by Ann ♥♪HB♪♥
Frank is on a desperate search for his kidnapped brother, Joe, who is facing a deadly enemy. Neither brother will give up in their battle for justice as well as for their own survival and each other’s.
When you have only one shot, you don’t want to miss.
I got this idea because I just had to see if I could fit a whole story in a one-shot. As with all Hardy Boys books (except for the Secret Files and Clues Brothers) there are intense situations – not surprisingly, since bad guys are….bad and try to kill the good guys. So in this story you will also find intense situations.
Always to the Creator and my family and friends. 🙂 I love you and thank you forever. 🙂
The tall, dark haired male figure moved stealthily through the underbrush without a sound to reveal his presence. He ignored the heat that flowed down from the hot summer sun. Humidity mattered very little in the scope of things.
Up ahead of him, his dark eyes recognized the markings indicating the trail he was going to need to take. As he walked swiftly, he prayed that the time that had been required to gather the clues and reach this point hadn’t been too long. He pushed aside the fear that threatened to overtake him at the thought that he could be too late. His silent prayers included the plea that the Intel he’d been given was still accurate. Even if acted on quickly, situations can change in the blink of an eye.
Mercifully, once on the barely discernible trail, the overhanging trees made an effective canopy for relief from the relentless sun. Not allowing himself to give much time to that fact, he appreciated it nonetheless. His ears listened intently for sounds that wouldn’t fit in with the expected myriad of noises. His serious dark eyes were always on the lookout, calmly and steadily observing his surroundings, not wanting to miss anything that could prove helpful, or fatal.
He was aware of all of these things; he just didn’t allow them to deter him from his focus. His brother.
Sensing someone up ahead, he quickly ducked behind a tree. He could hear crashing along the path as whoever was there apparently was unconcerned about being detected. Peering around, but still remaining hidden, he saw the solitary person nearing his location.
Frank listened and then timing it perfectly, his arm shot out and caught the other guy in the neck. A flip and a quick chop to the neck and the individual was swiftly and effectively put out of commission, at least for the time being.
Moving on, he swatted at one of the many, and possibly poisonous, flying insects he had already encountered on his trek through the wilderness. From the distance he’d already traveled, he knew he had to be almost to the group’s camp. The data he had received from an undercover agent had indicated that to be true. Frank started carefully on yet another trail; by appearance this one was more traveled. He naturally remained noiseless in his quest for his brother.
His strong, lean body was still for a moment as he again listened, his eyes taking in the slight movement that was caused by the breeze coming through the huge trees. Everything was intensified as his senses were on high alert. Satisfied he could move forward undetected, he continued on his search for his brother. His serious eyes momentarily lightened and the slightest of smiles flickered across Frank’s handsome features. He remembered how much fun it had been when the two brothers were little, practicing their stealth and observation skills around the house and yard.
Though he was determined to stay focused, Frank’s mind still wandered slightly to two days earlier, when Joe had disappeared. Frank and Joe had been visiting a friend and her husband in England, seeing the sights. Joe had offered to run down to pick up the fish and chips for everyone. He hadn’t returned. With the help of the computer skills and knowledge of the area from the Hardys’ friends, in addition to his own skills, Frank was soon on the path to finding his brother.
Now, many miles from England, Frank was hoping he was very close to where Joe was being held. With fierce resolve, mingled with fear for his little brother, Frank kept on. His mind was constantly reminding him of the fact that a covert agent, also searching for Joe, had learned information that had caused Frank’s blood to run cold when he had heard it. A merciless man, trained in retrieving information from people, had been spotted by other agents heading to the area where Joe was thought to be. That was hours ago and while Frank was on foot, the enemy was bound to have faster transportation and would likely reach Joe first.
Already moving quickly, Frank tried to stay calm and not surge through the trees in blind fear for his brother. Just a little further, he told himself, just a little further and then Joe will be safe and we can go home……..
As the elder Hardy brother was rapidly getting closer and thinking those thoughts, similar ones ran through Joe’s mind. He was tied to an uncomfortable, as well as annoyingly sturdy, wooden chair for what seemed like forever, although he had politely requested other accommodations. Joe continued to pray and also to think what he had ever since he’d gotten grabbed in England. Just a little longer and Frank will be here, and we can go home, hang on, his brain and heart told him. He had attempted several times to escape but had been unsuccessful so far. So far, because he wasn’t about to give up. Whenever he saw any, even remotely, possible opportunities present themselves, he was going to go for it.
Joe had found out that the group he was currently a hostage of was one of many connected in some way to a larger cell of assassins. The younger Hardy brother had been told earlier that day that they had an expert on the way there to find out the information they were seeking from the stubborn Joe. The arrogant leader of the group had taken great pleasure in sharing details of other successful interrogations by the ‘expert’. Joe had done his best to cover any fear he felt by utilizing his gift of sarcasm and joking. He was quite aware of the danger and prayed that his brother would get him out of there or that he himself would be able to escape before the whack-job arrived.
Joe’s blue eyes searched around the area, noting the sudden flurry of activity. He was in one of several little buildings in what had been a small, peaceful village until the bad guys had arrived and killed every single occupant. The door to the two-room building was open, allowing him to see as a battered off-road vehicle entered the village and proceeded to the center of it.
Trying frantically once more to gain freedom from the ropes, he succeeded only in almost popping his shoulders and wrists, finding that he was still tied too tightly and thoroughly. His constant tugging against it hadn’t loosened the ropes at all. The chair had been bolted to the floor so that he was unable to knock it over in hopes of breaking free that way.
With a sigh, he let his eyes close a moment before opening them back up. Joe’s deep ocean blue eyes reached up, seeking through the mostly thick cover of trees to find that one patch of sky he had located earlier. Thankful that none of his loved ones were there to be hurt or killed by the evil ones in attempts to get Joe to talk, he mentally tried to steel himself against what he was about to face. He had no doubt it wasn’t going to be easy.
Another glance down at the small device in his strong hand showed that Frank was indeed on the right course. He slipped his 5G smart phone back into his pocket. MI6 had been against Frank taking off to search for his brother alone. Not sure which agents to trust after becoming suspicious of one, Frank wasn’t about to take the time to sort out who was trustworthy. The agent in charge of the investigation, Peter Malin, had told Frank during the phone conversation to wait for him before heading out. Although they trusted Malin, Frank had chosen not to wait and lose that valuable time. Time that could mean the difference between life and death for his brother.
While he moved ever closer to the suspected camp, Frank shook his head, remembering how one of the agents had basically told the elder brother that he didn’t think it was likely that Joe was still alive, given certain data. Unwilling to accept that, Frank had contacted a friend of theirs, Billy Siegel, whom they had met on an earlier case. He was a member of the Israeli Defense Forces and someone both brothers and their father trusted with good reason.
Rapidly covering ground and simultaneously going over the detailed but quickly made plans, Frank glanced at his watch. He was ahead of schedule. That was good, and right now, Frank was appreciating any encouragement that was to be found.
“Tell me!” came the grating, angry voice again, breaking through Joe’s consciousness.
“You haven’t… liked anything I’ve…said… so far….,” muttered Joe, his eyes fighting to remain open to look at the man standing there glaring at him. The ‘expert’ had arrived and had already found that their captive was not going to be simple to break. That hadn’t bothered the interrogator; he liked his job and was finding the American to be a challenge. However, he sometimes had a very short temper and the only thing he had learned so far was that Joe had a very smart mouth.
“Listen to me! You will tell me what I don’t know,” the furious interrogator snarled.
The corner of Joe’s mouth lifted slightly in clear amusement. “Dude….where do…I….start?” Blue eyes twinkled despite the severity of the situation and in a direct response against giving in. Don’t let them win.
“More, inject him with more.” The interrogator’s voice was suddenly eerily quiet in disturbing contrast to the way he had been shouting. His assistant, whom he’d been addressing, hurried to obey the order.
Although his eyes were half-closed and he made it a point not to look at the hypodermic, Joe was very aware of the injection and his determination didn’t lessen. Already he’d been having a hard time focusing and he knew that was about to get much worse.
“If you think you can fight against this, and win, you are grossly mistaken.”
“And you’re…just gross,” Joe stated, his voice not as strong as it normally was.
“Are you a three-year-old?”
“No,” replied Joe, then a few moments later his eyes widened, “Uh oh…this stuff….mus be working, I jus…answered….question…no…sarcasm.” Joe was proud of that sentence he’d just managed to get out, but he would have liked it better if he’d been able to keep from slurring his words as the serum increased its power. His head was pounding and he fought to focus. Please, hurry, big brother, I need help!
“It will go a lot easier for you if you co-operate.”
“Then you’d…jus…. kill me,” Joe stated. “Not stupid.”
“Yes, you are stupid! You are weak, you will not be able to fight this,” the interrogator said with confidence.
“Don’t you know…any other tunes?”
“Enough!” The ‘expert’ slammed his hand down on the nearby table, almost making Joe jump. Joe did notice out of the corner of his eye that the assistant jumped, but not the guard near the door. “I want the names of agents that you know of and their locations that you are aware of in England.”
Before Joe could stop the thought, he wondered how this man knew he was privy to that information. If circumstances had been different and Joe hadn’t saved the life of an agent, who’d been afraid they were about to die, and they hadn’t told Joe what information they had, the younger Hardy brother wouldn’t know either.
The interrogator’s sharp eyes saw something in Joe’s expressive face. It was brief and quickly covered, but he had seen it. The information he sought was going through Joe’s mind. So far the younger Hardy had been successfully thinking of other things and keeping the other guy off-balance with his sarcasm and smart comments.
Joe almost groaned aloud as he saw the predator-like smile on the face of his antagonist. He was really starting to get tired and he had already been told to expect all kinds of surprises as a result of the twoinjections he’d been given. Frank, brother, hurry! Can’t let them win!
Having successfully kept several guards from spotting him and giving him away, Frank moved cautiously to the perimeter of the camp, still hidden by the heavy brush. He noted the number of armed guards, the various vehicles, and buildings in the village. With stealth, he circled the group’s camp, staying out of sight, gathering information along the way that he could use to get his brother out of there safely, while searching urgently in hopes of spotting Joe.
He has to be here, Frank told himself, knowing that if Joe wasn’t there, he would keep looking.
His heart nearly stopped as he saw a blond head through an open doorway. Situating his position so that he could see without being seen himself, Frank removed a small pair of binoculars and zoomed them in to the man he‘d seen. Joe! And he was alive!
Frank saw that his brother’s arms were tightly bound to the chair, as well as his legs. He could also see that Joe’s eyes were only half-open, but even so, he was glaring defiantly at the man who was doing the talking. Swinging the binoculars to the stranger’s face, Frank felt cold chills at the stark evilness that was present there. Frank had to get his brother out of there fast or he would soon be dead. The older Hardy brother knew, without a doubt, that he would do everything in his power to keep that from happening.
With several ideas running through his mind, Frank mentally sorted them into groups of likely scenarios and most successful outcomes with the least chance of failure. He ran a hand over his face and looked up, not knowing that the one patch of sky he could see at that very moment was the same that had comforted Joe just a short time ago.
Lifting the binoculars to his dark eyes again, Frank’s hands tightened around them as he saw another individual appear and move toward his brother. The sight of the hypodermic made him feel physically sick at the thought of what was in there and what might happen to his brother. Obviously Joe had already been given an injection, maybe more than one; how much would be too much that would kill his little brother?
Having read more than he really wanted to know about truth serums and various poisons that were employed, Frank was very aware that his brother could be facing not only death, but a very slow and painful one. Knowing what he had to do, with a hand not as steady as he was going to need it to be, he reached to his side and withdrew one of the weapons he was carrying. Joe wasn’t the only Hardy sweating at that moment.
Frank glanced down at the gun in his hand for only a moment before telling himself he had no choice. That didn’t make him feel a whole lot better in what he was about to do. Leveling the gun sight to his target, his finger gently touching the trigger, he breathed in and then breathed out. Feeling the trickle of sweat that came from his hair and down his face, he was glad when it missed his eye. He didn’t need any other distractions.
His intense mocha eyes locked on his brother, a face he’d known most of his life and who meant so much to him, and his heart constricted. Then, with the gun trained directly on his target, his own little brother, Frank’s finger started squeezing the trigger a little bit. And then he fired the gun.
The interrogator watched in shock as his prisoner, who had been about to get injected again with the specially concocted serum, was suddenly unconscious.
“Wait!” he shouted at his assistant. Marching over to Joe, he grabbed his face. It wasn’t a trick; the American was most definitely out, the interrogator realized, as he took Joe’s pulse.
“He has passed out,” he stated. “We’ll have to wait until he recovers enough to regain consciousness.”
“Perhaps we gave him too much?” the assistant dared to venture. That earned him a slap across his face.
“No, he is just weak.” The interrogator had already been promised a luxurious meal when he had arrived but he had put it off. Now he decided he would go enjoy that while waiting for the prisoner to wake up. Turning, he marched out of the room after giving strict commands to the guard.
As soon as Frank had pulled the trigger, he had watched as what he had intended would happen played out in front of him. Returning the tranquilizer gun to his side, he began to move to put more of his plan into action. He knew he had been able to save his brother’s life plus keep the information from being retrieved, and had also bought them much needed time.
Being ever vigilant of the watchful guards, Frank moved closer to his goal of what he had determined was their arsenal. He almost smiled as he noted that they had practically drawn him a map to that particular building by their actions and locations. Finding he was right, he put the next part of his plan to work.
The village was not a large one, but the buildings were scattered enough to work to Frank’s advantage for what he needed. He hurried back to where he would be as near to his brother as possible and be in the right location for what he needed to do for a distraction. Then he picked up the quickly-but well-made bow he had fashioned a short time before.
After grabbing the long, thin, yet sturdy arrow he had made the Cherokee way, he taped a stick of dynamite to it. Both the tape and dynamite he had ‘borrowed’ from the arsenal. His eyes glinted dangerously as he thought to himself, And I’ll be returning the items to them very, very soon.
Before lighting it, he looked again to make sure of where everyone was. Now, he thought to himself, taking a match and lighting the fuse. Notching the arrow to the bow, he stood to his full height of six-foot-one, still hidden by the growth of foliage of tall bushes and trees that surrounded the perimeter of the village.
Pulling back the bow, Frank let it go, and as soon as the arrow took flight, he waited a moment before getting into position to listen for his cue to break from the cover of the trees. The far from subtle cue came moments later as the arrow found its target and exploded the arsenal that had been infiltrated and readied by Frank minutes ago.
Running quickly to the building where Joe was being held, the guard met up with Frank’s fist just as he was coming to the doorway. Racing over to Joe, Frank took out a piece of cloth and poured water from his canteen on it. Gently cooling his brother’s face, hoping to revive him quickly, Frank brushed it across Joe’s forehead and the sides of his face. After doing that a few times, he began cutting through the ropes tying Joe to the chair, while quietly speaking to his brother.
“It’s okay, now, Joe. I’m here,” Frank’s strong and gentle voice continued as he got one rope done and then another. “Wake up, Joe. Come on, little brother. My plan is a good one.”
A swift glance at his brother’s face told Frank that Joe had yet to do as he had requested. Going back to cutting through the ropes, Frank focused on each step of his plan, which meant ignoring the melee going on outside and waking up his brother as well as untying him.
When he was almost done freeing Joe from the chair, the assistant wandered in and stopped in shock at the sight of the elder Hardy brother. With two strides and another quick fist from Frank, the assistant was out like a light.
Returning to his brother, Frank noted that Joe was also still out. If he had to, he would carry his brother out of there, but they would obviously go faster if they were both on the run. Although Frank wasn’t sure if Joe would be in any condition to run as soon as he regained consciousness.
“Come on, Joe, wake up!” Frank finished cutting the ropes. Hearing Joe moan, Frank got the cloth again and hoped the cool water would help resuscitate him quickly. He felt a sense of relief as he saw the vibrant blue of Joe’s eyes as his little brother fought to open them.
As Joe’s eyes slowly but steadily focused he saw his big brother watching him with concern.
“Hey,” Joe grinned. Frank grinned back and shook his head while lifting the canteen to his brother’s lips, carefully giving him a drink of refreshing, reviving water.
“Hey yourself,” Frank said as he put an arm around his unsteady brother to help him stand, holding onto him as he almost fell. Looking over toward the door, Frank knew they couldn’t wait long. “What say we get outta here?” He wished he could give Joe a few more minutes to gather his strength but there just wasn’t time.
“Sounds…good.” Joe smiled and, with a lot of help from Frank, walked slowly to the doorway. Frank knew that the truth serum could be a serious problem, not knowing how bad it was and what the side effects would be. He wondered if it would be thequickest and most useful if he just picked up Joe and ran. Having no doubt his brother would protest, he kept that option in mind if absolutely necessary – to be determined by him, not Joe.
“Don’t you dare ask what took me so long, either,” Frank warned, glancing around to verify the best and safest route to leave the village unseen.
“Know…why,” Joe mumbled, leaning his head against the edge of the open door, just out of sight of anyone outside.
Frank didn’t take time to look over at his brother but he had a feeling there was a half grin on Joe’s face.
“I…not there…..help you.”
“No, that’s how I got here as fast as I did,” Frank returned. Guards were running and trying to put out the huge fire that was burning out of control. Miniature explosions continued to be heard as the elder Hardy brother’s eyes unflinchingly swept the area.
“I…musta passed out….from that stuff,” Joe said groggily as he continued trying to shake it off so he could help. Dizziness continued to hit him and he had to close his eyes to get everything to stop moving around.
“You took a short nap, little brother.” He just didn’t mention at the time that it was courtesy of his big brother. Frank could tell Joe was barely conscious, and if he hadn’t been fighting it so hard, he would still be out. Frank, with a glance at his brother, knew it was possible Joe could collapse any second from the effects of the serum that the interrogator had caused him to be injected with.
Making a quick decision that he would just have to deal with Joe’s protests, Frank had his brother over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry before Joe knew what had happened.
“Lemme….down!” Joe gasped.
“Joe, shut up,” Frank returned and started to dart out, hoping to avoid being spotted in all of the chaos going on.
“Gonna puke…over…shoulder,” Joe’s voice reached Frank, causing him to shake his head slightly.
“Go ahead, but nothing is changing,” Frank told him. As it turned out, Joe had only been threatening. They were halfway to the cover of trees when one of the guards spotted them and charged at them.
“Hang on, Joe,” Frank warned his brother, his arm secure around him. Turning slightly away and then twisting with force, Frank gained momentum and had his brother’s legs fly out and into the guard. When Joe’s large, heavy boots connected with the guard’s head, their would-be attacker was out before he even hit the ground.
Just a little further, Frank told himself, his eyes on the goal of the cover of trees, but still observing his surroundings that allowed him to see the interrogator in his peripheral. Attempting to find somewhere to duck out of sight, Frank had to halt for a moment when there was nowhere safe. The interrogator had stepped directly in their path, blocking it.
“Trying to escape?” he asked menacingly.
“Really good guess,” Frank muttered. The interrogator glared and lifted his gun to aim at Frank’s chest.
“You are the brother.” It was more a statement than a question.
“And you are going to be a dead jerk if you don’t move,” Frank told him. Unfriendly laughter came in response to Frank’s words.
“You are threatening me and I’m the one holding the gun?”
“No, I’m the one threatening you because those are our friends right there!” Frank dove to the side as a Jeep raced up the road leading into the village. A tall, lean figure jumped from the moving vehicle, tackling the interrogator with a perfect takedown and dealing him a solid knockout punch to the jaw. The dark haired man looked quickly over at the older Hardy brother, with the younger one over his shoulder, his concern evident on his strong, handsome face.
“You two okay?” he asked, moving quickly to the brothers.
“Yeah, we are now, Dad,” Frank grinned at Fenton, thankful that their plan had been successful. “Superb timing.” Fenton smiled in response while moving to look anxiously at his younger son. He had been so afraid…….
“Joe?” Fenton said quietly, putting his hand on his son’s curly blond head.
Blue eyes opened to look at his father, “Tell ‘em….lemme down.”
Fenton chuckled as he helped Frank gently lower his little brother to the ground.
Two more jeeps had arrived and begun cleaning up the area. The Hardys spotted their friend Billy leading the effort to secure the remaining members of the group.
With an arm around Joe’s shoulders to hold him up, Fenton held the canteen so his youngest could get some more much needed water.
Frank took a long gulp from his own canteen as he leaned against the jeep. He wiped a hand over his tanned face.
Looking at both of his sons, Fenton got them updated on what had developed during the situation. “That agent you weren’t sure you could trust, Frank? You were right, and he’s in custody right now. Peter Malin had also suspected the same agent and his investigation uncovered evidence that confirmed that.”
Frank nodded, glad he’d gone with his instinct, knowing the importance of working with those you can trust.
“And Joe?” Fenton looked at his blond haired son, who had almost fallen asleep against his dad’s shoulder. Tiredly, Joe raised his head to look at his dad. “You saved the life of that agent who had been shot in London. You got him to the doctor just in time. The reason the agent told you that information is because he had just escaped from that guy over there.” Fenton indicated the interrogator who’d been apprehended, still unconscious.
“So the serum made the agent blurt out that information,” Frank said. Fenton nodded.
“Yeah, he told me that Joe had such an honest face that he somehow knew he could trust him. So after Joe spotted that the agent was bleeding, and while he was helping him to the doctors just down the street from the restaurant, he told Joe everything.”
Joe finally spoke, “All from asking him if he could reach me the napkins to go with the fish and chips.”
Frank and Fenton laughed.
When almost the entire group had been captured, an armed member suddenly came running toward the Hardys.
Fenton instinctively tightened his hold on Joe with one arm and his other went for his own weapon. Frank was doing the same but before they could do anything the man had turned and shot the interrogator dead, not wanting any information to be gathered from him. As the man then started to turn to shoot the Hardys, he yelled as a bullet hit him, knocking the gun out of his hand. The Hardys looked over to see their friend Billy Siegel, his drawn weapon unwavering, keeping the gunman covered.
As the gunman was being handcuffed, Billy stepped over to the Hardys and shook each of their hands. He grinned at his friends.
“Amazing job,” he said. “You effectively put these guys out of business. Frank, rescuing your brother and blowing up their arsenal – sheer genius.”
“Thanks, Billy, you and Dad and the rest of the guys had great timing,” Frank grinned.
“I’m pretty pleased with the way things turned out,” Billy nodded. “Joe, your ability to fight the serum and keep the information from them – phenomenal.”
“Nah, just stubbornness.” Joe grinned as his dad clapped him on the back while Frank and Billy laughed.
Later, stopping back by England before heading home to Bayport, their friend Peter from MI6 treated them all to dinner. As Joe ate his large platter of fish and chips (fries), he thought about what he’d read concerning its history in England. Jews escaping persecution in the 1600s brought the recipe of fish deep-fried in olive oil to England. In 1860, Jewish fish seller, Joseph Malin, opened the first deep-fried fish and chips take-out in London. The “chips” part came from the Irish potato wedges being sold. Samuel Isaacs opened a sit-down-dining fish and chips restaurant in 1896. With the delicious meal being so affordable, the poorest English inhabitants could dine in a nice restaurant to eat as well as even the richest aristocracy in England. With fish and chips establishments’ popularity also in the US and other countries, Joe’d eaten at quite a few of them.
Then it was back home to New York, USA, where, as soon as possible, Joe hugged his mom, Aunt Gertrude, and of course, his Iola. The hugs he received back held much love and joy. Along with his earlier reunion with his brother and dad, these were all moments he’d dreamed of and prayed for while held captive.
Frank watched the reunions with silent thankful prayer resounding in him. When Callie got there, she exchanged hugs with both brothers. Her eyes were teary from relief that they were all right. With her boyfriend’s arm lovingly around her, she leaned back against him, as the two of them listened to Joe’s short version of what had happened.
Absolutely worth fighting evil, even with all of the risks, Joe thought to himself, as the fact that he was okay, despite what he’d been through, filled his heart and soul with thanks. He knew he was never alone, even when he had been physically. He looked toward the sky and smiled. Promises already fulfilled and those still to be fulfilled gave him the eternal hope that it was truly….
….Never the end!