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Chapter Twenty-Three

Current day, 11:00 PM, one mile east of Radii Weapons Facility, somewhere near Thompsonville, Virginia.

Cole cautiously approached the beams of light piercing the dark forest.


The unexpected pop of a hunting rifle broke the silence of the night, followed by AK-47′s intermixed with other gunfire. ”Goddammit, what’s going on?” Cole wondered, as he made his way through the woods toward the melee.


Cole froze in his tracks as he spotted a figure moving about in the trees directly in front of him, leaves and twigs crunching beneath their feet. ”Noisy bastard, whoever they are,” Cole thought, ducking out of sight.

“Yídòng dào wèizhì,” the figure whispered.

“Moving into position? That’s Chinese...What the hell?” Cole considered there might be a potential Red Army trap involved with this op, now he knew for sure.

“I want my money...a deal’s a deal!” Cole heard the familiar voice of Kevin shout from somewhere in front of him.

Cole quickly and quietly slid through the dark vegetation toward the shadowy Chinese soldier hiding in the woods. Closing in, Cole observed the man kneel behind a log and lift something to his shoulder.

“I don’t believe you! Tell your men to put their weapons on the ground!” Kevin yelled.

Cole had no time to act. It was now or never. He ran up behind the soldier, grabbing the surprised man by the head, cranked it in a clockwise position, and with a crack, broke the soldier’s neck, all in a manner of seconds. Cole could hear commands streaming over the man’s earpiece as he laid the motionless body to the ground.

“Zhǔnbèi!” Cole replied, placing the soldier’s throat mike to his neck.


Captain Qiang, still seated in the limo, whispered from behind Daniel, “Corporal Fei is in position. He says he is ready.”

“Tell him to take the American down.”

“Yes, sir!” Qiang nodded and tapped his earpiece. “You have a green light, corporal. Take down the subject.”


Cole heard Kevin yell, “I’m coming out!” Lifting the Chinese sniper rifle to his shoulder, Cole sighted in the soldier standing next to Daniel and squeezed the trigger.

Cole dropped the first soldier, sending the suitcase of money spilling to the ground. He then shot two more before quickly leaving his position.

Muzzle flashes erupted from the remaining Chinese soldiers’ rifles, their bullets flitting through the woods like high-speed insects. “Shit!” Cole exclaimed as several rounds buzzed over his head. He could now see Kevin peeking up from behind the wrecked Prius as he ran toward the car. “Stay down you dumbass!”

“Cole, is that you!?!!” Kevin said, about to stand and look for the owner of the voice.

“I said stay down!”

“That son of a bitch has my...erm, our money!” Kevin yelled back, lifting the AK-47 from the ground. “We gotta stop him!”


Daniel fell to his knees and began scooping up the bundles of American $100 dollar bills.

“Let’s go!” shouted Captain Qiang. “Leave the rest, just hand me the briefcase and get in, general!”

Daniel hoisted the metallic object up to the Red Army captain and found a pistol barrel shoved in his face.

“Too bad you were killed by the Americans after they took all of the money.”

“Huh?” A confused look appeared on Daniel’s face.

Captain Qiang slammed the door as Daniel’s body fell twitching to the ground. Qiang yelled at the driver. “Driver, let’s go! The general has been shot by the Americans! Retreat!”

The limo’s tires spun, digging ruts in the dirt road. The engine roared as the large black vehicle spun around; the driver looking for an escape route.


“What the hell?” Kevin and Cole exclaimed in unison, witnessing Daniel take a bullet to the head; shot by one of his own men.

Kevin stood, lifted his rifle, and popped one of the remaining three Red Army soldiers after exchanging gunfire with them.

Cole paused, dropped to one knee next to Kevin and picked off another soldier that had appeared behind them unexpectedly.

The final soldier turned and ran for his life into the woods.

“Goddammit! One got away,” Cole exclaimed, preparing to chase after him.

“What about you not killin’ anyone? Oh, nevermind, I’ll just say thanks and shut up.” Kevin said, grabbing Cole by the arm. He slid down the Prius with his back on the door. Kevin pulled the backpack from beneath the small car and weakly attempted to lift it. “Here. This is yours...”

Cole exhaled, accepting the bag from Kevin. He inspected the bullet hole riddled backpack and realized the tracker contained inside was destroyed. Hopefully the technical paperwork itself was still readable and intact.

“Why? Why did you come back and save me, Cole? I left you...why would you do that?” he asked feebly. “’specially after what I did?”

Cole raised an eyebrow. “Give me your phone.”

“Here,” Kevin said, retrieving the phone from his back pocket with a wince.

Cole flipped open the cellphone. “Dammit, your phone’s broke. Hey, what’s this all over it, Kev?” he asked, rubbing his fingers together.

“Don’t know, but my back’s on fire! I must have really gotten the shit kicked out of me by Phil.”

“Hang on, let me take a look.” Cole removed a small flashlight from his Kevlar vest. His worst fear illuminated like a crimson beacon as he pointed the bright white beam at the car. Blood streaked down the side of the vehicle to where Kevin sat, legs outstretched on the ground. He knelt beside his friend. “You’ve been hit.”

Kevin grimaced as he lifted his blood-soaked shirt.

Cole closed his eyes and sighed. The bullet did not go through and there’s a lot of blood. “Okay, Kev, I am going to lift you up and help you over into the light. I need to see your wound better.”


Cole helped the wounded Kevin to his feet and walked him over toward Phil’s truck. “Hang on a sec,” Cole said as he lowered the tailgate of the large truck. He assisted Kevin onto the slab of metal and then jumped up into the bed. Spinning a flood light, Cole directed the circular beam onto Kevin.

“How bad is it, doc?” Kevin asked, attempting to sit up.

“Shut up and lay still, Kevin,” Cole retorted. “I need you not to move too much.”


“This is going to hurt,” Cole said, rolling Kevin over on his uninjured side. “I have to find the bullet, if I can.”

Kevin groaned as Cole examined him. “You need to leave me right here and go find your family. I don’t deserve your help...”

“Shut it, Kev. Everyone knows you’re a self-serving dick, but even you don’t deserve to die. I’m going to get you to a hospital and then I’ll go find Frannie and the kids. Hopefully, Ben...”

“Ben? He has your kids. I heard Phil say so.”

“Yeah, I know. Ben has them and they’re safe. Well, minus that dog. Either way, they should be in Thompsonville.”

“So, Ben is in on this, too?”

“He’s my other partner.”

Kevin frowned. “I hope he knows he ain’t getting’ any of my money.”

“He don’t care.”

“Right...look, Cole, I don’t know what you are waiting on, man. But, you need to find Frannie and them and get your family away from that dog. I know that paperwork said the Unit is harmless until activated, but it ain’t worth risking all them for me.”

“Still not leaving you here like this, Kevin.”

“Fine, then take me to the medical clinic in Thompsonville and drop me off. I mean, I ain’t gonna argue with you since you say you still want to help me an’ all, but we both know what’s at stake here. I got nobody, anyways...”

“You’re not going to die, so stop talkin’ like that, martyr!” Cole cut off a piece of cloth from Kevin’s shirt and pressed it onto the man’s side. “Hold this!”

Kevin winced. “Just ask for Doc Andersen, if he’s around. He takes cash and don’t ask no questions. Tell him to cremate me if I don’t make it...I feel like my time is close.”

“Okay, drama queen, you ain’t fallin’ asleep, hear me? I need you to stay awake!” Cole managed to hoist Kevin into the passenger seat and closed the door. He jumped into the bed of the truck and threw out the two remaining hunters’ bodies. A $100 dollar bill, carried by the cool evening wind, wrapped itself around Cole’s leg as he jumped to the ground. He lifted the money and examined it. Looking around, he noticed Daniel inadvertently left a few bundles of $100′s lying in the mud. Cole raced over to the man’s body and snatched them up. “Definitely will need these...”

Patting Daniel down, Cole located a small Red Army issued officer’s pistol. He set it to the side and extracted an official-looking set of Chinese credentials from another jacket pocket. “MSS?” he muttered under his breath opening the small leather wallet. “Nope, Red Army. Hmmm, that’s interesting. General Daniel Shao...I suppose I should have known.”

“Tíngzhǐ!!!” shouted the last Chinese soldier, now appearing from the woods with his AK-47 leveled at Cole’s head.

Cole looked over at the pistol, estimating the probability of his survival if he went for it.


Cole flinched as a shot rang out. He opened his eyes and witnessed the soldier stumble backward with his mouth agape, rifle falling from his hands.


This time the man’s body tumbled to the ground as a bullet went through his head.

Cole looked behind him and found Kevin holding a hunting rifle.

“Are we even, yet?” Kevin asked shakily and then collapsed.

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