Read The First Commandment Online

Authors: Brad Thor

Tags: #Assassins, #Intelligence Officers, #Harvath; Scot (Fictitious Character), #Terrorists, #Political, #General, #Suspense, #Thrillers, #Suspense Fiction, #Fiction, #Espionage

The First Commandment

BOOK: The First Commandment
4.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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The First Commandment
Brad Thor

A master assassin. A vendetta years in the making. And a counterterrorism operative who will risk everything – even treason – to keep the people he loves alive. Brad Thor, the New York Times bestselling author of Takedown, delivers an explosive international thriller featuring Navy SEAL turned Homeland Security operative Scot Harvath, who somewhere, somehow, has left the wrong person alive. “Thou shalt not negotiate with terrorists…” Six months ago: In the dead of the night, five of the most dangerous detainees in the war on terror are pulled from their isolation cells in Guantanamo Bay, held at gunpoint, and told to strip off their orange jumpsuits. Issued a civilian clothes and driven to the base airfield, they are loaded aboard a Boeing 727 and set free. Present day: Covert counterterrorism agent Scot Harvath awakens to discover that his world has changed violently – and forever. A sadistic assassin with a personal vendetta in wreaking havoc of biblical proportions. Unleashing nightmarish horrors on those closest to Harvath, the attacker thrusts everything Harvath holds dear – including his life – into absolute peril. Ordered by the president to stay out of the investigation, Harvath is forced to mount his own operation to uncover the conspiracy and to exact revenge. When he discovers a connection between the attacks and a group of prisoners secretly released from Guantanamo, Harvath must ask himself previously unthinkable questions about the organizations and the nation he has spent his life serving. A renegade from his own government, Harvath will place his life on the line as his search for the truth draws him into a showdown with one of the most dangerous men on the face of the earth. Brad Thor roars through this non-stop adventure full of international intrigue, twisted betrayals, and ultimate revenge.

Brad Thor

 

The First Commandment

The sixth book in the Scot Harvath series

For Scott F. Hill, Ph. D.-

a dedicated patriot who has put love of country

and love of family above all else

De inimico non loquaris male, sed cogites.

Do not wish ill for your enemy, plan it.

 

Chapter 1

CAMP DELTA

U.S. NAVAL STATION

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA

 

When it was hot and humid, life in Cuba hovered somewhere between absolute misery and “the bath is ready does anyone have some razor blades?” But when it was cold and raining, Cuba was downright unbearable. Tonight was one of those nights.

When the guards arrived at the isolation cells of Delta’s “Camp 5,” where the most dangerous and highest-intelligence-value detainees resided, they were in a worse mood than usual. And it wasn’t because of the weather. Something was wrong. It was written all over their faces as they pulled five prisoners from their cells and ordered them at gunpoint to strip.

Philippe Roussard hadn’t been at Guantanamo the longest, but he had definitely been interrogated the hardest. A European of Arab descent, he was a sniper of extraordinary ability whose exploits were legendary. Videos of his kills played on continuous loops on jihadist websites across the internet. To his Muslim brothers he was nothing short of a superhero in the radical Islamist pantheon. To the United States, he was a horrific killing machine responsible for the deaths of over one hundred U. S. soldiers.

As Roussard looked into the eyes of his jailers, though, he saw more than the usual pure hatred. Tonight it was coupled with absolute disgust. Whatever middle-of-the-night interrogation tactic the Joint Task Force Guantanamo soldiers had in store for Roussard and his four colleagues, something told him it wasn’t going to be like anything they had experienced before. The guards appeared on the verge of losing control.

Had an attack been successfully executed against the United States?
What else could have put the soldiers in such a state?

If so, Roussard felt certain that the Americans would make the prisoners pay. Undoubtedly, they had devised yet another humiliating exercise designed to insult their prisoners’ Muslim sensibilities. Privately, Roussard hoped the torture involved the attractive blond soldier and that she would disrobe down to her lacy, black lingerie and rub herself against him. Though he knew it was wrong, his fantasies of what he wanted to do to that woman were what kept him nicely occupied during the long, lonely hours of isolation he endured.

He was still speculating about his fate when he heard the door at the far end of the cell block shut. Roussard looked up, hoping it was the blond, but it wasn’t. Another soldier had entered carrying five paper shopping bags. As he passed, he threw each of the prisoners a bag.

“Get dressed!” he ordered in awkward Arabic.

Confused, all of the prisoners, including Philippe, removed the civilian clothing from their bags and began to get dressed. The men cast furtive glances at one another as they tried to figure out what was happening. Roussard was reminded of stories he’d heard about Jewish concentration camp prisoners who were told they were being taken for showers when they were actually on their way to the gas chambers.

He doubted the Americans were dressing them in new clothes only to execute them, but nevertheless the uncertainty of what they were about to face filled him with more than a little trepidation.

“Why don’t they try to make a run for it?” one of the guards whispered to his comrade as he stroked the trigger guard of his M-16. “I just want one of these fuckers to rabbit on us.”

“This is bullshit,” replied the other. “What the hell are we doing?”

“You two, shut up!” barked their commander, who then called in a series of commands over his radio.

Something definitely wasn’t right.

Once they were completely clothed, shackles were placed around their wrists and ankles and they were lined up against the far wall.

This is it,
thought Roussard as he held the stare of the soldier who had been hoping for one of the prisoners to make a run for it.

The soldier’s finger went from his weapon’s trigger guard to its actual trigger and he seemed about to say something when a series of vehicles ground to a halt just outside.

“That’s us,” shouted the Task Force commander. “Let’s mount up.”

The prisoners were shoved toward the door. Roussard hoped that once they got outside and he could see where they were going, things would make more sense.

That plan was dashed as one by one, black hoods were placed over each man’s head before he was taken outside to a waiting column of green Humvees.

 

Ten minutes later, the convoy came to a stop. Before Roussard’s heavy hood was removed, he could make out the distinct, high-pitched whine of idling jet engines.

On the rain-soaked tarmac, the prisoners stared up at an enormous Boeing 727 as their shackles were removed. A metal staircase had been rolled up against the side of the aircraft and its door stood wide open.

No one said a word, but based on the demeanor of the soldiers-who seemed to have been ordered to keep their distance from the plane-Roussard came to a stunning conclusion. Without being directed to do so, he took a step forward. When none of the soldiers tried to stop him, he took another and another until his feet touched the first metal step and he began climbing upward two at a time. His salvation was at hand! Just as he had known it eventually would be.

With the sound of the other prisoners pounding up the gangway behind him, Roussard stepped cautiously into the cabin. He was met by the plane’s first officer, who compared his likeness to a photo on his clipboard, removed a heavy black envelope, and said, “We were told to give you this.”

Roussard had received envelopes like this before. Without even opening it, he knew who it was from.

“If you wouldn’t mind taking a seat,” continued the first officer. “The captain is eager to be underway.”

Roussard found an empty place near the window and buckled himself in. As the main cabin door was closed, several members of the flight crew disappeared into the rear of the aircraft and returned lugging odd-looking pieces of medical equipment, along with an equal number of large, plastic coolers.

None of it made any sense to Roussard until he opened the envelope and read its contents. A slow smile then began to spread across his face. It was done. Not only was he free, but the Americans would not be able to come after him. He was going to have his revenge-and much sooner than he would have thought.

Opening his window shade, Roussard could see the soldiers climbing back into their Humvees and driving away from their airstrip, several with their hands hanging out the windows and their middle fingers raised in mock salute.

As the aircraft’s engines roared to life and the heavy beast began to roll forward, cheers of “Allahu Akbar,”
God is great,
erupted from the front of the plane.

Allah was indeed great, but Roussard knew it wasn’t He who had arranged for their release. As he stared at the black envelope, he knew their gratitude was owed to someone much less benevolent.

Turning his attention back to the window as the soldiers quickly disappeared from view, Roussard cocked thumb and forefinger, took aim, and pulled an imaginary trigger.

Now that he was free, he knew that it was only a matter of time before his handler turned him loose inside America to exact his revenge.

Chapter 2

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA

SIX MONTHS LATER

 

A crack of thunder shook the walls and the bedroom windows exploded in a hailstorm of broken glass. Powered completely by instinct, Scot Harvath reached for his girlfriend, Tracy, and rolled off the bed.

He landed hard on his bad shoulder. Shifting his weight, he reached up and yanked the drawer free of his nightstand. It came down with a crash. Foreign coins, a bottle of painkillers, a set of keys to locks he had yet to locate on the property, pens, and a pad of paper from the Ritz in Paris all spilled onto the wood floor.

Everything was there, except what he desperately needed to find-his gun.

Harvath rolled onto his stomach and breaststroked wildly beneath the bed. All he came up with was an empty box of hollow-point ammunition and an equally empty holster.

His instincts screamed at him to find a weapon while his conscience screamed at him for going to bed without one. But he
had
gone to bed with a weapon. He
always
did. He had placed it in the drawer right next to him.
He was sure of it.

Maybe Tracy had gotten to it first. He turned to her, but she wasn’t there. In fact, in his groggy grab and roll, he wasn’t quite sure if she’d even been in the bed at all.
Nothing was making sense.

Getting to his feet, Harvath stayed low and made for the hallway and the stairs at the far end. With every step, his trepidation mounted. His gut was trying to tell him something and on the final landing he then saw the blood. The floors, the walls, the ceiling…they were all covered with it.

There was so much of it everywhere. Where had it come from?
Who
had it come from?

Despite the adrenaline pumping through his body, his legs felt like two blocks of solid granite. It took all of his willpower to inch forward toward his entryway and the open front door.

When he stepped outside, what he saw came in quick, sharp stabs of vision-bloody brushstrokes painted above the doorway, an upturned picnic hamper, and collapsed upon the threshold next to a small white dog was the body of the woman he had been falling in love with.

Harvath thought he saw movement somewhere along the tree line at the edge of the property. He was looking for anything he could use as a weapon when a long, black knife swung over his shoulder from behind and the blade was pressed against his throat.

Chapter 3

FAIRFAX HOSPITAL

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA

 

Harvath’s head snapped back so suddenly that the shock startled him awake. It took several seconds for his heart rate to slow and for him to recognize where he was.

He looked around the hospital room and saw that everything was just as he’d left it before he’d drifted off to sleep. The bedrail he’d intended only to rest his forehead against was still there, as was the bed’s occupant, Tracy Hastings.

Harvath’s eyes scanned the length of her body, searching for any sign that she’d moved during his nap, but Tracy remained in her coma. She was the victim of an anonymous assassin’s bullet five days ago, and she hadn’t moved since; not even a fraction of an inch.

The ventilator continued its rhythmic cycle of
woosh, pop…woosh, pop.
Harvath couldn’t bear to see her like this. She had already suffered so many traumas. But the worst part was knowing that her current suffering was his fault.

In spite of what the world had thrown at her-in particular an IED in Iraq that had exploded in her face, taking one of her beautiful blue eyes and her career as a top Naval Explosive Ordinance Disposal tech-she had managed to maintain an incredible sense of humor. Though it had taken him a while to admit it, Harvath had fallen for Tracy the minute he first saw her.

They had been thrown together quite by accident just under a month ago in Manhattan. Harvath had traveled to the Big Apple to spend the Fourth of July weekend with his good friend, Robert Herrington. Robert, or “Bullet Bob” as he was known to his buddies, was a storied Delta Force operative who’d recently been medically discharged from the army due to an injury he’d suffered in Afghanistan.

Harvath and Herrington had a jam-packed weekend of drinking and carousing planned when New York City came under a horrific terrorist attack. Little did either of them know that Bob would be killed later that night.

With the island of Manhattan completely sealed off and police, fire, and EMS units stretched to the breaking point, Bob had helped Scot assemble his own team to hunt down the perpetrators.

The team was composed of special operations personnel from the Manhattan VA facility who, like Bob, had all been recently discharged for various injuries suffered overseas. Harvath had been standing on top of the VA building along the East River when Tracy and two other pals of Bob’s had stepped onto the roof.

At twenty-six, Tracy was ten years younger than Harvath, but there was a wisdom and worldliness about her that made their ages irrelevant. When Harvath later shared this observation with her, she joked that deactivating deadly explosive devices for a living had a way of aging a person, fast.

She might have carried herself like a woman older than her twenty-six years, but she certainly didn’t look it. She was the picture of fitness. In fact, she had the most sculpted body of any woman Harvath had ever known. Tracy joked she had a body to die for and a face to protect it. It was her way of dealing with the scarring she had suffered as a result of the IED detonation in Iraq. The plastic surgeons had done a fabulous job in matching the pale blue of her surviving eye to a replacement, but no matter how Tracy applied her makeup, she still couldn’t completely hide the thin facial scars.

None of that mattered to Harvath. He thought she was gorgeous. In particular, he loved how she wore her blond hair in pigtails. Pigtails were for little girls, but there was something decidedly sexy about them when worn by a woman.

That was Tracy in a nutshell. There was nothing ordinary about her. Her wit, her compassion, her persistence in the face of injury were all traits Harvath admired deeply, but those weren’t what had made him fall in love with her. His reason for falling in love was much more selfish.

The reason Harvath cared for her so deeply was that for the first time in his life, he’d found someone who truly understood him for who he was. She saw beyond the waves of constant wisecracks, through the never-ending stream of jokes, and over the pile of rocks that Harvath had stacked to wall himself off from the rest of the world. He didn’t need to play games with her and she didn’t need to play games with him. From the moment they met, they could each be themselves. It was a feeling Harvath had never thought he would experience.

As he looked down at Tracy in her hospital bed, he knew it was a feeling he would never experience again.

Gently, he untwined his hand from hers and stood.

BOOK: The First Commandment
4.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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