on armor.
“So a definite game plan?” Jin said.
“Sam sneaks in and gets me back into the ETB servers, then everyone goes after the people who stole the tech.” Emma said.
“I want to come.” Stroud said. Everyone looked at him like he’d grown a third eye.
“You’re kidding right?” Jordan said.
“No, I want to help.” Stroud said.
“I don’t think you have any combat experience.” Jordan said.
“It’s my family in there.” Stroud said, “Please, let me do this.”
“Just stick to the rear.” Jordan shoved a handgun into Stroud’s hands.
“These, too.” Sam tossed a pair of noise canceling earbuds to Stroud.
“Just to make sure you don’t go deaf shooting blind.” Jordan finished loading a clip with paralyzer darts.
“Okay, I’ll go scout inside.” Sam screwed a silencer on his gun.
“Be careful.” Emma said, “And wait until I disable the turrets. Nobody wants to scrape you up off the ground. I mean, nobody wants you dead.”
“Thanks for the image.” Sam said.
Sam left the van, and hid his gun inside his trench coat. He made his way around the ETB office, looking for a path not completely in the sight of turrets.
“Okay, you’re good to go.” Emma said over the radio.
Sam jumped over the a small bush, and landed in the ETB parking lot. He pulled out his monocle, and tried to find heat signatures. Most of them were inside.
Sam moved as fast as he could until his hands were on the cold stone of the office building.
He starting scaling the building, using small cracks and the seals of windows, until he was on the top of the building.
Sam went inside the office’s top floor. He could hear footsteps from further inside the building.
Sam started taking his steps like a ghost. His fingers were wrapped tightly around his gun. He went into an office, and started working on the computer.
“I’m at a computer. Now what the hell do I do?” Sam had no clue how to break into a computer.
“Okay, hook your monocle up to the computer.” Emma said. Sam did what he was told. Shortly after, the computer screen went berserk.
“Um, this is going to take a while.” Emma said.
Sam heard some footsteps. Not good.
He could see the person now. Sam’s heart picked up in pace.
“Wait, what’s that.” The guard looked at the computer.
Sam leaned out from behind the desk, and fired a dart at the guard’s chest.
THUNK! The guard kissed the floor.
“You just had to see it, didn’t you?” Sam dragged the guard into the office, “Couldn’t just carry on, could you?”
“Uh, Sam?” Emma said.
“Sorry, just talking to the guard I paralyzed.”
“Okay. Well I’m back in the system, and looking for our culprit.” Emma said.
“Tell us when we’re ready to nail the bastard.” Sam said, “In the meantime I’ll stay here. Trying not to be seen by guards.”
Jordan checked her gun again. Emma and her tech stuff was taking a while.
“Ha!” Emma said.
“Who is it?” Jin said.
“I believe it’s Dr. Richmond, in the labs.” Emma said.
“You believe? So we’re playing Clue now?” Sam said over the radio.
“Hey, I’m positive it’s our guy.”
“Point me at the labs.” Jordan said, “Jin, can you keep a lookout on the blind spots?”
“Not a problem.” Jin grabbed his turret, and put it on like a backpack.
Jordan, Jin, and Stroud left the van.
“I can start causing shenanigans, right?” Sam said, “The guards are making me run around in circles to avoid them.”
“In a second.” Jin said.
They leaped over the fence with no problems. Emma had already disabled the automated security, leaving only people around to try and kill them. Not that everything would instantly become a cakewalk or anything.
Jordan busted into the building, and was greeted by two guards.
“Hey, you can’t be in here.” One marched up to Jordan with a baton. She promptly shot him in the knee. Before the second guard could think, Jordan put a paralyzing dart into his chest.
“That should alert everyone.” Jin said.
“Please be fast.” Stroud shook like a leaf.
“That’s usually our plan.” Jordan said.
Everyone ran to the labs, and shot down any guards that stood in their way.
“Ah!” Blood squirted out of Stroud’s leg.
“Come on! This isn’t a video game!” Jordan checked over her cover. The guards were calling in more backup.
A flash of white blinded Jordan, and left a ringing in her ears. No, no, no. She ducked down, gripping onto her handgun. Jordan prayed that the guards wouldn’t come around.
When her vision came back, Sam was in front of her.
“Wait, what?” Jordan tried to piece things together.
“Haha, next time be careful when I throw a flash-bang.” Sam said
“Well,” Jordan looked over to the guards. They were all on the floor, “Thanks.”
“Just your friendly neighborhood Sam.”
“You guys do remember Stroud got shot, right?” Jin was tending to the guy. Jordan knew it was a bad idea to bring him.
“Okay, keep pressure on it.” Jordan said, “We’ve got to keep moving.”
“I’ll take Stroud back to the van.” Jin said.
“No . . .” Stroud said, “I’m not leaving my family.”
“You’re going to slow us down.” Jordan said, “Jin, go!”
Jin did as he was told.
“No, no,” Stroud chanted as Jin took him away.
“Ready to finish this, or pause?” Sam said.
“Well duh, things aren’t getting any safer for anybody.” Jordan said.
They continued through the building without finding any more guards. Well, none that were awake. Getting into the lab was a breeze.
“Stop right there.” A man in a lab-coat said. He had his hand up, with a metal device wrapped around it.
“Hey, look, fashion bracelet.” Sam said.
“It’s a little more than that.” The scientist cracked a smile.
“Dr. Richmond, I presume?” Jordan said.
“No, no,” The scientist’s eyes darted back and fourth. Liar.
“So, uh, where’s the family?” Sam said.
“Look up,” Dr. Richmond craned his head to the ceiling. A woman and two children were floating in the air.
“Huh. You don’t see that everyday.” Sam said.
“The drop will kill them.” Dr. Richmond said, “And this gauntlet, the ‘fashion bracelet’, is holding them up.”
“Put them down, and things won’t be messy.” Jordan said.
“Lies,” Dr. Richmond broke out in laughter, “Lies! Both of you! You don’t really care about what happens to me!”
“We do.” Sam said, “And the people you have floating in the sky. And guards, too. We only used paralyzing rounds.”
“No, you’re a liar!” Dr. Richmond said, “Trying to . . . undo all my work!”
“What are you working on?” Jordan asked.
“The future. For everyone.” Dr. Richmond said, “Do you really think the government cares about you? All the best technology goes straight to the military.”
“My super sensor says that something happened to you.” Sam was working on his monocle, “Your daughter?”
Dr. Richmond balled his fist up. His knuckles turned white.
“Rebecca she . . .” Dr. Richmond blinked rapidly, “You’re manipulating me. You don’t care!”
“Hey, I like a good story.” Sam said.
“What he means is that we want to know if we can help you.” Jordan felt her heart rate jump. Sam’s careless words could have screwed everything up.
“Rebecca was the only family I had left. Taken away, in the Third World War.” Dr. Richmond said.
“A soldier?” Sam said.
“No, she was visiting London.” Dr. Richmond was breaking down, “And the massacre happened. She was a victim.”
“How does this make you so bent on killing someone else’s family?” Sam said.
“No. I don’t want to hurt anyone.” Dr. Richmond looked up at his captives.
“Prove it,” Jordan said, “Bring this family down.”
“Antigravity is a little creepy.” Sam said.
“But the government had defenses that could have stopped it!” Dr. Richmond said, “They have barriers, to put around bases. Why didn’t they put it around London? I have to give this technology to the people. The government can’t keep this for themselves!”
“What good will holding these people hostage do?” Sam said.
“It . . . dammit.” Dr. Richmond said, “Will you arrest me?”
Sam paused for a second.
“No,” Jordan had no intentions of staying to her word. Dr. Richmond had committed a crime, like it or not.
Dr. Richmond lowered the three captives onto the ground. Jordan shot him in the chest.
The doctor look up with wide eyes, and ripped the dart off him.
“No,” Dr. Richmond collapsed to the ground.
“What was that?” Sam said.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to do this.” Jordan said, “It’s our job though.”
“Wait, I don’t think this guy’s gonna be a problem anymore.” Sam said.
“Really?” Jordan crossed her arms.
“Nope. I was thinking of getting him to work with the military.” Sam said. Jordan’s palm met her head.
“You’re kidding.” She said.
“We can convince him.” Sam said.
“You can convince him.” Jordan knew Sam’s persuasion level. Not that she could be convinced by him.
“Okay, let’s wrap things up.” Sam said.
The police came by to find the work the Hit Squad had caused. Then they were all put into handcuffs.
“Seriously, this is for the military.” Sam felt his handcuffs get tighter.
“Yeah, so if you could –” Jordan was interrupted by a ringing.
“Hello?” The police officer answered, “Yeah . . . okay. Take the handcuffs off them.”
Everyone’s wrists were freed.
“What did I say?” Sam said, “Maybe, next time, just listen to some people, jeez.” The cop stared daggers at Sam. Not that the cop could do anything about the outburst.
“So what’s going to happen to everyone?” Jin said.
“Well, Dr. Richmond will go to jail.” The cop said.
“Uh, no. I was thinking, maybe, so work for him.” Sam said.
“No,” The cop said.
“That’s not what we’re going to do. Listen to his story.” Sam said. He could see Jordan raise her eyebrow.
“Okay,” The cop didn’t seem to be serious.
“Not kidding.” Sam said, “He’s probably useful for the military or something. They need madmen, right?”
The cop didn’t respond.
“Okay, I think it’s time to collect our money from the government.” Emma said.
“That’s funny, I thought I was supposed to pay them with taxes.” Sam walked to the van.
“We still have booze, right?” Jordan said.
“Well, yes, Emma didn’t drink it all.” Sam said.
“Hey, I am not an alcoholic.” Emma said.
They went back to the shop, and gave the military the good news. The military even assured Sam that Dr. Richmond would be taken care of and blah, blah, blah. Stroud and his family were being taken care of, too. Sam could let his muscles slack off again.
“So Sam,” Emma took a seat next to him, “How do you feel about leaving the Hit Squad?”
“Still gotta go.” Sam said.
“You don’t see why you’re important? Look at what you did, you talked Dr. Richmond down!” Emma said.
Sam thought about it for a bit.
“Well, maybe you’re right.” Sam said, “But this makes me leaving bad?”
“Yes. You’re the negotiator. You can go in and make sure nobody leaves in a body bag.”
“Well, not that I think about it,” Sam thought about it, “I’m still part of the Hit Squad.”
There was nothing worse than waiting for someone to come back to their home. Wait, no, there was worse.
Jordan Taylor sighed, and looked back down at her phone. An hour had passed since she’d parked her beat-up car by some apartment buildings.
She was hunting down a drug dealer, small time stuff considering work with the Hit Squad regularly involved explosions.
Jordan was still with the small mercenary group, but this contract was something she took by herself. No need to waste manpower on something so simple.
Jordan waited in her car for a little bit longer before the man she was looking for showed up.
She got out of her car, and marched to him. The guy glanced at her, and kept walking nonchalantly.
“Hey!” Jordan whipped out a pair of handcuffs. The guy looked back again and noticed.
“Whoa, whoa, what did I do wrong?” He asked.
“You’ve been selling vero.” Jordan said.
The man wasted no time to start running. Jordan followed like a heat-seeking missile,
“Stop right there!” Jordan yelled.
The dealer produced a handgun. Jordan ducked behind a garbage bin.
Jordan stuck her gun out and fired off paralyzer darts.
BANG! The gun was shoved out of her hands. Several more shots rang out.
Jordan peeked her head above her cover to see the dealer toss his gun away. She snatched up her gun, and chased after the dealer.
“Pick me up!” The dealer yelled. An SUV appeared in his path.
Jordan turned back to her car before he could jump in. She got into her car, and carefully watched the SUV run away. Her heart pounded in her chest.
Jordan went after it, trying to keep herself at the speed limit. The SUV was getting away.
She rounded another corner, and tried to relocate the vehicle. Nowhere to be seen.
Jordan’s spirits sunk like an anchor.
She drove around for a few minutes before turning up with nothing. Her monocle beeped at her.
Jordan checked it, and found a new message from Sam:
Hey! Where are you?
She had hunting for about five hours. The Hit Squad might gotten another contract.
Jordan drove to the Hit Squad shop with her tail between her legs. When she got back, she found Sam, Emma, and Jin patiently waiting for her.
“Hey, so, where have you been?” Sam said.
“A little extra work.” Jordan said.
“A real job? Ha, that’s not fun.” Emma said.
“It’s still contract work, just not big contract work.” Jordan said.
“But you didn’t invite us? Right in the feels, Jordan.” Sam plunged an imaginary dagger into his chest.
“It wasn’t really worth everyone’s time.” Jordan said.
“So, what was the contract?” Sam said.
“Taking out a vero dealer. Didn’t get him.” Jordan said.
“But why take the contract in the first place?” Emma said, “We’re not, like, running out of money or anything.”
“Actually, I am.” Jordan said, “My rent spiked.”
“Want us to arrest the landlord?” Sam said.
“Sam, no. That’s illegal.”
“Because that’s something we can totally do.”
“No, we have to pay him.” Jordan said.
“How many contracts have you taken?” Jin said. Jordan paused. It wasn’t exactly a pretty number.
“More than one.” Jordan said.
“You’re going to burn out.” Emma said, “You need a better plan to pay off that rent.”
“Okay, but after we catch a drug dealer. Those guys aren’t really good to have around.” Sam said.
The entire team went to work looking for the guy. A giant waste of time. When Emma finally caught whiff of something, Jordan was back out.
Jordan parked her car on the same street she had the other day. Well, at least Emma was with her this time. Not that listening to Happy Every Day on repeat was fun, but Emma was good company.
“You know he’s not coming back here.” Jordan said.
“We’re looking for evidence that’ll lead to him.” Emma was furiously typing on her laptop.
“Getting any magical radio waves?” Jordan said.
“A whole lot of them. Just trying to pinpoint . . . ha, gotcha.” Emma said, “I’ve got him on the GPS.”
Jordan checked, then went after the blinking red dot, then started driving to it. When they were close, she had driven them to another apartment building.
“Surprise, surprise, he’s with someone he knows.” Emma said, “You go get him, and I’ll try blocking his path at every point possible.”
Jordan got out of the car, and walked up to the apartments. She saw the dealer already out at full speed.
“Stop!” Jordan fired off several darts, but the guy was a cheetah. Jordan put her gun away and ran after him.
He knocked over trash cans and vaulted fences like they were pebbles in his way. Jordan followed the best she could.
“Emma, I could use some of your help!” Jordan said.
“His communications are blocked, and his monocle is giving me a precise position on him.” Emma said.
Jordan kept after the dealer, and watched him climbing up a building.
She pointed her gun at him, then realized how high he was. If he landed on his head, well, there was no pay for that guy to be dead.
“Down! Now!” Jordan watched the dealer slither through a window.
“Uh, okay.” Emma said, “I unlocked the nearest door for you. Be careful. I’m picking up security bots.”
“Got it,” Jordan pushed open the door on the building, and ran up the stairs.
A large figure smacked into Jordan. She fell down the stairs with another figure. She got up, ready to apologize. Then saw that it was the dealer,
“Okay, I’ve had enough of your nonsense.” Jordan reached for her gun, and found it out of the holster. On the ground, a few feet away.
She reached for it. The dealer ran.
Jordan grabbed the gun, got her target within the crosshairs.
BANG! BANG! BANG! The dealer had blood splatter everywhere before he hit the ground.
Jordan hadn’t pulled the trigger once. Her eyebrows furrowed. Two square shaped security bots walked in.
“Emma, this was a no-kill mission.” Jordan let her frustration out in a sigh.
“What did I do?” Emma said.
The security bots turned to Jordan, with their guns aimed at her. Definitely not Emma.
Jordan ran back outside, and pressed herself against a wall.
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
The bullets treated the door like it was butter.
Jordan ran back to her car, and climbed inside. Emma’s jaw was hanging open.
“What happened?” Emma’s eyes were saucers.
“Security bot malfunction or something.” Jordan said, “They’re supposed to give a warning. They gunned the dealer down.”
“Talk about defective.” Emma said.
“Yeah,” Jordan drove off with her stomach churning. She couldn’t afford failing contracts.
About the author:
Quentin Eddington is a sci-fi and fantasy realism writer who occasionally writes a thriller. His previous work includes Infiltrator and 1327 Woodland Drive. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas.
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