My lungs burn and my muscles ache as I charge up the hill toward the coordinates Ford dispatches to my GPS, as fast as my legs will take me.. He's a brilliant strategist, so I trust in Jackson's knowledge and that the vantage point he's selected for me to set up and take my shot, will be a prime position..
West and Paxton conduct their check ins and I receive the transmission through the small high tech earpiece that Paxton and the CIA provided.. West's voice is the first I hear, his breathing shallow as if he is on the move.. "Encountered hostiles, south-east entrance. Alpha one - clearing the way..."
A few seconds later, Paxton's response comes through.. "Bravo team, approaching check point one.."
My legs continue to pump, my blood rushes in my ears and my adrenaline starts to kick in as I reach the halfway point of the steep incline, I push through the burn and make my check in through heaving breaths.. "Alpha two.. almos' in position.."
I'm a few feet from to the hills peak when Paxton's target objectives come through.. "Primary objective - capture target alive, then secure the asset.."
I reach the crest of the hill as my GPS bleeps to indicate I have reached the correct location.. When I look down over the flats below I can see a lock up compound all lit up against the black skyline.. Figures move about in the uncovered windows of a second story room.. I drop to my knees, swinging the rifle from my shoulder, I shift my weight moving to my stomach, steading the weapon with one hand underneath, one on the trigger as it stretches out in front of me..
I bring the scope to my eye..
The sight I see is gutting.. Sickening..
West's voice crackles in my ears.. "Alpha one - in position.. Are you seeing this Alpha two, Bravo?.."
I'm seeing it alright, my sweet, innocent Yevie, exposed and held down by two of the Senators henchmen, while Michael Ryan himself stands over her miniscule form, reaching into his pants.. Bile rises in my throat and Paxton's voice comes through, loud and panicked..
"Hold your fire.. forty-five seconds, Bravo approaching final position.." Paxton orders..
I'm not waiting another second, and I'm positive West knows that, it would explain his great rush to get into position.. I inhale deeply holding my breath while lining the senator up in my crosshairs and at the base of a slow exhale my finger squeezes against the trigger.. I feel no remorse, no doubt, no regret in my mind.. The action is as simple to me as flicking a switch, exactly as I was trained..
The crack of the rifle rings in my ears and the recoil of the stock sends a familiar shapr jolt through my set shoulder as my shot lands dead on target.. It always does..
"Shit.. Alpha team go!" West orders Alpha team to move in while I line up the henchmen holding Yevie and fire off two more rounds, taking them both down..
"God Damn it! Bravo team, move!" Paxton and West both order their forces to storm the building.. I fire off more rounds, taking out as many of the swarming guards around Yevie as possible, though they seem to just keep coming.. After downing several more, I drop my rifle and push up to my feet, taking off at a sprint down the hill towards the compound, cold wind whipping at my face..
In a matter of minutes my boots are pounding their way through the compound gates, my adrenaline spiking as a guard rushes me from the side.
I sweep low, taking out his leg with a kick, while simultaneously pulling the knife strapped to my side.. I stab the thin blade into his neck as his back hits the ground, his death instantaneous..
I stand and take off running again, now approaching the same entry point that West and Ford had used only a few minutes ago..
As I push through the entry I see the maze of corridors lined with lockups, and there is a red chalk like substance scattered across the floor that Ford has dropped to mark their way through.. I follow the scarlet trail through the humid halls until I reach a steep, narrow staircase, the sound of gunshots and men shouting growing louder with every step.. I take the stairs two at a time and shoulder my way through the door..
Paxton rappels through the window at the far end of the room at the same time as I bust through the door.. We both pull our pistols and begin moving towards Yevette who is crouched behind an overturned bench, her terror filled eyes flicking between her assailants and our guys as she watches the nightmare unfold..
The Senators bodyguard, Ramirez, stands behind a support column a few feet away from her, firing on his own men.. I don't understand his flip, but I don't really give fuck either..
I continue making my way across the room, keeping my head down and my back to the wall, but two more guards block my path.. Their numbers are dwindling now but they must be well paid goons, because they just won't quit!
I lift my pistol and I fire twice, both shots hitting one of the hostiles in the chest, but the other guy manages to get the drop on me and delivers a blinding uppercut to my jaw, kicking the pistol from my grip..
Shaking it off, I close the distance between us and manage to get an arm around his neck..
I twist my body and drop to the ground, his spine cracking with a hollow crunch as I bring his backbone down into my bent knee, he screeches in pain as I shove his broken frame to the ground, pushing back up just in time to see Paxton approach Ramirez..
Yevie watches them as she rises to her feet..
"Yevie!" My shout echoes across the room and her head spins in my direction.. Her expression is apologetic and I shake my head at her, scrambling now to make it over to where she stands..
But she doesn't wait for me.. She runs over and plants herself between Paxton and Ramirez.. "Hunter, no! Don't shoot him!"
She holds out her arms, protecting the bodyguard, I fully expect him to grab her, take her hostage, to use her to get himself out of here... But instead, he drops his weapon and lifts his arms in surrender..
The series of events that follows happen as if in slow motion.. I am still several feet away from her as I watch Anderson Daley rise, a crumpled mess, from the floor beside Yevie, a bloodstained hunting knife in his hand.. I draw my second pistol, but Yevie's turned back blocks my sightline.. I can't take the shot without putting her at risk, she's too close..
"DIE YOU LITTLE BITCH!" Anderson growls, lunging towards her..
Yevie sees him and spins to face him, right as the knife plunges into her stomach.. Her mouth falls open and her face freezes in shock.. Her tiny hands go to her wounded abdomen as she slowly slumps to the ground.. My heart plummets and my body works overtime to move faster..
"No!!" My body crashes into Anderson's and I begin to pummel his face into the floor, my fists swinging over and over again until his face couldn't be recognised as a face anymore..
His blood stains my hands which shake from the intensity of my rage..
"O'CONNOR!" Jackson's voice breaks through my blood-fueled rampage.. "He's dead, brother..Stop.."
My head snaps up, eyes immediately going to Yevie, she is trembling on the floor, the colour draining from her face.. West sits beside her, applying pressure to stem the flow of blood while we wait for the medics..
Behind her, Ford has Ramirez in cuffs and both their faces are ashen with worry as they stare down at Yevie..
I push away from Anderson's mangled corpse and crawl over to her.. She looks up at me, shivering so much that her teeth chatter.. But she smiles at me.. "Paddykins.. You.. did it.."
I shake my head.. I don't know what the hell she thinks I did that makes her smile..
Because all I did was fuck everything up and now the woman I love is bleeding out in my arms..
"I did somethin' princess.. Somethin' stupid.." I choke on the words.. Trying to swallow my fear and comfort her instead..
She huffs, struggling to speak each syllable.. "W-what.. What.. stupid.. thing.. did you.. Do?"
I look down at her.. So fragile, so helpless.. Yet there is no fear in her eyes anymore..
"I didn't tell you that I love you Yevette.. And I do.. I love you princess.. Just hang on.."
"Oh.." She sighs softly.. Then she begins to cough and splutter, tiny droplets of her crimson blood spray across my outstretched forearms..
"Hmmmphh... Hunter?.. Hunter.." She whispers his name over and over.. I don't understand it, she wants to give her possible final words to him? Why?
As jealous as that makes me, I shove my own feelings aside and call out to Paxton.. "Axe!"
He comes running over, dropping to his knees next to me beside her head, which I cradle in my lap.. "Yevie? Sweetheart.. Fuck, I'm here.. You're gonna be alright love.."
Her mouth moves but her voice is barely a breath and neither of us can hear her words.. Paxton leans his ear down close to her lips to listen while I watch on, heartsick at the sight of her and completely confused..
The medics sweep into the room and rush over to where we all sit around her, just as her eyes slip closed they shoo us away and begin to work on her..