Current day, 10:27 PM, one mile east of Radii Weapons Facility, somewhere near Thompsonville, Virginia.
The group of men stood in the middle of the intersection of two muddy, woodland trails. Beams of light from the roll bar on Phil’s black four-by-four truck pierced the night. The large man stood in front of the vehicle creating a massive shadow that loomed over a man kneeling on the ground.
“I’d just as soon be in Hell with my back broke than give you these files you backstabbin’ bastard!” Kevin said, leaning up against the Prius with his lip bleeding. Steam rose from the smashed hood of the vehicle as the wrecked machine rested against the trunk of a large tree, several bullet holes were visible on its body. “Honestly, I don’t how many more knives one man’s back can hold...”
Phil rolled his fingers on the stock of his rifle impatiently. “Give me what you was supposed to give the China-man, shithead!” he said through gritted teeth.
“He ain’t gonna work with you, idiot!” Kevin exclaimed and then stood with a grunt. The man considered one of his ribs might be broken, hopefully it was only bruised. He winced as he touched the area.
“Hey, where’s your pretty friend? Did you off Cole or somethin’? If you did you sure saved me and ol’ Ben a heap of trouble,” Phil said with a grin.
“Ben’s in on this, too?” Kevin asked in astonishment. “Goddammit, you start waving money around and everybody turns into a bunch of Benedict Arnold’s.”
“Who?” Phil inquired.
“Gimme some light ya’ll!” Phil shouted over his shoulder. “I need to take a look in that death trap called a car, since ol’ Kevin here ain’t cooperating.”
One of the men in the large black four-wheeled-drive pickup’s cab directed a floodlight onto the destroyed vehicle.
“So, did you kill him or not?” Phil asked, stepping closer.
Kevin squinted, lifting a hand to shield his eyes. “We, um, we went our separate ways.”
Phil paused. “Man, that makes me think of that song, you know the one that gets you right here,” he said and smacked himself on his large chest.
“Shut up, Phil, that’s your thing.”
“No, seriously, It breaks my heart to hear that you two split, I hate lover’s quarrels,” Phil said, generating laughter from the men behind him. “Now, give me the stuff, no more playin’ around, Kevin!” The smile melted from Phil’s face as the large man chambered a round in his rifle.
“Okay! Okay, damn!” Kevin turned and bent over painfully to lie across the seats. He tensed as he stretched, the pain was awful. Taking a deep breath, Kevin gathered the papers together and slipped them in the backpack. He began to sit up, clutching the bag, but froze as he saw something move in the trees. Something metallic reflected the bright floodlight’s beam. He ducked, witnessing more movement in the darkness only a few yards away. ”Shit, what the hell is going on out there?” he wondered to himself.
“Whut you waitin’ on, Kevin?” Phil asked. Let’s go!”
Phil looked down to extract his cellphone from his pocket. “‘Sup Ben? Yeah, we are about to get the documents from Mr. Kevin here, right directly. He’s fishin’ em out of the car as we speak. No, Cole ain’t with him...I don’t know. Why do you care? Prolly killed him and all...yeah, okay. Well as far as I’m concerned, you can do what you want with the four of ’em. I don’t care, go on and have fun or you can just wait until we get there.” Phil disconnected the phone and returned his attention to Kevin as he lay horizontally in the car, staring out of the passenger window.
Kevin went cold. He had no idea that Phil had Cole’s family. He was now wondering if the night could actually get any worse.
The radio in the captain’s hand suddenly squelched to life. “Something has gone wrong, sir. It appears that the hillbillies have, erm, double-crossed your contacts...well, at least one of them. I do not see the one called, Cole.”
“Very well, Lieutenant Wei, move forward with our backup plan and prepare to subdue the targets! This cannot progress any further,” Captain Qiang commanded. “Lieutenant, understand I do not want these men killed, if possible. However, if you have to, you have my permission to immobilize any of them that resist. We will clean up later, if necessary.”
Kevin observed three men step with purpose from the shadowy woods, weapons drawn and trained on Phil and his cohorts. They swept their weapons methodically over the scene.
“What the hell?” Phil shouted, lifting his rifle’s butt to his shoulder.
“Lay down your weapons and get down on ground!” barked one of the men wearing black paint on their faces. Kevin noted his accent was similar to Daniel’s. “Please comply. We mean you no harm!”
“I ain’t surrenderin’ to no Commie Chinese! This is America, dammit!” Phil shouted and then pulled the trigger on his rifle, dropping one of the soldiers. Bursts of fire erupted in every direction.
Three more men adorned in night vision goggles and black tactical vests suddenly appeared from the woods behind Phil and returned fire.
Kevin lay flat in the car and secured an AK-47 from the backseat. Easing his head up, Kevin watched Phil spin and cock his rifle, readying it to fire again. The large, rotund man jerked twice as he was hit by bullets and then tumbled backward, sliding down his truck. The others in his group, they too fell, their bodies pierced by the expertly aimed flying projectiles; two of them slumped over the side of Phil’s large black pickup. Kevin grabbed a door handle, taking the opportunity of the commotion to open the passenger door.
“One more, over there!” shouted one of the Chinese soldiers as they spotted Kevin slide out of the car. The man in black raised his weapon to fire.
“Shit!” Kevin popped up from behind the edge of the car’s passenger seat and squeezed off a three round burst into the soldier’s chest. He then quickly scrambled behind the small car to shield himself from his attackers. Kevin hunkered down next to the front passenger tire of the vehicle as the enemy’s guns erupted once more. It sounded as if someone was throwing pebbles at the Prius “Shit, shit, shit!!!”
“Hold your fire!” one of the Chinese soldiers shouted.
“Where’s Daniel!?!!” Kevin yelled into the now eerily quiet darkness.
“He is not here,” one of them replied in broken English.
Kevin was shaking all over. The adrenaline and fear had now overtaken him. “I have the documents and a lighter! Don’t come any closer!” he shouted.
“Those men did not have to die, Kevin. They were a tad overzealous and paid for their mistake in blood. Please learn from this. Now, if you would kindly step out with the documents, we will let you go,” the Chinese Lieutenant said calmly. “But, if you attempt to burn that information, you will join them.” He quietly motioned for two of his men to flank the American hidden behind the smashed Japanese car.
Kevin gripped his rifle tightly, wishing he could see in the dark. His eyes darted around rapidly, searching the shadows for any telltale evidence of soldiers in the woods. “Look, fella, I really do just wanna give you this stuff and get my money, but it seems you guys aren’t playin’ by the rules. Where’s Daniel? Me and him, we had a deal!”
The Lieutenant lifted his hand to his ear. “Very well. You wait. He is coming.”
Kevin peeked from around the Prius upon hearing the sound of an approaching vehicle; a shiny black limo traveling slowly down the country road toward him and the Chinese soldiers. It squealed to a stop in the middle of the muddy road. One of the armed men jogged over to open the door and Daniel stepped out.
“Daniel?” Kevin shouted. “That you?”
“I want my money...a deal’s a deal!”
Daniel lifted the briefcase from the limo. “You are right, Kevin. Here it is...your money! Bring me the G.I.Z.M.O. documents and you can have it.”
“I don’t believe you! Tell your men to put their weapons on the ground!”
Daniel laughed aloud. “You are in no position to make those kinds of demands, Kevin. You have to trust me; I am a man of my word. This money is yours, take a look, it’s real.” Daniel motioned for one of the soldiers to step over and hold the case as he opened the latches on the metal object with a pop. “See?”
Kevin was desperate. He knew there was no way out of this and was really regretting that he left Cole behind. “Okay, I’m coming out!”
“BANG!” A gunshot echoed through the Appalachian hills.