Home > Courage (Blackstone, #4)

Courage (Blackstone, #4)
Author: J.L. Drake

Prologue

 

 

Location: Southern México

Coordinates: Classified

 

John

 

Thirteen Hours Ago

 

“Raven One!” Chamness from Team North Rock screamed over the radio. “What’s your ETA?”

“Drop me down in the middle,” I commanded and signaled for the chopper to dive to the right and pull a quick turn. Flashes of fire lit up the gray sky as we roared toward the battle. The blades whipped the water around, which made our visual blurry. Cole’s mouth was moving, but he was on a different channel, so I moved my attention to Mark and Keith and saw they were ready to rappel when I was. Mike slapped my shoulder and signaled he was good to go. I glanced at Cole, who stood and gave a quick nod to move out.

I threaded the rope through one hand, while the other held another section behind my back. I leaned out into the air facing the chopper with the rope secured around my waist and pushed off with my feet, then let gravity take control.

We plummeted toward the unknown.

The zip of the rope heightened my senses, and I was psyched as my feet hit the ground. I quickly unclipped my gun and held it to my eye to line up the scope.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

I counted as each of my teammates landed next to me. Once the fourth hit, we spread out like ants to our next posts. Our orders were to shoot first and ask later. Our hunt was to locate the missing rookie who had gotten separated from North Rock eight days ago. We didn’t mess around when one of our own was in trouble.

“Fox Two to North Rock One,” I whispered into my comms. “Landed and are in position.”

Mosquitos and raindrops filled in the dead space of time while we held tight, crouched down below the thick terrain. We scanned the tree trunks to see if they’d morph into a human shape and listened carefully to try to catch even a whisper through the rainfall.

Mark held my stare as we both wondered where the other team was and how many were even left standing. Thirty more painful seconds passed, and we heard Chamness’s voice.

“Follow the route as planned but come up the west side.” The radio clicked off, but we froze when he clicked it again. “I’ve lost visual on three. Something isn’t right here, boys. I feel it.” Three pops in the background had us racing across the ground. The wind was wild, and the rain matched its intensity. Thankfully, we were dressed all in black, which allowed us to jet across the open field and not be seen. Most of our survival gear was stitched into the fabric of our suits. In case of captivity, it was hard to spot, often overlooked as it was in our pants, and those were normally left on.

We had no time or warning. We had gotten the call and left.

It had been called in as a level five extraction. The worst kind.

As Shadows faded into the back of my mind, thoughts of my family weighed heavily on me. Something strange passed through me as I scanned the forest, a shiver that burrowed deep down in my bones. It left an aftershock I knew would still be there days later. I had a bad feeling that this mission would be lifechanging.

This was a very different mission for us. We weren’t looking for a kidnapped victim. No, somehow the tables were flipped, and we now seemed to be the prey.

Cole signaled for me to move to the right as we slowed our pace and muted our steps. Once we were back under the protection of the shrubs and trees, we started to hunt our target.

“Twenty-nine red fires,” Chamness commanded for us to move into formation. It was one of our many code words we used just between Blackstone and North Rock.

We formed a U shape, weapons raised as we closed in on the enemy.

Pop! Pop! I blinked back the moisture and took out two men who darted in front of me. Cole shot three, and Mike choked out another.

Six down.

Suddenly, the wind changed direction, which set the hair on my neck on end. It was almost as if Mother Nature had given us a warning that more was coming. Just like out of a nightmare, a wall of men stood up, and a rocket launcher, pointed in our direction, came into focus.

“Run!” I shouted, and we ran like hell. The blast hit hard, and I was thrown at least fifteen feet. Heat and debris smothered my body like a blanket, then…Whack! I hit a tree trunk and fell with a thud. Something hot licked my side, and I fought to keep my vision clear.

I rolled onto my back and began to go through my mental checklist. I slid my hand down my body, thankful that it didn’t seem too bad. It hurt like a bitch, but it was just a deep graze.

I twisted hard and, with a heave, stood to locate my team. Three bullets hit a tree, and bark went flying around me. I hunched down and raced through the shrubs to where I’d spotted Cole. Mark and Mike joined us while Keith checked in a few feet away.

“Good?” Cole asked, and I gave a nod. I knew adrenaline alone would block the pain. “Good,” he repeated and pulled out his map and started to give orders.

With a new plan of action, we pulled ourselves together and split up. We knew how to do this; we were Blackstone. We began using the technique we were known for and started to pluck the bastards off one by one. We ambushed each of the bastards. We were shadows in the night, unseen and deadly.

The boys disappeared into the brushes when I had to stop to reload. Suddenly, something hard hit me between the shoulder blades, and my gun was cut free from my body. My breath shot from my lungs. I swung around and blocked the next hit from one of them. I rammed my knee up and inward into his chest. He fell back, and I took another hit to the upper arm.

Damn! There were more of them.

Again, I whirled and blocked the next blow, but this time with my elbow. Blood and rain mixed together as my attacker’s cheek split. He fell back, and another two approached. I sagged to find my footing and wondered why they were going for hand-to-hand combat and not using their weapons.

“Keep this one alive,” one of them muttered. “We need to film it.”

I snapped my knuckles and held my hands out, ready to fight. They both launched, and I did my best to stay alive.

I popped one in the face, twisted, and broke two ribs on his left. I got two punches to the gut while that happened, but I still had enough energy to break the asshole’s arm and drive the palm of my hand in to snap his nose.

Pop! Pop! I ducked but slipped on the wet ground and fell backward down a steep cliff. I tried desperately to claw at the mud for something to hold on to, anything that would stop my race toward God knew what. I hit a rock and started to flip rather than skid. Colors blurred together with the sounds, and my head raced to keep up. Automatically, my hand went for my gun in my thigh holster. Shit, it was missing.

Something smacked into me hard, and I came to a screaming halt. I whipped out my calf pistol and swung around, jamming it in someone’s face. I blinked as I too was staring down the barrel of a gun. A millisecond later, the fog cleared, and I focused on the face behind it.

“What the fuck are you doing here?”

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

John

 

His chest rose and fell and, given his ratty look, I guessed he’d been in the woods for a while. I lowered my gun but didn’t tuck it away.

My mouth flexed uncomfortably as I did a check on my body. Everything seemed to be working.

“The fall got you pretty good,” he huffed.

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