Read the first Chapter of Boomer's Fall. If you like it, down load the entire book at www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419916458
This book is the sequal to Black Smoke but can be read as a stand alone.
Sam sat silent and still in the dark doorway waiting. Boomer, Ricochet and Kong were waiting as well, positioned around the outside of the three-story brick building. This was a big job. Even though it didn’t look like it from the outside, it was huge. Lives depended on them completing this mission.
Down on the first floor sat enough weapons-grade plutonium and uranium to blow up half the country. Radical terrorists had managed to smuggle it into the United States from Russia and now it was up for bid. Since the military didn’t want paperwork drifting around out there for its citizens to find, W&S Incorporated was called to right the situation.
The problem was intelligence didn’t give them much information on how many would show up to bid on it or who they were. The "who" didn’t really matter as far as Sam was concerned, it was how many the four of them were up against that bothered her.
When they arrived to set up six men were already stationed around the building. Since then another dozen had trickled in. From the briefing Uncle Walt had given them the bidding war wasn’t due to start for another half an hour. That was plenty of time for at least another fifty or so to show up.
More will come,
came the soft whisper of her ever present spirit guide.
she urged silently.
Any good news to tell me?
"Smoke, report." Kong’s voice in her ear sent chills down her spine. It was funny how after months of being together he could still make her heart flutter. She opened her mouth to respond when she heard voices and heavy footsteps heading her way. The only thing she could do now was melt into the darkness and hope they passed on by without seeing her.
"Smoke, report." This time Kong’s voice held an edge of irritation.
She reached up to click the mic to let him know she couldn’t speak.
she asked her spirit guide. Her answer was silence as it always was when she didn’t need to know anymore.
No Samantha. They will hear. Stay quiet.
Never one to question a direct order from her guide she let her hand drop back to her weapon. She could hear them coming closer and prayed her pounding heart didn’t give away her position. They spoke Russian and from the sounds of their footfalls they were very large men. This moment was not the time to get into a scuffle with two bodyguards, not when the big fish were sitting downstairs.
"Ricochet, can you see her from your position?" Kong asked over the radio.
"Are you kiddin’ me? I couldn’t see her if she was lyin’ right in front of me. You know that. If she’s dug in no one’s gonna see her," Ricochet informed him.
Sam had to smile at that. He was right. If she didn’t want to be seen she wasn’t seen. Her mind flashed back to the day on the training field when they first met. Ricochet, known to the world as Carl, was the first to be taken out by Black Smoke and hadn’t forgotten it. Now he was one of her best friends.
"Relax, Kong." Boomer’s rich, deep voice rumbled over the radio. "These guys may be big but it just means they’ll fall harder when she kicks their ass."
Boomer, otherwise known as Ben, would know. He didn’t go down as fast as Ricochet but he did go down. Sam’s heart warmed at the memories. Apparently first impressions did last forever. Boomer was a large, loveable guy who treated her like a sister, always looking out for her, defending her and even poking fun at her. In retrospect if she hadn’t met Mark she wondered if they would have hooked up.
"I don’t like it when a member of my team can’t respond. Means trouble. I don’t care how hard they can kick ass."
Kong’s ass was the one that got kicked the hardest that day. When they weren’t on missions she called him Mark. He knew what she was capable of and yet there was still a hint of deep concern in his voice. She liked that, being cared for in such a deep way by someone other than her Uncle Walt. Things were rocky for the two of them at the beginning but now smooth waters prevailed.
"Boomer, you head on in to your entry point. We go on the assumption she’s buried too deep to respond."
"Rico, keep those eyes sharp."
Sam listened to her team on the radio, three men who had somehow become her world. God, she couldn’t wait for this mission to be over and the plutonium tucked safely in the hands of the military.
The two large Russians strolled on by her and back down the stairs. Sam took a deep breath and opened her mouth to speak into her radio.
Samantha you must stop Ben. Where he enters is not safe. Many men wait there.
Without hesitation Sam keyed her mic. "Boomer, stop now."
One click sounded over the radio telling him he did as ordered.
"Smoke, report," Kong growled into the radio.
"I’m on the second floor of the building. Couldn’t respond. Two bogies wandering the halls. Boomer you need to retreat now, your entry point is heavily covered."
Everyone remained silent as they waited for Boomer to disappear back into the shadows. Sam took advantage of the silence and asked for information.
Tell me what’s downstairs. How many men? Where’s the plutonium?
A table sits in the middle of the room. Seated on one side is the seller, on the other the buyers. Many men surround them. Samantha, they are ready to kill if necessary.
She wasn’t surprised to hear it but it didn’t make things any easier.
What you seek is in a wooden crate off to the side.
"All clear," Boomer said over the radio.
"We got new players enterin’ the game. Black SUV just pulled up ‘round back. Four targets exitin’ vehicle."
How many people wanted this stuff
"Smoke, what can you tell us?" Kong asked.
"First floor is where it all goes down. There’s a table in the middle of the room, seller and bidders seated. Around them, the so-called bodyguards. Everyone has an itchy finger."
"Great. How many men?"
Sam closed her eyes and asked. A few short seconds later she reported with a heavy heart. "Twenty-four." They were severely outnumbered.
She no sooner said the words when she heard the Russians coming up the stairs again. "Got company."
"Okay sit tight. Boomer, Ricochet, any ideas how we’re gonna do this? Plans A and B are obsolete at this point."
Sam sat scrunched in her dark hiding place listening to her radio as the two Russians did their walk-through again. Kong was right, the initial plan along with the backup were impossible to pull off. Twenty-four heavily armed men could not be taken down easily.
"We could just start shootin’ and take out as many as we can. With four of us shootin’ we could take down about half of them before they knew what was happenin’," Ricochet suggested with little enthusiasm.
"One stray bullet and we blow them, us and who knows what else to hell," Kong responded.
"Gas," Boomer chimed in.
"You wanna gas ‘em? Damn Boomer, we have ta go in there too ya know. How we suppose ta contain the situation while we’re gagin’ on gas?"
"Rico’s right Boomer. Keep in mind we have a teammate in the building as well. You incapacitate them, you incapacitate her. We need everyone to pull this off."
, Sam thought to herself.
"Lock the doors, cover the windows and wait for them all to succumb. We go in and it’s all sleeping bodies. Smoke can come out before I gas ‘em," Boomer explained.
Ricochet made a rude noise in the radio. "You just lookin’ for an excuse to use that new gas Cannon gave you."
Sam smiled to herself, Ricochet was right. Boomer looked for any excuse to try out a new explosive or gadget Walt gave them. That gave her an idea.
"No go, Boomer. It doesn’t feel right. We need something else," Kong told him.
Sam clicked her mic hoping Kong understood she had something to say on the matter. As soon as her two friends vacated she would say her piece. Since they were taking their own sweet time she used the moments to ask for guidance.
I have an idea and I need to know if it will work
This I know, Samantha. Your desire to preserve life does not go unnoticed.
, she said inside her head. I want as few people to die as possible.
Sam sat quietly until the Russians left the area. As soon as she was able she jumped into the conversation.
"Boomer you brought the briefcase Uncle Walt gave you didn’t ya?" she asked. Walt had acquired a couple of experimental, extra-large Tasers encased in briefcases. The theory was to place them by a door. When the door opens, the case activates shooting out large volts of electricity knocking back the person trying to get through the door. Boomer had tested it out on himself and was impressed with how it worked. If Boomer liked it, it was impressive.
"How many flash grenades do you have?"
"Six. Tell me where you’re going with this."
Kong jumped in. "Enlighten us, Smoke."
"Boomer places the briefcase at the main door. That’s where they’ll head to escape. The case activates its electric shock keeping them inside. The flash grenades stun the whole room, two gas grenades help slow them down. We may still have some escape. Ricochet can take them down if necessary. Once we make sure everyone is still inside, Boomer can release more of his gas taking everyone out nice and clean. I’ll wait upstairs out of the gas, come down when things cool off."
This is a good plan, Samantha. Keep in mind these men will do anything to escape.
Sam clenched her jaw, it would be like throwing a net over twenty-four grizzly bears. Keeping them trapped would be hard but if they executed it fast and without hesitation they could do it.
"You get a confirmation on this plan?" Kong asked gently.
"Affirmative with warning."
"I like it. Simple but effective." Ricochet was quick to give his opinion.
"It’s a good plan, Kong. I brought both cases so we can eliminate two exit points."
"You like those toys too much, Boomer. You need to find somethin’ else to play with, buddy. You and me gonna go find some women when this thing is done."
"Let’s worry about our social lives when we’re drinking beer later. Right now we concentrate on the mission. Smoke, we go with your plan. We have ten minutes until bidding is supposed to begin. Boomer, do you have enough time to retrieve the cases and grenades?"
"Affirmative. Have them stashed close by."
"I suggest we wait until my friends come back. I can take them out up here. That’s two less we have to deal with downstairs."
"You can do it quietly? We don’t need anymore of them showing up to check out what’s going on," Kong asked.
Sam slid her hand down into her leg pocket and pulled out her dart gun. "Affirmative." If she could separate the two men it would be a lot easier. Due to their size she might have to nail each one twice. That meant there was no room for error since her gun only held four darts.
"Ricochet, you need to reposition before we start this party?"
"I’m cool, Kong. This is the best place for me," Ricochet responded.
"Okay," Kong huffed. "Smoke, we wait for your go."
"Affirmative." Sam worked through her plan in her head. First she would draw her targets to opposite ends of the hall. Her theory was pop two darts in one, when he was down and sleeping like a baby she could either wait for the other to come looking for his partner or go after him. She’d wait and play it by ear.
This was the easy part. The hard part was sitting downstairs surrounded by twenty-two men. In theory her plan would work—reality however had a nasty way of biting you in the ass.
The sound of footsteps coming up the stairs echoed through the hall. Sam closed her eyes and asked for the four of them to be watched over and kept safe. It was time to party as Kong put it. She waited for the two Russians to make their way further toward her and then slid further into the darkness. With slow, deliberated movements she inched down the hall.
Once she found a spot to tuck herself into she picked up a piece of rubble from the floor and tossed it into the room across from her. The two men stopped, listened and looked at each other.
"Go check it out," one said to the other in his native tongue.
Sam smiled to herself. Perfect. As the man made his way to the end of the hall she readied her dart gun. As he neared the door he stopped.
Come on, go inside,
As if hearing her silent order he stepped inside the dark room. Sam pulled the dart gun up, aimed and popped off two rounds. She wasn’t sure where they hit but she was
sure they hit. The sound was unmistakable. It was as if she could hear the points sink through his clothing and pierce the skin.
Seconds later his massive body succumbed to the tranquillizer seeping into his system. With a loud thud he dropped to his knees. In Russian he muttered something and fell flat on his face.
One down. It would be too much to ask for the second one to be as easy. And it looked like it wasn’t going to be. The other one was on his way down the hall, his gun aimed in front of him. His beefy legs were pounding the floor, his heavy breath huffing from his lungs. When he reached the door he stopped.
"Mik, you in there?"
Sam held her breath,
come on, go in.
Instead he put his back against the wall and scanned the hall. "Mik, what’s going on?"
Sam slowly pulled her gun up and aimed at his chest. As she was about to pull the trigger he moved. Did he hear her? Did he see her? Her question was answered when he aimed his pistol right at her.
She didn’t hesitate, didn’t even blink, just rolled out across the floor kicked her legs out jabbing at his ankles with her feet. His knees buckled slightly but then he caught himself. He wasn’t going down easily. She struck again, this time kicking at his knees. He faltered, grunted in pain and then aimed at her once again.
Reflexes took over, Sam jumped to her feet, ramming her head under the hand holding the pistol shoving it toward the ceiling. With one fist she jabbed him in the solar plexus. As far as she could tell he didn’t even notice but her hand did. She might as well have punched a cinder block wall.
She did have one advantage over him, she was small and fast. Using that advantage she circled around him and plowed her fist into his kidney. When he arched his back, rearing from the pain, she lifted her knee and drove it between his legs. It didn’t work as effectively as it would if she were standing in front of him but it slowed him enough for her to retrieve her dart gun and release two tranqs into his chest.
The huge oaf looked down at them and smiled. His meaty hand wrapped around the slender metallic vials, plucking them out like they were nothing more than lint balls. Sam dug into her pocket for more darts when the back of his hand struck her hard across the face, throwing her off balance and sending her crashing to the floor.
Her vision wavered. Burning pain seared her face under her mask and fires of anger blazed in her eyes. This was war. Sam jumped to her feet again, one hand still digging in her pocket for darts. She managed one painful blow to his nose with her free hand before he blasted her off the ground and into the wall with a blow of his own to her face.
Kong’s hushed voice sounded in her earpiece. "Smoke, anything yet?"
Sam pulled herself up and charged the hulk of a man once again, ignoring Kong’s question. She launched herself off the floor slamming her body into his chest. Her hands wrapped around his throat, her legs around his waist and squeezed with all her might. Her hands didn’t make it all the way around his throat but that didn’t matter. She dug her thumbs into his trachea stopping the flow of air.
It worked for a few seconds, stunning more than hurting him. When he realized what she was doing, he pried her hands away, pulled her arms behind her back and held them there. Sam struggled against the pain, digging her heels into his back.
Kong’s voice was nothing more than a muffle in her ear.
Do not struggle.
Instinctively Sam obeyed her guide’s command, relaxing her upper body and falling limp. This stunned him. He watched her for a second not sure what to do next. Sam kept her legs wrapped tightly around his waist as her body hung. When he released her arms, Sam dropped one arm down letting it dangle while she pulled two more darts from her pants pocket with the other.
In one of her trademark lightning moves, she flung herself up, darts in hand and stabbed them into his neck. The surprise in his eyes seemed almost comical, the way they grew wide while his mouth hung open.
"You lose," she hissed in his face and then dropped to the floor, rolling off to the side before he toppled onto her.
He crashed to his knees and then fell face forward. Sam wasted no time pulling two zip ties from one of her many pockets and cinching his hands behind his back. Out of spite she pulled them extra tight and then moved onto victim number one. Satisfied that both Russians were out cold and secured she stumbled back into the hall to catch her breath.
This time Kong’s voice was filled with irritation. She keyed her mic, "Both targets down and secure," she panted.
Silence filled the radio. He would be concerned and worried but she couldn’t help that, not at the moment. Right now she needed to gather her wits to finish the mission.
"Are you okay?" His tone changed, he wasn’t in work mode now. He was in lover mode. That soft, tender voice sent chills up her spine.
Sam let the sensual feeling flow through her from head to toe and then responded. "I’m fine. We won’t have much time before they’re missed."
"Kong, we don’t have time. We need to end this now while we still have surprise on our side."
"Smoke’s right, let’s roll," Boomer interrupted. "I have the cases positioned, grenades ready."
"Okay. Boomer, make sure you get that gas in there with the stun grenades. This will work as long as everything is timed right."
"Ricochet, give us two minutes. If none of them are out of the building at that point, they won’t be coming out. Then get your ass down here."
Sam straightened, took a deep breath and waited for Kong to question her once more before giving the go.
"Sam, you sure you’re all right?"
She smiled. He never disappointed her. "Affirmative. Let’s get this party started."
"I have me a nice shot at the control panel. I’m bettin’ if I pop a round or two into it they lose lights," Ricochet said.
"Smoke, will you be okay if we go dark?" Kong asked.
"Affirmative," she responded. In fact, she rather liked the idea. She worked better in the dark.
"Okay, Boomer you ready?"
"Then put your dancing shoes on team, we’re a go."
With that, Ricochet fired two rounds into the circuit box. The bullets pierced through glass shattering it into fine splinters and then found their mark. The metal panel covering the breakers caved as the ammunition ripped through it. Sparks flew, electricity popped and the building went dark.
Boomer tossed two stun grenades through a window followed by three more. Blinding strobe lights flickered inside the building along with a bang that would leave the targets temporarily deaf. Strangely unaffected by the flickering light or the ear piercing sound, Boomer heaved three gas canisters inside with a smile.
Sam made it down the stairs into the large empty room and then pressed her back against the wall, disappearing into the darkness. The gas began to burn her nose and lungs, choking her. Even through her mask she found no relief from it. Deciding it was better to wait she slid along the wall and crept back up the stairs where the air was more breathable.
She could hear yelling, gunfire and mass confusion below her then the sound of gunfire outside. A chill ran down her spine.
"Ricochet, report," she coughed into her radio.
"Got one tryin’ to make an escape."
"Smoke, you okay?" Kong asked urgently.
"Boomer’s gas is a bitch if I ever met one. I’m fine but it is total chaos down there."
"They’ll end up taking each other out before they go down from the gas. You stay out of the way until it dies down," Kong ordered.
"That’s the plan," she choked.
Seconds later the gunfire and yelling stopped. She inched her way back down the stairs and peeked around the corner. Thick, white gas drifted through the room making it impossible to determine if anyone was still on their feet.
"I can’t see a damn thing in here but it got quiet fast," she reported to her team.
"Ricochet, anything?" Kong asked.
"Nothin’. Quiet as church."
"Boomer, you got anything?"
"I’m seeing the same thing Smoke is. Nothing."
"We give it a few more seconds and then start making our way in."
As soon as Kong stopped speaking the front door flew open, the Taser case fired long, thick bolts of crackling electricity across the doorway. A high-pitched scream echoed in the night air then it grew silent.
Boomer’s sinister chuckle whispered through the team’s radios.
"Damn Boomer, you’re twisted," Ricochet squawked. "You need a hobby."
Sam thought the same thing but avoided voicing it.
"Let’s move in. Watch your backs. If this one was still on his feet we could have others on their feet. Smoke, you’re our eyes until we get in."
"Roger." She crouched down, pulled her automatic out of its holster and began a slow crawl through the room.
Every few feet she came across a body unconscious on the floor. Knowing it was better to deal with them now than deal with them when they woke, she pulled two zip ties from her pocket and secured limp hands.
A scuffle sounded off to her left. She froze in position and scanned the area but saw nothing but lingering gas.
Is it safe she asked inside her head?
Two still stand.
Sam bit her bottom lip, keyed her mic and spoke as soft as she could. "We have movement. Two targets up and moving."
"Roger that. Give me a position," Kong replied.
She couldn’t see where she was much less tell them where to go.
I need help.
Stone silence was her answer. She knew what that meant. It had to play out the way it was meant to play out. Interference wasn’t allowed.
"Okay gentlemen, we’ve got a situation. I can’t tell where I am so I can’t tell you where they are and I’m not getting any help on this one." Sweat rolled down between her shoulder blades as it always did when things became tricky.
"I’m inside. Hold your position." Boomer’s deep, stern voice gave her a bit of comfort. She didn’t like not being able to see through the gas. Darkness was different, she had excellent night vision but this was unnerving.
"I’m on my way," Ricochet said.
"Give me two seconds and I’m in," Kong growled.
Sam sank further down on the floor and listened. Shuffling feet made their way toward her. If she stayed where she was, the target would think she was just another body on the floor and pass by. That was her hope anyway.
"I’m left of the front door about three feet in," Kong informed them.
"Right of the front door, center," Boomer whispered.
They both waited for Sam to reply. When she didn’t Kong wiped his sweaty forehead on his shirt sleeve. "Give me a click if you’re all right, Smoke."
Sam keyed her mic once.
Sam keyed once more. The target was inches away from her. She could see the toes of his black, leather shoes where the gas was starting to lift. Her eyes burned and watered. It was becoming difficult to keep them open and even more difficult to keep her brain focused and functioning.
This needed to end before they all succumbed to the gas. She reached down into her pocket, her fingers fumbling until she slid out a dart. Using what strength she could muster she jammed it into his calf. His scream of pain echoed through the room. Instead of falling on his knees he reached down, caught Sam’s wrist and jerked her up off the floor.
She dangled liked a stuffed toy from his hand. Her blurry eyes couldn’t focus on his face or anything else for that matter. Blindly she swung out with her free hand hoping to connect with his jaw or nose. Instead she swung at empty air. Her breath seized when his large hand wrapped around her throat.
Sam gasped, trying desperately to draw air into her lungs. With her free hand she pried at his fingers to release his grip but to no avail. Her legs kicked out, making contact with his chest. His grip loosened enough for her to squirm free and drop to the floor. Her gasps alerted the team.
"Smoke’s in trouble," Boomer alerted.
Before she knew what was happening, Sam felt the toe of her target’s shoe connect with her jaw. Cruel, unrelenting pain exploded in her face as her body slid across the floor. Something tall and immovable stopped her momentum. Boomer’s hand reached down, caught her by the collar and jerked her off the floor.
"You okay, babe?" he asked in a gentle but fierce tone.
"I will be when that son of a bitch is trying to breathe with my foot down his throat." Sam jerked away from Boomer’s grip, focused on the blurry blob standing five feet away and charged.
With the growl of an angry animal she launched herself in the air, her feet pointed straight at his head and struck gold. The large man’s head snapped back, blood spewed from his mouth and nose and then he crumpled to the floor. Sam wasn’t finished. The pain throbbing in her face fueled her anger.
She jumped on top of his barreled chest and began pounding her fists into his face.
Samantha, you must stop.
Sam ignored her spirit guide’s voice and continued to pummel the man. When Boomer’s hand snagged her fist before it could make another blow, she turned and blasted him in the mouth. Her fist no sooner landed when she realized what she’d done.
"Oh my God, Boomer, I’m sorry."
Boomer ran the back of his hand across his bloody lip. He didn’t say a word, just stared at her with steely eyes.
Sam staggered. Boomer reached out and grabbed her by the arm. He opened his mouth to say something when a blow to the back of his head stopped him. Sam watched as he dropped to the floor. Behind him stood another large, muscle-bound man. Without thinking she pulled her pistol and aimed it straight at his head.
As quick as lightning he smacked it from her hands. Sam bared her teeth, made a low guttural sound, crouched and sprang up into his groin. When he doubled over she readied for another attack. Two pairs of hands grabbed her arms and hauled her back.
"Stay where ya are big man. You don’t wanna die like this." Ricochet warned.
Kong dragged Sam to the front door, pushed her up against the wall and leaned into her. "Stay," he ordered and then waited for her to settle herself before returning to Ricochet.
"She all right?" he asked.
"Hell if I know. Something isn’t right with her though," Kong said handcuffing the Russian.
"Never saw her act like that before. First she pops Boomer in the mouth then allows her weapon to be taken away."
"I know Rico, I know. You go check Boomer, see if that hard head of his is okay."
"It ain’t his head I’m worried about, it’s his face. She nailed him good." Ricochet laughed and then crossed to Boomer.
Sam slipped outside into the night air letting the freshness fill her lungs and clear her eyes and head. She couldn’t believe she’d hit Boomer and when he looked at her with those cold eyes she thought he’d hit her back.
"We’ve got everything secure. Call Cannon and tell him to send in cleanup." Sam nodded and then pulled out her cell phone.
Kong placed his hand over hers trying to steady her shaking. When she was able to hold the phone without dropping it she nodded to him, squinted and began to dial her uncle’s number and nearly sobbed when she heard his voice. Instead she gathered her wits and spoke calmly.
"It’s done. Send cleanup."
"Sam what’s wrong? You sound strange."
"I’m fine. Boomer used some of his gas and I think I got too much. I don’t know what’s in that stuff but I don’t ever want to breathe it again." Boomer could keep his fancy toys. She’d stick with old fashioned, hand-to-hand fighting.
"Cleanup’s on its way."
Sam, Kong, Boomer and Ricochet stood guard until the cleanup team arrived then disappeared into the night.
Sam closed her eyes and sighed as her heart sank. When she was a child the voice had saved her life. Terrorists came in the night to murder her family. Since then the voice had directed her on many pathways. Most importantly it was a teammate on her missions giving her advice and "orders". Whether or not she followed them was up to her. Until recently that’s all she’d considered the voice as until it directed her right into the path of Mark Lowe a.k.a. Kong. She thanked her guide daily for that.