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Tuesday September 16th 2014

Mandy M. Roth

Raven Owner

Michelle M. Pillow

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History of Our Insanity

Did we really say that?

Radar Deception

Excerpt from Radar Deception by Mandy M Roth (Immortal Ops 3)

Two and a half weeks later….

“Brava, this is Alpha Dog Two, do you have a lock on the target? I repeat—do you have a lock?” The sound of Roi Major’s voice filled Green’s earpiece as he swiveled around in his chair to check the secondary computer monitors. The liquid crystal display and drop-down ability certainly cleaned up much needed counter area in the surveillance van. The days of turning and accidentally putting his elbow through a monitor that was as big—if not bigger than—some televisions were long gone. Now, with his supernatural strength, he only put his elbow through the machines when not paying attention.

Much better.

The interior of the van was still cramped for a man of his size but he was used to it so he didn’t complain. The line feeding into the monitors was from the inner dwellings of the nearest known hotspot for the enemy. It was a lab specializing in genetic research and development. In the grander scale of things, the lab was a small one but it needed to be destroyed all the same.

Gisbert Krauss, the team’s main focus of the moment, had been funneling money throughout Europe and Asia for the last thirty years. His fascination with the idea of immortality and power put the scientist in the forefront of genetic research. Publications in the area of genetics claimed that Krauss was on the verge of some sort of genetic breakthrough. Intel gathered on him proved that he wasn’t just on the threshold of something big, he’d already succeeded and had been conducting research on humans for decades. He’d even been daring enough to have an underground paranormal website talking about DNA alterations and the making of super humans with the potential to be used as weapons for the highest paying governments. A paper trail connected Krauss with Pierre Molyneux, a master vampire who was legendary throughout the supernatural community as a man with means and a wicked bad side. With Molyneux’s connections, Krauss could transport just about anything between countries under the guise of it being art. In the case of Krauss, he was no doubt transporting human cargo and who knew what else.

Green knew after having been briefed by Colonel Brooks on Intel’s latest findings that Krauss had been behind assembling a large group of women in Asia from around the world, impregnating and experimenting on their children in utero. The mothers of the children disappeared once they were born. The more likely explanation was that the mothers were murdered. Apparently, the enemy had aborted their project, or rather hid their testing better because I-Ops got a little too close to discovering them.

The enemy spread the surviving children out to orphanages in various countries. Most were third-world, but from the data Green had read, some were dumped in the United States as well. The majority of their experiments on fetuses and newborns took place between twenty to thirty years ago. The Asia Project was massive. Green had initially assumed the children would not have survived, that they would have died when their bodies attempted a shift or that they’d have gone insane long ago. He’d been wrong. Records indicated that all of them had indeed made it to adulthood. He couldn’t fathom how they coped with having enhanced abilities and turning into an animal or a vampire without warning. It had to leave some sort of lasting damage.

The main issue at hand was that Krauss’ people were sacrificing innocent lives in the name of science and attempting to round up the children from the Asia Project. Green didn’t want to think about what would happen should Krauss get his hands on the people who had once been subjected to testing unwillingly. The very fact that these children managed to grow to be adults spoke volumes about their will to live. Krauss had to know that and he’d exploit it for all it was worth. If that wasn’t enough, information was trickling in that Krauss may have aligned with a powerful Fae.

Shuddering at the thought, Green rubbed his temple. Almost instantly, images of Melanie, a Fae and sister to Eadan, the newest member of the I-Ops team, flooded his mind. She was still clueless as to whom they were and their relationship to one another—thinking her friends were merely girlfriends to I-Ops members when in reality they were now lifemates, spouses.

His cock hardened and his pulse raced. Melanie had worked her way under his defenses and left her imprint. Already he’d spent many a night stroking himself to peak, guided by thoughts of her. Her blue eyes. Her long, white-blonde hair. Her seemingly endless legs. Her scent—distinctly feminine and familiar to him. He needed to touch her and soon or risk going insane. Or developing carpal tunnel from excessive masturbation.

“Bravo Dog One, do we have a go?” Roi asked, drawing Green from his thoughts of Melanie.

Green punched in the sequence of numbers needed to access the facility’s computer system and waited for confirmation that he was indeed in. It had been a bit trickier than he’d assumed it would be to hack into Krauss’ facility but he was confident of his skills.

When a map of the building’s blueprints popped up and an analysis of the security system displayed, he smiled. “Alpha Dog Two, you have a ‘go’ to enter. Once in, you will find two, I repeat, two, tangos. There is a four-second window until my hacks will open the main gate from there. If you attempt to force it, you will set off secondary alarms. Do you read?”

“Copy that. Get antsy and bad things will happen,” Roi said, being his normal sardonic self. He was also famous for simplifying things. As usual, he held true to expectations. “We’ll kill ‘em quietly and then wait for the ‘magik doors’ to open. Do we have to say ‘open sesame’ or do you think your mega brain got the calculations right?”

Captain Lukian Vlakhusha sighed into his headset, clearly annoyed with Roi. It was normal, so no one commented. Besides, they were like brothers. If Roi got too obnoxious, Lukian would just slap him. Arching a brow, Green hoped Lukian might actually haul off and hit Roi. Then again, it could damage the equipment Roi had on. Green had always been partial to technology, though Roi wasn’t too bad either.

Decisions. Decisions.

Green watched the other monitors—there were six in all. Each displayed images of the team members. The cameras were mounted to their headgear. Each soldier was equipped with a small flip visor that when in place, covered one of their eyes. If on, the person could see what a selected team member was viewing. While disengaged, they merely looked through a slightly tinted eye-piece. Green, on the other hand, was able to view what each one of them was currently seeing. It was a little like being a god, at least according to Roi.

Lukian, his captain, was with Roi waiting to enter through the west entrance. Wilson and Eadan were near the south end of the facility, awaiting orders to move in and assist if need be. Jon, the team sniper, was stationed on the north tower, having already taken out the two guards with the hope for more kills. His location was perfect to provide cover should things go awry. The other two monitors provided visuals from Peren, Lukian’s wife and lifemate, and Missy, Roi’s wife and lifemate.

The women were in a secure location three miles up the road in another van, watching the feed from Green’s van. Missy had only just found out she was expecting a child and no one wanted her to go in with the men, regardless of how qualified she was. Missy was a level-one agent with Paranormal Security and Intelligence (PSI). PSI was basically the CIA of the supernatural community. Since humans weren’t permitted to have the knowledge that supernaturals existed, the government denied any and all knowledge of PSI’s existence. Since Missy had also been experimented on in the Asia Project, she had a personal stake in the matter at hand.

Green hated Krauss for playing God but even he had to admire the man’s genius. Krauss had managed to introduce small quantities of supernatural DNA into the bloodstream of an adult human without killing them. That was all but unheard of. Somehow, Green and the men he’d originally worked for had gotten lucky enough to do something similar during the Immortal Ops inception. Each man, with the exception of Green and Lukian, had been injected with DNA to alter their own. They survived. No others had. The good guys stopped trying to play God after that. The bad guys took it as a cue to what was possible and as a sign to proceed.

Krauss’ strands of DNA and his testing increased a person’s physical strength but did not permit them to be able to shift forms or be immortal. That did set his experiments and those subjected to them apart from the I-Ops, who could indeed fully shift and were technically immortal.

Krauss had found a way to enhance those who were already supernatural. This eluded I-Ops. Basically, Krauss had managed to introduce other aspects of supernaturals into a pre-existing one. Meaning, he could, theoretically, give a vampire similar traits as a werewolf. All and all, Krauss could and would be powerful enough to take down even the I-Ops at the rate he was going. He was a new kind of evil. One who would stop at nothing to rule the world.

Green twisted in his seat once more, keying in the coordinates to the satellite above. It took a second but it synced up and began systematically zooming in as per his instructions, generating 3-D images of the area as it went. The images showed the facility, his van, the second van containing Peren and Missy, and the surrounding area. The moment he spotted vehicles that weren’t supposed to be there, he let out a long breath.

Of course. Nothing can be easy.

Glancing at the screen for Jon, Green estimated their “guests” arrival time. “Bravo Tiger Two, we’ve got a convoy of vehicles moving in from the north. ETA, two minutes.”

“Copy that,” Jon said, no doubt positioning himself to watch through his scope as the convoy approached. “I have a visual.”

That didn’t surprise Green. Jon was part were-tiger and had amazing eyesight to begin with. Add in the use of a scope and it was damn hard to fall out of his line of sight, making Green very happy they were on the same side considering how accurate Jon was within 4000 meters. Anything above that and Jon had to fight the limits of technology. He didn’t have to fight his eyesight.

Green noted that Roi and Lukian had taken out the enemies within the entrance to the facility just in time for his hacks to begin to take effect. The gate opened a second after the Trojan horse Green had loaded into the system a few days prior began to work its magic, taking down the alarms in alternate locations to avoid raising suspicions.

“How are our boys doing?” Peren asked, over her intercom link to Green.

It was easy to pick up how nervous she was and Green was thankful he’d thought to keep the girls off the team’s main line of communication. He didn’t need Lukian or Roi getting distracted by their mates’ concerns. The women could hear the men just fine but until Green flipped another switch, only he could hear the women.

“Alpha Team, proceed to level two,” he said, watching the facility’s sensors for signs of life forms but finding none in the stairwell. “On your left will be the cryogenics room. On the right you’ll find a mini-lab. From there, you’ll see an operating room and according to PSI Intel, a room used to cage animals and humans. I’m not detecting any life forms at present. Proceed with caution.”

“Alpha Team is a go,” Lukian said.

Green watched silently as Lukian entered the room and planted charges. They would not allow any frozen embryos or other DNA material collected by Krauss’ people to survive. As much as they all needed to fully understand DNA splicing and manipulation better, it wasn’t worth the risk of it falling into enemy hands once more. Besides, I-Ops and PSI would never enter back into experiments that could cost lives. They’d learned their lesson long ago and had no intentions of allowing history to repeat itself.

Spinning in his chair, Green spotted another problem. “Shit!”

“Aww, I hate it when he says that,” Wilson, resident smart ass and were-rat extraordinaire, said wryly.

Green ignored him, focusing instead on the three red dots moving down the corridor closest to Wilson and Eadan. “Bravo Rat Three, prepare to engage hostiles in three … two … one.” The door nearest them opened and Green watched with bated breath as Wilson snapped one man’s neck while Eadan, a full-blooded Fae, used his power to silently kill the other two.

Wilson stared at Eadan, his face filling the viewing screen before Green. “Ya think you could give us a bit more warning next time, Mr. Science Geek?”

Green rolled his eyes. “Cut the chatter, Rat.”

Wilson flipped Green off. Green returned the favor even though he knew Wilson couldn’t see it. He smiled. “You’re lucky Eadan is with you or I’d have let you figure out on your own that the enemy was coming.”

Eadan chuckled. “I appreciate that, Green. More than you know.”

Wilson mumbled something about the fucking faerie getting more respect than him and then shut up. Green couldn’t help but laugh. Double checking the satellite feed, he grunted. “Bravo Tiger Two, report.”

“Tell me when they’re done,” Jon said quietly, always a sign he was concentrating on the target. His normally slight southern drawl always seemed to intensify when he stopped thinking about it. He also had a habit of asking his “momma” to forgive him every time he took a man out by way of sniper rifle. Green wasn’t even sure Jon realized he did it, but all in all, it seemed to keep Jon real. The threat of losing touch with humanity was a danger for the I-Ops, one they hoped they’d never succumb to.

“Charges are in place,” Lukian reported. “We need to move, now!”

Green nodded. “Alpha and Bravo Teams, pull out. I repeat, pull out. Charges are set.”

A round of acknowledgements followed as Green kept his eyes on the monitors. He mentally began calculating the amount of time it would take each operative to make it back to the van and then how far they needed to be from the facility to assure a clear, safe distance before detonating the charges.

Lukian and Roi were the first ones to make it back to the van. Roi took the driver’s seat and Lukian rode shotgun. Green thrust the back door open just in time for Jon to hop in. Glancing back at the monitors, Green spotted six red dots moving in on Wilson and Eadan’s location.

“Bravo Rat Three, you’ve got company. Consider my warning an early Christmas present. Roi was planning on buying you cheese. See, my gift is better.”

Wilson snorted and mumbled under his breath, “Asshole.”

“How many?” Eadan asked as he ran next to Wilson. The view, projected out from tiny cameras attached near the bands wrapped around the back of their heads, shook. It was nauseating but Green had grown accustomed to it over the years. Jon looked away, clearly not as conditioned to watching the image shake.

“If you’re planning on being sick, do me the courtesy of doing it outside of the van,” Green said, smiling as Jon’s face paled.

Jon nodded and then hopped out of the van. Green did his best to ignore the retching sound and concentrated on Wilson and Eadan’s progress. Finding it halted, he shot a glance at Lukian. “Captain, they’re pinned in.”

“Jon!” Lukian yelled. “Get your ass in here. Roi, get us to that side of the building, now!”

“Yes, sir.”

The van lurched forward, causing Green to fall against the control panel. He had a half a second to wonder what he might have turned on or off accidentally before he reacted. Green grabbed Jon just in time to pull him in before he’d have been left behind, and then exhaled loudly. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Jon said, his voice a bit off kilter. He patted himself once for good measure obviously not as confident in his answer as he’d have liked all to believe.

“Green, is everyone alive?” Missy asked, reminding him she was up the road waiting. “Are they okay? God, please tell me that Roi didn’t do anything stupid.”

“Hey! I heard that. And I’ll have you know, dear wife, I never do anything stupid while on a mission.” Roi chuckled as he took the van off road and through a six-foot metal fence. “Hot damn!”

It was then Green realized he must have opened the lines of communication to the women when he fell onto the control panel. Now wasn’t the time to worry about it though. The van lifted off the ground again and slammed down, rocking its occupants violently. Equipment that was technically secure scattered about. Their weapons slid away only to be replaced by others.

Lukian smacked Roi upside the back of the head and growled. “Brother, you’re going to get us killed!”

“Technically,” Green said, leaning forward. “We’re immortal, so unless you end up decapitated or something pierces your heart, you should live. Granted, there is always the chance I’m wrong.”

Lukian arched a black brow and stared back at him. It was the one bearing a tiny scar he’d gotten when he was just a boy. Somehow, it had always made him seem more real to Green. “Not helping here, Green. Really.”

“Sorry, Captain.”

“Don’t apologize. Just don’t remind me how losing my head is a bad thing. At least not when I’m about to stick my neck on the line—literally.” Laughing, Lukian leaned out of the window, his M4 Carbine in hand as he laid down cover fire. Wilson and Eadan were still pinned in. They wouldn’t make it out in time with the convoy of men dispersing on the other side of the facility. Green grabbed a M203 Grenade Launcher from the weapons chest to his left, thankful it wasn’t bouncing around the van as well, and handed it to Jon. “Open the back door and fire at the second level, fourth window in from the right.” He glanced at Roi. “Roi, spin in a circle, now!”

“Yeehaw!” Roi yelled, taking his daredevil ways to a new level as he came close to overturning the van. It tipped, lifted off the wheels on one side before slamming back down and bouncing.

“Goddamnit, Major!” Jon snarled, still looking a bit pale.

“Roi, if you get yourself killed, I am never having sex with you again,” Missy bit out over the headsets.

It was illogical but effective. Roi immediately began to behave himself. “Sorry, doll baby.”

Jon thrust the back door open and aimed the weapon higher than need be to aid in the trajectory.

“Eadan, throw power around Wilson and yourself, now,” Green said, calmly into his microphone, knowing the Fae could handle the request. “And I suggest you run now. Trust me when I say a bullet is better than a building falling on you.”

“Tell him the head and heart story,” Roi said, laughing under his breath. “That should make him feel much better about his odds.”

A semi-growl like noise came from Missy.

“Shutting up now, dear,” Roi whispered.

“Oh, shit!” Wilson and Eadan ran full force toward the van. Green grabbed an M-16 and immediately began laying down cover fire for them. Lukian leaned out his window and did the same. Jon hit his mark, as Green knew he would, and the grenade exploded. Eadan dove into the van, careful to stay under Green’s line of fire. Wilson followed suit as something close to a sonic boom followed. Jon grabbed one door and Green grabbed the other, pulling them closed.

“Get us out of here, now!” Lukian shouted.

Roi chuckled “Oh, now you want my Andretti skills.”

“Do not make me shoot you.” The fake snarl from Lukian told them all he was joking.

Eadan lay on his back, laughing as they sped away. Flames engulfed the building, shooting out in all directions. Jon glanced down at Eadan. “Did you snap or do you always laugh when you come close to dying?”

It was Missy who answered. “He always does that. Give him about ten minutes. He’ll snap out of it. I went from one hot dog to another.” She would know how Eadan normally behaved. She’d been married to him years ago. Roi and Eadan had worked out their differences and had come to an understanding.

Roi huffed. “I am not a hot dog. More like a great big, I’m talking huge … mongo even, sausage.”

Everyone laughed. After dangerous missions when everyone made it out relatively unharmed, the men tended to rely on humor to keep their wits and their ties to something non-violent. For too many years they’d been the silent operatives, going in and eliminating targets the world wasn’t even aware it had. It tended to wear on the human side of them while feeding their beasts.

Wilson tapped Green’s leg. “Do me a favor and pull out the bullet in my shoulder I don’t think it’s in deep. I can probably have it healed by morning.”

“Dare I guess how many bullets you’ll take when we get to South America? You seem like a magnet.”

Jon grinned. “I could use him for target practice now so he’s good and conditioned.”

“I want to help,” Roi said, chuckling.

Lukian ignored their banter, pulling a chart out and flicking on his mini-flashlight instead. He was anal about the reports they filed with Colonel Brooks. Green had no doubt that Lukian would have the paperwork needed for the briefing done by the time the rest of them were home and showered.

Eadan nudged Wilson. “If it helps, I have no desire to shoot you—yet.”

“Gee, I feel so much better now.”

Eadan snickered. “Yeah, I thought that would make you feel better. I’m charming like that.”

“Eadan, uhh, umm, never mind,” Green muttered, unsure why thoughts of Melanie’s well-being hit him out of nowhere.

The Fae glanced up at him and gave him a soft look. “Yes, Green. Melanie is still okay. I can sense her through our bond. I’ve never been able to pick up on her activities but when she’s not consciously blocking me, I’m able to read her feelings. I’m guessing she’s resting because its one of the only ways Melanie’s mind relaxes enough not to fight back.”

Exhaling, Green nodded. “Thank you.”

“You know,” Wilson arched a brow, “you could just call her. Ask her out on a date. Read from one of those boring science books. Talk about mating rituals of penguins or whatever else geeks like you enjoy. Anything.”

“I will.” As Green said it, he knew it was a lie. He’d never gather the courage to ask someone like Melanie out. She was so vibrant, so carefree, a woman he couldn’t understand but couldn’t get out of his mind either.

“Mmmhmm.” The look on Wilson’s face said he didn’t believe for a second Green would call. He was right.

“Uhh, not to break up this ‘feel good’ moment,” Jon pointed at the viewing screens, “but is that a guy on the corner of the guard shack with an RPG launcher?”

For a split second, no one said a word. The moment Jon lunged toward the weapons chest, everyone, including Roi, who was driving, reached for one. Lukian smacked him in the back of the head again. “Idiot, watch the road!”

“Oh, right.”

The rest of the men armed themselves with something capable of shooting longer distances and went into action. Eadan sat up, lifted his hands and released his magik. It ran over Green, making the air around him buzz and the hair on his arm stand on end. The doors to the van burst open. Jon and Wilson began firing.

“Take out that RPG!” Lukian yelled as if they needed to be told something so obvious.

Green tapped Jon’s shoulder. “Too high, you’re over shooting.”

“Ha, Mr. Science Geek thinks he can do better.” Wilson fired as much as his mouth ran. That always left him going through ammo quicker than others.

Ignoring his comment, Green held his weapon, aimed, doing his best to mentally calculate the rate at which the vehicle was moving, versus the position of the man about to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at them, and fired. The man dropped as he fired the RPG. All of them watched in horror as a trail of fire seemed to streak towards them.

“Oh shit,” Green whispered.

“See, when he says that,” Wilson glanced at Green, “it’s always bad.”

“Nah.” Roi chuckled, glancing in the review mirror. “That’s going wide. It’ll miss us by a—”

The RPG shot past the van, narrowly missing it and causing it to rock slightly. Roi looked at Lukian. “Umm, by a centimeter or two. See. All is fine. Anyone else impressed Green stepped up and nailed the guy with one shot?”

Putting his hand up, Green let out a soft laugh. “I am.”

“Just another day at the office, buddy.” Jon patted Green on the shoulder. “Nice shot.”

“I’m getting too old for this shit.”

“Aren’t we all?”