Power GameBy: Christine Feehan
FOR MY READERS
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With any book there are many people to thank. This one took a lot of help! Neil Benson of Pearl River Eco Tours: Thank you for the many hours out on the boat, both day and night. All the crazy adventures that allowed me the necessary research for this book. The time spent getting distances and names correctly! I appreciate your help so much. Thanks to Lieutenant Commander 04 Patrick Schuette for your help with medical issues in the field. To Myiah Castillejos for her help with ranks needed for the PJs. I have Specialist Jason Hutton especially to thank for all his help with this book. I couldn’t have come up with such a great mission – thanks for making it real and reading the fight scenes over and over until I got the details right. Any mistakes made are strictly my own. Thanks to Domini for her research and help with editing.
THE GHOSTWALKER SYMBOL DETAILS
THE GHOSTWALKER CREED
We are the GhostWalkers, we live in the shadows The sea, the earth, and the air are our domain No fallen comrade will be left behind
We are loyalty and honor bound
We are invisible to our enemies and we destroy them where we find them We believe in justice and we protect our country and those unable to protect themselves What goes unseen, unheard, and unknown are GhostWalkers There is honor in the shadows and it is us
We move in complete silence whether in jungle or desert We walk among our enemy unseen and unheard
Striking without sound and scatter to the winds before they have knowledge of our existence We gather information and wait with endless patience for that perfect moment to deliver swift justice We are both merciful and merciless
We are relentless and implacable in our resolve We are the GhostWalkers and the night is ours
ellisia Adams stared at herself in the mirror. Beside her was JinJing, a sweet woman, unaware that the man she worked for was an infamous criminal or that the woman beside her was no more Chinese than the man on the moon. Bellisia’s hair was long and straight, a waterfall of silk reaching to her waist. She was short, delicate-looking, with small feet and hands. She spoke flawlessly in the dialect JinJing spoke, laughing and gossiping companionably in the restroom during their short break.
She kept her heart rate absolutely steady, the beat never rising in spite of the fact that she knew just by the heightened security and the tenseness of the guards that what she’d been looking for this past week was finally here. It was a good thing too. Time was running out fast. Like most of the technicians in the laboratory, she didn’t wear a watch, but she was very aware of the days and hours ticking by.
JinJing waved to her and hurried out as the chime sounded, the call back to work. Anyone caught walking the halls was instantly let go. Or at least they disappeared. Rumor had it that wherever they were taken was not pleasant. The Cheng Company paid well. Bernard Lee Cheng had many businesses and employed a good number of people, but he was a very exacting boss.
Bellisia couldn’t wait any longer. She couldn’t be caught in the restroom either. Very carefully she removed the long wig and lifelike skin of her mask and rolled them into her white lab coat. She slipped off the laboratory uniform, revealing the skintight one-piece bodysuit she wore under it – one that reflected the background around her. Her shoes were crepe-soled and easy to move fast in. She removed them and shoved them in one of the pockets. Her pale blond hair was braided in a tight weave. She was as ready as she’d ever be. She slipped out, back into the narrow hallway the moment she knew it was empty. Acute hearing ensured she knew exactly where most of the technicians were on the floor. She knew the precise location of every camera and just how to avoid them.
Once in the hall, she climbed up the wall to the ceiling, blending in with the dingy, off-white color that looked like it had seen better days. As she moved from the hallway of the laboratory to the offices the wall color changed to a muted blue, fresh and crisp. She changed color until she was perfectly blending in and slowed her pace. Movement drew the eye, and there were far more people in the offices. Most of them were in small, open cubicles, but as she continued through to the next large bank of offices, the walls changed to a muted green in the one large office that mattered to her.
She could see the woman seated, facing away from her, looking at the man behind the desk. Bernard Lee Cheng. She was very tempted to kill him, take the opportunity of being so close and just get the job done. It would rid the world of a very evil man, but it wasn’t her mission, no matter how much she wished it were. The woman, Senator Violet Smythe-Freeman – now just Smythe – was her mission, specifically to see if the senator was selling out her country and fellow GhostWalkers, the teams of soldiers few even knew existed.
There was no way into the office, but that didn’t matter. She moved slowly across the ceiling, hiding in plain sight. Even if one of the men or women on the floor happened to look up they would have a difficult time spotting her as long as she was careful to move like a sloth, inching her way to her destination. She positioned herself outside the office over the door. Muting the sounds around her, she concentrated on the voices coming from inside the office.
Cheng faced her. Even if she couldn’t hear his every word because he’d soundproofed his office, she could read lips. He wanted the GhostWalker program. Files. Everything – including soldiers to take apart. Her stomach clenched. Violet’s voice was pitched low. She had the ability to persuade people to do what she wanted with her voice, but Cheng seemed immune.
She wanted money for her campaign. Maurice Stuart had named her his running mate for the presidential election. If elected, she planned to have Stuart assassinated so that she would become president. Cheng would have an ally in the White House. It was a simple enough business deal. The origins of dark money never had to be exposed. No one would know.
Violet was beautiful and intelligent. She was poisonous. A sociopath. She was also enhanced, one of the original girls Dr. Whitney had found in orphanages and experimented on so that he could enhance his soldiers without harming them. She used her looks and her voice to get the things she wanted. More than anything, she wanted power.
Cheng nodded his head and leaned forward, his eyes sharp, his face a mask. He repeated the price. Files. GhostWalkers.
Bellisia remained still as Violet sold out her country and fellow soldiers. She told him where to find a team and how to get to them. She also told him there were copies of the files he wanted in several places, but most were too difficult to get to. The one place he had the best chance was in Louisiana, at the Stennis Center.
Cheng responded adamantly, insisting she get the files for him. She was just as adamant that she couldn’t. He asked her why she was so against the GhostWalker program.
Bellisia tried to get closer, as if that would help her hear better. She wanted to know as well. Violet was one of them. One of the original orphans Peter Whitney had used for his own purposes – a “sister,” not by blood but certainly in every other way. She’d undergone the same experiments with enhancing psychic abilities. With genetics, changing DNA. There was no doubt that Whitney was a genius, but he was also certifiably insane.
Violet’s murmured response horrified Bellisia. The woman was a GhostWalker snob. Superior soldiers were fine. DNA of animals was fine. Enhancement met with her approval, but not when it came to the latest experiments coming to light – the use of vipers and spiders. That was going too far and cheapened the rest of them. She wanted anyone with that kind of DNA wiped out.
There was a moment of silence as if Cheng was turning her sudden burst of venomous hatred over and over in his mind, just as Bellisia was. Bellisia could have warned Violet that she was skating close to danger. Violet was a GhostWalker. Few had that information, but with that one outburst, she’d made a shrewd, extremely intelligent man wonder about her. He had a GhostWalker right there in his laboratory.
Violet, seemingly unaware of the danger, or because of it, swiftly moved on, laying out her demands once again. The two went back to haggling. In the end, Violet began to rise, and Cheng lifted a hand to stop her. She sank down gracefully, and the deal was made. Bellisia listened to another twenty minutes of conversation while the two hashed out what each would do for the other.
Bellisia calculated the odds of escaping if she killed the senator as the traitor emerged from Cheng’s office. They weren’t good. Even so, she still entertained the idea. The level of the woman’s treachery was beyond imagination. She despised Violet.
A stir in the office drew her attention. Guards marched in and directed those in the smaller offices out. She glanced into the hallway and saw that the entire floor was being cleared. Her heart accelerated before she could stop it. She took a slow breath and steadied her pulse just as the siren went off, calling everyone, from the labs to the offices, into the large dorm areas.