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The General: The Luke Titan Chronicles (4/6), page 1

 

The General: The Luke Titan Chronicles (4/6)
 

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The General: The Luke Titan Chronicles (4/6)


  The General

  The Luke Titan Chronicles

  David Beers

  For Heather Cowan. You and I both know the tremendous effort it took to edit this book. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  On Purpose and Other Things

  Also by David Beers

  Prologue

  The sun shone down with such ferocity that it seemed to be taking revenge on the small Venezuelan town for some slight that no one could quite remember. At one in the afternoon, the streets were nearly empty because the people simply couldn’t handle the heat. Even the dogs knew it was smarter to seek shade than to venture out looking for scraps.

  Christian Windsor sat in the back of an unmarked van, sweat soaking through his shirt. He kept having to wipe his forehead, and had already downed two bottles of water in the past hour. The van’s air conditioning couldn’t keep up.

  There were four vans in total, two on the block opposite of Christian’s, and another sitting in front of him. He wondered if it was too many, but the local authorities had promised that the vans were nothing out of the ordinary. They all looked worn out, Christian’s almost broken. He had stared out the front window as they drove, and saw the Venezuelan police hadn’t been exaggerating—destroyed vans littered the city.

  Christian didn’t know for certain that Luke Titan was less than five hundred yards from him, but the probability was high. Christian had done something similar to this three other times in the past eighteen months, and each time he’d come up empty handed. In all three instances, Christian had been right that Luke Titan was there … only wrong on his timing.

  Not now, though. Luke’s here and you’re going to get him.

  “How much longer?” he asked.

  Six people sat in the back of the van, with a driver and passenger up front. The people in front wore overalls, looking like painters. Those in the back wore heavy, bullet-proof armor; all had multiple guns holstered to their bodies. Each held an automatic weapon on their lap, and none of the men appeared to have a single ounce of fat on them.

  “Ten minutes,” the man to Christian’s right said.

  He didn’t know these people. They weren’t with the FBI, but from other federal departments. Most likely the CIA, though Christian didn’t concern himself with that. How these people arrived here and where they came from was FBI Director Alan Waverly’s job.

  Christian’s job was to capture Luke Titan.

  The operation teams had ceased demanding that Christian remain in the States while their missions took place. Waverly had done a good job stating Christian’s case and refusing their sidelining of Christian. He would be there when they either cuffed or killed Luke.

  Christian used the towel on his lap to wipe sweat from his brow. He wore the same gear as those around him, though they hadn’t equipped him with anything automatic. His pistol was strapped to his side; he’d practiced enough over the last year to pass as a decent shot.

  “Bravo Team, come in, over.” The walkie-talkie (there was a technical name for this, of course, but Christian couldn’t have cared less) sprang to life on Christian’s right.

  “Bravo Team here, over,” the man holding the walkie-talkie said.

  “We have eyes on the target. He’s crossing the street and heading to home base.”

  Christian stared at the bearded man next to him, desperately wanting to hear the words that would set the troops loose. The man didn’t return his look.

  “Copy. Distance? Over.”

  “Twenty feet, over.”

  The van pulled away from the curb, the person driving knowing the plan of attack.

  Christian watched out the front window as they took a right.

  And then he saw Luke.

  He was wearing shorts and a light blue linen shirt. Flip-flops adorned his feet.

  The van sped up and didn’t pause for the curb, but jumped right onto it, causing everyone inside to bounce atop their benches. Christian saw the other three vans moving in as well, flying across the street and jumping onto the apartment building’s brown lawn.

  “Subdue target at all costs,” the man to his right said into the walkie-talkie.

  The van slammed to a stop and Christian watched as everyone emptied out, each agent holding their automatic weapon at eye level.

  Christian stood as the last man jumped out, intent on following just as quickly, yet he paused and glanced out the front window. Luke had turned around and was watching the men dispersing from the vans. His hands weren’t raised, and even from Christian’s current distance, he could see the smile on his ex-partner’s face.

  Luke’s eyes scanned his surroundings and somehow—despite the thirty men beginning to surround him—found Christian. He raised his hand and gave a slight wave.

  Christian jumped from the van and rounded its corner. His pistol was at eye level, and he immediately focused it on Luke.

  “Christian,” his ex-partner called across the dead lawn, “if I didn’t know better, I would think you miss me. You seem to be constantly trying to find me.”

  “KNEEL THE FUCK DOWN!”

  Christian didn’t know who screamed at Luke; he wouldn’t take his eyes off the fugitive to figure it out, either. In a year and a half, they had never been this close to him. This was the first time Christian had laid eyes on the man outside of video recordings—the first time since Luke gutted him and stabbed him through the face.

  “Christian, why are you doing this to yourself?” Luke asked. He hadn’t knelt nor made any other movement. “I told you I would come for you, didn’t I? I said I’d see you soon, see all of you soon. Why are you inviting me before the time is right?”

  “GET THE FUCK DOWN!” someone else screamed.

  Christian wouldn’t have believed it if he wasn’t there. Had someone told him what happened, he would have thought it myth, something to build up Luke’s legacy. Christian was there, though, and neither his eyes nor mind lied to him.

  Someone was moving in on Luke’s right, perhaps the person that just screamed at him.

  Luke’s face flashed to him, though the rest of his body remained toward Christian. The fully armored man holding the automatic weapon stopped dead in his tracks. The entire group was closing in on Luke, encircling and ensnaring him, but that man stopped moving forward once caught in Luke’s stare. He paused, even as the rest of the group continued tightening the noose.

  Luke looked back to Christian.

  “Okay, then,” he said. “Have it your way.”

  Christian was twenty yards out from where Luke stood, while the rest of the team was maybe five yards away. Luke took a step back and raised his hands in the air.

  “DO NOT MOVE! DON’T FUCKING TAKE ANOTHER STEP!”

  “I’m not resisting,” Luke said, moving back another step.

  Christian’s body was entranced by Luke’s stare, but his mind wasn’t. It saw what was happening even as no one else did. He was retreating, but there wasn’t anywhere for him to go. There was another reason for it.

  “NO!
Christian shouted, just as Luke’s foot reached the stoop to his apartment. “GET BACK!”

  The armed men heard Christian and paused briefly, a few even looking over their shoulders. Luke stepped fully onto the stoop. Other men started screaming now, Christian having set off some sort of panic in them. They yelled at Luke to get down, to surrender, to do everything except what the fuck he was doing.

  “Christian!” Luke shouted above the fray of voices. “You did this!”

  Christian’s mind categorized it all, even though his eyes couldn’t completely keep up as it occurred. It was only later that he would be able to replay it back with a writer’s attention to detail—everything perfectly in place as if he’d written the scene himself.

  The yard simply exploded.

  Christian watched as dirt first shot up, followed immediately by both fire and crumbling concrete. The earth shook beneath him as more debris and flame flew upwards, as if cannons had been installed beneath the street and then fired simultaneously. The men in front of Christian had no chance, and if he hadn’t paused inside the van, he would have died as easily as they did. Their bodies were blown apart from the blasts, legs separating from torsos like steamed chicken legs. Blood burst from ripped organs, coagulating on the dust in the air and creating a mist. A red, dirty mist.

  Christian hit the ground. Concrete rained down around him and he put his hands over his head, rolling onto his stomach. He kept his eyes open though, through the blood permeating the air and the destruction falling from the sky. He kept his eyes on Luke, watching him smile. Christian didn’t look away even as people died around him. Shots were fired, ricocheting off the building behind him, yet as if Luke was somehow guarding Christian—saving him for a worse fate—nothing touched him.

  The last explosion splattered dirt and body parts across the ground. Christian tried to regain his feet, stumbling as he did and falling to a knee.

  “Stop chasing me, Christian,” Luke called, though Christian could hardly hear his words through the ringing in his ears. “You’ll have your chance soon enough.”

  Chapter 1

  Charles Twaller understood how people viewed his weight in the same way that a dog understands how people viewed it … not that he didn’t care; it was that he didn’t even think about it. At 5’5” and 300 pounds, Charles made less than an impressive figure.

  Charles didn’t give a fuck about any of that, though. Truly, the last time he worried about his weight was in the fifth grade when some punk kid called him “fatso.” The kid went home with a broken nose and an eye so swollen he couldn’t see out of it for a week.

  Twelve years later, after Charles graduated college, he went back home and killed that punk kid. So, maybe, Charles had thought about it once more since fifth grade, but not fucking much.

  Charles was 21 when he killed his first person. He was now 35 and didn’t know how many people had died by his hand, let alone how many people murdered at his behest. The number was high, to say the least.

  Charles Twaller had a few mottos he lived by; he found comfort in mottos, things that he could go back to over and over when the world around him started getting stressful. He didn’t walk around quoting them or anything; he lived by them.

  One of them was from a song he once heard; he didn’t know what song or who sang it, didn’t give a fuck about that either, it was the words that mattered.

  And it’s you I’ll come for.

  He thought about that when he killed the punk kid, not to mention other times while committing murder. It helped focus his mind in those moments, when life was about to be extinguished. Because Charles wanted to focus then, to soak it in.

  He always giggled when he killed someone. Well, maybe not always—but quite often. It was the way they fell, all awkward and without control. He just couldn’t help but giggle like a little girl when they collapsed, fingers twitching and eyes staring straight forward at some endless peace.

  Charles wasn’t in the business of death, per se. He wasn’t a contract killer, and he never went around just offing people. He was very specific about the people he killed, and though murder wasn’t his business, it was next door to his business.

  Charles primarily dealt in guns. Weapons of all kinds. Tanks, pistols, automatic rifles. It didn’t matter. He loved guns, had always loved them. The old saying was true, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life—and Charles loved every single day he woke up and got to transport guns.

  He shipped them across state lines and international boundaries. He held them in warehouses and supplied them to warlords. Charles didn’t care who needed them, nor what their reasoning was; he cared that their money came through on time and securely.

  Charles Twaller wasn’t an idiot by any means. He had a secondary degree in mathematics, and had originally worked for an insurance company. The path upward would have been easy enough—Charles was smart, his only family his mother and sister, and with no friends, he had all the time in the world to climb that corporate ladder. He just didn’t see the return on investment being great enough. Even with the healthcare and 401k match, how many years would it take him to reach a million dollars net worth? Too-fucking-many. Plus, Charles had liked killing that punk kid, and he certainly wouldn’t have been able to do that in the actuary department of State Farm.

  So, Charles had done what any entrepreneurial young man would do; he started a side business. His was illegal, of course, but Charles wasn’t real big into imaginary lines the government said you couldn’t cross. He wasn’t real big into anyone’s lines but his own.

  He had another motto he liked.

  Advance, whatever the costs.

  So that’s what Charles did.

  He.

  Advanced.

  And things moved quickly. At 25, he was a fat man with a master’s degree in math and a job at an insurance company. By 35, he was a fat man with a master’s degree and five million dollars net worth, though the government only knew about five hundred thousand of it.

  Still, Charles knew that sooner or later, the imaginary lines he cared nothing for would suddenly show up in bright red. They would cease to be imaginary when he was facing three life sentences for trafficking weapons, not to mention the murders they would most likely pin on him. He could keep grinding like this, amassing great wealth, but in the end, bad deeds would be noticed.

  There was his mother to think about, too. He sent money home every few months, and with no man in her life, his mom could use the cash.

  Charles needed a score that would set him for life. A score that would allow him to never need worry about money again. Five million was a nice nest egg, but Charles wasn’t sure that would keep him and Momma their entire lives. He could spend money like nobody’s business. And if he was caught? The egg was fried.

  On a Friday at three in the afternoon, Charles Twaller was wondering if he’d finally found the score he needed.

  The amount of weapons in his warehouse was staggering, even for him. He didn’t know if he’d ever seen this many guns in one place, and that was a powerful statement. He’d walked around armories with African Kings, his fat belly protruding before him as if he was pregnant.

  But this, what he looked at now …

  “What the fuck is he going to do with all of them?”

  Two bodyguards stood behind Charles, neither saying a word. Charles didn’t want them to and they knew it. The people that worked around the fat man quickly learned what he wanted, and if they didn’t, they were seeking new employment.

  Charles knew their names because he knew everything about his business, but he would never say them aloud. He liked not calling anyone who worked for him by their names. It gave him a sense of … importance. Guns, money, importance—these were the things that mattered to the fat man. And mottos. Mottos kept the world moving, after all.

  The fifth shipment of weapons would arrive today and Charles was ready for them. He had his two bodyguards inside with him, but twenty more men we
re in the parking lot. The heat was awful outside and Charles liked making them wait in it.

  Let ‘em sweat.

  The eighteen wheeler rolled over the parking lot’s gravel, and the sound of crunching rocks reached Charles’s ears.

  He turned and looked out the window.

  Sure enough, old Hector had arrived.

  Charles waddled across the floor and out the nearest door, exiting the air conditioning into the intense heat. This Georgia sun was for the damned birds; Charles preferred his Boston home to this, but he went where the money compelled him, and this man wanted his weapons in south Georgia.

  So Charles, being the businessman he was, arranged for it to happen.

  The Mexican truck driver hopped out from the cab. Charles knew the man’s actual name was David, but he liked to think of the spic as Hector. What kind of a Mexican named their kid David?

  Hector was about to die, though he didn’t know it. It wasn’t the best idea, and Charles understood that, but he didn’t think he was dealing with the cartel here. Hector was just some spic that got hired for the job; he wasn’t connected, so his death wouldn’t cause a lot of turmoil.

  Plus, people knew that drivers died around Charles Twaller. It wasn’t anything abnormal.

  “It’s all there,” the Mexican said as he crossed the gravel parking lot.

  “Good, good. How was the drive?” Charles said as he extended his hand.

  “No problems.”

  The two shook hands and Charles turned to look at the back of the truck. His men were standing around it, dollies and forklifts ready to transfer the payload to the warehouse.

  “Mind if I get the keys so the guys can get started?”

 
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