The team followed him back down to the ground floor. Liquid Sky had tried to bail out a side exit to make their escape but Nikita had that angle in his field of fire. They retreated back into the hospital but now it was a question of whether they would hard point it and wait for extraction or attempt another breakthrough and escape. They could hear the shouting just ahead of them.
Women were screaming. Somewhere in the fray a man’s voice could be heard.
“Get the fuck outta the way!” the voice echoed.
Bursting into the burn ward, Deckard shot glance over the front sight of his 1911 and caught a flash of the enemy as the Liquid Sky member moved into the next room. Sprinting between occupied beds, several patients turned to look at him. Others were in no state to do anything other than let a machine breath for them. Rear security hadn’t spotted Deckard yet and he pushed into the next room.
His shot blasted through a hanging IV bag, spraying the fluid into the air. The .45 caliber round ricocheted off the metal pole that had held up the bag, saving his target from growing a third eye. The shooter ducked and dived through a doorway after his comrades.
A flashbang grenade rolled into the room and spun across the floor towards Deckard’s feet. Without hesitating, Deckard kicked it back. The distraction device made it halfway back to the door before it went off. Even through he knew enough to turn away, the flash was momentarily blinding. The bang was enough to rattle all three of the mercenaries for a few seconds.
Shaking away the spots in his vision, the three mercenaries ran through the orthopedic department and out into the courtyard just in time to see the trail Liquid Sky member slip over the wall and out onto the street on the back side of the building. Their blind spot where Nikita and Pat had no coverage.
“Shooter-One, Gunner-One,” Deckard called out Nikita and Pat’s callsigns. “Secure the body you made and get to the extraction site. We are going to pursue.”
Without waiting for a response, Deckard ran at full speed towards the high wall. Leaping into the air, he planted a foot on the wall and pushed off it, vaulting himself up onto the the lip of the wall where he grabbed hold. Pulling himself over the top, he stayed low as he slid over the wall and dropped down into the dirt and trash on the ground.
Five shadows moved down the street ahead of him. The third world stench was thick in the air as burning trash, body odor, and diesel exhaust combined with the stifling heat. The shadows were in a mad dash, no doubt having shifted their extraction point by radio. Kurt and Aghassi dropped down along side him as they scaled the wall.
Staying in the shadows cast by the wall, the Samruk mercenaries ran after Liquid Sky. They didn’t get far before a white van blasted around the corner up ahead and screeched to a halt. Red brake lights blinked as the van rocked forward before settling into place. The sliding door opened and the five shooters piled inside.
Deckard stepped out into the street, leveling his pistol. With Aghassi and Kurt, the three of them unloaded their handguns into the van. Bullets pockmarked the metal siding, one taking out a rear light as the van sped away but none of them seemed to strike the driver of the getaway vehicle. Now under fire, the van took the first right hand turn to escape the killzone.
Cutting up another side street, Deckard’s lungs felt like they were about to collapse on him. He still wasn’t fully recovered from his previous mission. Although a week and a half had done a lot to help him heal up he still wasn’t nearly at a hundred percent. For a moment, it seemed futile. Back on the main boulevard he turned his head. Sweat stinging his eyes, he spotted a single break light. The van was caught in traffic.
Kurt Jager moved to the nearest car as the driver slowed. Tearing open the door, he grabbed the mustached Pakistani by the head and tossed him out of the vehicle. The mercenaries got in and slammed the doors. Seeing the firepower they were carrying, the driver decided to leave well enough alone.
As Kurt took the wheel, Deckard keyed his radio again.
“We’re heading West,” he announced. Towards the port.
As Kurt began nudging cars out of the way and driving up on the shoulder to get ahead, the driver of the van noticed that they were still being pursued and did the same. Spinning the wheel, the driver took them onto another side street, finding an alternate route to the port of Karachi. By now they were less than a mile away from the port. The van driver now slammed on the accelerator, slowing down enough to prevent the vehicle from spinning out as the paved road turned to dirt.
Kurt Jager downshifted. Experienced in rally racing, Kurt got everything he possibly could out of the third world jalopy. It wasn’t much. Deckard held on to the door to prevent himself from being thrown around the back seat. They were gaining on the van but now the plume of dust kicked up in its wake was obscuring Kurt’s vision. He was forced onto the shoulder of the road, otherwise he would be driving faster than he could see.
As the dust cleared, Kurt immediately yanked the steering wheel to the left to avoid a giant crane the size of the tractor trailer that was parked on the side of the road.
The van driver realized he had an accidental weapon on his hands and began swerving back and forth to kick up an even bigger dust cloud. Leaning into the next turn, Kurt was forced to slow down or risk slamming into another crane or pallet of bricks.
Deckard gritted his teeth, the dust coming through the window sticking to his lips. His suspicions had been confirmed in triplicate. Liquid Sky was the real deal and they were about to slip outside his grasp for good.
Kurt veered left with the road and the dust finally cleared. Looking at a parallel running road, they could see that they had missed a turn. The van was racing towards the end of the port and now there was a set of train track between them and their target.
The port was lit up in a golden glow at night, the shadows wavering through the sedan as Kurt struggled to stay on their query. Tanker ships bobbed in the dark waters, the golden flow from their deck lights bouncing gently on the waves. Connex containers and oil containers flashed between them and the van as they ran parallel paths.
The former GSG-9 commando finally found a passage over the tracks and cut the wheel. The van was doing the same, nosing towards the towering cranes that indicated a commercial shipping yard. The vehicles shot through the connex container storage area and out onto the loading docks. The van stopped near the first crane and the five shadows spilled out. They driver jumped out as well for a total of six.
Anticipating their next move, Kurt put a small administrative building between themselves and Liquid Sky. Gunfire chased them until they reached their cover. Bullets continued to streak through the thin sheet metal walls and shatter windows. To their flank, Deckard heard the roar of a high powered boat engine gassing towards the dock. The long slick craft passed them and slowed down alongside the dock. The mercenaries kicked open the car doors before they had even slowed to a stop.
Taking a knee, Deckard broke cover from behind the structure and returned fire. At forty meters, it was a long shot with his .45 caliber pistol but at least it gave some maneuver room for Kurt and Aghassi to move.
The motor boat pulled up alongside the dock and one by one the Liquid Sky shooters dropped down into it. When the entire team was aboard the boat peeled off. The mercenaries ran for the edge of the dock, firing after the boat but it was too late. The boat powered off into the night, leaving them behind.
Deckard stood with his pistol in slide lock, trying to catch his breath while reloading.
That was when the van exploded and knocked them to the ground.
The sides of the van bulged outwards, tearing at the seams to let an orange fireball escape from inside. The fire curled into air and became black smoke. Deckard groaned as he pulled himself to his feet. He was sweating profusely and now dust was stuck to every inch of exposed skin. He could feel the heat from the fire on his face.
A black SUV pulled up behind them, no doubt vectored in by the giant fireball which gave away their position. Pat got out of the drivers side, hefting his PKM machine gun out with him. Nikita got out of the passenger side with his HK 417 sniper rifle.
“We lost them,” Aghassi said shaking his head. He wasn’t accustomed to losing his targets. As a Special Operations soldier he had lived as a nomad in Afghanistan where he watched terrorists for weeks and months, living like a local. He was once placed in a Pakistani prison in order to eavesdrop on imprisoned Al Qaeda operatives in an attempt to locate Osama Bin Laden. Everyone knew that Aghassi was someone who got the job done when it came to Human Intelligence. He had proved it to Deckard in Mexico.
“We lost them,” he repeated. They all knew that they didn’t have any other leads. They were on the trail of a black ops team that specialized in two things, killing and not being found.
Deckard slammed home a fresh magazine and thumbed the slide release. He said nothing as he holstered the weapon.
“Take a look,” Nikita said to him, reverting back to his native language of Russian. Deckard was still learning that one but understood what the sniper meant.
Nikita opened the SUV’s rear door. Inside was the body of the Liquid Sky shooter that he had killed when they had initially exited the hospital. The 7.62 round had smashed his face pretty good, enough to leave it unrecognizable in a photograph.
On the other side of the wharf, red and blue police lights were flashing.
“Get us out of here,” he told Pat. The entire Samruk International team got inside with Deckard crawling into the back. As they began driving, he pulled out a small LED red light to look over the body. He he was a big dude, Caucasian, definitely lifted weights.
Underneath his clothes, the shooter wore concealable body armor. Over it was a locally procured chest rig that held magazines for the MP5 sub-machine gun that he had been carrying. It looked like the tags had been cut from his clothing and kit, predictably, the team had gone in sterile.
Deckard suddenly realized that he might have known this man in another life. Was he rifling through the body of a guy he had gone to Special Forces selection with? A Ranger buddy from back in the Regiment? Was this a former team mate who had gone over to the other side? He pushed the thought away.
As the police lights closed in, Pat positioned the SUV between two connex containers and cut the headlights. A half dozen police cars screamed by towards the scene of the explosion. Once they had passed, Pat crept back onto the road, turned on the headlights, and began driving towards their safe house.
The corpse also had tattoos. A red crusader cross on the forearm. SPQR tattooed on the shoulder. Stripping off the chest rig and body armor, Deckard located a black rectangle on the ribcage. It was where Nazi soldiers would get their dog tag information tattooed during World War Two. Many modern day soldiers, including Americans, had adopted the practice. This soldier had gone back to a tattoo studio to have that information blacked out rather than pay for a laser removal.
He had nothing. Maybe dental records if he could get access to military databases but even that seemed doubtful. Half the guys in the military had similar or identical tattoos.
Deckard leaned back against the side of the SUV as Pat navigated the back roads of Karachi. Cold sweat tickled down his neck and seeped into his clothes. It hit him like sucker punch.
He was trying to analyze what he had to try to find a lead where there was none. What he did have was a body. What he did know for a fact was that Liquid Sky had just had a member killed in action. What he had was an opportunity, an opportunity to entice Liquid Sky into finding him.
Come tomorrow morning, Liquid Sky would be looking for a new Operator.
He knew just what name to drop in the hat.