Chapter 1: The devil will come in many forms

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Chapter 1


The devil will come in many forms; will you see him for what he is when he arrives?

To put your faith in others rather than in God is to invite the devil himself to dine at your table.


Location: Woodbridge, Virginia, USA

Crisp air blew through the silent suburban housing development. Matching houses on each side of the street were an accomplishment of the homeowners’ committee, doing their best to ensure uniformity and stagnate progress in any way they could. Evenly spaced and perfectly groomed trees stood sentry, creating the illusion of tranquility. In reality the chaotic nature of daily life filled the tightly packed neighborhood with passing acquaintances rather than mindful friends. Each member of the community tried to remain afloat in his or her own world, so no one noticed the four black SUVs as they sped down the empty street, screeching to a halt in front of a home of one of their own.

A lone woman sat quietly in her tan sedan, watching tactical teams rush to surround a house she was near. She played out the next few hours in her mind to ensure she had not missed anything. A gray laptop lay on the seat next to her. She picked it up and slid her seat back. She needed room to allow her fingers to dance over the keyboard. Four streaming video feeds populated her screen. Each centered upon a man.  Careworn features and an expression of contentment rested on his face. Hauling up his oldest daughter into his arms, a genuine love for both his children and wife radiated from him. Each of them was joking and basking in one another’s company, making lunch and watching TV in their modest kitchen. Appearances were deceiving. Classified files sat adjacent to her, and she knew the man’s true potential.

The tactical units encroaching on the house possessed redacted versions of the files she had on their target. Even with nearly all the events within the files blacked out there was still enough to warrant such a robust response. Sixteen men dressed in solid black tactical gear rushed from the vehicles to surround the house. Subtle gestures passed between each of them as they silently executed the first stage of the mission with an ease born of decades of flawless execution. Unofficial, invisible, sanctioned, they were a death warrant for all they came upon, true fear incarnate. In unison they assaulted the house in response to a single command. “Cordon established. Extract target, move.” The communication net went silent. There was no need for any other directives.  

Silent signals sent between two stacked tactical teams ensured synchronized entry. The appearance of the federal authorities moving swiftly into the house was the only warning the target received. Disbelief was written plainly on the man’s face as the woman watched him on the screen; lasers from every vantage point in his house trained on him.

The hysterical screams demanding explanations and the release of her husband fell on deaf ears as their target was forcibly bound, hooded, and tossed into a waiting SUV. His wife, led back inside at gunpoint, engaged in a brief argument with the team’s leader. An instant later the black SUVs departed, exiting as quickly as they had arrived, leaving little evidence anything had happened.  

Seconds passed, and a smile crept across the lone woman’s face. Her brown eyes stared at the screen. The local emergency dispatch grid flashed an access-granted code, and she placed a small black headset into her ear. She knew from experience that the call would be on its way in a few moments, and she was the one that needed to receive it. A small blue light flashed at the bottom of the screen. The address that scrolled across the screen was only two houses down from where she sat in her car.