Authors: Riley Edwards
A Red Team Novel
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Riley Edwards
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review
Cover Image: image credit/copyright - Vasily Pindyurin photography.
Cover design: Riley Edwards
Editor: Jay C. Layne
Proofreader: Tammy - Book Nook Nuts Proofreading
Nightstalker | Red Team book 1
First edition – July, 2016
Copyright 2016 Riley Edwards
All rights reserved
To RCM this is yours as much as it is mine. Without you none of this would have come about. You never let me quit, you pushed me when I wanted to hide away for a hundred years. Thank you! I love you long time!
To JAL thank you for taking this jumbled up mess of 275,195 characters and making it to exactly what I had envisioned. Thank you for guiding me and helping me. You know?
Erin Trejo girl you rock a bad ass biker book like no one’s business! Thank you for listening to my many breakdowns. Thank you for talking my off the ledge, and always knowing the right things to say. I heart you chick!
One more THANK YOU - There are many authors that have inspired me. Made me fall in love with their characters, given me a break from my reality and crafted this perfect world where I could live, if only for a few days. There are too many to list here, but one person always stands out, she is not only a fantastic author but a kick ass woman! Thank you Abbie Zanders for… well everything! You might not know it, but your words of encouragement gave me the courage I needed to release this book. I am forever thankful. XO
A special thank you to all of you - The readers who took a chance on this book. I truly hope you love Jasmin and Lincoln as much as I do!
Fuck! I let out an exaggerated sigh when I saw the caller information on my phone. I glanced at the old-fashioned grandfather clock that sat in the corner of my office noting it was well past stopping time. Closing the lid to my laptop I walked over to the floor to ceiling windows in my office admiring the Naval Academy at night. The Yard was lit up and looked like a city unto itself, the Chapel Dome standing tall and proud above the rest of the buildings. The still ringing phone in my hand pulled me from my reverie.
Entering my ten digit security code I swiped the screen to take the call. Before my phone was even to my ear I could hear the caller’s impatient voice.
“It’s time,” the voice over the phone sounded tired and far away.
“Fuck me. Now?” I closed my eyes praying for patience.
“Zane, man, I have waited long enough. I am done.”
“I know you have, I am afraid I will lose her once she knows the truth.”
“It’s time,” he repeated.
“Brace brother, she is not the same woman she was.” I have tried to warn him hundreds of times.
“Fuck you. You don’t think I know who she is?” he shot back, his temper raising.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you are one nut short of a pair.” I smiled at the thought.
“Copy that, see you soon.”
The line went dead, and I pocketed my phone as I continued to stare out the window. I was going to enjoy what was left of my peace. A shit storm was about to invade my perfectly ordered world. Now I had one more call to make before I could call it a night. Checking the clock again, I entered my ten digit security code and dialed the secured number I knew from memory. The clicking sound before the call connected alerted me that the call was indeed encrypted.
“Password of the day?” a gruff sounding man asked.
“Zulu, Charlie, Foxtrot, Niner,” I replied.
“Certified. Hold for connection,” the monotone voice put my call through.
“Zane, How are you this evening? Working late I see.” I could hear the chuckle in his voice.
“Yes, Sir. I have an update for you Mr. President; he is on his way stateside,” I advised the President.
“Took that son of a bitch long enough! I am surprised he waited this long. Thanks for the update. And Zane, one more thing - how many times do I have to tell you to call me Tom when we are having a conversation amongst friends?” The President sounded almost giddy. I, for one, did not understand what there was to be happy about.
“Yes, Tom. Sorry to have bothered you so late. I will keep you apprised of the situation.” Even saying the name “Tom” while talking to the, President of the United States had me looking over my shoulder waiting for a court martial.
“We’ll be in touch.” I could hear his peal of laughter as the line went dead.
That was the last sound the poor asshole lying on the nasty assed, stained carpet in front of me heard, as my 147 grain subsonic bullet lodged in his brain. Before his blood even had a chance to pool around his head I had already unscrewed the suppressor off my Sig Sauer P226, affectionately known as Penelope, and carefully holstered her. Yes, I named my weapons, and she was beautiful. Right down to her custom grip, designed to fit my small hands, and her dark earth finish. Penelope was the love of my life.
I know. You don’t have to say it. For a twenty eight year old woman, that is pretty fucking sad.
I looked around the room at my team, noting the half empty bottles of beer and endless bags of takeout strewn about. The unfortunate bastard’s body had barely hit the floor, and they were already at work gathering the electronic devices that blanketed every available surface of his makeshift work station. I watched as they meticulously placed each laptop, external hard drives, and computer towers into shock resistant transport cases. Any piece of electronic equipment that could store information would be coming with us today. This included the 1990’s era CD player.
Christ, this asshole was a slob. His apartment smelled like he hadn’t cleaned a toilet in a year. The strong odor of urine permeated the small living room. There was a month’s worth of energy drinks and coffee to-go cups littering every available dirty surface. The trash can was overflowing with God knows what.
“Jesus, anyone else want a biohazard mask?” Jaxon noted and wrinkled his nose at the vile smell of the room as he pushed aside a to-go cup full of cigarette butts. You wouldn’t think a little piss and cigarette smell would bother a former USAF Special Forces Pararescueman.
“For someone who sold information for ten grand a pop, he sure lived in a hellhole,” Eric added, looking at the stained, 1960’s era plaid couch.
“Fuck, man, he must have invested all of his money into machines. Garrett is going to go ape shit over this equipment. I hope Z has found another specialist to help him analyze all of this. He is already three cases deep,” Drew replied as he gently placed a tower into a case, the two inch foam giving way under the weight of the heavy machine.
“Yeah, this guy hasn’t been laid in years. He has two air conditioner units on full blast in his bedroom and a dirty mattress just lying on the floor. It looks like a server room met hoarders in there. I need another case for all the drives in that room alone.” Leo waved a hand in front of his face when he walked back into the main room, presumably to get the piss smell to dissipate.
I stood over the dead guy and watched the blood ooze out of the bullet wound, down the bridge of his nose, and over his cheek. Finally it joined a growing puddle of thick red liquid on the filthy, stained carpet next to his ear.
It was a damn clean shot. One and done.
“Yo, Jasmin you thinkin’ about helping here, or you gonna just keep staring at the stiff?” Colin spoke from across the room where he was gathering up flash drives.
“Just admiring my shot placement, Cap. I swear I get better every time.” I flashed my best, “I’m the shit” smile and looked over Louis Clark, better known as
one last time, “Perfectly placed, right between the eyes. The bastard ought to thank me.”
I walked over to help the guys finish up.
Louis, or Darkweb336 to the slimy underbelly of the deep web, lay dead in the middle of his living room. He barely had the chance to look up from the five LCD monitors that made up his work station when I made my way into his apartment. The three deadbolts on his door were a joke; it took me all of five seconds to pick each lock. For a world class hacker he was pretty lax on his personal security. Single cylinder deadbolts were child’s play.
“Ya’ll are a bunch of pansy asses complaining about the smell. If I didn’t know any better I’d swear you were all trained by the girl scouts.” I loved to bust the guys’ balls when I could.
“Fuck me, Jas thinks she has jokes. Who do you think contracted the douche to hack into the spooks database?” Eric asked with a look of distain of his face. The CIA had burned him on his last assignment. They fucked him over so badly that even years later he still refused to even be in the same room with an agent, “My guess is the Russians.”
“Eric your guess is always the Russians,” Colin threw in as he latched another container and placed it on a dolly.
Deepweb336 had been on radar for years. He had been a low level hacker when we first caught up with him. He slowly made a name for himself stealing corporate secrets and selling them to any competitor that was willing to add a bunch of zeros to whatever number he threw out.
Z Corps, and the government agencies that ran contracts through us, never gave two shits what Deepweb336 did, only that he was quickly making a name for himself as one of the most sought after hackers in the world. That is, until he tried to hack into the CIA database that held information on where undercover agents were on assignment. Stealing that would have led to an outrageous number of casualties, pissed off most foreign governments, and made the people in power answer some very uncomfortable questions.
Deepweb336 needed to be eliminated before those questions were asked.
Z Corps took the contract to do just that. That and to recover any information he might have already stolen. Red Team was the best recovery team the company had ever trained; the team that got sent out on the highest priority ops. And this op was high priority. It was top secret shit that was so far above my paygrade I didn’t know all the players involved and never would unless Zane, my boss, felt that information was required for me to do my job. Z Corps had recruited and contracted some of the world’s best hackers and deep web information brokers; it would be their job to sift through all the machines we brought back. It would also be their job to find out who had hired Darkweb336. It’s a shame Darkweb336 turned out to be such a douche and played for the wrong team his skills could have been an asset to Z Corps.
“We need to be out in six minutes. Cargo will be out front.” Colin, the team leader, yelled, reminding us of our deadline.
“Ta, Captaen.” The team echoed in unison, giving him a ‘yes, captain’ in his family’s native Gaelic. Ironically, Colin didn’t speak a word of it.
We were six minutes until, out the door, all electronics needed to be packed up and ready for transport. The last of the hacker’s equipment was dismantled and placed into plastic containers. The rest of the team speedily donned mover’s coveralls created for today’s transport. Today they were “Movers on the Go”. MoGo. A cargo van would be waiting for them at the entrance with a MoGo logo on the side.
Colin and I stayed in the everyday clothes we wore in. Nothing flashy or likely to make us stand out. This was a shit neighborhood after all; we needed to blend in like we belonged in this rat infested apartment complex. We would not be going out with the “movers”. Today we would act as their back up.
“We’re out,” Drew said as he pulled his hat lower on his head in an effort to shield his face, a habit we all had. The team had already done a sweep of the apartment complex checking for any video surveillance inside of the building. It was no surprise that the old, shithole complex had no such devices. That only left the traffic cameras to be disabled en route. The guys back at HQ would handle that. Eric, Jaxon, and Leo followed Drew out the door. Each had a dolly stacked high with black plastic hard cases.
“See ya back at HQ,” Colin yelled as they left.
Colin grabbed my hand once we were in the hallway, and walked us hand in hand out of the building. Once we were on the street we could watch the team as they loaded the cargo van. With a quick sweep of the street Colin kissed my forehand and walked us across the intersection like an everyday couple.
Pulling my secure, encrypted cellphone out of my pocket, careful not to advertise the pistol strapped underneath my jacket, I punched in my ten digit security code.
“Cleanup is a go.” I ended the call and slid my phone back into my pocket as I looked up at Colin and smiled brightly. Another successful mission. The cleaners would be there soon and it would look like Louis Clark never lived there at all.