Authors: Austin Camacho
Copyright September 2011 by Austin S. Camacho
All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, and photographic including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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“It's going to be a long five minutes,” Paul said, shifting his shoulders under his heavy blue sport coat.
“True,” Morgan replied, stepping out the hotel door, “and with any luck, we'll all survive them.”
Morgan Stark walked point. A tall, wary black man, he glanced both ways before moving down the street. Noon was still a few minutes away but he could already feel the heat coming off the Los Angeles sidewalk. Paul followed him. He was a trim efficient looking man with ice blue eyes whose face seemed set in stone, as if he never smiled.
The third man through the door was the client. Arturo Vallejo smiled too much, as all politicians do. Short and solid, he was also lighter skinned than Morgan expected. True Spaniards, it seemed, were not as dark as the Hispanics Morgan knew in California. Passers-by filled the air with Spanish conversation but it didn't sound quite like the language Vallejo spoke.
“I still do not feel the need for four bodyguards simply to take a walk, gentlemen.”
“My information is that your enemies have chosen this place and time for their revenge,” Morgan said. He glanced over his shoulder, making sure the other guards were in proper positions. Paul walked on Vallejo's right, between him and the street. Another man walked on Vallejo's left. The fourth stayed about a meter behind. Good.
“I have no enemies. I am in your country only to learn
from those Los Angeles officials who have experience dealing with terrorists. Your police department has gained much expertise since the nineteen eighty-four Olympic games.”
“Yes sir, and some of your Basque countrymen would rather your trip be unsuccessful,” Morgan said, scanning the street. “I have very reliable information regarding when and where you'll be attacked.” He wished the weather were not so perfect. Too many people were on the street. Traffic was light. Maybe the shooter would approach on foot, like that blond fellow behind his rear man.
“These people do not frighten me,” Vallejo said with excessive bluster. “I refuse to be cooped up in that cheap hotel room all day.”
“That's your choice, sir,” Morgan said, trying to conceal the fact that his patience was fraying. “You are free to do as you please. But I have a responsibility to keep you safe. Having you stay downtown in a less than luxurious hotel was one way toâ¦” He stopped talking and his head swung around. No one else knew why. They might think he was reacting to the smell of fresh tortillas being made in a little restaurant they were passing. But Morgan knew that danger was approaching them.
“Now,” he said, nodding toward the street. “There.” He heard the roar of a car's engine, then the scrape of metal on metal, the sound of one car sideswiping another. Then a big black Volvo rounded the corner, moving at maybe sixty miles per hour. Morgan's well trained team didn't question his instincts, they just reacted. Paul pivoted to squarely face the street, pulling his automatic from its side waistband holster. The left man stepped forward one pace. The rear man also stepped forward, pressing himself against Vallejo's back. Morgan sprinted ahead.
The car's rear driver's side window was down. A neat
three round burst from the Uzi in the window slapped Paul backward before he could get off a shot. He slammed against Vallejo, throwing him off balance. The other two bodyguards collapsed on top of their client. The woman walking behind them screamed and fainted.
Morgan was on one knee between two parked cars as the Volvo passed. The machine gunner saw him and squeezed his trigger just as Morgan fired three shots from his Browning Hi-power. No score, either side. All the bullets ended up in car bodies.
When the Volvo skidded around the corner to the left, Morgan knew where it would go. After one more left they would be on their way to the freeway. He sprinted into the mall shopping area behind him. Maybe, just maybe, he could change their plans.
Morgan raced through the crowd of shoppers, dodging around the slow-moving human obstacles, and panting with the weight of dress pants, sport coat and dress shoes. He shouldered a teenager aside who started to react until he saw the gun. He prayed running with his automatic out didn't get him stopped by a well-meaning policeman.
Bursting into the bright sunshine at the other side of the block, Morgan could hear a car approaching from the right, very fast. It had to be them.
That Uzi could hit Morgan if he stood behind or to one side of the car, but one place was safe. He dashed into the middle of the street ahead of the Volvo and assumed a strong two handed stance. He knew the machine gunner would have to hold his weapon out the window to aim at Morgan, but he couldn't fire without peppering his driver with hot shells.
Funny what you can learn in several years as a mercenary soldier.
The Volvo's driver stomped on the accelerator. Morgan
struggled to control his breathing after his run, to get a steady sight picture. He wished he had a more powerful gun. If he did, he could stop the car. As it was, he would have to stop the driver.
Morgan blinked sweat out of his eyes and squeezed the trigger in a fast double tap. The first nine millimeter hollowpoint cleared away the windshield. The second slug erased the driver's face and showered the machine gunner with gray matter and red liquid. The car swerved left and slammed to a stop, wedged between two parked cars.
Morgan smelled no gasoline, but he approached the vehicle with care. He reached past the driver's body to turn off the ignition. Then he pressed fingers against the neck of the man in the back seat. He was unconscious but alive. Good. Roberts would want him.
A siren's wail announced the approach of a police car. Morgan left the way he had come. This time he walked through the mall at a normal pace, his gun now tucked into holster. Back on the street on the other side, he ran once more, past the scene of the first shooting and back to the hotel. He found one member of his team in the lobby with a much more sedate Vallejo.
“Mister Stark I am very sorry. Obviously your information was correct and Iâ¦”
“Later,” Morgan said. “Where's Paul?” Vallejo pointed and Morgan jogged to the other side of the lobby. Paul was laid out on a large elegant sofa. The man with him had removed his jacket and pulled down his tie. As Morgan got close, Paul's eyes fluttered open.
“He's just coming around,” the other guard said.
“You okay, pal?” Morgan asked.
“Yes,” Paul said. “The Kevlar tee shirt and the jacket's Kevlar lining were enough to stop any bullets from penetrating. Knocked me out, though. Might have a couple
of bruised ribs.”
Morgan grinned at Paul's gift for understatement. “Yeah, and I'd bet on a cracked collarbone.” He could see one bruise despite Paul's shirt, because it showed over its top edge. One inch higher and Paul would have a nine millimeter hole in his neck.
“I think you've earned a couple of days off,” Morgan said. “I'll call in a replacement on this job for the last day.”
He leaned back, shaking his head. It had all worked out. His company was getting bigger and bigger personal protection assignments and this one would boost their reputation. They had kept the client safe and nailed the shooters. Roberts would square things with the local authorities and take custody of the Uzi gunner, who would probably yield some useful information. Most important to Morgan, none of his team got seriously hurt. Only one thing bothered him.
If Morgan was going to be in debt to someone, he would rather it not be the CIA.
Morgan Stark stared down the long, narrow tunnel that was his new, two station underground target range. He knew he would have to go upstairs and end his work day soon, but he had this new gun to test and that was work too, the kind he liked.
His hearing protection looked like stereo headphones. They fit snugly, the headband crushing his short crinkly hair on top. He could hear the comforting sigh of the induction fans, because the electronic earphones employed special valves in each muff that let normal sound in. They only reacted to stop high level impulse noise from striking his ears. That was good, because he was about to make a very loud noise.
Morgan lifted the matte black Desert Eagle automatic pistol and held it in a two handed grip. He stared through amber glasses down the sights at a man shaped paper target. Morgan had better vision than almost anyone he knew, and he wanted to keep it that way. The lenses covering his light brown eyes were safety glasses.
From a rock steady stance, Morgan fired one .44 magnum round from the big automatic. His hands shifted slightly with the kick of the slide slamming back. It wasn't nearly as bad as he expected, the pistol's weight helping to reduce recoil.
Wrapping long fingers more firmly around the rather large grip, Morgan emptied its eight-round magazine at
rapid fire. This gun felt good, although at a bit over four and a half pounds fully loaded it could never replace the Hi-power he normally carried for business. The Hi-power and his special hand loaded rounds had served him well enough that day, as had his danger instincts. Did any of his employees suspect his unexplained ability to know when some peril would threaten him? He doubted anyone would believe the advance warning he felt. That was fine. He preferred it that way.
At the push of a button, the target rolled back toward Morgan on an automatic pulley. He smiled as he examined it. He had only set the target about fifty meters away. The eight big bullets had torn a single ragged hole in the middle of the paper man, less than half an inch across. Morgan didn't need to measure. He could judge distances with machine like precision.
Well, fun time was over. His new watch told him it was nearly five o'clock. It was time to lock up for the day. Morgan put the gun back in its case, planning to give it a more thorough shakedown later, and headed for the stairs. It was one short flight to the ground floor, then eighteen to his office. He was glad he had left his jacket upstairs. He wore lightweight slacks and a cotton dress shirt open at the top two buttons so he wouldn't get too sweaty on the way up. He took the stairs two at a time.