by Brian and Khrys Vaughan

Chapter One

The setting sun shines upon Peter’s dark shades as pulls on his bullet proof vest, and with great urgency, slides a clip into the pistol’s housing; his hands slightly, but visibly shaking.  Never did he think it would come to this.  Years of chasing and running, dodging bullets, collisions.  Was this really going to be the last time?

An armed man approaches. “Sir, we’re ready whenever you are.”

He looks at him through his tinted shades and gives him a slight nod, then turns his attention to the enormous building across the street – its mirrored windows reflecting the setting sun.  Slowly, he turns around and faces his men, all in black gear and ready to go.

“All right guys.  This is our chance to get this maniac once and for all,” Peter briefs his Special Operations team.  Their position didn’t really provide any cover. Then again he wasn’t looking for any.  All he wanted to do was get in and get his family.  But he knew the consequences of rushing into a situation – especially with this man whose heart was full of hatred, and hell bent on revenge.  It has been a long ongoing battle between these two. Though of similar background, somehow Diablo had been able to maintain the upper hand in their little adventures.  And now, he had his family hostage.

On the 31st floor, a shadowy figure moves across the window.

“Sir, I can see him now. And I see your wife and son.” the sniper reports, still looking through his scope at Diablo and his group of ruthless killers.

“Sir, just let me take the shot.”

“No, stay put til I say otherwise.  I’m not going to jeopardize my family’s safety.  Believe me. He knows that we are here. Don’t be fooled.”

Peter’s men remain strategically positioned throughout the building and on nearby rooftops.  This is the second hour of the standoff and not a single movement nor word from Diablo.  Peter has grown increasingly impatient and agitated. And even though he knows this is just one of Diablo’s games, this time the stakes are different.

“Keep your eyes on him and let me know what is going on at all times.  There can’t be any mistakes; especially not today. Understand?”  Peter says.

“Yes sir.”

Peter waves to the rest of his team to move in closer to position.  They all gather around him, MP-50 semi-automatic weapons drawn.  Peter kneels beside them and draws out his twin .45 caliber pistols from their holster. A gift from his father who had them specially made and engraved upon his promotion to Director of Special Operations at the FBI.

“He has my wife and son in there with him. There will be no time for distractions so you will proceed as planned.  I don’t care if Diablo comes out dead or alive as long as my family is out of harm’s way.  Save that gun-ho crap for later, but if it’s Diablo or his men, kill at will.  Now let’s get moving.”

Peter holds the pistols by his sides as he and the men scurry toward the building.  Their boots quietly scuffle across the cracked, cemented entrance to the building.

“Which floor?” asks Peter.

“Still on the 31st. And it looks like your boy is finally making a move.  Men are scrambling everywhere and they’re packing.  I guess after two hours, he figured he’d better do something.  Glad I’m not down there.” says the agent.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.  Well, this is it.  Dead or alive, and do not shoot while my family is in the way.”  He then pauses briefly, “And if by chance you don’t get him, leave that maniac to me!”

They push through the double glass doors and FBI agents spread through the building; two head to the electrical room. Lights flicker as the emergency power comes to life. It strikes Peter as ironic that red is now the color that illuminates the building’s hallways.

“All right, let’s put ’em on.” Peter says.

From their vests, the agents pull out what appear to be sunglasses.  As they put them on, a small microphone emerges from the side.  They are mainly used for infrared, but can also detect body heat, radioactivity, and used as a mini-computer if needed, transmitting data across the lenses which it can also record and store. The lenses turn red around the retinal area, allowing them to see clearly as they advance through the dimly lit corridors. A cold chill flows over Peter’s body as he makes his way through a set of doors.

“You, make your way over in that direction.” Peter motions to part of the team, pointing in the opposite direction. “This building has 40 floors.”

The men head off into the distance.  Their black outerwear disappears in the darkness.  Peter and the rest of his men just begin to search the bottom levels when Peter hears footsteps coming toward them.

“Look out!” Peter shouts through the microphone extending from his glasses.  Gunshots start to erupt in the main foyer signaling they had been waiting for Peter’s arrival.

“You men continue on!  Find my family! I’ll take care of the men here and continue on this way.” Peter shouts to his team behind him. “You two. Stay with me.”

The rest of the men split into groups of three.  Peter whips out his two .45 caliber pistols and opens fire.  His opponents, also equipped with their own night vision devices.  Shots ring out as Peter fires his pistols, diving past one of the pillars.  Diablo’s men move closer, steadily firing semi-automatic weapons.  One of Peter’s men gets hit in the arm as he fires back.  Peter peeks his head out from behind the pillar.  Instantly the pillar shatters.  Peter hops to his feet, pistols in hand.  He spins around another pillar, taking aim at one of the armed men, and fires.  The bullet soars through the dimly lit foyer, and finds its target, striking the man in the chest. He falls to the ground, dead.  Peter eyes his next target, another man to the left of him who is caught off guard and hurries to take aim, but Peter is quicker.  A round is fired into the man’s chest.  As his comrade, he too falls dead.

“You guys all right?”  Peter shouts through the comm, checking on his team as he dives out of the way and behind another pillar.

“Yes sir!” an agent rapidly responds.

Bullets soar past them at incredible speed, shattering walls and anything else in their way.  The clamor of gun fire fills the air.  Peter’s men cover him as he advances. Two armed men appear, one on each side of him, and open fire. Peter runs up one of the pillars, returning fire in midair. Both men fall to the ground as he lands and goes into a roll avoiding crazed bullets. He comes to his feet behind yet another armed man, immediately placing his gun to his head.  As the man begins to raise his hands, Peter hears footsteps behind him.  He spins around, placing the man in front of him as a shield.  Bullets penetrate the man as Peter holds onto him and fires at the oncoming armed men.  They fall like flies as Peter drops the bloody body to the ground.  He dives out of the way as semi-automatic rounds pierce the air. Peter’s men move up to his position.

“Agent Jones, you all right?”

“Yes sir, just a flesh wound. I’ll be fine.”

“All right then, let’s go.”

As Peter and his team walk past the bodies lying in the foyer, a voice suddenly booms over the intercom system.

“Well Peter, I can see you’ve accepted our invitation. Isn’t that right honey?” Diablo says while looking over to the woman sitting in the chair.

“I’m coming baby! Just hold on!” he and team move even faster.

“Peter! Do we really have to go through this, my friend?  I mean what’s the point?  You know I could kill them, and you, without hesitation.  Then again, I like the competition.  The spark in your eye during our encounters, sends chills down my spine, especially now that I have your prized jewels.  What a precious little family.” Diablo says as he walks past the woman.

“Get the rest of the men down there.” says Diablo as he strokes her hair.

“Don’t touch me Robert!” Felicia says, moving her head away from his hand.

“Now, now, Felicia. Is that any way to talk to me?  After all we have been through together?  All the good times we had?  I used to come to your home for dinner.  You made the most delicious Chicken Primavera!  Good old’ days! But now story time is over.” Diablo’s demeanor and voice abruptly changes. “Tell your husband to stand down!” and places the microphone directly in front her mouth.

“Tell him now!” This time, he ensures the microphone hits her lip.

“Peter? Baby? Listen to me.” Felicia begins, “Robert is crazy!  He’s going to kill us no matter what you…” Diablo angrily pulls the microphone away.

“Ignorant woman! You have just signed your death warrant! Take her and the boy away from me!”

“You hear that Peter?! They’re kicking and screaming their way to death. Call this whole thing off before I have to do something you’ll regret!”

“Peter don’t…” Felicia screams in the background.  “Don’t listen to him!”

“No!!!” Peter screams from the stairwell and bursts through the door of the 39th floor.  Surrounded in darkness, he flings open door after door calling Felicia’s name.  In desperation, Peter switches his glasses to night vision. He removes two light grenades from a pocket on his vest and throws them into the hallway. Diablo’s men instantly react to the loud explosion; those closer to the blast attempt to shield themselves from the blinding light. Peter rushes into the hallway and opens fire.  One, two, three, four, five men he counts as they fall to the ground.  Behind him, a man runs out of one of the offices and rushes Peter, picking him up by the waist, pushing him towards the wall.  But Peter places his feet against it, walking up the wall and over the man, landing directly behind him, and presses the cold, stainless steel barrel firmly against the man’s head.

“You have two choices: live and tell me where he is, or die and I find him myself.  Your choice is?”

“All right.  I’ll tell you. Right after you go to Hell!” and makes a last ditch effort to rush Peter again.

Peter shakes his head and fires. “You first my friend. Should’ve spent your last moments getting right with God instead of rushing me.”

Further down the hallway, “Let’s go. There won’t be much time before he gets here.” Diablo says, pulling the cigar from his mouth. “And bring them with you.”

Diablo exits the room knowing Peter will soon be on his tail.  He heads for the elevator with his own .45 caliber drawn.  Felicia’s attempts to struggle with one of the men are futile, but she tries any way, and is dragged along with her son. Peter hears the sound of an elevator opening and runs toward it.

“Felicia!” Just as he reaches them, the elevator doors close. He barely manages to capture a glimpse of his wife inside, cringing in fear.

Peter and his team instinctively head for the stairwell, taking three to four steps at a time.

Diablo instructs his men, “He will be waiting for us when we depart the elevator.  Kill the woman but leave the boy with me.” Diablo sends the elevator downward as a distraction.

Felicia is horrified.  She looks at Diablo with tears in her eyes as one of the men picks up her son.

“No!  Please no!  Robert, stop this please!”  she pleads, but it has no effect.  In all their years, she has never seen him so calculatingly cold-hearted.  She was about to ask him why he was he doing this when she saw a masked man pull the trigger.  The bullet enters her chest. In shock, what’s left of her existence suddenly moves in slow motion. She takes one last look at her son, Michael.  The elevator doors close.

Peter hears the shot ring out from the elevator on the 40th floor just as he and his team come around the corner. He rapidly pushes the button.  The doors reopen to reveal his wife on the ground, bleeding profusely.  He drops to the floor; two members of his team begin administering whatever first aid they can as he caresses her head, telling her how much he loves her.

“Hold on baby. Please hold on! You’re going to make it through this. I am so sorry baby.  So sorry!”

“Shhhh, Peter. Save our son.” she says, barely managing to raise her bloodied hand to touching his lips with her index finger.  But as soon as she does, it drops. She keeps fading in and out, her eyes shutting then slowly re-opening to look at Peter holding her.

“Somebody get an ambulance here, NOW!” he screams as his men look on.

“Baby no….baby!  Don’t go… the ambulance is on its way!” he screams as he cradles his wife in his arms.

“Sir, the ambulance is on its way.  Diablo is about to escape the building and head for a nearby chopper.” says one of the agents.

“You!  Stay with her! Make sure she gets the best care at the hospital!” Peter kisses her forehead, then scrambles away. She dies before he makes it out of the door.

Peter sees Diablo and what’s left of his men making their way toward the chopper and takes off after him. “Give me my son Robert!”

“Daddy!” Michael cries out. “They shot Mommy! You’ve got to help her!”

Diablo slowly turns around and squints as if shielding his eyes from the sun. “Peter? Peter is that you? Imagine that! Why do we always meet like this?  You could have prevented this from happening, you know. As a friend, I warned you what would happen if you pursued me.”

Peter raises his firearm to shoot, but Diablo quickly pulls Michael in front of him as a shield, backing the both of them into the chopper, beyond the range of snipers.  As the helicopter gains altitude, Diablo shouts,

“Peter, you want your son back? I hope you can catch. But then again, you were never good at catching things.” and tosses Michael out of the chopper, laughing as he watches the boy fall.

“Noooooooo!” Peter screams at the top of his lungs, running faster and faster toward his son with outstretched arms; to catch him before he hits the ground.

Diablo still looking on from the copter, smiles, pulls out his .45 and opens fire. Round after round bounces off the asphalt, barely missing Peter’s feet.  Peter’s face turns to rage as he tries to dodge the bullets and still reach for his son, but he was too late. When his son’s limp body bounces off of the ground, Diablo ceases firing and salutes Peter.  Peter rushes to his son’s side, embracing him tightly as he glares at the chopper now in the distance.  Only now does Peter begin to cry. His eyes swell with tears and flood down his cheeks.  Hatred and rage overwhelm him as he sits on the ground rocking back and forth; his dead child in his arms. Diablo would pay. Diablo would pay.

(Working title)