Chapter 57

Copyright© 2010 by Michael Wolfam

"That Driscol bitch found a new toy to play with." Max scattered a stack of pictures in front of the fifteen men seated at the long, stainless steel table. "She already hit the rehab center and the other storage mine. It's a safe bet that she's heading here next." The men snatched up the images and stared at them with disbelief.

"What da hell is she driving, boss?" Chin-Hae, a stocky Korean, demanded as he examined the picture in his hand. He was the head of security at the Bathsheba and was not usually impressed, but the look on his face said it all.

"Never seen anything like it," Max said as he started pacing the stone floor. They were gathered in the operations center, a large room with only a set of lockers and a whiteboard. The men were dressed in thick, winter camouflage and were itching to add a silver notch to their belts. "The head honcho is doubling the reward for this little bitch. $200,000 for her and $50,000 for the boy in gold. That'll buy one of you assholes a nice weekend in Vegas." The men chuckled.

The group assembled before him represented the cream of Max's army. Most had military or law enforcement training and at least five kills apiece to their name. While his numbers were rapidly dwindling, Max was confident that these trained killers would not fail him.

He had made the mistake of assigning his less experienced men to the rehab center and the Three Crosses mineshaft. He hadn't expected Liv to come into possession of a deadly, armored vehicle. Without the strange vehicle, Max had no doubt that she would already be dead or captured.

Max's mind wandered, as the men thoroughly examined the pictures and got into a heated argument about what they were up against. Liv would pay for what she had done to his army. More than anything, Max hated training new recruits, and he resented her for forcing him to find new staff to fill his mercenary group.

The anger management unit at the rehab center had a hidden, sinister application. The majority of the patients who came through were successfully treated and sent home. But a select few were trained to be sociopathic killers. The selection process started when a panel of five psychologists unanimously agreed that a patient was not likely to be cured of their anger issues.

Max would carefully review that patient's file, looking for telltale signs that they might be a welcome addition to his group. The man needed to be a killer, and show no remorse. If Max felt the patient fit the bill, the second stage would begin.

The patient would be assigned to a special psychologist. The doctor would slowly try to cultivate the patient's anger. He would test whether the person could follow orders and operate as part of a large unit. Then the psychologist would teach the patient to rationalize anger and crave more.

After careful scrutiny, the trainee would be placed in a special group and perform therapy exercises. Those that improved would be put back in the regular program, but those that resisted were selected for further training. Eventually, Max would make them an offer they couldn't refuse. The majority of men working for Max had come through this system.

Luckily for Max, there were several men in the anger management program who showed great promise. Mentally, he scrolled through the list. There were two former child soldiers, brothers from Zimbabwe, and four others who would go a long way toward replacing his losses.

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