Copyright © 2012 by Johansen Publishing LLLP
Sai Tam Island, China
"WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY?" Venable, deputy director of the CIA, had his binoculars focused on the small cottage in the valley below. "Special Ops were supposed to go in from the rear fifteen minutes ago and take Hu Chang out of there."
"It's a difficult job," Agent Gregory said. "The place is surrounded by mercenaries. You told Special Ops they had to get Hu Chang out alive."
"You're damn right. We have to know how much he told them and what he gave them." Besides the fact that Catherine Ling, who was one of his best agents, would kill Venable if he allowed it to be bungled. She and Hu Chang had some kind of history. Even Venable wasn't sure exactly what it was. But, dammit, it wasn't Venable's fault that Hu Chang had gotten into this mess, and the CIA was having to pull him out.
Not that he wouldn't have had to go after him anyway if the story Venable's informant had told him was true. A potion that complex and dangerous had never been invented. It probably wasn't true, but why else was Hu Chang down there being tortured to make him talk? Venable couldn't take the chance.
"There they are," Gregory said as he went to the back of the helicopter and threw open the door. "We should be out of here in ten minutes."
The door of the cottage flew open and four men in Special Ops gear ran out. And in the middle of the group was a slim, dark-haired man in a torn tunic. Hu Chang.
"Yes." Venable watched as the Special Ops men fired back over their shoulders while they headed for the woods. Men were streaming out of the cottage.
Then Hu Chang and the special team had disappeared into the trees.
"They should reach the helicopter in three minutes," Gregory said. "I'll go tell the pilot to be ready to lift off."
Three minutes passed.
No Special Ops. No Hu Chang.
Another four minutes.
Venable began to curse.
Justin, the Special Ops commander, burst out of the trees and was climbing the rocks toward the helicopter. "Is he here?" he called. "I told him where you were in case we got separated. I can't find him."
"I can't find Hu Chang. When we reached the trees, he slipped away from us. One minute he was there, the next he was gone. He's not here?"
"No, he's not here."
"Then I'll go back for him."
More men running from the cottage to the woods.
"No, get your men back to the helicopter. You're outnumbered. Just lay down protective fire to keep anyone away from the helicopter."
"What about Hu Chang? He was my mission, dammit."
"Evidently he didn't want to be your mission," Venable said. "And I'm not going to lose any of your men because he endangered you by this stupidity. We'll give him ten minutes, then we're out of here."
"They'll surround the area around the helicopter. He won't be able to get through."
"That's his problem. Go get your men."
The bullet had entered Hu Chang's side, piercing flesh and muscle. The pain was blunt and brutal.
He fell to his knees as the second bullet tore past his ear. Then he was behind the rocks, crawling toward the helicopter balanced on the side of the cliff.
"Get the hell over here. Stay low. I can't risk anyone else coming out in this sniper cross fire," Venable shouted above...
Author: Iris Johansen
IRIS JOHANSEN is the New York Times bestselling author of Eve, Quinn, Bonnie, Chasing The Night, Eight Days to Live, Blood Game, Storm Cycle (w/Roy Johansen), Silent Thunder (w/Roy Johansen), Deadlock, Dark Summer, Pandora's Daughter, Quicksand, Killer Dreams, On The Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, No One To Trust and more.