Seeds of Corruption

By: Jason Tesar

THE AWAKENED BOOK FOUR




THE PROPHECY

Therefore, I will raise up one from among those you despise. And I will awaken his eyes to the mysteries which I have hidden from men since the foundations of the world. His feet will I make to tread upon the paths of destruction and his hands to make war. He will uproot the seeds of corruption which you have sown throughout the earth. And then you will know that I am the Lord and my justice is everlasting.

—The Writings of Ebnisha





CHAPTER 1

SOUTHERN VENEZUELA

NEAR THE BRAZILIAN BORDER

The thrum of the helicopter rotors filled the cabin with the modern audio equivalent of cavalry going to war. Inside, a faint red light illuminated the other nine painted faces of Tactical Teams 1 and 2 while Greer ran through his mental checklist one last time. Outside, darkness covered everything. Only a faint distinction could be seen between the clouded sky and the mottled shades of the jungle below.

“Greer.”

The Team Leader turned his attention to his counterpart on TAC 2.

“You guys didn’t insert this far out last time,” Ellis observed.

Greer remembered the last visit to Armaros’ compound when he and his Team had rescued Adair. “Yeah, that was back when the enemy didn’t know we existed. We put all our cards on the table with that operation. It’ll be a bit more complicated this time around.”

“Well, thanks for the hike. I hope you boys are ready for sweat and poisonous critters,” Ellis replied.

Greer smiled. “Bring it!” Then he pounded his chest twice with his fist.

All the other soldiers in the cabin immediately mimicked the action in response.

“Two minutes to insertion,” sounded the notification in their earpieces.

At once, the two Teams stood and moved into position near the open doors on either side of the cabin. The chopper banked around some steep terrain to the south, and Greer could see the beacon lights of the other two choppers in formation behind them.

Second Security Officer Darren Jensen grabbed ahold of the rope and waited for the signal.

“Go, go, go!” ordered a voice over the COMM.

Jensen stepped out of the aircraft and slid down the rope without a moment’s hesitation.

First Security Officer John Martinez went next, followed by COMM Operator Mark Zylski and Assistant Team Leader Eric Thompson, each disappearing into the darkness below.

Greer put both hands on the rope and stepped out of the cabin, descending rapidly after his Team into a dense canopy of leaves. Three seconds passed before the vegetation enveloped him, muffling the sound of the choppers. The buzzing of his gloves against the rope became the dominant sound, ending abruptly as soon as his boots hit the marshy ground. He brought his weapon to a low ready position and took off to the east, rejoining his Team as they moved toward the insertion rally point.

Overhead, the muffled sound of three choppers circled around to the north and quickly faded into the distance, the rotary-winged aircraft having inserted their cargo of six TAC Teams.

Minutes later, TAC 1 arrived at a rocky outcropping at the base of a mesa. Thick trees overhead provided plenty of cover, while the solid ground underfoot offered a dry place to take inventory.

“Weapons check,” Greer whispered.

TAC 1 inspected their rifles for damage and verified proper functionality before nodding to indicate their readiness.

“Injuries?”

He got a thumbs-up from everyone.

The other Teams began arriving at the rally point and performing their verification routines with the same outcome. The insertion had been successful.

“Zylski, call it in,” Greer ordered.

Zylski nodded. “One to Command. TAC One to Command. All Teams are on the ground. Beginning INFIL.”

When Zylski was finished, Greer peered through the shadows at the other soldiers. “Alright boys. We’ve got a twelve-mile hike. Let’s move out.”

* * * *

THE MONASTERY OF THE KALIEL

OFF THE COAST OF SUPPARD

Kael stood in the dining hall of the Monastery that had been his home for most of his childhood. Though his eyes noted many changes—an overturned table, spider webs in the corners of the ceiling, thick dust covering all the surfaces—his imagination only saw what used to be.

Flickering torchlight …

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