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Mercenaries Shadow and Red
By KOREY FICARA
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Korey Ficara
All rights reserved.
Getting the Job
It was a late afternoon in Camfield City. Gaivan Montello narrowed his eyes as he stepped out from his limo and stared up at Terrington General Hospital. A well-managed facility, offering the best care. Gaivan was here to see someone.
He noticed the peculiar looks people gave him and his men. They weren't comfortable seeing him, but he couldn't blame them. After all, Gaivan was an alleged crime boss. One who hadn't been convicted of any wrongdoing, but that didn't stop the rumors and suspicions from floating around. His short, brown hair had a few gray strands, but he was never one to worry about age. According to his father and his father before him, age was wisdom.
Yet if I'm so wise, how did I let this happen?
Another man followed him out of the limo. Simon Orpheus: Gaivan's second in command and most trusted companion. After adjusting his glasses, he followed Gaivan into the hospital. Orpheus had assured Gaivan that all of the necessary calls had been made and procedures taken to ensure that the police would not be involved any more than they had to.
The man Gaivan needed to see, Daniel Finn, laid in one of the many rooms on the third floor, covered in bandages. The only sound that could be heard was the repetitive beep from the electrocardiogram. The doctor overseeing the patient informed Gaivan that he was stable for the time being, but had suffered from a deep cut across his chest, and a stab wound located near the right lung.
"He's lucky the wound hadn't been anymore to the left," the doctor said.
Gaivan thanked the doctor and asked if Finn was well enough to speak.
"When he wakes up you can, but try not to rile him up or anything. We don't want him tearing his stitches."
The doctor then excused himself to check on another patient. Gaivan walked into the room, feeling dizzy from looking at the bland, white walls, and sat down in a chair next to the bed. There was another chair in the room, but Orpheus chose to stand next to Gaivan instead. The head of The Montello Family examined the bandages on Finn's chest, watching his chest fall and rise with the rhythmic breathing. Gaivan knew Finn needed rest, but Gaivan needed answers more. "Daniel," he said. "Daniel, can you hear me?"
The dark-skinned man's eyes slowly opened and looked over at Gaivan. "Mr. Montello?" he said drowsily. Suddenly, his eyes widened with realization. "Claire!" He shot up, but Gaivan put a hand on his chest, right above the bandages, holding him down.
"Settle down," Gaivan said. "The doctor said your wounds are just starting to heal. We don't want to risk making them worse."
"I'm sorry, boss," Daniel said, looking away. "I...."
"Mr. Finn," Orpheus said. "Can you tell us everything that you remember? Everything that happened in the apartment?"
There was a blank look on Finn's face as he hesitated. "Is Claire really gone? I could've sworn I put a few rounds into the guy's back."
Gaivan leaned closer. "Just tell us what happened."
Daniel took a deep breath. "We were all at the apartment. She was watching TV with Mike and Delgato. I was talking to Clemens in the kitchen, and ... I think Jack went to the bathroom.
"All of a sudden, we hear this crash. Glass breaking. Like someone came in through the window. We heard yelling, and Clemens and I pulled out our pieces and ran to the living room, but by the time we got there, we saw some guy slicing off Delgato's arm!" Finn stared at the foot of his bed as if he was hypnotized. "It just flew off and blood just started...."
"Who was it?" Orpheus showed no remorse for this news, unlike Gaivan who grounded his teeth together. Of course, Orpheus had already seen the bodies, but he was known for never showing emotion, even at the sickest news. Some of the men joked that Orpheus could listen to the experiences of every holocaust survivor without shedding a tear.
As cold as he was, it was one of the reasons Orpheus had been the Montello family's second in command for three generations.
"I don't know who it was," Finn answered. "It was ... a tall guy. He was white, short black hair, wore something white, like a robe maybe. And he had a sword." Finn swallowed before continuing. "We saw Mike on the floor, already dead I guess. The guy had finished off Delgato, and then Clemens and I shot at him, but ... goddamn he was fast. I could've sworn he blocked some of our bullets with that sword. Then ... it happened so fast. First he cut me, then he sliced up Clemens, and then he stabbed me here." He pointed to his wound. "I fell to the floor. I wasn't sure if Clemens was still alive, but I was in so much pain, I didn't know what was going on. I would have been dead too if Jack hadn't showed up. I guess he got done doing whatever he was doing in the can and shot the guy. But the guy ... man, he just turned around and threw his sword at him ... right through his head like a fucking arrow!"
Gaivan balled his hands into fists.
"I don't remember much else," Finn went on. "I think I was going in and out from the pain, but I think I remember seeing him pull his sword out from Jack's skull. Then there was screaming, and then it stopped."
"Who screamed?" Gaivan asked. "Was it Claire?"
"Yeah, but I don't think he hurt her. He probably knocked her out. That was when I ... I pulled myself together. He was about to jump out the window with her, and I shot him. I know I must have gotten at least three rounds into his back, and ...," his eyes stretched open. "Oh god...."
"Boss, I'm so sorry." Tears started to swell in Finn's eyes.
"He fell out the window ... with Claire. I'm so sorry...."
Gaivan looked up at Orpheus, who said, "Mr. Finn. We have examined the apartment and found the bodies of the rest of your team, but we searched the entire block and found no trace of the intruder or Claire."
Finn started to calm down. "You mean ... you mean they're not dead?"
Orpheus gave Gaivan a brief glance before answering. "I'm not sure, but there was no sign of blood outside the apartment, so I don't believe either of them fell to their death."
Finn leaned back in the bed, somewhat content.
"Mr. Montello?" The doctor entered the room. "I believe Mr. Finn needs his rest."
"Of course." He looked over at Finn. "Take it easy now, and let us handle things from here."
"Thank you, sir."
Gaivan got up and headed for the door.
"Mr. Montello," Finn said and waited for Gaivan to turn back to him. "I'm sorry."
Gaivan said nothing and left the room.
* * *
Finn's story seemed consistent with the scene they had found in the apartment, which had been nothing less than a complete wreck. Gaivan could only imagine what his daughter must have seen, how she must have felt to watch someone massacre his men. There had been so much blood on the walls, and he wondered if some of it had gotten on Claire.
He shuddered at the thought.
A deathly silenced loomed inside the limo as it traveled down the road. Orpheus was on his cellphone talking to someone back at the mansion. "Thank you," he said and hung up.
"It was Duvall, wasn't it?" Gaivan said.
"Duvall just called the mansion. He's taken responsibility for Claire's abduction."
Gaivan hated how Orpheus could be so calm, but understood that someone had to have a clear head in a situation like this. "What does he want?"
"He hasn't made any demands, but he has assured us that Claire is still alive. He allowed her to talk on the phone for a few seconds."
Gaivan imagined what Claire sounded like screaming through the phone. No. She wouldn't scream. She was stronger than that. But still....
"It seems Duvall just wanted to boast about it and make us stew for a while. For now, he's reminded us not to try anything stupid."
"Stupid?" Gaivan almost laughed. "We've been playing it smart this whole time, and look where we are now!"
Orpheus didn't even crack a smile. "So, sir, how would you like to proceed?"
Gaivan swallowed hard. "Call an emergency meeting at the mansion. I want every underboss there."
Gaivan looked out the window and watched the sidewalks. He saw a mother holding her child's hand as they walked happily on. Gaivan felt a pang of guilt. He hadn't taken his daughter anywhere lately, and now he may never get another chance.
* * *
At night, the place known as The Wild Side was alive like the Fourth of July. A club for partygoers and shady characters alike, it was pretty much a warehouse that had been modified into a dance floor, pub, and game center. However, you would never have known it used to be a warehouse if you hadn't seen it for yourself.
Outside, huge neon lights decorated the exterior with odd shapes and signs, including a sign that said 'The Wild Side' right at the front. The front door was covered with a line of people wanting in, and a bouncer admitting and refusing entry. Inside The Wild Side, lights filled the room with a multitude of colors, alternating between blue, red, purple, and green. The song, "Are You Gonna be my Girl," was the heartbeat of the club, at least for the moment, as it was belted out by a cover band.
The club was separated into three sections: a bar with tables and drunks, a game section that was mostly made up of pool tables and air hockey, and the dance floor, full of scantily clad women and mischievous men, either looking to get lucky or have a fun evening. It was just a nice, sociable place.
However, despite the friendly atmosphere, it was still a good idea to tread lightly. The people filling the place were mostly on the wrong side of the law: cutthroats, drug dealers, gamblers, muggers, and gang members to name a few.
But even if the natives weren't friendly, Red Trebbon was the guy everybody knew.
Red wasn't exactly a regular here since he had to be out of town most of the time, but luckily, taking out Denver had brought him back to this city of steel and mob warfare. Most mercenaries rarely came to this bar, but Red always stopped by to blow off some steam when he had the chance. He loved the music, the drinks, and the women. Even though he was only sixteen, he was welcomed. One of the 'official' rules for the place was that you had to be eighteen to get in, and twenty-one for the bar, but no one really cared about age. As long as you didn't look like you had just graduated from diapers, you were welcomed. No one asked for ID and, thanks to some dealings, it was never a problem for the police as long as nothing serious made it to the morning news.
Red sat at one of the tables, next to the wall but close to the dance floor, with both feet resting on the tabletop. He was with two lovely ladies: a blonde and a brunette. Red may have been underage, but he was no stranger to women, having lost his virginity at the solemn age of thirteen.
Despite seeing these ladies fairly often, Red always had a difficult time remembering their names. He kept wanting to call the blonde Dixie, but eventually remembered that that was the brunette's name. So who the hell was the blonde? Candy? Sounded close, but not quite right. Candy ... Candy ... Caramel ... Carmen! That's it! Her name was Carmen! That was one landmine he could avoid tonight.
As Red began to wonder how he was going to score a threesome tonight, he noticed a bald man approaching his table. The man was obviously not a regular since he was wearing a business suit and sunglasses. And I thought only me and Jack Nicholson could pull off wearing sunglasses at night, Red thought.
"Red Trebbon?" the man asked, speaking loud enough to be heard over the music. If the clothes hadn't said it, then the bald man's tone did: he was here for business.
"Excuse me, ladies," Red said to his companions, "Duty calls." The women giggled and left, looking for another man to flirt with. Red's bright red eyes scanned the gentleman from head to toe. Leaning back in his seat with his boots propped on the table, he said, "Well, either you want to sell me insurance, or you've got a job for me." The man nodded, but Red interrupted him before he could speak. "Let me guess. You're CIA, and you want me to go on a mission where the fate of the entire free world rests on my shoulders, right?"
"I'm not CIA," the man said, folding his hand behind his back.
"Surrrrre you're not," Red smiled. "That's what you guys are paid to say, right?"
"I am here as a representative for my employer who seeks your services."
Red raised an eyebrow. "Who?"
"Unimportant at this time, but you will be paid your usual fee."
"Okay, when does he want me to work?"
Red tilted his head. "Tonight? As in leave right now?"
"As in an hour from now."
"Shit!" Red shifted his feet off the table and planted them underneath. "I oughtta charge double for that! But tell you what; I'm in a good mood, so I'll let it slide ... if I'm interested."
The man stared at Red for a moment. "We need you to engage someone."
"As in fight, or marry?" Red let out a chuckle, but the man didn't seem amused at all. "Alright, alright. Who am I fighting?"
Red laughed again, a little harder this time. "You're kidding, right?"
"This individual is extremely dangerous, and we need you to capture him alive. You may use whatever means you deem necessary, as long as the ninja is not killed in the process. Otherwise, this contract will be void."
Red flashed a devilish grin. It wasn't often that he got to fight a ninja, and the fact he had to catch one alive seemed pretty exciting. He put on his sunglasses and said, "Okay. Where is he?"
* * *
Shadow could hear noises through the walls as he sat on the apartment floor. Despite the noise and the drafty atmosphere, Shadow maintained his breathing and posture as he meditated. Two floors above him, he could hear a woman moaning as the man inside her let out a joyful cry. A floor below him, two people shouted off answers to questions presented by some game show on TV. There were other random clamors coming from other rooms, but Shadow wasn't paying attention to any one sound in particular. He was listening to everything, making sure of his surroundings. He had to be careful and listen for any possible dangers. Only one person knew he was staying here, but in a business like this, you never knew what was going to happen.
Shadow's room was a void fit for his comfort. The clothing that made up his shozoku, his ninja outfit, was laid out neatly on the bed, along with the rest of his gear. The Last Dragon rested next to him in case he needed it. A television set and a lamp Shadow never turned on collected dust in the darkness. The only source of illumination was moonlight through the window, making Shadow's grey hair glisten. The room was far from perfect, but it would only be until another mission became available. In the meantime, he would work on it.
Shadow held his right hand in front of him. Looking at it, he began to focus and channeled his energy into the hand, and—
The phone rang for the first time in days. Shadow scowled at the interruption, but he got up and answered it anyway.
"Hello," he said, already knowing who it was.
"Shadow?" A familiar but sleazy voice said. "It's Bertram."
Bertram was an agent, someone who found contracts for mercenaries. Most mercenaries didn't enjoy relying on agents because they always charged a finder's fee. Shadow didn't use agents much himself, but for a different reason: he enjoyed finding his own work. Right now, however, Shadow didn't feel like job hunting. Of course, even when he did use an agent, he never used the same one twice, mostly for liability reasons.
"You have something for me?" Shadow asked.
"Yeah, not only that, but it's for you specifically. Somebody needs you to take down someone. Alive, not dead."
"Who's the client?"
"Doesn't say. Just got the message two minutes ago."
"Who's the target?"
"Not specified. A gun-nut. Very sharp marksman and martial artist. Should be up to your level. There's a catch, however. This contract is supposed to expire ... jeez, in 45 minutes!"
Strange. This wasn't the first time he had received a contract specifically for him, but to give him such a short time limit?
"Interesting," Shadow said, looking out the window. "Is the target here? In the city?"
"Yeah, at some abandoned gym."
Again, interesting. Giving him a time limit like this and having the target here in this city meant that this client knew, or at least suspected, that Shadow was residing in Camfield City. "Address?" Shadow asked.
"5107 Damascus Street."
"The usual, but only if you bring this guy down alive."
"What do I do with him afterwards?"
"That's what bugs me. It just says: 'further instructions will be given upon incapacitation of the target.' I'm telling you about this contract because it was meant for you, but I don't know. It sounds fishy. If I were you, I wouldn't take it."
"You're not me," Shadow said. "Tell the client that I accept. You'll get your fee by tomorrow."
"Thanks, I just—"
Shadow hung up the phone. He had to agree with Bertram on this one. A funny feeling gnawed at him, like something was amiss. Not wrong, but amiss. It could be a trap, but it felt more like a mission with more layers than what was being shown. In either case, an unexpected surprise just added more fun to the mission. Even if there wasn't a surprise, this "gun-nut" sounded like a motivating challenge.
Shadow got dressed, checked his gear, and left through the window.
Excerpted from Mercenaries Shadow and Red by KOREY FICARA. Copyright © 2013 by Korey Ficara. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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This book is a great read for just about everyone who likes to live life on the edge. The whole time that i was reading i was growing with the characters. I easily lost track of time when i picked up the book I would suggest it to a mid to high level age group and to all the super hero fan boys/girls too. so what are you waiting for stop reading my review and just buy the book already.