Authors: Nikki Hoff
(A Paranormal Military Vampire Action Romance)
By Nikki Hoff
Copyright 2014 A Pyramid Moon Romance. All Rights Reserved
Get updates on all of the latest from
by visiting www.pyramidmoon.com
Shannon narrowed her grass-green eyes as she glared at the prisoner who was tied in a spread-eagle position. His arms and legs were tied to the posts on the bed with steel chains which he couldn’t break no matter how hard he tried.
She inspected her nails. “Faris, I’m getting rather tired of this. Where is Ra’ad Khan?”
Her nemesis, Ra’ad Khan, was a former captain of the Iraqi Republican Guard. He’d ditched the army to join a Middle Eastern terrorist cell. Intelligence information showed that he’d landed in San Diego four weeks ago, and she was desperately searching for him while she’d set up base in an abandoned warehouse. The old, derelict building was now her personal headquarter. Shannon was a Sergeant Major in the United States of America’s army – and her current mission was to capture Ra’ad Khan, if not alive, then dead.
After a lot of false starts, she’d finally managed to catch his underling Faris Naheen who was currently her resident guest. Faris would talk, she was sure – all she had to do was to find the motivation to make him tell her all his dirty secrets.
He sneered. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re mad. It’s illegal to tie me up like this. I’m an American citizen. You can’t do this to me. If your superiors get to know about this inhumane treatment, you will lose your job.”
“Not if I give them Ra’ad Khan’s head on a platter. And you, dear Faris, are going to help me do that,” she said with confidence.
“I don’t know who this man is that you’re talking about?”
She narrowed her eyes. “What nonsense? How dare you claim not to know your boss?”
Faris wriggled his hands to twist the chains. There wasn’t much he could do to free himself, but she enjoyed the consistent effort he made.
“He is not my boss. I’m an ordinary man. All I have is an electronics shop downtown which I own. I’ve never even been arrested for a speeding ticket. You can check it with anyone.”
“You’re a terrorist.” She whirled to point a finger at him.
He screamed. “What crap is this?”
She sighed. “Faris, terrorism is also illegal in America. Or did you forget about that small detail before you enlisted in Ra’ad’s terrorist cell?” She hummed slowly as she paced around the room, close enough so he could see her without lifting his head.
The quicker he broke, the faster she could move to the next part of her mission. Faris was unimportant. He didn’t know much, but he was a link to Ra’ad. Did he know where Ra’ad was? She doubted it. But he could point her in the right direction.
“You’re mad. Crazy. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am not a terrorist. A poor man is what I am. Let me go!” he yelled.
“Yell all you want,” she said in a bored voice. “No one is going to hear you. We’re far away from civilization. And dear Faris, I’ve proof that Ra’ad was given electronic equipment from your shop to make a bomb.”
“That’s not true.”
Sashaying over to him, she bent to thrust her face near his. “Yes, it is. I’ve pictures of you together in the shop. My assistant was monitoring your shop and caught him in the camera. If that imbecile hadn’t dawdled in placing a call to me, I would’ve caught you both red-handed.”
He blinked his eyes rapidly. “Maybe…I sold something to someone without knowing their identity. I am not required by law to see their IDs before selling anything.”
“Good try!” she said. “But I also have recordings of your phone conversations with him. And in that you’re discussing how you would gather the relevant equipment to make a bomb that can be detonated by remote from a distance.”
He blinked rapidly as if trying to come up with a reasonable explanation of why he would be discussing such a plan with a known terrorist. “I’m not saying anything else. I want my lawyer.”
“You’re not getting one,” she said in a dismissive voice as she moved away. Shannon paced the room as she outlined her strategy. She needed him to tell her the whereabouts of the terrorist. He might be an underling, but Ra’ad had needed him because Faris knew the area and could provide useful equipment. He would have been forced to divulge some of his secrets to Faris.
Shannon’s biggest worry was to catch Ra’ad before he made the bomb and placed it somewhere. He was a ruthless and cunning man. She shuddered to think of what he would do if got away from her. No! Losing out to him wasn’t an option. If she wanted to save innocent lives, Faris was her only chance. Time was running out fast. Ra’ad had been in the country for four weeks. It was enough time for him to choose a target and reconnaissance it. She needed to catch him FAST.
And that meant she had to find a way to open Faris’s mouth.
“You can’t detain me like this. I demand to be handed over to the police.” Knowing that she had proof against him, he suddenly changed his tune.
Shannon glanced at him. If she handed him over to the army or the police, it would take them ages to make him confess everything he knew. He would get a lawyer who would put up a hundred obstacles in front of them – and in the meantime, Ra’ad would be free to do whatever he wanted.
Damn it! Why did it always fell on her to save the day?
Shannon strode back to his bed. “I’ve ways to make you talk, Faris dear.”
“You can burn me, cut me, or hang me from my hands to the ceiling. There is nothing you can do to get anything out of me. I’ve seen worse than you in my life.”
Shannon laughed. Now he was really showing his true colors. She couldn’t afford to make any mistake. This man was probably trained by Ra’ad personally. He very likely had many tricks up his sleeve. She would have to tread very carefully. Oh yes, indeed. “I doubt that you’ve seen anyone worse than me. And I assure you, I have far more exotic techniques than a mere burning or cutting,” she informed him.
He stared at her, his eyes narrowed in anticipation, his lean face showing bathed in sweat. If he wasn’t such a weasel, she might have found him good-looking. Shannon raised her hand to open her hair clip. As her soft hair fell about her face, she began unbuttoning her shirt.
“What are you doing?” his eyebrows raised. His tongue licked his bottom lip. “Can’t resist me, can you, baby? Oh yeah! Free me and see what I do to you? I will pound into you like a bull. You will weep with joy.”
Shannon threw back her head as she peeled off her shirt and dropped it to the floor. “Why don’t I make you weep instead?”
He tugged at his restraint at the sight of her curvaceous body and her milky, white skin. “Come on, baby! Untie me.”
“Why don’t we have some fun first?” She unhooked her bra and threw it aside. With her hands, she cupped her breasts, squeezed her nipples, making them erect and hard.
He was panting now. “Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Show me more.”
“I will show it all to you,” she purred as she dropped her pants and her panty. Shannon stepped out of her shoes and sauntered over to the bed. She climbed it, positioned herself so that her knees were on both sides of legs and began to open his trousers. She drew them all the way down, leaving him naked and exposed. His penis was already hard and standing erect. “Lovely! Someone is in the mood for some good loving.”
Shannon ran a hand up from his calf to his knee and then on his thigh. His muscles quivered under her delicate touch and his cock swayed towards her as if seeking her attention. Ignoring it, she moved her hand up his belly and began to open his shirt button. With each button, she took her time, slowly stretching upwards until she finally managed to open the last one. Her breasts were now touching his chest, his penis pressed against her stomach.
“Untie me.” He twisted with a violent jerk. His hands jerked as if he couldn’t wait to get his hands on her.
Shannon took no notice of his anger. Instead, she raised herself up to push a breast close to his mouth. His lips parted to take the offering but just as his mouth closed on the soft bud, she pulled away. “Not so soon!” Gently, she brushed the nipple back and forth across his lips. He raised his head to take it between his lips but she rose up higher to keep it tantalizingly out of his reach.
“I’m all that and more,” she chuckled as she pressed her breast against his jaw and then slid it down to his throat.
Even though she’d devised this play to bring him to the breaking point, the foreplay was having an effect on her. Already, her vagina was moist and warm, humming with sensations. With great leisure, she began to kiss his chest. Slowly, taking her time, she trailed a line of kisses down to his belly button. With her tongue, she circled the depression and then thrust her tongue inside it. His hips arched and he shuddered. Shannon slid her tongue down to the juncture between his thighs.
Panting with lust and an uncontrollable need, Faris tried to twist his hips and slide the penis in her mouth. She thrust it aside with her tongue, instead using it to circle his balls and licking the underside of his quivering cock. She cupped the sides of his hips to stop his movements as she slid her tongue down his naked skin.
“Untie me.” He demanded with a scream.
“Oh dear Faris, aren’t we having fun?” she said as she took the skin of his thigh between her teeth and tugged. She worked her way down, her nipples brushing against his legs. Suddenly, Shannon sat. Her breasts heaving she looked down at his rigid penis. “Time to stop,” she declared.
“What? No,” he groaned.
“Then talk, Faris,” she put her hand on his balls and massaged them with care. “I’ll continue as long as you keep talking.”
“Shit! You bitch!”
Her hand stilled. “Not that kind of talk, Faris.”
Shannon had years of expertise in manipulating a man’s libido. She knew precisely to make him last for hours or allow him to reach a satisfying climax within moments. Faris had no chance. He was hers – but he didn’t know it yet.
“Tell me where Ra’ad is.” She touched the tip of his penis with her finger.
“He has my loyalty,” he groaned as his cock throbbed under her touch.
She ran her hand up and down his shaft. “That isn’t going to serve you well at this time. You don’t want loyalty. You need some good loving,” she purred as she moved her fingers rhythmically, squeezing his cock, rubbing it with just the right amount of pressure.
He didn’t say anything but his eyes closed in rapture at the movement. His breath hitched in his throat. She could hear the pounding of his heart as it galloped in his chest.
Seeing that he wasn’t talking, she stopped the movement and made a move as if she was getting off the bed. “Alright, Faris. You win. I’ll stop.”
“No. Wait.” He nearly screamed. “Untie me and I’ll show you heaven. When my cock is inside you, you will be squealing with pleasure. I’ll make you come till you cry.”
“What a lovely image,” she said dryly. “But I need some answers first.” She gripped his shaft in two fingers and squeezed. “Are you going to talk or should I stop?”
He gasped as her fingers exerted pressure, sending waves of undiluted desire sweeping through his body. “I’ll tell you everything,” he breathed out the words, his voice heavy with need.
Suppressing a cocky smile, Shannon bent over to slide her tongue on his balls. “Talk, Faris,” she mumbled.
He groaned and arched his hips. “I’d leased an apartment for him. He stayed there for two weeks until all his men joined him.”
“How many men?” She delivered delicate kisses on his penis.
Shannon took the tip of his penis in her mouth and sucked greedily. He squirmed under her. Seeing that he was close to a climax, she slid his cock out of her mouth and gave him a moment to cool down. “What was their nationality?”
Her hand rubbed his cock ever so gently. She kept the rhythm slow so as to make him writhe with need, but not enough to tip him over the edge.
“Three Arabs, one American, and two Europeans,” he wheezed out the words as his body quivered under the sexual assault.
“What was the address of the apartment?” She ran a hand up his belly and rested it there while the fingers of her other hand manipulated his shaft.
He gave her address. Shannon knew the place. “When did he leave and why?”
“He wanted a safer place. I don’t know where he went.”
Her hand stilled on his cock.
“Oh No! No. Don’t stop. I swear…I don’t know where he went.” He jerked his arms and legs violently as he tried to free himself.
She saw the desperate glint in his eyes and knew he was telling the truth. She leaned down, pressed her breasts against his penis, and began to move. His cock, a prisoner within the confines of her soft, milky breasts, vibrated. “Do you have any way of contacting him?”
“I’ve two cell numbers. He told me to call only in emergency.”
“What are the phone numbers?”
He recited the numbers. Fortunately, Shannon had an excellent memory. She could hear something once and never forget it. “Good job, Faris! You’re really a most remarkable man.”
“Has he selected a target for the bomb?”
“Are you sure?” She sat.
“Last we talked, he wasn’t sure. He said he would take some time to decide. It had to be a place that would deliver the maximum damage, that’s what he said.”
Shannon looked down at him. She felt vile anger for Faris and for Ra’ad. How could they plan killing hundreds of people without feeling the slightest bit of guilt or remorse? If she could have her way, they would both be sitting in some dark and dingy cell for life.
But for now, she had to be content with what she had planned. Faris was an idiot. Did he really think she would reward him with sex for the information he’d given her? What she’d planned was infinitely worse for a man like him.
By the time she was done, the memory of her would be imprinted on his mind forever.
Enraged as she was, Shannon couldn’t deny that she was sexually aroused. She’d been playing with for a long time, and why the hell shouldn’t she have some fun just because Faris didn’t deserve to have any?
It was time to up the ante. She bent to press her tongue against his nipple, caressing the already erect nub. Her body, skin to skin, rubbed against his. Need curled in her gut, vibrated through her body. Having such kind of control and dominion over a man made her positively giddy with lust. Her vagina brushed against his penis, the sticky juices making his cock slick with moisture. She kissed his throat, enjoying the steady rhythm of his pulse, and then finally her lips captured his.
The kiss was hot and passionate. Her tongue darted inside to taste his mouth. He was teetering on the cusp of desire, his need so strong that she could feel the sensations that radiated off his body. Shannon tugged his bottom lip in her teeth. She rose up to slide her nipple in his mouth. He sucked with greed, his lips assaulting the sensitive nub, his tongue rubbing, caressing, and manipulating the hard bud. Tingles of desire shot through her nerves, centered in her belly, and lanced down to her vagina, making her pant with yearning for release.
Unable to control herself anymore, Shannon pressed her center hard against his penis. His cock, wet and hard, slid inside her with ease. He moaned as his eyes closed. Shannon rested her head on his chest as she moved her hips in a sharp, rhythmic, piston-like movement.
Desire and nerves; all her senses were fully engaged as she gave in to the urgent demands of her body. The burning vortex of lust rose sharply inside her and she longed for the blessed release that was almost within her grasp. Her body trembled as she careened towards that deep, steep cliff. His scent, a sweaty, spicy, male smell assailed her senses. Shannon gasped as all other thoughts escaped her mind. Every nerve in her body was focused on achieving that final burst of fulfillment. And finally that one, long moment of utter bliss overtook her. She screamed with delight as the orgasm rippled through her muscles, through every nerve in her body. Her toes curled as she jerked with pleasure.
It was an amazingly satisfying moment – more so because she knew that he was still teetering on the edge of hot desire.
But she had no plans to satisfy him. That was his punishment. He deserved more, but this was all she could give him for now.
Shannon stopped moving and lay still.
“Move, you filthy bitch,” he yelled.
Shannon rose up high over him. Her skin was slick with sweat. “Time to cool down, Faris,” she declared as she stood and walked over to her desk.
Shannon was perfectly aware that his eyes were trained on her as he stared at her in disbelief. When he realized that she had no intention of coming back, he began to yell, curse, and pulled at his restraints, trying to get them off. The warehouse echoed with the sound of his vigorous attempts to free himself.
When she reached her desk, Shannon picked up a paper and pretended to read it. She couldn’t deny that it had been an exhilarating experience. Absolutely fantastic! How she loved to take a man and reduce him to a mass of quivering, shivering muscles and nerves. Faris had been too easy – but she’d to give him credit for the fact that he’d given her a good time.
“You crazy maniac. You tease,” he cursed her, jerking his chains. Blood trickled down the wounds on his wrist and calves where the chain had chafed and broken the skin. Her nostrils flared as the salty scent of blood permeated the air of the warehouse. “Untie me and see what I can do. I’ll pound you until you’re screaming for mercy. I’ll shove my dick inside you and make you wither in agony.”
“It’s a fantastic offer but I’m pretty much done for the day,” she said dryly. “You, Faris, have served your purpose. Tomorrow, I’ll hand you over to the police and they can do whatever the hell they want with you.”
For now, she was done with him. Next on her agenda was Ra’ad Khan. And she hoped he would provide a greater challenge than poor Faris. As she listened to his demonic cursing, Shannon heard the telephone ring in the other room. Naked, she strode out of the hall and entered the room where she’d set up a communication system. She walked over and picked up the direct line to her headquarter.
“Hello. Sergeant Major Shannon speaking,” she identified herself according to the protocol.
“Command Sergeant Major Jacob here,” she heard the dry, acerbic voice of her superior. He was in charge of the mission that she’d been entrusted with. Bypassing her direct superior, she had been especially assigned to him for this job. “Shannon, report your progress.”
“I’ve caught Faris and he is singing like a bird,” she said. Shannon couldn’t deny that she was excited about this latest news that she had gotten. Faris really had come through with some gold nuggets.
“Is he now?” Jacob’s voice was wary. He’d had enough experience with her interrogation methods to be a little suspicious of her easy victory over Ra’ad’s underling. Terrorists were generally trained to defy any and all interrogation techniques. “I hope you have not used any harsh or unorthodox means on him. We can’t even risk the hint of any foul play in this mission, Shannon.”
“Of course, not,” said Shannon, managing to inject an indignant tone in her voice. “Nothing like that at all. He’s perfectly well and unharmed.”
She was sure that Faris would never admit to the humiliating treatment he’d suffered in her hands. His ego would not allow him to hurl such accusations at her. What man would? In any case, she had ways to make sure that he never talked about what had transpired between them.
As soon as she was done with the phone conversation, she was going back to deal with Faris to make sure that his lips remained sealed.
“Good. What did he say?” asked the Command Sergeant Major.
She repeated the information Faris had given her. “I believe we can track Ra’ad with these cell phone numbers, sir. If I had an assistant who could monitor any calls coming and going from those two numbers, we could try to pinpoint his location whenever he next used one of those phones.”
“It’s a good plan,” the commander agreed. “Hmmm..But Shannon, I must warn you. You’ve a terrible record of firing your assistants. The last one I sent you complained that you didn’t give him clear instructions and then blamed him when things didn’t turn out well.”
She nearly snarled. Shannon tempered her anger. “With all due respect, sir, he was an idiot. We could have caught Ra’ad red-handed at Faris’s shop. If only he’d called me as soon as he saw Ra’ad but he wasted his time clicking a hundred pictures. His primary duty was to report to me as soon as he saw Ra’ad, not to take photos. ”
“He said that he needed the evidence to prove that Faris was involved.”
“He called me thirty minutes after Ra’ad entered the shop. I could have taken a million pictures in that time. I think he was on the phone, sir, and missed seeing Ra’ad immediately.”
The Command Sergeant Major sighed. “Need I tell you that you’re wasting time and money with all these constant shuffling of men and women who are working with you, Shannon.” He sounded agitated, frustrated.
Shannon prayed for patience. “I know, sir. But if you send me someone who is competent, I will deliver Ra’ad to you within the next week.”
The commander sighed. “You’re a good soldier, Shannon, but you need to improve your skills in dealing with those who work under you. You’ve fired three of them in the past four weeks.”
She resisted the urge to tell him that if they sent her better support, she would do an even better job. “I’ll try to work on that, sir,” she said demurely instead. Her track record was exemplary. And she knew it would hold her in good stead despite her failure to retain her assistants. It wasn’t her fault that most of them turned out to be dimwits.
She needed someone who was strong, smart, and able to follow her instructions – but at the same time, he or she needed to be creative and intelligent to give her the support she needed. Perhaps, she was being too demanding but then, Ra’ad wasn’t any easy enemy to catch, and she needed all the help she could get.
“Fine. I’ve assigned a new guy to you. He has already left the base. And Shannon,” he paused. “No more excuses. I want results now.”
She heard the click of his phone. Shannon put the receiver down. Damn! They had better send her someone with brains and guts to do what she had in mind. This time she nearly had Ra’ad – and a good assistant could save a lot of time and hassle.
Back to Faris! It was time to instill some much needed fear in him.
Shannon went back to the main hall where Faris was still trying to manipulate his chains. With her hands on her hips, Shannon watched his pointless antics for some time. Finally, she walked over and gathered her clothes. Carefully, she slipped her panty over her smooth, shapely legs and then wore her trousers.
Faris’s eyes gleamed with ire. His gaze was focused on her naked breasts. “You’re not getting away with this abusive treatment. Wait and watch what I do to you. I’m going to make sure that you’re fired, you crazy bitch,” he yelled at her.
Shannon could still smell the blood that was seeping down the wounds on his arms and legs. He twisted and withered on the bed but it was impossible for him to maneuver his body. There was no escape from this warehouse – not until she willed it. And as far as she was concerned, Faris wasn’t going to be free for a long, long time.
Shannon took her time as she wore her bra and then slipped on her blouse. Walking over to the refrigerator, she opened it, and took out a clear, plastic bag.
Faris stopped moving, his black eyes fixed on her. “What’s that?”
Shannon picked up a pair of scissors from atop the refrigerator. She slit the packet. “It’s pig’s blood,” she said in her quiet, calm voice. She didn’t think he would have the nerve to discuss the technique she had used to get information out of him – but she couldn’t be sure. It was time to make sure that he never opened his mouth.
Shannon had protected her secrets for a long time and she wasn’t going to allow a weasel like him to spill the beans.
He gnashed his teeth. “What the hell are you going to do with that? Pour it all over me? Make me drink it? Nothing you do is going to work, you shrew. You’ve already done your worst. And now, it’s my turn. When I am done with you, you’ll be begging for mercy but I won’t give it to you. I am going to make you the poster child of army’s brutal behavior.”
Shannon put the scissors back. “Are you?” she said in an unconcerned voice.
“Oh, yes. Don’t think I am making empty threat. I deliver on what I promise. By the time I’m finished, you will be sitting in some dark and dirty cell, waiting for your court-martial…or whatever the hell you army people call it whenever one of you is disgraced. I’ll have your picture plastered in every newspaper in this country, and you won’t be able to find another job…that is, unless you decide to work in a brothel, you whore.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Are you finished yet?”
He snarled as he lifted his head and glared at her. “I’ve not even begun yet!”
Shannon lifted the packet, held it to her mouth, and gulped the salty nectar down. The blood rejuvenated her, gave her a boost of energy she needed after that marathon sexual encounter. After she was finished, she threw the packet in the wastepaper bin, and swiped a hand across her mouth. The thirst that had sizzled in her veins ever since she’d smelt his blood dwindled. It wasn’t gone completely. The longing, the yearning, the hunger was a constant, daily reminder of who she was, what she was.
She was always thirsty for human blood – but rarely allowed herself the delicious luxury.
Walking over to Faris, she knelt by his side, enjoying the terrified, confused expression in his eyes. He looked absolutely frightened by her new avatar. She put her face close to his so he could feel her hot breath on his face. “I don’t think you’re going to say anything to anyone, Faris. And you know why…I’ll tell you. There isn’t a single cell in this whole world that can hold a determined vampire who is eager to sink her teeth in the flesh of a man who has betrayed her.”
“Va…vampire?” He gulped. His eyes widened in horror as she snarled.
“A blood-sucking, strong, fast, killing machine…that’s what a vampire is. And guess what, Faris?” She grinned, showing him her sharp fangs. His body shuddered, and he tried to slide away from her – but the chains held him in place. “I’m a vampire, and you don’t want to make me angry.”
His skin paled. He looked as white as a ghost.
Shannon held his gaze for a full minute, her fangs bared in a furious snarl.
And with that, she was sure that Faris would never ever open his mouth and blab about her secrets to anyone. The fear of what she would do to him would keep him in check.
And now, it remained to be seen as to what kind of assistant the army had burdened her with this time. Shannon stood. She had a great many things to do, chief among them was to check out the apartment address that Faris had given her. Maybe Ra’ad had left some clues regarding his mission over there.
Clever as he was, Ra’ad was no match for her. Shannon had been in existence for over five hundred years, and she had never ever failed to catch a man whom she was determined to find. Ra’ad would find her to be a worthy opponent.
And once she caught him, she would move on to her next mission.
But until this cat and mouse game was on, she was quite enjoying herself.
Shannon’s first impression of Bryce wasn’t good. He was skinny and short, but once he took off his sunglasses, she realized that he was handsome in a geeky sort of way. He had beautiful hazel eyes, an aquiline nose, high cheekbones, and thick brown hair.
“Staff Sergeant Bryce reporting for duty, sir.”
“Stand down, Bryce. I’m not that much into formal rank crap,” she said with a dismissive gesture. “I’m Shannon, and you are Bryce, until we’re in the presence of company. Alright?”
He looked surprised by her casual tone. “Yes, si…Shannon.” He walked over to where she was sitting on the communication desk, trying to feed data into the computer.
“Are you any good with this?” She pointed at the computer.
His eyebrows rose. “It’s all I am good at, Shannon.”
“Explain,” she barked as she vacated the seat for him.
“I’m a computer whizz . Part of my teenage years was spent hacking. The army only took me in due to my data analysis skills and the fact that I can use a computer to do impossible feats.”
“I see.” She rubbed a hand on her jaw. He might actually be useful. She would reserve judgment until she knew more. “Well, here are the details of our mission. Ra’ad Khan is a known terrorist and he is on American soil. Two days ago, he was in San Diego, although he may have left by now. I’ve got two cell numbers that presumably belong to him. Track them to see if he is using them. If possible, hack into the phones to listen to the conversation and record it.”
He quirked an eyebrow. “Listening to phone conversation is illegal.”
“If you have any qualms about doing illegal activity, please leave now so I can request a new assistant. I’m only concerned about catching a criminal who may perpetrate violent activity in USA. He is a risk to our national security and threatens the lives of our civilians. If I have to use illegal means to catch him, I will do so without hesitation.”
He stared at her, his expression unreadable. “Alright. What else do I have to do?”
She lifted her lips in a smile. If he was as good as with the computer as he was with his attitude, she might be on to something here. “I’ll give you all the data I have about Ra’ad Khan. Right now, I am going over to his last known location to see if I can dig up any information, but I want you to concentrate on his past and see if you can come up with any lead on his present location.”
“I’ll do my best.” He took the chair.
Shannon scribbled down the numbers Faris had given her. “These are the phone numbers. See what you can do with them.”
“If he uses them, I will get him,” he claimed with confidence.
“That’s the spirit,” she muttered. Just then Faris started screaming. Shannon winced at the sound of his voice. “Oh, dear. I had quite forgotten about him.” Shannon scratched her jaw.
Bryce looked startled. “Who is that?” He eyed her with suspicion.
“He is Ra’ad’s underling and he needs to be handed over to the police. I suppose I’ll take him there now.” She stomped her way back in. It would have been easier to drink his blood and dump his empty husk of a body in the forest – but Shannon hadn’t indulged in such a long time. A hundred years! Her control was impeccable. Why break it for such an unworthy creature?
AS soon as she entered the hall, Faris fell silent. Perhaps he’d thought she was gone and hence, decided to see if he could attract some attention and get someone to free him. His skin paled as she drew near and his teeth chattered with fright.
“I want…to go to the bathroom,” he said.
Shannon untied his chains. “It’s there. Go. And do it quickly. I am taking you to the police.”
He sat and slid away. Seeing that she wasn’t planning to do anything else to him, he went to the bathroom. Shannon waited. Even if he wanted to escape, he wouldn’t be able to get out. There was no window in the bathroom. And even if there was, how far could he run? She was much faster that he could even imagine.
She waited patiently until five minutes later when he came back outside. “Are you planning to kill me after you take me outside?” he said.
Shannon cocked her head. How had he come up with that lame theory? “No,” she said. “Come on, now. I’m getting late.”
His tongue darted out to lick his bottom lip. “You are going to kill me. I know it.”
Shannon sighed. Why was she stuck with this fool? “I’m handing you over to the police, you moron. Now, move your ass.”
He shook his head and backed off. “I…I won’t go. You’re taking me someplace else to kill me.”
In a heartbeat, before he could blink, she was by his side, her hand around his throat, and her face inches away from his. “Listen to me, you spineless coward. If I want to kill you, I could do it right here, right now, and there isn’t a damn thing you or anyone else could do about it. I’m taking you to the police where you’re going to admit to helping Ra’ad. You will willingly give them all the relevant information.”
“But…won’t that hamper your investigation.” He managed to squeak out the words.
“I’ll have plenty of time to check the address of the apartment you gave me before they show up,” she said. “During the police interrogation, you will not mention my name, or the location of this warehouse, or the fact that I questioned you and the means I used to do so. Is that clear?” She stretched her lips to exhibit her fangs.
“Perfectly clear.” He nodded, his throat still in her grasp.
“Good.” She let him go. “Follow me then.”
After leading Faris out, she made him sit in the jeep she’d hired for her mission and zoomed off. After parking the jeep, she walked back with him to the police station. She took him inside, showed her ID to the duty police officer, and handed him over along with the photos she had of him with Ra’ad.
“Why the sudden cooperation, Sergeant Major? Usually you army people don’t like to mingle with the police.”
Territory issues within the security forces were common. Shannon didn’t think they served any purpose. All of them were doing the same thing, and that was to uphold the law to the best of their ability. Barring a few exceptions, of course. The image of Faris's naked body flashed across her eyes. Certainly, she had broken a few laws there but then her intentions had been good. He’d served her purpose, and now he would remain behind bars for a long time.
It was all she could hope for.
“I’m not a usual army person,” she said dismissively before she signed all the necessary paperwork and sauntered out.
At Ra’ad’s former apartment, she found a meticulously clean space. Someone had taken much effort to make sure nothing important was left behind, including hand prints. But Shannon had an idea of where she might find something worthwhile. She searched through the garbage and found what she was looking for. A torn list that contained the names of various equipments told her that Ra’ad still didn’t have all the materials he needed for the bomb as yet. This was good news.
She put the list in a clear plastic bag to see if she could salvage some prints off it and went back to the warehouse. Bryce was hunched over the computer, his fingers tapping rhythmically on the keyboard as he stared at the screen.
“Found something yet?”
“Have patience, Shannon. This isn’t a piece of cake. I’ve set up the tracking system. Whenever he uses these cells, this computer will pick up the signal and start recording the conversation. I’ve also hacked a private satellite and it will try to pinpoint his current location as he talks. Of course, keep in mind that it’s only possible if he actually uses the phone and only for the duration of the call.”
Shannon lifted one eyebrow. “You’ve hacked a satellite?”
“You did say there would be illegal activity involved.” His face was expressionless.
Shannon chuckled. “You learn fast. Here is something else that may help us.” She deposited the plastic bag in his lap. “See if you can come up with the names of the manufacturers who make this equipment. He may try to outright buy this staff or else make an attempt to steal it. We could catch him then.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” He stared at the list through the plastic bag and made a note of the stuff that was scribbled in there.
“How old are you, Bryce?” Shannon picked up a chair and brought it over to sit with him.
“Thirty-two,” he muttered as he entered the data into the computer.
He looked much younger. It was perhaps the fact that he wasn’t particularly tall or muscular. “You should have been a Master Sergeant by now. What happened? Did you screw up somewhere?” She leaned back and put her hands behind her head.
He glanced over. “Sort of. I’m not soldier material apparently. If it wasn’t for my skill with the computer, I would probably be out of the army by now. They need me to do shit like this, which everyone can’t do. But somehow it’s not enough to make me eligible for promotion to the next rank.”
“The army is a stickler for what they deem to be necessary qualities in a soldier,” she mused.
“And you seem to have them all, Shannon. I read your record. You’ve been awarded with two silver Stars and one Bronze Star medals within a short span of last seven years. Hero seems to be your middle name.”
“I got lucky,” she said.
“Catching two terrorist and battling seven people on your own in enemy territory can’t just be luck, Shannon. You seem to have an extraordinary ability to detect trouble before it has begun, not to mention, you have excellent fighting skills. Someone even went as much as to say that in hand-to-hand combat you’re like Rambo and Bruce Lee combined together.”
Shannon stood. She didn’t like the direction of this conversation. Bryce was unnaturally intelligent and curious. “People exaggerate.”
“Would you teach me how to fight like the way you do?”
“What?” She frowned.
“After I help you catch Ra’ad, will you teach me how to fight like a real solider? I really could use some help. It’s important for me to do well in the army, not only because I like it, but also because I am tired of being the butt of the joke. Other soldiers taunt me, tell me that I am not man enough to be in the army, and that I should take up some desk job in some private firm and be like all the other nerds who stay in air-conditioned offices all day long.”
“People can be unnecessary cruel,” she said, feeling sympathetic towards him. The army was a tough taskmaster. The soldiers went through a lot of tension, trouble, and physical pain. Sometimes, it took away their patience, especially for those whom they perceived to be weak or different. “You’ve other skills that are extremely important for all of us. Not everyone can do what you can.”
“Yeah, well.” He shrugged. “It’s not a big deal, not as much as earning three medals in seven years.”
Shannon picked up the folder she’d placed on his desk for review. “Have you read all the details about Ra’ad Khan’s life? There are a lot of in-depth reports about him from various sources.”
“I read them,” he said as he turned back to face the computer which was pulsating with eerie lights. “I’m doing some research of my own. There are a few video footages of him in the army’s archive. I am going to watch them now.”
“Those are old airport footages. What are you going to learn from that?” She tucked the folder under her arm. Maybe she needed to read it again. Perhaps there was something she’d missed in there, something that could offer her a clue regarding his mindset. Maybe she could figure out what he planned to do next.
“There is something to learn from everything.” He took his chair closer to the computer as he began to play the first video. “I’ll be right here if you need me for anything.”
“Ok.” She sashayed off, making a mental note not to get too close to him. He was way more perceptive than she’d given him credit for.
And she had secrets that Shannon needed to protect at all costs.
Two days later, Bryce called Shannon while she was out canvassing the area to see if she could find any sign of where Ra’ad had taken refuge. The fact that she was going around randomly, trying to locate him in a city of this size showed how desperate she was. All her leads had panned into nothing – and she was left with the option of either sitting at the warehouse and twiddling her thumbs or seeing if she could find any news about him in the city’s more unsavory areas.
“I’ve got some news,” he said sharply. “Better get back now.”
Since all he’d done in the past was sit hunched at the computer, typing and fiddling with the various programs he’d downloaded, she was glad that at least he had something to give her. But damn it! Couldn’t he have given her a hint as to what it was that he found?