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Murmansk is part of The Adventures Of Gabriel Celtic series.
December 16, 2000
Startled by the voice suddenly behind me, I rolled onto my back and brought the pistol to bear on the dark figure.
“Preacher? Is that you?”
It was Abby!
The shock of seeing my daughter suddenly standing behind me was quickly replaced with an overpowering fear.
Tossing the gun aside, I rolled forward and quickly clawed my way up the embankment. Diving the last foot, I wrapped my hand around the ankle of her boot and jerked it to me with all my might.
Caught off guard, Abby immediately lost her balance and dropped down the snow-covered embankment…crashing into me as she slid while the snow above us exploded with bullets.
“Gabe!” she screamed, nearly breaking my neck by wrapping her arms around me as she did so.
I closed my eyes, saying a silent prayer at having my family all back with me when another noise from above had me glancing up. A man suddenly leaped off the edge of the embankment and slid down its face, landing into a squat right in front of me.
Acting instinctively, I seized the gun lying beside me, pushed Abby behind me and brought the gun up to the man’s face…all within a matter of seconds.
But I was still too slow… his gun was already pointed between my eyes.
Squatting across from each other with guns ready, the next few seconds were some of the longest of my life. We were well hidden from those in the house that were trying to do us in, so our total attention was on one another.
“Michael…this is Gabe,” Abby said suddenly from behind me.
In a flash the man had the gun back in its holster and his hand held before me. Amazed at his speed, I was too dumbfounded to move.
“Gabe…this is Michael Montana…and you should put your gun down now.”
Looking dumbly at the forgotten gun like it was in somebody else’s hand, I then quickly took it in my left hand before grasping Michael’s in my right.
“Pleased to meet you Gabe,” Michael said with a smile, “McGruder brought us in when you went missing. We’ve been looking for you for awhile now.”
As another loud explosion filled the air, Michael brought his sleeve to his mouth and said something into it. While he talked I glanced around, finding that Abby was now busy crawling toward May and Preacher.
“We’d thought you were inside.”
It took me a few seconds to realize that Michael was talking to me. “Me? Oh…no….we just got here,” I replied distractedly.
“Amazing!” Michael replied, seeming totally relaxed while crouching in the middle of a battle. “So do you know what’s going on here?”
Shaking my head, “We followed the man that had abducted us here to this place, hoping to get some information…”
“And now he’s not talking,” Michael smiled as he glanced over at the corpse a few feet away.
“Who’s in charge of the attack?” Michael continued conversationally. I once again marveled at his coolness under fire before answering. “I assume Snake Black…but I can find out.”
“I think it imperative that we have a powwow and work up a new plan of attack considering the increased manpower he now has at his disposal,” Michael replied. “As it is, we could sit up here all night trading lead back and forth. It’s not a good use of our resources.”
I nodded, “Good point. Let me see what I can arrange.”
Moving to my stomach, I started crawling toward May so she could contact Snake. Abby was ministering to Preacher’s wound beside May, announcing “just a scratch,” before I laid down next to them. As the sky lit up once again with another explosion, I realized that my hoped-for reunion that I had been working towards for days had never played out quite like this in my head.
With everything arranged, Michael, Abby and I crawled back up over the ridge above us and slid down the other side. Clear from enemy fire here, we quickly made our way around the back side of the hill.
After a hundred yards, we came upon the others that we had arranged to meet.
Snake immediately shared a hug with Abby and I when we got close, smiling like he had unwrapped a Christmas present.
“Great to see you boss,” he grinned.
“Gabe, this is Beth Montoya and Joe Bright,” Michael started, pointing out the other two at the meeting and bringing our reunion to a screeching halt.
“And Snake, This is Michael Montana,” I continued the introductions.
“It’s my understanding that we still have the little girl to rescue?” Michael asked then, getting right to the point.
Snake looked confused at the statement, but he had had no knowledge of our original mission.
“That’s correct,” I replied to Michael before turning back toward Snake. “Our original mission was to deliver a ransom in exchange for a little girl that had been kidnapped.”
“Understood,” Michael replied thoughtfully. “I’d like to propose a new plan of attack…one that hopefully will end this standoff swiftly.”
“I’m all ears,” Snake answered quickly, relief plainly showing on his face. “What have you got in mind?”
Lying between May and Preacher, I watched as our team made their way toward the back side of the building. When they reached the predetermined point, I touched May’s arm.
“Now,” I whispered.
Clutching her throat with her hand, May repeated my order, bringing to life every rifle on the hill surrounding the building.
Our plan was to increase the attack on two sides of the building, sending a constant barrage in through the windows on two sides.
The third side, the back of the building, was left as either an escape point for those inside, or an entry point for our team.
“Moving in,” Michael’s voice suddenly spoke in my newly acquired earwig. I watched as they slowly moved toward the back entrance, Abby bringing up the rear of the four.
Abby had offered up her communication device to me to use for coordinating the attack. In exchange, I had made her promise to stay to the back of the group when they moved toward the building.
“Remember, I want Noon alive if possible,” McGruder’s voice suddenly interrupted, once again reminding us of his one demand for the operation besides getting the girl out of course…the primary objective.
“We’re a little busy here,” Michael shot back quickly, sounding annoyed.
They were now positioned against the wall on the back side.
“Ready to enter,” Michael’s voice alerted me.
Touching May’s arm again, “Tell Josh it’s a go.”
Touching her throat, May relayed my message. Almost immediately, Josh sent an RPG into what was left of the car closest to the house, sending it barrel rolling into the side of the structure.
Distracted a moment by the explosion, when I looked back down at the building, our team was no longer there.
I said a quick prayer as I held my breath.
“All clear!” I heard in my earwig less than a minute later.
Grinning, I turned to May. “They did it! Hold fire!”
After the firing stopped, we all rose and started making our way toward the building.
“We’re coming in,” I informed the crew inside so we didn’t surprise them.
“Roger that,” Michael replied.
Grabbing May’s hand as we walked, I was grinning from ear to ear. “It’s finally over!” I said happily. “I’ve never been so glad to be done with something in my life.”
Even Preacher had a smile on his face as he walked beside us. “I’ve never been so cold in my life,” Preacher informed us then. “I may sneak back to
Arizona for a month when we get back.”
We were all laughing at that when we entered the building. The first person I saw was Abby, who turned and ran at me full speed, nearly knocking me over when she wrapped me in a tight hug..
“I was so worried about you guys,” she spoke with her face in my shoulder. Pulling away, she looked up at me questioningly.
“Where were you guys, anyway?”
Glancing at Preacher before I spoke, “It’s a long story…better left for the plane ride home I think.”
Nodding in understanding, she kissed me on the cheek. “Mine too.”
Her face then took on a strange look…a sadness mixed with anger and fear for just a few moments. After shrugging slightly she was gone, moving away from me and on to May and Preacher, giving them their much delayed greeting.
I watched her as she moved away…frightened…
What had they done to her?
“Hello stranger,” Raven grinned, suddenly before me.
Leaning her rifle against the wall, she then also enveloped me in a hug. “You wouldn’t believe how worried we were about you guys.”
“I’d have been even more worried if I’d known all of you had flown over here,” I admitted. “Whose hair-brained idea was that anyway?” I grinned.
Raven laughed, “We pretty much all had the idea at the same time, but you surely didn’t think we would just sit back and wait did you?”
“No, I guess not,” I admitted before she moved off to greet Abby.
I moved toward Snake, who had just entered from the front of the building. “Thanks for everything Snake,” I greeted him again, offering my hand.
“It was interesting,” he admitted thoughtfully as he shook my hand, “Definitely one for the autobiography.”
I grinned as Abby cut in, giving Snake his own just-deserved hug.
While they were busy, I looked around the room. There were four of the enemy left alive, and they were all sitting against one wall, their hands and feet securely tied. Beth Montoya had Juliana in hand, seeming somewhat uncomfortable dealing with a small child. Joe Bright, Michael, and McGruder were huddled together in the middle of the floor, seriously discussing something that had them all looking worried.
Walking up to McGruder, I offered him my hand.
“I must admit, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see you again Patrick. In fact, for awhile there…I wasn’t sure I’d ever see anybody again.”
McGruder grinned sadly. “I can’t apologize enough for the way this operation went south Gabriel,” he spoke softly, worry in his voice. “I am nevertheless happy for your safe return and that everybody concerned is relatively healthy. We accomplished almost everything we set out to do.”
“Almost?” I asked, confused.
Nodding, McGruder seemed distracted. “Noon Byrk has not been found within the building…she apparently made her escape sometime during the siege.”
“Has anyone seen Josh?”
It was Abby standing beside me again.
“He went to see about bringing the truck up to the house,” Snake mentioned as he passed us. “He should be here any minute.”
As if on cue, Josh made his way slowly through the front door…helping an older, redheaded woman into the room.
I would later find out that her name was Georgette O’Hare, and that she had been hired to care for Ya Su on the trip.
Leading Georgette to a chair, he let her down gently onto it before looking up.
“Josh!” Abby cried out happily, moving swiftly toward him.
She pulled up a few feet from him however, the look of sheer panic on his face holding her back.
“Josh…what’s wrong?” Abby questioned, her body tensing up just from his demeanor.
“Abby…” he started, looking down at the ground before continuing. “I’m…I’m sorry…but she’s gone.”
Abby had no idea what he was talking about, but his words shot through her like an arrow.
“Who’s gone?” Abby insisted worriedly, “Josh…what the hell are you talking about?”
Taking in a ragged breath, Josh raised his eyes to her, tears now streaming down his face.
“She’s taken her Abby!” he cried out, his voice filled with sorrow. “Noon’s taken Ya Su!”
December 17, 2000
Noon pulled away from the Rayakovski border crossing with a smile. The thousand-dollar bribe had been enough for the border guards to overlook the small matter of her lacking a permit or a visa, both requirements to cross the border into
Not to mention having an unidentified baby in the back seat!
Although now less than a kilometer into the country, Noon rolled down the window and inhaled a deep breath. She knew it was crazy to think so, but the air always smelled better to her in
Scandinavia. It was like the Russians had erected a cold, gray wall all the way into space to block out the fragrance.
Finally rolling the window back up because of the frigid air, Noon then turned the blower up to full. Glancing behind her, she saw that the baby was still asleep.
Turning forward again, she worried what she would do when it did awake. Having had little or no childhood of her own that she could remember, she had absolutely no idea how to take care of an infant, much less want to.
With a nearly eight hour drive ahead of her, it seemed unlikely that the child would sleep that long without wanting something.
As a thought slowly worked its way into her head, her lips drew up in a smile.
It was Severus that wanted the child…let him help!
Pulling out a cell, she punched in the number.
“Hello Lilla…I am somewhat surprised to hear from you tonight considering the report I’ve just been handed.”
Noon was once again taken aback by the reach and efficiency of Die Bruderschaft.
“Apparently the report isn’t complete Severus…at least if it mentions that I was captured.”
“It does not mention that as a certainty…it was of course assumed…”
“You more than most should know never to assume anything when it comes to me,” Noon snapped. “Your lessons on being a survivor were taken to heart Severus,”
A few moments of silence followed, enough time to cause Noon to almost wish she hadn’t spoken so bluntly.
“Unfortunately, your ultimate survival may matter little to the Clan this time Lilla. You have lost your base of operations, not to mention the cost of your lost house and equipment we have funded. Additionally you have failed to retrieve the book…as well as any other targets we have spoken about.”
Despite actually having completed one of her tasks, the fact that the Clan was personally scrutinizing her actions sent a cold knot to the pit of her stomach. Those in the Clan were the ruling class within the society, and claimed their right to hold the position through centuries of their ancestors’ unbroken service.
The Clan also didn’t delve into the day to day workings of the Brotherhood…That was Severus’ job. As one of the thirteen Clan members, it was his job to oversee the daily workings of Die Bruderschaft…as if he were the CEO and they were the Board of Directors of a corporation.
“In fact,” Severus continued dryly, “A small faction within the clan are calling for your immediate elimination. They feel that your usefulness to us has been completely compromised.”
“And you?” Noon replied acidly, “Is that also your thoughts on the matter? That I am of no further use to the society?”
Although she spoke with fire in her voice, Noon nervously hung on every breath until she could hear his reply. In the mere seconds since Severus had given her the Clan’s opinion, she had come to a realization.
Although she knew that the baby in the back seat would undoubtedly bring her back into Die Bruderschaft’s fold once again, it was no longer enough.
She had given her life to the Brotherhood! Her dedication to the cause knew no bounds, and if her loyalty could not be returned in kind…
Severus sighed. “My opinion is but one of thirteen Lilla, but I do hold some sway in these matters. As I told you before…I have always believed in you…and I will always fight for your permanent reinstatement.”
Noon exhaled, the smile returning to her lips.
“Then I have good news for you Severus,” Noon cooed, enjoying the feeling of true victory.
“I have obtained the infant.”
December 17, 2000
I have never felt so helpless.
Holding a sobbing Abby in my arms, my mind was blank as to what to do next.
“Gabriel, may we see you for a few minutes.”
It was McGruder standing next to me, the sadness on his face at having to interrupt me plainly evident.
Nodding, I glanced over at May and Raven, who immediately encircled Abby as I pulled away.
Following McGruder as he clicked across the room, he led me outside to where Michael Montana was scanning the darkness with night-vision goggles. Hearing our approach, he pushed the goggles onto his forehead.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” he spoke quickly, “But we’ve got another problem to deal with.”
I jerked back in surprise. My mind couldn’t grasp what else there could possibly be to do except to get Ya Su back.
“What the hell do you mean?” I snapped back in reaction.
McGruder quickly laid his hand on my shoulder. “Gabriel, I know this must be overwhelming for you, but we have a more immediate problem to deal with first.”
I looked down on the little man wearing a hat and long coat like he was an alien before looking back up at Michael. Nodding my head, I finally got out the words.
“What is it?”
“The Federal Militia,” Michael spoke rapidly. “With all of the noise we made earlier, it could be only a matter of minutes before they show up.”
“Shit,” I mumbled, the realization hitting me like a speeding car, “What do you recommend?”
“We need a place to regroup,” Michael immediately responded, “And now!”
My mind went blank again. In all the time Preacher and I had spent in this country, we hadn’t ever settled in one place for very long…besides the shack of course which was out of the question.
“Hold on a minute,” I finally said, turning and striding back into the building. Catching Snake’s eye, I waved him over and stepped back outside. Once he stepped out of the door, I swiftly caught him up to speed, asking him if he knew of a place we could go.
“I just might,” he responded quickly, “Although there may be a mess or two to dispose of there…and that’s assuming the militia hasn’t already found it too.”
“Sounds like our best bet,” Michael responded, “We may be a little shy on transportation...”
“We can get a few more in our cars,” McGruder offered, “Five or six at least.”
“Preacher and I brought our own car…sort of. We can get a couple more in there as well.”
“I’ll send Josh ahead on the motorcycle,” Snake added while turning back toward the building. “He can scout it out before we arrive.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Michael said then, sounding relieved. “We’d better get a move on though.”
We all turned to reenter the building. I wasn’t looking forward to breaking the news to Abby…
As it turned out, Abby had already made a move, deciding to accompany Josh on the motorcycle.
The rest of us then moved out of the house and toward the cars, leaving the prisoners in the building for the militia to find.
Taking May with me, we headed back to the taxi, finding it abandoned.
“You think Nick would abandon his taxi?” I asked Preacher.
Preacher hummphed at the idea before calling out.
“Nick! You here?”
“I is here,” we heard from somewhere in the trees beyond the road. “I be there temporarily.”
May looked at me questioningly. “Temporarily?”
I shook my head, “He probably meant momentarily…his English is…”
“I back!” Nick shouted as he popped up beside the car. “I thought good idea to be not in car with major battle at hand.”
“That was wise,” Preacher said as he opened the door.
The other two cars went by us then and sped down the darkened road. “We need to go Nick,” I said then, “Follow those cars.”
“This I will do,” he replied determinedly, running around the hood to the driver’s side. “I see I have also another customer,” he mentioned as he slid into his seat.
“My wife, May,” I said in introduction as I slammed the door behind me, “May this is Nick.”
“Hello,” May offered quietly.
“You are very beautiful Miss May…I thinks you be maybe too good for Gabe.”
His humor was not lost on us, but no one was in the mood for banter.
“Let’s hurry up there Nick,” Preacher prodded. “We don’t know where they’re going and don’t want to lose them.”
“All joking beside then,” Nick responded, “Off we go on spy mission.”
I mulled over the words as we sped down the narrow road, wondering if myself or my family would ever be the same after this ‘mission’.
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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