Spear Garden

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Chapter 56

Outside Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant

14:04 (11:04 GMT)

July 3rd

Blake and the marines scattered on the road for cover. They kept their weapons down in a non-threatening position.

“Hold your fire,” Blake shouted.

“Captain, do you have a white piece of cloth or something. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding on our intentions.”

“I think we’re past that, Mr. MacKay. The captain rolled onto his back and patted his vest. “I don’t have anything.” he turned to one of his men. “Lieutenant, tear off part of your t-shirt.”

“It’s green, Captain.” He reached into his back pocket. “I do have a handkerchief though.” He pulled it out and handed it to the captain. “Don’t worry, it’s clean.”

Blake took the handkerchief and tied it to the barrel of his rifle. Bullets harmlessly plinked on the ground in front of them.

With the rifle in the air, the firing stopped. “Okay, let’s move.”

Everyone got to their feet and started to walk slowly to the gate. As they got closer, one of the perimeter guards shouted.

“Stop!” came the order in English.

Blake held up his hands, his rifle in one of them with the handkerchief hanging down the barrel. He motioned for the rest of the team to do the same. “Please, we’re here to help. We have very important information. It’s about an assassination attempt on your president. First Deputy Prime Minister Roshenko can verify it.”

The guard leaned down to his mic on his shoulder and spoke into it.

A minute had passed and a half dozen more men came to the fence. Finally, the gate opened and the Belarusian soldiers, plus a handful of KGB, approached Blake.

Blake turned to the captain, while keeping an eye on the KGB. He spoke softly. “Tell your men to keep calm. Weapons down, otherwise, this could get ugly.”

They had their weapons drawn but Blake and his men still stood in a non-threatening manner. The KGB agent in charge asked, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

“My name is Blake MacKay and I work for the U.S. Government. There is going to be an attempt on your president’s life and we have proof that your prime minister is behind it.”

The agent scoffed at Blake. “Prime Minister Shorets? Bah, ridiculous. He’s been here all morning. Let me see proof.”

“Call the first deputy prime minister, he’ll verify it. We need to get Mr. Shorets in custody. He is holding someone here prisoner and I want to make sure that he doesn’t harm her.”

The KGB agent used his radio to call his commanding officer. When he finished his conversation, he studied Blake with a discerning eye and then looked over his shoulder to the men behind him.

“My commanding officer is calling Mr. Roshenko to verify your story.”

“Okay, great. In the meantime, can we proceed towards your prime minister?”

Blake started to move but the agent pushed Blake back.

“No.”

The Belarusian soldiers emphasized their control with a quick shake of their weapons. Some chambered rounds. The closest one walked up to the head agent and stopped less than six inches away from Blake. One of the Marines whispered, “shit.”

Blake stopped. “Okay. We’ll do it your way.” He swiped the rifle away from the young soldier and slammed him in the head with the butt of the weapon. He pulled the KGB agent in close and turned him to face his comrades.

Blake pointed the weapon at the other soldiers. Some were extremely young. By the whites of their eyes, Blake suspected they’d never been in a situation like this before and had no idea what to do. He had to be careful not to set one off that might have an itchy trigger finger. He leaned into the agent and said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t catch your name.”

“Ivan.”

“Well, Ivan. We don’t have time to sit around. We’ll just have to go ahead and move inside.”

The agent’s radio chimed.

“Can I get that? That is my commanding officer.”

Blake held onto the agent while he spoke on the radio. He finally ended the call. When he did, he told his men to stand down. Once Blake saw all of the weapons lowered and the soldiers more at ease, he let him go.

“So my story checks out. Your C.O. talked to Roshenko?”

“Not exactly. There has been an attack in downtown Minsk. It was an EMP. Not all, but many cell towers are down and they can’t get in touch with Roshenko. My commanding officer did confirm there was a strange aircraft in Minsk that emitted the pulse. Prior to letting the aircraft emit the pulse, we were in touch with your President Pennington and they were able to back up what you said.” With his turned down mouth, the man appeared saddened. “It is a sad day for Belarus. Follow me.”

Blake and the marines followed the KGB agent and other soldiers in double-time to the front of the plant where Oleg Shorets was going to be giving his speech

***

“Why aren’t those monitors working? Why can’t we hear what’s going on in Minsk?” Oleg cried.

The technicians scrambled to find out why they lost their feed to Minsk when one of them replied, “Mr. Prime Minister, everything here is working correctly. Something must have happened in Minsk. We can’t get ahold of anyone there to tell us if something has gone wrong. No one is answering their phones.”

Oleg thought that the weapons went off and now Minsk was a war zone. Any moment, he would be getting the call that the president has been killed and a terrible terrorist attack has fallen upon the people of Belarus. He would rise up and assume the role of president and start to get the country back to its former glory. His first act would be to show the images of the dead terrorists and let his people know that they were quickly brought to justice, without mercy for their atrocities.

Oleg was about to yell at the technicians again when he saw over a dozen soldiers coming towards him, followed by nearly the same amount of U.S. Marines and a man that he most definitely didn’t expect to see alive.

Oleg jumped off the stage and ran towards the nearest KGB agent. He ripped his AN-94 assault rifle from his hands, pointed it towards Blake and opened fire. Bullets pelted the ground. A ricochet went through the head of a spectator. People screamed and overturned chairs as they ran. The Belarusian soldiers were the first to return fire. Two of the technicians dropped dead off the stage.

***

Blake kept his eye on Oleg as he ran into the plant.

He grabbed Ivan’s shoulder, “You get with your men and let them know what the situation is. I’ll follow Shorets. I think I know where he is going.”

Ivan nodded. “I’ll need one of my men to go with you.” Ivan waved to one of his other men and ordered him to follow Blake. They ran into the plant in pursuit of Shorets.

When they entered the plant, they heard the clank of feet upon metal stairs.

“He’s gone down the stairs,” Blake said.

After only three steps down, bullets plinked off the railing. The other agent returned fire with two three-round bursts.

“Hold your fire! He’s got a prisoner down there and we don’t know where she’s at.” The agent nodded at Blake as the sound of steps continued to echo up the stairwell.

They ran down the stairs skipping every other one. Once at the bottom, they turned to their left. “Dead end,” Blake said. They turned right down a long hallway. The hall was lined with doors on both sides. “Careful.” They moved slowly down the corridor. Blake scanned the sides for any sign of movement.

Up ahead was a corner. Blake focused his attention on it. If anyplace was good for an ambush, that was it. They were completely exposed.

He saw movement up ahead, to the right.

“Gun! Get down!”

Blake hit the deck just as the weapon opened fire. He returned fire and placed three rounds in the wall next to where the fire came from. The weapon disappeared around the corner and he heard footsteps run away.

Blake sprang to his feet and ran. “Come on.” When he reached the corner, he heard nothing from the guard that followed him. He turned back and saw the man lying on his back. Blood pooled on the cold concrete around his head. Blake let out a sigh.

Step by step he moved slowly down the hall. A faint scream brought him to a halt. He listened. Another scream. He picked up his pace until he came to a steel door on his left. It wasn’t an ordinary steel door. It had a steel frame and was reinforced with a second panel of steel welded to the front. It looked more like the door to a safe than a room.

Blake knelt down on the right side of the door and tried the handle. It was unlocked. Another scream came from inside. He opened the door a crack. A bullet ricocheted off the inside handle. Another scream echoed from the room.

“Adriana?”

“Blake? Blake, I’m in here!”

“Shut-up,” said Shorets. “Open that door and I’ll shoot.”

“You don’t want to do that,” Blake said. “That first shot ricocheted in that room. You’re lucky it didn’t come back and hit either of you.”

“I’ll shoot her in the head.”

“Wait! Just wait a second.”

Blake stood up. He took a deep breath and pictured what side Adriana might be on. Was he left or right handed?

“Don’t come in! I’ll kill her.”

Blake could sense the desperation in his voice. “You won’t have a hostage then. There will be nothing to prevent me from killing you. Just hold on one—”

With his rifle raised, Blake kicked the door open. He pointed it at his target. Oleg stood on the far side of the room with Adriana in front of him with his weapon pressed to her head.”

“It’s over, Shorets.”

Oleg smirked, “You mean president, don’t you Mr. MacKay?”

Blake tilted his head and said, “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Remember when all of your screens went dark outside and you couldn’t reach anyone in Minsk? It wasn’t because your weapons devastated everything, it’s because we used an EMP to disable them. Everything else electronic got fried too, I’m afraid; unfortunate collateral damage, but damage that can be fixed nonetheless.”

“You are lying!”

“I’m happy to say that I’m not.”

Blake actually had no idea if their plan had been a success or not, he hadn’t received word from the president, or anyone else for that matter, and it would probably be awhile since the EMP disrupted communications for miles around. Blake said, “You need to put the gun down, let the girl go and take your medicine.”

“I don’t need to take any medicine Mr. MacKay and I’m not letting her go. As of right now, I am the president of Belarus. I am going to walk out of this room and out of this plant, and when I do, I am going to have you arrested.”

Blake casually looked at Oleg’s right leg. It was the only thing not protected by Adriana’s body. “I have a proposition for you, Mr. Shorets.”

“You are in –”

Blake lowered the barrel of his rifle and pulled the trigger. A single shot blew through Oleg’s right knee.

Oleg screamed as he backed up to the wall. Adrianna twisted out of his grip and darted to her left. Oleg pressed his weight to the wall to prevent from crumpling to the floor. With clinched teeth, he raised his weapon. Blake put three quick rounds into the center of Oleg’s chest. The impact slammed him back into the wall. Oleg looked off into the distance as the life faded from his body. A smear of blood stained the cold concrete as he slid down to the floor.

Adriana ran to Blake. He took out his knife and cut her bonds. They heard a group of people coming down the hall. As much as he wanted to hold Adriana and comfort her, he pushed her away and stepped over to Oleg.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Looking for intel.”

Blake searched Oleg’s pockets and retrieved a small notebook. He put it away just as the KGB agents rushed into the room. Blake stood up and put his hands in the air until he saw Master Sergeant, Olsky walk into the room, who was the first to speak. “Everything is under control up top. First Deputy Roshenko is taking charge. We still haven’t heard any word from Minsk.”

Blake nodded and said, “And we aren’t going to if that EMP went off. We’ll have to drive to Lithuania to make sure we can get cell service. Nothing there should have been affected by the EMP. How far are we from the boarder?”

One of the KGB agents answered, “You’re approximately fifty kilometers from Vilnius and less than thirty kilometers from the border.”

“Okay. Thanks. I need a car.”

Aleksandr Roshenko walked into the room and said, “You can take the prime minister’s car. He won’t be needing it.”

Blake stepped over to Roshenko and held out his hand. “Thanks for your help.”

“My pleasure, Mr. MacKay. We were able to escape what would have been a tragic event for Belarus.”

Blake nodded and turned to Adriana. He held out his held, which she took. Blake turned to the captain and said, “I’ll be back soon to let you know what I’ve found out. It shouldn’t be any longer than ninety minutes.”

The Marine nodded. “We’ll be waiting.”

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