Chapter 4

Ulrich Hood strode onto the bridge of the massive aircraft carrier. It was truly a testament to the genius of Emperor WhiteÂ’s researchers that the ship had not been spotted on radar by the United States Military. What a problem that would be. Ulrich wasnÂ’t ready to face World War III. Not quite yet.

One of the other officers signaled to him. Ulrich strode over. “What is it?”

“Sir…” The officer gulped, which meant it was bad news. Everyone knew how command took bad news. “There’s a problem.”

“What?” growled Ulrich.

“There’s another ship. It’s sending over a code that doesn’t match up to any military of any country, and yet it’s threatening to open fire if we don’t send someone over there.”


The officer shook his head. “I don’t think so. Pirates wouldn’t have the codes to contact us.”

Ulrich’s eyes narrowed. “So what is it?”

“I don’t know, sir. They want someone to come over.” The officer stared up at Ulrich for orders.

“Demand that they come here,” Ulrich said. “And let me see a technical readout of that ship.”

The officer handed him a printed document. “Here, sir.” Then he turned and spoke into the mouthpiece on his headset. “Victory calling Harbinger, repeat, this is the Victory calling the Harbinger. Our commander requests that you send a negotiator over to our ship.” He paused. “Alright, that will work.” He turned to Ulrich. “They’ll come.”

“Good,” said Ulrich, then folded his arms and stared down at the computer screen.

* * *

Martin was still unconscious when they arrived for Phil, so only Phil went. The two guards bound his wrists and made him walk up several flights of stairs to some sort of meeting room. Ulrich and several guards were in the room when Phil and his guards arrived. They shoved Phil roughly into a seat.

“Gag him,” Ulrich ordered. One of the guards produced a piece of cloth and gagged Phil with it. The room was silent for several minutes. Then the door opened and several men walked in. Most were tall and muscular, but one in particular stood out. He was short and skinny, almost too skinny. He had a pale face and eyes that had sunk into the back of his head. He was also completely bald. He looked almost like a bald rat.

“I am Special Ops Commander Ivan Field,” the man said in a raspy voice. “I am on authority from Czaron himself. We are here to take custody of our prisoners.”

“First of all, they are not your prisoners,” Ulrich growled. “They are ours, and we paid for them with our commander’s blood.”

Ivan shrugged. “He must not have been a very good commander, then.” Several of Ulrich soldier’s stiffened. Ulrich himself looked as if he wanted to rip Ivan’s head off then and there. His hand slid down to his handgun, but he stopped and returned it back to its place in front of him. “No matter,” Ivan continued. “All I care about is the prisoners.”

“On what authority are you taking them?” Ulrich asked.

Ivan produced papers from his jacket and handed them to Ulrich. “We are here on authority of Czaron himself.”

Ulrich snatched the papers and scanned them. PhilÂ’s heart leapt in his chest. It was bad enough that they were taking him to Sean White, but at least he was still human. This CzaronÂ… the stories that Phil had heard about him chilled him to the bone. He stared at UlrichÂ’s face, wondering what the German would do.

Ulrich’s answer was the hurl the papers back in Ivan’s face. “I can’t accept this. I’m not at a high enough rank to approve this, and even if I was, I wouldn’t.”

“Who is?” Ivan sneered.

“These are level 1-A prisoners,” Ulrich said firmly. “Only Emperor White can negotiate for their transfer. We’ll give you bunks on this ship, but a few of you will have to come with us.”

Ivan nodded slowly, the scowl still on his face. “Fine. I’ll bring over troops, and you’ll take me to ‘Emperor’ White.”

Phil was lifted roughly from the chair and dragged out the door by his guards. As he slid along the floor, suspended by his arms, Phil thought about what would happen if he and Martin wound up in the hands of Czaron. TheÂ… thing could hardly be described as human. For the millionth time that day, Phil was worried. But this was the first time he was this worried. He thought about Aaron, Liam, and George, who must be coming to rescue him.

But what if they failed?

To Be ContinuedÂ…

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