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It had been over a week since they sought refuge at the temple. The handful of monks who were there had been kind. Phil, the Secret Service agent, had been looked after and was slowly healing. The bullet had gone through his shoulders, and it seemed it had missed any major arteries.
Rafe stood in front of a bare window and stared out at the beautiful scene before him. The snow-covered mountains looked majestic and peaceful. But the serenity they projected was a lie. There was nothing serene in the outside world… and there was nothing serene inside his head.
His hand reached up to his hair. He still couldn’t believe he’d had it shaved off. It was the only way to keep everybody safe. If anybody came to the temple and saw two Western males… the consequences would be disastrous.
So, he and Keith had blended in. They shaved off their hair and dressed in monk’s robes. But they had not given up. They weren’t in hiding. They were simply biding their time.
During their first few days at the temple, he had been so wound up. All he thought about was getting back out there and reclaiming what the terrorists had taken. He kept thinking about his family.
They had found a way to keep in touch with the men who were hiding in the village at the foot of the mountains. The terrorists, it seemed, while having complete control over communications on smartphones and other similar equipment, did not have access to local radio signals.
Every single day, he sat in a room trying to reach out to other people on the radio. They had sent out emergency messages and distress signals using Morse code. But the news they received had not been hopeful.
North America, Europe and most parts of Asia were under the rule of the terrorist group that called themselves the Brotherhood. Everything was in absolute chaos. World leaders that had survived the attacks on the 2nd of December were imprisoned and tortured. Women from Western nations had been taken and turned into sex slaves. In a matter of days, the world, it seemed, had turned to utter hell.
Rafe wanted to scream in frustration. Aside from the news of more attacks, they knew close to nothing of the Brotherhood. Their contacts in Europe had told them that members of the Brotherhood claimed that they were doing everything in the name of Allah.
This had caused more conflict as cities that had survived the attacks had retaliated against Muslim citizens. And slowly, civilized society was no longer anywhere near being civilized.
“Sir? Mr… I mean, Rafe,” Keith corrected himself.
Rafe turned around. He was getting used to seeing Keith in those robes. “Is there anything wrong, aside from the obvious?”
“We’ve finally been able to reach Montana. Your family is safe,” Keith reassured.
While Rafe felt relief wash over him, it was quickly followed by a sense of guilt.
“Jordan had some news. The Brotherhood’s leader is a man named Abdul Aleem.”
“Middle Eastern? Muslim?” It seemed that the Europeans’ suspicions had been correct.
“Middle Eastern? No, not entirely. His mother was… but his father is Irish. We don’t have confirmation if he’s an extremist.”
“Is that the man who killed Jason?”
Keith shook his head. “No. That man’s name is Bakirin. He seems to be the one in charge of the group in the White House.”
“Bakirin,” Rafe whispered.
“I’ve also been told that they’ve brought more people to the Capitol. The generals are being held at the White House while other top ranks and soldiers were put in a camp just outside of DC.”
“We need to move soon,” Rafe remarked
Keith nodded, but despite all his training, he couldn’t think of what they could possibly do to fight back. He had insisted that as long as Rafe lived, there would be hope. But with barely ten of them in the Himalayas and a few more scattered and hidden within the Capitol, there was no one else they could count on.
“We are vastly outnumbered, and they have technology on their side. As much as I hate to say it, we are just insects to these monsters now.”
Rafe heard the rustle of robes and saw a couple of monks walk by. They paused and nodded to the two foreigners who had a pained look on their faces. One of the monks came closer to Rafe and quietly spoke.
“Here, we separate ourselves from the worries of the material world. We meditate so the spirit can be stronger than the body,” the monk shared. “Your concerns are of the world outside, but it does not mean that the spirit has no power over what worries you.”
Rafe was about to respond. He wanted to let the other man understand how grim the situation was, but the monk continued to speak: “Buddha says, ‘We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.’ And it would be wise to remember, a common field ant can carry up to 5,000 times worth its weight.”
The monk smiled at Rafe, who finally understood. “And David did beat Goliath,” Rafe agreed.
He realized that despite his newly rediscovered physical strength, he had lost hope. His body had rebelled against the seclusion and escape from the fight, but his mind had sought the refuge of the temple.
And now he once again believed that they would win. It was just a matter of figuring out how. He wanted to embrace the monk who had given him back his faith but settled on a meek bow. The other man reached out and held one of his hands for a few seconds.
With a slight bow, the two monks went on their way. Rafe looked down at his hands and saw that the other man had given him a bead necklace.
“Where’s the radio?” he looked up and asked a puzzled looking Ketih.
For the next few days, Rafe and Keith spent most of their time on the radio. They communicated with Jordan in Montana and their forces who were still hiding around the Capitol. They found out that most of the high-ranking officials and soldiers had been transferred to a base close to DC. The White House now served as the Brotherhood’s base of operations.
The capital city was also now almost always without electricity. Those who had not been imprisoned were forced to keep their smartphones. Any attempt to discard these devices was punished severely. People were executed on the streets for the most trivial reasons, like letting the battery on their phones die out or singing Christmas carols. While Rafe felt himself grow more and more furious with this news, the hours he spent meditating with the monks helped him keep his focus.
With the help of Keith, Jordan, and the troops in hiding in DC, Rafe was able to come up with a plan to reclaim DC and the rest of the nation. He understood that they would need to win that battle first before they could think of defeating Abdul Aleem. The Brotherhood’s leader was still in an undisclosed location and it seemed that nobody knew what he looked like.
All they needed to do now was figure out a way to get back into the country undetected.