Mid-May, 2013— Gansu, China
Blood drips from the hunting knife in my right hand. I check the pulse of the man lying motionless on the floor— dead. Sick bastard deserved it.
A young girl’s body lays equally motionless on a mattress in the corner. With a trembling hand, I gently check for a pulse, though I already know there isn’t one. She can’t be more than twelve, maybe thirteen. It’s as though someone clamps my lungs in a vice grip as memories flood my mind.
Standing in a luxury hotel room, blood dripping off a knife, my hands and face splattered in red . . . and Jax.
“Viper. Viper, come on! Stay with me, girl. We aren’t finished yet.”
“I’m here. This girl is gone though.”
I push to my feet and wipe the sweat from my forehead. Rescuing sex slaves for the last ten years and it still tires me out on certain days. This is one of those days. Chinese auctions are brutal.
“You’ve got two guards in the next room, one buyer, and three slaves. Python is waiting outside the door.”
My bare, blood-covered feet tap loudly along the concrete floor, the slickness making it difficult to move quickly. Not far down the hall, a mammoth of a man with biceps as big as my head whose cut like a Greek god holds an AK47 with a grin on his face.
“Hey, cupcake. Took you long enough.”
“Girl in the last room died.”
“Oh.” His smile fades. “You can’t save ‘em all.” He tries for nonchalance, but can’t mask the pain in his voice.
“I can try.”
He turns and plants his boot into the door, directly next to the handle. I rush in and sink my knife into the neck of the closest guard. Blood flows into his throat and mouth, choking him. Screams from the girls in the back of the room erupt, bouncing off the walls.
Python fills the other guard’s body with bullets, and my vision blurs red, as I stalk toward the bed in the back. A lanky, greasy, piece of shit climbs off a girl and turns, his hands in the air.
We don’t take prisoners.
I move forward as he pleads for his life, but the words make my face hot with anger. He doesn’t care about the life of the girl he was raping. Closing the gap between us, I slam my knife into the hollow at the base of his throat. He gurgles and drops to his knees. As I pull the blade out, he slumps to the side, his head thudding against the concrete.
Without looking at the girls, I say, “There’s help waiting outside. Go.”
Two of them file out immediately. The third stands, shaking, and walks to my side.