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    C James
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Changing Lanes - 49. Falling


Chapter 49: Falling


 



 

 

Blinking in surprise, not yet realizing the danger, Survov stared for the briefest of moments at the woman standing before him. He’d never met Felecia, but the unexpected appearance of a woman’s face astounded him, because there were no females amongst the henchmen. His attention fixed on Felecia as had been intended, Survov didn’t have a chance. Horst, moving with catlike grace, seized Survov from behind, and with one fluid move put his arm over Survov’s shoulder, seized his chin, and pulled it hard, up, and to the left.

Survov could only blink in horror as he heard the sound of his neck breaking, and felt the sudden knifelike pain. Horst released him, and Survov fell to the deck, unable to move, speak, or breathe, but still able to see and hear. He would remain conscious for the next minute, feeling himself suffocate to death.

The Scar heard Survov’s fall, as did the one remaining henchman aboard. Reacting as they’d been intended to do, both snapped their heads around to look. The Scar opened his mouth to give an order, only to gasp out in surprise and pain as he was slammed from behind by General Bradson. The henchman was not so lucky; a mercenary who had maneuvered behind him snapped his neck.

Brandon and Eric watched in surprise, and then relief, as they realized that rescue was at hand.

With a bone-jarring thud, General Bradson slammed The Scar to the deck, grabbed him by the throat, and said softly, “One move out of you and I’ll break your neck.”

There was no time for celebration as Felecia turned to ask Eric and Brandon, “Any idea where the third nuke is?”

Brandon nodded, “Yeah, Jerry said he used it to trigger the eruption.”

“I think he was telling the truth,” Eric added.

Nodding, Felecia said, “Hold tight for a minute. We’ve still got to take the plane. Any idea how many are in the cockpit?”

Brandon and Eric shook their heads, and Brandon said, “I don’t remember anyone but Jerry and that guy,” Brandon nodded at Survov, “going in, but I’m not sure.”

Motioning to two of her men to follow, Felecia jogged forward to the cockpit door. She pressed her ear to the door, hoping to hear voices, but the noise from the engines was too loud.

General Bradson left The Scar to Horst’s care and joined Felecia, knowing that he would soon be needed.

Felecia glanced at her men to be sure they were ready, and said, “Take no chances. Knives only. Fast kill, before they can do anything.”

After taking a deep breath and drawing her combat knife, Felecia shoved the door open and rushed through, her men following behind. The door hit the stop with a clatter, and the surprised pilot looked back, just in time to see Felecia. He reached for his gun, but before he could touch it, Felecia drove her knife into his neck, severing his spinal column.

Snatching the pilot’s body backwards before he could fall against the yoke, Felecia put her own hand on the controls and yelled, “Cockpit, clear. Walter, get in here!”

He was already behind her, and slipped into the copilot’s seat, taking the controls. After a fast check of the gauges he said, “Looks like we’re okay here. Get the body out, I’d rather not land from the right seat.” The pilot’s body was unceremoniously dumped outside the cockpit door, and Felecia, bloody knife in hand, rushed into the cargo bay, smiling as she announced, “Aircraft secured.” Turning to Brandon and Eric, she said, “Lets get you two out of those ropes.”

Felecia made fast work of Brandon and Eric’s ropes, and then with a bemused look said to Helen with a wink, “You can move now, you know.”

Helen, still somewhat shaken, realized that she was still holding her arms behind her, clutching a rope in place to simulate being bound. Shaking her head at Felecia, Helen said, “Yeah, thanks. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared. I really didn’t think this crazy plan of yours would work.” Helen glanced at Survov’s body, and then at The Scar, who was motionless, pinned to the floor by Horst, and added, “I guess it did. Thank you.”

“How–” Brandon asked in stunned voice, only to be cut off by Felecia.

“I’ll explain in a minute. Business first. Horst, check Frankenstein’s pockets. Take everything, including his watch or anything else that could be electrical or hide a transmitter. Kill him if he even breathes wrong.” Felecia said.

Horst, aided by one of the mercenaries, emptied The Scar’s pockets, and then used a tie-down strap to bind The Scar’s arm to his body. When Horst was done, he left one mercenary with a knife at The Scar’s throat, and handed Felecia The Scar’s satellite phone. Flipping it open, she dialed the number for Yuri’s phone, which was answered by Brian. With herself and Horst on the mission, she’d left him in charge at Flight Three.

“We’ve secured the aircraft, the hostages, and the bombs. No casualties. Clean the runway of any stragglers, and report so we can land,” Felecia told Brian, before ending the call and turning to Horst to say, “Check those damn bombs. Make sure there’s no timer and safe the things, if you can.”

Horst nodded, feeling somewhat out of his depth, and walked towards the bombs. Brandon said, in a shaky voice, “I’m pretty good with electronics. Can I help?”

Horst turned and nodded. “Yes. I would appreciate it.”

Working together while the others looked on, Horst, with his knowledge of explosives, and Brandon, with his own of electronics, examined the simple timers and triggering charges. “The timers don’t look like they are running,” Brandon said, “but there could be another timer chip somewhere, and these,” he gestured at the two protruding metal stubs, “might be contact terminals, but I don’t know what they’re for.”

Speaking for the first time since his capture, The Scar, with the mercenary’s knife still at his throat, said, “Do not touch those assemblies. I have no wish to die. The timers and triggering charges are set to detonate if tampered with. Brandon is correct; there is an internal timer in addition to the external one. The internal ones are running. Only I know how to disarm them. I would imagine that there are perhaps five minutes remaining, but I am not certain.”

“Why the hell would you have the timers counting down while taking off?” Felecia asked.

“Let us strike a bargain, or we all die,” The Scar replied, ignoring the question. “I ask only for my release, and I shall grant you your lives in return.”

“Yeah, right,” Felecia said, and then, motioning to one of her men, ordered, “Start breaking his fingers, then move the bones around a little. He’ll talk.”

He hadn’t really expected his play for release to work, so The Scar made a decision. Affecting a quavering, fearful voice, he said, “No, wait. It’s the metal contacts. Jump them with a coin and that disarms the timer.”

“I think he’s lying, start breaking fingers,” Felecia said.

Eric stared at The Scar for a moment, until his inner sense was sure. “He’s definitely lying. I know he is.”

Helen nodded and then told Felecia, “It’s a long story, but when Eric is that sure, I’d believe him.”

“Me, too,” Brandon said, and resumed his examination of the timer and demolition charge.

Felecia shrugged. “Fine, I think so too. So, can you two safe those things, or should we try the finger-breaking option?”

Horst asked Brandon, “Any sign of a pressure switch in the detonator?”

“No, not that I can see. There’s only two wires.”

“It could be non-electrical, perhaps spring-loaded, but this appears to be a standard detonator cap. I’ve used this model before.” Horst stared at the triggering charge for a moment and then said, “This looks to be very simple. The timer connects to a single detonator cap, which is exposed and can be removed, like so.” As if plucking a grape, Horst reached out and pulled the detonator cap out of the high explosive shaped charge.

Brandon cringed, and Felecia said with a chuckle, “Thanks for the warning, Horst. Might as well do the other one.”

Horst removed the second detonator cap, and then cut the wires to both, handing the detonator caps off to one of his men. He then pried the now-inert charges off the bombs with his knife. After examining them again, he said on a matter-o-fact voice, “These are safe now. With no detonator cap, they are harmless.” Horst held one of the charges out to Brandon, who took it with more than a little trepidation. “It is quite safe. I do not understand electronics as well as you, but I do know explosives.”

Brandon eased the timer up, and saw the wires connecting to the contacts, which led directly to the relay. “Jumping the contacts would have set it off,” he said, and then handed the charge back to Horst.

“How the hell did you guys pull this off,” Eric asked, no longer able to contain his curiosity. He then glanced at Survov’s corpse, and then the pilot’s, amazed at how little the dead bodies bothered him.

Felecia shrugged, remembering… “It wasn’t easy–” she said, and then began to explain…

The original plan, born of desperation, had been five minutes from execution when Helen had shown up at Flight Three. The Scar’s time limit had been almost up, and Felecia had already, acting on the report from her recon team, sent ten of her men ­forward, intending to use the ash and darkness to silently take down the henchmen deployed astern of Flight Two and then storm the plane, hoping for the best. The General and Felecia had given that option a low chance of success due to the probability that The Scar would have a few seconds in which to respond by killing the two hostages or detonating a nuclear warhead. However, it was all they could come up with, until Helen had arrived. Her frustrated, desperate outburst had given General Bradson an idea, and the battle plan had been amended.

Surprise had been both the goal, and the previously elusive key. Helen, escorted by the General and Felecia, had dashed south, and between ragged gasps for air and muffled by the towel wrapped around his head, the General had given Helen a few quick instructions. There had been no time to explain fully, but Helen went along, in part due to desperation, but in an equal measure due to the fact that she had begun to trust General Bradson and Felecia. Even though her prior placement of trust in General Bradson had not gone well, she knew that he had never intended to bring harm to her or Instinct.

When she was halfway to Flight Three, Felecia had given the order to her ten men, who had been chosen due to being ex-special forces and skilled in the art of stealthy approach and silent killing.

The ten mercenaries, working in two-man teams, had made fast work of the five henchmen, who had been deployed in individual posts, facing north. The partial darkness and ash had provided good concealment, made all the better by the henchmen’s preference for keeping their eyes covered. The five henchmen had been taken from behind almost simultaneously, a hand clamping their mouths closed as their throats were cut.

Three of the mercenaries had, per their orders, pulled the henchmen’s uniforms on over their own, taking care to rub ash over the bloodstains. They had been ready when Felecia and the General had arrived with Helen.

Donning henchman’s uniforms of their own, and joined by three similarly clad mercenaries, Felecia and General Bradson had formed the guard detail that had taken Helen aboard Flight Two. It had once again been the ash that made it possible; with their heads wrapped in towels, leaving only slits for their eyes, they had been indistinguishable at a casual glance from The Scar’s men.

Felecia spoke quickly, knowing that there was still much to do, and concluded her tale, saying, “Survov made it easy by deploying his men outside, but we had to wait for Frankenstein to come out, because we didn’t know how he might have the bombs rigged and thought he might have a trigger of some kind on him. I’d asked Helen to keep quiet and ignore him, figuring that would focus his attention. We had to take him by surprise, and I think it’s safe to say, we surprised the hell out of him.”

Taking a deep breath, beginning to dread the answer, Eric asked, “What about Jim, Linda, and the Private? Jerry said he had them prisoner somewhere.”

Felecia shook her head. “We still don’t know. Frankenstein had all three bombs, so he knows where our friends are.” Felecia paused, and then told Helen, Brandon, and Eric, “Please go visit with Walter in the cockpit for a while. It would be better for all of us.”

Helen nodded, and led Eric and Brandon to the cockpit. They all suspected what was about to occur. General Bradson greeted them from the pilot’s seat, “Felecia told me on the intercom that you were on your way. I’m circling over the southern tip of La Palma, so as we come around, you’ll see the eruption.” Brandon slid into the copilot’s seat, Helen took the navigator’s station, and Eric settled into the flight engineer’s seat behind General Bradson, as La Palma came into view.

The sight that greeted them chilled them to the bone. Looking north along the main fissure, they could see glowing fountains of lava, topped by roiling columns of ash, which towered into the stratosphere before bending northeastward. To the northeast, they could see the airport, which was just south of the ash cloud, but it was the western side of the island that held their gaze. Jagged paths of light grey ­– the result of pyroclastic flows – led to the sea in half a dozen places, three of which crossed the route they’d taken during their escape.

General Bradson pointed through the window. “See where the resort was?” he asked.

Brandon peered out, squinting against the glare, and managed to pick out the beach where he’d been married. Tracing the coast south, he saw it, and gasped. “Oh my God… It’s gone…” He was close enough to being right; the land on which the resort once stood was now covered by black rubble, the result of a slow-moving lava flow that had reached the sea.

Staring out at the devastation, Eric said in a numb tone, “Jerry did this. First Australia, now here.”

 

Turning to glare at The Scar, Felecia said, “Care to talk now, or do I do this the fun way?”

The Scar glared back. “You would not dare. Torture is illegal­­–” The Scar gaped in agony, reeling from the kick Felecia had just delivered to his still-tender nuts.

Felecia kicked The Scar again, rolling him over. She flattened his bound hand, palm up, against the deck, and stomped on his fingers, breaking two. After waiting for The Scar to stop screaming, Felecia said pleasantly, “Now we’ve resolved that little matter, let’s have a chat. Now, where are our friends?” Felecia felt no compunction about using forceful methods on a man who had coldly killed tens of thousands of people. To emphasize that she meant business, she wiggled the broken bones of The Scar’s middle finger.

The Scar yelled in pain, and then gasped, “I’ll make you pay for this, I swear it­–” The Scar’s protests were interrupted by his own yells, as Felecia tugged on his shattered fingers. “They’re dead, they died in the ambush,” he gasped, and then, with a little more encouragement, he shared the details of that, and a few other things that Felecia thought to ask.

Once she was satisfied that she had the truth, Felecia walked to the cockpit, dreading what she knew came next.

Felecia crouched down between Eric and Helen. Eric didn’t need his inner sense; one glance at Felecia’s face was all it took. “They’re dead, aren’t they,” he said, his voice quiet and strained. He felt tears come to his eyes and let them fall, unashamed.

Felecia reached out and took Eric’s hand into her own, and then, as Brandon turned in his seat, she took his as well. “I’m sorry, but they’re gone. Frankenstein’s goons ambushed them right after they left the hotel with the bomb. They never had a chance. They went out fighting; they took a couple of the goons with ‘em,” Felecia said in a quiet, sad tone.

Eric dropped his head to his hand, overcome by a wave of grief and guilt, his eyes streaming freely. Brandon too lowered his head, grieving for the man who had once been his closest friend.

Eric, fighting back a sob, mumbled, “It’s my fault, all of this is…”

Helen, in spite of her own grief, opened her eyes wide in surprise as Felecia, with a tenderness Helen had never suspected she possessed, let go of Eric’s hand and gently raised his chin until she could look in his eyes. “Honey, that’s just not true. There is no way you could have possibly known all this would happen. I’ve lost a lot of people too. I know how much it hurts, but you cannot blame yourself. If you do, that bastard back there wins, because he’s ruined even more lives. Don’t let him, Eric, don’t you dare let him.

“He told me what you two did. I’ve done some crazy things in my time, but coming here like that, with just a grenade… I’m a pro and I wouldn’t have tried it. You put your lives on the line for your friends. There is no higher honor to their memory than that. Grieve for them, yes, but you’ve no reason for guilt. When all this is over, I’ll be grieving too, for them, and the men I’ve lost, including Wilhelm, who was like family to me. Don’t let guilt eat you inside, Eric. Trust me on that if nothing else…” Felecia let her voice trail off as she remembered Wilhelm, and then she said, “What would Jim do if he could be here right now?”

“I… I don’t know,” Eric said, in a voice barely loud enough to be heard above the engines.

Brandon looked at Eric for a moment, and then said, “Yeah you do. He’d call us both idiots and kick our asses. Felecia’s right, bro. Jim and I… He saved my life back in Phoenix, I wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for him, so you listen to me; you’ve got nothing to feel guilty about. You did what you could, including trying to trade your life for theirs, so listen to what we’re telling you; this wasn’t your fault, man.”

Eric sat motionless for several long moments, and then replied, “Even if that’s true, we’re still in deep shit, all of us, because I brought us those damn bombs.”

General Bradson broke into the conversation with a cough. “I think I’m to blame for that one, not you. Look, we all did what we felt we had to do. That’s all anyone can do; the best they can, with what they know at the time. Okay, let’s put this aside for right now and deal with the problems we still face. Helen, did your tape recorder get Frankenstein’s little spiel back there?”

Helen patted her pocket. “It’s been in voice-activation mode ever since we left the other plane. I was hoping that Jerry might say something to clear us.” Helen pulled out the recorder and hit ‘play’, to make certain that it had indeed recorded in spite of the sound of the engines. The Scar’s words were barely audible above the thrum of the engines, but Helen, who was very familiar with studio sound equipment, knew that it could easily be digitally scrubbed. “The audio is rough, but fixing that is easy. What I’ve got helps, but I just wish we had more,” she said.

General Bradson glanced over at Brandon. “I saw you do one hell of a piece of flying the day you landed at my air base and we first met. If you can pilot a crippled bizjet to a survivable landing, you can sure as hell keep this big old bird in the air. How about taking over for a few minutes, while I go work on our problem?”

Taking a deep breath, Brandon replied, “I think I can handle it. Just come right away if I yell, okay?”

Giving Brandon a pat on the shoulder, General Bradson said, “You’ll do just fine.” The General gave Brandon a quick explanation of the controls, confident that he’d be okay, and then said, “You’ve got the airplane. You shouldn’t need anything but the yoke, just keep doing these big lazy circles. If you need to go straight and level, that’s fine as long as you aren’t heading for the ash. Keep us out of that and we’re doing great. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Brandon took a deep breath and concentrated on flying, finding that the C-130 was easier to handle, due to being less sensitive on the controls, than a bizjet.

Felecia stood up and opened the cockpit door, holding it open for the General and Helen. Helen stood for a moment between Brandon and Eric, putting her arms over their shoulders and giving them both a hug as she said, “You nearly got your stupid selves killed trying to save them. No one could ever ask for more.”

Helen turned and walked out of the cockpit. As she passed Felecia, she looked Felecia in the eye, then glanced back in the direction of Brandon and Eric, and mouthed, “Thank you.”

After Felecia closed the door, Eric waited a moment, and then silently climbed into the pilot’s seat next to Brandon, but kept his hands away from the controls. Brandon glanced at him, and then asked, “Are you gonna be okay?”

Eric sighed, and then shrugged. For a moment, he tried to put his feelings into words, but couldn’t. In that instant, cheered slightly by thoughts of Jansen and the knowledge that he would be there for him, Eric said, “Yeah, thanks Brandon. I think I’m going to be all right. How about you?”

Brandon remained silent for a while, trying to order his thoughts. “It hurts like hell, but yeah, I’ll get through this, we both will.”

 

 

Before walking aft to where The Scar lay, Felecia motioned for the General and Helen to wait for a moment, and opened her phone to call Brian.

Brian picked up the call in a cheerful tone, “I was just about to call you and report. Based on tracks in the ash, most of the goons left behind hightailed it out of here after Flight Two took off. Looks like they headed inland. There’s one or two holed up in the terminal; they took some potshots at my recon, and I’ve sent a team to take ‘em out, which should happen soon. I’ve got sentries posted, and I’ve sent four men back to the hotel just in case any hostiles show up there. I don’t think they will, but they’re desperate now and might try anything. I’d feel better if we evacuated everyone from the hotel and put ‘em on Flight Three.”

Felecia smiled. Brian’s words confirmed to her that she’d made the right choice in placing him in charge. It had not been an easy decision; she’d known that placing an outsider in charge might foster resentment from some of her men, but in the end, Felecia had chosen Brian because of his competence and loyalty. “You’re in command, kiddo, make it happen if that’s what you think best. Sounds fine to me. Let me know when it’s clear to land. We’re orbiting over the south end of the island and we can be on the ground a few minutes after you give the word. Do what you can to get Flight Three ready to go; we’ll want to lift out ASAP after we land Flight Two. Get a truck ready too, because we’ll need to move the bombs,” Felecia said.

 

 

In the aft end of the cargo bay, General Bradson, Felecia, and Helen looked down with contempt at The Scar, who lay on the deck, looking up at them, only his disfigured face concealing his pain.

Choosing his words with care, General Bradson said, “You really fucked up, you know that? First, you lost the bombs, then you got ‘em back, now you’ve lost them and your freedom both. You’re done now, you must know that. The first chance we get, we’re turning you over to the United States Government, and I’m sure you’ll get the death penalty.”

The Scar gave a derisive snort. “Your trust in your government has progressed from the naive to the moronic, I see. I am not unaware of the legal troubles all of you face.” The Scar paused for a moment, as he realized that he still had a hand to play. “Why was I able to reclaim my warheads, even temporarily? I could not have done so, save for their treachery in dealing with Helen, which provided me with a window of opportunity. I think it would be better for all of you if you released me. Think it through; I have the ability to either clear you or condemn you. I’ll never face the death penalty; there will be years of legal wrangling, starting with jurisdictional disputes. The Australians will certainly wish to prosecute me, as will others. At every trial and hearing, I shall be able to speak. I will do so, and I assure you that my version of events will prove most useful in the American Government’s vendetta against you. However, bear in mind that I have a score to settle with them as well, and would prefer to do so.”

Helen, General Bradson, and Felecia exchanged a glance, and the General asked Helen, “What do you think?”

Helen shook her head, and turned to The Scar to say, “Jerry, you’ve betrayed me before. Give me a reason I should trust you now.”

Seeing Helen’s question as a proffered escape hatch, The Scar replied, “Commonality of needs and desires, my dear Helen. You know me well enough to trust that I will always act in my own best interests, do you not?”

Setting the hook, Helen replied with a nod.

Grasping at the straw he thought he could see, his haste and ego blinding him to the danger, The Scar said, “Very well, allow me to explain. I am an arms dealer by trade. The publicity surrounding recent events, combined with the revelation that I still live, will place me in an enviable position; my access to nuclear technology – and I still have my contacts, which I used to aid the Iranian program – will be in great demand. My continued existence will be a perpetual thorn in the side of your government. I shall make my continued existence known, as a means of both embarrassing your government and furthering my own ends. I am not a man to hide from opportunity, and as you have seen, I have survived impossible odds before. Your government’s actions have given me a golden opening. After the manner in which your government has betrayed you, surely you can see that it is in all our interests to cooperate. You have taken away my means of extracting revenge directly, but I am still able to do so by becoming a perpetual embarrassment to them, which will serve your ends as well as my own. Only by releasing me and allowing me to act in my own interests, which of course I shall, can you clear yourselves.”

General Bradson said to Helen, “That’s probably all we can get from him. Think it’s enough?”

Helen thought it through and nodded. “Probably, if played right.”

General Bradson looked at Helen, before saying, “Could you please rejoin Brandon and Eric on the flight deck and remain there? Felecia and I have some details to discuss with our guest. We will be with you shortly.”

Helen could read between the lines, and gave the General a nod of approval before turning and walking towards the cockpit.

Helen entered the flight deck and shut the door as Brandon asked, “What’s going on back there?”

Helen hesitated, and Eric glanced back at her. Seeing no objection, he said, “I’ve got a pretty good guess. I think we’ll find out, any second now.”

 

 

General Bradson looked at the cargo bay door and said, “Oh, Horst?”

“Yes, Herr General?”

In a light, conversational tone, General Bradson asked, “Do you remember that thing you did just before we landed on La Palma, that Felecia and I asked you not to do without checking with us first? I think now would be a very good time.”

Horst remembered it well, and stood at attention. After glancing at Felecia and seeing approval in her eyes, he replied in a pleased tone. “It would be my sincere pleasure to give such a lesson, Herr General.”

The Scar, too late, sensed the danger. “What is the meaning of this,” he demanded, and then reminded them all, “You need me to clear yourselves.”

General Bradson nodded gravely. “We have decided to do as you ask, and release you.”

Felecia smiled as she added, “Your words, via Helen’s tape recorder, will provide what we need. You always were overly fond of the sound of your own voice, and I hope you can appreciate that it will be your own words that save us. Like I told Yuri when I killed him; sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut.”

The Scar did not spare a thought for the news of Yuri’s death; he was frantically trying to think of something to say, some means by which to change his fate.

General Bradson thumbed the intercom and told Brandon, “I’m going to lower the cargo bay door. It shouldn’t bother you, but you’ll see the red right go on. We decided to dump the bodies; no point in your wedding party having to see corpses, especially after all they’ve been through.” The General released the button and hit the switch to open the bay door, and told Horst, “Remove the straps, I don’t want it too obvious what we’ve done. Bounce him off the bulkheads a few times to leave some DNA.”

 

 

In the cockpit, Brandon felt the C-130 tremble and slow slightly as the bay door indicator light came on. “I wonder how many bodies he’s dumping?” Brandon asked, already suspecting the truth.

“There were three,” Eric replied, and then held up four fingers as he mumbled in a bitter tone. “Happy landings, Jerry.”

Helen raised her voice to say, “If what you’re speculating ever got out, it could hurt Felecia, her men aboard, and General Bradson.”

Eric glanced back at Helen, arched an eyebrow, and replied, “I’ll never say anything about it. I can’t, because I don’t actually know, not for sure. That’s why we’re all in here, right?”

 

 

As the wind roared into the growing opening, The Scar shouted, “You cannot do this to me!”

“Ah, but we can,” said Horst, as he drew his gleaming combat knife.

General Bradson walked towards The Scar, shouting above the roaring engines and howling wind, “You were right. Like a bad penny, you just keep turning up. Alive, you’ll cause no end of trouble for us, and you’ll dance around the courts for years before ending up in a nice cushy cell somewhere. There’s also the chance you’ll escape and kill even more people. The world is better off without you in it, so goodbye and good riddance, you piece of shit.”

Horst moved fast, his knife flashing out, leaving a shallow, bloody cut on The Scar’s upper arm. Leaving the blood on his knife and setting it aside, he grabbed the straps that bound The Scar and hauled him to his feet, and straight-armed him, shoulder-first, into the bulkheads a few times.

Seeing the bloodstains and judging them sufficient, Horst spun The Scar around, driving a hard undercut into his bruised ribs. The Scar doubled over, gasping in pain, as Felecia moved forward and cut the straps away with a flick of her knife.

The Scar struggled, fighting to catch his breath so that he could speak, still believing that he could talk his way out, but his time was almost up. Horst grabbed The Scar by the back of his shirt and the seat of his pants. With a mighty heave, he sent The Scar flying in an arc that terminated on the aft edge of the cargo bay door. The Scar hit hard, rolling, and reached out with his hand to grab for purchase, but his momentum was too much to counter, and he parted company from Flight Two at ten thousand feet with no parachute, the fate he had intended for Eric.

General Bradson told Horst, “Good job. Now, toss the other three bodies out so we can close the door and get this crate on the ground. We’ve still got a hell of a lot of work ahead of us before this is over.”

 

 

The wind blasting in his face… and the sickening feeling of free-fall, that was what held his attention for a moment. Forcing his eyes open, tumbling though the air, The Scar was treated to alternating views of the ground, nearly two miles below, and the sky, containing the fast-receding Flight Two, glittering in the sunlight above. Rage filled him, and he opened his mouth to speak, words of grandiose eloquence forming in his mind, his fury burning, but before he could utter a sound, he realized that there was no one to hear him, and never would there be again.

 

 

General Bradson arrived in the cockpit to relieve Brandon, just as the bay-door warning light shut off.

Eric eased out of the pilot’s seat, and General Bradson slid in to take over from Brandon, who had been flying from the copilot’s station. Attending to the first order of business, the General punched a button to record their current coordinates. “There was a bit of a scuffle in the cargo bay,” the General said in a casual tone, knowing full well that no one there would believe him. “Jerry Clump broke free and grabbed a knife, trying to take the plane back. In the fight that followed, he took a blow and rolled out the back. He didn’t have a parachute.” The General glanced out the window, looking at the ash-covered landscape of southeastern La Palma, and added, “He’ll be landing any moment now.”

 

 

Over the following minute, The Scar managed to stabilize, falling face down, granting him a perfect view of the ash-covered land below. For the first time in his life, his self-confidence deserted him, and he stared in the face of certain death. Fear… he felt it, growing, consuming him as he plummeted, his heart racing, towards the waiting Earth at over one hundred miles per hour. Panic and terror, driven by fear in its purest form, gripped him like a vice in that final few hundred feet. His final act as a living man was to scream….

He, who had brought death to so many with banal disregard, died in the fear he had so oft dealt out with abandon, in one final bitter irony for The Scar.





 

© 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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Well, I won't believe he's really dead until I read about his body splattered all over the ground. lol

 

Excellent chapter, CJ! I was really worried about Helen and Co. getting out of that plane unharmed.

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