Mission Hope Series, Book 2
About the Book
Thursday, January 29, 3:48 p.m.
Republic of Dhambizao (rd), Anamadi Township
Jonas Moya moved from the narrow alleyway onto the dusty street, then disappeared into the late afternoon crowd. The country's elite, with their fancy government buildings, commercial strips, and plush houses, had all but forgotten the tangled web of muddy alleyways that laced the sprawling slums of the capital. Which made the highdensity township the perfect place to hide.
He breathed in a lungful of acidic smoke from the piles of trash burning in the distance, then glanced again behind him. A group of women balanced buckets of water on their heads. Children played along the edge of the road. A drunk loitered in front of a shop. But there were no signs of anyone following him.
He shook off the uneasy sensation. Rarely did President Tau's soldiers set foot inside the rambling settlement, known for its high crime and corruption --- even with the recent order to round up every member of the Ghost Soldiers in the countrywide manhunt stretching from the capital to the base of Mt. Maja. It was an order that had left him on the run.
Anger replaced his unease. None of the president's government officials had complained about the generous financial kickbacks they'd received from the dozens of slave-labor camps the Ghost Soldiers set up throughout the country's fertile mines. But their fat payments didn't change the fact that he and the others would take the fall for their crimes, while the current government remained innocent before the UN and the rest of the world.
The crowd thinned and an eerie silence settled across the humid afternoon air. It took a full five seconds for Jonas to grasp what was happening. By then he stood fully exposed to a dozen uniformed soldiers converging on the leaders' rendezvous point less than ten meters in front of him. Automatically he dropped for cover behind a battered pickup, but not before catching a glimpse of his brother, Seba, and four others lying facedown in the dusty street. If he'd arrived five minutes earlier, he'd be lying there as well.
Clinging to the truck's rusty bumper, he searched for an escape route, weighing his options one by one. His best bet was to take the alley across the street and get lost in the endless maze of cinder block houses. But running would do nothing for his brother and the others. Squinting in the bright afternoon sunlight, he peered around the dented bumper. One of the soldiers kicked Seba in the ribs."Where are the rest of your men?"
Seba rolled over, sprang to his feet, and slammed into the soldier. Instinctively, Jonas pulled out the weapon hidden beneath his thin jacket, but not before a shot ripped through the humid air. Seba dropped onto the street. Blood seeped through his pant leg and spilled across the brown dirt beneath him.
Jonas fought rising panic. There was still no sign of Ngozi. Together the two of them might stand a chance, but alone, any heroic rescue would prove foolish against President Tau's elite. The soldiers began to spread out, searching for the missing rebel leaders --- and making his hiding place vulnerable. Another group of soldiers approached from behind. Jonas dropped to all fours and cursed. He'd waited too long, and now his only escape was blocked. Another gunshot echoed in the air. The few remaining curious on- lookers scattered toward the surrounding compounds. A soldier yelled. Jonas' jaw tensed as two of them headed toward his position.
For a split second he considered the odds, then made a run for the alley. Halfway across the street, he felt a bullet rip through his shoulder. He stumbled, pain searing his senses. Blood dripped down his arm, but he couldn't afford to slow his pace. He flew toward the narrow alley lined with someone's laundry, trying to ignore the thundering footsteps behind him. Yanking a shirt from the line, he pressed it against the wound. Behind him, the two soldiers closed in. Anger and adrenalin drowned out the pain. For years, he and the other men had been nothing more than puppets in the hands of their own government. Hundreds of them had been recruited and trained as the president's secret guard. Today they were called insurgents and rebels. Used for the government's purposes, like the running of their slave-labor camps, they were then easily disposed of when the rest of the world caught on.
Jonas slipped into the afternoon shadows of the deserted alley, took a sharp left, then a right, managing to put distance between him and the soldiers. A plan began to form in the recesses of his mind. That same government believed they could get away with watching them rot in some dark prison in exchange for more foreign aid and UN support.
Not if he had his way.
Excerpted from BLOOD COVENANT: Mission Hope Series, Book 2 © Copyright 2011 by Lisa Harris. Reprinted with permission by Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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