When I hear the word “synchronize”, I immediately think of special ops synching their watches. (That, and synchronized swimming, and for that, I’ve got nothing.)
I haven’t written a military novel (yet), but my heroes in the Medici Protectorate series are warriors in their own right. As I prepare to release book three, Body Armor (cover reveal soon), I saw today’s prompt and thought about the Brotherhood. The opening scene of the novel focuses on Nico Micelli, and he’s paying close attention to his watch. He’s on his own for this particular op, so there is no synchronization of watches, but this is where my thoughts immediately went when I saw the word.
I hope you enjoy this first look at the opening scene to Medici Protectorate III, Body Armor.
Nico swiped at the sweat on his brow and snuck a glance at his watch—2:12. He’d made good time. The heart rate monitor registered ninety-two beats per minute. A lot higher than his resting rate of sixty, but perfectly acceptable considering the climb he’d just made. And the stress of the task at hand.
Crickets chirruped a melody over the distant burble of one of the many streams that fed the Aron River. An occasional bat screech interrupted the song, and a couple of times a wolf howl—hopefully far away—sent shivers skittering up Nico’s spine. He took a deep breath to calm himself, notes of citrus mingled harmoniously with the moldering undergrowth of the giant beeches he stood beneath. The night was clear, and the nearly-full moon bathed the landscaped grounds in a silvery wash of light. Too bright out there for his clandestine mission. Nico crouched for cover in the shadows of a large yew in the forest bordering the property while he surveilled the facility.
It had taken him several months and every bit of his hacking skills—plus a few new tricks he’d picked up—to determine where Mary Notaro was being kept. Well, he was about ninety-five percent sure she was there. The last two times he’d been one hundred percent certain he’d found her, and he’d been wrong both times—a new and embarrassing record for him. The facilities he’d tracked her to had been a bust. She either had been moved before he got there or had never been there at all. This time, he gave himself a margin of error of five percent.
But after a little recon, he’d be sure. And if he was right? Then he’d devise an extraction plan. Maybe involve his brothers then.
2:17. Pulse rate kicked to ninety-five. Time to get a move on.
To a casual onlooker, the building would just be another hidden gem in the lower crags of the Apennine Mountains. Not too big to attract attention, not so small that people would wonder who had wasted the resources to construct something on such a steep hillside. Classic Mediterranean architectural style, nothing too flashy. If anyone noticed the building from the road below, they’d maybe snap a photo and then move on. No one would bother climbing the steep terrain for something so nondescript, particularly when there were famous ruins to explore mere miles away.
But Nico recognized it for what it was, and he studied the structure. He crept close enough to see the myriad of security cameras, the state-of-the-art fingerprint ID pads. The armed guard who patrolled the grounds. Wouldn’t surprise him if there were alarms on the windows, retinal scanners inside, and a larger security force.
No way he could break in now. Not without knowing what he’d face inside.
He opened his pack and brought out a few trail cams. Clocked the guard’s patrol pattern—thirteen minutes before he was in sight again, then Nico would have to stop work so as not to be noticed.
It had been years since he climbed a tree, and the beeches offered few low limbs to use as leverage. He scrambled up to the lowest branch and secured one of the cameras. When he jumped to the ground, he grazed a juniper. The noise crackled through the night, seemed to echo off the mountain and bounce back to him. Then the night air silenced—not a sound could be heard, other than his panting breath and his pulse pounding in his ears. He stood perfectly still and waited, but no one came to check on the disturbance.
Nico laughed at himself. Animals rustle flora all the time. The noise he created couldn’t have made more of a ruckus than a chamois goat foraging for food. He was just paranoid.
The second camera went up without incident. He grew complacent and neglected to track the time. While he worked on the third, the guard came back into view. Nico should have been more careful. Now he was stuck up a tree, dangling from a branch, his grip precarious.
He stopped working and froze so he didn’t attract any attention. The soundscape of nocturnal animals hadn’t resumed, and Nico was all the more aware of the noises he made—the quiet panting, the subtle scraping of his clothes on the bark of the tree. The camera started slipping out of his bag, and he had to scramble to catch it before it fell. A muscle spasm shot through his arm and he flinched. One of the small twigs he held to the side snapped free of his grasp, flung forward, and stung his face. The leaves tickled his nose, and his eyes watered. He had to sneeze.
Post inspired by the WordPress daily prompt: Synchronize.