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    C James
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Changing Lanes - 48. Desperate Measures

Chapter 48: Desperate Measures




The tow truck, festooned by Horst’s men riding on its bed and sides, arrived at the airport fence at the south end of the runway. Horst and his men dismounted, their faces wrapped in strips of sheet and towels in an attempt to keep out the still-falling ash. General Bradson sent two men forward to cut a hole in the fence, and then he checked in with Felecia via walkie-talkie.

Felecia, knowing that the military-grade walkie-talkie had basic encryption – she’d set the key herself –and was thus likely secure enough, told the General about Yuri’s death, and The Scar’s demands.

Following his men through the fence in the darkness, General Bradson said, “Too bad we couldn’t get more information out of him, but good riddance. Got any ideas how to take down Frankenstein’s plane? Horst’s men have a few RPG’s. Getting close enough to hit Flight Two should be easy enough in this ash. The problem is, the wreckage will block the runway, and there’s enough high explosive in the nukes to crater it when they cook off, and the uranium debris would give us a radiation problem. There’s also the risk that he has a deadman’s switch on a nuke. If we blow the plane, we’re risking blowing us, and everything for a mile or so around, to hell. My current plan is to deploy on the south end of the runway and keep hidden, then open up on the bastard with RPGs as he passes overhead. Not much of a plan because it wouldn’t be an easy shot, and there’s still the nuke risk, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment.”

Felecia sighed, wishing that she had a better idea. “Our best guess is that he’s got two nukes left, so my gut feel, knowing the bastard as I do, is he’ll try to leave one behind, rigged for remote detonation. He could hide it damn near anywhere, if he hasn’t already. The only thing I can think of is to reconnoiter his position and hope we find a hole in his defenses, enough for us to storm the plane with no warning and take him all the way out. I have two men out on recon now. Other than that, go with your idea and try for a shot when he takes off. Or, what about blocking the runway at your end with one of the fire trucks?”

“The problem there is he can’t take off until the air clears, and with the thrust of the fourteen JATO bottles he’s got mounted he can do a short-field takeoff and clear anything parked at this end,” General Bradson replied.



On board Flight Two, The Scar paced in the cargo bay, stopping every once in awhile to gaze out the small window at the darkness and ash outside.

Lieutenant Survov pulled a cloth over his face and pointed at five men, commanding them to follow, and went out again, via the side door and a ladder, to check the perimeter. He currently had five men outside, but due to the harsh conditions, he rotated them with fresh troops every half hour.

Survov was checking the five posts, which were nothing more than crates and trash barrels tossed into the runway ash. Each of the defensive positions gave the sentry some shelter. Survov wasn’t happy with the deployment, but given the ash and location, combined with having to keep the troops mostly in the plane, he felt it to be the best that he could do.

The main problem Survov discerned was that his men did not notice his approach until he was within twenty feet, and in two cases they were unaware of him until he tapped them on the shoulder. It was the ash; most of the men had no goggles, and preferred to shield their eyes instead of exposing them to the gritty ash by staring out into the murky blackness.

Once he had decided to limit his perimeter to five men, Survov had selected the locations as best he could; three posts in a line running across the runway a hundred feet behind the C-130 – which he judged to be the most likely threat axis, due to Flight Three being in that direction. The remaining two posts were a hundred feet south of each wingtip.

As Survov was checking the final post of his rounds, admonishing the soldier manning it to be alert, Survov himself was surprised to be hailed from twenty feet to his rear.

“Hey, where the fuck is the plane,” Eric said, slurring badly and clutching Brandon’s shoulder for support. He almost stumbled for real; he’d parked the Jetta near the terminal, and he and Brandon had nearly choked walking out to the runway.

Survov fixed the two intruders in the beam of his flashlight and drawing his pistol, seeing what appeared to be two civilians with their shirts pulled up over their noses.

Brandon saw that they had Survov’s attention, and called out, “Sorry guy, Eric’s drunk, really drunk. We’re trying to find the plane; we’ve been wandering around this fucking airport for half an hour. Felecia said to meet at the – oh, there it is,” Brandon said, slurring a bit himself and tugging Eric towards the nose of Flight Two, which was twenty feet away.

“Wait,” Survov said, pistol at the ready and rushing towards Brandon and Eric, not quite sure, but thinking that he might have two people that his employer would very much like to see.

“It’s okay, I’m Brandon Wolfe of Instinct, and this is Eric Carlisle, our bassist on the rare occasions that he’s sober. Felecia knows us. She said to

meet her here,” Brandon said, weaving a little and still mildly slurring.

Survov smiled, deciding to make things easy on himself. “Yes, of course, come with me, sirs. Felecia is inside.” Survov lowered his gun but kept it in his hand. He hung back a little as Brandon and Eric approached the side of the plane. As he drew near to the side door, which was just forward of the wing, Survov called up, “Brandon Wolfe and Eric Carlisle are here to see Felecia, and they are too drunk to use the ladder. Lower the ramp and send a few men down to help them aboard.”

Inside the cargo hold, The Scar paused in his pacing and smiled as he realized what Survov was trying to do. After hitting the button to lower the ramp, The Scar dashed for the cockpit to stay out of sight.

As the ramp lowered to the ash, six men ran down, and with Survov bringing up the rear, they ushered the staggering Brandon and Eric up the ramp. As soon as he was aboard, Survov slammed his hand down on the button to raise the ramp.

Brandon looked around, instantly noticing the two nuclear warheads. Still pretending to be drunk, struggling to hold Eric up, Brandon said, “Where’s Felecia?”

“I’m afraid that you have come to the wrong aircraft,” The Scar said in a buoyant tone as he walked towards Brandon and Eric from the cockpit. The Scar looked at Eric, whose head was lolling on his shoulders, “Hello again, Brandon, and I see you’ve brought me the always-annoying Eric. Is he ever sober? Never mind, I’ll soon have him dried out.” Turning to Survov, The Scar snapped, “Search them and tie them up. Don’t be gentle.”

“I don’t fucking want to be searched, Jerry,” Eric said, still slurring as he withdrew the grenade from his pocket, his hand still clutched around it. “I took the fucking pin out. If you try anything, I’ll blow us all to hell.”

Brandon did his best to look afraid, which wasn’t hard. “We were drinking tequila and he talked me into coming here. I didn’t know he had a fucking grenade,” Brandon said, taking care to add a nervous stutter to his voice.

Eric laughed maniacally, letting go of Brandon and staring at Jerry. Taking care to slur his words slightly, Eric said, “Yeah, I’m not that drunk and I knew you were here. Guess what, I’d love to blow you to hell, and if I’ve gotta go with you, that suits me just fucking fine.”

The Scar’s eyes opened in surprise, and he remembered how Eric became on tequila. His eyes fixed on the grenade, seeing that the pin was indeed out, The Scar replied in a friendly tone, “Why don’t we all sit down and talk this over?”

“No deal, shithead,” Eric snarled. “You’ve got our property and our friends. I decided I’d get ‘em back, or kill you. If I let go of this thing, we’re all toast. Where are Jim, Linda, and Private Johnson?”

Giving a one-armed shrug, The Scar gestured towards the two nuclear weapons, “I retrieved these from a storage unit. There was no one there. I have no idea of whom you are speaking.”

“You’re a liar. I saw the truck outside,” Eric snarled, ostentatiously loosening his grip on the grenade. “Tell me where they are, right the fuck now, or we all go ka-boom.” Eric made a point of swaying on his feet, and three of the henchmen, without awaiting orders, scrambled out the side door, having decided that now would be a very good time to be outside on guard duty.

The Scar stared at Eric for a moment and felt sure that, having drunk tequila, Eric was capable of doing exactly what he threatened. Seeing his success, along with himself, likely turned to flaming ruin, The Scar grew desperate. “Yes, I have them. They will not be harmed and are to be released upon my departure. However, my orders were clear; they will be shot if anything happens to me or this aircraft. So, let us make a deal, one we can all live with.”

“Bullshit. I want Jim, Linda, and Private whatshisname, right now,” Eric said, and then paused for a moment before adding, “My fingers are getting tired. I almost dropped this thing just now.”

“That means you have three bombs, so where’s the third?” Brandon said, to see if The Scar would tell the truth, not realizing that his question belied his drunken state.

The Scar gestured to the west and said with a touch of pride in his voice, “The volcano’s eruption was my doing. I detonated a bomb in the road tunnel. Only these two remain.” The Scar glanced at Eric and added, “As for your friends, I will give you my solemn word that you will be joining them shortly. Now please, replace the pin in that grenade or at least give it to Brandon.”

“I don’t want the fucking thing,” Brandon said, edging away from Eric, trying his best to act as though he believed Eric’s threats. It wasn’t much of an act; Brandon was half-sure that Eric meant every word he’d said.

Eric locked eyes with The Scar and took a step forward, halving the distance between them. “I want Brandon off the plane, now. Then, he’s going to go wherever you have our friends stashed. Once he tells me they’re safe, you’re going to load those bombs on that truck. You and I will get in it, then I’ll drive us halfway down the runway and let you out.”

The Scar inhaled, and then his eyes narrowed with a sudden realization. “So tell me, how can I trust you? How do I know you won’t keep going and deliver me to that traitorous bitch?”

“You don’t have a choice. It’s either that, or I’ll blow you to hell for sure, right the fuck now,” Eric said, still slurring his words.

Eric barely had time to notice when The Scar glanced to his left for a moment.

Eric saw the blur out of the corner of his eye, but by then it was too late. Survov slammed into him from the side, and Eric felt Survov’s powerful hand closing over his, pinning his fingers against the grenade.

Brandon tried to dash around Eric to get at Survov, but four henchmen rushed him from behind and one managed to snag Brandon’s legs, sending him sprawling.

Eric tried to snatch his hand away from Survov, but while Eric was focusing on his hand, Survov pivoted and used his free hand to straight-arm Eric backwards, slamming his head into the bulkhead. Eric didn’t even have time to understand what was going on, before everything went black.

Brandon, struggling hard against his attackers, found himself ensnared in a tangle of arms and legs as other henchmen joined the fight. The Scar drew his pistol and aimed it at Brandon’s head, but as his finger tightened on the trigger, he had an idea, and said, “Tie him up. We’ll trade him for Yuri.”

With Eric unconscious and the grenade secured, it didn’t take the henchmen long to hog-tie Brandon and Eric. The Scar smiled at his captives, and then told Brandon, “Your annoying friend will perhaps recover. As for you, you’re going to have a chat with your manager. Tell her that unless Yuri is here within five minutes, I will shoot Eric, then you. One other thing; unlike your friend, I never bluff. Oh, I believed he’d do what he said at first, as I’ve seen the hellion on tequila more than once. However, he made a mistake; he stepped close, and there was no scent of it on his breath. Therefore, I signaled Survov to act. The reason I’m telling you this is that your little amateur-hour escapade makes me think you’re an imbecile. Therefore, I need to be exquisitely clear; hinder me again, in any way, and you both die.” The Scar pressed his gun against Eric’s head and asked Brandon, “Do you believe me, or do I need to give you proof?”

Brandon nodded slowly, correctly believing that The Scar was not bluffing.

Smiling, The Scar took a step back, holstered his gun, and opened his satellite phone. He then dialed Yuri’s number and waited for Felecia to answer.

“What the fuck do you want?” Felecia, in Flight Three, asked in a perturbed tone.

The Scar made her wait for a few seconds before replying, “It seems that I have something you want, and you have something I want. Brandon Wolfe and Eric Carlisle were kind enough to pay me a visit. I propose a trade. Yuri for Brandon, immediately, and Eric will be our safe-conduct pass. I shall release him once I am well en route to my destination.” The Scar smiled at his own imagined cleverness. He’d told the truth; he had every intention of releasing Eric unharmed, though at an altitude of ten thousand feet with no parachute.

Felecia was unconvinced. “If you have them, I’m sure you won’t mind letting me talk to them?” Felecia replied, hoping that The Scar was lying.

“Not at all, my dear. Here’s Brandon,” The Scar said, and then held the phone by the side of Brandon’s head.

“Hi, Felecia,” Brandon said with a sigh. “Eric’s here too, but he’s unconscious.”

Felecia had never spoken with Brandon over the phone or radio, and was not certain that she recognized his voice. She did know that he’d been to the mercenaries’ hotel, so she asked, “Brandon, what color are the walls in the rooms, at the place you first talked to my men?”

It took Brandon a few seconds to figure out where Felecia was referring to, and he replied, “Puke green.”

The Scar, who had heard Felecia’s question, returned the phone to his ear, and said, “I trust that you believe me now?”

Felecia knew she had to buy time. “Nope, but that’s enough for me to check with Helen. I’ll be back in touch in a few minutes,” Felecia said, and then ended the call before The Scar could reply. She picked up a walkie-talkie, and when General Bradson’s voice came over the speaker, she said, “Walter, we’ve got trouble. Frankenstein claims to have Eric and Brandon. I’m going to call Helen and check. Sit tight, but we may have friendlies on that plane.”



Helen answered General Bradson’s satellite phone, and within moments Felecia had explained the situation. Shaking her head and pacing in the small hotel room, Helen replied, “They were here. They couldn’t be that stupid…” Helen felt her gut turn to ice as she realized that indeed they might. “But I’ll check, hang on!” Helen raced for the room Instinct had occupied, and as she neared the door, she almost ran into Chase, who was coming out, searching for Brandon.

A few hurried, frantic conversations later, Jansen knocked, and then yelled, at the locked door of the bathroom where Eric was supposedly taking a shower. Getting no reply other than the sound of running water, Jansen reared back, kicked the door in, and then dashed inside. There, he found Eric’s note, and with a trembling hand, read it, and then wordlessly gave it to Helen.

“Oh no… that idiot!” Helen yelled, and then added, “Check the other rooms, fast. See if anyone has seen them.”

Within minutes, Helen knew that Brandon and Eric had taken the Jetta. Helen called Felecia and said, “They’re not here, and Eric left a note. Looks like they’ve gone to Jerry’s plane. Felecia, please, save my boys…”

Knowing that she was unlikely to be able to deliver, Felecia said, “I’ll get ‘em back, Helen. Count on it. I’ll let you know what’s going on, but for right now, I have to get together with Walter and do some planning. I’ll talk to you soon.”

Once Felecia had hung up, Helen knew what she had to do. She handed the phone to Barbra, and said on her way out the door, “Look after things here for me. I’ve got to get to the airport.” Helen didn’t say so, but she knew she’d have to go by foot, over a mile through the darkness and swirling, choking ash, because she could not in good conscience take the livestock transport, and Eric had taken the only other vehicle at the hotel.


Felecia told General Bradson, “We’ve got to scrub our previous idea. Leave Horst and his men in place and get yourself back here. We’ve got some planning to do. I’ll explain when you get here. In the meantime, I’ll try to stall the bastard.” General Bradson returned to the tow truck and began skirting the airport to work his way to the north end.

The Scar’s impatience meant that Felecia didn’t have to make the call. Yuri’s phone rang, and The Scar said, “You’re just about out of time. I’ll let you choose; which boy dies first?”

“Wait. You’ve got a deal. I’ve sent for Yuri, he’s just not here yet. If you hurt Brandon or Eric, I’ll personally blow Yuri’s brains out, and to hell with the consequences. You have my word on that. My men were holding him a couple of miles from here and he’s on his way. Just give us a few more minutes,” Felecia said, hoping that she sounded convincing.

The Scar eased his finger off the trigger, leaving the gun pointed at Brandon’s head, and replied, “Make it fast, Felecia. I won’t put up with delays. Fifteen minutes, no more.” The Scar felt that he had little to lose by waiting.

Felecia looked to the south, at the lightening sky, wondering if she had even the fifteen minutes The Scar had offered. It was clearing to the south and the wind has shifted northwards. Felecia had no doubt in her mind that The Scar would take off as soon as the air was clear enough, and would not wait for Yuri. And that, she knew, would be the end of Brandon and Eric.



Helen, stumbling out of the ash, was nearly shot in the partial darkness by one of Felecia’s troops. General Bradson recognized Helen just barely in time, and only his shouted command to the mercenaries, ‘Hold fire!’ saved her.

Helen walked on, towards the back of Flight Three, and collapsed in a heap at the foot of the ramp. General Bradson helped her to her feet and onto the plane, where Helen, coughing and gasping for breath, managed to ask, “Is there any news?”

Felecia nodded and checked her watch. “We have seven minutes remaining before he executes Eric or Brandon. My former employer wants Yuri, his right-hand man, in exchange for Brandon, but Yuri is inconveniently dead at the moment. I killed him before Brandon and Eric delivered themselves to Flight Two–”

Helen was exhausted, still weak from her frantic journey, but she cut Felecia’s hurried explanation off to say, “That’s just fucking great. We’ve got to do something, anything…” Helen stumbled to her feet and fixed Felecia in her gaze, feeling the need to vent her fury and frustration.



The Scar’s phone rang, and he answered by saying, “For the sake of these boys, I hope you’re calling to tell me that Yuri is ready?”

Felecia chewed on her lip, knowing that she had to get this exactly right, and timed to the second. She pulled the towel away from her face to say, “Almost. The car broke down in the ash, but he’s on his way. He’ll be here in a few minutes. In the meantime, expect company. Helen barged in here and started yelling, then stormed off, heading in your direction. She thinks my men and I got Brandon and Eric into this and she doesn’t trust us to get them out. She’s coming to offer you money, a hell of a lot of it, which is interesting as hell because when she was negotiating with me for the bombs, she claimed to be offering me everything she had access to. I since found out that’s a fucking lie, and I don’t like liars. Look at it this way; you’ll get Yuri before your deadline, plus what Helen is offering. My threat regarding Brandon and Eric stands because I like ‘em, but I’ll tell you what… after what Helen’s done, and what she just said about me in front of my men, you can shoot her and get no grief from me.”

The Scar smiled at the mention of money; he believed that Helen could offer a great deal of it. Deciding to be agreeable, he said, “Ah, yes. I well remember Helen’s vile mouth. However, regarding Yuri, you’d best hurry.”

The Scar looked out through the cockpit windows. The light filtering through the ash was growing brighter by the minute, and he knew it was almost time; the wind had indeed shifted and was coming from the southwest. He felt that he needed Yuri back so did not wish to leave without him, but had no intention of delaying the takeoff. He was also more interested in the money then in Yuri. The Scar did however decide to defer shooting Brandon until he could receive whatever payment Helen could arrange. The Scar glanced again at the lightening sky, and nodded to himself, thinking that things were indeed looking up. He used the intercom to alert Survov to expect Helen, and Survov dashed out into the unwelcome ash, to pass the hold-fire order to the five troops deployed in a line to the north of the aircraft, and let them know to bring Helen in.

Survov, upon returning to the plane, stood in the cargo bay door at the top of the ramp, squinting as he stared out into the odd volcanic twilight.

The human eye is at its weakest during twilight; the bright sky robs it of its night vision, while leaving the ground in comparative darkness. That fact made it even harder for Survov to see in spite of the rapidly thinning ash cloud. He didn’t spot Helen until she was almost at the base of the ramp. Thumbing the intercom, Survov reported, “Your guest is here, guarded by five of my men. I’m sending out five more to replace them.” Survov wasn’t happy that five of his perimeter guards had abandoned their posts to escort the one unarmed prisoner, but chose not to relay that observation to his volatile employer.

The Scar replied, “Very well. Make certain that they are alert, and aware that Yuri is on his way. I’d prefer that they do not shoot him by mistake.” The Scar keyed off the microphone and blinked from the glare as a reddish shaft of sunlight illuminated the cockpit. “How long?” he asked the pilot.

“Any moment now. All I need is clear air to the south, above a hundred feet altitude. The JATOs will get us that far, and the force of takeoff should clear the ash from our fuselage and wings,” The pilot said, hoping that at least two of the engines would air-start in time. He thought they would, but he was far from certain.

“Take off the moment conditions are adequate,” The Scar commanded.



Survov gave his men the needed orders, leaving them to their posts as he returned to the aircraft. In the cargo bay, he scowled at the six men there, and was about to give them orders when The Scar’s voice over the intercom called him to the cockpit.

As Survov entered, The Scar said in a low voice, “We are about to take off, and may do so at any moment. How many of your men are in the cargo bay?”

“Six. The rest are on guard outside, per your orders,” Survov replied.

The Scar nodded. “Weight is critical, and I do not wish to leave the plane undefended, even for a moment. I will raise the ramp from here, and when it closes, we will light the rockets. When this occurs, tell your men in the cargo bay that leaving their comrades behind was the only way to save all our lives. Say that we left them money and a vehicle, whatever you think they need to hear.” The Scar paused, and then asked, “Do you think the men on the ground will perceive the meaning of us raising the ramp and fire at the aircraft?”

Survov shook his head. “No sir. We have done so several times to keep the ash out, and they are accustomed to using the side door. They will not realize in time to act against us.” Survov wondered if he would be among those left behind had he still been outside when the air cleared, and thought he probably would have been. Deciding to remain on board no matter what, he said, “What about Yuri? Are we waiting for him?”

“No. If he comes into sight, let me know, but we shall not wait, we cannot,” The Scar replied, as the air grew clearer still.

Survov returned to the cargo bay, in time to hear Brandon tell Helen, “You shouldn’t have come. He’s going to kill us no matter what.”

Helen, with her hands behind her back and sitting against the bulkhead next to Brandon, felt her heart ache, wishing that she could dispel Brandon’s fears. Instead, she looked at Eric, who was lying by Brandon’s side. “How is he?” she asked.

“Fine for now, my head just hurts like hell,” Eric replied in a mumble, surprising Brandon and Helen. Eric tensed his arms, feeling the bite of the tight ropes on his wrists.

“No more talking!” Survov yelled at the prisoners, and then glanced around, selecting a good place to hang on during the takeoff. A glance out the door, which gave him a view of Flight Three through the thinning ash, told him that it was almost time. The sudden motion of the cargo bay door and the whine of its hydraulics proved him right. To the men in the cargo bay, he said, “Grab something solid and hang on!”

In the cockpit of Flight Two, The Scar watched as the bay door indicator light flashed from red to green. The moment it did so, the pilot jammed his hand down on the JATO ignition switch.

A deep, loud roar shook Flight Two as it lurched forward, riding on columns of fire. The aircraft shuddered, its wheels plowing through the ash and then pulling free as the C-130’s fat tires, given enough speed, began to roll across its surface.

Flight Two had only a quarter-load of fuel, and in spite of the bombs was far below normal takeoff weight. The thrust of fourteen JATOs accelerated Flight Two violently down the ash-covered runway, and pilot hauled back on the yoke, chewing on his lip as the plane rose into clearer air.

The pilot began air-start procedures for all four engines, and changed the blade pitch so that the aircraft’s rapidly building airspeed, now passing through one hundred and forty miles per hour, caused the engines to begin to turn.

Feeling the thrust from the JATOs fade away as they burned out, the pilot checked his gauges, fervently praying that the engines would start. After what seemed like an eternity – though in fact it was less than two seconds – he felt a shudder, and saw engine four’s compressor temperature begin to climb. Ramming that engine’s throttle forward and feeling the beginning of thrust as it spooled up, he called out, “Number Four is lit.”

That one engine wasn’t enough to keep them in the air for long, but it would at least slow their decent. The pilot watched his gauges, waiting, hoping… and then he saw a flicker, followed by a steady rise, on engine one’s temperature gauge. Shoving its throttle forward to the stops, he let out a sigh and said, “Engine one is lit. We can make it on two engines if we have to.”

The Scar let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. He glanced down at the sea as the aircraft banked gently to the left in a shallow climb, and the pilot reported that the remaining two engines had started. “Climb to ten thousand feet, transponders off, and head for the African coast at the fastest safe speed. We’ll refuel inland, and then proceed to our base in Sudan.” The Scar eased back in his seat, relishing his success.

As they climbed into the clear blue sky, The Scar looked ahead, seeing the island of Tenerife in the distance. He turned to look astern from the side window, at the towering columns of ash still bellowing from Cumbre Vieja, and said, “Ah, such glory I have wrought. The ash and thermal signature should have been sufficient to mask our departure, if the American satellites were watching. We will take an evasive, low altitude course prior to our refuel point, just in case, but I think we are safe now.” The Scar toyed with the idea of phoning Felecia and demanding that Yuri be released, but then decided not to bother for the moment.

In the cargo bay, Survov looked aft, at the closed bay door, and said, “We had no choice but to leave our comrades behind. They were given money and they will rejoin us in a few days. For us, we fly home. We are safe now, and we will be well paid for what we have done.” Survov waited for a reply, which didn’t come. Becoming mildly concerned, he glanced at the men, and saw that one, his head still wrapped in an ash-caked towel like the others, was stooped over one of the atomic warheads. “Get away from that, it does not concern you!” Survov yelled, and the man complied by backing away.

Brandon and Eric, their wrists and ankles tied, shared a forlorn glance, suspecting that they, and Helen, would be The Scar’s next order of business. They were correct.

The Scar, in a flamboyant, almost euphoric mood, emerged from the cockpit and walked up to Eric, Brandon, and Helen. Bowing theatrically to Helen, he said, “Hello again, dear lady. Thank you for joining us, in time to partake in our glorious and triumphant takeoff. As you can see, I have succeeded in recovering my nuclear devices, in spite of your damnable meddling. You saw fit to interfere, using your money to bribe my mercenaries and thus steal my bombs and turn them over to the American Government. Fate, in the guise of your government’s intransigent ineptitude, bequeathed upon me the opportunity, which I seized. How you ever thought that you could challenge me is beyond comprehension, and it has brought you to this. I do not take affronts such as yours lightly. I have killed for far less. Your interference has cost me dearly, in time, misery, and personnel. Now, let us get down to business; you have money to offer me, in exchange for your lives. Do not waste my time by haggling. For what you have done, I would much prefer to kill you all. Make your bid, everything that you have, and I had best find it pleasing. Otherwise, it will be my sincere pleasure to kill you all.” The Scar waited for Helen’s reply, and when she didn’t speak, he looked into her impassive face. Growing tired of the game, he kept his eyes on Helen and said, “Survov, it appears that the lady does not believe me. Gunshots during flight are somewhat risky, so would you please kill Brandon with your knife. Slowly though, no point in making it quick.”

Helen did not reply, she just kept her face blank and stared at The Scar.

Survov reached for his knife as he took a step towards Brandon, only to find his way blocked by an ash-covered soldier. “Out of my way,” he growled, intent on his task.

The soldier did not move, and Survov stopped in surprise. His eyes opened wide as the solder removed the towel from around her head, and Survov found himself staring into Felecia’s coldly grinning face.


© 2009 C James

Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.

Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"



Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.

Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.

A big "thank you" to to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice , and to Captain Rick and Talonrider for Beta reading and advice .
Any remaining errors are mine alone.

Copyright © 2009 C James; All Rights Reserved.
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Ahhh the first non heart attack ending in awhile. Another gripping chapter. Almost don't think Eric needs Tequila to be crazed. Thanks

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Now look what Eric and Brandon did - they got Helen and Felecia in there too. What the hell is Felecia gonna do with all of The Scar's goons there ready to take her out?

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I believe five came on board with Helen. So I’m guessing it isFelicia and four more mercenaries. That might even the odds a bit. 

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