Surrender A Section 8 Novel - By Stephanie Tyler


Zaire, twenty years earlier

The explosion threw him forward hard, the heat searing his body, debris cutting into his back as he covered his face and stayed down. Darius didn’t need to look back to know what had happened—the bridge had exploded. Simon had purposely cut off their last means of escape. It would force their hands, Darius’s especially.

“Darius, you all right?” Simon shook him, yanked him to his feet and held him upright. His ears would continue to ring for months.

“How much ammo do you have?” he called over the din. Couldn’t see the rebels yet, but he knew they were coming toward them through the jungle.

“Stop wasting time. You go.” Simon jerked his head toward the LZ and the waiting chopper about thirty feet away, crammed full of important rescued American officials and the like. Already precariously over capacity. “Go now and I’ll hold them off.”

Simon had always had a sense of bravado and a temper no one wanted to deal with, but one against twenty-plus? Those odds were not in the man’s favor. Darius shook his head hard, and it was already spinning from the explosion.

“You are no fucking help to me,” Simon told him. “I can’t watch your back this time, Darius.”

“Fuck you.”

“Leave. Me. Here.”

“If I do that, I’ll come back to just a body.”

“You’re never coming back here.” Simon’s teeth were bared, ready for battle—with the rebels, with Darius, if necessary.

“If we both fight, we’ve got a better shot,” Darius told him.

“You would tell me to leave if things were reversed, Master Chief, sir.” Simon stood straight and tall, hand to his forehead, and Darius growled, “Don’t you dare salute me, son.” Their old routine. Simon managed a small smile, one that was as rare as peace in this part of the world.

“Don’t take this from me, Darius. Let me save your goddamned life. You have your son to think about—I won’t take you away from Dare.”

Dare was in middle school—his mother had already left them both, and pain shot through Darius at the thought of leaving his son without a parent.

Simon knew he had him, pressed on. “The team will always need you, and me—well, you can always find someone who can fight.”

“Not like you.”

“No, not like me,” he echoed. “You go and you don’t ever return.”

Darius didn’t say anything, and for a long moment they were silent, listening to the rustling that was still a couple of miles away. The blood was running down his side, and if he stayed in this wet jungle much longer with a wound like that . . .

“There’s one spot left for a ride home.” Simon told him what he already knew. “That seat is yours.”

“I’m half-dead already.”

“You think I’m not?” Simon asked, and Darius flashed back to a younger version of the operative in front of him, walking along a dusty road two miles from Leavenworth.

Darius had gone from being a Navy SEAL, fresh from capture in an underground cell where he’d been held for twenty-two days, to a medical discharge, to a phone call inviting him to join a very different kind of team. The CIA was creating a group—Section 8. For operatives like him. They’d have a handler and all the resources they’d need. Their only rule: Complete the mission. The how, when and where were up to them.

He was maybe the sanest of the group, and that was saying something. Simon always had the look of a predator, occasionally replaced by a childlike wonder, usually when Adele was around. If you looked at the team members’ old files, you’d see everything from disobeying orders to failing psych exams to setting fires.

But if you knew S8, you’d see the mastermind. The wetwork expert. The demolitions expert, the one who could handle escape and extractions with ease. They could lie and steal and hack. They could find any kind of transport, anytime, anywhere, anyhow, that could get them the hell out of Dodge.

In the beginning, they’d been nothing more than angry wild animals, circling, furious with one another and their circumstances. But once the trust grew, it was never broken.

Separately, they were good. Together, they were great.

And now, three years later, two S8 operatives stood near the wreckage of a bridge in Zaire and they were both about to die.

“If you could save fifteen people . . . or just one . . . ,” Simon prodded.

“Don’t you pull that trolley problem shit on me—I’ve been to more shrinks than you and I’m not leaving you behind