Conspiracy Game(9)

By: Christine Feehan

Jack shook his head, denying the thought, and wiped the sweat from his face, the movement slow and careful. Ken would never betray him, tortured or not. The knowledge was certain, as much a part of him as breathing. However he’d gotten his information, Biyoya had set the perfect trap. Jack had to respond. His past, buried deep where he never looked, wouldn’t let him walk away. Trap or not, he had to react, take countermeasures. His gut knotted up and his lungs burned for air. He swore under his breath and put his eye to the scope again, determined to take out Biyoya’s backup.

The woman screamed again, this time the sound painful in the early morning dawn. The knots in his belly hardened into something scary. Yeah. Biyoya knew, had information on him. He was classified, and the information Biyoya possessed was in a classified file with a million red flags. So who the hell sold me out? Jack rubbed his eyes again to clear the sweat from them. Someone close to them set the brothers up. There was no other explanation.

The screams increased in strength and duration. The child sobbed, begging for mercy. Jack cursed and jerked his head up, furious with himself, with his inability to ignore it. “You’re going to die here, Jack,” he whispered aloud. “Because you’re a damned fool.” It didn’t matter. He couldn’t let it go. The past was bile in his throat, the door in his mind creaking open, the screams growing louder in his head.

He leapt from the safety of his tree to another one, using the canopy to travel, relying on his skin and clothing to camouflage him. He moved fast, following Biyoya’s trail into the darkened interior. The ribbon of road flowed below him, hacked out of the thick vegetation, pitted, mined, and trampled. It looked more like a strip of mud than an actual road. He followed it, using the trees and vines, moving fast to catch up with the main body of soldiers.

He slipped into a tall tree right above the heads of the soldiers, settling in the foliage, lying flat along a branch. Somewhere behind him the sniper was coming, but Jack hadn’t left a trail on the ground, and he would be difficult to spot blending in as he did with the leaves and bark. A woman lay on the ground, clothes torn, a soldier bending over her, kicking at her as she cried helplessly. A small boy of about ten struggled against the men shoving him back and forth between them. There was terror in the child’s eyes.

There was no doubt in Jack’s mind that Biyoya had constructed a trap, but the woman and the child were innocent victims. No one could fake that kind of terror. He swore over and over in his mind, trying to force himself to walk away. His first duty was to escape, but this—he couldn’t leave the woman and child in the hands of a master torturer. He forced his mind to slow down to block out the cries and pleas.

Biyoya was the target and Jack had to find his place of concealment. Jack inhaled sharply, relying on his enhanced sense of smell. If his nose was right—and it nearly always was—the major crouched behind the jeep just to the left of the woman and boy, behind a wall of soldiers. Jack circled around and lifted his rifle, taking the bead on Biyoya, knowing the soldiers would be able to pinpoint his trajectory.

The bullet took Biyoya behind the neck. Even as he fell, Jack switched his target to the man kicking the woman and fired a second round. Calmly, he let go of the sniper rifle and took up the assault weapon, laying down a covering fire to give the woman and child a chance to escape. The soldiers fired back, bullets smacking into the trees around him. Jack knew they couldn’t see him, but the muzzle flash and smoke were a dead giveaway. The woman caught her child to her and took off into the rain forest. Jack gave them as long a lead as he dared before moving, sliding back into heavier foliage and leaping up through the branches to use the canopy as a highway.

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