THE POWERS THAT LIE
by Brian and Khrys Vaughan
The setting sun shines upon Peter’s sunglasses. With great urgency, he pulls on his bullet proof vest and slides a clip into his pistol’s housing. His hands slightly, but visibly shake. Never did he think it would come to this. After years of chases, collisions, dodging bullets, was this really going to be the last time?
An armed man approaches, “Sir, we are ready whenever you are.”
Peter looks at him through his tinted shades and acknowledges with a slight nod. He notices the reflection of the setting sun on the mirrored windows of the skyscraper across the street before turning to face men dressed in all black tactical gear awaiting his orders. 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 a man hell bent on revenge.
“All right. This is our chance to get this maniac once and for all,” Peter briefs his Special Operations team. It had been a long ongoing battle. And although they had similar backgrounds, Diablo somehow managed to maintain the upper hand. And now held Peter’s family hostage – his wife, Felicia and his son, Michael.
On the 31st floor, a shadowy figure moved past a window.
“Sir, I see a gunman. And I see your wife and son,” the voice of a sniper breaks through on comm mic. “Permission to take the shot, sir.”
“No! Stay put unless I say otherwise. He knows we’re here. Stay alert.”
Peter’s men cross over and strategically position themselves throughout the building and nearby rooftops. Not a single movement or word has been heard from Diablo in the two hours he’s had his family captive. Peter grows increasingly agitated even though he knows this is just one of Diablo’s games. But this time the stakes are different.
“Stick with the plan,” Peter directs his team. “This is no time for theatrics or distractions. I don’t care if Diablo comes out dead or alive as long as my family is out of harm’s way so save that gun-ho crap for later. As far as Diablo or his men, kill at will. Now let’s get moving.”
Peter waves the rest of his team to move in closer to position. They all gather around him, MP-50 semi-automatic weapons drawn. Peter kneels and draws his twin .45 caliber pistols from their holster — gifts from his father who had them custom made and engraved upon his promotion to Director of Special Operations at the FBI. Their boots quietly scuffle across the floor as they scurry through the building.
“Which story?” Peter asks.
“Still on the 31st, sir. And it looks like he’s finally making a move. His men are scattering everywhere and they’re all armed.” says the agent.
“Well, this is it. Do not shoot if my family is in the way. If by chance you don’t get him, leave that maniac to me!”
They push through a set of double glass doors. Two of the agents head to the electrical room. Lights flicker as the emergency power comes on. It strikes Peter as ironic that red is now the color illuminating the building’s hallways.
“Let’s put ’em on.” Peter says.
The agents remove what appear to be sunglasses from their vests. As they put them on, a small microphone emerges from the side. Mainly used for infrared, they can also detect body heat, radioactivity, and be used as a mini-computer if needed, transmitting data across the lenses to be recorded and stored. Now able 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 in the opposite direction to part of his team. “This building has 40 floors.”
The men head off, disappearing into the darkness. Peter and the rest of his men just begin to search the bottom levels when footsteps are heard coming toward them.
“Look out!” Peter shouts. Gunshots erupt in the main foyer, signaling Diablo’s men had been waiting for Peter’s arrival.
“Continue on! Find my family! I’ll take care of the men here and meet up with you. You two. Stay with me.”
His opponents, also equipped with night vision devices opens fire. Shots ring out as Peter and his men dive past one of the pillars. Diablo’s men move in closer, steadily firing semi-automatic weapons. One of Peter’s men gets hit in the arm as he fires back. Peter peeks from behind the pillar. Instantly it shatters. He hops to his feet, spins around to another, takes 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. Quickly eyeing his next target, another man to the left of him is caught off guard and hurries to take aim, but Peter is quicker.
“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, just a flesh wound. I’ll be fine.”
The clamor of gunfire fills the air. Bullets soar past them shattering walls and anything else in their path. Peter’s men cover him as he advances. Two armed men appear on each side of them and open fire. Peter runs up one of the pillars, returning fire midair. Both fall to the ground as he lands and rolls, avoiding crazed bullets. He comes to his feet behind yet another armed man, but immediately hears footsteps behind him. He spins around, placing the man in front of him as a shield and fires at the oncoming armed men. Peter drops the man’s body to the ground. His men move up to his position.
They walk past the bodies in the foyer. A voice suddenly booms over the building’s intercom system.
“Well, Peter. I 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! Hold on!” he and his team move even faster.
“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 do like that spark in your eye during our little competitions, especially now that I have your jewels. What a precious little family.”
“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? All the good times? I came to your home for dinner. You made the most delicious Chicken Primavera! Yes, good ole days indeed! But now they’re over.” Diablo’s demeanor and voice abruptly changes. “Tell your husband to stand down!”
“Tell him now!” Diablo places the microphone directly in front her mouth, ensuring it hits her lip.
“Peter? Baby? Listen to me,” she begins, “Robert is crazy! He’s going to kill us no matter what you…” Diablo angrily pulls the microphone away.
“Stupid woman! You 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 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. In desperation, Peter removes two light grenades from his vest, tossing them into the hallway. Diablo’s men instantly react, attempting to shield themselves from the blinding light. Peter’s men rush into the hallway and open fire.
“One, two, three, four, five…” he counts men as they fall to the ground. Just then, a man runs out of one of the offices behind him and rushes Peter, picking him up by the waist, pushing him towards the wall. But, Peter places his foot against it, walking up and over the man, landing behind him. He 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.”
“All right. I’ll tell you. Right after you go to Hell!” The man makes a last ditch effort to rush Peter again. Peter shakes his head and fires.
“You first my friend. Your last moment would’ve been better spent getting right with God.”
Further down the hallway, “Let’s go. There’s not much time before he gets here.” Diablo says, pulling the cigar from his mouth. “And bring them with you.”
Diablo exits the room and heads for the elevator with his own .45 caliber drawn, knowing Peter will soon follow. Felicia struggles with the men holding them in vain, 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, barely allowing him a glimpse of his wife cringing in fear.
Peter and his team instinctively head back to the stairwell. They bound three to four steps at a time.
“He will be waiting for us when we exit the elevator. Kill the woman, but leave the boy with me.” Diablo instructs his men, and sends the elevator downward as a distraction. Horrified, Felicia looks at Diablo with tear filled eyes as one of his men picks up her son, tearing him from her grasp.
“No! Robert, stop this please!” She pleads, but it has no effect. A masked man steps in front of her and pulls the trigger. The bullet enters her chest. In shock, what’s left of her existence moves in slow motion. She takes one final look at her son as the elevator doors close.
Peter hears the shot ring out on the 40th floor just as he and his team come around the corner. He rapidly pushes the elevator buttons. The doors open revealing his wife on the ground, bleeding profusely. His team members immediately call for an ambulance and begin administering aid. Peter drops to the floor and caresses her head.
“Hold on baby. Please hold on! You’re going to make it through this. I am so sorry baby. So sorry!”
“Shhhh, Peter.” she says, barely managing to raise her bloodied hand to touching his lips with her index finger. “Save our son.” Her hand drops. She repearedly fades in and out of consciousness, her eyes shutting then slowly re-opening looking at Peter as he holds her.
“Where’s the ambulance?!” he screams. “Baby no….baby! Don’t go… the ambulance is on its way!” his men look on as he cradles his wife in his arms.
“Sir, the ambulance is a block away.”
Another agent runs up, “Sir, Diablo is headed for a chopper!”
“You! Stay with her! Make sure she gets whatever she needs!” Peter closes his eyes tightly and lingers a moment after kissing her forehead, then scrambles away. She dies before he makes it out of the door.
Peter and what’s left of his team make their way toward the chopper. They see Diablo and take off after him. “Give me my son Robert!”
“Daddy!” Michael cries out. “They shot Mommy! You’ve got to help her!”
Diablo slowly turns to face Peter and squints as if shielding his eyes from the sun. “Peter? Peter is that you? Look everyone. It’s Peter!” Diablo merrily says to his men who in turn laugh. “Why do we always meet like this? You could have prevented this, you know. As a friend, I warned you of what would happen if you pursued me.”
Peter raises his firearm, 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 it.” He tosses Michael out of the chopper and laughs 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. Michael’s limp body bounces off of the ground. Diablo ceases firing and salutes Peter. Peter rushes to his son’s side and holds him tightly as he glares at the chopper in the distance. Only now does Peter allow himself 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.