Agent Hill: Reboot, страница 1часть #2 серии Agent Hill
Agent Hill: Reboot
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Table of Contents
Agent Hill: Reboot
Link to FREE Prequel- Agent Hill: Off the Grid- Click here
Link to FREE Prequel- Agent Hill: Off the Grid- Click here
Link to Book 2- Agent Hill: Powerless- Click here
Four Months Ago
Dust devils swirled the orange-brown sand in tiny, menacing cyclones in the fastness that was the Iraq desert. Nothing but rolling, shifting sand as far as the eye could see, with the sun piercing through the blue sky and casting its heat over whatever living things existed in the harsh environment. Aside from herself, Sarah couldn’t see anything except the occasional scorpion. “This convoy knows I have somewhere to be tomorrow, right?”
“I don’t know if they got the memo,” Bryce answered.
Agent Sarah Hill had her belly rested on the ground, camouflaged under a mixture of clothes and netting, peering through the scope of her fifty-caliber sniper rifle. Her body was baked from the sun, burnt to a nice crisp. She wiggled underneath her cover, breaking apart the slabs of concrete that had become her joints and muscles. “I’ve had to pee for the past forty-five minutes.”
“I told you to go before you got set up, but you didn’t listen,” Bryce said.
“Thanks, Mom.” Sarah shifted the scope slightly left, scanning farther down the winding patch of dirt she had studied for the past three hours. A flash of sunlight against glass flickered, along with patches of dust kicked up from vehicles. “About time.” She wiggled her fingers on her right hand, trying to rid herself of their numbness.
“No plate, but the car description matches,” Bryce said. “And I don’t imagine there are too many Mercedes driving around in these parts.”
“For someone who tells his followers about being humble, he sure picked a hell of a car to practice his humility,” Sarah said.
“Remember, wait until the ex—”
“Don’t shoot until we have the visual. I got it.” Feeling returned to Sarah’s hands, and the smooth, curved surface of the trigger glided over the tips of her fingerless gloves. The crosshairs of the scope followed the caravan until it came to a stop six hundred yards from her position.
“Okay, we’ve got movement in the south,” Bryce said. “Four cars heading to intercept.”
“Say what you want about terrorists’ moral choices, but the bastards are punctual.” Bashir Mubar stepped out of the black Mercedes, accompanied by his security detail. Sarah moved the scope over the cut of their fine suits, ties, and polished shoes. “These guys always look like they’re heading to prom.”
“They’re just dressing professionally,” Bryce said. “Unlike some field agents.”
“Whoa. First off, I’m the most professionally dressed agent out here.”
“You’re the only agent out there.”
“Second off, a field agent’s attire’s primary objective is functionality, not style. I’ll take my Kevlar-woven jacket over a blouse any day of the week.”
“And when you’re not on a mission?”
Sarah gave a light shrug. “The jacket’s black. Black goes with everything.” The second party came into view, and one of Mubar’s associates held the silver case. “I’ve got eyes on the codes.” Sarah shifted her legs impatiently, her finger itching over the trigger. Her target and the man with the briefcase chatted back and forth. Her eye drifted from the scope to the watch on her wrist. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, do it already.”
“I’ve got more movement one thousand yards to your south,” Bryce said.
“Good movement or bad movement?”
“Shit. It’s US military.”
“I thought you said they didn’t have intel for this?”
“That’s because they didn’t.”
Sarah pivoted the crosshairs over the heads of the goons below. She counted twelve total, all armed with automatic weapons. “Put a digital signature on the case.”
“What? Why?” Bryce asked.
“’Cause we’re going to need to track it.” The crosshairs fell over Mubar’s head, and Sarah squeezed the trigger. The recoil from the rifle reverberated into her shoulder and down her back, while her target’s head burst in a shower of blood, brains, and bones. She shifted the barrel of the rifle half an inch left, bringing the man with the briefcase into view, who ducked back into the vehicle before she could shoot.
“US convoy only five hundred yards out,” Bryce said. “They’ve got a lot of chatter going on about your shots.”
“Time to move.” Sarah’s shoulders and elbows popped as she pushed herself off the ground, flinging up sand and the sheets of camouflage. She sprinted to a clump of brush, the large rifle gripped firmly in her hands and resting over her shoulder. Once the debris had been swept away, she jumped into the desert buggy and tossed the rifle into the empty passenger seat.
“Case is on the move, heading northwest,” Bryce said.
Sarah cranked the engine to life and slammed her foot on the accelerator. The buggy kicked up a spray of sand and bounced wildly over the mounds of orange and yellow granules, Sarah’s head and shoulders rocking in motion with each bump along the way. Sarah stiffened her arms, forcing the vehicle steady despite its protest. “I really should have taken the Hummer for this one.”
“Troops one hundred yards out,” Bryce said.
The dune buggy engine whined as Sarah shifted gears, picking up speed. To her left, she saw the sand kicked up by the US convoy heading to intercept. She pulled her mobile out and placed it on the dash holder. “Send the case tracker GPS to my phone.” The screen lit up, and the map of her location along with a red-and-green dot appeared. The red dot blinked only a few hundred yards away. “Keep an eye out for any ordnance strikes.”
“You’re in the clear for now. I don’t think this was planned. It’s just a team out on patrol.”
“Lucky me.” The trail of dust and sand kicked up by the black sedan blew into Sarah’s face as the red dot approached a small village. “Bryce, I need a population and structure count. And check to see if these bastards have any friends in the area that could turn up.”
“Copy that. Small town, only a few hundred citizens. No modern cement and steel structures. Just sand, mud, and whatever scrap they could find to help prop up their roofs.”
Wind and sand whipped Sarah’s face, neck, and arms, swirling into the buggy in hot streaks, stinging the exposed skin. Her eyes flitted to the watch on her wrist, then she shifted into fifth gear. She wasn’t going to miss her flight home. Not this time.
With the front of Sarah’s buggy in line with the rear bumper of the sedan, one of the henchmen swung his upper body out the backseat window, wielding a machine gun. Sarah swerved right. Bullets ripped through the open air of the exposed buggy, narrowly missing her. The vibrations from the dunes caused her arm to shake as she pulled one of the Colt 1911s from her shoulder holster and fired through the whirling sand. The .45 bullet pierced the man’s skull, and he fell from the window, his body rolling in a storm of arms and legs upon impact with the sand.
Sarah aimed for the sedan’s tires, blowing out both passenger-side wheels. The sedan jerked left and right, stru
The Mercedes crumpled from the front bumper all the way to the windshield, which cracked and splintered like a spider web. The two remaining passengers stumbled out, cuts across their faces, the driver still holding the silver briefcase in his hand.
The dune buggy skidded to a stop next to the Mercedes, bringing with it a shroud of dust that Sarah used for cover as she wielded both pistols. The henchmen were dead before their bodies hit the sand. Sarah pried the briefcase from the morbid hand it was attached to and tossed it into the buggy.
“Troops will be in your position in less than three minutes,” Bryce said.
“No time for a quick tour? I was hoping to buy some property out here. I could probably get a good deal.” The buggy provided little cover, exposing Sarah’s legs and body. When she sat down, three insurgents stormed from the house the Mercedes had turned to rubble. Sarah reached for the shifter when the first bullet smacked her left shoulder. The force of the impact knocked her backward. She reached for her Colt with her right arm then fired into the cluster of men when a second bullet entered the side of her right knee, tearing through the joint and cartilage.
With bullets still volleying back and forth, Sarah slammed her left foot on the accelerator and sped off through the village. Blood dribbled from the wound on her shoulder, running down her chest and stomach, while grains of sand flew into the torn and shattered bone and flesh that was her knee. “I thought you said this place was clear?” Sarah struggled to keep the wheel steady with one hand, weaving in and out among people, carts, and houses in her path.
“It was,” Bryce answered. “That village is nothing but farmers and shepherds.”
More insurgents jumped from buildings in scattered patches, all of them wielding rifles or machine guns. Sarah fired into the rain of lead blasting her path, forcing her left arm and shoulder to steady the wheel while she provided cover fire for herself. The pressure increased the blood loss, and spurts of crimson gushed out of her shoulder. Her head felt light, weightless. She forced her eyelids up from closing. Her mind struggled to stay alert.
“Roadblock up ahead,” Bryce said. “Rocket launchers and fifty calibers.”
“This place is definitely not getting my vote for Village of the Year.” Sarah shifted gears and winced. She saw the insurgents clustered up ahead. A narrow cut through opened up to her right twenty yards before the roadblock, and she made a hard right, the buggy dancing on two wheels during the turn.
The buggy was small enough to maneuver through the narrow path clustered with walls and scrap. With each turn of the wheel and shift of the gears, the pain in her shoulder and leg sharpened.
“US troops just entered the village,” Bryce said. “They’ve engaged the hostiles.”
“I guess they didn’t want me having all the fun.” The heat beating down on Sarah suddenly disappeared and was replaced by a chill running up her back. She felt her grip on the steering wheel loosen, and her eyes drifted closed. The buggy veered left and crashed into the side of one of the huts. The mud wall crumbled along with the roof and covered Sarah in a crushing weight of debris.
An echo sounded in Sarah’s ear, and her eyes flitted open. Bits of dirt and sand caked her eyelashes, and she could see the sun through cracks in the debris covering her. She shifted her arms and legs under the immense earth, and the screaming in her ear grew louder. She pushed her right arm through to the surface and leveraged herself off the buggy’s seat. With only the use of the one arm, she dragged herself over the buggy’s hood and collapsed house and stumbled to the ground, her right leg dragging behind her.
“Sarah! Move! You’ve got insurgents on your six!”
Still delirious and light headed, covered in sand, mud, and blood, Sarah picked up the suitcase and limped through the village. “I could use an evac right about now, Bryce.”
Bullets punched holes in the building to Sarah’s left, and she ducked right behind the cover of a wall of an abandoned, dilapidated hut with whatever agility she could muster. She set the briefcase down and unholstered her sand-covered pistol with a grainy left hand. “Sooner would be nice.” Her mind drifted in and out of consciousness, but the gunshots brought a brief surge of adrenaline. She leaned out from behind the wall and squeezed off two quick rounds. The bullets connected to the terrorists’ flesh, then she disappeared back behind the wall and popped the locks on the briefcase.
“What are you doing?” Bryce asked.
“Letting you get a scan of what’s inside.” She spread out the documents, dozens of papers listing when and where the next organized attack would happen. “Let me know when you have a good read.”
Sarah tossed the documents back into the case, leaving the top open. She reached for her belt, pulling out a lighter, and torched a corner of the papers. The flame spread across the page, crumpling it into black ash. She tossed it into the case with the rest, and the other papers burned with it. Sarah reached her finger out to examine the wound on her knee, scraping away the dirt and sand to get a better look. The bullet had gone clean through. She grimaced as her finger brushed the edge of the exit wound.
The gunfire in the distance grew harsher, faster. Explosions rocked the ground as the US troops collided with the insurgents using whatever grenades and missiles they had. From her position near the wall, she could see the trucks of the military push their way down the street. They kept a steady pressure, but she knew it wouldn’t be long before one of the units made its way down the side road to check for her location. “I’d like to get out of here before the good guys decide to shoot me, Bryce.”
Sarah poked her head around the corner again and saw a three-man team of US soldiers following the mayhem her buggy had unleashed. Shit. She planted her left foot firmly in the ground and drove herself up the side of the wall, her back grinding against the dried mud and sand. With all her weight on one leg, she felt like her good knee would break from the pressure. She checked her left hand. While she was able to make a fist, she had trouble rotating her shoulder. She forced her palm onto the handle of her second pistol. The Colt trembled slightly in her grip. She squeezed harder, and the shaking stopped. Helicopter blades thumped through the air, and she looked for her escape route.
“Thirty yards north, Sarah. Move!”
Sarah pushed herself off the back side of the wall, her right foot dragging behind her when she wasn’t using it to steady her pace on the grinding run. She weaved in and out of the huts, using them for cover as much as she could. Bullets zipped past her. She fired back, carefully, making sure each shot was close enough to cause the soldiers to slow down but leaving enough space to ensure she didn’t misfire and hit one of them.
The thump of the helicopter blades grew louder and kicked up sand in her face. She squinted her eyes as the grainy beads of earth whipped against her skin and clothes, stinging the bullet wounds on her body. Cover fire from the chopper blasted through the air. Through the thick gusts of sand, she saw a hand extended; she reached for it and felt the strong arm pull her onto the chopper’s deck. The gunshots faded, and she felt the chopper quickly lift into the air. The wind swirled what bits of sand remained on Sarah. She lay there on the deck, her eyes flitting open and closed.
“Sarah? Hey, stay with me.”
Sarah recognized the voice and felt a tug on her shoulder and arm. She kept her eyes open long enough to see that Vince was patching up her knee. “They sent you? I might as well have been saved by the local police. I was wondering what was taking so long.”
Vince cracked a smile. He ripped the fabric from her shoulder, exposing the bullet wound, and began to clean it. “Yeah, well, they were busy res
“Women drivers,” Sarah said, shaking her head. A flood of pain hit her as Vince dug the metal pliers into her shoulder and pulled the bullet out. “In all fairness, I didn’t try to hit the buildings.”
“You don’t try to do a lot of things, Sarah,” Vince said. “Yet here we are.”
Sarah faded in and out of consciousness. Images of her brother and her parents flashed in her mind. She couldn’t think of why until Vince hit a nerve ending in her shoulder that shot a rush of pain-laced adrenaline through her body. She propped herself up with her elbows. “I need to get home.”
“You need to get to surgery if you want to be able to walk again,” Vince said.
Sarah wrenched his shirt collar. “The funeral. It’s tomorrow. I need to be there.”
Vince placed his hand over hers and gently removed the strong claw that had the speed and tenacity to kill him without even trying. “I have orders to get you patched up.”
Sarah fell back to the deck of the chopper and remained motionless, her body only responding to the spasms of pain from Vince’s prep work for surgery. All she could think about was her brother, sitting there in the church, alone, carrying the burden of burying their parents without her.
White light crept into Sarah’s pupils, momentarily blinding her as she opened her eyelids. Her mind felt groggy, her body uncoordinated. She lifted her head with a strained effort and saw her left shoulder and arm in a sling and her knee wrapped in a soft cast. She gave her quad a bend and was rewarded with a sharp pain that stole the breath from her body. A large curtain surrounded her, and it was suddenly ripped back, and a group of nurses surrounded her.
“How are you feeling, Ms. Francis?” the nurse asked.
It took Sarah a moment to process the information. Mary Francis was one of the aliases she used in her international travel. “I’m fine. What’s today’s date?”